In his letter to Mr. Wentworth, Joseph Smith explained the history and beliefs of the Church. He recounted the First Vision, how he received and translated golden plates into the Book of Mormon, outlined the history of the organization and persecution of the Church, and described a list of thirteen of the Church's most basic beliefs. This list is known as the Articles of Faith. In addition to recounting their basic beliefs, the Articles of Faith explain how The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints differs from other churches.
B. H. Roberts of the First Council of the Seventy said of it: “The letter is one of the choicest documents in our church literature; as also it is the earliest published document by the Prophet personally, making any pretension to consecutive narrative of those events in which the great Latter-day work had its origin. … For combining conciseness of statement with comprehensiveness of treatment of the subject with which it deals, it has few equals among historical documents, and certainly none that excel it in our church literature.”
A famous passage from Joseph's letter reads:
- The Standard of Truth has been erected; no unhallowed hand can stop the work from progressing, persecutions may rage, mobs may combine, armies may assemble, calumny may defame, but the truth of God will go forth boldly, nobly, and independent, till it has penetrated every continent, visited every clime, swept every country, and sounded in every ear, till the purposes of God shall be accomplished, and the Great Jehovah shall say the work is done (Times and Seasons, 1 March 1842, 709).