A few days since, Mrs. Pratt and myself, together with some others, were kindly invited to take tea with a very respectable gentleman of this town (Liverpool), who, though not connected with our Church, yet was, with his family sincerely inquiring after the truth. They seemed to be fully convinced in relation to the most important features of our doctrine, and were desirous of extending their investigations still further. We hope that their researches may happily result in a full conviction of the truth, and that they may obtain that certainty, so much to be desired, as to the divine authority of the great and important message now revealed from heaven--a message which must assuredly prove a savor of life or death to the generations now living. This message is beginning to awake the attention of the honest, virtuous and upright among all classes of society. They seem to be aroused from the slumber of ages.
A message of simple truth, when sent from God--when published by divine authority, through divinely inspired men, penetrates the mind like a sharp two-edged sword, and cuts asunder the deeply-rooted prejudices, the iron-bound sinews of ancient error and tradition, made sacred by age and rendered popular by human wisdom. It severs with undeviating exactness between truth and falsehood-between the doctrine of Christ and the doctrines of men; it levels with the most perfect ease every argument that human learning may array against it. Opinions, creeds invented by uninspired men, and doctrines originated in schools of divinity, all vanish like the morning dew--all sink into insignificance when compared with a message direct from heaven. Such a message shines upon the understanding like the splendors of the noon-day sun; it whispers in the ears of mortals, saying, "This is the way, walk ye in it." Certainty and assurance are its constant companions; it is entirely unlike all plans or systems ever invented by human authority, it has no alliance, connection or fellowship with any of them; it speaks with divine authority, and all nations, without an exception, are required to obey. He that receives the message and endures to the end will be saved; he that rejects it will be damned. It matters not what his former righteousness may have been--none can be excused.
As a specimen of the anxious inquiry which now pervades the minds of many in relation to this Church, we publish the following extract from a letter, which was kindly read to us during our aforementioned visit, by the gentleman who received it from his friend in London. We were struck with the apparent candor, the sound judgment, and the correct conclusions of the author of the letter, and earnestly solicited the privilege of publishing it. Permission was granted on condition that we would withhold names. We here present it to our readers, and shall endeavor, in the same spirit of candor, to answer the all important inquiries contained in it.
July 15th, 1848
My Dear Sir:--I have been expecting, time after time, to be able to return you the "letters" you so kindly left with me. As I informed you in my last, I cursorily read through the letters, and then handed the book to Mr. [blank] with him it is at the present time. The impression made thereby on his mind is very remarkable, and he requests me to inform you, that if you will allow him, he means to keep the book, if you will please to let him know the price thereof. He and I concur in our views of Mormonism at present. Do you inquire what those views are? I will then proceed to state them. We consider that the proofs which Mormonism gives of the apostasy are, without question, clear and demonstrative; we entirely concur also in the personal appearance and reign of our Lord; we are persuaded that all the preachers and teachers of the day are without authority--that their teachings and interpretations are uncertain as to the truth--that the translations of the scripture, being done without inspiration, are also uncertain. All [is] uncertain! Melancholy thought! A deplorable picture but a true one! The different teachers doing the best they can--all jarring, all contending! The result--division, multiplied division! And they have a right if they think proper to divide from an authority merely human. But their multiplied division is a multiplied proof that they are wrong-that they are without that spirit who guides into truth, and truth is one.
My dear sir, the Saints have made out a strong and irrefragable case to show that authority to teach is nowhere, if not with them; but the proposition that they have authority to teach, interpret, etc., is one that at present does not create a conviction in Mr.[blank] or my mind. We admit that it is very reasonable to suppose that, under such circumstances, God would raise up and send one invested with authority. Whether Joseph Smith was such a one is the all important question. I also admit, that so far as I am acquainted with his history, there is something very remarkable about him; perhaps I should be fully convinced if I were more fully read in writings relating to him. I wish I lived near to you, and then I would read more fully on the subject. I confess my mind is much concerned to arrive at a clear conclusion upon the point. Mr. [blank] wishes you, if you will be so good, to select a few books that you think clearly prove the divine mission of Joseph Smith, and send them in a parcel to him with the prices; he will feel much obliged, and will send you a post-office order for the amount; he believes your selection will be a judicious one. I have heard Mr. Banks twice since I saw you, and other individual teachers also. There is much in their public services I approve. I am struck with the simplicity of their celebration of the ordinances. . . One result of my conversation with you and Banks and perusing the letters is, that I can be no longer connected with any sect. So far as I see, I can without difficulty confound in an argument--plain scriptural argument--any into whose company I am at any time thrown. The Methodist system I am convinced is the worst, because its pretentions are highest. I stand, therefore, fully alone. I declare I should be glad to be convinced that Mormonism is what it professes to be; I would join it today if my mind could be convinced that its elders had authority to baptize me for the remission of sins, and lay hands on me for the gift of the Holy Ghost. These sacred ordinances I would obey gladly, if I knew men having authority to administer them. To have these ordinances administered without divine authority is mere child's play. Thus you see my position. A Methodist leader, an old friend, said to me the other day, "Are you connected with the church of Christ now?--I hear you are not with us now." I answered, "Where is the church of Christ?" He replied, "It is found among the different sects." I then inquired, "Are you in the church of Christ? For if you are, you must be a member of all the sects."
This rather puzzled him. I then asked him, "Show me the sect that resembles the church at the beginning; does any one of them, or do they all put together resemble the church at the beginning?" He said, "Certainly not." I inquired why not. He was shrewd enough to be silent and to see that his own mouth must condemn his sect and all the sects. Observe, in the absence of the spirit, men must do as well as they can. This I am trying to do, only I confess that I am poor, and blind, and naked, bereft of the glory of the certainty of the authority and truth of the church of Christ. The sects, however, are satisfied though "poor, blind, and naked," to boast of increase of goods, chapels, rich friends, preachers, etc. So much for my present views and standing. I suppose by this time you have acted on your convictions, and are joined to the Saints; in all honesty you ought, I confess. The moment the conviction that divine authority and certainty of teaching is with them. That moment will I join them. . . Farewell. My respectful regards to Mrs. [blank] and ever believe me, my dear sir,
Yours Very Truly,
First:--The author of the above letter has carefully examined the present state of the world, and declares himself fully convinced of the awful apostasy which now so universally prevails. He unhesitatingly admits that all authority to teach--to administer ordinances--to build up the church of Christ has entirely ceased from the earth-that "all is uncertain." He also admits that "it is very reasonable to suppose that under such circumstances, God would raise up and send one invested with authority. Whether Joseph Smith was such a one is the all-important question. Yes, indeed, it is an important question, and one that involves the fate of the present generation. If Joseph Smith was not sent of God, this Church cannot be the Church of God, and the tens of thousands who have been baptized into this Church are yet in their sins, and no better off than the millions that have gone before them. The form, without the power and authority, is no better than the hundreds of human forms that have no resemblance to the ancient pattern; indeed, it is more dangerous, because better calculated to deceive. Other churches do not profess to have inspired apostles, prophets, prophetesses, evangelists, etc., hence we know, if the New Testament be true, that they cannot be the Church of God. But the Latter-day Saints profess to have all these officers and gifts among them, and profess to have authority to administer in every form, ordinance and blessing of the ancient church; hence we know, that so far as the officers, doctrines, ordinances, and ceremonies are evidence, this Church can exhibit a perfect pattern. In these things, then, both ancient and modern Saints are exactly alike. By the New Testament then we cannot be condemned.
If the Latter-day Saints are not what they profess to be, one thing is certain, that no one ever will be able to confute their doctrine by the scriptures; however imperfect the people may be, their doctrine is infallible. Can this be said of any other people who have existed on the eastern hemisphere during the last 1700 years? No. Their doctrines have been a heterogenous mixture of truth and error, that would not stand the test one moment when measured by a pattern of inspiration; some disparity could be seen and pointed out--some deviation either in the organization or in the ordinances of the gospel could be shown to exist. And now after so many centuries have elapsed, and when human wisdom has been exerted to its utmost strength, and the most exalted and gigantic talents displayed to lay a stable foundation whereon to build, we awake and behold all an empty bubble--a vain show--a phantom of man's creation, with scarcely a vestige of the ancient form, to say nothing of the power. In the midst of all this thick darkness, a young, illiterate, obscure and inexperienced man announces a message from heaven, before which darkness flees away; human dogmas are overturned; the traditions of ages are uprooted; all forms of church government tremble like an aspen leaf at its approach, and the mighty fabric of popular sectarianism is convulsed and shaken to its very foundation. How happens all this? If Joseph Smith were an impostor, whence his superior wisdom? What power inspired his mind in laying the foundation of a church according to the ancient order? How could an impostor so far surpass the combined wisdom of seventeen centuries as to originate a system diverse from every other system under heaven, and yet harmonize with the system of Jesus and His apostles in every particular? What! An impostor discover the gross darkness of ages, and publish a doctrine perfect in every respect, against which not one scriptural argument can be adduced! The idea is preposterous! The purity and infallibility of the doctrine of this great modern prophet is a presumptive evidence of no small moment in favor of his divine mission.
We do not pretend that a perfect doctrine is an infallible evidence in favor of the divine authority of the one who teaches it. We can conceive it possible, though not probable, for a man to teach a doctrine unmixed with error, and yet be without authority to administer its ordinances. Swedenborg, Irving and many others, taught, doctrines in some respects true, in other respects false: hence their authority should be rejected, even though they should perform miracles. We have no examples on the records of history, of a doctrine perfect in every respect, being taught by any person or persons, unless they were inspired with divine authority. If Joseph Smith taught a doctrine in any respect false, he should be rejected as an impostor, though he should, like the magicians of Egypt, turn rivers of water into blood, or create frogs in abundance, or even raise the dead like the witch of Endor.
On the other hand, if he taught a true and perfect doctrine, he might be sent of God, though he himself should perform no miracle, like John the Baptist, or the Prophet Noah, or many other prophets of the Old Testament. In ancient times, many great prophets were sent of God, and we have no record of their doing miracles, yet their respective messages were of infinite importance, and could not be rejected without condemnation. Where is there a man, no matter how great his attainments, that can show Mr. Smith's doctrine to be false? Did the ancient Saints teach baptism to the penitent believer for the remission of sins? So did Mr. Smith. Did they teach the laying on of hands for the gift of the Holy Spirit? So did Mr. Smith. Did the former-day Saints teach that apostles, prophets, evangelists, pastors, teachers, deacons, bishops, elders, etc., all inspired of God, were necessary in the church? So did Mr. Smith. Did the ancient Saints teach that dreams, visions, new revelations, ministering of angels, healings, tongues, interpretations, and all other spiritual gifts were necessary in the church? So did this modern prophet.
Where, then, is the discrepancy between the ancient and modern teachings? Nowhere. The teaching of the one is as perfect as the other; and we again assert that this perfect coincidence in teaching, in every point, is a strong presumptive evidence that Mr. Smith was sent of God. Second--In what manner does Joseph Smith declare that a dispensation of the gospel was committed unto him? He testifies that an angel of God, whose name was Moroni, appeared unto him; that this angel was formerly an ancient prophet among a remnant of the tribe of Joseph on the continent of America. He testifies that Moroni revealed unto him where he deposited the sacred records of his nation some fourteen hundred years ago; that these records contained the everlasting gospel as it was anciently taught and recorded by this branch of Israel. He gave Mr. Smith power to reveal the contents of those records to the nations of the earth. Now how does this testimony of Joseph Smith agree with the book of John's prophecy given on the Isle of Patmos? John testifies that when the dispensation of the gospel is again committed to the nations, it shall be through the medium of an angel from heaven. Joseph Smith testifies that a dispensation of the gospel for all nations has been committed to him by an angel. The one uttered the prediction; the other testifies to its fulfillment. Though Mr. Smith had taught a perfect doctrine, yet if he had testified that his doctrine was not restored by an angel, all would at once have known him to be an impostor.
How came Mr. Smith, if an impostor, to not only discover a perfect doctrine, but also to discover the precise medium through which that doctrine should be restored to the earth? Did Swedenborg, Irving, Wesley, or any other person, not only teach a pure system, but at the same time did they declare that it was committed to them by an angel from heaven? If not, however pure and holy their teaching, they were not divinely authorized to administer in ordinances. If Mr. Smith had professed to have accidentally discovered those records, and that he was inspired to reveal their contents through the Urim and Thummim; or if he had professed to have received a message of the gospel through the inspiration of the Holy Ghost, or the Urim and Thummim: or in any other way but that of the ministering of an angel, we should, without further inquiry, have known him to be without authority.
How came Mr. Smith, if a deceiver, to think of all this? Did Martin Luther, Wesley, Whitfield, Swedenborg, or Irving think of this? Whence his superior intellect, his depth of understanding, his extensive foresight, that he should so far surpass all former impostors for 1700 years? John testifies that when the everlasting gospel is restored to the earth it shall be by an angel. Mr. Smith testifies that it was restored by an angel, and in no other way. This is another presumptive evidence that he was sent of God. Third--A revelation and restoration to the earth of the everlasting gospel through the angel Moroni would be of no benefit to the nations, unless someone should be ordained with authority to preach it and administer its ordinances. Moroni might reveal a book containing a beautiful and glorious system of salvation, but no one could obey even its first principles without a legally authorized administrator, ordained to preach, baptize, lay on hands for the gift of the Holy Ghost, etc. Did Moroni ordain Mr. Smith to the apostleship, and command him to administer ordinances? No, he did not. But why not confer authority by ordination, as well as reveal the everlasting gospel? Because in all probability he had not the right so to do. All angels have not the same authority--they do not all hold the same keys. Moroni was a prophet, but we have no account of his holding the office of an apostle; and if not, he had no right to ordain Mr. Smith to an office which he himself never possessed.
He no doubt went as far as he was authorized, and that was to reveal the "stick of Ephraim"--the record of his fathers containing the "everlasting gospel." How then did Mr. Smith obtain the office of an apostle, if Moroni had no authority to ordain him to such office? Mr. Smith testifithat Peter, James and John came to him in the capacity of ministering angels, and by the laying on of hands ordained him an apostle, and commanded him to preach, baptize, lay on hands for the gift of the Holy Ghost, and administer all other ordinances of the gospel as they themselves did in ancient days. Did Swedenborg, did Irving's apostles, or did any other imposters during the long age of darkness, profess that the apostleship was conferred upon them by those who held it last--by an angel who held the office himself? No: and therefore they are not apostles, but deceivers. If Mr. Smith had pretended that he received the apostleship by the revelation of the Holy Ghost, without an ordination under the hands of an apostle, we should at once know that his pretensions were vain, and that he was a deceiver. If an impostor, how came Mr. Smith to discover this? Why did he not, like the Irvingites, assume the apostleship without an apostle to ordain him? How came he to possess so much more wisdom than an Irving, as to discover that he could not be an apostle without being ordained under the hands of an apostle? If Mr. Smith be a false apostle, it must be confessed that he has exhibited far more judgment than all the false apostles who have preceded him, learned and talented as they were.
Is not this another presumptive evidence of Joseph Smith's divine mission? Such a correctness upon matters of so great a moment, and upon subjects on which millions have heretofore erred, indicates something more than human--it indicates inspiration of the Almighty. The purity of Mr. Smith's doctrine-the perfect coincidence of his testimony with that of John's, in relation to the manner of the restoration of the everlasting gospel to the earth, and the consistency of his testimony in relation to the manner of the restoration of the apostleship, are strong presumptive evidences that beautifully harmnonize with and strengthen each other; the evidence is therefore accumulative, and increases with every additional condition or circumstance in a multiplied ratio, and seems almost irresistibly to force conviction upon the mind. Fourth:--Joseph Smith not only professes, through the medium of angels, to have received a dispensation of the gospel, and the power and authority of the apostleship, but he also professes to have received through revelation and commandment from God, a dispensation for the gathering of the Saints from all nations. Now the doctrine of the gathering of the Saints in the last days must either be false or true; if false, then Joseph Smith must be an impostor. It matters not how correct he may have been in all other points of his system, if this one point--the doctrine of the gathering--be false, he must be a deceiver. Why? Because he professes to have received this doctrine by direct revelation and commandment. On the other hand, if the doctrine of the gathering of the Saints be a true doctrine and scriptural, this will be another presumptive evidence that Mr. Smith was sent of God.
Now a doctrine may be true and not be scriptural; as for example, Newton's doctrine or law of universal gravitation is a true doctrine, but not a scriptural one; that is, it can neither be proved nor disproved by the scriptures. So, Noah's doctrine of gathering into an ark--Lot's doctrine of fleeing out of Sodom--Christ's doctrine to depart out of Jerusalem and flee to the mountains to escape destruction, were all true; but neither of them could be proved or disproved by any scripture given to any of the former prophets. So likewise Mr. Smith's do the gathering of the Saints in the last days might be true, even though there should be no former scripture that predicted such an event; but in this case such a doctrine would be no evidence that Mr. Smith, who advocated it, was sent of God; but if such a doctrine can be proved to be a scriptural doctrine, that is, if the gathering of the Saints was predicted in ancient scriptures as an event to take place in a certain age, in a certain way, and through certain means, and Mr. Smith comes in that age, professing to have a message to gather the Saints in such way, and by such means as the scriptures have foretold, then the exact and perfect agreement between the professed message of Mr. Smith, and the scriptural predictions relating to such a message or work, would be a presumptive evidence of great weight in favor of his divine mission.
The doctrine of the gathering of the people of God, including Israel, is one so clearly predicted by the inspired writers, that it seems almost superfluous to refer to the numerous passages relating to it. The dispensation in which the people of God were to be gathered in one, is called by the apostle Paul, "the dispensation of the fulness of times"; which he represents as being an event in the future. John, nearly one hundred years after the birth of our Savior, saw the wonderful events and sceneries of unborn generations displayed in majestic and awful grandeur before him. He saw the churches of Asia, then under his own personal watch-care, lukewarm, corrupted, and about ready to be moved out of their place. He saw the universal apostasy that was soon to succeed and hold dominion for ages over all kindred and tongues, under the name of the Mother of Harlots-the great Babylon that should make all nations drunk with her wickedness.
He saw that after the nations had been thus overwhelmed in thick darkness for ages, without the church of God, without apostles, without prophets, without the ministering of angels, without one cheering message from heaven, that there would be one more proclamation of mercy made to all people--one more dispensation of glad tidings from the heavens, to be ushered in by an angel restoring the everlasting gospel, which was to receive a universal proclamation to all the inhabitants of the earth, followed with a loud cry, that the hour of Gods judgment is come. He saw the universal proclamation of this warning message immediately followed by another angel, proclaiming the complete overthrow and downfall of Babylon. Between the interval of the flying of these two angels, he "heard another voice from heaven, saying, Come out of her, my people, 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."
Remember, that this voice, commanding the people to come out of Babylon, was to be a "voice from heaven." It was not to be a cunningly devised plan of uninspired man, brought about by human ingenuity, but it was to be a voice from heaven--a message sent from God--a new revelation, commanding the Saints to come out of Babylon previous to its downfall. How came Mr. Smith, if an impostor, to get, not only all the other particulars which we have mentioned, perfectly exact, but also to discover that there must be a gathering of the Saints out of Babylon, and that that work must immediately follow the introduction of the gospel by an angel? Why did he not say, my doctrine is true, and if you will embrace it you can be saved, and still remain where you are? It matters not how correct thtrine might have been in all other points, if he had told his disciples to remain among the corrupt nations, and not gather together-this alone would have exposed the cloven foot, and proved him to be a deceiver.
Swedenborg, Wesley, Irving and a numerous host of others, during the last seventeen hundred years, have entirely neglected the gathering, which proves that they were without authority--that a dispensation of the gospel was never committed to them--that the voice from heaven to come out of Babylon had never saluted their ears. Previous to the restoration of the gospel by an angel, God had no people in Babylon, and therefore he could not call them out. An unauthorized, uninspired priesthood, preaching a perverted gospel, never could raise up a people of God in Babylon; for they themselves are Babylon, and all their converts or children are begotten after their own likeness with Babylonish inscriptions upon their foreheads. It is only when the gospel, apostleship, and power are again restored in the way and manner predicted, that a people of God can be raised up among the nations.
It is then, and not till then, that the voice is heard from heaven, calling that people out from among the nations. Mr. Smith did not forget this. It is marvelously strange, indeed, that he should be an impostor, and yet embrace in his system every particular that was to characterize the great dispensation of the latter times. It matters not how diverse the points of his doctrine were to the popular current among the great modern systems of religion. He seems to have introduced his system without paying the least regard as to what would be popular or unpopular--as to whether it would suit the learned or the unlearned--as to whether it would suit the temporal circumstances of man or not. He did not stop to make the inquiry whether the gathering of the Saints would be congenial to the feelings of those who occupied splendid mansions, upon fine farms, surrounded with every luxury of life. He did not stop to consider any of those things, but spoke as one having authority; saying, "thus saith the Lord," upon every point of doctrine which he promulgated.
Now, for a young man, inexperienced and illiterate, to profess to give the word of the Lord upon subjects of so great a moment--to reveal doctrines which were directly opposed, not only to his own traditions, but to the teachings and doctrines of the most popular, numerous, and powerful sects of the day, and at the same time have those doctrines exactly accord, not only with the ancient gospel, but with every minute prediction relative to the dispensation of the last days, is an evidence that carries truth upon the face of it, and leaves a deep and lasting impression upon every respecting mind, and we can hardly refrain from assenting in our hearts, that surely he must have been sent of God. Fifth--What else besides the "everlasting gospel" does the Book of Mormon profess to contain? It professes to contain a brief but faithful history of a small branch, of the tribe of Joseph, and the revelations given to them both before and after Christ, written by a succession of prophets who were the literal descendants of Joseph; hence it professes to be, in the full sense of the word, the writings or records of the tribe of Joseph. It contains numerous and pointed predictions, showing expressly that the age in which their records should the power of God, be revealed to the nations, should also be the day in which Israel should be gathered; and that their records in conjunction with the records of the Jews, should be the powerful instruments in the hands of the servants of God in bringing about that great work.
Now, how does this accord with the word of the Lord to Ezekiel upon the same subject? Ezekiel was commanded to write upon two sticks, one for Judah and the other for Joseph; after which he was commanded to join them together into one. And when the children of Israel should make inquiry what these two united writings of Judah and Joseph meant, he was to say unto them, that the Lord God would join the writings of Joseph with those of Judah; immediately after which He would take the children of Israel from among the heathen, whither they were gone, and would gather them on every side, and bring them into their own land: and that He would make them one nation in the land upon the mountains of Israel; and that one king should be king to them all; and that they should no more be [two] nations or kingdoms. Ezekiel testifies that the writings of Joseph should be joined with the writings of Judah. Mr. Smith presents this generation with a book, consisting of several hundred pages, professing to he the sacred writings of the inspired prophets of the tribe of Joseph, who anciently inhabited the great western hemisphere. Ezekiel testifies that Israel should be gathered, never again to be scattered, immediately after the union of these two records.
The professed record of Joseph, brought to light by Mr. Smith, testifies in the most positive language, that this is the age in which Israel shall be gathered through the instrumentality of the word and power of God, contained in the two records. Ezekiel uttered the prediction. Mr. Smith presents a professed fulfillment. This is another presumptive evidence in favor of the divine authority of his mission; for if the gathering of Israel had not been included in the mission of Mr. Smith, as an important part of the great work of the last dispensation, all would have had good reason for rejecting him without further inquiry.
The ministering of an angel--the restoration of the gospel, the conferring of the apostleship, the setting up of the kingdom of God, the gathering of the Saints, the revelation of the record of Joseph, and its union with the Jewish record, and the restoration of all the house of Israel to their own lands--are the wonderful events to be fulfilled in the great "dispensation of the fullness of times." Whatever person or persons are divinely commissioned to usher in that dispensation, must have the keys of authority to perform every work pertaining thereunto. If Joseph Smith had included all these remarkable events in his mission, excepting one; then that one exception would be sufficient to prove him to be acting without authority. But where, we ask, is there one exception? What particular event or circumstance pertaining to the dispensation, of which he professed to hold the keys, has he excluded from his system? Did John predict the restoration of the gospel by an angel? It is included in Mr. Smith's system. Did John predict that the Saints should receive a message from heaven, commanding them to come out of Babylon? It also is included in the system of Joseph Smith, and the Saints are now obeying it. Did Ezekiel predict the final gathering of Israel as an immediate result of the union of the two records of Joseph and Judah? Mr. Smith also includes that in his system. The two records are already united in theirtestimony, and will soon accomplish the purpose for which they were sent forth.
What then is lacking? Is there any of the prophets, or inspired writers of ancient times, who have pointed out some other way for the latter-day dispensation to be brought about? Can any man show that the gospel will not be restored by an angel, or that the Saints will not be called out of Babylon by a message from heaven? or that the record of the tribe of Joseph will not be joined with the Jewish record-the Bible? or that Israel will not be gathered to their own lands through the instrumentality of more revelation? or that the kingdom of God will not be set up in the latter days to break in pieces all other kingdoms? or that apostles and prophets will not be restored to the earth as in ancient times? If all these things are possible, probable, and scriptural--if all these events must come to pass in their time, and in the manner predicted--can any one show that this is not the time? that the Book of Mormon is not the record of Joseph, about which Ezekiel prophesied? Can anyone show any cause why Joseph Smith should not receive the ministering of an angel? Why he should not be ordained an apostle, or prophet, or receive revelations and commandments from God? If the gospel is to be restored by an angel, it must be restored at the first to some person. Why not that person be Mr. Smith? If the records of two different tribes are to be joined in one, why not the Book of Mormon and the Bible to be the two records? And why not Mr. Smith be the instrument in the hands of God in fulfilling this prophecy?
If these things are not the fulfillment of those ancient predictions will the generations that live when they do come to pass be any more believing than they are at present in this work? Will they be any more ready to receive new revelations, visions, angels, or ancient sacred records than they are now? When God sets up His kingdom, will mankind be any more willing to receive the apostles, prophets and inspired officers of that kingdom, than they are now? One thing is certain; if the angel has not come--if the gospel is not restored--if the records of Joseph are not revealed-then there is no kingdom of God on the earth, no authority to preach or administer the ordinances among men; all is gross darkness-all is uncertainty-and our only alternative is to wait till the voice of the angel is heard, till the great work of the last dispensation is ushered in. But will we then receive it? Will not our prejudices be as great then as they are now against Mr. Smith? Are there any qualifications that Mr. Smith should possess that he did not possess? Were there any doctrines which he advocated adverse to scriptural doctrine? Were there any principles connected with his system inconsistent with the prophecies? If then perfection characterizes every doctrine embraced in the great scheme of this modern prophet, who can say that he was not sent of God? Who dare oppose so great and perfect a system, without the least shadow of evidence to prove its falsity? Who so lost to every sense of reason and sound judgment as not to perceive an overwhelming evidence flowing in from every quarter to establish the divine mission of Joseph Smith? Who that has examined his mission or system impartially can bring even one evidence against it? Are we not bound then to yield, at least, our faith on the side of evidence? What excuse then can the learned, and great and wise of the earth, render for opposing a work of so great importance with nought but ridicule, and slander, and vile reproaches? Let them bring forth their strong reasonings, or else let them hear, and say it is truth. Sixth--The perfect agreement between the prediction of Isaiah (Chap. 29) and Mr. Smith's account of the finding and translation of the Book of Mormon, is another collateral proof that he was divinely commissioned. Mr. Smith testifies that the plates from which that book was translated were taken out of the ground, from where they were originally deposited by the prophet Moroni; that the box containing them was composed of stone, so constructed as to exclude, in a great degree, the moisture of the soil; that with the plates he discovered a Urim and Thummim, through the aid of which he afterwards was enabled to translate the book into the English language. Soon after obtaining the plates, a number of the characters were correctly transcribed, and sent to some of the most learned individuals in the United States, to see if they could translate them.
Among the rest, they were presented to Professor [Charles] Anthon, of New York City. But no man was found able to read them by his own learning or wisdom. Mr. Smith, though an unlearned man, testifies that he was commanded to translate them, through the inspiration of the Holy Ghost, by the aid of the Urim and Thummim, and that the Book of Mormon is that translation. Now, Isaiah [Ch. 29] says to Israel,
Thou shalt be brought down, and shalt speak out of the ground, and thy speech shall be low out of the dust and thy voice shall be, as of one that hath a familiar spirit, out of the ground, and thy speech shall whisper out of the dust.
Who cannot perceive the perfect harmony between Isaiah's prediction and Mr. Smith's testimony? Isaiah, as if to impress it upon the minds of those who should live in future generations, gives no less than four repetitions of the same prediction in the same passage, informing us, in the most definite language, that after Israel should be brought down, they should speak in a very familiar manner out of the ground, and whisper low out of the dust. Mr. Smith has been an instrument in the hands of God of fulfilling this prediction to the very letter. He has taken out of the ground the ancient history of one half of our globe-the sacred records of a great nation of Israel-the writings of a remnant of the tribe of Joseph, who once nourished as a great and powerful nation on the western hemisphere. The mouldering ruins of their ancient forts, and towers, and cities, proclaim their former greatness, in mournful contrast with their present sad condition. They have been brought down like all the rest of Israel; but the words of their ancient prophets speak out of the ground, and whisper out of the dust to the ears of the present generation, revealing in a very familiar manner the history of ancient America, which before was entirely unknown to the nations. Isaiah says, that Israel should speak out of the ground. Mr. Smith says that he obtained the writings of Joseph from out of the ground. Now, if Mr. Smith had professed that he had got his book as Swedenborg obtained his, or as the Shakers obtained theirs; that is, if he had professed to have obtained this book to usher in this last dispensation in any other way but out of the ground, we should have had reason to suppose him a deceiver, like Swedenborg and thousands of others.
Again, Isaiah [29:11-14] says that the vision of all is become uyou as the words of a book that is sealed, which men deliver to one that is learned, saying, Read this, I pray thee: and he saith, I cannot; for it is sealed: And the book is delivered to him that is not learned, saying, Read this, I pray thee: and he saith, I am not learned.
Wherefore the Lord said, Forasmuch as this people draw near me with their mouth, and with their lips do honor me, but have removed their heart far from me, and their fear toward me is taught by the precept of men: Therefore, behold, I will proceed to do a marvellous work among this people, even a marvellous work and a wonder: for the wisdom of their wise men shall perish, and the understanding of their prudent men shall be hid. All this was fulfilled before Mr. Smith was aware that it had been so clearly predicted by Isaiah. He sent the words of a book which be found, as before stated, to Professor Anthon. But it was a sealed writing to the learned professor-the aboriginal language of ancient America could not be deciphered by him. He was as much puzzled as the wise men of Babylon were to interpret the unknown writing upon the wall. Human wisdom and learning, in this case, were altogether insufficient. It required another Daniel, who was found in the person of Mr. Smith. What a marvellous work! What a wonder! How the wisdom of the wise and learned was made to perish by the gift of interpretation given to the unlearned!
If the Book of Mormon is what it professes to be--a sacred record--then it must be the very book mentioned in Isaiahs prediction; for the Prophet Nephi, one of the writers of the Book of Mormon, who lived upwards of 2,000 years ago, informs us that their writings should be brought to light in the last days, in fulfillment of Isaiah's prediction; he also delivers a prophecy in relation to the same book, and predicts many events in connection therewith, which are not mentioned by Isaiah.
We here give an extract from his prediction, as also his quotations from Isaiah [2 Nephi Ch. 27]:
Behold, in the last days, or in the days of the Gentiles; yea, behold all the nations of the Gentiles, and also the Jews, both those who shall come upon this land, and those who shall be upon other lands; yea, even upon all the lands of the earth; behold, they will be drunken with iniquity, and all manner of abominations; and when that day shall come, they shall be visited of the Lord of Hosts, with thunder, and with earthquake, and with a great noise, and with stone, and with tempest, and with the same of devouring fire; and all the nations that fight against Zion, and that distress her, shall be as a dream of a night vision; yea, it shall be unto them, even as unto a hungry man which dreameth, and behold he eateth, but he awaketh and his soul is empty; or like unto a thirsty man which dreameth, and behold he drinketh, but he awaketh, and behold he is faint, and his soul hath appetite: yea, even so shall the multitude of all the nations be that fight against mount Zion: for behold, ye that do iniquity, stay yourselves and wonder, for ye shall cry out, and cry; yea, ye shall be drunken, but not with wine; ye shall stagger, but not with strong drink: for behold, the Lord hath poured out upon you, the spirit of deep sleep. For behold, ye have closed your eyes, and ye have rejected the prophets; and your rulers, and the seers hath He covered because of your iniquity.
And it shall come to pass, that the Lord God shall bring forth unto you the words of a book, and they shall be the words of them which have slumbered. And behold the book shall be sealed: and in the book shall be a revelation from God, from the beginning of the world to the ending thereof. Wherefore, because of the things which are sealed up, the things which are sealed shall not be delivered in the day of the wickedness and abomination of the people. Wherefore the book shall be kept from them. But the book shall be delivered unto a man, and he shall deliver the words of the book, which are the words of those who have slumbered in the dust; and he shall deliver these words unto another; but the words which are sealed he shall not deliver, neither shall he deliver the book. For the book shall be sealed by the power of God, and the revelation which was sealed shall be kept in the book until the own due time of the Lord, that they may come forth; for, behold, they reveal all things from the foundation of the world unto the end thereof. And, the day cometh that the words of the book which were sealed, shall be read upon the housetops; and they shall be read by the power of Christ: and all things shall be revealed unto the children of men which ever have been among the children of men, and which ever will be, even unto the end of the earth.
Wherefore at that day when the book shall be delivered unto the man of whom I have spoken, the book shall be hid from the eyes of the world, that the eyes of none shall behold it, save it be that three witnesses shall behold it, by the power of God, besides him to whom the book shall be delivered; and they shall testify to the truth of the book, and the things therein. And there is none other which shall view it, save it be a few, according to the will of God, to bear testimony of his word unto the children of men; for the Lord God hath said, that the words of the faithful should speak as if it were from the dead.
Wherefore, the Lord God will proceed to bring forth the words of the book; and in the mouth of as many witnesses as seemeth him good, will he establish his word; and wo be unto him that rejecteth the word of God. But behold, it shall come to pass that the Lord God shall say unto him to who he shall deliver the book, take these words which are not sealed and deliver them to another, that he may show them unto the learned, saying, read this, I pray thee. And the learned shall say, bring hither the book, and I will read them: and now, because of the glory of the world, and to get gain will they say this, and not for the glory of God. And the man shall say, I cannot bring the book, for it is sealed. Then shall the learned say, I cannot read it. Therefore it shall come to pass, that the Lord God will deliver again the book and the words thereof to him that is not learned; and the man that is not learned shall say, I am not learned. Then shall the Lord God say unto him, the learned shall not read them, for thev have rejected them, and I am able to do mine own work; wherefore, thou shalt read the words which I shall give unto thee. Touch not the things which are sealed, for I will bring them forth in my own due time; for I will show unto the children of men that I am able to do mine own work.
Wherefore, when thou hast read the words which I have commanded thee, and obtained the witnesses which I have promised unto thee, then shalt thou seal up the book again, and hide it up unto me, that I may preserve the words which thou hast not read, uil I shall see fit in mine own wisdom, to reveal all things unto the children of men. For behold, I am God; and I am a God of miracles: and I will show unto the world that I am the same yesterday, today, and for ever; and I work not among the children of men, save it be according to their faith. And again it shall come to pass, that the Lord shall say unto him that shall read the words that shall be delivered him, forasmuch as this people draw near unto me with their mouth, and with their lips do honor me, but have removed their hearts far from me, and their fear towards me is taught by the precepts of men, therefore, I will proceed to do a marvellous work among this people, yea, a marvelous work and a wonder; for the wisdom of the wise and learned shall perish, and the understanding of their prudent shall be hid. . . And in that day shall the deaf hear the words of the book, and the eyes of the blind shall be set out of obscurity and out of darkness; and the meek also shall increase, and their joy shall be in the Lord, and the poor among men shall rejoice in the Holy One of Israel. For assuredly as the Lord liveth they shall see that the terrible one is brought to nought, and the scorner is consumed, and all that watch for iniquity are cut off; and they that make a man an offender for a word, and lay a snare for him that reproveth in the gate, and turn aside the just for a thing of naught. Therefore thus saith the Lord, who redeemed Abraham, concerning the house of Jacob, Jacob shall not now be ashamed, neither shall his face now wax pale. But when he seeth his children, the work of my hands, in the midst of him, they shall sanctify my name, and sanctify the Holy One of Jacob, and shall fear the God of Israel. They also that erred in spirit shall come to understanding, and they that murmured shall learn doctrine. Here it will at once be perceived that the Book of Mormon is actually the book predicted by Isaiah, or else it must be an imposter. The book mentioned by Isaiah was to have every characteristic which seems to accompany the Book of Mormon. Did Isaiah predict that the deaf should hear the words of the book, and the eyes of the blind see out of obscurity, and out of darkness? It has been fulfilled by the coming forth of the Book of Mormon. Did Isaiah say that in the day his predicted book should speak out of the ground, then those who erred in spirit should come to understanding, and they that murmured should learn doctrine? It has been fulfilled to the very letter through the instrumentality of the Book of Mormon. Tens of thousands of honest men, who erred in spirit because of the doctrines and precepts of men, have come to understanding. Many points of doctrine which had been in controversy for ages are made perfectly plain in the Book of Mormon; hence those who have murmured because of the darkness and obscurity thrown over the scriptures by human wisdom and learning, have learned doctrine.
Did Isaiah prophesy that when the predicted book should make its appearance, that then the house of Jacob should no longer be made ashamed, neither should the face of Jacob any more wax pale? The Book of Mormon has come declaring that the time is at hand for the gathering of the house of Jacob, no more to be scattered. Did Isaiah predict that in the day of the revelation of a certain book, the terrible one should be brought to nought, the scorner be consumed, and all that watch for iniquity be cut off; and finally, that all the nations who should fight against Mount Zion, should pass away as the dream of a night vision, and be destroyed by earthquake and the flame of devouring fire? The Book of Mormon comes testifying that the hour of these judgments is at hand.
And finally, there is no circumstance mentioned by Isaiah, connected with the revelation and translation of the book he mentions, but what is connected with the Book of Mormon. If Joseph Smith was an impostor, and wished to palm himself off upon the world as the great prophet who was to usher in the preparatory dispensation for the coming of the Lord, how came he to discover all these minute particulars contained in Isaiah's prophecy, so as to so exactly and perfectly incorporate in his great scheme of imposture each and every one of them? If this illiterate youth was a deceiver, he has far outstretched all the learned divines or impostors of the last eighteen hundred years--he has made his great and extended scheme to harmonize in every particular, not only with the ancient gospel but with the ancient prophecies, and this, too, so perfectly, that no one can detect the delusion.
Reader, does not such a scheme savor very strongly of the truth? Does it not require a greater effort of mind to disbelieve such a scheme than it does to believe it? If such a scheme cannot be credited, where is there a scheme or system in the whole world that can be credited? Can you find a scheme more perfect than the one introduced by Mr. Smith? Can you find one equal to it in perfection? Can you find one that contains one-twentieth part of the truth which his system contains? If, then, you doubt the authority of Mr. Smith, how much more ought you to doubt the authority of every other man now on the earth? If Mr. Smith's perfect scheme should be rejected, surely all other schemes or doctrines which can be shown to be ten times more imperfect, should also be rejected. If any are to be received, surely that one should be received which seems to contain all the elements of a true doctrine, and in which there cannot be detected the least evidence of imposture. To invent a scheme apparently every way suited to the last dispensation or preparatory work for the second advent of our Lord--to have that scheme agree in every minute particular with the endless circumstances and numberless events predicted by the ancient prophets, bespeaks a wisdom far superior to that of man: it bespeaks the wisdom of God. This endless train of circumstances, all harmonizing, all combining, all concentrating as it were into one focus carries with it such irresistible evidence of truth that it is almost impossible for the careful investigator to reject the divinity of Joseph Smith's mission. Like investigating the works of nature, the more he examines the more he perceives the wisdom of the Deity enstamped upon every sentence.
[Seventh:] According to the Book of Mormon, all of the great western continent, with all the valleys, hills and mountains, riches and resources pertaining thereunto, was given to the remnant of Joseph, as their land of promise. The Almighty sealed this covenant and promise by an oath, saying, that the land should be given unto them forever. The western world, including both North and South America, is the land of promise, to the remnant of Joseph, in the same sense that the land of Palestine is a promised land unto the twelve tribes of Israel. Now this testimony of the Book of Mormon agrees most perfectly with the prophetic blessing placed upon the head of Joseph by the patriarch Jacob; who, just previous to his death, called together his sons and predicted upon each what should befall them or their tribes in the last days. The blessing upon the tribe of Joseph is as follows: (Genesis 49:22) "Joseph is a fruitful bough, even a fruitful bough by a well, whose branches run over the wall: the archers have sorely grieved him, and shot at him, and hated him: but his bow abode in strength, and the arms of his hands were made strong by the hands of the mighty God of Jacob; (from thence is the shepherd, the stone of Israel) even by the God of thy father, who shall help thee; and by the Almighty, who shall bless thee with blessings of heaven above, blessings of the deep that lieth under, blessings of the breast and of the womb: the blessings of thy father have prevailed above the blessings of my progenitors, unto the utmost bound of the everlasting hills: they all be the head of Joseph and on the crown of the head of him that was separate from his brethren."
In the preceding chapter, when blessing the two sons of Joseph, he says, let them grow into a multitude in the midst of the earth. And again, his seed shall become a multitude of nations. From this predictions. It will be perceived that Jacob prevailed with God, and obtained a greater blessing in behalf of the tribe of Joseph than what Abraham and Isaac, his progenitors, had obtained. While the blessing of Jacob's progenitors was limited to the land of Palestine, Joseph had confirmed upon him a blessing, or country, above, or far greater than Palestine--a country at a distance, represented by the utmost bounds of the everlasting hills.
Some of the branches of the fruitful bough of Joseph were to spread far abroad from the parent tree--they were to run over the wall of the mighty ocean--they were to become a multitude of nations in the midst of the earth. There, among the everlasting hills, they were to be made strong by the hands of the mighty God of Jacob. It was to be there among the multitude of nations of the posterity of Joseph, that the Shepherd--the stone of Israel--was to establish a kingdom, which should break in pieces all other kingdoms, and fill the whole earth. In America there is a multitude of nations, called by us Indians. These Indians evidently sprang from the same source as is indicated by their color, features, customs, dialects, traditions, etc.; that they are of Israelitish origin is also evident from the irreligious ceremonies, their language, their traditions, and the discovery of Hebrew inscriptions, etc. If America is not the land given to a branch of Joseph, where, or in what part of the globe shall that tribe receive the fulfillment of Jacobs prediction? Where, if not in America, has a land been peopled by a multitude of the nations of Joseph? Can a multitude of the nations of Joseph be found in Europe, Asia, or Africa, or in any of the adjoining islands? If not, then America seems to be the only place where that great prediction could receive its accomplishment.
The Book of Mormon testifies that America is the land of Joseph, given to them by promise. Is not this an additional evidence that Mr. Smith was sent of God? If Mr. Smith was an impostor, how came he to discover that the tribe of Joseph was to be favored so much above all the other tribes of Israel? Perhaps it may be replied, that it was easy to discover that from the scriptures; but, we ask, why did not Swedenborg, Wesley, Irving, or some of the other impostors of former times, make this scriptural discovery, and incorporate it in their pretend dispensations? It would be, at first, thought far more natural to suppose the American Indians to be the ten lost tribes of Israel; indeed, this is the opinion of many of the learned at the present day. Why did nhis modern prophet, if a deceiver, form his deceptive scheme more in accordance with the opinions of the learned? Or why should he choose a remnant of the tribe of Joseph to people ancient America? Out of the twelve tribes of Israel, why did he select only a branch of one tribe to people this vast continent? All can now perceive [why the] Book of Mormon should profess to be the history of a remnant of one tribe, instead of being the history of the ten tribes.
All can see, why America should be represented as a promised land to Joseph, instead of being given to Reuben, Simeon, or any of the other tribes. All can now see, though it was not seen at first, that if the Book of Mormon was different from what it now is; that is, if it professed to contain a history of the ten lost tribes; or if it had given the great western continent to any other people, or to any other tribe than that of Joseph, that it would have proved itself false-it would not have been the book or record which the prophets predicted should come forth to usher in the great work of the last days. An impostor would be obliged to take into consideration all these minute circumstances, many of which are in direct opposition to the established traditions of the day; yet none of them could be neglected without proving fatal to his scheme. But Mr. Smith, with all the accuracy of a profound mathematician, has combined all the minute elements of both doctrine and prophecy in his grand and wonderful scheme--nothing is wanting. Whatever department of his system is examined it will be found invulnerable. What an invaluable amount of evidence to establish the divine mission of the Prophet Joseph Smith.
Eighth. In the Book of Mormon are given the names and locations of numerous cities of great magnitude, which once flourished among the ancient nations of America. The northern portions of South America, and also Central America, were the most densely populated. Splendid edifices, palaces, towers, forts and cities, were reared in all directions. A careful reader of that interesting book, can trace the relative bearings, and distances of many of these cities from each other; and if acquainted with the present geographical features of the country, he can, by the descriptions given in that book, determine, very nearly, the precise spot of ground they once occupied. Now since that invaluable book made its appearance in print, it is a remarkable fact, that the mouldering ruins of many splendid edifices and towers, and magnificent cities of great extent, have been discovered by Catherwood and Stephens in the interior wilds of Central America, in the very region where the ancient cities described in the Book of Mormon were said to exist.
Here, then, is a certain and indisputable evidence that this illiterate youth--the translator of the Book of Mormon, was inspired of God. Mr. Smith's translation describes the region of country where great and populous cities anciently existed, together with their relative bearings and approximate distances from each other. Years after, Messrs. Catherwood and Stephens discovered the ruins of forty-four of these very cities and in the very place described. What, but the power of God, could have revealed beforehand this unknown fact, demonstrated years after by actual discovery.
Ninth. The fulfillment of a vast number of prophecies delivered by Mr. Smith is another infallible evidence of his divie mission. Out of the many hundreds of fulfilled predictions uttered by him, we select the following as examples:
1. Soon after Mr. Smith found the plates, he commenced translating them. He had not proceeded far before he discovered from his own translation of the prophecy of Nephi, as before quoted, the three witnesses, besides himself, should behold the book by the power of God, and should know and testify of its truth. Some length of time after this, or in the month of June, A.D. 1829, the Lord gave a revelation, through Mr. Smith, to Oliver Cowdery, David Whitmer and Martin Harris, promising them that if they would exercise faith, they should have a view of the plates, and also of the Urim and Thummim. This prediction was afterwards fulfilled; and these three persons send forth their written testimony, in connection with the Book of Mormon, to all nations, kindreds, tongues and people, declaring that an angel of God descended from heaven, and took the plates and exhibited them before their eyes; and that at the same time, the voice of the Lord from the heavens testified to them of the truth contained in Mr. Smith's translation of these records. Now an impostor might indeed predict the raising of three witnesses, but he could never call down an angel from heaven, in the presence of these witnesses, to fulfill his prediction.
2. Before the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Sants had any existence upon the earth, the prophecy of Moroni was translated and printed in the Book of Mormon. It is expressly predicted in this prophecy, that in the day that that book should be revealed, the blood of the Saints should cry unto the Lord from the ground, because of the wickedness of the people, and that the time should soon come when, because of the cries and mourning of widows and orphans whose husbands and fathers should be slain by wicked hands, the Lord should avenge the blood of his Saints. And again, in August, 1831, the word of the Lord came to Mr. Smith, saying that the Saints should be scourged from city to city, and from synagogue to synagogue, and that but few of those then in the Church should stand to receive an inheritance." (See D&C 63:31).
The blood of many hundreds of Saints who have been slain and martyred in this Church, is an introvertible evidence of the truth of the prediction. Surely Mr. Smith must have been a prophet of God to have foreseen not only the rise of the church of the Saints, but that their blood should cry aloud from the ground for vengeance upon the nation who should perpetrate these bloody deeds. No human foresight could have seen the bloody sceneries that were to take place after the rise of the Church. All natural appearances in the United States were against the fulfillment of this dreadful prediction. Every religious society throughout the whole country was strongly guarded against persecution and religious intolerance by the strong arm of the civil law. The glorious constitution of this great and free people proclaimed religious freedom to every son and daughter of Columbias soil: yet, in the midst of this boasted land of freedom and religious rights, where universal peace seemed to have selected her quiet dwelling-place, the voice of the great prophet is heard predicting the rise of the Latter-day church, and the bloody persecutions that should follow her from city to city, and from synagogue to synagogue.
Never were there any prophecies more literally and palpably fulfilled since the creation of the earth. If the foretelling of future events that could not possibly have been foreseen by human wisdom-events, too, that to all outward appearances were very unlikely to come to pass: if the predicting of such events and their subsequent fulfillment constitute a true prophet, then Joseph Smith must had been a true prophet, and, if a true prophet, he must have been sent of God.
Tenth. There are many thousands of living witnesses who testify that God has revealed unto them the truth of the Book of Mormon, by dreams, by visions, by the revelations of the Holy Ghost, by the ministering of angels, and by His own voice. Now, if Mr. Smith is an impostor, all these witnesses must be impostors also.
Perhaps it may be said, that these witnesses are not impostors, but are deceived themselves. But, we ask, can any man testify that he knows a false doctrine to be true, and still not be an impostor? Men frequently are deceived when they testify their opinions, but never deceived when they testify they have a knowledge. Such must either be impostors, or else their doctrine must be true. Now, would it not be marvelously strange indeed, if even three or four men, who were entirely disconnected, being strangers to each other, should all undertake to deceive mankind by testifying that an angel of God had descended before them, or that a heavenly vision had been shown to them, or that God hid in some other marvelous way manifested to them the divine authenticity of the Book of Mormon? If the testimony of three or four impostors would appear marvelous, how infinitelv more marvelous would appear the testimony of tens of thousands of impostors in different countries, widely separated from each other, and who never saw each others faces, and yet, all endeavoring to palm upon the world the same great imposition! If many thousands of witnesses do testify boldly, with words of soberness, that God has revealed to them that this is His Church or kingdom that was to be set up in the last days, then we have an overwhelming flood of collateral evidence to establish the divine mission of Joseph Smith.
Eleventh. The miracles wrought by Joseph Smith are evidences of no small moment to establish his divine authority. In the name of the Lord he cast out devils, healed the sick, spoke with new tongues, interpreted ancient languages, and predicted future events. If many of these miracles were wrought before numerous multitudes of both believers and unbelievers, and upon persons not connected with our Church. And again, the numerous miracles wrought through the instrumentality of thousands of the officers and members of this Church, are additional evidences that the man who was instrumental in founding the Church must have been sent of God. The thousands of sick that have been miraculously healed in all parts of the world where this gospel is preached, give forth a strong and almost irresistible testimony that.
Mr. Smith's authority is from heaven. Although the great majority of mankind consider miracles to be an infallible evidence in favor of the divine authority of the one who performs them, yet we do most distinctly dissent from this idea. If miracles be admitted as an infallible evidence, then all that have ever wrought miracles must have been sent of God. The magicians of Egypt wrought some splendid miracles before that nation; they created serpents and frogs and turned rivers of water into blood. If miraculous evidence is infallible, the Egyptians were bound to receive the contradictory messages of both Moses and the magicians as of divine authority.
According to this idea, the witch of Endor must have established her divine mission beyond all controversy by calling forth a deadman from the grave in the presence of Saul, king of Israel. A certain wicked power described by John (Rev. Ch. 8) was to do "great wonders" and "miracles," and cause fire to come down from heaven on the earth in the sight of men. If miracles were infallible evidences, surely no one should reject the divine authority of John's beast.
Again in Revelations, Chapter 16: John saw three unclean spirits like frogs, which he expressly says, are the spirits of devils working miracles, which go forth unto the kings of the earth and of the whole world to gather them to the battle of that great day of God Almighty. The learned divines and clergy of the nineteenth century boldly declare that miracles are an infallible evidence of the divine mission of the one who performs them. If so, who can blame the kings of the earth, and these learned divines, and all their followers for embracing the message of these divinely inspired devils? For, according to their arguments, they should in no wise reject them, for they prove their mission by evidences which they say are infallible. We shall expect in a few years, to see an innumerable host of sectarian ministers as well as kings, taking up their line of march for the great valley of Armageddon, near Jerusalem, and thus prove by their works that they do really believe in the infallibility of miraculous evidence. Devils can work miracles as well as God, and as they have already persuaded the religious world that miracles are infallible evidences of divine authority, they will not have much difficulty among the followers of modern Christianity in establishing the divinity of their mission.
But the Latter-day Saints do not believe in the infallibility of miraculous evidence. We believe the miraculous gifts are absolutely necessary in the Church of Christ, without which it cannot exist on the earth. Miracles, when taken in connection with a pure, holy, and perfect doctrine, reasonable and scriptural, is a very strong collateral evidence in favor of that doctrine, and of the divine authority of those who preach it. But abstract miracles alone, unconnected with other evidences, instead of being infallible proofs are no proofs at all: they are as likely to be false as true. So baptism for the remission of sins is essential in the Church of Christ, and when taken in connection with all other points of doctrine embraced in the gospel, is a presumptive evidence for the divine authority of the person who preaches it. But baptism for the remission of sins, unconnected with other parts of the doctrine of Christ, would be no evidence either for or against the divine authority of any man. The many thousands of miracles wrought in this Church, being connected as they are with an infallible doctrine, and with a vast number of other proofs, have carried an almost irresistible conviction to the minds of vast multitudes, who have, in consequence, yielded obedience to the message, and become in their turn the happy recipients of the same power of God, by which they themselves can also heal the sick and work by faith in the name of the Lord; thus demonstrating to themselves the truth of the Savior's promise, viz:--that certain miraculous signs shall follow them that believe. (See Mark Chapter 10.)
Here is one thing connected with Joseph Smith's message which will at once prove him to be an impostor or else a true prophet. It is a certain promise contained in a revelation which was given through him to the apostles of this Church in the year 1832. It reads as follows: "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; And these signs shall follow them that believe. In my name they shall do many wonderful works; In my name 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. Verily, verily, I say unto you they who believe not on your words, and are not baptized in water, in my name, for the remission of their sins, that they may receive the Holy Ghost, shall be damned, and shall not come into my Father's kingdom, where my Father and I am. And this revelation unto you, and commandment, is in force from this very hour upon all the world. (Doctrine & Covenants, Sec. 84:62-75.)
Here, then, this great modern prophet has presented himself before the whole world with a bold, unequivocal promise to every soul who would believe on his message, a promise, too, that no impostor would dare to make with the most distant hope of success. An impostor might indeed make such a promise to his followers, but they never would realize a fulfillment of it. If these miraculous signs have not followed according to the above promise, then the tens of thousands who have complied with the conditions would know Joseph Smith to be an impostor, and with one accord would turn away, and that would be the end of the imposition. But the very fact that vast multitudes are annually being added to the Church, and continue therein year after year, is a demonstrative evidence that the promise is fulfilled--that the Holy Ghost is given, and the miraculous signs also.
Dare any other societies in all the world make such a promise unto the believers in their respective systems? No, they dare not; they know full well that it would be the speedy downfall and utter overthrow of their vain, unauthorized, and powerless religions. O, what a wide and marked difference between the religion of Joseph Smith and that of Protestant and Catholic religion--between his authority and that of sectarian divines! The one promises all the miraculous gifts of the Holy Ghost, to his followers, the other is as powerless as the dry stubble prepared for the burning. While the followers of this great prophet cast out devils, speak with new tongues, heal the sick, open the eyes of the blind, cause the lame to walk, obtain heavenly visions, and converse with angels, the followers of those unauthorized, deluded and crafty sects not only deny these great and glorious gifts, or impute them in these days to the power of the devil, but they grasp the sword, and fire-arms, and deadly weapons, to kill off the Saints, and drive them from the face of what they call civilized society.
While the one class are suffering martyrdom by scores for their testimony, the other class are rolling in all the luxuries and splendors of great Babylon, with fat salaries of from ten to twenty-seven thousand pounds sterling per annum. As we have briefly examined into the nature of the evidences in favor of Joseph Smith's divine mission, it may be well at the close of this number to give a short summary of the proofs and arguments contained in the foregoing.
1. Joseph Smith's doctrine is reasonable, scriptural, perfect and infallible in all its precepts, commands, ordinances, promises, blessings and gifts. In his organization of the Church, no officer mentioned in the New Testament organization is omitted. Inspired apostles and prophets are considered as necessary as pastors, teachers, or any other officer.
2. Joseph Smith's account of the restoration of the gospel by an angel--of his taking out of the ground the sacred records of the tribe of Joseph--of their subsequent translation by the gift of God and of the great western continents being given to a remnant of Joseph, where they have grown into a multitude of nations, are all events clearly predicted by the ancient Jewish apostles and prophets, together with the minute circumstances connected therewith. The times and season in which these events should transpire, and the purposes which they should accomplish are also all plainly foretold. Joseph Smith presents the world with the fulfillment at the predicted time--in the predicted manner-and for the predicted purpose as anciently specified.
3. Joseph Smith incorporates in his mission the gathering of the Saints out of Babylon, and every other predicted event that was to characterize the great preparatory dispensation for the second advent of our Lord.
4. The revelation in the Book of Mormon, pointing out the location of many ancient cities, the ruins of which were subsequently discovered by Catherwood and Stephens--the direct and palpable fulfillment of many of the prophecies of Joseph Smith, which no human sagacity could have foreseen, all natural appearances and circumstances being entirely against their expected fulfillment--the raising up of numerous other witnesses who also testify to the ministering of angels and the manifestations of the power of God confirmatory of this message--the performance of many splendid miracles by Mr. Smith and his followers, and the bold unequivocal promise of the miraculous gifts to all who should believe and embrace this message, are all evidences such as no impostor ever has given, or ever can give. They are evidences such as will prove the salvation of every creature that receives the message, and the damnation of every soul that rejects it.
15, Wilton Street, Liverpool, September 30th, 1848. R. James, Printer, 39, South Castle Street, Liverpool.
Source: Orson Pratt, "Are the Father and the Son Two Distinct Persons?" The Latter-day Saints' Millennial Star 11 (1849)
ARE THE FATHER AND THE SON TWO DISTINCT PERSONS?
This is a question which we proposed answering some months since, but circumstances have prevented us from devoting an article exclusively on this subject until now. We have, nevertheless, given our views in relation to this thing very clearly in our pamphlet entitled "Absurdities of Immaterialism;" it would seem, therefore, almost superfluous to resume this subject in a distinct article by itself.
We desire, however, that our readers and the public generally, may have correct views concerning the faith of the Saints; it is for this reason that we again refer to the personalities of the Father and the Son.
We have no hesitation in answering this question in the affirmative. All revelation, both ancient and modern, that has said anything on this subject, has represented the Father and Son as two distinct persons.
There are some, however, who believe that the Spirit of Christ, before taking a tabernacle, was the Father, exclusively of any other being. They suppose the fleshly tabernacle to be the Son, and the Spirit who came and dwelt in it to be the Father; hence they suppose the Father and Son were united in one person, and that when Jesus dwelt on the earth in the flesh, they suppose there was no distinct separate person from himself who was called the Father.
We shall proceed to show from the scriptures, that this view of the subject is erroneous. Jesus addresses his Father in this language: --"And now, O Father, glorify thou me with thine own self, with the glory which I had with thee before the world was." From this we learn that the spirit of Christ, not only existed before the world was, but that there was another person called the Father with whom he existed, and with whom he had glory before this world was made. "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." "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." The Word who is Christ, was in the beginning with the Father; indeed, he was "the beginning of the creation of God,"--"the bright and morning star"--"the first born of every creature."
The work of creation was performed by a plurality of persons, as is evident from the description given by Moses. "In the beginning, the ALEHEEM created the heaven and the earth." The translators of the English Bible have rendered the word "Aleheem" in the singular, whereas, in the Hebrew, it is plural, and should be translated "GODS," instead of "GOD." It is universally admitted that the Hebrew word Aleheem is plural, and many learned translators have rendered it in the plural form in the English. "Some have translated it, The Testifiers--The Covenanters--The Sworn Ones; some The Divine Ones." Dr. Burgess, the late bishop of Salisbury, rendered it "Adorable Persons," or, "The Adorable Ones." The great prophet of the last days, Joseph Smith, in his translation of Abraham's writings concerning the creation, has given the noun in the plural, showing that the Aleheem or Gods were engaged in the creation of the heaven and the earth.
If the Hebrew noun Aleheem, which has a plural termination, was a defective noun, used only in the singular number, then there might be some excuse for translating it God in the singular; but, "the singular, as well as the plural of this word frequently occurs in scripture. Reason, therefore, declares, that if there had been only one agent concerned in the creation of the world, the language here used is improper, and calculated to mislead. But if there were more agents than one, then the language is just what it ought to be, and it would not have answered in a different form." How much more consistent with the Hebrew scriptures this passage would be, were it translated thus: "In the beginning, the Aleheem,--the Gods,--the Adorable Ones, or the Divine Ones, created the heaven and the earth." This word occurs in the first chapter of Genesis no less than thirty times, and in each place it is in the plural form, showing in the most positive manner that a plurality of persons were engaged throughout the whole process of creation. Moses in describing a portion of the sixth day's work, uses the following language:--"And the Aleheem (or Gods) said, Let US make man in OUR image, after OUR likeness." Here we find the pronouns us and our are in the plural form as well as Aleheem, which clearly confirms the idea contained in the previous passages. Again, after the fall of man, "The Lord God (Jehovah Aleheem) said, Behold, the man is become as ONE OF US, to know good and evil." ONE OF US is a form of expression which never could be applied to a single individual person. There is no principle by which this language could be distorted to mean only one person. To show that we are not alone in our views concerning a plurality of persons employed in the grand work of creation, we here give a quotation from the writings of the Rev. David James on the Trinity.
"Reason declares, that if such a plurality exists, the Divine Being could not have possibly adopted a more appropriate form of speech to clear up and confirm the intimations already given of it. But if such be not the case, her confidence in the language of scripture will soon be at an end, because it is so calculated to embarrass the understanding, and deceive the very persons whom it is intended to enlighten.
Our conviction, however, is, that such language was employed, simply because the fact itself required it. And we confidently anticipate other statements in a form of language that will perfectly harmonize. For if the fact required such form of language in one place, the same fact will require a corresponding mode of expression in another place. The following is a passage in the Book of the Proverbs:--"The fear of the Lord (or Jehovah) is the beginning of wisdom; and the knowledge of the Holy is understanding"--in the Hebrew it is, the knowledge of the HOLY ONES. Again we find similar language in the Book of the Prophet Malachi.--"A son honoureth his father, and a servant his master: If then I be a father, where is mine honour? and if I be a master, where is my fear?"--in the Hebrew: "if I be MASTERS, where is my fear? saith the Lord of Hosts."
But forasmuch as the first intimation of a plurality of persons in the Godhead was given in connection with the creation of the heavens and the earth, and especially of man, we will now turn our attention to such passages as contain direct allusions to that great and exclusive work of Deity.
The following is one:--"Remember now thy Creator in the days of thy youth." I imagine I hear many of you say, `"A few moments ago the speaker attempted to show from the language of Scripture, "Let us make man in our image, after out likeness,"--that more agents than one took part in the creation of man; if that view was correct, we might now expect to find the word Creator in the plural number; or, at any rate, the word ought to assume the plural form in some passage or other."' Your expectation is fair; and, to your satisfaction, I beg to inform you, that the word in the original is not Creator, but Creators: "Remember now thy CREATORS in the days of thy youth."
A similar passage occurs in the book of the Prophet Isaiah. The Jews, whom God had chosen and espoused to be a people unto himself, are addressed in that character: "Thy Maker is thy husband; the Lord of Hosts is his name." In the Hebrew both the nouns are plural, Thy MAKERS,--thy HUSBANDS.
It is also written in the Psalms, "Let Israel rejoice in him that made him:" in the Hebrew, "Let Israel rejoice in his MAKERS."
And in the Book of Job, Elihu is stated to have said, "But none saith, Where is God my Maker, who giveth songs in the night?"--in the original, "Where is God my Maker?"
It is now shown as plainly as language can do it, that a plurality of agents concurred and cooperated in the creation of man: for scripture speaks distinctly of Creators and Makers. Our next inquiry, therefore, is, who were these creators, and what may have been their number? As there is no longer a doubt of their existence, it is not too much to expect that Holy Scripture will point them out one by one in connection with their peculiar work of creation, so as to settle the fact, and remove every scruple from the subject forever. We shall indeed find it even so.
When the inhabitants of Lystra were about to offer sacrifice to Paul and Barnabas, supposing them to be gods, the Apostles cried out, "Sirs, why do ye these things? We also are men of like passions with you, and preach unto you that ye should turn from these vanities unto the living God, which made heaven, and earth, and the sea, and all things that are therein." If we ask: Who is intended here by the living God? the Unitarians reply: The same as is generally denominated Father in the New Testament. For the Apostle St. Paul has the expression, "the Father, of whom are all things, and we in him." With this explanation we feel satisfied. And thus one of the producing agents of the creation is ascertained--THE FATHER.
In other places, creation is ascribed to the WORD, or the Lord Jesus Christ. Moses said:--"In the beginning the Adorable Ones created the heaven and the earth." St. John writes:--"In the beginning," meaning the same beginning, "the Word was with God: All things were made by him, and without him was not anything made that was made." And lest anyone should suppose that by this Word he meant divine wisdom, or any of the divine perfections, he adds immediately--"In him was life," a property which distinguishes a person from a mere attribute or quality. And this living agent, he afterwards informs us, "was made flesh," or became man, "and dwelt among the Jews, who beheld his glory, the glory as of the only begotten of the Father." But how was he competent to assist the Father in the creation of all things? St. John gives the answer: "And the Word was GOD." St. Paul ascribes the creation of all things to the same person under his more usual name of Son, or the Son of God. "Giving thanks unto the Father, who hath delivered us from the power of darkness, and hath translated us into the kingdom of his dear Son; who is the image of the invisible God, the first-born of every creature: for by him were all things created, that are in heaven, and that are in earth, visible and invisible, whether they be thrones, or dominions, or principalities, or powers: all things were created by him, and for him. And he is before all things, and by him all things consist." Thus another of the "Creators" is ascertained--the WORD or SON OF GOD.
We proceed to inquire farther, if any other agent was associated with these two in this great work. Moses, in describing the state of the new-made earth before the process of the six days' work had passed upon it, records:--"And the earth was without form and void; and darkness was upon the face of the deep. And the Spirit of God moved upon the face of the waters." This "Spirit of God" is throughout scripture distinguished from the Father and the Son, so as to be viewed in the light of a distinct agent, as will be made to appear in a subsequent part of this discourse. The expression, "moved on the face of the waters," more literally rendered, would be "brooded over the waters;" an expression which at once conveys to the mind a distinct idea of the part undertaken and achieved by this divine agent in the construction of the globe. It was his especial office, not only to reduce the elemental mass into order, and make matter to assume certain forms and mingle in certain combinations, but also to impregnate the whole with productive energy, fertility, and life, that the surface of the dry land might burst forth with vegetation, and the sea and air swarm with living things appointed for the use and support of innumerable human beings.
The following passage, which occurs in the Book of Job, shows that the agency of this Divine Spirit was not confined to the earth beneath, but extended to the heavens above, and assisted in fixing the chambers of the sun and stars, and adjusting the orbits of the moon and planets. "For by his SPIRIT," observed that venerable patriarch, "he hath garnished the heavens." Again, the same Spirit was assistant to the Father and the Word in the formation of Man. This is positively asserted by Elihu: "The Spirit of God hath made me and the breath of the Almighty hath given me life." Thus the third of the producing agents of creation is ascertained--the SPIRIT OF GOD."
ARE THE FATHER AND THE SON TWO DISTINCT PERSONS? [Continued]
When the Spirit of God descended upon Jesus after his baptism, a voice was heard from heaven, "Saying, this is my beloved Son, in whom I am well pleased." Here then is a separate distinct person uttering his voice out of heaven at the same time that his Son was on the earth. Again, when Jesus was crucified "he said, Father into thy hands I commend my SPIRIT." Here is proof, the most positive, that there was a person called the Father existing independently, not only of the flesh, but of the spirit of Jesus that dwelt in the flesh. How could Jesus commend his spirit into the hands of the Father, unless the spirit of Jesus was one person and the Father another? Again, after the ascension of Christ, the martyr, Stephen, "being full of the Holy Ghost, looked up steadfastly into heaven and saw the glory of God, and Jesus standing on the right hand of God; and said, behold I see the heavens opened, and the Son of man standing on the right hand of God." Stephen saw two persons, and one standing on the right hand of the other.
When Joseph Smith and Sidney Rigdon had the heavens opened to them on the 16th of February, 1832, [D&C 76:19-23] they bore testimony as follows, "The Lord touched the eyes of our understanding, 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, worshipping God and the Lamb, who worship him for ever 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," &c.
In the first vision which Joseph Smith received in the spring of the year 1820, (he being between fourteen and fifteen years of age), both the Father and the Son, while he was praying, appeared unto him. He says, "When the light rested upon me, I saw two personages, whose brightness and glory defy all description, standing above me in the air. One of them spake unto me, calling me by name, and said--(pointing to the other)--"This is my beloved Son, hear him." Thus we find that the visions both of the ancient and modern prophets agree, and clearly demonstrate the existence of two distinct persons--the Father and Son.
But, says the objector, Jesus is frequently called God, not only in the scriptures of the New Testament, but in the Book of Mormon, and if he is God, how can he have a Father who is also called God, unless there are more Gods than one? We answer, that so far as persons and substance are concerned, there are more Gods than one; but when we speak of their perfections, attributes, or nature, they are one. Jesus and the father are two persons--two substances, but one in wisdom, one in power, one in glory. Jesus prayed that his disciples might be made one, as he and the Father are one. Now, if Jesus and the Father are one person, then if his prayer be answered, all his disciples will become one person, losing their individual identities. This would be a monstrous absurdity. Therefore, if his disciples retain their separate distinct identities, and yet are made perfect in one, even as the Father and son are one, then it follows that the Father and Son are distinct persons as well as his disciples. If the oneness of the disciples consists, not in person, but in the nature of their power, and glory, and other perfections, then it must be in this sense alone, that the Father and Son are one; hence, there is one God, and only one, when we speak of the perfections and attributes, but there is a plurality of Gods, when we speak in reference to persons and substance.
Jesus says, they were called "Gods unto whom the word of God came;" and as there were a plurality of persons to "whom the word of God came," there must have been a plurality of gods. Yet, all these inspired men or Gods, when they are exalted into the presence of God the Father and God the Son, will be one with them, not in person, but in glory and in concert of action, in the fulfillment of the great purposes of Jehovah. If according to the words of Jesus, inspired men, are Gods, there will be a great company of Gods redeemed from this creation, to say nothing of the countless myriads who have been redeemed from the infinity of worlds which have existed in the regions of endless space.
Both the scriptures and the Book of Mormon represent Christ to be both the Father and Son. How, enquires the objector, can there be another person called the Father when Jesus is called Father? We reply that Jesus is nowhere called his own Father, but he is called--"THE FATHER,"--"THE ETERNAL FATHER," "THE EVERLASTING FATHER,"--"THE VERY ETERNAL FATHER OF HEAVEN AND OF EARTH." There is no mystery in all these expressions, any more than there would be in calling Adam or any other man with a family, both Father and Son. Adam is truly the father of the fleshy bodies of all the human race, and he is also just as truly a son of God by creation: indeed Matthew calls Adam a "SON OF GOD." Therefore, Adam like every other man with a family, is both father and son. Because Adam was the father of the human family, this did not hinder him from being the son of another separate distinct personage called God: so likewise, because of the spirit of Jesus, before he dwelt in flesh, was the Father of the heaven and earth, by being its author and creator, this did not hinder him from having a Father of his own who was a distinct person from himself, as much so as every father and son.
The prophet Abinadi has beautifully illustrated this in a prediction relating to the first coming of Christ: he says, "God himself shall come down among the children of men, and shall redeem his people; and because he dwelleth in flesh, he shall be called the Son of God; and having subjected the flesh to the will of the Father, being the Father and the Son; the Father because he was conceived by the power of God; and the Son because of the flesh; thus becoming the Father and Son; and they are one God, yea, the very eternal Father of heaven and of earth; and thus the flesh becoming subject to the spirit, or the Son to the Father, being one God, suffereth temptations," etc. Here we have the reasons given why he was called the Father; it was "because he was conceived by the power of God." His spirit, being "conceived by the power of God" before the worlds were made, became the Father of the present heaven and earth, and afterwards came and dwelt in flesh, and became the Son. He subjected the flesh to the will of the spirit, or in the will of the spirit that dwelt in, which was called the Father, not the Father of himself, but the Father of the heaven and earth, by being its Author, Creator, and Redeemer. The Father of this creation, in subjecting his own tabernacle of will of his Father who sent him. Thus, Jesus became both Father and Son, and at the same time, there was another being distinct from himself who was his Father, by whom he was conceived, and with whom he dwelt before the present order of creation existed.
He is called the "Everlasting" or "Eternal Father" because he will throughout all ages of eternity remain the Father of his own creations: hence the relationship of Father must be "everlasting" or "eternal." Though this relationship may have had a beginning--it can have no end. Many have supposed that the terms "everlasting" and "eternal" when applied to the Father, must be without beginning as well as without end, but this is not necessarily true; for our bodies of flesh and bones after the resurrection will endure for ever, that is, they are everlasting and eternal bodies, yet they had a beginning; so with the New Heavens and the New Earth; they will have a beginning, but will have no end; they will be everlasting and eternal: so likewise, there was a time when the spirit of Jesus was begotten, and when he began to be the Father of this heaven and this earth, but there never will be an end to this relationship; hence it will be everlasting and eternal, having a beginning, but having no end.
Much more might be said, concerning the Father and Son, and the relation which they sustained to each other before the present worlds were made, and the relation which has since existed, and will continue to exist throughout all ages to come, but enough has been said to demonstrate beyond all successful controversy, that the Father and Son are two personages; no true believer in divine revelation, can, very easily, misunderstand these plain and pointed testimonies. With these remarks we close this brief article, praying that the word and Spirit of truth may enlighten every honest heart, that they may grow up in "the knowledge of things as they were, as they are, and as they are to come," until they are perfected and shall receive a fullness of the glory of the Father and the Son.--Ed. - - - - - - - - - - - - Letters to the editor
[P. P. Pratt] MS 11 (1849)
SEVERAL CASES OF MIRACULOUS HEALING
MIRACULOUS HEALINGS BY FAITH
Leamington, August 4, 1849.
Dear Brother [Elder Parley P. Pratt],--While visiting the different branches in this conference, I find that the power of our God has been displayed in a wonderful manner, and that the Saints have great cause to rejoice. Scores can bear testimony to the truth of the gospel, for impressed to send to you, and if you should deem them worthy of a place in the STAR you can insert them. Sister Sarah Gorde, resident of Maxstoke, near Coleshill, on the 25th of September, 1839, had a very severe confinement, which left her in a low and afflicted state, and for the space of seven years and a half was almost in continual pain. Her blood seemed to run cold within her veins, for she was scarcely ever warm. She had two doctors in regular attendance, and sometimes three, and also applied to others; but in spite of all their exertions she found no relief. She wasted in flesh until she was reduced almost to a skeleton; her joints were dislocated from the time of her confinement; to go from home was impossible, for she could not ride without great pain, and it was with the utmost difficulty that she could get about the house. But finally a small tract fell into her hands belonging to the Church of Christ of Latter-day Saints, and while reading the account of the angel to our beloved prophet, Joseph Smith, her heart was filled with joy; the spirit of the living God fastened the testimony upon her mind, and she was satisfied that the day of her redemption was nigh at hand, and believed firmly that she would walk again. At this time she was ignorant of the doctrines that we preached, but she firmly believed that God had raised up Joseph to be a prophet to this generation.
After a few days investigation she was baptized by Elder W. Bramall in the month of April, 1847, and when she was confirmed he told her that she should be healed according to her faith. This promise filled her heart with joy, and in three weeks from the day and hour that she was baptized she was able to walk without pain; her joints, which had been weak for so many years, became strong, and since then she has enjoyed herself, and been enabled to fulfill the duties that devolve upon a mother with a large family.
Also her son, John Gorde, had, when nine years old, the misfortune to dislocate his thigh. The medical fraternity were called upon, who endeavored to set it, but in consequence of its being swelled so much they were not able; and thus it remained for the space of eight years, and so powerful was its effect upon the constitution that it stopped the growth of his body; his leg hung loose, so that he could turn it any way he pleased. Finally he heard the gospel of Christ, and in one week after the baptism of his mother he was immersed in the liquid grave, and wonderful to relate he lost his lameness, his body began to grow, and from that time he has enjoyed good health, and from appearance no one would suppose he had ever been feeble at all.
I remain yours in the gospel of Christ,
MIRACULOUS HEALING--SECTARIAN PARSONS CONFOUNDED
Bristol, July 9, 1849.
Dear President Pratt.--Having seen so many testimonials in the STAR of late, concerning the gift of healing in the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, I forward the following to you on the same subject, for insertion in your bright luminary of the latter-day, desirous of adding my testimony to the many concerning this glorious work. On the 8th of May, 1849, Elizabeth Bounsell brought her daughter Elizabeth Ann to be anointed with oil, as the child had a discharge in her neck--a decided case of scrofula. For four years the child was pronounced incurable by the most eminent of the faculty, and had been discharged from the infirmary as a hopeless case of ulceration. A few days before she was brought to us, Elder John Hakwell anointed her with oil, and laid his hands upon her, and the discharge ceased, and in a week it was healed up, and child was out skipping about. She is a wonder to saint and sinner. Some of the sectarian parsons have been to see her, and the sermon the mother preached, and the testimony she bore, almost struck them speechless.--This person may be seen or written to at No. 1, Lower Castle Street, Bristol.
There have been many other cases of healing in this city, which are highly satisfactory to us who have seen them, but may not be to others. I am also happy to say that the work of God is onward in this region. We have baptized between two and three hundred since I came here, and our prospects are good.--I feel happy to inform you that I have been down to Devonshire, and preached to the people in that county about three weeks, in which time I succeeded in baptizing and organizing eighteen persons into a branch. Since I left, I have sent Elder Edward Frost, who has taken a room in South Moulton, and has baptized as many more, making between thirty and forty Saints in that part, called the North Moulton Branch.
May the God of Joseph bless and direct all his faithful servants in the kingdom is the prayer of,
Your obedient servant,
Holbeach Bank, July 18, 1849.
Dear President [Parley P.] Pratt,--Having seen so many cases of healing by the power of God in these last days, I feel anxious that you should be made acquainted with what has been done in this part of your great field of labor.
One of our members, a botanical practitioner, says that under their best treatment the case could not have been cured under six months.