Davis H. Bays
Doctrines and Dogmas...
(St. Louis: Christian Pub. Co., 1897)
DOCTRINES AND DOGMAS
M O R M O N I S M
EXAMINED AND REFUTED
ELDER DAVIS H. BAYS
CHRISTIAN PUBLISHING COMPANY
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To My Devoted Wife
WHO, THROUGH A LONG AND SERIOUS ILLNESS,
NURSED ME BACK TO LIFE, AND ONLY FOR
WHOSE WATCHFUL CARE THESE
PAGES WOULD NEVER HAVE
THIS VOLUME IS AFFECTIONATELY DEDICATED
THE only apology the writer has to offer for presenting this volume to the public, is the consciousness that such a work is needed. It is designed as an aid to those who care to become more thoroughly acquainted with the intricacies of Mormon theology, and especially those who have only been able to study it from the outside. With few exceptions those who have undertaken to "expose" Mormonism have dealt with the follies and "grosser crimes" of the system, and have paid little or no attention to the fundamental principles upon which the Church of the Saints is based.
No writer, so far as we are informed, has ever undertaken to analyze and refute, in a thorough, systematic manner, the doctrines and dogmas of Mormonism. In this volume we have endeavored to present the doctrines of the church as they are defined by its leading minds, together with the Biblical evidences adduced in their support, and then offer such evidences from scriptural and other sources as will, in the writer's opinion, overthrow the arguments presented, and prove the entire system erroneous.
Reared in the faith of the Saints from early childhood, and having been, for twenty-seven years, a zealous advocate and defender of its peculiarities, the writer has had rare opportunities for studying Mormonism from the inside.
The line of argument usually employed by writers and speakers to refute the Mormon dogma is of such a character as to render success almost impossible. They depend very largely upon the current belief that the prophet's general reputation for veracity was bad; and that the Book of Mormon was concocted from the old Spaulding Romance.
In this work we rely upon nothing of this kind. We have something far better, and upon which we may confidently rely.
We take up each proposition as it is presented by its friends, and then proceed to answer and refute their arguments in a fair, straight-forward manner, demonstrating the fallacy and erroneousness of the entire system, from a purely Biblical and philosophical point of view.
Containing, as the work does, full proof-texts and historical references upon every question discussed, it is a complete hand-book of ready reference, and is admirably adapted to the use of clergymen and others who may have the questions to meet, as well as a source of reliable information to the general reader.
The work, in both its design and mode of argument may truthfully be said to be original and altogether unique, and contains much valuable matter never before published.
In collecting data for the work, I have been placed under obligations to a number of the leading scholars of the country, prominently among whom may be mentioned President James B. Angell, of the University of Michigan; Ira Maurice Price, Ph.D., Associate Professor of Oriental Languages and Literatures, of the University of Chicago; Charles B. S. Davis, Ph.D., M. D., of Meriden, Conn., Dr. Chas. E. Moldenke, of New York, Specialist in Egyptology and Archeology, and Pres. W. R. Harper, of the University of Chicago. To these gentlemen, together with many others who have rendered valuable aid, the writer hereby tenders his expression of thanks.
In the hope that this volume may be the humble means of reflecting needed light upon the themes discussed, and that it may accomplish the good for which it is intended, and without stopping to offer apologies for its many defects we send this little book out into the world upon its mission of mercy and love.
D. H. BAYS.
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CHAPTER II.21 Martin Harris and the stolen manuscript -- Oliver Cowdery -- His part in the work -- Church organized -- The Spaulding Romance -- Deposited in Oberlin Library -- Old theory abandoned -- Sidney Rigdon not one of the originators -- Book of Mormon, its purport -- The American Bible -- Apostles chosen -- The First Presidency -- The Patriarch -- Other officers -- Mormon intolerance -- Doctrines of the Church.
CHAPTER III.35 The Mormon House -- Its internal garnishment -- Visions, dreams, etc. -- All deceptive -- Spiritual gifts -- Were they to be perpetuated? -- Mormonism affirms -- It must prove -- The apostolic commission -- Its obligations perpetual -- The signs promised were limited -- The church perpetuated -- Gates of hell shall not prevail against it.
CHAPTER IV.45 Casting out devils -- The Saints try it -- Devils are obstinate -- Epilepsy and insanity -- A modern instance -- Great trial to the faithful -- Unknown tongues not necessary -- Conditions have changed -- An unknown tongue impossible -- A tongue and its interpretation -- Missionaries cannot speak in tongues -- 1 Cor., twelfth chapter -- 1 Cor., thirteenth chapter -- Tongues shall cease and prophecies fail -- A rule -- Gifts for Gentiles -- Take up serpents
CHAPTER V.62 Deadly things -- Joseph's claim -- Was he poisoned? -- The case examined -- Hair came out -- Claim unsupported -- Healing the sick -- The writer's experience and disappointment -- Then and now -- Discouraged -- A Mormon subterfuge -- Bible miracles and latter day pretensions.
CHAPTER VI.70 Other claims -- The Adventists -- Free Methodists -- Dr. Dowie -- The Church of Rome -- Their miracles lack authentication -- The Church at Corinth -- Spiritual gifts were for edification -- Utah Church and its miracles -- The sick healed -- Cases cited -- Are they genuine? -- The Reorganized Church -- Excellent moral character of its membership -- Claims to miraculous powers -- Tested by a simple rule -- Miracles no longer necessary.
CHAPTER VII.75 The Mormon Church a unique structure -- Divided into many factions -- Which is right? -- King Strang -- His kingdom -- The Mormon idea of an apostolic church -- Its officers -- Apostle's Kelley's rule for testing churches.
CHAPTER VIII.83 The Reorganized Church deficient -- The patriarch omitted -- Only nine apostles -- An argument examined -- Polygamy and highway robbery -- A corrupt tree -- A bitter fountain -- Duties of an apostle defined -- Brighamite and Reorganized churches agree -- The whole system is unscriptural.
CHAPTER IX.91 Apostles in the primitive church -- The apostolic office is ambassadorial, not executive -- Ambassadors in the church now are unnecessary and impossible -- Mr. Kelley's rule applied -- Apostolic succession.
CHAPTER X.101 Nuts to crack -- To the law and to the testimony -- The Bible recognizes no First Presidency in the church -- No Patriarch, no High Priests -- From another standpoint -- An elder is a Melchizedek priest -- May give the Holy Spirit by the laying on of hands.
CHAPTER XI.106 Church and kingdom synonymous -- The church from John to the calling of the twelve without apostles -- From 1830 to 1835 without apostles Only elders -- Fact and theory -- Bible church and Mormon church compared -- Branch president -- Mr. Kelley's test applied to Mormon coin -- Weighed in the balance and found wanting.
CHAPTER XII.112 Foundation of the church -- Various opinions on Matt. 16:18 -- Upon this rock -- What rock? -- Joseph Smith's view -- Apostle Smith examined -- Revelation the foundation of the Mormon Church -- The writer's heresy -- Christ the rock, the foundation.
CHAPTER XIII.124 The spiritual house -- Christ the chief corner-stone -- In types -- Pillar of fire -- The smitten rock -- The question settled -- No other foundation but Christ -- Book of Mormon and the rock -- Joseph Smith vs. Joseph Smith -- Witnesses in the balances -- Summary.
CHAPTER XIV.132 Priesthood and preachers -- Ministers must be called by revelation -- Joseph was like Moses -- Joseph and Oliver ordained to the Aaronic priesthood by an angel -- Ordained by Peter, James and John to the Melchizedek priesthood -- Questioned by President Smith of the Reorganized Church -- His view criticised -- How priesthood is conferred -- Angels do not officiate at ordinations -- Who ordained Moses, Melchizedek or Christ? -- Christ the only Melchizedek priest.
CHAPTER XV.144 Priesthood -- What is it? -- Webster vs. Kelley -- Mormon definition erroneous -- Joseph's revelation on priesthood -- Handed down from father to son -- Isaiah lived in the days of Abraham -- Moses ordained by his father-in-law, Jethro -- Abraham ordained by Melchizedek -- A table of dates and ordinations -- Gad ordained Jeremy 1120 years before the prophet was born.
CHAPTER XVI.151 Apostles, then and now -- How called? -- What is an apostle? -- Called by Jesus personally -- Not ordained by the laying on of hands -- How were the apostles qualified? -- Endued with power from on high -- Mormon apostles -- How called? -- Chosen by Oliver Cowdery, David Whitmer and Martin Harris -- Names of the twelve apostles.
CHAPTER XVII.158 Joseph's apostles -- How qualified -- Tarry at Kirtland -- Dedication of the Kirtland temple -- House filled with angels -- Questions and answers -- Jesus did not appear -- The Reorganized Church -- When organized, and by whom -- Of whom composed -- Seven apostles chosen -- Their names -- Chosen by a committee of three -- The lesser ordains the greater -- Can a stream rise above its fountain? -- Apostasy of Apostle Briggs -- Repudiates his own revelation -- Three of the seven apostles reduced to the ranks -- Ells and Derry chosen by a committee of three -- Apostle Derry resigns -- Summed up.
CHAPTER XVIII.165 The Book of Mormon -- What is it? -- History of a Jewish colony -- Written on metallic plates -- Plates discovered near Palmyra, New York -- Joseph's account of the discovery -- New revelation -- Orson Pratt's view -- All authority lost in the great apostasy -- Restored by an angel -- Joseph's key to the revelation of St. John -- The man-child is the priesthood -- Mr. Pratt answered -- A monstrous claim.
CHAPTER XIX.172 Is a new revelation necessary? -- The great apostasy -- Did it annul all existing authority? -- The great Jewish apostasy -- Authority not destroyed -- Devout Zacharias -- John the Baptist -- The old kingdom and the new -- Authority transferred -- The Latter day apostasy -- How does it affect the Mormon Church? -- Joseph's church apostatized -- Church rejected of God -- The Reorganized Church the result of apostasy -- The Church of Christ transmitted from the times of the apostles.
CHAPTER XX.182 A marvelous work and a wonder -- An untenable claim -- From President Blair -- His comments on Isaiah 29 -- Mr. Kelley's points of identity -- Ariel -- Old and new -- Book to be taken out of the ground.
CHAPTER XXI.189 The land shadowing with wings -- Is it North and South America? -- Common ground -- Ariel is Jerusalem -- It shall be as Ariel -- The Ariel of the West -- A race exterminated -- Their History -- The land shadowing with wings is Egypt, not America -- Views of Ira Maurice Price, Ph.D.
CHAPTER XXII.194 The book that is sealed -- Isaiah, chapter twenty-nine -- The words of a book -- Presented to Prof. Charles Anthon -- A woe pronounced against Jerusalem -- The city where David dwelt -- Inspired translation -- Different rendering of Isaiah twenty-nine -- Quotation from -- Comments -- A safe rule -- Isaiah twenty-nine relates to the destruction of Jerusalem -- Ten propositions -- No prophecy concerning a book -- A question of exegesis and history -- The prophecy of Isaiah concerning the destruction of Jerusalem literally fulfilled -- Revolt of the ten tribes -- Israel and Judah -- The Assyrian captivity -- A strange work.
CHAPTER XXIII.207 The Babylonian captivity -- Nebuchadnezzar -- Siege of Jerusalem -- Raised forts against the city -- Terms of Isaiah's prophecy -- Jeremiah records its fulfillment -- The nations that fight against Mount Zion -- Become as the dream of a night vision -- Have all passed away -- Wise and prudent men -- The blindness of all Israel -- The Chaldean army besieges Jerusalem -- Josephus describes it -- Downfall of the Jewish kingdom -- A marvelous work and a wonder.
CHAPTER XXIV.220 Professor Anthon and Martin Harris -- The "words of a book" -- Joseph Smith's transcript presented to the Professor -- Read this, I pray thee -- I cannot read a sealed book -- Joseph Smith, not Martin Harris, made the statement -- Times and Seasons for May 2, 1842 -- Mr. Kelley states the case -- The Professor could not decipher the characters -- Characters were Egyptian, Chaldaic, Assyrian and Arabic -- Self-contradictory -- Correctly translated -- Professor Anthon's statement -- Contradicts Mr. Harris -- No other Witnesses -- The statements compared -- Smith-Harris testimony incompetent.
CHAPTER XXV.237 The testimony of the three witnesses -- A remarkable document -- Apostle Pratt's view -- An immense conclusion -- The witnesses not deceived -- The testimony is true or they are impostors -- The line is drawn by Mormon authority -- Are the witnesses unimpeachable? -- Direct and indirect evidence -- The Mormon Church -- Authority depends upon the veracity of these witnesses -- An admission -- A negative proposition -- How established -- An illustration.
CHAPTER XXVI.244 The three witnesses -- Did they see an angel? -- Impeaching the witnesses -- Seven counts in the indictment -- Eight witnesses -- Testimony unimportant -- Their defection from the prophet in Missouri -- Stick to their original story -- The three witnesses did not recant -- Reasons for adhering to the original story -- Afraid to expose the fraud -- Better die with a lie on their lips than to divulge the secret -- The touch of angelic hands in holy ordination -- How could they forsake the prophet? -- If I had seen the angel -- A visit to David Whitmer -- Did the witnesses reaffirm? -- A letter from Martin Harris.
CHAPTER XXVII.254 They did not see the angel -- The reasons given -- Egyptology little understood in 1830 -- Under the light of recent discoveries -- The veil removed -- Book of Mormon written in Egyptian -- Orson Pratt's testimony -- Testimony of Martin Harris -- Were the characters on the plates Egyptian? -- Fac-simile of the characters -- Genuineness verified by Mormon authority.
CHAPTER XXVIII.260 The characters are not Egyptian -- The testimony of scholars -- Mr. Kelley's fac-simile -- Submitted to scholars for examination -- Explanatory letter -- President James B. Angell's reply -- A moral, not a linguistic question -- Characters fraudulent -- Chas. H. S. Davis, M. D., Ph.D. -- Characters put down at random -- Resemble nothing, not even shorthand -- Not an Egyptian letter or character in it -- A letter from Jerusalem -- Dr. Charles E. Moldenke -- The plates of the Book of Mormon a fraud -- Egyptian and Arabic side by side -- Is ridiculous and impossible -- Characters bear no resemblance to Egyptian or Assyrian -- Testimony of the witnesses compared -- Scholarship vs. ignorance -- Conclusion of the whole matter.
CHAPTER XXIX.277 The Doctrines of Mormonism -- What the Saints believe -- The only way to be saved -- Erroneous exegesis -- Faith towards God -- Repentance from dead works -- Works of the law -- Must leave them -- Cannot perfect the believer -- Character of the Hebrew letter -- Hebrews 6:1,2 paraphrased --The doctrine of baptisms -- Divers washings of the law -- Baptize -- Born -- The difference -- The law of life -- The law of sin and death -- Summary.
CHAPTER XXX.291 The laying on of hands -- Is it an ordinance of the Gospel? -- Neither Christ nor the apostles enjoin it -- Not a principle of the doctrine of Christ -- Peter and John give the Holy Spirit -- Paul at Ephesus -- Classed among apostolic miracles -- Not necessary to salvation -- It is of Hebrew origin -- The scape-goat -- Sins laid upon the goat -- Sins of the world laid upon Christ
CHAPTER XXXI.303 Testimony of the Book of Mormon -- Does it teach the laying on of hands? -- Contains the fullness of the Gospel -- The first Nephite Church -- Alma the first high priest -- No laying on of hands -- One faith and one baptism -- First appearance of Christ -- His Doctrine -- Taught his disciples -- He neither taught nor practiced the laying on of hands -- Holy Spirit received without it -- Nephite twelve disciples did not teach the doctrine -- Its practice -- Not an instance in the Book of Mormon -- It is mentioned but once -- Faith, Repentance, Confession and Baptism -- More than this cometh of evil -- Joseph and Oliver received the Holy Spirit without the laying on of hands -- Resurrection of the dead and eternal judgment -- Leaving the principles of the doctrine of Christ -- What is meant by it? -- Conclusion.
CHAPTER XXXII.318 Mormon polygamy -- Was Joseph Smith its author? -- Became public soon after the prophet's death -- Joseph's power over his people -- An illustration -- "Thou shalt give heed to all his words" -- Doctrine and Covenants accepted -- Polygamy practiced before Joseph's death -- Questioned only by the Reorganized Church -- The son guards the good name of his father -- Polygamy a gradual growth -- Book of Mormon condemns the doctrine -- Early suspicions -- Charged with polygamy in 1835 -- Article on marriage -- Doesn't exclude the practice -- One man one wife -- One woman but one husband -- John C. Bennett -- The secret wife system -- Trouble between Smith and Bennett -- The Nauvoo Legion -- A sham battle.
CHAPTER XXXIII.331 Side-lights -- A. H. Smith on polygamy -- Those certificates -- Dr. Bennett's apostasy -- He divulges the secret wife system -- Joseph denies -- Hyrum Brown out off from the church -- Hyrum Smith denies -- Denials examined -- Priesthood and polygamy -- Testimony of William Marks -- Joseph Smith knew polygamy existed -- A thus saith the Lord would have stopped it -- Joseph alone responsible.
CHAPTER XXXIV.344 Revelation on celestial marriage -- Joseph Smith its author -- A house of order -- If any man marry him a wife -- For time and all eternity -- Passing the angels and the gods -- Then shall they be gods -- All manner of sins and blasphemies shall be forgiven -- Shedding innocent blood the unpardonable sin -- Abraham's wives -- Sarah and Hagar -- Isaac and Jacob -- David and Solomon -- Sealed on earth and sealed in heaven -- Emma Smith -- Must accept the celestial law or be destroyed -- If a man espouse a virgin -- If he espouse another he is justified -- If he have ten virgins given him -- The original wife -- She must procure other wives for her lord, or be destroyed -- Will reveal more hereafter -- Mrs. Stenhouse -- Celestial law, indeed! -- Joseph must have written it.
CHAPTER XXXV.359 Sprang from the same root -- Shedding innocent blood -- Evil and obscene practices -- Who was their author? -- Fruit of the Mormon tree -- History of the polygamy revelation -- What Emma Smith says about it -- Interviewed by her son -- What her statement proves -- Her testimony does not agree with that of Elder Marks -- Brigham Young's testimony -- A copy of the revelation preserved by Brigham -- Published in 1852 -- The Laws and Fosters -- Nauvoo Expositor destroyed -- The prophet arrested -- Affidavits of Ebenezer Robinson and wife -- Hyrum Smith taught them polygamy.
CHAPTER XXXVI.372 Bearded the lion in his den -- Alexander and David Smith in Utah -- Deny that their father was in polygamy -- Brighamites respond -- Smith-Littlefield controversy -- Positive proof that Joseph Smith had plural wives -- Testimony of David Fullmer -- Thomas Grover's letter -- Certificate of Lovina Walker -- Affidavit of Emily D. P. Young -- Affidavit of Leonard Soby -- What Z. H. Gurley says of Mr. Soby -- Testimony of Mercy R. Thompson -- She was sealed to Hyrum Smith -- Her letter to President Smith -- His view of the case -- He accounts for the origin of polygamy -- Summary.
CHAPTER XXXVII.391 The gathering -- A new Jerusalem promised -- Western Missouri the land of Zion -- Independence the central spot -- Temple to be built -- Saints begin to gather -- Established in Zion -- A dark cloud arises -- Driven from Jackson County -- Zion in possession of the enemy -- The redemption of Zion -- How it is to be accomplished -- A parable -- Zion's camp -- Baurak Ale -- The Lord's warriors -- Start for Zion -- Meet a superior force -- A narrow escape -- A terrible storm -- A new revelation -- Army to disband -- Wait for a little season -- Cholera in the camp -- Tried as Abraham -- I will fight your battles -- Shall find grace and favor in the eyes of the people -- Let my army become very strong -- Far West -- The Mormon war -- Resist the militia -- Several killed -- Exterminating order of Gov. Boggs -- Joseph and the leaders arrested -- Mormons driven from the State -- The whole gathering scheme a failure.
CHAPTER XXXVIII.423 Prophecies of Joseph Smith -- Were they fulfilled? -- The rebellion of South Carolina -- President Jackson and the Nullifiers -- The great rebellion -- War of 1861-5 -- The prophecy analyzed -- Unfulfilled -- Letter to R. N. E. Seaton -- Bloodshed, famine and earthquakes -- A desolating scourge -- Letter to John C. Calhoun -- Dire things predicted -- The prophet grows eloquent -- The whole prediction a failure.
CHAPTER XXXIX.438 A letter to Elder T. E. L. -- Modern revelation -- Apostles and prophets -- Church organization -- Its various officers -- Two Priesthoods -- "Those abominations" -- Early Christians -- A charge repelled -- Those idolatrous Israelites -- No new revelation necessary -- The "basic idea of Mormonism" -- An important question -- The New Testament a perfect guide -- Five pointed questions -- Six reasons examined -- The Bible a detector -- A mere scrapping of incidents -- The whole system wrong -- Conclusion.
Mormonism sets up a claim which, if true, is simply marvelous. But if, on the other hand, it is false, it will at once be stamped as the most daring fraud, the most unscrupulous effort to deceive and mislead the unwary and credulous that was ever attempted at any period of the world's history.
It will doubtless be conceded by all classes that no middle ground can, by any possible means, be taken upon this question. Mormonism is either absolutely true or unquestionably false. Its advocates claim it to be a system revealed directly from heaven by the personal ministry of angels, who conferred authority upon Joseph Smith and Oliver Cowdery by the "laying on of hands."
There can be no possible chance for mistake or deception in this matter, so far as the originators of
the scheme are concerned. Upon this point Mr. Orson Pratt, one of the original twelve apostles, chosen under the direction of Joseph Smith, and declared in Mormon history to be the St. Paul of the nineteenth century, says:
"This book," referring to the Book of Mormon, "must be either true or false. If true, it is one of the most important messages ever sent from God to man.... If false, it is one of the most cunning, wicked, bold, deep-laid impositions ever palmed upon the world, calculated to deceive and ruin millions who will receive it as the word of God." (O. Pratt's works, Divine Authenticity of the Book of Mormon, page 1).
Under this view of the case, then, it becomes our duty to inquire whether this claim be true or false -- whether it is supported by competent testimony.
In treating this subject it is the intention of the writer to state every proposition to be discussed, when possible to do so, in the language of the friends and advocates of the system, and thus avoid all controversy respecting premises.
Likewise every statement of fact shall be supported by Mormon authority, when practicable, or from other sources whose authenticity cannot be successfully controverted.
It is not the purpose of the writer to make war upon people who honestly believe in the doctrines of Mormonism, but to present, rather, what appears to be good and valid reason for believing that the system had its origin in fraud and deception.
We shall state as briefly as may be the entire ground upon which the system is based, and then proceed to examine each point under the light of such facts as are attainable.
ORIGIN OF MORMONISM.
When about ten years of age he removed with his father's family to Palmyra, Ontario County, New York. Here began his remarkable career as a religious teacher. He was confessedly illiterate, but nature had endowed him with a clear, strong brain, and by sheer force of his intellectuality he was from the very beginning of his career a leader
At about the age of fifteen he professed to have seen a remarkable vision. Two personages, he declares, stood above him in a "pillar of light." "One of them," he says, "spoke to me, calling me by name, and said, 'This is my beloved Son; hear him.'" Joseph then asked the Lord, for such he declared the personage to be, what church he should join.
Concerning the answer which he received, Mr. Smith says:
"I was answered that I should join none of them, for they were all wrong; and the personage who addressed me said that all their creeds were an abomination in his sight; and that the professors were all corrupt."
The above quotation is from Tullidge's Life of Joseph the Prophet, pages 3 and 4, published by the Reorganized Church of Latter Day Saints at Lamoni, Iowa. This shows the light in which the founder of Mormonism viewed all other churches and creeds. The churches were all wrong, their creeds an abomination, and their teachers and professors all corrupt.
Surely, according to "Joseph the Prophet," the world was in a most deplorable condition.
Three years later Joseph had another interview which lasted all night, but this time it was the angel Moroni who appeared. The angel told Joseph that "God had a work for him to perform" -- that "there was a book deposited, written upon gold plates, giving an account of the former inhabitants of this continent" -- and that deposited with these plates were "two stones in silver bows," by means of which the book must be translated. (See Tullidge's History, pages and 10.)
Here follows an interval of just four years to a day. During this time Joseph was seemingly on very intimate terms with the angel Moroni -- said angel being none other than the departed spirit of the prophet Moroni, who wrote the closing book of the Book of Mormon, and who "hid up unto the Lord" the plates containing the record of his people. (See Book of Mormon, chapter 4, page 532.*)
Remembering exactly where he had "hid up " these plates, he of course experienced no difficulty in directing Joseph to the very spot where he had concealed them over 1400 years before. After four years of careful training under the tutelage of Moroni, Joseph was permitted to take the treasure from its long concealment and begin the translation of the sacred record by means of the "two stones set in a silver bow," otherwise known as the "Urim and Thummim."
* NOTE. -- The copy of the Book of Mormon from which I quote is known as the "Palmyra edition," the first ever printed and the page number will not, therefore, agree with subsequent editions, but book and chapter I think are the same.
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He made the acquaintance of Joseph Smith some time after he had commenced the pretended translation of the plates, assisted by one Martin Harris, a farmer of some means, who had become interested in the story concerning the angel and the plates. Harris wrote for Joseph till they had produced one hundred and sixteen pages of manuscript, which Harris was permitted to take with him to his home. This MS., it is charged, was stolen from Harris by an enemy, supposed to be his wife. This so interrupted the work of translation that no further work was done till Oliver Cowdery made the acquaintance of the young prophet, when the work was commenced anew.
"Two days after the arrival of Mr. Cowdery," says Joseph, "I commenced to translate the Book of Mormon, and he commenced to write for me, which having continued for some time, I inquired of the
Lord through the Urim and Thummim, and obtained the following revelation." (Tullidge's History, page 35).
Then follows a lengthy revelation, from which is excerpted the following:
"Behold, thou art Oliver, and I have spoken unto thee because of thy desire; therefore treasure up these words in thy heart.... And behold, I grant unto you a gift, if you desire it of me, to translate even as rmy servant Joseph." (Ibid, pages 36 and 37).
I thus particularly refer to the circumstance of Oliver Cowdery's association with Joseph Smith in the very rise of Mormonism, for the purpose of correcting an error which for some unaccountable reason has become well-nigh universal. Except by those acquainted with the facts connected with the early stages of its development, it is generally believed that Sidney Rigdon was the chief abettor of Joseph Smith in concocting the Morrmon scheme.
The usual debater undertakes to trace the Book of Mormon to the Spaulding romance through Sidney Rigdon.
Nothing can be more erroneous, and it will lead to almost certain defeat . The well-informed advocate of Mormonism wants no better amusement than to vanquish an opponent in discussion who takes this ground. The facts are all opposed to this view , and the defenders of the Mormon dogma have the facts well in hand. I speak frorn experience.
As a matter of fact, Sidney Rigdon was an earnest and able advocate of the Reformation contemporaneously with Alexander Campbell, and pastor of a church at Mentor, Ohio, at the very time Joseph
Smith and Oliver Cowdery were propagating Mormonism in New York and Pennsylvania. Sidney Rigdon had never heard a Mormon sermon, nor had he ever seen a copy of the Book of Mormon till he was presented with one by Oliver Cowdery and Parley P. Pratt in the fall of 1830. It is an historical fact that Mr. Rigdon became a convert to the new religion through the preaching of these gentlemen during the visit referred to above.
Mr. Rigdon's large influence and pursuasive eloquence carried with him a great number of his admirers in that section of Ohio, which unquestionably gave the first decided impetus to the Mormon delusion. An eloquent speaker, and a gentleman of more than ordinary attainments, he soon became a recognized power in the propagation of the new faith.
Success of the efforts put forth in this section of Ohio was doubtless the prime cause of the settlement at Kirtland a short time afterwards, and which in its turl;led to the building of the Kirtland temple.
In order to the successful refutation of the Mormon dogma it is not at all necessary to connect Sidney Rigdon with Joseph Smith in its inception. In fact, such a course will almost certainly result in failure; and the principal reason why it will fail is because it is not true. Truth is always better than error, and is much more easily maintained.
THE SPAULDING ROMANCE.In this connection it may be well to remark that another error, closely allied to the above, and co-extensive with it, is that which relates to what is popularly
known as the Solomon Spaulding romance, out of which, it has been uniformly urged, the Book of Mormon was concocted by Joseph Smith and Sidney Rigdon. If it be true that the Book of Mormon is nothing more than a revamped edition of the old Spaulding romance, then it follows that the former must possess at least a few of the characteristics of the latter. Necessarily there would be a similarity in design, or a correspondence between the names, neither of which is true.
The long-lost Spaulding story has at last been unearthed, and is now on deposit in the library of Oberlin College at Oberlin, Ohio, and may be examined by anyone who may take the pains to call on President Fairchild, of that institution.
In a letter to Joseph Smith, of Lamoni, Iowa, dated at Honolulu, Sandwich Islands, March 28, 1885, Mr. L. L. Rice, in whose possession the original Spaulding story had been resting for forty-four years -- from 1839 to 1885 -- says:
"There is no identity of names, of persons or places, and there is no similarity of style between them.... I should as soon think the book of Revelation was written by the author of 'Don Quixote,' as that the writer of this manuscript was the author of the Book of Mormon."
The writer has examined a certified copy of this remarkable document, and to say he was surprised is to express it moderately. Instead of exhibiting the qualities of a scholarly mind, as we had been led to believe it would do, quite to the contrary, it bears every mark of ignorance and illiteracy, and is evidently the product of a mind far below the average, even in the ordinary affairs of life. A twelve-year-old
boy in any of our common schools can tell a better story and couch it in far better English. The Spaulding story is a failure. Do not attempt to rely upon it -- it will let you down.
The entire theory connecting Sidney Rigdon and the Spaulding romance with Joseph Smith in originating the Book of Mormon must be abandoned. We have something better. All Mormon history and biography agree in connecting Oliver Cowdery, a man the equal of Sidney Rigdon in point of scholastic attainments and personal polish, directly with Joseph Smith in every stage of the development of Mormonism.
It was Oliver Cowdery -- not Sidney Rigdon -- who assisted in the so-called translation of the plates. It was he who helped to prepare the book for the press; and he it was, doubtless, who expected to share the profits arising from its sale. It was Cowdery, not Rigdon, who was in the woods with Smith when the angel -- John the Baptist -- is said to have laid his hands upon their heads and ordained them to what they call "the Aaronic Priesthood." It was Oliver Cowdery who was the first to receive baptism at the hands of Joseph Smith, and who in turn baptized the prophet. It was Oliver Cowdery who ordained Joseph Smith by the "laying on of hands," to be the "first elder of the church," and who in turn ordained Oliver to be the "second elder of the church;" and it was Oliver Cowdery who assisted Joseph in the organization of the church at Seneca, Fayette Co., N. Y., April 6, 1830.
In order to verify the above statement of facts, the reader is referred to Tullidge's History, pages 35, 43, 44, 75 and 77. But no intelligent Latter Day Saint
will deny these statements. Thus it will be seen that Sidney Rigdon had absolutely nothing to do with originating Mormonism.
THE FOUNDATION.That the whole Mormon superstructure is founded upon the Book of Mormon, no one will perhaps attempt to deny. If that book is true, then the authority of the Mormon Church is established beyond the possibility of reasonable doubt. But if it is false, then Mormonism may justly be branded as the most stupendous fraud of the ages, and its advocates are left without even the shadow of truth upon which to base their claim to divine authority.
The divine authenticity of the Book of Mormon must, therefore, be sustained by the testimony of competent witnesses, or Mormonism is a failure. Can its claims be sustained by the evidence offered in its support? If not, then the book and the system built upon its claim to be a divine revelation must go down together. In order to properly test the claims of the book we must first understand just what these claims are.
THE PURPORT OF THE BOOK OF MORMON.Tho Book of Mormon is represented to contain a detailed account of three separate colonies which settled upon the great American Continent, the first coming from the tower of Babel, the other two from Jerusalem. The most important of these was that led by one Lehi, and with which the Book of Mormon principally deals.
This Lehi, a prophet, left Jerusalem, accortling to
the narrative, "in the commencement of the first year of the reign of Zedekiah, king of Judah " (B. of M., page 1), in the year 600, B. C.
It describes the wanderings of the little band through the wilderness on foot till they reached the borders of the Red Sea, and their sojourn upon the banks of a large stream, which flows into the Rect Sea. From this point they traveled in a south-southeasterly direction, till finally they came to the sea called "Ireantum."
Here they build a ship, and, under the direction of the self-appointed Nephi, the youngest of four brothers, sail for the "promised land;" but where the promised land was located, or in what direction, the record does not inform us.
The book relates circumstantially the wanderings of the colony in the great wilderness in the promised land, till they finally settle somewhere in the interior. Dissension finally arises, and Nephi, with his two younger brothers, Jacob and Joseph, separated from their elder brethren, Laman, Lemuel and Sam. Henceforth they were two separate peoples, known as "Nephites" and "Lamanites." The book gives a very full account of the numerous wars and contentions between the two races, till the Nephites became extinct, in the year A. D. 420, leaving the entire Continent in possession of the Lamanites, from whom our American Indians are said to be descended.
Instead of keeping their records on papyrus, as did the Hebrews in every age, they were written on "plates of brass," and in the Egyptian, instead of the Hebrew language. This is a very important point, and should be borne in mind.
For a more extended account the reader is referred to Tullidge's History, pages 45-64.
The Book of Mormon, professedly written by a succession of prophets, stands to the inhabitants of Ancient America in the same relation that the Bible sustains to the Israelites. It is in fact the American Bible. The validity of this remarkable claim will be thoroughly examined under the proper head.
APOSTLES CHOSEN.Having thus briefly sketched the rise of the Mormon hierarchy, let us now proceed to notice the different stages of its development. When first organized the church consisted of but six members. The new doctrine rapidly spread into the neighboring States, and among the accessions to the new church were such men as Sidney Rigdon, Parley P. Pratt, Brigharn Young, Orson Pratt, Heber C. Kimball, Orson Hyde and others.
It now became necessary, in the opinion of this modern seer, to effect a more complete organization of the church. Joseph, having conceived the idea of an apostolic church, received a "revelation" appointing three men who were to choose the twelve apostles for the church of the new dispensation.
At a meeting called for the purpose at Kirtland, O., Feb. 14, 1835, the "Twelve" were chosen in the following manner:
"The three witnesses (to the Book of Mormon), namely, Oliver Cowdery, David Whitmer and Martin Harris, united in prayer; they were then blessed by the laying on of the hands of the Presidency, and then proceeded to make choice of the Twelve." (Tullidge's History, page 150.)
On page 154 of the same work, in giving the apostolic charge, Oliver Cowdery says:
"Have you desired this ministry with all your hearts? If you have desired it, you are called of God, not of man, to go into all the world."
Continuing this charge to these apostles, Mr. Cowdery says:
"Remember, you are not to go to other nations till you receive your endowment. Tarry in Kirtland until you are endowed with power from on high." (Ibid, page 157.)
We cite the above in order to call attention to the marked difference between the Lord's method of calling twelve apostles and that employed by Joseph Smith, and shall give special attention to it in the proper place.
THE FIRST PRESIDENCY.Not only was there a "quorum" of twelve apostles, but another "quorurm" of vastly more importance was called into existence, known as the "First Presidency."
This body of dignitaries is a triumvirate, consisting of a "chief apostle and high priest, with two associate counselors." This is the highest official executive body in the church
There is also another triumvirate of lower grade, composed of the "Presiding Bishop" and his two counselors. The Bishop has charge of the finances of the church, and should be a literal descendant of Aaron. But in the event that such descendant can not be found, a person of some other lineage may be chosen, as shown in Joseph's "revelation on priesthood," as follows:
"The bislloplick is the presidency of this (Aaronic) priesthood, and holds the kwys of authority of the same. No mall has a legal right to this office, to hold the keys of this priesthood, except he be a literal descendant of Aaron. But as a high priest of the Melchisedek priesthood has authority to officiate in all the lesser offices, he may officiate in the office of bishop when no literal descedant of Aaron can be found." (Tullidge's History, page 217; also Doctrine and Covenants, Sec. 68, Par. 2, page 199.) The italics are mine.
But you may ask, How is it possible at this late day to determine this difficult question of Aaronic lineage?
To ordinary mortals this would, I confess, prove an insurmountable barrier; but Joseph was a man of resources, and this matter of lineal descent was a trifling affair. You must bear in mind the fact that Joseph was in possession of that magical "Urim and Thummim," by means of which he had access to the fountains of all knowledge. Appealing to this, the question was soon settled. A PATRIARCH must be appointed whose duty and privilege it shall be to determine the lineage, not only of the man whosc privilege it is to "hold the keys of this priesthood," but of any and every man who may be curious to know from just which of the twelve patriarchs of old he might be descended.
THE PATRIARCH ANOINTED.Accordingly "my servant Joseph Smith, Sen.," was duly consecrated to the patriarchate of the church. The particulars of this unprecedented transaction are given by Tullidge, as follows:
"The interesting episode of anointing and blessing the first patriarch of the church, with the marvelous manifestations which then occurred, is spoken of by Joseph as follows:
"We then laid our hands upon our aged father Smith, and invoked the blessings of heaven. I then anointed his head with the consecrated oil, and sealed many blessings upon him. The presidency then in turn laid their hands upon his head, beginning at the eldest, until they had all laid their hands upon him, and pronounced such blessings upon his head as the Lord put into their hearts, -- all blessing him to be our Patriarch, to anoint our heads, and attend to all duties that pertain to his office." (Tullidge's History, page 161.)
This remarkable ceremony took place in the unfinished temple at Kirtland, Ohio, Jan. 21, 1836.
On Feb. 28, 1835, two weeks after the twelve apostles were chosen, and at the same place, "The Apostles of the Seventies" were in part called and ordained. (Ibid, page 160.)
OTHER OFFICERS.Then follows the "Quorum of High Priests," the bishop and his "two associate counselors," elders, "priests," teachers and deacons. As completed, the organization stands thus:
1. The First Presidency; 2. The Patriarch; 3. Twelve Apostles; 4. Seventies; 5. High Priests; 6. Bishops; 7. Elders; 8. Priests; 9. Teachers; 10. Deacons.
The above officers are named in the order of their importance, and comprise the entire official force of the Mormon Church. No church organization short
of this will pass muster with any Latter Day Saint as the Church of Christ. Wm. H. Kelley, one of the twelve apostles of the "Reorganized Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints," in his work entitled "Presidency and Priesthood," after an exhaustive argument to prove the above organization to be strictly Biblical (see p. 83), clinches his argument with the following:
"After having made diligent search among all the societies and organizations extant, with your guide (the Bible) in hand, where do you find amidst them all, my friend and reader, an institution in exact accord with the pattern of Christ's Church? Ah, echo answers, Where?
Yet one established according to this plan is all that God has ever deigned to acknowledge as his. What will you do? Throw away your guide, and join the daughters of the old mother, or some institution of men? You cannot afford to do this." (Presidency and Priesthood, pages 188 and 189.)
"Tired and discouraged, perhaps, you are ready to exclaim: With guide in hand, I have surveyed the whole of Christendom, and I have failed to find an organization in harmony with it, or anything approximating it. I want to be saved! I must join something or I am lost! Hold, sir! The daughters of 'Mystery, Babylon' cannot save you; neither any institution of man." (Ibid, pages 190 and 191.)
In the foregoing extracts we have the very essence and spirit of the Mormon theology.
The sentiment is that expressed by Joseph Smith, and is entertained by every branch and faction of the Mormon Church in every part of the world. It is the
spirit by which its ministry is controlled, although for prudential reasons they do not always declare it so plainly and bluntly as does Mr. Kelley.
Of all religions extant to-day, Mormonism is the most exclusive and intolerant. How unlike the religion founded by Christ! How unlike the spirit of Mormon intolerance was that which characterized the teachings of the world's great Law-giver! He could say: "He that is not against us is for us," but Joseph Smith says, substantially, that "We are against every man and every church, because they are all wrong; their creeds are an abomination, and their teachers all corrupt."
Among ecclesiastical bodies the Mormon Church is the Ishmael of the nineteenth century. Its hand is against every man and every church. It tolerates nothing which is not purely Mormon in its origin and tendencies.
THE DOCTRINES OF THE CHURCH.The doctrines of Mormonism are characterized by peculiarities as remarkable as they are, in many respects, erroneous. Briefly stated, they are as follows:
"(1) Faith in God. (2) Faith in Jesus Christ. (3) In the Holy Ghost. (4) Belief in the doctrine of repentance. (5) In baptism. (6) In the laying on of hands. (7) In the resurrection of the dead. (8) Eternal judgment. (9) The Lord's Supper. (10) The washing of feet. These, together with... the endowment of the Holy Ghost as realized and enjoyed in the testimony of Jesus, -- such is faith, wisdom, knowledge, dreams, prophecies, tongues,
interpretation of tongues, visions, healings," etc. -- (Presidency and Priesthood, pages 83 and 84).
Mr. Kelley might have included in the above three other points of doctrine, peculiarly Mormon, and without which the list is by no means complete, namely: the "law of tithing," the "gathering of the saints," and " baptism for the dead."
Having presented what may fairly be termed the groundwork of Mormonism, I shall now proceed to a careful examination of the material entering into both its foundation and superstructure. The laws of construction require us to begin at the foundation and build upward; but, quite to the contrary, if we undertake to tear down and remove a useless and dangerous structure, we usually begin at the top and work downward; and as the work in hand is destructive rather than constructive, we shall adopt the latter method.
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When an architect submits the plan for a building of specific dimensions, he usually submits therewith specifications setting forth the kind of materials to be used in its construction.
The quality of the materials of which the building is constructed is of as much importance as that the structure shall be of the required dimensions. A failure in this regard would be as fatal to the builder as if he had changed the style of architecture, or the dimensions of the building. It must likewise be borne in mind that the interior construction and finish are of as much importance as any other part of the work. knowledge, dreams, prophecies, tongues,
To the casual observer the edifice may have a very imposing appearance, but when examined by an expert and compared with the plans and specifications, it may be found woefully wanting in many important particulars as to both foundation and superstructure. And so it is with the spiritual house called the church.
The important question, then, for us to consider is this: Does the Mormon structure fill the bill? Does it strictly accord with the plans and specifications? We shall see.
The edifice must be constructed in every particular exactly according to the divine plan. Its interior adornments must be of the kind and of the quality called for in the contract, or it will not be accepted.
Reader, did you ever carefully inspect the interior of this unique specimen of spiritual architecture? If not, just take a little stroll with me through its spacious corridors and numerous apartments. Remarkable as it may appear, this building has but one door -- BAPTISM -- and you can enter by no other. This admits you to the main hall. Here on the right is a room called "WISDOM." It contains a few pieces of bric-a-brac -- somewhat attractive, but of very little practical value. The next one we enter has the word "KNOWLEDGE" written over the entrance. Upon entering this room you are conscious of a keen sense of disappointment. While the walls are hung with a few fairly good productions, the larger portion of the specimens exhibited are of inferior grade.
The first room on the left, here, is denominated "DREAMS." This apartment is delightful. At once upon entering it you are carried away into that blissful fairy-land, where all is quiet and peace, and where nothing is impossible. Dream on! dream on! How
delightfully realistic! Never aroused from this blissful slumber, you would never know sorrow -- would never weep. But ah! "life is real, life is earnest," and sooner or later we must face its stern realities and taste the bitter as well as the sweet.
Here is another large room furnished almost exactly like that we have just left -- "VISIONS." The effect may be pleasing, but O, how delusive! Nothing substantial -- nothing real about it all. "All is vanity and vexation of spirit." But here is another -- "SPIRITUAL GIFTS. Perhaps this will be more satisfactory. It is said to be the exact duplicate of one of the most marvelously beautiful apartments in a very ancient building, designed by the most skillful architect the world ever knew. But, alas! when you come to examine its furnishings the heart is faint with disappointment. You had every reason to expect, from representations made to you before entering, that every article in this room would be of purest gold of the most dazzling brightness. But on applying every known test -- the most potent of which is experience -- you turn away in sorrow and disgust. Instead of pure gold, you find the merest dross. Instead of the divine luster, you find only the tarnishment and rust pertaining to things earthly and impure. Disappointment meets you at every turn, and with bowed head and sad heart you seek the nearest exit, and make your way out into heaven's bright, refreshing sunlight, to seek relief from the disappointment and gloom which had overwhelmed you like a flood because of falsehood and deception.
DESIGNS, OR SPIRITUAL GIFTS.Covet earnestly the best gifts." (1 Cor. 12: 31).
This injunction of the apostle is regarded by Latter Day Saints as being equivalent to a divine promise to perpetuate the miraculous gifts of the Holy Spirit to every age of the world, and that Christians may, therefore, prophesy in the sense of foretelling important events, speak in unknown tongues, interpret tongues, see visions, heal the sick, etc., as in the days of Christ and the apostles. But the Scripture upon which they chiefly rely to prove this position is the following:
"Go ye into all the world and preach the gospel to every creature. He that believeth and is baptized shall be saved, but he that believeth not shall be damned. And these signs shall follow them that believe. In my name shall they cast out devils; they shall speak with new tongues; they shall take up serpents; and if they drink any deadly thing, it shall not hurt them; they shall lay hands on the sick, and they shall recover." (Mark 16: 15-18 ).
It is the boast of Latter Day Saints that no man living can possibly disprove or in any way invalidate their claim upon this point. In the first place the burden of proof lies with them. They affirm the perpetuity of these miraculous powers, while we simply deny. The man who affirms must prove what he affirms. It is entirely sufficient to meet an affirmative proposition with a bare denial. When affirmative evidence has been introduced, the negative may offer such evidence in rebuttal as may be deemed necessary. Thus it will be seen that we are under no obligation to disprove any affirmative proposition.
In this issue Mormonism has affirmed something, and has offered testimony to prove it -- is in fact the plaintiff in an action before the civilized world, and
asks for judgment on the ground that the testimony of its witnesses sustains the allegation. Their petition sets up a claim that certain jewels -- spiritual gifts -- at one time in the possession of a woman of great distinction -- the Church of Christ -- rightfully belong to said plaintiff -- the Mormon Church. St. Mark is the chief witness. He was likewise one of the executors of the will under whose provision the jewels were bequeathed to the woman. Now, does the testimony of Mark declare that these jewels were to be transmitted and delivered to persons claiming to be the legal heirs of said woman, who lived more than seventeen centuries after her death? Whether it does or not a careful examination of the testimony will determine.
With this text, as with nearly all others relied upon to establish the claims of Mormonism, the question is purely one of exegesis. While I am by no means vain enough to imagine that we shall be able to finally and forever settle this disputed question, yet I do indulge the belief that we shall be able to show the Mormon exegesis to be erroneous, and hence incompetent to sustain their contention.
Let us now proceed to carefully analyze the terms of the commission quoted from Mark's testimony, and note the result.
"Go ye into all the world."
Who go into all the world? The disciples -- the eleven. No one else is addressed, and hence, no one else is included. This seems conclusive.
"Go ye." Go where? "Into all the world." Does this mean the disciples thus addressed -- the eleven -- were to go into every inhabited portion of the globe? Certainly not, for their labors were confined
almost exclusively to a small portion of southwestern Asia and that portion of continental Europe bordering on the Mediterranean Sea.
"Go ye and preach." Preach what? The Gospel.
Go when? "After Pentecost, and continue to preach the Gospel during your natural lives." This was all they could do.
Go to whom? "To every creature within your reach." What shall be the result? "He who hears you, and receives the message which you declare, shall be saved. But he who hears you, and believes not the Gospel which you teach, shall be damned."
So far we find nothing in the language of Mark to indicate that the promised "signs" were to extend to future ages; but on the contrary they were clearly intended as a necessary means to a desired end, and that end was the establishment of the church of Christ among the nations of the earth.
"And these signs shall follow."
Here is a promise; but to whom does it extend? Are there no limitations? Let us see. "And these signs shall follow them that believe." Follow them that believe what? Why, the Gospel, to be sure. "And these signs shall follow them that believe the Gospel?" Preached by whom? Why, by the disciples, of course, for none others were authorized. Analyzed, the proposition stands thus: "And these signs shall follow them that believe the Gospel preached by the disciples." Just that, and nothing more, is affirmed.
This analysis shows most conclusively that the promise of miraculous powers was limited to the lifetime of the first disciples -- the eleven, and those upon whom they had laid their hands. No amount of
sophistry and false reasoning is competent to show that the promises contained in the apostolic commission were ever intended to extend beyond the lifetime of the apostles.
While the Great Commission to preach the Gospel and administer its ordinances was general, extending, under proper conditions, to every age and every nation under the heavens, the "signs," or miraculous gifts of the Holy Spirit, were confined, as we have already shown, to the times of the apostles. While these miraculous powers were limited to the apostolic age, the obligation to " preach the Gospel to every creature," along with the "conditions upon which sinners are accepted under the Gospel," as provided in the commission, was made perpetual.
And right here is where the Saints make another serious, I might say fatal, blunder. They insist, with characteristic pertinacity, that the commission was a document wholly temporary in its character, while the "signs" were intended to be perpetual. It seems to me that any reasonable person, unbiased by preconceived opinion and fundamental error, ought, at a glance, to see the absurdity and unscripturalness of this position. If authority to preach the Gospel ceased with the apostles, then most certainly the Church of Christ must cease to exist as soon as the persons composing it at the time of the death of the last apostle were all dead; and if this be true, then what becomes of the declaration of Christ: "Upon this rock I will build my church, and the gates of hell shall not prevail against it?" (Matt. 16:18).
In order that the "gates of hell" -- the powers of darkness -- should not prevail against the Church of Christ, authority to minister in Gospel ordinances
must be perpetuated. As the apostles could not themselves personally deliver the divine message, committed to them in the Great Commission, to all people, they very wisely, and doubtless by the command of God, set apart other faithful men to the work, and clothed them with authority to preach the Gospel and baptize penitent believers into the name of Jesus Christ. That such ministers -- elders, or bishops, deacons and evangelists -- were ordained by the apostles is perfectly clear, as the following shows:
"And from Miletus he sent to Ephesus, and called the elders of the church... And now, behold, I know that ye all, among whom I have gone preaching the kingdom of God, shall see my face no more... Take heed therefore unto yourselves, and to all the flock, over which the Holy Ghost hath made you overseers, to feed the church of God, which he hath purchased with his own blood." (Acts 20:17, 25, 28).
"And when they had ordained them elders in every church, and had prayed with fasting, they commended them to the Lord, on whom they believed." (Acts 14: 23).
For this cause left I thee in Crete, that thou shouldest set in order the things that are wanting, and ordain elders in every city, as I had appointed thee... For a bishop (elder) must be blameless, as the steward of God,... holding fast the faithful word as he hath been taught, that he may be able by sound doctrine both to exhort and to convince the gainsayers." (Titus 1:5, 7, 9).
To Timothy Paul says:
"This is a true saying, If a man desire the office of a bishop (or elder), he desireth a good work. A bishop then must be blameless, the husband of one
wife, vigilant, sober, of good behavior, given to hospitality, apt to teach. For if a man know not how to rule his own house, how shall he take care of the church of God?" (1 Tim. 3:1, 2, 5).
Continuing, the apostle gives the following instructions concerning deacons:
"Likewise must the deacons be grave, not double-tongued, not given to much wine, not greedy of filthy lucre.... And let these also be proved; then let them use the office of a deacon, being found blameless." (1 Tim. 3:8, 10).
" And the saying pleased the whole multitude: and they (the congregation) chose Stephen, a man full of faith and of the Holy Ghost, and Philip, and Prochorus, and Nicanor, and Timon, and Parmenas, and Nicolas, a proselyte of Antioch; whom they set before the apostles: and when they had prayed, they laid their hands on them." (Acts 6 5, 6).
Two of these deacons (as the seven are generally conceded to have been), Stephen and Philip, afterwards became very prominent evangelists, rendering great service to the church.
"And Stephen, full of faith and power, did great wonders and miracles among the people." (Acts 6 8. See also chapters 7 and 8).
Besides the elders and deacons of the church, there were also men known as evangelists (see Eph. 4:11), whose duties correspond very nearly to those of the apostles, even performing great miracles, as in the cases of Stephen and Philip. These men were often co-laborers with the apostles, and were very efficient ministers of Christ.
Of this class may be mentioned such men as John Malk the traveling companion of Paul and Barnabas
(Acts 12:25; 15:37); Luke, the evangelist and "beloved physician," who also traveled with Paul (Acts 16:12; 20:5; Col. 4:14; 2 Tim 4:11).
Along with these may also be mentioned Timothy, Titus, Barnabas, Judas and Silas (Acts 15:22), and many others.
These men possessed authority to preach, baptize, set in order the churches, ordain other ministers, and perform any and all duties pertaining to the Christian ministry in order to the perpetuation of the Church of Christ.
Thus it will be seen that this whole question depends upon "the statutes in such cases made and provided;" and as no divine statute can be found which provides for the establishment and perpetuation of the apostolic office, and for the continuation of miracles beyond the time of the apostles, we may, therefore, very justly conclude that no such thing was ever intended.
As the divine code makes no provision for perpetuating the apostolic office in the church, or for the extension of miraculous powers beyond their time, if any such powers be claimed in this age by people pretending to be divinely commissioned, that claim must be supported by the same class of incontrovertible evidence as that offered by the apostles of Christ. Otherwise it must be rejected.
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Did any Mormon prophet, priest or king, ever cast out a devil -- a real, genuine, live devil? Of course they will say, "Yes, many of them." But who among them has the ability to determine the presence of a devil, if, indeed, there be such a thing to-day as demoniacal possession? During my forty years of experience and observation among Latter Day Saints, I have never known a man among them, from Joseph Smith down through the ranks of apostles, high priest and Seventy -- and I have personally known them all -- who could distinguish, if, indeed, such distinction in fact exists, between demoniacal possession and epileptic fits. Epilepsy is usually regarded as evidence prima facie of the presence of one or more devils, and frequent efforts are made to cast them out. In fact I confess to having, in connection with others, undertaken the job myself; but his satanic majesty was uniformly obstinate, and persistently refused to be cast out; and so the unfortunate sufferer
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This little colony, the book relates, were direeted in their journey to the promised land by divine power. Although the Book of Mormon itself does not give a hint as to the direction their ship sailed, or the distance travcrsed, yet it is maintained by its interpreters and defenders that the little colony of Jews landed on the west coast of South America, just south of the Isthmus of Panama; but the source from which this information is derived you are left to imagine, for the narrative is as silent as the tomb as to the point from which they sailed or the place where they landed.
No attempt is made to describe the "promised
land" either at the place of landing or at any point in the interior.
Of course if the Book of Mormon be accepted as true, all these difficulties at once disappear; for the "record" describes the terrible wars which led to the final extinction of the white or Nephite race by their copper-colored brethren, the Lamanites or American Indians, and gives an account of the last days of Moroni, who, (after all but himself had been slain in the decisive battle at Camorah -- Indian Hill, New York -- and where over "two million" Nephites fell, with nearly as many Lamanites) "hid up unto the Lord" the plates from which the Book of Mormon is said to have been translated. Following is the acconot of their discovery by Joseph Smith:
"Convenient to the village of Manchester, Ontario County, New York, stands a hill of considerable size, and the most elevated in the neighborhood. On the west side of this hill, not far from the top, under a stone of considerable size, lay the plates deposited in a stone box." (Smith's History, Vol. 1, page 16.)
If the above statement concerning the discovery of the gold plates in "Indian Hill," as the Manchester people call it, but known in Mormon, parlance as "Camorah," be accepted as correct, it does not only locate the Nephite colony upon this continent, but it proves the entire theory upon which Morrmonism is based to be true. But the veracity of this remarkable claim is the very point in dispute, and the question as to whether ancient America was peopled by a colony of Hebrews from Jerusalem remains an open question.
I shall now proceed to a direct examination of the "evidences" adduced in support of this very fine
theory. The Saints confidently assert that the Book of Mormon "came forth" in exact fulfillment of many direct prophecies of the Bible; and this view is presented with so much plausibility that many are led to accept it.
To pave the way for the more direct evidences in support of the Book of Mormon, the advocates of "the latter-day work," as the Saints call it, claim that, owing to a total apostasy of the primitive Christians from the original doctrines and practices of the church and the abrogation of all authority to minister in Gospel ordinances, a new revelation from God is indispensably necessary.
Apostle Orson Pratt, universally conceded to be the ablest writer the Mormon Church ever produced, in a pamphlet entitled, "More Revelation is Indispensably Necessary," undertakes to establish this pet dogma of Mormonism. Following is one of his strongest arguments:
"The Church of Christ cannot exist on the earth without an authorized ministry. This ministry can not be called and authorized without new revelation.... Without new revelation every office in the church would necessarily become vacant.... If revelation ceased at the close of the first century, it is not at all likely that any of the officers then holding authority would be alive a century afterwards; and as they would have no authority to ordain others without new revelation, when they died the authority upon the earth would necessarily become extinct.... Hence, without continued revelation the church could no more continue its existence on the earth than a body could live without the spirit." (Pratt's works, More Revelation Necessary, page 18.)
Thus all authority, and even the church itself, ceased to exist when new revelations were nolonger received, and revelation ceased because of a general apostasy.
While the Latter Day Saints admit that Christ set up his kingdom, or established his church, and authorized his apostles and others to preach the Gospel and administer its ordinances, yet they claim, as the above extract clearly shows, that through apostasy all authority was taken from the earth, and the Church of Christ actually ceased to exist. "The priesthood" -- by which they mean authority -- they tell us, "was taken from the earth," and cite certain Scriptures to prove it, and among them the following:
"And there appeared a great wonder in heaven; a woman clothed with the sun, and the moon under her feet, and upon her head a crown of twelve stars: and she brought forth a man-child, who was to rule all nations with a rod of iron: and her child was caught up to God and to his throne." (Rev. 12:1, 5.)
The woman, they very correctly hold, is the church, and the man-child, they erroneously maintain is "the priesthood." Concerning this Mr. Kelley says:
"An angel of glory, -- sent by Jesus... wends his way to earth, and conferred with his own pure hand and divinely uttered words the priesthood, -- long since lost, taken to heaven, as represented by the man-child of Rev. 12, and thus authorize men once more, to preach the Gospel." (Presidency and Priesthood, page 224.)
In his "Key to the Revelation of St. John," Joseph Smith says:
Q. "What are we to understand by the man-child,
in the 12th chapter of Revelation, and 5th verse?
A. "We are to understand that the man-child is the priesthood."
The above question and answer are quoted from memory, and are substantially, if not verbally, correct.
The man-child was the priesthood; the priesthood was "caught up to God and to his throne," therefore, all authority to minister in divine things was taken from the earth. In harmony with this view, Apostle Orson Pratt says:
"Since the church with its authority and power has been caught away from the earth, the great 'mother of harlots,' with all her descendants, has blasphemously assumed authority of administering some of the sacred ordinances of the Gospel." ("Revelation Necessary," as before quoted, page 18.)
According to all Mormon lexicography Priesthood means, --
"The authority of God committed to men, to preach the Gospel and administer the ordinances thereof." (Kelley.)
The priesthood having been "caught up to heaven," no man on earth has authority to minister in Gospel ordinances, and hence the necessity for a new revelation
That there was, after the death of the apostles, a departure, in some measure, at least, from the simplicity of primitive methods, few Protestants care to deny; but that such departure involved the abrogation of all authority, they do not admit. The proposition is one affirmed by the Latter Day Saints, and which they have utterly failed to establish by competent testimony.
Mr. Pratt sums up the whole case in a few words, -- and no writer among the Saints has ever produced stronger reasoning, -- when he says that "the Church of Christ cannot exist without an authorized ministry," and that "this ministry cannot be authorized without new revelation,"that is to say, every man called to the ministry must be called by a direct revelation from God. But is this true? Is it a fact that God has obligated himself to point out, by direct revelation, every man who officiates in his church. If so, where may we find such a declaration?
That some individuals were miraculously called, as Paul, for example, nobody doubts; but that all men must be so called does not appear, and neither can it be proved.
If Mr. Pratt's logic is good, and his premise be not at fault, then what becomes of the very first apostles chosen, himself among the rest, who were called, not by Christ, not by a revelation from God, but by three men, Oliver Cowdery, David Whitmer and Martin Harris?
If, indeed, ministers can only be chosen hy direcl: revelation, how about the seven men, the first apostles of the Reorganized Church, who were also chosen by three men selected for that purpose, and not by revelation?
If ministers can be called only by divine revelation, through what particular channel must such revelation come? "O," says one, "it must come through the prophet, the President of the church." Very well, but through which one of all the dozen or more presidents of as many different Mormon churches, must this revelation come? When some advocate of the Mormon heresy answers the above impertinent
questions to the satisfaction of reasonable people, then, and not till then, need they expect to mislead thinking people by such modes of reasoning.
The monstrous claim that no man, since the beginning of the third century, has been authorized to preach the Gospel till Joseph Smith and Oliver Cowdery, by the hand of an angel, were so authorized, is simply blasphemous, almost heaven-daring. And all this is founded upon the assumption that the "priesthood" was taken up to heaven, and all authority annulled because of apostasy.
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The land shadowing with wings -- Is it North and South America? -- Common ground -- Ariel is Jerusalem --
It shall be as Ariel -- The Ariel of the West -- A race exterminated -- Their History -- The land shadowing
with wings is Egypt, not America -- Views of Ira Maurice Price, Ph.D.
In harmony with all scholars of eminence, Mr. Kelley, as we have seen, takes the ground, as do all the leading minds among the Saints, that Ariel here means Jerusalem, as shown from the fact that it was "the city where David dwelt," was the capital city of the people of Israel. (See 2 Sam. 5: 5-7.)
To begin with, then, we stand upon common ground respecting the application of the word Ariel -- Ariel is Jerusalem. This furnishes the key by which we may unlock the door that v shall lead out into the open sunlight of truth.
"Woe to Ariel, to Ariel, the city where David dwelt; add ye year to year; let them kill sacrifices. Yet I will distress Ariel, and there shall be heaviness and sorrow. And it shall be unto me as Ariel." (Verses 1 and 2.)
According to this reading a comparison is here introduced between Ariel, or Jerusalem, and some other land or people, who should become unto the Lord AS Ariel. Where is this land? Who are the people here described? These are very important questions in Mormon theology, and so Mr. Kelley concludes that, "We have presented in these texts what may be termed an old and a new Ariel."
As it was with the " old Ariel," so shall it be with the new. To locate the land of this new Ariel -- this new Jerusalem -- is a labor of love very dear to the hearts of all Latter Day Saints, for the reason that everything Mormon depends upon it.
"Woe to the land shadowing with wings, which is beyond the rivers of Ethiopia." (Isa. 18: 1.)
This prophecy, according to Mormon exegesis, relates to North and South America, which lie between the world's two great oceans, expanded like the "shadowing wings" of some great tropic-bird.
Even the character of the government which should finally prevail in "the land shadowing with wings" is supposed to be indicated. The great American eagle, whose wide-spread, "shadowing wings" in our coat-of-arms, representing the escutcheon of American liberty, is supposed to have been foreseen by the prophet.
Upon the land "shadowing with wings," or America, the "New Ariel" of Mr. Kelley's imagination is located.
The Ariel of the West, according to this view, must share the fate of the Ariel of the East, that is, it must be "brought down" by a powerful foe, and should, like a familiar spirit, "speak out of the ground." This can only be accomplished, we are
told, by means of a written history, concealed for ages, but at last brought to light by miraculous power.
The Book of Mormon, it must be borne in mind, professes to contain the "written history" of this new Ariel. The "Nephites" were a people "terrible from their beginning hitherto" (Isa. 18:2), but were exterminated by their more wicked brethren, the "Lamanites," about A. D. 420.
The account of this war of extermination, together with their forms of religion, was written on metallic plates, brass and gold, and were concealed by Moroni, one of the Nephite prophets, and the only survivor of his race, and were finally discovered and translated by Joseph Smith, in fulfillment of the 29th chapter of Isaiah.
This theory, it must be confessed, is indeed fine; and if the theory is sustained by the facts, it amounts to a very strong presumption in favor of Morrnonism. But if the facts are opposed to the theory, then the whole argument breaks down, and Joseph Smith stands revealed an impostor and the Book of Mormon a fraud.
Will the theory bear the test of truth? We shall see.
If the country described in Isaiah 18: 1, as "the land shadowing with wings," be America, and if the 29th chapter relates to events that were to transpire on this continent, and which, as a matter of fact, did take place as predicted, then all candid people will readily concede the fact that the Book of Mormon is probably true.
But if the "land shadowing with wings" is shown to be not the land of America, but some other land,
and if it shall transpire that the events described in the 29th chapter of Isaiah relate not to the people of ancient America, but to the people of Israel, then the Book of Mormon cannot be true, and Latter Day Saints should frankly admit the fact, confess their error, and openly renounce the heresey.
Is America the land shadowing with wings? Let us see.
"Woe to the land shadowing with wings which is beyond the rivers of Ethiopia."
The land here described lies beyond the rivers of Ethiopia from Palestine, where the prophet resided. What direction is Ethiopia from Jerusalem? Directly south, as may be seen by any good map of Africa. The "rivers of Ethiopia" are the rivers of Africa, the Nile and its tributaries. Hence, the land described is Egypt, not America. In further proof of this we read:
"And it shall come to pass in that day, that the Lord shall hiss for the fly that is in the uttermost part of the rivers of Egypt, and for the bee that is in the land of Assyria." (Isa. 7: 18.)
Perhaps a more accurate rendering of the passage in question would be: "Woe to the land of the rustling of wings." Concerning this, and in answer to questions relative to this and other Scriptures, Ira Maurice Price, Ph. D., Associate Professor of Semitic Languages and Literatures in the University of Chicago, says:
"'The land of the rustling of wings' is Egypt, full of buzzing flies, gnats, etc., and the last passage [Isa. 7:18, quoted above,] compared with hosts of warriors of Egypt and Ethiopia. 'Beyond the rivers
of Ethiopia,' i. e., extending southward even through and beyond Ethiopia to remotest lands."
Confirmatory of this view, the character of the "woe" pronounced in the 18th chapter is thus described:
"Like as my servant Isaiah hath walked naked and barefoot three years for a sign and wonder upon Egypt and upon Ethiopia; so shall the king of Assyria lead away the Egyptians prisoners, and the Ethiopians captives, young and old, naked and barefoot." (Isa. 20: 3, 4.)
It is thus shown to be simply impossible that America can be "the land shadowing with wings" for the very cogent reason, that the land thus described lies SOUTH of Palestine, while America, as every school-boy knows, is directly west.
No amount of sophistry or special pleading can change the facts of geography involved in this question, and so all this fine-spun theory, together with the fabric re ared upon it, falls to the ground a hopeless mass of ruin, never again to be reconstructed.
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which relates to Israel and Samaria, let us now turn our attention to that portion which describes Judah and Jerusalem.
In order that he may not be misunderstood, and so misrepresented, the prophet again assures us in chapter two, verse one, that his prediction is "concerning Judah and Jerusalem." Again in the twenty-eighth chapter we have the still further assurance that he speaks of the Jewish people and of Jerusalem in particular, as recorded in the following language:
"Wherefore hear the word of the Lord, ye scornful men, that rule Jerusalem. For the Lord shall rise up as in mount Perazim, he shall he wroth as in the valley of Gibeon, that he may do his work, his strange work; and bring to pass his act, his strange act." (Isa. 28: 14, 21.)
That Jerusalem is the subject of the prophecy is now placed beyond doubt, and that the "strange work" was to be wrought in her midst, and the "strange act" was to be directed against these "scornful men that rule Jerusalem," and incidentally against the whole people, is rendered equally apparent. While this, to my mind, is perfectly clear, I am quite aware that Latter Day Saints view it very differently. The Reorganized Church maintains, as also do all of the various factions which have grown up out of the ruins of the original Mormon Church, that this "strange work," and this "strange act," have been accomplished in the revelation of the Book of Mormon, through Joseph Smith, and the "restoration " of the Apostolic church and doctrine, all of which is predicted in the 29th chapter of Isaiah
Let us now proceed to examine this matter in a straightforward, honest way, and see who is right.
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The place described as the scene of this prophecy is Jerusalem, "the city where David dwelt." At the time the "woe" was pronounced Jotham was probably king of Judah. The city was to be in a state of "distress " because of the "multitude of strangers " that should "camp against her round about," and should "raise forts against her." This means that a great army, irresistible in force and numbers, was to "lay siege "against this stronghold of Judah, and as the result of this persistent attack Jerusalem was to be " brought down" and should be made to "speak out of the ground." Says the prophet concerning Jerusalem:
"Thy speech shall be low out of the dust, and thy voice shall be as of one that hath a familiar spirit,
out of the ground, and thy speech shall whisper out of the dust" (verse 4.) "Thou shalt be visited of the Lord of hosts with thunder, and with earthquake, and with great noise, with storm and tempest, and the flame of devouring fire" (verse 6.) With the "woe" thus briefly outlined, let us now carefully examine subsequent history for evidences of its accomplishment.
Some eight years after Samaria had been taken by Shalmanesser, king of Assyria, Sennacherib, his successor to the throne of the Assyrian Empire, "came up against all the fenced cities of Judah and took them," and placed Hezekiah, king of Judah, under heavy tribute, but failed to subjugate the city of Jerusalem. (See 2 Kings 18:13-16.) His army defeated by the display of miraculous power, Sennacherib returned to Nineveh, where he was shortly afterwards assassinated by one of his sons.
The good king Hezekiah died about the year 710 B. C., and his wicked son Manasseh succeeded him, and reigned in his stead. Under his rule the people became very wicked, so much so that the Lord said concerning them: "Behold, I am bringing such an evil upon Jerusalem and Judah that whosoever heareth of it both of his ears shall tingle." (2 Kings 21: 12 )
In passing briefly over this period of Jewish history it is not in the least difficult to discover that the people became more and more corrupt until they were finally ripe for destruction. Their career of sin and wickedness was "suddenly " brought to an end by the invasion of Nebuchadnezzar, king of Babylon, during the reign of Zedekiah, king of Judah. A graphic description of the terrible calamity which befell the
city may be found in the twenty-fifth chapter of 2 Kings, as follows:
"And it came to pass in the ninth year of his reign, in the tenth month, in the tenth day of the month, that Nebuchadnezzar king of Babylon came, he and all his host, against Jerusalem and pitched against it; and they built forts against it round about. And the city was besieged unto the eleventh year of king Zedekiah. And on the ninth day of the fourth month the famine prevailed in the city, and there was no bread for the people of the land. And the city was broken up, and all the men of war fled by night by the way of the gate between the walls, which is by the king's garden,... and the king went the way toward the plain.
"And in the fifth month, on the seventh day of the month, which is the nineteenth year of king Nebuchadnezzar, king of Babylon, came Nebuzar-adan, captain of the guard, a servant of the king of Babylon, unto Jerusalem: and he burnt the house of the Lord, and the king's house, and all the houses of Jerusalem, and every great man's house burnt he with fire. And all the army of the Chaldees that were with the captain of the guard brake down the walls of Jerusalem round about.
"Now the rest of the people that were left in the city, and the fugitives that fell away to the king of Babylon, with the remnant of the multitude, did Nebuzar-adan the captain of the guard carry away. So Judah was carried away out of the land." (2 Kings 25: 1-4, 8-11, 21.)
To the above Jeremiah adds his testimony in the following language:
"In the ninth year of Zedekiah, king of Judah, in
the tenth month, came Nebuchadnezzar king of Babylon and all his army against Jerusalem, and they besieged it. And the Chaldeans burned the king's house and the houses of the people with fire, and brake down the walls of Jerusalem." (Jer. 39: 1, 8.)
"And it came to pass in the ninth year of his reign, in the tenth month, in the tenth day of the month, that Nebuchadnezzar king of Babylon came, he and all his army, against Jerusalem, and pitched against it, and built forts against it round about.
"So the city was besieged unto the eleventh year of king Zedekiah. And in the fourth month, in the ninth day of the month, the famine waxed sore in the city, so that there was no bread for the people of the land. Then the city was broken up." (Jer. 52:4-7.)
When we pause to consider the fact that Jeremiah, one of the witnesses quoted above, was among the captives, and, therefore, an eye witness to the events described, and the further fact that the "woe " described by this prophet occurred nearly one hundred and twenty years after the "woe" predicted against Jerusalem by the prophet Isaiah, there remains little room for any doubt that one prophet was but writing the history of an event predicted by the other.
At the risk of being regarded as somewhat tedious, I will venture to call attention to the striking similarity of the specific terms employed by the two writers.
1. ISAIAH says his "woe" was predicted of Jerusalem, "the city where David dwelt."
JEREMIAH says he was writing of a calamity which befell that city.
2. ISAIAH says, " There shall be heaviness and sorrow " (verse 2).
JEREMIAH says, "The famine was sore in the city, so that there was no bread for the people of the land," thus causing heaviness and sorrow (verse 6).
3. ISAIAH says, "I will camp against thee round about" (verse 3).
JEREMIAH says, "Nebuchadnezzar king of Babylon came... against Jerusalem and pitched (camped against it" (verse 4).
4. ISAIAH says, "I will lay siege against thee with a mount " (verse 3).
JEREMIAH says, "So the city was besieged unto the eleventh year of king Zedekiah" (verse 5).
b. ISAIAH says, "I will raise forts against thee" (verse 3).
JEREMIAH says, "And... Nebuchadnezzer built forts against it round about" (verse 4).
6. ISAIAH says, "Thou shalt be brought down" (verse 4).
JEREMIAH says, "Then the city was broken up."
7. ISAIAH says, "Thou shalt be visited of the Lord of hosts with thunder, and with earthquake, and great noise, with storm and tempest, and the flame of devouring fire" (verse 6).
JEREMIAH says the city was utterly destroyed by fire:
"Now, in the fifth month, and the tenth day of the month, which was the nineteenth year of Nebuchadnezzar, king of Babylon, came Nebuzar-adan, captain of the guard which served the king of Babylon, into Jerusalem, and burned the house of the Lord, and the king's house, and all the houses of Jerusalem, and all the houses of the great men, burned he with fire: And all the army of the Chaldeans, that were with
the captain of the guard, brake down the walls of Jerusalem round about." (Jer. 52:12-14).
Here we have seven points of identity and agreement between the prophecy of Isaiah, and its fulfillment in the recorded history of its accomplishment by Jeremiah.
Add to the testimony of Jeremiah that of 2 Kings 25: 8-10 -- the language being exactly that of the prophet just quoted -- and we have evidence absolutely unquestionable, so perfect is the agreement between the prophecy and its subsequent fulfillment, and proves, beyond the possibility of a reasonable doubt, that the prediction of Isaiah 29: 1-4 had its complete accomplishment in the utter destruction of "Ariel, the city where David dwelt," the captivity of the Jews, and the overthrow of their kingdom.
Should any additional proof be required, it may very readily be furnished in the history of the nations engaged in this terrible work of desolation. It is not infrequently the case that God punishes the wicked nations or individuals employed as a means the execution of divine justice. Of this fact we have a very striking illustration in the subsequent overthrow and subjugation of the Babylonian Empire.
But before passing to a brief consideration of this bit of history, let us follow this prophecy of Isaiah a little further; for as I now view it, the prophecy of Babylon's destruction is recorded in verses seven and fourteen, inclusive, of the twenty-ninth chapter.
The particular reason offered for the careful examination of this matter may be found in the fact that the Saints place, as I think, an unwarranted construction upon the passages to be reviewed. Along with all their leading minds, such as Blair, Kelley,
Forscutt, Lambert and Derry, Latter Day Saints maintain that the later portions of this chapter refer to the spiritually blind and "drunken" condition of the religious world at the present age; while others think quite differently. To what, in reality, are but flights of Oriental imagery and comparison, they give a literal construction. But these things we may consider in their proper place, if time and space will permit.
At the close of the sixth verse, after declaring the utter destruction of Jerusalem by "flames of devouring fire," the prophet proceeds to unfold the destiny of the Chaldean army, and the overthrow of the Babylonian Empire, who were the direct instruments employed in the destruction of the "City of David," in the following graphic, yet highly poetic, style:
"And the multitude of all the nations that fight against Ariel, even all that fight against her and her munition (fortification), and that distress her, shall be as a dream of a night vision." (Isa. 29: 7).
Let us now inquire: Who are to become as the "dream of a night vision?" The answer cannot be misunderstood. It is "the multitude of all the nations that fight against Ariel" -- Jerusalem -- the nations of Babylon, Syria, Egypt and Assyria, who at different periods were engaged in war against Jerusalem and Judah, but specifically that of Babylon. Their extinction was to be so nearly absolute as to render them to future ages as "the dream of a night vision;" even as of "an hungry man," who thinks he is eating, but who only awakes to find himself hungry still. To show beyond doubt that this is a representation of the future condition of these nations, the prophet concludes the eighth verse by saying: "So
shall all the nations be that fight against Mount Zion."
I wish to call particular attention to the fact that this prediction is made concerning the nations that should fight against "MOUNT ZION," and not against a people who, at some remote age of the past, may have lived and warred with one another upon the American continent. These nations have all passed away, and have become, indeed, as the "dream of a night vision." Not one of them remains to tell the story of their former greatness.
Continuing, at the ninth verse, the prophet exclaims: "Stay yourselves, and wonder; cry ye out and cry: they are drunken, but not with wine; they stagger, but not with strong drink."
Who are represented as being "drunken," and who "stagger?" Let the next verse answer; and remember, the language is addressed to the inhabitants of Jerusalem: "For the Lord hath poured out upon you (the Jews) the spirit of deep sleep, and hath closed your eyes: your prophets and your rulers, the seers hath he covered." (V. 10).
Here we have the fact, not only as to who were to be drunken and stagger, but the very cause of this condition. These Jews, at the time we are describing, were overcome by the "spirit of deep sleep," thus closing their eyes, so that to them their "prophets and seers" were "covered," or hidden from their view. None escaped the terrible drowsiness of this overpowering spirit of sleep. It included in its sombre folds every phase of Jewish life: even their "rulers and seers" were involved to a very remarkable degree. Oppressed by this "spirit of deep sleep,"
whenever they attempted to move they would inevitably and unavoidably "stagger."
Respecting the lamentable condition of both priest and people, the learned as well as the unlearned, the prophet, in the following verse says:
"And the vision of all, (including their "rulers and seers,") is become unto you as the words of a book (the marginal reading is letter) that is sealed, which men delivered to one that is learned, saying, Read this, I pray thee; and he saith, I cannot, for it is sealed. And the book is delivered to him that is not learned, saying, Read this, I pray thee: and he saith, I am not learned." (Verses 11, 12.)
Let us now proceed to analyze this text and see if we can learn the real facts therein set forth. We learn:
1. That a certain people were reduced to a state of drunken stupor, not from wine or strong drink, but from a condition of "deep sleep " into which they had fallen, as the result of sin.
2. That this condition was general, including many of their prophets, their rulers and their seers.
3. The people referred to were the people of ancient Israel, but specifically the Jews.
4. That the "learned" were reduced to the same lamentable condition as that of the unlearned. They could neither see nor read the words of the letter.
Clearly, and undoubtedly, all that is meant by the eleventh verse is, that the people were morally debased and spiritually blind, -- so blind, indeed, that they were as utterly incapable of reading the designs of God concerning themselves, as the learned man Would be to "read a letter that is sealed," or for the "unlearned" man to read the same letter if the seal
were broken and the letter laid open before his eyes. The fact is perfectly clear that neither could read a letter under these conditions; and would, therefore, blindly stagger on to the end of the road that should ultimately lead to their destruction. Because of these conditions, the prophet continues thus:
"Wherefore the Lord said, Forasmuch as this people (the Jews) draw near me with their mouth, and with their lips do honor me, but have removed their heart far from me, and their fear toward me is taught by the precepts of men; therefore, behold I will proceed to do a marvelous work among this people, even a marvelous work and a wonder: for the wisdom of their wise men shall perish, and the understanding of their prudent men shall be hid." (Verses 13, 14.)
Notwithstanding their generally depraved and benighted condition, the Jewish people, at the time of their desolation, had a few "wise" and "prudent" men among them. A marvelous work, "even a marvelous work and a wonder," was to be performed "among this people," and these "wise men" fully understood the nature of this work, and strove earnestly to avert the pending calamity by giving them wise counsel, and exhorting them to repentance. Prominently among their "wise men" were Jeremiah, Ezekiel and Hosea.
But the wisdom of their "wise men" was allowed to "perish," and the "understanding of their prudent men" was "hid" from this gainsaying people because of their great iniquity and their lamentable and hopeless state of blindness.
At the time Isaiah delivered this wonderful prophecy, not one of her rulers or princes believed Jerusalem
could be taken by an enemy, so perfect was their confidence in the strength of her fortifications and the impregnability of her walls. From the time when David, the great warrior-king, first established his capital here, till the time of Isaiah's prophecy, it had successfully resisted the assaults of every enemy, no matter what his strength, till it had become the settled conviction that no power on earth could bring her under subjection, and render her tributary to a Gentile nation. But notwithstanding all this the Lord said, "Behold I will proceed to do a marvelous work, even a marvelous work and a wonder among this people."
Even when the Chaldean army had encamped "round about" the city, and had proceeded to "raise forts " against her, building mounds, says Josephus, in height, equal to the height of the walls of the city, those within had no fears of being overpowered and defeated by this great "multitude of strangers." I quote from Josephus upon this point as follows:
"Now the King of Babylon was very intent and earnest upon the siege of Jerusalem; and he erected towers upon great banks of earth, and from them repelled those that stood upon the walls: he also made a great number of such banks round about the whole city, whose height was equal to those walls. However, those that were within bore the siege with courage and alacrity, for they were not discouraged, either by the famine or the pestilential distemper, but were of cheerful minds in the prosecution of the war... And this siege they endured for eighteen months, until they were destroyed by the famine, and by the darts which the enemy threw at them
from the towers." (Antiq. Book 10, ch. 8, pp. 253, 254). Nothing, perhaps, could appear more marvelous to this very confident people than to see the victorious Chaldean army enter the city, after having battered down her walls, and to witness the complete overthrow of their proud kingdom, and behold the desecration and destruction of their magnificent temple by "flames of devouring fire;" and yet it was done.
This "marvelous work and a wonder," predicted by Isaiah, was accomplished in a most striking and literal manner, as we have just seen by the testimony of both Jeremiah, the prophet, and Flavius Josephus, the historian.
Having witnessed the terrible devastation of his beloved city, and the reduction of his people to a state of servitude and bondage, the prophet mournfully exclaims, as if in great surprise: "How doth the city sit solitary that was full of people! how is she become as a widow! she that was great among the nations, and princess among the provinces, how is she become tributary! " (Lam. 1:1).
As a reason assigned for this distressed condition of his people, Jeremiah says: "Jerusalem hath grievously sinned; therefore she is removed.... Her filthiness is in her skirts; she remembereth not her last end; therefore she came down wonderfully: she hath no comforter." (Vs. 8, 9).
Isaiah predicted of Jerusalem, "Thou shalt be brought down;" and Jeremiah records the fact that "she came down wonderfully."
That it is not forcing the sense of the passage in Isaiah to say the "marvelous work and a wonder" can be nothing more nor less than the work of desolation just described, will be rendered apparent from
the following declaration of the prophet Jeremiah: "The kings of the earth, and all the inhabitants of the world, would not have believed that the adversary and the enemy should have entered into the gates of Jerusalem." (Lam. 4:12).
To Jeremiah, as well as to "the prophets, the rulers, and the seers," it was a "marvelous" thing that the "enemy" should have "entered into the gates of Jerusalem." Whatever is "marvelous" is at the same time a wonder. Hence, the Lord did a "marvelous work, even a marvelous work and a wonder," when he permitted the enemy to enter into the gates of the beloved city and batter down her walls, burn with "flames of devouring fire" the beautiful and costly temple; rob the house of the Lord of its magnificent treasure, and carry the daughters of Zion away captive into Babylon.
We venture the assertion that not in all history can there be found a circumstance that looks so much like a complete and circumstantial fulfillment of Isaiah's prophecy as this. Certainly the vague theory concerning the Book of Mormon does not contain one single element of its accomplishment. Every material point advanced in its support is seriously in question. Not one thing claimed by its advocates is conceded. Not a scholar of the century, the most advanced period of the world's history, has ever given it his support. The entire premise is founded in the most wild and reckless speculation of an uncultivated mind. Nothing is proved. All is assumed.
Rut this cannot be affirmed of the present argument. The premise is a clear, well-defined statement of prophecy, and the conclusion derived from the premise is supported by plain, unquestionable facts of history.
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