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Mormonism

By ROBERT G. McNIECE.

Excerpted from:

THE

PRESBYTERIAN REVIEW.

No. 6.  

APRIL, 1881.

VOL. II.

X

TrueCovenanter.com Editor's Introduction.

At the present time, public attention is once again brought back to the subject of Mormonism, and whether it is advisable for an adherent of this religion to be exalted to a place of authority over the nation.  To some, such a question seems very un-American because they expect that all Americans will keep religion and government in separate compartments of their lives, never allowing religion to interfere with what is termed “politics.”  To others, the question seems impractical because the extreme necessity of removing Mr. Obama from office precludes all questions about the right way to do so.  But to Christians who love the Lord Jesus Christ, and know him as he is revealed in the Holy Scriptures, reason for concern is found in the prospect of being dominated by a man trained in Mormon doctrine, and in league with the Mormon institutions.

Christians themselves do not subscribe to the theory that our religious duties to the Lord can be isolated from our agenda in matters of government and politics. And we are well aware that men of other religions are also governed by their religious principles with some confidence that the good of society will be promoted by bringing it under the direction of those same principles. Consequently, if religion be anything more than a private hobby, it is to be expected that all religious people, more or less, will give their religious duties some scope in the affairs of government and politics.  Likewise, however thoroughly Christians are convinced that Mr. Obama ought to be removed from any place of influence in the nation, we do not believe that “the end justifies the means,” or that general duties may be performed with disregard to the Lord’s direction about how they are to be performed. Romans 3.8.  We are not at liberty to exalt a devil of pretended-righteousness, in order to free ourselves from a devil of open wickedness. 2 Cor. 11.13-15.

To many, however, the danger of Mormonism seems small, and Mormons themselves appear to be a decent Christian-like sort of people with serious family values, and a respectable dedication to serious religion.  The deficiencies within modern Protestant churches make many of them as dis-respectable as the Mormon church. Likewise, those deficiencies include a lack of necessary instruction and warning to the generality of people, about the evils of religions like Mormonism.  These facts all tend to create an occasion—a temptation—for well-meaning Christians to ignore the evils of this religion.  Consequently, the present editor concluded there was much importance in bringing to light the past and present evils of Mormonism, for those willing to give the matter a hearing, and to exercise some judicious caution before allowing their own principles and religious convictions to be compromised by giving their political approval to a member of the Mormon Church.

Various things are written about the Mormons with respect to either their History, their Book of Mormon, their Religious Doctrines and Practices, and/or their political agenda. It was hoped that something might be found to bring all these things together in summary form, with Biblical criticism of their errors and misdeeds, for the convenience of readers. The following article does just that, and presents a view of their religious beliefs from the perspective of a main-line Presbyterian in the late 1800’s. The value of this stands in two things: (1.) It cannot be viewed as expressive of the opinions of a small minority zealous for their own particular doctrines; and (2.) It is not affected by the watered-down and liberalized theology of later main-line Churches, whose gravitation towards high thoughts of man and his free-will, tend to make them more like the Mormons, and less dedicated to the Biblical doctrine of Jesus Christ and his Gospel which made former generations entirely at odds with the man-exalting and God-debasing doctrines of the Mormons.

Gladly we would have presented readers with something written from a distinctly Reformed Presbyterian perspective, but for the present this article will be found abundantly useful. Where the author’s acceptance of American principles of religious “liberty” seem to need adjustment; where references are made to names less familiar to modern readers; and where other information seemed it would be useful, the present editor has provided notes which it is hoped will make the entire document more useful to the reader. A final note is also provided on the political agenda of the Mormons. It is hoped that these things brought together will fully satisfy those who have a sincere desire for proper information, or who are unresolved in their minds about what side to take—or whether to take a side—in the upcoming Political Contest.

JTKer::2012.09.27.

ON the 6th of last April there was an immense gathering of many thousands in Salt Lake City, from all parts of Utah, to celebrate the fiftieth anniversary of the organization of that strange politico-religious system, known as Mormonism.  Beginning with only six members, it has gone on increasing in numbers, power, and resources, until it has secured positive control of this most attractive and important Territory, which is larger than all New England, with the addition of New Jersey and Maryland, and possesses wealth of mineral resources superior to that of any equal area in America.  For its supplies of gypsum, sulphur, salt, zinc, marble, coal, iron, copper, lead, silver, and gold, are practically inexhaustible.  Nor is the power of Mormonism any longer confined to Utah, since it now virtually holds the balance of power in three other Territories, namely: Wyoming, Idaho, and Arizona.  In the two latter the colonization of Mormons is being rapidly pushed forward.  Furthermore, the people of Colorado are beginning to be alarmed over the rapid colonization of Mormons in some parts of that State.  And yet, notwithstanding the fact that this utterly anti-American system already controls four of the future great States of the Union; notwithstanding the fact that it has already cost the Government millions of dollars to send troops here to enforce order and obedience to the laws of the land; notwithstanding the fact that hundreds of American citizens have fallen victims to its vindictive spirit, and been murdered in cold blood, simply because they were Americans; notwithstanding these appalling facts, it is next to impossible to get any man in public life—any Senator or Representative—to give any attention to the subject.  Indeed, outside of Utah, it is difficult to find any one who has any definite idea whatever of the strength and resources of Mormonism and its {332} tremendous power for mischief.  And it is still more difficult to find any one who has any definite knowledge of the atrocious doctrines and horrible blasphemies which constitute the system known as Mormonism.

It is the object of this article to give, as far as can be done within the prescribed limits, that information concerning Mormonism which has been acquired by a three years’ sojourn at the Mormon capital, and by careful study and observation of Mormon literature and practices.  This will lead to a discussion of the origin, doctrine, fruits, and resources of Mormonism, with some concluding remarks on its relations to the Government and sacred institutions of the Republic.

I. Where Did Mormonism Come From?

To say that it was first organized in Fayette, Seneca County, NY, April 6th, 1830, with six members, is only a partial answer to the question.  For this organization grew out of the “Book of Mormon,” which Joseph Smith, the founder of the Mormon Church, declared to be a revelation direct from Heaven through the inspired prophet, Mormon.  According to this pretended revelation, about the year 600 B.C., some of the descendants of the tribe of Joseph came as colonists from Palestine across Behring’s Straits into America.[1]  In process of time they became two rich and powerful nations, known as Nephites and Lamanites, from their respective leaders, Nephi and Laman.  The followers of the former were noted for their progress in civilization, while the latter relapsed into barbarism and became the progenitors of the American Indians.  The Nephites are represented as being highly favored of the Lord, since they enjoyed the visitation of angels and the teachings of inspired prophets.  They also enjoyed a personal visitation from Christ himself, after His resurrection, and were taught the doctrines of the Gospel from His lips.  During the fourth century of the Christian era, the Nephites are represented as degenerating into gross wickedness, in consequence of which they were destroyed by their hostile rivals, the Lamanites.  During the time of their prosperity the most noted prophet among the Nephites was Mormon, who is alleged to have written upon metallic plates the history of God’s dealings with his forefathers, together with an account of the prophecies given to {333} them, and of the facts connected with the introduction of the Gospel among them.  These plates it is claimed were entrusted to his son, Moroni, who, before he died, somewhere about 420 A.D., buried them in the “Hill of Cumorah,” in Ontario County, New York.  There they remained unknown until September, 1827, when, as Joseph Smith pretends, an angel came to him one night and revealed to him the location of the buried plates.  Repairing to the place he claims that he found the box containing the plates, together with the Urim and Thummim, which, to use his words, was “a curious instrument which consisted of two transparent stones set in the rim of a box, fastened to a breast-plate.”  By the use of these celestial eye-goggles Smith claimed that he was able to read the record on the plates, which was written in the “Reformed Egyptian language.”  Such is Smith’s account of the origin of the “Book of Mormon,” which is to orthodox Mormons what the Koran is to the Mohammedans [Muslims].  By those not familiar with Mormon literature, this book is frequently confounded with the “Mormon Bible.”  But the latter is simply our English version of the Scriptures, with such modifications and distortions as Joseph Smith, the inspired translator, saw fit to make.  He has twisted passages in Genesis so as to turn statements connected with the life of Joseph into prophecies relating to a great prophet called Joseph, who should come forth in “the latter days,” referring to himself.  He even had the audacity to make interpolations in Christ’s “Sermon on the Mount.”

A good illustration of the impudent way in which Smith and his co-conspirators were accustomed to manufacture statements about these strange plates, is found in the fact, that, among the ignorant, they gave Professor Charles Anthon, of Columbia College, as authority for their statement that the inscriptions on the plates were in the “reformed Egyptian language.”  This brought out a letter from Prof. Anthon, in which he said: “The whole story about my having pronounced the Mormonite inscription to be ‘reformed Egyptian hieroglyphics’ is perfectly false.”  He further says that the fac-simile of these inscriptions “was, in fact, a singular scrawl.  It consisted of all kinds of crooked characters, disposed in columns, and had evidently been prepared by some person who had before him at the time a book containing {334} various alphabets.  Greek and Hebrew letters, crosses, and flourishes, Roman letters inverted or placed sideways, were arranged in perpendicular columns, and the whole ended in a rude delineation of a circle, divided into various compartments, and evidently copied after the Mexican Calendar given by Humboldt, but copied in such a way as not to betray the source whence it was derived.”

Now the practical question is: Where did the “Book of Mormon” come from?  Notwithstanding the air of mystery which the Mormon priesthood strive to throw around the subject, the question can be easily answered, and in a very few sentences.  It can be established beyond all question, that the substance of the “Book of Mormon” was written by the Rev. Solomon Spalding, a graduate of Dartmouth College, in the class of 1785.  Between 1809 and 1813 he lived in Conneaut, Ashtabula County, Ohio, and being fond of historical study and archæology, he soon became greatly interested in the ancient mounds and fortifications which abound in that region.  Adopting the theory that this continent was peopled by a colony of ancient Israelites, he proceeded to write a historical romance embodying that theory.  The style of the book was a clumsy imitation of our English Bible, and the book originally bore the title of “The Manuscript Found.”  It was taken to a printing office in Pittsburgh with a view to publication, and remained there several months.  Around the office at this time was one Sidney Rigdon, “a backsliding clergyman of the Baptist persuasion,” and a man of very versatile talent.  He was an erratic disciple of Alexander Campbell,[2] and had great fondness for theological discussion and fantastic religious theories.  The circumstantial evidence that Rigdon is the man who remodelled Spalding’s romance and put it in the present form of the “Book of Mormon” is irresistible.  And this evidence is made irresistible by the fact that a few years after Spalding’s manuscript was left in Pittsburgh, Rigdon came to Mentor, Ohio, near Kirtland, and blossomed out as a preacher of very peculiar doctrines, which were afterward found embodied in the published “Book of Mormon.”

The evidence, also, that the “Book of Mormon” is simply a modified form of Spalding's romance, is likewise irresistible. {335} After the publication of this pretended revelation, Mr. John Spalding (a brother of Solomon Spalding); his wife, Martha Spalding; Mr. Henry Lake, the business partner of Solomon Spalding from 1810 to 1812; Mr. John N. Miller, who was in Spalding’s employ; Mr. Aaron Wright, one of Spalding’s neighbors; and Mr. Oliver Smith, with whom Spalding boarded a part of the time while living at Conneaut, Ohio, all testify that, prior to 1812, they heard the substance of the “Book of Mormon” read by Mr. Spalding.  He was engaged at that time, they say, in writing a historical romance concerning the first settlers of America, who, as he endeavored to show, were the descendants of the Jews from Palestine.  Being a trifle vain of his writing, Mr. Spalding was accustomed to read large portions of this romance to his neighbors and friends.  And those whose names are given above declare that the same odd names and peculiar passages which they heard Mr. Spalding read, together with the peculiar plan and theory of his romance, are embodied in the “Book of Mormon.”  Their testimony in detail can be found in Howe's “History of Mormonism,” published at Painesville, Ohio, in 1840.  It is testimony which cannot be impeached, and demonstrates that, so far from being a revelation from the Lord, the “Book of Mormon” is a diabolical literary and religious swindle, ingenious enough to deceive thousands upon thousands of ignorant people, but too transparent to deceive any well-educated person.  This accounts for the fact that Mormonism secures its converts altogether from the ranks of those whose educational advantages have been of the most meagre character.  So far as is known to the writer, after three years’ observation in Utah, there are only three persons among the entire body of Mormons who can make the least claim to scholarship.  One of these is a woman of notoriously immoral character.  One of the others is always spoken of as a religious monomaniac, and the character of the third is such as to compel one to believe that he supports Mormonism simply because of the lucrative office which it gives him.

II. The Peculiar Doctrines Of The Mormons.

It would require far more space than can now be occupied to set forth in detail all the strange and disgusting {336} doctrines of this peculiar people.  Hence only a few of the more prominent ones will be given as a specimen, from which it will be seen that one must go back to the Pagan vulgarity of Greek and Roman mythology, and the murderous creed of the Thugs of India to find an adequate parallel.

In the first place, Mormon theology is based on rank polytheism.  The Mormon people are not only taught to believe in a plurality of gods, but to entertain ideas of the Divine Being which are connected with the grossest corporealism.  They ridicule the idea that God is a Spirit, as Christ taught in John 4.24.  One of their standard works is called a “Key to the Science of Theology.”  It was written by Parley P. Pratt, who, while he lived, was one of their leading men, being one of the Twelve Apostles.  This work is used as a text-book among the people; and this is what it says in confirmation of the statement that the Mormons are polytheists and have grossly corporeal ideas concerning the Deity:

“It will be recollected that the last chapter recognizes a family of Gods, or, in other words, a species of beings who have physical tabernacles of flesh and bones in the form of man, but so constructed as to be capable of eternal life. . . .

“A General Assembly, Quorum, or Grand Council of the Gods, with their President at their head, constitute the designing and creating power. . . . . Wisdom inspires the Gods to multiply their species, and to lay the foundation for all the forms of life, to increase in numbers, and for each to enjoy himself in the sphere to which he is adapted.” (Chap, vi., pp. 46-47, 4th Liverpool edition).

On page 34, the author declares that God “has an organized individual tabernacle, embodied in material form, and composed of material substance, in the likeness of man, and possessing every organ, limb, and physical part that man possesses.”

Brigham Young, who, for more than thirty years, was the “prophet, seer, and revelator” of the Mormon Church, taught that Adam was the maker of the world, and the God of the human race.  To quote the words of Brigham in one of his Tabernacle sermons, Adam “is our Father and our God, and the only God with whom we have to do.”  The Mormon leaders pretend to believe that they are all going to become gods in the celestial world, and the extent of the kingdoms over which they will rule will depend upon the number of wives and children they have here. {337}

Akin to this bold blasphemy, is the horrible doctrine, promulgated by Mormon preachers, that our Saviour was a polygamist, and that Mary and Martha were His plural wives, with whom He is now living in marriage relation in the celestial world.  For the Mormon idea of heaven not only includes the perpetuation of the marriage relation there, but also the idea of unrestricted polygamy.

As all the world knows, Polygamy is one of the favorite and peculiar doctrines of the Mormon Church.  It is based upon an alleged revelation from the Lord to Joseph Smith in July, 1843, although it explicitly contradicts the former revelation which Smith claims he received from the Lord, and which was published in 1830 as the “Book of Mormon.”  But that the Lord should be represented as flatly contradicting Himself was a small thing in the eyes of Smith, provided a “new revelation” would get him out of the serious difficulty into which he had been brought by his intimate relations with numerous “spiritual” wives.

No marriage is recognized as valid which is not performed in their Endowment House—(the building where all the polygamous marriages and the horrid and blasphemous rites of initiation into the Mormon Church are performed, which, by the way, is the object for which the great Temple is being erected in Salt Lake City).  Consequently all the married converts to the Mormon Church have to be re-married.

On the subject of Baptism the Mormons hold peculiar views. They teach that it is able to wash away sins, and, when performed in behalf of the dead who have died outside the Mormon Church, has efficiency to secure their salvation.  Consequently when any of the saints fall into heinous sins they are taught that those sins can be washed away by their being rebaptized.  There is also a great deal of baptism for the dead, based on Paul’s statement in the 15th [chapter] of First Corinthians. To show what crude notions are entertained on the subject, the following incident may be mentioned, which was given to the writer by a friend living in the neighborhood where the incident occurred, and who knew the party referred to.  A member of the Mormon Church, in one of the central counties of Utah, made up his mind, last winter, that he ought to be baptized for five of his dead friends.  And since the Mormons {338} believe that immersion is the only valid baptism, and since the weather was very cold, the aforementioned saint naturally shrank from the chilling prospect of being immersed five times in ice-water.  He therefore hunted up a man and offered him two dollars apiece if he would take the job of being baptized for these five dead persons.  The offer was accepted, and the baptism was performed in that way.

Another peculiar doctrine of the Mormon Church is in reference to the Melchisedec and Aaronic Priesthood.  The Mormons claim to have what might be called an ecclesiastical patent on this priesthood, which takes away from every one outside the Mormon Church the right to preach the Gospel of Christ or to administer any of the ordinances of the Gospel.  The Melchisedec priesthood is the superior branch, having special reference to spiritual affairs, while the Aaronic branch refers rather to secular matters, although in the former the functions of both departments are combined in some of the higher offices.  But the world-wide fame of the Philadelphia lawyer would be sadly diminished if he should undertake to explain the various affiliations and ramifications between the Melchisedec and Aaronic priesthoods.  The writer has heard Brigham Young say, in reference to these two departments, that it is very hard for any one to tell where the secular leaves off and the spiritual begins in this world.  Although Brigham was at the head of the Melchisedec priesthood, and was officially “prophet, seer, and revelator” for the Church, it would certainly puzzle any one to tell where the spiritual began in him.

But where did the Mormons get these two branches of the priesthood?  They say from Joseph Smith.  And where did he get them?  According to Mormon authority, John the Baptist had the kindness to visit him in the woods of New York in 1829, and there ordained him to the Aaronic priesthood.  Peter, James, and John also had a private interview with him about the same time and ordained him to the Melchisedec priesthood.  Under the latter are included apostles, seventies, patriarchs, high-priests, and elders.  Under the Aaronic priesthood are bishops, priests, teachers, and deacons.  A worse despotism than is exercised over the people by this priesthood cannot be found on earth.  Pretending to have the keys of heaven and hell, pretending to have its authority direct {339} from the Lord, it wields absolute power not only in spiritual, but in all temporal affairs.[3]  Indeed, strict obedience to the “holy priesthood” is one of the conditions of gaining heaven, and the other is, “pay up your tithing.”  The writer has been informed by those who have been members of the Mormon Church for years, that if one complies with these two conditions he may be guilty of every sin and crime pointed at in the Decalogue and still retain his standing in the Church.  Nor is it an uncommon thing to send men to foreign lands as missionaries simply in order that the Church may get rid, as it foolishly supposes, of the odium of some crime that they have committed at home.  The Mormons profess to believe in the Bible as a divine book, and in Christ as a divine Saviour.  Still, they hold that a man cannot be saved unless he believes in the Book of Mormon as a divine revelation and in Joseph Smith as a divine prophet.

And now to cap the climax of all these blasphemous and horrid doctrines is one which is the most horrid of all, namely: the doctrine of Blood Atonement.  According to this terrible doctrine there are some sins which cannot be forgiven or atoned for except by cutting the throat of the man who committed them, and pouring out his blood as an atonement.  Three of these sins are apostasy, disclosing the secrets of the Endowment House, and marital unfaithfulness on the part of a wife.  It has been taught by the head men of the Church that it is a meritorious act for any Saint to spill the blood of a person guilty of any of these sins.  That there may be no doubt about the correctness of these statements concerning this most horrible doctrine, the following extracts are taken from Brigham Young’s published sermons:

“There are sins that men commit for which they cannot receive forgiveness in this world or the world to come, and if they had their eyes open to see their true condition they would be perfectly willing to have their blood spilt upon the ground, that the smoke thereof might ascend to Heaven as an offering for their sins, and the smoking incense would atone for their sins, whereas if such is not the case, they will stick to them and remain with them in the spirit world.”

On another occasion he said:

“I could refer you to plenty of instances where men have been righteously slain in order to atone for their sins.  I have seen scores and hundreds of people for whom there would have been a chance (in the last resurrection there will be) if their lives had been taken and their blood spilled on the ground as a smoking incense to the Almighty, but who are now angels to the devil until our elder brother, Jesus Christ, raises them up and conquers death, hell, and the grave.” {340}

Now, it is not intended to leave the impression that all the Mormon people believe in and practice such a barbarous doctrine; for vast numbers of the Mormons are far better than their creed.  But truth requires the impression to be left that such a doctrine has been publicly preached again and again by the leading authorities of the Church, and been repeatedly put into practice by the sanction of these authorities.  The writer has been informed on authority which he sees no reason to doubt, of specific cases in which this doctrine has been literally put into practice, with details too horrible to describe.  And if all the Mormon people do not believe and practice such a doctrine, it is not because the leading men in the Church have not repeatedly inculcated it as a solemn duty.

The above are a few of the prominent and peculiar doctrines which are preached to the Mormon people; polytheism; the eternity of matter; the belief that God possesses a body, parts and passions like a man; polygamy on earth and in heaven, including the belief that Christ was a polygamist; baptism which washes away sins and brings salvation to the dead; the absolute control of the Melchisedec and Aaronic priesthood over all things, both temporal and spiritual; no salvation for any one who does not believe in the “Book of Mormon” and Joseph Smith; and then, to crown all, the doctrine of blood atonement.

From these doctrines it will be clearly seen that Mormonism is a grand jumble and conglomeration of five or six different “isms,” its chief power being derived from the skilful way in which a little truth is blended with mountains of error.  Let Paganism, Judaism, Mohammedanism, Jesuitism, Protestantism, and Diabolism all be shaken up together, and the result is Mormonism.  For from Paganism comes its idea of God; from Judaism its theory of the priesthood, and special revelation; from Mohammedanism its plural-wife notions and its sensual ideas of Heaven; from Jesuitism its cunning and arbitrary form of government, in which the end is continually made to justify the means; from Protestantism its talk about faith in Christ and the guidance of the Holy Spirit; and its general policy from the Devil, as any intelligent man will have to confess after a careful study of its cunning, devilish ways and means.  It is impossible for purely human language {341} to set forth adequately the diabolical character of Mormonism in both its theories and practices.  And for this reason, if any one desires to read, in very small compass, a more accurate description of Mormonism than could be given by so skilful a writer as Macaulay after he had lived in Utah ten years, let him turn to the second chapter of Second Peter and read the first nineteen verses, where the pen of inspiration has given the only adequate description of Mormonism ever written.

And yet, it is only just to say that, scattered all through the Mormon ranks, are hundreds of devout, worthy, kindhearted, hospitable people, who came to Utah from England, Scotland, and the Scandinavian countries, bringing their Bibles and Christian sentiments with them, and who, although nominally Mormons, have never been persuaded to embrace these odious Pagan doctrines, which are the distinctive features of Mormonism.

III. The Fruits Of Mormonism.

One might as well expect to gather grapes of thorns or figs of thistles [Matt. 7.16,] as to suppose that the corrupt tree of Mormonism would bring forth good fruit.  Holding, as they do, that they have an exclusive right to the priesthood, to revelations and prophecies, to the healing of the sick by the laying on of hands, to religious truth in general, and the guidance of the Holy Spirit, it would be hard to find more self-conceit and self-righteousness than among the Mormon people.  A young Mormon “elder” who cannot put together three sentences in a grammatical way will assume to have a knowledge of the Bible and of religious truth generally, which Dr. Hodge,[4] after sixty years of careful study, would not have thought of laying claim to.

But to avoid speaking at random, take the following proof of this self-conceit and self-righteousness furnished during the recent Moody and Sankey meetings[5] in Salt Lake City.  It is a well-known fact that the leading men and most famous scholars of America and Great Britain have listened to Mr. Moody’s preaching again and again with delight and profit.[6]  But the Deseret Evening News, which is the official organ of the Mormon Church in Utah, in an editorial on Mr. Moody’s preaching in Salt Lake City, spoke as follows: {342}

“There is not a man among the whole fraternity of ‘Evangelists’ who can present anything of any value to the Latter-day Saints which they have not already received.  And there is not a preacher of them all who, if he were desirous of learning the truth as it is in Jesus, but could learn very many valuable lessons in the things of God from members of our Young People’s Improvement Associations, and even from our Sunday-school children.  ‘Believe in the Lord Jesus Christ’ is a saying, the full meaning of which is appreciated by the Latter-day Saints.  To exhort them to ‘faith in Christ’ is a work of supererogation.”

Think of Mr. Moody going into a Mormon Sunday-school to learn the “truth as it is in Jesus” when the principal textbook there is the “Book of Mormon”!

And, still later than the above, this official organ of the Mormon Church, in an editorial on a sermon recently preached on Mormonism in Philadelphia, by Bishop Tuttle, uses the following language:

“But so far as the institutions of modern Christendom are concerned, we candidly confess our lack of confidence in their power to do anything for us. . . . . We have got so far beyond them through the revelations of the Almighty vouchsafed in these latter days, that we look back upon their teachings as a man reverts to the alphabet of his school days, and we remember their powerless forms and spiritless ceremonies as mere playthings compared with the higher things of the kingdom to which the system they call ‘Mormonism’ has introduced us.”

The writer is ready to confess that he never had a clear conception of the character of the Pharisees during our Saviour’s time until he came in contact with the utterances and spirit of the Mormon priesthood.

Another fruit of Mormonism is an exclusive, intolerant, and vindictive spirit toward all outside the Mormon Church.  This is especially manifested on the part of the priesthood, who try to impress the people with the idea that all outsiders are “Gentiles” and “Babylonians,” the enemies of the Lord, whom it is perfectly legitimate to plunder, and rob, and murder, if necessary, to promote the supposed welfare of the Church.  This accounts for the Mountain Meadows massacre, the murder of the Aiken party of six persons, the Potter and Parish murders, and the countless other assassinations which stain the history of the Mormon Church.  As an illustration of this vindictive spirit, one of the twelve apostles [so-called], on a public occasion, after referring to the fact that Christ taught us to pray for our enemies, said: “I do pray for our enemies.  I pray that God will damn them and send them down to hell.”  And, within the past two years, one of the twelve apostles stood up in a public meeting and said, in a savage way: “If {343} I had my way, I would say to every Gentile in the Territory, Get right out of here or take the consequences.”  The Mormon priesthood have the spirit to drive every American from the Territory within a week.  But fortunately they have not the power, although this spirit is manifested in every town where the priesthood have almost exclusive control.  In Brigham City they subjected the Presbyterian minister there to every form of persecution except personal violence.  They declined for several months to sell him any supplies at any of the stores, groceries, or butchers’ shops, so that he was required to go six miles to purchase his supplies.  They injured his property in various ways, and finally tried to drive him away by stoning his house at night.  His only offence was that of being an American citizen.  All this took place within the past three years.

Within the past six months one of the ministers employed under the Presbyterian Board of Home Missions in the southern part of the Territory got the privilege of boarding in a Mormon family.  As soon as the priesthood found it out, this family was required to close its doors against the minister, although greatly in need of the money which he was ready to pay for board.

Within a month another minister, in the northern part of the Territory, hired a building for a mission-school from an old lady connected with the Mormon Church, and paid her a month’s rent in advance.  As soon as the priesthood found out what she had done they brought such a pressure to bear upon her that she went to the minister and urged him to give her back the building, although, in her poverty, she greatly needed the rent.  And yet the writer has heard President Taylor stand up in the great Tabernacle and declare that they are in favor of the largest liberty for their own people and for all mankind, and are glad to welcome people of all denominations to Utah!  The priesthood pretend to give the American lamb perfect liberty to live with the Mormon lion.  But when the Mormon theory is put into practice, “with the lion invariably means inside the lion.”

The Jesuit theory that “the end justifies the means” was never more thoroughly put in practice than by the Mormon priesthood.  They hold that lying and perjury, for example, {344} are not wrong when done for the good of the Church.[7]  The writer has sat in the Federal court-room by the hour, and heard officials high in the Mormon Church swear they “don’t know” in regard to things which it was their special business to be familiar with.  And as an example of the way in which the priesthood are ready to lie their way out of a difficulty for the good of the Church, take the following fact: In 1850, John Taylor, the present head of the Church, was in France, and became engaged in a public discussion with some Protestant ministers.  They made it so hot for him on the subject of polygamy that finally, to relieve himself and the Church he represented from the odium, he denied that polygamy was one of the doctrines of the Mormon Church, and had his denial translated into French and publicly circulated, although Taylor himself says he knows that Joseph Smith received his alleged revelation on polygamy in 1843, seven years before Taylor’s denial was made.  Furthermore, those who ought to know have told the writer that Taylor had no less than four wives himself when he made the denial.

So far as polygamy is concerned, the fruit is just what might be expected.  There is no social abomination growing out of that unclean system which is not found in Utah, and which is not countenanced by the priesthood.  It is considered perfectly proper for a man to have two or three sisters for his wives at the same time, or a mother and daughter.  Such cases are numerous.  And the writer has knowledge of one case where a man had for his three wives mother, daughter, and granddaughter.  The whole tendency of polygamy is to brutalize all who have anything to do with it.[8]  One of the saddest, but one of the most frequent, results is the pushing aside, into cold neglect, of legal wives, who have grown old and gray, to make room for those that are younger.  After three and a half years of careful observation, the writer feels amply justified in saying that, so far as the Mormon men are concerned, with very rare exceptions, the same principle underlies polygamy which underlies the keeping of mistresses elsewhere.  No pen can describe the demoralizing effect of polygamy upon the young, nor adequately set forth the lack of morality on the part of the vast majority of young men and women who are brought up in connection with it.  In fact, they don’t seem to {345} know what the term morality means.  It must be remembered, however, that only a minority of the Mormon people are in polygamy.  So far as the rest are concerned, the writer rejoices to believe that among them, in spite of the terrible errors and evil tendencies of Mormonism, there are great numbers of upright and worthy men and women who are still influenced by the wholesome teachings of their Christian ancestors.

One of the worst fruits of Mormonism is the way in which the most sacred things are desecrated in the name of religion, so that “the way of truth is evil spoken of.” [2 Pet. 2.2.]  Take two or three examples: A Mormon apostle or bishop will stand up on the Sabbath to preach to the people, declaring that he will speak as the Holy Ghost shall give him utterance.  He will then begin an incoherent, secular harangue about the best methods of irrigation, the need of inaugurating manufacturing enterprises (this is a pet topic with President Taylor), the necessity of planting shade trees, or the best methods of improving the breed of cattle and sheep.

The Mormons devote a great deal of attention to dances and balls, and it is a customary thing to open these performances with prayer.

But the worst example is that in connection with the Mountain Meadows massacre.  John D. Lee, the Mormon bishop who was executed in the spring of 1877 for participation in that awful horror, tells us, in his published confession, that the Mormon leaders who engaged in that massacre spent most of the preceding night in a prayer-meeting asking the Lord to guide them in their murderous enterprise.  For a long time they were in doubt as to whether they had the sanction of the Lord or not.  But toward morning they all felt that the Holy Spirit was with them, and in the name of the Lord they went out and slaughtered, in cold blood, 119 men, women, and children, because they were “Gentiles,” and therefore the Lord’s enemies.

IV. The Resources Of Mormonism.

Where does this system, which is so anti-American and so utterly hostile to the enlightened and progressive spirit of the age,[9] get its enormous strength?  Its strength comes mainly from three sources, namely: its organization, its missionary policy, and its financial system. {346}

There is probably no system on earth which has a more cunning, compact, and complete organization for its purpose than the Mormon Church.  There is space to give only the merest outline of its organization.  Supreme over all is the President with his two Councillors.  Then come the Twelve Apostles, who, in connection with the President and his councillors, form a High Council, from whose decision there is no appeal.  Then come the Seventies (who are travelling missionaries), High-Priests, Elders, Bishops, Teachers, and Deacons.

The whole Territory is divided into twenty stakes (Is. liv.4) or districts, each of which is presided over by a High-Priest.  These districts are again subdivided into about two hundred and thirty wards, each of which has a presiding bishop.  The Teachers and Deacons are his subordinates, whose duty it is to visit every family in the ward so as to be informed in regard to their religious belief.  In this way, through all these various gradations, the leaders are able to put their finger on every man, woman, and child in the whole Church.

One of the most cunning things about the organization is the number of office-holders.  The following figures are taken from their own reports to the annual conference in April, 1879:[10] Total number of Mormons in Utah, 109,218.  All over eight years are considered members of the Church, and, according to this report, there were 75,557 officers and members.  Of this number 23,038, or nearly two out of every six, were office-holders, distributed as follows: 11 apostles, 2 councillors, 50 patriarchs, 4,260 seventies, 3,241 high-priests, 9,615 elders, 1,347 priests, 1,515 teachers, and 2,997 deacons.  If anyone of these 23,000 office-holders is disposed to criticise, or become dissatisfied with, the system, the office he holds with the prospect of promotion acts as a bribe to silence and acquiescence.

The extent of Mormon missionary operations is far greater than is generally supposed.  They keep about 300 missionaries scattered through the world constantly.  And it is safe to say that, at the present time, there is not a country on the globe where a Mormon missionary cannot be found.  Nor do they go in vain, since, for several years past, they bring to Utah between two and three thousand converts annually.  Most of these converts come from England, Scotland, and the Scandinavian countries.  And the secret of their success in these {347} Christian communities is found in the fact that they preach mainly the Bible and the Gospel of Christ, claiming that that is Mormonism.  When their deluded victims arrive in Utah, with their little means exhausted, they discover that the Bible is pushed aside to make room for the “Book of Mormon,” and Christ is put in the background to make room for Joseph Smith in the foreground.  These missionaries also take advantage of the American Homestead and Preemption laws, and fasten their toils more securely about their victims by pretending that the Mormon Church will provide them with land for homes.  The successful operations of these missionaries are altogether with the ignorant and dissatisfied classes of England and Europe, since none but the very ignorant can be duped by these wolves in sheep’s clothing.  And after arriving in Utah, these people and their children are kept in the most abject ignorance, since the main object of the Mormon school system is to prevent people from learning to think and acquire information.

But the main strength of Mormonism is derived from its financial system, which is based on the tithing plan.  The people are required to give the tenth of everything to the priesthood, from the tenth egg to the tenth hay-stack.  According to their own report the net proceeds of the tithings for the year ending April 6th, 1880, were in round numbers $458,000.  And the income of the priesthood from all sources for the same period amounted to the enormous sum of $1,097,000.  The priesthood make no report of the uses to which this vast sum is put, except in the most general way.

V. Relations To The Government.

There is room left to say but a few words on this most important point.  But it is very difficult for a patriotic citizen to live in Utah and maintain that respect for the Government of his country which every citizen ought to feel, when he sees how, for more than thirty years, the Government has allowed its laws to be trampled underfoot, and the blood of law-abiding citizens shed with impunity, by this anti-American oligarchy, which sets at defiance the most sacred laws of the land.  Few people realize how utterly anti-American and hostile to the institutions of the land Mormonism is.  It not {348} only believes in a union of Church and State, but in such a union as completely merges the State in the Church.  Consequently, when the Territorial Legislature met in Salt Lake City last winter, Americans living in Utah had the following edifying spectacle to look at: Out of 39 members of this Territorial Legislature (26 in the Lower and 13 in the Upper House), 34 were polygamists and members of the Mormon priesthood.  And these law-breakers drew their salaries out of the United States Treasury.

For seventeen years there has been a specific law against polygamy on the National Statute-book.  But only two men in all that time have been convicted out of hundreds upon hundreds of criminals, for the simple reason that no Mormon witness could be found who would tell the truth.  In one of the cases referred to, one of the witnesses happened to be an American; and in the other, testimony was obtained by a brilliant piece of strategy on the part of the United States Marshal.

About all the Congressional legislation that is needed in order to Americanize Utah is included in the following three points:  1. An amended jury law which will prevent polygamists from sitting on a jury before which a polygamist is to be tried.  2. Making polygamy a continuous offence instead of requiring prosecution to take place within three years, as now.  3. Making cohabitation the proof of marriage, instead of being required, as now, to prove the ceremony which takes place behind the solid walls of the Endowment House, where the only witnesses are those who will not tell the truth.

For years and years the Americans in Utah have been trying to secure from Congress some such simple legislation as this, but to no purpose.  Meanwhile Mormonism has gone on increasing in strength until it virtually controls four of the future great States of the Union.  If facts have not been set forth in this article which deserve the serious attention of every patriotic American, and especially of every man who deserves the name of statesman, then where are such facts to be found?

ROBERT G. McNIECE.


Note on the Political Agenda of the Mormon System.

In footnote 3, the present editor made reference to the publication of Josiah Strong in which the dangers of Mormonism to the Nation are presented.  Two items are worthy of particular notice:

1. Mr. Strong argues explicitly that the factor of Mormon polygamy is in-effect irrelevant to its power as a system and its danger to the United States. He wrote in 1885, when polygamy was still a way of life among the Mormons. Today, many think of the evils of Mormonism in terms of this evil of the past, and consequently look at the removal of polygamy as a reason to view Mormonism in a better light than former generations. This is a grave error. Evils worse than polygamy have always been found in Mormonism. The system destroys souls, blasphemes the God of the Bible and our Saviour, and destroys all that is honourable about religion. Its delusions are more general, and the imaginative humours of man which it gratifies will grasp at much more than polygamy.

2. Mormonism is a Political System, as stated in the opening sentence of the above article. It is a political power with an agenda: a purpose which is imagined to be of divine origin and of much greater importance than the things which concern the “will of the majority” in America. We should not be surprised it is so. Such is the nature of religion, and there is no true Christianity which does not regard the authority of God as of higher priority than the authority of human rulers and the rights of man. But the Mormon religion is not Christianity. It is delusive evil. And that delusive evil is the beloved idol of an organization which long ago expressed their resolution to impose it upon the American people.

Those who desire evidence from the past, may consider the fore-mentioned publication of Josiah Strong. Before making decisions for the future, Christians must investigate whether today’s Mormonism is fundamentally different from that of a century ago. We may not act upon mere assumptions, or blind hopes.  Whether the testimony of Mormons themselves can be trusted in the matter, is to be questioned.  History shows that their “Book of Mormon” and System of Religion teach differently than our Bible about the means to advance the interest of religion and to overcome the opposition of adversaries. So we seem to be left with the following question to determine: Should we believe the facts of history, (about the nature and fruits of such religious beliefs,) or should we believe individuals who, (in matters of religion at least,) are actually deluded, and whose religion has been involved in scandals and lies about historical facts in order to hide reality?—JTKer.


Footnotes:

1. This is a matter of speculation among Mormons themselves. The account of the travels involved does not provide such specific detail.—JTKer.

2. Alexander Campbell was one of the leaders in 19th century sectarian development known as the “Restoration Movement.”  With the pretension of providing a remedy for the divisions existing within Protestantism, Mr. Campbell and others opposed the use of doctrinal creeds in the Christian Church. His own beliefs, some of which were peculiar, and many unbiblical, were a virtual creed, providing occasion to condemn various branches of the Christian Church, and to draw away their members to his own party, but the fact that his creed was unwritten or un-systematized seemed to him to make it more warrantable. In reality it was more dangerous, and the history of their church (now divided churches) demonstrates the consequences. Mr. Campbell was involved in various debates in order to defend several of the particulars of his religion. We must lament that he was given such opportunity to carry on his work of the flesh. (Rom. 1.29; Gal. 5.19-21.) His liberty in this regard is owing to his emigration to North America, where no form of government had been established to regulate or prevent such activity.  Further information as to particulars in Mr. Campbell’s new system of religion may be found examined in R. L. Dabney’s The System of Alexander Campbell: An Examination of its Leading Points, published in 1880.—JTKer.

3. In 1885, a Congregationalist minister by the name of Josiah Strong published a small volume titled, Our Country: Its Possible Future and Its Present Crisis. Some of the chapters are dedicated to what he saw as the most notable “Perils” facing the United States. Among these are Romanism and Mormonism.  The chapter on Mormonism provides us some primary source references which will demonstrate not only that the Mormon church claims, but as the author above observes, “it wields absolute power not only in spiritual, but in all temporal affairs.”  The Mormon Bishop Lunt is quoted: “In the past six months we have sent more than 3,000 of our people down through the Sevier valley to settle in Arizona and the movement still progresses. All this will build up for us a political power, which will in time compel the homage of the demagogues of the country.  Our vote is solid and will remain so. It will be thrown where the most good will be accomplished for the church.  Then in some great political crisis the two present political parties will bid for our support.  Utah will then be admitted as a polygamous state and the other territories we have peacefully subjugated will be admitted also.  We will then hold the balance of power and will dictate to the country.  In time our principles which are of sacred origin, will spread throughout the United States.  We possess the ability to turn the political scale in any particular community we desire.  Our people are obedient.  When they are called by the church, they promptly obey.  They sell their houses, lands, and stock, and remove to any part of the country the church may direct them to.  You can imagine the results which wisdom may bring about, with the assistance of a church organization like ours.

The words of Brigham Young are unmistakable: he asserted his right to manage every temporal circumstance of life, “from the setting up of a stocking to the ribbons on a woman’s bonnet.” Many opposed such extremes when actually exercised, and other Mormon leaders later expressed themselves differently on these particulars, but these expressions serve clearly to show the despotic nature of the authority claimed by the Mormon rulers: at their command was the complete particular obedience of all their subjects, to accomplish their largest purposes.  Mormons today may put much effort into clearing themselves from the accusation of teaching “blind obedience” to every direction of “the Church,” but the fact remains that they believe that their prophets give them directions from God, and that these should be followed.—JTKer.

4. Charles Hodge, (1797-1878), was ordained as a minister in the Presbyterian Church in 1821. He is well known in American Presbyterian history for his important role at Princeton Theological Seminary, and for his Systematic Theology. His other writings include commentaries on New Testament epistles, and a book in opposition to Darwinism.—JTKer.

5. Dwight L. Moody and Ira D. Sankey are often termed American Evangelists. Their activity was associated with the revivalism of the 1800’s. Although our author’s comments above sufficiently demonstrate the pride of the Mormons to which he refers, (for there is much which they might have learned from these preachers,) it is to be noted that the doctrine advocated by Moody & Sankey was considerably out of conformity with the truths of the Bible and of the Reformation; though not nearly so much as that of the Mormons. Some criticism of Mr. Moody’s movement may be found in a section of William McLean’s Arminianism—Another Gospel.—JTKer.

6. A fact which need not be questioned, the popularity of these men having spread throughout the English-speaking nations and elsewhere. As was often the case with such revivalism, those whose principles would have taught them to abstain from such events on account of their irregularities and the Arminian beliefs expressed by these preachers, chose to engage in what is called Occasional Hearing by attending preaching which they could not ordinarily countenance in good conscience.—JTKer.

7. Considering their lack of principle, pragmatism, and particular skill in lying, here expressed, the editor’s wife instantly observed, “That’s why they can have a politician.”—JTKer.

8. The term brutalize is here used in the sense of making someone a brute, or a beast.  In other words, they degenerate into living like animals. Such is the case of both the man and the women. In conservative Protestant churches, such relationships as the author describes, as between a man and two sisters, or a man and a woman with her daughter, would be considered incestuous, even if one of the relationships was commenced after the death of the other sister or the mother.  In Scotland these forms of incest were made punishable by death in 1649.  Of course, to have the women at the same time in polygamy would have been considered adultery, which was made a capital crime much earlier.—JTKer.

9. The present editor would suggest that the “progressive spirit of the age” to which the author refers, is no true enlightenment, although often described as such.  The notions which have typified American thinking about religion and its relation to the State since she transitioned from being a collection of Christian colonies to being a non-Christian nation, are notions opposite to the enlightened views of the Reformation, derived from holy Scripture.  The fact is that the worldly philosophy which directed America away from the establishment of Christianity as its national religion, is the very thing which opened the door to Mormonism and other “religious” plagues which have so thoroughly scandalized the people of the United States.  What Mormons and Muslims have done by violence; what Papists have perpetrated by uncleanness; what many religions have done by avarice, all serve to prejudice the public mind against religion in general.  But all these, the nation brought upon itself in her early organization, when she embraced the assumption that no religion is so bad as to disqualify men from serving the nation in political office, and no religion is so pleasing to God as to deserve the service and support of the nation and her government.   So, were the Mormons hostile to the progressive spirit of the age? In a manner they were, and in another manner they were expressing the fullest “Americanism” of a people who would boldly live-out a liberty which the American government never had authority to license.—JTKer.

10. The reader should keep in mind that the following statistics are now very old, and monetary figures are skewed by factors such as inflation. For example, instead of 300 missionaries, the Mormons now maintain 55,000 full-time missionaries; and whereas they formerly received a half-million dollars in annual tithes, it is now estimated that they receive 7 billion dollars annually.  But the Mormon “Church” itself does not disclose this information in the United States, and their history is tainted with a number of financial blunders.—JTKer.