Snow, E. and Winchester, Benjamin. “An Address to the Citizens of Salem (Mass.)And Vicinity.” Times and Seasons (Nauvoo, Illinois) 3, no. 1 (15 November 1841):578–84.
We believe in God the Father, who is the great Jehovah and head of all things, and that Christ is the Son of God, co-eternal with the Father; yet he is our Savior, Redeemer, King, and Great Prototype;—was offered as a sacrifice to make an atonement for sin— rose from the dead with the same flesh and bones, not blood, and ascended to heaven, and is now seated at the right hand of the Father.
Also, that without faith in him no person is a fit subject to obey any ordinance of the gospel whatever.
We believe that the doctrine of repentance should in all cases be taught, where the other principles of the gospel are set forth to sinners; and that repentance in the full sense of the word, is a sorrow for sin—breaking off from sin by righteousness, or in other words, to change our course of life, and wherein we have done wrong in the sight of God, we should reform and do it no more; and thus become humble like a little child, and walk in the ways of the Lord, that we may grow up in Christ our living head. Repentance is an antecedent to baptism, and should always be adhered to by sinners. Christ was without sin, consequently he did not repent.
We believe that the ordinance of baptism is a commandment of God, and should be administered to every son and daughter of Adam, who have repented, for the remission of sins and adoption into the kingdom of God, or in other words, we resolve to forsake the ways of sin and death, and to become the members of the family of Christ; in order to do this as the apostle says, (see Rom. vi. chap.) we must crucify the old man of sin, and be “buried with Christ by baptism unto death, that like as Christ was raised up by the glory of the Father, even so we should walk in newness of life.” that is, we become dead as to sin; but through the ordinance we are “translated into the kingdom of God’s dear Son,” and so walk in newness of life, being the children of the kingdom, we claim protection at the hand of God, and a right to enjoy the blessings of the gospel.
The human family in their sins, are foreigners and strangers to God; consequently they must be adopted in order to become citizens of his kingdom. Baptism of course then is the ordinance of adoption. Christ said, “Except a man be born of the water and of the Spirit he cannot enter into the kingdom of God.” This birth is a transition from our sinful state into the kingdom of God. To be baptized, is to follow Christ in the work of the regeneration, hence Cornelius, notwithstanding all his good works and piety, was commanded to be baptized, as being necessary that he might obtain salvation. (see Acts, x. chap.) Now that baptism is for the remission of sins, is evedint from what Peter said to those who were convicted on the day of Pentecost. “Repent every one of you, and be baptized in the name of Jesus Christ for the remission of sins, and you shall receive the gift of the Holy Ghost,” &c. Ananias, said to Paul, “Arise and be baptized, and wash away your sins.” (Acts xxii, 16.) The above is the doctrine the apostles taught to sinners, and is the gospel, or one of the principles of it, that Christ commanded the apostles to preach in all the world. “Go teach all nations baptizing them in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Ghost. (see Matt. xxviii. 24.) Go ye into all the world and preach the gospel to every creature, and he that believeth and is baptized shall be saved; he that believeth not shall be damned,” &c. (See Mark, xvi, 16.) Not that there is virtue in water to remit sins; but by obeying the command, we have a right to claim the promise.
The apostles introduced the ordinance of baptism on every occasion where they preached the gospel: for instance, Peter on the day of Pentecost, as before mentioned, (See Acts, ii, 38.) Philip to the Samaritans, and also to the Eunuch, (See Acts, viii. chap.) Ananias to Saul. (See Acts, xxii. 16) Peter to Cornelius and his household, (See Acts, x. chap.) Paul to the Jailor and Lydia, and their households, (See Acts, xvi, chap.) Paul to the Corinthians (See Acts, xviii. 8.) Paul to the disciples of John at Ephesus, (See Acts, xix. chap.) Some one of the diciciples to the Romans, (See Rom. vi 4.) The several passages of scripture above refered to show the importance of this ordinance, and certainly the ancients esteemed it as a commandment of God not to be justly rejected.
We also believe that it should in all cases be administered by immersion: for proof we cite to the following passages of scripture. Matt. iii. 16. John. iii. 5. Acts, viii. 38. Rom. vi. 4 Col. ii. 12.
We believe that all who obey the before mentioned principles of the gospel in honesty, are entitled to the gift of the Holy Ghost, which is the Holy Spirit of promise, and seal of adoption, or their sonship: for says the apostle, “For as many as are led by the Spirit of God, they are the sons of God,” “heirs of God and joint heirs with Christ.” And also that this Holy Spirit is received by, or through the laying on of the hands of the proper officers of the kingdom of God, which is one of the principles of the gospel. (See Acts, viii. 17. Do. xix. 6. Heb. vi. 2.) It evidently was, and is, an institution of heaven; for when the ancient saints practised it, God sanctioned it by confering his Holy Spirit on the occasions; and certainly professors have incured the displeasure of God by rejecting it.
“As we said before so say I now again, if any man preach any other gospel, than that ye have received, let him be accursed.” (See Gal. i. 8, 9.) The ancients received the doctrine of the laying on of hands, and it will be remembered that it is an ordinance distinct from the ordination to the ministry; for it was practiced upon both men and women.
We believe that the church of Christ should be organized according to the New Testament pattern: for there is nothing in the bible that authorizes us to say that a church organized upon any different plan, is the church of God; and that all saints should earnestly contend for the faith that was once delivered to the saints; and inasmuch as they have faith, to enjoy the promised blessings of the gospel of peace like christains of primitive times. The apostle says, “and God hath set some in the church, first, apostles; secondarily, prophets; thirdly, teachers; after that miracles; then gifts of healings, helps in governments, diversities of tongues.” (See 1 Cor. xii. 28.) “And he gave some apostles; and some prophets; and some evangelists; and some pastors and teachers: for the perfecting of the saints; for the work of the ministry; for the edifying of the body of Christ.” If any one should ask, how long they were to continue, let him examine the following verse: “Till we all come in the unity of the faith,” &c. (See Eph. iv. chap.) The constitution of these United States, directs that there should be an organization with proper officers, that necessary business may be transacted; so does the gospel or law of God. direct that the church of Christ should be organized with apostles, prophets &c., and guarantees to every faithful saint, the right of enjoying the spiritual blessings. Paul compares the church with all the before mentioned officers and gifts, to a perfect building; and as well might we remove from a building some of its most essential parts, such as sills, beams, doors, braces, &c., and call it perfect, as to take from the church the above officers and call it perfect without them. It is no where said in the New Testament that such officers and gifts of the church should be done away, or cease to be in the church, only through unbelief, and apostacy. It is folly to say that any sect worship God according to the true pattern when their organization does not resemble the plan laid down in the sacred volume. The Lord said to Moses, “See that thou make all things according to the pattern shown thee in the mount.” (not according to your own notion:) so Christ commanded his apostles to teach the people to observe all things whatsoever he had commanded them; and certainly they were commanded not to depart from the faith, or to apostatize; but the fact that men have departed from the ancient order of the gospel, and disorganized the church, proves that there has been an apostacy. This apostacy was foretold by the prophets, and apostles, (See Isa. xxiv, 5; 2d Thes. ii. 3; 1st Tim. iv. 1; 2d Tim. iii. 5, and iv. 3, 4. 2d Pet. ii, 1.)
We also believe that inasmuch as the Lord is the same yesterday, to-day, and for ever, that the gospel is the same now that it ever was; consequently that it is our privilege to enjoy the same Spiritual gifts that the ancients did; such as the gifts of prophecy, revelation, seeing visions, healing the sick, speaking in other languages, casting out devils, and ministration of angels, &c. Now all these gifts were enjoyed by the ancients, and the Lord has never said that they should be taken from the faithful until the perfect day—eternity; therefore, there is no unpropriety in our contending for these gifts. Some scorn at the idea of these gifts being enjoyed now-a-days, but they only scorn at the doctrine taught throughout the bible, and not at one of our invention. The following we refer to as proof of this doctrine: Mark, xvi. 17; 1st Cor, xii chap.; Rom. xii. chap.; 2d Cor. xii ch.; Heb. xiii. 2; Eph. iv chap.; 1st Cor. xiv chap.
But there are some that say, show us a sign and we will believe. We answer; that Christ, and the apostles, never worked miracles to gratify the curiosity of any man. When Satan tempted Jesus, saying, make bread out of stones, he said get behind me Satan, &c.
A set of wicked priests afterwards sought a sign of him; but he said, “a wicked and adulterous generation seeketh after a sign and none shall be given unto it,” &c.—This is the only rule that is laid down in the scriptures, by which we can judge of the character of sign-seekers. We do not go about on purpose to work miracles to gratify curiosity; but to preach the gospel; neither do we make any pretensions to raise the dead; for it is not mentioned among the signs that were for the believer.
It is written that faith comes by hearing, and that by faith in the Lord the spiritual gifts are received. These gifts are for the saints, and not for the unbeliever. Paul says,
“Gifts are for the perfecting of the saints.” James says, “If there are any sick among you (saints, not unbelievers,) let them send for the Elders,” &c.
We believe that in consequence of the apostacy, men have lost the necessary authority to administer ordinances; hence the spiritual gifts have not been enjoyed; for the Lord will not sanction the administrations of men who assume their authority; therefore, such works are illegal. The commission given to the apostles does not authorizes us to preach the gospel any more than the commission given to Gen. Washington and others, makes us authorized officers of state.
When an ambassador from Great Britian comes to our government to do business, he must be commission ed by his government or all his transactions will be null and void, and Great Britain will never fulfil any promise which he might make in her name, however sincere our nation might be in believing him sent. So it is with the ambassador of Christ. He must be specially sent or commissioned to minister in his name, or all his baptizing and other ordinances will be null and void, so as never to entitle the candidate to remission of sins and the gift of the Holy Ghost according to promise. We do not call in question the morality, the sincerity, or the spiritual enjoyment of individuals belonging to any religious society. On the contrary, we feel assured that there are many sincere and zealous persons in every denomination.
We believe and teach that it is necessary to abstain from all immorality, and practice all the virtues—such as love to God and good will to man, brotherly kindness, industry, to visit the widow and fatherless in their afflictions, and keep ourselves unspotted from the world.
We also believe and testify, that the Lord has renewed the gospel dispensation, and in fulfilment of numerous predictions of the prophets and apostles, sent his holy angel to commission men to preach the fulness of the everlasting gospel to all nations; and is raising up a people that worship him according to the written word. We might quote many passages to prove the above; but for the want of room for a written investigation, we omit them, (see Rev. xiv. 6.)
We also testify that our faith in these things viz. immediate revelation from God, and the administration of angels, &c., has brought a persecution upon us, like that of primitive times.
We believe the fulness of the gospel will be preached in all the world as a witness of the second coming of Christ, who will come with great power and glory, being accompanied with his saints and angels. But during the time the gospel is being proclaimed, there will be great commotions, distress, and destruction among the inhabitants of the earth, war and rumors of war, earthquakes, pestilences, famines, father against the son, and son against the father, awful destructions by fire, tempests, seas heaving themselves beyond their bounds, deceiving and being deceived, kingdoms becoming disorganized, signs appearing in the heavens causing the tribes of the earth to mourn, &c. &c.
The honest in heart will in these times flock to the standard of King Emanuel, as places of refuge; and for deliverance for the righteous from these troubles, the Lord will cause to be built, the magnificent cities of Zion, and Jerusalem,—which work forms so conspicuous a part of the prophetic writings of the Old Testament. Yes, during the tottering of empires, overthrowing of kingdoms, and fall of Mystery Babylon, the great seat of wickedness; the pure in heart will bend their way to Zion, and thither go with songs of everlasting joy. But before the Lord comes, the tribes of Israel will return back to their lands, and when the gospel is preached to all the world, and the great work of God sufficiently accomplished, the heavens will be unveiled, and Christ with his saints and holy angels, will make their appearance in the clouds with power and great glory— the saints on earth, and those that are in their graves arise, and all flit away through the ethereal sky to meet the hallowed throng;—sects and parties will then be no more, wickedness will hide its face, the earth be purified by fire. After this, the heavenly company will set their feet upon mount Zion—Jesus will gird himself and administer bread and wine anew in his Father’s kingdom. This will be the happy time, when saints and angels shall greet—the great marriage supper of the Lamb, when the voice of saints shall be heard from one end of the congregation to the other, saying, crown Jesus, he is worthy; for he hath redeemed us by his own blood out of all nations, and made us kings and priests unto our God, and we shall reign on the earth, (See Rev. v. 9, and 10.) How different this from the imagination of the poet!
“Beyond the bounds of time and space,
Look forward to that heavenly place.”
Then will be fulfilled the saying in Daniel: “The stone cut out of the mountain shall fill the whole earth:” then the Millennium will commence, and Christ and his saints reign on earth, and the knowledge of God cover the earth as the waters cover the sea. But woe be to those who reject the gospel, and refuse to comply with all the requisitions of heaven; dismay, horror of a guilty conscience, and finally, banishment from the presence of God will be their fate.
We do not believe that the Old and New Testaments contain all the revelations that the Lord intends the human family shall have: for the earth must be filled with the knowledge of God, which will be brought about by revelation, as it were upon the house tops, of things that have been buried in oblivion for ages past. The apostle says “that all scripture given by inspiration is profitable for doctrine, &c.” “Whatsoever was written aforetime was for our profit,” &c,—The bible mentions several books that were written by inspiration; but they are now lost to the world: for instance, the “Book of Nathan the Prophet,” “Book of Gad the Seer,” Book of the Prophecy of Ahijah,” “Book of the Visions of Iddo the Seer,” “Book of Shemeiah the Prophet,” and many others that we might mention. The Prophets declare, that when the Lord gathers the house of Israel, he will give an abundance of revelation, and cause many mighty miracles to be wrought, and they even declare that a book shall come forth, to be one of the instruments in the hand of God to gather Israel, (see Isa, xxix. 11.) They also declare that truth shall spring up out of the earth.
This book, referred to by the prophets, is the “BOOK OF MORMON,” which we have implicit confidence in, not however as a new bible to exclude the old, as some have falsely represented. It was discovered to Joseph Smith by no less than the ministry of angels, in the township of Manchester, Ontario co., N. Y., A. D. 1827; written on metallic tablets or plates, in hieroglyphics, peculiar to the people whose history it gives. Was translated and published A. D. 1830. It is a historical, and religious record written in ancient times, by a branch of the house of Israel who peopled this continent, and from whom the Indians are descended.
Says one, did not John the Divine forbid any additions to the bible? We answer he forbid any addition to his book of revelation or prophecy; but said nothing about the whole bible; and we do not suppose that John had any power to debar God of the privilege of sending as many angels to visit men, or to give as many revelations as he pleases, or at any time he may think proper.—John certianly alluded to no book other than his Revelations, which is obvious to every one who reads it, (See Rev. xxii. 18.) The “Book of Mormon,” is no more an addition to the bible than our testimony to the truth of the gaspel, is an addition to the principles of the gospel.
The bible was written by a people upon the Eastern continent, but the Book of Mormon by a people upon this continent. The latter as respects doctrine agrees with the former precisely: but the historical part of it unfolds the history of the ancients of this land. Elder P. P. Pratt writes upon this subject thus:
“The ‘BOOK OF MORMON’ coroborates and confirms the truth of the Scriptures, by showing that the same principles were revealed and enjoyed in a country and among a people far remote from the scenes where the Jewish bible was written.
Suppose a traveller should find in China, in the East Indies, or in America, or New Holland, a historical record, handed down for thousands of years, or deposited in their sacred archives. or amongst their sepulchral ruins, or their monuments of antiquity—and in this record should be found the principles of eternal truth, revealed to that nation, and agreeing with the revelations and principles contained in the Jewish records. Or suppose, for instance, when the ten tribes of Israel are discovered, preparatory to their return to Palestine, a record should be found among them, giving their history from the time they were carried captive by Shalmanaser, King of Assyria, and this record should be interspersed with prophecies and doctrine, as revealed among them since their captivity. Would it be anything increditable or injurious in its nature, or anything against the truths revealed in the Jewish records? Certainly not. So far from this, it would be hailed by every lover of truth as a most interesting and important discovery, Its light would be hailed as a new era in the history of the great events of modern times.
And similar in its nature is the Book of Mormon. It opens the events of ancient America. It pours a flood of light upon the world on subjects before concealed—upon the history of a nation whose remnants haye long since dwindled to insignificance in midnight darkness, and whose former greatness was lost in oblivion, or only known by the remains of cities, palaces, temples, aqueducts, monuments, towers, fortifications, unintelligible inscriptions, sepulchres, and bones. The slumber of ages has now been broken. The dark curtain of the past has been rolled up. The veil of obscurity has been removed as it regards the world called new. The ancient events of America now stand revealed in the broad light of history, as far back at least, as the first peopling of the continent after the flood. This discovery will yet be hailed among all nations as among the most glorious events of the latter times, and as one of the principal means of overwhelming the earth with knowledge. But, why then, is it so much opposed and neglected at the present time? Why do prisoners groan in chains, and martyrs bleed in its promulgation to the world? Answer,—Upon the same principle that a Messiah was crucified, a Stephen stoned, a James slain, a Paul beheaded, a Peter crucified, a John banished, a Rogers burned, a Columbus neglected, ridiculed, and envied, a Newton counted mad. and a Fulton laughed to scorn. In short it is BECAUSE THEY KNOW NOT WHAT IT IS.”
But says the objector, it is because that this book is said to have been brought to light by the administration of angels, and revelation, that makes it so odious in the minds of the people.
We reply, that it was the new revelations that the ancient prophets received that caused them to be so odious in the minds of the people. Any thing new in religion or science has generally been treated with contempt by those who knew nothing about it.
The foregoing pages are an outline of the fundamental principles of our holy religion, and for the want of room, with a few exceptions, we have omitted scriptural investigation, and merely stated some principles without attempting to prove them. Those who wish to hear all the before mentioned points of doctrine investigated at length, and an abundance of scripture evidence adduced to establish them; particularly the second coming of Christ, gathering of the house of Israel, and Book of Mormon, are respectfully invited to attend our public lectures.
We have no disposition to sit in judgment upon any man’s religion. We will let the law of the Lord judge, and we will humbly aquiesce in the descision.
Truth is our object;—unvarnished truth without mixture of error can alone be serviceable to mankind. We say as did St. Paul, “We seek not yours; but you.” No preacher in our society receives a salary, other than the voluntary donations of the charitable, whose hearts the Lord opens to suply their actual wants; and to such, He will say in the great day of retribution, “Come ye blessed,” &c.; “for when I was an hungered ye fed me; naked and ye clothed me; a stranger and ye took me in;” “Inasmuch as ye have done it unto one of my disciples ye have done it unto me;” (See Mat. xxv. chap.) If our testimony is true, all are interested in it. Say not it is beneath your notice because it is unpopular; for Christ said, “Whatsoever is highly esteemed among men is an abomination in the sight of God.” He further said to his disciples, that they would be hated of all nations, and become so odious, that men would think they were doing God service in killing them.
While we still linger upon this subject, we cannot but reflect upon the various persecutions that saints have endured at different times, for propagating such principles as we have before mentioned. Besides the twelve hundred of our brethren that were driven from Jackson co. Mo., and rendered houseless and pennyless in 1833; the still more dreadful scenes of 1838, (in which we were personal sufferers,) have made an impression upon our memories that time can never erase.
We well remember the time when twelve or fifteen thousand souls were banished from the state of Missouri.—Most of our persecutors were excited to these outrages by means of malicious falsehoods and slander. Indeed, it was falsehoods and slander that brought the malice of the Jews on the head of Jesus, excited by his exposure of their hypocrisy and priestcraft.
When we call to mind, that from twenty-five to thirty noble hearted brethren have fallen victims to a ruthless mob, in the State of Missouri, we cannot help exclaiming, Oh! murdered, butchered brethren, dear to our hearts, once we enjoyed each other’s company in the house of the Lord; and sat under the smiles of our Redeemer’s countenance, and expressed our determination to each other to serve the Lord unto the end, if death should stare us in the face.
The time of trial found them true to their promise, and they died as valinat hearted soldiers of the cross. And widows and orphans are left to mourn their loss. Yes, if the sturdy oaks of Missouri’s forests could speak, they would tell a tale of wo, how widows and orphans bemoaned while under their branches, because of the loss of husbands and fathers.
If the wild gophers of Missouri’s plains could speak, they would tell of the sufferings of women and children, which would soften the heart of an adamantine, and cause a flood of tears to flow from the hard hearted.
Oh liberty! whither art thou fled? Oh patriotism whither art thou gone? Once the United States of America, was a land of freedom, liberty of speech, and of press; liberty of conscience was enjoyed really, and not merely in name. Now so no longer. The blessings purchased by the blood of our forefathers, have flown for ever! That blood which was shed so freely, for the purchase of an inheritance, which they esteemed sufficiently worthy of the sacrifice, now no longer avails. The constitution formed and ratified by the fathers of our country, who esteemed it dearer than life, is now a dead letter. The blessings of life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness are no longer guaranteed to the citizen. Nor can he any longer worship God according to the dictates of his own conscience, unmolested.
The history of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints, has wofully verified this fact. To heighten the wrong, it has all come upon them, in consequence of their adhesion to the truth.—Say not it is deception, delusion, fanaticism, or if you do, take care you apply it where it belongs, that is, to those who ascribe these qualities to the Church of Latter Day Saints. If they are deceived, the bible has deceived them; but they know and dare boldly testify, the religion of the bible is no deception, it is an eternal reality. Therefore, examine the matter for yourselves, and “try the spirits whether they are of God, or whether they be of man.”
“DESPISE NOT PROPHESYINGS.— PROVE ALL THINGS: HOLD FAST THAT WHICH IS GOOD” PAUL.