« PrejšnjaNaprej »
The Mormons, or Latter Day Saints, as ; now called, took care, of course, that neithey call themselves. The annals of mod. ther of them, nor any one else, should jern times furnish few more remarkable see the plates, the part of the room he examples of cunning in the leaders, and occupied having been partitioned off from delusion in their dupes, than is presented where they sat by a blanket. After three by what is called Mormonism. An ig- years spent in concocting this new revnorant but ambitious person of the name elation, the book at last was completed, of Joseph Smith, Jun., residing in the and published as a 12mo volume of 588 western part of the State of New York, pages, at Palmyra, in the State of Newpretends that an angel appeared to him in York. It is commonly called the Mor1827, and told him where he should find mon's Bible, but more properly The Book a stone box, containing certain golden of Mormon, and is divided into fifteen plates, with a revelation from heaven in- books or parts, each purporting to be writscribed on them. Four years after this, the ten by the author whose name it bears. plates having, of course, been found as de- These profess to give the history of about scribed, the impostor set about the writing a thousand years from the time of Zedekiout of this revelation, and pretended, with ah, king of Judah, to A.D. 420. The whole the aid of a pair of stone spectacles, found work claims to be an abridgment by one also in the box, to read it off to a man Moroni, the last of the Nephites, of the of the name of Harris, and afterward to seed of Israel, from the records of his one called Cowdery, these acting as his people. Not to trouble the reader with de
prophet,” as he is tails respecting this most absurd of all pre
tended revelations from heaven, we need Ann Lee); of the way by which holiness may tained, víz., the renunciation of sexual and sensual only say that it undertakes “ to trace the desires, and living as brothers and sisters, instead of history of the Aborigines of the American husband and wife ; of the terrible judgments which continent, in all their apostacies, pilgrimmen will encounter if they do not obey this revela ages, trials, adventures, and wars from the tion, etc., etc.
As it is important that this book should be known time of their leaving Jerusalem, in the to all mankind, it is enjoined by the mighty angel reign of Zedekiah, under one Lehi,
down that every minister of the Gospel should have a copy, to their final disaster, near the Hill of Caas soon as he can procure one, in the sacred pulpit
, morah, in the State of New York, where that people may see it. All boards of missions are Smith found his golden plates. In that commanded to have it translated into foreign lan- final contest, according to the Prophet Moguages. One edition has been printed by the “Society” for gratuitous distribution. Copies have been roni, about 230,000 were slain in battle, sent, in the name of the Lord, to the principal book- and he alone escaped to tell the tale."* sellers, and a modest request is made that they But the Book of Mormon, which they do would publish and circulate the work, and some di- not consider so much in the light of a subrections respecting the manner of doing so are giv. stitute for the Holy Scriptures as of a sup
We learn, furthermore, from a letter dated the 18th plement to them, does not contain all Joof December, 1843, addressed to the Messrs. Harper, seph Smith's revelations ; a 12mo volume, that the committee or agents of the Society, have re- of about 250 pages, called The Book of Covsolved upon a pretty wide and thorough dissemination of the 500 copies which they had, agreeably to enants and Revelations, and filled with the the divine command, printed for general distribution. silliest things imaginable, of all sorts, has “We do not feel it our province," say they,“ to judge been added to it by way of another suppleof the work and designs of the Almighty in this mat- ment. Thoroughly to comprehend the ter; but we feel ourselves under the most solemn ob- whole system, however, one must read Mr. revealed to us by the inspiration of his holy angel, Parley P. Pratt's “ Voice of Warning," for with that degree of evidence which we cannot doubt. he is an oracle among the Mormons, and We have, therefore, made arrangements to forward also the newspaper which they publish four copies to each of the governments of Europe and as an organ for the dissemination of their Asia, part of which are already on the way to Eu
doctrines. rope; four to the chief magistrate of these United
We may add, that, aided by States, and two to the executive of each state, and his wonderful spectacles, Smith is maalso to the different boards of foreign missions. king a new translation of the Bible, al
"We are aware that the manner in which the though quite unacquainted with Hebrew book was revealed and written, in the name of in- and Greek! spiration from the Almighty, is not according to the generally-received opinions and present sense and
The publication of his own Bible, in ideas of mankind, but we solemnly testify that this 1830, may be considered as the startingwork was not directed nor dictated by any mortal point of the sect. For some years he power or wisdom.”
made but few converts, but having remoThe whole is a strange mixture, in which entire passages, as well as verses, of the Scriptures are min ved to Kirtland, Ohio, he was there joined gled up with the speculations, often both impious by Sidney Rigdon, formerly a heterodox and absurd, of the professed author.
Baptist preacher, who had been preparing
the way for Mormonism by propagating * In fact, on page 161, it is expressly ordained that the certain doctrines of his own, and being a book must be bound in yellow paper, with red backs, edges also yellow; and it is my command, saith the Lord, that if any person or persons shall add aught to this book,
* Turner's “Mormonism in all Ages,” published he or they shall not prosper in time, nor find rest in eter
at New-York, and to be had of Wiley and Putnam, nity."
much better-informed man than Smith, it the frequenters of our remaining groggeries is chiefly under his plastic hand that the and rum-holes. religious economy of the sect has been As for our Deists, including unbelievers formed. From Ohio they began to re- in Christianity of all classes, there is a move, in 1834, to Jackson county, in Mis- considerable number, especially in Newsouri, where they were to have their York, and some of our other large cities "Mount Zion,” the capital and centre of and towns. A very large proportion of their great empire. The people of Mis- them are foreigners. The infidelity of the souri, a few years after, compelled them present times, however, in the United to leave it; upon which they went to Illi- States is remarkably distinguished from nois, and there they are now building the what was to be found there fifty years city of Nauvoo, on the left bank of the ago, when that of France, after having difMississippi, and thither their disciples have fused itself in the plausible speculations of been flocking ever since, until their num- a host of popular writers, wherever the bers amount to several thousands. Smith French language was known, became at and Rigdon are still their chief prophets. length associated with the great RevoluFor a while, they had many to sympathize tion of that country, and obtaining credit with them on account of the severity with for all that was good in a work which it which they had been supposed to be treat only corrupted and marred, became fashed in Missouri, but so much has lately ionable in America as well as Europe, come to light in proof of the inordinate am- among the professed admirers of liberty, bition, and vile character and conduct of in what are called the highest classes of their leaders, who want to found a kind of society. At the head of these, in the Uniempire in the West, that their speedy an- ted States, stood Mr. Jefferson, who was nihilation as a sect seems now inevitable. President from 1801 to 1809, and who in One dupe after another is leaving them, conversation, and by his writings, did more and exposing the abominations of the fra- than any other man that ever lived among ternity and its chiefs. Smith and some us to propagate irreligion in the most inothers seem now marked out as objects on fluential part of the community. In the which the laws of the land must soon in same cause, and about the same period, flict summary justice. Their leaders are laboured Mr. Thomas Paine, and, at a later evidently atrocious impostors, who have date, Mr. Thomas Cooper, who endeavourdeceived a great many weak-minded per- ed to train to infidelity by sophistical reasons, by holding out to them promises of soning, and still more, by contemptible great temporal advantage. “ Joe Smith,” sarcasms and sneers, the youth whom it as he is commonly called, will soon find was his duty to teach better things. that America is not another Arabia, nor Now, however, it is much otherwise. he another Mohammed; and his hope of When men dislike evangelical truth, they founding a vast empire in the Western take refuge in something which, under the hemisphere must soon vanish away. name of Christianity, makes a less demand
To conclude, the Mormons are a body on their conscience and their conduct. of ignorant creatures, collected from al- Open infidelity, meanwhile, has descended most all parts of the United States, and to the lower ranks. It now burrows in also from Great Britain." A full exposi- the narrow streets, and lanes, and purlieus tion of the wickedness of their leaders has of our large cities and towns, where it finds lately been made by John C. Bennet, for- its proper aliment—the ignorant and the merly a major-general in the “ Legion of vicious to mislead and to destroy. Nauvoo,” and an important man among Owenism, Socialism, and Fourrierism, them.
are of foreign origin. The first two are from England, and are but economical or
political schemes, in which infidelity seeks CHAPTER IX.
to imbody and sustain itself. Fourrierism
is also an economical scheme. It is not ATHEISTS, DEISTS, SOCIALISTS, FOURRIERISTS,
necessarily allied to infidelity, but as it
has not long been known in the United These sects can hardly be placed with States, I am not informed of its character propriety among religious denominations
there. of any description, the most they pretend to being a code of morals, such as it is. Frances Wright, from England, endeavour,
Robert Owen, from Scotland, and Miss The avowed Atheists are, happily, few in ed some years ago to form the first infidel number, and are chiefly to be found among community upon
the social principle adopt* It is a singular fact that so large a proportion of ed by the Shakers and the Mormons; failthem are from Great Britain. But it is not difficult ing in which, they set about endeavouring to account for it. Smith and the other leaders know to bring over the labouring classes of Newlow and ignorant character, who may be readily York, and other great cities, to certain tempted, by the prospect of bettering their fortunes agrarian schemes. But after much labour to take part in such an enterprise.
in travelling, lecturing, and forming socie
LOGICAL OPINION IN AMERICA.
ties for the circulation of infidel tracts and of states that differ so much in their oribooks, their efforts have proved almost ginal inhabitants, could ever bring them fruitless. Their lectures at first attracted all to complete religious uniformity ? Let crowds both of Americans and foreigners, us but look at the number of different reliwho attended them from curiosity, but be- gious bodies--different, I mean, in their fore long their audiences consisted chiefly origin—to be found in these and the other of foreigners, and such is the state of states of the Union. (1.) The New-Engthings at present.* That there is a con- land Congregational churches, formed by siderable amount of infidelity in America immigrant Puritans, and, down to the epoch is not denied, but it cannot be compared of our Revolution, sympathizing strongly to the vast amount of true religion, much with all the changes of opinion among the less with the much vaster amount of re- English dissenters. (2.) The Presbyterian spect for religion, and religious belief, Church in its larger and smaller branches, which so largely pervades the moral at- very much of Scotch and Irish origin, and mosphere of the country. Of the truly still aiming at an imitation of the Church great men of the nation, very few are in- of Scotland as its pattern. (3.) The Episfidels.
copal Church, an offshoot from the Church of England, dreading and almost scorning
to borrow ideas from any quarter save its CHAPTER X.
mother-church. (4.) The Dutch Reformed
Church, which long received its ministers GENERAL REMARKS ON THE STATE OF THEO- from Holland, and still glories in the Hei
delberg Catechism and the decrees of the HAVING concluded these notices of the Synod of Dort. (5.) The Lutherans, the
Reformed, and other German churches, various denominations - evangelical and non-evangelical — in the United States, I
who preserve their old nationality, both would now make a few remarks on the by being still organized as distinct compast history and present state of theologi; of ministers
and people from their original
munions, and by the constant emigration cal opinion in that country. Fully and fatherland. Now, why should we expect philosophically treated, this could not fail to interest sincere inquirers after truth in to see all these fused and amalgamated in
the United States more than in Europe ? all countries, but it would require not a
2. Mark, too, that none of their ministers chapter, but a volume, and would hardly be consistent with the nature of this work. other churches than their own, as might
can extend any such direct influence over We must leave such a discussion to an make the exercise of brotherly love pass other time, and, probably, to other hands, into close intimacy and final amalgamaand shall now merely touch on a few gen- tion. Each of them has its own colleges eral topics. I. Let us first mark some of the causes
and theological seminaries; each its own and influences to which this diversity of weekly, monthly, or quarterly periodicals ; religious doctrines may be traced. The
and some of them may almost be said to chief of these are,
have an independent religious literature, 1. Difference of origin and ancestry: sible agents. All this is counterbalanced
edited and published by their own responThis we have already noticed, hut must only by many ministers of different denomrefer to it again. Had the whole territory of the United entific education at the same institutions,
inations receiving their classical and sciStates been originally settled by one class of men, holding the same system of reli- preparatory to their more strictly profes
sional studies. gious opinions, more uniformity of doc
3. The freedom allowed in the United trine might reasonably have been looked States to all sorts of inquiry and discussion for. But what philosophical inquirer, know- necessarily leads to a diversity of opinion, ing the different origins of New-England, which is seen not only in there being differPennsylvania, Virginia, and New-York, would expect that the mere federal union also in the same denomination. Perhaps
ent denominations, but different opinions * At one time it was feared that vast numbers
there is not a single ecclesiastical convenof the labouring classes in New-York, as well as in tion in which there are not two parties at Philadelphia and other cities, would be carried away least, whose different views lead someby the plausible but vile discourses of Miss Frances times to discussions keenly maintained, were groundless. Even in the acme of her popular yet turning generally upon points which, ity, a friend of mine who was present at one of her however interesting, are confessedly not lectures told me that she was hissed no less than of fundamental importance. On what may two or three times for making the assertion, and re- be called vital or essential points there is peating it, that Washington was an infidel! There little disputation, just because there is much consider it a dishonour done to the name of that harmony in all the evangelical commugreat and good man, whom humanity claims as her nions. Nor could it be well otherwise, seeown, to call him an infidel.
ing that in doctrine and practice they all
take the Bible as their inspired and sole, with the state of society in the United authoritative guide.
States than foreigners can well possess, 4. Nor must we forget that what may seems necessary to account for the number, be called provincial peculiarities necessa- variety, and numerical magnitude of some rily lead so far to diversities of religious of our unevangelical sects, and thus to sentiment. A true Eastern man from Con- abate the surprise which these may occanecticut, and a true Western man, born and sion to many of our readers. Neverthebrought up on the banks of the Ohio, can less, to a certain extent, this may be hardly be expected to speculate alike on brought within the comprehension even of dubious points in theology, any more than those who have never seen the country. on many other subjects. So, also, are the First, then, be it observed that not only inhabitants of the North and South dis- can a far larger proportion of the white intinguished from each other by peculiarities habitants of the United States read than is fully as marked as those that distinguish to be found in almost any other country, the northern from the southern inhabitants but they actually do read and pursue the of Great Britain.
acquisition of knowledge in almost every II. Yet it is not difficult to draw a line possible way. Novelty, accordingly, has between the various unevangelical sects always great attractions for them. Next, on the one hand, and those that may be with the exception, perhaps, of Scotland, in classed together as evangelical denomina- no other country is there so little work done tions on the other. The chief of the for- on the Lord's day; not only does the law mer, as we have said, are the Roman Cath- require, but the disposition of the people olics, Unitarians, Christ-ians, Universalists, enforces it; and as they are not at all of a Hicksite Quakers, Swedenborgians, Tun- character that would incline them to spend kers or Dunkers, Jews, Shakers, and so on the day at home in idleness, they naturally down to the Mormons, beginning with the take advantage of the opportunities within sect that has buried the truth amid a heap reach of attending public meetings, and of corruptions of heathenish origin, and listening to what may be said there. And ending with the grossest of all the delusions religion being a subject to which they atthat Satanic malignity or human ambition tach more or less importance almost uniever sought to propagate. Now it will be versally, it is what they most like to hear observed that, with the exception of the discussed on the Sabbath. Thirdly, where first two, these sects have few elements there is no evangelical preaching, vast of stability. Their ministers are almost numbers, particularly of such as have no all men of little learning, and that little is decided religious convictions, will resort almost all concentrated in specious endeav- to a Universalist, or even to an infidel ours to maintain their tenets, by perverting preacher, if one is announced in their the Scriptures, by appealing to the prejudi- neighbourhood, rather than go nowhere ces of their hearers, and by misrepresent- at all
. No doubt curiosity leads them thithing and ridiculing the doctrines of oppo- er first, and perhaps for long afterward. nents who meet their subtle arguments Fourthly, absolute religious liberty being with the plain declarations of Scripture, as the principle of the government, the people well as with unanswerable arguments may everywhere have what preaching they drawn from sound reason. The congre- please, if they can find it, and choose to be gations of the Universalists and Christ-ians at the expense of maintaining it; and, ac--the latter of whom are Unitarian Bap- cordingly, they who dislike faithful evantists, and the most numerous of the une- gelical preaching, often combine to form vangelical sects next to the Roman Catho- a congregation where some heterodox lics—are far from large, except in some of preacher may hold forth doctrines more the largest cities and towns in New-Eng- acceptable to them. Congregations so land, and they often last but a few years, formed, especially in cities and large towns, disappearing almost entirely before the ex- may last for years, or even become in some tension of the evangelical communions. sense permanent, but in by far the greater At times a religious revival almost anni- number of cases they disappear, part of hilates, in the course of a few weeks, their members removing to some other the attempts made by some Universalist place, and others becoming converts to the preacher to form a society of that sect, at orthodox creed of the surrounding evanplaces where the faithful herald of the Gos- gelical churches. pel has lifted up a standard for Truth. And Thus it will be perceived that the uneas none of the unevangelical bodies, not vangelical sects in the United States are even the Roman Catholics, can absolutely mainly composed of persons who, in other debar their members from attending the countries, would remain stupidly indifferpreaching of evangelical ministers when ent to religion, spending their Sabbaths in they come into their neighbourhood, they employments or amusements wholly secpresent no insurmountable barrier to the ular. Even this may be thought better by advance of truth.
some than that they should "give heed to A better and more intimate acquaintance doctrines of devils," upon the principle that no religion is better than a false one. This be said of the Universalists -- and they may be true in many cases, but hardly in comprise nearly the whole-who deny a -all. Experience proves, I think, very de- future judgment and all punishment beyond cidedly in America, that persons that oc- this life ; while as for the Atheists, Deists, cupy their minds with the subject of reli- and Socialists of every hue, it is hardly gion, even when they doubt the trutli or slander to say, that their influence upon embrace positive error, are more accessi- society is positively mischievous. ble to the faithful preaching of the Gospel, As for the Shakers, Mormons, and other than others that are sunk in stupid indiffer- such agglomerations, they may be acence and infidelity. The forms of error counted for, I apprehend, on two princiin that country have, with one exception, ples. First, the binding nature of human no element of stability-no vigorous dog- depravity, which makes men prefer anymatism or permanent fascinations to op- thing, however absurd, that looks like repose to the solid orthodoxy of evangelical ligion, and suits their fancies, to retaining, preaching: The one exception is Roman- or, rather, to obtaining, the true knowledge ism, which presents a sort of mosaic of of God. Next, these bodies always hold truth and error, so artfully combined as to out some temporal good-some economiexert a charm over the minds of those who cal advantage-which, far more than any have once received it, which it is almost im- religious consideration, tempts persons to possible to dissipate,
enter them. One would suppose, for exNext to Romanism, Unitarianism is, of ample, that a religion which, like that of all forms of error that assume the title of the Shakers, makes the sinfulness of marChristian, the most stable. Its professors riage a fundamental principle, and obliges are chiefly to be found in the eastern parts married proselytes to live single, could of Massachusetts; but as those, as well as never find followers. Yet, as persons other parts of New-England, are constantly sometimes grow tired of the marriage relasending out emigrants to the new settle- tion, or, rather, of those with whom it has ments, small knots of persons with Uni- bound them as husband and wife, so some tarian preferences may be found in the may be found willing, even by becoming Middle, Southern, and Western States. Shakers, to rid themselves of a burden Still, this dispersion of Unitarianism, and that feels grievous to them. So, also, in its sprouting up at various points, not in the separation of children from their paMassachusetts, has rather the appearance rents, and the entire breaking up of the than the reality of increase. It may be family relationships, weak people may almore than doubted whether it be not posi- ways be found ready to snatch at any optively declining in Boston and its vicinity. portunity of ridding themselves of parental Except that it by no means prevails in the responsibility, by shifting it upon other same proportion, it is very much in Amer- shoulders. This despicable and unmanly ica what Rationalism is in Protestant Eu- selfishness may be regarded as the main rope-a disease caught by the Church from foundation of all the forms of Socialism. the epidemic skepticism of the eighteenth III. We have yet to consider the extent century-a skepticism which is now in of doctrinal agreement and diversity in and both hemispheres taking the form of a among the communions classed together mystical pantheism. The career of Uni- as evangelical-a subject already noticed, tarianism, which one of its advocates calls but to which it is necessary to return, in not a “religion, but a fashion,"* as a sect order that the reader may perceive its conor party, is manifestly drawing to a close ; nexion with certain other interesting and and such, I rather think, is the impression important topics. of its most intelligent and eminent leaders. 1. They agree generally in holding the It seems to be given up as incapable of dif- body of doctrines professed by the Reformfusion;
and the thirty years' experience it ed churches of France and Switzerland, as has had of a separate organization con- imbodied in the Westminster Assembly's firms to my mind this conclusion, though Catechisms, and in the doctrinal articles others may think differently. At all events, of the Church of England. In particular, no one who is well informed with regard they hold the supremacy of the Scriptures to the present aspect of things in America, as a rule of faith, and that whatever doccan claim for Unitarianism much vigour trine can be proved from Holy Scripture or any greater positive increase than that without tradition is to be received unhesiof the natural increase of the population tatingly, and that nothing that cannot so be within its pale; and it may be doubted proved shall be deemed an essential point whether it is increasing even so much as of Christian belief. They hold the inspithat.
ration of the Scriptures--the three persons A certain amount of moral influence for in the divine unity--the holiness of the first good may fairly be attributed to some of human pair as created and placed upon the unevangelical sects, but this can hardly probation-their fall, and the involved or
consequent apostacy of the whole human * The Rev, 0, A. Brownson.
race - the necessity of some atonement T