To the Editor of the Star

1841-03

Millennial Star Taylor, John, 1808-1887

❮ Home

Taylor, John. “To the Editor of the Star.” Latter-day Saints Millennial Star (Manchester, England) 1, no. 11 (March 1841): 276–80.

To the Editor of the Star.

Liverpool, Feb. 27, 1841.

Dear Brother,—Having perused in your number of last month, some strictures upon Mr. Hainings’ “Mormonism weighed in the balances and found wanting,” I conceived that a few remarks from me upon that subject might not be nninteresting, as I am acquainted with the whole of the circumstances of the coming forth of that publication: it was my labours in Douglas (Isle of Man,) that first gave rise to his important discoveries, and brought into existence that production, which for ought I know may be considered of importance among the friends of sectarianism at a distance from home; but those who are acquainted with its relations, its parentage, the time, manner, and circumstances of its coming into being consider it lighter than vanity; and it is treated by all intelligent men with the contempt that such productions deserve.

Permit me, sir, to mention a few circumstances that took place previous to the delivery of “Mr. Hainings, Lectures;” about the middle of last September I visited the Isle of Man, accompanied by Elder Hyrum Clark, and preached in the town of Douglas, where I hired the Wellington room, a large hall capable of containing one thousand persons; and commenced delivering a course of lectures to attentive and respectable congregations. I had not proceeded above two or three nights before I was interrupted in a very indecorous, anti-christian, and ungentlemanly manner by a party of Primitive Methodist Preachers and a Wesleyan Methodist Local Preacher, whose conduct was not very dissimilar from that of the pious and zealous disorderlies that you speak of in Bolton, who were bound over to keep the peace, and who if they had obtained justice would unquestionably have shared the same fate; and, had it not been for some gentlemen present who interfered, who possessed more pru- [276] dence and discretion than religious bigotry, it would have been difficult to prevent an indignant public from putting them out of doors. The next day I received a challange from the head champion, Mr. Hamilton, a Primitive Methodist itinerant preacher, which was so surcharged with calumny and vile abuse that if I had not been a stranger there, and known that the public knew nothing about me, or my principles but what they obtained through a false mrdium, I should have treated with contempt; as it was I submitted to it, not with a view of having my principles investigated, for I knew that they were out of the reach of his critical acumen,—not to have him detect error, for I was aware that he was utterly incapable of discerning the difference between truth and error; nor had I the least idea of teaching him, for I felt convinced with Solomon, that “a fool is wiser in his own eyes than seven men that can render a reason,” but merely to remove public prejudice, and to let it be known that I courted publicity and light, and was not afraid of bringing my principles to the touchstone of truth.

This is the same individual, sir, whose extensive acquaintance with history enabled him to inform the public that in some countries where there was no water they baptized with oil!!! about which opinion I had the hardihood to be a little sceptical despite of his great proficiency in historical lore; for I was foolish enough to wonder (as any old woman would do who did not possess the same knowledge of history as himself,) what they made use of as a beverage in that country!! as oil would not be very palatable to drink at all times, and also what they cooked their vicuals with. It was the same individual, sir, who on being asked his authority to preach answered “I sent myself,” I was led to tell him that I was of that opinion before, but that he had confirmed my impressions; that I had thought from the beginning that God had nothing to do with sending him out. Yet foolish, ignorant, and untaught as he was, there are those, sir, (who think that because the Scriptures says “God has chosen the weak things of this world to confound the wise,” that any and every person is qualified to preach the gospel merely because they are fools, whether God calls them or not;) who had it not been for this exposure, might have mistaken him for a wise man and have thought that he was called of God.—The result of that discussion as taken from the Manx Liberal is found in your number for November.

The public began then to see that the doctrine of the Latter-Day Saints was not so awful and blasphemous, as it had been represented to be by some of these pious men, which excited the jealousy of a Mr. Hays, a Wesleyan Methodist Superintendent Preacher, whose craft was in danger, and who saw clearly that truth would not destroy truth; and having no better weapon, commenced propagating falsehood by publishing a statement purporting to be made by a Mr. Hale, Joseph Smith’s father-in-law, professing to give an account of the character of Joseph Smith, and of the coming forth of the Book of Mormon: but as he was not acquainted with a document containing some other lies published by Mr. Livesey, a Rev. brother of his, which also gave an account of the coming forth of the Book of Mormon; it so happened that they did not agree in their statement in regard to its au- [277] thor, origin, or coming forth; so for the benefit of the public I published the counter statement of his Rev. brother, whose testimonies did no more agree than the testimony of the false witnesses that appeared against our Savour. He then published another and vainly attempted to hide his shame, which was replied to by me in a tract called “CALUMNY REFUTED AND THE TRUTH DEFENDED.” He then published another and I answered in one entitled “TRUTH DEFENDED, AND METHODISM WEIGHED IN THE BALANCES AND FOUND WANTING,” (all of which may be had at the “Star Office.”)

About the same time arose another defender of the faith, a Doctor Curran, who attacked me in the public press, and I answered him through the same medium, which may be seen in full in the Manx Sun and Liberal of that date, for several successive weeks. Two of my answers to him are found in the Nov. and Dec. numbers of the “Star.” The Doctor is a learned gentleman, a conniseur in religion, a sectarian anatomist, who knows how to dissect better than to put together, or unite the system: he had stood some time in the town and vicinity as the champion in polemics; when he threw down the gauntlet scarce any one could be found who had the hardihood to take it up. Mistaking these for some of the wild chimeras and dogmas of men, he made several furious onsets, but found himself as frequently repulsed, without having sufficient honesty to acknowledge the truth; he retired feeble, helpless, and maimed from the field. I have often, sir, been surprised at the weakness of the arguments that are made use of against us even by men of literary attainments, and of great talent when employed in any other cause. The Doctor further stated, that “never at any time had pure religion been revived, and something Godlike made its appearance, but satan had opposed it,” referring to our opposition to what he considered to be truth (alias sectarianism and false doctrine); and yet although he intimated that pure religion had been revived, he elsewere stated that there never was a time when the church was more “unhealthy, ignorant and corrupt!!” hence we are all right and all wrong; we have something Godlike; yet this Godlike something is ignorant, unhealthy, corrupt!!! He also expressed a sorrow that I should have been attacked by my opponents on the only true point of my doctrine, viz. baptism,” which showed at once that if they were opposing pure doctrine they must be of the devil, and that he (if consistent) considered them as such, while on the other hand if the doctrine which he said was “the only true doctrine,” was false doctrine, he must be supporting the doctrine of devils in upholding a doctrine that is unscriptural; so out of their own mouths I would condemn them.

The next person that arose was the Rev. Mr. Haining, an Independent minister; who though perhaps more learned and talented than some of his coadjutors, yet hs religious creed was not so popular, nor his God that he worshipped so well known as that of the Methodists and some others who is “invisible without body or parts;” the natural consequence was that long before my arrival he had preached all his congregation away, but about a score or from that to fifty, who in general loved better to bow to the unknown God” of the Methodists and worship in their temple.—[278] In this predicament without congregation or influences, some Methodist local preachers and others who knew his situation well, fearful that their fabric was falling, and that their zealous Mr. Heys would not be able to prevent the wreck, put their heads together to combine against what they considered to be their common foe; premised to assist in pecuniary measures, and made use of the Rev. Mr. Haining as their tool, to do what they could not get Mr. Heys to do; either to meet me in public debate, or to deliver public lectures against my principles, (as on his publishing those before-mentioned falsehoods, I challenged him to a public investigation, and he refused. Mr. Haining in his turn wanted to increase his congregation, and thinking that the present excitement that existed in the religious community in that place, would be a favourable opportunity for doing so commenced his lectures, (although he stated to a gentleman in Douglas after hearing me for some time, that it would be better for the ministers to let me alone, as they could not gainsay the doctrines that I advanced). Nor was he mistaken in his views in regard to those matters, for numbers of the interested part of the community, although they had differed heretofore among themselves, were ready to cry out when their false principles were attacked, “Great is sectarianism, the God of the Christians” and were surprised to find out that every body did not know that sectarianism fell down from heaven, and that all the world worshipped their Diana. Mr. Haining took care, however, to chose a time for his lectures when he thought that I could not attend—on Sunday evenings. I managed however to go to his first one, and answered it on a week night, in the following week to a crowded congregation, and Mr. Haining himself present; as he had stated in his lecture that he wished to act fairly.

I desired him then, if he was sincere in his statements, to alter his nights of lecturing, that I could attend, or otherwise to meet me face to face before the public, substantiate his arguments, and prove the Book of Mormon, or any of the principles that I believed in to be false if he could; and as many other ministers were present who had frequently attacked me behind my back, I challenged the whole or any of them to do it; not sir, that I am fond of braggadocia, or a display of championship or words, but to stop the foul-mouthed slander that had been industriously circulated by many of these gentlemen, and to deliver the truth from their unhallowed grasp. But all attempts to bring him to honourable terms were altogether fruitless: he could do best alone in his own pulpit, (where I was going to say, no one could oppose him or question the truth of what he said) but so notoriously false, unscriptural, and absurd, were some of the principles that he advanced, and statements that he made, that even one of his own society rose up in the meeting, and told him that what he stated was false. As I had a large congregation of my own to attend to, and could not consistently leave my meeting, I got a reporter to attend to his meeting for two Sunday evenings, and then in the week night gave another lecture in answer to his, but so weak, irrevalent, so far fetched, and so foreign to the point were most of his arguments, that I considered it only like beating the air to answer them, and that it was a burlesque upon religion, [279] and an insult to the public to call them together to listen to such unmeaning nonsense, and I told a crowded congregation then assembled, that unless he, or some of the ministers of Douglas, would meet me face to face, I should not impose upon their good sense in listening to such stuff; I should consider that their own fabric was bad, their foundation false, their principles untenable, that they were convinced themselves that their statements were untrue, and that they “loved darkness rather than light, because their deeds were evil.” As my principles had been wantonly attacked, my motives impugned, and misrepresentation, calumny and abuse been gratuitously heaped upon me by them, and none of them (but Mr. H.) had the hardihood to come forward and substantiate his charges, prove his assertions, or in any wise make good his statements; but that they had left their offspring like the ostrich did its eggs, either to hatch of themselves, or to be trodden under foot by any passer by.

I never once thought that Mr. Haining would have attempted to publish those lectures with any design to militate against the truth, after making so puerile an attack in Douglas, for (e.g.) one of his lectures was principally taken up in proving that the bible is true; this of course we believe in as well as him; one of his arguments in support of the bible is—“that it was confirmed by revelations and visions,” this we also believe in, and as I told him the only difference that there is between him and us, is, that he believes in a changeable God and we in an unchangeable one; he believes that God did reveal himself formerly, but does not now; and we believe that he now gives revelations, visions, prophecy, &c., as formerly. He next goes on to state that the bile is “the good book, the true book, and the only book;” we believe the two first of these statements, but feel convinced that if Mr. Haining does that he cannot believe his last assertion—that it is “the only book;” for the bible speaks of more than twenty books that we have not got; and “a good book” and a “true book” cannot testify to a falsehood. It would be fruitless for me to follow him through all his meanderings, and would be foreign to my purpose at the present time. I would just remark that the truth came off victorious in the Isle of Man, and although I may say with Paul “I have fought with beasts at Ephesus,” yet I feel thankful to my heavenly Father that I have escaped unhurt. The standard of eternal truth is planted there, many are rejoicing in the liberty of the gospel of Jesus Christ, having followed their Lord and Master into the waters of baptism, and many more are believing, and on the eve of coming forth. Since I left there Elder Blakslee from America has been labouring there successfully, he is now on his way to the land of his fathers, and Priest Wm. Mitchell from Liverpool is gone to labour there: Elder Joseph Fielding is also on his way there. There has been about seventy baptized in all; thus in spite of all the combined powers of earth and hell, the “truth will prevail;” the inhabitants of that island will hear the sound of the everlasting gospel, and all the honest in heart will be gathered out.

The work of the Lord is progressing in Liverpool, and many enquiring the way of salvation; we baptized eight last week, and sixteen this week.

I remain yours in the everlasting covenant, JOHN TAYLOR.

❮ Back