Mormonism Weighed in the Balances of the Sanctuary

1840

Haining, Samuel Haining, Samuel

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Haining, Samuel. Mormonism Weighed in the Balances of the Sanctuary, and Found Wanting: The Substance of Four Lectures, 1–66. Douglas: Robert Fargher, 1840.

FIRST LECTURE

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PSALMS XIX., 7, 8, 9.

The law of the LORD is perfect, converting the soul; the testimony of the LORD is sure, making wise the simple; the statues of the LORD are right, rejoicing the heart; the commandment of the LORD is pure, enlightening the eyes; the fear of the LORD is clean, enduring for ever; the judgements of the LORD are true and righteous altogether.

Sin has produced a great moral change in the condition of man. He has lost the knowledge of the true God, his understanding has been darkened, and his mind alienated from the life of God, through the ignorance which his in him.

The light of nature is insufficient to make him acquainted with the cause of that change, and of the way by which he could be delivered and restored. “The heavens” indeed “declare the glory of God, and the firmament showeth his handy work; day unto day uttereth speech, and night unto night showeth knowledge. There is no speech nor language where their voice is not heard.” They proclaim his wisdom, his power, and his goodness; but they do not teach the holiness of his nature, the rectitude of his government, his truth and justice, his mercy and grace.

Those who have his works to behold, but not his word to read, are described as perishing for lack of knowledge. [3]

The efforts of unassisted reason could not discover to him the will of God and the way of salvation. Destitute of the revelation of mercy, he was sitting in darkness, and in the region of the shadow of death; the dark places of the earth are full of the habitations of horrid cruelty. The Greeks, who boasted of their wisdom, and the Romans, of their civilization and power, instead of acquiring the knowledge of the true God, by their discoveries and attainments, became more beclouded in their minds, from their vain conceits, idle fancies, and erroneous opinions. “When they knew God, they glorified him not as God, neither were thankful; but became vain in their imaginations, and their foolish heart was darkened; professing themselves to be wise they became fools, and changed the glory of the uncorruptible God into an image, made like unto corruptible man, and to four-footed beasts, and creeping things.”

Many of the Heathen have acknowledged their ignorance, their uncertainty of what was to be hereafter, and the necessity of a revelation to make them acquainted with his will, and the way in which they should be made happy for ever. What they considered needful has been given.

A revelation worthy of its divine author, and which bears evident marks that it could only have been written by the inspiration of the Holy Spirit: a revelation suited to the condition of man, and which tells him what he was, what he has become by transgression, and his dismal prospects as a guilty creature; a revelation of mercy, able to make him wise unto salvation, through faith which is in Christ Jesus. [4]

Before entering on the examination of the claims of the book Mormon to inspiration, I design to establish this proposition, that the Holy Scriptures of the Old and New Testaments, contain the revealed will of God to man; and being sufficient for accomplishing his gracious purpose, in the conversion of sinners and in the edification of saints, we are prohibited from adding to, or taking from them.

The manner in which God revealed his will to man, shows the superiority of his word to all the books which claim to have been written by inspiration. The Koran of Mahomet is a wretched compound of Judaism, corrupted Christianity, and his own visions and revelations. The book Mormon resembles it, and contains allusions to sacred history, large quotations from the Scriptures, and interwoven with these are the wildest fancies ever attempted to be palmed on the world as a new revelation from God. It bears no resemblance to the Book of God, from the way in which it was given. Holy men of God spake as they were moved by the Holy Ghost; and by his influence on the understanding, imagination, memory, and the other powers of the mind, they were enabled to make known the truth that saves. The facts, the doctrines, the promises, the privileges, and the duties to be performed, were suggested, and the very words by which they were conveyed.

Peter has confirmed this, when he said, “of which salvation the prophets have inquired and searched diligently, who prophesied of the grace which should come unto you, searching what or what manner of time the Spirit of Christ which was in them did signify, when it testified before [5] hand the sufferings of Christ, and the glory that should follow; unto whom it was revealed, that not unto themselves, but unto us, they did minister the things which are now reported unto you, by them that have preached the gospel unto you, with the Holy Ghost sent down from heaven; which things angels desire to look into.” This cannot be said of any other book ever penned. To claim equality with it, is daring presumption; to add to it, is awful impiety; to attempt it, is an impeachment of the wisdom of its author; is to unsettle the minds of men, and to cause them to undervalue the revelation of mercy.

Writing to the Hebrew converts, the apostle assures them that “God, who at sundry times and diverse manners, spake in times past unto the fathers by the prophets, hath, in these last days, spoken to us by his Son;” and we may infer the sufficiency of the Holy Scriptures from the manner which they were given to us. We gain knowledge by the bodily senses, by impressions made on the imagination, by pure acts of the understanding, by information received, and from our own experience. In all these ways God has revealed his will to man. By an audible voice, distinctly heard and understood. Thus he spake to Adam in paradise, to Enoch, to Noah, to Abraham, his friend, and to Moses, the lawgiver to Israel. The Lord Jesus Christ came to reveal his will and to deliver his words; and to do so he preached righteousness in the great congregation.

Before the canon of Scripture was finished, there were visions given, which made a deep impression on the mind, by the immediate influ- [6] ence of the Holy Spirit. This was the case with Abraham, when the horror of deep sleep fell on him; with Daniel, when he heard the words of Him that spake to him in the deep sleep; and Paul was directed where he was to labour, from the vision of the man of Macedonia, who said to him, “Come over and help us.” These symbolic representations were sometimes impressed on the bodily senses; such as the three men who appeared to Abraham, the burning bush to Moses, and the captain of the Lord’s host to Joshua at the siege of Jericho, the seething pot, and the almond rod, and the basket of figs, to Jeremiah.

Sometimes they were made on the mind; as the pattern of the temple to Solomon, the vision to prepare Peter to go to Cornelius, and the things which John saw and heard in the Isle of Patmos.

These were designed to make them acquainted with the will of God, and to record them for our instruction. The prophets were guided by the Holy Spirit to give plain intimations of the Divine will to the people, and to reveal things which were to come to pass, hundreds of years afterwards.

The inspired writers had experienced the transforming influence of the truth, and, from the change wrought in them, were as fully satisfied that it was from God, as that they did exist.

Hence David could say, “I have believed, therefore have I spoken.” Peter said, “we have not followed cunningly devised fables, when we made known unto you the power and coming of our Lord Jesus; but, were eye-witnesses of his majesty. For he received from God the Father honour and glory, when there came such a voice to him from the excellent glory, ‘This is my beloved Son, in whom I [7] am well pleased;’ and this voice, which came from heaven, we heard when we were with him on the holy mount;” and John declared, “that which we have seen and heard, declare we unto you, that ye also may have fellowship with us, and truly our fellowship is with the Father, and with the Son Jesus Christ; and these things we write unto you that your joy may be full.”

This gracious record was not given all at once, but was a gradual development of the scheme of mercy. The first intimation was given to our first parents, before they were driven out of Paradise; it was enlarged to Enoch, it was embodied in the covenant made with Abraham, and was recorded by the Jewish lawgiver; and the Spirit of Prophecy continued in the church about 3,700 years. When our Lord appeared, he preached to men the will of God, and his immediate disciples finished the canon of Scripture. In it there is not one word too much, nor one word too little. “The law of the Lord is perfect, converting the soul.”

The sufficiency of the Holy Scriptures of the Old and New Testaments, for accomplishing the gracious design of Jehovah, is evident from the glorious truths which they reveal.

They contain all things needful to be known and believed for salvation. “From a child” said Paul to Timothy, “thou has known the Holy Scriptures, which are able to make thee wise unto Salvation, through faith which is in Christ Jesus. All Scripture is given by inspiration of God, and is profitable for doctrine, for reproof, for correction, for instruction in righteousness, that the man of God may be perfect, thoroughly furnished unto all good works.” [8]

We are plainly taught what doctrines we are to believe, what duties we are to perform, and what religious ordinances we are able to observe, what we owe to God, to our neighbour, and to ourselves. In no other book have we such a rational account of the creation of all things, such as just description of the character of God, of his gracious will to man, and of his righteous government; of human responsibility; of our original state of happiness, and of our fall in Adam; of our guilt, depravity, and danger; of the evil of sin, which is the cause of all the calamities which come upon man, and of all the misery of the finally impenitent. Do we make the inquiry, how can we obtain the remission of our sins, the justification of our persons, and a title to eternal life? we are informed, that by the undertaking, obedience, and death of the Lord Jesus Christ, the work of redemption was finished, and that all who believe are justified, and made heirs of eternal life. Do we desire to know how we are to be cleansed from the polluting influence of sin, and to be made meet to be partakers of the inheritance of the saints in light? our intentions is directed to the work of the Holy Spirit, whose office it is to awaken the conscience, and to enlighten the mind, to renew the heart, and to sanctify the whole man. In fine, this blessed Book, by its threatenings, alarms the sinner; and its gracious invitations furnish the guilty with a warrant to come to God for mercy to pardon. It instructs the ignorant in the knowledge of the true God, and of his son Jesus Christ, whom to know is eternal life. It affords direction to those who are in difficulty, strength to those who are ready to faint, comfort from the [9] promises to those who are cast down and tempted, everlasting consolation and good hope through grace, to all who believe. In it there are no errors to be corrected; nothing defective, which needs to be supplied, nor is any thing more required to enable us to know and to do the will of God. Why, then, attempt to add to that which is perfect, an all sufficient foundation for faith and practice, for hope and comfort? No additions are needed, no additions ought to be made.

The efficacy of the Holy Scriptures, on the hearts and lives of men, shows that they are quite sufficient to answer the purpose for which they were given.

They are suited for men of all ages, and in all conditions, for sinners, and for saints. They are the incorruptible seed of our regeneration, and by them the life of God is nourished in the soul. They were the foundation of the faith of Abel, and cherished the piety of Enoch; they made Noah a preacher of righteousness, and caused Abraham to be obedient to the call. If the truth produced such an effect on these patriarchs, before the revelation of God had been written, what may we not now expect when it is completed? David highly esteemed the word of God, made it the burden of his song in the house of his pilgrimage, it was a lamp to his feet, and a light to his path. “I love,” said he, “thy commandments above gold, yea, above fine gold; therefore I esteem all they precepts, concerning all things to be right, and I hate every false way. Thy testimonies are wonderful, therefore doth my soul keep them. The entrance of thy word giveth light, it giveth understanding unto the simple. Order my steps in thy word, [10] and let not any iniquity have dominion over me.”

This sacred Book, which contains the Law and the Gospel, the threatenings and the promises, produces the most wonderful effects in the experience of those who embrace it; and in the passages read, six properties of it are named. It is perfect, sure, right, pure, clean, true, and righteous altogether. The effects produced are, converting the soul, making wise the simple, rejoicing the heart, and enlightening the eyes.

This Book claims a divine origin, God is the author of it, and the subject matter of it is truth unmixed with error; is the object of faith, the rule of duty, and the foundation of hope; and the estimate formed of it is, that it is of far greater importance to us than day and night, than the air which we breathe, and the light of the sun; that it is of more value than the riches of creation, and that it is sweeter to the spiritual taste than the enjoyments of sense.

It is the instrumental cause of our conversion to God, and is the incorruptible seed of our regeneration. When the word of truth comes to us, in the demonstration of the Holy Spirit, we are savingly changed, become spiritually alive in Christ, and are then his willing and obedient subjects.

All such are instructed by it, in the knowledge of the true God, and learn that useful lesson, “That the fear of the Lord is the beginning of wisdom, and to depart from evil is understanding.”

Direction is afforded to the Christian pilgrim in the journey of life. It is a wise counsellor, and a safe guide. There is no situation in which we can possibly be placed, that it is not [11] profitable to direct; and following the scriptural rule, we shall not leave the right, the safe path. It is an unerring guide. Crediting it as the truth of God, and embracing it by faith, we have the assurance of hope, and it is by that hope, founded on the promises, that we are saved; and however we may be tempted and assaulted by Satan, harassed with doubts and fears, we are persuaded that the statutes of the Lord are right, and that he will not disappoint the expectation founded on his own faithful Word. In fine, this Word, which by the Spirit awakens the careless, and instructs the ignorant, which converts the ungodly, and sanctifies the unholy, which gives strength for the warfare, comfort in sorrow, and a glorious triumph over all the enemies of our salvation, requires no additions from man; for they do not, they cannot increase our knowledge of divine things, cannot strengthen the efficacy of the truth on the heart, nor give a more commanding influence on the life.

To weaken the force of this reasoning, it has been alleged that the Holy Scriptures of the Old and New Testaments are not complete, that many books which have been written are lost, and that if they had been preserved, they would be as worthy of our belief as those which are preserved. This is a bold assertion, and ought not to be made without strong proof. Where is the evidence of their having been written by the inspiration of the Holy Spirit, and that they had been received as Sacred Books by the Jews, the guardians of the lively oracles which they had received? There is not any; and if men will take that for granted, which ought to be proved, it is no wonder that they should be mistaken. [12]

In confirmation of these opinions, it is asserted that the book of Jasher, mentioned twice, forms no part of the Old Testament, and is not known to be extant now. According to Josephus, this book contained only the records of what happened to the Jews from year to year. It was a human, not a divine composition. It was a collection of national poems, and was probably a continuation of the book of the Wars, mentioned in the Book of Numbers. These words, “Sun stand thou still upon Gibeon, and thou Moon in the valley of Askelon,” being poetical, were taken from the book Jasher; not that the divine testimony of the Book of Joshua required any confirmation from the book Jasher, a human composition, but that it might be of use to those who had it, to compare it with the history.

The same remarks apply to the book of Nathan the prophet, containing the acts of David, and the acts of Solomon; to the book of Iddo the seer, and also to some others; but these had only a reference to the history of individuals, and were a record of public events, but were in no ways connected with the salvation of man. If the mere citation of a book, by a sacred writer, be sufficient to make it a part of the canonical Scriptures, then must the poems of four Greek authors be received as the word of God, for Paul quoted several passages from them; but this is a principle which cannot be admitted.

In the prophecy of Hosea, it is produced as a charge against Ephraim, “I have written to him the great things of my law, but they were counted as a strange thing;” and this is supposed to be an allusion to a Book written by God, and addressed to the tribe of Ephraim, and which is [13] now lost, forming no part of the sacred record. There is no foundation for this supposition, but the very reverse; as God did write his law, with is own finger on two tables of stone, and gave it unto Moses, his servant, to deliver it unto them: and for their idolatry in making many altars to sin, which was the actual transgression of that law, they were cast off, vanquished by their enemies, carried into captivity, and are now in a state of dispersion. This passage, then, gives no support to the principle, that a part of the Old Testament Scriptures is lost.

The writings of the New Testament are represented as incomplete, and that several epistles are wanting, or lost. In support of this opinion, it is said that the first and second epistles to the Corinthians ought to be numbered second and third; since Paul said, “I wrote unto you in an epistle, not to company with fornicators:” and it is alleged that it has been lost; but, that such an epistle, distinct from the first, did ever exist, seems doubtful; no allusion has ever been made to it by any writer, not a vestige of it can be traced, and the difficulty vanishes by translating the original thus. “I have written unto you, in this epistle, not to company with fornicators,” which he actually did; and the rendering of the Greek article “this,” is done in several instances in the New Testament. This passage, then, gives no sanction to the opinion that the New Testament is incomplete, and that some epistles are lost. The examination of the assertion, that Jude wrote two epistles, would lead to the same conclusion. There is not a shade of evidence; the proofs fail, and the arguments used are insufficient to establish the [14] opinion. The investigation of the subject tends to confirm our faith in the perfection of the Holy Scriptures, and that they contain all that God ever intended we should have.

To say that any part of the sacred record has been lost, would be a reflection on the providential care of God, that he should give a revelation of his will, and yet suffer it to be lost.

No such dishonourable thought will ever be entertained, by any pious Christian, and no such language ought ever to be used by any minister of religion.

The assertion is contrary to fact; for the Jews, to whom the lively oracles were entrusted, were so careful that, it is said, their Sacred Books were named, that the words in each Book were numbered! Nay, that the very letters were numbered! Not any thing could be omitted or added, without being detected; their Sacred Books were preserved entire, and they have come to us in that respect perfect. It would, indeed, have been impossible to have preserved the Sacred Writings entire, considering the circumstances in which they were placed to whom they were entrusted, if it had not been for the superintending care of their author. Antiochus Epiphanus destroyed all the Sacred Books he could find, and issued a decree, that all who did not deliver up their Sacred Books should be put to death; but he was unsuccesful, and the Sacred Volume was preserved. The same thing was attempted in the persecution of the Christians, and failed. No threatenings could awe the righteous by cruel edicts, and no sufferings, however great, could induce them to surrender what they considered more valuable than life. Copies of the Scriptures were multiplied and preserved with the utmost care, [15] so that we may rest assured that we possess the Word of God complete, all that was ever intended by him for our instruction and benefit.

The New Testament justifies me in maintaining this sentiment. Every thing done by the Redeemer was to fulfil the Scriptures. Thus and thus it was done, that the Scriptures might be fulfilled; and to his disciples he said, “All things must be fulfilled, which were written in the law of Moses, and in the Prophets, and in the Psalms concerning me.” No mention is made of any part having been lost, not a hint of the kind. They are represented as coming to us complete, and of this no doubt can be entertained by the serious inquirer.

No new revelation is needed, and no new revelation ought to be received, as of equal authority with the Holy Scriptures, and equally binding on the conscience. We are prohibited from doing so, and the most awful judgments are denounced against those who are guilty of it. In the Book of Deuteronomy there are two passages deserving consideration: Jehovah said to the children of Israel, “Ye shall not add unto the Word which I command you; neither shall ye diminish ought from it.” Again, “What thing soever I command, observe to do it; thou shall not add thereto, nor diminish from it.” Probably these are to be understood of the Law, moral, judicial, and ceremonial; designed to regulate the civil and religious conduct of the people of the Jewish common-wealth, until Christ should come, who is the end of the Law for righteousness to every one that believeth. Not a word as to be added, not a word was to be taken away; and hence our Lord reproved the [16] Jews, for breaking the Law, by their observances of the traditions of the Elders. John who wrote the Revelation, as is supposed in the year 96, when all the rest of the Apostles were dead, closes the canon of Scripture, with this awfully solemn declaration: “I testify to every man that heareth the words of the prophecy of this Book, if any man shall add to these things, God shall add unto him the plagues which are written in this Book; and if any man shall take away from the words of the Book of this prophecy, God shall take away his part out of the Book of Life, and out of the holy city, and from the things which are written in this Book.”

Here we have a positive command, and an awful penalty to be inflicted on those who disobey.

Great must be the hardihood of those who would either curtail or add. To do so, would be to say, that man is wiser than God, that the revelation of his will is defective, and that the defect must be supplied 1,800 years after it was given. To do so, would be dishonourable to God, and a reflection on his word. No man who fears God, will do so; for the distinguishing feature of his character is, that he trembles at his word, and would not dare to take such unwarrantable liberties with it. He will listen to the advice of the wise man, and follow it: “Every word of God is pure; he is a shield unto them that put their trust in him; add not thou unto his words, lest he reprove thee, and thou be found a liar.”

Resist all attempts to rob you of the Holy Scriptures, the next best gift from heaven to God’s dear Son; buy the truth, and sell it not; part not with it, for it is the standard of faith, the directory of worship, and the guide of life. [17] Part not with it, for it is the comfort of the heart in sorrow, the foundation of your hope in trial, and the charter of your salvation. Part not with this Sacred Book, for without it you are like a traveller without a guide, a mariner without a compass, and a pilgrim without the prospect of rest and safety. Without it, what are all things which you possess? they are fading; they are unsatisfactory. Without it, all within are in a state of disorder and rebellion, all around you are bewitching and deceitful, and all before you are dark, uncertain, and alarming. Where is the man who will suffer his inheritance to be wrested from him, without resistance? Where is the true patriot to be found, that would allow the liberties of his country to be destroyed, without a struggle? And where is the real Christian, that will tamely surrender the Word of the living God, which is his comfort in sorrow, his light in darkness, the burden of his song in the house of his pilgrimage, and inspires him in the article of death, with a hope full of immortality? Where is he to be found? Nowhere; for he will bind it to his bosom, cling to it in every situation, and will die on the scaffold, rather than give up the charter of his salvation. Methinks I hear the response from every heart—“Give up the Bible! No, never. The Bible, the whole Bible, and nothing but the Bible.”

Guard against all attempts to destroy the integrity, and to set aside the sufficiency, of the Word of God, by allowing alterations or additions to it.

The Infidel, who rejects the whole Book, as the fabrication of interested men, is, not more [18] criminal than the man who corrupts it by his additions. In so doing, the landmark is removed, the chart, which indicated the Christian’s true course through this world, is blotted out, the unerring beacon, which sheds its light on the destructive shores of error, is confounded amid the false lights of Satan; and the hapless voyager is lured on to destruction.

Tell those who try to deceive you, that you are satisfied with the Bible, in its doctrines, morals, privileges, promises, blessings, and prospects; with its evidence, influence, and the assurance of hope which it produces; that you will not surrender it to the whim, the caprice, or the wish of any man; that you will not suffer yourselves to be tossed to and fro by every wind of doctrine, by the slight of men and cunning craftiness, whereby they lie in wait to deceive; but that you will continue in the form of sound words which you have been taught, that you will read it by day, and meditate on it in the night watches, that you will believe it with the heart, and seek to experience its transforming power, that you will cling to it in life, and in the hour of your departure will shout, “the Bible, the whole Bible, and nothing but the Bible.” Amen. [19]

SECOND AND THIRD LECTURES

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2 TIMOTHY, IV., 4.

And they shall turn away their ears from the truth, and shall be turned unto fables.

In the preceding lecture, I have endeavored to establish the proposition, that the Scriptures of the Old and New Testament contain the revealed will of God to man; and, being sufficient for the accomplishment of the design of his mercy for the conversion of sinners and the edification of saints, we are not justified in adding to the Word of God, or in taking from it; which would be an insult to God, and a reflection on his holy Word. No man who fears God, either could or would do so, for he trembles at his word, and would not dare to take such unwarrantable liberties with the sacred volume. He would follow the advice of the wise man, who said, “Every word of God is pure. He is a shield to them that put their trust in him. Add not thou unto his words, lest he reprove thee, and thou be found a liar.”

The second proposition which I have to establish is, that the claims of the book Mormon to be a revelation from God, are unfounded; and this is the legitimate conclusion from what has been already advanced: for, if the Scriptures of [20] the Old and New Testaments be complete, containing all things needful for faith and practice, and sufficient for accomplishing the design of mercy, where is the necessity for any new revelation? No addition is needed; no addition ought to be made. To make the attempt would be to impeach infinite wisdom, for giving a revelation which had been insufficient, and which had failed. To authorize us to receive any new revelation, to supply the defects of that which we already possess, we would need such evidences as cannot be furnished.

My firm conviction is, that there has not been, since the days of the false prophet Mahomet, a more awful delusion to mislead men; and I shall endeavor to establish this by the following particulars.

First,—That the claims of the book Mormon to inspiration, are unfounded, as the origin of the book is doubtful.

The character of the pretended author in early life, the account which he has given of the visits of the angel, to inform him where the plates were hid, and the way in which he deciphered them, are unfavourable. The testimony of those who had the means of knowing, leads us to suspect that all things are not right, and that he grossly imposed on many who ought to have known better. His father-in-law, in his affidavit, affirms it be his conscientious opinion, from the knowledge which he had of Smith and his companions, “that the whole book of Mormon is a silly fabrication of falsehood and wickedness, got up for speculation, and with a design to dupe the credulous and the unwary, in order that its fabricators might [21] live upon the spoils of those who swallowed the delusion.” He adds, his character for truth was so bad, that he was not believed on his oath! A number of the inhabitants of Palmyra, said to be respectable, have confirmed this statement, and they assert, that his moral character was not good, and that there was not an individual in that neighbourhood who believed one word of his book. If this testimony be correct, he was a very likely person to carry on the imposture.

But, supposing that his enemies are prejudiced against him, and did misrepresent him, let us hear the testimony of his friends on his behalf. They say that he was a good young man, was under deep concern for his soul’s safety, and was anxious to ascertain with whom he should join in Christian fellowship. For this purpose he made application to God, in prayer, and was commanded not to join any religious sect. An angel appeared unto him, gloriously, three times in one night, directing him to go to a neighbouring mountain, where he should find a stone chest, containing golden plates, on which the will of God was written. He did as he was commanded; found the plates, and, by the aid of Aaron’s urim and thummim, deciphered, translated, and published them, as a new revelation from God, of equal authority with the Old and New Testaments.

But the question is, who saw the plates, that were competent to decide that they were engraven by the Holy Spirit, and that they contained the will of God to man? Who were they that compared the translation with the original, written in the reformed Egyptian character, a language unknown to the Americans? What [22] proofs were given that God was the author, and what signs followed to confirm this? These are questions which have not been, and which cannot be, satisfactorily answered. His own friends, being his advocates, plainly state that a more wild, romantic tale, was never told; written by Jews who had left the land of their fathers, and the plates on which the will of God had been engraven were conceded fourteen hundred years in a stone chest, on a mountain side; that the discovery was made by revelation to a man utterly incompetent for the task of making them known to the world. It is a fabulous tale, a mere fiction; and my astonishment is, that any man of common understanding should listen to it one moment, for there is not a single mark of credibility connected with the whole story. We have heard the accusations of those who were unfriendly, and we have listened to the explanations of friends; let us now try the question on the principles of common sense. Suppose a witness should be brought into court, to prove a fact which, he said, was true, and that he had documents in his possession, which would place it beyond all dispute; but that he would not show them to his friends, to examine them and to report, and that he would not produce them in court, to confirm his testimony. What opinion would the judge and jury form of his evidence? They would reject it as untrue, and the verdict would be against him. Thus is it with the pretended author of the book Mormon. The testimony of friends and of foes is against him; and the decision of common sense is, that the book is not only of doubtful origin, but is unworthy of belief, and ought to be rejected [23] as a vile fabrication; for a more gross delusion was never attempted to be imposed on men of understanding.

Contrast with this the origin of the Sacred Scriptures, and you will clearly perceive an amazing difference. The Law, the Prophets, the Psalms, and the historical records were entrusted to the guardianship of his ancient people, and they were wonderfully preserved by their Author.

No doubt was, or could be, entertained of their divine origin; for they were written by the persons whose names they bear, at the very time when the things recorded happened, and were committed to the people intimately acquainted with the things which had come to pass. In the very nature of things no imposition could have been practised, and it does not appear that any doubt was entertained by the people, of the truth of what they had received and believed. They were acknowledged as their sacred books, were preserved with the utmost care; and so anxious were they to preserve them uncorrupted, that the very words and letters were numbered, so that there could be no additions made, nor anything taken from them.

Our divine Lord seems to refer to the integrity of the sacred writings, when he said to his disciples, that “all things must be fulfilled, which were written in the law of Moses, and in the Prophets, and in the Psalms concerning me.” “Thus it is written, and thus it behoveth Christ to suffer, and to die, and to rise from the dead on the third day; that repentance and remission of sins should be preached in his name among all nations, and ye are witnesses of these things.”

[24]

Thus, you see, there is a marked difference between the Holy Scriptures, and the book Mormon, in their origin and the manner in which they were communicated to men. Let us reject that which is doubtful, and cleave to that which is certain, the word of the truth of the gospel.

Secondly,—The claims of the book Mormon to inspiration, are false; and if asked how this can be proved, the answer is, because the character of the book is bad.

A tale that is unlike any thing that takes place in the common affairs of life, is counted as wild, romantic and is only suited for the novelist, to amuse. It is bad, because it is departure from truth, is an exaggeration, is a lie. I will venture to affirm, that a more wild, romantic tale, was never invented and published, than that which is contained in the book Mormon. It is unlike any thing that ever occurred in the history of mankind. The improbabilities are great, the marks of fiction are very evident, and therefore, the claims to inspiration are not only unfounded, but are awfully wicked.

The book begins with the religious adventures of Lehi and his family, consisting of four sons; and of the family of Ishmael and his daughters, whom the sons of Lehi married. Alarmed by the threatenings of God against the Jews, in the reign of Zedekiah, they resolved to leave, and to seek a resting place in America. Having forgotten to take the golden plates, Nephi, the youngest son, returned to Jerusalem, to procure them from Laban, in whose possession they were; but when he refused to deliver them up, he was instigated by the Holy Spirit, to take the advantage of him, when in a state of intoxication; [25] to unsheath his sword, to cut off his head, and to array himself in the clothes of the murdered man. By his appearance and voice, he deceived the servant, caused him to bring out the plates, and compelled him to go with him into the wilderness, where he was safe. His brethren, when they saw him in the dress of Laban, were afraid and fled. The sword by which he had done the murderous deed was much esteemed, preserved with care, and used on particular occasions. This man, who was a Jew, a prophet among his people, and a great writer, was also highly conceited of himself, and he was a murderer. The book begins with deceit and murder.

These pilgrims, leaving the place doomed to destruction, sojourned in the wilderness, where amongst many privations, they subsisted eight years by their bows and arrows.

They had a compass or ball having two pointers, inscribed with various intelligence, legible at proper times, and which was their index to guide them in the wilderness, and under its direction they travelled many, very many days, till at length they arrived at the great sea. Nephi, by divine direction, built a large ship, without having any suitable materials, nor did he adhere to the ordinary rules of ship-building; but notwithstanding the obstacles which he had to surmount, and the opposition of his unbelieving brethren, he completed his work, and launched his vessel, being assisted by the Holy Spirit. He got all his tribe, with their seeds, animals, and provisions, safely on board. He sailed with a fair wind, and under the guidance of the wonderful compass, he steered for the land of promise; but his brethren conspired against [26] him, deprived him of liberty, and treated him cruelly in his confinement. Then the compass ceased to direct, and a great storm arose, which lasted four days, and the wind being adverse and violent, they were in danger of perishing; and being alarmed, they awoke Nephi, who prayed, and the wind ceased, the sea became calm, the ball began to point the right course, and, after many perils and a long voyage, they arrived at the southwest of America, the promised goodly land.

After the death of Nephi, they quarrelled, separated, and fought many bloody battles, by which they were nearly exterminated. The remainder became Christians, about four hundred years before the birth of Christ, and worshipped according to gospel ordinances. The Redeemer, after his ascension, paid them a visit, and 2,500 put their hands into the print of the nails, and wound in his side, and were baptized. All the inhabitants, in the year 36, were converted to God, and there was a perfect community of goods among them, and no disputations for 170 years.

From the sects which sprung up, the divisions which took place, and the battles which were fought, goodness had left the land in the year 320. Three of the American Apostles, however, were never to die, and were seen 400 years after Christ; but what has become of them no man can tell.

Mormon appears next in the drama, the recording angel of the whole matter. He was a good Christian, and a great general. He commanded 42,000 men against the Lamanites, and the battle was fought in the year 330. The [27] Lamanites possessed South America, and the Nephites North America. Moroni finished what his father left undone, and continued his history to the year 400, just 1,000 years after Lehi had left Jerusalem. In the conclusion, he says, that if his plates had been larger he would have written in the Hebrew; but, from this difficulty, he wrote in the reformed Egyptian language, being handed down and altered, unto us, according to our manner of speech. “Condemn me not,” says he, “because of many imperfections, neither my father, because of his imperfections, nor those who wrote before him; but rather give thanks unto God that he hath made manifest unto you our imperfections, that you may learn to be wiser than we have been.”

The most marvellous part is the tale of the people of Jared. Moroni, in the fifteenth and last book of Mormon, says, that the people of Jared escaped from their building of Babel, and unconfounded their language. They were directed in their journeyings through the wilderness, and were taught by God to build barges to cross seas; and, finally, they built eight barges, air-tight, and of a peculiar construction. They were commanded to make a hole in the top to admit air, and another in the bottom for water. In these barges were sixteen windows of molten stones, two in each, which, when touched by the finger of God, became transparent as glass, giving them light when under the mountain wave and on the sea. He that touched these stones appeared unto the brother of Jared, and said, “Behold, I am Jesus Christ, I am the Father and the Son.” Two of these stones were [28] sealed up with the plates, and became spectacles to Joseph Smith, jun., according to a prophecy before Abraham was born!

He says that the eight barges, air-tight, and made like ducks, after swimming and diving 344 days, arrived on the coast of America, the land of promise. They took possession of the country, built cities, and increased in wealth; but they disagreed, separated, and fought many bloody battles, so that more than two millions of men were slain, besides women and children; and, finally, they were all slain but one, and he fell to the ground as one that had no life. He took charge of the brazen plates brought from Jerusalem, handed down from father to son. He deposited them in a stone chest, and placed it on the side of a mountain, where it remained 1,400 years concealed, until Joseph Smith was directed by an angel to the place, and, by the aid of his glasses, and the urim and thummim, was enabled to decipher the plates and to write the book.

Who ever heard of such a fiction? and yet, in the book Mormon, all are sentenced to the flames of hell, if they do not believe such fabulous nonsense!

It is admitted that miracles were wrought by God, in dividing the Red Sea, that his people might pass through in safety. He fed them with manna from heaven, and supplied them with water from the rock; but then he has told us what was his object in doing so; the glory of his name, the fulfilment of the promises, and the good of his chosen. But who ever heard of the people mentioned in the book Mormon? Their cities and their battles are unknown to the world; and yet we are called upon to believe [29] that these things are true, and that they were written by the Spirit of God; but the whole book is a fiction, is very improbable, and, being untrue, must be bad.

Another mark of its being bad, is concealment, which is always suspicious. Truth courts investigation, and an honest man is not afraid of the light of day. The father-in-law of Smith, was not allowed to see the plates, which he said were in a box placed in his house; but the old man would not allow it to remain, unless he knew what it contained, and it was removed. Smith said to him, the first that would be allowed to see the plates would be a young child; a suitable subject to be a judge of them. How different from the Holy Scriptures: they court inquiry, and afford the most convincing proofs that they are true—are no cunningly devised fable. Let me beseech you, my friends, to reject that bad book, which is only designed to deceive, to mislead; and cordially to receive the word of truth, unmixed with error, and which will guide your feet in the way everlasting.

Thirdly,—The claims of the book Mormon to inspiration, are unfounded, because the doctrines in it are unscriptural.

In the sacred volume the representations of the Most High are sublime, and becoming the Majesty of the great First Cause of all things. He is said to be wise in council, great in all his acts, just in all his ways and righteous in all his judgments, gracious and faithful to his engagements, and true to his word. But take the following, as a specimen, from the book Mormon, of the representations of God, who is introduced as saying,—“Thou fool that shalt [30] say a Bible, we have got a Bible, and need no more Bible. Wherefore, because that ye have a Bible, ye need not suppose that it contains all my words, neither need ye suppose that I have not caused more to be written; for I command all men, both in the East, and in the West, and in the North, and in the South, and in the islands of the sea, that they shall write the words which I speak unto them; for out of the books which shall be written, I will judge the world, every man according to their works, according to that which is written. For, behold, I shall speak unto the Jews, and they shall write it; and I shall also speak unto the Nephites, and they shall write it; and I shall also speak unto the other tribes of the house of Israel, which I have led away, and they shall write it; and I shall speak unto all nations of the earth, and they shall write it.” There is to be no end of new revelations, and they are to exceed in number the books of the sacred volume.

The doctrine of human depravity is denied; and in their Magazine, total depravity is denounced. Children are said not to need baptism, because they have no sin, and are alive in Christ; consequently the exertions to evangelize the nations of the earth are not needed. But the deeply affecting declarations of the word of God are very different: Adam begat a son in his own likeness, corrupt. The imagination of the thoughts of the inhabitants of the old world, was only evil, and that continually. And Paul assured the Romans that both Jews and Gentiles are all under sin, that every mouth might be stopped, and that all the world should stand guilty before God.

We must, we will admit this [31] truth, if we believe what is revealed, understand what is passing around us, and do feel the plague of our own hearts.

From all that I have read, heard, and seen, I am satisfied that they have very mistaken, defective views on human depravity, the evil nature of sin, and the dreadful consequences of transgressing the holy law of God. When men have but superficial views of what sin is, it is not surprising that they should corrupt the truth, and propagate error.

In confirmation of this opinion, we find that the doctrines of the book Mormon are directly opposed to the plan of a sinner’s acceptance with God, as revealed in the Bible. In it we are taught that the love of God is the grand moving cause of our recovery from the ruins of the fall, that the death of Christ is the alone meritorious procuring cause of our acceptance with God, and that the gracious operations of the Holy Spirit are the efficient cause of our restoration to the favour and image of our Maker. We are said to be pardoned by the application of the blood of Christ, being accepted in him; we have redemption through his blood even the forgiveness of sin: that we are justified by faith in the righteousness of the Redeemer, which is unto all and upon all them that believe; and that we are saved by grace, through faith, and that not of ourselves, it is the gift of God; not of works, lest any man should boast. The Scriptures trace our salvation to the mercy of God, and assure us that we are indebted to the Redeemer for all that we are, and all that we hope hereafter to be: Christ is all, and in all, in the salvation of the saved. [32]

Justification, by faith in Christ, is a fundamental doctrine, and a mistake here is dangerous, is ruinous; but his doctrine is not to be found in the book Mormon: the atonement indeed is named, but it does not occupy that place which its importance requires. The remission of sin is obtained, not by the application of the blood of atonement, but by obeying the commandments. In this system the cause of acceptance is laid aside, and the effects of being saved are put in its place. According to this system, men are justified partly by Christ, and partly by themselves, by faith and obedience united. This system is a strange compound of law and gospel, of grace and works, of the acts of the creature, and of the mercy of the Creator. The system is bad, dangerous, and destructive. If we build our hopes of acceptance with God on any thing in us, or done by us, and not on that work finished by Christ on Calvary, we are awfully mistaken, and in a very perilous situation. “Other foundation can no man lay, than that which is laid, which is Christ Jesus the Lord.” He will have all the honour of our salvation, and will not accept a part of the honour.

Connected with this mistake, are their unscriptural views of the nature of faith, which they make to be an attribute of the Deity, and a property in man, and not in crediting the Divine testimony concerning the Lord Jesus Christ, the Son of God, and the only Saviour of guilty man.

Do not suppose that I am going to bring an accusation against any body of men, without furnishing you with proofs. Consider the import of the following quotations, and say, if you [33] can tell what they mean?—“God framed the worlds by faith, that it is by faith that he exercises power over them, and that faith is the principle of power, and if the principle of power, it must be so in man, as well as in the Deity. Had it not been for the principle of faith the worlds would never have been framed, neither would man have been formed of the dust. It is by the principle by which Jehovah works, and through which he exercises power over all temporal, a well as eternal things. Take this principle or attribute from the Deity, and he would cease to exist. The principle of power which existed in the bosom of God, by which the worlds were framed, was faith, and that it is by reason of this power existing in the Deity, that all created things exist; so that all things in heaven, on earth, or under the earth, exist by reason of faith, as it existed in him.” “Faith then is the great governing principle, which has power, dominion, and authority over all things; by it they exist, by it they are upheld, by it they are changed, or by it they remain agreeably to the will of God. Without it there is no power, and without power, there can be no creation or existence.” As applicable to God, I know not what these passages mean; and certain I am that nothing like them is to found in the Holy Scriptures. In them he is declared to be self-existant and eternal, possessing all the attributes essential to Deity, infinite in his wisdom, inflexible in his justice, unspotted in his holiness, abundant in his goodness, rich in his mercy, and great in his grace; working all things after the council of his will. But no where is faith said to be an attribute of his nature, essential to his [34] being, and that without it he cannot work, create, and perform all things, according to his good pleasure.

The following quotations from the book Mormon, show the miraculous effects of their faith. Moroni says, that “it was the faith of Alma and Amulek that caused the walls of the prison to be rent;” “that it was the faith of Nephi and Lehi that caused a change to be wrought upon the hearts of the Lamanites, when they were immersed with the Holy Spirit and with fire;” and “that it was by faith that the mountain Zerin was removed by the brother of Jared, who spoke in the name of the Lord.” They are fond of dealing in the marvellous, and to have something out of the common way, to amuse the ignorant; but the faith which saves is wrought in the heart by the Holy Spirit, and has always respect to the divine testimony. It takes God at his word, believes all that he has revealed, and thankfully receives all his blessings as his own divinely free gift. It is by faith in the righteousness of the Redeemer that our sins are pardoned, our persons justified, and we obtain a title to eternal life. This faith, which is founded on the truth, and has Christ for its object, and salvation for its end, works by love, purifies the heart, and overcomes the world. It is, in fine, the substance of things hoped for, and the evidence of things not seen, giving a real subsistence in the mind, of things future and unseen; not as probabilities which may be true, but as absolute certainties, on which we may depend with the most unsuspicious confidence. Thus, you see, that the views of the Mormonites, with regard to faith, do not harmonize with the Holy [35] Scriptures; and we are justified in concluding that the doctrine is erroneous, and that the book in which it is found must be untrue and dangerous. Every book must bow to the authority of the Bible, and every sentiment which does not agree with it, is not of God, and instead of doing us good, must do us harm.

Again, the rite of baptism is substituted for the regeneration of the heart, by the word and Spirit of God.

We are all naturally inclined to trust in a name, in a form of religion, and to suppose that it consists in a mere ritual service. When the Jews were in a most corrupt state, they were punctual in their attendance on the temple-worship, crying, “The temple of the Lord, the temple of the Lord, are we;” and whilst thirsting for the blood of the Saviour, they were afraid of being polluted by going into the judgement hall, and so would not be allowed to eat the passover.

Whenever professors of religion are drawn away from the simplicity of the gospel, they take refuge in ritual worship, and are oftentimes conceited of their religious observances.

It does not appear that the Mormonites do attach too much importance on their being baptized; and, if we may judge from their avowed principles and practice, they seem to imagine that it will operate as a charm. Baptism is only a sign, and not the thing signified; and many are baptized who are only baptized Infidels.

Without the renewal of the heart, a religious profession will be of no avail. The rite of baptism cannot save: “circumcision availeth nothing, neither uncircumcision, but a new creature.” This doctrine was plainly taught by our Lord and [36] his Apostles, and it is that which is essential to our becoming true Christians; for except a man be born again he cannot see the kingdom of God. Every institution of God ought to be observed by us in the manner prescribed, and not to substitute it for the regeneration of the heart by the Spirit. This is a radical defect in the system of the book Mormon. It is a dangerous error, and will be manifest in the lives of all who are under its influence.

The miraculous gifts of the Holy Spirit, are substituted for his gracious influence on the soul.

The miraculous gifts bestowed on the disciples were to qualify them for the work of the ministry, and to enable them to speak with tongues, that every man might hear in his own language the wonderful works of God. They were to be a sign to others, and were continued until the Gospel was triumphantly preached in every land. They were possessed by many who were not changed by grace, and who will not be acknowledge by the Judge before assembled worlds, as his redeemed. “Many will say unto me in that day, Lord, Lord, have we not prophesied in they name, and in they name have cast out devils, and in thy name done many wonderful works, and then will I profess unto them, I never knew you, depart from me, ye that work iniquity.”

These gifts were valuable, but something more was needful for personal religion and final salvation, namely, the gracious influence of the Holy Spirit, to bring home to the heart the word preached with power, to awaken the conscience, to enlighten the understanding, to renew the [37] heart, and to sanctify the whole man, to apply to us the benefits of Christ’s mediation, to guide us aright, and to seal us unto the day of redemption. Without the gracious work of the Holy Spirit upon the soul, we are dead to God, have no relish for spiritual blessings, and no meetness for the enjoyment of heaven. “If any man have not the Spirit of Christ he is none of his.”

Men may talk about the gifts of the Holy Ghost, which they do not possess, and yet may disregard the gracious influence of the Holy Spirit, without which they cannot be saved. There is as much danger of omitting as of adding to the way of salvation. From all that I can learn of the scheme of the Mormonites, they substitute the miraculous gifts for the gracious work of the Spirit; and their system is, and must be, decidedly wrong. I have not met with anything in the book respecting the gracious influence; but the doctrine of the gifts runs through the book, is interwoven with all their discourses, and they are promised to the baptized.

I shall only notice another thing in their doctrines— the continuance of the Melchizedek and Aaronic orders of priesthood in the church.

The extravagance of the following passages, from the book of the Covenants, will be sufficient to show you that the authors of them were ignorant of the nature of Christ’s kingdom, the character of his subjects, and the design of the ministerial office, under the dispensation of the Spirit. Hear for yourselves, and then judge:—“There are in the church two priesthoods, the Melchizedeck and the Aaronical, including the Levitical priesthood. The power or autho- [38] rity of the higher, the Melchizedeck 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. The power and authority of the lesser, or Aaronical priesthood, is to hold the keys of the ministry of angels, to administer in outward ordinances, and to live by the gospel. No man has a legal right to hold the keys of the priesthood, except he be a literal descendant of Aaron.”

And the following is addressed to the Jews:—“Therefore, thus saith the Lord unto you, with whom the priesthood hath continued through the lineage of your fathers, for they are lawful heirs according to the promise, and have been hid with Christ in God; therefore your law in the priesthood hath remained, and most needs remain, through you in your lineage, until the restoration of all thing spoken by the mouths of all the prophets since the world began.” Nay, “the twelve American Apostles were High Priests of God, and had to confirm the church by the laying on of hands, and the giving of the Holy Ghost.” But, enough. Did you ever hear of such priestly assumption before? Why, they have outdone the Jews, who had only one High Priest; but these have seventy. No longer need you be astonished at the claims of the Pope of Rome. These men have outdone him, for they have been called of God as was Aaron; they were called by name, and have received a special commission. His Holiness claims to be the successor of Peter; [39] but they belong to the order of Melchizedeck, a priest who liveth for ever. The Pope is the head of the church of the earth; but they have the keys of all spiritual blessings, and of the ministry of angels. Claiming to be priests, they virtually set aside the priesthood of Christ, of which the priests under the law were but a figure, or type. When Christ came, their office ceased, as sacrifice was no longer to be offered; for when the substance came, the shadow disappeared.

In the New Testament there are no priests from office, but all the saints are priests, to offer up spiritual sacrifice, acceptable to God through Jesus Christ.

When we consider these doctrines, relating to God, human depravity, the evil of sin, the way of acceptance, the nature of faith, the work of the Holy Spirit, and the assumptions of priestly dignity, we perceive that there is a marked difference, between them and those contained in the sacred volume; therefore the book Mormon has not been, and indeed, could not have been, written by the Spirit of Truth.

Fourthly,—I now proceed to show you, that the evidence in support of the claims of the book Mormon to inspiration, is insufficient, and not to be compared with that by which the Holy Scriptures are proved to be the word of the living God.

No man of common understanding would believe any tale told him, without considering is it likely, and what is the proof of its credibility? If it happened long ago, it must have the testimony of all succeeding ages; if the thing related took place in a distant country, we [40] require the testimony of those on the spot, who are persons of truth, able to judge, and who do know the fact related to be true.

Another thing would be, is it probable, have we ever heard or witnessed anything like it?

This is the common sense method of testing the truth of the tale.

Let us try the tale of the book Mormon by these principles. According to the tale, it is 2,400 years since Lehi left Jerusalem for the land of promise, and about 4,000 years since the people of Jared left Babel with their language uncounfounded. They passed through the wilderness by divine direction, were taught to build barges having windows with molten stones in them, which, when touched by the finger of the Redeemer, gave them light when under the water; and after swimming and diving 344 days, arrived on the southwest coast of that happy country, America.

But who ever heard of the pilgrimage of Lehi, and of his wonderful adventures and “hairbreadth ‘scapes”—of the journey of the people of Jared, and of their extraordinary mode of navigation in that early age? Were these unknown to the rest of the world? Was there no person to record them for the information of future ages, and no book to transmit them to us, that we might admire the wondrous dealings of the Most High with them? But that all these marvellous things should lie buried in a stone chest 1,400 years, and then, in the year one thousand eight hundred and thirty, should burst forth on an astonished world like a clap of thunder! Believe it who will, I cannot, I will not, for it fails of proof. [41]

All those things recorded in the book Mormon happened in a distant country, and therefore we require the testimony of those on the spot, persons of integrity, able to judge, and whose veracity is not questionable from interested motives. But in vain do we require such evidence; for there is not a living witness to be found; the whole race is extinct, and, if they did ever exist, they are now unknown. The inhabitants of the present day do not credit the statement given by Smith and his companions. I have seen a declaration, signed by fifty inhabitants of Palmyra, showing what is their opinion of the publication; and being on the spot, and acquainted with the circumstances connected, declare that they consider it to be a fiction, and do not believe one word of it. Believe who may, I cannot, I will not, for it is without proof of being true.

Another thing is, that it is a tale unlike any thing that ever occurred in the experience of any people, in any country. It is unlike any thing that we have ever seen or known. It is scarcely equalled by the wildest flight of the novellist, by the marvellous exploits of the romance; and is scarcely surpassed by the Koran, when Mahomet assures his followers, that the angel Gabriel knocked at his door, and ordered him to mount the beast having sixteen wings, and that he flew with him quick as lightning. The book is full of marvellous things, and there is not a shade of evidence that they ever did take place. They are improbable—a mere fiction to delude the ignorant and unwary; and my astonishment is, that a tale brought some thousands of miles, without any satisfactory evidence of being true, [42] should be listened to, for one moment, by any man of common understanding.

It has been said that there are very wonderful things related in the Bible, and which, being so marvellous, could only have been done by the mighty power of God. True; but the evidence of the truth of the Bible is very different from any thing that can be produced in favour of the book Mormon.

The Bible contains prophecies delivered by holy men, who spake as they were moved by the Holy Ghost, and these predictions, recorded hundreds of years ago, minutely foretell what has been exactly fulfilled. We can point to Tyre, to Ninevah, and to Babylon, and say, here we have a proof of the truth of the Scripture, from prophecy fulfilled. We can name the Assyrian, Chaldean, Grecian, and Roman empires, and say, see the truth of the scripture, from the fulfillment of prophecy. In addition to all these, we have the Jews, the ancient people, distinguished for their advantages both temporal and spiritual; yet, for their unbelief, were subdued, carried captive, dispersed among all the nations of the earth, and are still living a distinct people, retaining their religion, and worshipping according to their fathers—a circumstance unknown in the history of mankind; and no such thing can be said of the book Mormon, for the people are all destroyed, and not a living witness left!

We have in the Bible an account of the miracles wrought: by Christ, to prove the divinity of his mission, and the truth of his message. They were done in presence of friends and of foes, and were such as could be judged of by the senses, and in which no imposition could be practised. [43]They were written at the time when they were done, and the history of them was in the hands of those who either saw them done, or knew that they were done; but not any thing of this kind can be urged in favour of the book of Mormon, as the miracles mentioned in it were not made known for hundreds of years afterwards, and we have no rational proof that they were ever done.

In the Bible we are told that Christ should reign for ever and ever, and that of his kingdom there should be no end; that the Lord should send the rod of his strength out of Zion, and that his gospel should be preached till time should end. What has been the result? It has existed notwithstanding the rage of enemies, Jews and Gentiles. It has not been destroyed by the civil power, the policy of statesmen, and the persecution of the intolerant. It does still exist, notwithstanding the treachery of professing friends–the errors which have been interwoven with it by interested men, acting under the influence of the grand deceiver. But where do we meet with any thing like this in the book Mormon? The religion of that people has ceased, they have been destroyed by their wars, and not a living witness was left of the power of religion and of the truth of God.

I might run the parallel still further, from the character of the sacred penmen, who were honest, simple-hearted men, testifying what they knew to be true, and for their testimony sacrificed all that men call good and great. It might also be done from the doctrines, which are sublime; from its morality, which is pure; from its promises, which are precious; and from the hopes which it inspires, which are animating. [44]

The gospel has wrought wonders of grace in the experience of an innumerable multitude.

It has made them holy and happy. It has cheered them amid the darkness, and smoothed the rugged path of life. It has sweetened the bitter cup of affliction, enabled them to meet death undismayed, and when their bodies have been consuming in the flames at the stake, they have been praising God. and rejoicing in hope of that glory which is to be revealed. Experiencing the transforming influence of the gospel, and enjoying the consolations of the Comforter, they have been as fully convinced that it is the truth of God, as that they do exist.

Can these things be equalled by the supporters of the book Mormon? Assuredly not. I do not know of any thing in it which is so, nor without it, except the testimony of three men, associates of Smith. They received a revelation that they were to be shown the plates, by an angel, and were to be the witnesses that the book was true. Their testimony must satisfy every candid inquirer, that they were either deceived, or deceivers. The following is their testimony.

“Be it known to all nations, kindreds, tongues, and people, unto whom this work shall come, that we, through the grace of God, the Father, and our Lord Jesus Christ, have seen the plates which contain this record, which is a record of the people of Nephi, and also of the Lamanites, their brethren, and also of the people of Jared, who came from the tower of which hath been spoken; and we also know that they have been translated by the gift and power of God, for his voice hath declared it unto us, wherefore we know, of a surety, that the work is [45] true. And we also testify, that we have seen the engravings which are upon the plates, and they have been shown unto us by the power of God, and not of man. And we declare, with words of soberness, that an angel of God came down from heaven, and he brought and laid before our eyes, that we beheld and saw the plates, and the engravings thereon. And we know that it is by the grace of God, the Father, and our Lord Jesus Christ, that we beheld, and bear record that these things are true, and it is marvellous in our eyes; nevertheless the voice of the Lord commanded us that we should bear record of it: wherefore, to be obedient unto the commandments of God, we bear testimony of these things. And we know that if we are faithful in Christ, we shall rid our garments of the blood of all men, and be found spotless before the judgment seat of Christ, and shall dwell with him eternally in the heavens.” Never was there any testimony so unsatisfactory; for these men do not state that they were acquainted with the reformed Egyptian language engraven on the plates of brass; that they compared the translation with the original, to ascertain that it had been made correctly: they only saw the plates, and vouch for their existence. Never was any evidence procured in such an extraordinary manner; an angel from heaven showed them the plates which were in the possession of Smith, who ought to have produced them, that they might have been rationally convinced that there was no imposition, and that all things were true, as asserted.

Never was there any thing more daringly impious than in the assertions, “The voice of God hath declared it unto us,” “the voice of God [46] hath commanded us that we should bear record of it,” and “that we beheld, and bear record that these things are true.” If there be any who are satisfied with such evidence, they are to be pitied for their weakness; for the proof is as great a fable as the book, and would not be received in any court. It can only be regarded as the evidence of interested men, who would sacrifice principle for interest, truth for falsehood, to secure their own selfish purposes. When the evidence is examined, it ought not only to awaken suspicion, that all is not right, but to satisfy us that the book is not of God, but of man, that it has no claim to inspiration, but ought to be classed with the fictions of the age.

Lastly,—the claims of this book to inspiration, are presumptuous.

In all ages there have been men who have claimed to have intercourse with the Most High, to gain a name and to promote their worldly interests. There were false prophets among the Jews, who delivered as revelations their own fancies, to deceive the ignorant, and not the truth of God, to instruct and save. There was a lying spirit in the mouths of the prophets, who persuaded Ahab and Jehosaphat to go up to Ramoth Gilead, so that they did not believe the word of the Lord by his servant Micaiah; and you know what happened.

In the present day men have risen up, believing in visions and revelations, who maintain that the miraculous gifts are as necessary now, and of as great importance to the present generation, as at any former period.

Take the following, designed to show the sinfulness of infant baptism, and which is un-[47] like anything recorded in the Sacred Scriptures, as a specimen of the presumptuous claims to inspiration:—“And the word of the Lord came to me, by the power of the Holy Ghost, saying, Listen to the words of Christ, your Redeemer, your Lord, and your God. Behold, I came into the world, not to call the righteous, but sinners, to repentance; the whole need no physician, but they that are sick. Wherefore, little children are whole, for they are not capable of committing sin; wherefore, the curse of Adam is taken from them, in me, that it hath no power over them, and the law of circumcision is done away in me. After this manner did the Holy Ghost manifest the word of God unto me. Wherefore, my beloved son, I know that it is a solemn mockery before God that ye should baptize little children; and he that saith that little children need baptism, denieth the mercies of Christ, and setteth at nought the atonement of him and the power of his redemption.

Wo unto such, for they are in danger of death, hell, and endless torment. I speak it boldly; God hath commanded me.” This is so unlike any-thing contained in the Book of God, that no comment is required, and is a decisive proof that the claims to inspiration are presumptuous. As a further illustration, I shall introduce one of the revelations of Joseph Smith, jun., and his associate Cowdrey. In it the Most High is represented as saying, “It is meet that my servant Joseph Smith, jun., should have a house built, in which to live and to translate.” Very considerate! And, again, “It is meet that my servant Stephen Rigdon, should live as seemeth him good, inasmuch as he keepeth my com- [48] mandments.” Very liberal, indeed! What could nay man wish for more than to live as was agreeable to his inclinations? Is there, however, a man of piety who is not shocked at the attempts made, under the guise of religion, to palm these things on the world as the commandments of the Most High? Is there a man of common understanding, who does not perceive that it is a system of delusion, to impose upon the unwary, for the accomplishment of some selfish design? And who is there that does not perceive that it is a device of Satan, to lead away the minds of men from the simplicity of the truth that saves, to corrupt the Word of God by such an unholy mixture, and to confirm Infidels in their unbelief, causing them to imagine that there is no truth in Scripture, and no reality in religion?

We consider a liar to be a very bad character; we have no confidence in him, even when he speaks the truth; and we shun his company lest we should be considered of the same class.

We condemn the novel reader, who is amused with a lie, when he knows it to be such. We regard the writers of fiction as enemies to the realities of common life, and the corrupters of the morals of the rising generation. But what are these, bad though they be, compared with those men who have the hardihood, the daring impiety, to forge the name of God, to give currency to their wicked fancies, and to cause the God of Truth to give his sanction to falsehood. Who is there that is not shocked, at the awful impiety of introducing the God of Truth into that vile, lying publication’ “Thus God spake, God said, and [49] God commanded;” and if this be not taking his name in vain, I know not what it is.

The Lord Jesus Christ, after his ascension, is represented as appearing unto them, conversing with them familiarly, appointing officers in their church, giving them unlimited power, and promising to bless them. We have no reason to think that anything of the kind ever did take place. Nay, we are certain that it never did take place; for the heavens are to retain him until the restitution of all things? that his second coming will be without sin unto salvation. They say that the Holy Spirit, the Spirit of Truth, inspired them to write what they did, and he who never caused anything to be penned that is not true, is said to be the author of this production; and the Holy Spirit instigated Nephi to take away the life of Laban. “And it came to pass that the Spirit said unto Nephi, Slay Laban, for the Lord hath delivered him into thy hand.” If this is not blasphemy, I do not know what it is. It is almost, if not altogether, the sin against the Holy Ghost.

Who can conceive and describe the heinousness of this crime?—to make the God of Truth the author of falsehood, the Son of God the patron of folly, and the Spirit of all Truth to set his seal to a lie! But, enough; for, if you can distinguish between things that differ, if you do feel the force of an argument, and if you have a holy indignation against imposition, you must say, that the attempt to add the book Mormon to the Holy Scriptures, as a new revelation, is, and must be, awfully wicked. [50]

FOURTH LECTURE

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EPHESIANS, IV., 14

That we henceforth be no more children, tossed to and fro, and carried about with every wind of doctrine, by the sleight of men, and cunning craftiness, whereby they lie in wait to deceive.

In the preceding lectures it has been proved that the claims for the inspiration of the book Mormon, are unfounded; and the last proposition to be established is, that the religion founded on it, is, and must be, a delusion.

There have been many, in all ages, who have been deceived, and were not aware of it.

They imagined that their state was not safe, that their way was right, and that their way was right, and that their end should be peace, but who have gone from the lap of delusion to the bar of God; and it was not till their final doom was fixed that they were undeceived, and when it was too late to rectify their mistake. The foolish virgins, who had not made preparation to enter with the bridegroom, were not conscious that they were deceived, until they were denied admission, when they knocked; and those who possessed miraculous gifts could say, “Lord, Lord, we have prophesied in they name, and in thy name done many might works.” These men, no doubt, considered that what they had done in his name would be their passport; but [51] the sentence to be pronounced is, “I know you not; depart from me, ye workers of iniquity.”

Others are deceivers, seeking to impose upon the ignorant, by what they are conscious is not true; and their conduct is, in the text, described as “the sleight of men, and cunning craftiness, whereby they lie in wait to deceive.” Such are inexcusable, because they are acting in opposition to the convictions of their own minds, and are awfully criminal, from the means which they employ—error, and from the object which they seek to obtain—some selfish purpose. Both the deceived and the deceivers are in a perilous condition, and must inevitably perish.

In the prosecution of our plan, then, it may be proper to ascertain what is the standard by which we may test principles, and state the marks of delusion, by which we may discern between those who serve God, and those who serve him not, and the dismal consequences of being deceived; which should lead us all to a consideration of our ways, to an examination of our state, and to pray fervently to God, that he would guide our feet in the way everlasting.

The only standard of what is true is the word of God, which is to be the object of our faith, and we are only to believe for salvation that which it contains. To the law and to the testimony we are to appeal, and if any man speak not according to these, it is because there is no light or knowledge in him. Departure from the word of God, in our principles, is a delusion; hence the vast importance of strictly adhering to the truth of God, and of rejecting every opinion which is not sanctioned by it.

Our obedience, flowing from faith and love, [52] is the evidence of the sincerity of our profession, and the reality of our faith. “Ye are my friends,” said Christ, “if ye do whatsoever I have commanded you.” When, therefore, men neglect his appointments, and disregard his authority, they plainly show that they are not his disciples; and, whatever they may profess, they are evidently under a delusion. Our worship, to be acceptable, must be performed in the way which he has marked out in his word: and to the Jews, observing the traditions of the elders, he said, “In vain do ye worship me, teaching for doctrines the commandments of men.”

The people of Israel were not left in a state of uncertainty, as to what they were to believe, observe, and do; for the truth which they were to believe was plainly revealed. The law was written by the finger of God on tables of stone. The whole of the ritual service was so clearly marked out, that there could be no mistake as to the time, the manner in which it was to be done, and the gracious design of the observance. Moses saw the pattern of the tabernacle in the mount, and there was not to be a pin different from that which he had seen. There was a command for every thing, which was to be observed and performed.

The children of Israel did not believe and obey, and for which they were punished. We have two striking instances recorded in their history. The one was that of the revolted tribes, who worshipped two calves of gold, and for their idolatry were rejected of God, vanquished by the king of Assyria, who carried them away into captivity; and, for their delusion, have not been allowed to return to the land of their [53] fathers. The other was the worship of Baal, set up by king Ahab, and for which his family was destroyed, and the priests of the idol were slain.

Our Lord, who was well acquainted with human nature, the devices of Satan, and the danger of being drawn aside by the fables of men, warned his followers to beware of seducing, spirits:—“If any man shall say unto you, lo, here is Christ, or there, believe it not; for there shall arise false Christs and false prophets, and shall show great signs and wonders, insomuch that, if it were possible, they shall deceive the very elect. Behold, I have told you before. Wherefore, if they shall say unto you, Behold he is in the desert, go not forth; Behold he is in the secret chambers, believe it not.” This was a system of gross delusion; these men were deceivers, teaching what was not true, and all who followed them were deluded. What was taught was untrue—it was a lie. Individuals who have their judgements warped with error, and churches departing from the simplicity of the truth, are under a delusion. This was the case with the Galatians, who had been bewitched by Judaizing teachers; and also of the Laodiceans, who had sunk into a lukewarm state. They imagined that they were rich, and increased with goods, and stood in need of nothing; and knew not that they were wretched, and miserable, and blind, and naked. In all these instances we see what the cause of their delusion and declension was, that they did not believe and obey the truth. Every system that is not founded on the Word of God is wrong; and the religion which is the offspring of error [54] must be a delusion. When men are governed by expediency, take unwarrantable liberties with the Holy Scriptures, and adopt the opinions of men, and submit to their authority in spiritual things, then is their religion a delusion.

It cannot be any thing else: it is not produced, promoted, and perfected by the truth and power of God.

The false prophet Mahomet was, no doubt, a deceiver; but he was also under a strong delusion when he wrote the Koran. And in doing so, he was assisted by a Jew and two Christians of opposite sentiments, and by their aid wrote a book which is a wretched compound of Judaism, Christianity, and his own wild fancies, visions, and revelations. The portions of Scripture introduced have been neutralized by his wild notions, and the word, being corrupted, does no good. The prophet claimed, and received, more honour than the Son of God; and the effect is, that the people are ignorant of the way of salvation, and are the slaves of their own passions. We may justly consider the book untrue, and the religion which is founded on it is a delusion.

A delusion, which is closely allied with this, exists amongst us. The Holy Scriptures are declared to be incomplete; that some parts of them have been lost, and that the new revelations are to be received as of equal authority as the Bible. This wicked sentiment has been avowed and maintained.

The attempt to append new revelations to the Word of God is as wicked and dangerous as the conduct of Mahomet, who corrupted it; is as bad and ruinous as the act of the Man of Sin, in withholding the Holy Scriptures from the [55] people. It is to add man’s opinions to the truth of God, and to vest them with the same authority which is given to it. This is an awful delusion, as it as an impeachment of the wisdom, the goodness, and the faithfulness of God, for not giving a revelation sufficient for the accomplishment of the purpose of mercy, for the conversion of sinners, and for the edification of believers; and that this defect has been supplied eighteen hundred years afterwards. This would lead men to undervalue the Scriptures, would be to open the flood-gates of wild enthusiasm, and leave them to be tossed about with every wind of doctrine.

It has been asserted that, in the latter days, we are to have more prophets than have yet appeared, and that we are to have as many revelations, if not more, than have already been given; and as much importance, if not greater, is attached to them, as is given to what holy men of old have written. Upon this principle, we have no fixed standard of faith, no sure guide in practice, and no firm foundation of hope. If these new revelations contain only what has been already made known, where is the necessity for them? and if they reveal what is not to be found in the Bible, how are we to know that they are from God, and not from Satan, who is transforming himself into an angel of light, imposing upon men by his lies? And what evidence will justify us in receiving them as true, and coming from God? It has been pretended that an angel appeared to the three witnesses, to show them the plates, and to assure them that the book had been translated from them. Might not these men, confederates with Smith, have [56] contrived a lie to give currency to their tale? Such things have been done, and such things may be done again. A prophet of Israel deceived the man of Judah, who had come down at the command of God, to deliver his message to Jeroboam. He was not to eat nor to drink in the place; but he was deceived by his brother prophet, and disobeyed. “I am a prophet,” said the man of Israel, “as thou art, and an angel spake unto me, by the word of the Lord, saying, bring him back with thee to thy house, that he may eat bread and drink water; but he lied unto him.” What was the result? The man believed the false prophet, and went back, notwithstanding the strict command which he had received. God was displeased, and he was slain by a lion that met him in the way; so that, for his so easily believing a lie, he lost his life, and was not buried in the sepulchre of his fathers. If you lend a ready ear to these pretended revelations, you will be in danger of undervaluing what you already possess, and may tempt God, in righteous judgement, to give you up to strong delusions, to believe a lie, that you all may be damned who believe not the truth, but have pleasure in unrighteousness. You are to take heed, not only how you hear, but what you hear. As you value character, comfort, and the safety of your souls, do not follow after cunningly devised fables; shun all who lay claim to new revelations, to make known what is unknown, for they are only pretenders, they are deceivers.

Another thing which is a mark of delusion is, the importance which they attach to dreams and visions; and, in reality, they think more of these [57] things than of the revealed will of God to man, which is infallibly sure, and cannot mislead.

Dreams proceed from various causes, and are to us uncertain guides as to the will of God concerning us, and the path of duty. In the early ages, and before the canon of Scripture was completed, God did, on particular occasions, give directions to individuals how to act—as in the case of Joseph, to save the infant Redeemer. But as ignorant, weak-minded, superstitious people pay more attention to their dreams than to the word of God, the safe guide in all circumstances, Jehovah commanded the Israelites not to observe dreams, or to consult those who pretended that they could explain them. Nay, he condemned to death any one who pretended that he had prophetic dreams, and could foretel things that should come to pass, if after this he should engage the people in idolatry. See Deut., chap. xiii, v. 1—3, and Jeremiah, xxvii, 30—33.

Dreams may either be natural, divine, or from Satan, and cannot therefore be a safe guide as to what we are to believe, and how we are to act. If we may judge from the Milennial Star, the Latter Day Saints are very differently minded, and seem to consider dreams, visions, and new revelations, a sure indication of what is the mind of God. The religion which is founded on dreams, visions, and new revelations, must be uncertain and unstable; for the Holy Spirit will not employ fancies and fables to begin and to promote the work of grace in the soul of man; and we do find that those who are relying on impulses, feelings, dreams, and visions, are as unstable as water, and are veering round like the [58] wind, with every new notion introduced, and very often they make shipwreck of their profession.

Another mark of delusion is, laying claim to that which is not possessed. The Latter Day Saints claim to be the only true church upon earth; that they possess the miraculous gifts, and can give the Holy Ghost by the laying on of hands. We can bring them to the test, to show that they presumptuously lay claim to that which they do not possess, and which is not possessed by any in the church at the present day. Let us try their claims to be the restored church, by their offices and by their gifts.

Their offices: they claim to be the apostles of Christ. This was an extraordinary office, and it ceased when his immediate disciples died; and, in the nature of things there could be no successors to them, as no man now does, or can possess the requisite qualification: for unless a man had seen and conversed with him, after his resurrection, he could not be an apostle, as one part of his office was, to be a witness to the world of this important fact. Paul tells us that he was an apostle, as one born out of due season; but who had seen the Lord in his glory, who appeared and spake to him, who called him by his grace, and commissioned him to bear witness of this important fact to the Gentiles, that the Lord was risen indeed. There are those who claim to be successors of the apostles, who are only pretenders, as they are unable to prove their title by descent, or to produce the credentials of their appointment. All the apostles, having performed the functions of their office, are dead, and are in the church, not personally, but by their tes- [59] timony, which God has promised to bless, and to be with it till time shall be no more. Thus, you see the claims of these men to be the successors of the apostles of our Lord, are presumptuous and unfounded. In passing, it may be asked, What has become of the four American apostles, who were never to die, and who were seen alive 400 years afterwards? What has become of them? Where are they now, when the church has been restored? Have they wandered in the forests, and have been lost, as they have been unseen for 1,400 years? Or, after their toils and sufferings, are they asleep in some of the caves of that country? Search ought to be made for them, that they may be awaked from their slumbers, and roused to their duty at this critical time, to tell us of their labours and sufferings, of what they have seen and what they have heard, of their visions and revelations! O, the absurdities of this absurd system!

They claim to be not only apostles, but priests of the Melchizedeck and Aaronical orders, and they have seventy high priests. Nothing equal to this unscriptural assumption is to be found in any false system in the world. What! belonging to the order of Him whose priesthood is for ever, and which does not, like the Aaronical order, admit of change! The Son of God alone belonged to this order; and yet these men have the assurance to claim to be of the higher order of the priesthood, who have the keys of all the spiritual blessings of the church, to whom the heavens are opened, and they have interviews with the Redeemer to receive his instructions!

These claims surpass the pretentions of any heresiarch that ever appeared in our world. [60]

The priesthood of Aaron ceased when the temple was destroyed, and when the ritual service of Moses could no longer be performed where the name of Jehovah had been recorded. It ceased; for, when the substance came, the shadows disappeared. To talk of their being of the order of Aaron, would be to restore Judaism, and banish Christianity. Compare their system with the epistle to the Hebrews, and you must admit that their system is unscriptural, is untrue. It is a virtual denial of the priesthood of Christ, of his atonement, and that he has come in the flesh.

Nor does the New Testament give any countenance to a priest from office. It is unknown there; it is a human, not a divine appointment. The fair conclusion is, that their system is not taken from the Holy Scriptures, but is a contrivance of man; that they have not been taught of God, for he cannot, he will not, teach one thing in his word, and another to any man. No: and, as they have set aside the order of the New Testament, they must be under a delusion.

Let us now test their gifts. They tell us what signs follow the giving of the Holy Ghost to the baptized, by the laying on of the hands; they heal the sick, anointing them with oil in the name of the Lord; they work miracles, speak with tongues, take poison without being destroyed, and tread on venomous reptiles without being hurt! If they can do so, then are their claims established, and they are justly entitled to the honourable name of Latter Day Saints; but if they fail, then is their book a vile production, and they are imposters. [61]

Proofs, however, must be given, and without which we cannot, we will not, we ought not, to be satisfied.

It has been openly and boldly asserted, that we do not preach the everlasting Gospel, because we do not give the Holy Ghost by the laying on of hands; and the fair inference assuredly is, that they possess the power, and use it. As it was in the primitive church visible to all, believers and unbelievers, it will be the same now. Which of the baptized have received the Holy Ghost, by the laying on of hands? Where is the fulfilment of the promise, that the power is possessed, and that the doctrine is true? The proofs are wanting; and what can be the reason that their speech and acts, their profession and performances, do not agree? The fact is, they claim to possess that which they have not to give; and, weighed in the balances, they are found wanting.

Another gift is, to heal the sick, anointing them with oil in the name of the Lord. This was an endowment of no ordinary value, and the people must have had a strong conviction of the truth which they preached, from the benefits done to their afflicted bodies.

The Apostles were empowered by Christ to heal the sick, and they did exert that power on various occasions. Peter and John, by a word, healed the cripple who lay at the beautiful gate of the temple. Paul, in the Island of Melita, cured one who was sick of a fever. The Elders of the primitive church did so, anointing the sick with oil in the name of the Lord; but can they, who say that the church has been restored, and that they possess the power of healing, name [62] an individual who was sick, that has, by their power, been restored to health. If they do not, we deny their mission, reject their message, and treat them as vain pretenders.

They claim the power of working miracles, a thing which no one can do unless God be with him. A miracle is the suspension of the established laws for the regulation of the physical world, and the effecting of any purpose without the use of ordinary means; such as healing the sick by a word, giving sight to the blind, and raising the dead to life. These are things which can be judged of by the senses, and in which imposition cannot be practised. Then, if those who say that they possess miraculous gifts, do not give proofs by their acts, they are to be treated as vile imposters.

They pretend that they can speak with tongues, and foretel future events with infallible certainty; that they can take poison without being destroyed, and tread on poisonous reptiles without being hurt. Without further animadversion on their pretensions, suffice it to say, that unless they give proofs that will bear examination, you are not justified in receiving them as sent from God; for, when brought to the test, they have been found wanting. Not long since, one of their Elders, at Manchester, made the attempt to speak with tongues, and failed. The whole affair has been published as a warning to the people, that they may no more be imposed on by their pretensions. The Latter Day Saints have been weighed in the balances of the sanctuary, and have been found wanting. Their system is an awful delusion, and it is difficult to conceive that the leading men can be [63] ignorant, that they do not possess the signs following the gift of the Holy Ghost, by the laying on of hands. If they are not deceivers, they are deceived.

Whenever men corrupt the word of God, by their false glosses and additions, they are under a delusion, and they are ruined. Mahomet, in composing his Koran, did so, and the scriptural facts introduced were neutralized by his visions and revelations. The consequence was, that the millions of his adherents remained ignorant of the true God, strangers to the blessings of salvation, and they are satisfied with sensual pleasures on earth and in heaven. In nothing are men so easily imposed upon as in religion. In our own day, in Scotland, Mrs. Buchan, pretending to have a revelation from heaven, drew away many after her. In England, Johanna Southcote, notwithstanding her absurd pretensions, had her adherents, and some of them still expect that she will return and give birth to the Shiloah. The Mormonites, who have lately appeared amongst us, are of the same description. They claim to be the only true church on earth, and that they alone preach the everlasting Gospel; but they corrupt the word of God by their additions, and claim to possess those gifts which are not possessed by any in the present day.

The reason why people are so easily deluded, by false pretensions, is, that they do not understand and believe the Scriptures; for if they did understand their meaning, perceive their glory, and were attracted by their excellencies to believe to the saving of their soul, they would not fall a prey to vain deceivers. To the want of a [64] spiritual perception of the truth we may trace the embracing of error that destroys, and the miscarriage of mere professors. If you have experienced the transforming influence of the Gospel, you will be preserved from error, and will not be hoodwinked by idle tales, vain fancies, and pretended revelations.

The best safeguard from all these evils, which distract the church and endanger the safety of souls, is a strict adherence to the word of God, as the only standard of faith and rule of duty.

No sentiment is to be entertained that is not founded on it, no opinion is to be embraced until tested by it; and unless it accords with the analogy of faith, it is not to be received, for it is dangerous and destructive. Try all things by the word of God and embrace only that which is according to the law and the testimony.

Follow the [*Copy unreadable*] of Scripture, and you will not be moved away from the hope of the Gospel. “Believe not every Spirit, but try the Spirits. Many false prophets have gone out into the world, and, if it were possible, they would deceive the very elect; “but beware of dogs, beware of evil workers, beware of the concision.” Your character, your comfort, your stability in the faith, and your own security require you to do so.

Attend to the cautions given. “If any man come unto you, and bring not the doctrine of Christ, receive him not into your house, neither bid him God speed, lest ye be partakers of his evil deeds.” Following this advice, how can you receive any man, who brings to you a new revelation as an appendage to the word of God? It would be at your peril to do so. Let not a [65] thought of your heart, a word of your mouth, an action of your life, give any countenance to such an awful delusion, an act of such daring impiety.

See, then, that you contend earnestly for the faith once delivered to the saints.

It has been said, and is the opinion of many, that if the Latter Day Saints had been allowed to pass unnoticed, they soon would come to nought. This is very doubtful, and in the mean time much injury might have been done. If our Lord had thought so, he would not have warned his followers against the false prophets and false Christs who should appear. If Paul had thought so, he would not have warned the Ephesian elders, nor have penned the words of our text. Following such examples, we cannot err. As believers, it is your duty to be zealous advocates for the truth that saves, and to employ all the means in your power for its defence and propagation. As ministers, we have to put you on your guard, that you may not be hoodwinked by lies, and have your ears turned away from the truth to fables. Pray earnestly to God, for his grace and Holy Spirit, to enable you, whilst you have a mind to think and energy to act, that you may be unwavering advocates for the truth that saves, and that with your dying breath you may exclaim, “The Bible, the whole Bible, and nothing but the Bible.” Amen.

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