How did this state of things called Mormonism originate? We read that an angel came down and revealed himself to Joseph Smith and manifested unto him in vision the true position of the world in a religious point of view. He was surrounded with light and glory while the heavenly messenger communicated these things unto him, after a series of visitations and communications from the Apostle Peter and others who held the authority of the holy Priesthood, not only on the earth formerly but in the heavens afterwards. That they hold it in the heavens we know from the Scriptures. In them there are certain principles revealed in relation to that matter that nobody could reveal unless they were acquainted with the principle of revelation.
Moses and Elias were seen with Jesus on the mount, when Peter and his brethren saw them, who said, "Master, it is good for us to be here, let us build three tabernacles, one for thee, one for Moses and one for Elias." Who was this Moses? He was a man who had officiated before on the earth, had held the holy Priesthood, had been a teacher of righteousness, and who, with the Elders of Israel, had talked with God, and had received revelations from him, holding the Priesthood that administered in time and eternity. When he got through with this world his official duties were not ended, for he appeared to Jesus, Peter, James and John upon the mount, to confer on them certain principles, authorities and Priesthood, that they might also be enabled to administer in the ordinances of salvation, and officiate as the representatives of God upon the earth. And hence, when Joseph Smith came, those who had held the keys before came to him, so he told me and others, and revealed unto him certain things pertaining to the kingdom of God upon the earth, and ordained him and set him apart to the ministry and Apostleship unto which he was called. He presented himself before the world and informed the people that God had spoken, and that he had spoken to him. He told them that the heavens had been opened and that angels clothed in light and glory had appeared to him and revealed unto him certain things.
Then we have Oliver Cowdery, who tells us something about these things, and gives his testimony as a living witness. Again, there were eleven witnesses in relation to the Book of Mormon, who testify that the Book of Mormon was a divine revelation from God. And some of these witnesses tell us that an angel of God came and laid before them the plates from which the Book of Mormon was translated, and they knew that their testimony was true and faithful.
Others tell us that they saw and handled the plates from which the record was taken. I have conversed with several of those men who say they have seen the plates that Joseph Smith took out of the Hill Cumorah; I have also conversed with Joseph Smith, who has told me of these things and many more that it would be unnecessary on the present occasion to relate. Here, then, is an abundance of testimony that assumes a supernatural agency--an interposition of the Almighty--an opening and an unfolding of something to the human family with which they have been unacquainted. These things are left for the human family to reason upon; they are presented unto us in that capacity, just as things were presented formerly to others.
We were told formerly that "faith comes by hearing, and hearing by the word of God, and how can they hear without a preacher, and how can he preach unless he be sent." Here, then, was a medium introduced by the Almighty to excite the faith or unbelief of the people. Here are certain records unfolded, and here is a man presenting himself before the people, declaring that God was about to usher in the dispensation of the fullness of times; and for this purpose he had introduced an ancient record that had belonged to the aboriginal inhabitants of this continent, together with that, he tells them that the so-called Christian churches had gone astray, and all mankind were laboring under gross darkness, and that darkness had covered the whole earth.
Joseph [Smith] in these early days, who like Adam, Moses, Abraham, Jesus, Jared, Nephi, Moroni and others, had the heavens unfolded to his view, and although the Church was so few in number the principles and purposes of God were developed fully to the vision of his mind, and he gazed upon the things that are to transpire in the latter-days associated with the dispensation that he was called upon by the Almighty to introduce. He learned by communication from the heavens, from time to time, of the great events that should transpire in the latter days. He understood things that were past, and comprehended the various dispensations and the designs of those dispensations. He not only had the principles developed, but he was conversant with the parties who officiated as the leading men of those dispensations, and from a number of them he received authority and keys and priesthood and power for the carrying out of the great purposes of the Lord in the last days, who were sent and commissioned specially by the Almighty to confer upon him those keys and this authority, and hence he introduced what was spoken of by all the prophets since the world was; the dispensation in which we live, which differs from all other dispensations in that it is the dispensation of the fullness of times, embracing all other dispensations, all other powers, all other keys and all other privileges and immunities that ever existed upon the face of the earth.
At that time he was a feeble youth, inexperienced, without a knowledge of the learning of the day. But God put him in possession of that kind of intelligence, and what may be termed a scientific knowledge of all things pertaining to this earth, and the heavens, if you please, which was altogether ahead of all the intelligence that existed in the world. He commenced as opportunity presented by following the education he had received from the Almighty, by teaching the principles of life and salvation, the principles of the everlasting Gospel, by conferring upon others that priesthood which had been conferred upon him, and by organizing a state of things that was after the pattern of the heavens, that was calculated to live and grow and increase, that had the principle of life and vitality within itself, and that was calculated to draw together the honest in heart and assimilate them in their ideas and views and feelings and faith, and empower them to operate with him and with the Lord and with the holy priesthood that had existed in former ages.
Joseph Smith in the first place was set apart by the Almighty according to the counsels of the gods in the eternal worlds, to introduce the principles of life among the people, of which the Gospel is the grand power and influence, and through which salvation can extend to all peoples, all nations, all kindreds, all tongues and all worlds. It is the principle that brings life and immortality to light, and places us in communication with God. God selected him for that purpose, and he fulfilled his mission and lived honorably and died honorable. I know of what I speak for I was very well acquainted with him and was with him a great deal during his life, and was with him when he died.
The principles which he had placed in him in communication with the Lord, and not only with the Lord, but with the ancient apostles and prophets; such men, for instance, as Abraham, Isaac, Jacob, Noah, Adam, Seth, Enoch, and Jesus and the Father, and the apostles that lived on this continent as well as those who lived on the Asiatic continent. He seemed to be as familiar with these people as we are with one another. Why? Because he had to introduce a dispensation which was called the dispensation of the fullness of times, and it was known as such by the ancient servants of God. What is meant by the dispensation of the fullness of times? It is a dispensation in which all other dispensations are merged or concentrated. It embraces and embodies all the other dispensations that have existed upon the earth wherein God communicated himself to the human family.
Did they have the Aaronic priesthood informer times? Yes. So have we. Did they have the Melchizedek priesthood in former times? Yes. So have we. Did they have a gathering dispensation in former times, when Moses led the children of Israel out of Egypt? Yes. So have we, just as it was predicted by the prophet Jeremiah: "I will take you one of a city and two of a family, and I will bring you to Zion." And what will you do with them when you get them there? "And I will give you pastors according to mine heart, which shall feed you with knowledge and understanding." We have that dispensation.
Moses, when he appeared to Joseph Smith, committed to him "the keys of the dispensation of the gathering of Israel from the four quarters [D&C 110] of the earth and the restitution of the ten tribes." Read it in the Doctrine and Covenants: it is there plainly written. Why are you here today, from Scandinavia and other parts of the world? Because God has among other dispensations, restored the dispensation of the gathering.
In relation of other matters. Was there a time to transpire that Elijah should come to "turn the hearts of the fathers to the children, and the hearts of the children to their fathers?" That Elias has come, and has introduced that dispensation; and in that are associated the very things you are engaged in and which we have come to attend to, namely the laying of the foundation stone of the Temple. Now, I will ask, whoever thought of building temples until God revealed it? Did you? If you did, I wish you would tell us of it. And did you know how to build them? No. And did you know how to administer in them after they were built? No, you did not. We are indebted to the Lord for these things. And when Elijah the prophet appeared to Joseph Smith he committed to him the keys of this dispensation; and hence we are at work building temples...
Now, we will come to other events, of later date; events with which we are associated--I refer now to the time that Joseph Smith came among men. What was his position? And how was he situated? I can tell you what he told me about it. He said that he was very ignorant of the ways, designs and purposes of God, and knew nothing about them; he was a youth unacquainted with religious matters or the systems and theories of the day. He went to the Lord, having read James' statement, that "If any of you lack wisdom let him ask of God that giveth to all men liberally and upbraideth not; and it shall be given him." He believed that statement and went to the Lord and asked him, and the Lord revealed himself to him together with his Son Jesus, and pointing to the latter, said: "This is my beloved Son, hear him." He then asked in regard to the various religions with which he was surrounded. He enquired which of them was right, for he wanted to know the right way and to walk in it. He was told that none of them was right, that they had all departed from the right way, that they had forsaken God the fountain of living waters, and hewed them out cisterns, broken cisterns, that could hold no water. Afterwards the angel Moroni came to him and revealed to him the Book of Mormon, with the history of which you are generally familiar, and also with the statements that I am now making pertaining to these things. And then came Nephi, one of the ancient prophets, that had lived upon this continent, who had an interest in the welfare of the people that he had lived amongst in those days. . . .
Again, who more likely then Mormon and Nephi, and some of those prophets who had ministered to the people on this continent, under the influence of the same gospel, to operate again as its representatives? Who more likely than those who had officiated in the holy Melchizedek priesthood to administer to Joseph Smith and reveal unto him the great principles which were developed?
Now, then what has he revealed? Anything new? Why, yes. A new Gospel; but an everlasting Gospel. What is it that John said he saw? "I saw another angel fly in the midst of heaven having the everlasting Gospel to preach to them that dwell upon the earth, and to every nation, and kindred, and tongue, and people, saying with a loud voice, fear God, and give glory to him, for the hour of his judgment is come." Did John see that among other things? Has it come to pass? Yes, it has, "And in thee shall all the families of the earth be blessed." Who was Joseph Smith? The Book of Mormon tells us he was of the seed of Joseph that was sold into Egypt, and hence he was selected as Abraham was to fulfil a work upon the earth. God chose this young man. He was ignorant of letters as the world has it, but the most profoundly learned and intelligent man that I ever met in my life, and I have traveled hundreds of thousands of miles, been on different continents and mingled among all classes and creeds of people, yet I have never met a man so intelligent as he was. And where did he get his intelligence from? Not from books; not from logic or science or philosophy of the day, but he obtained it through the revelation of God made known to him through the medium of the everlasting Gospel. Suffice it to say that the Father having presented His Son to Joseph Smith, and commanded him to hear Him, Joseph was obedient to the heavenly call, and listened to the various communications made by them holding the Holy Priesthood in the various ages under the direction of the Only Begotten. He and Oliver Cowdery were commanded to baptize each other, which they did. John the Baptist came and conferred upon them the Aaronic Priesthood. Then Peter, James and John, upon whom was conferred in the Savior's day, the keys of the Melchizedek Priesthood came, and conferred that Priesthood upon them. Then Adam, Noah, Abraham, Moses, Elijah, Elias, and many other leading characters mentioned in the Scriptures, who had operated in the various dispensations, came and conferred upon Joseph the various keys, powers, rights privileges and immunities which they enjoyed in their times.
Again, Joseph was commanded to preach this Gospel and to bear this testimony to the world. He was taught the same principles that were taught to Adam, the same principles that were taught to Noah, to Enoch, to Abraham, to Moses, to Elijah and other prophets, the same principles that were taught by Jesus Christ and the Apostles in former times on the continent of Asia, accompanied with the same Priesthood and the same organization, only more fully, because the present dispensation is a combination of the various dispensations that have existed in the different ages of the world, and which is designated in the scriptures as the dispensation of the fullness of times, in which God would gather together all things in one, whether they be things in heaven or things on earth. Therefore, whatever of knowledge, of intelligence, of Priesthood, of powers, of revelations was conferred upon those men in the different ages, was again restored to the earth by the ministration and through the medium of those who held the holy Priesthood of God in the different dispensations in which they lived. We are living, as I said, in "the dispensation of the fullness of times," when God will gather together all things in one, whether they be things on the earth or things in the heavens, whether they appertain to Adam, or Seth, Enos, or Mahalaleel, or Methuselah, or Noah, or Abraham, or Isaac, or Jacob, or the Prophets, or Jesus, or the people that have lived in the different ages who have possessed the Gospel of the Son of God; people on this continent or any other continent. They are all interested in this work. All heaven is engaged in carrying out the work that we are engaged in today. They are looking upon us and watching our acts, and are interested in this great work.
Source: John Taylor, Three Nights' Public Discussion Between the Revds. C. W. Cleeve, James Robertson, and Philip Cater, and John Taylor, of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, at Boulogne-Sur-Mer, France. Chairman, Rev. K. Groves, M.A., Assisted by Charles Townley, LL.D., and Mr. Luddy. Also a Reply to the W. Rev. K. Groves, M.A., & Charles Townley, LL.D. (Liverpool, 1850).
I [John Taylor] was going with my family to Far west, in the State of Missouri, and while staying at a place called DeWitt, on the banks of the Missouri River, a mob of about 150 persons came, led on by two ministers, the one a Presbyterian, the other a Baptist. The name of the one was Sashial Woods, the other Abbot Hancock, they lived in Carrolton, Carrol County, Missouri. They came there with swords by their sides; their object was to drive off men, women, and children, from their own homes that they had purchased and paid for. After menacing the people for some time, they passed resolutions, that if the Latter-day Saints did not leave there in ten days, they would destroy every man, woman, and child, burn their houses, and throw their goods into the Missouri River. These resolutions were drawn up by these ministers of mercy. These and other ministers, one a Methodist, of the name of [Samuel] Bogart, engaged with a mob in driving about 15,000 men, women, and children, from their homes, in the depth of winter, after robbing and killing many in the most barbarous manner.
I have seen hundreds thus driven, with no other covering than a blanket or a sheet stuck upon poles, to screen them from the inclemency of the weather; people that had been in comfortable homes, and good circumstances, rendered houseless and homeless by the inhumanity of these wretches. Many of them died in consequence of their exposure, others were imprisoned, some of their brethren killed, and their flesh brought to them to feed on. These deeds were principally instigated by ministers. These, gentlemen, are the destroying angels if you wish to know about them. Is it difficult for such men to write books, such as we have heard, to cover their infamy and deeds of darkness? Who but depraved men could write such books? And is it difficult to attach the name of Rev.? This gives sanction, of course, to their statements, which are swallowed with avidity, and circulated by their brethren here.
We are told that the Latter-day Saints were thieves, that they stole persons property. Why did not the law punish them if they were? Will these gentlemen tell me? Men that would rob, murder, and drive people from their homes, having the laws in their own hands, their own courts and judges, would certainly try those first. There are laws in America for punishing thieves, as well as here. These statements are too flimsy for intelligence to be blended with. We hear about Joseph Smith's crime, he was tried thirty-nine times before the tribunals of his county, and nothing proven against him. Why do not these gentlemen bring some legal authenticated testimony from those courts? Why did not the authors of these books do this? Because they could not. When Joseph Smith was among his enemies, on the ground where they could have proven these things, why did they not do it? I ask these gentlemen for some legal proof. It will go much further with me than the statements, opinions, and reports of their Rev. authors, and might shew from whence springs that bitter, acrimonious spirit, which has been manifested by my opponents. . . .
The Rev. Mr. Cater disavowed all notion of religious persecution, but thought that discussion a necessary one, though he greatly feared a bad use might be made of it, in the leading astray of sincere enquirers; but it was the duty of all to pray fervently and sincerely, that they might not be given over to imposture. What proof had they had of Joseph Smith being a prophet, or being otherwise than what he was--an impostor--a gross impostor. But before he went farther he had a question to put to Mr. Taylor. Orson Pratt, a person of authority amongst the Mormonites, has declared in a public tract, that since 1832, belief in the Divine Mission of Joseph Smith is absolutely necessary to salvation, and that those who do not believe in Joseph Smith cannot be saved. Mr. Taylor published a manifesto in the Boulogne Interpreter, and why did he conceal this doctrine? Mr. Taylor either believes it or not, why did he not state it?
Joseph Smith declared that Peter, James, and John, came down from Heaven to ordain him. Is that true? The facts about Joseph Smith were, that at school nothing could be made of him through idleness and stupidity. At length, when he grew up a little, he took to pretending to discover treasures, by means of a glass in the crown of his hat; and shortly after, he got so far as to have interviews with angels, and one of these angels told him to go to a certain part of America, and there he would find a young woman, and to carry her off and marry her. Now he (Mr. Cater) thought angels had something else to do than going about telling young men where they would find a young woman. (Laughter.) However, Joe carried off the young woman, stole her in fact from her parents.
He came now to Joe's pretended discovery of the plates. Joe pretended that an angel directed him to a certain mound to dig for sacred plates on which a revelation was engraved. It appears that after several attempts Joseph Smith at length discovered a box, and in this box were the inspired plates. Now, it was important to remark this part of the story. In the first place, these plates said to be buried 1400 years, were fastened together with rings, in the form of a book, though every one knows that in that age writings were formed into the shape of scrolls. These plates were a few in number, about six inches long, and yet one half of them contained as much as the whole of the Old Testament. They profess to refer to Jewish history, and yet they are written in Egyptian hieroglyphics. They distinctly, though alleged to have been written 1400 years ago, refer to the mariner's compass. The person who wrote to Smith's dictation had never seen the plates. Joseph Smith having talked to him from behind a screen; but where the Book of Mormon came from was not long a mystery, for the brother of one Solomon Spaulding, going to one of the meetings, recognized his late brother's work, a romance of ancient America, which has never been published, but of which the MS was lost. The widow of Solomon Spaulding testified to the same effect, and that charge has never been replied to, to this hour. But the great consideration is, that these persons pretend to add to, and supersede the Word of God. Now the Bible is the sheet-anchor of Christians, and it neither needs the Book of Mormon nor any other book, nor the assistance of Joe Smith nor any other Joe. The awful voice of prophecy has spoken for the last time, and the cause of inspiration is closed. Whatever is needed by the Christian for his guidance is there, and Mr. Cater could remind his opponents of the curse denounced by the Spirit of God against all who added to, or subtracted from that volume.
Elder Taylor.-- I am prepared to answer all of these statements, and any charges that these gentlemen can bring. We have certainly heard a very strange declaration from our friend who has just sat down. He tells us the canon of scriptures is closed, and that we have all of the word of God that ever was written. I wonder where he studied his Bible; for certainly, if the Bible is true that he professes to believe in, we must assuredly have not got all by a great deal. We will go to your Bible, sir, and inquire. I read of a great many books, which I will quote for your information, and perhaps you will be able to tell us something about them. Will Mr. Cater tell me where is the Book of Wars of the Lord? (see Numbers xxi.14) and also the Book of Jasher? (Josh. x.13). I wish some information about the Book of the Statues of the Kings of Israel. (1 Sam. x.25). And also the Book of Enoch. (Jude 14.) Perhaps he will tell us where the Book of Nathan the Prophet is, (1 Chron. xxix. 29); together with the Book of Gad the Seer, (1 Chron. xxix. 29), and the Book of Ahijah the Prophet, (2 Chron. ix. 29). I should like to know from him also where the Book of Iddo the Seer is? (2 Chron. ix. 29). I should like to know from him also Shemaiah the Prophet, (2 Chron. xii. 15); Book of Jehu, (2 Chron. xx, 34); Book of the Sayings of the Seers, (2 Chron. xxxiii. 19)?
In the New Testament, the so-called, 1st Epistle of St. Paul to the Corinthians, he says, "I wrote to you in an epistle not to keep company with fornicators." (1 Cor. v. 9.) In his Epistle to the Ephesians, he mentions his writing before to them on a mystery (iii. 3.); also his Epistle to the Colossians, written from Laodicea, (Col. iv. 16). St. Luke says, "Forasmuch as many have taken in hand to set forth in order a declaration of those things which are most surely believed among us." (St. Luke i. 1.) Where are those books, and the testimony of the rest of the Twelve, whose writings we have not. An Epistle of Jude. (Jude iii.) It is a pity that men who profess to be teachers should be so egregiously ignorant of the scriptures which we have. Here are sixteen books mentioned, some of which contain doctrines, prophecies, and visions of the greatest importance to the human family, written by prophets, seers, and revelators, under the immediate inspiration of the Almighty, and yet we have them not. Where are they, Mr. Cater? Yet this gentleman calls us impostors because we do not stick to the Bible.
He again quotes the sayings of John in the Revelations, "For I testify unto every man that heareth the words of the prophecy of this book, if any man shall add unto these things, God shall add unto him the plagues that are written in this book. And if any man shall take away from the words of the book of this prophecy, God shall take away his part out of the book of life, and out of the Holy City, and from the things which are written in this book. From this, then, he infers that we are to have no more revelation; but why does he come to this conclusion? St. John does not say that God will not reveal himself any more; he says if any man shall add to, or take from the words of the prophecy of this book, to him shall be added these plagues, etc. Now there is a very material difference between a man's adding, and God's adding. I should say that any man would be cursed for adding to any one of the words of God. What is this book? "The Revelation of Jesus Christ, which God gave unto him, to show unto his servants things that must shortly come to pass, and he sent and signified it by his angel, unto his servant John." (Rev. i. 1) It is, then, the Revelation of Jesus Christ, and not of man. It is concerning things which should shortly come to pass, many of which things could not come to pass without more revelation, and this book is particularly alluded to. Well, but as this book is at the end of the Bible, and this passage at the end of the book, may it not be applied in that way, and signify that we are to have no more revelation? No! None but the ignorant could suppose so. That book was not compiled with the others till hundreds of years after, and how could it refer to those of which it had not yet become a part? And if God had spoken, or shewn visions, to any of the rest of his servants, it would have been just as much the word of the Lord, as that of St. John's and writing it would not have made it false; and St. John would have been in just as much danger of adding to their words, as they would in adding to his, according to Mr. Cater's theory; but if both were the word of the Lord, they ought both to be believed, received and practiced.
Again, St. John speaks of prophets himself, who shall prophesy three years and a half. If they do, it will be the word of God, and as true as St. John's Revelation, and if they do not, St. John's statement is not true.
Again, Moses says, (Deut. iv. 3.) "Ye shall not add unto the word which I command you, neither shall ye diminish ought from it." And yet we have all the prophets' and apostles' writings since then. Are we to reject all the prophecies because Moses said, "ye shall not add unto the word which I command you?" According to Mr. Cater's theory, St. John himself would come under a curse; but, permit me to explain a little for him. Moses says, (Deut. xii. 32.) "What thing soever I command you to observe, to do it; thou shalt not add thereunto nor diminish from it." It is very evident, then, that God did not say, that He never would speak; but that man was not to add unto His word. Another thing is also evident, that it is folly for men who are so little acquainted with the word of God, to find fault with things of which they manifest such ignorance.
Mr. Cater has found another difficulty, which is, that in one place an angel is said to have ordained Joseph Smith, and in another that Peter, James, and John, came to him. Now Joseph had several visits and ministrations. But the difficulty with Mr. Cater seems to be, that Peter, James, or John, could not be angels. I must instruct him, however, a little, on this point also. There was a certain individual spoken of in the Bible, called Moses, he was a servant of God, a Prophet; there was also another called Elijah; they died, or were translated. When Jesus was upon the earth, he went on to a mountain with Peter, James, and John, there appeared two glorious personages, angels; Peter was enraptured, and said, "Let us make here three tabernacles; one for thee, one for Moses, and one for Elias." For who? For Moses and Elias. Here then were Moses and Elias, who had both lived on the earth, came to minister to Jesus, Peter, James, and John. Mr. Cater, I suppose, would think they had done wrong, but nevertheless they came.
Again, when St. John was on the isle of Patmos, a glorious personage, an angel, revealed to him many great and glorious things. St. John was about to fall down and worship him; but the angel said, "See thou do it not; for I am of thy fellow-servants, the prophets, and of those that keep the testimony of Jesus, and the word of God; worship God." Who was it that came? One of St. John's fellow-servants, a prophet, a man who had endured affliction, sorrow, and tribulation in his day; perhaps stoned or sawn asunder for his testimony; but now he had gained the conquest, obtained the prize, basked in the beams of eternal intelligence, and came to minister unto, and comfort St. John in his lonely situation.
We are next told very seriously that Joseph Smith stole his wife!! This, certainly is an awful crime!! Mrs. Smith was about twenty years of age when she was married. In America, ladies are of age at eighteen. I wonder if the lady had any hand in the theft. If this is stealing, I stole my wife! We have, following this, a number of ridiculous, false statements, or rather stories, which, when he attempts to bring forth proof, I shall answer; until then, I consider them beneath my notice.
I have not come here to answer nor to reply to stories. Somebody has heard another say, that they were informed that a gentleman, whom their neighbor knew, was acquainted with a lady who had a cousin, who heard it reported that there were a number of stories about the plates, Book of Mormon, etc. And I am expected to answer to this nonsense? Gentlemen, it is too ridiculous; and, upon the whole, I would remark, that the gentlemen are now, or ought to be, examining the character of Joseph Smith. When they take up the subject of the Book of Mormon, I am prepared to go into that subject with them, but I wish not to confound the two together.
He asks me if I believe that people will be damned if they do not believe Joseph Smith's words. If I did not believe that Joseph Smith was a true prophet, I should not have been here. If he was a true prophet, and spake the word of the Lord, that is just as binding on the human family as any other word spoken by any other prophet. The scriptures tell us that "man shall not live by bread alone, but by every word that proceedeth out of the mouth of God." As my time, however, is nearly closed, I would just remark, that it is strange that so ignorant a man, as Mr. Cater represents Joseph Smith to be, should be enabled by sheer cunning to get up a book that Mr. Cater cannot gainsay, nor prove anything unscriptural in, nor all the divines of this age, although many have tried. It is also strange that he should invent a delusion that should introduce the fullness of the gospel as it existed in former days, when all the theologians of this age, with all their literary attainments, cannot produce a correct system. I am at the defiance of these gentlemen, or the world, to prove from the scriptures an incorrect doctrine in it; yet it was this so-called ignorant man who revealed it. Why do these gentlemen not try it?
Mr. Smith is called a wicked man. Can an impure fountain send forth pure streams? or a bad tree bring forth good fruit? Gentlemen, I again say that Joseph Smith was a virtuous, high-minded, honorable man, a gentleman and a christian; but he introduced principles which strike at the root of the corrupt systems of men. This necessarily comes in contact with their prepossessions, prejudices, and interests; and as they cannot overturn his principles, they attack his character; and that is one reason why we have so many books written against his character, without touching his principles, and also why we meet with so much opposition. But truth, eternal truth, is invulnerable; it cannot be destroyed, but like the throne of Jehovah, it will outride all the storms of men, and live forever. . . .
SECOND NIGHT'S DISCUSSION
. . .Elder Taylor--I again arise with pleasure, but I am somewhat surprised to hear the remarks made by Mr. Robertson. He states that he cannot prove a negative, and that he is not bound to prove that Joseph Smith was a bad man. I understand that he challenged me--that in that challenge he represents Joseph as a daring impostor. I know nothing of Mr. Smith but what is good; he ought to prove his assertions, or not make them. I am not the challenger; I am on the defence. Am I to be brought here to answer charges, and then become my own accuser? Let them bring forth evidence and I am prepared to rebut it.
He asks me if I will tell him what convinced me, and upon what evidence I believed the Gospel. This I will do with pleasure. I was living in the city of Toronto, Upper Canada; I was associated with a number of gentlemen in searching the scriptures. Many of us were connected with the Methodist Society; we did not believe their doctrines because they did not accord with scripture. Nevertheless we did not interfere with them; we considered them as near correct as others; we rejected every man's word or writing, and took the Word of God alone; we had continued diligently at this for two years; we made it a rule to receive no doctrine until we could bring no scripture testimony against it. The gentlemen with whom I associated were, many of them, learned and intelligent. We gathered from the scriptures many important truths; we believed in the gathering of Israel, and in the restoration of the ten tribes; we believed that Jesus would come to reign personally on the earth; we gathered from the scriptures that just judgment would overtake the churches of the world, because of their iniquity. We believed that the Gospel which was preached by the apostles was true, and that any departure from that was a departure from the order of God, and that churches having thus departed were consequently corrupt and fallen.
We believed that there ought to be apostles, prophets, evangelists, pastors, and teachers as in former days, and that the gifts of healing and the power of God ought to be associated with the church. We, of course, believed that where these things did not exist there could not be a true church; but we believed that we had no authority ourselves to teach these principles; we were praying men, and asked our Heavenly Father to shew us the truth, and we fasted and prayed, that if God had a true church on the earth he would send us a messenger.
About this time Parley P. Pratt called on me with a letter of introduction from a merchant of my acquaintance. I had peculiar feelings on seeing him. I had heard a great many stories of a similar kind to those that you have heard, and I must say that I thought my friend had imposed upon me a little in sending a man of this persuasion to me. I, however, received him courteously as I was bound to do. I told him, however, plainly, my feelings, and that in our researches I wanted no fables; I wished him to confine himself to the scriptures. We talked for three hours or upwards, and he bound me as close to the scriptures as I desired, proving everything he said therefrom. I afterwards wrote down eight sermons that he preached in order that I might compare them with the word of God. I found nothing contrary. I then examined the Book of Mormon, and the prophecies concerning that; that was also correct. I then read the book of "Doctrine and Covenants", found nothing unscriptural there. He called upon us to repent and be baptized for the remission of sins, and we should receive the Holy Ghost. But what is that? we inquired; the same, he answered, as it was in the Apostles' days, or nothing. A number of others and myself were baptized, and we realized those blessings according to his word; the gifts and power of God were in the church, the gift of tongues and prophecy; the sick were healed, and we rejoiced in the blessings and gifts of the Holy Ghost.
Mr. Robertson.--What made you believe in the Book of Mormon?
Elder Taylor.-- First, it's agreement with the scripture; secondly, the testimony in the scripture concerning it; and thirdly, the testimony of other witnesses which I will read.
Mr. Taylor then read the testimony of three witnesses. . . .
Mr. Robertson then put the following questions to Mr. Taylor:--
Mr. Robertson.--Do you know that Joseph Smith was a true prophet?
Mr. Robertson.--How do you know it?
Elder Taylor.--By revelation; the Lord revealed it to me; and I also know by the fulfillment of his words.
Mr. Robertson.--Will you tell us your vision or revelation?
Elder Taylor.--No! sir.
Mr. Robertson.--Have you seen miracles?
Elder Taylor.--Yes scores of them!
Mr. Robertson.--Have you any testimony of such things?
Elder Taylor.--Yes, thousands of testimonies. I would here remark, that I do not consider miracles a test of truth, but as being associated with the gospel. . . .
I testify that I was acquainted with Joseph Smith for years. I have travelled with him; I have been with him in private and in public; I have associated with him in councils of all kinds; I have listened hundreds of times to his public teachings, and his advice to his friends and associates of a more private nature. I have been at his house and seen his deportment in his family. I have seen him arraigned before the tribunals of his country, and seen him honorably acquitted, and delivered from the pernicious breath of slander, and the machinations and falsehoods of wicked and corrupt men. I was with him living, and with him when he died, when he was murdered in Carthage gaol by a ruthless mob, headed by a Methodist minister, named Williams, with their faces painted. I was there and was myself wounded; I at that time received four balls in my body. I have seen him, then, under these various circumstances, and I testify before God, angels, and men, that he was a good, honorable, virtuous man--that his doctrines were good, scriptural, and wholesome--that his precepts were such as became a man of God--that his private and public character was unimpeachable--and that he lived and died as a man of God and a gentleman. This is my testimony; if it is disputed, bring me a person authorized to receive an affidavit, and I will make one to this effect. . . .
Elder [John] Pack.--I will if I agree to. Our honorable opponents have seen proper to speak evil of Joseph Smith. I was acquainted with him almost from the commencement of his religious career, and I speak that which I know, and not my opinion. I know that Joseph Smith's character was good--as good as any man's! Those statements made about him are false. Joseph Smith was a just, honorable, and upright man, and I know it ; neither do I know any evil of him. I know that he was persecuted for his religion, and the Saints have always been persecuted. I know that religious men have generally been at the head of these persecutions. I have seen the Saints persecuted when blood has stained their paths. I am not afraid to testify that the mob was headed by Reverend divines. I was once taken by a mob myself. I was travelling with my wife about eighty miles from home, in the State of Missouri. They came to me and stopped my carriage, and asked me if I was a Mormon. I told them, Yes! I am a full-blooded Mormon! They dragged me from my wife into a wood, and told my wife to take a last farewell of me. Sashial Woods, a Baptist or Presbyterian minister, headed this company; he was their leader. He asked me if I would forsake the Mormons, and deny Mormonism. I told him, No! I would not; I knew that it was true, and I would not give up my faith. They condemned me to death. Sashial Woods then took ten men, and led me into the woods to shoot me, but no one could be found to do it. They quarrelled among themselves, and after some time I was liberated. These things that I have spoken are true; I bear my testimony to them before God and man. I know Joseph Smith was a good, virtuous, honorable man; and, as Mr. Taylor offered, so do I--bring forth your officers and I will make oath to it.
Mr. Robertson.--Did you ever see Joseph Smith work a miracle?
Mr. Robertson.--Of what diseases?
Elder Pack.-- All kinds of diseases. I have seen some lying at the point of death, given up by physicians. I have seen them healed immediately after Joseph Smith had laid his hands on them, and rise from their beds and go forth.
Mr. Robertson.--Where did this take place?
Elder Pack.--Everywhere that he resided; in Missouri, in Ohio, in Illinois, in hundreds of cases.
Elder Taylor.---Mr. Bolton will now testify, --(Great confusion which lasted several minutes.)
Elder [Curtis E.] Bolton.--I will say, that I am not surprised that these gentlemen wish to prevent me from speaking. Truth and testimony are not what they want. Since I am permitted to speak, however, I testify that I personally knew Joseph Smith. I have lived with him in his family; was with him morning, noon, and night, early and late. I saw him in most trying situations, with friends and enemies; and in all the time that I remained in his family, I never saw the slightest act, nor heard one word, unbecoming a man of God--a just, upright, pure, prayerful prophet of God; and in these matters I consider myself as good a judge as any man in this hall, or in this city. I have been as well educated as any man in this hall, or in this city, and am as well brought up; and if any man doubts my word, let him apply to me, and I will furnish him with most satisfactory references, either in France, England, or America. Concerning the character of Joseph Smith, if my word is doubted, as my brethren have offered to do, so do I--bring a person empowered to receive an affidavit, and I will swear to the truth of what I have said.