Mormonism in America

1838-01

The Christian Witness

❮ Home

“Mormonism in America.” The Christian Witness (Plymouth, England) 5, no. 1 (January1838): 1–38.

MORMONISM IN AMERICA.

“And they shall turn away their ears from the truth, and be turned unto FABLES.” (2 Tim. iv. 4.)

THERE is a world of spirits, where kingdoms and powers exist, whose character and principles are in eternal discord, and their interests at infinite variance with one another. It is a happy thought that the discord will not for ever continue, but one day finally cease, and that the interests which shall survive, are those wherein glory shall redound to God, and blessing be secured to His creatures. But while things are tending towards this happy consummation it must be, from the necessity of the case, since God assigns to them a prolonged though limited existence, that beings whose principles are at essential enmity with Himself, should be ever manifesting opposition to His will, and engaging in continual attempts to thwart and defeat His purposes. Now we have been taught somewhat largely in the word, how they have sought to do this.—In the progressive development of evil from the first successful introduction of it in the garden of paradise down through successive ages of the world; however various the machinations of these powers of darkness, their one object has been seen to be [1] the bringing the creatures happiness, (wherein God willed to show forth His glory,) through that creature’s failure, into eternal and irreconcileable opposition to His character; nay, making man diligently himself to conspire against his own blessing. We have been taught too the wondrous ways of God (in no less wondrous grace) for bringing back that creature into harmony with Himself and blessing, without impugning one jot or tittle of His own unchangeable perfections; on the contrary, making it the occasion of exhibiting them in riches of grace that had been heretofore untraceable. We have seen the cross of Christ to have been the great instrument of His purposes in this; and by faith, surveying its mighty achievements, we are able even to see, as Jesus did, Satan fall like lightning from heaven, and Himself ascending as a mighty victor—leading captivity captive—spoiling principalities and powers—making a show of them openly— triumphing over them in it.

But this is true as yet only to the ear and heart of faith. Satan is still in the heavenlies, ruling supreme in the kingdom of wicked spirits, and wielding their hateful energies at his will, (Eph. vi., Rev. xii. 7. &c.) having power in this world, (Luke iv. 6., John xvi. 11, 2 Cor. iv. 4., Eph. ii. 2.) and exercising it according to the law of enmity in his heart against the woman and her seed. (compare Gen. iii. with Rev. xii.) Thus much of that primeval sentence yet awaits fulfilment—“dust shalt thou eat all the days of thy life.” (Gen. iii. 14., compare Isaiah 1xv. 25.) It is a word of comfort. “The God of peace shall bruise Satan under your feet shortly.” (Rom. xvi. 20.) But he is not yet thus bruised; that word “shortly,” having reference to a state of heart that owns no interval before the coming of its Lord. The consequence is just what experience, if we are the Lord’s, testifies; we are made to know the power of that enmity in every varied form and extreme of temptation and suffering. Does the world belong to Christ or Satan? This is a question of immense practical concern, as involving our present standing and relation both to God and the world. There is no question it belongs to Christ in title as in right, “for all things were made by Him and for Him;” and He [2] has further paid the price of its redemption. Hence could our Lord say after His resurrection—“all power is given unto me in heaven and earth.” Hence, says the Apostle, (1 Pet. iii. 22.) Jesus Christ is “gone into heaven, and is on the right hand of God; angels, and authorities, and powers, being made subject to Him.” And we know therefore from Rev. v., that as the Lamb slain in the midst of the throne, (hid in God) He exercises even now in providence, that is, invisibly to the world, the power of controlling the events of the world, and of checking Satan and restraining evil. But in this dispensation of long-suffering and forbearance, there is no open and visible assertion of that right, nor any exercise of it for the right ordering of the world. Such an assumption of direct control we learn expressly from Rev. xi. 15, 17, 18, to be yet future: “now” says our Lord emphatically to Pilate, “is my kingdom not from hence.” (John xix. 35.) How should it be? “The scepter of His kingdom is a right scepter;” (Ps. xlv. 6.) and that is not the character of the powers of the world now.

The devil had claimed the power of this world in his approach to Christ as the tempter, (Luke iv. 6.) and our Lord was far from denying the fact. Nay, in the progress of His rejection, He could Himself own him to be the prince of this world; (John xii. 35.) though contemplating His rejection and the cross as the result of it, He could see the judgment of the world, and the moral basis of his triumph over the prince of it. The scriptures relative to these facts, have been largely opened for our instruction in the “WITNESS,” and they have no doubt by this time become familiar to us. They should prepare for us realizing the whole extent of the power of Satan and his enmity now. The world is his, the course of it is ordered by him; he works in the hearts of the children of disobedience, free and uncontrolled, (Ephesians ii. 2., 2 Cor. iv. 4.) and has perilous facility of access through the flesh to the consciences and hearts of God’s people. How much then in this point of view is his power to be dreaded and watched against at all times. The word of warning is coeval with the dispensation—“we wrestle not against flesh and blood, but against principalities [3] and powers, against the rulers of the darkness of this world, against spiritual wickedness in heavenly places:” (Eph. vi.) “your adversary the devil goeth about (compare Job. i.) as a roaring lion, seeking whom he may devour: him resist, stedfast in the faith.” (1 Pet. v.) But if this is true of his enmity and power throughout the whole of the dispensation, it becomes more fearfully so towards the close of it. We are familiar with the numerous warnings in the scriptures respecting the energy of his working in the latter day; the last times of the Church, therefore called perilous on this very account. The Apostle Paul in his epistles to the Thessalonians, (2 Thess. ii. 9, 10, &c.) and to Timothy, (2 Tim. iv. 1., 2 Tim. iii.) and Peter in his second Epistle, (chap. ii.) and Jude, give very explicit warnings as to these times; and it is the Church’s wisdom to study attentively their growth and budding.

Now one awful feature which pervades them all, giving a marked character to this period of Satanic energy, is its being a time of unexampled DELUSION. It is remarkable that in the account we have of the Gentile world in the 1st chapter of Romans, we find the last stage of their condition, to be introduced by a judicial bereavement of judgement—“their foolish heart was darkened:” (ver. 21.) “they became fools:” (ver. 22.) “and as they did not like to retain God in their knowledge, God gave them over to a reprobate mind:” (a mind void of judgment, ver. 28.) The same awful fact we see exemplified in the Jews. The 28th chapter of the Acts, which closes the scriptural account of the ministry of the Apostles, leaves them under a sentence of judicial infatuation, out of which we see them not yet recovered. The same thing, as the effect of continuing in sin, is made known to us in the form of a principle, in Heb. iii. 13: “lest any of you be hardened through the deceitfulness of sin.” But elsewhere in many parts of the scriptures, it is more directly traced to Satan’s blinding, deceiving, seducing, hardening power over the heart; in other words, to a spirit of delusion. And this is the prominent characteristic of the last times. Men have not liked to retain God in their knowledge, and therefore God will give them up to a mind void of judgment, because they received not the love of the truth; [4] for this cause God shall send them strong delusion, that they should believe a lie. (2 Thess. ii. 11.) “This know also that perilous times shall come, men having a form of godliness, but denying the power thereof……these resist the truth, men of corrupt minds, (reprobate) of no judgment concerning the faith……evil men and SEDUCERS shall wax worse and worse, deceiving and being deceived.”

(2 Tim. iii.) “Now the Spirit speaketh expressly, that in the latter times some shall depart from the truth, giving heed to seducing spirits and doctrines of devils.” (1 Tim. iv. 1.) When the man of sin cometh, it is declared to be, “after the working of Satan with all signs and lying wonders,” (not mere pretended wonders, but real wonders, calculated to deceive.) And to this agrees the description of the “unclean spirits, which are the spirits of devils working miracles” in Rev. xiv. 13, 14.

Now the question is, have these delusions begun to work? Surely we have ground for believing that in these our days, there is evidence of a more than ordinary operation of Satan, antagonist to that which we have manifestly seen of a more than ordinary operation of the Spirit of God. We learn a principle as to this from that passage in Isaiah 1ix. 19:∗ “when the enemy shall come in like a flood, the Spirit of the Lord shall lift up a standard against him.” It seems to indicate that any powerful exhibition or operation of the Holy Spirit in the Church, is ever, either that which calls out, or is itself called out by the resisting energy of Satan; and that therefore times of blessing are ever to be regarded as concomitant with times of peril. This observation acquires weight, from considering how much more the relation and intercourse subsisting between wicked spirits and ourselves, involves, than a mere influence exerted over our hearts, though that indeed is most pernicious.

Their active personal† interference in the concerns of the world, [5] it would be most injurious for us to overlook. For assuredly it is real. It is bounded we know by the good pleasure of our Father, but that may be quite consistent with an extent of power to affect us, that to our apprehensions might seem very wide. And though the security of the saint is provided for, (John x. 28., Rom. viii. 31—ult.) yet none are ever the safer for disregarding the power of these enemies. The corrupt passions and will of man, and the perverted use of what God has given him,—knowledge, learning, wealth, power, &c. the relics of a fairer dominion (lost in but to be regained in Gen. iii., Ps. viii. 6.) all fall readily into their hands, and they have skill to wield them with terrible effect. Full well too we know that their enmity is at the least commensurate with their power to do us evil. They see in man the creature whom God has designed to set in favour and bring back to blessing for the accomplishment of His own glory. They seek to mar that happiness therefore, that they may also mar His glory. It was that word—“hast thou considered my servant Job?” denoting that he was the object of His favour, that brought out the malignity of Satan, and the effort to mar the happy condition in which he stood by bringing in that which would destroy it, viz.—a departure from the integrity of his allegiance and dependance upon God. David was “the man after God’s own heart;” therefore it is that we find Satan tempting him to sin, in the matter of numbering the children of Israel, a thing abominable in the eyes even of the reckless Joab. (1 Chron. xxi. 1—6.)

∗ It is said to be more correctly translated—“for the enemy shall come in like a flood, and &c.” but the remark is not affected, as the passage is not applied or interpreted, but referred to, as marking a principle in accordance with general experience and observation.

†It has been observed, that disbelief or very inadequate apprehensions of the personal agency and presence of the Holy Spirit on the one hand, and of the devil on the other, have gone together in the Church.

But above all, Jesus as being “His beloved SON,”—“in whom His soul delighted,” became the object of his early and special temptation. He sought to turn aside the footsteps of that immaculate One, by a deceitful handling of the word of truth; (2 Cor. iv. 2.) of which word he could say to the Father—“Thou wakenest my ear morning by morning, to hear as the learned, and I was not rebellious, neither turned away back; (Isaiah i. 4, 5.) but it was presented unto Him now in deceit. The tempter was foiled, but he left him only “for a season.” Here was what incessantly by its godlike bearing provoked and drew out the enmity. In these instances is exhibited so remarkably the mind of the tempter, [6] the secret principle of his enmity, and that which regulates its efforts. It is always direct antagonism to what is most like God, and most directly God’s work. This an ordinary degree of attention to what has passed around us in these late years, as a season in which there has been a marked though partial revival of the Church, and recovery of truth, is well calculated to teach us. We have seen directly, that the spirit of slumber began to pass away, and the Church was called either from positive error, or truth held partially or lifelessly, into somewhat of the freshness and fulness of the written word; how quick the devil set himself to resist and oppose the progress of it, and when it could not be stopped, then straightway to raise up a conterfeit work, in which the flesh and the Spirit were so blended, truth and error so mixed, that to the greater part who had not attained to any healthful, or profitable exercise of their spiritual discernment, but yet were awakened (which most were not) from slumber; there was no power of separating the precious and the vile, and therefore both were received or abandoned together. Such truths as those connected with the Lord’s coming, the general fallen state and apostasy of the Church, the assertion (as a brother has expressed himself) of the rights of the indwelling Spirit of God, to guide, govern, and order supremely in the Church by and according to His own written word, and the immaculateness and sufficiency of that word, as the standard of truth in every thing that concerns the life and walk of its members, were enough to have recovered the Church from his grasp, had they been received, and felt in power, and abided in. Therefore here his working has displayed itself, in discrediting by every possible means the hope of the Church, which is the Lord’s coming—the state of the Church, which is its shame;—the discovery of the Spirit’s office in the absence of Christ, which is the power of its life; and the integrity and completeness of the written word, which is its perfect standard of truth; and hence one main ground of security against the devil, her deceiver. But there is often a way of subverting truth different from that of its direct denial. The human mind has nothing more common to it than a tendency to reaction. Mostly there is a defect in what is held of a proper [7] balance of truths, which forces them into greater or less prominence than is due; and even truth seen out of its proper relations, may have the effect or the appearance of error; and thus be often unwarily relinquished or hurtfully maintained. It was a great thing to have recovered the hope of the Church. A former paper of the “WITNESS,” (Retrospect and present state of Prophetic Inquiry) has well shewn the important effects that resulted from it. But it did two things especially; it opened prophecy, and forewarned of Satan. Therefore he has made it appear in the eyes of most, as if it were a carnal hope, and led to a carnal walk. He inspired many who received it with self-elation which led to their fall, and through them the truths themselves, are with the greater part of the Church still discredited to her own loss. But further, there are those who receive and value it; with such it is made an instrument of delusion, by presenting it to them mixed with heresies which it accredits to their judgments. Again, it was a great thing to have discovered a sense of our fallen condition, that all had departed from the true standing of the Church of God; blessing would have followed a real humbling on account of it. But the dissatisfaction it produced in many with their respective systems, has been by his devices, used to lead many into a liberty bordering on licentiousness as to the principles of communion; and others, seeing the departure to have been general, argued themselves from that very circumstance, into acquiescence with their own particular evils, saying in their hearts, “we are delivered to do all these abominations.” And so this truth in the hearts of many is turned aside.

Again, it was most important to the welfare of the Church and conducive to its recovery, to become aware, that the believer’s privilege consisted in the personal indwelling of the Spirit, and that it was abiding; and also that the Church’s portion was to know Him as the Comforter, to supply the place of its absent Lord, and to provide for its internal ordering and government throughout the whole period of His absence. But what have we seen? Even this very truth, “devil used,” made in the mind of many to give currency to the notion, that the word of God is not sufficient, and thus virtually setting aside its authority, [8] by new and pretended revelations, supposed to be the living voice of the Spirit. There is no one thing which we need to watch so jealously as this; the peculiar special form of evil in the latter days, being that of unscriptural delusions. While we own the word of God in its integrity, neither adding to nor detracting from it aught, we have always that which as taught by the Spirit in communion is capable of detecting Satan, even when coming as an angel of light. We have seen more than one instance in our days of successful delusions, but how have they been brought about? has it not been when a power was owned in the midst of them, which elevated itself into an authority, independent of the word of God? There may have been error, and much defect of scriptural apprehension before; that we are all subject to, and surely conscious of: but in destroying the integrity and sufficiency of the word of God, the landmark is removed, the chart which in the darkness of this world indicated the Church’s true course is effaced; the unerring beacon which cast light on the destructive shores of error is confounded amongst the false and baleful lights of Satan’s erecting, and the hapless wayfarer lured on, save as kept in the infinite mercy of God, to destruction.

Reflections like these are necessarily self-condemning to those who are conscious, like the writer, of any measure of personal failure while passing through the ordeal of the last few and eventful years, which have been times of sifting or of something worse to so very many. The acknowledgment of this suggests, even while contending for the truth and exposing error, the need of much humility in speaking of these things, and the continual remembrance of its being by the grace and guidance of Jesus alone, that any either have been, or shall be restored or kept in the ways of truth. O! if in all our enquiries after truth, there be not the spirit of mind, which leads us to take every matter of doubtful import to the feet of Jesus, to examine and consider of it there; if there be a lack of childlike subjection of soul to the word, and the Spirit’s teaching in all we go to the word for; and if, instead, we practically judge scripture by our minds and are not judged of it, who can say, in such times of extreme peril by reason of “delusions,” [9] that we shall be “kept from the paths of the destroyer?” (Ps. xvii. 4.)

The object in presenting these remarks is, to make them serve as an introduction to some notice which it has been thought desirable to take of a recent gross but fearful delusion now taking effect, somewhat extensively∗ it is to be feared, in parts of the United States and Canada, but principally in the back settlements. They call themselves “the Church of the latter-day saints;” but the work is generally known by the name of “Mormonism,” from the book of Mormon, which they have put forth as inspired. In the preface to one of their publications, which ∗ Our correspondent, a beloved brother labouring for the Lord in Canada, who has furnished us with the published documents of Mormonism, states that the delusion is fearfully spreading; and that when he wrote, (in the summer) he had heard that six of the ministers were on their way to this country. ED. have been sent over to this country, it is stated that one edition of 1830, had not been sufficient to meet the urgent demands, and that another which was issued this year, consists of five thousand copies, from which we may judge that there is a considerable body of unhappy professors of Mormonism in that country.

The character of the publications in question, is of a very revolting description, and such as no mind alive to the interests of the Church, and desiring the free course of the word of God’s truth, can peruse without pain. A very brief inspection is enough to discover that their claims, or rather pretensions, are of the loftiest character; being no less than fresh revelations, inspired scriptures newly given or brought to light, and a new Apostolate. We have no means of judging of this “work,” but by the publications before us, which are of a very heterogeneous nature. The present notice therefore must of necessity be confined to them; but they will amply suffice to prove what the work is, and who alone could be the author of it.

Considered merely as writings, their merits are of a very low description, and they bear evident marks of fabrication; being filled with counterfeit presentations of scripture truth, sometimes in the sentiments, and often in the very language; and the tone of the political principles† avowed, (for they condescend to “speak [10] of the world;” 1 John iv. 5.) is just such as we should judge suited to adapt the work for general reception in a land of political enfranchisement. But what is of more consequence, there is a virtual denial or subversion of the foundation-principles of truth—“the truth” which believers count themselves happy to “continue in.” (2 Tim. iii. 16.) Viewed apart from circumstances, these productions would be regarded as mere trash; what gives them the slightest interest or importance, and justifies, it is hoped, the present notice of them, is the partial success they have obtained in America, in subverting souls; and the interest attached to the question adverted to throughout this paper, and in evidence of which we think this work may be fairly adduced, as to whether the time for the spreading of delusions is not really at hand. That any should be deceived by it, might seem strange to us, whose circumstances, and the thoughts of whose minds it seems in no way adapted to. But we must remember the testimony of the word—“The time will come when they will not endure sound doctrine, but will turn away their ears from the truth, and be turned away to fables.” (2 Tim. iv.) In the writer’s judgment, no words could more aptly describe the present productions. They are precisely “fables.”

One of them, called the book of Mormon; is thus introduced to our notice in the title page. [11]

† The 13th chapter of the book of Mormon, p. 230, in particular may be referred to. The principles there sanctioned, are such as to deserve for the [10] chapter the title of αυоµα, (2 Thess. ii.) as advocating principles closely identified with a spirit of lawlessness. As for instance—“Because all men are not just; it is not expedient that ye should have kings to rule over you.” “Ye cannot dethrone an iniquitous king, save through much contention and bloodshed.” “It is not common that the voice of the people desireth any thing contrary to that which is right.” “Ye shall cause a smaller number of your lower judges to judge your higher judges, according to the voice of the people.” “I desire that this irregularity (between kings and subjects) should be no more in the land, and this land be a land of liberty.” “Therefore they relinquished their desires for a king, and desired that every man should have an equal footing, and every man expressed a willingness to answer for his own sins.”

Experience teaches us that the most high-flown sentiments respecting the rights and liberty of man, are quite compatible with truckling to the most flagrant violation of the principle espoused, as in the following extract from a section on governments and laws in general; book of Rev. s. 102. 12. “We do not believe it right to interfere with bond servants, neither preach the gospel to, nor baptize them, contrary to the will and wish of their masters…. Such interference, we believe unlawful, and unjust, and dangerous, to the peace of every government , allowing human beings to be held in servitude. ” (Acts iv. 19. Mark xvi. 15.) [11]

“An account, written by the hand of Mormon, taken from the plates of Nephi……written by way of commandment, and also by spirit of prophecy and revelation……to come forth by the gift and power of God unto the interpretation thereof.”

This Nephi, is related to be the son of a Jew, named Lehi, who living in the time of Zedekiah, and being favoured with revelations from God, fled from the persecutions of his brethren; and after many years of wandering, was brought to the great waters which separate the continents of Asia and America, and thence brought into “the land of promise,” as the latter is called. The record purports to be an abridged, but inspired account, both of this event, and the succeeding centuries of the history of his descendants—the Nephites, the Lamanites, &c.; the first part being compiled from the records of Nephi, and the rest, from that of his successors in the office of preserving and continuing these sacred records. Mormon, and Moroni his son, in more recent times discover and abridge these records, for the benefit of posterity; and it is reserved for the hand of “the Gentile” to bring them out to light, by a translation. Wherefore, as in the preface, we are certified that the writing and interpretation thereof is by the gift of God; so at the close of the volume, we have the following attestation to the qualification of the translator.

“Be it known unto all nations, kindreds, tongues, and people, unto whom this book shall come, that we through the grace of God the Father, and His Son Jesus Christ, have seen the plates which contain this record……and also know that they have been translated by the power and gift of God, for His voice hath declared it unto us……and we also declare with words of soberness, that an angel of God came down from heaven, and he brought and laid before our eyes the plates and engravings thereon,” &c.

And to this is added a further testimony of the genuineness of the plates in his possession. And in the book of commandments purporting to be made up of revelations, the following declarations occur, respecting this book of Mormon; sect. 2, page 2. “The book of Mormon contains the record of fallen people, and the fulness of the gospel of Jesus Christ to the Gentiles, and to the Jews also, which was given by inspiration, and is confirmed to [12] others by the ministration of angels, and is declared unto the world by them, proving to the world that the holy scriptures are true, and that God does inspire men and call them to His holy work, in this age and generation, as well as in generations of old.”

In section 4, of the same book, on priesthood, paragraph 8, it is called—“God’s new covenant with the children of Zion;” and the turning point of their deliverance, is “repentance and remembrance of this covenant.” In section 13, paragraph 5, the elders &c. of the Church, are commanded “to teach the principles of the gospel of Jesus Christ which are in the Bible, and the book of Mormon; in which is the fulness of the gospel.”∗

These extracts are sufficient to prove that what is claimed for this production is no less than inspiration. Before we part with it however to turn to other points, it may be worth while to notice the remarkable pains taken to inform us of its being written in a language not common to either Jew or Gentile, or intelligible to any. The record of Nephi, sets out with informing us that it is written “in the language of his father, which consists of the learning of the Jews, and the language of the Egyptians.” (p. 1.) He does not think fit to show how this came to be the language of a Jew “who dwelt at Jerusalem in all his days;” (Ibid) but we are more particularly and carefully informed at p. 567, that this “Egyptian” language was “reformed Egyptian, being ∗ To explain this term, which does not seem to apply to the mere annals of a people, it must be observed that the book of Mormon is not a mere record of history, but written apparently in imitation of the scriptures, where the historic is combined with what is strictly doctrinal and didactic. It professes to give a series of revelations and predictions relative to Christ and the truth He taught, only much more minute and copious (as all prophecies forged after the event are wont to be) sometimes agreeing verbatim with the New Testament; but in other respects, full of the grossest trash; and as may be supposed, at utter variance with the truths inculcated by the gospel. [13] handed down and altered by us according to our manner of speech. And if our plates had been sufficiently large, we should have written it in Hebrew; but the Hebrew hath been altered by us also; and if we could have written in Hebrew, behold! ye would have had no imperfection in our record. But the Lord knoweth the things which we have [13] written, and also that none other people knoweth our language, therefore He hath prepared means for the interpretation thereof.”

Another circumstance connected with this book of Mormon, we are made acquainted with, in the following manner.—It appears that the translator, had intrusted certain manuscripts on the first part of the book of Mormon, to one from whose possession they were taken, and they were lost.—Here was a dilemma. They fell into the hands of persons who might compare the old translation with the new, which it would become necessary to make. Now as divine inspiration and no less was claimed for the translation, the two must correspond. They could not differ from one another without a serious compromise of the pretension. The dilemma was thought worthy of being provided for, by two express revelations: one dated July 1828, in which the translator is reproved; the other May 1829, to the following effect:—

“Behold Satan has put it into their hearts to alter the words, and they read contrary from that which you translated, and caused to be written. Behold! they ask thee to translate it over again, &c……..behold! I say unto you, that you shall not translate it over again; for behold if you should bring forth the same words, they will say that you have lied; that you have pretended to translate, but that you have contradicted yourself; and behold they will publish this, &c. And now verily, you remember it was said in those writings that have gone out of your hands, that a more particular account was given of those things upon the plates of Nephi……Therefore you shall translate from them down, until you come to that which you have translated, (which was from the abridgment of Mormon,) which you have retained, (i.e. not lost;) and thus I will confound those who have altered my words……behold they have got only a part, or an abridgment of the account of Nephi, &c.”

How much resemblance to the crooked paths of deceit is there in this—how much like a deed of darkness that seeks to hide itself from detection. It is because their deeds are evil, that men love darkness rather than light; “for every one that doeth evil, hateth the light, neither cometh to the light, lest his deeds should be discovered,” (ελεγχθη. John iii. 20.) The other publication consists of two parts. 1st.—Lectures on the doctrine of salvation.

2nd.—Items or principles for the regulation of the Church, as taken from the revelations that have been given since and before its organisation; of the former parts, some [14] brief notice will be taken, when we come to speak of the doctrines they hold; and we turn for the present to the book of revelations, containing “the covenants and commandments,” for evidence to show the character of the claims set up. Before making any extracts however, it is to be observed these revelations profess to be direct communications from God, and from Jesus Christ, whose names and appropriate titles, are not only used in thorough disregard of their scriptural and appropriate connexion, but with a freedom which (utterly rejecting the veracity of these pretensions, as every believer must instinctively do) can only be viewed in the light of awful blasphemy. Their pretensions for the most part are these.—They claim to be “the Church of the latter-day saints;”—to be “the only true and living Church on the face of the earth,” with plenary apostolic powers, and endowments commensurate with these pretensions;—the establishment of a new order of things—the gathering together of the Church to its inheritance—the new Jerusalem, declared by these revelations, to be on the western borders of the Missouri, and ere long to be manifested at the coming of Christ.

1.—The setting up of the Church.

Section 4, paragraph 1, 2.—“A revelation of Jesus Christ unto His servant Joseph Smith, jun. and six elders, as they united their hearts and lifted their voices on high; yea, the word of the Lord concerning His Church, established in the last days of the restoration of His people, as He has spoken by the mouth of His prophets, and for the gathering of His saints to stand upon mount Zion, which shall be the city New Jerusalem; which city shall be built, beginning at the temple Lot, which is appointed by the finger of the Lord in the western boundaries of the State of Missouri, and dedicated by the hand of Joseph Smith, jun. and others with whom the Lord was well pleased.”

2.—“Verily, this is the word of the Lord, that the city New Jerusalem shall be built by the gathering of the saints, beginning at this place, even the place of the temple, which temple shall be reared in this generation; for verily, this generation shall not pass away until a house be built unto the Lord.”

It happens unfortunately for the correctness of these pretensions and their conformity to scripture, that in the new Jerusalem their is to be no temple. (See Rev. xxi.) For their view of the distinction between the New Jerusalem here meant, and that which shall [15] be again established in Judea; see an extract from the book of Mormon, page 567, quoted farther on.

Section 2, paragraph 1.—“The rise of the Church of Christ in these last days, being one thousand, eight hundred, and thirty years, since the coming of our Lord and Saviour, Jesus Christ in the flesh, it being regularly organised and established agreeably to the laws of our country, by the will and commandments of God.”

Sect. 1. paragraph 5 & 8.—“Behold! I am God, and have spoken it; these commandments are of me, and were given unto my servants in their weakness, after the manner of their language, that they might come to understanding; and also that those to whom these commandments were given, might have power to lay the foundation of this Church, and to bring it forth out of obscurity, and out of darkness, the only true and living Church on the face of the earth.”

2.—Plenary Apostolic Inspiration, and a fresh inspired Word. The claim to this is implied by these very “revelations,” but it is made expressly and formally in the following extracts:—

Sect. 1. Par. 8.—“What I the Lord have spoken, I have spoken, and though the heavens and the earth pass away, my word shall not pass, but shall all be fulfilled, whether by mine own voice or by the voice of my servants, it is the same.”

Sect. 22. Par. 1.—“This is the ensample unto all who were ordained unto this priesthood, whose mission is to go forth: they shall speak as they are moved upon by the Holy Ghost; and whatsoever they shall speak, when moved upon by the Holy Ghost, shall be scripture: shall be the will of the Lord, His mind, His word, His voice, and the power of God unto salvation: behold this is my promise unto you, O ye my servants. I the Lord am with you.”

B. of Mormon, p. 123, 124.—“Many of the Gentiles shall say, a Bible, a Bible, we have got a Bible. O fools, because that I have spoken one word, ye need not suppose that I cannot speak another. Ye need not suppose that it contains all my words,” &c.

Book of Rev. Sect. 13. Par. 5.—“The elders, priests, &c. of this Church, shall teach the principles of my gospel, which are in the Bible, and the book of Mormon, in the which is the fulness of the gospel. All this shall ye do as I have commanded concerning your teaching, until the fulness of my scriptures are given. And ye shall speak and prophecy as seemeth me good, &c.”

We almost fear to quote Sect. 91. Par. 3.—“We..being in the Spirit on the 16th of February, 1832, by the power of the Spirit, our eyes were enlightened so as to see and under- [16] stand the things of God, even those things which were from the beginning before the world was, ordained of the Father, through His only-begotten Son, of whom we bear record; and the record which we bear is the fulness of the gospel of Jesus Christ who is the Son, whom we saw and with whom we conversed in the heavenly vision,” &c.

“The gospel and preaching of Jesus Christ” is said to be, Rom. xvi. 25, “according to the revelation of the mystery, which was kept secret since the world began, but now is made manifest; and by the scriptures of the prophets according to the commandment of the everlasting God, made known to all nations for the obedience of faith.” “The dispensation” to the Apostle Paul was, to be made “a minister to fulfil (or, fully to preach) the word of God, even the mystery which had been hid from ages and generations, but now is made manifest to His saints, to whom God would make known what is the riches of the glory of this mystery among the Gentiles; which is,—Christ in us the hope of glory.” (Col. i. 25–27.) The same Apostle could say in respect to this his ministry, “that he had kept back nothing that was profitable unto his hearers;” that “he had not shunned to declare unto them all the counsel of God.” (Acts xx. 20–27.) When on earth, Jesus assured His disciples–“all things that I have heard of my Father, I have made known unto you;” (John xv. 15.) and after He should leave them, the Spirit was “to guide them into all truth; ” (xvi. 13.) both bringing “all things to remembrance, whatsoever Jesus had said,” (xiv. 26.) and “shewing them things to come.” (xvi. 26.) Accordingly the Apostle John writing to “babes in Christ,” (παιδια) says—“Ye have an unction from the Holy One, and ye know all things; I have not written unto you because ye know not THE TRUTH, but because ye know it, and that no lie is of the truth.”….“Let that therefore abide in you which ye have heard from the beginning…..These things have I written unto you concerning them that seduce you.” (1 John ii. 21—26.) Through the word therefore and the anointing of the Spirit, the simplest believer (παιδιоν) is in possession of that which is here claimed with so much ostentation. The claims here put forth, are at direct issue with the word of God and his ex[17]perience. See especially, 1 Cor. ii. 9, ult.—He that “hath the mind of Christ is judged of no man,” and can submit to hear of any pretensions without being troubled or shaken in mind by them: “for who hath known the mind of the Lord, that he may instruct him? ” viz.—the spiritual man, (seeing he has the mind of the Lord.)

3.—The recognition of twelve new apostles.

Sect. 43. title.—“Revelation to Joseph Smith, jun., Oliver Cowdery, and David Whitmer, making known the calling of twelve Apostles in these last days, and also, instructions relative to building up the Church of Christ, according to the fulness of the gospel.” Given in Fayette, New York, June, 1830.

Sect. 4. Par. 9, 10.—“Verily, verily, I say unto you, who have now my words, which is my voice, blessed are ye, inasmuch as you receive these things.”

10.—“And AS I said unto my Apostles, even so say I unto you; for you are mine Apostles, even God’s high-priests.”

Sect. 2. Par. 8.—“An Apostle is an elder, and it is his calling to confirm those who are baptized into the Church, by the laying on of hands for the baptism of fire and the Holy Ghost, according to the scriptures; and to teach, expound, exhort, baptize, and watch over the Church, and to confirm the Church by the laying on of hands, and the giving of the Holy Ghost.”

4.—The two-fold Priesthood,—their orders, power and office.

Sect. 3. Par. 1, 9, 10, 8.—“There are in the Church, two priesthoods, namely—the Melchizedek, and the Aaronic, including the Levitical priesthood.”

“Every priest is ordained to offer gifts and sacrifices.” (Heb. viii. 3.) Now what sacrifices remain, save such as every believer can pay, (Rom. xii. 1., Heb. xiii. 15, 18.) under a dispensation of the fulness of the gospel, which proclaims peace to every believing sinner through the shedding of blood of the one great sacrifice, and access to the very holiest by the same blood? Bearing His own blood in within the sanctuary, (the heavens,) he obtained for us eternal redemption; and Himself, because He continueth ever, hath an unchangeable priesthood, and that not after the law of a carnal commandment, but after the power of an endless life. The notion of a separate order of priesthood now, when all are in one sense consecrated by His blood to do priestly service unto God, [18] or, when in another sense, none are priests but Christ,—the alone Mediator between God and man, can only proceed from fundamental ignorance of the gospel.

9.—“The power and authority of the higher or Melchizedek priesthood is to hold the keys of all the spiritual blessings of the Church,—to have the heavens opened unto them,—to commune with the general assembly and Church of the first-born, and to enjoy the communion and presence of God the Father, and Jesus the Mediator of the New Covenant.”

The keys have been once (in the sense of απαξ, Jude iii.) committed to the Apostles, (Matt. xvi. 19, and to the Church, xviii. 18.) and the Church has already entered upon the distinctive privileges here enumerated, which in their scripture meaning, constitute the blessed portion of every believer, in virtue of his calling; for, to the disciples, (Matt. xiii. 11.) it was given to know the mysteries of the kingdom of heaven; to the church the apostles were stewards, to minister the mysteries of God.” (1 Cor. iv. 1.) Accordingly, the Apostle Paul could say, (1 Cor. ii. 6—10.) “God hath revealed them unto us by the Spirit.” (See also Eph. i. 9, 18., iii. 1—9.) Again, to see the heavens opened, not unto them but to the earth, is, as to manifestation yet future; (John i. 51.) but they are even now passed into heaven, in virtue of quickening and union with Jesus their risen head; (Eph. i. 3. comp. i. 20—23, with ii. i. 4—7.) “going in and out,” even unto the Father, by virtue of their access through the blood. (John x. 9., Eph. ii. 18., Heb. x. 19.) Then as to communion, the present standing of every believer is no less than that here claimed for a distinct order, “Ye are come unto Mount Zion, &c..and to the general assembly and Church of the first-born,” &c. (Heb. xii.)

The necessary consequence of setting up priesthood in the Church, (whether Episcopalian, Irvingite, or Mormonite,) is to keep the believer at a distance from God, and to rob him of his privilege of access to God without any other meeting-place, or Mediator, than the Son of His love, where we have unhindered fellowship and in whom we find mutual delight.

10.—“The power and authority of the lesser or Aaronic priesthood is, to hold the keys of the ministering of angels, and to administer in outward ordi-[19]nances—the letter of the gospel—the baptism of repentance for the remission of sins, agreeably to the covenant and commandments.”

8.—“No man has a legal right to this office, to hold the keys of this priesthood, except he be a literal descendant of Aaron.”

This pretension to lineal descent and derived authority, we leave the followers of Mormon to settle with those who have asserted like claims in the professing Churches of Christendom. There is a plainness of avowal in these pretensions which enables one to deal with them more summarily. For these claims to Levitical or Aaronical priesthood amount to no less than to displace Christ from His priestly office. The 7, 8, and 9th chap. of Heb. prove most plainly that the covenant, priesthood, ministry, sanctuary, offerings, &c. pertaining to the Aaronic order, are “disannulled for the weakness and unprofitableness thereof.” If they are not, “if perfectness,” and this is the boast of the new covenant, were by the Levitical priesthood, what further need, argues the Apostle, was there that another priest should rise after the order of Melchizedek, and not be alled after the order of Aaron? For the priesthood being changed, &c. &c. (Heb. vii. 11, 12.)

Sect. 6. Par. 3.—“Therefore thus saith the Lord unto you, with whom the priesthood hath continued through the lineage of your fathers, for ye are lawful heirs according to the flesh, and have been hid from the world with Christ in God; therefore your life and the priesthood hath remained, and must needs remain, through you and your lineage, until the restoration of all things spoken by the mouth of all the prophets, since the world began.”

The language describing the blessed position of the Church, as one in risen life and union with Christ, and the security of it, as hid with Him in God; and at the same time the unmanifested character of our sonship, (“The world knoweth us not, because it knew Him not, “1 John iii. 1.) is here applied to this imaginary order. The attention of the reader is requested to the manner in which the very principle of a separate order, destroys the portion of the Church; in that, neither office nor privilege can be assigned to it, but at the expense of what is appropriately the Church’s, either in itself or in the fulness of its head. [20]

17.—“If thou shalt ask, thou shalt receive revelation upon revelation—knowledge upon knowledge, that thou mayest know the mysteries, and peaceable things; that which bringeth joy—that which bringeth life eternal.”

“These things (said our Lord, John xvii. 13, 14.) I speak in the world, that they (whom, ver. 6, thou hast given me out of the world,) might have my joy fulfilled in themselves. I have given them thy word.” “These things write we unto you (says John 1. i. 21.) that your joy might be full.” Our joy is connected with entering into the fulness, and the power of the written word by the Spirit. To assert this of any new and pretended revelation is to nullify “the word.”

Sect. 47. Par. 1.—“Behold I say unto you, that all old covenants have I caused to be done away in this thing, and this is a new and everlasting covenant; even that which was from the beginning.” See also Sect. 4. Par. 8.

Jesus was the Mediator of the New Covenant. He sealed it with His blood; (Heb. xii. 24.) it was ratified and brought into power by the death of the testator. (Heb. ix. 16, 17.) It is expressly called “the everlasting covenant;” (chapter xiii. 26.) every thing about it was of this character. The priesthood of Him that ministered it was “for ever,” and “after the power of an endless life;” (Heb. vii. 16, 17.) the Spirit through whom He offered Himself, is eternal; (chap. ix. 14.) the “redemption” it secured was everlasting; ” (ver. 12.) the perfectness of the worshipper, as to the conscience, was continual: (εις τό διηνεκές scil. µέρο_ χρονου, translated, for ever, chap. x. 1, 2, 14.) the cleansing, “once for all;” (ver. 10.) the inheritance provided “everlasting:” (chap. ix. 15.) What is this “new and everlasting covenant” then, purporting to be now brought in by the setting up of “this thing”—this new Church? We know indeed that the covenant we have been speaking of, runs in favour of the house of Israel; (Heb. viii., Ezek. xxxiv.) and that according to the terms of it, all Israel shall in the dispensation which is to come, be brought into blessing, and earthly glory be secured to them. But as to what concerns the Church, we know we have already got into our position of blessing under its terms. All we wait for is “the adoption, to wit, the re-[21]demption of the body; (Rom. viii.)—translation out of conflict and suffering, into—not the western borders of the Missouri, but heavenly “mansions” in the new Jerusalem, which is above. (Rev. xxi., Gal. iv. 26.)

Sect. 14. Par. 1.—“For the last time call upon the inhabitants of the earth, for in mine own due time will I come upon the earth in judgment; and my people shall be redeemed, and shall reign with me on earth, for the great millennial, which I have spoken by the mouth of my servants, shall come.”

Sect. 27. Par. 1.—“Hearken, O ye elders of my Church, saith the Lord your God, who have assembled yourselves together, according to my commandments, in this land which is the land of Missouri, which is the land I have appointed and consecrated for the gathering of the saints; wherefore this is the land of promise, and the place for the city of Zion.”

Sect. 97. Par. 4, 9.—“Therefore, let your hearts be comforted concerning Zion; for all flesh is in mine hands: be still and know I am God. And behold, there is none other place appointed than that which I have appointed; neither shall there be any other place appointed than that which I have appointed for the work of the gathering of my saints, until the day cometh when there is no room for them; and then I have other places which I will appoint them, and they shall be called stakes, for the curtains, or the strength of Zion.”

Sect. 15. Par. 12, 13.—“With one heart and with one mind, gather up your riches that ye may purchase an inheritance which shall hereafter be appointed you, and it shall be called the New Jerusalem, a land of peace, a city of refuge, a place of safety for the saints of the Most High God; and the glory of the Lord shall be there, and the terror of the Lord also shall be there, insomuch that the wicked will not come unto it, and it shall be called Zion.”

13.—“And there shall be gathered unto it of every nation under heaven.”

14—-“And they shall come to Zion, singing with songs of everlasting joy.”

Sect. 18. Title.—“Revelation given in Zion, August, 1831. Par. 1.—Hearken, O ye elders of my Church, and give ear to my word; and learn of me what I will concerning you, and also concerning this land unto which I have sent you.”

Par. 2.—“Ye cannot behold with your natural eyes, for the present time, the design of your God concerning those things which shall come hereafter, and the glory which shall follow after much tribulation. Wherefore the day cometh that ye shall be crowned with much glory, the hour is not yet, but is nigh at hand.”

Inconsistent with themselves, and with the scripture as they are, [22] it is not very easy to state what their expectations precisely are. The extract, however, which we are about to give, shows that they distinguish between the Jerusalem that is appropriately Jewish, which is to have its locality in Judea; and the New Jerusalem that cometh down out of heaven, the abode of the saints, and that is to be established in the land of promise. (America.) This is to be consequent on the judgment of the world, and the introduction of the new heavens and earth. Yet it would seem that previously, there will be a city built “like unto the Jerusalem of old.” Coupling together what we find in the preceding extracts, and elsewhere in the volumes before us, it would appear that the present stage of things according to them, is this:—The place of the New Jerusalem has been revealed, a Church has been established; the Lord is now gathering together His elect (like the wheat from among the tares) into it. And their preachers are to go forth into all the world announcing that judgment is coming and warning men to flee out of Babylon, and gather themselves unto the Church now set up in plenary power, in the land where the New Jerusalem is to be established—where it is established preparatory to the coming of the day of the Lord; but where it shall be established in celestial glory, when the judgments are over, and the new heavens and new earth are brought about. Only those who obey the call, will enter into the celestial glory; for others, are reserved the earthly, which they divide into two states.

It is a revelation supposed to be made (long before the first coming of Christ) to one Ether, a descendent of Jared, which Jared came forth from the dispersion of Babel.

Book of Mormon, p. 597.—“After the waters had receded from off the face of this land, it became a choice land above all other lands, a chosen land of the Lord; wherefore the Lord would have that all men should serve Him, who dwell upon the face thereof; and that it was the place of the New Jerusalem, which should come down out of heaven, and the holy sanctuary of the Lord. Behold, Ether saw the days of Christ, and he spake concerning a New Jerusalem upon this land; and he spake also concerning the house of Israel, and the Jerusalem from whence Lehi should come; after it should be destroyed, it should be built up again a holy city unto the Lord; wherefore it could not be [23] a New Jerusalem, for it had been in a time of old, but it should be built up again, and become a holy city of the Lord; and it should be built up unto the house of Israel, and that a New Jerusalem should be built up upon this land unto the remnant of the seed of Joseph.”

All Gentiles who believe are reckoned of the seed of Joseph. see p. 35.

“Wherefore the remnant of the house of Joseph shall be built upon this land; and it shall be a land of their inheritance, and they shall build up an holy city unto the Lord, like unto the Jerusalem of old; and they shall no more be confounded until the end come, when the earth shall pass away. And there shall be a new heaven and a new earth; and they shall be like unto the old, save the old have passed away, and all things have become new. And then cometh the New Jerusalem; and blessed are they who dwell therein, for it is they whose garments are white through the blood of the Lamb; and they are they who are numbered among the remnant of the seed of Joseph, (i.e. believing Gentiles) who were of the house of Israel. And then also cometh the Jerusalem of old; and the inhabitants thereof, blessed are they for they have been washed in the blood of the Lamb, and they who were scattered and gathered in from the four quarters of the earth, and from the north countries, and are partakers of the fulfilling of the covenant which God made with their father Abraham.”

But we turn to a more serious subject of charge. It has been discovered on a further examination of these documents, that not content with virtually setting aside the scriptures by pretended new revelations, at utter variance with the truth; they have even ventured to deny the genuineness and correctness of the scriptures themselves, as received by us; affirming that the Gentile Churches have obtained them corrupted and altered from the state in which they originally were. This had escaped observation at first, though the manifest contrariety of the statements found in the extracts to scripture might have led to the suspicion.

There is more than ordinary effrontery in such an assertion in these days, and considering the fearfully solemn warning in Rev. xxii. it makes so grave a charge, that at the risk of lengthening these extracts too much, it is thought desirable to substantiate it. After rehearsing the events which attended the first advent of Christ, and the establishment and subsequent dispersion of the Church, allusion is made to the scriptures under the name of “the book that proceeded out of the mouth of a Jew,” the record of [24] the Jews, and the sequel is as follows:— (page 33.)

“And the angel of the Lord said unto me, it contained the plainness of the gospel of the Lord, of whom the twelve Apostles bear record according to the truth which is in the Lamb of God; wherefore these things go forth from the Jews in purity, unto the Gentiles; and after they go forth by the hand of the twelve Apostles of the Lamb, thou seest the foundation of an abominable Church, more abominable than other Churches; for behold they have taken away from the gospel of the Lamb many parts which are plain and most precious, and after these were taken away it goeth forth unto all nations of the Gentiles, yea, even across the many waters (to America,) and because of this, an exceeding great many do stumble, &c.; nevertheless the Lord God will not suffer the Gentiles for ever to remain in that awful state of blindness….and I will bring forth unto them in mine own power, much of my gospel which shall be plain and precious; for behold I will manifest myself unto thy seed that they shall write many things that I shall minister unto them, to be hid up to come forth unto the Gentiles, by the gift, &c.; and in them shall be written my gospel.”

And by this, the reader is to understand the book of Mormon before us.

This novel and daring device, suggests a few reflections. There are two ways in which the devil may seek to subvert the foundations of the Church, which is the pillar and ground of truth.— By setting up specious claims to rival inspiration merely; or, concurrently with these, by boldly calling in question the genuineness and integrity of the word of God. The latter, as it is more daring, and must be made in the face of the best established testimony and proof to the contrary, can only be suited to times of very gross and general depravation and ignorance, or seasons of special infatuation, when the minds of men have been long already accustomed to disregard the scriptures, or to read it by the light of tradition. But of course the progress of delusion then becomes rapid and probably irremediable; which is not in the case where the written word is only indirectly set aside as by the other method. For though much fatal error may be brought in, and the scripture by perversion made to give countenance to it, yet there it still stands in its integrity, an irrefragable standard of truth, ever operating to detect the falsehood of every rival and counterfeit pretension, and stripping even one that comes as an angel of light [25] of his bright disguise. The light it sheds upon the truth, the present and the future, is too full and comprehensive, too precise and well-defined, to leave room for any thing that human or satanic wit can devise; and therefore with whatever show of truth and importance things may be given out, we have only to weigh them in the balance of the scripture, and according to our spiritual discernment, we shall surely find how in one point or another, they militate against the truth once delivered to the saints.∗

In the present instance, without setting aside the authority of the scripture, there would have been found no means of introducing with any prospect of success, such a tissue of fables as we have before us; and the bolder course is resorted to, as we have seen. To estimate the degree in which a work, gross and exhorbitant as this is in its character and pretensions, is fitted to gain credit in that quarter of the world, the state and circumstances of America must be adverted to.

The stirring activity which the minds of men are evincing, and which is tending to the increasing development of all their powers and resources, and to the more complete subjection of the creature to their wills, is observable in many ways. It is not intended here to go into any lengthened remarks on the subject, except to observe that it tends to make men exceedingly impatient of restraints which fetter their energies, and particularly to make them covet political amelioration. Forgetful that sin, the root of all the evil they see in the world, is common to the whole family [26] of fallen Adam; they ascribe it to the misgovernment of the few, who in the providence of God are vested with power and greatness, and every successful effort they make to throw off the yoke and to let loose the many, is hailed with triumph.

In this point of view, the land of America is peculiarly to many, what the book of Mormon calls it—“the land of promise.” The tree of liberty has been planted,—“Behold,” says this book of Mormon, “it shall be a land of liberty to the Gentiles, and there shall be no kings upon the land.” “And they were exceedingly rejoiced because of the liberty that had been granted.” (p. 234.) Science, commerce, politics, learning, morals, religion, as there pursued, are to shew what man can do. Perhaps it is a fair field for observing what he really can; but alas! by that very circumstance it becomes a fairer field for proving what Satan can effect through instruments better prepared for his work. This may startle some, but let them take only the scriptural statement respecting the course of the world, that it is ordered by him, and that he rules in the hearts of men; (Ephes. ii.) and apply it to such a state of things. Does it not become obvious that the perfecter the instrument is made, the more effective it becomes for the purposes of him who wields it? However, the tree of liberty has been planted, and spreads its branches far ∗ This observation bears particularly on those who fetter the Church with ordinances or observances of man’s appointing. They plead for a right to do so, provided they be not contrary to scripture. The next plea is that of the civil ruler is to be obeyed where the word of God does not forbid; and in these two pleas, you have the main argument for national establishment and authoritative rituals. The first plea amounts to saying—Because Christ commands nothing, therefore man may command what he pleases.

Christ has called the Church to liberty, therefore man may bring her under bondage. Christ has destroyed the old ceremonial, therefore man may establish a new one. The latter plea is a gross violation of the principle of “rendering to Cæsar the things that be Cæsar’s, and unto God the things that be God’s.” It is taking the things of God and rendering them the subject of Cæsar’s management. The Church knows no Cæsar as such “in the house of God,” (Luke xxii. 25, 26.) which in the absence of Christ, is under the direct ordering and governance of the Holy Ghost. And the sin of the Church has been a departure from the recognition of this truth both in principle and practice. “The moment the Church set up office, distinct from the energy of the Spirit, she apostatized from God.” And in that apostasy the bulk of the professing Church remains. [26] and wide, and they are expecting it to fill the face of the earth. “It is a choice land,” says our record, “above all other lands….and it shall be fortified against all other lands.” It bids fair to hope. Accumulated advantages of position and circumstances, and the spirit of its institutions have given unexampled rapidity to its growth, rising into manhood before it was well nigh heard of as a nation, and taking its place now among the first in power and importance. The unbounded fertility of its unpeopled wastes suggests no limits to its increase, and with them the world is now young, and man in maturity, with all his increased and increasing powers and resources, there set to play his part. Pleasing visions of the future, will, in such a state of things, be ever filling the heart and imagination. They read their destiny in the light of their hopes, and the providential ordering of the world seems to give to them its sanction. Now in such a [27] state of things, the natural mind is any thing but in a disposition to be subject to the word of warning which tells of coming judgment on the world, and a sudden check to all the brightest hopes and schemes however far advanced in their career. No, other thoughts arise not so adverse to the vision that is indulged, and the way is made for that accommodating notion, that the scriptures are not read aright, that we are rather on the dawn of a millennium, and the amelioration of the world begun.

Such is the general belief amongst Christians in the United States.

In the present instance it is not precisely this. The world at large is indeed given up to judgment, at the coming of the Son of man, which is expected soon; and even “the land of promise” is admitted to stand a chance of not escaping, if they reject this work. But then there are other methods found for securing its pre-eminence and aggrandisement. And this is by investing it with interest of a peculiar nature, giving out even that the divine mind has a special interest in it, and will make it the blissful location of the New Jerusalem, or Zion; in which all nations of the earth, (but this land above all others,) will be blessed. Taking advantage of the pretty generally hazarded conjecture, that the tribes of native Indians, (estimated recently, to amount to four hundred thousand,) might prove to be descendants of the long lost house of Israel; the inventor of these “fables,” or the compiler of them, has founded upon this conjecture which he has raised to the level of a revealed certainty; the web of his design, and constructed, doubtless, at no small pains to himself, the tissue of a history and doctrine which forms the basis of this delusion. Accordingly the tribes are instructed in the book of Mormon, to look upon themselves as the descendants of Jewish families, that in their migrations from Jerusalem, passed over the great waters into the land, where the fate and history of their ancestors, and the special revelations of Christ and His gospel to them are unfolded; and where they are assured that the covenant promises made to their fathers, will be fulfilled to them, in making them a blessing upon the land. In a similar manner the Gentiles are told the purposes of God in respect to the land, and taught that now in these days, [28] a Church has been called, and the limits of Zion marked out, and the fulness of the gospel brought forth; and Apostles gifted with plenary power of the Spirit, such that even whatever they say “shall be scriptural,” (meaning, it may be supposed, having the force of scripture,) and all are invited to flock to the land, under penalty of not escaping the judgments. But as the testimony of prophetic truth was distinct and explicit in affirming all these expectations to be vain, and the pretensions to be false; as the doctrines of the gospel inculcated truths as remote from the Mormon gospel, as light is opposed to darkness; it is plain, no mere claim to rival inspiration would serve to support such novel and unscriptural pretensions. Therefore as we have seen, the genuineness of the scripture, as we have received it, must be disparaged, and if “the work” were believed, the former would henceforth with them, only serve to speak in its own garbled language, the sentiments and religion of Mormonism. And here we are called to perceive the subtlety, and trace the footsteps and the working of Satan.

Yet this has been no new device of his. It was this course which that false prophet who gave birth to the Mahomedan delusion, was instigated to adopt, when it became necessary for the support of his claims, to uphold a like record of blasphemy and folly—the Koran.

In the existing state of the fallen and corrupted christianity of the East, it did not suit his purpose totally to deny the divine mission of Christ, or the divine authority of the scriptures.

Both were allowed. There was traditional feeling and belief of their truth, which it might have proved fatal to his claims to oppose directly; for though indeed his opinions were for the most part established in blood, yet much was done through delusion to rivet them on his followers. But by affirming they were corrupted, (and a bold affirmation united with success, will with the world, often carry credence;) he destroyed, effectually, the authority of the scriptures, while they continued to supply him with a never failing store of grand and sublime truths, respecting God and His attributes and dealings, of which he availed himself to give a brilliancy [29] and a grandeur to some of the sentiments which “the fable”—the Koran contains; and that have, it is well known, done much to accredit it amongst its followers. Besides which, if his own subsequent and divine mission were believed, he could on the credit of that, use such parts of the scripture as suited his purpose, and give to them a superadded sanction for the maintenance, not of the truths which they uphold, but the error he was bringing in.

And this is precisely what the work before us is now seeking to do. The book of Mormon abounds with sublime passages from scripture, revealing the future glory of the earthly state, &c., besides many of the preceptive parts. But then they are garbled and distorted, mixed with all sorts of fictions, and so made to accredit the delusion. No more crafty way could be devised in an unhealthy, corrupt, and ignorant state of the Church; (and in the United States, the state of ignorance and spiritual destitution in some parts, is deplorable,) to hoodwink men, and lead them thus into all manner of delusion and error.

It may yet appear in the last days of the Church, when men shall be turned away from the truth, and be turned unto fables, and shall be given over to believe a lie—that these passages will find a more ample fulfillment than they yet have, by bringing in rival inspiration, and “adding to” the word. This is undoubtedly of a most pernicious effect in subverting souls. But it can hardly be conceived that the climax of evil, connected with the development of the man of sin, can take effect without a previous latitude being obtained; by also “taking from” the written word its claim to be received as genuine, and so completely invalidating all appeal to it.

Doubtless with a refinement of subtlety in the mode of its accomplishment, suited to the circumstances and temper of the times. Let the professing Church therefore beware!

To return however to the productions before us.— Since the scriptures are thus presumptuously set aside, and God’s revealed wisdom and truth set at naught; it may be worth while to take a brief view of that which is here afforded as a substitute, in the doctrines set forth and constituting in their language, “the fulness of the gospel of Jesus Christ.” [30]

And for this purpose, we turn to the lectures which profess to give an account of the “doctrine of salvation.” One would think from the great stress laid in them, upon that cardinal point of salvation—faith; that their design was to do honour to God’s revealed way of saving a sinner, by making known to faith the righteousness of One in whom he could stand accepted before Him. But no such thing.—Faith as here spoken of, is some mysterious mental energy, operating like a talisman or mystic charm common alike to the Creator and the creature, “the principle of all action and power, in all intelligent beings, whether in heaven or earth!” as for instance:—

Sect. 1. Par. 16.—“Faith is the principle by which Jehovah works. Take this principle or attribute of the Deity, and he would cease to exist.” “God spake, chaos heard, and worlds came into order by the reason of the faith that was in HIM. So with man also. Joshua spake by faith in the name of God, and the sun stood still, &c.” Sect. 1. Par. 22.—“Faith, then, is the first great governing principle which has power, dominion, and authority over all things; by it they exist, by it they are upheld agreeably to the will of God.” Sect. 1. Par. 24.—And as before, “it is the principle of action in all intelligent beings.” (Sect. 1. Par. 9.)

To what a state of infatuation—“deceiving and being deceived,” must men have come, when they can being themselves to affirm that the principle or moving cause of any action which man or angels perform, is an attribute of God! For plainly this is the conclusion which these statements convey. But we have no time or space for following out all the conclusions of absurdity to which they lead. And we must hasten to present one or two more extracts in conclusion, as further illustrative of the nature of its faith, and its bearing on salvation.

And 1 st.—The definition of the nature of faith.

Sect. 7, 3, 7, 8.—“We understand that when a man works by faith, he works by mental exertion instead of physical force; it is by words, God spake, let there be light and there was light. Joshua spake, &c. Faith then works by words, and with these its mightiest works have been and will be performed.”

2.—The way of its acquirement.

Sect. 6. Par. 7.—“Let us here observe, that a religion that does not re-[31]quire the sacrifice of all things, never has power sufficient to produce the faith necessary to life and salvation; for from the first existence of man, it never could be obtained, without the sacrifice of all earthly things. It is through the medium of the sacrifice of all things, that men do actually know they are doing the things that are well pleasing in the sight of God; again, through that offering they obtain the knowledge of being accepted of him. And without the knowledge of the course they pursue, being according to the will of God, men cannot exercise faith unto life and salvation.”

3.—Its bearing on salvation.

Sect. 7, 9.—“As all the visible creation is the effect of faith, so is salvation also, whether temporal or spiritual. Without faith it is impossible to please God. Why? Because it is impossible to be saved without faith. As God desires the salvation of man, He must, of course, desire they should have faith.

When men begin to live by faith, they draw near to God; and when faith is perfected, they are like Him; and because he is saved, they are saved also.”

As then, acceptance with God, and knowledge of doing what is well pleasing to Him, is held, as we have seen, to be a prerequisite to faith; there must be a state wherein we are consciously all this, and not yet saved! It is plain we have to conceive of salvation according to some new sense.

4.—What salvation is.

Sect. 7. Par. 9.—“If we can find a saved being, we shall understand what all others must be to be saved. Now Christ is the prototype or standard of salvation, in other words_a saved being. How is he saved? Because he is a just and holy being; and if he were any thing else, he could not be saved.” And again—Par. 16.—“These teachings of the Saviour most clearly show unto us the nature of salvation; and what he proposed to the human family when he proposed to save them….for any portion to be assimilated to his likeness, as he was to his Father, is to be saved; and on this hinge turns the door of salvation……who cannot see then that this salvation is the effect of faith?” &c. &c.

Now whether we look to the immediate or remote cause according to these views, we are brought to the old heretical doctrine, that salvation is by works. Is salvation referred to faith? We have previously been informed that faith cannot be obtained without the sacrifice of all things. Is the immediate cause referred to? Then salvation is represented, not as coming through faith in the [32] righteousness of another, but through conformity to God in holiness, in other words— “by works of righteousness which he has done.” And the same heresy forms the staple of all the doctrinal statements of the book. The writer or writers must have been familiar with the scripture terms in which the doctrines of grace are conveyed; but it is plain the meaning, and application, and of course, the power of them they were ignorant of. From the manner in which they occur in passages, where evidently works are held forth as the ground of acceptance and coming to God, the doctrinal statements constantly run into palpable self-contradiction, and wear somewhat the appearance of inculcating what the Church of Rome does, and it is to be feared many pulpits of the Church of England—“grace and congruity.” Take as an instance the following confused statement, book of Mormon, page 619,—“Come unto Christ, and be perfected in Him, and deny yourselves of all ungodliness; and if you do this and love God with all your hearts, &c., then is His grace sufficient for you.” And again—“If ye are this, (perfect in Christ) and deny not His power, (in gifts of the Holy Ghost,) then are ye sanctified in Christ by the grace of God through the shedding of the blood of Christ, which is in the covenant of your Father, (Jews are addressed specially) unto the remission of sins. that ye may become holy and without spot.” Yet in another place it is said, page 614, “the fulfilling the commandments bringeth remission of sins. And again, page 160, “Offer your whole souls as an offering unto Him, (compare Is. liii. 10.) and continue in fasting and prayer, and endure unto the end, and ye shall be saved.”

The doctrine of salvation by a holiness wrought in us, as opposed to the way of acceptance through the righteousness of another, has been a favourite one with Satan in his recent endeavours to get the Church from off the foundation of truths, which are her peace, her strength, and her security. The form in which it here appears, is more gross and with less disguise than usual, and involves besides the unscriptural use of language, the fallacy of confounding the means with the end. The great end of God in redemption, as regards the sinner, is to conform him to Himself. In [33] purpose it is the first thing, but in full accomplishment of fact, the last.

The Church is “predestinated to be conformed to the image of His Son.” (Rom. vii. 29.) But it is not till the redemption (v. 23.) of our vile body of sin and death, (Phil. iii. ult. Rom. vi. 6, vii. 24.) that this will be fully accomplished. “When He shall appear, we shall be like Him.” (1 John iii. 2.)

It is in the hope of this “we purify ourselves, even as He is pure.” (v. 3.) The most as to this that can be said of the Church now is, that it is “growing up into Him in all things.” (Ephes. iv. 15.) The most that can be said of any ministry in the Church is, that it is furthering this growth. (Col. i. 28.) This is mediately the office of the Spirit by the word (Ephes. v. 26.) according to Christ, who is actually thus “presenting the Church unto Himself without spot, or wrinkle, or any such thing,” (v. 27.) having first “loved it, and given Himself for it.” (v. 25.) But the thing which these persons who are perverting the faith in America seem utterly ignorant of is, that renewal and sanctification, whether in whole or part, is a matter that concerns—not sinners as such, but sinners previously awakened to a conviction of sin, and who have believed in Christ, and are therefore pardoned; to sinners already brought into a justified state, an accepted condition, into union with Christ, and a relation of sonship to God.

To a sinner in his state by nature, it is mockery to hold up Christ in his holiness, as the prototype of a saved being. The Spirit of God never does this. The Spirit ever leads the sinner to the discovery of the evil of sin, and his own personal vileness, both as more or less a transgressor, and as having sin existing as a principle in his nature. Then he begins to understand the real distance at which he is from God. In such a state it would be worse than useless to point to Christ’s holiness; that can only produce further disquietude and wretchedness, for he sees only that with which his own vileness can have nothing in common.

No, he has realised his distance and alienation from God, and in the fact of that distance discovers that he is lost; and a soul that feels this, wants nothing less than a Saviour.[34]

If all had ended in the perfect exhibition in Jesus of moral excellence and holiness, that would not have met the awakened sinner’s need. As a much esteemed brother in his ministrations amongst us has well said—“The want of such an one is only met in the cross; having been taught through the Spirit a sense of what is due to sin, to see the curse laid upon Jesus meets his need,” and certifies his conscience of peace with God, and sin forgiven, because borne in all its weight of curse by another, and that one, God’s Son.

And thus Jesus according to the record that God has given of Him in the gospel, becomes the blessed object of faith apprehended by the soul unto salvation.

But faith while it saves the soul, also brings us into union with Christ, and in that union are comprised all the blessings that subsequently flow to the believer.

In fact, to be in or out of Christ, is the immense difference to a sinner in point of condition and standing before God. There is not upon the earth (I speak not of devils) a creature at a greater distance from God than man as he is by nature. There is not in heaven or earth a creature in greater nearness to Him, than the same sinner when united to Christ.

“God has blessed us with all spiritual blessings in Christ Jesus.” (Eph. i. 3.) “All the promises of God in Him, are yea, and in Him, Amen, to the glory of God by us.” (2 Cor. i. 20.)

“He has chosen us in Him before the foundation of the world.” (Eph. iv.)

“Therefore let no man glory in men, for all things are yours, whether Paul, or Apollos, or Cephas, or the world, or life, or death, or things present, or things to come; all are yours—and ye are Christ’s, and Christ is God’s.” (1 Cor. iii. 21.)

How very blessed to be able to measure our acceptance and approval in God’s sight by that of Christ Himself. This comprehends all that thought can conceive, or heart desire; not only complete forgiveness and justification, but all the favour and delight of love with which the Father views His beloved Son. Blessed, wondrous love! who can say what its bounds are or shall [35] be? how does the thought of it rebuke our cold and feeble tribute of praise, and the scantiness of the service that should be rendered in grateful love?

I will only add, that the completeness and perfectness of the standing of the believer in Christ, furnishes the high standard of the believer’s holiness; all that he is judicially in Christ, (“holy harmless, unreprovable in His sight,”) that and no less is it God’s purpose the saved sinners should be morally, through the power of the Spirit, working in the new nature that he has in Christ. Thus he “mortifies His members,” &c. Thus sin dies within him daily. To this extent, he would be practically holy,—Christ has died and risen; the believer also in him—first, judicially, (Rom. vi. 4.) and then as a daily thing, “in newness of life.” What comfort and blessing in the thought to a believer! He cannot find a higher standard of holiness and righteousness than that which he already possesses in the sight of God, as accepted in Jesus. But this is not all— for the cross of Christ, thus seen to cleanse the conscience from the guilt and condemnation of sin, also acquires in this way a moral power to purify the heart from the power and dominion of it. And the gospel is proved to be not only the most effectual, but the only effectual means for exalting the holiness of God, both enforcing and securing its claims.

But we must conclude. The preceding extracts may suffice to show what Mormonism is.

Looking to the absence throughout the productions before us, of any of the grand fundamental truths of the gospel, and the folly and reckless impiety of the pretensions made by persons, who would be thought exclusively “the Church of the latter-day saints,” there is no reason for believing that the principals at least have attained to any saving knowledge of God or of His truth. Nor would there be reason to fear that any real believers would be snared and taken in such a delusion, were it not for the peculiar character of the times, which give warning of the prevalence of such a fearful power of seduction.

One thing we cannot help noticing, though it must be very briefly, and that is the very great similarity between the claims set up by this body, in that sister country, and those which we are [36] in some measure familiarized with here. I allude to that of Irvingism. They agree in the time, at which in either country they sprang into existence. The same elements of error were working from 1827 and 1828, and in either case assumed a settled form in the years 1830,—31.

Both lay claim to being exclusively the Church of the latter day. Both preach there is no safety out of it. Alike they claim the possession of a new Apostolate—and to have the living voice of the Spirit amongst them in new revelations, which are elevated to the authority of the scriptures.

Both are distinguished by the undue efficacy and unscriptural character they attach to ordinances; ∗ and alike offend against the scriptural liberty of the Church at large, to do priestly service unto God.

It is singularly characteristic also of both, that while they denounce the apostasy of all the professing Churches of Christendom in no measured terms, they both connive at the evil they see, by sanctioning and even exhorting persons awakened to the evil, to stay in them till, as they say, the Spirit calls them out—that is to say, till a more convenient season; showing that to come out from, and be separate from evil, is not so much their desire, as to come out and be separate unto themselves.‡ [37]

It is easy for the natural man to see many and gross corruptions in the religious systems of the day, such as even he cannot tolerate or wink at. What shame ought there to be to the godly who are in them, in the reflection that while the world is awakened to them and does not tolerate them, his conscience is either yet insensible to their grossness, or his heart even carried to defend them. But the world, though it sees the evil, can only substitute its own evil specific in its stead.

∗ In proof of which, we quote the following from the book of revelations Sect. 14, Par. 3.—“This greater priesthood (Aaronic) administereth the gospel, and holdeth the key of the mysteries of the kingdom, even of the knowledge of God.

Therefore in the ordinances thereof, the power of godliness is manifest; and without the ordinances thereof, and the authority of the priesthood, the power of godliness is not manifest in the flesh, for without this, no man can see the face of the Father, and live.”

† Sect. 13, Par. 4.—“It shall not be given to any one to go forth to preach any gospel, or to build up any Church, except he be ordained by some one that has an authority, and it is known to the Church that he has authority, and has been regularly ordained by the heads of the Church.”

‡ Compare the following extracts, book of Mormon, p. 115. “The Gentiles are lifted up in the pride of their eyes, and have stumbled, because of the greatness of their stumbling-block—that they have built up many Churches; nevertheless, they put down the power and miracles of God, and preach up unto themselves their own wisdom, and their own learning, that they may get gain, &c…….and there are many Churches built up which cause envyings, and strifes, and malice.” Again p. 120.—“Their priests teach with their learning, and deny the Holy Ghost which giveth utterance.” ….p. 131.—“because of pride, because of false teachers and false doctrine, their Churches are become corrupted..yea, because of pride and wickedness, and abominations, and whoredoms; they have all gone astray, save it be a few, [37] who are humble followers of Christ; nevertheless, they are led— that in many instances they do err, because they are taught by the precepts of men.”

Yet with all this, we have the following at p. 116. “Behold! hath he commanded any that they should depart out of the synagogues, or out of the houses of worship? Behold! I say unto you, nay.” [38]

And even the children of God may so learn to separate from present evil, as not to avoid falling into kindred or opposite error. Haste seems to be peculiarly the “work of the flesh,” unto which such are liable to be betrayed. To see evil and “to cease from it,” is not all.—There is a further necessity of learning “to do well.” The grace of God teaches us this in the most happy way, if we are humble and possess a constant spirit of waiting on the Lord; but many are taught it with more sorrow, though with the ultimate blessings, by slow and perhaps bitter experience, after failure.

Whichever way it may have been ours to prove—blessed are we indeed, if in the end at least we find we have learned, as a first lesson, never to parley with what offends the conscience but “to cease” from it directly; and then in our progress out of it, feeling humbled at every recollection of the past, instead of elated at the present, we are daily learning lessons of wisdom and grace; that, like Him whose ear was wakened “morning by morning to hear as the (taught or) instructed One;” our path may resemble that of the just, which shineth more and more unto the perfect day. [38]

❮ Back