A Reply to Mr. Thomas Taylor's "Complete Failure

1840

Pratt, Parley P. (Parley Parker), 1807-1857 Pratt, Parley P. (Parley Parker), 1807-1857

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Pratt, Parley, P . A Reply to Mr. Thomas Taylor’s “Complete Failure,” &c., and Mr. Richard Livesey’s “Mormonism Exposed,” 1–9. Manchester: W. R. Thomas, 1840.

A REPLY TO MR. THOMAS TAYLOR’S

“COMPLETE FAILURE,” &C.,

AND MR. RICHARDS LIVESEY’S

“MORMONISM EXPOSED.”

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An evil and adulterous generation seeketh after a sign. ”—MATT. XII 29.

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BY PARLEY P. PRATT.

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MANCHESTER:

PRINTED BY W. R. THOMAS, 61 SPRING GARDENS.

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1840.

Price Three Half-Pence.

It seems a Mr. Taylor and some others have been greatly alarmed of late, on second account of certain men who have come from America to preach the doctrine of Christ and his apostles, and to “contend for the faith once delivered to the saints!” For instance, the gifts of the Holy Spirit, such as revelations, visions, the ministering of angels, the gift of tongues, interpretations, miracles, healings, &c. I know of no reason why this should alarm them, unless it is because this ancient doctrine of the New Testament comes in contact with Methodism, and all other systems which “have a form of godliness and deny the power.”

Hence, Mr. Taylor very justly remarks in the 4th page of his pamphlet as follows,—“Any attempt to discuss the question with these people would be utterly fruitless.” We are glad Mr. T. is sensible of this, that having once discovered the principles which Christ and his apostles taught, the Saints are not disposed to turn from them to the doctrines of Methodism.

Thus, feeling a conviction in his own mind that our doctrine could not be refuted by scripture and argument, Mr. T. and his associates have recourse to the old way which Satan made use of to tempt our Saviour, in order to prove whether he was the Son of God. “If thou be the Son of God cast thyself down from hence; for it is written, he shall give his angels charge concerning thee, and in their hands they shall bear thee up, lest at any time thou dash thy foot against a stone.” These were the words of the tempter to our Lord; and so it is in these days, persons come in a similar manner to a member of the church, saying, if thou be a servant of God speak in Hebrew, for it is written “they shall speak with new tongues.” But the man to whom they came, instead of resisting the temptation as Jesus did, yields to it, and actually attempts to do the thing which the tempters suggest, instead of rebuking their iniquity. Thus, overpowered by temptation, and actuated by its spirit instead of the Spirit of God, he utters sounds (to use their own comparison) more disgusting than swine. It seems too, that a Mr. Whyatt, one of their own company, was seized by the same spirit, and spake or muttered in a similar manner, to the no little amusement of this dignified assembly.

Thus, these evil and adulterous men, (for such they are as sure as Jesus testified the truth in Matthew xii. 29.) have been the means of manifesting their own shame, and of leading a fellow being into temptation.

The course which they have taken in this matter amounts to this—[2] it is as much as to say, Lord, we are so good, and useful, and wise, that we could be a great help to your cause if we were to embrace it; indeed your cause can hardly roll on without our aid and influence: but in order to secure it, you must come to our terms. You must not only work signs and wonders, but you much work them when, where, and by whom we please,—you must not only give the gift of tongues, interpretations, &c., but it must be Hebrew. Thus Lord, you must divide the gifts of the Spirit severally to every man as we will. On these conditions we will by thy servants, and join thy people. Where this system would end I know not: for having won a set of evil and adulterous men into the society, by giving them a sign, they would find ten thousand more sign-seekers of the same character; and these would in turn dictate to the Lord just such signs as they pleased, and the Lord must perform them or his servants would be counted impostors: and even if performed, we would have ten thousand more of a wicked and adulterous generation in the church, and so on until evil and abomination had covered the earth.

Now we wish the public to understand that if Mr. Mahon boasted of his gifts, and offered to exhibit them for the purpose stated in Mr. Taylor’s pamphlet, he did wrong, and grieved the Spirit of the Lord, and in consequence lost it, and was led away by the spirit of the evil one, and has need to repent and make confession both to the church and the public; without which he ought to be disfellowshipped as an officer and member of the Saints. The gifts of God are sacred, and only to be used by the leadings of the Spirit of God, for sacred and holy purposes, viz., “for the work of the ministry, for the edifying of the body of Christ, for the perfecting of the saints.”—(See Ephesians, 4th chap.) These gifts are not governed or controlled by the will of men as they please; but are divided to every man as God will. No man should make an appointment before hand to work any sign or exercise any gift, but should leave these things to the movings of the Spirit of the Lord, especially avoiding to exhibit them as a mere curiosity to gratify those who come seeking signs as a matter on which to build their faith. Remember “they have Moses and the prophets, and if they will not believe them, neither will they believe though one should rise from the dead.”

We wish the public to understand also, that so far from wishing a sign wrought to convince Mr. T. and his associates of the truth of our doctrine, and bring them into the church, we could not consistently receive them if they were convinced, until they repented of the wickedness which they have committed in this affair; (that is, of seeking a sign on which to build their faith,) and take a different course altogether. “Faith comes by hearing,” “and hearing by the word of God.” So on the other hand, signs come by faith: or in other words hearing the word of God produces faith, and signs confirm it.

If the doctrine we teach is scriptural, what need of a sign to confirm it? If it be unscriptural it ought not to be believed although confirmed by a thousand signs.

The Latter-Day Saints ask no man to believe any book or principle which is not established by two or three witnesses, and even then we [3] do not ask them to believe in anything contrary to the scriptures: and furthermore if one is not satisfied with the testimony of witnesses, and with the corroborating testimony of the prophets and apostles, then it is their privilege to go before the Lord in the name of Jesus, and ask him in humble faith and sincerity of heart to give them a knowledge and testimony of the truth or falsehood of any system which claims their consideration. The Almighty by his Holy Spirit has promised to bear testimony of his own truth. In this way all humble believers in Christ may know and bear witness themselves to the truth which is now promulgated by the Latter-Day Saints.

It may not be improper for me to remark here, that Elder Young advised Mr. Mahon not to go on such an errand by any means, as he did not think it consistent with the duties of a minister or member of our society. This Elder Young at that time had the superintendence of the society in this town and vicinity. Therefore the Church is not to be charged with or censured for anything which Mr. Mahon may have done as an individual.

I would also remark, that several of the Latter-Day Saints were refused admittance into the meeting where this affair took place, as I have been informed by Mr. John Mc Ilwrick, who was present.

We now dismiss the subject of Mr. Taylor and his tract, and proceed to reply to Mr. Livesey’s publication; which in its preface signed “Thomas Newton,” states that this system “is most injuriously affecting the ties of social life by severing husband and wife, parent and child.”

It further states, that among the colony of Saints who lately embarked for America, “the wife has left the husband; the daughter has forsaken the widowed mother, and left her to sink into the depths of distress and poverty.”

These assertions are utterly false, such things are contrary to every principle of our society; and I am sorry to be compelled to say, in justice to our society and the public, that these assertions coming from Mr. Thomas Newton are wilfuly false, as I am prepared to prove by a respectable member of the Church of England, who has conversed with Mr. Newton on the subject since these falsehoods were published by him. This gentleman asked Mr. Newton what he alluded to in these slanders, and he replied that he hardly knew, he wrote them because he thought we ought to be put down any how; but being still questioned, he brought forward the case of Mrs. Poole, the truth of whose case is as follows:—her husband had turned her away, and had ceased to live with her and provide for her, many months before this emigration to America took place. Herself and four children were dependant on the charity of their friends, and were sent to America by the charity of others to save them from hunger. This Mrs. Poole was the daughter of a widow by the name of Ann Miller, who has just informed me, and wished me to inform the public, that if Mr. Newton alludes to her, her daughter has not left her destitute of support; but on the otherhand, she has had to support her and her children in a great measure from the time of her marriage until her embarkation for America. Now let Mr. Newton come forward and face these things if he can. But no doubt his preface with these charges in it, will be republished a thou- [4] sand miles from this place, and be vouched for by many reverend names, and thus answer the purpose there, that similar publications in Mr. Livesey’s pamphlet are made to answer in this place. Here is a fair sample of the manner which lies are hatched up by “very respectable” men, and published in the papers in one country, and then taken by some pious priest and conveyed to another country, and published as facts.

Mr. Livesey remarks, that “we have the evidence of prophecy, of miracles, of purity of doctrine, and of the holy examples, and pious lives, and disinterested conduct of those who have been the chosen instruments of the Almighty to convey to man the records of his will,” but that “the Book of Mormon is without even the shadow of such evidence.”

To this we reply, that as to the evidence of prophecy and its fulfillment, the Book of Mormon is abundantly supported; that is, there are predictions in it which have been fulfilled since it was published in English, which would convince any unprejudiced mind who is acquainted with its contents, that it is a production of the spirit of truth. As to miracles, Mr. Livesey has not seen a single miracle, nor can he produce a man who has seen a miracle wrought to prove the truth of the Bible. Neither can he bring testimony as to the miracles, holy lives, or conduct of the writers of the Bible, except from their own writings;* and from these we learn that the writers of the New Testament were considered by the world at large as the very off-scouring of all things,—as deceivers, babblers, madmen; superstitious, visionary, foolish, disturbers of the public peace, breaking up churches, destroying other religions, teaching unlawful customs, turning the world upside down, every where spoken against, hated of all men; and those who bore this testimony of them were priests, kings, nobles judges, rulers, philosophers, and learned men, who would vouch for each other’s respectability. Now in all these respects the Latter-Day Saints to compare well with the Former-Day Saints, especially judging from Mr. Livesey’s pamphlet, in which may be found the following charges against the translator and witnesses of the Book of Mormon, testified to by more than fifty “respectable witnesses.”

“Fortune-telling,” “money-digging,” “trick-playing,” “juggling,” “wicked men,” “cheats,” “liars,” “profane,” “intemperate,” “quarrelsome,” “not good characters,” “gold-bible company,” “indolent,” “cruel,” “destitute of moral character,” “visionary,” “addicted to vicious habits,” &c.

What more proof can people wish for to prove the Latter-Day Saints to be the church of God, than is here given by Mr. Livesey and his witnesses? does not his catalogue amount to the “all manner of evil” which Christ foretold would be said of his followers? if not I can cite them to some fifty different publications against us, which are equally famous for a multiplicity of evil reports, with that of Mr. Livesey’s, and all vouched for by “very respectable” priests, &c., so that from them all, we think the full catalogue may be made out, and if so we shall rejoice exceedingly, knowing that our reward is great in hea- [5] ven, and that in this respect we are not a whit behind the ancient saints.

As to purity of doctrine, we challenge Mr. Livesey, or any other of our opponents, to find fault with the Book of Mormon. It everywhere teaches faith in Christ, holiness in life, and obedience to all his commandments. Mr. L. says, upon the statement of this book (Mormon) the Latter-Day Saints’ religion is founded. This is incorrect; our religion is founded upon the most sound principles of doctrine, as contained in the Bible, as well as in the Book of Mormon. The system taught by Christ and his apostles, is the system we teach—it was the system Mormon taught.

Mr. L. complains of all the witnesses to the Book of Mormon being interested witnesses; that is, they are all followers of, and believers in, that system. But, I enquire, who would be a disinterested witness? If all Christendom were to see the original document, and be convinced of its truth, they would all see the original document, and be convinced of its truth, they would all be as much interested in it as those who first witnessed it. The Lord never chose a disinterested witness of his resurrection or any other truth. Would Mr. L. have a witness who would say the thing is true to be sure, but does not concern me, I purpose never to obey it myself, but to go down to hell, for the sake of giving others a disinterested testimony of its truth? But after all, the first witnesses to the Book of Mormon were not members of this church when they gave their testimony; for there was no such church in existence until some time after their testimony had been published.

After various objections of the foregoing tenor are brought forward by Mr. Livesey, he next proceeds to bring up the old story of Spalding’s romance being converted into the Book of Mormon by Mr. Sidney Rigdon and others. This wicked fabrication has been so frequently * The Saints do not call in question the truth of the Bible, but are willing to admit its truth upon the testimony of its authors. repeated, and often replied to, that we deem it inexpedient to reply again; whoever wishes to see a complete refutation of the Spaulding story, will read our reply to Mr. BUSH, (a church minister of the parish of Peover); this tract is for sale at 149, Oldham-road, and by several booksellers in this town and other places, price three-half-pence.

Mr. Livesey quotes several of our Church rules referring to money for the support of the poor, for the feeding, clothing, and administering to the wants of travelling preachers, &c., and for printing, building houses of worship, &c., these he finds fault with; but in so doing he finds fault with Jesus Christ and his ancient apostles, for they had quite as much to say about money as our rules have.

For my own part I can say, that I expect the public whom I serve, to feed me, cloth me, and give me money for my necessary expences, and likewise to my ministering brethren; I expect the Saints also to give money for the support of the poor among them, and this to the extent of all they have to spare; and I shall teach them so to do, and if they do not do it, their religion is vain. If the enemies of truth are dissatisified with this, then let them set the example of going on a mission without eating, drinking, or wearing any cloths, let them live without houses, let them print and build houses of worship without money; [6] and when they have shewn by a long practical experience that it can be done to advantage, then perhaps we will adopt it; but till then, we beg to be excused.

We preach a religion which very materially affects men’s purses; and a religion which does not affect men’s purses is worse than none. A bitter complaint is made by Mr. Livesey because when men give money to the society for any of these purposes, and afterwards leave the society, they cannot get it back. Will our opponent please point out to us where some institution exists which pays back the money donated to it. We should like a few examples and precedents set before us in this matter, as well as in the former case, for we are young and inexperienced as a society. Perhaps the Missionary, Bible, Tract, and other Societies pay back the money which is given them! Perhaps the Methodist Episcopal Church pays back the money collected for the support of their ministers, at their weekly, monthly, quarterly and yearly collections!

Mr. Livesey’s work contains a letter, purporting to come from me, against Messrs. Joseph Smith, Jun., and Sidney Rigdon; I should think Mr. Newton must be possessed of much impudence and presumption, or he would never have given publicity to such a letter here in Manchester, with my name to it. When the public know that I am here proclaiming both from the press and pulpit, the principles which are held by Messrs. Smith and Rigdon, does such a letter need any contradiction from me, more than is daily exhibited in my publications and discourses?

Still I take this opportunity to say, that for ten years I have esteemed Messrs. Smith and Rigdon as men of God, and men who have suffered more for the testimony of Jesus, than any other men now living. I have been a minister in connexion with them for more than ten years—I have been with them in dungeons and in chains—I have stood with them as lambs among wolves, when we were sentenced to death without trial by judge or jury—and the deadly rife aimed at our heads, and the dagger, already stained with the blood of the Saints, pointed at our breasts, while we were helpless prisoners and uncondemned—and I now bear witness, that they are servants of the Most High God, for whom I would lay down my life if necessary. These letters from apostates and dissenters, are wicked lies and misrepresentations. By them a false colouring is thrown over every circumstance of which they speak. The public in England know not what the founders of this church had to suffer for the cause of truth; nor the circumstances which gave rise to many things which are made to answer as stumbling blocks by misrepresentation and slander. But known unto God are all their wrongs, and all their woes; and in that day when the secrets of all hearts are made manifest, then will the lyings, the slanderings, the persecutions, the rash judgments which have been heaped upon the Latter-Day Saints be known before the assembled universe, and we and our enemies will have an impartial judgment rendered unto us, according to the deeds done in the body. That Messrs. Rigdon, Smith, and myself have our failings, it is true; we are but imperfect creatures at best, but base and dispised as we are, God has seen fit to give us a dispensation [7] of the Gospel to preach to the nations, and we glory in tribulation and reproach; yea, we count our lives not dear if it so be that we may win Christ, and bring souls to repentance. The worst wish that we wish for our enemies, is, that they may live to find out that they are speaking evil of those things which they understand not, and may be brought to repentance.

I would now enquire why it is that our enemies always take the weapons of slander and reproach to oppose us, instead of meeting us fairly upon principle? If our doctrines are false and unscriptural, as they represent them to be, why do they not point out definitely wherein they are so?

We have ever been, and we still continue to be, open, frank, and free to make all our principles known to the public: five thousand copies of the Book of Mormon will soon be issued from the press in this country, the public can have them, or any of the works which we have now on hand. We have no secrets in our system, but on the other hand have taken unwearied pains to lay our principles before the public.

If our doctrines or books are unscriptural or false, they can be easily detected, and shown to be so, without ranging creation to slander and vilify our characters.

Having finished my reply to these publications, I consider it a duty I owe the public to expose “Methodism;” but in so doing I shall not vilify any man’s character, nor range sea and land to select and bring forward slanderous reports and railing accusations: but shall simply allow from the scriptures, in few words, that the Methodist church is not the church of Christ, and that her ministers do not preach the Gospel of Christ, but are under the curse which Paul pronounced upon those who preach a different gospel from that which he preached.

In order to shew this clearly, I must, in the first place, shew what constitutes a church of Christ, and what the gospel is.

From Ephesians, chap. iv. we learn that the church of Christ consisted of one body, and one spirit, one hope, one Lord, one faith, and one baptism.

In this one body there were certain offices, ordinances, gifts and blessings, by which it may be easily distinguished from all other religious systems.

Its offices consisted of apostles, prophets, evangelists, pastors and teachers; these were all inspired and appointed by the immediate gift of God, who had ascended high, and given gifts unto men. These offices thus inspired and set in the church, were “for the work of the ministry, for the perfecting of the saints, for the edifying of the body of Christ,” and were destined to continue in the true church wherever it existed until they all arrived at perfection.

Its ordinances consisted of baptism for the remission of sins—Acts ii. 38; of the laying on of hands for the gift of the Holy Ghost—Acts xii. 17, and xix. 6; of laying hands on the sick to heal them—Mark xvi. 18; of the anointing with oil in the name of the Lord to heal the sick—

James iv. 14, and of the Lord’s supper.

Its gifts and blessings consisted of wisdom, knowledge, faith, mira- [8] cles, healings, tongues, interpretations, discerning of spirits, revelations, visions, dreams, prophecyings, &c., all flowing from that spirit which they received through the ordinances; the Lord dividing these things among the members severally, as he saw fit—Joel ii. 28, 29; Acts ii. 17, 18; 1st. Cor. xii. xiii. xiv.; Mark xvi. 17, 18.

Such, then, is the church of Christ from the days of Christ henceforth and for ever, wherever it exists among men. A people who do away or alter one of these offices, ordinances, or gifts, saying we have no need of you, can no longer be called the church of Christ. There never was a church of Christ, there is not now, nor ever will be, unless they answer the description here given.

The gospel preached by the apostles, consisted of faith in Christ, repentance towards God, baptism for the remission of sins, laying on of hands for the gift of the Holy Ghost, the resurrection of the dead, and eternal judgment; requiring those who obeyed this gospel, to endure to the end in all the Christian duties. If a man had two coats he should give one to him that had none; if he had meat let him do likewise; if he was rich he should sell that he had and give to the poor; in short he should live by every word that proceedeth out of the mouth of God. . . .

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