[From The Mormons by Gunnison, 1852]
THE powers of the priesthood are thus stated in the Guardian; the " gift of faith, discerning of spirits, prophecy, revelation, visions, healing, tongues, and the interpretation of tongues, wisdom, charity, brotherly love." Pre-eminent in all these is the head man of the priestly order; supposed to be, and looked up to as, the Lord's peculiar prophet, with ability to read the hearts of men, his spiritual authority is complete, and having so large a share of the wealth of the people at his command, and their entire will submissive to his behests, the President of the Latter-Day Saints is the most autocratic ruler in the world. But his great authority has thus far been made subservient to the public interests, and his attention never diverted from alleviating individual distresstherefore it is no wonder that his sanctity is believed above reproach, and his least wish abjectly complied with by almost all over whom he presides with unlimited sway.
Yet it is more the office than the man that carries such a prestige of command with those intimately connected with the source of power, or with the mass at a distancethere is not the usual manworship found in the admirers of splendid abilities and achievements of the founders of religious sects. The people are mostly composed of those converted in foreign lands, whose necks have been bent to force, instead of yielding obedience by choice; and their present condition is one of greater freedom and elevation of character than while groaning under civil despotism. Taught to regard themselves as the chosen of the Lord, soon to act on a theatre of renown and glory, with angels and saints to look on, and cheer them with celestial applause for noble deeds, they cheerfully await the signal of heaven to march under its banner; and they lend their means to bring up to their rendezvous all who will fraternise with them, and listen to the voice of their shepherd, wherever wandering in the wastes of the moral world, and so soon as its tones are heard, gladly turn to the green pastures of truth in the mountains, and come out to strengthen the cords of the "Stake of Zion."
A cardinal point being an unshaken belief in the inspiration of Joseph the Seer, and that the prophetic mantle has fallen on his successor Brigham, the new church Elijah and Elisha; any reflections derogatory to the character of either, based on suspicion, innuendo, or hearsay, is an insult of the darkest dye to them. But this adoration is not universal; nor must we look upon all as ignorant and blindfolded, guided along the ditch of enthusiasm by self-deluded leaders. Indeed, almost every man is a priest, or eligible to the office, and ready armed for the controversial warfare, his creed is his idol; and while among the best proselytes we class many that are least versed in literary attainments, still, among them we find liberally educated men, and those who have been ministers in other denominationsin fact there seems to be as fair a sample of intelligence, moral probity, and good citizenship, as can be found in any nominal Christian community.
Sincerity and simplicity of purpose mark the masses, which virtues have been amply proved by the sacrifices and sufferings endured. And among that people, so submissive to counsel, are those who watch with eagle eye that first principles are adhered to, and stand ready to proclaim apostacy in chief or in layman; and scrutinising all revelations to discover whether they are from the Lord, or given through his permission by Satan, to test the fidelity and watchfulness of the disciples of truth.
It was in conformity with this watchful and scrutinising spirit on the part of those determined to adhere strictly to first principles, that the volumes presented by Gladden Bishop, the revelations of Rigdon and others, were pronounced to have a demon character; and the pretensions of William Smith and J. J. Strang, the Beaver Island " King," declared to be spurious, and they, with their followers, were solemnly excommunicatcd.
In Utah or Deseret, the arrangements for the cause of education are upon an extensive scale.
Hitherto all exertion has necessarily been bestowed on obtaining the means of living; to fence fields, build houses, and tened their crops and herds. But as soon as this pressure slackened, we find them appropriating liberally for a university, which shall be eminently practical in its character, and designed to teach the useful branches thoroughly, first, to all, and allow those who have the leisure and the means, to acquire the ornamental afterwards.
The selected grounds for the university buildings are beautifully located on the first broad terrace, in the north part of the temple city' and overlook the dwellings of the town. City Creek has excavated a deep channel through this table-land, as it bursts out from the mountains, and its waters are to be taken at the requisite elevation in the hills, and conducted to the college plat, and made to beautify the scenery in jets, and water the groves, walks, and botanical gardens; and a part used for health, in extensive bath and swimming houses.
A large square is to be allotted and fitted to athletic and equestrian exercises; an observatory for practical astronomy, and the instruments already collected are to be freely used to instruct on the ground, in the several departments of engineering, mechanics, and surveyingthe agricultural department liberally patronised; and the living, spoken languages of all peoples thoroughly taught to the proper students.
A peculiar feature in their instruction is the introduction of a "Parent's school " for the heads of families; and, at the time of the organisation, the President is said to have avowed his intention of attending it as a scholar, which is gladly mentioned as a thing redounding to his praise, and showing his strength of character; as also calculated to show others of his people that the time for acquiring knowledge is during the whole life of man. It is too often that the school-room is deserted in early life, or the idea acted upon, that, if our youthful days have not acquired the elementary branches, it is of no use afterwards to try to remedy the deficiency.
The Parents' school, patronised by the Presidency and Regents of the University, with the members of the High Council, must have an immense influence in refining, elevating, and ennobling the mind of the public generally. Primary schools, opened under the direction of the chancellor, and inspected by the Regents, are well attended by the children; but the whole system is now like chaos being reduced to. order. Their philosophers already aspire to something more than has yet been accomplished; and they assert that they shall soon revolutionise the kingdom of science, and surpass the most learned in mathematics, philosophy, and the sciences of observation.
The geologist and chemist must directly come to them to learn the wonders developed from below, and in the mineral kingdoms; and the botanist and naturalist to study the arcane of the principle of life, elaborated in the vegetable and animal. For, having " sought first the kingdom of Heaven," they look now for the promise of having all other things and knowledge added; but they sensibly add, that the Lord helps those who help themselves, and that their minds will only be quickened to perceive by the most intense industry.*
The greatest change will be made in astronomythe system of the world will be modified in the number, arrangement, and relations of the and any curious to anticipate what is to burst upon us, may discover an inkling in the Book of Abraham, which was brought to Nauvoo with some Egyptian mummies; of which Joseph translated a portion written by the faithful patriarchs, when he sojourned on the banks of the Nile, which relates to the planetary world, diving to the centre of the universe, amp exhibiting the great orb I(olob, which revolves on its axis once in a thousand of our years' and around which all else that relates to man is supposed to wheel in endless lines.
Their most profound mathematician, while in England' put forth a feeler essay, by which the Newtonian theories of gravitations attraction, and repulsions are overthrown; and all the effects usually attributed to them put upon the intelligence of element; and the motions of the universal atoms, either single or combined in mass, referred to the circumscribing and infusing power and presence of the Holy Spirit, acting directly upon, and through all things. We have not time and perhaps patience would fail to follow the data and the Argument used to prove this,and we may safely trust all developments of this kind to their practical hands, and rely upon experiment to furnish them with facts that shall bring them into physical truth, and hope that their researches will contribute something to the cause of science, and that their admirable theory of education, when fully carried out, will aid and enrich our literary treasures.
It is understood that the Saxon and Celtic classics, from which four-fifths of our spoken words are derived, will have a prominent place and comparative attention, and stand side by side in barbaric native strength with the more polished Greek and Latin. The sciences of observation, just taking a perfect form, and which meet more nearly the demand of the age in the educational market; which are spread before the eye of every one that walks the field, tills the grounds or observes nature's curious ways in the house, the shop, the study, or under open skies, are those that will be pursued with the greatest ardor.
By the liberality of the last Congress, the derogate from Utah was furnished the means to select a hnc library, and this munificence will greatly aid the cause of education at their Zion University. " To search for wisdom in all good books " was the behest of their great prophet, and the sentiment is fully inculcated on all.
This people are jealous of their rights' and feel themselves entitled to enforce order by their own laws' and severely punish contempt of them.
The administration of justice is of the most simple kind' and based on equity and the merits of the question, without reference to the precedents and technicalities, referring to the rules of the Mosaic code' and its manner of punishment, when applicable.
Witnesses are seldom put on oath in the lower courts, and there is nothing known of the " law's decay," and the quibbles whereby the ends of truth and justice may be defeated. But they have a criminal code called " The Laws of The Lord, " which has been given by revelation, and not yet promulgated; the people not being able quite to bear it, or the organisation still too imperfect. It is to be put in force, however, before longs and when in vogues all grave crimes will be punished and atoned for, by cutting off the head of the offender. This regulation arises from the fact, that " without shedding of blood there is no remission "and is intended as an act of mercy to the criminal, who, when he has unwisely or through Satanic wiles, jeoparded his salvation by evil acts, can, by willingly offering iliS neck to the block, atone for all his sins, and enter on the " untried state of being " absolved from guilt, through the sacrifice of his own bloods and obedience to this " law of the Lord."
Though this people fled to a foreign country to enjoy the liberty that persecution denied them in the states, as soon as they found their adopted land had come under the jurisdiction of the stripes and starswhich their own valor had helped to win in the army of the Pacific against Mexico,they embraced the earliest opportunity of declaring their adherence to the great charter of liberty and national glory, and announced to the world that was given to our patriot fathers by divine inspiration, and that they will uphold and defend it, though all the original parties shall secede and trample it under foot.
"They will make no law forbidden by the sacred constitution of the United States," and predict that the day is not far distant when they shall be solicited by patriotic American citizens, to descend from their rocky fastnesses, to enforce its sanctions upon those led astray by frantic political delusion and anarchy.
The great " eagle of America is now perched on her mountain eyrie, watching the unsafe wanderings of her brood, and, ready to stretch her pinions for the flight, will soon collect them together again, and bear them on her wings to a place of safety." Firmly cherishing the belief of their divine mission to revolutionise the world, and that events are even now shaped to expedite their return to the promised land Zion, they note the crimes, the follies and turmoils in every place, and a record of them is kept and filed away with the archives of their church and state. These are held up as portents to demonstrate that the wrath of heaven is already being poured out, and the madness of political factions, the bitter strifes of different religions,the wars of nations, and of peoples against their governments, together with the ravages of the cholera plague, all are declared to show the beginning of the end, and to herald the ultimate triumph of Mormonism.
The books they keep are to be some of those at the great judgment, when "the books are opened"their prophet has told them to keep a faithful record; and their scribes are busy in forwarding the awful accounts that shall condemn this generation.
They enter into the dark alleys of crowded cities, and ferret out the practices of secret associations in the dens of pollution, and the details equal all the imagination can picture of the sins of Sodom and G1 omorrha. They note down the aberrations from rectitude of the men entrusted with making and executing our laws, or who minister at the altars of divine worship in this and other countries, until their criminal calendar of nations smells rank to heaven, and causes their members to regard themselves, in point of purity, in comparison, as clothed with the resplendent white robe of righteousness.
And the listener to the eulogiums of Mormonism is pointed to the success that has attended their effortsand they proudly challenge him to parallel the fact, that, without "scrip or purse," an obscure individual, in the open light of the age which should be styled the most intelligent, from having the accumulated knowledge of those gone before to add to its own wisdom, should set on foot a scheme by which the deep mystery of a continent, peopled by two different races, is solved; the one swept off ere history began their record, save on the broken column and fallen arches of crumbling granite; the other without tradition of its origin, fast following its predecessor to oblivion, but now taught how to redeem its remnant, and knowing whence it came, regain pristine favor with heaven, in the path of duty well marked out and which, in twenty years, has multiplied its devotees from six individuals to three hundred thousandfounded a state in the far off wilderness, and compelled a mighty nation to recognise them a separate people, with the right of self-governmentproclaimed its mission on all the grand divisions of the earth, and taken converts from the patriarchal states of Rome, and the pagan isles of the ocean; all this, too, while the fiercest persecution was chasing them from one refuge to another, and, under the ban of obloquy, impeaching their motives and the purity of their lives, as well as the scope of their doctrines.
But what we predicate of their teachings and of their doctrines to-day, may not be the truth of either to-morrow. For by the doctrine of development, and having revelations according WitI1 the exigencies of the church, they may be bidden to change their policy, and suspend those commands found to be inapplicable to their condition, and the faith of the saints.
Such suspension and withdrawal of privileges have already become precedentsand it should not strike us with surprise to hear that matrimony is confined again to a single pair, on the plea that it has fulfilled the intention of its founder, and the word is prevailing fast enough to built up the faith on the earth, ready for the Lord's coming.
The present Seer has cautioned his people to be faithful' and they may hope any hour to receive a deputation from the " lost ton bites of Israel," which shall confirm them, and signal the conversion of their red brethren, when "a nation shall be born in a day." These lost tribes are supposed to be on a fragmentary part of the earth, which is either in space revolving with its parent planet, and called, as it is placed there " The North Country," or on some insular land, to which no vessel has ever been permitted to sail and return to publish the place of abode. And there are four witnesses to the truth of the Gospel who have never tasted death; these are, St. John the Evangelist, who was to tarry till the Lord came, if he so willed it; and three others of the church founded in America by Christ, who begged the like privilege and had it granted to them, as may be seen by consulting the Book of Mormon.
These saints continue in perpetual manhood, and travel over the earth, assuming the language and costume of the country they happen to be in, and have visited some of the brethren of the Latter-Day Church, according to their own belief in receiving some remarkable strangers: they look anxiously for their appearance, to proclaim boldly their character and instruct the people from the temple pulpit; but this too will depend upon their faithful obedience to spiritual counsel.
The Lord will not come till the Temple of Reception is built; the temple will rise only by the efforts of a people specially organized in the faith; and this generation may fail and be rejected, but another may be raised up to do the work appointed, who will obey the revelation; so is it taught and written.
Thus have we endeavored to draw a true picture of the mountain Mormons;the view was taken before ever seeing any history of their doctrines or polity by others;it is the result of observation and listening to their teachings, and reading a few of their own accredited books; and, as far as possible, we have endeavored to make them sketch their own portrait.
The policy of our own government in giving them rulers selected from themselves, is so just to them in their present condition, and so well calculated to allay their irritated feelings, aroused by the injustice and oppression of the mobs, which were left unrebuked if not sanctioned by state authorities, that it cannot be too much commended.
It has caused a revulsion of feeling, and taught them to make a distinction between the lawless acts of congregated individuals, and the governors of the state, and the sense of gratitude and kindness is shown by their lately selecting a site for a city in the beautiful Parvan valley, in the county of Millard, to be called Fillmore, which shall be the civil Capital of the territory, as the Temple City is the head quarters and Capital for the higher spiritual power. The magnanimity of a peoples far separated from all others, is thus appealed to, instead of wounding their pridesit is the field on which the freedom of conscience is to be tried;it is the cause of political liberty, successfully contended for by the revolutionary fathers, in the estimation of that portion of American citizens; and under the permanent law of Congress, they ask for self-government to test their fealty as a matter of right and justice.
Therefore, we may be permitted to say, that this course of judicious action may secure a law-abiding people; and soon we may expect to see a thriving, peaceful state added to the extending Union under the name of DeseretThe Land of the Honey Bee.
*From one of the Regents, speaking of the university.Phelps, 24th July Oration, 1851."Beseeching the whole church to pray the Lord our Heavenly Father, to send down some of the Regents from the great University of Perfection as he did to Noah Moses and others to unfold unto his servants the principles of wisdom philosophy and science which are truth."" But what with all the precious things of time the inventions of man the records from Japhet in the ark to Jonathan in Congress, embracing the wit and the gist the fashions and the folly which so methodically grammatically and transcendentally grace the libraries of the elite of nations ready be worth to a saint when our Father sends down his regents the angels from the grand library of Zion above with a copy of the History of Eternal Laws; the records of worlds; the Genealogy of the Gods; the philosophy of truth; the names of our spirits from the Lambs Book of Life; and the songs of the sanctified ? "It must be recollected that things on earth are but patterns of those in the celestial planet, according to Mormonism.