[From The Mormons by Gunnison, 1852]
"WE believe in God the eternal Father' and his son Jesus Christ, and in the Holy Ghost.
We believe that men will be punished for their own sins, and not for Adam's transgressions.
We believe that through the atonement of Christ all mankind may be saved, by obedience to the laws and ordinances of the Gospel.
We believe that these ordinances are1st. Faith in the Lord Jesus Christ: 2d. Repentance: 3d. Baptism by immersion for the remission of sins: 4th. Laying on of hands by the gift of the Holy Spirit: 5th. The Lord's Supper. We believe that men must be called of God by inspiration, and by laying on of hands from those who are duly commissioned to preach the Gospel, and administer in the ordinances thereof.
We believe in the same organisation that existed in the primitive church, viz: apostles, prophets, pastors, teachers, evangelists, &c.
We believe in the powers and gifts of the everlasting gospel, viz: the gift of faith, discerning of spirits, prophecy, revelation' visions, healing, tongues, and the interpretation of tongues, wisdom' charily' brotherly love, &c. We believe the word of God recorded in the Bible, we also believe the word of God recorded in the Book of Mormon, and in all other good books.
We believe all that God has revealed, all that he does now reveal, and we believe that he will reveal many more great and important things pertaining to the kingdom of God and Messiah's second coming.
We believe in the literal gathering of Israel, and in the restoration of the tea tribes, that Zion will be established upon the western continent, that Christ will reign personally upon the earth a thousand years, and that the earth will be renewed, and receive its paradisaical glory.
We believe in the literal resurrection of the body, and that the rest of the dead live not again until the thousand years are expired.
We claim the privilege of worshipping Almighty God according to the dictates of our conscience, unmolested, and allow all men the same privilege, let them worship how or where they may.
We believe in being subject to kings, queens, presidents, rulers, and magistrates; in obeying, honoring, and sustaining the law.
We believe in being honest, true, chaste, temperate, benevolent, virtuous, and upright, and in doing good to all men; indeed, we may say that we follow the admonition of Paul, we " believe all things", we " hope all things," we have endured very many things, and hope to be able to "endure all things." Every thing lowly, virtuous, praiseworthy, and of good report, we seek after, looking forward "to the recompense of reward." But an idle or lazy person cannot be a Christian, neither have salvation. He is a drone, and destined to be stung to death and tumbled out of the hive."
The books regarded as authoritative with them, and which give a fuller illustration areThe Book of MormonDoctrines and CovenantsVoice of WarningThe Gospel ReflectorThe Times and Seasons, edited under the eye of the ProphetThe Millennial Starand the writings of Joseph the Seer and Parley P. Pratt, wherever found; and the " General Epistles of the Presidency in Deseret."
We will not take up this seriatim, but remark, that it is only when we come to the definition of terms, that the peculiarities of belief will appear in their theology. They believe in the sacred character of the Bible, but what interpretations do they give to its pages ?they believe in God, but what is the character assigned to the Deity?they adopt the Sacraments, but of what efficacy and application to Salvation ?
Of the Bible it is taught, that in the main we have a correct translation of that given by Inspiration in the version called King James';but that there have been many interpolations by design of the corrupters of Christianity, and many misunderstandings of several passages. Those have all been corrected by Joseph the Seer, to whom was given " the key of all languages,"or as he says in The Last Sermon, the one he preached at Nauvoo, and which was reported by some one and printed after his death, " I know more than all the world put together, and the Holy Ghost within me comprehends more than all the world, and I will associate with it,"and thus having direct inspiration to do this work, the emendated book is prepared and is soon to be printed. As a specimen of the alterations on this vital subject, we quote from the same paper as above; "I will make a comment on the very first sentence of the history of the creation in the Bible. It first read, 'The head one of the Gods brought forth the Gods.' If you do not believe it, you do not believe the learned man of God. And in further explanation it is observed that it means, The Head God called together the Gods, and sat in grand council. The grand counsellors sat in yonder heavens, and contemplated the worlds that were created at that time.' The Bible is therefore held to be the foundation book, but instead of taking it in the usual sense, there must be a certain change of meaning in the most important point, which will be elaborated when we speak concerning the Deity. But when it is read, it is to be taken in its most literal sense and they most pointedly condemn those who spiritualise its contents, saying that God is honest when he speaks with man, and uses words in their literal acceptation and 'never pelters in a double sense."' But the Word of God is held to be not confined to this one Book, and, of others in existence, they take of equal authority the Book of Mormon, and " Doctrines and Covenants." The lattcr is composed of a lecture on Faith in six sections, written by Rigdon, though published in the name of the Prophet, and several Revelations to the Seer and Revelator; and these books are claimed to be a "three-fold cord" agreeing in sentiment and purpose, and unfolding the dealings of God toward man and the church. Additional revelations are made from day to day according to the exigences of the people and church; and this is assigned as the reason why they are so far in advance of the Christian world in spiritual, heavenly knowledge, and causes them to sneer upon all who adhere alone to the old revelations, and to pity them for their blindness and ignorance. " A flood of light has poured into their souls and raised them to a view of the glorious things above " and Development may be called the distinguishing feature of their church. The Rock on which the church is founded is by them declared to be Revelation. And it was on what "had been revealed to Peter" that the church was to rest:in other words we may state their doctrine to be, that Revelation, which is now with them, is the Rock of the Church of Christ.
"Thus saith the Lord * * * * * my son thou art blessed henceforth, that bear the keys of the kingdom given unto you " " verily I say unto you, the keys of this kingdom shall never be taken from you, while thou art in the world"" And * * I give unto you a commandment, that you continue in the ministry and Presidency, and when you have finished the translation of the prophets you shall from henceforth preside over the affairs of the church and the schools, and from time to time, as shall be manifest from the Comforter, receive revelations to unfold the mysteries of the kingdom, and set in order, and study and learn and become acquainted with all good books, and with languages, tongues, and people." This extract from the Revelation given in 1833 and found in the Book of Covenants, page 309, is here inserted to show the character of such heavenly communications and authority for my statements. They will allow that their Revelations are contradictory to each other, but that is explained by the different "circumstances" under which they are given; " heaven's government is conducted on the principle of adapting revelation to the varied circumstances of the children of the kingdom."
Let us now return to the consideration of the article first named in the Latter-Day Saints' Faith concerning the Deity. The Supreme Hierarchy that is worshipped and invoked is a Trinity or rather a duality of Persons.
" God the Father," is held to be a man perfected: but so far advanced in the attributes of his nature, his faith, intelligence and power, that in comparison with us, He may be called The Infinite.
The " Son, Jesus (Christ," is the offspring of the Father by the Virgin Mary. The eternal Father came to the earth, and wooed and won her to be the wife of his bosom. Be sent his herald angel Gabriel to announce espousals of marriage, and the Bridegroom and bride met on the plains of Palestine, and the Holy Babe that was born was the "tabernacle" prepared for and assumed by the Spirit-Son, and that now constitutes a God.
" The Holy Ghost " is the concomitant will of both The Father and The Son; the one mind possessed and acting in each, which produces universal harmony of thought, wisdom, and being, throughout their dominions. The Spirit differs from the Father and Son, in being merely a Spiritual Soul or Existence, which has never taken a tabernacle, that is, a material body as the Gods have, and has not therefore died, after passing the period of probation, and thence through the Resurrection to perfection.
In this statement I have endeavoured to give their true teaching, and do not intend to criticise or explain any apparent contradictions. The authority for the first two propositions is found in the Last Sermon of their great prophet' which relieves me, in a measure from the pain of stating them,but facts and principles are here involved on which the candor and judgment of the reader must be exercised. What is influencing the life-philosophy of hundreds of thousands is not a thing of slight importance, or to be misstated with impunity.
" First, God himself, who sits enthroned in yonder heavens, is a man like unto one of yourselves, that is the great secret. If the vail was rent to-day, and the great God who holds this world in its orbit, and upholds all things by his power, if you were to see him to-day, you would see him in all the person, image, and very form as a man; for Adam was created in the very fashion and image of God, Adam received instruction, walled, talked. and conversed with him, as one man talks and communes with another." * * * " I am going to tell you how God came to be God. God himself, the Father of us all, dwelt on an earth, the same as Jesus Christ himself did, and I will show it from the Bible. Jesus said, as the Father hath power in himself, even so hath the Son power; to do what? why, what the Father did, that answer is obvious: in a manner to lay down his body and take it up again. Jesus, what are you going to do ?To lay down my life as my Father did, and take it up again."
There is a quotation extant from the author of the " Voice of Warning," to the effect that " we worship a God who hath both body and parts; who has eyes, mouth, and cars, and who speaks when, and to wham he pleaseswho is just as good at mechanical inventions as at any other business."
But we are referred by their teachers to the Apocalypse, where it is written of the redeemer: "And Lath made us kings and priests unto God and his Father ;" and to the Apostle that said, " there are gods many and lords many," to prove that the Father had " his Father," and they talk boldly of the grandfather, greatgrandfather of God, thus tracing back almost ad infinitum to the "Head God, that called the grand council together when the worlds came rolling into existence." We, however, have only to limit our worship, and obey our Heavenly Father and His Son, who are revealed to us by the Spirit; and"whenwe know how to come to him, he is ready to come to us and unfold the heavens to our knowledge." The Son (when a spirit) took of the unformed "chaotic matter; element which had an existence from the time God had, and in which dwells all the glory," and formed our earth and the planetary world, peopled, and has redeemed it. He is to be worshipped as Lord of all, and heir of the Father in power, creation, and dominion. "~~hatdidJesusdo?why, I do the things that I saw my Father do when worlds came rolling into existenceI saw my Father work out his kingdom with fear and trembling, and I must do the same." (Last Sermon, p. G1.)
So of each man, whose spirit Lath the same Fatherby obedience and faith he may be perfected, and attain to the power of forming a planet, peopling and redeeming it, over which he may reign forever. And all who do not obey the revelations now sent to them, and properly fulfil their probation, will only succeed to an inferior glory and be permitted to act as servants, " hewers of wood and drawers of water," in some one of the King Saints' Kingdoms; just fitted to the "glory" they have lived for, or such as their vicious lives will allow. In reply to the question, what will you do for us?they will say, we may make you bootblack or kitchen scullion, or if you behave pretty well and not molest the saints, you may be raised to butler or baker, and carry the train, on state occasions, of our queens in paradise. Things on earth, and customs and ceremonies, are patterned after things in heaven, and will be continued in the spirit world and future abodes of the gods. Their prophet thus instructs the faithful"You have got to learn to be gods yourselves; to be kings and priests to God; the same as all the gods have done, by going from one small degree to another, from grace to grace, from exaltation to exaltation, until you are able to sit in glory, as cloth those who sit enthroned in everlasting power." And in seeking for a place in the eternal worlds, we are informed that there are four different glories to strive for; the celestial, or highest, the tclestial, the terrestrial, and lake of fireof the sun, of the stars, of the earth, and the burning caldron.
The Book of Covenants teaches that baptism is duly administered by being fully immersed in the water, and that any other manner of applying the element is a vain ceremony. Baptism, legally partaken of, is for remission of sins; sins only forgiven in baptism. The further peculiarity of the subject consists in a vicarious immersion of living persons for their dead friends, who have never had the opportunity, or neglected it when living. this is called " Baptism for the Dead." There being, according to their view, a probationary state in the spiritual world, while the on earth exists, so that by proxy one can fulfil all "righteousness," by submitting to all prescribed rites, of which baptism is one it is presumed that those gone before have repented, and are now desirous of baptistic benefits; and hence it is enjoined that the "greatest responsibility that God has laid on us is to look after our dead;" and ordered, that a man be baptised for deceased relatives, tracing back the line to one that held the priesthood among his progenitors, who, being a saint, will then take up the place of sponsor, and relieve him of further responsibility. All those who are thus admitted to salvation will be added to the household of the baptized person at the resurrection, who will then prefer his claim, or do as our Lord did at the grave of Lazarus, and call them forth in the name of Jesus; over whom he, as the most distinguished of the line, will reign as patriarch for ever; and his rank and power among kingly saints will be in proportion to the number of his retinue.
The authority for this application of the rite is grounded o the interrogatory of the Apostle: " Else what shall they do which are baptized for the dead, if the dead rise not at all? why are they then baptized for the dead?"and Joseph observes in his sermon, "Every man who has got a friend in the eternal world can save him, unless he has committed the unpardonable sin, you can see how far you can be a Savior;" the Apostle say " they without us cannot be made perfect."
The child begins its accountability at eight years of age; up that time the parents are responsible, but then they must have baptized into the church, and infant baptism is held to be a abomination and a sin. Regeneration is begun in baptism, an perfected by the laying on of hands, by which the recipient is then sized by the Holy Ghost through the Melchisedek priesthood.
The Sacrament of the Communion is done, for a " remembrance of the body and blood of The Son," that they may. always remember him and keep his commandments, and that "they may have his Spirit to be with them." This is according to the Book of Mormon, and bread and wine are to be used as the symbols. But by a revelation it is forbidden to use the wine made by the Gentiles, and until they can procure the pure juice of the grape from their own cultivation, they use water in place of it, for "it mattereth not what ye shall eat, or what ye shall drink, when ye partake of the Sacrament, if it so be that ye do it with an eye single to my glory;wherefore ye shall partake of none [wine] except it be made new among you; " and the bread and a pail with a tin or glass vessel to dip the water is carried around among the congregation on their seats, by the bishops, and offered to young and old who generally partake; and this is to be done on every Lord's Day.
After sufficient time has elapsed to build a temple at " Zion " or any appointed stake, "and at Jerusalem, no other places are allowed for the baptisms for the dead." A font will be constructed in the house of the Lord, for these baptisms which were instituted before the foundation of the world" and elsewhere, saith the Lord your God, they cannot be acceptable unto me, for therein are the keys of the Holy Priesthood ordained, that you may receive honor and glory." (Book of Cov. prophets, Rev.)
The sixth General Epistle instructs the Saints throughout the world to gather home, and pay all tithing dues, that a Temple may be soon completed for the Baptisms of living and dead. It says; "To be prepared for a celestial heaven, they want the blessings of The Terrestrial Templeand if any pass the temple ordinances without having paid all tithe dues, Jesus will at last declare they are thieves and robbers who have climbed up some other than the appointed way; the ordinances of the temple are as necessary for a full salvation as baptism is for a partial salvation;the voice of the Good Shepherd is, come home," all ye saints.
The teaching upon this article is rather abstrusebut we may perhaps convey its import in a few words, mostly gleaned from the book of Covenants. It seems to be considered an exercise of the will in intelligent beings on matters of belief for acquiring celestial glory, and accomplishing holy purposes and works. It is " the assurance that men have in the existence of unseen things, and the principle of action in all intelligent beings; without it, both mind and body would be in a state of inactivity "and, " by faith we receive all temporal and spiritual blessings." But it is not only the principle of action, but of power, in heaven or in earth; for we find that by faith, God created the worlds(Heb. xi. 3.) and by this we understand it to be the principle of power in the bosom of God by which he works:" and, take this principle or attribute away from the Deity, he would cease to exist." (See Book of Cov. first chapters.)
" God spake, chaos heard, and worlds came into order by reason of the Faith that was in him "he had " element and the principles of element, which can never be destroyed, to organize it out of;and as these aeon atoms are "intelligent on a self-existent principle, which God himself could not create," we must class the aggregate, or bodies of matter, with life and knowledge capable of exercising faith; which view is sustained, in the language of one of the Presidency, namely;"for all creation is alive, even the earth itself and the minerals and metals and every other thing connected with it;"and the first lecture on faith has these words in the last paragraph: " Faith, then, is the great governing principle, which has power, dominion, and authority over all things."
In the seventh article of Belief this phrase occurs. By it we may understand, according to their interpretation, the same thing as the Laws of Nature, or whatever name is used to express the arrangement of the universal order of things sprung out of the " two self-existent principles of Intelligence and Element, or matter; " and it is The Law under which the primordial Gods came into being. The prophet has not left on record, to my knowledge the manner in which the Head God originated. But be say' " God himself could not create himself," and "intelligence consists upon a self-existent principle: it is a spirit from age to age, and shore is no creation about it." In conversation with the more philosophical ones, this question of origin came up frequently, and the explanation elicited was one of opinion merely, and deduced by the reason from the principles already taught by authority. It was, that in the far eternity, two of the elementary particles of matter met In consultation and compared intelligences, and then called in a third Atom to the council, and, united in one will, they became the first power, to which no other could attain as they had the priority; and by uniting more atoms or exercising the power which the combination gave, would thenceforth progress for ever. Under this union arose the plenitude of power, to make and enforce a Law to govern itself and all things. Thus was the Everlasting Gospel constituted the law of nature. And out of this Intelligence, according to the Law, a God was begotten, not made, and the other Gods sprung from him as children. By the law of universal order, sex was made to exist, coeternally with all moral existence and life, and not only the Kings, but the Queens of heaven derive their origin equally under its mandates. These are the mothers of our spirits and the gods, and of all spiritual existences also; each of which is confined to its proper sphere and in its own order: and these are called and sent as heralds or ministers from one planetary system to another, or to the different orbs in the same system of worlds. A portion of this order, or Law, is what is called the everlasting gospel in the Revelation of St. John, which was in the hand of the angel " flying in the midst of heavcn " to proclaim again on earth concerning the Church of Christ; that angel was Moroni, who brought the gospel in its fulness to " Joseph the Seer," and is now preached to men, with the " signs following " that were promised to the Apostles of the Lord.
To the spirits begotten by the [father, (for the mind of man is not created, " God licker did have power to create the spirit of man at allthe very idea lessens man in my estimationI know better ;" Last Sermon, p. 62.) a choice is given, either to remain as they are, or to take a material body and "descend below all things," in order to rise above all things, whereby they can obtain a greater glory than they now enjoy, even to the celestial. This explains why we are here in this earthly tabernacle. leach spirit chose to make " the probation," and thus ignoring all of its past existence, is attempting to work out a salvation of immense worth, and attaining to perfection in the attributes of power, dominion, and happiness.
When the spirit takes possession of its tabernacle, which is probably at the quickening of the embryon, the man is, or becomes a living soul. Sian is therefore a duality. The elements of his composition are gross matter, called the body, and spirit. The latter is also matter, but more refined or elementary, and so constituted as to permeate the former, control and verity it. It is not visible to mortal eyes without a miracle, nor is it ponderable; it passes through the body as the electric fluid through the earthit is in reality more substantial than the body, for it cannot be changed or destroyed, it "existed co-equal with God," and could have no beginning, for then it would be possible to have au endit is as immortal as God himself." (Sermon, p. 62.) The union or fusion of these makes " the living soul," as related by Moses in the creation of Adamdeath separates them for a useful purpose, but then the Spirit watches over every particle of its beloved tabernacle, until the fiat of the resurrection is given, when the body shall again " be clothed upon," and perfect man be the result in an eternal soul.
Death was introduced into humanity by the fall or disobedience of Adam, who is the great patriarch, and is he whom the Scripture calls Michael, The Ancient of Days, with hair like wool. But, in their technical phrase, " Adam fell that men might be," and ate the apple under full knowledge of the consequences, and the "Fall" was a matter of previous arrangement in the economy of probation. That is, he fell that man, or a mortal body, might be born of woman, and tabernacles fitted up for the spirits, as fast as they chose to undertake their probations. And when a spirit does not answer its true intent in one probation, but forfeits its inheritance by sin and evil conduct' then it will have a oNver one assigned it at death, and if disobedient still, another, and another' until it shall be brought to the proper subjection, and, yielding to the gospel law, be allowed to retrace its course back in the successive stages to splendor and angelhood.
This it is said of their chief Apostle, at present a president of a stake, and a distinguished writer in both politics and their theology, that he fell into doubt as to the truth of the system, and contemplated apostacy. He was saved by the ministry of angels. A heavenly messenger appeared before him and warned him of the danger, and then pronounced upon him the doom of being soon obliged to take a negro tabernacle, unless he should repent and become zealous for the faith delivered to the LatterDay Saints. This was effectual in frightening him back to duty, for they hold the " Negro is cursed as to the priesthood, and must always be a servant wherever his lot is cast, and therefore shall never attain to anything above a dim shining glory. This part of the human race is the lowest grade. A first descending probation would be that of the Indianfor the red men have been cursed only as to color and indolent habits, and through repentance and obedience, and acceptance of the newly proclaimed gospel' they can be restored to pristine rights and beauty, and become again "a fair and delightsome people," worthy of their origin from the Jews of Palestine. When these grades have not been effectual in subduing the rebellious spirit, a third one would be assigned into the brute species, and a choice taLcn among them; and when we are tormented by a refractory horse or obstinate ass, it may not be amiss to reflect that they are actuated by an apostate soul, and exemplifying a few of the "human infirmities." However, it is not our purpose here to draw inferences or reconcile any contradictions which may appear in the Mormon teaching.
Man, in the usual acceptation, is a compound heing, with a physical, intellectual, and spiritual naturebut in the view taken above, ho is a duality of elements. The intellectual is absortcd into either of the others, according to convenience, though usually confounded with the spiritual; and the chain of reasoning terminates in exalting the physical nature above the other two.