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Title: A New Witness for God (Volume 1 of 3)

Author: B. H. Roberts

Release Date: July 6, 2014 [EBook #46202]

Language: English

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A NEW WITNESS FOR GOD.


BY

ELDER B. H. ROBERTS

AUTHOR OF

"THE GOSPEL,"
"THE LIFE OF JOHN TAYLOR,"
"OUTLINES OF ECCLESIASTICAL HISTORY,"
"SUCCESSION IN THE PRESIDENCY OF THE CHURCH,"
ETC., ETC.


"Some millions must be wrong, that's pretty clear. * * * * 'Tis time that some new prophet should appear."


PUBLISHED BY
GEORGE Q. CANNON & SONS COMPANY,
SALT LAKE CITY, UTAH.
1895.

PREFACE.

Three quarters of a century have passed away since Joseph Smith first declared that he had received a revelation from God. From that revelation and others that followed there has sprung into existence what men call a new religion—"Mormonism;" and a new church, the institution commonly known as the "Mormon Church," the proper name of which, however, is THE CHURCH OF JESUS CHRIST OF LATTER-DAY SAINTS.

Though it may seem a small matter, the reader should know that "Mormonism" is not a new religion. Those who accept it do not so regard it; it makes no such pretentions. The institution commonly called the "Mormon Church," is not a new church; it makes no such pretensions, as will be seen by its very name—the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. This of itself discloses what "The Mormon Church" claims to be—the Church of Jesus Christ; and to distinguish it from the Church of Jesus Christ that existed in former days, the phrase "of Latter-day Saints" is added. "Mormonism," I repeat, is not a new religion; it is the Old Religion, the Everlasting Gospel, restored again to the earth through the revelations received by Joseph Smith.

At a glance the reader will observe that these claims in behalf of "Mormonism" pre-suppose the destruction of the primitive Christian Church, a complete apostasy from the Christian religion; and hence, from the standpoint of a believer, "Mormonism" is the Gospel of Jesus Christ restored; and the institution which grows out of it—the church—is the Church of Jesus Christ re-established among men.

During the three quarters of a century that have elapsed since the first revelation was announced by Joseph Smith, the world has been flooded with all manner of rumors concerning the origin of "Mormonism," its doctrines, its organization, its purposes, its history. Books enough to make a respectable library, as to size, have been written on these subjects, but the books, in the main, are the works of avowed enemies, or of sensational writers who chose "Mormonism" for a subject because in it they supposed they had a theme that would be agreeable to their own vicious tastes and perverted talents, and give satisfactory returns in money for their labor. This latter class of writers have not only written without regard to truth, but without shame. They are ghouls who have preyed upon the misfortunes of an unpopular people solely for the money or notoriety they could make out of the enterprise.

That I may not be thought to overstate the unreliability of anti-Mormon literature, I make an excerpt from a book written by Mr. Phil Robinson, called Sinners and Saints.[1] Mr. Robinson came to Utah in 1882 as a special correspondent of The New York World, and stayed in Utah some five or six months, making "Mormonism" and the Latter-day Saints a special study. On the untrustworthiness of the literature in question, he says:

"Whence have the public derived their opinions about Mormonism? From anti-Mormons only. I have ransacked the literature of the subject, and yet I really could not tell anyone where to go for an impartial book about Mormonism later in date than Burton's 'City of the Saints,' published in 1862. * * * But put Burton on one side, and I think I can defy any one to name another book about the Mormons worthy of honest respect. From that truly awful book, 'The History of the Saints,' published by one Bennett (even an anti-Mormon has styled him 'the greatest rascal that ever came to the West,') in 1842, down to Stenhouse's in 1873, there is not to my knowledge a single Gentile work before the public that is not utterly unreliable from its distortion of facts. Yet it is from these books—for there are no others—that the American public has acquired nearly all its ideas about the people of Utah."

It may be asked why have not the Saints themselves written books refuting the misrepresentations of their detractors, and giving correct information about themselves and their religion. To that inquiry there are several answers. One is that they have made the attempt. Perhaps not on a sufficiently extensive scale. They may not have appreciated fully the importance of doing so; but chiefly the reason they have not published more books in their own defense, and have not been more solicitous about refuting slanders published against them, is because of the utter impossibility of getting a hearing. The people to whom they appealed were hopelessly prejudiced against them. Their case was prejudged and they themselves condemned before a hearing could be had. These were the disadvantages under which they labored; and how serious such disadvantages are, only those know who have felt the cruel tyranny of prejudice.

Now, however, there seems to be a change in the tide of their affairs. Prejudice has somewhat subsided. There is in various quarters indications of a willingness to hear what accredited representatives of the "Mormon" faith may have to say in its behalf. It is this circumstance that has induced the author to present for the consideration of his fellow-men this work, which is written, however, not with a view of defending the character of the Latter-day Saints, but to set forth the message that "Mormonism" has to proclaim to the world, and point out the evidences of divine inspiration in him through whom that message was delivered.

The author has chosen for his work the title, "A NEW WITNESS FOR GOD," because that is the relation Joseph Smith, the great modern prophet, sustains to this generation; and it is the author's purpose to prove, first, that the world stands in need of such a witness; and, second, that Joseph Smith is that witness.

The subject is treated under four THESES.

I.

The world needs a New Witness for God.

II.

The Church of Christ was destroyed; there has been an apostasy from the Christian religion so complete and universal as to make necessary a New Dispensation of the Gospel;

III.

The Scriptures declare that the Gospel of Jesus Christ in the last days—in the hour of God's judgment—will be restored to the earth by a re-opening of the heavens, and giving a New Dispensation thereof to the children of men.

IV.

Joseph Smith is the New Witness for God; a prophet divinely authorized to preach the Gospel and re-establish the Church of Jesus Christ on earth.

How well the writer has succeeded in sustaining these propositions, the reader will judge for himself; he only asks that his treatment of the subjects be considered with candor.

To guard against error or inaccuracy in doctrine the writer applied to the First Presidency of the Church for a committee of brethren well known for their soundness in the faith, and broad knowledge of the doctrines of the Church, to hear read the manuscript of this book. Whereupon Elder Franklin D. Richards, one of the Twelve Apostles of the New Dispensation, and Church Historian; Elder George Reynolds, one of the author's fellow-Presidents in the First Council of the Seventies; and Elder John Jaques, Assistant Church Historian, were appointed as such committee; and to these brethren, for their patient labor in reading the manuscript, and for their suggestions and corrections, the writer is under lasting obligations.

THE AUTHOR.

Footnotes

1. p. 245.

CONTENTS


THESIS I.

THE WORLD NEEDS A NEW WITNESS FOR GOD.

CHAPTER I.

The Necessity of a New Witness


THESIS II.

THE CHURCH OF CHRIST WAS DESTROYED; THERE HAS BEEN AN APOSTASY FROM THE CHRISTIAN RELIGION, SO COMPLETE AND UNIVERSAL AS TO MAKE NECESSARY A NEW DISPENSATION OF THE GOSPEL.

CHAPTER II.

The Effect of Pagan Persecution on the Christian Church

CHAPTER III.

The Effect of Peace, Wealth and Luxury on Christianity

CHAPTER IV.

Changes in the Form and Spirit of Church Government—Corruption of the Popes

CHAPTER V.

Change in Public Worship—In the Ordinances of the Gospel

CHAPTER VI.

The Testimony of Prophecy to the Apostasy

CHAPTER VII.

Catholic Arguments—Protestant Admissions


THESIS III.

THE SCRIPTURES DECLARE THAT THE GOSPEL OF JESUS CHRIST IN THE LAST DAYS—IN THE HOUR OF GOD'S JUDGMENT—WILL BE RESTORED TO THE EARTH BY A RE-OPENING OF THE HEAVENS, AND GIVING A NEW DISPENSATION THEREOF TO THE CHILDREN OF MEN.

CHAPTER VIII.

The Necessity of a New Revelation—The Arguments of Modern Christians Against it Considered

CHAPTER IX.

Prophetic History of the Church—The Restoration of the Gospel by an Angel


THESIS IV.

JOSEPH SMITH IS THE NEW WITNESS FOR GOD; A PROPHET DIVINELY AUTHORIZED TO TEACH THE GOSPEL, AND RE-ESTABLISH THE CHURCH OF JESUS CHRIST ON EARTH.

CHAPTER X.

The New Witness Introduced

CHAPTER XI.

A New Dispensation of the Gospel

CHAPTER XII.

Objections to the New Witness Considered

CHAPTER XIII.

The Character of the New Witness

CHAPTER XIV.

Fitness in the Development of the New Dispensation

CHAPTER XV.

The Evidence of Scriptural and Perfect Doctrine

CHAPTER XVI.

Manner of the Prophet's Teaching

CHAPTER XVII.

The testimony of Toil and Suffering—Exertion and Danger—A Christian Argument Applied

CHAPTER XVIII.

The Testimony of Miracles—The Evidence of Fulfilled Promises

[By an error Chapter XIX. was numbered XX., hence the apparent omission.]

CHAPTER XX.

The Evidence of Prophecy

CHAPTER XXI.

The Evidence of Prophecy—Continued

CHAPTER XXII.

The Evidence of Prophecy—Continued

CHAPTER XXIII.

The Evidence of Prophecy—Concluded

CHAPTER XXIV.

The Church Founded by Joseph Smith, a Monument to his Inspiration

CHAPTER XXV.

Testimony of the Inspiration and Divine Calling of Joseph Smith Derived from the Comprehensiveness of the Work he Introduced

CHAPTER XXVI.

Testimony of the Inspiration and Divine Calling of Joseph Smith Derived from the Comprehensiveness of the Work he Introduced—Continued

CHAPTER XXVII.

Evidence of Inspiration Derived from the Wisdom in the Plan Proposed for the Betterment of the Temporal Condition of Mankind

CHAPTER XXVIII.

Evidence of Divine Inspiration in Joseph Smith Derived from the Prophet's Teaching in Regard to the Extent of the Universe, Man's Place in it, and his Doctrine Respecting the Gods

CHAPTER XXIX.

Evidence of Divine Inspiration in Joseph Smith Derived from the Prophet's Teaching in Regard to the Extent of the Universe, Man's Place in it, and his Doctrines Respecting the Gods—Continued

CHAPTER XXX.

Evidence of Divine Inspiration in Joseph Smith Derived from the Prophet's Teaching in Regard to the Extent of the Universe, Man's Place in it, and his Doctrine Respecting the Gods—Concluded

CHAPTER XXXI.

The Testimony of the Martyrdom—Conclusion

THESIS I.

The World Needs a New Witness for God.

CHAPTER I.

THE NECESSITY OF A NEW WITNESS.

THE very title of this book may give offense. "A New Witness for God!" will exclaim both ministry and laity of Christendom; "are not the Old Witnesses sufficient? Has not their testimony withstood the assaults of unbelievers, atheists and agnostics alike for nineteen centuries? What need have we for a New Witness? Every weapon that hostile criticism could suggest, has been brought to bear against the tower of our faith based on the testimony of the Old Witnesses; and it stands more victorious now than ever, four square to all the winds that blow.[1] The testimony of the Old Witnesses has outlived the ridicule of Voltaire, the solemn sneers of Gibbon, the satire of Bolingbroke, the ribaldry of Paine; just as it will outlive the insidious assaults of the German mythical school, and the rationalistic school of critics, which are now much in vogue. Such the confident boast of orthodox Christians.

"Meanwhile, every diocesan conference rings with the wail over 'infidel opinions.' It grows notoriously more and more difficult to get educated men to take any interest in the services or doctrines of the church; * * * literature and the periodical press are becoming either more indifferent, or more hostile to the accepted Christianity year by year; the upper strata of the working class, upon whom the future of that class depends, either stand coldly aloof from all the Christian sects, or throw themselves into secularism. Passionate appeals are made to all sections of Christians, to close their ranks, not against each other, but against the 'skepticism rampant' among the cultivated class and the religious indifference of the democracy."[2]

In the face of these facts, notwithstanding the confident boasts of orthodox Christians about the invulnerableness of the testimony of the Old Witnesses, it will be well for us to look a little more closely into the achievements of Christianity, Catholic as well as Protestant, and see if they are as satisfactory when measured by actual results, as they are claimed to be in the fervid rhetoric of the orthodox special pleader.

What is distinctly and commonly recognized as the Christian religion, was founded some nineteen centuries ago[3], by the personal ministry of Jesus Christ, and those whom he chose as Apostles. For about three centuries it had a hard struggle for existence. The persecutions waged against it, first by the Jews, from whose religious faith it may be said to have sprung; and second, from the pagans, then in possession of all secular power, well-nigh overcame it. The "beast" made war upon the saints and "prevailed against them." Then Constantine, the friend of Christianity, succeeded to the imperial throne of Rome, and external persecution ceased. Christian ministers were invited to the court of the emperor and loaded with wealth and honors. Magnificent churches were erected, and the hitherto despised religion became the favorite protege of the imperial government. From a precarious and wretched existence, the Christian church was suddenly raised to a position of magnificence and power. Nor was it long in playing the part of the camel which, being permitted by the kind indulgence of its master to put its head within the tent during a violent storm, next protruded its shoulders, then its whole body, and turning about kicked out its master.[4] So did the Christian ecclesiastical power with the civil power. That is to say, that which was at first granted to the church as a privilege was soon demanded as a right; and what was at first received by grace, was at the last taken by force. On the ruins of pagan Rome, rose papal Rome, and while the latter power did not abolish secular government, it did make it subservient to ecclesiasticism. From the chair of St. Peter, the Roman pontiffs ruled the world absolutely. Kings and emperors obeyed them, and all stood in awe before the throne of the triple-crowned successor of St. Peter.

Finally, through the mutual jealousy and ambition of the bishops of Rome and Constantinople, a controversy arose which, in the ninth century, resulted in a great and lasting division of Christendom into two great ecclesiastical bodies; viz., the Greek Catholic or Eastern Church, and the Roman Catholic or Western Church. In the Western Church the secular or civil power continued to be regarded as subordinate to ecclesiastical authority, a sort of convenient instrument to execute the decrees of the church. Hence Roman Catholic Christianity drew to itself all that prestige in the propagation of its doctrines which comes from the authority and support of the state; and though the power of the state was held to be subordinate to that of the church, no one who has read our Christian annals can help being struck with the importance of the civil power as a factor in the propagation of Roman Catholic Christianity. The barbarous peoples who came in contact with the Christian nations, were often compelled to accept the so-called Christian religion as one of the terms of capitulation; and the fear of the sword often eked out the arguments of the priests, and was generally much more effective.

I think it proper that the above statement should be emphasized by the following proofs:

"In the year 772, A. D., Charlemagne, king of the Franks, undertook to tame, and to withdraw from idolatry, the extensive nation of the Saxons, who occupied a large portion of Germany, and were almost perpetually at war with the Franks, respecting their boundaries and other things; for he hoped that if their minds could become imbued with the Christian doctrines, they would gradually lay aside their ferocity, and learn to yield submission to the empire of the Franks. The first attack upon their heathenism produced little effect, being made not with the force of arms, but by some bishops and monks whom the victor had left for that purpose among the vanquished nation. But much better success attended the subsequent wars which Charlemagne undertook, in the years 775, 776, and 780, A D., against that heroic people, so fond of liberty, and so impatient, especially of sacerdotal domination. For in these assaults, not only rewards, but also the sword and punishments were so successfully applied upon those adhering to the superstition of their ancestors, that they reluctantly ceased from resistance, and allowed the doctors whom Charles employed to administer to them Christian baptism. Widekind and Albion, indeed, who were two of the most valiant Saxon chiefs, renewed their former insurrections; and attempted to prostrate again by violence and war, that Christianity which had been set up by violence. But the martial courage, and the liberality of Charles at length brought them, in the year 785, solemnly to declare that they were Christians, and would continue to be so. * * * The Huns inhabiting Pannonia, were treated the same way as the Saxons; for Charles so exhausted and humbled them by successive wars, as to compel them to prefer becoming Christians to being slaves."[5]

In Denmark, during the tenth century, "the Christian cause had to struggle with great difficulties and adversities, under King Gorman, although the queen was a professed Christian. But Harald, surnamed Blatand, the son of Gorman, having been vanquished by Otto the Great, about the middle of the century, made a profession of Christianity in the year 949, and was baptized. * * * Perhaps Harald, who had his birth and education from a Christian mother, Tyra, was not greatly averse from the Christian religion; and yet it is clear that in the present transaction he yielded rather to the demands of his conqueror, than to his own inclinations. For Otto, being satisfied that the Danes would never cease to harass their neighbors with wars and rapine, if they retained the martial religion of their fathers, made it a condition of the peace with Harald that he and his people should become Christians."[6]

"Waldemar I., King of Denmark, obtained very great fame by the many wars he undertook against the pagan nations, the Slavs, the Wends, the Vandals, and others. He fought not only for the interests of his subjects, but likewise for the extension of Christianity; and wherever he was successful, he demolished the temples and images of the gods, the altars and groves, and commanded the Christian worship to be set up. * * * The Fins who infested Sweden with frequent inroads, were attacked by Eric IX., King of Sweden, called St. Eric, after his death, and by him subdued after many bloody battles. * * * The vanquished nation was commanded to follow the religion of the conqueror, which most of them did with reluctance and disgust."

"Towards the close of the century [the tenth], * * * some merchants of Bremen or of Lubec trading to Livonia, took along with them Mainhard, a regular canon of St. Augustine in the monastery of Segberg in Halsatia, to bring that warlike and uncivilized nation to the Christian faith. But as few listened to him, Mainhard consulted the Roman pontiff, who created him the first bishop of the Livonians, and desired that war should be waged against the opposers. This war, which was first waged with the Esthonians, was extended farther and prosecuted more rigorously by Berthold, the second bishop of the Livonians, after the death of Mainhard; for this, Berthold, formerly Abbot of Lucca, marched with a strong army from Saxony, and recommended Christianity not by arguments but by slaughter and battle. Following his example, the third bishop, Albert, previously a canon of Bremen, entering Livonia in the year 1198, well supported by a fresh army raised in Saxony, and fixing his camp at Riga, he instituted, by authority of Innocent III., the Roman pontiff, the military order of knight's sword-bearers, who should compel the Livonians by force of arms to submit to baptism. New forces were marched from time to time from Germany, by whose valor and that of the sword-bearers the wretched people were subdued and exhausted, so that they at last substituted the images of Christ and the saints in place of their idols."[7]

A volume of evidence similar in import to the foregoing could be compiled, showing that from the accession of Constantine the Great down to the sixteenth century, the Roman Catholic Church did not hesitate to employ the civil power to enforce conversion and punish recalcitrants.

If the Eastern Church has been less successful in extending the borders of Christianity by means of conquests waged by the civil power, it was because the division of the world it occupied afforded less opportunity than Western Europe, where a great struggle was on between the race of men made weak by the effete civilization of Rome and the more vigorous barbarians. But while the Eastern Church made less direct use of the sword to extend its dominions, it nevertheless had the state for an ally which sustained it at need.

When in the sixteenth century the great revolt against the authority of the pope and the religion of the Roman Catholic Church gave birth to the Protestant churches, they, too, in the main, formed alliances with the states in which they were founded. Nay, in the very struggle for their existence, the states of Germany, of Holland, Scandinavia and of England, drew the sword in their behalf and by their support made it possible for the seceding religionists to establish churches despite all efforts of the Roman pontiffs to prevent them; and after the revolution was an accomplished fact, the states above enumerated continued to give support to the churches founded within their borders. If the church and the state in some instances were regarded as separate and distinct societies, they acted at the same time as close neighbors, and nearly interested in each other's welfare. If they lived separate, they were not estranged; and each at need gave the other support.

I have thought it necessary to call the attention of the reader to the conditions in which Christianity has existed since the days of Constantine under all three great divisions of Christendom—the Roman Catholic, the Greek Catholic, and Protestant—in order that he might be reminded of the fact that circumstances of the most propitious character have existed for the propagation of the so-called Christian religion. Christendom has had at its command the wealth and intelligence of Europe; it has been able to follow the commerce of European states into every country of the world; and not only its commerce, but its conquests as well; and wherever the love of adventure or the desire for conquest has led Christian soldiers, Christian priests have either accompanied or followed them, that the gospel, in the hands of the Christian minister, might be a balm for the wounds inflicted by the sword in the hands of the Christian soldier; so that if Christian armies were a bane to the savages, the Christian priests might be an antidote!

Yet with all the advantages which came to Christianity through the support of the state; with the intelligence and wealth of Europe behind it; with the privilege of following in the wake of its commerce and conquests; what has Christendom done in the way of converting the world to its religion? But a little over one-fourth of the inhabitants of the earth are even nominally Christian! There are in the world, according to statistics published on the subject:

  Roman Catholics ...........................206,588,206

  Protestants (all sects) ................... 89,825,348

  Greek and Russian Churches ................ 75,691,382

  Oriental Churches ......................... 6,770,000

  Making the total of all Christians........ 378,874,936.

  The other religions stand as follows:

  Brahminical Hindoos .......................120,000,000

  Followers of Buddha, Shinto and
  Confucius .................................482,600,000

  Mohammedans ...............................169,054,789

  Jews ....................................... 7,612,784

  Parsees (fire-worshipers in Persia) ........ 1,000,000

  Pagans not otherwise enumerated ...........277,000,000
                                          

  Making a total of .......................1,007,267,573[8]

Surely when the superior advantages for the propagation of the Christian religion are taken into account, one could reasonably expect better results than this, after a period of nineteen centuries, sixteen of which may be said to have been of a character favorable to the extension of the borders of the church.

But let us take a nearer view of the status of Christendom. As seen in the foregoing, but a little more than one-fourth of the population of the earth is even nominally Christian. No one will contend that all those nominally Christians are really Christians. Church membership may be one thing, conversion to the Christian religion quite another. If those who are Christians in name only, and church members from custom or for worldly advantage were separated from those who are Christians upon principle, upon conversion and real faith, the number of Christians in the world would be materially reduced. For it cannot be denied that when any religion becomes popular there are multitudes of insincere men who will outwardly accept it, and give it lip-service in return for the advantages that accrue to them socially, financially or politically.

Moreover, Christendom is not united in one great body or church; but on the contrary it is divided into numerous contending factions whose differences are so far fundamental that there appears no prospect of reconciliation among them. The Catholics refuse to recognize any power of salvation in Protestantism. To the Catholic the Protestant is an heretic, a renegade child; and on the other hand, to the Protestant, the Catholic is an idolator, and the pope the very anti-Christ, prophesied of in scripture.

Nor are the Roman and Greek Catholics much nearer at one with each other than the Roman Catholics and Protestants. Away back in the ninth century, as a result of the controversy between the Eastern and Western Churches, Pope Nicholas, in a council held at Rome, solemnly excommunicated Photius, the patriarch of Jerusalem, and had his ordination declared null and void. The Greek emperor resented this conduct of the pope, and under his sanction Photius, in his turn, convened what he called an acumenical council, in which he pronounced sentence of excommunication and deposition against the pope, and got it subscribed by twenty-one bishops and others amounting in number to one thousand.

Although this breach was patched up after the death of the Emperor Michael, difficulties broke out again between the East and the West from time to time, until finally in the eleventh century, when Michael Cerularius, patriarch of Constantinople, opposed the Western Church with respect to their making use of unleavened bread in the sacrament, their observation of the Sabbath, and fasting on Saturdays, charging therein that they lived in communion with the Jews. Pope Leo IX. replied, and in his apology for the Western Churches, declaimed warmly against the false doctrine of the Greeks, and ended by placing on the altar of Santa Sophia, by his legates, a deed of excommunication against the Patriarch, Michael Cerularius. This was the final rupture. From that time the mutual hatred of the Greeks and the Latins became insuperable, insomuch that they have continued ever since separated from each other's communion.[9]

Though both the Greek and the Protestant Churches are separated from the Roman Catholic Church, yet there is no union or fellowship between them; on the contrary, they hold doctrines so opposite that union between them is out of the question. At least so remote is the prospect, that all attempts at union have been ineffectual.

Turn now to Protestant Christendom. Surely we shall find a union of organization and agreement of sentiment here! But no; division, on the contrary, is multiplied. Protestant Christendom is divided into numerous sects between some of which the gulf of separation is almost as broad and deep as that which separates Protestants from Catholics. Such is the distracted condition of Protestant Christendom that sects are daily multiplying, and confusion is constantly increasing. Nor can one refrain from saying with Cardinal Gibbons, that "This multiplying of creeds is a crying scandal, and a great stumbling-block in the way of the conversion of the heathen nations."[10] And I will add, equally a stumbling-block to the conversion of the unbelievers living among Christians.

This last class of persons named, the unbelievers living among Christians, we must now consider; and note the effect of their assaults upon Christianity. They are, for the most part, without organization; without unity of purpose, except in so far as they are united in their disbelief of revealed religion. Their position being essentially a negative one, the incentive to organization is not active. It requires unity of purpose and organization of effort to build; those who content themselves with pointing out the defects, real or imagined, of the work of the builders, or saying the structure does not answer well the purposes for which it was erected, feel no such necessity for organization as the builders do.

In consequence of having no organization, infidels keep no account of their numerical strength; they publish no statistics, and therefore we have no way of estimating how numerous they are. But no one with large acquaintance in Christian countries, and who is in touch with the trend of modern religious thought, can doubt that the number of unbelievers is considerable, and their influence upon the Christian religion more damaging than Christian enthusiasts are willing to admit.

What a motley crowd this great body of unbelievers is! First is the downright atheist who says plainly, "There is no God. Nothing but blind force is operating in the universe; there is no Providence whose will can interrupt the destined course of nature." Providence they set down as a dream. "The universe and all its varied phenomena are generated by natural forces out of cosmic atoms, and into atoms to be again resolved," is their creed.

Following the atheist is the deist, who, while not one whit behind the atheist in rejecting revealed religion, is of the opinion that mind is somewhere operating in the universe, but refuses to recognize that intelligence as associated with a personality. Still that Intelligence, whatever or wherever it be, is God; but with them is always "It," never "He."

Then comes the agnostic. He prefers to suspend his judgment on the question of Deity; and with a modesty, not always free from affectation, says, "I don't know. The evidence in the case is not quite clear; in fact it is sometimes quite conflicting." He questions; is debating; but you find his sympathies, at bottom, on the side of unbelief.

Next to the agnostic comes the rationalist, who, while he leaves God more or less of an open question, has his mind made up in respect to Jesus Christ. He recognizes him as a good man, though mistaken on many questions; but though he strips Jesus of all divinity, he nevertheless recognizes him as the friend of God and of man; and sees embodied in him, moreover, "the symbol of those religious forces in man which are primitive, essential and universal."[11]

Such are the varied classes which assail the Christian religion. Their methods of assault, though having much in common, are as varied as the kinds of unbelievers. The atheist mockingly asks if there be a God why he does not make himself manifest to all the world; why he keeps himself shrouded in mystery? Why not reveal himself to all as well as to a chosen few? Pushing aside the testimony of those who say they have stood in his presence, he boldly asserts there is no God, because no one has ever seen him; he has not made himself known to men, and in conclusion he points to the natural and uninterrupted order of things in the universe as proof that all things are governed by blind forces instead of intelligence, whether a personality or apart from personality.

The deists say nearly all that the atheists say; but admitting an intelligence back of all phenomena in the universe, they pretend to read his will in the book of nature,[12] and contrast its perfections with the imperfections of all written books of revelation. To them the Bible—the Christian volume of revelation—is imperfect and contradictory; it teaches a morality and seems to tolerate practices unworthy of a Being of infinite goodness.

The agnostics join with the deists in their objections. They see all the contradictions, imperfections and alleged immorality that deists see in the Christian volume of revelation; and with them question the authenticity and credibility of the scriptures. If they differ from the deists in anything, it is simply in arriving at a less positive conclusion. But the worst is to come.

There has arisen within our century, mainly in Germany, a class of theological writers, who indeed profess a reverence both for the name and person of Jesus Christ, and a real regard, moreover, for the scriptures as "embodiments of what is purest and holiest in religious feeling;" and yet they degrade Christ to a mere name, and strip the scriptures of all their force as the word of God, by denying the historical character of the Biblical narrative. Starting with the postulate that the miraculous is impossible and never happens, or at least has never been proven,[13] they relegate the scriptures—the New Testament as well as the Old—to the realms of poetry, legend or myth, because they are filled with accounts of the miraculous.[14]

This movement of theological thought had its origin in a new science, the science of historical criticism, which had its birth in our own nineteenth century. The new science consisted simply in applying to the mass of materials on which much of ancient history had been hitherto based—myths, legends and oral traditions—the rules[15] embodying the judgment of sound discretion upon the value of different sorts of evidence. The effect of the application of this principle to the materials out of which our ancient histories were constructed, was to banish to the realms of pure myth or doubtful legend much which our fathers accepted as historical fact. The relations of ancient authors are no longer received with as ready a belief as formerly; nor are all ancient authors any longer put upon the same footing and regarded as equally credible, or all parts of their work supposed to rest upon the same basis.[16] Many old, fond theories have been shattered; in some respects the whole face of antiquity has been changed,[17] and instead of now looking upon the ancients as demi-gods, and the condition in which they lived as being something supernatural, we are made to feel that they were men of like passions with ourselves, possessed of the same weaknesses, actuated by the same motives of self interest, ambition, jealousy, love, hatred; and that the conditions surrounding them were no more supernatural than those which surround us. The science of historical criticism by the application of its main principle has stripped ancient times of their prodigies, and has either brought those demi-gods of legend to earth and made them appear very human, or has banished them entirely from real existence.

So long as the leading principle of this new science was applied to profane history alone; and the revolution it inaugurated confined to smashing the myths of ancient Greece, Rome, Babylon, Egypt and India, no complaints were heard. Indeed, the work was very generally applauded. But when the same principle began to be applied to what, by Christians at least, was considered sacred history, then an exception was pleaded.

This difficulty was met by orthodox believers much in the same way that an earlier question, one about miracles, was met by Conyers Middleton. It will be remembered that the Catholic Church has always claimed for herself the power of working miracles from the earliest days until the present; and cites, in confirmation of her claims, testimony that seems at once respectable and sufficient. The Protestants, with the Anglican Church at their head, in the discussions to which reference is here made, conceded that the possession of the gift of working miracles was prima facie evidence of divine authority and soundness of faith.[18] So much being conceded, Protestants were puzzled when to fix the date that miracles ceased. They were certain that no miracles had happened in their times, but were equally positive that they had occurred in the early Christian centuries. But the recent testimony presented by their Catholic opponents was just as worthy of belief as the testimony of the early Christian Fathers; in some respects it was better, because it was within reach for examination. What was to be done? If this recent testimony of the Catholic Church concerning miracles was to be rejected, could the earlier testimony of the Christian Fathers stand? The discussion had reached this point when Middleton published his "Free Inquiry," in which he held that the miracles claimed by the Catholic Church, both in former and recent times must stand or fall together. For if the testimony of the early Christian Fathers and contemporary witnesses could confirm the former, the testimony of the recent witnesses, being just as respectable as the former, and hence as worthy of belief, would confirm the latter. Middleton met the difficulty by rejecting all testimony to miracles after the close of the apostolic age. When it was suggested that the New Testament miracles might be treated in a like summary manner, he took the position that the New Testament account of miracles was inspired, and therefore beyond the reach of criticism.

So likewise I say, orthodox Christians were disposed to meet the application of this principle of Historical Criticism under consideration. They protested against the application of it to sacred history. They insisted that the marvelous occurrences related in the Bible, and which read so much like myth or legend, were recorded by inspired writers, hence above criticism. The exception pleaded, however, was not granted. There were bold spirits both within the church as well as outside of it, who did not hesitate, at least so far as the Old Testament was concerned, to apply the new methods of criticism to sacred history.

The conclusions of those who started with the hypothesis that what we call the miraculous is impossible, would not be difficult to forecast. From the outset, with them, the Old Testament was doomed. In the wonderful incidents related as the experience of the patriarchs, of Moses, Aaron, Joshua and the kings and prophets of Israel, this school of critics could discern a striking parallel to the legends of Rome, of Greece and Egypt; and as readily rejected the one as the other. They rejected also the cosmogony of Genesis, insisting that it was not the history of the creation but poetry, and as such must be regarded, but not as fact.

Suspicion once cast upon the historical value of sacred writings, the critics grew bolder and declared that portions of the sacred narrative presented the appearance of being simply myths; and from this by degrees it soon became the fashion to attach a legendary character to the whole of the Old Testament. It was decided by the same class of critics that the whole narrative, in the main, rests upon oral tradition and that that tradition was not written until long after the supposed events occurred. Moreover, when the old traditions were written, the work was done by poets bent rather on glorifying their country than upon recording facts; and it is claimed that at times they did not hesitate to allow imagination to amplify the oral traditions or at need to invent new occurrences, to fill up blanks in their annals. The authorship of the sacred books was held to be a matter of great uncertainty, as well as the date at which they were written; but certainly they were not written until long after the dates usually assigned for their production. This style of criticism not only got rid of the cosmogony of Genesis, but discredited as histories the whole collection of books comprising the Old Testament. The Fall of man, that fact which gives meaning to the atonement of Christ, and without which the scheme of Christian salvation is but an idle fable—was regarded as merely a myth. So, too, were the revelations of God to the patriarchs; his communion with Enoch; his warning to Noah, together with the story of the flood; the building of Babel's tower; the visions of Abraham; the calling of Moses; the splendid display of God's power in the deliverance of Israel from bondage; the law written upon the tables of stone by the finger of God, the ark of the covenant and the visible presence of God with Israel; the visitation of angels to the prophets; their communion with God and the messages of reproof, of warning or of comfort they brought to the people—all, all were myths, distorted legends, uncertain traditions told by ecstatic poets, falsely esteemed prophets! Such was the wreck which this new science of criticism made of the Old Testament.

There was scarcely a halt between the wrecking of the Old Testament by this new school of critics and their assault upon the New. Their success gave them confidence, and they attacked the Christian documents with more vigor than they had the Old Testament. By research which did not need to be very extensive in order to conduct them to the facts, they discovered that the age which witnessed the rise of the Christian religion was one in which there existed a strong preconception in favor of miracles; that is, the miraculous was universally believed, and it was held by our new school of critics that this pre-conception in favor of miracles influenced the writers of the New Testament to insert them in their narratives.

Ever present in their New Testament criticism as in that of the Old, was the cardinal principle that miracles never take place—the miraculous is the impossible;[19] hence whenever our anti-miracle critics found accounts of miracles interwoven in the biographies of Jesus, or in the epistles of the apostles, they inexorably relegated them to the sphere of myth or legend.[20]

Unhappily for orthodox believers who cling to the gospel narratives as reliable statements of fact, they themselves found it necessary to discard as apocryphal many of the books and writings which sprang into existence in the early Christian centuries; books which pretended to relate incidents in the life of Messiah, especially those which treated of his childhood and youth. The marvelous account of his moulding oxen, asses, birds and other figures out of clay, which at his command would walk or fly away; his power to turn his playmates into kids; his striking dead with a curse the boys who offended him; his stretching a short board to its requisite length; his silencing those who try to teach him[21]—all this, and much more, Christians had to discard as pure fable. But they stopped short with the pruning process at the books of the New Testament as we now have them.

Our new school of critics, however, infatuated with the chief principle of their new science, went right on with the pruning, and made as sad work of the New Testament as they had with the Old. They rejected the miraculous in the New Testament writings as well as the account of miracles which the Christians themselves rejected in the apocryphal writings. By this step they got rid of the story of the miraculous conception and birth of Christ; of the journey of the vision-led magi; of the dream-led Joseph; of the testimony of the Holy Ghost, and of the Father at Christ's baptism; of converting water into wine; of Christ walking upon the water; of the miraculously fed multitude; of the healing of the sick by a word or with a touch; casting out devils; the raising of the dead; the earthquake; the rending of the vail of the temple; and the miraculous three hours' darkness at the crucifixion; Christ's resurrection from the dead; his appearance after the resurrection; his final ascension into heaven; and the declaration of the two angels that he would come again to the earth as he had left it: in the clouds of heaven and in great glory. The new criticism got rid of all this—all that makes Christ God, or one of the persons of the Godhead, or that ascribes to him powers above those that may be possessed by a man. Christ's divinity is destroyed by this method of criticism, and one instinctively asks what there is left, and is told—"The manifestations of the God concealed in the depths of the human conscience."[22] "God-man, eternally incarnate, not an individual but an idea!"[23]

To this then it comes at last, a Christianity without a Christ—that is, without a divine Christ; and a Christ not divine—not God manifest in the flesh, is no Christ. We had trusted that Jesus of Nazareth had been he who would have redeemed not only all Israel, but all the nations of the earth. We and our fathers had believed that he had brought life and immortality to light through the gospel; but alas! it turns out according to our new school of critics, that his "revelations of blissful scenes of existence beyond death and the grave, are but one of the many impostures which time after time have been palmed off on credulous mankind!" Christ but a man, "the moralist and teacher of Capernaum and Gennesaret"—nothing more! On a level with Socrates, or Hillel, or Philo! What a void this new school of criticism makes! A Christianity without the assurance of the resurrection! without the hope of the glorious return of the Messiah, to reward every man according to his works!

The new school of critics does not question so severely as other critics have done the authenticity of the Christian documents, or the date of their origin. Indeed, one of their chief apostles concedes the authenticity of the gospels and their antiquity.[24] But after having admitted the authenticity and antiquity of the Christian documents, they then proceed to mutilate the story they relate—the gospel they teach—as to render it practically valueless to mankind. This is accomplished by regarding the Christian documents as legends,[25] from which if we would arrive at historical truth must be excluded all that is miraculous,[26] and hence all that makes Christ God. And while to the imagination of the idealist much that is of value and that is beautiful may remain in the attenuated Christianity which the new criticism would leave us, yet for the great body of humanity such a Christianity would be worthless. For however beautiful the moral precepts of the merely human Jesus may be, they will have no perceptible influence on the lives of the multitude unless back of them stands divine authority, accompanied by a conviction of the fact of man's immortality and his accountability to God for his conduct. Shorn of these parts, what remains may be beautiful; but it would be as the beauty of a man from whom the spark of life had fled—the beauty of the dead. Of course the orthodox Christian denies that this style of attack on the Christian religion has had any success. To him it is an "attack" which has "failed." "In spite of all the efforts of an audacious criticism," says one, "as ignorant as bold—the truth of the sacred narrative stands firm, the stronger for the shocks that it has resisted; the boundless store of truth and life which for eighteen centuries has been the ailment of humanity is not (as Rationalism boasts) dissipated. God is not divested of his grace, or man of his dignity—nor is the tie between heaven and earth broken. The foundation of God—the everlasting gospel—still standeth secure—and every effort that is made to overthrow, does but more firmly establish it."[27]

Let us examine this matter more nearly, and with less partiality than Rawlinson has done. If for the new school of critics to succeed means that the orthodox view respecting Jesus of Nazareth, and the religion he founded must be entirely overthrown by being driven out of existence, then the new criticism is an "attack" which has "failed," for orthodox Christianity, that is, the Christianity which recognizes Christ as divine—as God, and the New Testament as divinely inspired and stating the substantial facts of Messiah's life—is still with us.

There are a number of reasons why the orthodox view of Christ has not been entirely overthrown by the new criticism. First, the great body of Christians which constitute the Catholic Church have been preserved in the orthodox faith of Christ by the protecting aegis afforded by the authority of that Church. Recognizing the church as superior to the written word, alike its custodian and interpreter, and accepting the meaning which the church attaches to the Bible as infallible, Catholics, I say, have been preserved from the faith-shattering effects of the New Criticism. Second, the criticism has been conducted, in the main, and especially in the early stages of it, in the German language, and hence has been largely confined to the German nation. Third, the discussion wherever it has taken place has been carried on over the heads of the laity; it has not been within their reach, hence to a large extent it has been without effect upon them—an "attack that has failed." But in each case, let it be remembered, its non-effect is the result of not coming in contact with it. In one case it has been kept away from the people by the authority of the church; in the other through the inability of the laity, outside of Germany, to understand the language in which the attack was written; and thirdly, through the inability of the masses to bring the necessary scholarship to the investigation.

But, on the other hand, if to attract to itself a large following, both among clergymen and laity, and especially among scholars; if to modify prevailing orthodox opinion concerning the historical character of the Old Testament, and force concessions respecting the character at least of some parts of the Christian documents; if to permeate all Christendom—the Catholic Church perhaps excepted—with doubt concerning the divinity of Christ, and to threaten in the future the faith of millions of Christians—if to do this is to succeed, then the new criticism is succeeding, for that is what it is doing. Forty years ago it was the complaint of German orthodox writers that this German neology, as the new criticism is sometimes called, had left "No objective ground or standpoint," on which the believing theological science can build with any feeling of security.[28] "Nor," says the same authority, "is the evil in question confined to Germany. The works regarded as most effective in destroying the historical faith of Christians abroad, have received an English dress, and are, it is to be feared, read by persons very ill-prepared by historical studies to withstand their specious reasonings, alike in our country and in America. The tone, moreover, of German historical writings generally is tinged with the prevailing unbelief; and the faith of the historical student is likely to be undermined, almost without his having his suspicions aroused, by covert assumptions of the mythical character of the sacred narrative, in works professing to deal chiefly, or entirely with profane subjects."[29]

It is more than thirty years since these admissions were made; since then the German works complained of have been more generally translated and widely read than before. Besides, since then, Renan has given his "Origins of Christianity"[30] to the world, and by his great learning, but more especially by the power and irresistible charm of his treatment of the subject, has popularized the conceptions of the Rationalists, until now the virus of their infidelity may be said to be poisoning all Protestant Christendom.

What must ever be an occasion for chagrin, not to say humiliation, to orthodox Christendom, is, its inability to meet in any effectual way the assaults of this new criticism. In Germany they complain against Strauss for having written his "Life of Jesus" in the German language. If he must write such a book, so full of unbelief in the orthodox conception of Jesus, he ought at least to have had the grace to have written it in Latin![31]

For his rationalism Renan is driven out of the Church of Rome; but this only gives notoriety to his views, creates a desire to read his books and spreads abroad his unbelief. When the Presbyterian Church takes to task one of its most brilliant scholars[32] for accepting the results of the new criticism, he is sustained by the powerful Presbyterian Synod of New York and acquitted; and when an appeal is taken to the general assembly of the church and he is finally condemned, he is able to retort that while he was condemned by the general assembly, it was by numbers and not by intelligence that he was overcome; it was the less intelligent Presbyteries of the rural district that gave the necessary strength to his opponents. The better informed members—members from the cities and centers of education and enlightenment—were with him.[33] The defense commonly made for orthodox Christianity is an appeal to its antiquity and its past victories. Its defenders point with pride to the failure of the proud boast of Voltaire, who was foolish enough to say: "In twenty years Christianity will be no more. My single hand shall destroy the edifice it took twelve apostles to rear." "Some years after his death," say the orthodox, "his very printing press was employed in printing New Testaments, and thus spreading abroad the gospel." Gibbon with solemn sneer devoted his gorgeous history[34] to sarcasm upon Christ and his followers. "His estate," say the orthodox, "is now in the hands of one who devotes large sums to the propagation of the very truth Gibbon labored to sap."[35]

All this may be very well, but even in their day these men of the eighteenth century had a large following, and did much damage to orthodox belief. In fact, it is not inconsistent to claim that, in an indirect way, they were the forerunners of our new school of criticism; for many Christian scholars not satisfied with the answers made to the infidel writers of the eighteenth century have accepted the results of this new criticism as a solution of the difficulties urged against christianity by the infidels of the eighteenth century.

It is time now to pause and summarize what has been thus far discussed:

First, the divided state of Christendom of itself argues something wrong; for nearly every page of holy scripture urges the unity of Christ's Church. "Is Christ divided?"[36] is the ringing question that the apostle of the Gentiles asks the schismatically inclined church at Corinth. "I beseech you, brethren," says he, "by the name of our Lord Jesus Christ, that ye all speak the same thing, and that there be no division among you; but that ye be perfectly joined together in the same mind and the same judgment."[37] He then proceeds to tell them that they are utterly at fault in one saying that he was of Paul; another that he was of Apollos, and another that he was of Cephas.[38] What he would say of divided, not to say warring Christendom of today, one may not conjecture, further than to say that if the incipient divisions in Corinth provoked his condemnation, the open rupture and conflicting creeds of the Christianity of the nineteenth century would merit still harsher reproof.

Second, the failure of Christianity to evangelize the world in nineteen centuries, sixteen of which, to all human judgment, appear to have been especially favorable to that evangelization, since at the back of Christianity stood the powerful nations of Europe whose commerce and conquests opened the gates of nearly all nations to Christian missionaries—argues some weakness in a religion bottomed on divine revelation and sustained through all these centuries (so Christians claim) by divine power. To be compelled to admit after all these centuries favorable to the establishment of Christianity that now only a little more than one-fourth of the population of our earth is even nominally Christian is to confess that the results do not do credit to a religion making the claims and possessing the advantages of Christianity.

Third, the existence of a broad and constantly widening stream of unbelief, not only in Christian lands and apart from Christian communion, but within the very churches claiming to be churches of Christ, together with the inability of the orthodox to meet and silence the infidel revilers of the Christian religion—tells its own tale of weakness; and bears testimony of the insufficiency of the Christian evidences to bring conviction to the doubting minds of many sincere and moral people.

All these considerations proclaim in trumpet-tones

"'Tis time that some new prophet should appear."

Mankind stand in need of a new witness for God—a witness who may speak not as the scribes or the pharisees, but in the clear, ringing tones of one clothed with authority from God. The world is weary of the endless wrangling of the scholastics. They settle nothing. Their speculations merely shroud all in profounder mystery, and beget more uncertainty. They darken counsel by words without knowledge. Therefore, to heal the schisms in Christendom; to bring order out of the existing chaos; to stay the stream of unbelief within the churches; to convert the Jews; to evangelize the world; to bring to pass that universal reign of truth, of peace, of liberty, of righteousness that all the prophets have predicted—the world needs a new witness for God.

Footnotes

1. Such is the language, slightly paraphrased, which Mrs. Humphrey Ward puts in the mouth of the orthodox Ronalds in her dialogue entitled The New Reformation (See Agnosticism and Christianity—Humbolt Library Series, page 151); and it accurately states the claims of the orthodox Christian.

2. "Agnosticism and Christianity," p. 151. The passage is paraphrased.

3. I thus carefully qualify the statement for the reason that I believe the Christian religion—that is, the Gospel, has a much earlier existence than the birth of Christ. Messiah is spoken of in Scripture as "the lamb slain from the foundation of the world," from which expression in connection with many other evidences—too numerous to mention here (see the Author's work "The Gospel," ch. xxxii.)—I get the idea that the plan of man's redemption through the atonement of Jesus Christ is at least as old as the foundation of the world. It was revealed to Adam, and the Patriarchs, to Abraham, to Moses, and to some of the prophets; and finally through the earthly ministry of the Son of God himself; but it is an error to suppose that it came into existence first through the ministry of Jesus of Nazareth on earth.

4. Ęsop's Fables.

5. Mosheim's Ecclesiastical Institutes, book iii., cent. viii., part i., chap. i. (Murdock's translation always quoted.)

6. Mosheim, book iii., cent. x., part i., chap. i.

7. Mosheim, book iii., cent. xii., part i., chap. i.

8. "What the World Believes," Gay Bros & Co., New York. Dr. Hurst's "Outline History of the Church" (1875) gives the following population to the creeds:

Christianity ........................ 407 Millions.

Judaism ............................... 7 "

Buddhism ............................ 340 "

Mohammedism ......................... 200 "

Brahmanism .......................... 175 "

Confucianism ......................... 80 "

All other forms of religious belief . 174 "

While this is a little different grouping of the religions than that in the text, the computation is approximately the same. "Of the Christian populations of the world, 131,007,449 are assigned to Protestantism, 200,339,390 to Roman Catholicism, and 76,390,040 to the oriental churches. In the New World, comprising North and South America, the Roman Catholics are in the majority, having about sixty millions" (Behm & Wagner). The above is also quoted with favor by Dr. Joseph Faa Di Bruno in his work "Catholic Belief," p. 397.

9. Burder's History of all Religions (1860), p. 140; also Buck's Theol. Dic., Art. Greek Church.

10. Faith of our Fathers, p. 109.

11. Christianity and Agnosticism, p. 161.

12. "The true deist has but one Deity; and his religion consists in contemplating the power, wisdom and benignity of the Deity in his works, and in endeavoring to imitate him in everything moral, scientifical and mechanical. * * * * The Almighty Lecturer (Deity), by displaying the principles of science in the structure of the universe, has invited man to study and to imitation. It is as if he had said to the inhabitants of this globe we call ours, 'I have made an earth for man to dwell upon, and I have rendered the starry heavens visible, to teach him science and the arts. He can now provide for his own comfort, and learn from my munificence to all, to be kind to each other.' * * * * * In Deism our reason and our belief become happily united. The wonderful structure of the universe, and everything we behold in the system of the creation, prove to us far better than books can do, the existence of a God and at the same time proclaim his attributes. It is by exercise of our reason that we are enabled to contemplate God in his works and imitate him in his ways. When we see his care and goodness extended over all his creatures, it teaches us our duty towards each other while it calls forth our gratitude to him."—Thomas Paine.

13. "It is not in the name of this or that philosophy, but in the name of constant experience that we banish miracle from history. We do not say 'miracle is impossible'; we say: 'there has been hitherto no miracle proved.' * * * * Till we have new light, we shall maintain, therefore, this principle of historical criticism, that a supernatural relation cannot be accepted as such, that it always implies credulity or imposture." Renan, Life of Jesus, E. T. pp. 44, 45.

14. "Let the gospels be in part legendary, that is evident since they are full of miracles and the supernatural." "Renan, Life of Jesus, p. 19." Renan is one of the chief writers of the rationalistic school.

"No just perception of the true nature of history is possible without a just perception of the inviolability of the chain of finite causes, and of the impossibility of miracles." Strauss, Leben Jesu, Vol. I., p. 64. E. T.

15. "Canons," is the scientific term.

16. "Inquiry into the Credibility of Early Roman History." (Sir G. C. Lewis) Vol. I., p. 2, of the Introduction.

17. The whole world of profane history has been revolutionized: * * * * The views of the ancient world formerly entertained have been in ten thousand points either modified or revised—a new antiquity has been raised up out of the old—while much that was unreal in the picture of past times which men had formed to themselves has disappeared, consigned to that "Limbo large and broad" into which "all things transitory and vain" are finally received, a fresh revelation has in many cases taken the place of the old view, which has dissolved before the wand of the critic; and a firm and strong fabric has arisen out of the shattered debris of the fallen systems.—George Rawlinson's "Historical Evidences" (London Edition) pp. 28, 29.

18. A footnote scarcely affords the space necessary in which to discuss the value of miracles as evidence to the truth of a religion or the divine authority of the miracle worker; but a few observations at this particular point will be, in the estimation of the author, apropos. It is a mistake on the part of the Protestants or any one else to concede that the power to work miracles is absolute evidence of the truth of a religion, or of the divine calling of the miracle worker. Too much importance has been given to miracles as evidence of divine authority. Looking upon what are commonly called miracles, not as events or effects contrary to the laws of nature, but interventions on the part of God (through the operation of natural, though perhaps to man unknown laws) for the benefit of his children, and recognizing God as the Father of all mankind, it would be an extremely narrow conception of the love and mercy of the Deity to suppose that he would confine these interventions to any one class of his children. Surely it is egotism run mad for a people to suppose that they have succeeded so far in becoming the special favorites of heaven that all God's special providences will be confined to them. No, no; he who maketh his sun to rise on the evil as well as the good, and sendeth rain on the just and unjust alike, is capable of better things than men ascribe to him in this matter of miracles. But it does not follow that those who enjoy these special manifestations have correct religious creeds or possess the fullness of truth. Equally erroneous is it to suppose that the powers of evil cannot work what are called miracles; that is, put into operation forces as yet unknown to man which produce effects uncommon to his experience. Can it be that our Christian writers have forgotten that "to win us to our harm, the instruments of darkness tell us truths—win us with honest trifles, to betray us in deepest consequences?" Have they forgotten that the miracles of Moses were well nigh matched by those of the magicians of Egypt? That Simon Magus, notwithstanding he had no lot nor part in the things of God, yet had wrought miracles. Have they forgotten that in the description given us in Holy Writ (II. Thess. ii.) of the rise of Anti-Christ, that Satan shall have power to work "signs and lying wonders," and that God will permit the strong delusions that those might be condemned who believe not the truth but have pleasure in unrighteousness? Have they forgotten that the word of prophecy hath said that even unclean spirits, "devils," shall have the power of "working miracles," even calling down fire from heaven, to deceive the inhabitants of the earth? (Rev. xvi)? If miracles are to be taken as an absolute test of divine authority, will not the unclean spirits, these miracle-working devils, prove the divinity of their mission? Again, it said that "John" (the baptist), than whom there is no greater prophet, "did no miracle" (John x. 41). It appears, therefore, that not all that are sent of God work miracles; and we see that devils have in the past and will in the future possess that power; hence miracles are not as important a class of testimony as they have usually been esteemed; and writers are utterly at fault who regard them as an absolute test of true religion or divine authority.

19. I find it necessary to say another word on miracles. There is a general misapprehension, I think, of what a miracle really is. The commonly accepted definition of the term is, "an event or effect contrary to the established constitution and course of things, or a deviation from the known laws of nature." Renan defines a miracle to be, "not simply the inexplicable, it is a formal derogation from recognized laws in the name of a particular desire." What is especially faulty in these definitions is this: Miracles are held to be outside or contrary to the laws of nature. Let us examine this. Two hundred years ago the only motive powers known to ocean navigators were wind and the ocean currents. Suppose at that time those old mariners had seen one of our modern ocean steamers running against both ocean currents and the wind; and, withal, making better speed in spite of both wind and tide than the old time sailing vessel could even when running before the wind and the ocean currents in her favor. What would have been the effect of such a sight on the mind of the old-time sailor? "It is a miracle!" he would have exclaimed; that is, it would have been an "effect contrary to the established constitution and course of things," "a derogation from recognized laws." But is such an effect to us who know something of the force of steam contrary to the laws of nature? No; it is simply the employment of forces in nature of which the old-time mariner was ignorant; and while it would have been a miracle to him, to us it is merely the application of a newly discovered force of nature, and it is now so common that we cease to look upon it with wonder. So with the things that we now in our ignorance call miracles—such as the healing of the sick, restoring the blind to sight, making the lame to walk, through the exercise of faith, and the resurrection of the dead—instead of these things being in "derogation from recognized laws," we shall yet learn that they are done simply by the application of laws of which we are as yet in ignorance. With man's limited knowledge of the laws of nature, how presumptuous it is in him to say that the healing of the sick or even the resurrection of the dead are in "derogation of the laws of nature," or that deviation from those few laws of nature with which he is acquainted will never happen, or is impossible! Better reasoners are they who, like George Rawlinson, say, "Miraculous interpositions on fitting occasions may be as much a regular, fixed, and established rule of his (God's) government as the working ordinarily by what are called natural laws." In other words, what we in our ignorance call miracles, are to God merely the results of the application of higher laws or forces of nature not yet learned by man. Miracles are to be viewed as a part of the divine economy.

20. It will be observed that throughout a difference between myth and legend is recognized. Strauss thus distinguishes between them: "Mythus is the creation of a fact out of an idea; legend the seeing of an idea in a fact, or arising out of it." "The myth is therefore pure and absolute imagination," says Rawlinson; "the legend has a basis of fact, but amplifies, abridges, or modifies that basis at its pleasure." And thus De Wette: "The myth is an idea in a vestment of facts; the legend contains facts pervaded and transformed by ideas."

21. All this and a hundred other things equally silly and untrue which mar rather than dignify the character of Jesus Christ are related in the "First Gospel of the Infancy," translated by Mr. Henry Sike, professor of Oriental Languages at Cambridge. "The Infancy" was accepted by the Gnostics, a Christian sect of the second century.

22. "Life of Jesus" (Renan), p. 50, E. T.

23. "Life of Jesus" (Strauss), vol. III., p. 434, E. T.

24. "Upon the whole, I accept the four canonical gospels as authentic. All, in my judgment, date back to the first century, and they are substantially by the authors to whom they are attributed." "Renan's Life of Jesus," Introduction, p. 34, E. T.

25. "Let the Gospels be in part legendary, that is evident since they are full of miracles and the supernatural. . . . . The historic value which I attribute to the Gospels is now, I think, quite understood. They are neither biographies, after the manner of Suetonius, nor fictitious legends, like those of Philostratus; they are legendary biographies." Renan, "Life of Jesus," Introduction, p. 17 38.

26. "Till we have new light, we shall maintain, therefore, this principle of historical criticism, that a supernatural relation cannot be accepted as such, that it always implies credulity or imposture, that the duty of the historian is to interpret it, and to seek what portion of truth and what portion error it may contain. Such are the rules which have been followed in this life" (of Christ). Renan, "Life of Jesus," p. 45, E. T.

27. "Historical Evidences" (Rawlinson), p. 228.

28. "Historical Evidences," (Rawlinson), Preface.

29. "Historical Evidences" (Rawlinson), see Preface. See also Keil's preface to his "Comment on Joshua."

30. "Origins of Christianity" in three volumes; "The Life of Jesus," "The Apostles," "Saint Paul."

31. See Preface to Strauss' "Life of Jesus."

32. Dr. C. A. Briggs.

33. The triumphant language of Dr. Briggs in the North American Review is: "The majority of votes in favor of the suspension was very great. But if the votes are weighed as well as counted the disparity will not be regarded as serious. The basis of representation in the general assembly gives the small presbyteries in the country districts and on the frontiers a vastly greater power than they are entitled to by their numbers or influence, while the strong presbyteries in our large cities and in the great communities are put at a serious disadvantage. The general assemblies, as they are now constituted, represent the least intelligent portion of the church, and not unfrequently a majority in the Assembly really represents a minority of the ministers and people in the denomination. A majority of a general assembly is not taken seriously by intelligent Presbyterians."

34. "Decline and Fall of the Roman Empire."

35. The remarks in relation to both Gibbon and Voltaire are to be found in the Christian Visitor for 1889.

36. 1 Cor. i. 13.

37. Ibid verse 10.

38. 1 Cor. i. 12.

THESIS II.

The Church of Christ Was Destroyed: There Has Been an Apostasy from the Christian Religion, So Complete and Universal, as to Make Necessary a New Dispensation of the Gospel.

CHAPTER II.

THE EFFECT OF PAGAN PERSECUTION ON THE CHRISTIAN CHURCH.

A variety of causes have operated to produce the result stated in my second Thesis, among which I shall first consider those terrible persecutions with which the saints were afflicted in the first centuries of our era.

Let it not be a matter of surprise that I class those persecutions as among the means through which the church was destroyed. The force of heathen rage was aimed at the leaders and strong men of the body religious; and being long-continued and relentlessly cruel, those most steadfast in their adherence to the church invariably became its victims. These being stricken down, it left none but weaklings to contend for the faith, and made possible those subsequent innovations in the religion of Jesus which a pagan public sentiment demanded, and which so completely changed both the spirit and form of the Christian religion as to subvert it utterly.

Let me further ask that no one be surprised that violence is permitted to operate in such a case. The idea that the right is always victorious in this world; that truth is always triumphant and innocence always divinely protected, are old, fond fables with which well-meaning men have amused credulous multitudes; but the stern facts of history and actual experience in life correct the pleasing delusion. Do not misunderstand me. I believe in the ultimate victory of the right, the ultimate triumph of truth, the final immunity of innocence from violence. These—innocence, truth and the right—will be at the last more than conquerors; they will be successful in the war, but that does not prevent them from losing some battles. It should be remembered always that God has given to man his agency; and that fact implies that one man is as free to act wickedly as another is to do righteousness. Cain was as free to murder his brother as that brother was to worship God; and so the pagans and Jews were as free to persecute and murder the Christians as the Christians were to live virtuously and worship Christ as God. The agency of man would not be worth the name if it did not grant liberty to the wicked to fill the cup of their iniquity, as well as liberty to the virtuous to round out the measure of their righteousness. Such perfect liberty or agency God has given man; and it is only so variously modified as not to thwart his general purposes. Hence it comes that even when stealthy Murder in sight of his helpless victim meditates the crime, no voice to prevent the act "speaks through the blanket of the dark" crying, "Hold! hold!" Of course it follows that running parallel with this fact of man's liberty is the solemn truth of his full responsibility for the use he makes of it.

In the light of these reflections, then, I say that after Christ, as before his day, the kingdom of heaven suffered violence and the violent took it by force.[1] How far that violence, as manifested in the persecutions of the first three Christian centuries, was effectual as a factor in causing the destruction of the church is now to engage our attention.

At the outset, however, there is a difficulty I cannot pass without comment—the disagreement of eminent writers on the extent and severity of the persecutions endured by the Christians up to the accession of Constantine to the imperial throne of Rome. On the one hand infidel writers, such as Gibbon and Dodwell, have sought to minimize the suffering of the Christians under the persecutions, and on the other, Christian writers, such as Milner, Paley and Fox, have sought to magnify it. The motive on the part of both infidels and Christians is obvious. The more violent and extensive the persecutions, the more the martyrs, the more glorious the triumph for the church. While on the other hand, if the persecutions can be proven to be limited, the suffering made to appear trifling and the martyrs few in number, the church is robbed of so much of her glory. Doubtless both parties have gone to extremes in the contention. Unfortunately for the Christian side of the controversy, there is much reason for believing that the account of Christian suffering within the period named has been much exaggerated. Their chief authority—Eusebius—has thrown more or less suspicion upon the trustworthiness of all that he has written, by declaring in the opening chapter of his Ecclesiastical History and elsewhere that "Whatsoever, therefore, we deem likely to be advantageous to the proposed subject, we shall endeavor to reduce to a compact body by historical narration. For this purpose we have collected the materials that have been scattered by our predecessors, and culled, as from some intellectual meadows, the appropriate extracts from ancient authors."[2]

On these passages Gibbon remarks: "The gravest of the ecclesiastical historians, Eusebius himself, indirectly confesses that he has related whatever might redound to the glory, and that he has suppressed all that could tend to the disgrace of religion. Such an acknowledgment will naturally excite a suspicion that a writer who has so openly violated one of the fundamental laws of history, has not paid a very strict regard to the observance of the other."[3] Draper also refers to the same when, commenting upon the inaccuracies of early Christian writers, he says: "In historical compositions there was a want of fair dealing and truthfulness almost incredible to us; thus, Eusebius naively avows that in his history he shall omit whatever might tend to the discredit of the church, and magnify whatever might conduce to her glory."[4]

But while it must be conceded that there is much reason for believing that the Christian fathers exaggerated both the extent and severity of those early persecutions, it remains clear that both the extent and severity of them were greater and more baneful to the church than infidel writers allow; and the truth of it may be proven independent of the testimonies of the Christian fathers. The proofs I refer to are the edicts themselves, considered in the light of the well-known cruelty of the Roman people, intensified by the malice of religious zeal aroused to suppress an obnoxious society whose doctrines were held to be destructive of the ancient religion of Rome, and a menace to the existence of the state itself.

Passing by the persecutions inflicted upon the Christians by the Jews, an account of which is to be found in the New Testament, I call attention to the first great pagan persecution under the cruel edict of the Emperor Nero. For our information in respect to this persecution we are indebted not to any Christian writer, but to the judicious Tacitus, whom even "the most sceptical criticism is obliged to respect."[5] Nero having set on fire the city of Rome, in order that he might witness a great conflagration, and wishing to divert suspicion from himself, first accused and then tried to compel the Christians to confess the great crime—and now Tacitus:

"With this view he inflicted the most exquisite tortures on those men who, under the vulgar appellation of Christians, were already branded with deserved infamy. They derived their name and origin from Christ, who, in the reign of Tiberius had suffered death by the sentence of the procurator Pontius Pilate. For awhile this dire superstition was checked; but it again burst forth; and not only spread itself over Judea, the first seat of this mischievous sect, but was even introduced into Rome, the common asylum which receives and protects whatever is impure, whatever is atrocious. The confessions of those that were seized discovered a great multitude of their accomplices, and they were all convicted, not so much for the crime of setting fire to the city, as for their hatred of human kind. They died in torments, and their torments were embittered by insults and derision. Some were nailed on crosses; others sewn up in the skins of wild beasts, and exposed to the fury of dogs; others, again, smeared over with combustible materials, were used as torches to illuminate the darkness of the night. The gardens of Nero were destined for the melancholy spectacle, which was accompanied with a horse-race, and honored with the presence of the emperor, who mingled with the populace in the dress and attitude of a charioteer. The guilt of the Christians deserved indeed the most exemplary punishments, but the public abhorrence was changed into commiseration, from the opinion that those unhappy wretches were sacrificed, not so much to the public welfare as to the cruelty of a jealous tyrant."[6]

Eminent scholars are divided in opinion as to whether this persecution under Nero extended to the provinces or was confined to the city of Rome. Gibbon assumes that it was both brief and confined to the city. According to Milman "M. Guizot, on the authority of Suplicious Severus and of Orosius inclines to the opinion of those who extend the persecution to the provinces. Mosheim rather leans to that side on this much disputed question. Neander takes the view of Gibbon, which is, in general, that of the most learned writers."[7]

This controversy need not detain us a moment. It matters not to my purpose whether the edicts of Nero extended to the provinces or were limited in their operations to the Christians within the capital. The testimony of Tacitus is sufficient to prove, first, that the persecution was general within the city; second its terrible cruelty; and third, the great abhorrence in which the Christians were held by the Romans.

I submit to the consideration of the reader that a people so greatly detested as the Christians, were not likely to meet with gentle treatment from the Romans; and when, as subsequently it came to pass, the people clamored for the sacrifice of the saints whom they abhorred as the enemies of mankind, instead of looking upon them with commiseration as the citizens of Rome did in their persecution under Nero—when the Roman people, I say, clamored for the sacrifice of the Christians and the emperors were cruel enough, and unjust enough to issue edicts for their destruction, the persecutions of those times were neither so limited nor so free from severity as Gibbon and others would have us believe. Even in this persecution under Nero, if no edicts were sent into the provinces commanding the execution of Christians, it is not unreasonable to believe that the despisers of the followers of Christ, finding warrant for their conduct by what was taking place at Rome, under the supervision of the emperor himself, would not hesitate to inflict hardships upon the saints without the formality of his proclamation.

It was this unofficial persecution which, without doubt, arose in the provinces as an indirect result of the persecution in the capital, that has led a number of prominent writers to believe that Nero's persecution extended throughout the empire. However that may be, a "great multitude" suffered in the city of Rome, and were subject to such tortures and cruel modes of death—described, mark you, by the unfriendly Tacitus—that little is left to be added even by the fervid imaginations of the Christian fathers. It is reasonable to believe that the subsequent persecutions were not freer from cruelty than this one under Nero; and therefore, though some allowance must be made for exaggeration in the writings of the Christian fathers, it may be safely concluded that those persecutions which preceded the reign of Constantine were both widespread and horribly cruel.

What is usually denominated the third persecution of the Christian Church occurred in the reign of Trajan, 98—117 A. D. Here, as in the persecution under Nero, we may determine something of the severity and manner of it from a Roman writer. Trajan intrusted the government of Bithynia and Pontius to his personal friend, the younger Pliny. The new governor, in his administration of the affairs of his provinces, found himself perplexed as to what course he should pursue in regard to the Christians brought before him for trial. He accordingly wrote to his master for instruction; and I deem his letter of such importance as showing the severity to which Christians were subject, the character of the Christians, and the number of unfaithful members who had evidently entered the church by that time, that I give it in extenso:

"Health.—It is my usual custom, sir, to refer all things, of which I harbor any doubts, to you. For who can better direct my judgment in its hesitation, or instruct my understanding in its ignorance? I never had the fortune to be present at any examination of Christians, before I came into this province. I am, therefore, at a loss, to determine what is the usual object either of inquiry or of punishment, and to what length either of them is to be carried. It has also been with me a question very problematical, whether any distinction should be made between the young and the old, the tender and the robust; whether any room should be given for repentance, or the guilt of Christianity, once incurred is not to be expiated by the most unequivocal retraction; whether the name itself, abstracted from any flagitiousness of conduct, or the crimes connected with the name, be the object of punishment. In the meantime, this has been my method, with respect to those who were brought before me as Christians: If they pleaded guilty, I interrogated them twice afresh, with a menace of capital punishment. In case of obstinate perseverance, I ordered them to be executed. For of this I had no doubt, whatever was the nature of their religion, that a sullen and obstinate inflexibility called for the vengeance of the magistrate. Some who were infected with the same madness whom, on account of their privilege of citizenship, I reserve to be sent to Rome, to be referred to your tribunal. In the course of this business, information pouring in, as is usual when they are encouraged, more cases occurred. An anonymous libel was exhibited, with a catalogue of names of persons, who yet declared they were not Christians then or ever had been; and they repeated after me an invocation of the gods and of your image, which for this purpose I had ordered to be brought with the images of the deities. They performed sacred rites with wine and frankincense, and execrated Christ, none of which things I am told a real Christian can ever be compelled to do. On this account I dismissed them. Others named by an informer, first affirmed and then denied the charge of Christianity, declaring that they had been Christians, but had ceased to be so, some three years ago, others still longer, some even twenty years ago. All of them worshiped your image, and the statues of the gods, and also execrated Christ. And this was the account which they gave of the nature of their religion they once professed, whether it deserves the name of crime or error, namely, that they were accustomed on a stated day to meet before daylight, and repeat among themselves a hymn to Christ as to a god, and to bind themselves by an oath with an obligation of not committing any wickedness; but on the contrary, of abstaining from thefts, robberies, and adulteries; also, of not violating their promise, or denying a pledge; after which it was their custom to separate, and to meet again at a promiscuous, harmless meal, from which last practice they however desisted, after the publication of my edict, in which, agreeably to your order, I forbade any societies of that sort. On which account I judged it the more necessary, to inquire, by torture, from two females, who were said to be deaconesses, what is the real truth. But nothing could I collect, except a depraved and excessive superstition. Deferring, therefore, any further investigation, I determined to consult you. For the number of the culprits is so great, as to call for serious consultation. Many persons are informed against of every age, and of both sexes; and more still will be in the same situation. The contagion of the superstition hath spread not only through cities, but even villages and the country. Not that I think it impossible to check and correct it. The success of my efforts hitherto forbids such desponding thoughts; for the temples, once almost desolate, begin to be frequented, and the sacred solemnities which had long been intermitted, are now attended afresh, and the sacrificed victims are now sold everywhere, which once could scarcely find a purchaser. Whence, I conclude, that many might be reclaimed, were the hope of impunity, on repentance, absolutely confirmed."[8]

To this Trajan sent the following answer: "You have done perfectly right, my dear Pliny, in the inquiry which you have made concerning Christians. For truly no one general rule can be laid down which will apply itself to all cases. These people must not be sought after. If they are brought before you and convicted, let them be capitally punished, yet with this restriction, that if anyone renounce Christianity, and evidence his sincerity by supplicating our gods, however suspected he may be for the past, he shall obtain pardon for the future, on his repentance. But anonymous libels in no case ought to be attended to; for the precedent would be of the worst sort, and perfectly incongruous to the maxims of my government."[9]

Gibbon makes much of the perplexity of Pliny as to how to proceed against the Christians. For since the life of that Roman had been employed in the acquisition of learning and the business of the world; since from the age of nineteen he had pleaded with distinction in the tribunals of Rome; therefore, from the ignorance of this Roman governor, the great historian of the Decline and Fall concludes that there were no general laws or decrees of the senate in force against the Christians previous to Pliny accepting the governorship of Bithynia.[10] There is nothing, however, in the circumstance of Pliny's ignorance to justify such a conclusion.

It is not difficult to conceive how laws and decrees against the Christians could exist and yet a man employed as Pliny was have no technical knowledge of the modus operandi of procedure against them. His very letter, quoted above, seems to recognize the existence of such laws before he went into Bithynia; for he pleads as an excuse for his ignorance of how to proceed in the business neither the non-existence, nor the newness of the laws, but merely the fact that he had never been present at the examination of Christians brought to trial previous to accepting the governorship of his provinces.

In like spirit Gibbon points to the mildness of both the emperor and the governor as being against the idea that this persecution was very severe. Giving full credit for that mildness, what was the status of the Christians as to liability to persecution in Bithynia and Pontus after Pliny received the instruction of his master? (1) They were not to be sought after, that is, hunted down for the mere sake of destroying them; (2) anonymous complaints or libels were not to be entertained against them; (3) if brought before the judge and they would renounce their religion by supplicating the gods of Rome, they were to receive pardon. So far the tender mercies of Trajan extended. They could still be accused by any one bold enough to affix his name to the charge; and if the accused Christians refused to deny the faith, they were punished by sentence of death. When it is considered how bitter was the malice of their enemies, and how wide-spread the detestation of Christianity, it will be conceded that even in Bithynia and Pontus, notwithstanding the mildness of the emperor and the humanity of the governor, there was still left plenty of opportunity to vex the church and make persecution contribute to its destruction. I say even in Bithynia and Pontus this was the case; how much more was it so in those provinces where less humane magistrates than Pliny administered the laws, and who proceeded without asking for instruction from the emperor! In such provinces the saints were liable to be accused anonymously, put to the torture, not with a view to force from them a confession, but a denial of the charge, failing in which they were executed without mercy.

The limits of this inquiry forbids anything like an exhaustive examination of the several persecutions endured by the Christians. I shall therefore content myself with a brief reference to those most disastrous to the church.

Passing by, then, the persecutions under Aurelius and Verus, in which the sufferings of the Christians in Gaul were most severe—especially in the cities of Lyons and Vienne,[11] where churches were well nigh destroyed by its violence; and also passing by the persecutions which arose under the edicts of Severus, which were issued more especially to prevent the propagation of Christianity than to punish those already converts to it, I come to that general and terrible persecution under Decius Trajan, in the middle of the third century. The incentive which prompted the action of Decius against the Christians is variously ascribed to hatred of his predecessor, Philip, whom he had murdered, and who was friendly to the church; to his zeal for paganism; and lastly to his fear, feigned or real, that the Christians would usurp the empire. Perhaps all these motives combined impelled him to make war upon the church. According to the representations of one Dionysius, quoted by Eusebius, the persecution, at least in Africa, began before the edicts of Decius were issued. "The persecution with us," says the writer referred to, "did not begin with the imperial edict but precede it by a whole year. And a certain prophet and poet, inauspicious to the city [Alexandria], whoever he was, excited the mass of the heathens against us, stirring them up to their native superstition. Stimulated by him, and taking full liberty to exercise any kind of wickedness, they considered this the only piety, and the worship of their demons, viz, to slay us. * * But as the sedition and civil war overtook the wretches, their cruelty was diverted from us to one another. We then drew a little breath, while their rage against us was a little abated. But, presently, that change from a milder reign was announced to us, and much terror was now threatening us. The decree [of Decius] had arrived, very much like that which was foretold by our Lord, exhibiting the most dreadful aspects so that, if it were possible, the very elect would stumble. All indeed were greatly alarmed, and many of the more eminent immediately gave way to them; others, who were in public offices, were led forth by their very acts; others were brought by their acquaintances and when called by name, they approached the impure and unholy sacrifices. But pale and trembling, as if they were not to sacrifice but themselves to be the victims and the sacrifices to the idols. They were jeered by many of the surrounding multitude, and were obviously equally afraid to die and to offer the sacrifice. But some advanced with greater readiness to the altar and boldly asserted that they had never before been Christians, concerning whom the declaration of our Lord is most true, that they will scarcely be saved. Of the rest, some followed the one or the other of the preceding; some fled, others were taken, and of these some held out as far as the prison and bonds, and some after a few days' imprisonment abjured Christianity before they entered the tribunal. And some, also, after enduring the torture for a time, at last renounced. Others, however, firm and blessed pillars of the Lord, confirmed by the Lord himself, and receiving in themselves strength and power, suited and proportioned to their faith, became admirable witnesses of his kingdom."[12]

Eusebius at great length recounts the suffering of individuals both in the east and west divisions of the empire, but it is not necessary to follow him through all those details. It will be sufficient to say that this persecution was more terrible than any which preceded it. It extended over the whole empire, and had for its avowed object the enforced apostasy of the Christians.[13]

How unrelenting the efforts must have been to encompass either the destruction or the apostasy of the Christians will appear when it is known that the governors of the provinces were "commanded, on pain of forfeiting their own lives, either to exterminate all Christians utterly, or bring them back by pain and tortures to the religion of their fathers." "During two years," continues Mosheim, "a great multitude of Christians in all the Roman provinces were cut off by various species of punishment and suffering. This persecution was more cruel and terrific than any that preceded it; and immense numbers dismayed, not so much by the fear of death, as by the dread of the long-continued tortures by which the magistrates endeavored to overcome the constancy of the Christians, professed to renounce Christ; and procured for themselves safety, either by sacrificing, i. e., offering incense before the idols, or by certificates purchased with money."[14]

Gibbon, who never admits the severity of the persecutions under the emperors, except when compelled by undeniable facts, says, of this one under Decius: "The fall of Philip (the predecessor of Decius) introduced with a change of masters, a new system of government so oppressive to the Christians that their former condition, ever since the time of Domitian, was represented as a state of perfect freedom and security, if compared with the rigorous treatment which they experienced under the short reign of Decius. * * * The bishops of the most considerable cities were removed by exile or death; the vigilance of the magistrates prevented the clergy of Rome during sixteen months from proceeding to the new election; and it was the opinion of the Christians that the emperor would more patiently endure a competition for the purple than a bishop for the capital."[15]

Milner, quoting Cyprian, says concerning the effect of this persecution: "Vast numbers lapsed into idolatry immediately. Even before men were accused as Christian many ran to the forum and sacrificed to the gods as they were ordered; and the crowds of apostates were so great that the magistrates wished to delay numbers of them till the next day, but they were importuned by the wretched suppliants to be allowed to prove themselves heathens that very night."[16]

The reign of Decius was brief, lasting only two years, and toward the close of it, as if surfeited with slaughter, the violent persecution against the saints relaxed somewhat of its severity; but his successors, Gallus and his son Volusian, renewed it. A pestilential disease broke out about this time and spread through a number of the provinces, and this the pagan priests persuaded the populace was a curse sent upon the people on account of the toleration shown to the Christians. This was sufficient to re-kindle the flames of hatred and for two years more the Church of Christ suffered violence as it had done under Decius.

There remains but one more persecution to notice, that which is commonly known as the Diocletian. It could be called more properly the Galerian persecution; for Galerius, son-in-law to the emperor, and one with two others—Constantius Chlorus and Maximian—who shared with him the responsibility of governing the empire,[17] had most to do with it. It is said that Galerius was urged to secure the edicts of Diocletian against the Christians by his mother, Romlia, a very haughty woman, who had taken offense because the saints had excluded her from their sacrament meetings. Be that as it may, it is generally conceded that this severest of all persecutions against the Church of Christ was inaugurated and carried on through the hatred and influence of Galerius.

According to Eusebius[18] the persecution began in the nineteenth year of the reign of Diocletian—303 A. D. The emperor in issuing his first edict could not be brought to the infamy of aiming at the lives of the saints; it appears he could only be brought to that by degrees. His first edict ordered the destruction of the Christian churches, and the surrender of the holy scriptures and the degradation of Christians from office. Shortly after this the royal palace at Nicomedia was twice set on fire, and from it Galerius fled, giving out that he feared Christian malice had attempted his life. The Christians being charged with the crime the incident was made the excuse for issuing a second edict, "in consequence of which whole families of the pious were slain at the imperial command, some with the sword, some also with fire. But the populace, binding another number upon planks, threw them into the depths of the sea."[19]

A rebellion which occurred in Syria about this time was also charged to Christian intrigue, and a third edict was issued commanding that the heads of the church everywhere should be thrust into prison. "The spectacle of affairs after these events exceeds all description. Innumerable multitudes were imprisoned in every place, and the dungeons formerly destined for murderers and the vilest criminals were then filled with bishops, and presbyters, and deacons, readers and exorcists, so that there was no room left for those condemned for crimes."[20] It was ordered after a time that the prisoners should be granted their liberty on condition that they offer sacrifice at the shrine of the heathen gods. To effect that purpose the judges were commanded to employ the most excruciating tortures.

Diocletian thought to destroy the Christian "superstition" by overcoming the constancy of the leaders; but meeting with more resistance than he anticipated, he at last issued a fourth edict, directing the magistrates to compel all Christians, irrespective of age, sex, or official position, to offer sacrifice to the gods; and to employ tortures to compel that apostasy. The magistrates yielded strict obedience to the edict of the emperor, and the Christian church was reduced to the last extremity.[21] The scenes of suffering from tortures and bloodsheds throughout the empire, except in Gaul, where Constantine reigned, defy description. "Thousands, both men, and women and children," says Eusebius, speaking of those who suffered in Egypt, "despising the present life for the sake of our Savior's doctrine, submitted to death in various shapes. Some, after being tortured with scrappings[22] and the rack, and the most dreadful scourgings, and other innumerable agonies which one might shudder to hear, were finally committed to the flames; and some plunged and drowned in the sea, others voluntarily offering their own heads to their executioners, others dying in the midst of their torments, some wasted away by famine, and others again fixed to the cross. Some, indeed, were executed as malefactors usually were; others, more cruelly, were nailed with the head downwards, and kept alive until they were destroyed by starving on the cross itself."[23]

After describing similar but still more cruel tortures endured by the Christians of Thebais, Eusebius continues: "And all these things were doing not only for a few days or some time but for a series of whole years. At one time ten or more, at another more than twenty, at another time not less than thirty, and even sixty, and again at another time, a hundred men with their wives and little children were slain in one day, whilst they were condemned to various and varied punishments. We ourselves have observed when on the spot, many crowded together in one day suffering decapitation, some the torments of the flames; so that the murderous weapon was completely blunted, and having lost its edge, broke to pieces; and the executioners themselves wearied with the slaughter, were obliged to relieve one another."[24]

Gibbon, whose very reluctance to concede the severity of these persecutions induces me to quote him as often as admissions are forced from his unwilling lips, says of this persecution: "The magistrates were commanded to employ every method of severity which might reclaim them from their odious superstition, and obliged them to return to the established worship of the gods. This rigorous order was extended, by a subsequent edict, to the whole body of Christians, who were exposed to a violent and general persecution. Instead of those salutary restraints which had required the direct and solemn testimony of an accuser, it became the duty as well as the interest of the imperial officer to discover, to pursue, and to torment the most obnoxious among the faithful. Heavy penalties were denounced against all who should presume to save a prescribed sectary from the just indignation of the gods and the emperors."[25]

This persecution lasted for ten years; and at the end of that time the church presented a melancholy spectacle. Everywhere, even in Gaul, the Christian houses of worship were laid in ruins. Streams of Christian blood had flowed in every province of the empire, excepting in Gaul, where Constantine governed; and there, it will be remembered, a previous persecution under Aurelius and Verus had well-nigh destroyed the churches. Public worship was suspended. The saints were either driven to apostasy by tortures, had fled from the provinces to the barbarians, or kept themselves concealed. Meantime the magistrates incited as much by avarice as by hatred of Christianity, confiscated not only the church property, but also the private possessions of the ministers. In other cases the church leaders were either slain, or mutilated and sent to the mines or banished from the country. "Many through dread of undergoing torture had made way with their own lives, and many apostatized from the faith; and what remained of the Christian community, consisted of weak, poor and timorous persons."[26]

After adopting these measures for the destruction of the church, severities of another character were put in operation. "It was thought necessary to subject to the most intolerable hardships the condition of those perverse individuals who should still reject the religion of nature, of Rome, and of their ancestors. Persons of liberal birth were declared incapable of holding any honors or employments; slaves were forever deprived of the hopes of freedom, and the whole body of the people were put out of the protection of the law. The judges were authorized to hear and determine every action that was brought against a Christian. But the Christians were not permitted to complain of any injury which they themselves had suffered; and thus those unfortunate sectaries were exposed to the severity, while they were excluded from the benefits of public justice. This new species of martyrdom, so painful and lingering, so obscure and ignominious was, perhaps, the most proper to weary the constancy of the faithful; nor can it be doubted that the passions and interest of mankind were disposed on this occasion to second the designs of the emperors."[27] That the Romans considered the destruction of the Christian church completed by the Diocletian persecution is witnessed by the inscriptions upon monuments and medals. Two pillars in Spain, erected to commemorate the reign of Diocletian bore the following; on the first—

"DIOCLETIAN, JOVIAN, MAXIMIAN HERCULIUS, CAESARES AUGUSTI, FOR HAVING EXTENDED THE ROMAN EMPIRE IN THE EAST AND WEST, AND FOR HAVING EXTINGUISHED THE NAME OF CHRISTIANS, WHO BROUGHT THE REPUBLIC TO RUIN;"

On the second,

"DIOCLETIAN, ETC., FOR HAVING ADOPTED GALERIUS IN THE EAST, FOR HAVING EVERYWHERE ABOLISHED THE SUPERSTITION OF CHRIST, FOR HAVING EXTENDED THE WORSHIP OF THE GODS."

And on the medal of Diocletian this: "THE NAME OF CHRISTIAN BEING EXTINGUISHED."[28]

When it is remembered that these persecutions, to which I have briefly referred, ran through more than three centuries; that the emperors whose edicts inaugurated them possessed unlimited power to execute their decrees; that the age in which they occurred was cruel beyond modern comprehension; that Roman, that is to say, pagan hatred of Christians was venomously bitter, because they were made to believe that the existence of the ancient religion of Rome and latterly the existence of the empire itself depended upon the destruction of Christianity—when all this is remembered, it is not to be wondered at that the saints were worn out, or so nearly so that only "weak and timorous" men were left to ineffectually resist the paganization of Christianity—the destruction of the Church of Christ.

Footnotes

1. Matt. xi. 12.

2. "Euseb. Eccl. Hist.," Book VIII., ch. ii. and ch. xii.

3. "Decline and Fall," Vol. I., p. 486, Ed. of 1880.

4. "Intellectual Development of Europe," Vol. I., p. 360.

5. Of the burning of Rome, the punishment of the Christians and this celebrated passage in the writings of the famous Roman annalist, Gibbon, from whom I quote the phrase above, says: "The most sceptical criticism is obliged to respect the truth of this extraordinary fact and the integrity of this celebrated passage of Tacitus. The former [the burning of Rome and the punishment of the Christians] is confirmed by the diligent and accurate Suetonius, who mentions the punishment which Nero inflicted on the Christians, a sect of men who had embraced a new and criminal superstition. The latter may be proved by the consent of the most ancient manuscripts, by the imimitable character of the style of Tacitus, by his reputation, which guarded his text from the interpolation of pious fraud." "Decline and Fall," Vol. i., p. 448.

6. "Tacitus Annl.," lib, XV., ch. 44.

7. See Milman's Note in "Decline and Fall," Vol. I., p. 450.

8. I have taken Milner's translation of the Epistle. See "Ch. Hist.," Vol I., p. 145.

9. "Milner's Ch. Hist.," Vol. I., p. 148.

10. "Decline and Fall," Vol. I., p. 453.

11. An account of these persecutions at great length will be found in the letters of the survivors sent to the churches of Asia and Phrygia. "Eusebius," Book V., ch. i.

12. That is, they were executed. Eusebius, Bk. vi., Ch. xli.

13. See Murdock's note in Mosheim's Eccl. Hist., Bk. i, Cent. iii, Ch. ii.

14. Mosheim, (Murdock) Bk. i, Cent. iii, Ch. ii.

15. "Decline and Fall," Vol i., Ch. xvi.

16. Milner's Church Hist., Vol. i, Cent. iii, Ch. viii.

17. The situation was this: A year after his elevation to the imperial throne, Diocletian, believing the government of the vast empire of Rome a task too great for a single mind, chose Maximianus Herculius, commonly called Maximian, to be his colleague and to share with him the title of Augustus. After a few years each of the emperors chose a colleague in order to still further divide the labor of administration. These were Constantius Chlorus and Galerius Maximianus, usually called by his first name. Constantius and Galerius occupied an inferior position to that of Diocletian and Maximian, and were honored only with the title of "Caesar."

18. Eusebius Eccl. Hist., Bk. viii, Ch. ii.

19. Eusebius Eccl. Hist., Bk. viii, Ch. vi.

20. Eusebius Eccl. Hist., Bk. viii, Ch. vi.

21. Mosheim's Eccl. Hist., Cent, iv, Part i, Ch. i.

22. This torture was raking the flesh from the body by means of an iron-toothed instrument.

23. Eusebius Eccl. Hist., Bk. viii, Ch. viii.

24. Eusebius Eccl. Hist., Bk. viii, Ch. ix.

25. "Decline and Fall," Vol. i, p. 481. Gibbon claims, however, that "notwithstanding the severity of this law, the virtuous courage of many of the pagans in concealing their friends or relatives, affords an honorable proof, that the rage of superstition had not extinguished in their minds the sentiments of nature and humanity."—Ibid.

26. Schlegel, quoted by Murdock, see note Mosheim's Eccl. Hist., Cent. iv, Bk. ii. Ch. i.

27. "Decline and Fall," Vol. i, ch. xvi, p. 477. Gibbon undertakes to modify what he has here written by saying that the policy of a well-ordered government must sometimes have interposed in behalf of the oppressed Christians. "This wants proof," says Milman in a footnote on the remark, "the edict of Diocletian was executed in all its rigor during the rest of the reign;" and gives reference to Eusebius Eccl. Hist., Bk. viii, ch. xiii.

28. See Milner's Church History, Vol. ii, cent. iv, ch. ii, I also give the following in evidence of the severity of the persecution of the Christians in the early centuries of our era; and since it is taken from the funeral oration pronounced by Libanius over the body of his friend, the Emperor Julian, commonly called the apostate—because in manhood he renounced that Christianity which had been forced on him in childhood, and attempted to restore the ancient religion of Rome—it is of the same character of evidence as that already found in the statements of Tacitus and Pliny—it is the testimony of one unfriendly to Christianity, who could have no motive for exaggerating the sufferings of the Christians. Referring to the mildness of the methods of persecution adopted by Julian against the Christians, Labanius says: "They who adhered to corrupt religion [he means the Christians] were in great terrors [on his accession to the throne] and expected that their eyes would be plucked out, that their heads would be cut off, and that rivers of their blood would flow from the multitude of slaughters. They apprehended their new master would invent new kinds of torment, in comparison of which mutilation, sword, fire, drowning, being buried alive, would appear slight pains. For the preceding emperors had employed against them all these kinds of punishments."

CHAPTER III.

THE EFFECT OF PEACE, WEALTH AND LUXURY ON CHRISTIANITY.

Disastrous as the persecutions of the early Christian centuries were, still more mischievous to the church were those periods of tranquility which intervened between the outbursts of rage that prompted them. Peace may have her victories, no less renowned than those of war; and so, too, she has her calamities, and they are not less destructive than those of war. War may destroy nations, but ease and luxury mankind corrupt—the body and the mind. Especially is peace dangerous to the church. Prosperity relaxes the reins of discipline; people feel less and less the need of a sustaining providence; but in adversity the spirit of man feels after God, and he is correspondingly more devoted to the service of religion.

We shall find the early Christians no exception to the operation of this influence of repose. Whenever it was accorded them, either through the mercy or the indifference of the emperors, internal dissensions, the intrigues of aspiring prelates and the rise of heresies characterized those periods. Even Milner, who wrote his great work to counteract the influence of the too candid Mosheim; who takes to task other ecclesiastical writers for making too much of the wickedness that has existed in the church; who declares in the introduction of his Church History that genuine piety is the only thing he intends to celebrate, and announces it to be his purpose to write the history of those men only, irrespective of the external church to which they belonged, who have been real not nominally Christians[1]—even Milner, I say, admits and deplores the mischief wrought by these periods of peace which came to the church between the storms of persecution which plagued it; and refers in several places to the marked and steady declension of the Christian spirit in those centuries with which at present I am dealing. He admits that a gloomy cloud hung over the conclusion of the first century; and argues that the first impressions made by the effusion of the spirit are generally the strongest; that human depravity, overborn for a time, arises afresh, particularly in the next generation—hence the disorders of schism and heresy that arose in the church, the tendency of which was to destroy the work of God.[2]

The same writer upon the authority of Origen says that the long peace granted the church in the third century produced a great degree of luke-warmness and religious indecorum. "Let the reader," says he, "only notice the indifference which he [Origen] here describes, and the conduct of the Christians both in the first and second century, and he will be affected with the greatness of the declension." Then follows the picture drawn by Origen: "Several come to church only on solemn festivals; and then not so much for instruction as diversion. Some go out again as soon as they have heard the lecture, without conferring or asking the pastors questions. Others stay not till the lecture is ended; and others hear not so much as a single word; but entertain themselves in a corner of the church."

Coming to the middle of the third century, just previous to that severe persecution inaugurated by the Emperor Decius, and speaking of Cyprian, bishop of Carthage: Milman exclaims: "A star of the first magnitude! when we consider the times in which he lived. Let us recreate ourselves with the contemplation of it. We are fatigued with hunting for Christian goodness; and we have discovered but little and that little with much difficulty. We shall find Cyprian to be a character who partook indeed of the declension which we have noticed and lamented; but who was still far superior, I apprehend, in real simplicity and piety to the Christians of the East."[3] This same Cyprian, in whom Milner delights, speaking of the effects of the long peace which preceded the Decian persecution, says: "Each had been bent on improving his own patrimony; and had forgotten what believers had done under the apostles, and what they ought always to do. They were brooding over the arts of amassing wealth; the pastors and the deacons each forgot their duty; works of mercy were neglected, and discipline was at the lowest ebb; luxury and effeminacy prevailed; meritricious arts in dress were cultivated; fraud and deception practiced among brethren. Christians would unite themselves in matrimony with unbelievers; could swear not only without reverence but even without veracity. With haughty asperity they despised their ecclesiastical superiors; they railed against one another with outrageous acrimony, and conducted quarrels with determined malice. Even many bishops, who ought to be guides and patterns to the rest, neglected the peculiar duties of their stations, gave themselves up to secular pursuits. They deserted their places of residence and their flocks; they traveled through distant provinces in quest of pleasure and gain; gave no assistance to the needy brethren; but were insatiable in their thirst of money. They possessed estates by fraud and multiplied usury. What have we not deserved to suffer for such conduct? Even the divine word hath foretold us what we might expect: 'If his children forsake my law and walk not in my judgments, I will visit their offenses with the rod and their sins with scourges.' These things had been denounced and foretold, but in vain. Our sins had brought our affairs to that pass, that because we had despised the Lord's directions, we were obliged to undergo a correction of our multiplied evils and a trial of our faith by severe remedies."[4]

The last forty years of the third century were years of peace to the church. That period began with the ascension of Gallienius, a man of taste, indolence, philosophy and toleration, to the throne; and his example was followed by the emperors to the end of the century. A new scene this, Christianity tolerated by a pagan government for forty years! "This new scene did not prove favorable to the growth of grace and holiness," writes Milner. "In no period since the apostles was there ever so great a general decay as in this; not even in particular instances can we discover during this interval, much of lively Christianity."[5]

Though conscious of having already quoted copiously upon the point under consideration, I cannot withhold the testimony of Eusebius who was a witness of the effects of that peace granted the church previous to the last great pagan persecution, the Diocletian. After describing the multitudes which flocked into the church before the declension in the spirit of true Christianity so greatly prevailed, he remarks: "Nor was any malignant demon able to infatuate, no human machinations prevent them so long as the providential hand of God superintended and guarded his people as the worthy subjects of his care. But when by reason of excessive liberty, we sunk into negligence and sloth, one envying and reviling another in different ways, and we were almost, as it were, upon the point of taking up arms against each other with words as with darts and spears, prelates inveighing against prelates, and people rising up against people, and hypocrisy and dissimulation had arisen to the greatest height of malignity, then the divine judgment, which usually proceeds with a lenient hand, whilst the multitudes were yet crowding into the church, with gentle and mild visitation began to afflict the episcopacy; the persecution having begun with those brethren in the army. But as if destitute of all sensibility, we were not prompt in measures to appease and propitiate the Deity; some indeed like atheists, regarding our situation as unheeded and unobserved by a Providence, we added one wickedness and misery to another. But some that appeared to be our pastors deserting the law of piety, were inflamed against each other with mutual strifes, only accumulating quarrels and threats, rivalship, hostility and hatred to each other, only anxious to assert the government as a kind of sovereignty for themselves."[6]

Let it be remembered that this is quoted from a writer contemporary with the events, and who says in the very chapter following the one from which the foregoing is taken that it was not for him to record the dissensions and follies which the shepherds of the people exercised against each other before the persecution. He also adds: "We shall not make mention of those that were shaken by the persecution, nor of those that suffered shipwreck in their salvation, and of their own accord were sunk in the depths of the watery gulf."[7] Then in his Book of Martyrs, referring to events that occurred between the edicts ordering the persecution, he says: "But the events that occurred in the intermediate times, besides those already related, I have thought proper to pass by; I mean more particularly the circumstances of the different heads of the churches, who from being shepherds of the reasonable flocks of Christ, that did not govern in a lawful and becoming manner, were condemned, by divine justice, as unworthy of such a charge, to be the keepers of the unreasonable camel, an animal deformed in the structure of his body; and condemned further to be the keepers of the imperial horses. * * * Moreover, the ambitious aspirings of many to office, and the injudicious and unlawful ordinations that took place, the divisions among the confessors themselves, the great schisms and difficulties industriously fomented by the factions among the new members, against the relics of the church, devising one innovation after another, and unmercifully thrusting them into the midst of all these calamities, heaping up affliction upon affliction. All this, I say, I have resolved to pass by, judging it foreign to my purpose, wishing, as I said in the beginning, to shun and avoid giving an account of them."[8]

Hence, however bad the condition of the church is represented to be by ecclesiastical writers, we must know that it was still worse than that; however numerous the schisms; however unholy the ambition of aspiring prelates; however frequent and serious the innovations upon the primitive ordinances of the gospel; however great the confusion and apostasy in the church is represented to be; we must know that it is still worse than that, since the church historians contemporaneous with the events refused to record these things in their fullness lest it should prove disastrous to the church; just as some of our modern scholars professing to write church history express their determination to close their eyes to the corruption and abuses which form the greater part of the melancholy story of ecclesiastical history, for fear that relating these things would make it appear that real religion scarcely had any existence.[9] But it is all in vain. "It is idle, it is disingenuous," remarks the editor[10] of Gibbon's great work, "to deny or to dissemble the early depravations of Christianity, its gradual but rapid departure from its primitive simplicity and purity, still more from its spirit of universal love." If the intermittent peace accorded to the church in the first three troubled centuries of its existence was productive of the evils admitted by the writers who have felt that the cause of religion demanded that these evils as much as possible should be covered up, naturally enough one exclaims, what then must have been the result of that repose which came to the church after the elevation of Constantine to the imperial throne! When from a proscribed religion Christianity was exalted to the dignity of the state religion of the empire; and her prelates and clergy, recalled from exile and suffering, poverty and disgrace, were loaded with the wealth and the honors that the lords of the Roman world could bestow! Let imagination do her best or worst in picturing the rapid decline of whatever remained of true Christianity, conjecture can scarcely outrun the facts. If when the office of bishop was attended with danger and scant revenues it aroused the inordinate ambition of men to possess it, how infinitely more must it have become the object of envy, strife and ambition when by the patronage of Constantine it became not only free from danger but endowed with revenues that a prince might envy, and accorded an influence in the palace scarcely second to that granted to the governors of the provinces!

If before the Decian persecution the rivarly between the bishops of Rome and Carthage prompted a bitter controversy which threatened the unity of the church, how much more likely were such conflicts to arise between the bishops of Rome and Constantinople—rival bishops of rival cities, Rome proud of her past, Constantinople vain of her present glory; the former jealous of the place she had filled in the world's history; the latter ambitious of future influence! If heresies were fomented and schisms created when to be a Christian invited espionage and perhaps death, what an increase there must have been in these and other disintegrating influences when it became a reproach rather than a praise not to be a Christian, and the door of the church stood wide open to the evil-minded, who sought membership, not to enjoy the consolation of religion but for worldly advantage!

Footnotes

1. Church History, Vol. i, Introduction. In justification of his course, in a foot note he argues that "A history of the perversions and abuses of religion is not properly a history of the church; as absurd were it to suppose a history of the highwaymen that have infested their country to be a history of England." He appears oblivious to the fact that he throws himself open to the retort: A history of the blessedness and charity of the purely good men alone is not properly a history of the church; as absurd were it to suppose a history alone of the honest men of England that have blessed their race to be a history of that country. Milner's work is more properly a history of piety than of the church. In every age and country he seeks out the good men who have nearest conformed their lives to Christian precepts and celebrates them in his pages. Therefore, whatever admissions we find this author making as to the corruptions and abuses which found their way into the church: we shall be justified in considering as of special weight since they are admitted by him only on compulsion, and when there is no chance of either denying or excusing them. I have already called attention to the same disposition in Eusebius, p. 37; and hence his testimony may also be regarded as of special value in relation to the decline of the true Christian spirit.

2. Ch. Hist., Vol. i, ch. xv.

3. Milner's Ch. Hist., Vol. i, cent. iii, ch. vi.

4. Milner's Ch. Hist., Vol. i, cent. iii, ch. viii.

5. Milner's Ch. Hist., Vol. i, cent. iii, ch. xvii.

6. Eusebius' Eccl. Hist., Bk. viii, ch. i.

7. Eusebius' Eccl. Hist., Bk. viii, ch. ii.

8. Book of Martyrs, ch. xii.

9. See Milner's Introduction to his Church Hist., Vol. i.

10. This is the Rev. H. H. Milman who edited and annotated Gibbon's "Decline and Fall." The above quotation will be found in the editor's preface.

CHAPTER IV.

CHANGES IN THE FORM AND SPIRIT OF CHURCH GOVERNMENT—CORRUPTION OF THE POPES.

It is now my purpose to notice those alterations actually made in the form and spirit of the Christian church government. Necessarily my reference to these matters must be brief; sufficient only to demonstrate the fact for which I am contending in these chapters.

I am forced to admit that the description of the church organization in the New Testament is not all one could wish it to be. Only the faintest outline may be traced in those documents which all Christians accept as authority, and as they are fragmentary the description of the church contained in them is necessarily imperfect.

From what is written it appears that the quorum of the Twelve Apostles exercised a universal jurisdiction over the church, and a sort of primacy seems to be accorded to three of their number, Peter, James and John. Before the crucifixion Jesus also called into existence quorums of seventies to whom he gave similar powers to those bestowed upon the Twelve;[1] but for some reason, doubtless the imperfection of the Christian records, we can learn nothing more of them than is set down in the tenth chapter of Luke.

After the departure of the resurrected Messiah from his disciples at Bethany, the apostles, as fast as men were brought to faith and repentance through their preaching, organized in the various cities where they labored branches of the church, over which they appointed elders or bishops to preside;[2] and these evidently were assisted in their duties by deacons.[3] In an enumeration of the church officers given by Paul, we have other officers named besides apostles, prophets, seventies; viz., evangelists, pastors and teachers.[4]

It is difficult from the New Testament to determine the exact nature and full extent of the duties of these respective officers in the church, or their gradation. But that there was a prescribed duty to each officer, a limit to the authority of each, and a gradation among them, which made a harmonious whole—a complete ecclesiastical government, with all the parts properly adjusted and assigned their respective duties, there can be no question. For Paul likens the church of Christ to the body of a man, which, though it hath many members, yet is it one body; and all the members are necessary; one cannot say to the other, "I have no need of thee." So all these officers in the church, the apostle argues, are necessary; and as the head in the natural body cannot say to the foot, "I have no need of thee," neither in the church can the apostle say to the deacon, "I have no need of thee;" much less can the deacon say to the apostle, "I have no need of thee."[5] "Are all apostles? Are all prophets? Are all teachers?" he asks. The implied answer is, No; but, as he elsewhere says, the whole body—i. e., the church—"is fitly joined together, and compacted by that which every joint supplieth."[6]

This organization as given by the Master had for its purpose the perfecting of the saints; the work of the ministry; edifying the body of Christ; and to prevent the saints being carried about by every wind of doctrine, by the sleight and cunning of men.[7] The apostle who thus specifies the purposes of the church organization also intimates that it was to be perpetuated until the saints all come to the "unity of the faith and the knowledge of the Son of God—unto a perfect man, unto the measure of the fullness of the stature of Christ."[8] Furthermore, it is obvious that since the church organization was given for the purposes above enumerated, so long as there are saints to be perfected, or a necessity for work in the ministry; so long as the church needs edifying or the saints guarding from heresy, and the deceitfulness of false teachers—just so long will this organization of the church with apostles and prophets, seventies and elders, bishops and pastors, teachers and deacons be needed; and since the kinds of work enumerated in the foregoing will always be necessary, we arrive at the conclusion that the church organization as established by the apostles was designed to be perpetual.[9] But that it was not perpetuated is clearly demonstrated by writers of the second century, who, with the single exception of Clement of Alexandria, who calls Clement of Rome an "Apostle," recognize no other officers in the church than bishops, presbyters (elders) and deacons. It is difficult to account for the sudden loss of so many orders of officers in the church, unless, indeed, the apostasy for which I contend had made very great progress as early as the opening of the second century, which, I believe, was the case.

It appears from a statement of Clement of Rome[10] that persons selected by the apostles to be bishops, and after the death of the apostles those selected by other men of repute in the church, were submitted to the people for their approval, and this was the custom until the fourth century. It was also the custom of the bishops to employ the elders as a sort of council; and to call upon the people for their assent in the important matters of church government. In course of time, however, early in the fourth century, this respect for the principle of common consent was lost. The people were first altogether excluded from a voice in ecclesiastical affairs; and the next step was to deprive the elders of their former authority.[11] Thus power was centralized in the hands of the bishops, which enabled them to control everything at their discretion, and paved the way for those abuses of power which bear evidence of the awful apostasy of the church.

So far as can be learned from the Christian annals, the churches that grew up under the preaching of the apostles recognized in that quorum a general presidency over all the churches established; and in fact seemed to regard each separate church as but a member of the one great household of faith. But after the death of the apostles, these several branches seem to be considered separate and independent organizations, united in faith and charity, it is true, but in nothing more. There is no evidence that there was such a thing as subordination among the churches, or rank among the bishops. As might be expected, however, there was a peculiar respect paid to the churches founded by the apostles. Those churches were appealed to in controversies on points of doctrine, as most likely to know what the apostles taught, but the appeal had no other significance. This equality of rank among the bishops, together with the simple form of church government, described above, was soon changed. The bishops who lived in cities, either by their own labors or those of the elders associated with them, raised up new churches in the adjacent villages and hamlets. The bishops of these rural districts being nominated and ordained by the bishops presiding in the cities, very naturally felt themselves under the protection and dependent upon the city bishops. This idea continued to grow until these bishops of "the suburbs and the fields" were looked upon as a distinct order of officers, possessing a dignity and authority above the elders, and yet subordinate to the bishops of the cities who, wherever they presided over bishops in outlying districts, soon came to be designated as archbishops.

Gradually, and perhaps almost imperceptibly, the church in the west in its government followed the civil divisions of the Roman empire. The bishop of the metropolis of a civil province, in time came to be regarded as having a general supervision of all the churches in that province, and soon it became the custom to style them metropolitans.

The bishops of the great cities of Rome, Constantinople, Alexandria, and Antioch, after the ascension of Constantine, were made to correspond to the four praetorian prefects created by Constantine in the civil government; and before the end of the fourth century received the title of patriarchs.[12] It is also said by Mosheim, though denied by other writers, that next to the patriarchs were bishops whose jurisdiction extended over several provinces and corresponded to the civil exarchs; next came the metropolitan bishops whose jurisdiction, as already stated, was limited to a single province, and corresponded to the governor of the provinces. The arch-bishops presided over a district including several bishoprics within a province; and lastly came the bishops of churches.

Concurrent with these changes arose the custom, first derived from the Greeks, of holding provincial councils. The bishops living in a single province met in council to confer upon mattes of common interest to their churches. At first the attending bishops looked upon themselves as merely the representatives of their respective churches, without further jurisdiction than to discuss and come to agreement on matters of common concern. But gradually they usurped the power to order by decree where at first they were wont to advise or entreat. Nor was it long ere the decrees of these provincial councils were forced upon the respective churches as laws to be implicitly obeyed.

There was some resistance to this from the lower clergy, but it was quickly overcome by the activity and ambition of the bishops, who were only too glad to escape the restraints imposed upon their movements by the doctrine of common consent. It is said also that as many changes occurred among the lower order of the clergy as among the bishops. The elders and deacons aping the conduct of their file leaders became too proud to attend to the humble duties of their offices, and hence a number of other officers were added to the church—subdeacons, acolythi, ostiarii, lectors, exorcists and copiatae[13]—while the elders and deacons spent much of their time in indolence and pleasure.

If the ambition of rival bishops distracted the church in the second and third centuries, much more did ambitious prelates—patriarchs and metropolitans—of the fourth and fifth centuries disturb its tranquility. They contended about the limits of their respective jurisdiction with all the bitterness of temporal kings seeking an enlargement of their dominions. They made conquests and reprisals upon each other in much the same spirit, and at times were not above resorting to violence to attain their ends. It soon happened that the patriarchs of Alexandria, Antioch and Jerusalem sank below their fellow patriarchs of Rome and Constantinople in wealth and dignity. The prelates of these latter cities fiercely contended for the title of universal bishop; and in that contest the bishop of Constantinople was not always unsuccessful.

Over the protest of Leo the Great, in the fifth century, the council of Chalcedon decreed that the bishop of "New Rome" ought to enjoy the same honors and prerogatives with the pontiff of ancient Rome, on account of the equal rank and dignity of the two cities. In the following century, encouraged by past successes the bishop of "New Rome,"—John, surnamed the Faster, because of the austerity of his life, assembled a council of eastern bishops on his own account, to decide on charges brought against the patriarch of Antioch. It was on this occasion that he made such an assumption of the title of acumenical or universal bishop, that Gregory the Great supposed him to be aiming at a supremacy over all the Christian churches. In spite of the opposition of Gregory, the Faster, sustained by the emperor, continued to wear the title, though, it is said, not in the sense that Gregory supposed. The contest continued from this time forward with little interruption until that fatal schism came between the east and the west with which the reader has already been made acquainted.[14] The patriarchs of New Rome retained their hold upon the east; but the decay, moral and spiritual, which blighted those churches steadily went on, until at the last, Mohammedan civilization displaced Christian civilization. The crescent rose triumphantly above the cross, and the east sank into a settled gloom out of which it has not yet been able to rise.

In the west it was otherwise. There all was activity. The Roman pontiffs not only sent their missionaries to the barbarians to preach the supremacy of the popes, but the barbarians came to Rome. They came with arms in their hands and as conquerors, it is true, and in the closing years of the fifth century obtained an easy victory over the western division of the empire. But if imperial Rome was vanquished, there arose above its ruins papal Rome, in majesty no less splendid than that possessed by imperial Rome in her palmiest days; and in the course of time the victorious barbarians bowed in as humble submission to the wand of the popes, as their ancestors had to the eagle-mounted standard of the emperors. Moreover, the barbarous nations that fell under the influence of the Roman missionaries were accustomed to hold their priests in a superstitious reverence. In portions of Western Europe the Druid priests had reigned over both people and magistrates, controlling absolutely the jurisdiction of the latter; and, in the case of the supreme priest, according to some authorities,[15] the reverence of the barbarians amounted to worship. This reverence, on their conversion to Christianity, was readily transferred to the supreme pontiff of the Catholic Church; and made possible that spiritual and temporal despotism before which monarchs trembled and the world stood in abject fear.

Having traced the rise of the Church of Rome to this point, it yet remains to say that the corruption of her clergy and members kept pace with the developing splendor of the hierarchy. The pride, ambition and wickedness which bishops and other ministers of the church practiced in the second and third centuries have already been pointed out, and at the same time it was suggested that in these matters there was not likely to be any improvement after ease and luxury—ever the panderers to immorality—had increased the appetite for sensual pleasures and supplied the means of gratification.

Early in the history of the church the morality of the times not only excused but justified lying and deceit whenever it was supposed that the interests of religion could be promoted by it; and hence the existence of that mass of childish fable and falsehood respecting the infancy and youth of Messiah, and the wonder-working power of the relics of the saints and martyrs which has brought the Christian religion into contempt. Not even the greatest and most pious teachers of the first five or six centuries are free from this leprosy;[16] and if such characters as Ambrose, Hilary, Augustine, Gregory Nazianzen, and Jerome are not free from it, how much more may we expect to find it a vice with men of less reputation!

The attempt to live in a state of celibacy gave rise to many scandals in the church. Ambitious of a peculiar sanctity, the clergy began to abstain from marriage, but not from the pleasures supposed to be peculiar to the married state. It became the custom for the priests to live with "sub-introduced women," who "passed as sisters of the priests, the correctness of whose taste was often exemplified by the remarkable beauty of their sinful partners."[17] It is only fair to say that a law of Honorius condemned this practice, but it is to be feared that the only effect of the law upon those undertaking to live in the unnatural condition which celibacy imposes was merely to drive the practice from the public gaze.

Of all the writers who have given us a description of the moral condition of the church in the period of which I write, I think Salvian, who wrote about the middle of the fifth century, is the most vivid, and hence I quote in part his arraignment:

"The very church which should be the body to appease the anger of God, alas! what reigns there but disorders calculated to incense the Most High? It is more common to meet with Christians who are guilty of the greatest abominations than with those who are wholly exempt from crime. So that today it is a sort of sanctity among us to be less vicious than the generality of Christians. We insult the majesty of the Most High at the foot of his altars. Men, the most steeped in crime, enter the holy places without respect for them. True, all men ought to pay their vows to God, but why should they seek his temples to propitiate him, only to go forth to provoke him? Why enter the church to deplore their former sins, and upon going forth—what do I say?—in those very courts they commit fresh sins, their mouths and their hearts contradict one another. Their prayers are criminal meditations rather than vows of expiation. Scarcely is service ended before each returns to his old practices. Some go to their wine, others to their impurities, still others to robbing and brigandage, so that we cannot doubt that these things had been occupying them while they were in the church. Nor is it the lowest of the people who are thus guilty. There is no rank whatever in the church which does not commit all sorts of crimes.

"It may be urged that we are better at heart than the barbarians who oppose us. Suppose this to be granted; we ought to be better than they. But as a matter of fact, they are more virtuous than we. The mass of Christians are below the barbarians in probity. True, all kinds of sins are found among them; but what one is not found among us? The several nations have their peculiar sin; the Saxons are cruel, the Franks perfidious; the Gepidae inhuman; the Huns lewd. But we, having the law of God to restrain us, are given over to all these offenses. Then, to confine ourselves to the single sin of swearing, can many be found among the faithful who have not the name of Jesus Christ constantly upon their lips in support of their perjuries? This practice coming down from the higher to the lower classes, has so prevailed that Christians might be deemed pagans. This, although the law of God expressly forbids to take his name in vain. We read this law; but we do not practice it; as a consequence the pagans taunt us that we boast ourselves the sole possessors of God's laws and of the rules of truth and of what that law enjoins. 'Christians, indeed, to the shame of Jesus Christ,' say they."[18]

In book VI. on The Providence of God, Salvian continues his arraignment: "We rush from the churches to the theatres, even in the midst of our perils. In Carthage the theatres were thronged while the enemy were before the walls, and the cries of those perishing outside under the sword mingled with the shouts of the spectators in the circus. Nor are we better here in Gaul. Treves has been taken four times, and has only increased in wickedness under her misfortunes. The same state of things exists in Cologne—deplorable wickedness among young and old, low and high. The smaller cities have been blind and insensible to the dangers threatening, until they have overwhelmed them. It seems to be the destiny of the Roman empire to perish rather than reform; they must cease to be, in order to cease to be vicious. A part of the inhabitants of Treves, having escaped from the ruins, petitions the emperor for—what? A theatre, spectacles, public shows! A city which thrice overthrown could not correct itself, well deserved to suffer a fourth destruction. * * * Would that my voice might be heard by all Romans! I would cry: Let us all blush that today the only cities where impurity does not reign are those which have submitted to the barbarians. Think not, then, that they conquer and we yield by the simple force of nature. Rather let us admit that we succumb through dissoluteness of our morals, of which our calamities are the just punishment."

The moral condition of the church did not improve in the sixth nor the seventh century. It kept getting worse and worse until in the tenth century those writers most interested in upholding the purity of the church declare that this was an iron age, barren of all goodness; a leaden age, abounding in all wickedness; and a dark age, remarkable for the scarcity of writers and men of learning. Christ is represented as in a very deep sleep, the ship as covered with waves, and there were no disciples who by their cries might wake him, being themselves asleep.[19] "Infidel Malice," says Milner, "has with pleasure recorded the vices and crimes of the popes of this century. Nor is it my intention to attempt to palliate the account of their wickedness. It was as deep and atrocious as language can paint; nor can a reasonable man desire more authentic evidence of history than that which the records both of civil and ecclesiastical history afford concerning the corruption of the whole church."[20]

As already remarked, it is the contention of the Roman Catholic Church that from Peter to Leo XIII. there has been an uninterrupted line of bishops in the see of Rome who have held divine authority; who succeeded both to the divine authority and mission of St. Peter; with power to bind and loose on earth and in heaven; who were, in fact, the vicars of Christ on earth, presidents of the church universal.

It now becomes my duty to refute that claim and give further proof of the complete apostasy of the church by presenting the history of the popes for three hundred years, from the middle of the eighth to the middle of the eleventh century. I quote the sketch from Draper's Intellectual Development of Europe:

"On the death of Pope Paul I., who had attained the pontificate A. D. 757, the Duke of Nepi compelled some bishops to consecrate Constantine, one of his brothers, as pope; but more legitimate electors subsequently, A. D. 768, choosing Stephen IV., the usurper and his adherents were severely punished; the eyes of Constantine were put out; the tongue of Bishop Theodorus was amputated, and he was left in a dungeon to expire in the agonies of thirst. The nephews of Pope Adrian seized his successor, Pope Leo III., A. D. 795, in the street, and forcing him into a neighboring church, attempted to put out his eyes and cut out his tongue; at a later period this pontiff trying to suppress a conspiracy to depose him, Rome became a scene of rebellion, murder and conflagration. His successor, Stephen V., A. D. 816, was ignominiously driven from the city; his successor, Paschal I., was accused of blinding and murdering two ecclesiastics in the Lateran Palace; it was necessary that imperial commissioners should investigate the matter, but the pope died, after having exculpated himself by oath before thirty bishops. John VIII., A. D. 872, unable to resist the Mohammedans, was compelled to pay them tribute; the Bishop of Naples, maintaining a secret alliance with them, received his share of the plunder they collected. Him John excommunicated, nor would he give him absolution unless he would betray the chief Mohammedans and assassinate others himself. There was an ecclesiastical conspiracy to murder the pope; some of the treasures of the church were seized; and the gate of St. Pancrazia was opened with false keys, to admit the Saracens into the city. Formosus, who had been engaged in these transactions, and excommunicated as a conspirator for the murder of John, was subsequently elected pope, A. D. 891; he was succeeded by Boniface VI., A. D. 896, who had been deposed from the diaconate, and again from the priesthood, for his immoral and lewd life. By Stephen VII., who followed, the dead body of Formosus was taken from the grave, clothed in papal habiliaments, propped up in a chair, tried before a council, and the preposterous and indecent scene completed by cutting off three of the fingers of the corpse and casting it into the Tiber; but Stephen himself was destined to exemplify how low the papacy had fallen; he was thrown into prison and strangled. In the course of five years from A. D. 896 to A. D. 900, five popes were consecrated. Leo V., who succeeded in A. D. 904, was in less than two months thrown into prison by Christopher, one of his chaplains, who usurped his place, and who, in his turn, was shortly expelled from Rome by Sergius III., who, by the aid of a military force, seized the pontificate, A. D. 905. This man, according to the testimony of the times, lived in a criminal intercourse with the celebrated prostitute Theodora, who, with her daughters Marozia and Theodora, also prostitutes, exercised an extraordinary control over him. The love of Theodora was also shared by John X.: she gave him the first arch-bishopric of Ravenna, and then translated him to Rome, A. D. 915, as pope. John was not unsuited to the times; he organized a confederacy which perhaps prevented Rome from being captured by the Saracens, and the world was astonished and edified by the appearance of this warlike pontiff at the head of his troops. By the love of Theodora, as was said, he maintained himself in the papacy for fourteen years; by the intrigues and hatred of her daughter, Marozia, he was overthrown. She surprised him in the Lateran palace; killed his brother Peter before his face; threw him into prison, where he soon died, smothered, as was asserted, with a pillow. After a short interval Marozia made her own son pope as John XI., A. D. 931. Many affirmed that Pope Sergius was his father, but she herself inclined to attribute him to her husband Alberic, whose brother Guido she subsequently married. Another of her sons, Alberic, so called from his supposed father, jealous of his brother John, cast him and his mother Marozia into prison. After a time Alberic's son was elected pope, A. D. 956; he assumed the title of John XII., the amorous Marozia thus having given a son and a grandson to the papacy. John was only nineteen years old when he thus became head of Christendom. His reign was characterized by the most shocking immoralities, so that the Emperor Otho I. was compelled by the German clergy to interfere. A synod was summoned for his trial in the Church of St. Peter, before which it appeared that John had received bribes for the consecration of bishops, that he had ordained one who was but ten years old, and had performed that ceremony over another in a stable; he was charged with incest with one of his father's concubines, and with so many adulteries that the Lateran Palace had become a brothel; he put out the eyes of one ecclesiastic and castrated another, both dying in consequence of their injuries; he was given to drunkenness, gambling, and the invocation of Jupiter and Venus. When cited to appear before the council, he sent word that 'he had gone out hunting;' and to the fathers who remonstrated with him, he threateningly remarked 'that Judas, as well as the other disciples, received from his master the power of binding and loosing, but that as soon as he proved traitor to the common cause, the only power he retained was that of binding his own neck.' Hereupon he was deposed, and Leo VIII. elected in his stead, A. D. 963; but subsequently getting the upper hand, he seized his antagonists, cut off the hand of one, the nose, finger, tongue of others. His life was eventually brought to an end by the vengeance of a man whose wife he had seduced.

"After such details it is almost needless to allude to the annals of succeeding popes; to relate that John XIII. was strangled in prison; that Boniface VII. imprisoned Benedict VII., and killed him by starvation; that John XIV. was secretly put to death in the dungeons of the castle of St. Angelo; that the corpse of Boniface was dragged by the populace through the streets. The sentiment of reverence for the sovereign pontiff, nay, even of respect, had become extinct in Rome; throughout Europe the clergy were so shocked at the state of things that, in their indignation, they began to look with approbation on the intention of the Emperor Otho to take from the Italians their privilege of appointing the successor of St. Peter, and confine it to his own family. But his kinsman, Gregory V., whom he placed on the pontifical throne, was very soon compelled by the Romans to fly; his excommunications and religious thunders were turned into derision by them; they were too well acquainted with the true nature of these terrors; they were living behind the scenes. A terrible punishment awaited the Anti-pope John XVI. Otho returned into Italy, seized him, put out his eyes, cut off his nose and tongue, and sent him through the streets mounted on an ass, with his face to the tail, and a wine-bladder on his head. It seemed impossible that things could become worse; yet Rome had still to see Benedict IX., A. D. 1033, a boy of less than twelve years, raised to the apostolic throne. Of this pontiff, one of his successors, Victor III., declared that his life was so shameful, so foul, so execrable, that he shuddered to describe it. He ruled like a captain of a banditti rather than a prelate. The people at last, unable to bear his adulteries, homicides and abominations any longer, rose against him. In despair of maintaining his position, he put up the papacy to auction. It was bought by a presbyter named John, who became Gregory V., A. D. 1045."

"More than a thousand years had elapsed since the birth of our Savior, and such was the condition of Rome. Well may the historian shut the annals of those times in disgust; well may the heart of the Christian sink within him at such a catalogue of hideous crime; well may he ask, Were these the viceregents of God upon earth—those who had truly reached that goal beyond which the last effort of human wickedness cannot pass?"[21]

Is it not difficult to reconcile one's mind to the thought that these men who ruled the Catholic Church for three centuries were the viceregents of God on earth? Or that through them a divine authority and a divine mission has been transmitted to later and happier times? To do so one would be under the necessity of maintaining that no amount of immorality, however infamous, can possibly disqualify men from acting as God's representatives. And such a position would be contrary to all the evidence of scripture, as well as revolting to sound reason.

Footnotes

1. Compare Luke x with Matt. x.

2. Acts xiv: 23. Acts xx: 17, 28.

3. Phillip i: 1. I Tim. iii. This also is the view of Clement of Rome who, in writing to the Corinthians in the third century, says of the apostles: "So preaching everywhere in country and town, they appointed their first fruits when they had proved them by the spirit, to be bishops and deacons unto them that should believe. And this they did do in no new fashion; for indeed it had been written concerning bishops and deacons from very ancient times; for thus saith the scriptures in a certain place: 'I will appoint their bishops in righteousness and their deacons in faith.'"

4. Eph. iv.

5. I Cor. xii.

6. Eph. iv.

7. Eph. iv.

8. "Ibid."

9. In this connection it may be observed that the vacancy in the quorum of the Twelve, occasioned by the apostasy of Judas, was filled (Acts i: 24-26). Paul, too, though not in the original Twelve was an Apostle, and so subscribes himself in nearly all his letters. Clement of Alexandria, an elder and writer of the second century, calls Clement of Rome, the "Apostle Clement." Though whether this is meant in a rather loose sense or because he had been ordained such by one of the apostles—for he was an associate of both Peter and Paul—does not appear. (Philip iv: 3.)

10. See epistle of Clement to the Corinthians.

11. Mosheim's Eccl. Hist., Cent. iv, Bk. ii, Part ii, ch. ii. See also his remarks on the government of the church in Cent. iii and ii.

12. The bishops of Jerusalem, in the 5th century, also contended for and at last secured the title of Patriarch. (Mosheim's E. Inst., Cent. v, Part ii, ch. ii.)

13. Mosheim's Eccl. Inst., Cent. iii, Part ii, ch. ii.

14. See pp. 21, 22.

15. Schlegel among them.

16. Mosheim's Eccl. Inst., Cent. iv, Part ii, ch. ii.

17. Intellectual Development of Europe, Vol. i, p. 359. Draper remarks also that "the children arising from these associations do not appear to have occasioned any extraordinary scandal."—Ibid.

18. The above quotation is taken from the third and fourth books on "The Providence of God," by Salvian.

19. Such are the representations of Caesar Baronius, a Catholic historian of the 16th century. He was a candidate for the papacy in 1605, and hence his devotion to the Catholic church cannot be doubted.

20. Milner's Ch. Hist., vol. III, Cent. x, ch. i.

21. Intellectual Development of Europe, Vol. i, pp. 378-382.

CHAPTER V.

CHANGE IN PUBLIC WORSHIP—IN THE ORDINANCES OF THE GOSPEL.

It yet remains to note some of those changes in the public worship of the church, and in the ordinances of the gospel, which contributed to the great apostasy.

The simplicity of the Christian religion was made a reproach to the Church of Christ by the pagan priests. "The Christians have no temples, therefore they have no gods," was an argument sufficiently convincing to the heathens. It was but natural, perhaps, to seek to cast off this reproach; but the effort to do so led to the introduction of many ceremonies quite at variance with the gospel. The early Christian Saints were accustomed to meet on the first day of the week for public worship; the meetings, during the first century at least, being held, for the most part, in private houses. The ceremonies were of the simplest character. They consisted of reading the scriptures, the exhortation of the president of the assembly—"neither eloquent nor long, but full of warmth and love,"[1]—the testimony of such as felt moved upon by the Holy Ghost to bear testimony, exhort or prophesy; the singing of hymns; the administration of the sacrament and prayers.

But all this was soon changed. The bishops and other public teachers in the third century, framed their discourses and exhortations according to the rules of Grecian eloquence; "and were better adapted," says a learned writer,[2] "to call forth the admiration of the rude multitude who love display, than to amend the heart. And that no folly and no senseless custom might be omitted in their public assemblies, the people were allowed to applaud their orators, as had been practiced in the forums and theatres; nay, they were instructed both to applaud and to clap the preachers." This was a wide departure from that spirit of meekness and humility enjoined by Messiah upon his ministers. And when to these customs was added the splendid vestments of the clergy, the magnificence of the temples, with all the pageantry of altars, surrounded with burning tapers, clouds of incense, beautiful images, the chanting of choirs, processions and other mummeries without number—one sees but little left of that simple worship instituted by the Messiah and his apostles.

About the third century incense began to be used. The Christians of the first and second centuries abhorred the use of incense in public worship as being a part of the worship of idols.[3] It first became a custom to use it at funerals against offensive smells; then in public worship to disguise the bad air of crowded assemblies; then at the consecration of bishops and magistrates, and by these steps its use at last degenerated into a superstitious rite.

In the fourth century matters became still worse. The public supplications by which the pagans were accustomed to appease their gods, were borrowed from them, and were celebrated in many places with great pomp. To the temples, to water consecrated in due form, and the images of holy men, the same efficacy was ascribed and the same privileges assigned as had been attributed to the pagan temples, statues and lustrations before the advent of Christ.[4]

In the third century also arose the worship of martyrs. It is true that worship or adoration was relative, and a distinction was made between the worship of martyrs and the worship paid to God; but by degrees the worship of martyrs was made to conform with that which the pagans had in former times paid to their gods.[5] This was done out of indiscreet eagerness to allure the pagans to embrace Christianity.[6] "When Gregory [surnamed Thaumaturgus on account of the numerous miracle she is said to have wrought—born in Pontus, in the second decade of the third century] perceived that the ignorant and simple multitude persisted in their idolatry, on account of the sensuous pleasures and delights it afforded—he allowed them in celebrating the memory of the holy martyrs, to indulge themselves and give a loose to pleasure (i. e., as the thing itself, and both what precedes and what follows, place beyond all controversy, he allowed them at the sepulchres of the martyrs on their feast days, to dance, to use sports, to indulge in conviviality, and do all things that the worshipers of idols were accustomed to do in their temples, on their festival days), hoping that in process of time they would spontaneously come over to a more becoming and correct manner of life."[7]

While pagan rites and ceremonies were increasing in the church, the gifts and graces characteristic of apostolic times, seemed to have gradually departed from it. Protestant writers insist that the age of miracles closed with the fourth or fifth century, and that after that the extra-ordinary gifts of the Holy Ghost must not be expected. Catholic writers, on the other hand, insist that miracles have always continued in the church; yet those spiritual manifestations which they describe after the fourth and fifth centuries savor of invention on the part of the priests and childish credulity on the part of the people; or else what is claimed to be miraculous falls far short of the power and dignity of those spiritual manifestations which the primitive church was wont to witness. The virtues and prodigies ascribed to the bones and other relics of the martyrs and saints are purile in comparison with the healings, by the anointing with oil and the laying on of hands, speaking in tongues, interpretations, prophecies, revelations, casting out devils in the name of Jesus Christ; to say nothing of the gifts of faith, wisdom, knowledge, discernment of spirits, etc., common in the church in the days of the apostles.[8] There is nothing in the scriptures or in reason that would lead one to believe that the miraculous gifts were to be discontinued. Still this plea is made by modern Christians—explaining the absence of these spiritual powers among them—that the extraordinary gifts of the Holy Ghost were only intended to accompany the proclamation of the gospel during the first few centuries until the church was able to make its way without them, and then they were to be done away. It is sufficient to remark upon this that it is assumption and stands without warrant either of scripture or right reason, and proves that men had so far changed the religion of Jesus Christ that it became a form of godliness without the power thereof.[9]

It appears to have been the custom of the apostles in the case of members of the church grievously transgressing the moral law of the gospel, to require repentance and confession before the church; and in the event of a stubborn adherence to sin the offender was excommunicated, that is, he was excluded from the communion of the church and the fellowship of the saints. For the crimes of murder, idolatry and adultery some of the churches excommunicated those guilty of them forever; in other churches they were received back, but only after long and painful probation.

The manner in which excommunication was performed in apostolic times is not clear, but there is every reason to believe the process was very simple. In the course of time, however, this simple form of excommunication was changed, by being burdened with many rites and ceremonies borrowed from pagan sources.[10] It was not enough that the fellowship of the saints be withdrawn from the offender and he left to the mercy of God, or the buffetings of Satan, according as he was worthy of the one or the other; but the church must load him down with anathemas too terrible to contemplate. The power of excommunication, too, eventually, passed from the body of the church into the hands of the bishops, and finally into those of the pope. At first excommunication meant the loss of the fellowship of the saints and such other punishment as God Himself might see proper to inflict; the church leaving the Lord to be the minister of His own vengeance. But gradually it came to mean in some instances banishment from home and country, the confiscation of property, the loss not only of church fellowship, but loss of civil rights and the rights of Christian burial. In the case of a monarch, excommunication absolved his subjects from their allegiance; and in the case of a subject, it robbed him of the protection of his sovereign. No anathema was so terrible but it was pronounced against the excommunicated, until the sweet mercies of God were overshadowed by the black pall of man's inhumanity.

The outward ordinances of the gospel consisted of baptism, the laying on of hands for the imparting of the Holy Ghost, and the Lord's supper. The laying on of hands was also employed in ordaining men to the priesthood and in administering to the sick. In the latter case it was accompanied by anointing with oil.

Baptism was administered by immersing the candidate in water. The only pre-requisites were faith in Jesus Christ and repentance.

As soon as the candidate professed these he was admitted into the church by baptism.[11] In a short time, however, the simplicity of this ordinance was corrupted and burdened with useless ceremonies. In the second century the newly baptized converts, since by baptism they had been born again, were taught to exhibit in their conduct the innocence of little infants. Milk and honey, the common food of infants, were administered to them, after their baptism, to remind them of their infancy in the church. Moreover, since by baptism they were released from being servants of the devil, and became God's free men, certain forms borrowed from the Roman ceremony of manumission of slaves was employed in baptism. As by baptism also they were supposed to be made God's soldiers, like newly enlisted soldiers in the Roman army, they were sworn to obey their commander.[12] A century later (the third) further ceremonies were added. It was supposed that some evil spirit was resident in all vicious persons and impelled them to sin. Therefore, before entering the sacred fount for baptism, an exorcist by a solemn, menacing formula declared them free from the bondage of Satan, and hailed them servants of Christ.[13] After baptism the new converts returned home "decorated with a crown and a white robe; the first being indicative of their victory over the world and their lusts, the latter of their acquired innocence."[14] We have already noted the fact that baptism was administered in the days of the apostles as soon as profession of faith and repentance was made, but in the second and third centuries baptism was only administered twice a year, and then only to such candidates as had gone through a long preparation and trial.[15] The times chosen for the administration of the ordinance were on the vigils of Easter and Whitsuntide,[16] and in the fourth century it had become the custom to accompany the ceremony with lighted wax candles, to put salt—an emblem of purity and wisdom—in the mouth of the baptized, and everywhere a double anointing was administered to the candidates, the one before the other after baptism.[17]

It must have been early in the third century that the form of baptism began to be changed. Up to this time it had been performed only by immersion of the whole body. But in the first half of the third century, Cyprian, Bishop of Carthage, during a controversy respecting the re-baptism of those who in times of persecution had denied the faith, decided that those whose weak state of health did not permit them to be immersed, were sufficiently baptized by being sprinkled.[18] The first case of this kind of baptism is related by Eusebius. The person to whom it was so administered was Novatus, a desperate heretic, who created a schism in the church and became the founder of a sect. He was among the number of so-called Christians who put off baptism as long as he dared; in order to enjoy a life of sin and then through baptism, just before death, obtain forgiveness—a custom very prevalent in those times. Novatus being attacked with an obstinate disease, and supposed to be at the point of death, was baptized by having water sprinkled upon him as he lay in bed; "if indeed," says Eusebius, "it be proper to say one like him did receive baptism."[19]

This innovation continued to spread until now the general rule among Christians is to baptize by sprinkling or pouring. For this change there is no warrant of revelation. It destroys the symbol there is in baptism as taught by Messiah and his apostles—that of a burial and resurrection—of a death and birth—a death unto sin, a birth unto righteousness. It is one of those innovations which changed an ordinance of the everlasting covenant.[20]

About the same time that the form of administering baptism was changed it began to be misapplied, that is, it was administered to infants. Just when this custom came into vogue may not be determined, but clearly it has no warrant for its existence either in the doctrine or practice of the apostles or any New Testament writer. No truth is more plainly taught by the apostles than that baptism is for the remission of sins, and must be preceded by faith and repentance; and as infants are incapable of sin, and of exercising faith, or of repenting, evidently they are not fit subjects for baptism.

Still it became the custom in the latter part of the second century or early in the third to baptize infants. In the year 253 A. D., a council of sixty bishops, in Africa—at which Cyprian, bishop of Carthage, presided—considered the question whether infants should be baptized within two or three days after birth, or whether baptism should be deferred until the eighth day, as was the custom of the Jews in respect to circumcision. The council decided that they should be baptized at once, within a day or two after birth.[21] It will be observed that the question was not as to whether infants should be baptized or not, but when they should be baptized, within a day or two after birth or not until they were eight days old.

The matter was treated in the council as if infant baptism was a custom of long standing. This proves, not that infant baptism is a correct doctrine, or that it was derived from the teachings of the apostles—as some aver[22]—but that in a century or so after the introduction of the gospel, men began to pervert it by changing and misapplying its ordinances. The false doctrine of infant baptism is now practiced by nearly all so-called Christian churches, Catholic and Protestant.

Much as the simple rite of baptism was burdened with useless ceremonies, changed in its form and misapplied, it was not more distorted than was the sacrament of the Lord's Supper. The nature of the sacrament—usually called Eucharist—and the purposes for which it was instituted are so plain that he who runs may read. From Paul's description of the ordinance, it is clear' that the broken bread was intended to be an emblem of the Messiah's broken body; the wine an emblem of his blood, shed for sinful man; and his disciples were to eat the one and drink the other in remembrance of him until he should return; and by this ceremony show forth the Lord's death.[23] It was designed as a memorial of Messiah's great atonement for mankind, a token and witness unto the Father that the Son was always remembered. It was to be a sign that those partaking of it were willing to take upon them the name of Christ, to remember him always and keep his commandments. In consideration of these things being observed, the saints were always to have the Spirit of the Lord to be with them.

In this spirit and without great ceremony the sacrament was administered for some time. But in the third century there were longer prayers and more ceremony connected with the administration of the sacrament than in the century preceding. Disputations arose as to the proper time of administering it. Some considered the morning, others the afternoon, and some the evening the most suitable time. All were not agreed either as to how often the ordinance should be celebrated. Gold and silver vessels were used, and neither those doing penance, nor those unbaptized, though believers, were permitted to be present at the celebration of the ordinance; "which practice, it is well known, was derived from the pagan mysteries."[24] Very much of mystery began to be associated with it even at an early date. The bread and the wine through the prayer of consecration were considered to undergo a mystic change, by which they were converted into and became the very body and the very blood of Jesus Christ; so that they were no longer regarded as emblems of Messiah's body and blood, but the body and blood itself.[25] This is the doctrine of transubstantiation. This dogma established, it was but a short step to the "elevation of the host;" that is, the elevation of the bread and wine before it was distributed, so that it might be viewed and worshiped by the people. This was called the adoration of the symbols. It was idolatry—the worship of the bread and wine falsely taught to be the Lord Jesus.[26]

Hence came the Mass, or the idea of a sacrifice being connected with the celebration of the Eucharist. It was held that as Jesus was truly present in the bread and wine he could be offered up as an oblation to his Eternal Father. The death of the victim was not supposed to occur in reality, but mystically, in such a way, however, as to constitute a true sacrifice, commemorative of that of the cross and not different from it in essence. The same Victim was present, and offered up by Christ through his minister the priest. The sacrifice at the cross was offered with real suffering, true shedding of blood, and real death of the Victim; in the mass it was taught there was a mystical suffering, a mystical shedding of blood and a mystical death of the same Victim.

Into such absurdities was the simple sacrament of the Lord's Supper distorted! When attended with all the pomp and ceremony of splendid altars, lighted tapers, processions, elevations and chantings; offered up by the priests and bishops clad in splendid vestments and in the midst of clouds of incense, accompanied by mystic movements and genuflections of bishops and priests, the church could congratulate itself on having removed the reproach at the first fastened upon the Christians for not having altars and a sacrifice. The mass took away the reproach; and the new converts to Christianity were accustomed to see the same rites and ceremonies employed in this mystical sacrifice of the Son of God as they had seen employed in offering up sacrifices to the pagan deities.

In time the idea became prevalent that the body and blood of Messiah were equally and entirely present under each "species"—that is, equally and entirely present in the bread and in the wine; and was equally and entirely given to the faithful which ever they received. This idea, of course, rendered it unnecessary to partake of both bread and wine—hence the practice of communion in one kind. That is, the sacrament was administered by giving bread alone to the communicant. To remark that this was changing the ordinance of the sacrament as instituted by Messiah—suppressing half of it in fact—can scarcely be necessary, since it is so well known that he administered both bread and wine when instituting the sacred ordinance.[27]

Thus, through changing the ordinances of the gospel; by misapplying them in some cases, and adding pagan rites to them in others; by dragging into the service of the church the ceremonies employed in heathen temples in the worship of pagan gods; by departing from the moral law of the gospel, until the pages of Christian church history are well nigh as dark in immorality, as cruel and bloody as those that recount the wickedness of pagan Rome;[28] by changing the form and departing from the spirit of government in the church as fixed by Jesus, coupled with the corrupting influence of luxury which came with repose and wealth, together with the destruction visited upon the noblest and best of the servants and saints of God by the pagan persecutions which continued through three centuries—all this, I say, brought to pass the apostasy for which I am contending in these pages—the destruction of the Church of Christ on earth.

Footnotes

1. Justin Martyr, First Apology to the Emperor Antoninus Pius.

2. Mosheim.

3. Tertullian's Apology, ch. xiii.

4. Mosheim's Eccl. Hist., vol. I, bk. ii, ch. 4.

5. Historie de Manicheism, tom ii, p. 642.

6. Eccl. Hist. (Mosheim), vol. I, bk. ii, part ii.

7. Nyssen's Life of Gregory Thaumaturgus.

8. I Cor. xii: 8—10.

9. "It does not appear that these extraordinary gifts of the Holy Spirit (speaking of I Cor. xii) were common in the church for more than two or three centuries. We seldom hear of them after that fatal period when the Emperor Constantine called himself a Christian; and from a vain imagination of promoting the Christian cause thereby heaped riches and power and honor upon Christians in general, but in particular upon the Christian clergy. From this time they [the spiritual gifts] almost totally ceased; very few instances of the kind were found. The cause of this was not (as has been supposed) because there was no more occasion for them, because all the world was become Christians. This is a miserable mistake, not a twentieth part of it was then nominally Christians. The real cause of it was the love of many, almost all Christians, so-called, was waxed cold. The Christians had no more of the spirit of Christ than the other heathens. The Son of Man, when he came to examine his church, could hardly find faith upon earth. This was the real cause why the extraordinary gifts of the Holy Ghost were no longer to be found in the Christian Church—because the Christians were turned heathens again and only had a dead form left."—John Wesley (Wesley's Works, vol. vii, Sermon 89, pages 26, 27).

10. "That it was proper for the Christian bishops to increase restraints upon the licentiousness of transgressors will be readily granted by all who consider the circumstances of those times. But whether it was for the advantage of Christianity to borrow rules for this salutary ordinance from the enemies of truth, and thus to consecrate, as it were, a part of pagan superstition, many persons very justly call in question."—Eccl. History (Mosheim), book i, cent, ii, part ii, ch. iii.

11. Acts ii: 41. Acts viii: 12, 35—40.

12. Mosheim, vol. i, book i, part ii, ch. iv.

13. That exorcism was not annexed to baptism till some time in the third century, and after the admission of the Platonic philosophy into the church, may almost be demonstrated. The ceremonies used at baptism in the second century are described by Justin Martyr in his second apology, and by Tertullian in his book de Corono Militis. But neither makes mention of exorcism. This is a cogent argument to prove that it was admitted by Christians after the times of these fathers, and of course in the third century. Egypt perhaps first received it,—Murdock's Mosheim, vol. i, p. 190. (Note.)

14. Mosheim, vol. i, book i, part ii, ch. iv.

15. According to Schlegel, the so-called apostolic constitution (b. viii. ch. xxxii) enjoined a three years' course of preparation; yet with allowance of some exceptions.

16. That is, in the evening preceding the day on which Messiah is supposed to have arisen from the dead, and the evening preceding the seventh Sunday after Easter, the anniversary of Pentecost, when the Holy Ghost was poured out upon the Apostles in a remarkable manner. (Acts ii.)

17. Mosheim, vol. i, book ii, part ii, ch. iv.

18. Cyprian's Epistles, letter 76.

19. Eusebius Eccl. Hist., b. vi, ch. 43.

20. In writing to the saints of Rome, Paul says: "Know ye not, that so many of us as were baptized into Christ were baptized into his death? Therefore we are buried with him by baptism into death; that like as Christ was raised up from the dead by the glory of the Father, even so we also should walk in newness of life. For if we have been planted together in the likeness of his death, we shall be also in the likeness of his resurrection" (Rom. vi: 3—5.) In writing to the saints of Colosse, the same apostle reminds them that they had been "Buried with him [Christ] in baptism, wherein also ye are risen with him through the faith of the operation of God who hath raised him from the dead" (Col. ii: 12). In these passages the terms "buried" and "planted" are in plain allusion to the manner in which the saints had received the ordinance of baptism, which could not have been by sprinkling or pouring, as there is no burial or planting in the likeness of Christ's death, or being raised in the likeness of his resurrection in that; but in immersion there is.—"The Gospel" (Roberts), page 185.

21. Milner's Church Hist., vol. i, pp. 429, 430.

22. Such is the opinion of Milner—Church Hist., vol. i, p. 430.

23. "The Lord Jesus the same night in which he was betrayed took bread; and when he had given thanks, he brake it and said, Take, eat: this is my body, which is broken for you: this do in remembrance of me. After the same manner he took the cup, when he had supped, saying: This cup is the new testament in my blood: this do ye, as oft as ye drink it, in remembrance of me. For as often as ye eat this bread and drink this cup, ye do show the Lord's death till he come." (I Cor. xi: 23—26.)

24. Mosheim's Eccl. Hist., bk. i, cent. iii, part ii, ch. iv.

25. Protestants combating the Catholic idea of the real presence of the flesh and blood in the Eucharist—transubstantiation—have endeavored to prove that this doctrine was not of earlier origin than the eighth century. In this, however, the evidence is against them. Ignatius, bishop of Antioch, writing early in the second century, says of certain supposed heretics: "They do not admit of Eucharist and oblations, because they do not believe the Eucharist to be the flesh of our Savior Jesus Christ, who suffered for our sins." (Epistle of Ignatius to the Smyrneans.) So Justin Martyr, also writing in the first half of the second century: "We do not receive them (the bread and wine) as ordinary food or ordinary drink; but as by the word of God Jesus Christ our Savior was made flesh, and took upon him both flesh and blood for our salvation, so also the food which was blessed by the prayer of the word which proceeded from him, and from which our flesh and blood, by transmutation, receive nourishment, is, we are taught, both the flesh and blood of that Jesus who was made flesh." (Justin's Apology to Emperor Antoninus.) After Justin's time the testimony of the fathers is abundant. There can be no doubt as to the antiquity of the idea of the real presence of the body and blood of Jesus in the Eucharist; but that proves—as we said of infant baptism—not that the doctrine is true, but that soon after the apostles had passed away, the simplicity of the gospel was corrupted or else entirely departed from.

26. As evidence of the superstition which was connected with the Eucharist, note the following. "If any one through negligence, shall destroy the Eucharist, i. e., the sacrifice; let him do penance one year. * * * * If he lets it fall on the ground, carelessly, he must sing fifty Psalms. Whoever neglects to take care of the sacrifice, so that worms get into it, or it lose its color, or taste, must do penance thirty or twenty days; and the sacrifice must be burned in the fire. Whoever turns up the cup at the close of the solemnity of the mass must do penance forty days. If a drop from the cup should fall on the altar, the minister must suck up the drop and do penance three days; and the linen cloth which the drop touched must be washed three times, over the cup, and the water in which it is washed be cast into the fire." Decisions of Pope Gregory III.—Harduin's Concilia.

27. Luke xxii. Matt. xxvi.

28. The wickedness of the Christian world in the dark ages and during the progress of the "Reformation" was such that the author of the "Decline and Fall of the Roman Empire," in closing his famous sixteenth chapter which deals with the persecution of the Christians during the first three centuries of our era, can say, and his arraignment cannot be successfully contradicted: "We conclude this chapter by a melancholy truth which obtrudes itself on the reluctant mind; that even admitting without hesitation or inquiry, all that history has recorded, or devotion has feigned, on the subject of martyrdom, it must still be acknowledged, that the Christians, in course of their intestine dissensions, have inflicted far greater severities on each other, than they had experienced from the zeal of infidels. During the ages of ignorance which followed the subversion of the Roman Empire in the west, the bishops of the imperial city extended their dominion over the laity as well as the clergy of the Latin church. The fabric of superstition which they had erected, and which might long have defied the feeble efforts of reason, was at length assaulted by a crowd of daring fanatics, who from the twelfth to the sixteenth century assumed the popular character of reformers. The church of Rome defended by violence the empire which she had acquired by fraud; a system of peace and benevolence was soon disgraced by proscriptions, war, massacres and the institution of the holy office (the Inquisition). And as the reformers were animated by the love of civil as well as of religious freedom, the Catholic princes connected their own interest with that of the clergy, and enforced by fire and the sword the terrors of spiritual censurers. In the Netherlands alone more than one hundred thousand of the subjects of Charles V. are said to have suffered by the hand of the executioner; and this extraordinary number is attested by Grotius (See Grotius Annal. de Rebus Belgiers). * * * If we are obliged to submit our belief to the authority of Grotius, it must be allowed, that the number of Protestants who were executed in a single province and a single reign, far exceed that of the primitive martyrs in the space of three centuries, and of the Roman Empire." "Decline and Fall," vol. i, ch. xvi.

CHAPTER VI.

THE TESTIMONY OF PROPHECY TO THE APOSTASY.

"What is prophecy but history reversed?" Nothing. Prophecy is a record of things before they transpire. History is a record of them after they have occurred; and of the two prophecy is more to be trusted for its accuracy than history: for the reason that it has for its source the unerring inspiration of Almighty God; while history—except in the case of inspired historians—is colored by the favor or prejudice of the writer, depends for its exactness upon the point of view from which he looks upon the events; and is likely to be marred in a thousand ways by the influences surrounding him—party considerations, national interest or prejudice; supposed influence upon present conditions and future prospects—all these things may interfere with history; but prophecy is free from such influences. Historians are self-constituted, or appointed by men; but prophets are chosen of God. Selected by divine wisdom, and illuminated by that spirit which shows things that are to come,[1] prophets have revealed to them so much of the future as God would have men to know, and the inspired writers record it for the enlightenment or warning of mankind, without the coloring or distortion so liable to mar the work of the historian. Thus Moses recorded what the history of Israel would be on condition of their obedience to God; and what it would be if they were disobedient. Israel was disobedient, and historians have exhausted their art in attempts to tell of their disobedience and suffering; but neither in vividness nor accuracy do the the histories compare with the prophecy.[2] So with the prophecy of Daniel in respect to the rise and succession of the great political powers that should dominate the earth, and the final triumph of the Kingdom of God.[3] So with well nigh all of the prophecies.

With these observations upon the trustworthiness of prophecy it is my purpose to show that prophecy no less than the facts of history, sustains the conclusion arrived at in the foregoing chapters on the apostasy from the Christian religion, and the destruction of the Christian Church.

Paul warned the church at Ephesus that after his departing grievous wolves would enter in among them, not sparing the flock; and "also of your own selves," said he, "shall men arise, speaking perverse things to draw away disciples after them."[4] "Preach the word," said the same apostle in writing to Timothy, "be instant in season, out of season, reprove, rebuke, with all long suffering and doctrine. For the time will come when they will not endure sound doctrine; but after their own lusts shall they heap teachers to themselves having itching ears; and they shall turn their ears from the truth and be turned to fables."[5] The prophet Peter also warned the church of the rise of false teachers, who privily would bring in damnable heresies; deny the Lord who bought them; bring upon themselves swift destruction, speak evil of the way of truth and through covetousness, with feigned words would make merchandise of the saints.[6]

Referring again to Paul's prophecies we have him foretelling the rise of anti-Christ before the glorious coming of the Messiah to judgment. He plainly foresaw the "falling away"—the long night of spiritual darkness and apostasy that would brood over the world before the coming of the Son of God, in the glory of his Father, to reward the righteous, to condemn the wicked. He said of this apostasy: "We beseech you, brethren, by the coming of our Lord Jesus Christ, and by our gathering together unto him; that ye be not soon shaken in mind, or be troubled, neither by spirit nor by word, nor by letter as from us, as that the day of Christ is at hand.[7] Let no man deceive you by any means, for that day shall not come except there be a falling away first and that man of sin be revealed, the son of perdition; who opposeth and exalteth himself above all that is called God, or that is worshiped; so that he as God sitteth in the temple of God, showing himself that he is God. Remember ye not that when I was yet with you I told you these things? And now ye knew what withholdeth that he might be revealed in his time. For the mystery of iniquity doth already work: only he who now letteth will let, until he be taken out of the way, and then shall that wicked be revealed whom the Lord shall consume with the spirit of his mouth, and shall destroy with the brightness of his coming; even him whose coming is after the working of Satan, with all power and signs and lying wonders, and with all deceivableness of unrighteousness in them that perish; because they received not the love of the truth, that they might be saved. And for this cause God shall send them strong delusion, that they should believe a lie; that they all might be damned who believe not the truth, but had pleasure in unrighteousness."[8]

The reader with the facts of history before him, cannot see more clearly the "falling away," the rise of that corrupt ecclesiastical power which opposed and exalted itself above all that was called God; lorded it over God's heritage; shrouded itself in mystery; placed its foot on the neck of kings; forbade marriage; transgressed the laws; changed the ordinances, and broke the everlasting covenant—I say the reader with the facts of history before him can not see these things more clearly than Paul foresaw and predicted them in this remarkable prophecy.

But not to the prophets of the New Testament alone was the great apostasy revealed. Isaiah as well as Paul and with equal clearness foresaw and predicted it. In a prophecy, which beyond all question relates to conditions that can only exist in the last days, he writes: "Behold, the Lord maketh the earth empty, and maketh it waste, and turneth it upside down, and scattereth abroad the inhabitants thereof. And it shall be as with the people, so with the priest; as with the servant, so with the master; as with the maid, so with her mistress; as with the buyer, so with the seller; as with the lender, so with the borrower; as with the taker of usury, so with the giver of usury to him. The land shall be utterly emptied, and utterly spoiled; for the Lord has spoken this word. The earth mourneth and fadeth away, the world languisheth and fadeth away, the haughty people of the earth do languish. The earth is also defiled under the inhabitants thereof." Why? "Because they have transgressed the laws, changed the ordinances, broken the everlasting covenant. Therefore hath a curse devoured the earth, and they that dwell therein are desolate: therefore the inhabitants of the earth are burned and few men are left."[9]

Of this prophecy it is to be observed that the defilement of the earth, and the wretched condition of the inhabitants thereof described in the opening sentences, and in the remaining verses of the chapter, not quoted, are the result of transgressing the law, changing the ordinances and breaking the "everlasting covenant." The prophet cannot have reference to transgressing the law, and changing the ordinances of the Mosaic covenant, for the Mosaic Law was not an everlasting covenant,[10] but merely a temporary law "added to the Gospel because of transgression." It was a law of carnal commandments to act as a school master to bring the people to Christ; and when Christ came was laid aside, having fulfilled its purpose.[11] It was not, therefore, an everlasting covenant, and hence was not the thing the prophet Isaiah had in mind in his great prophecy. On the other hand, Paul refers to the blood of Christ as "the blood of the everlasting covenant,"[12] hence it is the covenant sealed by that blood to which Isaiah must have had reference—the Gospel; and the transgression of its laws, the changing of its ordinances, the breaking of that covenant was to result in making desolate the earth and the inhabitants thereof.

As additional evidence that it was not the transgression of the Mosaic Law, nor transgression against any former dispensation of the Gospel, that the prophecy refers to, the reader's attention is called to the fact that the disasters of the great apostasy find their culmination in the burning of the inhabitants of the earth, from which but few men shall be left. That is a calamity that has not yet overtaken men. It is a judgment that will fall upon them in the future. Yet a few shall escape. As the prophet in another place in this remarkable chapter says—referring to the general desolation of the earth and its inhabitants—"When thus it shall be in the midst of the land among the people, there shall be as the shaking of an olive tree, and as the gleaning of grapes when the vintage is done. They shall lift up their voices, they shall sing for the majesty of the Lord, they shall cry aloud from the sea."[13] From which it is to be understood that there will be a few even in those disastrous times, whose righteousness will call down the favor of God. And though the earth shall reel to and fro like a drunkard, and the transgressions thereof shall be heavy upon it; though the Lord shall punish the host of the high ones that are on high, and the kings of the earth upon the earth; though as prisoners they shall be gathered into the pit, and will not be visited for many days; though the moon shall be confounded, and the sun ashamed, yet shall the Lord of Hosts reign in Mount Zion and in Jerusalem, and before his ancients gloriously.[14]

My direct argument for the apostasy is completed. The facts of history have testified to the destruction of the church, to the apostasy from the Christian religion; and prophecy with a voice no less certain has testified to the same things.

Footnotes

1. St. John xvi: 13.

2. Deut. xxviii.

3. Daniel ii.

4. Acts xx: 27-30.

5. II Tim. iv: 1-4.

6. II Peter ii: 1-3.

7. That is, he would not have them believe that the day of Messiah's glorious coming was at hand.

8. II Thess. 1-12.

9. Isaiah xxiv.

10. Gal. iii.

11. Heb. xiii: 20.

12. Isa. xxiv: 13, 14.

13. Isaiah xxiv: 20-23.

14. Isaiah xxiv: 20-23.

CHAPTER VII.

CATHOLIC ARGUMENTS—PROTESTANT ADMISSIONS.

But what of the Catholic argument that there has been an unbroken line of authority from Peter to Leo XIII.; and running parallel with that line of authority a continuation of all that is essential to the Gospel, both in doctrine and ordinances? My reply is: "Of what avail is argument in the face of facts which contradict it? The facts of both history and prophecy are against the contention that there has been such a line of divine authority, accompanied by a continuation of all the essentials of the Gospel; and therefore, the argument is worthless. But that we may see how weak the argument is in itself, let us examine it.

"Go ye therefore and teach all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father, and of the Son and of the Holy Ghost * * * And lo I am with you to the end of the world."[1] On this Catholic writers remark: "Now the event has proved * * * that the apostles themselves were only to live the ordinary term of man's life; therefore the commission of preaching and ministering together with the promise of the divine assistance, regards the successors of the apostles, no less than the apostles themselves. This proves that there must have been an uninterrupted series of such successors of the apostles, in every age since their time; that is to say, successors to their doctrines, to their jurisdiction, to their orders, and to their mission."[2] Cardinal Gibbons, commenting on the same passage says: "This sentence contains three important declarations: 1st, the presence of Christ with His Church, 'behold, I am with you;' 2nd, His constant presence without an interval of one day's absence, 'I am with you all days;' 3rd, His perpetual presence to the end of the world, and consequently the perpetual duration of the church, 'even to the consummation of the world.' Hence it follows that the true church must have existed from the beginning; it must have had not one day's interval of suspended animation, or separation from Christ, and must live to the end of time."[3]

Of the conclusion here arrived at, it is only necessary to say that it is founded upon an assumption. Look again at the passage upon which the argument is based, in connection with its context. "Then the eleven disciples went away into Galilee, into a mountain where Jesus had appointed them. And when they saw him, they worshiped him; but some doubted. And Jesus came and spake unto them, saying: All power is given unto me in heaven and in earth, Go ye therefore, and teach all nations; * * * and lo, I am with you alway, even unto the end of the world."[4] It will be seen that the promise was to the eleven apostles, not to the church. To say that this promise "regards the successors of the apostles no less than the apostles themselves," is an assumption unwarranted by the text; and it is upon that assumption that the Rev. John Milner and other Catholic writers, base their conclusions that the word of Jesus is pledged to an uninterrupted continuation of His church in the earth.

The argument of Cardinal Gibbons is still worse than that of Dr. Milner. He says the promise of Jesus to the apostles contains three important declarations, the first of which is: "The presence of Christ with His church." This is worse than assumption. The learned Cardinal has written "church," where he should have written "apostles;" and therefore the conclusion he reached, namely, the perpetual duration of the church, is based upon a misstatement; and as the premises upon which the argument is based are untrue, the conclusion is false.

The argument by Catholics is thought to be invulnerable, because the promise of Jesus to be with the apostles to the end of the world is impossible of fulfillment, unless it "regarded the successors of the apostles no less than the apostles themselves." But to be with their successors is not being with the apostles. Hence the device arranged by Catholics for the fulfillment of this promise of the Lord, misses its purpose altogether. Moreover, there is no need of such device to explain how the promise of Jesus could be fulfilled. "In my Father's house," said he, addressing these same men, "are many mansions: if it were not so, I would have told you. I go to prepare a place for you, * * * that where I am there ye may be also;"[5] And there they are with Jesus in the place he prepared for them, and they will continue to be with him even unto the end of the world.

No less erroneous is the Catholic argument for the uninterrupted continuation of the church of Christ on earth, based on the passage in the sixteenth chapter of Matthew, when Jesus in the course of a conversation with Peter says to him: "Thou art Peter, and upon this rock I will build my church, and the gates of hell shall not prevail against it." "By this promise," says a foot-note on this passage in the Douay Bible—the version accepted by the Catholic Church,—"we are fully assured that neither idolatry, heresy, nor any pernicious error whatever, shall at any time prevail over the church of Christ." "Our blessed Lord clearly intimates here," says Cardinal Gibbons, "that the church is destined to be assailed always but to be overcome never."[6] The argument of Catholics is, that if the great apostasy took place which, as we have seen, is clearly predicted in the scriptures, and, as I believe, confirmed by the facts already presented to the reader in this volume, then the express promise of Jesus Christ that the gates of hell should not prevail against His church has failed. "If the prediction of our Savior about the preservation of His church from error be false, then Jesus Christ is not God, since God cannot lie. He is not even a prophet, since he predicted falsehood. Nay, he is an imposter, and all Christianity is a miserable failure, and a huge deception, since it rests on a false prophet."[7]

This argument and its conclusion is based upon too narrow a conception of the Church of Christ. That church exists not only on earth, but in heaven; not only in time, but in eternity. It has not been prevailed against, because men on earth have departed from it; corrupted its doctrines, changed its ordinances, transgressed its laws. The Church of Christ in heaven, consisting of "an innumerable company of angels—the general assembly and church of the firstborn, which are written in heaven—"[8] the church there has been far beyond the reach of the powers of hell; and ultimately here on earth it shall be triumphant. To repeat an illustration I before used: Truth may lose a single battle, it may lose two or three, and yet be victorious in the war. So with the Church of Christ: many of those enrolled as its members may be stricken down by cruel persecution; those remaining may capitulate with the enemy, and by compromises betray the cause of Christ, and put him to an open shame. Repose and luxury, the reward of the above perfidy, may bring in such floods of wickedness that virtue can scarce be found among men, and no abiding place found on earth for the church of the Redeemer. That church, however, still exists in heaven, in all the glory of the general assembly of the firstborn; and from time to time dispensation after dispensation of the gospel will be sent from thence to the children of men, until a people shall be found who will remain true to all its doctrines, accept its ordinances, obey its precepts, preserve its institutions, and the Church of Christ everywhere become triumphant as well on earth as in heaven. The promise of the Lord Jesus will not fail—the gates of hell will not finally prevail against his church.

The reader's faith in the above view will doubtless be strengthened if I remind him that the apostasy contended for in the foregoing pages, is not the first time in the experience of men that the gospel has been taken from among them. It is written by Paul that, "the scripture foreseeing that God would justify the heathen through faith preached before the gospel unto Abraham."[9] A little further on the apostle asks: "Wherefore then serveth the law?" Referring to the law of Moses. That is to say, if the gospel was preached unto Abraham, wherefore serveth the law of Moses? His answer is, "It was added because of transgression till the seed should come, to whom the promise was made * * * Wherefore the law was our school master to bring us unto Christ that we might be justified by faith."[10] Having in the third chapter of his epistles to the Hebrews referred to the dealings of God with the children of Israel in the wilderness, and having in the opening verse of the fourth chapter warned the saints against similar sins to those committed by Israel, Paul says: "For unto us was the gospel preached as well as unto them [ancient Israel], but the word preached did not profit them, not being mixed with faith in them that heard it." The only conclusion to be drawn from these passages is this: In very ancient times the Gospel was introduced among men; but because of their disinclination or inability to keep its laws and live in harmony with its precepts—"because of transgression," it was taken from among them. God, however, not willing to leave His children utterly without light, gave unto them a less exalted law—the law of carnal commandments. A law better suited to their condition, wherein were forms and ceremonies foreshadowing things to come, designed to act as a school master to bring the people to Christ.

Taking away the gospel from the earth, then, is not a new thing; not a thing peculiar to the first centuries of the Christian era. It had been done before when transgression led the people to depart from its ordinances and disregard its precepts. So, too, after the introduction of the gospel by the personal ministry of the Son of God, when men transgressed its laws, and corrupted its teachings and ordinances by their vain and foolish fancies, or by their efforts to modify it to make it acceptable to a pagan nation, because of transgression, it was taken from among them. Not abruptly. Not in such a sense as that the Christians some night in the third century all laid down to sleep good, faithful saints and awoke next morning stripped of the Gospel and turned pagans. No; but as the elders and bishops who held divine authority were destroyed by persecution, or passed away by natural death, the people with each succeeding generation growing worse and worse, and less and less worthy of the gospel—false teachers without authority from God usurped power, corrupted the gospel and the church until the false displaced the true, and anti-Christ sat in the temple of God.

Nothing remained but fragments of the gospel; here a doctrine and there a principle, like single stones fallen and rolled away from the ruined wall; but no one able to tell where they belonged in the structure, and so many of the stones missing that to reconstruct the wall with what remains is out of the question.

The fragmentary accounts of the gospel, as recorded by some of the apostles, and their associates, is all that was left to the world. All! But this was much. It has stood to the people since the days of the great apostasy as the law of carnal commandments did to Israel after the transgression which occasioned the gospel to be taken from them. Those fragments of the truth, however disconnected, have been as the light of the moon and the stars to the night traveler; not the sunlight, indeed, which makes so clear the way, but light which, however dim, is still better than absolute darkness; and will, I trust, yet lead many of our Father's children into the sunlight of Christ's restored gospel.

It will not be necessary to examine at length the Protestant argument, viz.: The gospel had been corrupted, and buried under the rubbish of idolatry for ages it is true, but the "Reformers" of the sixteenth century cleared away the rubbish and brought to light again the gospel, and restored the Church of Christ in all its simplicity of organization, and efficacy of power. Of this one need only say that the gospel having been taken from the earth, and divine authority lost, the only way for their restoration is through the re-opening of the heavens and the committing of a new dispensation thereof to men. As this answers the argument, it is only necessary to prove that Protestants admit the apostasy.

Luther said of himself, "At first I stood alone." Calvin in his epistle says: "The first Protestants were obliged to break off from the whole world."[11] The editor of Gibbon's Decline and Fall of the Roman Empire, the Rev. H. H. Milman, a Protestant divine, writes in his preface to that book: "It is idle, it is disingenuous to deny or to dissemble the early depravations of Christianity, its gradual and rapid departure from its primitive simplicity, still more from its spirit of universal love."

The reader is already acquainted with the declaration of Wesley that the Christians had turned heathens again and only had a dead form of faith left.[12]

In Smith's Dictionary of the Bible—the work is endorsed by sixty-three learned divines and Bible scholars—the following occurs: "We must not expect to see the Church of Christ existing in its perfection on the earth. It is not to be found thus perfect, either in the collected fragments of Christendom, or still less in any one of those fragments."[13]

Roger Williams refused to continue as pastor over the oldest Baptist Church in America on the ground that there was no regularly constituted church on earth, nor any person authorized to administer any church ordinance; "nor can there be until new apostles are sent by the great head of the church for whose coming I am seeking."[14] Alexander Campbell, founder of the sect of the "Disciples," says: "The meaning of this institution (the kingdom of heaven) has been buried under the rubbish of human tradition for hundreds of years. It was lost in the dark ages and has never, until recently been disinterred."[15]

And lastly, that greatest of all Protestant sects, the Church of England in its homily on the Perils of Idolatry, says: "Laity and clergy, learned and unlearned, all ages and sects and degrees have been drowned in abominable idolatry, most detested by God and damnable to man, for eight hundred years and more."[16]

Footnotes

1. Matt, xxviii: 19, 20.

2. End of Religious Controversy (Rev. John Milner), p. 281.

3. Faith of our Fathers, p. 72.

4. Matt. xxviii: 16-20.

5. John xiv: 2.

6. Faith of Our Fathers, p. 72.

7. Faith of our Fathers, p. 87.

8. Heb. xii: 22, 23.

9. This should be remembered by the student of the Bible. The law of Moses, with its formalisms and numerous rites, does not reflect the fullness of divine wisdom. It was not the best and highest code of laws and morals which God could give, but the best the people could be induced to accept.

10. Quoted by Rev. John Milner in End of Religious Controversy.

11. See p. 101.

12. Smith's Dict. of Bible, p. 163.

13. Picturesque America, p. 502.

14. Picturesque America, p. 502.

15. Christianity Restored, p. 184.

16. Perils of Idolatry, p. 3.

THESIS III.

The Gospel of Jesus Christ in the Last Days—In the Hour of God's Judgment—Is to Be Restored to Earth by Re-opening the Heavens, and Giving a New Dispensation Thereof to the Children of Men.

CHAPTER VIII.

THE NECESSITY OF A NEW REVELATION—THE ARGUMENTS OF MODERN CHRISTIANS AGAINST IT CONSIDERED.

I shall take it for granted that those who have followed me to this point are convinced that the world has need of a new witness for God; that the Church of Christ was destroyed; that there has been an apostasy from the Christian religion so complete and universal as to make necessary a new dispensation of the gospel.

I have already remarked, in noticing the Protestant claim that the Church of Christ was re-established by the Reformers of the sixteenth century, that the gospel having once been taken from among men, and divine authority lost, the only way that either one or the other could ever be restored would be by the Lord giving a new revelation, and re-commissioning men with divine authority, both to teach the gospel and administer in its ordinances. This is a proposition so obvious to reason that I can scarcely persuade myself that it requires either argument or proofs to sustain it.

If there are those, however, who think that the plan of salvation might be clearly defined from the fragmentary documents which comprise the New Testament, without the aid of more revelation, I ask them to consider the Protestant effort to accomplish that task. The Protestants accepted the Bible as an all-sufficient guide in matters of faith and morals and church discipline. But when they undertook to formulate from it a creed that should embody the whole plan of salvation, and prescribe a government for their church, it was found that well nigh each Doctor understood the Bible differently. One saw in it the authorization of the Episcopal form of church government; another the Presbyterian form; and another the Congregational. One saw in the Bible authority for believing there was a trinity of persons in the God-head; another that there was but one. One saw authority for believing that God had predestined an elect few to be saved; another that salvation was equally within reach of all. And so on through all the vexed questions that have distracted Protestant Christendom and divided it into a hundred contending sects.

It must be remembered that to this effort to construct from the New Testament scriptures a creed which would embody all the principles and ordinances essential to salvation, and re-construct the Church of Christ, all the zeal and learning that we can hope to see brought to such a task was possessed by Protestant "Reformers," and they failed miserably; for the confusion grows greater by the constant multiplication of sects, led by men making the vain attempt to re-construct the Church of Christ and define the gospel by their own wisdom from fragmentary Christian documents.

But if the theory of salvation could be clearly defined from the scriptures, by the wisdom of man; if all the doctrines to be believed and all the ordinances to be obeyed could be formulated, where, without further revelation, is the divinely authorized ministry to teach the gospel or administer its ordinances? However distinctly the gospel as a theory might be defined from the New Testament, the dead letter authorizes no one to perform its ceremonies, or even teach its doctrines. The New Testament writers have recorded in a number of places how Jesus called his apostles and commissioned them to go into all the world and preach the gospel to every creature, saying in one place, that. "He that believeth and is baptized shall be saved, but he that believeth not shall be damned;"[1] and in another place, "Go ye, therefore, and teach all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father, and of the Son and of the Holy Ghost: teaching them to observe all things whatsoever I have commanded you: and lo I am with you alway even unto the end of the world"[2] But to say this authorizes anyone else but those to whom the commission was directly given is to advocate the stealing of other men's commission, and presumptuously attempting to act in the name of God without divine appointment.

A case of this kind is related in the Acts of the Apostles, the result of which should be a warning to those who would advocate such a course now. Among the Jews who witnessed the power of God displayed through the administrations of Paul—the Holy Ghost imparted by laying on hands, the sick healed and unclean spirits cast out—were seven sons of one Sceva, a chief priest among the Jews, who took it upon themselves to call over one possessed of an evil spirit the name of the Lord Jesus saying, "We adjure you by Jesus whom Paul preacheth * * * And the evil sprit answered and said: Jesus I know and Paul I know, but who are ye? And the man in whom the evil spirit was leaped upon them, and overcame them, and prevailed against them, so that they fled out of that house naked and wounded."[3]

Another case in point is the incident of Uzziah stretching forth his hand to steady the ark of God without authority—"And God smote him there for his error; and there he died by the ark of God."[4]

King Uzziah's presumption in this kind also points a warning. Made king when but sixteen years of age, he was wonderfully blessed of the Lord, and his fame went abroad until he was feared or honored by all the surrounding nations. In the height of his glory he presumptuously entered the temple of God and essayed to exercise the functions of the priest's office—to burn incense before the Lord. Azariah, the chief priest, withstood the king's usurpation, saying, "It appertaineth not unto thee, Uzziah, to burn incense unto the Lord, but to the priests, the sons of Aaron, that are consecrated to burn incense: go out of the sanctuary; for thou hast trespassed; neither shall it be for thine honor from the Lord God." The king was not inclined to yield to the admonition, and while he was yet angry with the priests the leprosy arose in his forehead, and he lived a leper the remainder of his life, separated from his people and from the house of the Lord.[5]

If the usurpation of authority to act in the name of the Lord in casting out an evil spirit, in steadying the ark of God and burning incense called forth such pronounced evidences of the divine displeasure, would usurpation in administering the more sacred ordinances of the gospel meet with divine approbation? If men by usurping authority could not drive out an evil spirit from one possessed through calling over him the name of Jesus, just as they had seen Paul do, would there likely be any more efficacy attend their administrations if they baptized in the name of the holy Trinity for the remission of sins, or laid on hands to impart the Holy Ghost? The reasonable answer is obvious.

"Every high priest taken from among men is ordained for men in things pertaining to God; * * * and no man taketh this honor unto himself, but he that is called of God as was Aaron."[6] Aaron was called by revelation, and ordained by one already holding divine authority.[7] It amounts to nothing to say that this particular passage relates to high priests of the Mosaic law. The principle is announced in it that those who officiate for men in things pertaining to God must be called of God by revelation through a divinely established authority; and that holds good in the gospel as well as in the Mosaic law; aye, and more abundantly is it true; for as the gospel is more excellent than the carnal law, so is it to be expected that more care will be taken to have it administered by a divinely authorized ministry. "You have not chosen me," said Jesus to the Twelve, "but I have chosen you, and ordained you, that ye may bring forth fruit, and that your fruit should remain."[8] This sounds the keynote relative to an authorized ministry for the gospel. Men are not to take it upon themselves to administer in things pertaining to God. They must be called as Aaron was, as the Twelve were, as Jesus himself was; for even "Christ glorified not himself to be made a high priest; but he that said unto him, Thou art my Son, this day have I begotten thee. * * * Thou art a priest forever after the order of Melchisedek."[9]

But I must not be drawn into an argument on a point that is obviously true, namely, that the gospel of Christ having been taken from among men and divine authority lost, the only way of regaining them is by a re-opening of the heavens and a re-commitment of them to man from God. This of course would constitute a new dispensation, a new revelation; and as all Christendom, both Catholics and Protestants, hold that the volume of scripture is completed and forever closed—that divine inspiration, prophecy and revelation, together with the visitation of angels has ceased forever, I think it necessary to inquire into those reasons that are assigned for such a belief, or rather unbelief.

It is a necessity to inquire into this question; for disbelief in new revelation bars the way to a consideration of the claims of the New Witness I am introducing. The case stands thus: The Christians in the early centuries of our era having turned heathens again, thereby losing the gospel and divine authority, it seems reasonably clear that the only way these precious things can be regained is through a new dispensation of the gospel, by means of a new revelation, which shall restore all that was lost. But since all Christians have been persuaded that the volume of the scripture is completed; that God will give no more revelation; and that the Bible sustains that view of the case, it becomes necessary to investigate the reasons given for this doctrine.

I apprehend that this Christian belief respecting the discontinuance of revelation came into existence as the an excuse offered for the absence of revelation. Ministers of apostate churches found themselves without communication with God, either through the visitation of angels or direct revelation. Finding themselves without these powers so abundantly possessed by the servants of God in the early age of the church, they attempted a defense of their own powerless state by saying these things were no longer needed. They were extraordinary powers only to be employed at the commencement of the work of God, in order to establish it in the earth, and afterwards to be put aside as childish things.

In support of the theory that the volume of revelation is closed forever, the following passage in the Book of Revelation is usually quoted: "I testify unto every man that heareth the words of the prophecy of this book, if any man shall add unto these things, God shall add unto him the plagues that are written in this book. And if any man shall take away from the words of the book of this prophecy, God shall take away his part out of the book of life, and out of the holy city, and from the things which are written in this book."[10] As this passage occurs in the last book of the New Testament—and also the last book of the Bible—in the last chapter, and the last but two of the closing verses of the chapter, it has been argued that it is a formal closing up of God's revelation to man. No more is to be added—nothing is to be taken from it, it is completed and sealed up, and therefore no more revelation is to be given after that.

Upon this it should be observed, first, that it was not by the arrangement of the inspired writer himself that the Book of Revelation was made the last book of the Bible; nor is that book the last inspired book of the New Testament collection that was written. It is the prevailing opinion of the early Christian writers that the Book of Revelation was written while the apostle John was an exile on the isle of Patmos, and that he did not write his book called "The Gospel according to St. John," until after his return from Patmos.[11] "The weight of evidence now tends to prove," says Canon Farrar, speaking of the Book of Revelation, "that it is not the last book in chronological order; that it was written nearer the beginning than the end of St. John's period of apostolic activity amid the churches of Asia; that the last accents of revelation which fall upon our ears are not those of a treatise which, though it ends in such music, contains so many terrible visions of blood and fire; but rather those of the gospel which tells us that the 'Word was made flesh,' and of the epistle which first formulated the most blessed truth which was ever uttered to human hearts—the truth that 'God is love.'"[12] And again: "Some may think it an exaggeration to say that this closing of the Holy Book with the Apocalypse has not been without grave consequences for the history of Christendom; but certainly it would have been better both for the church and for the world if we had followed the divine order, and if those books had been placed last in the canon which were last in order of time. Had this been done, our Bible would have closed as the Book of God to all intents and purposes did close, with the epistle and solemn warning of the last apostle, 'Little children, keep yourselves from idols.'"[13]

If the words in the last chapter in the Book of Revelation mean that no more scripture or revelation was to be written after the prohibitory words under consideration, then John himself became a violator of the word of God which he himself had written; for according to the testimony here adduced his gospel and first epistle were written after he Book of Revelation. Such an alternative as makes the divinely inspired writer a violator of his own supposed inhibition of further revelation is so absurd, so unlike the conduct of an inspired apostle, that it is sufficient in itself to overthrow the theory that the passage in the last chapter of the Apocalypse intended to close the volume of revelation.

Second: Since the Apocalypse had no connection with the other books of the New Testament for many years after it was written, its prohibitory clause under the most liberal construction could only have reference to itself—it forbade men adding anything more to that particular book of prophecy, the Apocalypse, not to a volume of scripture with which, at the time, it had no connection.

Third: A careful reading of the passage discloses that it is only man who is prohibited from adding anything more to that book of prophecy, not God. While man may have added to him the plagues which are written in the book if he presumptuously adds to the words of the prophecy and passes them off for the word of God, yet God would still be left free to give revelation ad infinitum. I must needs think that this is the proper view to take of the prohibition, since in Deuteronomy I find it recorded: "You shall not add to the word which I command you, neither shall ye diminish ought from it."[14] To give to this passage the same interpretation that is placed by modern Christians on the passage under consideration from the Apocalypse (and it is just as reasonable to place such an interpretation on the passage in Deuteronomy as to place it on the one in Revelation) would result in rejecting all scripture that was given after the prohibitory clause in the writings of Moses—which would be the greater part of the Old Testament and all of the New. The same is true of the prohibitory passage in Proverbs: "Every word of the Lord is perfect. * * * Add thou not unto his words lest he reprove thee and thou be found a liar."[15] There can be no doubt that these passages mean only this: Man must not add his own words to the revelation of God and pass them off as God's word. To say that they mean that no more revelation is to be given after they were uttered is to condemn all the scripture written subsequent to that time. What those passages mean the passage in Revelation means. Man must not add to the words of Deity; but God is left as free to give more revelation as he was before this prohibition to man was placed on record. The passage in question does not in the remotest manner refer to the close of the volume of revelation.

When the last act of indignity which the wicked ingenuity of his persecutors could suggest was perpetrated on the Son of God, Jesus bowed his thorn-crowned head and exclaimed "It is finished." By some who contend against new revelation it is held that this means that no more revelation is to be expected—revelation is finished! Such a construction would exclude the inspired revelations, visions, dreams and revelations given to the apostles after the crucifixion of Jesus and abundantly testified of in the Acts of the Apostles, the Epistles and the Apocalypse. It is so clearly evident that the exclamation, "It is finished,"[16] had reference to the suffering of the Son of God, that it is not necessary to enter further into a refutation of the claim that it means the revelation of God to man was finished.

Again it is contended that Paul predicted that prophecies should cease: "Whether there be prophecies, they shall fail; whether there be tongues, they shall cease; whether there be knowledge it shall vanish away."[17] Unfortunately, however, for those who see in this passage a prophecy of the discontinuance of revelation, Paul tells us when prophecy or revelation (for prophecy must needs always be founded on revelation) will cease; that it is not in this mortal life, but "when that which is perfect is come." "For we know in part and prophesy in part; but when that which is perfect is come, that which is in part shall be done away. * * * For now we see through a glass darkly, but then [when that which is perfect is come] face to face. Now I know in part, but then [when that which is perfect is come] shall I know even as I am known."[18] That this refers not to this life, where the best and purest only see in part and know in part, but is to be looked for in that future and perfect existence where men shall see as they are seen and know as they are known, is too obvious to need comment. That prophecy, and the revelation on which it is based, was designed to continue with the saints in this mortal existence is evident from the fact that in the opening verse of the succeeding chapter[19] the apostle admonishes the saints to "follow after charity and desire spiritual gifts, but rather that ye may prophesy."

The whole genius of the gospel contemplates continuous revelation in the church; and so far is the Bible from justifying the belief that the time will come when it will cease, that on the contrary it teaches that revelation will increase more and more, especially becoming abundant in the last days.

Revelation is the very "rock" or principle upon which the Church of Christ is founded. "Whom do men say that I the Son of Man am?" was the abrupt question which Jesus once put to his disciples. The answers given were varied. "But whom say ye that I am?" Then Peter answered: "Thou art the Christ the Son of the living God." "Blessed art thou Simon Barjona," was the Lord's reply, "for flesh and blood hath not revealed it unto thee, but my Father which is in heaven. And I say unto thee, that thou art Peter, and upon this rock will I build my church; and the gates of hell shall not prevail against it."[20] That is as if the Master had said: "Blessed art thou Simon, for flesh and blood hath not revealed unto you that I am Christ, the Son of the living God, but my Father which is in heaven; and I say unto thee, Peter, upon this principle of revelation will I build my church, and the gates of hell shall not prevail against it."

This I hold to be the plain meaning of the passage, and not the interpretation given it by the Catholic Church, which is as follows: First let me remind the reader that when Peter was introduced by his brother Andrew to the Lord Jesus, the latter said to Him: "Thou art Simon, the son Jona; thou shalt be called Cephas, which is by interpretation a stone."[21] Therefore when on the occasion above referred to Jesus said: "Blessed art thou, Simon Barjona; for flesh and blood hath not revealed it unto thee, but my Father which is in heaven. And I say unto thee, thou art Peter, and upon this rock will I build my church," Catholics say that "the words of Christ to Peter, spoken in the vulgar language of the Jews * * * were the same as if he had said in English: "Thou art a rock, and upon this rock will I build my church," so that by plain course of the words, Peter is here declared to be the rock upon which the church was to be built, Christ himself being both the principal foundation and founder of the same."[22] But this interpretation strikes wide of the real truth. To say the least it is a far-fetched assumption to hold that Jesus when He addressed Peter on this occasion had any reference to the name He had given him on a former occasion, which, by interpretation, meant a stone. If the Master meant to announce his intention to build his church on Peter, one cannot refrain from asking why he did not explicitly say so? The passage would then doubtless have read: "I say unto thee, Peter, that thou art a stone, and upon thee I will build my church." Unfortunately for the Catholic contention such is not the reading, and it is only by juggling with the words that such a meaning can be read into the passage. The subject under consideration was not Peter, but the principle upon which he had learned that Jesus was the Son of God—revelation, and on that principle, and not on Peter, the Lord promised to build his church.

But I said the whole genius of the gospel contemplates the continuation of revelation—a statement incumbent upon me to prove. We have seen that the Lord promised to build his church upon revelation. It is the very life and light of it. The means by which it preserves its correspondence with heaven, and learns the will of God under the constantly varying conditions through which it is called to pass.

The means by which revelation may be communicated to the church or to man are varied. Revelation may be given by direct communication with God, as in the case when the Lord walked with Enoch,[23] or talked face to face with Moses, as a man speaks to his friend.[24] Or it may be by the ministrations of angels, of which we have numerous instances, both in the Old and New Testaments; but more generally the communication of God's will to man is through the medium of the Holy Ghost.

No one can doubt that prophecy is based upon revelation. No man can truthfully predict the future save God reveals it to him. "Prophecy came not in old time by the will of man," writes Peter, "but holy men of God spake as they were moved upon by the Holy Ghost."[25] Again, in further proof that the Holy Ghost is the means of revelation and the source of prophecy—"When the Spirit of Truth is come, he will guide you into all truth: for he shall not speak of himself; but whatsoever he shall hear that he shall speak; and he will show you things to come."[26] This Jesus said of the Holy Ghost. If anything were lacking to prove that the Holy Ghost is a medium of revelation, the very spirit of prophecy, it would be found in the following: "When the Comforter is come, whom I will send unto you from the Father, even the Spirit of Truth, which proceedeth from the Father, he shall testify of me."[27] To this Paul agrees: "No man speaking by the Spirit of God, calleth Jesus accursed, and no man can say that Jesus is the Christ but by the Holy Ghost."[28] It is the Holy Ghost, then, that testifies that Jesus is the Christ. Now mark what follows: An angel appeared to John, the Apostle, on Patmos, "and," says John, "I fell at his feet to worship him, and he said unto me, See thou do it not: I am thy fellow servant, and of thy brethren that have the testimony of Jesus: Worship God: for the testimony of Jesus is the spirit of prophecy."[29] This is the sum of my argument: The Holy Ghost testifies that Jesus is the Christ, and that "testimony of Jesus" is the spirit of prophecy; and since prophecy must of necessity be based on revelation, the "testimony of Jesus"—the Holy Ghost must also be the spirit of revelation.

When Peter on the day of Pentecost preached the famous sermon by which three thousand souls were converted, he made an unqualified promise of the Holy Ghost unto all who would obey the gospel. Replying to the cry of the multitude, "Men and brethren, what shall we do?" he said: "Repent and be baptized every one of you, in the name of Jesus Christ, for the remission of sins, and ye shall receive the gift of the Holy Ghost. For the promise is unto you, and to your children, and to all that are afar off, even as many as the Lord our God shall call."[30] This simply means that the Holy Ghost is promised to all who will obey the gospel. It was promised to those that were listening to the apostle, to their children, to all that were afar off, not only as to distance, but as to time; to those a hundred years off, five hundred, or five thousand years off; "even to as many as the Lord our God shall call"—that is, called to obedience to the gospel. It is a promise that reaches our own generation as well as the first generation of the Christian era.

We, then, are promised the Holy Ghost, the spirit of prophecy and of revelation; and indeed we are instructed by the Master himself that except we are born of the Spirit, that is, receive the Holy Ghost, we cannot enter into the kingdom of God.[31] So clearly is receiving the Holy Ghost a part of the plan of salvation, that, so far as I know, there is not a Christian sect or church, but teaches the necessity and right and duty of the Christian to possess it. But oh, strange inconsistency of apostate Christendom! While teaching that men must be baptized with the Holy Ghost, and must possess it, and walk in the light thereof, they deny to it the chiefest of its powers—revelation and prophecy! Modern Christian teachers have dared, without the warrant of divine authority, to divide the manifestations of the Holy Ghost into "ordinary" and "extraordinary" powers; and then have had the further presumption to tell us that the "ordinary" powers of the Spirit, such as love, joy, peace, long-suffering, gentleness, goodness, faith, meekness, and temperance, are to remain with men; but the "extraordinary" powers, such as revelation, prophecy, healing the sick, discernment of spirits, speaking in tongues, interpretation of tongues, etc., these are to be discontinued! Unhesitatingly I pronounce such unwarranted assumption blasphemous!

Instead of trying to excuse the absence among them of the mighty powers of the Holy Ghost as manifested anciently in revelation and prophecy, by falsely saying it was the design of Almighty God that the Holy Ghost should discontinue the exercise of these "extraordinary" powers, the proper thing for Christendom to do would be to humble itself in the dust, and confess that it has strayed from God's ordinances, transgressed his laws, changed his ordinances, broken the covenant of the gospel, blasphemously denied the powers of the Holy Ghost, because in their apostate state they received not the manifestations thereof. How absurd to contend that part of the powers of the Holy Ghost are to be exercised and not the others! What a denying and splitting up of the powers of God are here! One class of his powers to be exercised in one age, but to lie dormant in another, and man presuming to tell which are necessary to be active and which dormant!

So far from leading us to believe in the discontinuance of the "extraordinary powers" of the Holy Ghost in the last days, the teachings of scripture on the contrary lead us to expect an increase of them. Peter in the sermon already referred to above, says, quoting the prophet Joel: "And it shall come to pass in the last days, saith God, I will pour out my spirit upon all flesh: and your sons and your daughters shall prophesy, and your young men shall see visions and your old men shall dream dreams: and on my servants and on my handmaidens I will pour out of my spirit and they shall prophesy; and I will show wonders in heaven above, and signs in the earth beneath; blood and fire and vapor of smoke: The sun shall be turned into darkness and the moon into blood, before the great and notable day of the Lord come: and it shall come to pass, that whosoever shall call upon the name of the Lord shall be saved."[32]

I know that the general understanding among Christians is that this prophecy was fulfilled upon the occasion of the Holy Ghost being poured out upon the apostles on the day of Pentecost; because, in replying to the accusation of the multitude that the apostles who were speaking in tongues were drunk, Peter said: "These are not drunken as ye suppose, seeing it is but the third hour of the day. But this is that which was spoken by the Prophet Joel." Then follows the quotation already given. But that Peter meant by this that the prophecy of Joel was completely fulfilled is out of all harmony with the facts of the case. First, Joel's prophecy relates to "the last days"—not to the days in which Peter was living and speaking; second, according to Joel's prophecy, the Spirit of God was to be poured out upon "all flesh;" on the occasion of its outpouring on the day of Pentecost, it was confined to twelve men; third, both the "sons and daughters" of the people are to prophesy, according to Joel's prediction; young men are to see visions; old men to dream dreams; and on his servants and his handmaidens the Lord promises to pour out of his Spirit "and they shall prophesy."

This describes so general an outpouring of the Spirit of the Lord upon his people that the conditions existing on the day of Pentecost by no manner of means fulfill the prophecy. What then could mean the saying of Peter—"This is that which was spoken by the prophet Joel?" It means this: The Spirit that you here see manifestations of is that Spirit spoken of by Joel that will eventually be poured out upon "all flesh;" doubtless in that happy time spoken of by other prophets when "The wolf shall dwell with the lamb, and the leopard shall lie down with the kid; and the calf and the young lion and the fatling together; and a little child shall lead them. * * * They shall not hurt nor destroy in all my holy mountain: for the earth shall be full of the knowledge of the Lord, as the waters cover the sea."[33] Then and not till then will Joel's great prophecy have its complete fulfillment.

Moreover, connected with this outpouring of the Spirit of the Lord upon all flesh in the last days, is the fact that God will also "show wonders in heaven above, and signs in the earth beneath; blood and fire and vapor of smoke: The sun shall be turned into darkness, and the moon into blood, before that great and notable day of the Lord come;" but, "whosoever shall call upon the name of the Lord, shall be saved." These judgments that are to be poured out upon the earth, together with the mercy that shall be shown to those who turn to the Lord, are so nearly identical with those which are described as preceding or connected with the glorious appearing of the Lord Jesus in the last days,[34] that they must be the same; and these judgments, as also the outpouring of the Holy Spirit of God upon all flesh, look to the last days, and not to the days when Peter preached to the people, for their complete fulfillment.

If we contemplate the Church of Christ as having existed, without a moment's interruption from the time it was founded by the Savior and his apostles until now, instead of losing or having any spiritual power discontinued the Christians ought to have increased in the enjoyment of them more and more. And instead of saying that the "extraordinary powers" of the Holy Ghost have been discontinued, they ought to be able to say the circle of those possessed of and able to employ all the spiritual gifts of the gospel to their own and the salvation of others, has been marvelously enlarged. The spirit of prophecy and revelation, which, as we have seen, is the Holy Ghost, is absolutely necessary in the church to call its officers. How else shall the church have a divinely authorized ministry? How else shall men be called of God as was Aaron? The church today has as much need of inspired men able to say, separate unto the Lord such and such men for the work whereunto God has called them, as it was for the church in Antioch, in the early days of Christianity, to have prophets and teachers who, as they ministered before the Lord and fasted, heard the Holy Ghost say, "Separate me Barnabas and Saul for the work whereunto I have called them."[35]

The spirit of prophecy and revelation is necessary in the church to direct the officers thereof in the performance of their duties. It is useless to contend that the directions given by the spirit of revelation to the ancient servants of the Lord will answer for God's ministry now. As well might it be argued that the miller today could grind with the water which passed his mill-wheel yesterday. The conditions under which the Church of Christ exists in various ages are constantly changing; and the officers of the church always require divine direction, which can only be supplied by revelation. The revelations given to the patriarchs from Adam to Abraham and Melchisedek were not esteemed sufficient to direct Moses in the management of the dispensation committed to him. Nor were the numerous revelations given to Moses sufficient to guide his successor, Joshua, in leading Israel; but a means for obtaining the word of the Lord was provided for him through the use of the Urim and Thummim, in the hands of the high priest. So also the revelations given to Moses, to Joshua and his successors, the judges and prophets of Israel, were not considered sufficient to direct the labors of the apostles and seventies and elders in the dispensation of the gospel introduced by the Lord Jesus. Nor were the revelations given to the first apostle sufficient to direct the labors of Paul and his associates in the constantly changing circumstances in the midst of which they found themselves. After having gone throughout Phrygia and the whole region of Galatia, Paul, had he followed his own inclinations, would have gone into Asia to preach; but he was forbidden of the Holy Ghost[36]—that is, by revelation. Afterwards he would have gone into Bithynia, but the Spirit suffered him not[37]—that is, gave a revelation forbidding him to go into that land. Afterwards, through an inspired vision, he was called into Macedonia,[38] and began that wonderful missionary career which resulted in spreading a knowledge of the gospel throughout Macedonia, Greece and the western division of the Roman empire. In like manner, in all succeeding generations, and no less in our own than in any that has preceded it, the ministry of the Church of Christ stands absolutely in need of the spirit of prophecy and revelation to direct its labors, if those labors are to be efficient and acceptable to God.

The spirit of prophecy and revelation is necessary in the church not only to call its ministers and direct their labors but also to teach, correct, reprove, comfort and warn the members thereof. How else shall they be preserved from error in doctrine, and from the strife and division consequent upon it? Man's ways are not as God's ways; and it seems almost inherent in human nature to wander from the ways of the Lord, to seek out many and strange inventions. Human wisdom is not sufficient for this work of correcting errors and reproving saints; for "the things of God knoweth no man, but the Spirit of God;"[39] hence the necessity of the ministry of the church having the spirit of prophecy and revelation.

And then, for another reason should the ministry of the church teach, "not with the enticing words of man's wisdom, but in demonstration of the spirit and of power;" that the faith of the saints stand not in "the wisdom of men, but in the power of God."[40]

Nor is it enough for the ministry to be inspired of God, the lay members of the church no less than the ministry have a right to it—to the people as well as to the priests is the Holy Ghost promised; and the people have need of it as well as the ministry; for "the natural man receiveth not the things of the Spirit of God: they are foolishness unto him: neither can he know them, for they are spiritually discerned."[41] Hence the importance of those who listen being inspired by the same spirit as those who teach. "It is written," says Paul, that "eye hath not seen, nor ear heard, neither hath it entered into the heart of man, the things which God hath prepared for them that love him. But God hath revealed them unto us by his Spirit; for the Spirit searcheth all things, yea, the deep things of God. * * * Now we have received, not the spirit of the world, but the Spirit which is of God; that we might know the things that are freely given to us of God."[42] If thus the saints in primitive Christian times enjoyed the spirit of revelation and of prophecy, why should not the saints in all succeeding ages also enjoy it, since it is promised to them as well as unto the first Christians, and God is no respecter of persons?[43] Why should not Christians in all ages have the spirit of prophecy to enlighten and comfort their souls and warn them of events to come? But the argument is interminable, and I only desired to pursue it far enough to prove that the whole genius of the gospel contemplates the continuance of revelation.

How long I have delayed the direct consideration of my Thesis! The foregoing remarks, however, were necessary since the belief that the volume of scripture was completed and forever closed; that the voice of prophecy is no more to be heard; that the visitation of angels is not to be expected; that revelation has forever ceased—all stood as so many obstacles to be removed before we could consider the direct testimony supporting the proposition that the gospel in the last days is to be restored to the earth by re-opening the heavens and giving a new dispensation thereof to the children of men. But now all things are ready. I have shown that since men corrupted and lost the gospel, together with divine authority to administer its ordinances, the only way to regain possession of it is by receiving a new dispensation thereof through a revelation from God; that the sectarian teaching that the volume of scripture is completed and closed is based upon assumption merely; that the same sectarian teaching that revelation and prophecy had ceased forever is equally false; on the contrary we have seen that the very spirit and genius of the gospel contemplates the continuation of revelation both to the church and to individuals; therefore it can be neither unscriptural nor unreasonable to expect a new revelation that will restore the gospel.

Footnotes

1. Mark xvi.

2. Matt. xxviii.

3. Acts xix.

4. See II. Samuel vi, in connection with Numb. iv, 5-15.

5. II. Chron. xxvi.

6. Heb. v: 1-4.

7. "And take unto thee Aaron, thy brother, and his sons with him, from among the children of Israel, that he may minister unto me in the priest's office." Word of the Lord to Moses, Ex. xxviii: 1.

8. John xv: 16.

9. Heb. v: 5, 6.

10. Rev. xxii: 18, 19.

11. Vide Biblical Literature (Kitto), Art. Book of Revelation.

12. Early Days of Christianity, ch. xxvii.

13. This would make the 1st Epistle of John the closing book of the canon.

14. Deut, iv: 2.

15. Proverbs xxx: 6.

16. St. John xix: 30.

17. Corinth xiii: 8.

18. Ibid, verse 9-12.

19. It should be remembered that the division of the Epistle, and for that matter the whole of the New Testament, into chapters and verses was not made by the writers of it, but is quite a modern work. The verse with which the fourteenth chapter opens is a direct and close continuation of the subject with which the thirteenth chapter closes, and ought not to have been separated from it into another chapter. It is an instance of how clumsily the work of dividing the New Testament into chapters and verses was done.

20. Matt. xvi.

21. St. John i: 42.

22. Footnote in the Douay Bible on Matt. xvi: 17, 18.

23. Genesis v:24; Heb. xi: 5.

24. Exodus xxxiii: 11.

25. II Peter i: 20, 21.

26. John xvi: 13.

27. John xv: 26—Jesus to the apostles.

28. I Cor. xii.

29. Rev. xix: 10.

30. Acts ii: 38, 39.

31. John iii: 5.

32. Acts ii.

33. Isaiah xi.

34. See Matt. xxiv.

35. Acts xiii.

36. Acts xvi:6.

37. Acts xvi:7.

38. Acts xvi:9, 10.

39. I Cor. ii: 11.

40. I Cor. ii: 4, 5.

41. I Cor. ii: 14.

42. I Cor. ii: 9, 10, 12.

43. Rom. ii: 11.

CHAPTER IX.

PROPHETIC HISTORY OF THE CHURCH—THE RESTORATION OF THE GOSPEL BY AN ANGEL.

And now as to the direct testimony for the restoration of the gospel by means of a new revelation. It is to be found in one of the revelations to St. John upon the Isle of Patmos. While there, either as an exile, or a prisoner in the mines during the persecution under the Emperor Domitian—and in either case suffering for the word of God and the testimony of Jesus Christ—the apostle received many visions pertaining to the past, the present and the future of the Church of Christ. Especially are the twelfth, thirteenth and fourteenth chapters of His revelation instructive. There is a unity of design in them that cannot be mistaken. They contain a history of the church from the time it was presided over by the Twelve Apostles of the Lamb, unto the time when the judgments of God fall upon Babylon to her utter destruction. Without entering into minute detail let me point this out.

In the first two verses of the twelfth chapter, under the figure of a woman clothed with the sun, with the moon under her feet, and about her head a crown of twelve stars, and ready to be delivered of a child, John describes the church presided over by the apostles, and ready to bring forth the complete organization of the priesthood—the male child that is to rule the nations.

In the third and fourth verses, under the figure of a great red dragon, whose tail drew the third part of the stars of heaven, and who stood before the woman to devour her child as soon as it was born,—we have a description of Lucifer standing ready to destroy the priesthood so soon as it should be brought forth.

In verses five and six, under the figure of the woman bringing forth the male child, the child being caught up into heaven, and the flight of the woman into the wilderness, where God has a place prepared for her, where she is nourished for a thousand two hundred and three score days—we have a description of the coming forth of the priesthood as an organization, its being taken up into heaven out of reach of Lucifer, and also the flight of the church beyond his power into the wilderness, where it is nourished for a certain time.

In the verses from seven to twelve, inclusive, we have a deflection from the main line of history to explain who and what the great red dragon is. We are told of the war in heaven, where Michael and his angels fought; and the dragon and his angels fought, but prevailed not; and how at last the dragon, that old serpent called the Devil and Satan, was cast out of heaven into the earth and his angels with him. We are told of the joy there was in heaven when the accuser of the brethren was cast out; and how there had come salvation and strength and the kingdom of God and the power of his Christ. But those who thus rejoiced in heaven cry woe unto the inhabitants of the earth, because the devil had come down unto them having great wrath.

The thirteenth verse brings us back from the deflection to the line of history again; and from there to the close of the chapter under the figure of the woman flying into the wilderness, the dragon casting out of his mouth floods of water to carry her away if possible, and the return of the dragon full of wrath to make war on the seed of the woman,—"which keep the commandments of God and have the testimony of Jesus"—we have repeated the story of the flight of the church from the earth, the slander of Lucifer still seeking to destroy the church, now beyond the direct influence of his power, and his return to make was upon the few saints that remained after the church as an organization had been taken from among men.

In the first and second verses of the thirteenth chapter, under the figure of a monstrous, hydra-headed beast rising out of the sea, and the dragon giving unto him his power and his seat and great authority—we have a description of the rise and nature of pagan Rome, and Lucifer giving unto it his power and inspiring it with his spirit of hatred towards the saints.

In the third and fourth verses, under the figure of one of the heads of the beast being wounded and afterwards healed, all the world wondering after the beast, the dragon who gave him his power being worshiped, and the beast being worshiped—we have the transition from the pagan to the papal power of Rome described, and the worship of Lucifer in return for giving his power to the beast.

Then follows in verses from the fifth to the tenth, inclusive, the proclamation of this devil-inspired power to blaspheme against God, against his tabernacle and the saints in heaven; "to make war upon the saints and to overcome them;" his dominion over all kindreds and tongues and nations; the prophecy that all who dwell upon the earth shall worship him whose names are not written in the Lamb's book of life from the foundation of the world; and also the prophecy of the captivity of this power which has led into captivity, and the killing of him by the sword who killed with the sword.

From the tenth verse to the close of the chapter we have the rise of other powers described which shall under new forms inaugurate the old worship, exercise the old tyranny, practice the old deceptions, and confirm them by the performance of miracles.

The first seven verses of the fourteenth chapter describe the blessedness of a special company of the servants of God who have been redeemed from the earth, an hundred and forty and four thousand of them, being the first fruits unto God and the Lamb, in whose mouth was found no guile, and who are without fault.

The sixth and seventh verses describe an angel flying "in the midst of heaven having the everlasting gospel to preach unto them that dwell on the earth, and to every nation, and kindred, and tongue, and people, saying with a loud voice, Fear God and give glory to him, for the hour of his judgment is come: and worship him that made heaven, and earth, and the sea, and the fountains of waters."

The eighth verse proclaims the fall of Babylon which has made all nations drunk with the wine of the wrath of her fornication. The rest of the chapter forbids the worship of the beast or his image, pronouncing the wrath of God against those who do so; and deals with the successive judgments which shall overtake the earth to cleanse it of its wickedness. Thus in prophecy was the history of the church written, its establishment; the war made upon its priesthood by Lucifer; the taking away of the priesthood and the church from within the circle of his power; Lucifer's league first with pagan and afterwards with papal Rome; the establishment of devil and man worship; the blaspheming of God, his tabernacle and the saints in heaven; the rise of other powers who under new forms establish old blasphemies and devil-worship; the restoration of the gospel in the hour of God's judgment; and the final fall of Babylon and the cleansing of the earth preparatory to the reign of peace and righteousness inaugurated by the restoration of the gospel. There it is, a mighty compendium of history written by the spirit of prophecy!

It is, however, with that part of it which relates to the restoration of the gospel that here I have most to do. This the passage: "I saw another angel fly in the midst of heaven having the everlasting gospel to preach unto them that dwell on the earth, and to every nation, and kindred and tongue and people, saying with a loud voice, fear God and give glory to him; for the hour of his judgment is come; and worship him that made heaven and earth and the sea and the fountains of waters."[1]

However obscure some parts of the Books of Revelation may be considered, this prophecy is perfectly clear. Looked at from any standpoint, it means simply this: In the hour of God's judgment an angel will come from heaven bringing with him the everlasting gospel, which is thence to be preached unto all nations and peoples of the earth. The fact that the gospel is to be restored in the hour of God's judgment by the ministry of an angel, and thence is to be preached to every nation and kindred and tongue and people is proof positive that every nation and kindred and tongue and people in the hour of God's judgment would be without the gospel, hence the necessity of restoring it in the manner described. For if the Lord had a church on the earth, possessing divine authority, there would be no necessity to bring in a new dispensation of the gospel as described in the prophecy under consideration.

In this passage several of the facts for which I have contended meet: First, that there has been a universal apostasy from the gospel, so complete in its departure from the doctrines and rites of the Christian religion, so universal, as to destroy the church of Christ; second, the necessity of restoring the gospel by a re-opening of the heavens; and third, the fact of the restoration of the gospel by the ministration of an angel who commits a new dispensation of it to man, to be preached throughout the world.

Footnotes

1. Rev. xiv: 6, 7.

THESIS IV.

Joseph Smith is the New Witness for God; a Prophet Divinely Authorized to Teach the Gospel, and Re-establish the Church of Jesus Christ on Earth.

CHAPTER X.

THE NEW WITNESS INTRODUCED.

At the beginning of the nineteenth century, the western part of the State of New York was a new country, by which I mean—one recently settled, and comparatively a wilderness. At the close of the Revolutionary War, which secured to the former British Colonies independence, the people of the new-born nation found their country and themselves impoverished. Manufactures owing to the narrow and selfish policy of England toward her colonies (that policy had been to discourage the colonies from manufacturing, least they should compete with the manufactures of England) could scarcely be said to have an existence. Commerce, owing to the fact that the new nation had not yet established a commercial standing in the world, afforded little opportunity for American activity. Moreover, the American people themselves, of that generation, because of the conditions which had surrounded them in the New World, were neither skilled artisans capable of competing with the British workmen in manufacturing, nor had they the cunning that comes by training, which qualified them for immediate success. What they did possess was sturdy physical frames—constitutions unimpaired either by the excesses practiced among barbarians, or by the vices which abound in older civilizations. They possessed strong hands, superb courage and simple tastes, and with these they entered into that almost boundless empire of wilderness to the west of them, to make homes for themselves and their children.

Looking from the standpoint of our modern life, which knows so much of ease and comfort, the lot of these pioneers was a hard one. The soil which their rude shares upturned to the sun was indeed virgin and fertile, but before it could be cultivated it had to be cleared of its heavy growth of timber and underbrush, and with the means then employed, to clear a farm was well-nigh a life's labor. Each pioneer with the help of a few neighbors—which help he paid for by helping them in return—built his own house, his barn, his sheds, and fenced his "clearing." Each family within itself was practically self-supporting. The hum of the spinning-wheel, the rattle of the shuttle and the thumping of the loom was heard in every home, as wool and flax were converted into fabrics to clothe the family; and every pioneer cultivated such a variety of products that his farm and his labor supplied his wants and those of his household. Happily for their contentment, the conditions in which they lived rendered their wants but few.

In settling the wilderness the pioneers were not disposed to crowd each other. They settled far apart. It often happened that a man's nearest neighbor would be two or three miles away, so that the country for a long time was but sparsely settled. Towns were few and far between, and were only slowly built up. No such mushroom-growth of towns was known as that which characterized the settlement of the great prairie states in subsequent years. A few families settling on a stream furnishing water power for a grist-mill, or at some point on lake or stream frequented by the Indians for the purpose of trading their furs, formed the nucleus of these towns, and soon school-houses and churches increased their attractions.

It was a simple, honest life these pioneers led. A life full of toil; for it was a stubborn fight they had with the wilderness to subdue it. And yet their very hardships tended towards virtue. A busy life in honorable pursuits can never be a vicious one; and the constant toil of these men in wood and field so kept hands and head employed that there was left no time nor opportunity to pursue evil. Their amusements were few and simple, consisting in the main of the occasional gatherings of neighbors for social enjoyments—the love of youth and maiden seeking its legitimate expression in that companionship which alone satisfies the hunger of the heart, I doubt not, was the incentive which brought about these gatherings—at least their frequency; and the old, well pleased to see their own youth reflected in that of their sons and daughters, looked on with unconcealed delight.

Not only was this life in the wilderness favorable to morality, it contributed equally well to the cultivation of the religious sentiment in man. Man is by nature a religious animal, and where natural conditions prevail instead of artificial ones, true to his nature, man inclines toward a religious state of mind. There is something in the awful stillness of the wood that says to man—"God is in this solitude!" The murmur of the brook splashing over its pebbly bed, and the mournful sighing of the winds through the tree tops, whisper to his spirit the fundamental truth of all religion—"God lives!" The stars looking down through the trees or mirrored in stream or lake bear witness to the same great truth; while the orderly course of the seasons, bringing with such undeviating regularity seed time and harvest, the period of summer's growth and winter's rest, accompanied by the fact of the sun shining for the wicked as for the good, and the rain falling upon the just and the unjust alike, gives ample evidence of God's interest in the world he has created and of his beneficence and mercy towards all men.

When conditions were so favorable for the development of natural religion, it is not surprising that profound interest was manifested also in revealed religion. Especially when we remember that these pioneers of the wilderness were but from one to three generations removed from ancestors who had left the Old World for the express purpose of worshiping God according to their understanding of that same revealed religion. That skepticism of the eighteenth century which in some quarters had such a baneful influence upon religious belief was scarcely felt in these settlements remote from the old centers of the New World civilization. These men of the wilderness believed the Bible and looked upon it with the reverence worthy of men descended from Protestant fathers who had in their system of theology made it take the place of pope and church, and established it as their sole authority and infallible guide in the matters of faith and morals. While many of them refused to identify themselves with any of the various sects about them, or subscribe to their creeds, they were profound believers in the word of God, and often confessed this short creed which they duly impressed upon their descendants: "I believe in God, in the Bible, and in a state of future rewards and punishments."

There was no lack of zealous churchmen among the pioneers, sectaries who taught special forms of faith and contended for the necessity of particular dogmas and formulas with all that ardor and narrowness of view that usually characterizes the sectarian mind. Their contentions for the correctness of their respective creeds were not always free from bitterness but for all that the Protestant sects recognized each other as parts of a great universal church, and occasionally would so far put away the differences of creed which separated them as to unite for the purpose of holding union protracted meetings for the conversion of unbelievers.

During the continuance of these meetings the minister avoided preaching any doctrine except such as could be accepted by all the sects—evangelical doctrine. Professedly their sole effort was to lead the unconverted to believe in and accept Christ, let them join what sect they pleased. Usually matters went on very agreeably until the converts made by these united efforts began to express their preference for one or the other of the different religious sects. Then would break out those fierce sectarian struggles for advantage which have ever been so disgraceful to Protestant Christendom. The good feeling temporarily exhibited during the union meetings nearly all disappeared, and by the fact of its vanishing impressed an observer with the idea that all along it was more pretended than real. Sectarian zeal was unbounded in its efforts to secure as many of the new converts as possible to its own particular denomination. There was a cry of lo here and of lo there, not unfrequently accompanied with remarks of detraction about the opposing sects. The priests, each jealous for his own church, contended fiercely with one another, so that they who ought to have been the most exemplary in that conduct which makes for peace on earth and good will towards men, were often the most to be blamed for stirring up contention.

Such a wave of religious fervor brought about in the manner above set forth, and attended with results described, passed over the western part of the State of New York in the winter and spring of 1820. The movement at that time was of unusual interest, first on account of its extent, and second on account of the intensity of the religious excitement produced. It can well be imagined that with these two conditions existing, the bitterness among the sects taking part in the movement would be correspondingly great when it came to dividing up the spoils. By which I mean when the converts made by a unity of effort began to file off some to one sect and some to another. Such was the case. Presbyterians opposed Methodists, and Methodists Baptists; and Baptists opposed both the other sects. All was strife, contention, confusion, beneath which Christian charity and good will to man—these weightier matters of the law—were buried so far out of sight that it might be questioned if they ever existed.

Standing somewhat apart from, but watching with intense interest this religious excitement, and wondering greatly at the confusion and strife attendant upon it was a lad fourteen years old.[1] He was born of parents numbered among the pioneers of the wilderness, and up to that time had lived with them surrounded by the conditions already described in the first part of this chapter as so favorable to morality and the development of religious sentiment. By this religious agitation the mind of the lad was stirred to serious reflection accompanied with great uneasiness on account of the sectarian strife so incessant and so bitter. He saw several members of his father's family connect themselves with the Presbyterian sect, but he himself was more partial to the Methodist Church; and at times he felt some desire to be united with them. The tumult arising from the religious contention, however, was such as to bewilder him, and he felt himself incompetent to decide who was right and who was wrong. "What is to be done?" he would often ask himself. "Who of all these parties are right? Or are they all wrong together? If any one of them be right, which is it and how shall I know it?"[2]

Young as he was, his native intelligence taught him that something was radically wrong with all this contention over religion. It was clear even to his boyish mind that God could not be the author of all this confusion. God's church would not be split up into factions in this fashion; if he taught one society to worship one way, and administer one set of ordinances, he would not teach another principles diametrically opposed.[3]

Influenced by these reflections he refrained from joining any of the sects and in the meantime studied the scriptures as best he could for himself. While thus engaged he came to that passage in James which says: "If any of you lack wisdom, let him ask of God, that giveth to all men liberally and upbraideth not and it shall be given him." That passage was like the voice of God to his spirit. "Never," he was wont to say in later life—"never did any passage of scripture come with more power to the heart of man than this did at this time to mine. It seemed to enter with great force into every feeling of my heart."[4] He reflected upon it again and again, and as he did so the impression grew stronger that the advice of the ancient apostle offered a solution to his perplexities. It never occurred to him to think that the passage meant other than it said, or to question the universal application of the advice it gives. He knew nothing of the sophistry of the schools of theology which too often made the word of God of none effect by their learned exegesis. Through the innocent eyes of a mere boy, he looked the proposition of James squarely in the front, and, thanks to the teachings of parents who revered the word of God, he believed what the man of God said, and he believed further that he expressed that which the Lord inspired him to say; so that it came to him with the full force of a revelation. Under such circumstances what was more natural than for him to reason thus: If any person needs wisdom from God, I do, for how to act I do not know, and unless I can get more wisdom than I now have, I shall never know.[5] But one conclusion could be arrived at through such a course of reflection: he must either remain in darkness and confusion or do as James directed—ask of God. And since he gives wisdom to them that lack wisdom, and will give liberally and not upbraid, he thought he might venture. And so at last he did. He selected a place in a grove near his father's house, and there one beautiful morning in the spring of 1820,[6] after looking timidly about to ascertain that he was alone, the boy knelt in his first attempt at vocal prayer, to ask God for wisdom.

No sooner had he begun calling upon the Lord than there sprang upon him a being from the unseen world, who so entirely overcame him, and bound his utterance, that he could not speak. Thick darkness gathered about him, and it seemed to the struggling boy that he was doomed to sudden destruction. He still exerted all his power to call upon the Lord to deliver him from the power of the enemy who had seized him. But still his unseen though none the less real enemy continued to prevail. Despair filled his heart. He was about to abandon himself to destruction when at the moment of his greatest alarm he saw a pillar of light exactly over his head, above the brightness of the sun, which descended gradually until it fell upon him. No sooner did this light appear than he was free from the enemy which had held him bound. As the light rested upon him he saw within it two personages whose brightness and glory defy all description. They stood above him in the air, and one of them pointing to the other said: "JOSEPH, THIS IS MY BELOVED SON, HEAR HIM."

The object of the lad in going to that place to engage in secret prayer was to learn of God which of all the sects was right, that he might know which to join. No sooner, therefore, did he recover his self-possession than he asked the personage to whom he was thus introduced, which of all the sects was right—which he should join. He was answered that he must join none of them; for they were all wrong Their creeds were an abomination in God's sight; the professors of them were all corrupt—"They draw near me with their lips," said the personage, talking to him, "but their hearts are far from me; they teach for doctrine the commandments of men; having a form of Godliness but denying the power thereof." Again he was told that he must join none of them.

Many other things were said to him on that occasion which the Prophet has not recorded, except to say that he was promised that the fullness of the gospel would at some future time be made known to him.[7]

With this the vision closed, and the boy on coming to himself was lying upon his back looking up into heaven. He arose to his feet and looked upon the place of his fierce struggle with his unseen though powerful enemy—the place also of his splendid vision!

What a change had come to the lad in one brief hour! He was no longer struggling with doubts or troubled with perplexities as to which of the sects was right. He had gone to that place of prayer plagued with uncertainty, now no one among the children of men so well assured as he of the course to pursue. He had proved the correctness of James' doctrine—men may ask God for wisdom, receive liberally and not be upbraided. He knew that the religious creeds of the world were untrue; that they taught for doctrine the commandments of men; that religionists observed a form of godliness, but in their hearts denied the power of God; that they drew near to the Lord with their lips, but their hearts were far from him. He knew that God, the Father, lived, for he had both seen him and heard his voice; he knew that Jesus lived and was the Son of God, for he had been introduced to him by the Father, conversed with him in heavenly vision and had received instruction and a promise that the fullness of the gospel should yet be made known to him. Up to that time his life had been uneventful, and of a character to make him of no particular consequence in the world; now he stood as God's WITNESS among the children of men. Henceforth he must bear witness to the great truths he had learned. His testimony will arouse the wrath of men, and with unrelenting fury they will pursue him. Slander, outright falsehood and misrepresentation will play havoc with his reputation. Everywhere his name will be held up as evil. Derision will laugh at his testimony, Ridicule mock it. On every hand he will be met with the cry of "False prophet! false prophet!" Chains and the dungeon's gloom await him; mobs with murderous hate will assail him again and again; and at the last, while under the protection of the law, and the honor of a great commonwealth pledged for his safety, he will be murdered in cold blood for the word of God and the testimony of Jesus!

How little that fair-haired boy, standing there in the unpruned forest, with the sunlight stealing through the trees about him, realized the burden placed upon his shoulders that morning by reason of the visitation he received in answer to his prayer!

Here is not the place for argument, that is to come later; but let us consider the wide-sweeping effect of this boy's vision upon the accepted theology of Christendom.

First, it was a flat contradiction to the assumption that revelation had ceased, that God had no further communication to make to man.

Second, it reveals the errors into which men had fallen concerning the personages of the Godhead. It makes it manifest that God is not an incorporeal being without body, or parts; on the contrary he appeared to the Prophet in the form of a man, as he did to the ancient prophets. Thus after centuries of controversy the simple truth of the scriptures which teach that man was created in the likeness of God—hence God must be the same in form as man—was re-affirmed.

Third, it corrected the error of the theologians respecting the oneness of the persons of the Father and the Son. Instead of being one in person as the theologians taught, they are distinct in their persons, as much so as any father and son on earth; and the oneness of the Godhead referred to in the scriptures, must have reference to unity of purpose and of will; the mind of the one being the mind of the other, and so as to the will and other attributes.

The announcement of these truths, coupled with that other truth proclaimed by the Son of God, viz.: that none of the sects and churches of Christendom were acknowledged as the church or kingdom of God, furnish the elements for a religious revolution that will affect the very foundations of modern Christian theology. In a moment all the rubbish concerning religion which had accumulated through all the centuries since the gospel and authority to administer its ordinances had been taken from the earth, was grandly swept aside—the living rocks of truth were made bare upon which the Church of Christ was to be founded—a New Dispensation of the gospel was about to be committed to the earth—God had raised up a witness for himself among the children of men.

Footnotes

1. Joseph Smith the prophet was born in Sharon, Windsor County, state of Vermont, 23rd of December, 1805.

2. Pearl of Great Price, p. 86. (1888 edition always quoted).

3. See Joseph's reasoning upon this subject, published in his account of the rise of the church, written for Mr. John Wentworth, proprietor of the Chicago Democrat (1842), This article is also found in a pamphlet published by Geo A. Smith, entitled Answers to Questions, p. 37.

4. Hist. of Joseph Smith, Supplement to Millennial Star, Vol xiv.

5. His reasoning set down here is paraphrased from his own account of what he thought. See Hist. of Joseph Smith, Millennial Star, Vol. xiv.

6. The exact date of this occurrence is not known.

7. Answers to Questions, p. 37.

CHAPTER XI.

A NEW DISPENSATION OF THE GOSPEL.

The true test of moral courage is to stand alone against the world and maintain what one believes or knows to be the truth. It is easy enough to join in the chorus that cries "Amen" to orthodox doctrines, or even to lead in advocating opinions that the multitude by very force of tradition accept with applause. Even unpopular opinions are maintained and that stoutly by men whose moral courage falls very far short of the sublime, if only they are supported by a following. Just as men of indifferent physical courage will sometimes show a spirit of desperate daring, and rush into the jaws of death, borne up against the danger by the sheer consciousness of moving upon it with a large number of their fellows. Examples are furnished by armies in battle. Not a few of those who charge the enemy with apparent reckless bravery are borne along by the strength which comes from the support of numbers. The charge upon the enemy, therefore, even in the face of a galling fire, is not the truest test of the courage of the soldier. A better evidence of courage is given by the solitary sentinel upon his beat; when alone under the quiet stars he walks the path of danger, uncertain where it may be lurking or from what quarter it may come; when the shouts of his comrades are hushed in slumber; when the soul-stirring drum and ear-piercing fife are silent; when the excitement which comes from action, and the tumult of glorious battle no longer sustains him—then if his spirit fails him not, and he calmly and alone faces the danger and does his duty, he gives his commander a better evidence of his courage than he will ever give in the mad recklessness of the charge.

As dogs best hunt in packs, so men best fight in armies; and so, too, do men best stand by their convictions when strengthened by that moral support which comes from the approval of their fellows. But, as I remarked, the truest test of moral courage is to stand alone and maintain what one either knows or believes to be the truth against the sneers and ridicule of the world.

When the one who stands alone against millions is young, and the influences brought to bear against him are the most powerful that can be employed; if he break not down, but steadily holds to the assertion or principle which gives offense, his courage and integrity must stand as presumptive evidence that he either has the truth or what he believes to be the truth, for out and out falsehood has no such heroes. The truth alone, or what is honestly taken for it, can support men in such an issue as this. And more especially is this the case if the one undergoing the trial, in addition to tender years, is also unschooled in the vices of the world, is of quick sympathies and easily persuaded.

Such was Joseph Smith when he received that vision of the Father and the Son described in a preceding chapter. He had but just completed his fourteenth year. The conditions amid which he spent his childhood—not yet ended—were such as to keep him innocent; and his deep filial love and strong affection for brothers and sisters gave evidence of the existence in him of those quick sympathies which in later life developed into that deep universal love for his fellow-men so characteristic of him; while the disposition to yield to the persuasion of his friends was so prominent in him as well nigh to amount to weakness.[1] Thus in him were all those qualities of character, and about him were all those conditions, which make his stand for the truth of his story of such great force as presumptive evidence of its correctness; for notwithstanding his youth, his inclination to yield to the persuasions of friends, his deep sympathetic soul, which was pained at the abuse heaped upon his parents as well as upon himself for asserting that he had seen a vision—notwithstanding all this, he never could be induced either by persuasion, by threats, by scoffs, by scorn or ridicule, or religious influence, or abuse heaped upon himself and family, to retract his declaration that he had seen a heavenly vision in which he beheld both God the Father and his Son Jesus Christ.

He made no secret of the vision. Only a few days after receiving it, being in company with a prominent Methodist minister, he gave him an account of the revelation which he had received from God, when to the boy's astonishment the minister railed most viciously against it. "He treated my communication not only lightly," says the Prophet, writing of those early experiences later in life, "but with contempt, saying it was all of the devil, that there was no such thing as visions or revelations in these days; that all such things had ceased with the apostles, and that there never would be any more of them. I soon found, however, that by telling the story I had excited a great deal of prejudice against me among professors of religion, and was the cause of great persecution, which continued to increase, and though I was an obscure boy, only between fourteen and fifteen years of age, and my circumstances in life such as to make a boy of no consequence in the world, yet men of high standing would take notice sufficient to excite the public mind against me, and create a hot persecution, and this was common among all the sects, all united to persecute me.

"It has often caused me serious reflection, both then and since, how very strange it was that an obscure boy, a little over fourteen year of age, and one, too, who was doomed to the necessity of obtaining a scanty maintenance by his daily labor, should be thought a character of sufficient importance to attract the attention of the great ones of the most popular sects of the day, so as to create in them a spirit of the hottest persecution and reviling. But strange or not, so it was, and was often a cause of great sorrow to myself. However, it was, nevertheless, a fact that I had had a vision. I have thought since that I felt much like Paul when he made his defense before King Agrippa, and related the account of the vision he had when he saw a light and heard a voice, but still there were but a few who believed him; and some said he was dishonest; others said he was mad, and he was ridiculed and reviled; but all this did not destroy the reality of his vision. He had seen a vision, he knew he had, and all the persecution under heaven could not make it otherwise; and though they should persecute him unto death, yet he knew and would know to his latest breath that he had both seen a light, and heard a voice speaking to him, and all the world could not make him think or believe otherwise.

"So it was with me; I had actually seen a light, and in the midst of that light I saw two personages, and they did in reality speak unto me, or one of them did; and though I was hated and persecuted for saying that I had seen a vision, yet it was true; and while they were persecuting me, reviling me and speaking all manner of evil against me falsely, for so saying, I was led to say in my heart: Why persecute for telling the truth? I had actually seen a vision, and who am I that I can withstand God? Or why does the world think to make me deny what I have actually seen? For I had seen a vision. I knew it, and I knew that God knew it, and I could not deny it, neither dare I do it; at least I knew that by so doing I would offend God and come under condemnation."[2]

This statement the boy maintained alone (save such support as came from the belief of his own family, none of the immediate members of which, so far as I have learned, ever doubting his story), against the world for three years; without even the encouragement of a further spiritual manifestation. It would be improper, as I believe, to say that God did this to prove him. The Almighty, who is also All Knowing, knew before the test was made that he would endure it. God knew his spirit and its nobility and strength as he knew Messiah's or Abraham's; He knew it as he knew the spirit of Jeremiah and ordained him, too, to be a prophet to the nations before he was born.[3] But if God needed no new evidence of the strength of character possessed by his New Witness; if he needed no proof of his integrity, his devotion to the truth—the world did; and during that period of three years of sore trial, when alone he maintained the truth against scoffing priests, the gibes of his companions, and the sneers, ridicule and unbelief of the world, he gave to the generation in which he lived and to all generations succeeding, such evidence of his integrity to the truth, or what at least he believed to be true, as ought and will secure the respectful attention of sincere men to the testimony he bears for God.

The constancy of the lad, under all the circumstances, laid deep the foundation for faith in the man, and in the work which, under God, he founded. There were so many interests—the peace of himself and family; his own and his family's good name and standing in society; the applause of religionists who would have hailed with delight his renunciation of the vision as a delusion of the devil—all these things cried out, "Renounce it!" But the fact that to all such demands the lad shouted back, "'Tis God's truth, I saw the vision!"—will go far towards making men believe that he did; for had he been base enough to invent such a story, when he found that it made against his interest and brought nothing but reproaches, without doubt, he would have denied it; for men seldom persist in conscious falsehood which works only to their disadvantage. And in this instance the renunciation would have been so easy by calling it a delusion wrought by the adversary of men's souls, by which he had been deceived. But neither ease of denial nor the seeming advantages to accrue from it moved him; against it all he was supported by the consciousness of having told the truth. Unless indeed we can believe him so insane as to have been a candidate for disgrace and ambitious of the contempt of his fellows.

At the end of three years' silence, viz., on the 21st of September, 1823, he was blessed with another vision. During the three years he was left to stand alone he lays no claim to perfect sanctity, but freely confesses to have fallen frequently into "foolish errors, and displayed the weakness of youth, and the corruption of human nature." In consequence of these things he often felt condemned; and on the above mentioned 21st of September, he betook himself to prayer to Almighy God, sought a remission of his sins, and asked for a manifestation of his standing before the Lord.

While thus calling upon God in prayer, the room in which he knelt was filled with light, and an angel stood in his presence, who announced himself a messenger sent from God to inform him that the Lord had a work for him to do; and that his name should be had for good and evil among all nations; or that it should be both good and evil spoken of among all people.[4]

Moroni, for such was the angel's name, was one of the ancient prophets who had lived in America; he was now raised from the dead,[5] and had come to make known the existence of the record of the ancient inhabitants of the western hemisphere. Besides giving an account of the ancient peoples who inhabited America and the source from whence they sprang, this record also contained the fullness of the gospel as delivered by the Savior to them. Hidden with the record were two stones in silver bows, and the bows fastened to a breast-plate, constituting the Urim and Thummim. The ability to use the Urim and Thummim was what constituted seers in ancient times, and they had been deposited with this record for the purpose of translating it.

After these explanations, Moroni began quoting and explaining a number of the prophecies of the Old Testament. Following are the passages in the order in which he quoted them: Part of the 3rd chapter of Malachi, 4th chapter of Malachi; 11th chapter of Isaiah—saying it was about to be fulfilled; 3rd chapter of Acts, 22nd and 23rd verses, saying that the prophet therein named was Jesus Christ, but the time when those who would not hear his voice should be cut off from among the people had not yet come, but would soon come; 2nd chapter of Joel, from 28th verse to the last: this was not fulfilled, but soon would be.

Some of the passages he quoted differently from the way they read in our English version. Malachi 3rd chapter, 1st verse, for example, he quoted as follows: "For behold the day cometh that shall burn as an oven, and all the proud, yea, and all that do wickedly shall burn as stubble; for they that come shall burn them, saith the Lord of Hosts, and it shall leave them neither root nor branch."

The 5th and 6th verses he quoted thus: "Behold I will reveal unto you the priesthood by the hand of Elijah the prophet before the coming of the great and dreadful day of the Lord. And he shall plant in the hearts of the children the promises made to the fathers and the hearts of the children shall turn to their fathers; if it were not so the whole earth would be utterly wasted at his coming."

This heavenly messenger appeared to him three times during that night and each time related the same things to him, the interviews occupying nearly the whole night.

The next day while working beside his father in a field Joseph was taken ill. His father observing it advised him to go to the house. This the boy started to do, but in climbing over the fence, which separated the field from the house, his strength utterly failed him, and he sank to the ground unconscious. He was aroused by some one calling his name, and when he regained consciousness the messenger of the night before stood near him. Again the things of the night before were repeated; and he received a commandment to go and tell his father the vision. This he did and his father encouraged him to do as he had been commanded. He accordingly went as directed in his vision to the place where the record of the ancient Americans was concealed—to a hill called by them Cumorah.

Removing the grass and soil which was about the edges of the stone box that contained the ancient record, with a lever he raised the lid and there saw the gold plates and the Urim and Thummim. He was about to take them from the box, when the angel Moroni again stood before him, and forbade his taking them out, as the time for them to be given to him for translation had not yet come, nor would it come until four years from that date. He was commanded to come at the end of each year to that place, and the angel would meet him to give the necessary instruction.

This Joseph did for four successive years, and each time met the same heavenly messenger and received instruction. On the occasion of the fourth meeting, viz., on the 22nd of September, 1827, the record was given into his hands to translate. This work of translation, through the grace of God, he accomplished, and in 1830 the Book of Mormon was published to the world.

Before it was published, the plates of gold on which it had been engraven by the ancient inhabitants of the land, were shown by the angel Moroni to Oliver Cowdery, David Whitmer and Martin Harris, together with the Urim and Thummim through which the translation was effected; and their testimony to this fact was printed over their signatures on the fly-leaf of the Book of Mormon. Joseph Smith himself exhibited the plates to eight other persons, viz: Christian, Jacob, Peter and John Whitmer; Hiram Page, Joseph Smith, Sen., Hyrum Smith and Samuel H. Smith. The testimony of these eight witnesses to the effect that they had seen, and handled the plates from which the Book of Mormon had been translated, and examined the characters engraven thereon, was also printed in the first and all subsequent authorized editions of the book.[6]

It must be understood that during the progress of the young Prophet's work, persecution was continuous; and slander with her thousand tongues was inventing falsehood to destroy the work of God. But while opposition was strong, the Lord from time to time raised up friends to assist him in his labors and share his responsibilities. Among such persons was one Oliver Cowdery, a young school teacher, who while following his profession in the town of Manchester, was boarding in the family of Joseph Smith's parents, from whom he learned of the revelations of God to Joseph, and of his having the record of the ancient inhabitants of America.

The youthful Prophet at this time was living at Harmony, Susquehanna County, Pennsylvania. He had married a Miss Emma Hale and settled there on a piece of land purchased of his father-in-law. Oliver Cowdery went to Harmony to investigate the claims of Joseph Smith, both in respect to his receiving revelations from God and having the Book of Mormon. He became satisfied upon both points and remained with him to act as his scribe in the work of translation.

In May, 1829, the work of translation drawing near to completion, they came upon a passage in the Book of Mormon respecting baptism, upon which they held different views. They retired to the woods on the 15th of May to present the matter before the Lord for further light, and while engaged in calling upon God in prayer, a personage appeared to them surrounded by a glorious light, who, as he laid his hands upon their heads, said: "Upon you my fellow servants, in the name of Messiah, I confer the priesthood of Aaron, which holds the keys of the ministering of angels, and of the gospel of repentance, and of baptism by immersion for the remission of sins; and this shall never be taken again from the earth, until the sons of Levi do offer again an offering unto the Lord in righteousness."

The Messenger who thus conferred the Aaronic priesthood upon them was named John, the same that is called the Baptist in the New Testament. He had been raised from the dead, and was now sent as a messenger from God to confer the keys of the Aaronic priesthood upon Joseph Smith and Oliver Cowdery. He told them that he acted under the direction of the apostles Peter, James and John, and that some time in the near future the Melchisedek or higher priesthood would be conferred upon them. He then commanded them to each baptize the other, Joseph to first baptize Oliver, and then Oliver to baptize Joseph. Thus the work of baptizing men for the remission of sins began in the new dispensation.

Some time in the following month, June, 1829, the promise made by John to Joseph and Oliver that the Melchisedek Priesthood would be conferred upon them was fulfilled. In the wilderness between Harmony, Susquehanna County, Penn., and Colesville, Broom County, New York, on the banks of the Susquehanna River, Peter, James and John conferred upon Joseph Smith and Oliver Cowdery the apostleship, the keys of the Melchisedek Priesthood, which gave them the right to build up the church of Christ in all the world, and organize it in all its departments.

It is proper here to say a few words upon the subject of priesthood. Priesthood is power which God confers upon man, by which he becomes an agent for God, authorized to act in his name. It may be to warn a city or nation of approaching calamity because of corruption; it may be to teach faith in God, or cry repentance to the wicked; it may be to baptize in water for the remission of sins, or lay on hands, as the ancient apostles did, for the baptism of the Holy Ghost; or it may be to lay on hands for the healing of the sick, or all these things combined. Men who hold the priesthood possess divine authority thus to act for God; and by possessing part of God's power they are in reality part of God, that is, in the sense of being part of the great governing power that extends throughout the universe. This is the authority of men that hold the priesthood, and when those who possess it walk in obedience to the commandments of God, men who honor the priesthood in them, honor God; and those who reject it reject God, even the power of God.

It was doubtless these considerations which led Jesus to say, when sending out his apostles to preach the gospel: "He that receiveth you, receiveth me; and he that receiveth me, receiveth him that sent me. * * * And whosoever shall not receive you, nor hear your words when ye depart out of that house or city, shake off the dust of your feet. Verily I say unto you, it shall be more tolerable for the land of Sodom and Gomorrah in the day of judgment, than for that city."[7]

Considered in the light of these sayings of Jesus, the priesthood is a solemn thing. To hold power delegated to one by Almighty God—to have authority to speak and act in his name, and have it of the same binding force as if the Deity himself spoke or acted, is both an honor and a responsibility which few men comprehend. It is an awe-inspiring thing. Yet such authority God does confer upon men. It was bestowed upon the Patriarchs before the flood, upon Melchisedek, Abraham, Moses, and the prophets. It was given to the apostles through Jesus; he said to Peter, "I will give unto thee the keys of the kingdom of heaven; and whatsoever thou shalt bind on earth shall be bound in heaven; and whatsoever thou shalt loose on earth shall be loosed in heaven."[8] These mighty keys of authority were conferred, as related in the foregoing, upon Joseph Smith, and by that authority he organized the Church and regulated its affairs up to the time of his death.

The Church of Jesus Christ, in the new dispensation under the direction of revelation from God, was organized on the 6th day of April, 1830. That organization was very simple; it was effected with six members. Joseph Smith was acknowledged as the first Elder of the Church, and Oliver Cowdery as the second Elder; but before the meeting which organized the Church adjourned, the Church was commanded to keep a record in which the Prophet Joseph was to be called "a seer, a translator, a prophet, an apostle of the Lord Jesus Christ, an Elder of the church."[9] The more complete organization of the church with Apostles, Seventies, High Priests, Elders, Bishops, Priests, Teachers and Deacons was a later development, and will receive attention in a subsequent chapter.

In the month of February, 1832, Joseph Smith and Sidney Rigdon[10] were wrapt in vision, in which they beheld the Son of God and conversed with him—let them bear their own testimony: "We, Joseph Smith, Jun., and Sidney Rigdon, being in the spirit on the sixteenth of February, in the year of our Lord, one thousand eight hundred and thirty-two, by the power of the spirit, our eyes were opened, and our understandings were enlightened so as to see and understand the things of God—even those things which were from the beginning, before the world was, which were ordained of the Father through his Only Begotten Son who was in the bosom of the Father even from the beginning. Of whom we bear record, and the record which we bear is the fullness of the gospel of Jesus Christ, who is the Son, whom we saw and with whom we conversed in the heavenly vision; for while we were doing the work of translation which the Lord had appointed to us, we came to the tenth verse of the fifth chapter of John, which was given to us as follows—speaking of the resurrection of the dead, concerning those who shall hear the voice of the Son of Man, and shall come forth: 'They who have done good in the resurrection of the just and they who have done evil in the resurrection of the unjust.'[11] Now this caused us to marvel, for it was given unto us of the Spirit; and while we meditated upon these things, the Lord touched the eyes of our understandings and they were opened, and the glory of the Lord shone round about; and we beheld the glory of the Son on the right hand of the Father, and received of his fullness; and saw the holy angels, and they who are sanctified before his throne, worshiping God and the Lamb, who worship him forever and ever. And now, after the many testimonies which have been given of him, this is the testimony last of all which we give of him, that he lives; for we saw him, even on the right hand of God, and we heard the voice bearing record that he is the Only Begotten of the Father—that by him and through him and of him the worlds are and were created, and the inhabitants thereof are begotten sons and daughters unto God."[12]

Four years after the vision of Joseph Smith and Sidney Rigdon, viz., April 6th, 1836, other visions of Jesus Christ and several mighty angels were given to the Prophet and Oliver Cowdery. The visions occurred during the dedication of the Kirtland Temple. The first was of Jesus Christ, who declared his acceptance of the temple. The angels came to deliver certain keys of authority to Joseph Smith. Following is the Prophet's account of the several manifestations:

"The vail was taken from our minds, and the eyes of our understanding were opened. We saw the Lord standing upon the breastwork of the pulpit, before us, and under his feet was a paved work of pure gold in color like amber. His eyes were as a flame of fire, the hair of his head was white like pure snow, his countenance shone above the brightness of the sun, and his voice was as the sound of the rushing of great waters, even the voice of Jehovah, saying 'I am the first and the last, I am he who liveth, I am he who was slain, I am your advocate with the Father. Behold, your sins are forgiven you, you are clean before me, therefore lift up your heads and rejoice. Let the hearts of your brethren rejoice, and let the hearts of all my people rejoice who have, with their might, built this house to my name; for behold, I have accepted this house, and my name shall be here, and I will manifest myself to my people in mercy in this house. Yea, I will appear unto my servants and speak unto them with mine own voice, if my people will keep my commandments, and do not pollute this holy house, yea, the hearts of thousands and tens of thousands shall greatly rejoice in consequence of the blessings which shall be poured out, and the endowment with which my servants have been endowed in this house; and the fame of this house shall spread to foreign lands, and this is the beginning of the blessing which shall be poured out upon the heads of my people, even so, Amen.

"After this vision closed, the heavens were again opened unto us, and Moses appeared before us and committed unto us the keys of the gathering of Israel from the four parts of the earth, and the leading of the ten tribes from the land of the north.

"After this Elias appeared and committed the dispensation of the gospel of Abraham, saying, that in us, and our seed, all generations after us should be blessed.

"After this vision closed, another great and glorious vision burst upon us, for Elijah, the prophet, who was taken to heaven without tasting death, stood before us, and said: 'Behold the time is fully come, which was spoken by the mouth of Malachi, testifying that he [Elijah] should be sent before the great and dreadful day of the Lord come, to turn the hearts of the fathers to the children, and the children to the fathers, lest the whole earth be smitten with a curse. Therefore the keys of this dispensation are committed into your hands, and by this ye may know that the great and dreadful day of the Lord is near, even at the doors."[13]

There were numerous other revelations given to Joseph Smith and to others through him; for he was God's mouthpiece to men in this new dispensation, both before and after the church was organized. Some of these revelations were received through the Urim and Thummim which the angel Moroni gave into his possession in connection with the gold plates of the Book of Mormon.[14] Other revelations were received through inspiration from God acting directly upon the Prophet. Of the manner in which these last named revelations were received, a prominent writer and officer in the church who was present on several such occasions, says. "Each sentence was uttered slowly and very distinctly, and with a pause between each sufficiently long for it to be recorded by an ordinary writer in long hand. This was the manner in which all his written revelations were dictated and written. There was never any hesitation, reviewing or reading back to keep the thread of the subject; neither did any of these communications undergo revisions, interlinings, or corrections. As he dictated them, so they stood, so far as I have witnessed; and I was present to witness the dictation of several communications of several pages."[15]

With the revelations thus received, as well as those received through the Urim and Thummim, we shall have more or less to do in this work; but the visions and ministrations of angels related in this and the preceding chapter constitute the basis upon which the work of God in this new dispensation is founded. From the information and authority received through them comes the organization of the Church of Christ and the proclamation of the Gospel in all the world.

The manifestations are of a character which preclude all possibility of the parties who received them being mistaken. If the great work of God in these last days, were founded alone upon the internal inspiration or illumination of the Prophet Joseph, the probability of his belonging to that very large number of well-meaning but mistaken men who have thought themselves inspired of God would be very much increased; for nothing is more common perhaps than self-deception in such matters. "Mormonism," however, came into existence not alone from internal inspiration, or divine inward illumination of Joseph Smith; but from what we may term external revelations as well; revelations which appeal to the senses of the mind as well as to the inner consciousness. Review them I pray you:

God the Father and his Son Jesus Christ are beheld in the full light of day—nay, in an effulgence of light, brighter than the sunlight at noon-day. And a direct conversation is held with them upon a matter-of-fact subject for some length of time.

One of the resurrected prophets of ancient America appears three times in one night, and twice the following day; he conversed upon a variety of subjects, but the main purpose of his visitation was to reveal the existence of the record of an ancient people. At the end of each year, for four successive years, this same heavenly messenger repeats his visits, and at the last gives into the possession of Joseph Smith a volume of gold plates, the engravings on which the Prophet translated into the English language.

An angel exhibits these same plates to other men, and permits them to examine the engravings thereon.

Eight other men see and handle the plates and examine the characters engraven on them.

Another angel, also a resurrected prophet, appears in broad day light and lays his hands upon the heads of two men, viz: Joseph Smith and Oliver Cowdery, and ordains them to the Aaronic Priesthood.

Three of the ancient apostles appear and ordain the same men to the Melchisedek or higher Priesthood.

Jesus is seen by two men, viz., Joseph Smith and Sidney Rigdon, at the right hand of God the Father, and a protracted conversation ensues.

Jesus is again seen in the Temple at Kirtland, by Joseph Smith and Oliver Cowdery and again his voice is heard.

On the same occasion Moses, Elias, and Elijah, the prophet, appeared and conferred certain keys of authority upon two men—Joseph Smith and Oliver Cowdery.

Now all this appeals to the outward senses. It is matter of fact. It is tangible. It all occurred and is a solemn verity, or it is all wicked fabrication. A fabrication it is possible for it to be, but it can never be resolved into a mere mistake—a self-deception. The men who affirm all of it to have taken place may have been villains, bent on deluding mankind; for wicked men still lie in wait to deceive; but they can never be classed as well-meaning but mistaken men. Either what Joseph Smith and his associates affirm is true, or they are base and conscious imposters. The manifestations of which they proclaim themselves witnesses are so palpable to the senses—to sight, and touch and hearing; they occur at such times and places, and under such circumstances, and are so frequently repeated, that there can be no possibility of mistake. In the consideration of their testimony, therefore, there is no middle ground between the extremes of absolute truthfulness or absolute falsehood, and I ask the readers of this book to take up the investigation upon which we are about to enter in this spirit.

Footnotes

1. After the plates from which the Book of Mormon was translated were delivered to the prophet Joseph, the Lord had occasion to reprove him several times for his disposition to yield to the persuasion of men. When he received the record of the Nephites the Lord put him under a covenant to show them to no one except to those to whom the Lord should command him to show them (Doc. & Cov., Sec. v. 3). When he had translated enough to make 116 pages of old foolscap manuscript, Martin Harris continually importuned him to be allowed to show that much of the work to his friends. This the Lord forbid, but Harris continuing his importunings, and Joseph in turn petitioning the Lord at Harris' request, permission was at last granted, and the MS. was stolen. Joseph, for thus yielding to the persuasion of Martin Harris after the word of the Lord was known, lost for a season his gift to translate, and the plates were taken from him. When they were returned, and permission given to continue the work of translation, the Lord thus reproved him for his disposition to yield to persuasion: "Behold, you have been intrusted with these things, but how strict were your commandments; and remember, also, the promises which were made to you, if you did not transgress them; and behold, how oft you have transgressed the commandments and the laws of God, and have gone on in the persuasions of men!" (Doc. & Cov., Sec. iii). And again the Lord said to him: "And now, I command you, my servant Joseph, to repent and walk more uprightly before me, and yield to the persuasions of men no more; and that you be firm in keeping the commandments wherewith I have commanded you, and if you do this, behold I grant unto you eternal life, even if you should be slain." (Doc. & Cov., Sec. v). But this characteristic was only manifested early in his career. Or if it appeared later in life, it was only in relation to things indifferent—that is, in things that did not involve a sacrifice of principle.

2. Extracts from the History of Joseph Smith, "Pearl of Great Price," (1888 edition), pp. 89, 90, 91.

3. "Before I formed thee in the belly I knew thee; and before thou camest forth out of the womb I sanctified thee, and ordained thee a prophet unto the nations"—The Lord to Jeremiah, Jeremiah ch. i:5.

4. Pearl of Great Price, p. 94 (ed. of 1888).

5. It certainly ought not to be difficult for Christians to believe in the existence of resurrected men; for in Matthew's Gospel we read: "And the graves were opened; and many bodies of the saints which slept arose, and came out of the graves after his (Christ's) resurrection, and went into the holy city, and appeared unto many" (Matt. xxvii: 52, 53). If the ancient saints on the eastern hemisphere who were worthy arose from the dead after the resurrection of Jesus, it is not improbable, but rather reasonable, that the worthy saints who had lived upon the western hemisphere also should be raised from the dead.

6. This is a very brief and imperfect account of the coming forth of the Book of Mormon. A fuller account will be given in a volume which will treat upon the Book of Mormon as a 'Witness for God, now in course of preparation by the author, and I shall then write in greater detail of its coming forth. I could not do so in this volume on account of the space it would require, and besides, such an account more properly belongs to the part of my work that will treat exclusively of that book.

7. Matt. x.

8. Matt. xvi.

9. Doc. & Cov., Sec. xxi.

10. Sidney Rigdon, born in Pennsylvania, 19th of February, 1793, had been prominently connected with what is known as the "Campbellite" or Reformed Baptist movement in the United States; but was converted to a belief in the restoration of the gospel through Joseph Smith, by Elder Parley P. Pratt, who first presented him with the Book of Mormon. At the time indicated in the text he was a prominent Elder in the Church and closely associated with Joseph Smith.

11. In the English version of the New Testament the passage reads: "And shall come forth; they that have done good unto the resurrection of life; and they that have done evil to the resurrection of damnation." St. John v: 29.

12. Doc. and Cov. Sec. lxxvi.

13. Doc. and Cov., Sec. cx.

14. The revelations known to have been received through the Urim and Thummim are the following: Doc. and Cov. Sec. iii, Ibid, Sec. vi, Sec. vii, Sec. xi, Sec, xiv, Sec. xv, Sec. xvi, Sec. xviii. There were doubtless others received through that sacred instrument, but these are specially mentioned as being so received.

15. Autb. of Parley P. Pratt, p. 65, 66.

CHAPTER XII.

OBJECTIONS TO THE WITNESS CONSIDERED.

Since, as we have seen, a new dispensation of the gospel in the last days is to be given to man; and as neither the "Reformers" of the sixteenth century, nor any person since their day and before Joseph Smith has even made any pretension that God by a new revelation and the ministry of angels restored the gospel; and as that is the manner in which God has promised to restore the gospel, may not Joseph Smith be the prophet of the New Dispensation, the instrument in the hands of God to bring to pass his purpose in the great work of the last days? Some man must be chosen, why not he?

These questions lead me to the consideration of those objections urged against Joseph Smith as reasons for believing that he was not a prophet of God. First of all, I shall consider the one made against him on account of his humble birth and lowly station in life.

It would be well-nigh an endless, as also a useless task to repeat what has been said of Joseph Smith on this score. Not content with the facts in the case, malice has employed misrepresentation to degrade his family in the estimation of the world; and sneer and ridicule have done what they could to cast discredit upon his pretensions, by pointing to the rock from whence he was hewn, and the supposed pit from whence he was digged. His friends and followers are prepared to admit the whole truth in respect to his humble origin and lowly station in life. The character of his parents, the circumstances under which he himself was reared are detailed in chapter X of this book.

It will be remembered that his forefathers were among the earlier settlers of New England; that his father was a farmer, industrious, honorable, though in humble circumstance; and under the necessity of laboring with his hands in wood or field to support his large family. It has already been said that the youthful Prophet Joseph shared these labors.

But of what value is the objection of lowly birth and humble station? Is it to be argued that if the Lord had a communication to make to mankind, such as Joseph Smith claims to have received, he would have chosen some of the great ones of the earth, one of high birth, of vast fortune, of profound learning, of deep knowledge and famous for eloquence? Such an one man might choose, but how often has God done otherwise! Let the roll in part be called: Moses and Aaron, the sons of an Israelitish slave; Joshua, the same; David, a shepherd; the prophet Amos, a shepherd and dresser of sycamore trees; the apostles of Jesus Christ, men of the lowliest birth and humblest occupations; Peter and Andrew his brother, were fishermen; John and James, the sons of Zebedee, also fishermen; Matthew, a despised tax-collector; Paul, a tent-maker; and while of the occupations of the rest of the apostles nothing is known definitely, we have every reason to believe that they were men of the humblest extraction and meanest occupation.

These are some of those whom God called to do his work. He has not always confined his choice to men of this class; sometimes he has chosen men of royal descent and from what are called the higher walks of life. Because Deity has chosen his servants so frequently from those of humble extraction and occupation, it is not for me to flout the rich and learned and great. That were an arrogance as offensive to the spirit of right reason and to heaven, as that which I condemn in those who affect to despise the Prophet Joseph because of his humble birth and circumstances. By citing the fact that God in other ages has chosen men of lowly birth and mean occupation, I only desire to show that there is no value in the objection urged against Joseph Smith on the ground of his humble station in life.

Let Joseph Smith's birth be as humble as it will, it cannot be more lowly than that of Jesus Christ. The fortunes of the mother of the prophet were not more fallen than those of Mary, the mother of Jesus. A log house in Sharon, Vermont, was not a more humble birth-place than a stable in Bethlehem. The rude cradle of Joseph Smith, made by his father's hands, though rough hewn, was at least equal to the ruder manger of the stable at Bethlehem; and the occupation of husband-man, which the father of Joseph followed, and in which the Prophet in boyhood assisted him, is not more humble as an occupation than that of a carpenter which the supposed father of Jesus followed, and in which Jesus doubtless assisted him, before entering upon his public ministry. Indeed, I may say that neither Joseph Smith nor any other prophet has been permitted to start from a more lowly station in life than the Son of God; for it is fitting that he who is to ascend above all things—all heights, principalities and powers, should also descend below all things, that he might in all things touch all points of human experience so that whatever the experience of man might be, however lowly his station, however distressing his misfortunes; however poor, forsaken, desolate; however ridiculed, despised, hated, persecuted; however tempted—looking down from his exalted throne at the right hand of God, with his soul swelling with compassion, Jesus might say—"The Son of Man hath descended below them all."[1]

The objections urged against Joseph Smith on the ground of his lowly birth and humble occupation are without value. Writing to the saints at Corinth, the apostle to the Gentiles says: "For ye see your calling, brethren, how that not many wise men after the flesh, not many mighty, not many noble, are called: But God hath chosen the foolish things of the world to confound the wise; and God hath chosen the weak things of the world to confound the things which are mighty; and base things of the world, and things, which are despised, hath God chosen, yea, and things which are not, to bring to naught the things which are."[2] The reason God assigns for pursuing such a course in the selection of his servants is said to be, "That no flesh should glory in his presence. * * * That according as it is written, he that glorieth, let him glory in the Lord."[3] If the wisdom of this method of procedure does not appeal to the intelligence of man, let him accept it as an evidence that God's ways are not as man's ways, nor his thoughts as man's thoughts. Of this, too, we may be assured—that as the heavens are higher than the earth, so are God's ways higher than man's ways; and his thoughts than man's thoughts.[4] Moreover, as I have remarked elsewhere,[5] it has become proverbial that all great movements, all reformations, all revolutions must produce their own leaders; and this is true of the great work of the last days—the establishment of the Church of Christ on earth—as it is of any other great movement. Leaders in established usages and institutions, political, social or religious, are seldom or never converted to innovations. They usually consider it to their interest to oppose change, especially those changes which from their very nature, cast any shadow of doubt upon the correctness of existing customs or institutions with which they are connected. Hence it happened that the Jewish Rabbis, the priests, the scribes, the members of the great Sanhedrim did not accept the doctrine of Messiah and become the chief apostles, seventies and elders of the new church. On the contrary, this class were the stubbornest opponents of the doctrines taught by the Son of God, and his most implacable enemies. It was the common people who heard him gladly, and from their number he chose the apostles, who, through the God-given powers of the priesthood conferred upon them, shook the old systems of morals and religion from their foundations.

From the very nature of things it must be necessary that men whose minds are unwarped by prevailing customs and traditions, should be selected to establish a new order of religion, of government or society. How could the Jewish priests and rabbis, bound by long custom to a slavish adherence to the outward forms and ceremonies of the Mosaic ritual, the spirit of which had long been made of no effect by the rubbish of false traditions, open their minds to receive the larger and nobler doctrines of the gospel of Christ unmixed with the pomp and circumstance which men of that age considered essential to religion? Can men educated to an attachment for despotic government, and whose interests are bound up with its maintenance, be expected to look with favor on democratic principles, or become the champions of a republic?

Finally, were the religious leaders of the early part of the nineteenth century educated to the idea that revelation had ceased; that the voice of prophecy was forever silenced; that the ministration of angels was ended; that the miraculous powers of the Holy Ghost were done away; that the ancient organization of the church was no longer needed—were such men, filled with pride which the learning of the world too often infuses into the hearts of those who possess it—were such men qualified to stand at the head of, and become leading actors in the dispensation of the fullness of times? A dispensation opened by a new revelation, by numerous visitations of angels, and to end eventually in the full establishment of the Church of Christ, the restoration of the house of Israel and the complete redemption of the earth and all its inhabitants?

Such a work was too large, too high and too deep for minds filled with false sectarian ideas. Hence God chose for his servant to stand at the head of this great and last dispensation, a man whose mind was unwarped by false education; but one of large capacity; possessing breadth and freedom of thought, of sanguine, fearless temperament: a child of nature, with a conscience unseared by worldly guile and a stranger to motives other than those dictated by an honest purpose; and withal, full of implicit confidence in God—a confidence born of a living faith in the fact of Deity's existence, and a consciousness of the rectitude of his own intentions and life.

As ill-founded as the objection based upon his humble parentage and station in life is that objection which arises out of the fact that he was evil spoken of by the world. Let not the reader here confound reputation with character. They are quite distinct, I assure you. The latter is what one is; the former may be a fool's estimate of one; or, even worse, it may be and often is a thing created by liars and knaves—formed by misrepresentations and set on its feet by malice. When favorable it is often obtained without merit, and as often lost without deserving. But with character it is not so. That stands independent of the estimate of fools or the misrepresentation of knaves. It is formed in great part by ourselves; in part by our surroundings; in part by God. It is what we are irrespective of what the world may think or say of us.

I have said so much that the reader may be reminded that a man's character may be good, while his reputation may be villainous; or vice versa. There is nothing, therefore, that is so unsafe a criterion by which to estimate a man as by what the world says of him—by his reputation.

Especially is this true of the servants of God. Commissioned as they usually are to reprove the world of sin and unrighteousness, and to call mankind to repentance, they have appeared as rude disturbers of the peace and ease of mankind—iconoclasts bent on breaking the images on which men set their hearts. The world does not love them, and what it hates it maligns—and thence, with the world, springs the reputation of the servants of God. The balances in which they are weighed are false, hence the announcement of their value from that source is untrue.

Judged by his reputation with the world when he lived among men, the Lord Jesus himself would be condemned as a blaspheming malefactor; a violator of ancient customs; a traitor to Caesar's government; one so base as to be in league with Lucifer by whose power he cast out devils; by magic healed the sick and blind and halt; who for his many crimes was crucified between two thieves; and whose body his disciples—being of like spirit with their master—stole, and then sent out the lying report that Jesus was risen from the dead. Such was the world's account of Christ, in his day, and in the days of his apostles—such the reputation of the Son of God! If judged by it would he not be rejected as an imposter? How unjust would such a judgment be! To those who reject Joseph Smith as a servant and witness for God, because he was, and is evil spoken of by the world, I put this question: "May not the judgment you pass upon him—which you base upon what the world, and generally what his enemies, say of him, be equally unjust and untrue?"

"If the world hate you," said Jesus to his apostles, "ye know it hated me before it hated you. If ye were of the world the world would love his own: but because ye are not of the world but I have chosen you out of the world, therefore the world hateth you. Remember the word that I said unto you, the servant is not greater than his Lord. If they have persecuted me they will also persecute you; if they have kept my saying they will keep yours also. But all these things will they do unto you for my name's sake because they know not him that sent me."[6]

In the light of these sayings of the Lord Jesus, of what value is the objection urged against Joseph Smith as a Prophet and witness for God based upon the fact that he was evil spoken of by the world? Why, since he was a servant of the Most High, sent to reprove the world of its unrighteousness, may we not reasonably expect that the world would speak against him? Would there not be something manifestly wrong if it did not do it? "Blessed are ye," said Jesus, "when men shall hate you, and when they shall separate you from their company, and shall reproach you, and cast out your name as evil for the Son of Man's sake. Rejoice ye in that day, and leap for joy; for behold, your reward is great in heaven: for in like manner did their fathers unto the prophets."[7]

It is nothing strange, then, that the great Prophet of the new dispensation should be spoken evil against. 'Tis an old tale, this slandering of God's servants by the world, so old that one wonders that men have not become so accustomed to it that they can assign to it its true importance, or rather its want of importance. But it seems to be the doom of every age in this matter to follow in the footsteps of that which preceded it—to build the tombs of the prophets and garnish the sepulchres of the righteous, and say, "If we had been in the days of our fathers, we would not have been partakers with them in the blood of the prophets."[8] And yet with strange inconsistency, these builders of tombs, these garnishers of sepulchres, while they profess to honor the prophets of past ages, persecute to the death the prophets of their own days! Stiff-necked and uncircumcised in heart and ears, they do always resist the Holy Ghost: as their fathers did, so do they—which of the prophets have they not persecuted?

"Woe unto you when all men shall speak well of you! for so did their fathers of the false prophets!"[9] Stranger grows the inconsistency of human conduct. The true rejected; the false enshrined! and so common has become the practice that one great thinker[10] touching the theme said: "There is always something great in that man against whom the world exclaims, at whom every one throws a stone, and on whose character all attempt to fix a thousand crimes without being able to prove one."

Here I may pause again to ask: What is the value of the objection made to Joseph Smith as a Prophet and witness for God, based upon the fact that he was evil spoken of by the world? That has been the heritage of the servants of God so long that the memory of man runneth not to the contrary. Had Joseph Smith failed to have received this treatment at the hands of the world, he would have failed of one of the marks of a true Prophet. Had he been received with open arms by the world, he could with some effect have been denounced as a false prophet; for in such manner they have been received:—"Woe unto you when all men shall speak well of you, for so did their fathers of the false prophets!" The fact here stated by the Son of God is a complete answer to the objections based on the calumny of the world against the prophets of God in all subsequent times; and no less an answer to the objections urged against Joseph Smith than to other prophets.

Footnotes

1. These were the words of the Lord to Joseph Smith when confined a prisoner for the truth's sake in Liberty Jail, Clay County, State of Missouri: "If thou art called to pass through tribulation; if thou art in perils among false brethren; if thou art in perils among robbers; if thou art in perils by land or by sea; if thou art accused with all manner of false accusations; if thine enemies fall upon thee * * * * and if thou shouldst be cast into the pit, or into the hands of murderers, and the sentence of death be passed upon thee; if thou be cast into the deep; if the billowing surge conspire against thee; if fierce winds become thine enemy; if the heavens gather blackness, and all the elements combine to hedge up thy way; and above all, if the very jaws of hell shall gape open the mouth wide after thee, know thou my son, that all these things shall give thee experience, and shall be for thy good. The Son of Man hath descended below them all." (Doc. and Cov. Sec. cxxii.) So also Paul: "Where in all things it behoved him (Jesus) to be made like unto his brethren, that he might be a merciful and faithful high priest in things pertaining to God, to make reconciliation for the sins of the people. For that he himself hath suffered, being tempted, he is able to succor them that are tempted." (Heb. ii: 17, 18.)

2. I Cor. i: 26, 27.

3. I Cor. i: 29, 31.

4. Isaiah lv: 8, 9.

5. Life of John Taylor, chapter 1.

6. St. John xv: 18-21.

7. Luke vi: 22, 23.

8. Matt. xxiii. 29,

9. Luke vi: 26.

10. Zimmerman.

CHAPTER XIII.

THE CHARACTER OF THE NEW WITNESS.

It will be argued that the ancient and true prophets were falsely accused, and proceeded against, not because they were law-breakers and immoral persons, but because of the message they bore; while it is charged that Joseph Smith was a very vile person, lawless and immoral, and so odious at the last that the people rose en masse and crushed him! Thus has reasoned every persecutor in every age from Cain to the last under whose hands a martyr fell. Can it in reason be expected that human nature will fall so low that we shall find men who will be so recklessly wicked as to avow their intention to kill men for righteousness sake? Why even devils seek out some semblance of virtue in which to enshroud their evil deeds. There never yet was man so vile, if he retained his reason, but sought out some excuse to sanctify his crime. It was not because Jesus of Nazareth was pure and upright in his own heart; gracious in speech; dignified and gentle in action; merciful to the wayward; considerate to the unfortunate; loving and kind to the poor—God-like in spirit, in thought, in conduct—a reprover of the wicked, a reformer of evil ways—it was not for these qualities that he was hailed before the high priest, thence to the Sanhedrim, there condemned and thence dragged to Pilate's judgment seat to have the sentence confirmed; and thence whipped through the streets of Jerusalem to Golgotha and there crucified! Not for his virtues was this done. Could any one suppose that the Sanhedrim of Israel, the dignified senate of the Jews, could condemn anyone to death for righteousness? No, certainly not! It was because Jesus was to them a wicked imposter; who, being in the form of man, and so far as they could discern, very like the rest of his fellow-men—made himself a God[1]—was guilty of blasphemy. It was written in their law that he that blasphemed should be put to death, and all the people should say Amen.[2] Jesus was found guilty of blasphemy by the Sanhedrim, and accordingly condemned to death. The sentence was confirmed by the Roman judge and executed. The procedure was strictly according to the forms of the law, and to the Jews of that generation Jesus of Nazareth was not condemned and executed for that he was a prophet, and the Son of God; but because he was a pestilential fellow, a mover of sedition, a blaspheming imposter. And so it has been in all ages of the world. All the martyrs that ever fell were, to those who struck the blow, lawless, dangerous characters, of whom it were a blessing to rid the world; and so it promises to be to the last hour of recorded time.

In view of the fact that so much which is evil has been said of Joseph Smith I think it proper here to give some account of his character. Of necessity what is said must be brief.

It would be impossible as also unprofitable to reproduce all or any considerable part of what has been said of him by his enemies, since it would be only a repetition of slanders and untruths which have spent their force and accomplished nothing. It will be sufficient to say that on the unfriendly side it is claimed that—in the language of one who just now is recognized as one of earth's leading philosophers—Professor Huxley—"There is a complete consensus of testimony that the founder of Mormonism, one Joseph Smith, was a low-minded, ignorant scamp, and that he stole the scriptures, which he propounded; not being clever enough to forge even such contemptible stuff as they contain. Nevertheless, he must have been a man of some force of character, for a considerable number of disciples soon gathered about him."[3]

I have selected this passage from a mass of such matter at command, first, because of the prominence of the one who utters it; second, because in it is focused the spirit of coarseness and vulgarity characteristic of all that has been said by those who have rejected the claims of Joseph Smith as a witness and Prophet of God; and third, because it may be looked upon as the "Complete consensus of the testimony" of his enemies and presents all they have to say against him in a single sentence, slightly modified by one other sentence, recognizing the prophet's force of character.

I am happy also in having another utterance, representative of another class of men who have viewed the character of the Prophet from the standpoint of the savant—the dispassionate philosopher looking at passing events without prejudice, and speculating upon what shall grow out of them—such was Josiah Quincy, author of the book "Figures of the Past." He visited Joseph Smith at Nauvoo a little before the tragedy at Carthage, and after the Prophet's death wrote:

"It is by no means improbable that some future text-book, for the use of generations yet unborn, will contain a question something like this: What historical American of the nineteenth century has exerted the most powerful influence upon the destinies of his countrymen? And it is by no means impossible that the answer to that interrogatory may be thus written: Joseph Smith, the Mormon Prophet. And the reply, absurd as it doubtless seems to most men now, may be an obvious commonplace to their descendants. History deals in surprises and paradoxes quite as startling as this. The man who establishes a religion in this age of free debate, who was and is today accepted by hundreds of thousands as a direct emissary from the Most High—such a rare human being is not to be disposed of by pelting his memory with unsavory epithets. * * * The most vital questions Americans are asking each other today have to do with this man and what he has left us. * * * Burning questions, they are, which must give a prominent place in the history of the country to that sturdy self-asserter whom I visited at Nauvoo. Joseph Smith, claiming to be an inspired teacher, faced adversity, such as few men have been called to meet, enjoyed a brief season of prosperity, such as few men have ever attained, and, finally, forty-three days after I saw him, went cheerfully to a martyr's death. When he surrendered his person to Governor Ford, in order to prevent the shedding of blood, the Prophet had a presentiment of what was before him. 'I am going like a lamb to the slaughter,' he is reported to have said, 'but I am as calm as a summer's morning. I have a conscience void of offense and shall die innocent.'"[4]

Of course testimony which sustains the virtue and uprightness of Joseph Smith is abundant, but I shall content myself by a very limited reference to it; depending not so much upon the testimony of men as upon the work he has accomplished for the vindication of his character. But I think it proper that the world should know in what esteem he was held by his friends and followers.

First, I introduce the description and estimation of the character of the Prophet by Parley P. Pratt, who was intimately associated with him, who shared his toils, labors, persecutions and imprisonment; and who spent his life in preaching the gospel taught him by the youthful Prophet. Elder Pratt says: "President Joseph Smith was in person tall and well built, strong and active; of a light complexion, light hair, blue eyes, very little beard, and of an expression peculiar to himself, on which the eye naturally rested with interest, and was never weary of beholding. His countenance was ever mild, affable, beaming with intelligence and benevolence, mingled with a look of interest and an unconscious smile or cheerfulness, and entirely free from all restraint or affectation of gravity; and there was something connected with the serene and penetrating glance of his eye, as if he could penetrate the deepest abyss of the human heart, gaze into eternity, penetrate the heavens and comprehend all worlds.

"He possessed a noble boldness and independence of character; his manner was easy and familiar; his rebuke terrible as the lion; his benevolence unbounded as the ocean; his intelligence universal, and his language abounding in original eloquence peculiar to himself—not polished—not studied—not smoothed and softened by education and refined by art, but flowing forth in its own native simplicity, and profusely abounding in variety of subject and manner. He interested and edified, while, at the same time, he amused and entertained his audience; and none listened to him that were ever weary with his discourse. I have even known him to retain a congregation of willing and anxious listeners for many hours together, in the midst of cold or sunshine, rain or wind, while they were laughing at one moment and weeping the next. Even his most bitter enemies were generally overcome, if he could once get their ears. I have known him when chained and surrounded with armed murderers and assassins who were heaping upon him every possible insult and abuse, rise up in the majesty of a son of God and rebuke them, in the name of Jesus Christ, till they quailed before him, dropped their weapons, and, on their knees, begged his pardon and ceased their abuse.

"In short, in him the characters of a Daniel and a Cyrus were wonderfully blended. The gifts, wisdom and devotion of a Daniel were united with the boldness, courage, temperance, perseverance and generosity of a Cyrus. And had he been spared a martyr's fate till mature manhood and age, he was certainly endowed with powers and abilities to have revolutionized the world in many respects, and to have transmitted to posterity a name associated with more brilliant and glorious acts than has yet fallen to the lot of mortal. As it is his works will live to endless ages, and unnumbered millions yet unborn will mention his name with honor, as a noble instrument in the hands of God, who, during his short and youthful career, laid the foundation of that kingdom spoken of by Daniel, the prophet, which should break in pieces all other kingdoms and stand forever."[5]

Brigham Young, the successor of Joseph Smith in the Presidency of the Church, said of him:

"From the first day I knew Brother Joseph to the time of his death, a better man never lived upon the face of the earth. * * * Joseph Smith was not killed because he was deserving of it, nor because he was a wicked man; but because he was a virtuous man. I know that to be so, as well as I know that the sun now shines. * * * I know for myself that Joseph Smith was the subject of forty-eight lawsuits, and the most of them I witnessed with my own eyes. But not one action could ever be made to bear against him. No law or constitutional right did he ever violate. He was innocent and virtuous; he kept the laws of his country and lived above them; out of forty-eight lawsuits, not one charge could be substantiated against him. He was pure, just and holy as to the keeping of the law."[6]

John Taylor, who succeeded Brigham Young as President of the Church, and who in Carthage jail may be said to have shared the martyrdom with the Prophet Joseph—for he was savagely wounded when the Prophet was slain—says of him: "I was acquainted with Joseph Smith for years. I have traveled with him; I have been with him in private and in public; I have associated with him in councils of all kinds; I have listened hundreds of times to his public teachings, and his advice to his friends and associates of a more private nature. I have been at his house and seen his deportment in his family. I have seen him arraigned before the courts of his country, and seen him honorably acquitted, and delivered from the pernicious breath of slander, and the machinations and falsehoods of wicked and corrupt men. I was with him living, and with him when he died; when he was murdered in Carthage jail by a ruthless mob with their faces painted, and headed by a Methodist minister named Williams—I was there, and was myself wounded in my body. I have seen him under all these various circumstances, and I testify before God, angels and men that he was a good, honorable, virtuous man—that his doctrines were good, scriptural and wholesome—that his precepts were such as became a man of God—that his private and public character was unimpeachable—and that he lived and died as a man of God."[7]

If of these testimonies it shall be said they are borne by men who were Joseph Smith's friends and followers—interested parties, bent on perpetuating the frauds he inaugurated, I would reply by asking: Whose testimony do Christians accept as representing the true character of Jesus Christ? Certainly not the testimony of the Sadducees and Pharisees; but the testimony of Matthew, of Mark, of Luke and John—"his friends and followers," the infidel exclaims—"interested parties, bent on perpetuating the frauds he inaugurated!" Will the Christian world because of that preposterous claim that Christ's friends and followers are not proper witnesses of his life and character, give up the evidence supplied in the testimonies of his friends to the uprightness and purity of his life, and the divinity of himself and his mission? Ah, no! They will ask rather, "Who so competent to bear testimony of his life and the divinity of his character as those who intimately knew him, who lived with him, who shared his joys and his sorrows; who were in sympathy with his life's mission and could enter into its spirit?" I only ask that the same reasoning be applied to the testimony given by the friends of Joseph Smith.

One thing connected with the character of Joseph Smith, and one that distinguishes him from false prophets and mere enthusiasts is the unaffectedness of his conduct. It was the prevailing idea of his day and even now that the calling of a prophet is inseparably connected with a life of austerity—with inordinate fastings and midnight prayers; with the vows of monastic life, with gloom and self-mortifications; with hair shirts, long robes, and sandals; with long hair, beard unkempt and bodies filthy—as if prophets had no time to keep clean—with solemn, awful brows and measured tread—lives wherein there is nothing natural—no sunshine, nor smiles nor rose-lipped laughter—as if communing with God was such awful business that it chills the heart and drives all happiness out of the life of man! Joseph Smith was nothing of all this. There was no affectation about him. He complied with the customs of his time and nation in respect to his apparel—scrupulously neat and clean therein; face smooth shaven, and hair cut according to the prevailing fashion. While temperate in his habits and content with the humble fare which adverse circumstances during the most of his life forced upon him, he was not averse to good food and pleasant surroundings—he was not the prophet of sackcloth and ashes. While dignified in deportment and having a due comprehension of the magnitude of his calling and the work committed to his hands, there was nothing strained or unnatural in his demeanor—no striving after effect; and often he unbent, played ball, wrestled, or romped with children—with whom he was a general favorite—with all the joyousness and freedom of a boy. And what may be regarded as one of the true tests of his greatness is, that while here and there his happiness and freedom shocked some over-pious persons who looked on from without, and expected austerity and gloom in one claiming to be a prophet, he never lost caste with his friends for his unconventional conduct. He was the Prophet of a joyous countenance; of unconventional but upright deportment; the apostle of cleanliness and becoming apparel. He believed that serving God should make men happier and that the good things of the earth were made for the comfort and to increase the happiness of the righteous.

To take such a stand as this in the face of the traditional ideal of a prophet, stamps him as an original character, and separates him by long distances from the mere enthusiasts and the false prophets whose extreme pretensions to sanctity, whose studied gloom, whose affectation of impassioned devotion and assumption of the garb and supposed severe demeanor of ancient prophets—all too plainly proclaim their hypocrisy and declare them players of parts they have assigned themselves.

Footnotes

1. John x: 22-37, also ch. v: 17, 18.

2. Levit. xxiv: 15, 16.

3. Agnosticism and Christianity (Humbolt Library ed.) p. 28.

4. Figures of the Past, pp. 376, 377, 378.

5. Autobiography of P. P. Pratt, pp. 47, 48.

6. Journal of Discourses.

7. Life of John Taylor, pp. 213, 214.

CHAPTER XIV.

FITNESS IN THE DEVELOPMENT OF THE NEW DISPENSATION.

Having considered the objections urged against Joseph Smith and ascertained their value, I am now prepared to proceed with the testimony and argument which sustains my fourth thesis; viz.:—Joseph Smith is a New Witness for God, a Prophet divinely authorized to teach the gospel and establish the Church of Christ on earth.

I have already argued at some length that the only way the gospel could be restored to the earth when once taken from it was by a new revelation. It was upon the principle of revelation that Jesus promised to build his church; it was through the ministration of an angel that the Apostle John foresaw that the gospel would be restored in the hour of God's judgment; and it was at this particular point that Joseph Smith started, thus differing from all other religious teachers who have arisen in modern times.

He appealed to God for wisdom, as we have seen; and that appeal brought a revelation from God the Father, who introduced his Son Jesus Christ. The lad was informed that God accepted none of the religious societies as his church or kingdom, but was promised that the Church of Christ would be restored to the earth and that he should be an instrument in the hands of the Lord in bringing the event to pass. Subsequently, the angel Moroni visited him, revealing the existence of the Book of Mormon and finally giving it into his hands to translate into the English language. This book itself contains the fullness of the gospel of Jesus Christ as taught to the ancient inhabitants of the western hemisphere; but in addition to this the angel Moroni met with Joseph Smith at the hill Cumorah on the 22nd of September for four successive years, and from him, at each of the annual meetings, he "received instruction and intelligence * * * respecting what the Lord was going to do, and how and in what manner his kingdom was to be conducted in the last days."[1] Thus Joseph Smith started right. He started upon the only principle that the church could again be re-established; he received the gospel through the ministration of an angel—in just the manner a recognized prophet of God had foretold it would be restored.

All this, however, I may be told, was but a bold stroke of genius on the part of a bold imposter. That might answer for an explanation if it were not for the fact that it all happened in connection with a youth not yet parted from the innocence of childhood. Then, again, why is it, if this happiness on the part of Joseph Smith in starting right is to be attributed to the master stroke of genius—why is it that some one of the many imposters who have arisen among Christians, and founded sects, have not hit upon the plan of announcing a new revelation from God and the restoration of the gospel through the ministration of an angel? Surely among the many imposters and "reformers" who have arisen since the days of Jesus there have been some who were not lacking that which men recognize as genius! Why was it left for a mere lad in the wilds of Western New York to display more "genius" than all the imposters since the days of Christ? The fact that one so unsophisticated in the ways of the world had the boldness to announce a new revelation to the world, and proclaim a restoration of the gospel through the ministration of an angel, carries on the face of it much evidence of its truth.

Not only, however, did our Prophet start right but he continued right. He not only received the gospel through the ministration of an angel; but he received his authority to preach it, administer its ordinances and build up the Church of Christ from those who last held the keys of that authority on earth. From John who when on earth was called the Baptist, now raised from the dead and become an angel of God, he received the Aaronic Priesthood, which gave him power to preach repentance and baptize for the remission of sins; from Peter, James and John, the three chief apostles of the dispensation ushered in by the personal ministry of the Lord Jesus, he received the keys of the Melchisedek Priesthood—the Holy Apostleship, which gave him power to establish the church of Christ to the uttermost and regulate all its affairs; from Moses he received the keys of the gathering of Israel from the four quarters of the earth and the leading of the ten tribes from the land of the north;[2] from Elijah the keys of the priesthood to turn the hearts of the fathers to the children, and the hearts of the children to the fathers, according to the prediction of Malachi.[3]

Thus he was called and ordained of God through divinely appointed agents as was Aaron, and therefore fulfilled the law which provides that those who minister for men in things pertaining to God, must be called of God as Aaron was, by prophecy and revelation.

In this development of the work of God, one sees a fitness of things. Look for a moment at the work God has proposed to himself to accomplish: The time has come for the restoration of the gospel; for the reestablishment of his church; for the ushering in of the dispensation of the fullness of times in which he has promised to gather together in one all things in Christ, "both which are in heaven, and which are on earth."[4] A reign of peace, a reign of righteousness is about to be inaugurated—the Millennium which the scriptures promised—long looked for by earth's troubled children—despaired of—given up—is about to be realized! The remnant of Israel is to be gathered to Zion; Jerusalem is to be established, no more to be thrown down; the nations are to beat their swords into plow-shares, and their spears into pruning-hooks and nation shall not lift up sword against nation, nor shall they learn war any more—the earth is to rest from its wickedness. To bring this to pass, the co-operation of man is necessary—his obedience, his righteousness. To secure that obedience, that co-operation, faith is needed; and as faith is based on evidence, God proceeds to create the evidence by bringing a witness into existence who can not only testify of God's existence, but also of his purposes. He then enlarges the evidence by bringing forth the Book of Mormon, the voice of entire nations of people speaking out of the dust of ages, testifying that the Lord is God, that Jesus is the Christ, that the gospel is the power of God unto salvation; and by thus increasing the evidence the foundation for faith was enlarged; and by establishing faith in the hearts of men the seed of obedience was planted. For faith is the incentive to action, the cause of obedience, and the foundation of all righteousness.

When the work reached that stage of development that men could be taught repentance, and receive baptism for the remission of sins, who so qualified or who with more propriety could be sent to deliver the keys of the priesthood that is especially appointed to cry repentance and administer baptism than the teacher of repentance and the Baptist? Or, when the time came for the restoration of the apostleship, who could restore it save those who last held the keys of it on earth—Peter, James and John? Who so fit to restore the keys of the gathering of Israel and leading the ten tribes back from the north as Moses, the great prophet of Israel? Who so fitting to restore the keys of the priesthood which should turn the hearts of the fathers and children towards each other as Elijah, of whom it was prophesied that he would do that work?[5] Thus throughout there was a fitness in the development of the great work of God in the last days—an appropriateness to be observed in the personages employed to restore the keys of authority which opened up the several departments of the great dispensation. And it is to be observed, too, that this fitness of things as here pointed out was not the result of working to a well-matured plan in the mind of Joseph Smith; he was too young and too inexperienced to preconceive it all and then set himself at work to unfold it in such beautiful order. It was of course working to a well-matured plan, but the plan existed in the mind of God; and it was given to Joseph Smith piece-meal—incident following incident without an apparent suspicion in his mind that each incident was a step in the progress of the mighty march of events matured in the mind of God—each key of authority, or part of the gospel but a fragment of a mighty and consistent whole that God was unfolding. The consistency and appropriateness of the development Joseph Smith never spoke of; it was left for others to note these things after the work was well advanced in the course of its development. The Prophet received the messengers God sent to him, and under their instruction proceeded with the unfoldment of the purposes of the Lord, and left it to others to admire the work and note the evidences of God's directing hand in the order of the events and the appropriateness of the parties entrusted with the introduction of the various departments of it.

I am not claiming for this appropriateness in the development of the work of the Lord, as thus far seen, absolute proof that Joseph Smith was divinely inspired and commissioned of God, it is only one item of the cumulative evidence, and the inference but part of the cumulative argument it is my purpose to present; but certainly as part of such evidence and argument it is not insignificant. To see the strength of it, one needs to think what the pretensions of Joseph Smith would amount to, if this fitness of things did not exist. Having affirmed that the gospel had been taken from the earth and the church of Christ destroyed, suppose he had claimed to have obtained the former and founded the latter upon any other basis than through a revelation from God; how easy it would have been to show both from reason and from scripture, that the only way the gospel and the church could be re-established, would be by a new dispensation from God through a new revelation! Had he claimed to have received the gospel through any other means than by the ministration of an angel, how easy it would be to confound him and his followers, by showing that a recognized prophet of God had predicted its restoration in the hour of God's judgment through an angel! Had he claimed to have received divine authority in any other manner than through a revelation, and the ordination of one already known to hold authority from God, how easy it would have been to refute his claim by quoting the law of God to the effect that no man taketh the honor of administering in things pertaining to God upon himself, except he that is called of God as was Aaron![6] But when in all these things it is seen that the pretensions of Joseph Smith were parallel with both reason and the prophecies and laws of scripture, and that there is a propriety in all the heavenly messengers doing just what Joseph Smith claims they did do—because of their known relation to the work of God in former dispensations—it all forms a strong presumptive evidence, at least that his claims are genuine—that he was called of God.

Footnotes

1. Pearl of Great Price, pp. 99, 100.

2. Doc. and Cov. Sec. cx.

3. Doc. and Cov. Sec. cx.

4. Eph. i: 10.

5. Malachi iv: 5, 6.

6. Heb. v: 4-10.

CHAPTER XV.

THE EVIDENCE OF SCRIPTURAL AND PERFECT DOCTRINES.

Continuing to follow the line of presumptive evidence I call attention to the fact that the doctrines taught by Joseph Smith are scriptural and perfect in every particular. I do not mean this to apply to all that he is alleged to have taught and that is to be found in imperfectly reported discourses or handed down by the still more uncertain vehicle of word of mouth tradition; but those doctrines which he taught ex cathedra by which I mean those doctrines that he taught in his official capacity as a Prophet and witness for God, as the President of the Church of Christ.[1]

I do not wish to be understood as saying that Joseph Smith did not teach doctrines which perhaps are not to be found in the Bible; for since the Bible itself is fragmentary, containing at most but part of that which God has revealed to man, it does not contain all the truth; nor does it contain a fullness of the truth concerning some of those matters of which it treats; and hence in the revelations which the Lord has given to Joseph Smith, there are many truths in respect to which the Bible is silent; and in other instances the modern revelations contain the truths spoken of in the Bible in greater fullness. But since the Prophet recognized the Bible as the word of God; and imperfect only so far as imperfection may result from its being fragmentary and marred through faulty translations, his revelations and teachings must be in harmony with the truths of the Bible. The Bible thus becomes, in some measure, at least, a standard by which to test the truths of Joseph Smith's claims and work. Speaking broadly, his doctrines must be in harmony with the Bible, and while much that he teaches may go beyond that which was written in the Jewish scriptures, yet between his doctrines and those of the Bible, so far as the latter treats of the same themes, there must be substantial agreement.

The doctrines which our Prophet teaches as the revelations of God, must be perfect in every particular; for since he claims to have received them from the Lord Almighty at first hand, by revelation, there is left no room to plead the error of historians or of translators, and certainly the Lord would not reveal erroneous or untrue doctrine.

The force of the argument in favor of the genuineness of the claims of Mr. Smith derived from the fact that his doctrines are scriptural and perfect in every particular, as in the case of the argument based upon the fitness there was in the order of the development of the great work, is best seen from the negative side, that is, by contemplating what the result would be if his doctrines were absolutely contrary to the Bible, and imperfect in some particulars. If such a thing could be demonstrated, it would prove fatal to the validity of his pretensions; and therefore, if on the one hand the finding of unscriptural and imperfect doctrine would be so disastrous to his pretensions, on the other, if it can be shown that his doctrines are in harmony with the Bible and perfect in every particular—such a fact should be accepted as a strong presumptive evidence that he was a true witness and prophet sent of God.

With these considerations in mind, let us examine his doctrines. I wish to say, however, that some of the doctrines briefly noticed here will receive, because of their importance, special attention in subsequent chapters devoted to their attention.

First, then, Joseph Smith taught the existence of God, the Father, the Creator of heaven and earth; that Jesus Christ is the Son of God, in whose name the Father is to be worshiped; that the Holy Ghost is a witness for the Father and the Son, and that these three constitute the Godhead or Grand Presidency of heaven and earth.

Second, he taught that God the Father so loved the world that he gave his only begotten Son for the redemption of mankind; that Jesus Christ suffered temptations but gave no heed to them; that he was crucified, died, and rose again the third day; that he ascended into heaven to sit down on the right hand of the Father, to reign with almighty power according to the will of God. This is all so perfectly in harmony with the well known teachings of the Bible that I do not deem it necessary to give references to particular texts in proof of it.

Third, he taught that men will be punished for their own sins and not for Adam's transgression; that through the atonement of Christ all mankind may be saved by obedience to the laws and ordinances of the gospel.[2] Since the agency of man was not involved in the transgression of Adam, it is just that they should be delivered from the consequences of that transgression unconditionally, hence Joseph Smith teaches that through and by the atonement wrought out in the suffering and death of Jesus Christ, and without obedience to any conditions whatsoever, all men will be saved from the consequences of Adam's transgression, that is, they will be redeemed through the resurrection of the dead from that death which came upon our race through Adam's disobedience. This teaching is in harmony with the scripture which says: "Now is Christ risen from the dead and become the first fruits of them that slept. For since by man came death, by man came also the resurrection of the dead. For as in Adam all die, even so in Christ shall all be made alive."[3]

But not alone from the consequences of Adam's transgression does the gospel save men, but also from the consequences of their own sins, on condition of their obedience to the laws and ordinances of the gospel. The beauty and justice of this doctrine is apparent when we regard it in relation to the doctrine we have just considered: All men are to be saved from the consequences of Adam's transgression without compliance with any conditions whatsoever, because their agency was not involved in the transgression; but to be saved from the consequences of their own sins—their personal violations of God's laws, certain conditions are to be complied with because their agency was exercised in the act of transgression, and justice has a claim upon them and may command their obedience to conditions.

Joseph Smith taught that those laws and ordinances to be obeyed are, "first, faith in the Lord Jesus Christ; second, repentance; third, baptism by immersion for the remission of sins; fourth, laying on of hands for the gift of the Holy Ghost."[4]

Fourth, he taught that a man must be called of God, by prophecy and by the laying on of hands, by those who are in authority to preach the gospel and administer in the ordinances thereof.

Fifth, he taught that the church of Christ should be organized in the same manner—i. e., with the same officers that existed in the primitive church, viz.: Apostles, prophets, seventies, bishops, elders, pastors, teachers, evangelists, etc.

Sixth, he taught that all the spiritual gifts of the gospel could be possessed and exercised today as well as in former times—the gift of tongues, prophecy, revelation, visions, healings, interpretation of tongues, etc.[5]

Seventh, he taught that the Bible was the word of God as far as it is translated correctly and also taught that the Book of Mormon was the word of God.[6] Indeed the Prophet taught men to believe all that God has revealed, all that he at present reveals, and also said that the Lord would reveal many great and important things in the future pertaining to the kingdom of God.[7]

Eighth, he taught that there would be a literal gathering of Israel, and a restoration of the ten tribes; that a city called Zion would be built upon the continent of North America; that Christ will reign personally upon the earth, and that the earth will be renewed and receive its paradisic glory.[8]

Ninth, Joseph Smith claimed for himself and his followers the right to worship Almighty God according to the dictates of their own consciences, but conceded the same privilege to all other men, let them worship how, where or what they may.[9] "We believe," said he, "in being honest, true, chaste, benevolent, virtuous, and in doing good to all men. Indeed we may say that we follow the admonition of Paul: 'We believe all things, we hope all things;' we have endured many things and hope to be able to endure all things. If there is anything virtuous, lovely, or of good report, or praiseworthy, we seek after these things."[10]

This is, of course, but an epitome of the teachings of the Prophet, and as before stated a number of these doctrines will be considered in chapters by themselves; but even in this epitome there may be discerned the outlines of a great work, the harmonious parts of a great and perfect whole; a system which contemplates the completion of the work of redemption for the whole race of men and of the earth itself—a conception of the mighty purposes of God which far out-runs anything which the mind of Joseph Smith unaided by the inspiration of God was capable of perceiving.

Footnotes

1. I have been careful thus to limit the teachings of the prophet which I call "scriptural and perfect in every particular" to those doctrines that he taught officially as the word of the Lord; for the reason that there are some things accredited to him by individuals that I feel sure they must have misunderstood at the time, or unconsciously changed through imperfect recollection of what the prophet said. Even some of his published sermons do him an injustice; for the reason that they are not accurately reported nor from the nature of the circumstances could they be. They were not reported by stenographers, but by men writing down what they could in long hand during the course of delivery, and published with such additions and corrections as could be made afterwards from memory. These published sermons therefore are little better than synopses of what the prophet said, and necessarily imperfect.

2. In this statement I have grouped together the second and third articles of faith as prepared by Joseph Smith for Mr. John Wentworth for publication in the Chicago Democrat, in 1842. See also Book of Alma; in Book of Mormon, chapter xi: 4-44. III Nephi (Book of Mormon) ch. xxvii: 12, 13.

3. I Cor. xv: 20-22 and Rom. v: 12-19.

4. See fourth Article of Faith. Those desirous of inquiring into the agreement of these doctrines with the scripture may examine the following text: Heb. xi: 6; Rom. i: 16, 17; Rom. x: 14, 15; James iii; Mark xvi: 15, 16; Acts ii: 38, 39; John iii: 5; Acts viii; Acts xix: 1-6; Heb. vi: 1-6. Also author's "Gospel."

5. Seventh Article of Faith. See also Mark xvi: 15-20; I Cor. xii; James v: 1315; I Thess. v: 19, 20; John xiv: 12; Acts ii: 17.

6. The eighth Article of Faith. Volume II of this work is to be devoted to the consideration of the Book of Mormon as a witness for God, and the evidences of its divine authenticity will there receive full attention.

7. Let the reader examine the following passages in evidence of the truth of future revelation from God. Acts ii: 17, 18. See also Mal. iv; Mal. iii; Isa. xi; Ezek. xx: 33-38; Matt. xxiv: 31; Zach. xiv.

8. See tenth Article of Faith. A subsequent chapter is devoted to the gathering of Israel and the other statements of the above paragraph.

9. Eleventh Article of Faith.

10. Thirteenth Article of Faith.

CHAPTER XVI.

MANNER OF THE PROPHET'S TEACHING.

Next to what Joseph Smith taught may be considered his manner of teaching; in which, as I think, may be seen evidences of divine inspiration as well as in the correctness of his doctrines. Before inquiring into his manner of teaching, however, it is necessary to explain that I shall feel at liberty to refer to any of the revelations he has published as illustrating this method. It must ever be borne in mind that it is claimed for Joseph Smith in these pages that he was a man inspired of God; and as at this point we are about to consider his manner of teaching as an evidence of his inspiration, it will be readily seen that the revelations he announced and any peculiar style they possess may properly be referred to in evidence.

One other remark should be made, namely: That Joseph Smith was not a learned man in the sense that the world regards learning. How limited his scholastic attainments were has already been stated; and though his industry in pursuit of knowledge later in life did much to make up the deficiency occasioned by lack of opportunity in early life, yet, when that is allowed, it must still be said that he was not a learned man in the sense in which that phrase is understood by the world. He knew but little of history, less of languages, and still less of science or the world's philosophy. Nor can this be any reproach to him when the conditions in the midst of which he was reared and lived are taken into account; nor, for that matter, do I believe that the lack of education as that term is understood by the world, was any serious bar to his success in the work to which God called him. If indeed he lacked the polish and finish which a liberal and polite education are supposed to impart, he also escaped the bias and warping which a training in the schools and colleges gives to the mind.

It has already been stated how Joseph Smith received his revelations; and from the fact that much of his teaching is in the form of revelations, it may naturally be expected that it will come in the tone and spirit of authority, and will not be like the teaching of men who make no such pretensions as the Prophet did,—but satisfy themselves with deductions drawn from the revelations given in former dispensations, teaching as the Scribes and Pharisees of old. Joseph Smith announced himself a teacher sent of God; and necessarily must place the truth of what he taught upon that authority. It is that which is the peculiar characteristic of his teaching. It is a style that would be altogether out of place for the philosopher or moralist; but one that the position of our Prophet made imperative; and had he failed to teach in that style, his manner would have been out of all harmony with his pretensions and would have been a means of detecting an imposter. As an illustration of the style here pointed out, I quote the following:

"It is impossible for a man to be saved in ignorance."

"Whatever principles of intelligence we attain unto in this life, it will rise with us in the resurrection, and if a person gains more knowledge and intelligence in this life through his diligence and obedience than another, he will have so much the advantage in the world to come."

"There is no such thing as immaterial matter. All spirit is matter, but it is more fine and pure and can only be discerned by purer eyes. We cannot see it; but when our bodies are purified, we shall see that it is all matter."

"The Father has a body of flesh and bones as tangible as man's; the Son also; but the Holy Ghost has not a body of flesh and bones, but is a personage of spirit. Were it not so the Holy Ghost could not dwell in us."

"There are in the Church, two Priesthoods, namely, the Melchisedek, and Aaronic, including the Levitical Priesthood. Why the first is called the Melchisedek Priesthood is because Melchisedek was such a great high priest. Before his day it was called the Holy Priesthood after the order of the Son of God. But out of respect or reverence to the name of the Supreme Being, to avoid the too frequent repetition of his name, they, the church, in ancient days, called that Priesthood after Melchisedek, or the Melchisedek Priesthood."

"Let no man break the laws of the land, for he that keepeth the laws of God hath no need to break the laws of the land. Wherefore be subject to the powers that be, until he reigns whose right it is to reign, and subdues all enemies under his feet."

"Thou shalt not be proud in thy heart; let all thy garments be plain, and their beauty the beauty of the work of thine own hands."

"Thou shalt not be idle; for he that is idle shall not eat the bread nor wear the garments of the laborer."

This perhaps is enough for the purpose of illustration; and will exhibit the spirit of all his teaching. In this manner he sets the officers of the church in order, asserts the powers they severally possess, and defines their relations to the church and to each other. In like manner he states the laws of the church, and gives instruction as to the manner in which the ordinances are to be administered. For example, of baptism—about which there has been so much controversy in Christendom—he says:

"Baptism is to be administered in the following manner: The person who is called of God, and has authority from Jesus Christ to baptize, shall go down into the water with the person who has presented him or herself for baptism, and shall say, calling him or her by name—Having been commissioned of Jesus Christ, I baptize you in the name of the Father; and of the Son, and of the Holy Ghost. Amen."

And so on throughout in the ordinances to be performed, instruction is given in this spirit. Not a statement deduced from ancient scripture, sustained by labored logic, but stated in bold, round terms by virtue of the authority he possessed. It is to be observed, too, that in all such cases the simplicity and appropriateness of the language employed bear witness to its inspiration. The tendency of man is to verbosity in administering in sacred things; to introduce form and pomp and ceremony; while simplicity and directness mark all the works of God in revelation as in nature. Looked at with a view to the discovery of these excellencies in them, to what advantage do the formulas for ordinances given by Joseph Smith appear! Take this ceremony for baptism—not a superfluous word in it—direct—covering all the ground necessary, and yet how simple withal!

So it is with the formula given for administering the sacrament of the Lords supper, which is as follows: "O God, the Eternal Father, we ask thee in the name of thy Son Jesus Christ, to bless and sanctify this bread to the souls of all those who partake of it, that they may eat in remembrance of the body of thy Son, and witness unto thee, O God the Eternal Father, that they are willing to take upon them the name of thy Son, and always remember him, and keep his commandments which he has given them, that they may always have his Spirit to be with them. Amen."

The formula for administering the wine or water is only slightly different from this. Of the above prayer I may say "that for a succession of solemn thoughts, for fixing the attention upon a few great points, for suitableness, * * * for sufficiency, for conciseness without obscurity for the weight and real importance of its petitions"[1]—this prayer so far as I am aware is without an equal excepting, perhaps, the Lord's prayer.

The same qualities, directness and simplicity, are to be observed in the ordination of Joseph Smith and Oliver Cowdery to the Aaronic Priesthood, by John the Baptist. This is the more surprising when the circumstances connected with that event are taken into account. The Aaronic Priesthood had not been upon the earth for many centuries; it is to be restored by the great forerunner of Messiah, whose business it is to prepare the way before him; he descends out of heaven in a pillar of light, and appears to Joseph Smith and Oliver Cowdery and lays his hands upon them—I am bold to affirm it as my steadfast belief that any mere enthusiast or impostor would have taken advantage of these really dramatic circumstances to have indulged in something theatrical in the ceremony of ordination that was to follow. Some reference to the long absence of the Priesthood from the earth; some glowing words relative to its importance; the awful solemnity of conferring part of God's power on men; the honor these men received in having it bestowed upon them—the temptation to the mere enthusiast or impostor to have indulged in some extravagant expression would have been simply irresistible. But hear what the angel said: "Upon you, my fellow-servants, in the name of Messiah, I confer the Priesthood of Aaron, which holds the keys of the ministering of angels, and the gospel of repentance, and of baptism by immersion for the remission of sins; and this shall never be taken again from the earth, until the sons of Levi do offer again an offering unto the Lord in righteousness." That was all, except that the messenger explained that he acted under the direction of Peter, James and John, that a higher Priesthood would later be conferred upon them, and commanded them each to baptize the other.

The simplicity, directness and appropriateness of this ordination in the presence of such temptation to introduce pomp and ceremony, stamp it with the seal of truth. It is just such an ordination as we would expect—upon due reflection—an angel to make, full, covering all necessary ground, but simple and direct.

Thus it is seen that the manner of Joseph Smith's teaching is in harmony with his pretensions; and while not a conclusive it is at least presumptive evidence of the truth of his pretentions.

Footnotes

1. The quoted part of the statement is what Archdeacon Paley says of the Lord's prayer.

CHAPTER XVII.

THE TESTIMONY OF TOIL AND SUFFERING—EXERTION AND DANGER—A CHRISTIAN ARGUMENT APPLIED.

Archdeacon Paley in his work, "The evidences of Christianity," says: "There is satisfactory evidence that many, pretending to be original witnesses of the Christian miracles, passed their lives in labors, dangers, and sufferings, voluntarily undertaken and undergone in attestation of the accounts which they delivered, and solely in consequence of their belief of the truth of those accounts."

The learned archdeacon deducts from this fact a strong argument in support of the truth of Christianity. In order to display his confidence in the strength of his argument, he says: "If the Reformers in the time of Wicliffe, or of Luther; or those of England, in the time of Henry the Eighth, or of Queen Mary; or the founders of our religious sects since, such as were Mr. Whitefield and Mr. Wesley in our times—had undergone the life of toil and exertion, of danger and suffering, which we know that many of them did undergo, for a miraculous story; that is to say, if they had founded their public ministry upon the allegation of miracles wrought within their knowledge, and upon narratives which could not be resolved into delusion or mistake; and if it had appeared that their conduct really had its origin in these accounts, I should have believed them."[1]

Mr. Paley's argument is this: The early Christians came to the world with a miraculous story; their public ministry was founded upon the allegation of miracles wrought within their own knowledge, and upon narratives which could not be resolved into delusion or mistake; their conduct really had its origin in these miraculous accounts; and in support of their declarations they endured lives of toil, poverty, persecution, danger and suffering; and for these reasons Mr. Paley concludes that the religion they advocated "must be true." "These men," he says "could not be deceivers. By only not bearing testimony they might have avoided all these sufferings and have lived quietly. Would men in such circumstances pretend to have seen what they never saw; assert facts which they had no knowledge of; go about lying, to teach virtue; and though not only convinced of Christ's being an impostor, but having seen the success of his imposture in his crucifixion, yet persist in carrying it on; and so persist as to bring upon themselves, for nothing, and with a full knowledge of the consequences, enmity and hatred, danger and death?"[2]

The world, at least that part of it called Christian, accept as conclusive the argument of the archdeacon; and even unbelievers in the Christian story recognize the force of his reasoning. It is my intention to apply his argument to the new dispensation of the gospel introduced by Joseph Smith; for if the argument tends to prove the divinity of the mission of the ancient apostles of the church, it ought also to prove the divinity of the mission of the apostles of the new dispensation, provided, of course, that the same conditions exist in the latter as in the former case. Those conditions exist in the new dispensation, as in the old, men come to the world with a miraculous story—a story that relates the personal appearing of God the Father, and his Son Jesus Christ; bringing to light the record of an ancient people and translating it by miraculous means into the English language; and the visitation of angels to restore divine authority. The public ministry of Joseph Smith and his associates was founded upon the allegation of these miracles wrought within their own knowledge, and which are of a character, as I have already said, that they can not be resolved into delusion or mistake; their conduct really had its origin in these miraculous accounts; and in support of their declarations they endured lives of toil, poverty, persecution, danger and suffering. The reader has the proof of all these statements in the preceding pages of this work, except in regard to the last, and it is now my purpose to furnish him proof of that.

It has already been stated how the story of the appearance of the Father and the Son to Joseph Smith brought upon his youthful head the wrath of the ministers of the locality where he lived; how his own name and that of his parents were loaded with opprobrium for no other reason than because he asserted he had seen a vision.

Persecution and annoyance increased when it was noised abroad that he had the plates from which he translated the Book of Mormon.

Soon after the church was organized there were a number of vexatious law suits growing out of charges against him for setting the country in an uproar by preaching the Book of Mormon.

In March, 1832, the prophet's house was broken into in the night. He was dragged from his bed into an adjacent field, where the mob beat him in the most inhuman and brutal manner. His body was bruised and lacerated from head to foot. He was be-smeared all over with tar and covered with feathers. At the same time Sidney Rigdon, who was now connected with him in the ministry, was similarly treated. During the night the friends of the prophet removed the tar and cleansed his body, and the next day (Sunday), scarred and bruised as he was, he preached to the people and baptized three persons.

By the year 1833 a large number of Saints had settled in Jackson County, in the western part of Missouri, that place being pointed out by revelation as the location of a great city to be called Zion. In November of the year above named the inhabitants of Jackson County rose against the church in that land and drove some twelve hundred men, women and children from their homes into the wilderness, where they lay exposed to the inclemency of the season, which in that latitude is very severe. In the course of the troubles a number of the Saints were killed, and others died from exposure. Two hundred and three houses and one grist mill were burned down. A printing press was destroyed, a store owned by members of the church looted, and much other property destroyed. These troubles arose from the fact of the Saints accepting the testimony of Joseph Smith concerning the miraculous events by which the new dispensation of the gospel was introduced.[3]

When Joseph Smith learned of the expulsion of his followers from Missouri he immediately organized a company and gathered together clothing and provisions to go to their relief; and, if possible, restore them to the lands from which they had been driven. This company in Mormon history is known as Zion's camp. During that journey from Ohio to Western Missouri many dangers were braved, many hardships encountered, much toil and sickness experienced. As the only assurance of assistance which could be obtained from the governor of Missouri was of a nature to invite more bloodshed,[4] the company called Zion's Camp disbanded.

The exiled Saints subsequently settled some fifty or sixty miles north of Jackson County, and organized Caldwell County, where they were joined by large numbers of their co-religionists from the East. Joseph Smith also settled with them. The religious intolerance of their neighbors, however, gave them no peace, and in the fall and winter of 1838 the whole state of Missouri arose against the church and expelled some twelve thousand peaceful and law-abiding United States citizens from their homes solely on account of their religious views. Joseph Smith, under circumstances of great cruelty, was torn from his family and friends, and with a number of his prominent brethren was thrust into prison where they remained for six months awaiting trial, while their families and the church in the midst of great suffering—hunger, cold and nakedness—the greater part of their property destroyed—were driven from the State. Recognizing their inability to prove aught against the prophet and his fellow-prisoners, after six months' incarceration, while moving them from one part of the State to another, their guards, evidently through an understanding with the judges—connived at their escape. After enduring many hardships the prophet rejoined his family and the church in Illinois, where the Saints were then settling.

During his residence in Illinois the prophet's life was one continual course of toil, excitement, sickness, and danger. Old foes and false friends were well-nigh constantly seeking to entrap him. New schemes were constantly hatching to destroy him. During his career some fifty times he was dragged before the tribunals of his country and as many times were the judges compelled to dismiss him. While living in Illinois an effort was made to kidnap him and take him to Missouri among his old enemies. In the midst of these persecutions he was constantly preaching, translating, or completing the organization of the church—setting in order the various quorums of the Priesthood and instructing them in their duties. He endured poverty and hardship throughout the greater part of his career and scarcely knew what it was to enjoy peace—save that God-given peace that comes from within; and which, however great the tempest from without may be, gives serenity and joy unspeakable to the servants and prophets of God.

At last, after a life of continual warfare with error; after enduring untold toil and persecution, illegal prosecutions and mob violence, hardships and suffering—wicked men conspired against him, and while in the charge of the officers of the State of Illinois, with the honor of the great state pledged through the governor for his protection, he was murdered in cold blood for the word of God and the testimony of Jesus, in the thirty-ninth year of his age.

Counting from the time that he received his first vision, when a lad of fourteen years, he stood a witness for God a little less than a quarter of a century; but in that short time he suffered more and accomplished more than has fallen to the lot of any other man to suffer and accomplish since the Son of God expired on the summit of Golgotha.

Not only did Joseph Smith thus endure a life of toil, poverty, persecution, danger and suffering in support of the miraculous accounts in which his public ministry had its origin; but many of his followers (some of them also witnesses of the miraculous events which brought into existence the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints) spent their lives in the same way. The first Elders of the church shared Joseph Smith's toils, mobbings, imprisonment, poverty, danger and exile; and some, while engaged in the ministry, even in later years have suffered death by violence[5] for testifying to the truth of the miraculous story in which the church had its origin. The servants of God have traveled in nearly all the nations of Europe; through the states of North America; and among the peoples of the Pacific Islands. They have usually gone without purse or scrip, and always without remuneration. They have sacrificed their business and professional interests, together with the associations of home and family that they might preach the gospel newly restored to the earth, through the ministration of angels to Joseph Smith. In telling the miraculous story in which the new dispensation had its birth, they have "found leopards and lions in the path," and "have made abundant acquaintance with the hungry wolf, that with privy paw devoured apace and nothing said;" but the have kept right on in the work God called them to perform; and have endured toils and privations which even those of the ancient apostles do not surpass. Amid the ridicule of the learned, the indifference of the rich and the great, and the violence of the rabble they have faithfully borne witness to the truth of the miraculous restoration of the gospel in these last days, until the whole world is acquainted with the story; and in their ministry they have given as much evidence of the divinity of the message they proclaim to the world as ever the apostles and elders of the ancient Christian church did by their lives of self-denial, of toil, exertion, danger and suffering.

These labors they continued after the death of their prophet leader; and I may say of them what Mr. Paley says of the first Christian ministers—only slightly paraphrasing his words: These men could not be deceivers. By only not bearing testimony they might have avoided all these sufferings and have lived quietly. Would men in such circumstances pretend to have seen what they never saw; assert facts which they had no knowledge of; go about lying, to teach virtue; and though not only convinced of Joseph Smith's being an impostor but having seen the success of his imposture in his martyrdom, yet persist in carrying it on; and so persist, as to bring upon their own heads, for nothing, and with a full knowledge of the consequences, enmity and hatred, danger and death?

The conditions demanded in Mr. Paley's argument all exist in the experience of the ministry of the new dispensation of the gospel, and if the same weight be given the argument in the case of this dispensation as is accorded to it when employed to prove the truth of the Christian story as told by the ancient apostles and elders, the divinity of the mission of Joseph Smith is proven beyond all controversy.

Mr. Paley, continuing his argument under the head I have been discussing, says that his belief in the miraculous story told by men who had on account of it endured lives of toil and exertion, of danger and suffering, would be very much increased "If the subject of the mission were of importance to the conduct and happiness of human life; if it testified of anything which it behoved mankind to know from such authority; if the nature of what was delivered, required the sort of proof which it alleged; if the occasion was adequate to the interposition, the end worthy of the means. In the last case my faith would be much confirmed, if the effects of the transaction remained; more especially, if a change had been wrought, at the time in the opinion and conduct of such members, as to lay the foundation of an institution, and of a system of doctrines, which had since overspread the greatest part of the civilized world."[6] In the new dispensation of the gospel all these additional circumstances which Mr. Paley finds in the old dispensation of Christianity, exist; so that there is nothing wanting to justify the complete appropriation of this time-honored Christian argument to the divinity of Joseph Smith's mission. Let me point this out:

First: The subject of the mission must be of importance to the conduct and happiness of human life. This is true of the message with which Joseph Smith came to the world, since it cries repentance to all men, warns them of the approaching judgments of God, and calls upon them to worship God who created heaven and earth. If such a message is not a subject of importance "to the conduct and happiness of human life" what message could be? This message was surely of such importance since the acceptance or rejection of it would affect the condition of men in time and in eternity.

Second, it must testify of that which it behoves mankind to know from such authority. This the message brought to the world by Joseph Smith does, for it proclaims first, that the gospel together with the authority to administer its ordinances had been taken from among men; and second, that this same gospel and authority had been restored by a new revelation, the only way it could be re-established when once taken from the earth. I take it that it behooves mankind to know of such a great transaction as this from "such authority"—that is, divine authority.

Third, the nature of what is delivered must require the sort of proof which is alleged. This the new dispensation does; for claiming to be a revelation from God it requires just the same kind of testimony that the old Christian dispensation did—the testimony of suffering and toil on the part of those who receive it, and especially upon the part of those who enter its ministry. It may be remarked in passing that the new dispensation is just as worthy of such testimony as the old Christian dispensation.

Fourth, the occasion must be adequate to the divine interposition—the end worthy of the means. This is true of the new dispensation since restoring the gospel to the earth after its absence for many centuries, is not only an occasion worthy of the interposition but the only way in which the plan of salvation could be restored. To make such a restoration to the human race was surely an end worthy of such means—that is, worthy of a revelation.

Fifth, the effects of the original transaction must remain. This is true of the new dispensation as the religious faith at the first promulgated by Joseph Smith and his associates is still in the earth, and the circle of its influence is constantly widening.

Sixth, a change must be wrought at the time of the transaction in the opinion and conduct of such members as to lay the foundation of an institution, and of a system of doctrines which have since overspread the greatest part of the civilized world. This condition also the new dispensation fulfills. That is, a change was wrought at the time, and by the means of the introduction of the new dispensation in the opinions and conduct of a sufficient number to lay the foundation of an institution, and of a system of doctrines which has since spread throughout the greater part of the civilized world. I do not mean to say by the last part of the statement that the new dispensation has been accepted as true throughout the greater part of the civilized world; but I do mean to say that a knowledge of it has since overspread civilized nations; and that it has drawn to itself as great a number of disciples as Christianity did in the first sixty-three years of its existence. The change wrought in the opinions of those who have accepted the testimony of Joseph Smith was quite as radical as that which came to those who accepted the gospel in the first century of Christianity. From believing that the volume of scripture was completed and closed, and that the Bible contained all that had been revealed to man, they turned to the belief that it contained but a few fragments of the revelations of God and accepted a new volume of scripture received and preserved by the people of the Western Hemisphere. From believing that the ministrations of angels had forever ceased, they turned to the belief that a number of angels had ministered to Joseph Smith, and that in the future the visitation of angels to men would be still more frequent. From believing that the spiritual graces and gifts of the gospel were no more to be expected, they turned to the belief that these blessings so abundantly enjoyed in the primitive Christian church could also be possessed by them. They consequently sought for and according to a volume of testimony that cannot be rejected, they enjoyed the spiritual gifts of healing the sick, speaking in tongues, interpretation of tongues, discernment of spirits, prophecy, revelation, etc.; and sought a closer walk with God, and read and practiced the moral law of the gospel more strictly.

Thus, as in the testimony of toil and suffering on the part of those who came with the new faith—or the old faith renewed—there is nothing wanting in these supplemental conditions which, in Archdeacon Paley's opinion, adds to the weight of the testimony of toil and suffering. Every condition in his argument for the truth of the old dispensation of Christianity is met in the circumstance in the midst of which the new dispensation of Christianity came into existence; and I claim for the latter all the force that has been demanded for this argument when applied to the former. The argument is the Archdeacon's, not mine; but finding the conditions existing in the new dispensation that Mr. Paley claims existed when the old was brought forth, I merely apply the argument to the new; and throw the weight of Mr. Paley's reputation for logic and force of statement into the support of the divinity of Joseph Smith's mission.

Footnotes

1. Paley's View of the Evidences of Christianity, Proposition II., chap. i.

2. Paley's Evidences, Proposition I., ch. x.

3. Wight's Affidavit, Times and Seasons for 1843, p. 26. The writer for want of space cannot introduce the testimony to support these several statements, nor indeed is it necessary; for the injustice and cruelty of the conduct of the people of Missouri and Illinois against the Latter-day Saints are universally conceded; as is also the fact that these cruelties grew out of the prejudice existing against the religion professed by the Saints. Those desiring information on the subject may consult the writer's History of The Missouri Persecutions and the Rise and Fall of Nauvoo.

4. The governor recognized the right of the people to be returned to their lands, and agreed to call out the militia to accomplish that object; but held that he had no authority to keep a force in Jackson County to protect them from the mob. As to go back to their lands under such circumstances would only be inviting another expulsion—the saints not being sufficiently strong to hold their possessions against the invasions of the mob—the attempt to re-instate the exiles was abandoned.

5. As late as August, 1884, two Elders while in the act of beginning religious service, on Sunday, in the state of Tennessee, were murdered by a mob; two young men, members of the Church, were also killed, and an aged woman, a member of the Church, savagely wounded.

6. Paley's Evidences, Proposition II., ch. i.

CHAPTER XVIII.

THE TESTIMONY OF MIRACLES—THE EVIDENCE OF FULFILLED PROMISES.

It has been already remarked that Christian writers have attached too much importance to miracles as evidences of the divine authority of those who worked them; for the reason that in some instances the prophets of God have worked no miracles; in other instances impostors have worked miracles, and it is predicted for the future that the spirits of devils will have power to work miracles to deceive men. I have also pointed out the fact that miracles are not, properly speaking, events which take place in violation of the laws of nature, but that they take place through the operation of higher laws of nature not yet understood by man; hence the occurrences which are called miracles are only so in appearance, and we may confidently expect the day to come when they will cease to appear as miraculous.

I say that Christian writers have attached too much importance to the testimony based on what are called miracles; and yet I would not be understood as ignoring the importance which may attach to them as collateral evidence. When the miracles follow the claimants to divine authority in fulfillment of their promises, the testimony becomes very important indeed; for the reason that if certain miraculous gifts or powers are promised by the claimants of divine authority and then they do not follow—then, granting of course that their disciples comply with the conditions upon which the promises are based, the failure in the fulfillment of their promises would prove them impostors. More especially would miracles under these circumstances be strong proof of divine authority if the promises were of a nature beyond the power of man to fulfill, or of Lucifer to imitate. For example: Peter on the day of Pentecost, in the boldest manner conceivable, told the people on condition of their repentance and baptism that they should receive the Holy Ghost.

That, I take it, was a promise that could not be fulfilled by the agency of man; and still more revolting to reason would it be to suppose that the spirit of devils could influence the fulfillment of such a promise. It would be insulting to the dignity of God—blasphemy of the first degree—to say that agencies of Lucifer could confer the Holy Ghost. However great the powers which God in his wisdom has permitted Lucifer to retain, to confer the Holy Ghost, or in any manner to operate through or by it, is not one of them. If this promise made by Peter, then, is fulfilled, the people to whom he made it would have most positive proof that he held divine authority. Or, on the other hand, if this or any other promise of heavenly gifts or powers, though of a subordinate nature to the great promise of the Holy Ghost, should fail of fullfilment—provided always that the conditions were complied with—it would be all that was necessary to prove that the one making it was an impostor.

It is in the light of these reflections that I propose to submit the evidence of miracles to the divinity of Joseph Smith's mission. That is, making their chief weight as evidence consist in the fact that they are possessed and enjoyed by his followers in fulfillment of his promises to them.

John the Baptist, when he conferred the Aaronic Priesthood upon Joseph Smith and Oliver Cowdery, told them that this Priesthood did not hold the power of laying on hands for the gift of the Holy Ghost; but that such power would be given to them later. Subsequently they received the higher or Melchisedek Priesthood under the hands of Peter, James and John, which gave them the authority promised by the Baptist—the power to lay on hands for the gift of the Holy Ghost.

In September, 1832, on the occasion of a number of Elders coming into Kirtland from their missions in the Eastern States, six of them met together, and Joseph Smith received a revelation directing their future labors, in the course of which the following commandment and promise were given to them: "Go ye into all the world, and whatsoever place ye cannot go into ye shall send, that the testimony may go from you into all the world unto every creature. And as I said unto mine apostles, even so I say unto you, for you are mine apostles, even God's high priests; ye are they whom my Father hath given me—ye are my friends; therefore, as I said unto mine apostles I say unto you again, that every soul who believeth on your words, and is baptized by water for the remission of sins, shall receive the Holy Ghost."[1]

I thought proper to call attention to the fact that Joseph Smith claimed to have received power through ordination by heavenly messengers to confer the Holy Ghost by the laying on of hands; and then that afterwards in this revelation a promise of the reception of the Holy Ghost is made to all those who will believe the testimony of the servants of God in the new dispensation and be baptized for the remission of their sins. Accordingly Joseph Smith and the Elders of the Church have made this promise to all the inhabitants of the earth, and upon as many as have complied with the conditions prescribed, they have laid their hands and said—"Receive ye the Holy Ghost." If this promise that they shall receive the Holy Ghost fails, then the men making the promise stand convicted as impostors. If it is fulfilled, since, as already remarked, neither man nor the agencies of Lucifer can fulfill such a promise—God only—then it stands as very positive evidence that Joseph Smith through whom the promise is made was divinely authorized, and that he conferred divine authority upon others. If he was authorized to impart the Holy Ghost by an ordinance of the gospel, it follows also that he was divinely authorized to preach a new dispensation of the gospel, and re-establish the Church of Christ on earth. The only question that remains to be considered is, do those who comply with the conditions receive the fulfillment of the promise?

For over sixty years the gospel has been preached among nearly all the nations of the earth, during which time hundreds of thousands have received the message, and they have testified that to them the word of promise made to the ear has not been broken to the hope—but they have realized its fulfillment. Not always, and indeed not frequently, in the earth-quake, or the whirlwind, have they seen the evidence of having received the Holy Ghost; but in the whisperings of the still, small voice of the Comforter, which fills the soul with assurance; which enlarges while it quickens the intellect; makes broader while it sanctifies the affections; shows things to come, or testifies that Jesus is the Christ; through adversity or affliction is a voice in the ear saying, when those who have it would turn to the right hand or to the left, this is the way, walk ye in it; or which, though it brings together men and women from all nations and tribes of the earth, with all their diverse customs and peculiarities, yet makes them one people; blends all their desires in the accomplishment of a common purpose, and enables them to dwell together in perfect peace and unity. Such is the manner of its operations—and in such operations the saints have evidence of its existence among them; and the whole Church of Christ is ready and does testify to the world that the Holy Ghost is given in fulfillment of the promise made through Joseph Smith.

Following the promise of the Holy Ghost, in the revelation quoted, is this array of promises: "And these signs shall follow them that believe. In my name they shall do many wonderful works; in my name[2] they shall cast out devils; in my name they shall heal the sick; in my name they shall open the eyes of the blind, and unstop the ears of the deaf; and the tongue of the dumb shall speak; and if any man shall administer poison unto them, it shall not hurt them; and the poison of a serpent shall not have power to harm them. But a commandment I give unto them, that they shall not boast themselves of these things, neither speak them before the world; for these things are given unto you for your profit and for salvation."[3]

The last part of the passage I have written in Italics that it might be the clearer understood that this promise of the miraculous gifts enumerated was not made that servants of God in the new dispensation might have evidence of what are commonly looked upon as miracles to point to in attestation of their divine authority; but are blessings given to the saints for their profit and salvation. For the very reasons that they were not given as evidence of divine authority, but as a promise of blessing to the saints, they will become all the stronger proof of divine authority in the ministry of the new dispensation, provided it can be proven that they follow those who believe. And I want to say, also, that because of the commandment that the servants of God shall not boast of these powers before the world is the very reason that so little has been said of them as proof of the divine mission of our New Witness; and even now I make their chief weight as evidence consist in the fact that their enjoyment is the fulfillment of a promise made by the God of heaven through Joseph Smith, which if it had not been fulfilled would prove him beyond all question an impostor. But I affirm that these promises are fulfilled in the experience of those who believe in, and accept the new dispensation and offer the following testimony in evidence:—

In the month of April, 1830, Joseph Smith was visiting at the house of a Mr. Joseph Knight, at Colesville, Broome County, New York. This gentleman had rendered the prophet some timely assistance while translating the Book of Mormon, and he was anxious that Mr. Knight and his family should receive the truth. While in Mr. Knight's neighborhood the prophet held a number of meetings. Among those who attended regularly was Newel Knight, son of Joseph Knight. He and the prophet had many serious conversations on the subject of man's salvation. In the meetings held the people prayed much, and in one of the aforesaid conversations with the prophet, Newel Knight promised that he would pray publicly. When the time came, however, his heart failed him, and he refused, saying that he would wait until he got into the woods by himself. The next morning when he attempted to pray in the woods, he was over-whelmed with a sense of having neglected his duty the evening before, in not praying in the presence of others. He began to feel uneasy and continued to grow worse both in body and mind, until upon reaching home his appearance was such as to alarm his wife. He sent for the prophet, who, when he came found Newel in a sad condition and suffering greatly. His visage and limbs were distorted and twisted in every shape imaginable. At last he was caught up off the floor and tossed about most fearfully. The neighbors hearing of his condition came running in. After he had suffered for a time the prophet succeeded in getting him by the hand, when Newel immediately spoke to him, saying he knew he was possessed of the devil, and that the prophet had power to cast him out. "If you know I can, it shall be, done," replied the prophet; and then almost unconsciously he rebuked Satan and commanded him to depart from the man. Immediately Newel's contortions stopped, and he spoke out and said he saw the devil leave him and vanish from sight.

"This was the first miracle which was done in this church, or by any member of it," writes the prophet; "and it was done not by man, nor by the power of man, but it was done by God and by the power of Godliness; therefore let the honor and praise, the dominion and the glory, be ascribed to the Father, Son and Holy Spirit, for ever and ever. Amen."

The following account of a miraculous healing is to be found in Hayden' History of the Disciples (Campbellites); and is the statement of witnesses hostile to the prophet and the work in which he was engaged:

"Ezra Booth, of Mantua, a Methodist preacher of much more than ordinary culture, and with strong natural abilities, in company with his wife, Mr. and Mrs. Johnson, and some other citizens of this place, visited Smith at his house in Kirtland, in 1831. Mrs. Johnson had been afflicted for some time with a lame arm, and was not at the time of the visit able to lift her hand to her head. The party visited Smith, partly out of curiosity, and partly to see for themselves what there might be in the new doctrine. During the interview the conversation turned upon the subject of supernatural gifts; such as were conferred in the days of the apostles. Some one said: 'Here is Mrs. Johnson with a lame arm; has God given any power to men on the earth to cure her?' A few moments later, when the conversation had turned in another direction, Smith rose, and walking across the room, taking Mrs. Johnson by the hand, said in the most solemn and impressive manner: 'Woman, in the name of Jesus Christ, I command thee to be whole; and immediately left the room. The company were awestricken at the infinite presumption of the man, and the calm assurance with which he spoke. The sudden mental and moral shock—I know not how better to explain the well attested fact—electrified the rheumatic arm—Mrs. Johnson at once lifted it with ease, and on her return home the next day she was able to do her washing without difficulty or pain.'"[4]

When the saints first settled at Commerce, afterwards called Nauvoo, it was a very unhealthy locality. Malaria was prevalent and other people who had tried to make a settlement there had failed. The exposure to which the saints had been subjected in their expulsion from Missouri, made them easy victims to the malaria. By the middle of July, 1839, the greater part of them were stricken down of the fever, and in the most helpless condition. From the 21st of July to the 23rd, inclusive, there were remarkable manifestations of the power of God in the church through the administrations of the Prophet Joseph to the sick. His own account of the matter in his journal is extremely brief, it stands thus:

"Sunday, 21st. There was no meeting on account of much rain and much sickness; however, many of the sick were this day raised by the power of God, through the instrumentality of the Elders of Israel ministering unto them in the name of Jesus Christ."

"Monday and Tuesday, 22nd, 23rd. The sick were administered unto with great success, but many remain sick, and new cases are occurring daily."[5]

Another hand, however, has recorded the manifestation of God's power on that memorable 22nd of July, 1839, that of Wilford Woodruff, now President of the church, and I quote his account of it.

"In consequence of the persecutions of the saints in Missouri, and the exposures to which they were subjected, many of them were taken sick soon after their arrival at Commerce, afterwards called Nauvoo; and as there were but a small number of dwellings for them to occupy, Joseph had filled his house and tent with them, and through constantly attending to their wants, he soon fell sick himself. After being confined to his house several days, and while meditating upon his situation, he had a great desire to attend to the duties of his office. On the morning of the 22nd of July, 1839, he arose from his bed and commenced to administer to the sick in his own house and door-yard, and he commanded them in the name of the Lord Jesus Christ to arise and be made whole; and the sick were healed upon every side of him.

"Many lay sick along the bank of the river; Joseph walked along up to the lower stone house, occupied by Sidney Rigdon, and he healed all the sick that lay in his path. Among the number was Henry G. Sherwood, who was nigh unto death. Joseph stood in the door of his tent and commanded him in the name of Jesus Christ to arise and come out of his tent, and he obeyed him and was healed. Brother Benjamin Brown and his family also lay sick, the former appearing to be in a dying condition. Joseph healed them in the name of the Lord. After healing all that lay sick upon the bank of the river as far as the stone house, he called upon Elder Kimball and some others to accompany him across the river to visit the sick at Montrose. Many of the saints were living at the old military barracks. Among the number were several of the Twelve. On his arrival, the first house he visited was that occupied by Elder Brigham Young, the President of the Quorum of the Twelve, who lay sick. Joseph healed him, then he arose and accompanied the prophet on his visit to others who were in the same condition. They visited Elder W. Woodruff, also Elders Orson Pratt and John Taylor, all of whom were living in Montrose. They also accompanied him.

"The next place they visited was the home of Elijah Fordham, who was supposed to be about breathing his last. When the company entered the room, the prophet of God walked up to the dying man and took hold of his right hand and spoke to him; but Brother Fordham was unable to speak, his eyes were set in his head like glass, and he seemed entirely unconscious of all around him. Joseph held his hand and looked into his eyes in silence for a length of time. A change in the countenance of Brother Fordham was soon perceptible to all present. His sight returned, and upon Joseph asking him if he knew him, he, in a low whisper, answered 'Yes'. Joseph asked him if he had faith to be healed. He answered, 'I fear it is too late; if you had come sooner I think I could have been heald.' The prophet said, 'Do you believe in Jesus Christ?' He answered in a feeble voice, 'I do.' Joseph then stood erect, still holding his hand in silence several moments; then he spoke in a very loud voice, saying, 'Brother Fordham, I command you in the name of Jesus Christ, to arise from this bed and be made whole.' His voice was like the voice of God, and not of man. It seemed as though the house shook to its very foundations. Brother Fordham arose from his bed, and was immediately made whole. His feet were bound in poultices which he kicked off; then putting on his clothes he ate a bowl of bread and milk and followed the prophet into the street.

"The company next visited Brother Joseph Bates Noble, who lay very sick. He also was healed by the prophet. By this time the wicked became alarmed and followed the company into Brother Noble's house. After Brother Noble was healed, all kneeled down to pray. Brother Fordham was mouth, and while praying, he fell to the floor. The prophet arose, and on looking around he saw quite a number of unbelievers in the house, whom he ordered out. When the room was cleared of the wicked, Brother Fordham came to and finished his prayer.

"After healing the sick in Montrose, all the company followed Joseph to the bank of the river, where he was going to take the boat to return home. While waiting for the boat a man from the West, who had seen that the sick and dying were healed, asked Joseph if he would not go to his house and heal two of his children, who were very sick. They were twins and were three months old. Joseph told the man he could not go, but he would send some one to heal them. He told Elder Woodruff to go with the man and heal his children. At the same time he took from his pocket a silk bandanna handkerchief, and gave to Brother Woodruff, telling him to wipe the faces of the children with it, and they should be healed; and remarked at the same time: 'As long as you keep that handkerchief it shall remain a league between you and me.' Elder Woodruff did as he was commanded, and the children were healed, and he keeps the handkerchief to this day.

"There were many sick whom Joseph could not visit, so he counseled the Twelve to go and visit and heal them, and many were healed under their hands. On the day following that upon which the above-described events took place, Joseph sent Elders George A. and Don Carlos Smith up the river to heal the sick. They went up as far as Ebenezer Robinson's one or two miles—and did as they were commanded, and the sick were healed."[6]

The manifestation of God's power was by no means confined to the personal ministry of Joseph Smith, nor to the land of America. God honored the ministrations of those who received authority through his prophet, and poured out his blessings on those who received the message in distant lands, as will be seen by the testimony I now introduce.

The following is an Editorial in The Merlin, a non-Mormon paper, published in Merthyr Tydvil, Wales, under the caption of an "Extraordinary Occurrence."

"During the night of Friday week (Sept. 22nd, 1848) between the hours of eleven and twelve, a very extraordinary occurrence took place in Newport. A young man named Reuben Brinkworth was, in 1840 (?) at Bermuda, on board the Terror, Commodore Franklin, in the Arctic expedition, when, in the midst of a storm of thunder and lightning, he was suddenly deprived of both hearing and speech, and in that deplorable condition returned to Stroud, in England, of which place he was a native. He has since been residing with Mr. Naish, basket maker, Market Street, Newport, who, with several other persons, is attached to the community of people known as 'Mormons.' Persons of this denomination have been able to communicate their doctrines to Brinkworth, by means of writing, signs, and the finger alphabet. His sad condition they allege, excited their sympathy for his spiritual as well as temporal welfare; and their doctrines made very considerable impression upon him—perhaps, more especially, because their creed was that God did perform miracles in these days as he did in the days of old, and a miracle might be wrought in his favor. On Friday night week, the young man was seized with a kind of fit, in which he continued some time; and on his recovery he was called upon, by sight,[7] to believe in the Savior, that the healing power of God might be exercised in his behalf. He was moreover earnestly entreated to be baptized; but this was very strongly opposed by a person in the room. The deaf and dumb man, however, signified his acquiescence. He was taken to the canal and baptized in the name of our Savior; and immediately on coming up out of the water, he cried out, "Thank the Lord, I can speak and hear again as well as any of you!" He now speaks fluently and hears distinctly; which miraculous circumstance is attributed to the power of Providence by the friends of the young man; who called at our office with him, and gave us the details. We have heard from another source that this happy change in the young man's condition is supposed to have been produced by the action upon him of the electric fluid during the thunder storm of the Friday night. We shall not take upon ourselves to decide this matter."

Subsequently Mr. Reuben Brinkworth himself made a statement of the miraculous event, and it was published in the Millennial Star, from which I quote it.

"On the 2nd of July, 1839, I entered on board the Terror, Commodore Sir J. Franklin being then about to set out on a voyage of discovery for a northwest passage to India. Upon returning to England we landed at Bermuda on the 16th of July, 1843, and in the afternoon of the same day a terrible thunder storm occurred, in which I was suddenly deprived of my hearing and speech. At the same time five of my comrades, viz., John Ennis, William Collins, John Rogers, Richard King, and William Simms were summoned into eternity. I remained insensible fifteen days—perfectly unconscious of all that was passing around me; but upon the return of reason, came the dreadful conviction that I was deprived of two of my faculties. I well remember the period, and shall ever continue to do so—language cannot describe the awful sensations that pervaded my mind when I became fully sensible of the reality of my condition.

"I will here remark, that the subject of religion had never troubled my mind; nor did the calamity I was called to suffer awaken any feeling akin to it; nevertheless I felt a certain feeling of gratitude that I had not met with the same fate as my more unfortunate companions; yet I must, to my shame, confess that it was not directed to the Great Disposer of all events, who could have taken my life as those of my companions, had he willed it. But it was not his design. I was spared, and am now a living witness of his loving kindness to the most abandoned sinners, if they will turn and seek his face.

"At that time I was about nineteen years old. After remaining at Bermuda about three weeks, we again set sail for England, and reached Chatham on the 14th of December. I remained there only fourteen days, after which I went to London, and, by the kind assistance of some gentlemen, entered the deaf and dumb school in Old Kent Road, where I remained for ten weeks, but not liking the confinement, and being from home, I became dissatisfied and unhappy, and resolved to leave it, and accordingly did so. I then went to George Lock's, Oxford Arms, Silver Street, Reading, with whom I lived eighteen months, supporting myself the whole of that period upon the wages I earned on board the Terror. I afterwards went to Rugby not to remain there, but on the way to my mother at Stroud, Gloucestershire.

"I will here relate a circumstance of cruelty of which I was made the sufferer; being thirsty, I stepped into a public house to get something to drink; there were gentlemen in the parlor, who, seeing that I was dumb, motioned me to them, and put many questions in writing, which I answered in the same manner. While I was thus being questioned, one of the men went out and brought in a policeman, who hauled me away to the lock-up in which place I was kept all that night, the next day, and following night, and on the morning of the second day I was taken before a magistrate who ordered me to be taken to a doctor, where I underwent an operation, namely having my tongue cut in two places; he became satisfied that I was both deaf and dumb, and then I was discharged. From the treatment I had received I was determined to go to another of the magistrates of that town, to whom I related by writing what had happened. He said very little to me, more than that he would write to London respecting it, and I have since heard from a gentleman, that the magistrate who examined me, has been removed from his office. I then continued my journey to Stroud, which I reached without any other inconvenience, and remained there two days. I then went to Newport, Monmouthshire, and occupied my time in teaching the deaf and dumb alphabet for about three years, at the end of which I became acquainted with the Latter-day Saints. At that time I was lodging at a public house, kept by James Durbin, sign of the "Golden Lion," Pentonville. One of the customers of this house became acquainted with me and prevailed upon me to go and live with him and his brother, who was a member of the Latter-day Saints' Church. There I first became acquainted with the doctrines taught by this people, by reading and by means of the finger alphabet. I continued to investigate them for about three months, when I felt convinced of the truth of those doctrines which have since become so beneficial to my temporal and eternal welfare. On the 22nd of September I had been, by means of the deaf and dumb alphabet, conversing freely with some of the Saints, and had fully determined to be baptized that evening; therefore I expressed my desire to receive the ordinance of baptism, and was taken to the canal early on the morning of the 23rd, and baptized in the name of the Father, Son and Holy Ghost; and upon my head emerging from the water, I heard the voices of persons upon the towing path, and this was the first sound I had heard since my deprivation upon the island of Bermuda, in 1843. With my hearing came also my speech, and the first words that I uttered were, 'Thank the Lord, I can speak and hear again as well as any of you.' I scarcely need state my own surprise at the moment, but such it was, and it appears marvelous in my own eyes, not that God is possessed of such power, but that he should manifest it in my behalf. I have much cause to praise him and glorify his holy name, for in obedience to his divine commands, I not only received the remission of my sins, which I esteem above all earthly blessings, but also the removal of my deafness and dumbness; and now I can hear as distinctly and speak as fluently as I ever did, although I have been deprived of both these faculties for upwards of five years, not being able to hear the loudest noise, nor to use my tongue in speech.

"There is a mistake in the Merlin of the date of my landing at Bermuda, it should have been 1843, instead of 1840. The same error appeared also in the Millennial Star, No. 22, Vol. X, which was caused by extracting the account from that paper.

"The following individuals are witnesses to my baptism:

"HENRY NAISH,

"JOHN ROBERTS,

"JOHN WALDEN. Members of the Church.

"JANE DUNBIN,

"THOMAS JONES,

"JACOB NAISH. Non-Members."[8]

I quote the following cases from one of the publications of the church—the Millennial Star—from which alone could be selected enough of such incidents to fill a large volume. These letters were addressed to Elder Orson Pratt, one of the Twelve Apostles of the New Dispensation, who in 1848-50 was Editor of the Star and President of the European Mission:

THE BLIND HEALED.

BERRIEN, MONTGOMERYSHIRE, NORTH WALES,

May 23, 1849.

I feel it my bounden duty to make the following narrative known to the authorities of the Church of Jesus Christ, to show that the manifestation of the power of God attends this church, in the last days, as it did the church of the early Apostles, viz:—My daughter Sophia Matilda, aged eight years, was in the month of May, 1848, afflicted in her eyes; she soon lost the sight of her left eye, and on applying to medical aid, instead of the sight being restored she immediately lost the other, the surgeon stating that the pupils were closed, and feared she could never be restored to her sight. I was advised to try an eminent surgeon in Shrewsbury, in the county of Salop, where in June, 1848, I sent her and her mother, as she was now quite blind, and the poor little creature's sufferings were indescribable, though the Lord enabled her to be patient in her afflictions; she remained in Shrewsbury a fortnight but found no benefit, and as the last resource to human aid, I was advised to send her to an eminent oculist in Liverpool (Dr. Neile) under whose treatment she was relieved, and a gradual improvement took place, to our great joy, until the Autumn of the same year. I corresponded with Dr. Neile, who desired me to continue the treatment he had prescribed, but it was all to no purpose, for she relapsed into the same state as before, and was in total darkness the whole of the winter, suffering acutely, and by February of the present year, 1849, she had wasted to a mere skeleton, when my brother-in-law paid me a visit previous to his embarkation to California, and told me that if I would have faith in the Lord Jesus Christ, and call for the Elders of the church, he believed she would be healed. I also soon was enabled to believe and obeyed the command of St. James. The church put up their prayers for us, and I found, thanks to the Giver of all good, some improvement ere the ordinance was performed. On the following Sabbath, Elder Dudley and Richards, from Pool Quay, came to my house, performed the ordinance upon my child, the pain soon left her, and she was soon by the power of God and the prayers of the faithful restored to sight and health and, thanks be to Almighty God, she is still in the enjoyment of these great blessings; trusting you will rejoice in the Lord with me for his great mercies manifested to me, I remain, etc. etc.,

HENRY PUGH.[9]


Some years ago, the author speaking in Farmington, the county seat of Davis County, Utah, had occasion to refer to this instance of healing, and at the conclusion of his remarks a gentleman of the name of James Loynd arose and said he was well acquainted with the circumstance, as the person healed was a relative of his, and said the incident above related was true in every particular. Happening to remember this when making his selection of cases of healing that have occurred in the church, I wrote this gentleman and here give my letter to him and his reply:

SALT LAKE CITY, UTAH. Dec. 31, 1894.

James Loynd, Esq., Farmington, Utah.

DEAR BROTHER:—A number of years ago, when delivering a public discourse in your village, I had occasion to refer to some of the testimonies to remarkable cases of healing in the church that were collected and published in the Millennial Star by Elder Orson Pratt. My recollection is that after I had read one of the many cases published by Elder Pratt, you arose in the body of the house and testified that the person healed—I think restored to sight—was a relative of yours, perhaps your wife.

If the circumstance still lives in your memory I wish you would confirm my statement of the case, as I am about to go to press with a book where your confirmation of my recollection will be of service to me.

I trust you will pardon me for thus intruding upon you, but believing you have an interest in the great cause of truth I make bold to trouble you.

Very truly, your brother,

B. H. ROBERTS.


FARMINGTON, UTAH., Dec. 16th, 1894.

Elder B. H. Roberts, Salt Lake City.

DEAR BROTHER:—I very distinctly remember the circumstance of you speaking some years ago in Farmington, and my confirming one of the cases of healing read by you on that occasion. It was the case of Sophia Matilda Pugh, who is now my wife, Sophia M. Loynd. The circumstance of her receiving her sight, is accurately stated by her father in a letter to the Star (Vol XI). It is now forty-six years ago since the miracle was performed. Sophia M. Loynd, who was then healed in so remarkable a manner, is still alive and joins me in signing this letter to you. She is fifty-four years old, in good health, and a living witness to the miraculous power that is in the church of Christ. She says that this case of healing is what brought her parents into the church. They immigrated to Utah, where they died in the faith. I have written this in the presence of my wife, have read the same to her and she now joins me in saying that you may make such use of it as you choose.

Very truly yours,

(signed) JAMES LOYND,

SOPHIA M. LOYND.


HEALING OF ONE BORN BLIND.

BRISTOL, November 25, 1849.

DEAR PRESIDENT PRATT:—As you were so kind as to publish the letter I sent, dated July 9, 1849, containing an account of the miraculous power of God, displayed in the healing of Elizabeth Ann Bounsell, which made quite a stir amongst the pious Christians of this city, I now venture to write to you again, and say that the above circumstance caused many to call at the house to see if it were true. And upon seeing, many rejoiced, others mocked, saying, "She would have got well if the Elders had not laid their hands upon her." Among the latter, was one would-be great man, by the name of Charles Smith (who has written a flimsy attack against the Saints,) who said it was not enough to satisfy him. So the mother took another of her daughters, and put her upon his knee, and said, "Sir, is that child blind?" After he had examined the eyes he said "She is." "Well," said the mother, "she was born blind: and now she is four years old; and I am going to take her to the Elders of our church for them to anoint her eyes with oil and lay their hands upon her; and you can call again when you have time and see her with her eyes opened; for I know the Lord will heal her and she will see." "Well," said he, "if she ever does see it will be a great proof." Accordingly the mother brought the child to the Elders and Elder John Hackwell anointed her eyes, and laid hands upon her, only once, and the Lord heard his prayer, so that the child can now see with both of her eyes, as well as any other person. For which we all feel thankful to our Heavenly Father, and are willing to bear testimony of it to all the world.

Yours in the kingdom of God,

GEORGE HALLIDAY.

P. S.—We, the father and mother of the child, do here sign our names to the above, as being true.

WILLIAM BOUNSELL.

ELIZABETH BOUNSELL.[10]

No. 12, Broad Street, Bristol.


BONES SET THROUGH FAITH.

RUMFORD, May 1st, 1849.

DEAR BROTHER GIBSON:—At your request, I now sit down to give you a short account of the goodness and power of God, made manifest in my behalf. About two years ago, while working at my trade of coach-builder, while assisting in removing a railway carriage, I dislocated my thigh, and was conveyed home, and my parents not being in the church, and no Elders in the town, (viz. Sterling) medical skill was called in, but from the swelling it could not be set. I was again examined by a Doctor Jeffrey, and one Taylor of Glasgow, who said that a kind of jeal had gathered in the hip joint, and before it could be set this must be removed by cupping; so I was cupped with twenty-four lances but it did no good and I lingered in great pain for three weeks when it was proposed that I should again be cupped; but I was determined that it should not be; and hearing from you that Elder Samuel W. Richards, from America was coming to Sterling, I told my friends that when he came they would see the power of God, and I should be healed. Accordingly, when he came, he anointed me in the name of the Lord, and the bone went into its place, and I got up in the morning and went to my work, to the astonishment of doctors and friends. I am now a traveling Elder, and have a great deal of walking, but experience no inconvenience from it. I can get a dozen witnesses to attest to the truth of this cure both in and out of the church.

I remain your brother,

JAMES S. LOW.


NANTYGWNITH, GEORGETOWN, MERTHYR TYDFIL,

September 14, 1850.

DEAR PRESIDENT PRATT:—I enclose a testimony of a miraculous case of healing which has taken place a few days ago in Abercanaid; I saw the brother in his affliction and the accompanying testimony he bore at my house more than two miles distant from his. I send it to you with permission to do with it as you think proper.

WM. PHILLIPS.


THE TESTIMONY OF DAVID RICHARDS.

MERTHYR TYDFIL. September 10, 1850.

On Friday, August 23rd, 1850, at about eleven o'clock while I was working among the coal, a stone fell upon me, about 200 pounds weight. I was carried home, and the doctor who was present said he could do nothing for me, and told those around me to wrap me up in a sheet that I might die. There was a lump on my back as big as a child's head. The doctor afterwards told one of my relatives, about six o'clock in the evening, that I could not recover. Elder Phillips called to see me, attended to the ordinance of the church for the sick, and while commanding the bones in the name of Jesus, they came together, making a noise like the crushing of an old basket; my strength returned, and now I am able to go some miles to bear my testimony to this great miracle. The doctor who called to see me was astonished, and said in the hearing of witnesses that my backbone was broken; but that it now was whole, and that I was now recovering as well as any man he ever saw. Many of our greatest enemies confessed that I was healed by the power of God, and while coming here today, many who heard of my accident were struck with the greatest amazement. But I thank my Heavenly Father for his kindness towards me, hoping I shall live to serve him more faithfully henceforth than ever.

Witnesses,

D. RICHARDS.

MORGAN MILLS,

THOMAS REES,

JOHN THOMAS,

HENRY EVANS.[11]


LEPROSY HEALED.

No. 9 GUARDIAN STREET, SPRINGFIELD LANE,

SALFORD, May 19, 1849.

Last winter, a young woman addressed me in the Carpenter's Hall, the daughter of a fustian cutter, named Lee, residing in Cook Street, Salford, and said her parents were desirous that I should go and see her brother, who was very bad with a leprosy. I went in company with one or two of my brethren. I think I never saw anything so bad as the boy was (the small pox excepted); the whole lower part of his face and under his chin, as well as the back of his hands and wrists, were one entire mass of scabs; indeed, you could not have inserted a needle point, they were so thick. He was eight and a half years of age, and had been afflicted since he was six months old; they had him at the Manchester Infirmary and the Salford Dispensary, and are at this time paying the surgeon's bill who attended him as a private patient. The surgeon told his parents he could do nothing for him, as the disease was too virulent for medicine to reach it. His parents told me they did not know what it was to get a regular night's rest with him, and it frequently took three hours to wash him. The first night we went they were not disturbed during the night, and in three weeks he was entirely free, and his flesh was renewed like that of a young child.

JOHN WATTS.


To all whom it may concern. This is to certify, that I was seized with a disease like the leprosy, in the year 1837, and tried all that I could to get a cure, but I could not, and all the doctors that I applied to could do me no good; and it continued with me over all my body till the month of September, 1843, when I went and was baptized into the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, by William McFarland, Elder of the church, on the first of September, 1843, and on that same night the leprosy left me.

JENET RIDD.

Witnesses,

WILLIAM McFARLAND,

JAMES CRYSTAL,

ALEXANDER RIDD.[12]


The instances of what are usually called miraculous cases of healing in the church are by no means confined to the past, they take place today and are of frequent occurrence. By permission of Elder Heber J. Grant, one of the Twelve Apostles, I give herewith a letter of his written to his cousin, Mrs. Julia MacDonald, living in St. George, Utah, that relates a case of quite recent date.

TOOELE CITY, April 28th, 1894.

MY DEAR COUSIN JULIA:—I am half inclined to the opinion that you will be thinking that I have entirely forgotten the promise which I made you, some time ago, to write about the case of healing, that came under my observation in connection with my brother Hyrum. I have not forgotten the promise, but I have been pretty busy with my usual duties, and the conference matters which needed attention before and since April 6th.

* * I will, to the best of my ability, now redeem my promise about giving an account of the young lady healed by the Lord. Some years ago, as nearly as I can now recall it is about seven or eight years, my brother Hyrum was living in Salt Lake City, he had charge of the business of Grant Brothers' Livery Co. The employees of the Z. C. M. I. shoe factory arranged with our company to carry them to Calder's Farm to spend the day. Just before dark it looked quite like a storm, or commenced storming, I do not now recall which. My brother, who had driven one of the large drags down to Calder's, called the party together, and told them he felt that it was the proper thing to start for the city before it was dark, for fear of an accident on State Road. The people declined to start for the city, and Hyrum then and there warned them that he was not to be responsible for any accident that might happen.

Coming from Calder's in the rain and dark, the drag driven by my brother was turned over, and one young lady had some bones broken, and in addition being so badly exposed, she took cold and the result was pneumonia. She got very low and the doctors had a consultation and decided it was an impossibility for her to recover. Hyrum felt very bad indeed when he learned her condition and that the doctors had said that the young lady could not live more than two days, and that they did not think she would live more than twenty-four hours. He came to see me and said that he had had a testimony that in case he and I would go and administer to the young lady she would get well. I was pleased to go with him, but when I got to the house where she lived I looked at her and felt that she was dying, and told my brother that I did not think there was any use of blessing her, but he turned and said, "Did I not tell you that I had had a testimony that if we would bless her that she would get well?" I felt ashamed of my refusal to bless the girl, and we then administered to her, and, while I had my hands on her head, I got a testimony that she would recover. I met Brother Wm. H. Rowe, [manager of the shoe factory] soon after I left the young lady's home, and he was feeling very badly, and told me that she was going to die. I then assured him that he need have no fears, as I had been blessed of the Lord with a testimony that she would recover, and I then explained to him what my brother had told me, and of our visit to the home of the sick sister. The next morning the doctor in attendance upon her called at the livery stables and told my brother that there was a wonderful change in the girl's condition, and that he could not possibly account for the improvement, and that he now had hopes of her recovery. My brother informed the doctor that he had no difficulty in accounting for the change, and he then told him of our visit. He, the doctor, did not have any faith that our visit had anything to do with the improvement in the sister's condition, notwithstanding the fact that he had admitted that he could not account for her improvement.

The girl recovered, and the last I heard of her she was still working in the Z. C. M. I. Shoe Factory. I have a faint recollection that I was told that she was married, but of this I would not be sure. I have never seen her since I called with Hyrum at her house, and I do not know whether or not her family ever knew that she was given up to die by the doctors. I think the sister's name was Maria DeGray, but in case you wish to use her name I will make sure that this is correct. With love and best wishes to each and all of the folks, not forgetting yourself, I remain,

Your affectionate cousin,

HEBER J. GRANT.

The following account of a case of healing is taken from the Juvenile Instructor, one of the leading periodicals of the church, the pages of which are replete with such accounts of healing by the power of God as is here presented:

HEALED OF BLINDNESS.

As near as I can remember, it was in the month of June, 1879, that I was engaged in building a rock cellar for Vernee Halliday, in Provo City. About noon, after finishing the walls as high as I could from the inside, before drawing my lines off to go outside, I looked along the wall to see if every rock was in keeping with the line, when I saw a small corner of a rock a little out of place. With my hammer I tapped it very lightly to bring it to its proper position, keeping my eye along the line to see when it came to its place. While doing this I felt as if something had touched my eye, but nothing to cause me any uneasiness. At the time I did not think more of the affair.

I worked all the afternoon and the next forenoon, but felt my eye beginning to get very hot, and water came therefrom. In the afternoon my eye became worse, and was inflamed to such an extent that I could not see; my head also became so affected that about four o'clock I was obliged to cease work and go home. Arriving there my wife, seeing my eye in such an inflamed condition, got me into a dark room, and from that time till very early the next morning she used about two packets of tea in making strong lotions to bathe my eye to keep down the inflammation. At four o'clock in the morning I got a handkerchief on my eye, and went away to arouse Dr. W. R. Pike. When I arrived at his house he was attending a man from Payson. This done, he asked me what he could do for me. I told him of the inflammation of my eye and the pain in my head, and said I wanted him to examine it and see what was the matter with it, or to tell the cause of my suffering. After examining my eye he said there was one-third of the lens of my eye entirely destroyed. The center of the lens was gone and only a little on each edge remained. He said it had been struck with something rough like a rock, and that I would never see again with that eye. He described the transparency of the eye, and assured me that it could not by nature be restored. He said it was likely to take away the use of my other eye at any time, and that a white opaque substance would grow over my eye so that I could never see any more.

After leaving his office, I met on the street a Mr. Harrison, who had formerly lived in Salt Lake City. He told me of Dr. Pratt, who had just returned to Salt Lake from the East, where she had been studying the eye, and had done a great deal of good. I therefore went the same day to see her, but had then to be led by my wife. When we arrived in Salt Lake it was too late for her to do anything with my eye that day, and she told us to come back the following morning at ten o'clock. We did so, and after hearing my story she examined my injured member by the aid of many glasses, and told me the same as Dr. W. R. Pike had done. She allowed my wife to look through the glass at my eye, and she described its appearance as that of a wound from which a dog had bitten a piece. Dr. Pratt then took me by my front hair, and pushing my head back, was about to take my eye out. I inquired what she was about to do, and she answered me that she was going to take it out and put in a glass one.

My wife seized her arm, and I scrambled out of the chair saying, "No you don't, or you will shoot me first."

I then asked if she could give me a lotion to check the pain. She took a small vial and put one drop of its contents in my eye, which immediately took away all pain. She then gave me a prescription, which I had filled, and then went home.

Just as both doctors had said, the opaque matter gradually grew on my eye for three or four weeks, at the end of which time I could not distinguish my own wife standing so that her dress touched my clothes, unless she spoke. Up to this time I had not been able to work, and I was getting dissatisfied.

About that time the quarterly conference took place in Provo. On the Sunday morning I found my way to conference, still with the napkin on my eye. There were present of the general authorities, Presidents George Q. Cannon and Joseph F. Smith and Apostle John Henry Smith. During the morning meeting I made up my mind to have them administer to me for my sight, and at the close of the services I went to the vestry where they were attending to this ordinance for many who were there before me. When I entered Brothers Joseph F. and John Henry Smith came and shook hands with me, enquiring what was the matter, and what I wanted them to do. They introduced me to Brother George Q. Cannon, whom I had never before known. I knew the Brothers Smith in the old country. I was told to take a seat, and when they had attended to the rest they would administer to me, and that I would get my sight. After they got through with the others they came to me. I cannot now call to mind who anointed, or who confirmed it, but this I do know that from that very hour the white, opaque matter that had gradually grown over my eye as gradually began to disappear, until my eyesight was completely restored and has remained to this date as perfect as it ever has been. To this fact myself and family, and others yet living in Provo can testify.

While suffering with this affliction I reasoned that as God made the eye He also knew how to repair and restore a damaged one, and I testify to all to whom this may come that He did restore sight to the blind one.

ROBERT McKINLEY.[13]

Let me assure the reader that these cases of healing the sick, opening the eyes of the blind, unstopping the ears of the deaf, etc., are but as a handful of earth to a mountain. It would require volumes to contain the testimonies of the Saints to the fulfillment of the promises of the Lord made through the great modern prophet; but what is set down in this chapter will doubtless be sufficient to prove the fulfillment of his promises. The church has taken little or no pains to publish accounts of "miracles." But the fact that more than sixty years after these promises of the gifts of healing, etc., were made to the church, the chief reliance of the Saints in times of sickness is upon the anointing with oil and the laying on of hands by the Elders—and this throughout all the branches of the church—it must be evident even to the most skeptical that the promises of Jesus Christ through Joseph Smith have been realized, or else long ago the faith of the firmest would have failed them.

Footnotes

1. Doc. and Cov. Sec. lxxxiv: 62-64.

2. i.e. in the name of Jesus Christ.

3. Doc. and Cov. Sec. lxxxiv: 65-73.

4. Hayden's History of the Disciples, pp. 250-I.

5. Hist. Joseph Smith, Mill. Star, vol. xvii, p. 355.

6. The same event is spoken of at some length in Parley P. Pratt's Autobiography, p. 325.

7. Mill. Star vol xi: p. 301-2

8. Mill. Star vol. xi: p. 188-9.

9. Mill. Star, vol. xi, p. 337.

10. Mill. Star, vol. xi, p. 202-3.

11. Mill. Star. vol. xi, p. 187.

12. Mill. Star, vol. xii, p. 312.

13. Juvenile Instructor, vol. 29, p. 434.

CHAPTER XX.

THE EVIDENCE OF PROPHECY

Of all the means by which the claims of a prophet may be tested, it seems to me that an inquiry respecting the fulfillment of his prophecies is at once the most direct and positive. Has he prophesied; and have his prophecies been fulfilled? If they have, who can doubt the prophet's inspiration, or the revelations of God to him? This was the means which the Lord suggested to ancient Israel for the testing of the genuineness of a prophet's claims: "And if thou shalt say in thy heart," said the Lord to Israel, "How shall we know the word which the Lord hath not spoken? When a prophet speaketh in the name of the Lord, if the thing follow not, nor come to pass, that is the thing which the Lord hath not spoken, but the prophet hath spoken it presumptuously: thou shalt not be afraid of him."[1] And conversely, if the thing which the prophet speaks in the name of the Lord comes to pass, then the prophet has spoken the thing commanded him by the Lord—he has not spoken presumptuously and the people are under obligation to respect his message, since he has furnished them the highest possible evidence of his divine inspiration.

I know of no more simple, yet common-sense and effective test than this. Of course it must be understood in applying it that many predictions which prophets utter may not come to pass immediately. Some of them perhaps not in the lifetime of the prophet, or even in the generation in which he lived; for some prophets have been given the power to look into the future, and predict things which the wheels of time will not bring due until the very last generation of men; but if when the time for the fulfillment of the prophecies uttered comes due they are not fulfilled, the world may know that the Lord did not speak through that prophet, but he has spoken presumptuously, without revelation from God, and the people need have no regard for him or his pretended messages.

Of the value of the fulfillment of prophecy as evidence of divine inspiration it is scarcely necessary to speak. It has ever been recognized, and that properly, as a species of miracle; and therefore has been accorded all the value attached to miracles. The Lord himself has recognized the value of the evidence of prophecy; for when he would have Israel distinguish between himself and the gods of the heathens, he issued this challenge to them: "Produce your cause, saith the Lord, bring forth your strong reasons, saith the King of Jacob. Let them bring them forth, and show us what shall happen: let them show the former things, and what they be, that we may consider them, and know the latter end of them; or declare us things for to come. Show the things that are to come hereafter, that we may know that ye are gods."[2]

From this it appears that the power to foretell future events is regarded peculiarly as one belonging to God alone, or that spirit which emanates from him; and those who possess that power, and can point to the fulfillment of their prophecies in attestation of their inspiration and divine authority may be looked upon as possessing evidence of special and peculiar force in their favor.

Before applying the test here purposed to the prophetic claims of Joseph Smith, I would remark that at least two things in relation to prophecy must be established: first, that the prediction ante-dates the events; and, second, that the events must be of a nature that no merely human foresight or judgment, unaided by divine inspiration or revelation, could have foretold them. Furthermore, I may add, that one's belief in the divine inspiration of a prophet would be materially increased, if his prophecies are of a nature to make them of importance either to the individuals or nations to whom they may be addressed. For I take it as a common-sense idea that God does not give revelation to men or inspire them in relation to trivial or unimportant things; but deals with those matters that are worthy of God's attention and communication. Hence in my opinion, many of those who have made pretensions to the prophetic gift stand condemned, because the things they bring forth are of a nature too trivial to be worthy the notice or intelligence of men, much less worthy the attention of God.

The first prophecy to be considered is one not made by Joseph Smith, but one made of him by the angel Moroni, on the occasion of Joseph's first visit to the Hill Cumorah, when he beheld for the first time the plates from which he afterwards translated the Book of Mormon. But as Joseph Smith is the one who acquainted the world with this prediction I am about to quote, in a certain way it is his prophecy, and will answer all the purposes of a test such as I am making in this chapter. On the occasion of this interview with Moroni, before referred to, that the young prophet might not be deceived by the powers of darkness, he was given a vision of Satan and his hosts and their methods of deception. After the vision closed the angel said:

"Behold, notwithstanding you have seen this great display of power, by which you may be able to detect the Evil One, yet I give unto you another sign, and when it comes to pass then know that the Lord is God, and that he will fulfill his purposes, and that the knowledge that this record[3] contains will go to every nation, and kindred, and tongue and people under the whole heaven. This is the sign: When these things begin to be known, that is, when it is known that the Lord has shown unto you these things, the workers of iniquity will seek your overthrow: they will circulate falsehood to destroy your reputation, and also will seek your life; but remember this, if you are faithful, and shall hereafter continue to keep the commandments of the Lord, you shall be preserved to bring these things[4] forth; for in due time he will again give you a commandment to come and take them. When they[5] are interpreted, the Lord will give the Holy Priesthood to some, and they shall begin to proclaim this gospel and baptize by water, and after that they shall have power to give the Holy Ghost by the laying on of their hands. Then will persecution rage more and more: for the iniquities of men shall be revealed, and those who are not built upon the rock will seek to overthrow this work; but it will increase the more opposed, and spread farther and farther, increasing in knowledge till they[6] shall be sanctified and receive an inheritance where the glory of God shall rest upon them. * * * Your name[7] shall be known among the nations, for the work which the Lord will perform by your hands shall cause the righteous to rejoice and the wicked to rage; with one it shall be had in honor, with the other in reproach; yet with these it shall be a terror because of the great and marvelous work which shall follow the coming forth of this fullness of my gospel."

It was in September, 1823, that these prophetic words were uttered by Moroni—four years before the plates of the Book of Mormon were given to Joseph Smith to translate;[8] six years before the Priesthood was given;[9] seven years before the church was organized;[10] and fourteen years before the knowledge contained in the Book of Mormon was sent to a foreign nation.[11] This prophecy, however, was first published to the world in 1834, in the Saints' Messenger and Advocate, and is taken from a letter of Oliver Cowdery's to W. W. Phelps, giving items of church history. Subsequently, in 1840, these letters were copied from the Messenger and Advocate into the Times and Seasons, from which I quote[12] the above predictions.

The severe skeptic will insist that the prophecy can only be considered with reference to its fulfillment from the time it was published to the world in the Messenger and Advocate, in 1834; this at first glance would seem to cut down much of the prophetic part of the passages I am considering. It would cut out the prediction that notwithstanding the opposition that would be arrayed against the young prophet he would have power to bring forth the Book of Mormon; that the Lord would give the holy Priesthood to some; that they would begin to proclaim the gospel and baptize by water; and give the Holy Ghost by the laying on of hands. This much would be cut out by the skeptic because it could be alleged that all this it is claimed occurred before 1834, the time when the prophecy was first published. Let these items, then, be eliminated; and still the greater part of the prophecy remains to be fulfilled after 1834.

The items left are, first, that a knowledge of what the Book of Mormon contains will go to every nation, and kindred, and tongue, and people under the whole heaven; second those not built upon the rock of truth will oppose the work of God, but it will increase the more it is opposed and spread farther and farther; third Joseph Smith shall be known among the nations because of the work the Lord would perform by his hands—by the righteous he would be held in honor, by the wicked in reproach. All this was fulfilled after 1834, though some of it was in process of fulfillment before and at that time—such as the work thriving in spite of opposition and the name of Joseph being received either in honor or reproach among the people. I now enter into a more particular consideration of the fulfillment of this prophecy.

First, The knowledge of what the Book of Mormon contains will go to every nation, and kindred, and tongue, and people under the whole heavens. In 1834 the Book of Mormon had been published only in the English language, and but little was known of it even in the United States and Canada. Yet here is a prediction that it shall be known in all the world. Since then it has been published in the following languages: French, German, Danish, Italian, Dutch, Welsh, Swedish, Spanish, Hawaiian and Maori. It has also been translated but not yet published in Hindostanee and Modern Hebrew. Proclamation of the new dispensation, and hence also of the Book of Mormon, has been made by the elders of the church of Christ in the following nations: Great Britain, France, Germany, Holland, Belgium, Denmark, Sweden, Norway, Iceland, Finland, Italy, Switzerland, Hindostan, Malta, South Africa, Mexico, and to many of the Indian tribes of America; all the states of the American Union, British America, Sandwich Islands, Samoa, Friendly Islands, New Zealand, West Indies, Turkey and Palestine. While this enumeration does not include the principal ones. That a knowledge of what the Book of Mormon contains will yet go to the remaining nations where the gospel has not yet been proclaimed, and into whose language the Book of Mormon has not yet been translated, cannot be doubted; for this item of the prophecy has been so nearly completed that the end is in sight; and if the church while in its infancy and childhood has done so much, it will not fail in its strong manhood to fulfill what remains.

The proclamation of the knowledge which the Book of Mormon contains to all nations and peoples and tongues of the earth, is not an event which could have been foretold by human foresight, or shrewdness, in 1823, or even in 1834. The reception given up to that time to the Book of Mormon was anything but flattering. Only a very few people had received it. All the learned ridiculed it; the Christians mocked and rejected it because it was a new revelation. It will be remembered that it was the universal belief of Christians that the volume of revelation was completed and forever closed; and hence anything that claimed to be a new revelation was summarily rejected. In the face of all these circumstances it required more than mere human foresight on the part of a few obscure and persecuted followers of Joseph Smith to see that the time would come when proclamation of the knowledge contained in the Book of Mormon would be made in all the nations and tongues of the earth.

Second, The work of the Lord will meet opposition, but it will increase the more it is opposed and spread farther and farther. The reader already knows that from its inception the work of the Lord in the new dispensation met with the most violent opposition. Only the year before Oliver Cowdery published this prophecy under consideration, twelve hundred of the Saints were driven from their lands and homes in Jackson County, Missouri, more than two hundred of their houses burned and much other property destroyed. But I am to prove that opposition met the church after 1834, and that in spite of that opposition the work increased, and a knowledge of it became more widely diffused. Be it so. Five years after the expulsion from Jackson County, Missouri, opposition so increased that the inhabitants of the state of Missouri, with the officers of the state at their head, arose against the Saints; directly or indirectly caused the death of some four hundred, and drove between twelve and fifteen thousand from their homes into exile, confiscated their lands, drove off their cattle and wantonly destroyed other property.

Eight years after their expulsion from the state of Missouri, the Saints to the number of twenty thousand were driven by mob violence from the state of Illinois, into the wilderness. They fled beyond the confines of civilization—going a thousand miles beyond the frontiers of the United States, and settled in the wilds of the Rocky Mountains; where, despite the waves of persecution which have broken upon the church, it still lives, its membership more numerous than ever, the faith of the Saints more strongly established; and where from its lofty station it overlooks the world and sends its accredited representatives to all the peoples of the earth, to fulfill the decree of Jehovah that the gospel of the kingdom, in the last days, shall be preached in all the world for a witness and then shall the end come.[13]

It was rather a remarkable prediction that the more the work of the Lord in the last days was opposed the more it would prosper. It was still more remarkable that it should be predicted that opposition would rise against it at all, since the great work had its birth in a land where the constitution of the government guaranteed religious liberty. The marvelous fulfillment of the prediction under these circumstances is evidence that there was behind it more than human foresight.

Third, The name of Joseph Smith is to be known among the nations. The work which the Lord would perform by his hands would cause the righteous to rejoice and the wicked to rage: by the former his name would be held in honor, by the latter in reproach. The probability of Joseph Smith ever being known outside of the nation where he was born was very limited, even in 1834, much less when the prophecy was uttered by the angel in 1823. It was a strange thing to say that his name among the nations would be held either in honor or reproach. But the fulfillment of the prediction will be so generally conceded that to point out the fact is not necessary. It will be enough to say that everywhere the new dispensation of the gospel has been proclaimed, there the people have been made acquainted with the name of Joseph Smith, and there he is known for good or evil—he is held in honor or reproach—the righteous have rejoiced, the wicked have raged, and in many instances have resorted to violence in resisting the message of heaven.

The fulfillment of the three items just considered in the prediction of Moroni proves the genuineness of the prophecy; and therefore I have a right to claim for it the date on which it was first delivered, the year 1823. And when considered from that date—when the existence of the Book of Mormon was as yet unknown except by Joseph Smith; when Joseph Smith was an obscure boy still in his teens and unknown outside of his own family and immediate neighborhood; before the Priesthood had been received, or the remission of sins obtained through baptism, or the Holy Ghost imparted by the laying on of hands; before the work of God prospered in spite of opposition—when considered from that date which places the prediction before all these events, how much more the prophetic character of the prediction stands out in bold relief! And who can question its divine inspiration?

Footnotes

1. Deut. xviii: 21, 22.

2. Isaiah xli: 21-23.

3. Referring to the record of the Nephites, the records lying before them in the stone box from which Joseph had just removed the covering.

4. Meaning the record of the Nephites—the Book of Mormon.

5. The plates comprising the Book of Mormon.

6. Meaning the people who receive the gospel.

7. Meaning the prophet Joseph.

8. The plates of the Book of Mormon were given to the prophet to translate in 1827.

9. It was in May, 1829, that the Priesthood was first given.

10. The Church was organized April 30th, 1830.

11. The first foreign mission in the New Dispensation was opened in England, 1837.

12. Times and Seasons, Vol. II, No. 13.

13. Matt. xxiv: 14.

CHAPTER XXI.

THE EVIDENCE OF PROPHECY—CONTINUED.

Before the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints was organized, a number of persons who had faith in the statement of Joseph Smith that he had in his possession the gold plates from which he was translating the Book of Mormon, and who believed him to be a prophet, came to inquire through him the will of the Lord concerning themselves in relation to the new dispensation about to be ushered in. Among those who thus came were the prophet's father, Joseph Smith, Sen., some time in February, 1829; Oliver Cowdery, April, 1829; Joseph Knight, Sen., May, 1829; and David Whitmer, June, 1829. The prophet inquired for the will of the Lord concerning these men as they requested, and received for them the word of the Lord through the Urim and Thummim. In each of these revelations is contained, with a little variation, the following prophecy: "A great and marvelous work is about to come forth among the children of men * * * Behold the field is white already to harvest, therefore, whoso desireth to reap, let him thrust in his sickle with his might, and reap while the day lasts, that he may treasure up for his soul everlasting salvation in the kingdom of God; yea, whosoever will thrust in his sickle and reap, the same is called of God."[1]

This prophecy that a great and marvelous work was about to come forth among the children of men, I say, was uttered before the translation of the Book of Mormon was completed or the church organized. How well it has been fulfilled let the history of the Church of Jesus Christ in the new dispensation, its present condition and the wonder with which the world regards it, answer. Of all the religions that have arisen since the days of Jesus Christ and the apostles, it is looked upon as the most marvelous; its growth, all things considered, has been most wonderful; it has a history the most thrilling; a present interest the most widespread; and a future that challenges more speculation than any other religious organization. The prophecy was a true one—a great and a marvelous work has come forth among the children of men.

On the 24th of February, 1834, Joseph Smith received a revelation, making known to the church how to proceed concerning the brethren who had been driven from their homes in Jackson County, Missouri, the November previous. In that revelation occurs the following prophetic passage: "Verily I say unto you, that I have decreed a decree which my people shall realize, inasmuch as they hearken from this very hour, unto the counsel which I, the Lord their God, shall give unto them. Behold they shall, for I have decreed it, begin to prevail against mine enemies from this very hour, and by hearkening to observe all the words which I, the Lord their God, shall speak unto them, they shall never cease to prevail until the kingdoms of the world are subdued under my feet, and the earth is given unto the Saints, to possess it forever and ever. But inasmuch as they keep not my commandments, and hearken not to observe all my words, the kingdoms of the world shall prevail against them, for they were set to be a light unto the world, and to be saviors of men; and inasmuch as they are not the saviors of men, they are as salt that has lost its savor, and is thenceforth good for nothing but to be cast out and trodden under foot of men. But verily I say unto you, I have decreed that your brethren which have been scattered shall return to the land of their inheritances, and build the waste places of Zion; for after much tribulation, as I have said in a former commandment, cometh the blessing. Behold this is the blessing which I have promised after your tribulations, and the tribulations of your brethren; your redemption and the redemption of your brethren, even their restoration to the land of Zion, to be established no more to be thrown down; nevertheless if they pollute their inheritances they shall be thrown down, for I will not spare them if they pollute their inheritances."[2]

Condensed the prophecy stands thus: (1) The Saints from the 24th of February, 1834, are to begin to prevail over God's enemies; and are to continue to prevail until the kingdoms of this world are subdued under his feet—provided they hearken to his counsel: the kingdoms of this world will prevail against the saints if they hearken not to the counsels of God: (2) After much tribulation the Saints shall return and build up the waste places of Zion—they are to be restored to the land of Zion; and Zion is to be established, never more to be thrown down—provided the Saints pollute not their inheritances.

The first part of the prophecy has had a remarkable fulfillment. Though there have been individuals in the church of Christ who have failed to walk in the holy counsels of God, and have reaped an abundant harvest of sorrow and shame, and many have made complete shipwreck of faith, still the church as a whole has kept reasonably well the counsel of God. The Saints may not have attained to that ideal obedience to the will of God which all recognize as desirable; but human weakness and all the circumstances by which they have been surrounded considered, I repeat that the church has reasonably well walked in accordance with the counsels of the Lord; and as a result has prevailed, so far, over all the powers that have been arrayed for its destruction. In proof of this let the present condition of the church be contrasted with what it was in February, 1834.

At the time the prophecy of 1834 was uttered, a great part of the church was scattered along the Missouri bottoms, in Clay County, Missouri. The Saints had just been driven from their houses and lands in Jackson County, and were living in log huts and dug-outs,[3] and subsisting, for the time being, upon the charity of the people of Clay County. The rest of the church was scattered in branches through several states of the American Union and Canada. They were without wealth, or influence; derided, scorned, distrusted, hated. Indeed, it is difficult to even imagine a situation more hopeless than that occupied by the church of Christ when this prophecy was uttered.

It would be difficult to determine with any exactness the membership of the church in 1834, or the number of branches; but certainly the membership did not exceed six or eight thousand. Now[4] the membership of the church in Utah and the surrounding states and territories is more than two hundred and fifty thousand, besides those scattered throughout the United States, Europe and the Pacific Islands. There are about five hundred organized wards, grouped into thirty-six stakes of Zion,[5] each with its high council, its high priests' quorum, its several elders' quorums, etc. In addition to this there are in all the wards female relief societies, improvement associations for both sexes, the primary societies for younger children. There are 504 Sunday schools, with a total membership of 100,000. In 1834 the church had no temple; but now it has four magnificent temples wherein are performed the ordinances of the gospel both for the living and for the dead.

Though but few individuals in the church can be considered wealthy, yet the Saints are a prosperous, contented, happy people. A greater percentage of them own the homes they live in and the lands they cultivate than is the case with any other community in the world; and they are freer than any other people on earth from those difficulties which perplex mankind. Peace is in their habitations, God is honored at the family altars as well as in the public sanctuaries; faith and confidence in God abound, and on every hand are evidences that the Lord has owned them and blessed them as his people. It is true that the church has had its tribulations. Immunity from them was not promised. The expulsion from the state of Missouri; the exodus from Illinois; the subsequent journey into the wilderness; the desperate struggle for existence in the early days of Utah; the judicial crusade waged against the church during the last decade; these events and all the bloodshed, wholesale imprisonment, and the suffering and sorrow incident to them rise up to proclaim that mob violence and other forces of this world have been employed to destroy the work of God, but they have not prevailed. The church of Christ still exists; its members are more numerous and stronger in faith than ever before; the Saints are more perfectly organized, happier circumstanced, more experienced; they are more confident of God's sustaining power, more convinced of their high destiny and the complete fulfillment of this noble prophecy, namely, that if they continue to hearken to the counsels of the Lord, they will continue to prevail until the kingdoms of this world are subdued under his feet, and the earth given to the Saints to possess it forever and ever.

Of the second division of the prophecy little need be said, except that the first part of it, viz: that which relates to the tribulation which is to befall the Saints previous to the redemption of Zion has been, in part at least, fulfilled; and like the partial fulfillment of the first division of the prophecy, gives good earnest of the complete accomplishment of all that it predicts.

In the fall of 1838, the city of Far West, inhabited by the Saints, fell into the hands of the mob forces of Missouri, and Joseph Smith and a number of his brethren, viz., his brother Hyrum Smith, Sidney Rigdon, Parley P. Pratt, Lyman Wight, George W. Robinson and Amasa Lyman were betrayed into their hands. These men were torn from their families in the most brutal manner. They were tried off hand by a court-martial of the mob officers, and condemned to be shot on the public square of Far West in the presence of their families and the Saints; but one of the officers of the mob-militia—General Doniphan—refused to sanction the murder and declared he would not allow his men to witness it. The other officers were afraid to assume the responsibility of executing the court-martial decision, and the prisoners escaped the fate designed for them. Charges of the most serious nature, including murder, arson, and robbery were then trumped up against them, intending to encompass their execution under civil procedure. Amidst the proud boasts of their captors, who brutally told their heart-broken families and the Saints that they had seen the last of their prophet, a start was made with the prisoners for Independence, Jackson County. The prospects of the betrayed men were most desperate. They were in the hands of a reckless mob whose hatred of them was intense. There was little respect at the time for law in the state. In the language of General Clark (Commander-in-Chief of the mob-militia of the state, then assembled at Far West) addressed to the Saints, their fate seemed fixed, their die cast, their doom sealed.[6]

The start for Independence was made on the 2nd of November; the following morning, after spending a most wretched night, encamped on the banks of Crooked River, Joseph Smith spoke to his fellow-prisoners in low but cheerful and confident tones, and uttered this prophecy: "Be of good cheer, brethren, the word of the Lord came to me last night that our lives should be given us, and that whatever we may suffer during this captivity, not one of our lives should be taken." "Of this prophecy," says Elder Parley P. Pratt, "I testify in the name of the Lord, and though spoken in secret, its public fulfillment and the miraculous escape of each of us is too notorious to need my testimony."[7]

After enduring five weary months of captivity, which had been spent in a loathsome prison, and when the heart of the prophet was breaking within him because of the affliction of his people, betrayed by false brethren and oppressed by those in power, the word of the Lord came to him saying: "The ends of the earth shall enquire after thy name, and fools shall have thee in derision, and hell shall mock against thee, while the pure in heart and the wise, and the noble and the virtuous shall seek counsel, and authority and blessings constantly under thy hands. And thy people shall never be turned against thee by the testimony of traitors. And although their influence shall cast thee into trouble, and into bars and walls, thou shalt be had in honor, and but for a small moment and thy voice shall be more terrible in the midst of thine enemies than the fierce lion, because of thy righteousness; and thy God shall stand by thee forever and ever."[8]

This prophecy is contained in a letter written by the prophet and his fellow-prisoners from Liberty jail, and addressed to the Saints then settling in Quincy, Illinois, to "those scattered abroad" and "to Bishop Edward Partridge in particular." It was written in March, 1839. The fulfillment of the prophecies contained in the above extract are notorious. While fools hold the name of the prophet in derision the wise and the virtuous from the ends of the earth have inquired and are inquiring after Joseph Smith, and the work he established; and though there were many who turned against him and became strong enemies, for they were strong men, his people were never turned against him by the testimony of traitors. While living his people were true to him, and since his death they have revered his memory.

On the 8th of July, 1838, a revelation was given concerning the quorum of the Twelve Apostles. A number of vacancies existed in this quorum occasioned through apostasy of several of its members; these vacancies the prophet was commanded to fill; "And next spring," said the revelation, "let them [the apostles] depart to go over the great waters, and there promulgate my gospel, the fullness thereof, and bear record of my name. Let them take leave of my Saints in the city of Far West, on the 26th day of April next, on the building spot of my house,[9] saith the Lord."[10]

Before the date appointed in the revelation for the Twelve to take leave of the Saints at Far West for a foreign mission, viz., the 26th of April, 1839, that city had fallen into the hands of the mob, the church leaders were cast into prison, the apostles were scattered and the great body of the church driven from the state. In the midst of these circumstances it was a matter of open boasting with the mob that there was at least one of "old Joe Smith's" revelations that would fail.[11] They said that there would be no meeting of the Twelve with the Saints on the 26th of April, 1839. But a consultation of the apostles who escaped from Missouri was held early in the spring of 1839, at Quincy, and they resolved return to Far West and fulfill the Lord's commandment, which, as the reader will perceive, partook of the nature of a prophecy. The undertaking was successful. Five of the apostles were at the temple site before day light of the day appointed, together with a number of high priests, elders and priests.

At this meeting they excommunicated a number of persons from the church, ordained Wilford Woodruff and George A. Smith apostles, and others were ordained to the office of seventy. The apostles each prayed in turn, and a beautiful hymn called "Adam-Ondi-Ahman" was sung. At the conclusion of the hymn, Elder Alpheus Cutler, the master workman of the Lord's House, laid the south-east corner stone in its position, and stated that in consequence of the peculiar situation of the Saints it was deemed prudent to discontinue further labor on the house until the Lord should open the way for its completion. The apostles then took leave of some seventeen Saints who were present and started on their way to fulfill their missions beyond the Atlantic. Thus the commandment and prophecy which the mobs of Missouri so confidently boasted should fail, were fulfilled.

In a revelation given in March, 1831, after telling some of the judgments and commotions which shall precede the glorious coming of the Lord Jesus, occurs this prophecy: "But before the great day of the Lord shall come, Jacob shall flourish in the wilderness, and the Lamanites [the American Indians] shall blossom as the rose. Zion shall flourish upon the hills and rejoice upon the mountains, and shall be assembled together unto the place which I have appointed."[12]

In order to have a complete understanding of this prophecy it is necessary to explain that the word "Zion" refers not only to a land called Zion, and a city called Zion, but also to a people, as will be clearly seen in the above, where "Zion" is not only to rejoice upon the mountains, but is also to "be assembled together," which really could only be consistently said of a people. In another revelation the Lord says: "Let Zion rejoice, for this is Zion, the pure in heart; therefore, let Zion rejoice, while all the wicked shall mourn."[13] With this explanation of the word "Zion" let us now consider the prophecy:

First, then, before the great and dreadful day of the Lord, Jacob, that is Israel, or descendants of Israel, shall flourish in the wilderness.

Second, the American Indians shall blossom as the rose, that is, they will be in a blessed and happy condition.

Third, Zion, the pure in heart, the Saints of God, shall flourish upon the hills, rejoice upon the mountains and shall be assembled together unto the place which the Lord has appointed.

The parts of the prophecy which are in progress of fulfillment are the first and third items. Israel is flourishing in the wilderness, and Zion, or the Saints of God, who are also, for the most part, descendants of Israel gathered from among the Gentile nations are rejoicing upon the mountains; and though the Lamanites are not yet blossoming as the rose, neither has "the great day of the Lord" come; and before that day does come, this second item of the prophecy, referring to the Lamanites, will be fulfilled. Let it be borne in mind that the prophecy was uttered in March, 1831, long ere the Saints had so much as dreamed of settling in the Rocky Mountains.

At this juncture I may be permitted to introduce another prophecy of Joseph Smith's relating to this same subject, and then consider the fulfillment of both at once.

Under date of August 6th, 1842, the prophet records the following in his history: "Passed over to Montrose, Iowa, in company with General Adams, Colonel Brewer and others, and witnessed the installation of the officers of the Rising Sun Lodge of the Ancient York Masons, at Montrose, by General James Adams, deputy grand master of illinois. While the deputy grand master was engaged in giving the requisite instructions to the master elect, I had a conversation with a number of brethren, in the shade of the building, on the subject of our persecutions in Missouri, and the constant annoyance which has followed us since we were driven from that state. I prophesied that the Saints would continue to suffer much affliction and would be driven to the Rocky Mountains, many would apostatize, others would be put to death by our persecutors, or lose their lives in consequence of exposure or disease; and some of you will live to go and assist in making settlements and build cities and see the Saints become a mighty people in the midst of the Rocky Mountains.[14]"

At that date, August 6th, 1842, the Rocky Mountains seemed like a country afar off to the people of Illinois. The Missouri River was the extreme frontiers of the United States. All beyond that was well nigh an unexplored wilderness filled with savages. The church was fairly settled at Nauvoo, the state authorities were apparently very friendly, the future of the Saints in Illinois seemed propitious. Yet in the midst of all these favorable circumstances the prophet predicted much affliction for some of the Saints, death from persecution for others, apostasy for many, and for the great body of the church an exodus to the Rocky Mountains, where some of those present who were listening to the prediction, should live to assist in making settlements and building cities in the Rocky Mountains where they would see the Saints become a mighty people.

There can be no question as to the reality of these two predictions, the one of March, 1831, and the other of August, 1842, or of their being of a character to test the divine inspiration of him who uttered them. That they were proclaimed some years before the events predicted in them began to be fulfilled, or even there was any thought or prospect of such events taking place, is well known; that the latter prophecy has been fulfilled to the uttermost, the whole history of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints from August, 1842, until now witnesses. The Saints suffered many afflictions in Illinois. Their homes, fields, stacks of grain, stock and other property were destroyed; their prophets and a number of others were killed outright by mob violence; many more perished from exposure and disease occasioned by being driven from their homes at an inclement season of the year. In those trying times, following the martyrdom of the prophet and the expulsion from Nauvoo, many turned away from the faith, and it is too generally known to need comment, that the great body of the church made its way to the Rocky Mountains, where cities, towns and villages have been founded, the wilderness subdued, and the Saints are fast becoming a mighty people.

Footnotes

1. Doc. and Cov., Sec. xi: 1-4. See also Sec. iv, Sec. vi, Sec. xii, and Sec. xiv, where the same prophecy is repeated.

2. Doc. and Cov., Sec. ciii, 5-14.

3. Holes dug in the ground and covered over with brush and earth.

4. 1895.

5. A stake of Zion is a division of the church comprised of several ecclesiastical wards; and is presided over by a presidency consisting of three high priests.

6. The language of General Clark was: "As for your leaders, do not once think—do not imagine for a moment—do not let it enter your mind that they will be delivered, or that you will see their faces again; for their fate is fixed—their die is cast—their doom is sealed."—Autob. P. P. Pratt, p. 266.

7. Pratt's Autob., p. 210.

8. Mill. Star, Vol. xvii, p. 85; also, Doc. and Cov., Sec. cxxii.

9. A temple site had been selected at Far West and an excavation made for the foundation. It is this "spot" that the revelation refers. The excavation for the temple at Far West still remains, or did in 1884, when the writer visited it.

10. Doc. and Cov., Sec. cxviii.

11. One of the leaders of the mob forces by the name of Bogart, referring to this revelation, said to Elder Theodore Turley: "As a rational man, you must give up the claim that Joseph Smith is a prophet and an inspired man; the Twelve are scattered all over creation; let them come here if they dare; if they do they will be murdered. As that revelation cannot be fulfilled, you must now give up your faith. This is like all the rest of Joseph Smith's damned prophecies!" (Cannon's Life of the Prophet, p. 285.)

12. Doc. and Cov. Sec. xlix: 24, 25.

13. Doc. and Cov. Sec. xcvii: 21.

14. Mill. Star, Vol. xix, p. 630.

CHAPTER XXII.

THE EVIDENCE OF PROPHECY—CONTINUED.

In the journal of William Clayton, under date of May 18th, 1843, is the following entry, relating a conversation that took place between Joseph Smith and Stephen A. Douglas, at the house of Sheriff Backenstos, at Carthage, Illinois: "Dined with Judge Stephen A. Douglas, who is presiding at court. After dinner Judge Douglas requested President Joseph to give him a history of the Missouri persecution, which he did in a very minute manner for about three hours. He also gave a relation of his journey to Washington City, and his application in behalf of the Saints to Mr. Van Buren, the President of the United States, for redress; and Mr. Van Buren's pusillanimous reply—'Gentlemen, your cause is just, but I can do nothing for you;' and the cold, unfeeling manner in which he was treated by most of the senators and representatives in relation to the subject, Clay saying, 'You had better go to Oregon,' and Calhoun shaking his head solemnly, saying, 'It's a nice question—a critical question; but it will not do to agitate it.'

"The Judge listened with the greatest attention, and then spoke warmly in deprecation of Governor Boggs and the authorities in Missouri, who had taken part in the extermination, and said that any people that would do as the mobs of Missouri had done ought to be brought to judgment; they ought to be punished.

"President Smith, in concluding his remarks, said that if the Government, which receives into its coffers the money of citizens for its public lands, while its officials are rolling in luxury at the expense of its public treasury, cannot protect such citizens in their lives and property, it is an old granny anyhow; and I prophesy in the name of the Lord God of Israel, unless the United States redress the wrongs committed upon the Saints in the State of Missouri and punish the crimes committed by her officers, that in a few years the Government will be utterly overthrown and wasted, and there will not be so much as a potsherd left, for their wickedness in permitting the murder of men, women, and children, and the wholesale plunder and extermination of thousands of her citizens to go unpunished, thereby perpetrating a foul and corroding blot upon the fair fame of this great republic, the very thought of which would have caused the high-minded and patriotic framers of the Constitution of the United States to hide their faces with shame. Judge, you will aspire to the Presidency of the United States; and if you ever turn your hand against me or the Latter-day Saints, you will feel the weight of the hand of the Almighty upon you; and you will live to see and know that I have testified the truth to you; for the conversation of this day will stick to you through life. He appeared very friendly, and acknowledged the truth and propriety of President Smith's remarks."

This prophecy was first published in Utah, in the Deseret News of September 24th, 1856; it was afterwards published in England, in the Millennial Star, February, 1859.[1] In both instances it is found in the History of Joseph Smith, then being published in sections in those periodicals. Stephen A. Douglas did aspire to the Presidency of the United States, and was nominated for that office by the Democratic Convention, held in Charleston, on the 23rd of June, 1860. When in the convention he was declared the regular nominee of the Democratic Party, "The whole body rose to its feet, hats were waved in the air, and many tossed aloft; shouts, screams, and yells, and every boisterous mode of expressing approbation and unanimity, were resorted to."[2]

When Mr. Douglas aspired to the Presidency, no man in the history of American politics had more reason to hope for success. The political party of which he was the recognized leader, in the preceding Presidential election had polled 174 electoral votes as against 122 cast by the other two parties which opposed it; and a popular vote of 1,838,169 as against 1,215,798 votes for the two parties opposing. It is a matter of history, however, that the Democratic party in the election of 1860 was badly divided; and factions of it put candidates into the field with the following result: Mr. Abraham Lincoln, candidate of the Republican party, was triumphantly elected. He received 180 electoral votes; Mr. Breckinridge received 72 electoral votes; Mr. Bell 39; and Mr. Douglas 12. "By a plurality count of the popular vote, Mr. Lincoln carried 18 states; Mr. Breckinridge 11; Mr. Bell 3; and Mr. Douglas but I!"[3] Twenty days less than one year after his nomination by the Charleston convention, while yet in the prime of manhood—forty-eight years of age—Mr. Douglas died, at his home in Chicago, a disappointed, not to say heartbroken, man.

Let us now search out the cause of his failure. Fourteen years after the interview containing the prophecy with which this chapter opens, and about one year after the prophecy had been published in the Deseret News, Mr. Douglas was called upon to deliver a speech in Springfield, the capital of Illinois. His speech was delivered on the 12th of June, 1857, and published in the Missouri Republican of June 18th, 1857. It was a time of much excitement throughout the country concerning the Mormon Church in Utah. Falsehoods upon the posting winds seemed to have filled the air with the most outrageous calumny. Crimes the most repulsive—murders, robberies, rebellion, and high treason—were falsely charged against its leaders. It was well known that Mr. Douglas had been on terms of intimate friendship with the Prophet Joseph Smith; and was well acquainted with the other church leaders. He was therefore looked upon as one competent to speak upon the "Mormon Question," and was invited to do so in the speech to which reference is here made. Mr. Douglas responded to the request. He grouped the charges against the Mormons which were then passing current, in the following manner:

"First, that nine-tenths of the inhabitants are aliens by birth who have refused to become naturalized, or to take the oath of allegiance, or do any other act recognizing the Government of the United States as the paramount authority in that territory [Utah];

"Second, that the inhabitants, whether native or alien born, known as Mormons (and they constitute the whole people of the territory) are bound by horrible oaths, and terrible penalties, to recognize and maintain the authority of Brigham Young, and the government of which he is head, as paramount to that of the United States, in civil as well as in religious affairs; and they will in due time, and under the direction of their leaders, use all the means in their power to subvert the government of the United States, and resist its authority.

"Third, that the Mormon government, with Brigham Young at its head, is now forming alliances with Indian tribes in Utah and adjoining territories—stimulating the Indians to acts of hostility—and organizing bands of his own followers under the name of Danites or destroying angels, to prosecute a system of robbery and murders upon American citizens who support the authority of the United States, and denounce the infamous and disgusting practices and institution of the Mormon government."

Mr. Douglas based his remarks upon these rumors against the Saints, in the course of which he said: "Let us have these facts in an official shape before the President and Congress, and the country will soon learn that, in the performance of the high and solemn duty devolving upon the executive and Congress, there will be no vacillating or hesitating policy. It will be as prompt as the peal that follows the flash—as stern and unyielding as death. Should such a state of things actually exist as we are led to infer from the reports—and such information comes in an official shape—the knife must be applied to this pestiferous, disgusting cancer which is gnawing into the very vitals of the body politic. It must be cut out by the roots, and seared over by the red hot iron of stern and unflinching law. * * * Should all efforts fail to bring them [the Mormons] to a sense of their duty, there is but one remedy left. Repeal the organic law of the territory, on the ground that they are alien enemies and outlaws, unfit to be citizens of a territory, much less ever to become citizens of one of the free and independent states of this confederacy. To protect them further in their treasonable, disgusting and bestial practices would be a disgrace to the country—a disgrace to humanity—a disgrace to civilization, and a disgrace to the spirit of the age. Blot it out of the organized territories of the United States. What then? It will be regulated by the law of 1790, which has exclusive and sole jurisdiction over all the territory not incorporated under any organic or special law. By the provisions of this law, all crimes and misdemeanors, committed on its soil, can be tried before the legal authorities of any state or territory to which the offenders shall be first brought to trial, and punished. Under that law persons have been arrested in Kansas, Nebraska and other territories, prior to their organization as territories, and hanged for their crimes. The law of 1790 has sole and exclusive jurisdiction where no other law of a local character exists, and by repealing the organic law of Utah, you give to the general government of the United States the whole and sole jurisdiction over the territory."

The speech of Mr. Douglas was of great interest and importance to the people of Utah at that juncture. Mr. Douglas had it in his power to do them great good. Because of his personal acquaintance with Joseph Smith and the great body of the Mormon people then in Utah, as well as their leaders (for he had known both leaders and people in Illinois, and those whom he had known in Illinois constituted the great bulk of the people in Utah, when he delivered that Springfield speech), he knew that the reports carried to the East by vicious and corrupt men were not true. He knew that these reports in the main were but a rehash of the old exploded charges made against Joseph Smith and his followers in Missouri; and he knew them to be false by many evidences furnished him by Joseph Smith in the interview of the 18th of May, 1843, and by the Mormon people at sundry times during his association with them at Nauvoo. He had an opportunity to befriend the innocent; to refute the calumny cast upon a virtuous community; to speak a word in behalf of the oppressed; but the demagogue triumphed over the statesman, the politician, over the humanitarian; and to avoid the popular censure which he feared befriending the Mormon people would bring to him, he turned his hand against them with the result that he did not destroy them but sealed his own doom—in fulfillment of the words of the prophet, he felt the weight of the hand of the Almighty upon him.

It was impossible for any merely human sagacity to foresee the events predicted in this prophecy. Stephen A. Douglas was a bright but comparatively an unknown man at the time of the interview, in May, 1843. There is and can be no question about the prophecy preceding the event. It was published as before stated in the Deseret News of the 24th of September, 1856, about one year before the Douglas speech at Springfield, in June, 1857; and about four years before Douglas was nominated for the Presidency by the Charleston Democratic Convention.

Moreover, a lengthy review of Mr. Douglas' speech was published in the editorial columns of the Deseret News in the issue of that paper for September 2nd, 1857, of which the following is the closing paragraph addressed directly to Mr. Douglas: "In your last paragraph [of the Springfield speech] you say, 'I have thus presented to you plainly and fairly my views of the Utah question;' with at least equal plainness and with far more fairness have your views now been commented upon. And inasmuch as you were well acquainted with Joseph Smith, and this people, also with the character of our maligners, and did know their allegations were false, but must bark with the dogs who were snapping at our heels, to let them know that you were a dog with them; and also that you may have a testimony of the truth of the assertion that you did know Joseph and his people and the character of their enemies (and neither class have changed, only as the Saints have grown better and their enemies worse); and also that you may thoroughly understand that you have voluntarily, knowingly, and of choice sealed your damnation, and by your own chosen course have closed your chance for the Presidential chair, through disobeying the counsel of Joseph which you formerly sought and prospered by following, and that you in common with us, may testify to all the world that Joseph was a true prophet, the following extract from the History of Joseph Smith is again printed for your benefit, and is kindly recommended to your careful perusal and most candid consideration." Then follows the interview between Joseph Smith and Mr. Douglas as recorded in the Journal of William Clayton, as published in the News a year before Mr. Douglas' Springfield speech, and as now quoted at the beginning of this chapter.

This was boldly accepting the challenge of Mr. Douglas. He raised his hand against the followers of Joseph Smith despite the warning of the prophet, and they, in the chief organ of the church, reproduced the prophecy and told him that he had sealed his damnation and closed his chance for the Presidential chair through disobeying the counsel of the prophet. The presidential election of 1860 and the death of Mr. Douglas in the prime of life the year following tells the rest.[4]

It would be mere conjecture, of course, to say what the result would have been had Stephen A. Douglas been true to the Saints—the people of his friend Joseph Smith. But certainly had he been elected in 1860 the Southern States would have had no such excuse for their great movement of secession as they at least pretended to have in the election of Abraham Lincoln. And had Mr. Douglas in the event of his election followed the counsel given to the government and people of the United States by Joseph Smith in respect to the question of slavery, that evil might have been abolished without the effusion of blood, and no place found in the history of the United States for that horrible conflict known as the American civil war.

The prophet's counsel here referred to in respect to slavery, was as follows: "Petition, also, ye goodly inhabitants of the slave states, your legislators to abolish slavery by the year 1850, or now, and save the abolitionists from reproach and ruin, and infamy and shame. Pray congress to pay every man a reasonable price for his slaves out of the surplus revenue arising from the sale of the public lands, and from the deduction of pay from the members of congress. Break off the shackles from the poor black man, and hire him to labor like other human beings; for an hour of virtuous liberty is worth a whole eternity of bondage."[5]

The document from which this counsel is quoted was published in February, 1844. Eleven years later, namely, in 1855, Mr. Ralph Waldo Emerson declared that the question of slavery should be met in accordance "with the interests of the South, and with the settled conscience of the North." "It is not really a great task," said this eminent writer, "a great feat for this country to accomplish, to buy that property of the planter as the British nation bought the West Indian slaves." He also predicted that "the United States will be brought to give every inch of their public lands for a purpose like this." This plan suggested by Mr. Emerson in 1855, brought to him no end of praise as a sage philosopher and wise humanitarian. But what of Joseph Smith, whose suggestion preceded that of Mr. Emerson by eleven years? Let another—Josiah Quincy—answer:

"We who can look back upon the terrible cost of the fratricidal war which put an end to slavery, now say that such a solution of the difficulty would have been worthy a Christian statesman. But if the retired scholar [referring to Emerson] was in advance of his time when he advocated this disposition of the public property in 1855, what shall I say of the political and religious leader [referring to Joseph Smith] who had committed himself in print, as well as in conversation, to the same course in 1844? If the atmosphere of men's opinions was stirred by such a proposition when war clouds were discernable in the sky, was it not a statesman-like word eleven years earlier when the heavens looked tranquil and beneficent?"[6]

By indulging in these reflections based upon the supposition of the success of Stephen A. Douglas in the election of 1860, I have wandered from the line of direct argument. I have nothing further to do with the career of Mr. Douglas than to point out in it the remarkable fulfillment of a prophecy which demonstrates the divine inspiration of the man who uttered it.

Footnotes

1. Mill. Star, Vol. xxi, No. 9.

2. See Cooper's American Politics, Bk. I, p. 86.

3. See tables in "American Politics," Bk. vii, pp. 22, 26; also, History U. S. (by Alexander H. Stephens), p. 559.

4. Shortly after the result of the election of 1860 was known in Utah, Elder Orson Hyde, one of the Twelve Apostles, then residing in Sanpete County, Utah, wrote to the Deseret News the following letter:

"Ephraim, Utah Ter., Nov. 27, 1860.

"Will the Judge now acknowledge that Joseph Smith was a true prophet? If he will not, does he recollect a certain conversation had with Mr. Smith at the house of Sheriff Backenstos, in Carthage, Illinois, in the year 1843, in which Mr. Smith said to him: 'You will yet aspire to the Presidency of the United States. But if you ever raise your hand or your voice against the Latter-day Saints, you shall never be President of the United States.'

"Does Judge Douglas recollect that in a public speech delivered by him in the year 1857, at Springfield, Illinois, of comparing the Mormon community, then constituting the inhabitants of Utah Territory, to a 'loathsome ulcer on the body politic,' and of recommending the knife to be applied to cut it out?

"Among other things, the Judge will doubtless recollect that I was present and heard the conversation between him and Joseph Smith at Mr. Backenstos' residence in Carthage, before alluded to.

"Now, Judge, what do you think about Joseph Smith and Mormonism?

"ORSON HYDE."

5. Joseph Smith's "Views of the Powers and Policy of the Government of the United States," Mill. Star, Vol. XXII, p. 743.

6. "Figures of the Past—Joseph Smith at Nauvoo," p. 398.

CHAPTER XXIII.

THE EVIDENCE OF PROPHECY—CONCLUDED.

On the 25th of December, 1832, the following revelation and prophecy in relation to the great American civil war, and war among all nations, was given through Joseph Smith:

"Verily, thus saith the Lord, concerning the wars that will shortly come to pass, beginning at the rebellion of South Carolina, which will eventually terminate in the death and misery of many souls.

"The days will come that war will be poured out upon all nations, beginning at that place.

"For behold, the Southern States shall be divided against the Northern States, and the Southern States will call on other nations, even the nation of Great Britain, as it is called, and they shall also call upon other nations, in order to defend themselves against other nations; and thus war shall be poured out upon all nations.

"And it shall come to pass, after many days, slaves shall rise up against their masters, who shall be marshalled and disciplined for war: and it shall come to pass also, that the remnants who are left of the land will marshal themselves and shall become exceeding angry, and shall vex the Gentiles with a sore vexation;

"And thus, with the sword, and by bloodshed, the inhabitants of the earth shall mourn; and with famine and plague and earthquakes and the thunder of heaven, and the fierce and vivid lightning also, shall the inhabitants of the earth be made to feel the wrath, and indignation and chastening hand of an Almighty God, until the consumption decreed hath made a full end of all nations;

"That the cry of the Saints, and of the blood of the Saints, shall cease to come up into the ears of the Lord of sabaoth, from the earth, to be avenged of their enemies.

"Wherefore, stand ye in holy places, and be not moved, until the day of the Lord come; for behold it cometh quickly, saith the Lord. Amen."

As stated this revelation and prophecy was given in December, 1832; the elders carried manuscript copies of it with them in their missionary journeys, and frequently read it to their congregations in various parts of the United States. In Vol. XIII of the Millennial Star, published in 1851, pp. 216 and 217, is an advertisement of a new church publication to be called the Pearl of Great Price. In the announced contents is named this revelation of December, 1832, with a statement, that it had "never before appeared in print." Subsequently, but in the same year, the Pearl of Great Price with this prophecy in it, was published by Franklin D. Richards, in Liverpool, England. There are copies of the first edition still extant.[1]

I am careful to make these statements that the reader may have ample assurance that the revelation and prophecy preceded the event of the great Civil War. The revelation containing the prophecy was given on the 25th of December, 1832. The first shot fired in the great American Civil War was fired early on the morning of April 12th, 1861. Hence the prediction preceded the commencement of its fulfillment by twenty-eight years, three months and seventeen days. Ten years before the war began, the prophecy was published in England and circulated both in that country and in the United States. There can be no question, therefore, as to the prophecy preceding the event.

Let us inquire if the events predicted were of a nature that they could not be foreseen and hence foretold by human judgment, unaided by divine inspiration. The prophecy predicts,

First, that the war would begin with the rebellion of South Carolina.

Second, that it would terminate in the death and misery of many souls.

Third, that the Southern States would be divided against the Northern States.

Fourth, that the Southern States would call upon other nations for assistance, even upon the nation of Great Britain.

Fifth, that Great Britain would call upon other nations for assistance, and thus war would eventually be poured out upon all nations.

I submit that this is an enumeration of events twenty-eight years in the future altogether too definite for human wisdom, unassisted by divine inspiration, to give. Profane history has nothing like it. To find a parallel to it, recourse must be had to the history of the Jewish prophets. It is true there was considerable agitation about the time of the prophecy on the question known in American politics as "States' rights." In 1830 had occurred the great Senate debate on that subject between Robert Y. Hayne, of South Carolina, and Daniel Webster, of Massachusetts. On that occasion the champion from South Carolina advocated the doctrine known as "nullification." The discussion had its origin in an effort to repeal the protective tariff laws of 1828, which South Carolina, with several other States, regarded as unconstitutional because the laws were based upon the principle of federal protection to local interests in the several States, to the injury of the general interests of the country. But South Carolina also held, which the other states did not, "that it was within the reserved rights of the states to have the question of constitutionality on this subject rightfully determined by the judiciary of the states severally, each for itself, instead of exclusively by the federal judiciary."[2]

The question again approached the acute stage in 1832, when the sovereign convention of the people of South Carolina was called which adopted what was known as the "Nullification Ordinance." The leading features of this were (1) a declaration that the tariff act of 1832, being based upon the principle of protection to manufacturers, and not with the view to raising revenue, was unconstitutional and therefore null and void; (2) a provision for testing the constitutionality of this act before the courts of the state; (3) that in case the measures thus adopted for the purpose stated should be forcibly resisted by the federal authorities, then the State of South Carolina was declared to be no longer a member of the Federal Union. The last measure was to take effect on the 12th of February, 1833, if before that time the principle of levying duties upon imports, not with a view to revenue, but for the protection of domestic manufactures, should not be abandoned by the congress of the states.[3]

But notwithstanding these hostile demonstrations on the part of South Carolina, there was really no very great danger to the Union at that time. Andrew Jackson, a man of great determination of character, and patriotically devoted to the Union, was president; and his political principles ran parallel with his devotion. He issued a proclamation in which he urged South Carolina not to persist in the enforcement of her ordinance as it would necessarily bring the federal and state authorities in conflict, and if the citizens of South Carolina took up arms against the United States they would be guilty of treason. "The ordinance," said he, "is founded not on the indefeasible right of resisting acts which are plainly unconstitutional, and too oppressive to be endured; but on the strange position that any one state may not only declare an act of congress void but prohibit its execution, and that they may do this consistently with the constitution; that the true construction of that instrument permits a state to retain its place in the Union, and yet be bound by no other of its laws than those it may choose to consider constitutional."[4]

It was in December, 1832, the same month in which the revelation and prophecy under consideration was given, that this issue between South Carolina and the Federal government about reached its climax. It is important to observe that these questions of nullification and a state's right to secede from the Union were sharply agitated in December, 1832, because it gives direct testimony of the original date of the prophecy. That is, it is clear from the facts of history that the question in 1832 was before the nation; and very naturally the prophet inquired of the Lord concerning it, with the result that he receive the revelation now under consideration.

That the prophet did make inquiry of the Lord concerning this subject is evident from a direct statement of his to that effect. Preaching at Ramus, Illinois, on the 2nd of April, 1843, the prophet in the course of his remarks said: "I prophesy, in the name of the Lord God, that the commencement of the difficulties which will cause much bloodshed previous to the coming of the Son of Man will be in South Carolina. It may probably arise through the slave question. This a voice declared to me, while I was praying earnestly on the subject, December 25th, 1832."[5]

No American statesman in 1832 believed that the doctrines of secession then talked of would result in a great civil war. None of them had the foresight to see that a great rebellion would occur, beginning in South Carolina; that it would terminate in the death and misery of many souls; that the Southern States would be divided against the Northern States; that the Southern States would call on Great Britain, and that war would eventually be poured out upon all nations. No one, I say, foresaw that this would be the result save only that inspired youth—then but twenty-seven years of age—Joseph Smith, and he saw it only by the spirit of prophecy and revelation. To be required to believe that the prophecy was merely the fortunate conjecture of a more than ordinarily astute mind, requires a greater amount of credulity than to concede the inspiration of the prophet; and then the question would still remain, why is it that sagacious minds in other generations have not paralleled this astuteness of Joseph Smith's? Why did not some of the brilliant minds in the Senate or House of Representatives in 1832 make such a prediction? There was no dearth of brilliant minds in either Senate or House at that time, yet none seemed equal to the task.

But was the prophecy fulfilled? Did the great Civil War begin with the rebellion of South Carolina? Let history answer.

I. South Carolina took the initiative in the great rebellion. Deeming her interests threatened, and the institution of slavery doomed if Abraham Lincoln was elected; on November 5th, 1860, her legislature met to choose presidential electors, and Governor William H. Gist in his message to that legislature recommended that in the event of Abraham Lincoln's election to the presidency, a convention of the people of the state be immediately called to consider and determine for themselves the mode and measure of redress. He expressed the opinion that the only alternative left in the event of Lincoln's election was "the secession of South Carolina from the Federal Union."[6]

On the 10th of November, 1860, the United States Senators from South Carolina, James N. Hammond and James Chestnut, Jr., resigned their seats, being the first of the senators to take that step.[7]

On the 17th of November, 1860, an ordinance of secession was unanimously adopted by the Legislature of South Carolina, the first act of the kind by any of the states.[8]

On the 24th of November, 1860, South Carolina's Representatives in Congress withdrew; they were the first representatives to do so.[9]

Members to a state convention for the purpose of considering the method and measure of redress in the event to Abraham Lincoln's election, were elected on the 3rd of December, 1860; the convention was assembled in Charleston.[10]

On the 20th of December, 1860, the convention passed the ordinance of secession and Governor Pickins—just elected—announced on the same date the repeal, by the good people of South Carolina, the ordinance of May 23rd, 1788, by which South Carolina had ratified the Federal Constitution, and declared "the dissolution of the union between the state of South Carolina and the other states under the name of the United States." The governor's proclamation also announced to the world "that the state of South Carolina is, as she has a right to be, a separate, sovereign, free and independent state and, as such, has a right to levy war, conclude peace, negotiate treaties, leagues, or covenants, and to do all acts whatsoever that rightly pertain to a free and independent state. Done in the eighty-fifth year of the sovereignty and independence of South Carolina."[11]

Following is the complete Ordinance passed by the Convention, as it appeared in the Charleston Mercury Extra for that date, the original of which the following is a copy is in the Libby Prison Museum, of Chicago:

PASSED UNANIMOUSLY AT 1:15 P. M., DECEMBER 20TH, 1860.

"An ordinance to dissolve the union between the States of South Carolina and other States united with her under the compact entitled 'The Constitution of the United States of America.'

"We, the people of the State of South Carolina, in convention assembled, do declare and ordain, and it is hereby declared and ordained, 'That the ordinance adopted by us on the 23rd of May, A. D. 1788, whereby the Constitution of the United States of America was ratified, and also all acts and parts of acts of the General Assembly of this State ratifying amendments of the said Constitution are hereby repealed, and the union now subsisting between South Carolina and other States, under the name of 'The United States of America' is hereby dissolved."

The act of rebellion on the part of South Carolina was completed. She was the first state to take the several steps here enumerated leading up to that culmination. She was followed in the act of rebellion by ten other Southern States, as follows—I take the date on which the state conventions passed their secession ordinances to be the date on which the rebellion of the respective states was completed:

Mississippi, January 9th, 1861; Florida, January 10th; Alabama, January 11th; Georgia, January 19th; Louisiana, January 26th; Texas, February 1st; Virginia, April 17th; Arkansas, May 6th; North Carolina, May 20th; Tennessee, June 8th, all of the same year, 1861.[12]

Having proven that the Great Rebellion began with the rebellion of South Carolina, I wish now to show that the war itself actually began there.

The states which seceded from the union in the last months of Mr. Buchanan's administration, quietly took possession of all the forts within their respective limits, except Fort Sumter, in Charleston Harbor, and Fort Pickens, at Pensacola, Florida; and transferred them to the Confederate States. After the Southern States united into a confederacy, that government "appointed a commission consisting of Mr. John Forsyth, of Alabama, Mr. Martin J. Crawford, of Georgia, and Mr. A. B. Roman, of Louisiana, to open negotiations for the settlement of all matters of joint property, forts, arsenals, arms, or property of any other kind within the limits of the Confederate States, and all joint liabilities with their former associates, upon the principles of right, justice, equity and good faith."[13] Separate states previous to this action of the confederate states had sent commissioners to accomplish the same purpose; but of course these gave place to the commission from the general government of the confederacy.

During an attempt of this commission to obtain official recognition from the administration at Washington, active preparations for war were going on at the New York navy yard. Early in April a squadron of seven ships, carrying two thousand four hundred men, and two hundred and eighty-five guns put to sea from New York and Norfolk navy yards, under sealed orders. The design of the enterprise was to re-provision and re-enforce Fort Sumpter, which at the time was held by Major Anderson, with a small garrison of men very ill provisioned for a siege.

On the 8th of April Washington authorities, ignoring the commission in Washington from the Confederate States, sent word to Governor Pickens of South Carolina of a change in the attitude of the general government in regard to unofficial assurances given respecting the withdrawal of Federal forces from Fort Sumter, and declaring the intention of the government to re-provision and re-enforce the garrison there, "peaceably if permitted; otherwise, by force."[14]

At the time General Gustave T. Beauregard was at Charleston, with six thousand Confederate volunteer troops, for the purpose of defending the city. Governor Pickens informed him of the notice he had received from the authorities at Washington; and General Beauregard immediately telegraphed the information to the Confederate authorities at Montgomery. The reply received by General Beauregard was that, "if he had no doubt of the authenticity of the notice of the intention of the Washington government to supply Fort Sumter by force, to demand at once its evacuation; and if this should be refused, to proceed to reduce it."[15]

On April the 11th the demand for its evacuation was made. Major Anderson refused to comply with the demand, and at 4:30, on the morning of the 12th of April, 1861, General Beauregard opened fire on the fort, to which the guns of the fort promptly replied. The bombardment lasted thirty-two hours; and then Major Anderson capitulated, though the fleet from the north was within view during the bombardment. "This was the beginning of a war between the states of the Federal Union, which has been truly characterized as 'one of the most tremendous conflicts on record.' The din of its clangor reached the remotest part of the earth and the people of all nations looked on, for four years and upwards, in wonder and amazement, as its gigantic proportions loomed forth, and its hideous engines of destruction of human life and everything of human structure were terribly displayed in its sanguinary progress and grievous duration."[16] It began where the Prophet Joseph twenty-eight years before said it would commence—with the rebellion of South Carolina.

II. This war, beginning with the rebellion of South Carolina, did terminate in the death and misery of many souls. Though it is notorious that it did so, let us consider the history of it somewhat in detail. Mr. Alexander H Stephens, in concluding the chapter he devotes to the Civil War, in his history of the United States, says: "The Federal records show that they had, from first to last, 2,600,000 men in the service; while the Confederates all told, and in like manner, had but little over 600,000. * * * Of Federal prisoners during the war, the Confederates took in round numbers 270,000; while the whole number of Confederates captured and held in prisons by the Federals was in like round numbers 220,000. * * * Of the 270,000 Federal prisoners taken, 22,576 died in Confederate hands; and of the 220,000 Confederates taken by Federals, 26,436 died in their hands. * * * The entire loss on both sides, including those who were permanently disabled, as well as those killed in battle, and who died from wounds received and diseases contracted in the service, amounted, upon a reasonable estimate, to the stupendous aggregate of 1,000,000 of men."[17]

In 1887, the Cincinnatti Commercial Gazette published the following interesting compilation of statistics in relation to the number that fell in the Civil War on the side of the Federal armies:

"Official returns show that about 2,653,000 soldiers enlisted during the war in response to the successive calls of President Lincoln, and of that number 186,097 were colored troops. Reports show that the Northern and Southern armies met in over two thousand skirmishes and battles. In 148 of these conflicts the loss on the Federal side was over 500 men, and in at least ten battles over 10,000 men were reported lost on each side. The appended table shows that the combined losses of the Federal and Confederate forces in killed, wounded, and missing in the following engagements were: Shiloh, 24,000; Antietam, 18,000; Stone River, 22,000; Chickamauga, 33,000; McClellan's Peninsula campaign, 50,000; Grant's Peninsula campaign, 140,000; and Sherman's campaign, 80,000.

"Official statistics show that of the 2,653,000 men enlisted, there were killed in battle 44,238; died of wounds, 49,205; died of disease, 186,216; died of unknown causes, 24,184; total 303,843. This includes only those whose death while in the army had been actually proved. To this number should be added first 26,000 men who are known to have died while in the hands of the enemy as prisoners of war, and many others in the same manner whose deaths are unrecorded; second, a fair percentage of the 205,794 men who are put down on the official reports as deserters and missing in action, for those who participated in the war know that men frequently disappear who, it was certain, had not deserted, yet could not be otherwise officially accounted for; third, thousands who are buried in private cemeteries all over the north, who died while at home on furlough.

"The dead are buried in 73 national cemeteries, of which only twelve are in the Northern States. Amongst the principal ones in the North are Cypress Hill, with its 3,786 dead; Finns Point, N. J., which contains the remains of 2,644 unknown dead; Gettysburg, Pa., with 1,967 known and 1,608 unknown dead; Mound City, Ill., with 2,505 known and 2,721 unknown graves; Philadelphia, with 1,909 dead; and Woodlawn, Elmira, N. Y., with its 3,900 dead. In the South, near the scenes of the terrible conflicts, are located the largest depositories of the slain: Arlington, Va., 16,264, of which 4,319 are unknown; Beaufort, S. C., 9,241, of which 4,493 are unknown; Chalmettee, La., 12,511, of which 5,674 are unknown; Chattanooga, Tenn., 12,972, of which 4,963 are unknown; Fredricksurg, Va., 15,257, of which 12,770 are unknown; Jefferson Barracks, Mo., 11,290, of which 2,900 are unknown; Little Rock, Ark., 5,602, of which 2,337 are unknown; City Point, Va., 5,122, of which 1,374 are unknown; Marietta, Ga., 10,151, of which 2,963 are unknown; Memphis, Tenn., 13,997, of which 8,817 are unknown; Nashville, Tenn., 16,526, of which 4,700 are unknown; Poplar Grove, Va., 6,190, of which 4,001 are unknown; Richmond, Va., 6,542, of which 5,700 are unknown; Salisbury, N. C., 12,126 of which 12,032 are unknown; Stone River, Tenn., 5,602 of which 288 are unknown; Vicksburg, Miss., 16,600 of which 12,704 are unknown; Antietam, Va. 4,671 of which 1,818 are unknown; Winchester, Va., 4,559 of which 2,365 are unknown. In all, the remains of 300,000 men who fought for the stars and stripes find guarded graves in our national cemeteries. Two cemeteries are mainly devoted to the men who perished in the prisons of the same name—Andersonville, Ga., which contains 13,714 graves, and Salisbury, with its 12,126 dead, among which 12,032 are unknown."

If to the 303,843 given above as the total number of union troops whose death while in the army was actually proved, be added, as the Gazette suggests, first, 26,000[18] men who are known to have died while in the hands of the enemy as prisoners of war; second, many others whose death was not recorded; third, a fair percentage of the 205,794 put down on the official reports as deserters and missing in action; and then add to this all who were killed in the Confederate army, all Confederates who died in prisons through wounds and diseases contracted in the service, it will be seen that the estimate of Mr. Stephens, namely, that one million of men perished in the Great Rebellion, would not be considered exaggerated. Indeed the same estimate is made by nearly all writers upon the subject. Thus Lossing: "The whole number of men called into service during the war (on the Union side) was 2,628,523. Of these about 1,490,000 were in actual service. Of this number, nearly 60,000 were killed on the field, and about 35,000 were mortally wounded. Disease in camps and hospitals slew 184,000. It is estimated that 300,000 Union soldiers perished during the war. Fully that number of the Confederate soldiers perished, and the aggregate number of men including both armies, who were crippled or permanently disabled by disease was estimated at 400,000. The actual loss to the country, of able-bodied men, in consequence of the rebellion was fully 1,000,000."[19]

"Both sides, during the struggle, relied for means to support it upon the issue of paper money, and upon loans secured by bonds. An enormous public debt was thus created by each, and the aggregate of money thus expended on both sides, including the loss and sacrifice of property, could not have been less than 8,000,000,000 of dollars—a sum fully equal to three-fourths of the assessed valuation of the taxable property of all the states together when it commenced."[20]

To the terrible loss of life and property let there be added the consideration of the suffering of the wounded and the sick who languished in loathsome prisons; the sorrow of widows and orphans who looked in vain for the return of husbands and fathers, who marched in the fullness of manly strength to the war; the anguish of parents, whose dim eyes looked in vain for sons thrown into unknown graves; and the gentler yet equally tender sorrow of sisters which in the fierce war lost the companions of their childhood. Let all this, I say, be taken into account, and the fact that Joseph Smith was a prophet of the living God will be found written in characters of blood to this generation, and witnessed by the heartache and tears of millions!

III. The Southern States were divided against the Northern States. The fact is too well known to need affirming. There were eleven states in all whose legislatures passed secession ordinances. These were South Carolina, Mississippi, Florida, Alabama, Georgia, Louisiana, Texas, Virginia, Tennessee, Arkansas and North Carolina—all Southern States. In the first Confederate Congress members representing districts in Missouri and Kentucky were also admitted, though those states did not secede from the Union.[21]

IV. The Southern States did call upon other nations, and upon the nation of Great Britain in particular, for assistance. As early as May, 1861, the Confederacy sent commissioners abroad to seek recognition and aid from foreign powers. William L. Yancy, of Alabama; P. A. Rost, of Louisiana; A. Dudley Mann, of Virginia; and T. Butler King, of Georgia. Mr. Yancy was appointed to operate in England, Mr. Rost in France, and Mr. Mann in Holland and Belgium. Mr. King had a roving commission.[22] Subsequently, in October, 1861, the Confederacy appointed James M. Mason and John Slidell, ambassadors to England and France respectively, to solicit the assistance of the British and French governments in the Southern cause. The ambassadors took passage from Charleston to Cuba in a blockade runner. At the latter place they engaged passage to England on the British steam packet Trent. On the 8th of November, 1861, the Trent was overtaken by the Federal warship San Jacinto, Captain Wilkes commanding; and Messrs. Mason and Slidell were taken prisoners and carried to Boston Harbor where they were placed in Fort Warren. England promptly resented this violation of the rights of a neutral nation upon the high seas, and the United States as promptly disavowed the action of Captain Wilkes, made an humble apology, and as soon as might be restored Messrs. Mason and Slidell to a British deck, the Rinaldo, in which vessel the ambassadors were taken to England where they prosecuted their mission.

Though Messrs. Mason and Slidell did not succeed in securing the open assistance of Great Britain, yet it is well known that British sympathy was with the Confederate cause; and so far did this sympathy lead England to violate the law of nations that, against the protests of the United States Minister at the court of St. James, she allowed the war vessels Alabama and Florida built by Messrs. Laird & Co., shipbuilders, Liverpool, England, to put to sea. These vessels did immense damage to Northern States shipping. The Alabama alone captured sixty-five merchant vessels belonging to the United States; and destroyed some ten million dollars' worth of property. Finally the United States warship Kearsarge sunk her off the coast of France, near Cherbourg. This Alabama trouble led to ill feeling between England and the United States which was not finally settled until the 27th of June, 1872, when the Geneva Board of Arbitration decided that England should pay to the United States the sum of fifteen million five hundred thousand dollars, an amount really in excess of the demands of merchants and others claiming the loss of property through depredations of the Alabama.[23]

The evidence is surely sufficient that the Southern States did call upon the nation of Great Britain for assistance (and that is as far as the prophecy goes on this point), and England did give at least indirect aid and comfort to the Confederate cause, to the extent that she was found violating the law of nations so far that she paid a fine of $15,500,000 for her trespass.

Thus in all these important items the remarkable prophecy has been fulfilled. It now remains to call attention to the events it predicts which are still in the future. These are:

First, Great Britain is to call upon other nations for aid, and she with her allies thus formed, is to call on other nations in order to defend themselves against other nations, until war is poured out upon all nations.

Second, A great race war in America—slaves are to rise up against their masters who shall be marshalled and disciplined for war.[24]

Third, The aboriginal inhabitants of America—the Indians—will become exceeding angry, and marshalling themselves, will vex the Gentiles with a sore vexation.

Fourth, With sword and by bloodshed and finally with famine and plague, and earthquake; with the thunder of heaven and the fierce and vivid lightning—the inhabitants of the earth will mourn, and be made to feel the wrath and indignation and chastening hand of Almighty God, until the consumption decreed hath made a full end of all nations.

These several items yet to be fulfilled strengthen belief in the reality of the prophecy, for the reason that if the prophecy had originated in fraud, had it been written after the events it pretended to predict had taken place, the pseudo-prophet and his associates would not have dared in any respect to have ventured into the domain of the future. They would have clung exclusively to the past. But standing as we do now midway between what has been fulfilled of the prophecy and what is yet to come, we are made to feel the reality of the prophecy; and so much of it as the wheels of time have brought due having been fulfilled, gives ample assurance that the remainder will come to pass to the very letter.

If it shall be asked of what use is this prophecy about war, earthquakes, bloodshed, famine and general distress of mankind—what makes it worthy of inspiration—knowledge worthy of God to reveal and a prophet to proclaim—let it be answered that its value consists in this, that it is a warning to mankind, it cries repentance to the wicked, and gives all who will avail themselves of it an opportunity to make God their friend, escape the calamities predicted, and have the privilege of uniting with God's Saints who, in the closing sentence in the prophecy, are admonished to stand in holy places unmoved until the day of the Lord comes; and they are assured it will come quickly.

The evidence of prophecy is, in part, before the reader, all I design to introduce in this book;[25] and now I ask him to review it; considering first the importance attached to the peculiar power of prophecy as evidence of divine inspiration—how it is within itself a sort of miracle, as men understand miracles, and has ever been regarded as an evidence of the possession of a power peculiar to God and those whom he commissions. Second, remember how definitely proven is the fact that these prophecies preceded the events they fore ell. Third, that they so minutely describe the future events they predict that by no means can they be resolved into a fortunate conjecture of an uninspired mind. Fourth, that they treat of things that from their nature are of importance to man to know and therefore are worthy of inspiration. Fifth, that their remarkable fulfillment has been by agencies outside of the prophet himself.

Side by side with all these facts consider how fatal to Joseph Smith's claims as a divinely commissioned prophet of God would have been the failure of his prophecies! After all this is carefully considered, without prejudice and with a candid desire to know the truth, let each for himself answer these questions: Does not the fulfillment of the prophecies of Joseph Smith furnish a volume of testimony sufficient both as to quality and quantity to convince a reasonable mind that he was a divinely inspired prophet? If he was not a divinely inspired prophet, on what hypothesis shall we account for this remarkable list of predictions here set forth and their marvelous fulfillment?

Footnotes

1. The writer saw a copy in the Church Liverpool Office Library, in 1887, while acting as assistant editor of the Millennial Star. See Millennial Star, Vol. xlix: p. 396.

2. Stephens' History of the United States, p. 448.

3. Stephens' History of the United States, p. 451.

4. See Cooper's American Politics, Book I, p. 33.

5. Millennial Star, Vol. xx, p. 728.

6. Cooper's American Politics, Book I, p. 88.

7. Cooper's American Politics, Book I, p. 88.

8. Ibid.

9. Cooper's American Politics, p. 88.

10. Lossing's History of the United States, p. 546.

11. Cooper's American Politics, Book I, p. 88.

12. Lossing's History of the United States, p. 547, note 2.

13. Stephens' History of the United States, p. 604.

14. See War between the States, Vol. II, pp. 346-7, et seq.; also Appendix N. Stephens' Hist. United States. There the correspondence on the subject is given in extenso.

15. Stephens' History of the United States, p. 609.

16. Stephens' History of the United States, p. 610.

17. Stephens' History of the United States, p. 837-8. The figures of Mr. Stephens are sustained by the report of the Surgeon-General, U.S.A.; and also by Mr. Stanton's report for 1866. Mr. S. was Secretary of War.

18. It will be observed that there is a slight disagreement between Mr. Stephens and the Gazette Compilation in this item; the former putting the number of prisoners who died in Confederate hands at 22,576, the latter at 26,000.

19. Lossing's History of the United States, p. 723-4, note 3.

20. Stephens' History of the United States, p. 838.

21. Cooper's American Politics, Book I, p. 99.

22. Lossing's History of the United States, p. 559 and note I.

23. Cooper's American Politics, Bk. I, p. 197.

24. Many believe this part of the prophecy was fulfilled during the war of the Southern Rebellion, when many colored men formerly slaves were enlisted in the Union service. We have already seen that of the 2,653,000 soldiers enlisted in the Union army 186,397 were colored.

25. In a second volume in which the Book of Mormon will be the subject—the witness for God—the author will consider many prophecies contained in the Book of Mormon which will not only tend to prove the truth of that book but will also establish the inspiration and divine mission of the Prophet Joseph Smith.

CHAPTER XXIV.

THE CHURCH FOUNDED BY JOSEPH SMITH A MONUMENT TO HIS INSPIRATION.

The church founded by Joseph Smith is of itself a monument to the inspiration of the prophet. It embraces a scheme of ecclesiastical government so comprehensive, so effective in its administration, and at the same time so protects the members of the body religious from priestcraft, by which I mean here the oppression of ecclesiastical rulers, that none who become acquainted with its organization and the spirit of its administration can doubt that a deeper wisdom presided at its creation than that possessed by Joseph Smith uninspired of God. It must be borne in mind that the prophet during the development of the church organization was but a mere youth; unschooled in history, untaught, save by God, in the science of government; and I say that a man who had lived in the midst of such environments as those which surrounded Joseph Smith would be utterly incapable—if you deny to him divine inspiration—of bringing into existence such a system of government as that which obtains in the church he founded.

It will be said by some that he founded this church government on the pattern of that described in the New Testament, and thus attempt to dispose of his achievement. But the outlines of church government that may be traced in the New Testament are so faint that they can scarcely be defined, and have led the most learned of our Christian scholars to diverse conclusions. One sees in the New Testament authority for the Episcopal form of government; and a gradation in the orders of the ministry. Another sees in the New Testament authority for the conclusion that there is a perfect equality in the Christian ministry, no gradation of officers, but a government through synods, assemblies and councils of these officers of equal rank. And still a third finds in the same book authority for the idea that each congregation within itself constitutes an independent Christian church, subordinate to no other organization, self-governing, and only bound to other like societies by sympathy which springs from faith in a common doctrine and common aims. Such is the confusion into which the learned are thrown by considering alone the data that exists in the New Testament for a church government.

Although I have once before briefly sketched the organization of the church from such data as exists in the New Testament, I find it necessary again to go over the ground that we may see how meagre the materials are; and how utterly impossible it would be for Joseph Smith to frame such an organization as he established from such materials.

Jesus called twelve men whom he named apostles and conferred upon them divine authority, by which they were to preach the gospel, administer its ordinances and proclaim the kingdom of heaven at hand. He also called into existence quorums of seventies to aid them in this ministry, and conferred upon them like powers. These are the only church officers called into existence, so far as we are informed in the New Testament, previous to the crucifixion of Jesus. But after his resurrection from the dead, he was with his disciples forty days "speaking of the things pertaining to the kingdom of God."[1] It was during that interesting period of his association with his disciples that he doubtless gave those instructions by which their actions were governed in organizing churches after the gospel began to spread abroad.

Wherever people were found who accepted the gospel an organization was effected. In some instances elders[2] were appointed to preside over these organizations, and in other cases bishops were appointed, and were assisted in their labor by deacons.[3]

In his description of the organization of the church, which the apostle never pretended was complete, Paul in one instance enumerates among the offices first apostles, secondly prophets, thirdly teachers.[4] In another instance he enumerates apostles, prophets, evangelists, pastors and teachers.[5] The same writer holds that the whole organization constitutes but one body though consisting of many parts, that there is a relation of all the parts to the whole, and a sympathy which binds all together.[6] He enumerates the object of this organization to be, the perfecting of the saints, the work of the ministry, edifying the body of Christ, and to preserve the saints from being deceived by cunning men who lie in wait to deceive.[7]

There is also a hint at some kind of judicial authority in the church. Jesus himself said: "If thy brother shall trespass against thee, go and tell him his fault between him and thee alone: if he shall hear thee thou hast gained thy brother. But if he will not hear thee, take with thee one or two more, that in the mouth of two or three witnesses every word may be established. And if he shall neglect to hear them, tell it unto the church, but if he neglect to hear the church, let him be unto thee as a heathen man and a publican."[8] "Dare any of you," Paul asks the Corinthian saints, "having a matter against another, go to law before the unjust, and not before the saints?" "Do ye not know," he continues, "that the saints shall judge the world? And if the world shall be judged by you are ye unworthy to judge the smallest matters? * * * I speak to your shame. Is it so that there is not a wise man among you? No, not one that shall be able to judge between his brethren? But brother goeth to law with brother and that before the unbelievers."[9] I say this gives evidence of the existence in the church of some kind of ecclesiastical judiciary, but of the nature of it, the extent of its authority and mode of procedure we know nothing.

This is all that is written in the New Testament about church organization. The description is fragmentary and consequently imperfect; and the materials altogether too meagre and insufficient as will presently appear for the formation of such an elaborate system of church government as that brought into existence by Joseph Smith.

The church officers and church organization founded by Joseph Smith grew out of the Priesthood, which, as already stated, is the power of God delegated to man, by which man becomes an agent for God with authority to act in his name and for him. While there is of necessity a unity in this power, that is, all one power, yet in the exercise of its functions divisions are recognized. First a division into what is called respectively the Melchisedek and Aaronic Priesthood, the former of which is the greater and devoted more especially to spiritual things, while the latter has most to do with temporal concerns.

Within each of these divisions there are degrees of power or authority. Speaking of the Melchisedek Priesthood, one degree of it makes men elders, another high priests, another seventies, another patriarchs, another apostles. Speaking of the Aaronic Priesthood, one degree of it makes men deacons, another teachers, another priests, another bishops—the bishopric is the presidency of and embraces the fullness of this lesser Priesthood.

These respective degrees of Priesthood are limited to the performance of special duties or functions. While the deacon and teacher may teach and expound scripture, persuade and exhort men to come unto Christ, and the former may visit the homes of the members of the church, watch over them and see that there is no iniquity in the church, yet neither may baptize the people for the remission of sins nor administer the sacrament. While the priest may teach and expound doctrine, baptize and administer the sacrament and assist the elder in the performance of his duties, when necessity requires, yet he cannot lay on hands for imparting the Holy Ghost. So in the Melchisedek Priesthood. Each degree or order of it has its specific duties assigned to it, but the greater always includes the lesser and may on occasion officiate in all the offices below its own.

I now proceed to consider the organization of the church. First and highest of all officers stands the First Presidency, consisting of three Presiding High Priests. Their jurisdiction and authority are universal. Their jurisdiction extends over all the affairs of the church as well in temporal as in spiritual things; as well in the organized stakes of Zion as in the missions and branches of the church abroad. In that presidency are legislative, judicial and executive powers. That is to say, the President of the church is the mouthpiece of God to the church, and he alone receives the law from the Lord by revelation and announces the same to the people; virtually, then, this is the law-making power. From all high councils—the judicial courts of the church—except where the Twelve Apostles sit as a high council abroad—there lies an appeal to the First Presidency, which finally determines the matter and also defines the law of the church, hence here is judicial power. The proof that in the Presidency is executive power is seen in the fact of their universal presidency, and authority over all the affairs of the church.

The quorum of the Twelve Apostles are equal in power and authority to the First Presidency. The First Quorum of Seventies[10] are equal in authority to the quorum of the Twelve; and, of course, indirectly equal in authority to the First Presidency. But this is evidently in the main but an emergency provision, and though the power is there and may be used when occasion requires, yet for the most part it lies dormant. That is to say, the powers above described as belonging to the First Presidency, may only be exercised in full by the quorum of the Twelve Apostles in the event of the First Presidency becoming disorganized by death or from other causes; and by the Seventy, only in the event of the destruction or absence of the First Presidency and the Twelve. But these powers of the Presidency without diminution would be exercised by the quorum of the Twelve and the Seventy, should occasion arise for it; and the arrangement renders the church well nigh indestructible at its head. But, as already remarked, those are but emergency provisions, and it is my desire to set before the reader the beauty and harmony of the church organization when its councils are all in place.

The great powers enumerated, then, center in the First Presidency. On the right of the First Presidency may be said to be the Twelve Apostles, clothed with the authority to officiate in the name of the Lord, under the direction of the First Presidency to build up the church and regulate all the affairs of the same in all the world. Next to them stand the Seventies as their assistants in the great work assigned to them. To these two orders of the Priesthood more especially is assigned and upon them rests the responsibility of the foreign ministry of the church. They are witnesses for the Lord Jesus Christ in all the nations of the earth, and their special duty is that of preaching the gospel and regulating the affairs of the church abroad.

On the left of the First Presidency may be said to stand the high priests, to which order of Priesthood belongs the right of local Presidency in the church. From their ranks patriarchs, presidents of stakes, high councilors, and bishops and their counselors are chosen.[11]

Next to the high priests stand the elders, who are to assist them in the performance of their duties. These quorums of Priesthood constitute the standing ministry of the stakes of Zion, upon whom more especially devolve local presidency, and the duty of preaching the gospel within the stakes of Zion.

The presidency of the Aaronic Priesthood centers in the Presiding Bishopric of the church, which presides over all traveling and local bishops. The former are bishops appointed to preside over large districts of country and who travel from place to place therein, setting in order the temporal affairs of the church; the latter are bishops appointed to preside over regularly organized wards and whose jurisdiction is confined within such wards respectively.

To aid the bishops in the duties of their several bishoprics are the quorums of priests, teachers and deacons

The duty of the priests is to visit the homes of the Saints, to teach the people, to expound the scriptures, baptize believers and administer the sacrament. Forty-eight priests form a quorum of which the bishopric is the presidency.

The duty of teachers is to be the standing ministers in the respective wards where they reside, to ferret out iniquity in the church, and see that the members perform their duties. Twenty-four of them constitute a quorum, which is presided over by a president and two counselors chosen from the members.

The duty of the deacons is to assist the teacher, and they may also expound, teach, warn and invite all to come unto Christ. Twelve of them form a quorum, and from their number a president and two counselors are chosen to preside.

Before proceeding to a description of the judiciary system of the church it may be well to briefly explain the territorial division of it. A stake of Zion is a division of the church territorially that embraces several villages or towns or ecclesiastical wards. A stake is presided over by a presidency comprised of a president and two counselors, all of whom must be high priests. In each stake is a high council, composed of twelve high priests. The presidency of the stake is also president of the high council, which constitutes the highest judicial tribunal in the stake. The stakes are divided into ecclesiastical wards, presided over by a bishopric, assisted in its labors by the quorums of the lesser Priesthood as already explained.

The judicial powers of the church are vested in the ordinary bishop's court, the standing high councils of the stakes of Zion, temporary high councils of high priests abroad, the Traveling Presiding high council, which is also the quorum of Twelve Apostles, and a special court consisting of the presiding bishop of the chuch and twelve high priests—of which more is to be said presently—and finally in the Presidency of the church.

Church discipline requires that in case of difficulty between members, every effort shall be made by the parties aggrieved with each other to become reconciled. Failing in this they are required to call in others to bring about a reconciliation, but if through that means a settlement of the case is impossible the matter goes to the bishop's court on the complaint of the party aggrieved, and there the case is heard on testimony and a decision rendered. The bishop's court is the first or lowest court of the church, and the bishop is known as the common judge. In the event of the parties or either of them being dissatisfied with the decision of the bishop, an appeal lies to the high council of the stake, where a re-hearing is given to the case. The organization of the high council is worthy of consideration. It is composed of twelve high priests, presided over by the Presidency of the Stake.[12] The high council cannot act unless seven of its members are present; but seven have the power to call upon other high priests to act temporarily in the place of absent councilors. Whenever a high council is organized, the twelve members draw lots for their places. Those who draw the even numbers—two, four, six, eight, ten, twelve—are to stand in behalf of the accused; those drawing the odd numbers in behalf of the accuser. In every case the accused has a right to half the council, to prevent injury or injustice. The councilors who represent the accused and accuser respectively, do not become partisans bent on winning their case irrespective of its righteousness or justice; on the contrary every man is to speak according to equity and truth; and aside from that is merely to see that each party to the issue involved has justice accorded him and that he be not subjected to insult or injury.

Whenever the council convenes to act on any case, the twelve councilors are to consider whether it is very difficult or not. If it be not a difficult case, then only two of the councilors, one for the accused and accuser respectively, are appointed to speak. But if the case is accounted difficult, then four are appointed to speak; if still more difficult, six; but in no case are more than six to speak. In all cases the accuser and accused are to have the privilege of speaking for themselves, after the evidence is all in, and the councilors appointed to speak have all spoken. The evidence all in, the speakers for the accused and the accuser having spoken, as also the accused and the accuser, the president gives a decision according to the understanding that he has of the case and calls upon the twelve councilors to sustain it by vote. But should the councilors who have not spoken, or any one of them, discover an error in the decision of the president, they have the right to manifest it and the case has a re-hearing. If after a careful re-hearing, additional light is thrown upon the case, the decision is altered accordingly. But if no additional light is given the first decision stands unaltered. Such are the general outlines of the organization of a high council and the manner of procedure before it.

There are three kinds of high councils in the church. They are similar in organization, and the manner of procedure is practically the same before them all; but they differ in authority and jurisdiction.

I. The Traveling High Council. This council consists of the Twelve Apostles of Jesus Christ. They are a traveling, presiding high council; and, laboring under the direction of the First Presidency of the Church, they have the right to build up the church and regulate all the affairs of the same in all the world. Whenever they sit as a high council, there is no appeal from their decisions—that is, they can only be called in question by the general authorities of the church in the event of transgression.

II. The Standing High Councils at the Stakes of Zion. The church is divided into branches or wards with appropriate officers; and these branches, wards, and settlements of the Saints are grouped into stakes of Zion. In each stake there is a standing high council, limited in its jurisdiction to the affairs of that particular stake where it is located.

III. Temporary High Councils. The high priests abroad, that is, outside of the organized stakes of Zion, whenever the parties to a difficulty, or either of them demand it, and the high priests abroad deem the case of sufficient importance to justify such action, are authorized to organize a temporary high council to try the case. The council is to be organized after the pattern and proceed in the same manner as those at the stakes of Zion. If the decision of any high council—except that of the Traveling, Presiding High Council—is unsatisfactory, an appeal lies to the First Presidency, who take such steps in the case as wisdom and the Spirit of the Lord indicate. But whatever their decision is it is final.

The special court referred to a moment ago—consisting of the Presiding Bishop of the church and twelve high priests especially called for each occasion—I must not neglect to mention, for the reason that it exhibits the fact that no one in the church is so exalted but he is amenable to the laws and courts of the church, as well as the humblest member. This special court is called into existence for the purpose of trying the President of the High Priesthood, who is also the President of the church, if he should be found in transgression. It may investigate his conduct, subject him to the most rigid examination, and if the evidence showed him to be in transgression the court could condemn him and its action would be final, from its decisions he would have no appeal.[13]

Thus none, not even the highest, is beyond the operation of the laws and councils of the church. However great and exalted any single officer of the church may be, the church and its system of government is still greater and more exalted than he; for though the President of the church is God's mouthpiece—God's viceregent on earth—yet he may be tried and his conduct inquired into by this court to which I have called attention. Therefore if the time should ever come that the church should be so unfortunate as to be presided over by a man who transgressed the laws of God and became unrighteous (and that such a thing could be, and that the President of the church is not regarded as infallible is quite evident from the fact that provisions are made for his trial and condemnation); a means of deposing him without destroying the church, without revolution, or even disorder, is provided in the church system of government.[14]

Of course the only punishment which is within the power of the church to inflict if the decisions of its councils or courts are not respected, is to disfellowship or excommunicate such offenders. In the former case the transgressor is merely suspended from the privileges of church communion; this punishment may be inflicted by the bishop, until satisfaction is made. In the latter case—excommunication—the person absolutely loses his membership in the church, together with all the priesthood he holds; and if he ever regains a standing it must be by baptism and confirmation as at first. To those who hold lightly their standing in the church, suspension of fellowship, or excommunication has no especial terror; but to the man of faith, whose full hopes of eternal life with all its advantages stand or fall with his standing in the church of Christ, no greater punishment can threaten him. The punishment of excommunication is a serious one in the estimation of the faithful, and since man in his imperfect state is influenced to righteousness by his fear of punishment, as well as by his hope of reward, the punishment of excommunication has a wholesome effect in preserving the discipline of the church.

Such, in brief, is a description of the judiciary system of the church, and also of the church itself. And as one contemplates its completeness and its efficiency; the arrangements made for carrying on the work of God within the organized stakes of Zion and throughout the world—both at home and abroad—the wonder of it all grows upon him. And furthermore, a contemplation of the church judiciary system, the elaborate and yet inexpensive[15] arrangements made for dealing out even-handed justice to all, and making all, even the highest, amenable to its courts and its laws—gives intense meaning to the emphatic question of Paul—"Dare any of you having a matter against another, go to law before the unjust and not before the saints?" and also bears strong testimony to the deep wisdom that created it—a wisdom greater than that possessed by a youth reared in the rural districts of the state of New York!

"The formation of a free government on an extensive scale", remarks Lord Beaconsfield, "while it is assuredly one of the most interesting problems of humanity, is certainly the greatest achievement of human wit. Perhaps I should rather term it a superhuman achievement; for it requires such refined prudence, such comprehensive knowledge, and such perspicacious sagacity, united with such illimitable powers of combination, that it is nearly in vain to hope for qualities so rare to be congregated in a solitary mind." It is true that his lordship makes these remarks respecting a secular government, but I see no reason why such reflections do not apply as well to an ecclesiastical government, especially to that brought into existence by the life's labor of Joseph Smith; for it is both free and founded on an extensive scale, and presents all the difficulties that would be met in the creation of a secular government.

It still remains to describe the spirit of the church government. As in the New Testament we are able to trace the outlines of the church organization (the lines in places are dim, it is true, and in some places we miss them altogether, but however dim or broken we feel that they are nevertheless there), which Joseph Smith gives in full, every detail so complete; so, too, in the teachings of Jesus and some of the apostles, as recorded in the New Testament, we may feel the true spirit of Christ's church government. No clearer manifestation of what that spirit is can be found than is brought out in the incident where the mother of Zebedee's children brought her two sons to the Master, saying: "Grant that these my two sons may sit, the one on thy right hand, and the other on thy left, in thy kingdom." To this Jesus replied that it was not his prerogative to say who should sit on his right hand and who on his left, but "it shall be given to them for whom it is prepared of my Father."

The other apostles were indignant at this manifestation of ambition on the part of the sons of Zebedee and their mother. Whereupon "Jesus called them unto him and said: Ye know that the princes of the Gentiles exercise dominion over them, and they that are great exercise authority upon them. But it shall not be so among you: but whosoever will be great among you, let him be your minister; and whosoever will be chief among you, let him be your servant: even as the Son of Man came not to be ministered unto but to minister and to give his life a ransom for many."[16]

In line with this spirit Peter, about thirty years later, said: "Feed the flock of God which is among you, taking the oversight thereof, not by constraint, but willingly; not for filthy lucre but of a ready mind; neither as being lords over God's heritage, but being ensamples to the flock. And when the chief shepherd shall appear, ye shall receive a crown of glory that fadeth not away."[17]

Any church government that shall be established in the earth must of necessity reflect this spirit, or it will contradict the idea of its divine origin. How well the spirit of government in the church founded by Joseph Smith meets this requirement will be seen in the remarks I am about to make.

First of all let me say that this church organization I have described, while ordained of God, cannot subsist without the consent of the people. When the young prophet Joseph contemplated the great work of organizing the church of Christ, he received a commandment from the Lord to the effect that he must call his brethren together who had received the gospel, and obtain their sanction to such a proceeding.[18]

Accordingly at the time appointed, April 6th, 1830, when these brethren assembled, the question of organizing the church was submitted to them and they voted unanimously in favor of it. By a unanimous vote they also sustained Joseph Smith as the first and Oliver Cowdery as the second Elder in the church, and they proceeded to ordain each other accordingly. Thus in the very inception of the organization of the church, the Lord taught his servant that the organization he was about to bring forth recognized the right of the people to a voice in its affairs. The principle of common consent was to be a prominent factor in its government, as well as the voice of God. It is as true of ecclesiastical as it is of civil governments, that they derive their just powers from the consent of the governed. And hence it is a law of the church that "no person is to be ordained to any office in this church, where there is a regularly organized branch of the same, without the vote of that church."[19] And it is further provided that "all things shall be done by common consent in the church, by much prayer and faith."[20]

Not only was the consent of the people recognized as an important factor in establishing the church government, but it is also provided that it shall be often consulted by a frequent election of officers on the plan of popular acceptance. Twice annually at the general conferences of the church the general officers are presented to the people for acceptance. Four times a year at the quarterly conferences held in all the stakes of Zion both the general and stake officers of the church are presented to the people for their vote of confidence and support. Once every year ward conferences are held where a similar vote is taken in support of both local and general officers of the ward.

This voting is not a formality. There is virtue in it. No man can hold a position in the church longer than he can command the support of the members thereof; for when the people refuse to sustain a man by their votes, no power in the church can force him upon the people against their will.

Frequent elections are held to be the bulwarks of liberty in civil government; I see no reason why they should not be equally so in ecclesiastical government; and as in the one case they make the tyranny of secular rulers impossible, so in the other they disarm priests of the power to lord it over God's heritage, the church. If the frequent election of a parliament in Great Britain, and the frequent election of executive and legislative officers in the United States are held to be on the one hand a safeguard against the tyranny and injustice of those elected to manage the affairs of civil government for the people; and on the other hand they are esteemed equally as a safeguard against revolution, because full and frequent opportunity is afforded for correcting all abuses of power and effecting whatever reformation may be necessary in the laws—if, I say, these frequent elections in the government of the United States and Great Britain accomplish all this, how much more carefully are the liberties of the people guarded; how much more readily may a tendency to oppression be rebuked, and reformation without disorder be accomplished by the still greater frequency of elections in the church? Especially since those elections are not only more frequent than in the states named, but are also conducted without expense.

It is the law of the church that the decisions of the quorums of the priesthood are to be "made in all righteousness, in holiness, and lowliness of heart, meekness and long suffering, and in faith, and virtue, and knowledge, temperance, patience, godliness, brotherly kindness and charity; because the promise is if these things abound in them they shall not be unfruitful in the knowledge of the Lord."[21] There is nothing in this which justifies the exercise of arbitrary power or any improper authority over men.

In March, 1839, while the prophet was imprisoned in Liberty jail he wrote to the church for its instruction and comfort, and in the course of his letter in speaking of the priesthood and the exercise of its powers he remarks: "There are many called but few are chosen. And why are they not chosen? Because their hearts are set so much upon the things of this world, and aspire to the honors of men, that they do not learn this one lesson—That the rights of the priesthood are inseparably connected with the powers of heaven, and that the powers of heaven cannot be controlled nor handled only upon the principles of righteousness. That they may be conferred upon us," he continues, "it is true; but when we undertake to cover our sins, or to gratify our pride, our vain ambition, or to exercise control, or dominion, or compulsion, upon the souls of the children of men, in any degree of unrighteousness, behold the heavens withdraw themselves; the Spirit of the Lord is grieved; and when it is withdrawn, amen to the priesthood, or the authority of that man. Behold, ere he is aware, he is left unto himself, to kick against the pricks; to persecute the saints, and to fight against God. We have learned by sad experience, that it is the nature and disposition of almost all men, as soon as they get a little authority, as they suppose, they will immediately begin to exercise unrighteous dominion. Hence many are called, but few are chosen.

"No power or influence can or ought to be maintained by virtue of the priesthood, only by persuasion, by long suffering, by gentleness, and meekness, and by love unfeigned; by kindness, and pure knowledge, which shall greatly enlarge the soul without hypocrisy, and without guile, reproving betimes with sharpness, when moved upon by the Holy Ghost, and then showing forth afterwards an increase of love toward him whom thou hast reproved, lest he esteem thee to be his enemy; that he may know that thy faithfulness is stronger than the bands of death."[22]

As the letter from which the foregoing is quoted was inspired by the Spirit of the Lord, and is published in the Doctrine and Covenants, at least in part,[23] the ideas set forth in relation to the spirit of church government by the priesthood, stand as the word and law of God to the church. How well this spirit of government corresponds to that reflected in the teachings of Messiah and the first apostles already noticed, the reader will easily perceive. All I wish to do here is to observe that the instructions of the prophet upon this subject are not at all the teachings of a man ambitious of power and authority over his followers; nor that of a man bent on establishing the unrighteous dominion of priestcraft. Knowledge, persuasion, patience, meekness, long suffering, brotherly kindness, love unfeigned, are not the sources from whence those ambitious of place and power are content to draw their authority. The effort to lord it over their fellows by direct exercise of authority which arises from the advantage of an exalted position or the possession of great vigor of mind, firmness, resolution, daring, activity or other transcendent abilities always characterize your imposter. Teaching correct principles, and then allowing people to govern themselves is not at all the method of government adopted by self-appointed leaders or imposters. They are ever impatient of restraints and always over-anxious to arrive at an exalted station. Hence it comes that the spirit of government which obtains in the Church of Jesus Christ founded by Joseph Smith, since it finds its sources of power and authority in the imparting of knowledge, in persuasion, and love unfeigned, bears testimony not only that the prophet was not actuated by vulgar ambition, but is also a strong testimony in favor of the divine origin of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, and of course a testimony also to the divine authority of him who was, under God, the founder of it.

Next to the evidence of divine authority furnished by the spirit of church government is the manner in which that government was brought into existence. "Governments," remarks Herbert Spencer, "are not made, they grow." A remark which is as true of ecclesiastical as of civil government: and although the growth of the church government founded by Joseph Smith was rapid, it was, nevertheless, a growth, a development; it was not made. What I mean is there was no plan more or less elaborate formed by the prophet, a mental creation of officers with duties assigned, powers defined and authority limited, and then an organization effected in accordance with such a plan. On the contrary the organization at the beginning was extremely simple. Before the church was organized both the Melchisedek and Aaronic Priesthood had been conferred on Joseph Smith, but the only officers known to the church at its organization, April 6th, 1830, were elders, priests, teachers, and deacons. It was not until the 4th of February, 1831, that a bishop was appointed, and then of course by revelation. Then in November following it was made known that other bishops were to be appointed. The first high council in the church was not organized until February 17th, 1834. The quorum of the Twelve Apostles and quorums of Seventy were not organized until the winter of 1835. Thus throughout, an officer was appointed today and his duties defined; another officer was appointed tomorrow or next year and an explanation given of his duties and perhaps a limit fixed to his authority. Thus line was given upon line, precept upon precept; the prophet and those co-operating with him being apparently unconscious that they were gradually developing a system of government, each part of which was beautifully adjusted to every other part and to the whole. This gives evidence that if there was no general plan for this organization in the mind of Joseph Smith, there was a plan in the mind of God who through the instrumentality of this man was founding his church.

Joseph Smith, under God's direction, was building better than he knew. He as well as others associated with him were called upon to lay the foundation of a great work—how great they knew not. One may stand so close to a mountain that he perceives neither the vastness of the pile not the grandeur of its outlines. Not until one recedes from it some distance does the magnificence of its snow-capped peaks, the solemnity of its rugged cliffs, and deep ravines stir the sensibilities of the soul. So with this work established through the labors of Joseph Smith and his associates. They stood too close to it to comprehend its greatness; too absorbed in its parts to contemplate much less fully understand the meaning and harmony of the whole. It was not until the work was well advanced towards its completion, and men had receded some distance from it in time that they began to be aware that out of the parts given to them at sundry times and under various circumstances there was gradually being developed so sublime a system of ecclesiastical government, the like of which was not to be found in all the world.

And now let me say, in concluding this chapter, that if the lack of education and inexperience of Joseph Smith in relation to government and its administration be taken into account; if the scant materials in the New Testament for such a system of church government as the young prophet founded be considered; if the wonderful organization itself, so complete in its officers and institutions, and yet so simple in its administration, be examined with attention; if the spirit which pervades this government, and characterizes its administrations be not lost sight of; if on the one hand its effectiveness shall be noticed and on the other the provisions made for the security of the liberties of the people; if the manner in which it was brought into existence—piece by piece—be observed—if all this, I say, shall be considered without prejudice the reader cannot be far from the conclusion that the church itself bears indisputable testimony to the divinity of its own origin.

Footnotes

1. Acts i: 3.

2. Acts xiv: 23; Acts xx: 17, 28.

3. Phil i: I; Titus i: 5-7.

4. I Cor. xii: 28-30.

5. Eph. iv: 16.

6. I Cor. xii.

7. Eph. iv.

8. Matt. xviii.

9. I Cor. vi: 1-7.

10. This means the first quorum of seventy—comprised of seventy men—and the first seven presidents of the first quorum.

11. The office of bishop of right belongs to the first born of the seed of Aaron and properly descends from father to son of the chosen seed. A bishop of this lineage can act without counselors—except in a case where a president of the High Priesthood is tried; in that event he must be assisted by twelve counselors of the High Priesthood—but when no literal descendant of Aaron can be found, then a high priest is to be chosen for a bishop and two other high priests to act as counselors.

12. In the absence of his counselors the president of the stake has power to preside over the council without an assistant; and in case that he himself is absent, his counselors have power to preside in his stead, both or either of them. In the absence of all the presidency then the senior member of the council may preside.

13. Doc. & Cov., Sec. cvii: 76, 82-84.

14. This special court was once organized; before it Sidney Rigdon, one of the Presidency of the Church, was tried and condemned in 1844.

15. Bishops, when acting as judges, high councilors, presidents and all witnesses before these church tribunals act without compensation, hence these courts are without expense to the litigants.

16. Matt. xx: 20-28.

17. I Peter v: 2-5.

18. Mill. Star, Vol. xiv. (Supplement), pp. 20, 26.

19. Doc. and Cov. Sec. xx: 65.

20. Doc. and Cov. Sec. xxvi.

21. Doc. and Cov., Sec. cvii.

22. Doc. and Cov., Sec. cxxi.

23. Doc. and Cov., Sec. cxxi and cxxii.

CHAPTER XXV.

TESTIMONY TO THE INSPIRATION AND DIVINE CALLING OF JOSEPH SMITH DERIVED FROM THE COMPREHENSIVENESS OF THE WORK HE INTRODUCED.

Next to the evidence of divine inspiration to be seen in the organization of the church and the spirit of its government, are those which may be seen in what I shall call the comprehensiveness of the great work founded by Joseph Smith. I mean by this that the New Dispensation contemplates the fulfillment of all things predicted by the prophets; the gathering of Israel, the redemption of Jerusalem, the founding of a city called Zion or New Jerusalem, the ushering in of a reign of peace and righteousness on earth, with Christ as king; the completion of the work of God relative to the salvation of the human race and such a final redemption of the earth as shall convert it into a celestial sphere, the happy abode of such of its inhabitants as have obeyed and are sanctified by celestial laws.

These items have already been alluded to in a former chapter;[1] but it is now my purpose to consider some of them more in detail, and to that consideration this chapter and the one following are devoted.

That Israel—by which I mean all the twelve tribes which sprang from the twelve sons of Jacob, together with their descendants scattered among all the nations of the Gentiles—that Israel will be gathered together and re-established upon the lands covenanted by the Lord to their forefathers is abundantly evident from the prophecies of the scripture.

"Hear the word of the Lord, O, ye nations," exclaims Jeremiah, "and declare it in the isles afar off, and say, He that scattered Israel will gather him, and keep him as a shepherd does his flock. For the Lord hath redeemed Jacob, and ransomed him from the hand of him that was stronger than he. Therefore they shall come and sing in the height of Zion, and shall flow together to the goodness of the Lord, for wheat and for wine, and for oil, and for the young of the flock and of the herd; and their soul shall be as a watered garden, and they shall not sorrow any more at all."[2]

Again the prophet says: "Therefore, behold the days come saith the Lord, that it shall no more be said, the Lord liveth that brought up the children of Israel out of the land of Egypt; but the Lord liveth that brought up the children of Israel from the land of the north and from all lands whither he had driven them: and I will bring them again into their land that I gave unto their fathers."[3]

Speaking of that day when the enmity of man and beast shall have departed; when they shall not hurt nor destroy in all God's holy mountain; when there shall be a reign of righteousness in which the poor and meek of the earth shall be accorded equity—"It shall come to pass in that day," says the prophet Isaiah, "that the Lord shall set his hand again the second time to recover the remnant of his people, which shall be left from Assyria, and from Egypt, and from Pathos and from Cush, and from Elam and from Shinar, and from Hamath, and from the islands of the sea. And he shall set up an ensign for the nations, and shall assemble the outcasts of Israel, and gather together the dispersed of Judah from the four corners of the earth. The envy also of Ephraim shall depart, and the adversaries of Judah shall be cut off. Ephraim shall not envy Judah, and Judah shall not vex Ephraim. * * * And there shall be an highway for the remnant of his people, which shall be left from Assyria; like as it was to Israel in the day that he came up out of the land of Egypt."[4]

This is one of the prophecies that the angel Moroni repeated to Joseph Smith on the occasion of his first visit, and assured him that it was about to be fulfilled.[5]

Again Jeremiah: "Turn, O back-sliding children, saith the Lord; for I am married unto you; and I will take you one of a city, and two of a family, and I will bring you to Zion: and I will give you pastors according to my own heart, and they shall feed you with knowledge and understanding. And it shall come to pass when ye be multiplied and increased in the land in those days, saith the Lord, they shall say no more the ark of the covenant of the Lord: neither shall it come to mind. * * * At that time they shall call Jerusalem the throne of the Lord; and all the nations shall be gathered unto it, to the name of the Lord, to Jerusalem. * * * In those days the house of Judah shall walk with the house of Israel, and they shall come together out of the land of the north, to the land that I have given for an inheritance unto your fathers."[6]

It is needless to multiply passages; if any credit is to be ascribed to prophecy at all it is clear that Israel, the chosen people of God, though now smitten and scattered, are to be gathered together again and reestablished in the land given to their fathers. The lost tribes are to be brought from the land of the north, Judah is to return to Jerusalem, and the envy of Ephraim and Judah is to depart, and the mighty power of God which was manifested in the deliverance of Israel from Egyptian bondage is to be so far surpassed by a display of his power in the latter-day deliverance, that the former shall not be called to mind.

Not only are the tribes of Israel to be re-assembled upon the lands of their inheritances, but the descendants of the children of Israel scattered through all the nations among which they have been "sifted," are also to be gathered. The Jews since the destruction of their city and nation by the Romans have been scattered among all nations, but they have succeeded in a remarkable manner in preserving their identity as a distinct people. Still it is not to be doubted that there are instances where Jews have married and inter-married with the Gentiles among whom they lived, until they lost their identity, and thus the blood of Israel, unrecognized, is in the veins of many supposed to be Gentiles. The tribes of Israel sent into Babylon, Assyria and the surrounding countries at the fall of the kingdom of Israel, in the sixth century B. C., in like manner intermingled their blood with the people of those nations. Moreover there are good reasons to believe that in that exodus of the ten tribes from Assyria to the north—(spoken of, it is true, only by the apocryphal writer Esdras; but as what he says agrees so well with the idea that Israel is to return from the "north," according to the prophets, I am inclined to accept it as true[7])—many became discouraged and stopped by the way. Others unable to prosecute the journey abandoned the expedition, and those that halted, uniting and intermarrying with the original inhabitants of the land, doubtless constituted those prolific races that over-ran the western division of the Roman empire. In this manner the blood of Israel has been sprinkled among all the nations of the earth, until the word of the Lord which says: "I will sift the house of Israel among all nations,"[8] has been literally fulfilled.

These scattered remnants, I say, are to be gathered, hence the prophet Jeremiah says, "I will take you one of a city and two of a family and bring you to Zion;"[9] and Isaiah says, "It shall come to pass that in the last days, that the mountain of the Lord's house shall be established in the top of the mountains, * * * and all nations shall flow unto it."[10] John the Apostle in those visions received on Patmos foretells a time when a voice shall be heard speaking from heaven, calling upon God's people to come out of Babylon, "that ye be not partakers of her sins and that ye receive not of her plagues; for her sins have reached unto heaven and God hath remembered her iniquities."[11] This not only predicts the gathering together of God's people, but makes clear one of the reasons for which they are brought from among the nations. It is that they may escape the judgments of God that have been decreed to fall upon the wicked.

The New Dispensation introduced by Joseph Smith includes the fulfillment of these prophecies concerning the return of Israel to their lands. As already stated,[12] Moses, the great prophet of ancient Israel, appeared in the Kirtland Temple and there committed to Joseph Smith and Oliver Cowdery "the keys of the gathering of Israel from the four parts of the earth, and the leading of the ten tribes from the land of the north." Indeed the revelations received by Joseph Smith are replete with references to this subject. In one of considerable note occurs the following passage: "The Lord, even the Savior, shall stand in the midst of his people, and shall reign over all flesh. And they who are in the north countries shall come in remembrance before the Lord, and their prophets shall hear his voice, and shall no longer stay themselves, and they shall smite the rocks, and the ice shall flow down at their presence. And an highway shall be cast up in the midst of the great deep. Their enemies shall become a prey unto them, and in the barren deserts there shall come forth pools of living water; and the parched ground shall no longer be a thirsty land. And they shall bring forth their rich treasures unto the children of Ephraim, my servants. And the boundaries of the everlasting hills shall tremble at their presence. And there they shall fall down and be crowned with glory, even in Zion, by the hands of the servants of the Lord, even the children of Ephraim; and they shall be filled with songs of everlasting joy. Behold, this is the blessing of the everlasting God upon the tribes of Israel, and the richer blessing upon the head of Ephraim and his fellows. And they also of the tribes of Judah, after their pain, shall be sanctified in holiness before the Lord to dwell in his presence day and night, for ever and for ever."[13]

Since this matter of the gathering of Israel and their restoration to the lands of their forefathers is so prominent a subject in the prophecies of Jewish scriptures, it would have proven fatal to all claims of a divine commission by Joseph Smith had he failed to have included this important item of prophecy among the things to be accomplished in the new dispensation. And since to have missed it would have proven him an imposter, the fact that it is incorporated as an important part of the great work of the last days, is, at least, a presumptive evidence in favor of the genuineness of the prophet's claims. It is all the stronger from the fact that this gathering of Isarel and their restoration to their lands and the favor of God seems to have been lost sight of by the world. The announcement of it partakes almost of the nature of a discovery in prophecy: and it shows how universal is the sympathy of the New Dispensation, when it is seen that it carries to the smitten remnants of Israel a message so burdened with hope.

It is also necessary to the completeness of the New Dispensation that it shall include in its list of events the personal and glorious appearing of the Lord Jesus Christ, the resurrection of the worthy saints and a reign of righteousness for a thousand years. These matters are no less the subject of prophecy than the gathering of Israel: and to omit them from the New Dispensation would be as fatal to Joseph Smith's claim of possessing divine authority as to omit the gathering of Israel. I propose to quote a few of the prophecies relating to the personal coming of Messiah, that the reader may be reminded how direct and emphatic they were.

In the first chapter of the acts of the Apostles an account is given of the departure of Jesus from his disciples into heaven. "And while they beheld he was taken up; and a cloud received him out of their sight. And while they looked steadfastly toward heaven as he went up, behold, two men stood by them in white apparel; which also said, Ye men of Galilee, why stand ye gazing up into heaven? This same Jesus which is taken from you into heaven, shall so come in like manner as ye have seen him go into heaven."[14] It is generally conceded that the two men in white apparel were angels of God. This prophecy is also in strict harmony with what Jesus himself said: "For the Son of Man shall come in the glory of his Father, with his angels; and then he shall reward every man according to his works."[15]

Paul is very explicit on the subject. Writing to the Thessalonian Saints, he says: "I would not have you ignorant, brethren, concerning them which are asleep (the dead), that ye sorrow not, even as others which have no hope. For if we believe that Jesus died, and rose again, even so them also which sleep in Jesus will God bring with him. For this we say unto you by the word of the Lord, that we which are alive and remain unto the coming of the Lord, shall not prevent them which are asleep. For the Lord himself shall descend from heaven with a shout, with the voice of the archangel, and with the trump of God: and the dead in Christ shall rise first: then we which are alive and remain shall be caught up together with them in the clouds, to meet the Lord in the air: and so shall we ever be with the Lord."[16]

Writing a second time to the same people, evidently to encourage them in the midst of their tribulation, he said: "And to you who are troubled rest with us when the Lord Jesus shall be revealed from heaven with his mighty angels, in flaming fire, taking vengeance on them that know not God, and that obey not the gospel of our Lord Jesus Christ; who shall be punished with everlasting destruction from the presence of the Lord, and from the glory of his power; when he shall come to be glorified, in his saints and to be admired in all them that believe (because our testimony among you was not believed) in that day."[17]

Closely allied with these prophecies is the prediction of the writer of the Apocalypse which tells of the binding of Satan for a thousand years and the resurrection of "the souls of them that were beheaded for the witness of Jesus and for the word of God * * * And they lived and reigned with Christ a thousand years * * * This is the first resurrection. Blessed and holy is he that hath part in the first resurrection: on such the second death hath no power, but they shall be priests of God and of Christ, and shall reign with him a thousand years.[18]"

The orthodox sects of Christendom have either so spiritualized these prophecies as to explain away their plain meaning, or have put off to so distant a day the Lord's glorious coming that real and active faith in that great event can scarcely be said to exist.

There is another matter connected with the second appearing of Jesus Christ that should be considered. It will be observed that his coming is attended with judgment upon the ungodly and rewards for the righteous. It would accord with our conceptions of justice, necessarily imperfect as they may be, and certainly it would accord with our ideas of the mercy of God, if mankind were warned by special messengers of these threatened judgments. Such a proceeding would be in harmony not only with our conceptions of justice but also with the course the Lord has pursued in former ages. For example, when God decreed that he would destroy the Antediluvians by a flood, he first sent Noah, a preacher of righteousness, among them to warn them of the approaching calamity. When destruction was hanging over the cities of the plain—Sodom and Gomorrah—the Lord sent his angels to first gather out righteous Lot and his family. When destruction was decreed against Nineveh, the prophet Jonah was sent to cry repentance to the people, and in this instance the warning was heeded and the calamity was turned aside. Whenever bondage, famine, disease or judgment of any character, was about to overtake ancient Isarel for their wickedness, prophets were sent to warn them, that they might repent and escape the sore affliction; and now that mighty judgments are pronounced against the ungodly at the coming of the Son of God, we may reasonably expect that God will be true to his custom in the past, and send messengers to warn the nations of the near approach of those calamities. Indeed the Scriptures plainly say as much. Jesus replying to the question, "What shall be the sign of thy coming" among other things said: "This gospel of the kingdom shall be preached in all the world for a witness and then shall the end come."[19] I have already discussed at length the declaration of John that an angel would be sent in the hour of God's judgment with the everlasting gospel to be preached to all nations.

"Behold I will send my messenger," says the Lord through Malachi, "and he shall prepare the way before me: and the Lord, whom ye seek, shall suddenly come to his temple, even the messenger of the covenant, whom ye delight in: behold, he shall come, saith the Lord of hosts. But who may abide the day of his coming? And who shall stand when he appeareth? For he is like a refiner's fire and as fuller's soap: and he shall sit as a refiner and purifier of silver: and he shall purify the sons of Levi, and purge them as gold and silver, that they may offer unto the Lord an offering in righteousness. Then shall the offering of Judah and Jerusalem be pleasant unto the Lord, as in the days of old, and as in former years."[20]

I have quoted this last passage at length for the reason that those who advocate that no more revelation is to be given, and that class, as we have seen, includes all Christendom, represent that the messenger here referred to is no other than John the Baptist, and that this prophecy was fulfilled when that personage went throughout Judea crying repentance, proclaiming the coming of the Messiah, and the near approach of the kingdom of heaven. It is with no desire to lessen the importance of John's mission on that occasion that I respectfully dissent from the conclusions of the learned Christian scholars on that subject. And by way of justification for that dissent I submit the following reflections.

I. Following the work of this messenger of which the prophet Malachi speaks, the Lord is to come suddenly to his temple. Did that come to pass when John the Baptist some nineteen centuries ago prepared the way for the coming of the Son of God, by crying repentance? I think it questionable if the Lord so much as recognized the temple at Jerusalem in those days, corrupted as it was by a fallen priesthood, as his house. When connected with the reflections to follow, I am sure the reader will conclude that this prophecy must relate to some other temple than that old and corrupted one at Jerusalem, and to some other appearing than any which occurred at that temple during the former career of Jesus on earth.

II. "But who may abide the day of his coming? And who shall stand when he appeareth?" From this it seems that it will be difficult to abide the day of his coming, and to stand when he appeareth in fulfillment of this prophecy of Malachi's. Was it so when Jesus came in the meridian of time to make his great atonement for man? Let the life of Jesus answer. Passing by the days of his childhood and youth, we may see him emerge from the obscurity of his uneventful life at Nazareth in the full bloom of perfected manhood. He applies to John for baptism, that he might fulfill all righteousness; and as from the watery grave he is brought forth, lo! a voice from heaven proclaims him the Son of God. From that time he becomes a teacher of men. On the peaceful hills, and in the quiet hamlets of Galilee, or along the pleasant shores of the lake of that name, men heard his gracious words, and admired while they marveled at the wisdom of one untaught in schools and unlearned in man's petty wisdom. The synagogues of the Jews also resounded with his doctrines, and the tones of his voice so mild among the pastoral people of Galilee, swelled into mighty notes of denunciation, when he approached the centers of population where wickedness more abounded. His arraignment of the priests, his denunciation of the national hypocrisy, his condemnation of the false traditions which were making of no effect the law of God—all this delivered in the tone of undoubted authority, brought upon him the wrath of a corrupt priesthood, which conspired to kill him.

The priests were successful. They were careful to arouse the people against him; and often the Son of God sought safety from their violence by flight. At the last he was betrayed into their hands; dragged unceremoniously before the high priest at midnight; thence to the Sanhedrim, where he was tried and condemned, and afterwards mocked, beaten and spit upon; next morning he is brought before Pilate for the confirmation of the sentence of death; and though the Roman judge could see nothing in his conduct which would warrant the sentence, the cries of the rabble prevailed over his better judgment, and Jesus was condemned to crucifixion. Through the streets of Jerusalem bending beneath the weight of his own cross, and scourged with cords by the soldiery, to the infinite delight of the rabble which shouted at his heels, Jesus moved towards the place of his execution. Arriving there he is stripped of his clothing, his limbs are stretched to the cross, and through the quivering flesh the nails are driven. The cross is erected, and on either side, is placed a criminal condemned to execution. Before him now pass the mocking rabble with which the chief priests mingle. Tauntingly they pass by and do him mock reverence, saying, "Hail King of the Jews—hail!" "He saved others," they shout, "let him save himself. Let him come down from the cross and we will believe on him." "He trusted in God—let him deliver him now, if he will have him—" and amid such taunts as these the Son of God expired.

Tell me, was it difficult to abide that day of his coming? Or difficult to stand in that day of his appearing? Clearly it was not. But when the Son of God shall come in the glory of his Father, to reward every man according to his works; when he shall come with "ten thousands of his saints, to execute judgment upon all, and to convince all that are ungodly among them, of all their ungodly deeds, which they have ungodly committed, and of all their hard speeches which ungodly sinners have spoken against him;"[21] when he shall descend from heaven with a shout, with the voice of the archangel, then there will be pertinence in the questions, "Who may abide the day of his coming?" "Who shall stand when he appeareth?"

III. The argument may be pushed further still. When the Lord comes suddenly to his temple, in fulfillment of Malachi's prophecy, he is to "sit as a refiner and purifier of silver: and he shall purify the sons of Levi, and purge them as gold and silver, that they may offer unto the Lord an offering in righteousness." Did Jesus do so when he was on earth nineteen centuries ago? No; the sons of Levi were not purified, neither then nor at any time since have they offered an acceptable offering unto the Lord.

IV. "Then shall the offering of Judah and Jerusalem be pleasant unto the Lord, as in the days of old, and as in former years." Did such a result as this follow the appearance and mission of Jesus in Palestine, when he came to be offered as a sacrifice for sinful man? On the contrary, Judah was rejected; his temple was destroyed, so that not one stone was left upon another that was not cast down; Jerusalem was made desolate, and for many centuries has been trodden under foot of the Gentiles, while her children, as outcasts, have wandered among the nations, a hiss, a byword; and a reproach.

In the light of all these circumstances, it is perfectly clear (1) that the terms of Malachi's prophecy concerning the Lord coming suddenly to his temple, were not fulfilled in his first appearing, and hence the prophecy must refer to some subsequent appearing, which is to be followed with a blessing upon the house of Israel, the purifying of the sons of Levi, and the re-establishment of Jerusalem; (2) that preceding that glorious coming a messenger will be sent to prepare the way.

The prophecy of Malachi, without doubt, refers to some glorious appearing of the Lord Jesus, such as that prophesied by the New Testament writers, when they predict that he shall come in the glory of his Father to judgment, before which event, however, a great preparatory work is to be performed: the gospel restored to earth and preached to all nations as a witness, Israel gathered, the Jews restored to Palestine, a temple builded to which the Lord may come, and a people prepared to receive him. This preparatory work the reader will recognize in the work founded by Joseph Smith. And if John the Baptist was a special messenger to prepare the way for the coming of Christ, and he is to prepare the way for his second coming as well as for his first, the reader will remember that it was this personage who appeared to Joseph Smith and Oliver Cowdery, and conferred upon them the Aaronic Priesthood. That Priesthood, according to the teachings of Joseph Smith, holds "the keys of the ministering of angels, and the preparatory gospel." Moreover, when John the Baptist conferred that Priesthood upon the two men named, he told them that it would "never be taken again from the earth, until the sons of Levi do offer again an offering unto the Lord in righteousness,"[22] a promise so similar to that made in the prophecy of Malachi that it surely argues some connection between this angel's message and the fulfillment of that prediction.

In further evidence that the work founded by Joseph Smith, is one to prepare the way for the glorious appearing of Messiah let the following instructions and admonitions given early in the history of the Church of Christ in this dispensation to the elders of the church be considered:

"Behold, I sent you out to testify and warn the people, and it becometh every man who hath been warned, to warn his neighbor. Therefore, they are left without excuse, and their sins are upon their own heads. * * * Therefore, tarry ye, and labor diligently, that you may be perfected in your ministry to go forth among the Gentiles for the last time, as many as the mouth of the Lord shall name, to bind up the law and seal up the testimony and to prepare the saints for the hour of judgment which is to come; that their souls may escape the wrath of God, the desolation of abomination which awaits the wicked, both in this world and in the world to come. * * * Abide ye in the liberty wherewith ye are made free; entangle not yourselves in sin, but let your hands be clean, until the Lord come; for not many days hence and the earth shall tremble and reel to and fro as a drunken man, and the sun shall hide his face, and shall refuse to give light, and the moon shall be bathed in blood, and the stars shall become exceeding angry, and shall cast themselves down as a fig that falleth from off a fig tree.

"And after your testimony cometh wrath and indignation upon the people; for after your testimony cometh the testimony of earthquakes, that shall cause groanings in the midst of her, and men shall fall upon the ground, and shall not be able to stand. And also cometh the testimony of the voice of thunderings, and the voice of lightnings, and the voice of tempests, and the voice of the waves of the sea, heaving themselves beyond their bounds. And all things shall be in commotion; and surely, men's hearts shall fail them; for fear shall come upon all people; and angels shall fly through the midst of heaven, crying with a loud voice, sounding the trump of God, saying, Prepare ye, prepare ye, O inhabitants of the earth; for the judgment of our God is come: behold, and lo! the bridegroom cometh, go ye out to meet him."[23]

"Hearken, and lo, a voice as of one from on high, * * * Prepare ye the way of the Lord, make his paths straight. The keys of the kingdom of God are committed unto man on the earth, and from thence shall the gospel roll forth unto the ends of the earth, as the stone which is cut out of the mountain without hands shall roll forth, until it has filled the whole earth; yea, a voice crying—Prepare ye the way of the Lord, prepare ye the supper of the Lamb, make ready for the Bridegroom; pray unto the Lord, call upon his holy name, make known his wonderful works among the people; call upon the Lord, that his kingdom may go forth upon the earth, that the inhabitants thereof may receive it, and be prepared for the days to come, in the which the Son of Man shall come down in heaven, clothed in the brightness of his glory, to meet the kingdom of God which is set up on the earth."[24]

Footnotes

1. See chapter xvii.

2. Jeremiah xxxi: 10-12. See also verses 7, 8, 9.

3. Jeremiah xvi: 14, 15.

4. Isaiah xi,

5. Pearl of Great Price, p. 50.

6. Jeremiah iii: 15-19.

7. II Esdras xiii.

8. Amos ix: 8, 9.

9. Jeremiah iii: 14, 15.

10. Isaiah ii.

11. Rev. xvii: 4, 5.

12. Chapter xii.

13. Doc. and Cov. Sec. cxxxiii.

14. Acts i: 9-11.

15. Matt. xvi: 27.

16. I Thess. iv: 13-17.

17. II Thess. 1: 7-10.

18. Rev. xx: 1-7.

19. Matt. xxiv: 14.

20. Mal. iii: 1-4.

21. Jude 14-15.

22. Doc. and Cov. Sec. xiii.

23. Doc. and Cov. lxxxviii: 78, 92.

24. Doc. and Cov. lxv.

CHAPTER XXVI.

TESTIMONY TO THE INSPIRATION AND DIVINE CALLING OF JOSEPH SMITH DERIVED FROM THE COMPREHENSIVENESS OF THE WORK HE INTRODUCED—CONTINUED.

At once intimately connected with the coming of the Lord Jesus, and fatal to all claims of a divine commission on the part of Joseph Smith had he omitted it from the New Dispensation, is the mission of Elijah. This, too, is the subject of one of Malachi's prophecies. "Behold," that prophet represents the Lord as saying, "I will send you Elijah the prophet before the coming of the great and dreadful day of the Lord: and he will turn the heart of the fathers to the children, and the heart of the children to their fathers, lest I come and smite the earth with a curse."[1] According to the testimony of Joseph Smith and Oliver Cowdery, on the 3rd of April, 1836, Elijah appeared to them in the Kirtland Temple and fulfilled this prophecy. "Therefore," said he, on that occasion, "the keys of this dispensation are committed into your hands, and by this ye may know that the great and dreadful day of the Lord is near, even at the doors."[2]

The nature of Elijah's mission, the manner in which the hearts of the fathers would be turned to the children, and the hearts of the children to the fathers, has been and is a mystery to Christendom; and only by a revelation from God could it be made plain. The mission of Elijah related to the salvation of the dead; and the introduction of that doctrine was the beginning of a revolution in the theology of Christendom. Up to that time—1836—I may say it was universally believed by Christians that the souls of men who died without conversion to the Christian religion were everlastingly lost. As I have said elsewhere,[3] it was believed that the application of the gospel of Jesus Christ was limited to this life; and those who failed, through whatever cause, to obtain the benefits of the means of salvation it affords, are forever barred from such benefits. "If the tree fall toward the south, or toward the north, in the place where the tree falleth, there it shall be;"[4] and they argued from this that in whatever state a man died so he remained. If he died in a state of justification his salvation was assured; but if not, then justification, and consequently salvation, were forever beyond his hope.

This sectarian doctrine which does so much violence to the justice of God—since it closes the door of salvation against so many millions of God's children through no other circumstance than that they never so much as heard of the gospel of Jesus Christ, and therefore could not either believe or obey it—arose, first, through a misconception of the doctrine of eternal punishment with which the wicked are threatened in the scriptures; and, second, through a very narrow conception of the sure mercies of God.

Christians believed that to receive eternal punishment was to be punished eternally. This popular error was corrected in a revelation to Martin Harris through Joseph Smith, even before the church was organized.[5] In that revelation it is explained that God is "Endless," that is one of his names; as also is "Eternal," one of his names. "Wherefore eternal punishment is God's punishment." In other words the punishment that will overtake the wicked is Eternal's punishment; Endless' punishment. But Christians mistaking the name of the punishment for the sign of its duration, taught that men were punished eternally for the sins committed in this life. God's punishment is eternal; that is, it always exists; it is eternal as God is, but the transgressor receives only so much of it, endures it only so long as may be necessary to satisfy the reasonable claims of justice, tempered with mercy. Then, when the insulted law is vindicated, the offender is released from the punishment. But as "the bars survive the captive they enthrall," as the prison remains after the transgressor has served his time in it; so in God's government, the punishment eternally remains after transgressors have satisfied the claims of justice, and are relieved from its pains and penalties. It remains to vindicate the law of God whenever it shall be broken.

But men read, "He that believeth not" (the gospel) "shall be damned,"[6] and they have been taught to believe that they are damned to all eternity—that they are consigned forever to the flames of hell. The so-called early fathers of the church, Justin Martyr, Clement of Alexandria, Tertullian and Cyprian, all taught that the fire of hell is a real, material flame; and that the wicked were punished in it eternally. Augustine in the fifth century stated the same doctrine with great emphasis and argued against those who sought to modify it.[7] Thomas Aquinas of the mediaeval school of theologians, rising head and shoulders above divines of his day, teaches in his Summa Theologia, that the fire of hell is of the same nature as ordinary fire, though with different properties; that the place of punishment though not definitely known is probably under the earth. He also taught that there was no redemption for those once damned, their punishment is to be eternal. Coming to more modern times, we read in the Westminster Confession of Faith—adopted in the seventeenth century by the Puritan party in England—the following on the subject: "The wicked who know not God, and obey not the gospel of Jesus Christ, shall be cast into eternal torment and be punished with everlasting destruction from the presence of the Lord and the glory of his power."[8] Question twenty-nine of the larger catechism and the answer to it are as follows: "What are the punishments of sin in the world to come?"

"Ans. The punishments of sin in the world to come are everlasting separation from the comfortable presence of God, and most grievous torment in soul and body, without intermission, in hell fire forever." The Westminster confession and the larger catechism are still the standards of the Presbyterian churches. Indeed the above expresses the orthodox Christian faith, from the second and third centuries until the present time.

One would think that right conceptions of the attributes of justice and mercy as they exist in God's character would lead men to the rejection of the horrible dogma of eternal punishment as taught by orthodox Christianity. But if that be not sufficient then the scriptures themselves refute it, as will appear in the following paragraphs:

From a remark made in the writings of the Apostle Peter,[9] we learn that after Messiah was put to death in the flesh "He went and preached to the spirits in prison, which sometime" [aforetime] "were disobedient, when once the long suffering of God waited in the days of Noah."

During the three days, then, that Messiah's body lay in the tomb at Jerusalem, his spirit was in the world of spirits preaching to those who had rejected the testimony of righteous Noah. The Christian traditions no less than the scriptures teach that Jesus went down into hell and preached to those there held in ward. "In the second and third centuries, every branch and division of Christians, so far as their records enable us to judge, believed that Christ preached to the departed; and this belief dates back to our earliest reliable sources of information in the former of these two centuries."[10] "As Christ died for us, and was buried, so also is it to be believed that he went down into hell."[11] A writer in Kitto's Cyclopaedia of Biblical Literature referring to the passage in Peter on preaching to the spirits in prison, says: "These 'spirits in prison' are supposed to be the holy dead. * * * The most intelligent meaning suggested by the context is, however, that Christ by his spirit preached to those who in the time of Noah, while the ark was a preparing, were disobedient, and whose spirits are now in prison, abiding the general judgment. The prison is doubtless hades, but what hades is must be determined by other passages of scripture; and whether it is the grave or hell, it is still a prison for those who await the judgment day."

Not only is the mere fact of Messiah's going to prison stated in the scripture, but the purpose of his going there is learned from the same source. "For this cause was the gospel preached also to them that are dead, that they might be judged according to men in the flesh, but live according to God in the spirit."[12] This manifestly means that these spirits who had once rejected the counsels of God against themselves, had the gospel again preached to them and had the privilege of living according to its precepts in the spirit life, and of being judged according to men in the flesh, or as men in the flesh are judged; that is, according to the degree of their faithfulness to the precepts of the gospel.

Naturally the question arises why was the gospel preached to the spirits in prison who had once been disobedient if there were no means by which it could be applied to them for their salvation. We can scarcely suppose that Messiah would preach the gospel to them if it could do them no good. He did not go there to mock their sufferings or to add something to the torture of their damnation by explaining the beauties of that salvation now forever beyond their reach. Such a supposition would at once be revolting to reason, insulting to the justice of God, and utterly repugnant to the dictates of mercy. The very fact, therefore, that the gospel was preached to the departed is sufficient to assure us of the existence of some method by which its powers of salvation may be applied to all unto whom it is preached, including those who are dead. Following that question comes another: If the gospel is preached again to those who have once rejected it, how much sooner will it be presented to those who have never heard it, who have lived in those generations when the gospel and the authority to administer its ordinances were not in the earth? Seeing that those who once rejected the offer of salvation had it presented to them again—after paying the penalty of their first disobedience—it would seem that those who lived when it was not upon the earth, or who when it was upon the earth perished in ignorance of it, will much sooner come to salvation.

Of the things we have written, this is the sum: (1) The gospel was preached by Messiah to the spirits in prison who had rejected the teachings of Noah; therefore there must be some means through which its precepts and ordinances may be applied to them. (2) If the gospel can be made available to those who once rejected the proffered mercies of God, its privileges will much sooner and doubtless more abundantly be granted to those who died in ignorance of it. Let us next consider how the ordinances of the gospel wherein the power of godliness is made manifest, and without which it is not made manifest, may be applied to the dead.

The manner in which the ordinances of the gospel may be administered to those who have died without receiving them is hinted at by Paul. Writing to the Corinthians on the subject of the resurrection—correcting those who said there was no resurrection—he asks: "What shall they do which are baptized for the dead, if the dead rise not at all? Why are they then baptized for the dead?"[13] In this the apostle manifestly referred to a practice which existed among the Christian saints of the living being baptized or the dead, and argues from the existence of that practice that the dead must rise, or why the necessity of being baptized for the dead? Though this is the only passage in the New Testament, or in the whole Bible that refers to the subject, yet of itself it is sufficient to establish the fact that such a principle was known among the ancient saints.

While not maintaining the view that there is such a thing as a living man being baptized for one who is dead, a writer in Biblical Literature (Kitto's), expresses these views: "From the wording of the sentence (why are they then baptized for the dead?) the most simple impression certainly is, that Paul speaks of a baptism which a living man receives in the place of a dead one. This interpretation is particularly adopted by those expounders with whom grammatical construction is of paramount importance and the first thing to be considered." This view is also upheld by Ambrose among the early Christian writers; and by Erasmus, Scaliger, Grotius, Calistus among the moderns; and still more recently by Agusti Meyer, Billroth and Ruckert. De Wette considers this the only possible meaning of the words. Epiphanius, a writer of the fourth century, in speaking of the Marcionites, a sect of Christians to whom he was opposed, says: "In this country—I mean Asia—and even Galatia, their school flourished eminently; and a traditional fact concerning them has reached us, that when any of them had died without baptism, they used to baptize others in their name, lest in the resurrection they should suffer punishment as unbaptized."[14]

This proves beyond controversy the fact that vicarious baptism for the dead was practiced among some of the sects of the early Christians.

Another fact proves it still more emphatically than this statement by Epiphanius. The Council of Carthage, held A. D., 397, in its sixth canon, forbids the administration of baptism and holy communion for the dead; why should this canon be formed against these practices if they had no existence among the Christians of those days?

From the revelations of God to the church in this dispensation, the following may be learned: Elijah in fulfillment of ancient prophecy, appeared to Joseph Smith and Oliver Cowdery, and delivered to them those keys or powers of the Priesthood which give to the living the right to do a work for the salvation of the dead. As a consequence, the hearts of the children are turned to the fathers; and of course, since the fathers in the spirit world through the preaching of the gospel learn that it is within the power of their children to do a work for them, their hearts are turned to the children, and thus the result to follow Elijah's predicted mission is fulfilled.

The work that the living may do for the dead is attending to outward ordinances—baptisms, confirmations, ordinations, washings, anointings and sealings—all being appointed by revelation from the Lord, and all sealed and ratified by the power of the Priesthood of God, which binds on earth and in heaven. It is required that all baptisms and other ordinances of the gospel performed for the dead, be attended to in temples dedicated for such holy purposes. These ordinances performed on earth by the living, and accepted in the spirit world by those for whom they are administered, will make them a potent means of salvation to the dead, and of exaltation to the living, since they become in very deed "saviors upon Mount Zion."

This work that can be done for the dead enlarges one's views of the gospel of Jesus Christ. One begins to see indeed that it is the "everlasting gospel;" for it runs parallel with man's existence both in this life and in that which is to come. It vindicates the character of God, for by it we may see that justice and judgment, truth and mercy are in all his ways.

The servants of God and the saints generally have been earnest in seeking to erect temples in which to attend to these ordinances of the gospel for the dead.[15] At first thought I was tempted to say that this work for the dead was by far the greatest part of the work contemplated in the New Dispensation; for as the leaves upon the trees in a single summer are insignificant in comparison to the leaves that have flourished upon the trees in all the summers since creation's dawn, so the number of men now living is insignificant in comparison to the unnumbered millions that have passed away; but I chanced to remember that this work extends to the future as well as to the past; that it will effect the generations to come, as well as those that have gone, and so I checked the thought that the work in relation to past generations was greatest. It is enough to say for this phase of the work that relates to salvation for the dead, that it recognizes the great truth, which Paul also teaches, in part, that the fathers who have died without us cannot be made perfect;[16] nor can we without them be made perfect. Hence in the great dispensation of the fullness of times those principles are made active, and those sentiments excited which shall turn the hearts of the present generation backward to the fathers, and turn the hearts of the fathers to the children, a circumstance that shall eventuate in the complete salvation and linking together not only of all the generations of men, but also all the families and kindred of the earth.

Closely associated with the matter treated in the foregoing paragraphs, is the subject of the different degrees of glory. Nothing is more clearly stated in holy writ than that men will be judged and rewarded according to their works.[17] And as their works vary in degree of righteousness, so will their rewards vary, and so will they have bestowed upon them different degrees of glory according as their works shall merit, and their intelligence be capable of receiving and enjoying. Messiah said to his disciples: "In my Father's house are many mansions: if it were not so I would have told you. I go to prepare a place for you; * * * that where I am there ye may be also."[18] Still it is commonly held among Christian sects, that he who attains heaven partakes immediately of the highest glories; while he who misses heaven goes direct to hell and partakes of all its miseries forever. Yet nothing is clearer than the fact that there are different heavens spoken of in scripture and different degrees of glory. When Solomon dedicated the temple he had builded, he exclaimed in his prayer: "Behold the heaven and heaven of heavens, cannot contain thee; how much less this house which I have builded!"[19] Paul in writing to the Corinthians says: "I knew a man in Christ above fourteen years ago, * * * such an one caught up to the third heaven; and I knew such a man, * * * how that he was caught up into Paradise, and heard unspeakable words, which it is not lawful for a man to utter."[20]

Reasoning on the resurrection, the last writer quoted says: "There are also celestial bodies and bodies terrestrial, but the glory of the celestial is one, and the glory of the terrestrial is another. There is one glory of the sun, and another glory of the moon and another glory of the stars: for as one star differeth from another star in glory, so also is the resurrection of the dead." In all this, however, the great subject is but vaguely hinted at, for a full understanding of it we are indebted to a revelation given to Joseph Smith, February 16th, 1832. From that revelation we summarize the following:[21]

They who receive the testimony of Jesus, who believe on his name, and are baptized after the manner of his burial; who keep the commandments of God and are washed and cleansed from all sin; who receive the Holy Ghost by the laying on of hands; who overcame by faith, and are sealed by the Holy Spirit of Promise—these become the church of the First Born. They are they into whose hands the Father hath given all things—they are priests and kings, who have received of God's fullness, and of his glory; they are priests of the Most High, after the order of Melchisedek, which is after the order of the Son of God—therefore they are Gods, even Sons of God. All things are theirs. Whether life or death, or things present, or things to come, all are theirs, and they are Christ's, and Christ is God's. They shall overcome all things; they shall dwell in the presence of God and Christ forever and forever; they are they whom Christ will bring with him when he shall come in the clouds of heaven to reign on the earth over his people; they have part in the resurrection of the just; their names are written in heaven, where God and Christ dwell; they are just men made perfect through Jesus the Mediator of the new covenant; these are they whose bodies are celestial, whose glory the sun in heaven is spoken of as typical—they inherit the celestial glory, they see as they are seen and know as they are known.

The terrestrial glory differs from the celestial glory as the light of the moon differs from the light of the sun. These are they who died without law, and also they who are the spirits of men in prison, whom the Son visited and preached the gospel unto, that they might be judged according to men in the flesh; who received not the testimony of Jesus in the flesh, but afterwards received it. These are they who are honorable men of the earth, who were blinded by the craftiness of men. These are they who receive of God's glory but not of his fullness. They will enjoy the presence of the Son, but not the presence of the Father; these are they who are not valiant in the testimony of Jesus, therefore they obtain not the crown over the kingdom of God.

The telestial glory differs from the terrestrial as the light of the stars differs from the light of the moon. The inhabitants of the telestial glory are those who neither receive the gospel of Christ in the flesh nor the testimony of Jesus in the spirit world. These are they who are thrust down to hell, and will not be redeemed from the devil until the last resurrection, when Christ shall have finished his work. These are they who are of Paul and of Apollos and of Cephas; some of Christ and some of John; some of Moses and some of Elias; but received not the gospel nor the testimony of Jesus. These are they who will not be gathered with the Saints, to be caught up unto the church of the First Born and received into the cloud. These are liars, and sorcerers and adulterers, and whoremongers, and whoso loves and makes a lie. They suffer the wrath of God on earth and the vengeance of eternal fire; but they will be judged every man according to his deeds and receive according to his works, his own dominion, in the mansions which are prepared; and they shall be servants of the Most High,[22] but where God and Christ dwell they cannot come, worlds without end. They of the telestial glory enjoy neither the presence of the Father nor the Son, but receive the ministration of angels and of the Holy Ghost, for even they of the telestial glory are accounted heirs of salvation.

The Prophet Joseph and Sidney Rigdon in their vision saw that the inhabitants of the telestial glory were as innumerable as the stars in the firmament of heaven, or as the sand upon the sea shore—and they heard the voice of God saying—"These all shall bow the knee and every tongue shall confess to him who sits upon the throne forever and ever; for they shall be judged according to their works, and every man shall receive according to his own works, his own dominions in the mansions which are prepared, and they shall be servants of the Most High, but where God and Christ dwell they cannot come, worlds without end."

These are the great divisions of glory in the world to come, but there are subdivisions or degrees. Of the telestial glory it is written: "And the glory of the telestial is one, even as the glory of the stars is one, for as one star differs from another star in glory, even so differs one from another in glory in the telestial world."[23] From this it is evident that there are different degrees of glory within the celestial and the telestial glories; and though we have no direct authority for the statement, it seems but reasonable to conclude that there are different degrees of glory in the terrestrial world also. It appears but rational that it should be so, since the degrees of worthiness in men are almost infinite in their variety; and as every man is to be judged according to his works, it will require a corresponding infinity of degrees in glory to mete out to every man that reward of which he is worthy, and that also which his intelligence will enable him to enjoy.

The question of advancement within the great divisions of glory celestial, terrestrial, and telestial; as also the question of advancement from one sphere of glory to another remains to be considered. In the revelation from which we have summarized what has been written here, in respect to the different degrees of glory, it is said that those of the terrestrial glory will be ministered unto by those of the celestial; and those of the telestial will be ministered unto by those of the terrestrial—that is, those of the higher glory minister to those of a lesser glory. I can conceive of no reason for all this administration of the higher to the lower, unless it be for the purpose of advancing our Father's children along the lines of eternal progression. Whether or not in the great future, full of so many possibilities now hidden from us, they of the lesser glories after education and advancement within those spheres may at last emerge from them and make their way to the higher degrees of glory until at last they attain to the highest, is not revealed in the revelations of God, and any statement made on the subject must partake more or less of the nature of conjecture. But if it be granted that such a thing is possible, they who at the first entered into the celestial glory—having before them the privilege also of eternal progress—have been moving onward, so that the relative distance between them and those who have fought their way up from the lesser glories may be as great when the latter have come into the degrees of celestial glory in which the righteous at first stood, as it was at the commencement. Thus: Those whose faith and works are such only as to enable them to inherit a telestial glory, may arrive at last where those whose works in this life were such as to enable them to entrance into the celestial kingdom—they may arrive where these were, but never where they are.

There is a class of souls with whom the justice of God must deal, which will not and cannot be classified in the celestial, terrestrial or telestial glories. They are the sons of perdition. But though they will not be assigned a place in either of these grand divisions of glory, the revelation from which we have drawn our information respecting man's future state describes the condition of these sons of perdition so far as it is made known unto the children of men. It also informs us as to the nature of the crime which calls for such grievous punishment.

The sons of perdition are they of whom God hath said that it had been better for them never to have been born; for they are vessels of wrath doomed to suffer the wrath of God with the devil and his angels in eternity. Concerning whom he hath said there is no forgiveness in this world nor in the world to come. These are they who shall go away into everlasting punishment, with the devil and his angels and the only ones on whom the second death shall have any power; the only ones who will not be redeemed in the due time of the Lord after the sufferings of his wrath. He saves all the works of his hands except the sons of perdition; but they go away to reign with the devil and his angels in eternity, where their worm dieth not, and the fire is not quenched, which is their torment. The end thereof, the place thereof no man knoweth. It has not been revealed nor will it be revealed unto man, except to them who are made partakers thereof. It has been partially shown to some in vision, and may be shown again in the same partial manner to others; but the end, the width, the heighth, the depth and the misery thereof they understand not, nor will it be revealed to any but those who receive the terrible condemnation.[24]

Such the punishment, now, as to the crime that merits it. It is the crime of high treason to God which pulls down on men this fearful doom. It falls upon men who know the power of God and who have been made partakers of it, and then permit themselves to be so far overcome of the devil that they deny the truth that has been revealed to them and defy the power of God. They deny the Holy Ghost after having received it. They deny the Only Begotten Son of the Father after the Father has revealed him, and thus crucify him unto themselves anew, and put him to an open shame. They commit the same act of high treason that Lucifer in the rebellion of heaven did, and hence are condemned to the same punishment. Thank God, the number who commit that fearful crime is few! Only those who attain to a very great knowledge of the things of heaven are capable of committing it; and the number among such is few indeed who become so recklessly wicked as to rebel against and defy the power of God. But when such characters do fall, they fall like Lucifer, never to rise again; they get beyond the power of repentance or the hope of forgiveness.[25]

Carried away by the beauty, consistency and grandeur of these doctrines, how far I have wandered from the line of direct argument! And yet not so; for these very doctrines breathing as they do a spirit so purely charitable, laden with joy for the living and hope for even the unconverted dead, manifesting such a spirit of universal love, so every way broad, noble and Godlike, they are within themselves the strongest arguments that they are not merely human conceptions. As "the heavens declare the glory of God, and the firmament sheweth his handiwork," so these doctrines proclaim that the mind which fashioned them was inspired of God. In other words they were not conceptions of the human mind, but are the outgrowth of revelation direct from God; and bespeak a divine authority for him who in this generation first taught them to the world.

But how comprehensive is this New Dispensation! The Dispensation of the Fullness of Times, truly; in which God is gathering "together in one all things in Christ, both which are in heaven and which are in earth!" A dispensation in which all former dispensations find their complement, and without which they would be meaningless. Nothing is omitted essential to its completeness. In it all the prophecies of the scripture either have been fulfilled, are in process of fulfillment, or are in contemplation, that is, the way is being prepared for their accomplishment.

In viewing a work so vast in its designs, so complete in what it is accomplishing and what it contemplates, one stands over-awed at the boldness of the conceptions involved in it; and as its real greatness begins to be comprehended by the understanding, the folly of accrediting such a work to Joseph Smith uninspired of God becomes apparent. There is no proportion between such a work and the uninspired intelligence of Joseph Smith, or any other man. It is too universal in its sympathies, too broad in its contemplated achievements, too great, in every way too splendid to be referred to a merely human origin. And I assert again that as the grandeur of the universe forces upon the mind the conviction that behind all its phenomena, there must be an intelligence operating infinitely greater than that possessed by man, so the comprehensiveness of the New Dispensation proclaims an intelligence superior to that possessed by man for the origin of it; and which can only be attributed to the inspiration of God in him who was the instrument by which it was brought into existence.

Footnotes

1. Mal. iv: 5, 6.

2. Doc. and Cov. Sec. cx.

3. The following passages are largely adapted from the writer's work "Outlines of Ecclesiastical History."

4. Eccl. xi.

5. The revelation was given in March, 1830; Doc. and Cov. Sec. xix.

6. Mark xvi: 16.

7. See "Augustine's City of God." Part II.; book xx and xxi.

8. Ch. xxxiii.

9. I. Peter iii. 18-21.

10. Christ's Mission to the Under World (Huidekoper), 4th edition, p. 49. Huidekoper's volume, 185 pages, is a most valuable collection of Christian tradition and teaching on this subject.

11. Church of England—Book of Common Prayer, p 311.

12. p. 798.

13. I. Peter iv: 6.

14. I. Cor. xv: 29.

15. Heresies xxviii: 7.

16. A temple was erected in Kirtland, Ohio, and dedicated in 1836, though at the time little was known of the character of the work to be performed in such kind of structures. A temple site was dedicated at Independence, Missouri; another at Far West in the same state. One was erected at Nauvoo and there the ordinance work for the dead was begun. Since settling in the Rocky Mountains the church has erected four splendid temples, in which up to December, 1893, there have been 683,377 baptisms for the dead; of ordinations to the priesthood, for the dead, 20,232; of endowments, 310,511; of sealings (including wives to husbands and children to parents—three temples reported), 69,749.

17. Heb. xi: 39, 40.

18. Rom. ii: 6-12. I, Cor. iii: 8. II. Cor. v: 10. Rev. ii. 23. Rev. xx: 12.

19. St. John xiv: 1-3.

20. An exception must be made in the case of the Roman Catholic Church. Catholics do not believe that all Christians at death go immediately into heaven, but on the contrary "believe that a Christian who dies after the guilt and everlasting punishment of mortal sins have been forgiven him, but who, either from want of opportunity or through his negligence has not discharged the debt of temporal punishment due to his sin, will have to discharge that debt to the justice of God in purgatory." "Purgatory is a state of suffering after this life, in which those souls are for a time detained, which depart this life after their deadly sins have been remitted as to the stain and guilt, and as to the everlasting pain that was due to them; but which souls have on account of those sins still some temporal punishment to pay; as also those souls which leave this world guilty only of venial (that is pardonable) sins. In purgatory these souls are purified and rendered fit to enter into heaven, where nothing defiled enters." The quotations in the above are from "Catholic Belief," by Bruno, D. D., of the Catholic church. As all works of the Catholic church accessible to me have nothing on the different degrees of glory, I conclude that Catholic teaching is that they who attain unto heaven are all equal in glory.

21. I. Kings viii: 27.

22. II. Cor. xii: 1-4.

23. The circumstances under which the revelation was given are these: The Prophet Joseph and Sidney Rigdon were engaged in revising the Jewish scriptures. When they came to St. John, ch. v: 29—speaking of the resurrection of the dead, concerning those that should hear the voice of the Son of Man and come forth, instead of reading as in the text of our common English Bibles—"And shall come forth; they that have done good, unto the resurrection of life; and they that have done evil, unto the resurrection of damnation," the following was given to them by the Spirit: "And shall come forth, they who have done good in the resurrection of the just, and they who have done evil in the resurrection of the unjust." This reading of the passage caused them to marvel, as it was given to them by inspiration; and while they pondered on this thing the Spirit of God enveloped them and they saw the Lord Jesus Christ and those different glories which men will inherit, an account of which is given in the text. The vision is recorded in Doc. and Cov. Sec. lxxvi.

24. "Servants of God, but not Gods, nor the Sons of God," remarks Apostle Orson Pratt in his footnote on the passage from which this is condensed. Doc. and Cov. Sec. lxxvi: 112.

25. Doc. and Cov. Sec. lxxvi.

CHAPTER XXVII.

EVIDENCE OF INSPIRATION DERIVED FROM THE WISDOM IN THE PLAN PROPOSED FOR THE BETTERMENT OF THE TEMPORAL CONDITION OF MANKIND.

The New Dispensation of the gospel of Jesus Christ does not regard alone the spiritual welfare of man; it contemplates also his temporal salvation. That is, it looks to the amelioration of those conditions which today render the lot of by far the greater portion of the human race so hard to endure.

Nothing can be more patent to the understanding than the fact that the basis of all our commercial or other industrial enterprises, is selfishness. The selfish desire for wealth that ease and luxury may follow and be enjoyed, or power wielded that shall administer to family pride or vain ambition, seems to have taken complete possession of the thoughts of civilized man, and well nigh fills up the sphere of his activity. Almost unconsciously selfishness has been intensified in our modern life. The inventions of our time have greatly multiplied human conveniences and luxuries. Ease that springs from affluence has been brought within the reach of a greater number of people than at any other time in the world's history; yet those who have entered within the charmed circle of the enjoyment of ease and luxury are not satisfied. Something is lacking to the completeness of their contentment. They see for one thing the instability of their wealth, and note what small affairs may wrest it from them. So that the fear of losing what is possessed is well nigh as tormenting as the inability to gain riches. The wish to permanently secure that which is possessed, and in like security have it descend to their posterity occasions as much anxiety and effort on the part of the rich, as the determination to come to the possession of wealth occasions the less fortunate—the envious poor.

Instead of this wider distribution of comforts and luxuries among mankind contributing to the sum of human contentment, it has increased its restlessness; for luxury being more commonly paraded in the face of the masses has maddened all with a desire to possess it, and, failing in that, life is felt to be scarce worth the living. But possession is possible only to the few; the great mass of humanity is excluded from its attainment.

This success of the few and the failure of the many divides civilized communities into two classes—the proud and the envious. It also results in the division of communities into capitalists and laborers; the former living in affluence on the proceeds of their wealth, the latter, for the most part, eking out an existence on the insufficient means secured through their labor. Capital, it must be said, feels power and forgets right; labor in its despair grows desperate and violates the law. Capital, to secure and perpetuate its interests, combines into huge corporations which control production and the markets, waters its stock, bribes legislatures, congresses and parliaments; oppresses labor in its wages, robs the people; and having thrived by its chicanery and fraud, laughs at all attempts to wrest from it the spoils in which it revels.

Labor, to protect itself against the ever-increasing greed and power of capital, forms societies and leagues and asks not only what is easily recognized as its rights, but often demands that which capital cannot give. Each confident in its ability to coerce the other, lockouts and strikes follow, with the result that not infrequently the conflict ends in civil strife, lawlessness and bloodshed.

Meantime wealth accumulates in the hands of the few; and if every year does not see the condition of the masses growing worse and worse, it is a fact at least that there is no just proportion between the increasing gains of the capitalists and the wages of the laborers. As a result, the bitterness between employer and the employed increases every year; and the sphere of our industrial activities, instead of presenting a scene of harmony and good-will, where the interests of both capital and labor are recognized as existing in common, and the welfare of both dependent on each, it represents more nearly the scene of two hostile camps where distrust and jealousy have arrayed the respective parties for deadly conflict.

Philosophers and philanthropists who have seen and deplored the evils of our modern system of economics have not been wanting; but only a few have ventured to propose remedies. Of these some have suggested cooperative methods in trade, in manufactures, in commerce and other labor, with an equal distribution of profits, as not only securing the conservation of energy, but also a more equitable basis of economics than our present individual and competitive methods. Many attempts have been made to carry out these principles in practice, and for a time, in several instances, partial success has been attained. In the end, however, human greed, weakness, or individual necessity, real or imagined, together with inability to make the system universal—a condition necessary to the system's success, according to the claims of its advocates—have proven too much for these attempts at co-operation, and the several enterprises have either drifted into the hands of a corporation or become the concerns of individuals, or else have been absolutely abandoned.

Others seeing the failure of voluntary attempts to secure the benefits of the co-operative system, have advocated the enlargement of the powers of the State to the extent of consigning to it the management of all industry; so far taking control of the individual as to compel him to work, according to his capacity and remunerate him according to his wants.

Others have gone even further than this, and proposed not only to make the individual a creature of the State, in relation to the matter of labor and wages, but to control him in all the relations of life, even invading the domestic relations to the extent of abolishing the marriage institution and all domestic government founded on paternal authority. These last two suggestions, with various amplifications, are classed as socialism and communism respectively. The former has many advocates in nearly all civilized countries, especially in Germany and France, where they wield a political influence of considerable potency. The latter, communism, since the abortive efforts of Robert Owen in England, of St. Simon and Fourier in France, and M. Cabet—the disciple of Fourier—at Nauvoo, Illinois, United States, may be considered as relegated to the graveyard of impracticable theories which from time to time have engaged the attention of philosophical minds with a bent for speculation in human affairs.

But bad as our modern system of economics may be, with all its manifest absurdities in the waste of energy, the unfairness in the distribution of the products of industry, still mankind has, so far, preferred to endure its known evils and incongruities rather than to trust their fortunes to the proposed systems of the socialists and communists.

The New Dispensation of the Gospel, however, contemplating as it does the ushering in of that era of peace on earth and goodwill among men of which angels have sung and prophets written, must perforce and does, as I remarked at the opening of this chapter, take account of the social and industrial conditions prevailing, and offers a solution for the difficulties presented which, while within the possibility of performance, is effectual as a remedy for the evils under which humanity groans. Failure to do this would have been a grave defect in a work making the pretensions of that founded by Joseph Smith. Moreover, since what it has to offer as a solution of existing industrial inequalities and evils is either based on or is itself direct revelation from God, the Divine wisdom must appear in the plan proposed for the betterment of humanity's condition. All this mankind has a right to expect of a divine plan for such a purpose, and all this I claim for the plan revealed through Joseph Smith.

That plan does not begin with the community or the nation, and through the community or state seek to reach the individual. While not ignoring the value of institutions or the necessity for favorable conditions, it does not put its whole trust in arbitrary institutions or regulations for the successful accomplishment of its purposes. It comes first to the individual with a cry of repentance, with an appeal to turn unto righteousness. It teaches him that by repentance, accompanied with true and holy faith in God, he may attain through baptism to a remission of sins, to a consciousness of renewed innocence, lost through transgression, and to the possession of the Holy Ghost. This last adds to his own strength, in some degree, the strength of the Almighty God. Through its influence he is guided into all truth, taught a knowledge of the things of heaven, receives a testimony that Jesus is the Christ; by it he is reproved for his errors; commended for resisting evil; prompted in uncertainty; by courting its influence and listening to its counsels he is purified in heart, is purged of his lusts and his selfishness, loves his neighbor as himself, and is ready to seek another's rather than his own good.

It is with an element such as this—cleansed and purified by such a process, and thus made fit for the Master's use—that the plan revealed through Joseph Smith proposes to deal. It is an evidence that other schemes for the amelioration of the distresses of mankind originated in the petty wisdom of man that they did not take into account the necessary preparation of the elements for their model communities. And let me observe, in passing, that that preparation can only be made through the Gospel of Jesus Christ and the spirit of it outlined above. It is vain for men to seek to build up communities in which selfishness shall be abolished, and love and goodwill abound, until they have developed in the separate units that are to compose it the same qualities that are to be characteristic of the community; for communities can be no better than the individuals that compose them. As well might men hope to mix to the same consistency pieces of iron and pieces of clay, make a rope of dry sand, or do anything else impossible, as to undertake to organize a society in which want shall be abolished, unselfishness abound, and all the virtues prevail, with men unrighteous, proud, envious, jealous, lustful, suspicious, treacherous and possessed of no higher gauge of right and truth than human intelligence. Here, then, begins to be seen the wisdom of the plan for the temporal salvation of mankind revealed through Joseph Smith: it begins with the individual—with the preparation of the elements.

Next to the preparation of the elements, the plan recognizes the Fatherhood of God and the brotherhood of man. It also recognizes the fact that the earth is the Lord's; that it is his by right of proprietorship. He created it and sustains it by his power, and man's right to the portions of it he seizes so greedily can only be that of a steward. Following these principles to their legitimate conclusion, the plan contemplates the complete consecration unto the Lord all the possessions of those who accept it. The person who desires to make the consecration brings his possessions to the bishop of the Church, and delivers them to him, with a deed and covenant that cannot be broken.[1] The consecration is complete.

The person so consecrating his possessions, whether they be great or small, if it be a full consecration, has claim upon the bishop for a stewardship out of the consecrated properties of the Church. That stewardship may be a farm, a factory, a publishing house, mercantile establishment, a home with the privilege of following a trade or profession, according to individual tastes, abilities or capacities. The stewardships are secured to those unto whom they are granted by a deed and covenant that cannot be broken, hence the stewards are secured in their stewardships.

The income from a stewardship over and above that needed for the maintenance of the steward and his family, is consecrated to the Lord's storehouse, where all the surplus means from the community is, in like manner, collected. Said surplus to be used, first, in supplying the deficiency where stewardships fail to yield sufficient income for the necessities of those who possess them; second, to form or purchase new stewardships for such as have not received any; third, to supply those with means who may need it for the improvement or enlargement of their respective stewardships; fourth, the purchase of lands for the public benefit, to establish new enterprises, develop resources, build houses of worship, temples, send abroad the Gospel, or for anything else that looks to the general welfare and the founding of the Kingdom of Heaven on earth.

The several stewards have claim upon the general fund created by the consecration of the surplus of each, for the means necessary to the improvement or enlargement of the business entrusted to him as his stewardship; and so long as he is in full fellowship with the Church, and is a wise and faithful steward, his application to the treasurer of the general fund is to be respected by being granted; the treasurer, of course, being accountable to the Church for his management of the general fund, and subject to removal in the event of incompetency or transgression.

Each steward is independent in the management of his stewardship, and is the master of his own time. He must pay for that which he buys; he can insist on payment for that which he sells. He has no claim upon the stewardship of his neighbor; his neighbor has no claim upon his stewardship; but both have claim, as also have their children—when the latter come of age and start in life for themselves—upon the collected surplus in the Lord's storehouse, to aid them in the event of their needing assistance.

The various branches or ecclesiastical wards of the Church, where the above plan of managing the temporal affairs of life is carried out, are each to be independent in the management of their respective storehouses, subject of course to the general supervision of the presiding bishop of the Church and of the First Presidency.

Such is a brief and, I fear, because of my effort to be brief, a rather imperfect outline of the plan for the management of the temporal affairs of life in the Church of Christ. It is a system which contemplates the humiliation of the rich and the exaltation of the poor, by the operation of consecration and stewardship, above described. By the act of consecration both the rich man and the poor one make a formal acknowledgement that the earth and the fullness thereof is the Lord's; and by receiving back a stewardship, each receives that which his wants demand, or that his capacity will warrant placing under his management; and which may be added upon as he gives increased evidence of faithfulness and ability to wisely control the stewardship for his own and the general good.

The plan recognizes the truth that there is enough and to spare in the earth to provide plentifully for all the wants of the human race; for all its necessities and all reasonable luxuries, if the wealth created by the race's industry be justly distributed. In it, too, is recognized the truth that transcendent abilities for the manipulation of the elements or the management of affairs by which wealth is created are not possessed that they might minister alone to personal advantage, or pride, or ambition; nor are they to be employed alone for the benefit of the possessor's family. This plan revealed to Joseph Smith teaches a nobler and higher use of abilities than this; a broader field of sympathy than that which merely comprehends a family. A great mind in any department of abilities, and no less in financial or temporal affairs than in law, or government, or literature, belongs to the race, and is God's best gift to it; for through it God, in part, shines. The employment of talents and genius for the common interest is to be the outgrowth of universal sympathy and a willingness to co-operate with God to bring to pass the eternal life, and, both in time and eternity, the eternal happiness of man. Hence it is written that the inhabitant of Zion shall labor for Zion and if he labor for money he shall perish with his money.

The plan also recognizes the dignity of all labor; and provides that the idler shall be had in remembrance before the Lord.[2] Idleness is an offense against the doctrine of the gospel and has received God's severe condemnation; for he has declared that the "idler shall not eat the bread, nor wear the garments of the laborer,"[3] nor have place in the church, except he repents.[4]

It will be observed that the plan revealed through Joseph Smith, while differing from the present selfish and competitive system, is neither state socialism nor communism. It neither makes man the creature of the state, nor invades the sanctity of his fireside. It preserves a healthy individualism in that it allows each man control of his own stewardship, and makes him the disposer of his own time. It provides for the general welfare in that it centralizes all the surplus means of the community and places it at the disposal of the wisest men who apportion it out to the improvement of enterprises or stewardships under the management of men of demonstrated ability and approved integrity; or who employ it in the development of new enterprises, or distribute it in new stewardships to those who as yet may not have received them. This system therefore guards against want and destitution on the one hand; while on the other it collects the surplus means to be used in those new enterprises, the success of which shall remove the community further and ever further from poverty and wretchedness which is now at once the world's anxiety and shame.

By this plan the anxiety of the fathers to secure estates or a fortune for their posterity is relieved, since their children will have claim upon the surplus property of the community for a stewardship when they are prepared to start in life. And since the prosperity and success of their children depends upon the success and prosperity of the community, the fathers shall in that find an incentive to honorable exertion. The children find no fortune to squander, no opportunity to grow up in idleness, or contract those vices which unfit them for life's serious affairs. But trained from youth to be industrious, and starting with a stewardship that by industry and economy shall minister to their necessities, and enable them to contribute something to the general good, they have an opportunity by wise management of their stewardship, the improvement and enlargement of it, to demonstrate their abilities, rise in public esteem and have more and still more entrusted to their control, until they reach a position where they can do all the good they are capable of doing, or that is in their hearts to accomplish.

The two prime objections to co-operative methods, state socialism and communism are, first, that by taking the proceeds of individual industry, talent or transcendent financial abilities and applying them to the common good rather than to individual aggrandizement, one of the chief incentives to earnest endeavor is stricken down; and second, by creating an assurance in the minds of individuals that their wants will be provided for out of a common fund and that necessity cannot overtake them, the other chief incentive to industry is swept aside. In other words it is held that ambition and the fear of coming to want are the chief incentives to human activity. Remove these incentives to action, it is contended, and you have, of course, a listless, idle and hence non-progressive community, that all too soon from want of motive principle would come to poverty, ignorance and at last to dissolution.

These are held to be the vices of the schemes of socialists and communists, so far as the industrial phase of their plans is concerned, and I anticipate that the same objections will be urged to the plan for the temporal salvation of mankind revealed through Joseph Smith.

Volumes have been written upon the unworthiness of a desire for personal aggrandizement, and man's necessities being regarded as the chief incentives to human activity; and it is not my purpose to add anything to the mass of matter that exists on that subject. Indeed, taking average humanity as it is, rather than what idealists would have it or believe it to be, and I am rather of the opinion that the objection urged against socialism and communism in regard to the industrial phase of these schemes is a good one; and that however unworthy the gratification of personal ambition and the fear of want may be as incentives to industry, they are, nevertheless, the prime incentives to action; and if removed, there is grave reason to fear that what the objectors to community of effort and of interests predict, would come to pass. My point is that this objection can be of no force against a system in which individualism is not stricken down. A man's success in the management of his stewardship in the plan revealed through Joseph Smith, depends upon his individual effort; and though the system requires the consecration, from time to time, of the surplus arising from the management of the stewardships, it is also provided that the stewards shall have claim upon the general fund for whatever means they may require to improve or enlarge their stewardships. But the chances of obtaining means to make such improvement or enlargement depends upon the capabilities the individual has developed, in the management of that already committed to his care; hence his advancement, his growth and standing in the community, together with the comfort, convenience and beauty of his surroundings depend primarily upon his individual exertion.

Furthermore, it must be remembered that the system revealed through Joseph Smith teaches as a religious duty the consecration and employment of individual abilities for the common good; and it also teaches that industry and economy are religious duties.

It is by preparing the units of which society is composed through the acceptance and practice of the gospel; by preserving all that is desirable in individualism and at the same time abundantly providing for the common good; by recognizing the religious sentiment and righteousness as elements necessary to its success; by teaching that it is the duty of those possessed of transcendent abilities to employ them for the common good; by inculcating that humility that shall make those possessed of humbler abilities willing to labor in less exalted spheres, and, above all, by depending upon the enlightening and directing influence of the Holy Ghost, as well in each member of the community as in the appointed leaders, that the plan for the amelioration of the present distressed condition of society, revealed through Joseph Smith, hopes in the end to achieve success.

If I am told that the success of this plan depends upon too many contingencies; that the attainment of all of them is impracticable; that humanity can never be brought to that excellence of individual and community righteousness that the plan requires; my answer would be that the condition of the world, then, is hopeless; for this is the only plan which can bring to pass the amelioration of the hard conditions under which mankind is sinking. But I do not at all despair of the success of it. If it cannot immediately be made universal, its success will be made manifest in the church of Christ; and as the peace, prosperity and happiness of those that accept it indicate the wisdom that constructed it, more and more will seek its benefits, until all the children of men shall bask in its blessings.

Footnotes

1. Doc and Cov. sec. xlii: 30-32.

2. Doc. and Cov. Sec. lxviii: 30.

3. Doc. and Cov. Sec. xlii: 42.

4. Doc. and Cov. Sec. lxxv: 29.

CHAPTER XXVIII.

EVIDENCE OF DIVINE INSPIRATION IN JOSEPH SMITH DERIVED FROM THE PROPHET'S TEACHING IN REGARD TO THE EXTENT OF THE UNIVERSE, MAN'S PLACE IN IT, AND HIS DOCTRINE RESPECTING THE GODS.

If the church Joseph Smith organized is a monument to his divine inspiration; if the comprehensiveness of the work he introduced gives evidence that more than human wisdom was necessary to conceive it; if his proposed reconstruction of society as to its industrial aspects proclaims for him a divine wisdom—a still greater evidence of inspiration is to be seen in the prophet's teaching on the extent of the universe, man's place in it, and his doctrine respecting the Gods.

To make this appear it will be necessary to state briefly the opinions entertained on these subjects by those accepting orthodox Christianity before the introduction of the New Dispensation. Indeed, I may go as far back as the fifteenth and sixteenth centuries in this statement, in order that the reader may see what the real orthodox faith on all these subjects was before modern discoveries forced upon it some modification of its views.

In the centuries named the geocentric theory respecting the universe prevailed. That is, it was believed that the earth was in shape flat, and the immovable centre of the universe; that about it circled sun, moon and stars in regular order. Indeed it was supposed that the specific and only purpose for which the sun was formed was to give light and heat to the earth; and the moon and stars were formed to give light by night in the absence of the sun. Above the earth was bent the vast dome of the blue sky, its edges apparently resting on the circumfluous waters. Above the blue sky was heaven, the abode of God and the blest; and under the earth was the dark region of hell, into which was thrust the wicked—the damned. It was believed that God, about six thousand years ago, created by a word, out of nothing, all this universe—earth, sun, moon, stars, and all things in the earth. That man and all living creatures were moulded from the dust, and then had breathed into them the spirit of life, and so became living creatures. This was the view "authoritatively asserted by the church,"[1] in the centuries I have designated.

There were, however, in those centuries a few bold spirits who held views at variance with those accepted by the orthodox. These believed in the heliocentric theory—the theory which regards the sun as the centre of our planetary system, and that the earth is comparatively a small and subordinate body revolving around it. This view was maintained by Nicholas Cusa, afterwards Cardinal Cusa, at the Council of Basil, in 1431. About a century later—1543—the great Copernicus issued the first formal announcement, in modern times, of the heliocentric theory. What storms of opposition the great philosopher anticipated may readily be perceived in the preface to his work. That preface was addressed to Pope Paul III., and in it, after referring to the imperfections of the prevailing theory, he states that he had sought among ancient writers for a better, and so had learned the heliocentric doctrine.[2] "I, too, began to meditate on the motion of the earth, and though it appeared an absurd opinion, yet, since I knew that in previous times others had been allowed the privilege of feigning what circles they chose in order to explain the phenomena, I conceived that I might take the liberty of trying whether, on the supposition of the earth's motion, it was possible to find better explanations than the ancient ones of the revolutions of the celestial orbs. * * * Though I know that the thoughts of a philosopher do not depend on the judgment of the many, his study being to seek truth in all things as far as is permitted by God to human reason, yet when I considered how absurd my doctrine would appear, I long hesitated whether I should publish my book, or whether it were not better to follow the example of the Pythagoreans and others, who delivered their doctrines only by tradition and to friends. * * * If there be vain babblers who, knowing nothing of mathematics, yet assume the right of judging on account of some place of scripture perversely wrested to their purpose, and who blame and attack my undertaking—I heed them not, and look upon their judgment as rash and contemptible."

In addition to recognizing the sun as the real centre of planetary motions, Copernicus taught also that the earth was a planet which turned upon its axis, and revolved around the sun.[3]

The person who most zealously accepted the Copernican system was Giordano Bruno, born in Italy, 1550. In his book, "The Plurality of Worlds," he taught that space is infinite; that every star is a sun having opaque planets revolving around it; and that these planets are inhabited. Bruno was a man of aggressive disposition and pushed his doctrines on public attention irrespective of consequences to himself. Because of his peculiar views he was compelled to flee from Italy. He first went to Switzerland, thence to England, where he delivered lectures at Oxford on Cosmology. Here his views were met with intolerance and he fled to France. Meeting with persecution in France, he next fled to Germany, and from thence ventured to return to Italy. He was arrested at Venice and imprisoned for six years. At the expiration of his long imprisonment he was demanded by the Holy Inquisition to be tried for having written heretical books. Accordingly he was given up to the authorities of Rome; and after an imprisonment of two years was tried, found guilty, excommunicated and delivered over to the secular authorities to be punished. "As mercifully as possible, and without the shedding of his blood," reads the sentence which delivered him to the secular authorities; "the abominable formula," remarks Draper, "for burning a man alive."[4] He was burned at Rome on the 16th of February, 1600. Some of the spectators remarked as he fell out of sight in the consuming flames that his soul had doubtless gone to some of the imaginary worlds of whose existence he had been so positive.[5]

It is suspected that this harsh treatment of Bruno, and in his person of the Copernican theory itself, checked for a time speculation on the lines of thought which Cusa, Copernicus and Bruno followed. Investigation, however, was afoot, and in an age when the people were just awakening to a sense of intellectual freedom, it could not be expected that a subject of such great interest would long remain unagitated. The man who next championed the Copernican system was the immortal Galileo. Early in the seventeenth century he invented the telescope, and by its aid made numerous discoveries which demonstrated the truth of the Copernican theory. He discovered that the planet Venus had phases like the moon, which demonstrated for her a motion around the sun. The discovery of this fact well nigh silenced the opposition to the Copernican theory, at least, among its more intelligent opponents who were capable of appreciating the value of the discovery. "If the doctrine of Copernicus be true," they had said, "the planet Venus ought to show phases like the moon which is not the case." But the telescope of Galileo proved that Venus had phases and hence furnished the proof demanded by the objectors to the Copernican theory.

By means of his telescope Galileo also discovered the existence of innumerable stars not visible to the unaided eye. The ignorant multitude who assailed the Copernican theory of the universe, starting to argue from the supposition that the stars had been created merely to give light by night, said that since the stars which Galileo claimed to have discovered could not be seen by the naked eye, they could be of no use in giving light to the earth and therefore they did not exist!

Galileo by turning his telescope upon the moon found that she had mountains casting shadows, and valleys like those of the earth. He also discovered the four satellites of Jupiter, and their movement about their primary. As this furnished an illustration in miniature of the Copernican theory of the solar system, it was hailed with great delight by the ever increasing number that accepted the heliocentric doctrine.

Galileo, like Bruno, lacked the caution that characterized Copernicus, and by boldly affirming the truth of the heliocentric doctrine, he brought upon himself the displeasure of the orthodox party, and finally the condemnation of the church. The controversy which arose over his doctrines and discoveries would require too much space to detail here. Let it be sufficient to say that he was tried before the Inquisition for teaching as a positive truth that the earth moves; that the sun is stationary; and attempting to reconcile these doctrines with the scriptures. He acknowledged the charges made against him, and thereupon was commanded on pain of imprisonment to renounce these heretical opinions and pledge himself for the future not to defend or publish them. Doubtless the fate of Bruno, still sufficiently recent to be vividly remembered, influenced the conduct of the astronomer, for he gave the necessary pledges. The Inquisition in passing sentence on Galileo took occasion to say something of the Copernican system itself, denouncing it as "that false Pythagorean doctrine utterly contrary to the Holy Scriptures."

Galileo after his condemnation by the Inquisition received some kindnesses both from Pope Paul V, and Urban VIII, his successor, and from other high ecclesiastical authorities. Whether or not the considerate and even flattering treatment he received from these popes led him to think he could with impunity break the pledge he had so solemnly given the church not to publish more about or defend the Copernican doctrine, is difficult to determine; but it is a fact that he broke that pledge by publishing in 1632, the work entitled "The system of the world," the purpose of which was to establish the truth of the heliocentric doctrine. He was again summoned before the Holy Inquisition. His offenses were recited and he was told that he had brought upon himself the suspicion of heresy, and was liable to the penalties thereof—imprisonment or death. The Inquisition, however, was inclined to be merciful, and agreed to give him absolution for his offenses if with real intent of heart he would adjure and curse his heresies. This the now aged philosopher consented to do. But that he might be a warning to others he was to be kept a prisoner at the pleasure of his judges, his new work was prohibited by public edict, and for three years he was condemned to recite once a week the penitential psalms. "In his garment of disgrace the aged philosopher was now made to fall upon his knees before the assembled cardinals, and with his hand upon the gospels, to make the required abjuration of the heliocentric doctrine and to give the pledges demanded. He was then committed to the prison of the Inquisition. The persons who had been concerned in the printing of his book were punished; and the sentence and abjuration were formally promulgated, and ordered to be publicly read in the universities."[6]

It has been claimed that Galileo as he rose from his humble posture before the cardinals exclaimed,—soto voce—"ep pur si muove!"[7] Whether the philosopher ever made the remark may be doubtful, but the truth nevertheless was that it did move, and it found those of a more daring spirit than Galileo to affirm it. Among these was Galileo's contemporary, the great Kepler.[8] He lived in Protestant Germany where, though as bitterly opposed by the Protestant Christians of Germany as Galileo was by the Catholics of Italy; and his advocacy and defense of the Copernican theory as emphatically condemned by the Theological Faculty of Tubingen as the Italian philosopher's efforts in the same line were by the Inquisition, yet, though the Academical Senate of Tubingen might prevent the publication of his works, he could not be threatened with death or imprisonment, nor could he be compelled to deny the truths he had discovered.

Kepler relieved the Copernican system from the erroneous hypothesis of circular orbits for the planets, by proving that the orbits were elliptical and have the sun as a common focus. This first discovery, known as Kepler's first law, together with his other two laws of planetary motion, establish the Copernican system upon an immovable basis by adding to the fact of the motion of the planets around the sun, the other fact that that motion is under the influence of never-varying mathematical law.

But one thing was lacking to complete the triumph of the new theory—an explanation of the force which held the planets in their orbits and balanced the universe. That explanation came in Newton's great law of gravitation, by which it is made know that "Every portion of matter in the universe attracts every other portion with a force varying directly as the product of the masses acted upon, and inversely as the square of the distance between them."[9]

The explanation of the Copernican system was now complete, and everywhere triumphant. Meantime larger and more powerful telescopes were being invented which constantly extended man's knowledge of the immensity of the universe. It is estimated that the unaided eye can see from five to eight thousand of the fixed stars; but with the aid of our modern telescopes, though no very reliable computation has yet been made, it is estimated that between thirty and fifty millions are visible;[10] and it only requires the invention of larger or more perfect telescopes to increase the number of God's creations to our already astonished vision!

It could only be expected that the facts discovered by our exact scientists would set in motion those of a speculative turn of mind. Among those most noted for outstripping the plodding scientists and plunging into speculation were Kant[11] and Johann Heinrich Lambert.[12] The former taking the now well-known construction of the planetary system as the basis of his speculation advanced the idea that the whole stellar universe was constructed on the same plan. That is, as the planets of our solar system revolved about a common centre, and are kept from falling into each other or into the sun by the centrifugal force generated by their revolutions in their orbits, "so Kant supposed the stars to be kept apart by a revolution around some common centre."[13]

At that time but little, if anything, was known positively about the proper motion of the stars; and the objection was made to his theory that the stars were found to occupy not only the same position from year to year, but from age to age, and therefore could not be moving about a centre. To this the philosopher replied that the motion of the stars was so slow, their distances from us so immense, and the time of their revolutions so long that the movement was imperceptible to us, but he doubted not that "future generations by combining their observations with those of their predecessors, would find that there actually was a motion among the stars."[14]

Lambert, the contemporary and a correspondent of Kant's, supposed "the universe to be arranged in a system of different orders. The smallest systems which we know are those made up of a planet with its satellites circulating around it as a center. The next system in order of magnitude is a solar system, in which a number of smaller systems are each carried round the sun. Each individual star which we see is a sun, and has its retinue of planets revolving round it, so that there are as many solar systems as stars. These systems are not, however, scattered at random, but are divided up into greater systems which appear in our telescopes as clusters of stars. An immense number of these clusters make up our galaxy, and form the visible universe as seen in our telescopes. There may be yet greater systems, each made up of galaxies, and so on indefinitely, only their distance is so immense as to elude our observation. Each of the smaller systems visible to us has its central body, the mass of which is much greater than that of those which revolve around it. This feature Lambert supposed to extend to other systems. As the planets are larger than their satellites, and the sun larger than its planets, so he supposed each stellar cluster to have a great central body round which each solar system revolved. As these central bodies are invisible to us, he supposed them to be opaque and dark. All the systems from the smallest to the greatest, were supposed to be bound together by the one universal law of gravitation."[15]

This of course in Lambert was speculative conjecture, based on the few facts that astronomers had discovered up to his day. There was no evidence, astronomers said, of the existence of the opaque centers referred to by Lambert, and they relegate the sublime ideas of the philosopher to the realm of pure speculation.

Later the German astronomer Madler[16] attempted to show from an examination he made of the motion of the stars that the whole steller universe was revolving around the star Alcyone, in the constellation of Pleiades. No more weight, however, has been given by astronomers to the conjectures of Madler than to those of Kant or Lambert. The ideas of all three have been held to be mere baseless speculation.[17] There is this to say, however, in favor of the theories of Kant, Lambert and Madler, and against the astronomers who condemn their conjectures: the stars which, in the days of the two former, at least, were generally supposed to be stationary and hence called fixed stars, are now known to have "a proper motion," by which astronomers mean "not an absolute motion, but only a motion relative to our system. As the sun moves, he carries the earth and all the planets with him; and if we observe a star at perfect rest while we ourselves are thus moving, the star will appear to move in the opposite direction. * * * Hence from the motion of a single star it is impossible to decide how much of this apparent motion is due to the motion of our system, and how much to the real motion of the star. If, however, we should observe a great number of stars on all sides of us, and find them all apparently moving in the same direction, it would be natural to conclude that it was really our system which was moving and not the stars. When Herschel averaged the proper motions of the stars in different regions of the heavens he found that this was actually the case. In general the stars moved from the direction of the constellation Hercules, and toward the opposite point of the celestial sphere, near the constellation Argues. This would show that, relatively to the general mass of the stars, our sun was moving in the direction of the constellation Hercules."[18]

As our sun is conceded to be one of the stars—one of the smaller ones, too, of the great galaxy that spans the heavens—if it be in motion, the inference that other stars are also in motion is not unreasonable. Indeed they are known to be in motion, but their appears to be, so far as the observations of astronomers enable them to determine, no regularity in that movement more than the general movement noted from the direction of Hercules. "So far as they have yet been observed," says Newcomb, "and indeed so far as they can be observed for many centuries to come, these motions take place in perfectly straight lines. If each star is moving in some orbit, the orbit is so immense that no curvature can be perceived in the short arc which has been described since accurate determinations of the position of the stars began to be made. * * * The stars in all parts of the heavens move in all directions, with all sorts of velocities. It is true that by averaging the proper motions, as it were, we can trace a certain law in them; but this law indicates, not a particular kind of orbit, but only an apparent proper motion, common to all the stars, which is probably due to a real motion of our sun and solar system."[19]

The assertion of the fact on the part of our exact masters in working astronomy that there is a motion among the stars, places under the speculations of Kant, Lambert and Madler the groundwork of a great probability in respect to their main idea, which I understand to be, that as the planets move around the sun in regular order, influenced by unvarying law, so the stars that make up the visible universe move around one or more centres. These centres are yet unknown. Madler may have been mistaken in pointing to Alcyone as that centre, but who shall say that one does not exist?

Meantime we need not follow this matter further. Enough has been said to show that the false geocentric theory has been displaced by the heliocentric doctrine, which has been demonstrated to be true. The earth is no longer looked upon as the centre of the universe, with the sun, the moon and stars especially created to revolve about it, to give it light by day and preserve it from total darkness in the night. The burning of Bruno, the imprisonment of Galileo by the Catholics, the condemnation of the works of Kepler by the Protestants of Germany, could not save the erroneous geocentric theory. It went down as all error in the end must go down. The earth instead of being the immovable centre of the universe is relegated to its true place—it is one of a number of planets, one of the smaller ones—that revolve around the sun. With all its islands and continents; its rivers, lakes and mighty oceans; its mountains and valleys; its towns, cities, and all the tribes of men, together with all their hopes and fears and petty ambitions—all is but a moat in God's sunbeam—a single grain of sand on the seashore! Our solar system itself, magnificent as it is in its greatness, is nevertheless insignificant in comparison with the visible universe of which it is only so small a part.

"As there are other globes like our earth," says a popular author, "so, too, there are other worlds like our solar system. There are self-luminous suns exceeding in number all computation. The dimensions of the earth pass into nothingness in comparison with the dimensions of the solar system, and that system, in its turn, is only an invisible point if placed in relation with the countless hosts of other systems which form, with it, clusters of stars. Our solar system, far from being alone in the universe, is only one of an extensive brotherhood, bound by common laws and subject to like influences. Even on the very verge of creation, where imagination might lay the beginning of the realms of chaos, we see unbounded proofs of order, a regularity in the arrangement of inanimate things, suggesting to us that there are other intellectual creatures like us, the tenants of those islands in the abysses of space.

"Though it may take a beam of light a million years[20] to bring to our view those distant worlds, the end is not yet. Far away in the depths of space we catch the faint gleams of other groups of stars like our own. The finger of a man can hide them in their remoteness. Their vast distances from one another have dwindled into nothing. They and their movements have lost all individuality; the innumerable suns of which they are composed blend all their collected light into one pale milky glow.

"Thus extending our view from the earth to the solar system, from the solar system to the expanse of the group of stars to which we belong, we behold a series of gigantic nebula creations rising up one after another, and forming greater and greater colonies of worlds. No numbers can express them, for they make the firmament a haze of stars. Uniformity, even though it be the uniformity of magnificence, tires at last, and we abandon the survey, for our eyes can only behold a boundless prospect, and conscience tells us our own unspeakable insignificance!"[21]

That philosophy which considered the earth to be the immovable centre of the universe with sun, moon and stars performing a daily revolution about it was not more erroneous than that which asserted the earth and the universe to be instantaneously created about six thousand years ago, out of nothing.

The doctrine that the earth and universe were created out of nothing, need not detain us a moment. The absurdity of such a proposition is self-evident, and is becoming quite generally conceded.

Of the idea that the earth and the heavens, by which I understand is meant the universe, were created about six thousand years ago, it is only necessary to say that the discoveries men made in astronomy led them to question the correctness of that theory. Men have learned that there is a progressive movement in light. That is, the rays of light emitted by an object, "and making us sensible of its presence by impinging on the eye, do not reach us instantaneously, but consume a certain period in their passage. If any sudden visible effect took place in the sun, we would not see it at the absolute moment of its occurrence, but about eight minutes later, this being the time required for light to cross the intervening distance."[22] It is said by astronomers that there are objects in the heavens so distant that it would take many hundreds of thousands of years—allowing that light travels at the rate of 198,000 miles per second—for their light to reach us; and since we see them it necessarily follows that they have existed so long. They, at least, were not created six thousand years ago, but long before that time. If the orthodox theory was wrong as to the time when those distant worlds were created, may it not be equally wrong concerning the age of the earth?

Of course, it cannot be expected that in this work the writer can give any extended review of the evidence which geology furnishes of the great age of the earth. It will be enough to say that when men look upon the earth, and take note of those forces which today are producing the gradual changes in the structure of its islands, continents, mountain ranges and deltas, and then attribute the changes which have evidently taken place in the past to the operation of those same forces, they see on all sides of them evidences of a very great antiquity for the origin of the earth.

It is generally conceded that all the heat we now have upon the surface of the earth comes from the sun; but this only effects the surface of the earth to the extent of a few feet at most. It has been determined, however, by experiments so many times repeated, and in all parts of the earth that it cannot be attributed to any merely local cause, that beyond the few feet of the earth's surface affected by the sun's heat, a stratum of invariable temperature is discovered, beneath which as we descend, the heat increases at the uniform rate of one degree Fahrenheit for every fifty or seventy feet. The uniformity of this rate implies that at no great depth a very high temperature must exist. "We have every reason to believe," remarks Newcomb, "that the increase of say one hundred degrees a mile continues many miles into the interior of the earth. Then we shall have a red heat at a distance of twelve miles, while at the depth of one hundred miles the temperature will be so high as to melt most of the materials which form the solid crust of the globe."[23]

The globular form of the earth is also looked upon as evidence of its original fluidity; while the existence of volcanoes, found all over the land, as well in the frigid as the torrid zone; in ocean beds as well as in the interior of continents, proving that they are not merely local, or depend on restricted areas for the liquid lava they belch forth—are supposed to furnish indisputable evidence that the interior of the earth is now as its whole mass once was, white-hot, molten matter.

Granting that the whole earth was once such a ball of fire, the time for the cooling of such a mass to the present depth of the earth's crust would require a much longer period than the sometime orthodox view of the Bible account of creation allows. "The age of the earth," remarks Draper, "is not a question of authority, not a question of tradition, but a mathematical problem sharply defined; to determine the time of cooling a globe of known diameter, and of given conductibility by radiation in a vacuum."

It would unquestionably require a great length of time for the thinest of crusts to form on such a globe; long ages for the immense clouds of gases and vapors in which the mass revolved to be separated into oceans and atmosphere. Then followed upheavals from the ocean's bed, some gradual, some abrupt—the mountains appeared, bleak and bare, dripping only with the ocean's slime. Then came the action of atmosphere and floods of rain upon them. Mountains were melted down and valleys formed. Then followed depressions and more upheavals; vast quantities of the interior lava were thrown to the surface through immense rents in the earth's thin crust, and in time cooled. The ocean receded here and advanced there, mountain chains, islands and continents were as unstable as clouds, when viewed in geological time. Constantly the earth's crust grew thicker and more stable as the mass of molten matter within was more securely confined.

In time vegetation appeared and so did animal life. Still the operation of depression and elevation went on, as is evident from the fact that imbedded in various strata of the earth's crust, at great depths, are found the remains of animals whose species is long extinct; while on mountain tops are found imbedded in rocks in the region of perpetual snow the fossil remains of animals that only inhabit the ocean.

All these changes, necessarily gradual and slow, require periods of time so vast that the finite mind fails to grasp them. The book of nature, made up of the earth's crust, turn to what page of it you will, "tells us of effects of such magnitude as imply prodigiously long periods of time for their accomplishment. Its moments look to us as if they were eternities. What shall we say when we read in it that there are fossiliferous rocks which have been slowly raised ten thousand feet above the level of the sea so lately as since the commencement of the Tertiary times? * * * That, since a forest in a thousand years can scarce produce more than two or three feet of vegetable soil, each dirt-bed is the work of hundreds of centuries? What shall we say when it tells us that the delta of the Mississippi could only be formed in many tens of thousands of years, and yet that is only as yesterday when compared with the date of the inland terraces? * * * If the depression of the carboniferous strata of Nova Scotia took place at the rate of four feet in a century, there were demanded 375,000 years for its completion—such a movement in the upward direction would have raised Mount Blanc. * * * It would take as great a river as the Mississippi millions of years to convey into the Gulf of Mexico as much sediment as is found in those strata. Such statements may appear to us, who with difficulty shake off the absurdities of the patristic chronology, wild and impossible to be maintained, and yet they are the conclusions that the most learned and profound geologists draw from their reading of the book of nature."[24]

While not accepting all the conclusions of geologists, and certainly not all their speculations—because they do not know what conditions have existed in the past, nor can they be sure that the forces which they now see operating are the only ones that have operated in all past time—yet the evidence is very clear that the earth has a much greater age than was attributed to it by the orthodox explanations of the scriptural accounts of creation. It is now generally conceded that the six creative days spoken of in Genesis are not six ordinary days, but six long creative periods. So strong is the proof of the great age of the earth, however absurd some of the conjectures of geologists may be considered, that no one undertakes to dispute it.

Thus the ideas of men as to the relation of the earth in time as well as its relation in space have been completely changed within the last century. Illimitable ages of duration corresponding to infinite space, leads up to a grander conception of the universe and prepares the mind for a better comprehension of God and his works.

So far I have considered these changes in the ideas of men relative to the universe as they have been affected by the researches of scientists and speculative philosophers. It now remains to show that while these philosophers have been plodding their way through slow discovery and precarious conjecture towards the truth; wholly apart from them and independent of them, there sprang into existence a philosophy pertaining to duration, space, matter, the earth's place in the universe, the universe itself, the relation of man therein and the Gods which, while running parallel with the truths that scientists have discovered, goes far beyond them, and demonstrates a divine inspiration as its source.

Footnotes

1. "Intellectual Development of Europe" (Draper), Vol. ii. pp. 252-4.

2. "Intellectual Development," Vol ii. p. 255.

3. "Newcomb's Popular Astronomy," Introduction, p. 6.

4. "Intellectual Development," Vol. ii. p. 258.

5. I have read with some attention the apology which Catholics make for the church's harsh treatment of Galileo; but I have not yet found a writer among Catholics who attempts a defense of the church in this Bruno affair. Perhaps it is a credit to modern Catholics that they make no such effort. The incident stands, however, as an evidence of Catholic intolerance and bigotry, and shows how the apostate church of Rome had departed from the spirit of the Gospel of Christ.

6. "Intellectual Development," Vol. ii. p. 264.

7. "It moves however."

8. Kepler was born near Stuttgard in Wurtemburg, 1571, died 1630.

9. "Gillet & Rolfe's Astronomy," p. 48.

10. "Newcomb's Astronomy," p. 422.

11. Born 1724, died 1804.

12. Born 1728, died 1777.

13. "Newcomb's Astronomy," p. 475.

14. "Newcomb's Astronomy," p. 476.

15. "Newcomb's Astronomy," p. 477.

16. Johann Heinrich Madler, born 1794, died 1874.

17. "Newcomb's Astronomy," p. 466.

18. "Newcomb's Astronomy," p. 466-7.

19. "Newcomb's Astronomy," p. 466.

20. And light travels at the rate of 198,000 miles per second.

21. "Draper's Intellectual Development of Europe," Vol. ii., p. 292-3.

22. Intellectual Development of Europe, Vol. II., p. 299.

23. Newcomb's Astronomy, p. 305.

24. Intellectual Development of Europe, vol. ii, page 334.

CHAPTER XXIX.

EVIDENCE OF DIVINE INSPIRATION IN JOSEPH SMITH DERIVED FROM THE PROPHET'S TEACHING IN REGARD TO THE EXTENT OF THE UNIVERSE, MAN'S PLACE IN IT, AND HIS DOCTRINE RESPECTING THE GODS—CONTINUED.

Before entering into an exposition of those doctrines taught by Joseph Smith in respect to the construction of the universe, man's place in it and the Gods, it is necessary to remind the reader that the prophet was reared and spent his life in the midst of environments which utterly separated him from all possible connection with the scientific thought of the age in which he lived. The western wilds of the state of New York in the eighteen-twenties and thirties, the wilderness of Ohio, the frontiers of Missouri and Illinois were not the centres of thought on astronomy and other scientific subjects; nor was a man engaged in the great affairs of a new and struggling religious society, hunted by his enemies, often betrayed by men whom he trusted, and constantly on the move, in any condition to give his attention to scientific thought had he lived in the very centres of its agitation. Moreover, some of the things that the prophet announced as revelation concerning the universe, the movements of planetary systems and their habitability are not even yet commonly accepted by scientists. Only the most advanced of astronomers admit the possibility of these things, and that with great caution.[1]

I. Joseph Smith taught that space is infinite, and that there are no outside curtains to it—no limits—no place beyond its bounds. As it was at creation's dawn so it is now and ever will remain, incapable of extension or contraction—a limitless vastness to which nothing can be added by way of extension. It is without a centre, without a circumference. Let reason, aided by the imagination, do all it can, no other conception regarding space can be formed. Astronomers tell us that between our earth and the sun there are ninety-two millions of miles of space. What is beyond the sun in a straight line from us? Space. Ninety-two million miles of it? Aye, and if ninety-two millions of miles be multiplied by ninety-two millions, the space in a direct line from us beyond the sun would not begin to be measured!

But I am weary of measuring distances by such a paltry unit as a mile, let us pluck a ray of light from the sun to aid us in our measurements. Scientists tell us that in one beat of the pendulum a ray of light would pass eight times round the circumference of the earth, or 198,000 miles! Yet from Alpha Centauri, the brightest star in the constellation of the Centaur and of the fixed stars the nearest to the earth—it would take its light about three and a half years to reach us. "It has also been estimated that it would take light over sixteen years to reach us from Sirius, about eighteen years to reach us from Vega, about twenty-five years from Arcturus and over forty years from the Pole-Star."[2]

These are stars whose distances from the earth have been carefully ascertained. But if these stars nearest to the earth are at such an immense distance from us that figures fail to convey to the mind any adequate idea of its immensity, what of those clusters of stars of which astronomers speak as only being visible through the most powerful telescopes, and that are at such immeasurable distances that it would require a million of years for a ray of light to reach us from them![3] So much space is between us and them—what is beyond those distant groups of stars in a direct line from us? Space; and as much of it on the other side of them as on this side; just as there is as much beyond our earth in a straight line from them as there is between our earth and those distant groups of stars. But why attempt to describe the infinite? It is a hopeless task; and as space is infinite, it is useless to attempt to describe it. Let imagination fancy it as vast as it can, but it is still vaster than that. There are heights in it to which even in thought the mind cannot ascend; there are depths in it which imagination even cannot fathom. What is here set down is not written with the hope of describing space, but only to aid minds not accustomed to think upon such themes to mentally grasp the self-evident truth that space is limitless. That to some minds may be a difficult thought, but it is more difficult to conceive bounds to space; and the effort to do so will result in bringing a consciousness of the truth that space is absolutely without limits.

II. In this limitless space Joseph Smith taught that there are inexhaustible quantities of matter; that matter is eternal; it always existed, it always will exist in some form or other—some of it as suns, earths and their satellites, and immeasurable quantities of it in unorganized masses, or thinly distributed throughout the immensity of space. As space cannot be extended or contracted, so the sum-total of matter cannot be increased by so much as an atom, nor can one atom of it be destroyed. It may be put through innumerable changes, organized into worlds and systems of worlds, and then resolved again into unorganized elements, but these changes neither increase the sum total of matter nor annihilate a single atom of it. He who asserts the eternity of matter, at the same time asserts the impossibility of its creation from nothing, and also its indestructibility.

The discovery of the immense quantity of matter in space by astronomers goes far towards establishing the truth of its infinitude and eternity; just as their measurements of immense distances go far towards establishing in the mind the conception that space is limitless.

When the geocentric theory prevailed, men had only a very narrow conception of the amount of matter that really existed, just as they had but a meagre conception of the extent of space. But when through the successive speculation and discoveries of Cusa, Copernicus, Bruno and Galileo, the conception that the earth is the immovable centre of the universe to attend upon which the sun and all the stars were created, was displaced by the truth that the earth is but one of the smaller of a number of planets that revolve around the sun; that the sun with its retinue of planets is but one of the stars that make up the galaxy that spans the heavens—each of which is a sun and doubtless the centre of a planetary system;[4] when the telescope increased to man's vision the number of such suns from five thousand visible to the naked eye, to thirty or fifty millions, he began to be aware of the vast amount of matter distributed in space which makes up the visible universe.

But beyond the faintest stars that can be discerned, the telescope reveals the existence of masses of soft, diffused light of greater or less extent, to which astronomers have given the name of nebulae. Many nebulae which once were set down as masses of unorganized matter, when more powerful telescopes were turned upon them, were resolved into star clusters, and for a time it was thought that all that was needed to discover that all nebulae were star clusters was still more powerful telescopes. This opinion is now, however, abandoned, since another means of determining the character of these hazy patches of light exists, viz., the spectroscope. In 1846 it was discovered by Dr. John William Draper, that the spectrum of an ignited solid is continuous, and as it was already known through the careful experiments of Fraunhofer that the spectrum of ignited gases is discontinuous, a means was furnished by the discovery of Dr. Draper for "determining whether light emitted by a given nebulae comes from an incandescent gas, or from a congeries of ignited solids, stars, or suns. If the spectrum be discontinuous, it is a true nebulae or gas; if continuous a congeries of stars."[5]

Observations of nebulae by means of the spectroscope since this discovery have resulted in some of them giving discontinuous or gaseous spectre, others continuous ones; and accordingly the nebulae of the former class have been set down as true nebulae or gas, and the latter as star clusters, too distant to be resolved by our most powerful telescopes into separate stars to the vision. The revelations of the spectroscope in this particular are accepted by scientists as "demonstrating the existence of vast masses of matter in a gaseous condition, and at a temperature of incandescence;" and it is suggested by Draper that in some of those gleaming apparitions we see the genesis, and in others the melting away of universes. However that may be, the extended view of the amount and diversity of matter in space afforded us by means of the discoveries of scientists through the instrumentality of telescopes and spectroscopes, helps the mind to comprehend the infinitude and eternity of it; and prepares the way for the acceptance of the great truth announced in one of God's revelations to Joseph Smith—"There are many kingdoms; for there is no space where there is no kingdom; and there is no kingdom in which there is no space, either a greater or a lesser kingdom."[6]

While on this subject of "matter" it may be as well to state that the prophet taught that "There is no such thing as immaterial matter. All spirit is matter," said he, "but it is more fine or pure, and can only be discerned by purer eyes. We cannot see it; but when our bodies are purified, we shall see that it is all matter."[7]

That there is no such thing as "immaterial matter" is a self-evident truth; and either we must affirm the materiality of spirit, or deny its existence; for what would an immaterial spirit be? the same as immaterial fire or water or atmosphere. To say that any one of the substances named is immaterial is to deny its existence. If it shall be said that intelligence or love is immaterial, the answer would be that neither intelligence nor love is matter, but a property of matter—an attribute of spirits, just as motion or weight is a property of matter.

Running parallel with boundless space and limitless and eternal matter is eternal duration, according to the teaching of the prophet. Eternal duration of time is of that class of truths called "necessary truths," because it is impossible to conceive the contrary; that is, we cannot conceive of duration having a beginning. Starting with today for a unit, I ask, what preceded it? Yesterday, I am answered. And what will follow it? Tomorrow. What preceded this present year? Last year. And what will follow it? Next year. What preceded this present century? Last century. What preceded the present millennium? Last millennium. And what will follow it? Another millennium. So I might continue to go on questioning and answering, constantly enlarging the periods, yet getting no nearer to the beginning of the past, nor to the end of future time. As in starting from any given point in space, and going with the velocity of light or thought in opposite directions, would never take us to the point where space is not extended, so starting from any given point in duration, and going in opposite directions, though our mental strides be a million years each we should never arrive at the beginning nor the end of time. It has neither, it is eternal.

Of course there is relative duration, which has a beginning and an end, such as the period between that moment, when the chaotic mass of matter out of which a solar system was made began to break up into rings and condense into a sun and its planets and their satellites, and that moment when it may be resolved again into such a mass. Such a period may have a beginning and an end. There is also relative space which may have a point where it begins and another where it ends, such as space between our earth and the sun. But I have been speaking of absolute space and duration, not of relative, and the one is as limitless as the other is eternal.

I shall be told that in all this there is nothing new; that the philosophers, at least of the materialistic school, believe and teach all this. Be it so, they thus far teach the truth, at which they have arrived by the slow and painful pathway of experiment and discovery. Wholly separated from them and independent of them, the youthful prophet Joseph Smith learned the same truths by the inspiration of God, and taught them to his followers fifty and sixty years ago in the wilderness of New York and Ohio. But he went beyond the philosophers as I am now to prove.

First, Lambert and Madler, as we have seen, conjectured that the so-called fixed stars of our galaxy were each the centre of groups of planets and with their retinue revolved about some greater centre, somewhere in the universe. Lambert's conjectures provided opaque centres, while Madler selected Alcyone of the constellation Pleiades as the centre of the steller universe. Astronomers regard these conjectures as baseless speculation, but cannot deny the possibility of them. They say that such may be the plan on which the universe is constructed, but they have no proof of it. They admit that their discoveries prove a movement of the stars, but they are unable to determine its character. But what the speculative philosophers advanced as conjecture and the working astronomers of today admit only as possible, more than half a century ago Joseph Smith taught as revelation from God. That is, he taught that among the stars commonly called fixed stars there are certain great ones which govern the smaller ones in their times and revolutions, or are the centres about which they revolve; that there is pre-eminently one great central body around which even these great ones with their attendant systems revolve, and that this governs all the planetary systems of the order to which our earth belongs.

To put the statement in another form, for the sake of clearness, as the eight planets with their attendant satellites which form our solar system revolve around the sun, so the sun with all his attendant planets is one of a number of such systems which revolve around a still greater centre; and that centre with its attendant systems is but one of a number of such systems which revolve around the pre-eminently great central body—to which reference has been made—that God has set to govern all those planetary systems that belong to the same order as our own.

Second, Joseph Smith taught that all these worlds and systems of worlds are under the dominion of law, by which they move in their times and their seasons; "that their courses are fixed, even the courses of the heavens and the earth—which comprehend the earth and all the planets. And they give light to each other in their times and in their seasons, in their minutes, in their hours, in their days, in their weeks, in their months, in their years: all these are one year with God, but not with man."[8] But while the prophet proclaimed the universal dominion of law, he also proclaimed that "unto every law there are certain bounds also and conditions;"[9] by which I understand that even law is governed by law. That as systems upon systems of universes rise one above another, so also do the laws by which they are governed, so that which to us often seems a violation of law, is but the application of higher laws of which we are wholly or in part ignorant.

Third, the prophet taught that these worlds and systems of worlds, of which I have spoken, were inhabited.[10] The learned scientists of today in dealing with the question, "are the innumerable worlds in the universe revealed to you by your powerful telescopes inhabited?" can only give as an answer a doubtful "perhaps." One of the scientists, a leading astronomer, thus gives his conclusions after a long review of the question: "It seems, therefore, so far as we can reason from analogy, that the probabilities are in favor of only a very small fraction of the planets being peopled with intelligent beings. But when we reflect that the possible number of the planets is counted by hundreds of millions, this small fraction may be really a large number, and among this number many may be peopled by beings much higher than ourselves in the intellectual scale. Here we may give free rein to our imagination with the moral certainty that science will supply nothing tending either to prove or disprove any of its fancies."[11] This is the best that science can do. The habitability of other worlds to science is a proposition more or less doubtful; but the teachings of the Prophet Joseph are clear and positive upon the subject as far back as 1832.[12]

Fourth, the prophet taught that all these inhabitants had their own times and seasons, days and years, etc., according to the revolutions of the planets on which they reside.[13]

Fifth, that the Creator of all these worlds and systems of worlds will visit them each in turn. The revelation which teaches this doctrine refers to those worlds or planets that constitute the universe as "kingdoms" which the Lord likens unto a man having a field, "and he sent forth his servants into the field to dig in the field; and he said unto the first, go ye and labor in the field, and in the first hour I will come unto you, and ye shall behold the joy of my countenance. And he said unto the second, go ye also into the field, and in the second hour I will visit you with the joy of my countenance; and also unto the third, saying, I will visit you; and unto the fourth; and so on unto the twelfth. And the Lord of the field went unto the first in the first hour, and tarried with him all that hour, and he was made glad with the light of the countenance of his Lord. And then he withdrew from the first that he might visit the second also, and the third and the fourth, and so on unto the twelfth; and thus they all received the light of the countenance of their Lord; every man in his hour, and in his time, and in his season, beginning at the first and so on unto the last, and from the last unto the first, and from the first to the last—every man in his order, until his hour was finished even according as his Lord had commanded him, that his Lord might be glorified in him, and he [the servant] in him [the Lord], that they all might be glorified. Therefore unto this parable will I liken all these kingdoms [worlds] and the inhabitants thereof; every kingdom in its hour and in its time and in its season; even according to the decree which God hath made."[14]

Sixth, the prophet taught that the earth and the heavens at least as they are now constituted, will pass away; that afterwards the earth will be re-created and made an immortal or celestial world; and the righteous inhabit it as an eternal abode. This is the language of the revelation which teaches the doctrine—"Verily I say unto you, the earth abideth the law of a celestial kingdom, for it filleth the measure of its creation and transgresseth not the law. Wherefore it shall be sanctified; yea, notwithstanding it shall die, it shall be quickened, again and the righteous shall inherit it.[15]

"And the earth shall pass away so as by fire. * * * * And every corruptible thing, both of man or the beasts of the field, or the fowls of the heavens, or the fish of the sea, that dwell upon all the face of the earth, shall be consumed; and also the elements shall melt with fervent heat; and all things shall become new, that my [the Lord's] knowledge and glory may dwell upon all the earth."[16] In a revelation given to Joseph Smith making known to him more fully the visions which the Lord gave to Moses in the mount, and from which Moses wrote his account of creation in the book of Genesis, the Lord is represented as saying: "And worlds without number have I created. * * * But only an account of this earth and the inhabitants thereof give I unto you. For behold, there are many worlds that have passed away by the word of my power. * * * And the Lord God spake unto Moses, saying, the heavens they are many, and they cannot be numbered unto man, but they are numbered unto me, for they are mine, and as one earth shall pass away, and the heavens thereof, even so shall another come; and there is no end to my work."[17]

Seventh, the prophet taught that the "earth in its sanctified and immortal state will be made like unto crystal and will be a Urim and Thummim to the inhabitants who dwell thereon, whereby all things pertaining to an inferior kingdom [world], or all kingdoms [worlds] of a lower order will be manifest to those who dwell on it;" and that through the means of Urim and Thummim these inhabitants of the earth in its celestial state will learn of things pertaining to the higher order of kingdoms or universes.[18]

These doctrines concerning the earth and the universe will be found scattered through the revelations received by the prophet as quoted in the margin of the respective pages of this book devoted to their consideration, except the first, which, from the importance of the matter with which it deals, viz.: the movements of planetary systems around great centres, and these great centres with their attendant systems around some pre-eminently great centre—as well as from the peculiar manner by which he came into possession of the information, requires special consideration.

The construction and movements of the planetary systems herein described as the teaching of the prophet Joseph Smith makes no pretension to being new doctrine. The prophet rather proclaims that the ancients were familiar with it. Such was the construction of the universe as taught to the Egyptians by Abraham; and Joseph Smith learned it from the "Book of Abraham," a record written by that patriarch, and which came into the hands of the prophet in the following manner:

The records were obtained from one of the catacombs in Egypt, near the place where once stood the renowned city of Thebes, by a French traveler named Antonio Sebolo, in the year 1831. He procured license from Mehemet Ali, the viceroy of Egypt, under the protection of Chevalier Drovetti, the French Consul, in the year 1828. He employed four hundred and thirty-three men; and after four months and two days' hard work, entered the catacomb June 7th, 1831, and obtained eleven mummies. There were several hundred mummies in the same catacomb; about one hundred embalmed after the first order, and placed in niches, and two or three hundred after the second and third orders, and laid upon the floor or bottom of the ground cavity. The last two orders of embalmed were so decayed, that they could not be handled, and only eleven of the first order found in niches were well enough preserved to be removed.

On his way from Alexandria to Paris, Sebolo put in at Trieste, and, after ten days' illness, died. This was in the year 1832. Previous to his decease, he made a will of his whole collection of mummies to Mr. Michael H. Chandler (then in Philadelphia, Pa.), his nephew, whom he supposed to be in Ireland. Accordingly the mummies were sent to Dublin, and Mr. Chandler's friends ordered them to New York, where they were received at the custom house in the winter or spring of 1833. In April of the same year, Mr. Chandler paid the duties, and took possession of his treasures.[19] Up to this time they had not been taken out of the coffins, nor the coffins opened. On opening the coffins, Mr. Chandler discovered that in connection with two of the bodies, was something rolled up with the same kind of linen, saturated with the same bitumen, which when examined, proved to be two rolls of papyrus, filled with hieroglyphics and characters or letters somewhat like the present form of the Hebrew. All the hieroglyphics were beautifully written with black and a small part with red ink or paint. Two or three other small pieces of papyrus with astronomical calculations, epitaphs, etc., were found with the other mummies. Mr. Chandler traveled with his mummies exhibiting them and the rolls of papyrus in the principal cities of the eastern states, and in July, 1835, arrived at Kirtland, where the ability of Joseph Smith to translate ancient languages by a divine gift being known, Mr. Chandler submitted to him some of the characters, which the prophet translated.

A few days later some of the Saints in Kirtland purchased the mummies and rolls of papyrus of Mr. Chandler; and the Prophet Joseph with W. W. Phelps and Oliver Cowdery acting as scribes commenced the translation of the rolls, when to their joy they found that one of them contained the writings of Abraham, and the other of Joseph, who was sold into Egypt by his brethren.[20]

As soon as it was announced that the prophet had come into possession of another ancient record in the manner above described, it was rumored about that he pretended to be in possession of the bodies of Abraham, Abimelech, the king of the Philistines, Joseph who was sold into Egypt, etc. These false rumors the prophet corrected by saying of the mummies which had so strangely come into his possession—"Who these ancient inhabitants of Egypt were, I do not at present say. Abraham was buried on his own possession in the cave of Machpelah, in the field of Ephron, the son of Zohah, the Hittite, which is before Mamre, which he purchased of the sons of Heth. Abimelech lived in the same country, and for aught we know died there; and the children of Israel carried Joseph's bones from Egypt, when they went out under Moses; consequently they could not have been found in Egypt in the nineteenth century."[21] Then follows the account of the finding of the record as already recited in preceding paragraphs.

Some parts of the "Book of Abraham" the prophet translated and published, but if he translated the writings of Joseph they have not been published. From the fragments of the writings of Abraham thus brought to light the prophet learned the construction of the universe that I have set down in these pages. Abraham received his knowledge of the wonderful works of God as seen in the planetary and stellar worlds by revelation from God through the Urim and Thummim, an instrument by means of which God revealed knowledge to the ancient patriarchs and prophets.[22] One of the principal passages in the writings of Abraham which teaches the principles of astronomy is as follows:

"And I, Abraham, had the Urim and Thummim, which the Lord my God had given unto me, in Ur of the Chaldees; and I saw the stars that they were very great, and that one of them was nearest unto the throne of God; and the Lord said unto me, these are the governing ones; and the name of the great one is Kolob, because it is near unto me. * * * I have set this one to govern all those which belong to the same order of that upon thou standest. And the Lord said unto me, by Urim and Thummim, that Kolob was after the manner of the Lord, according to its times and seasons in the revolutions thereof, that one revolution was a day unto the Lord, after his manner of reckoning, it being one thousand years according to the time appointed unto that whereon thou standest. This is the reckoning of the Lord's time, according to the reckoning of Kolob."[23]

In this passage will be found the germ of that system of the construction and movement of planetary systems that make up the universe, set forth in the teachings of Joseph Smith. Here it may be seen that there are many great stars—the "governing ones," near together, and from among them rises one pre-eminent in greatness—Kolob—which governs all the rest that are of the same order as that to which our solar system belongs.

From other fragments translated from the writings of Abraham on the roll of papyrus we learn that a star called by the Egyptians "Oliblish" stands next to Kolob—that it is the next grand, governing creation; that it is equal to Kolob in its revolutions and in the measurement of time; that it holds the keys of power as pertaining to other planets.[24]

Another governing star in this Abrahamic system is Enish-go-on-dosh, "said by the ancient Egyptians to be the sun, and to borrow [receive] its light from Kolob through the medium of Kae-e-vanrash. * * * Kae-e-vanrash is the grand key or governing power which governs fifteen other fixed planets or stars, as also the moon (Floeese), the earth and the sun in their annual revolutions. * * * Kae-e-vanrash receives its power through Kli-flos-is-es or Hah-ko-kau-beam. Kli-flos-is-es and Hah-ko-kau-beam receive their light from the revolutions of Kolob."[25] From the foregoing it appears that our solar system, the governing planet of which—the sun—is known in this Abrahamic system as Enish-go-on-dosh, is governed by, or has for a centre around which it revolves a star known as Kae-e-vanrash. Kae-e-vanrash is governed by or has for a centre around which it revolves, together with its attendant systems of worlds, Kli-flos-is-es or Hah-ko-kau-beam; and these two stars with their attendant systems are governed by or revolve around Kolob, the great centre of that part of the universe to which our planetary system belongs.

Of course these names of governing stars are of but little importance to us at present because of our inability to identify them with those "fixed" stars known to us under other names; but this Abrahamic system of the construction of the universe and movement of planetary systems, revealed to the world by Joseph Smith certainly presents the grandest ideas of the scale on which the universe is constructed, and the power and majesty of the laws by which it is governed. It is true that Kant, Lambert and Madler somewhat approached the Abrahamic system in their speculations, but what they advanced as conjecture, the Prophet Joseph Smith taught as divine truth, as revelation.

It is over half a century since the Abrahamic system was first announced by the prophet; and it is interesting to note the fact that though the heavens have been constantly searched by powerful telescopes during that time, nothing has yet been discovered which at all conflicts with it. On the contrary, as we have seen, much has been learned which tends to confirm it. What God has revealed on this most important and interesting branch of knowledge far outstrips what scientists have learned or speculative philosophers have conjectured; and with confidence those who accept that revelation may watch the slow but important discoveries of astronomers which will yet demonstrate the truth of that system which God has revealed.

It represents the universe as planned on a scale so magnificent that it is worthy of the intelligence of a God as its Creator. Such ideas of the construction of the universe are worthy of revelation, they carry with them by the very force of their grandeur the evidence of their truth; and when it is remembered that they were brought forth by a young man wholly separated from the centres of scientific thought, unacquainted with the speculations of philosophers, and without any previous knowledge of astronomy, it is not difficult to believe that he received his knowledge of them from the writings of one inspired or taught of God; and that he himself was gifted with divine power to translate those ancient writings, and hence himself a prophet and seer inspired of God.

Another matter of interest to note is, as already observed, that this Abrahamic system of astronomy is not held up as a new idea of the construction of the universe, but is simply bringing to light again the knowledge had among the ancients. In a preceding chapter I called attention to the fact that Copernicus in the preface of his work on the movement of the heavenly bodies, complains against the imperfections of the geocentric theory and states that he sought among ancient writers for a better way, and so had learned the heliocentric doctrine[26]—that is, that the sun was the center around which the earth moved.

As another evidence that the idea of Copernicus concerning the structure of the universe was known to the ancients and that he learned it from their writings, it is only necessary to say that when the "Holy Inquisition" on the 5th of March, 1616 A. D., issued its decrees against Galileo, it also condemned and denounced the whole Copernican system as "that false Pythagoran doctrine, utterly contrary to the Holy Scriptures."[27]

Pythagoras was born about 540 B. C., most probably at Samosa, an island in the Aegean Sea. Despite the efforts of some eminent scholars to prove that the doctrines of Pythagoras were not of Egyptian origin, it is now quite generally conceded that they were. "If it were not explicitly stated by the ancients," says Draper, "that Pythagoras lived for twenty-two years in Egypt, there is sufficient internal evidence in his story to prove that he had been there a long time. As a connoisseur can detect the hand of a master by the style of a picture, so one who has devoted attention to the old system of thought sees, at a glance, the Egyptian in the philosophy of Pythagoras."[28]

The only thing, however, that now concerns me in his doctrines is that part which relates to astronomy. However touched with fancy his theory may have been, he did teach that the sun was the centre of the planetary system, around which the earth with four other planets revolved;[29] and in that one may see substantially the heliocentric theory subsequently taught by Copernicus. It is clear from his own statement that Copernicus learned the heliocentric doctrine from the ancients, among whom doubtless was Pythagoras, who learned it from the Egyptians, among whom he spent twenty-two years of his life. It only now remains to prove that the Egyptians received their knowledge of astronomy from Abraham, in order to prove that indirectly the heliocentric theory, which has led to our modern notions of the construction of the universe, as well as the Abrahamic system of astronomy revealed to the world through Joseph Smith has one and the same source—the revelations which the Lord gave to the Patriarch Abraham.

That Abraham was in Egypt is clear both from the Bible[30] and the writings of Josephus. The latter after relating all that the Bible does, only in greater detail, adds to the account that the Egyptian king made Abraham a large present in money; "and gave him leave to enter into conversation with the most learned among the Egyptians; from which conversation, his virtue and his reputation became more conspicuous than they had been before. For whereas the Egyptians were formerly addicted to different customs, and despised one another's sacred and accustomed rites, and were very angry one with another on that account, Abraham conferred with each of them, and confuted the reasonings they made use of, every one for their own practices, he demonstrated that such reasonings were vain, and void of truth; whereupon he was admired by them, in those conferences, as a very wise man, and one of great sagacity, when he discoursed on any subject he undertook; and this was not only in understanding it, but in persuading other men also to assent to him. He communicated to them arithmetic, and delivered to them the science of astronomy; for before Abraham came into Egypt, they were unacquainted with those parts of learning; for that science came from the Chaldeans into Egypt, and from thence to the Greeks also."[31]

Josephus does not give his authority for this remarkable addition to the Bible account of Abraham's sojourn in Egypt, but there can be no doubt of the correctness of his statement or of his sufficiency as authority for the fact. For, as remarked by Mr. William Osburn, author of the "Monumental History of Egypt," "Not only were the temple records of Egypt in existence at the time [when Josephus wrote his Antiquities], but the work of Josephus was itself specially addressed to the Greek and Egyptian philosophers of Alexandria as an apology for his own nation. So that to have ventured upon a falsification of the history of Egypt, thus disparaging to its ancient fame, and thus to the credit of his own hero, to antagonists perfectly competent to expose it, and deeply interested in the exposure, would have been sheer insanity. It would hardly, therefore, be possible to produce a statement better authenticated. We assume it, then, for an historical fact, that Abraham arrived in Egypt at a time when the monarchy was convulsed by a fierce civil broil, arising out of religious differences, which was appeased during his sojourn there."[32] And on the same authority, supported by the same reasoning, I also accept it as an historical fact that the patriarch taught the Egyptians arithmetic and astronomy, from whence afterwards the Greeks learned some fragments of the patriarch's teaching on the latter subject.[33] From the Book of Abraham we learn that the patriarch went into Egypt because he was commanded of God to go, and that for the express purpose of teaching the things he had learned concerning the heavens and the earth.[34]

The agreement of the statement of Joseph Smith that he learned what he knew of the construction of the universe from the writings of Abraham, found as already described, in Egpyt—the agreement of this claim with the historical fact that Abraham did, for a time, live in Egypt and teach the Egyptians a system of astronomy, is very strong presumptive evidence of its truth. It will appear the more so when Joseph Smith's lack of historical information at the time he first announced these doctrines—as early as 1835—is taken into account. Still more will it appear when it is remembered that the fragments of astronomy learned by Pythagoras in Egypt is the foundation of the Copernican system, the nucleus from which has been developed through the researches of our latter-day astronomers, our modern knowledge of the solar system and the plan of the construction of the universe. And when it is also remembered that those fragments as well as the system developed from them are in accord with that fuller information that has come through the medium of revelation to Joseph Smith. All this—these undesigned coincidences—give direct evidence that in this man Joseph Smith there was an excellent spirit of understanding, so extra-ordinary in its character that it can be referred to no other origin than the revelations of God to him.

Footnotes

1. See a recent article in the American press by Sir Robert Ball on the "Possibility of Life on Other Worlds," in which Sir Robert views the present state of the question from a scientific standpoint, and only conservatively admits the possibility of life on other worlds. He concludes, however, thus: "No reasonable person will, I think, doubt that the tendency of modern research has been in favor of the supposition that there may be life on some of the other globes."

2. Gillet and Rolf's Astronomy pp. 364-5. "In many instances it is believed that it would take the light of stars hundreds of years to make the journey to our earth, and in some instances even thousands of years."—Ibid.

3. Draper's Intellectual Development Vol. II., p. 292. Also Newcomb's Astronomy p. 455-6.

4. "These distant suns are, many of them, much larger than our sun. Sirus, the beautiful Dog-star, is (so far as can be judged by its amount of light) nearly 3,000 times larger, and therefore its system of dependent worlds must be so much more important than those which form our solar system. Its planets may far exceed ours in size and revolve at far greater distances; for such a sun would throw its beams of light and heat very much beyond a distance equal to that of our Neptune."—Samuel Kinns, P. H. D, F. R. A. A. S., in "Harmony of the Bible with Science," second edition, p. 238.

"Man when he looks upon the countless multitudes of stars—when he reflects that all he sees is only a small portion of those which exist, yet that each is a light and life-giving sun to multitudes of opaque, and therefore invisible worlds—when he considers the enormous size of these various bodies and their immeasurable distance from one another, may form an estimate of the scale on which the world [universe] is constructed."—"Intellectual Development of Europe," Vol. II., p. 279.

5. "Draper's Intellectual Development of Europe," Vol. II., p. 283.

6. Doc. and Cov. Sec. lxxxviii: 37.

7. Doc. and Cov. Sec. cxxxi. See also an article on the absurdities of Immaterialism, by Elder Orson Pratt; and Doc. and Cov. Sec. xciii: 29, 33-35.

8. Doc. and Cov., Sec. lxxxviii: 36, 42-44.

9. Ibid, verse 38.

10. Doc. and Cov. Sec. lxxxviii: 45-6.

11. Newcomb's Astronomy, p. 531.

12. Doc and Cov., Sec. lxxxviii: 45-61. The revelation was given December, 1832. See also Doc. and Cov., Sec. cxxx: 4, 8.

13. Doc. and Cov., Sec. cxxx: 4, 5.

14. Doc. and Cov., Sec. lxxxviii: 51-61.

15. Ibid, verses 25, 26.

16. Doc. and Cov., Sec. ci: 24, 25.

17. Pearl of Great Price, p. 5, 6, 1888 edition. A noted author and scientist states essentially the same truth in the following manner: "The multiplicity of worlds in infinite space leads to the conception of a succession of worlds in infinite time. This existing universe, with all its splendors, had a beginning, and will have an end; it had its predecessors, and will have its successors; but its march through all its transformations is under the control of laws as unchangeable as destiny. As a cloud which is composed of myriads of separate and isolated spherules of water so minute as to be invisible, on a summer's afternoon changes its aspect and form, disappearing from the sky, and being replaced in succeeding hours by other clouds of a different aspect and shape, so the universe, which is a cloud of suns and worlds, changes in the immensity of time its form and fashion, and that which is temporary with us is only an example of countless combinations of a like kind, which in ancient times have, one after another, vanished away. In periods yet to come the endless succession of metamorphoses will still go on, a series of universes to which there is no end."—"Intellectual development of Europe," Vol. II., p. 336.

18. Doc. and Cov., Sec. cxxx: 9, 10.

19. This account of how Mr. Chandler came into possession of the mummies is of course given by himself; and for its accuracy the Prophet Joseph is in no way responsible.

20. History of Joseph, Millennial Star, Vol. xv., p. 296.

21. History Joseph Smith, Millennial Star, Vol. xv., p. 550.

22. See Exodus xxviii: 30; Lev. viii: 8; Num. xxvii: 21; Deut, xxxiii: 8; I. Sam. xxviii: 6; Ezra ii: 63; Neh. vii: 65.

23. Pearl of Great Price, p. 58, 59. 1888 Edition.

24. Reynolds' "Book of Abraham, a Divine and Ancient Record," p. 30.

25. Book of Abraham, circular disc, plate 2. See also Elder George Reynolds' "Book of Abraham, a Divine and Ancient Record," p. 30.

26. Intellectual Development, Vol. II. p. 255.

27. Intellectual Development, Vol. II. p. 263.

28. Intellectual Development, Vol. I. p. III.

29. Intellectual Development, Vol. I. p. 116-117.

30. Genesis xii.

31. Antiquities of the Jews, Bk. I. ch. viii.

32. Monumental History of Egypt, Vol. I. p. 37.

33. Josephus in another place repeats his assertion that the Greeks learned their knowledge of celestial things of the Egyptians by saying: "But then for those that first introduced philosophy, and the consideration of things celestial and divine among them [the Greeks] such as Pherecydes, the Syrian, and Pythagoras and Thales, all with one consent agree, that they learned what they knew of the Egyptians and Chaldeans, and wrote but little." Josephus against Apion, Bk. I.

34. "Book of Abraham," Pearl of Great Price, p. 61.

CHAPTER XXX.

EVIDENCE OF DIVINE INSPIRATION IN JOSEPH SMITH DERIVED FROM THE PROPHET'S TEACHING IN REGARD TO THE EXTENT OF THE UNIVERSE, MAN'S PLACE IN IT AND HIS DOCTRINE RESPECTING THE GODS—CONCLUDED.

We are to turn now from the contemplation of the universe to consider man's place in it, and the doctrine in relation to the Gods as taught by Joseph Smith.

Whether man be viewed from the standpoint of his relationship to other animals, the beauty and majesty of his physical organism, the superiority of his intellectual endowments, or the sublimity of his spiritual aspirations, something will be found in each that argues for him a special place in the universe. It is true that many animals in their physical organism are stronger than man; some are swifter; others keener of sight or smell, and still others are of more acute hearing; but in none is there found that combination which renders man superior to them all. Which of the animals, however strong, or fierce, has he not subdued? Some yield their strength, and others their speed to serve him; others still please him with their beauty, or yield a useful product for his comfort; while all pay him homage by yielding to his sway.

Nor has man been content with obtaining dominion over the animal creation alone. Gradually he is mastering the elements and extending his dominion over all the earth. The winds and ocean currents have long been his servants; the lightning bears his messages; the element of fire is made to serve him in a thousand ways; steam propels his chariot; distance he well nigh annihilates; he weighs the earth in his balances; measures the distances of the sun and the stars, tells the substances of which they are composed and the mathematical laws by which they are governed. As one thus even partially reviews man's achievements and considers the mastery he has obtained alike over the animal creation and the forces of nature—with the poet he exclaims: "What a piece of work is man! how noble in reason! how infinite in faculty! in form and moving how express and admirable! in action, how like an angel! in apprehension, how like a God! the beauty of the world! the paragon of animals!"

Well might the Psalmist say—addressing himself to God: "What is man that thou art mindful of him? And the Son of man that thou visitest him? For thou hast made him a little lower than the angels, and hast crowned him with glory and honor. Thou madest him to have dominion over the works of thy hands, thou hast put all things under his feet."[1]

These favors granted to man by the Creator, no less than his superiority to all other creatures of earth, proclaim for him a special place in the universe; and according to the teachings of Joseph Smith, both the superiority of his endowments and the special favors that he enjoys, arise out of his relationship to the Deity.

The prophet taught that the spirits of men before they tabernacled in bodies of flesh and bone on this earth had an existence with God in another world; that God is the Father of their spirits, Jesus Christ being the firstborn.[2] That existence was a tangible one; it involved the realities of life in the heavenly kingdom or family. Each spirit there was as much an entity as each man is in this present life. Each spirit there had its agency as each man has it here; and was at liberty to take that course it elected to pursue.[3] "At the first organization in heaven," says the prophet, "we were all present, and saw the Savior chosen and appointed and the plan of salvation made, and we sanctioned it."

Some spirits went so far in the exercise of their agency as to rebell against God. Lucifer, the Son of the Morning, did so, and drew away with him one-third of the hosts of heaven, and they became the devil and his angels.[4] This is not only the teaching of Joseph Smith, but also of the Bible.[5]

One thing, however, Joseph Smith taught which, as far as I know, the Bible does not teach, viz, that these spirits in their pre-existent estate attained unto a variety of degrees of intelligence and nobility of character. In the Book of Abraham, quoted in my last chapter, it is written: "Now the Lord had shown unto me, Abraham, the intelligences that were organized before the world was: and among all these there were many of the noble and great ones; and God saw these souls that they were good, and he stood in the midst of them, and he said, These I will make my rulers, for he stood among those that were spirits, and he said unto me, Abraham, thou art one of them, thou wast chosen before thou wast born."[6]

How beautiful is this doctrine! how reasonable! how many problems it explains! What light it throws upon the life and character of man! Notwithstanding the great influence of parentage and environment upon character, we may understand now how it is that in spite of indifferent parentage and vicious environments some characters arise that are truly virtuous and great, and that purely by the strength of that intelligence and nobility to which their spirits had attained in the heavenly kingdom before they took bodies upon earth. Their grandeur of soul could not all be suppressed by environment in this life, however inauspicious for their development. As the sun struggles through clouds and mists that at times obscure his brightness, so these spirits, stirred by their innate nobility, breaking through all disadvantages attendant upon ignoble birth and iron fortune, rise to their native heights of true greatness.

If a wider survey be taken of mankind, and those advantages and disadvantages under which whole generations, nations and races of men have lived be taken into account; if the fact of their pre-existence be considered in connection with that other fact that the spirits of men before coming to this earth were of unequal intelligence and of every degree of nobility; if it be remembered that in that pre-existent state all spirits had a free agency, and that they there manifested all degrees of fidelity to truth and righteousness, from those who were valiant for the right to those who were utterly untrue to it and rebelled against God; if it be further remembered that doubtless in this earth-life these spirits are rewarded for their faithfulness and diligence in that pre-existent state—if all this, I say, be considered, much that has perplexed many noble minds in their effort to reconcile the varied circumstances under which men have lived with the justice and mercy of God, will disappear.

The doctrine of the pre-existence of spirits, as also their relationship to Deity, is beyond all doubt a scriptural doctrine; but it seems to have been reserved for the Prophet Joseph Smith to give clearness and force to it. The fatherhood of God, and its necessary corollary, the brotherhood of man, are trite phrases much in fashion in these modern days; but it is questionable if they have conveyed to the minds of men any definite ideas of the actual relationship of father and son existing between man and Deity. In the mouths of sectarians the phrases under discussion have always been employed to express some mystic or indefinite relationship not clearly explained or explainable. It was reserved, I repeat, for the great modern prophet to give these phrases reality. He declared the relationship to be as real as that existing between any father and son on earth; that man's spirit was actually the offspring of Deity—"A spark struck from his own eternal blaze." With him the fatherhood of God and the brotherhood of man were not mere abstractions more or less beautiful, but a reality. The words taught by the Savior of men to his disciples as the proper mode of address to Deity—"Our Father, who art in heaven"—are not meaningless verbiage, but express the true relationship of man and God.

Inspired by these teachings a disciple at Nauvoo, fifty years ago, composed and the Saints still sing the following invocation to the Heavenly Father and Mother:

O my Father, thou that dwellest

In the high and glorious place!

When shall I regain thy presence,

And again behold thy face?

In thy holy habitation,

Did my spirit once reside:

In my first primeval childhood,

Was I nurtured near thy side.

For a wise and glorious purpose

Thou hast placed me here on earth,

And withheld the recollection

Of my former friends and birth;

Yet oft-times a secret something

Whispered, "You're a stranger here;"

And I felt that had wandered

From a more exalted sphere.

I had learned to call thee Father,

Through thy Spirit from on high;

But, until the Key of Knowledge

Was restored, I knew not why.

In the heavens are parents single?

No; the thought makes reason stare!

Truth is reason; truth eternal

Tells me, I've a mother there.

When I leave this frail existence,

When I lay this mortal by,

Father, Mother, may I meet you

In your royal court on high?

Then, at length, when I've completed

All you sent me forth to do,

With your mutual approbation

Let me come and dwell with you.[7]

The pre-existence of man's spirit and its relationship to Deity having been disposed of, I must now refer to the prophet's teaching on the subject of man's future existence and the possibilities which lie before him in the course of the eternities.

Joseph Smith taught the literal resurrection of the body, and its immortality. He declared that the same sociability which exists among us here will exist among us in that future life, only it will be coupled with eternal glory which now we do not enjoy.[8] On one occasion he said: "I will tell you what I want. If tomorrow I shall be called to lie in yonder tomb, in the morning of the resurrection let me strike hands with my father and cry, 'My father,' and he will say, 'My son, my son!' * * * Would you think it strange if I related what I have seen in vision in relation to this interesting theme? Those who have died in Jesus Christ may expect to enter into all that fruition of joy, when they come forth, which they possessed or anticipated here. So plain was the vision that I actually saw men before they had ascended from the tomb, as though they were getting up slowly. They took each other by the hand, and said to each other: 'My father, my son, my mother, my daughter, my brother, my sister.' And when the voice calls for the dead to arise, suppose I am laid by the side of my father, what would be the first joy of my heart? To meet my father, my mother, my brother, my sister; and when they are by my side, I embrace them and they me. * * * The expectation of seeing my friends in the morning of the resurrection cheers my soul and makes me bear up against the evils of life. It is like their taking a long journey, and on their return we meet them with increased joy."[9]

The prophet also taught that the relationships formed in this life were intended to be eternal, not excluding that of husband and wife, with all its enduring affections. He taught that the marriage covenant which binds man and woman as husband and wife should be made for eternity, and not until "death doth them part." To be made for eternity, however, the marriage covenant must be entered into with that object in view, and sealed and ratified by God's authority on earth—even by the holy priesthood, that authority which binds on earth and in heaven, in time and in eternity; which also looses on earth and in heaven—in time and in eternity. Otherwise such covenants are of no efficacy, virtue or force in and after the resurrection from the dead. The house of God is a house of order, and it is useless to hope that covenants made until death shall overtake the contracting parties will endure in eternity; or that covenants entered into for eternity, unless sealed by the authority of God, will be of binding force in and after the resurrection from the dead.

I wish to be perfectly understood here. Let it be remembered that the Prophet Joseph Smith taught that man, that is, his spirit, is the offspring of Deity; not in any mystical sense, but actually; that man has not only a Father in heaven, but a Mother also. And when I say that the prophet taught that the resurrection is a reality, that the relationship of husband and wife is intended to be eternal, together with all its endearing affections, I mean all that in its most literal sense. I mean that in the life to come man will build and inhabit, eat drink, associate and be happy with his friends; and that the power of endless increase will contribute to the power and dominion of those who attain by their righteousness unto these privileges.

What a revelation is here! As I have remarked elsewhere,[10] instead of the God-given power of pro-creation being one of the chief things that is to pass away, it is one of the chief means of man's exaltation and glory in that great eternity, which like an endless vista stretches out before him! Through it man attains to the glory of the endless increase of eternal lives, and the right of presiding as priest and patriarch, king and lord over his ever increasing posterity. Instead of the commandment, "Be fruitful, and multiply and replenish the earth," being an unrighteous law, it is one by means of which the race of the Gods is perpetuated, and is as holy and pure as the commandment, "Repent and be baptized." Through that law, in connection with an observance of all the other laws of the gospel, man will yet attain unto the power of the Godhead, and like his Father—God—his chief glory will be to bring to pass the eternal life and happiness of his posterity.

If anyone shall say that such views of the life to come are too materialistic; that they smack too much of earth and its enjoyments, my answer is, that if it be inquired what thing has contributed most to man's civilization and refinement, to his happiness and dignity, his true importance, elevation and honor in life, it will be found that the domestic relations in marriage, the ties of family, of parentage, with its joys, responsibilities, and affections will be selected as the one thing before all others. And those relations and associations which have contributed so much to man's true progress and refinement in this world may be trusted not to degrade him in the life that is to come. On the contrary, with all the affections chastened, with all the qualities of the mind improved, and the attributes of the soul strengthened, we may reasonably hope that what has done so much for man in this life will contribute still more abundantly to his happiness, his exaltation and glory in the life which is to come.

One other point I must not omit to mention. I know how like sacrilege it sounds in modern ears to speak of man becoming a God. Yet why should it be so considered? Man is the offspring of Deity, he is of the same race and has within him—undeveloped, it is true—the faculties and attributes of his Father. He has also before him an eternity of time in which to develop both the faculties of the mind and the attributes of the soul—why should it be accounted a strange thing that at last the child shall arrive at the same exaltation and partake of the same intelligence and glory with his Father? If Jesus Christ, "being in the form of God, thought it not robbery to be equal with God,"[11] why should it be considered blasphemous to teach that man by faith and righteousness in following the counsels of God, shall at last become like him, and share his power and glory, being a God, even a son of God?

I grant you the height from our present position looks tremendous; yet it is not impossible of attainment, since we have eternity in which to work. Stand by the cradle of a new-born babe and contemplate it. Within that little body of organized pulp—with eyes incapable of distinguishing objects; legs unable to bear the weight of its body—without the power of locomotion; hands over whose movements it has no control; ears that hear but cannot distinguish sounds; a tongue that cannot speak—yet within that helpless little tabernacle, what powers lie dormant! Within that germ in the cradle are latent powers which only require time for their unfolding to astonish the world. From it may come the man of profound learning who shall add something by his own wisdom to the sum-total of human knowledge. Perhaps from that germ will come a profound historian, a poet or eloquent orator to sway the reason and passions of men, and guide them to better and purer things than they have yet known. Or a statesman may be there in embryo; a man whose wisdom shall guide the destiny of the state or perhaps with God-like power rule the world! If from such a germ as this in the cradle may come such an unfolding of power as we see in the highest and noblest manhood, may it not be, that taking that highest and noblest manhood as the germ, that from it may come, under the guiding hand of our Father in heaven, a still more wonderful unfolding, until the germ of the highest and noblest manhood shall develop into a God? The distance between the noblest man and the position of God is greater, perhaps, than that between the infant in the cradle and the highest development of manhood; but if so, there is a longer time—eternity—in which to arrive at the result; and God and heavenly influences instead of human parents and earthly means to bring to pass the necessary development.

This doctrine makes very clear some of the sayings of the scripture, "Now are we the sons of God," said the Apostle John, "and it doth not yet appear what we shall be; but we know that, when he [Christ] shall appear we shall be like him; for we shall see him as he is; and every man who hath this hope in him purifieth himself even as he is pure."[12] We can see now some meaning in the exhortation of Jesus—"Be ye therefore perfect, even as your Father which is in heaven is perfect."[13] "To him that overcometh will I grant to sit with me in my throne, even as I also overcame, and am set down with my Father in his throne."[14]

All these sayings give us reason to believe that man may become as Christ and God are; that he may walk in their footsteps, become like them and inherit the same glory with them. The Prophet Joseph Smith corrected the idea that God that now is was always God: "We have imagined," said he, "and supposed that God was God from all eternity, I will refute that idea, and will take away the vail so that you can see. * * * It is the first principle of the gospel to know for a certainty the character of God and to know that we may converse with him as one man converses with another, and that he was once a man like us; yea, that God himself, the Father of us all, dwelt on an earth the same as Jesus Christ himself did. * * * The scriptures inform us that Jesus said: 'As the Father hath power in himself, even so hath the Son power'—to do what? Why, what the Father did. The answer is obvious—in a manner, to lay down his body and take it up again. Jesus, what are you going to do? To lay down my life, as my Father did, and take it up again. Do you believe it? If you do not believe it, you do not believe the Bible."[15] * * * God himself was once as we are now, and is an exalted Man and sits enthroned in yonder heavens. That is the great secret. If the vail was rent today and the great God who holds the world in its orbit, and upholds all worlds and all things by his power, was to make himself visible—I say were you to see him today, you would see him like a man in form—like yourselves, in all the person, image and very form as a man, for Adam was created in the very fashion, image and likeness of God, and received instruction from and walked and talked, and conversed with him, as one man talks and communes with another."

"* * * Here, then, is eternal life—to know that only wise and true God and you have got to learn how to become Gods yourselves, and to be kings and priests to God, the same as all Gods have done before you—namely, by going from one small degree to another, and from a small capacity to a great one, from grace to grace, from exaltation to exaltation, until you attain to the resurrection of the dead, and are able to dwell in everlasting burnings and to sit in glory, as do those who sit enthroned in everlasting power."[16]

But if God the Father was not always God, but came to his present exalted position by degrees of progress as indicated in the teachings of the prophet, how has there been a God from all eternity? The answer is that there has been and there now exists an endless line of Gods, stretching back into the eternities, that had no beginning and will have no end. Their existence runs parallel with endless duration, and their dominions are as limitless as boundless space. These truths led one of the disciples of the prophet to write:

  If you could hie to Kolob,
    In th' twinkling of an eye,
  And then continue onward,
    With that some speed to fly,

  D'ye think that you could ever,
    Through all eternity,
  Find out the generation
    Where Gods began to be?

  Or see the grand beginning,
    Where space did not extend?
  Or view the last creation,
    Where Gods and matter end?

  Methinks the Spirit whispers—
    "No man has found 'pure space,'
  Nor seen the outside curtains
    Where nothing has a place.

  "The works of God continue,
    And worlds and lives abound;
  Improvement and progression
    Have one eternal round."

These conceptions of man's origin and future development and glory involve the idea of a plurality of Gods—a doctrine somewhat startling, perhaps, to modern ears, since men in our times have been taught to look upon it as sacrilege to speak or think of more than one God. But since modern Christianity finds itself so far separated from other truths of the gospel, may it not find itself wrong in this? What means that expression in Genesis where, speaking of the creation of man, God is represented as saying: "Let us make man in our image, after our likeness?"[17] Is it not a fair inference that he addressed himself to other Gods who were present? In the account of the creation given in the Book of Abraham the plural is used throughout—"And the Gods prepared the earth to bring forth the living creatures." "And the Gods took counsel among themselves and said, 'Let us go down and form man in our image, after our likeness,'" etc.

Passing by many other expressions in the Old Testament that convey the idea of the existence of a plurality of Gods, I take up the preface to the gospel according to St. John: "In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God. The same was in the beginning with God." It is generally conceded that the "Word" here spoken of as being with God in the beginning is Jesus Christ. If any doubt existed that Jesus is referred to, it would be dispelled by the fourteenth verse of the same chapter, in which the preface occurs: "And the Word was made flesh, and dwelt among us (and we beheld his glory, the glory as of the only begotten of the Father) full of grace and truth."

Here, then, at least is an account of two Gods—one of which dwelt with the other in the beginning, and one—the Word—afterwards came to the earth, was made flesh and dwelt on earth with men and was known as Jesus of Nazareth.

When Jesus—the Word—was baptized in Jordan, as he came out of the water, the heavens opened, the Spirit of God descended upon him, and lo, a voice from heaven said: "This is my beloved Son in whom I am well pleased."[18] Here there appears on the scene again two Gods—the "Word" and doubtless the God with whom the "Word" had dwelt in the beginning. In other words here was God the Father, and God the Son, both present, yet both distinct and separate—two Gods.[19]

In the greeting to the seven churches of Asia, which John embodies in his preface to the Apocalypse he says: "Grace be unto you * * * from Jesus Christ, who is the faithful witness. * * * Unto him that loved us, and washed us from our sins in his own blood, and hath made us kings and priests unto God and his Father; to him be glory and dominion forever and ever. Amen."[20] I call special attention to the words written above in italics—"unto God and his Father," which can only mean God and the Father of God, which certainly conveys the idea of a plurality of Gods.[21]

I have not space here to consider such expressions—with which the scriptures abound—as "The Lord God is God of Gods and Lord of Lords;"[22] "The Lord, God of Gods, the Lord, God of Gods, he knoweth, and Israel he shall know if it be in rebellion," etc.[23] "O give thanks to the God of Gods * * * O give thanks to the Lord of Lords."[24] "And shall speak marvelous things against the God of Gods."[25] "The Lamb shall overcome them: for he is Lord of Lords and king of kings."[26]

Such expressions I know would be worthless as evidence in the matter under discussion if found in the mouths of heathen kings and prophets who are sometimes represented as speaking in the Bible; but the expressions here carefully selected are found on the lips of Moses, of the children of Israel, David, Daniel, and the Apostle John; and coming as they do from recognized and divinely authorized servants of God, they are important as not only upholding but proclaiming the idea of a plurality of Gods.

"I and my Father are one," said Jesus on one occasion. "Then the Jews took up stones again to stone him."

Jesus—"Many good works have I showed you from my Father, for which of those works do ye stone me?"

The Jews—"For a good work we stone thee not; but for blasphemy; and because that thou, being a man, makest thyself God."

Jesus—"Is it not written in your law, I said ye are Gods? If he [that is, God who gave the law] called them Gods unto whom the word of God came, and the scripture cannot be broken; say ye of him, whom the Father hath sanctified and sent into the world, thou blasphemest; because I said I am the Son of God? If I do not the works of my Father believe me not."[27]

Let it be observed that in the above conversation when Jesus was accused of making himself God, he did not deny the charge; but on the contrary, called their attention to the fact that God in the law he had given to Israel had said to some of them—"ye are Gods." And further, Jesus argued, if those unto whom the word of God came were called Gods in the Jewish law, and the scripture wherein the fact was declared could not be broken, that is, the truth denied or gainsaid—why should the Jews complain when he, too, that is Christ, who had been especially sanctified by God the Father, called himself the Son of God?

On another occasion Jesus said to the Pharisees: "What think ye of Christ? whose son is he?"

Pharisees—"The son of David."

Jesus—"How then doth David in spirit call him Lord, saying—The Lord said unto my Lord, sit thou on my right hand, till I make thy foes thy footstool? If David then call him Lord, how is he his son?"[28]

The Pharisees could make him no answer, nor dared they question him further. All that concerns me in the passage is to note that one God is represented as saying to another—"Sit thou upon my right hand until I make thy foes thy footstool—and that clearly proves the existence of more than one God."

No higher authority than this can be cited in support of any theological doctrine. These conversations of Jesus with the Jews so completely prove that Jesus himself taught the existence of a plurality of Gods, that there can be no questioning it.

I shall be told, however, that Paul expressly says: "There is none other God but one." That statement taken alone would seem conclusive; but considered in connection with its context, which explains it, it will be found in harmony with all the passages here produced to prove a plurality of Gods. The single statement quoted above is immediately followed by these words: "For though there be that are called Gods, whether in heaven or in earth (as there be Gods many, and Lords many); but to us there is but one God, the Father, of whom are all things, and we in him, and one Lord, Jesus Christ, by whom are all things, and we by him."[29]

From this it appears that there be many that are called Gods both in heaven and in earth. Had the reference to many Gods and many Lords been confined to these that are called such in the earth, the force of the passage might have been broken somewhat by the probability that reference was made to the false gods of the heathens; but when we are told that "there be that are called Gods whether in heaven or in earth," by which I understand that there are those that are called Gods both in heaven and in earth, Christians will not claim that the many Gods spoken of as being in heaven are false Gods.

But still the apostle teaches that to us there is but one God, the Father; and one Lord, Jesus Christ. So also taught the prophet Joseph.[30] He taught that there was but one God to whom it was proper for us to pay divine honors in worship—God, the Father—the Father of Jesus Christ, and of whom the Holy Ghost is the witness. And these three, in the teachings of the great modern prophet, as in the teachings of the Jewish scriptures, constitute one Godhead, or Grand Presidency to whom alone man owes allegiance to be expressed in divine worship. But this does not strike out of existence the many other Gods and Lords that live and have dominion in other universes and worlds, any more than it strikes out of existence other kings and emperors of this world, when we say that to the British subject there is but one sovereign to whom he owes allegiance.

If the phrase "Grand Presidency" be substituted for Godhead; and "President" for God, we shall have a nomenclature that will better convey correct ideas to the mind respecting the Gods than that now in common use. How, then, would the teaching of the Prophet Joseph respecting the Gods rise to meet the conceptions of the extent and grandeur of the universe, both as now known to our scientists and as revealed through the prophet himself! An infinitude of worlds and systems of worlds rising one above the other in ever-increasing splendor in limitless space and eternal duration, would have, as a concomitant, an endless line of exalted men, to preside over and within them as Priests, Kings, Patriarchs, Gods! Nor is there confusion, disorder, or strife in their vast dominions; for they all govern upon the same righteous principle that characterizes the government of God the Father. The Gods have attained unto the excellence that Jesus prayed for in behalf of his apostles and those who might believe on their word, when he said: "Holy Father, keep through thine own name those whom thou hast given me, that they may be one as we are. * * * Neither pray I for these alone, but for them also which shall believe on me through their word; that they all may be one; as thou, Father, art in me, and I in thee, that they also may be one in us; * * * and the glory which thou givest me, I have given them; that they may be one even as we are one."[31]

If that prayer does not contemplate the apostles and those who believe on their words becoming like God the Father and Jesus Christ; sharing their glory and their power; becoming one with them as they are now one with each other, hence becoming as they are—Gods!—then the language is without meaning, and is hollow mockery, the meaningless verbiage of one who knew not what he was saying. But Jesus knew for what he was praying; and he knew that he was not asking in behalf of his apostles and those who would believe on their words the unattainable. He was but asking for them that glory and excellence and exaltation to which many had already attained in other worlds.

I say the Gods had attained unto that excellence of oneness that Jesus prayed his disciples might possess, and since the Gods have attained unto it, and all govern their worlds and systems of worlds by the same spirit and upon the same principles, there is a unity in their government that makes it one even as they are one. Let worlds and systems of worlds, galaxies of systems and universes extend as they may throughout limitless space, Joseph Smith has revealed the existence of a government which while characterized by unity is still co-extensive with them. Let duration, as to the past, be without beginning—yet Joseph Smith has revealed the great truth that in the beginningless duration there has existed always an endless succession of exalted men, called Gods. Let duration, as to the future be without end,—let the end of time be as remote as the beginning of time, which it is, for neither exists—yet Joseph Smith has revealed the great truth that in that endless future, new worlds, systems of worlds and universes will be created from the exhaustless store of eternal matter, and made the habitation of the ever increasing posterity of the Gods. Let no one fear—there is room for all this multiplying and increasing in limitless space. Let no one fear—there is material for all these worlds and systems of worlds in the exhaustless store of eternal matter distributed throughout limitless space. Let no one fear—there is time enough in endless duration to accomplish all that God has decreed through his prophet pertaining to the perfecting and exalting of our race.

Nor will this exaltation of man detract from the majesty and exaltation of the Gods. Joseph Smith's doctrine does not degrade Deity, it merely points out the future exaltation of man. The glory of God does not consist in his being alone in his greatness, but in sharing that greatness and his intelligence and glory with others. It is a case where the more is given the richer he becomes who gives, because he is constantly widening the circle of his own power and dominion. As the glory of earthly parents is increased by having beautiful, intelligent children, capable of attaining to the same intelligence, development and standing as the parents, so the glory of the heavenly parent—God—is added unto by having sons who shall attain unto the same honor and exaltation as himself, and who shall be worthy of sharing his power and glory and everlasting dominion.

What glory is here! What honor! What exaltation! What thrones, principalities, kingdoms, dominions, powers! What incentive to right living! What encouragement to struggle against weaknesses and make war for righteousness against the flesh, the world and the devil! Well may the Apostle say—when speaking of this doctrine—"And every man that hath this hope in him, purifieth himself, even as he [Christ] is pure."[32]

This is the doctrine of the great modern prophet Joseph Smith—the testimony of the New Witness for God. And in the sublimity of the doctrine; in the grandeur of it; in the noble aspirations a contemplation of it inspires in the soul of man, may be seen the evidence of divine inspiration in him who re-announced it to the world.

Footnotes

1. Psalm viii.

2. Doc. and Cov. Sec. xciii.

3. Doc. and Cov. Sec. xciii: 29-31.

4. Doc. and Cov. Sec. xxix: 36-38, also Pearl of Great Price p. 14. (1888 Edition.)

5. See Rev. xii: 7-12. II. Peter ii: 4. Jude vi.

6. Pearl of Great Price p. 62.

7. The hymn was composed by Eliza R. Snow Smith, wife of the prophet.

8. Doc. and Cov. sec. lxxxviii. 26-34; see also sec. lxxvi. and cxxx.

9. History of Joseph Smith, Millennial Star, vol. xxi., p. 6.

10. Outlines of Ecclesiastical History, p. 435.

11. Phillippians ii. 6.

12. I. Epist. John iii. 2, 3.

13. Matt. v. 48.

14. Rev. iii. 21.

15. The argument here made by the prophet is very much strengthened by the following passage: "The Son can do nothing of himself, but what he seeth the Father do: for what things soever he (the Father) doeth, these also doeth the Son likewise." St. John v. 19.

16. From a discourse preached by Joseph Smith at Nauvoo, April 7th, 1844. Millennial Star, vol xxiii, pp. 245-248.

17. Gen. i. 26.

18. Matt. iii. 16, 17.

19. The prophet Joseph, referring to this matter, says: "I wish to declare I have always, and in all congregations when I have preached on the subject of the Deity, it has been the plurality of Gods. It has been preached by the elders for fifteen years. I have always declared God to be a distinct personage, Jesus Christ a separate and distinct personage from God the Father, and that the Holy Ghost was a distinct personage and a spirit; and these three constitute three distinct personages and three Gods. If this is in accordance with the New Testament, lo, and behold! We have three Gods anyhow, and they are plural; and who can contradict it?" Millennial Star, vol. xxiv. p. 108.

20. Rev. i. 1-6.

21. Commenting on this text the prophet said: "If Jesus Christ was the Son of God, and John discovered that God, the Father of Jesus Christ, had a Father, you may suppose that he had a Father also. Where was there ever a son without a father? And where was there ever a father without first being a son? Whenever did a tree or anything spring into existence without a progenitor? And everything comes in this way. Paul says that that which is earthly is in the likeness of that which is heavenly. Hence, if Jesus had a Father, can we not believe that he had a Father also? I despise the idea of being scared to death at such a doctrine, for the Bible is full of it." Millennial Star, vol xxiv., p. 109.

22. Deut, x. 17.

23. Josh. xxii. 22.

24. Psalms cxxxvi. 2, 3.

25. Dan. xi. 36.

26. Rev. xvii. 14.

27. John x. 30-37.

28. Matt. xxii. 41, 45. Also Psalms cx. I.

29. I. Cor. viii. 4, 6.

30. On the passage under consideration the prophet remarked: "Paul says there are Gods many and Lords many—I want to set it forth in a plain and simple manner—but to us there is but one God—that is, pertaining to us; and he is in all and through all. But if Joseph Smith says there are Gods many and Lords many, they cry, 'Away with him! Crucify him! Crucify him!' * * * Paul, if Joseph Smith is a blasphemer, you are. I say there are Gods many, and Lords many, but to us only one; and we are to be in subjection to that one." Millennial Star, vol. xxiv. p. 108.

31. St. John, xvii.

32. "Behold, what manner of love the Father hath bestowed upon us, that we should be called the Sons of God; therefore the world knoweth us not, because it knew him not. Beloved, now are we the Sons of God; and it doth not yet appear what we shall be; but we know that when he shall appear, we shall be like him; for we shall see him as he is. And every man that hath this hope in him purifieth himself even as he is pure." First Epistle of John, iii: 1-4.

CHAPTER XXXI.

THE EVIDENCE OF MARTYRDOM.

The highest evidence that one man can give another of friendship is that he sacrifices his life for him. "Greater love hath no man than this," said Jesus, "that a man lay down his life for his friends."[1] When a man does that he gives all that he has, and hence can give no more. The highest evidence of sincerity that a man can give his fellow-men—the highest proof that he has spoken the truth in any given case—is that he perseveres in it unto death, and seals his testimony with his blood. When he does that he affixes the broadest possible seal to that of which he testified, and henceforth the truth so testified of must be in force in all the world.

So important did such a testimony become in the estimation of Paul that he said: "Where a testament is there must also of necessity be the death of the testator. For a testament is of force after men are dead: otherwise it is of no strength at all while the testator liveth."[2] In the light of this principle, and when the importance of the great testimony which he bore to the world is taken into account, it is not to be wondered at that Joseph Smith was called upon to affix the broad seal of martyrdom to his life's work. Something of incompleteness in his work would likely have been complained of had this been lacking; but now, not so; his character of prophet was rounded out to complete fullness by his falling a martyr under the murderous fire of a mob at Carthage, in the State of Illinois.

The circumstances attendant upon the prophet's death, briefly told, are as follows: The extreme bitterness of his enemies culminated in the spring and early summer of 1844, in a charge against himself as mayor of Nauvoo, and some members of the City Council, of riot in suppressing in their official capacity a scurrilous and libelous paper known as the Nauvoo Expositor. A warrant for the arrest of Joseph Smith and the City Council was issued by a Mr. Morrison, justice of the peace, at Carthage, and made returnable to the justice at Carthage "or some other justice of the peace." Mr. Smith and the City Council being assured that it was unsafe for them to go to Carthage, insisted upon being taken before "some other justice of the peace," as provided in the warrant. To this the constable refused to assent, whereupon the parties under arrest applied for a writ of habeas corpus made returnable before the municipal court of Nauvoo. A hearing was granted and the case dismissed. Subsequently, however, at the instance of Judge Thomas, the circuit judge of the judicial district which included Nauvoo, Joseph and the City Council submitted to a new trial on the same charge before Squire D. H. Wells, a justice of the peace, and were again acquitted. But the course pursued by the mayor and City Council was declared to be resistance to the law by the prophet's enemies, and was made use of to influence the public mind against the saints.

Mobs assembled about Carthage and the work of violence was inaugurated by kidnapping, whipping and otherwise abusing the saints living in the outlying districts of Nauvoo. For protection the people thus assailed fled to Nauvoo, and this was heralded abroad as the massing of the Mormon forces. The Governor of the State—Thomas Ford—was kept informed of all that was transpiring in Nauvoo by the city authorities, and in answer to the question, "What course shall we pursue in the event of an armed mob coming against the city," he replied that Joseph Smith was Lieutenant-General of the Nauvoo Legion, and it was his duty to protect the city and surrounding country, and issued orders to that effect. Thus declared, qualified and directed to act by the Governor of the State, the Nauvoo Legion was called together and measures were taken for the defense of the city; and as the mob forces grew bolder every day, Nauvoo was at last placed under martial law.

Meantime the mob forces were active in making misrepresentations to the Governor, until finally in his perplexity he resolved on visiting the scenes of the disturbances, and for that purpose went to Carthage. Here he was met by a delegation from Nauvoo—Elder John Taylor[3] and Dr. John M. Bernhisel[4]—to represent the mayor and City Council. They presented to him a full statement of the case and submitted all the documents. The Governor was of the opinion that in order to prove to the people that the saints were willing to submit to the law, it would be best for Joseph Smith and all concerned in the destruction of the Expositor to come to Carthage for examination. Elder Taylor called the Governor's attention to the fact that they had already been examined before two competent courts and acquitted; that they had fulfilled the law in every particular, and that their enemies had murderous designs and were only making use of this matter to get Joseph Smith into their power. The Governor, however, insisted that the proper thing for the prophet to do was to come to Carthage.

Elder John Taylor then stated that in consequence of the excitement prevailing, it would be extremely unsafe for Joseph Smith and his friends to come to Carthage; that they had men and arms to defend themselves, but if their forces and those of the enemy should be brought into close proximity the most probable result would be a collision. In reply to this the Governor "strenuously advised us," says Elder Taylor, "not to bring our arms, and pledged his faith as Governor, and the faith of the State, that we should be protected, and that he would guarantee our perfect safety."

As soon as the delegation returned from Carthage a meeting of the prophet and a few of his friends was called and the demands of the Governor considered. It was finally determined that it would be unsafe for the Prophet Joseph to go to Carthage, and he himself felt inspired to go west. He crossed the Mississippi that night, and expected to continue his journey as soon as arrangements could be perfected.

Some of the prophet's "friends," when they learned of his determination to leave Nauvoo and seek an asylum for the church in the west, accused him of taking the part of the unfaithful shepherd, who, when the wolves were about to come upon the flock, was taking to flight. They entreated him to return and give himself up, trusting to the pledges of the Governor for a fair trial. Influenced by these entreaties and stung by the charge of cowardice from those who should have known better and aided his flight, the prophet said: "If my life is of no value to my friends, it is of none to myself," And against his own better judgment, and with the conviction in his soul that he would be killed he resolved to return. He besought his brother Hyrum to leave him, but nothing could induce Hyrum to forsake the prophet. Having stood by him through well nigh all the storms of his career, it was not in Hyrum Smith's nature to forsake the prophet in the darkest hour of his life.

Arriving at Nauvoo, the prophet promptly sent a message to Governor Ford that he would be at Carthage next day. Early next morning the prophet and a company of his friends set out for Carthage. En route they met Captain Dunn, an officer of the militia of the state, with a requisition from the Governor for the state arms in possession of the people of Nauvoo. He earnestly entreated the prophet to return to Nauvoo with him, thinking doubtless that his task would be easier of accomplishment if the prophet was present, and Joseph Smith complied with the request. It was on the occasion of meeting Captain Dunn's company, some four or five miles out of Carthage, that Joseph uttered these prophetic words: "I am going like a lamb to the slaughter, but I am calm as a summer's morning. I have a conscience void of offense toward God and toward all men. I shall die innocent, and it shall yet be said of me, 'he was murdered in cold blood.'"

Hyrum Smith that morning before leaving Nauvoo, and in spite of an assumed cheerfulness, also left evidence that the fate awaiting his brother and himself at Carthage had been foreshadowed in his mind. He read a passage in the Book of Mormon, near the close of the twelfth chapter of Ether:

"And it came to pass that I prayed unto the Lord that he would give unto the Gentiles grace that they might have charity, and it came to pass that the Lord said unto me, if they have not charity it mattereth not unto thee, thou hast been faithful; wherefore thy garments shall be made clean, and because thou hast seen thy weakness thou shalt be made strong, even unto the sitting down in the place which I have prepared in the mansions of my Father. And now I bid farewell unto the Gentiles, yea, and also to my brethren whom I love, until we shall meet before the judgment seat of Christ, where all men shall know that my garments are not spotted with your blood."

On this passage he turned down the leaf, and there it is to this day, a silent witness that he, too, knew that he was "going like a lamb to the slaughter!"

The state arms secured as per the requisition of Governor Ford, the prophet and his friends, attended by Captain Dunn's company of militia, set out again for Carthage, where they arrived about midnight. One militia company encamped on the public square—the Carthage Greys—were aroused by the passing cavalcade, and gave vent to ominous threats and a volley of imprecations.

The next morning Joseph Smith and a number of the Nauvoo City Council appeared before a justice of the peace in Carthage, and were bound over to appear before the circuit court at its next session on a charge of riot. No sooner, however, was this matter so adjusted than Joseph and Hyrum Smith were arrested on a charge of treason against the state at the instance of Henry O. Norton and Augustine Spencer—men of no character, and whose words were utterly unreliable. They were arbitrarily thrust into prison, where they were at last completely at the mercy of their enemies. The friends of the prophet protested to the Governor against such treatment, but to no purpose. Governor Ford was sorry that the thing had occurred—he did not believe the charge, but thought the best thing to do would be to let the law take its course.

The day following, the 26th of June, there was a long interview between the prophet and the governor in the prison. All the difficulties that had arisen in Nauvoo were related by Joseph and the action of himself and associates explained and defended. In concluding the conversation the prophet said: "Governor Ford, I ask for nothing but what is legal; I have a right to expect protection at least from you; for independent of law, you have pledged your faith and that of the state for my protection, and I wish to go to Nauvoo." "And you shall have protection, General Smith," replied the Governor. "I did not make this promise without consulting my officers, who all pledged their honor to its fulfillment. I do not know that I shall go tomorrow to Nauvoo, but if I do, I will take you along."

The next day—the ever memorable 27th of June-the Governor broke the promise he had made to Joseph Smith the day previous, viz: that if he went to Nauvoo he would take him along. He disbanded the militia except a small company he detailed to accompany him to Nauvoo, and the Carthage Greys, a company composed of the very worst enemies the prophet and his friends had—these he left to guard the prisoners! It was the public boast of the disbanded militia that they would only go a short distance from the town and then after the Governor left for Nauvoo they would return and kill the prophet. When this fact was stated to the Governor by Dan Jones, one of the Elders of the Church, who heard the boasts, Governor Ford replied, that Jones was over anxious for the safety of his friends.

The events of that day proved that the boasts of the prophet's enemies were not idle. About five o'clock in the afternoon the prison was suddenly surrounded by an armed mob, of from one hundred and fifty to two hundred persons. They forced the prison doors and ruthlessly murdered the brothers Smith. Hyrum was shot first and fell, calmly saying, "I am a dead man!" For a moment the prophet bent over the prostrate form of Hyrum, and said, "Oh! my poor, dear brother Hyrum!" Then instantly rising to his feet he stepped to the half-open door, through which the mob was firing their guns, and discharged at them a pistol left in his hands that morning by Cyrus Wheelock, one of the brethren who had visited him in prison. He then turned from the door and attempted to leap from the window; as he did so he was shot and fell to the ground, exclaiming, "Oh Lord, my God!" Instant terror seized his murderers and they fled.

By the side of the well-curb just under the window from which he had half leaped, half fallen—the sands of the young prophet's life ebbed away, and another soul was added to the number under the altar "that were slain for the word of God and the testimony which they held."

Joseph Smith was innocent of any crime; his death was the direct result of that bitter and relentless persecution which had followed him from the time the Lord first appeared to him and made him a prophet to the nations; and in his death, so tragic, and so pitiful, he affixed a broad seal to the message he bore to the world—a seal that makes his testimony of binding force—"For where a testament is, there must of necessity be the death of the testator; for a testament is of force after men are dead!" Not in vain fell the prophet! Not in vain did his blood make crimson the soil of the great state of Illinois! It was fitting that the prophet of the great Dispensation of the Fullness of Times should complete his great work by sealing his testimony with his blood, that his martyr-cry "Oh Lord, my God!" might mingle with the martyr-cries of so many of the prophets who, like him, were sent to bear witness for God.

My task draws to a close—and yet I take my leave of it with regret rather than joy; for I have learned to love the holy theme; and now that I must think of it as a task completed, instead of having it the sweet companion of my daily thought, and care, and joy, brings more of sadness than of gladness, and I part with it as I would with some dear friend whose affections and interests and very life had become interlocked with my own. Moreover, I know that this book goes out into a world that has little sympathy with it, and harsh treatment may await it as harsh treatment was meted out to God's New Witness, of whom this volume is a vindication, in that it bears testimony to the divinity of his mission. But whatever the character of the reception accorded this book, harsh treatment or cold neglect, the author is confident that the time will come when the world will listen with respectful attention to the message delivered by Joseph Smith.

And now let me say in conclusion—it is a fact; the world did need a New Witness for God; the church of Christ was destroyed; there was an apostasy from the Christian religion so complete and universal as to make necessary a new dispensation thereof; the ancient prophets of God did foretell the coming forth in the last days of a new dispensation of the gospel—which was to be preached to all the world; God has sent forth his angel with that new dispensation of the gospel; God did raise up a New Witness for himself and divinely commissioned him to preach the gospel, administer its ordinances and speak in his name, and has given to the world abundant evidence of the divine authority and inspiration of that Witness—THE PROPHET JOSEPH SMITH.

THE END.

Footnotes

1. John xv: 13.

2. Heb. ix: 16, 17.

3. John Taylor subsequently became the President of the Church, succeeding Brigham Young in 1877.

4. Dr. Bernhisel afterwards was Utah's Delegate in Congress for a number of terms.

THE WORKS OF B. H. ROBERTS.

A NEW WITNESS FOR GOD.

A work of 486 pages, treating of the divinity of the mission of the Prophet Joseph Smith. The Committee appointed by the First Presidency to read the manuscript of this work before it was published—viz. Elders Franklin D. Richards, George Reynolds and John Jaques—say in their report:

"Your committee, to whom you referred the consideration of Elder B. H. Roberts's new work entitled "A New Witness for God," respectfully represent, that they have read it with great care and believe it to be a valuable addition to our church literature. They find nothing therein calling for adverse criticism but to the contrary find that it is orthodox and consistent with our teachings. There is harmony in its chapters which gives much strength to its arguments, all of which point directly to the evidences, first of the need of a New Witness for God, and next that Joseph the Prophet was that witness. The truths are emphasized on lines of reasoning different from those common to our elders which carries to the work a freshness and an interest that will, we think, attract students and develop in our youth and others an increased love for the study of the great Latter-day work. Brother Roberts' work collates and condenses a large amount of useful and important information historical and theological which is often not readily accessible to the Elders and members of the Church, but which tends to broaden their views and enlarge and enlighten their understanding of various vital matters connected with the gospel of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ." Full coth $1.75, Full leather gilt $2.75, post-paid. Geo. Q Cannon & Sons Co., Salt Lake City, Utah.

SUCCESSION IN THE PRESIDENCY OF THE CHURCH.

A pamphlet of 125 pages, uniform in type and page with the "New Witness" and the author's "Outlines of Ecclesiastical History." It was written to refute the false claims of the so called "Re-organized Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints," or the "Josephite Church." It is a work with which every Elder and member of the Church should be familiar. Price, paper cover 30 cts; full cloth 55 cts; full leather 75 cts. Deseret News Company, Salt Lake City, publishers.

OUTLINES OF ECCLESIASTICAL HISTORY.

A work now so well known that it is only necessary to say that a second edition is just issued by Cannon & Sons Company, Salt Lake City. The book is especially dedicated to the seventies, but is valuable to all students of this department of knowledge, and will be of great service to all quorums of the priesthood, the Mutual Improvement Associations and advanced theological classes in Sunday Schools. Full cloth $1.75. Full leather gilt, $2.75, post paid. Cannon & Sons Company, publishers, Salt Lake City, Utah.

THE GOSPEL.

An exposition of the first principles thereof. The second edition of this book, revised and enlarged, is now out, to which the author has added a supplement on the subject of "Man's Relationship to Deity." "The Gospel" by Elder B. H. Roberts answers more questions arising among young missionaries in the space devoted to the exposition of the first principles, than any work yet published among us."—Contributor. Cannon & Sons Co., publishers.

LIFE OF JOHN TAYLOR.

Third President of the Church of Jesus Christ, in the Dispensation of the Fullness of Times, is a handsome volume of four hundred and sixty-eight pages, and containing ten illustrations finely executed, and the portrait of President John Taylor as the frontispiece. These are all well executed, and the steel engraving of the subject of the work is a striking and pleasing likeness.

Deseret News:—"The literary ability displayed in the book is to be highly commended. The volume is from the pen of Elder B. H. Roberts, and he has treated his theme in an able manner. The interest of the readers is maintained throughout. The life of President Taylor abounded with incidents of uncommon import. They are presented in forcible and pleasing style. The language is simple yet eloquent, and not overloaded with rhetoric." Price, full cloth, $2.50; half leather, $3.00; full leather, $4.00; Morrocco, extra gilt, $5.00.

ANNOUNCEMENT.

THE MISSOURI PERSECUTIONS AND THE RISE AND FALL OF NAUVOO.

—This book will doubtless be published during the next year. It will be a reproduction in book form of a series of articles, by Elder Roberts, published some years ago in the Contributor. The articles will be carefully revised and enlarged, and will relate in greater detail the story of those stirring times than any other publication among us. It is the intention to have the work beautifully illustrated. The author visited all the places in Missouri and Illinois where the Church located and therefore adds the charm of description of places, to the narration of events that transpired.

THE BOOK OF MORMON AS A WITNESS FOR GOD

is also in course of preparation and will be a companion volume to the work now issued under the title of "A New Witness for God." Incidentally the divine authenticity of the Book of Mormon will be thoroughly considered.

Transcriber's Note

Some obvious printer's errors in the original, including numerous words with missing, substituted, or extra letters, have been corrected as seemed appropriate.






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