Lorenzo Barnes (1812-1842)—early Mormon convert and perennial missionary—left some record of his preaching efforts in two small journals. Barnes was schooled in early Mormon ideas and mission work, and his methods probably mirrored what many lay-minister Mormons did to spread the word. I’ve been thinking more about Barnes lately and I’ve written a bit about him in something that appears in the most recent issue of Dialogue: A Journal of Mormon Thought (though that piece is altogether different from this blog entry). Barnes ends out with a chapter in the sermon book (Every Word Seasoned with Grace: A Textual Study of the Funeral Sermons of Joseph Smith) since Joseph Smith preached a sermon in honor of Barnes in April 1843—Barnes died in mission service (December 1842, Idle, England). Here I’m just going to quote from one of Barnes’s journals about his 1835 preaching travels Barnes was in the Camp of Israel — Zion’s Camp — and subsequently was called as one of the original Seventy whose special duty was mission work. Spelling and punctuation as in the original.
Monday attended an appoint 4 mi from Town but fiew attended after which returned To Town agane Tues The 11th had a long talk with a Dr. Smith a presbyterion man & others in one of the stores in The villedge many of the people of The villedge gathered a round To hear what was said The people listened . . . much of there prejudise must hav been remooved for They generaly dsided in my favour The next morning I sw The Dr. agane he said he had conversed with a number & That They all gave me The preffernce Thought I had all The argement and gained the day That I had much learning &c but he still charged me with Teaching a fals doctrine but could not bring any Thing against it onley The reportes he had herd about our society & brother Joseph He being one of The Trustees of a schoolhous in the place I asked him for The privalege of holding a meeting in it but he was not willing But There being quite a number That were anzious for meeting some proposed geting the Court hous & as it hapened The High Sheref Mr Tuttle who had The charge of the Court hous was preasant and had been listening To some of The conversation & appeared well satisfied & pleased To have a meeting . . . .
While it’s typical that preaching content gets only a glancing reference, Barnes later mentions how he was barred from preaching at a subsequent gathering:
The went To an appointment in The evening at a Schoolhous 2 miles from knoxville when we came To The Schoolhous 2 men were standing in The door who dmanded our buisness in comeing There After Telling Them They declared That we should not preach in That house That evening I enquired The reason why They Then went on and made many fals accusations said many hard Things against brother Joseph & The book of Mormon &c and appeared much enraged ordering us away from The place & out of the neighbourhood making many Threatings &c. We endeavoured To reason The case with Them in meakness Told Them That we did not wish to preach To people That did not wish To hear but That every person ought To herar & judge for Them selves &c. as we were in a free contry but They Said The people There did not wish To here & forbid us making any reply but To go away amediatly We Therefore
left Thwent a away obeyed The comandment & went To Knoxville We understood That one of Those men who stood in the door was a professer of religion of the Episcopal Methodist order How can such persons expect To be rewarded with The ancients Saints who were percecuted from City To City & from Synegogue To Synegogue when he posesses The same Spirit of percecution They were percecuted with
Later, Barnes found an audience with a camp meeting overflow. In his sermon, he read from the Book of Mormon, quoting 2nd Nephi:
After I had given out The appointment some advised me not To Try To preach in That place That evening said The people were a hard set & much opposed To our doctrine & said They advised me as a friend To not go near The School hous but I could doo as I pleased but if I attempted to preac That evening it would be To my own perel I however went To The School hous of at the Time appointed feeling assured That not one hair of my head would fall To The ground unnoticed by my heavenly Father Quite a congregation gathered in of all classes & sects & I comenced by reading in the book of Mormon After I was Through reading I was interupted by a man known as Judge Wells he wished me To prove To The people before I went any farther That Nephi was a prophet of the Lord (as The portion of the book of Mormon I had read was from Nephis 2d book Another gentleman spoke & said he Thought There had beter be a Moderator chosen To keep order which was seconded by another I then Told The people I had some Things To lay before The
peopleThem & would like To have order & when I was Through if I layd before Them a fals doctrine any person should hav the privalege of speeking & s[h]owing where in it was fals & expose it To The people &c. The people Then generaly listened with good attention while I preached to Them Them The gospel as in ancient days I then gave liberly But non arose One man Then observed That he would like To here The Jo Smith Story I then gave Them a history of The comeing forth of The book of Mormo & dismissed The congregation After which Some said one Thing and Some another Some said They would like To here me speakpreach out of The book of Mormon & Some said if I would let The book of Mormon alone They Thought I would doo well enoughwould hav no fault To find for said They The doctrine which he has preached To night is according To The Bible I Was kindly invited home by withMr Wells a Son of The Judge which I complyed with agreably Sabath Sep 6th held a meeting in Newtown in the Court hous but fiew attended by reason of a camp meeting near The place After I had delivered an adress To The audiance had considerable conversation with a Lawyer who asked a veriety of questions principly concerning The coming forth of The book of Mormon
Early Mormon preaching was not foreign to Bible readers, but it’s selection and emphasis could be startling. The passages Barnes used from the Book of Mormon probably mirrored that teaching and made it palatable to many Protestant auditors. Finally, Barnes notes some of the heckling traveling preachers might face.
Thursday The 10th I Started for The church in Springville Susquehanah Co. Pa. There being but little prospect for preaching in These parts at preasant leaving Elders Steephens in Newtown who expected soon To go To Otsego Co. for The purpas of Transacting Temporal business we Therefore mutualy aggreed To part at least for a season Fryday morning Took breakfast with brother Stoel near bridge and received of him Two books of Mormon To sell and make returns To brother Joseph Smith Jr.
Arived at The church in Springville Saturday evening
On The Sabath preached before The church Subject The Kingdom of God 16th Wed Started for Deleware co Ny
Preached in The Court H. in Montrose in The evening had quite a large congregation– Some young men and boys behaved bad Throwing apels and making noise &c. Put up with Dr. Denison
Thursday arived at Chenany point stayed with brother
Fri 18th Traveled 26mi. Stayed in N Bainbridge with a Methodist class leader Enquired diligently Through These parts for Hophnie Barnes my Uncle
fathers brotherbut found him not
Satturday & Sunday was unable to get a meeting notwithstanding many endeavours
Monday evening 21st. held meeting inn Franklin had quite a congregation who listened attentively and I had good liberty in laying before Them The fullness of The gospel
Lorenzo Dow Barnes led a remarkably dedicated life in the service of the New Dispensation. Never married, he died engaged to a twenty-two year old convert of Philadelphia, PA. Her story is as fascinating as Lorenzo’s but you’ll need to read the article for that.
 Named for the unconventional but wildly popular Methodist itinerant, Lorenzo Dow. Thousands of male children of the era shared the name out of reverence for the traveling prophet.