Letter from I. T., before 16 May 1842

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To the Editor of the Times and Seasons:
Sir, having been in the habit of late of perusing the “Cross and Journal,” a Baptist periodical published in , Ohio, to search out the pure principles that are advocated by this advocate of righteousness; in my investigations I happened to blunder over the following extracts;—as they were interesting to me, I had the vanity to suppose the[y] might be the same to yourself. If they are, and you should judge them worthy of a place in your valuable periodical, they are at your disposal, together with my reflections upon them.
“Prayer was offered up by Rev. Dr. Jenks, after which Mr. Knapp addressed them in a sermon of an hour and a half in length, from the words of Saul of Tarsus, Acts, 9:6, ‘Lord what wilt thou have me to to do?’. . . . ‘The text is the language of a young convert. . . . . The enquiry is not where you can enjoy the most; but where you can do the most for the glory of God. Some of you in answering this question may be called to preach the gospel, others to go on a foreign mission.”
1. “The first answer is, “take my yoke upon you.” Unite yourselves to the people of God. Join some evangelical church.”
* * * * * * *
5. “Search the scriptures.” “If you have irreligious books, novels, or books on Universalism, burn them up. Make the bible your study. Carry it in your pocket: have it at hand at all times, and as much as possible commit it to memory. Be in the habit of reading it upon your knees, and of looking directly to the spirit of God to enable you to understand it.”
Having perused the above passages, sir, and not being very quick of apprehension, I examined them a second time, when I had the following reflections:—“Prayer was offered by the Rev. Dr. Jenks:”—Well now, that seems to be good—afterwards Mr. Knapp preached from the words of Saul of Tarsus;” “Lord what wilt thou have me to do?” These seem to be good words—they are scriptural words; and I think Mr. Knapp has preached FROM [p. 790] them well. He has not troubled himself with the subject referred to in the text, at all:—but perhaps it is not elegant, or orthodox, for evangelical ministers to adhere to the scriptures; and therefore he preached from the text. “Unite yourselves to the people of God.” Well now, who are the people of God? Which, of all the multifarious sects shall I join? He answers, “join some evangelical church.” But then, what is an evangelical church? Is it a church that believes part of the scriptures; or one that believes all of them; or one that believes none of them? I see that Mr. Knapp has preached from the scriptures; consequently he has not much confidence in them, or he would have quoted their authority. Perhaps the church that he belongs to is evangelical;—but then he advises, in the fifth paragraph, to “search the scriptures. If you have any irreligious books, novels, or books on Universalism, burn them up.—What kind of novels am I to burn? Religious novels, or is it only irreligious novels? I think a religious fiction, or lie, must be as bad as an irreligious one. Well, to search the scriptures is good, but it seems to me as though Mr. Knapp would have me search, study, and read them as I would Homer’s Illiad, Euclid, or Virgil, to obtain a refined taste, and a classical education, rather than to be governed by its precepts; for the scriptures say nothing about burning Universalists books, &c.; but they tell me to “prove all things, and to hold fast that which is good.” Now if Universalism be false let me prove it false by the scriptures, and not burn their books unread. I perceive, however, that the Universalists, in the estimation of Mr. Knapp, are not an evangelical church.
In looking over the same paper, I find under the head of “communications,” upon the subject of Mormonism, the following:—
SCRAPS FROM IOWA, No. 2.
MORMONISM.
1. Preventative.—If they have no foothold in your neighborhood or town, pay no attention to them. This has often prevented them from doing much mischief.
2. Remedy.—If they are making proselytes in your neighborhood or town meet them at once, and if you are acquainted with the history and absurdities of Mormonism you may expose them, but never fail to prove the following things:
First. That many of the miracles of Moses, Christ and Apostles, were performed publicly, in the presence of enemies and friends to induce faith. Ex. iv. 21, 30, 31. “Moses and Aaron went and gathered together all the elders of the children of Israel, and Aaron spake all the words which the Lord had spoken unto Moses and did the signs in the sight of the people, And the people believed.” Ex. viii. 6–10. “The Lord spake unto Moses, and unto Aaron saying, when Pharoah shall speak unto you saying, shew a miracle for you: then thou shalt say unto Aaron, take thy rod and cast it before Pharoah, and it shall become a serpent.” John ii. 23. “Now when he was in Jerusalem, at the passover, in the feast day, many believed in his name, when they saw the miracles which he did,”—not before they saw his miracles. John, iv. 45. “The Gallileans received him having seen all the things that he did at Jerusalem, at the feast.” Of five loaves and two fishes he fed five thousand men, besides women and children, Matt. iv, 16–21. While his enemies were watching him he healed a man’s withered hand, Mark, iii. 1–5. Luke vi. 6–10. He raised the dead when his enemies were present. John, xi. 43–46. His enemies admitted the genuineness of his miracles, John, xi- 47. “Tongues were also a sign to those who did not believe. 1 Cor. xv. 22. “Tongues are for a sign, not to them that believe, but to them that believe not.”
Second. That when Christ declined to give a sign except the sign of Jonas, &c. it was because he had publicly given enough, and that when humbugites try to avoid detection by saying that no sign shall be given it is a mere get-off and betrays their consciousness that they cannot do what they pretend to do.
Third. That when Christ required faith in some that he healed, it was because he had before proven by his public miracles that he could heal the sick. This is very different from requiring folks to believe without evidence.
Fourth. That those miracles of Christ which were comparatively private, were not those on which he relied to prove his Messiah-ship. Hence in some cases he did not approve of their being told, Matt. viii. 4. “See thou tell no man.” Mark, vii. 35: Luke, v. 14.
Fifth. That when the gift of tongues were employed on the day of Pentecost, there were persons present who understood the different languages that were spoken, hence, all was in place, all was right. Afterwards as only two or three [p. 791]
were allowed to speak at once and that by course some might have been present who did not understand any of the languages that were spoken, interpreters were allowed to interpret what was preached, and all was still in place. But for a man to pretend who understands the English language to speak in an unknown tongue to those who understand the English, is nonsense, and is to them no miracle unless they know the language that he speaks, and know that he speaks in an unknown tongue, and know that he has not learned it of men.
How honest, fair, and above-board is every thing belonging to the Bible, and how different is religious humbuggery. I have by repeated experiments found these remedies to be good. Let people be put in possession of the fact that they have a right to see the miracles of those who pretend to work miracles, and that they are bound to disbelieve all accounts of men working miracles, unless they work them publicly in the presence of enemies as well as friends, and that all who profess to be called of God, as was Aaron, are bound to do as Aaron did. I say let them be put in possession of these facts, and use them to good advantage and the Mormons will shun them.
H. JOHNSON.
After perusing the above, sir, I thought, now these Mormons are, in the estimation of this writer, hereticks; and they do not belong to the evangelical church, any more than the Universalists do:—but thinking that it might be some ignoramus who had written those pieces, and that the columns of the “Cross and Journal” were open to all scribblers, I should have passed it over, if I had not met with the following, in the prospectus:—“The Cross and Journal, is published every Friday morning;” . . . “The Advocate of sound doctrine, and of untiring christian exertion. The interests of the Baptist convention, and of other home mission societies in the West, will be particularly regarded.” Upon reading the above, I naturally inferred that the Baptist society was an evangelical society; and that the worthy editor published those pieces for the special benefit of the Baptist convention: and also, for the edification and instruction of other home missions in the West. In puzzling my brain, however, to find out the true definition of the word evangelical—I was led to infer that the Baptist convention was orthodox, and evangelical, and that other home missions in the West, were evangelical, (which missions they are I know not,) but that the Universalists and Mormons are not evangelical is evident. Still, however, I was at a loss to know the import of the term, until I noticed the instructions of the Rev. Mr. Knapp, in regard to searching the bible, and then I could only draw inferences from the bible, and the sentiments of the “Cross and Journal,” by comparing them together; and by strict investigation came, naturally, to the following conclusions:
1. That Paul was not a member of an evangelical church; for he told the church to which he wrote, to “prove all things, and to hold fast that which is good.” Whereas, Mr. Knapp told the members of his church to burn Universalists books, &c.; hence, here is a wide difference. The one would prove the books by reading them; the other would burn them without reading—thus following the practice of the Roman Catholics, who burn the books of hereticks. The Church of Rome must, therefore, be an evangelical church, as it follows the teaching of Mr. Knapp.
2. On the subject of Mormonism, we have given us as a preventative against the horrid evils of Mormonism, the following salutory instructions: “If they have no foothold in your neighborhood, or town, PAY NO ATTENTION TO THEM. This has often prevented them from doing much mischief.” I find from this, sir, that the evangelical church is of very ancient date, and can be traced through all the history of the church, in every age and generation. There was one in ancient days, the most powerful of any in existence; we have no account of any church being so extensive and united as it was, I mean the antediluvian church; especially those that lived in the days of Noah. So powerful were the principles of evangelicism that there could only be one family found, who differed from them in religious opinions; I mean, sir, the family of Noah; and so deep rooted were evangelical principles, that among the thousands that then existed, there could not any be found to pay the least attention to noahs message; hence, they were all purely evangelical. It is true they soon afterwards perished by the flood, but then, that could make little difference, inasmuch as they were orthodox christians, and sound in the faith of evangelical principles, of “taking no notice.”
Another very eminent Evangelical church existed ingreat numbers in Asia, there were several very notable cities that were eminently skilled in the doctrine of paying no attention, to the mesages that might be sent to them. I refer to the famous cities of Admah, Zeboim, Sodom, Gomorah, Zoar, &c. When the angels [p. 792] of God went, they abused them, and when Lot spoke to them to depart out of the city or they would be consumed, “his words seemed to them as idle tales;” they paid no attiontion to them; they were profoundly learned in the doctrines of taking no notice—in pure evangelical principles.
Without referring to an evangelical church that existed in Babylon, to another at Tyre and Sidon, and to another at Jerusalem, I would briefly mention one in Athens, the great seat of science and literature—they were not however fully sound in the faith; for some of them said “what will this babbler say,” but the majority of them shook their heads, and turned away, and said “we will hear thee again concerning this matter:” they paid no attention, not only so but having searched the scriptures according to the advice of Mr. Knapp, I find that the prophets have prophecied of an evangelical church, for, says our Saviour; “as it was in the days of Noah,” and “as it was in the days of Lot; so shall it also be in the days of the coming of the Son of Man.” Consequently Sir, the existence of a pure evangelical church, one that would pay no attention, is clearly spoken of. And again, in the latter day, there will be a great church of this kind, to whom it will be said, “I have called but you have refused; I have stretched out my arm, but ye have not regarded. “They paid no attention to it.”
But this is only one of the leading traits of the conduct of a member of an evangelical church; this is only a preventative; but as a remedy, we have the following; if they are making proselytes, “meet them at once,” don’t allow them the liberty of worshiping God according to the dictates of their own conscience;—show their errors and absurdities—but not knowing what these errors and absurdities were, Sir I had to enquire, and found out that they are so egregriously in error, as to believe that men must believe, and repent, and be baptized, and have hands laid on for the gift of the Holy Ghost, before they can be accepted of God. They are so foolish as to believe what our Saviour says, “he that believeth and is baptized shall be saved, and he that believeth not shall be damned; and these signs shall follow them that believe:”—They have fallen into the same error that Peter did when he said, “the promise is unto you, and to your children, and to all that are afar off, even as many as the Lord our God shall call;”—they believe with Paul, “that to one is given the gift of tongues; to another the interpretation of tongues; to another prophesy; to another working of miracles;”—they also believe what James says, “if any of you are sick, let him send for the elders of the church, and let them pray for him, annointing him with oil in the name of the Lord, and the prayer of faith shall heal the sick; and the Lord shall raise him up;”—they believe that no man is authorized to preach, unless he is called, as they were in the apostle’s days. These then are many of the absurdities of Mormonism. Now says Mr. Johnson, “these absurdities must be met;” evidently shewing that evangelical churches do not believe in the absurdities practiced and taught by our Saviour and his apostles; no Sir, they do not, and such men must be met at the threshold, met with boldness, and firmness, and promptness. I must again follow Mr. Knapp’s advice, sir, and take you to the scriptures with me:—Paul when he was preaching just such errors as the Mormons preach (I don’t know but that he was a Mormon), in Ephesus, was met with promptness by the inhabitants of that great city; they even cried out for two hours “great is Diana, the God of the Ephesians.” They would not allow the poor fellow to speak. Why every body knew; it was quite notorious that Diana fell down from heaven—it was absurd for Paul to teach anything else; this conduct was truly evangelical; and I have no doubt sir, but that if Mr. Johnson was to meet a Mormon he would just be as zealous as they were; for Mormonism is noto[ri]ous for spoiling the craft, So dilligent were many of these evangelicals at one time, that forty of them bound themselves under an oath, that they would not eat nor drink untill they had killed Paul; not only so but Paul himself was a true member of this fraternity; for he hailed men and women, committing them to prison, and scourging them for belonging to the “humbugites;” and caused many of them to blaspheme; however he apostatized and became an heretic himself; but he soon found that the evangelicals met him with as much promptness as he had met others; they stoned him, put him in prison, whipped him, made his feet fast in the stoks, brought accusations against him; &c. &c. and plainly proved to him that they believed no more in humbugery, than he had done before. Without refering, sir, to the crusades, and to a large church in Italy, who belonged to the evangelicals, I would just mention one of more recent date in the State of ; worthy scions of the old stock, and members of this honorable fraternity; and as the Cross and Journal is particularly devoted to the interests of missions in the west, I expect that they have received some very salutary instructions from its colums. To shew to you how zealous they have been the , a Baptist missionary, who was fully inducted into the blessings of pure evangelical principles held a tar bucket, while some of his worthy coadjutors were tarring and feathering one of the Mormons. Another sir, a worthy brother of his of the Christain order, who at the head of his brethren went and drove a number of the Mormon women, and children from their homes; & so zealous was he in the cause that he pursued them till the blood gushed from their feet, and their tracks were left in the prairie. They must have been purely evangelical. The redoubtable a Methodist minister, was forward also on another occasion, at the head of a company of his own cronies, burning and destroying heretic’s houses, plundering their property &c.; he proved himself evangelical: he had the misfortune however since that to shoot one of his fellow craft: but then he redeemed himself in true evangelical style, by preaching pure orthodox principles from there to . I might also speak of others of the same school, such were , and Habbot Hancock, two worthy Presbyterian prelates, who with swords by their sides came with a number of their fraternity, to , Corrol co. Mo. to disposess a number of men, women, and children, (who had the audacity in this land of liberty, to worship Almighty God according to the dictates of their own conscience) of their inheritance, and to drive them from their homes. These were evangelical ministers. There were others of the same school, among [p. 793] whom was Col. Pendleton, who had a number of men painted like Indians, engaged in the before mentioned laudable undertaking, according to the rules of evangelical churches.— was also a conspicious character, as also , , , and a host of others; and so zealous were they in the propagation of evangelical principles, that they drove fifteen thousand men, women, and children from their homes; killed many and confiscated the property of others, and, to shew what pure evangelical principles possessed, he said when speaking to the humbugites “whether you are innocent or not is nothing to me; I am determined to see the ’s orderd executed.“ His orders to exterminate.
Another criterion whereby the evangelical church can be known, is by their asking people to work miracles; for, says Mr. Johnson, “many of the miracles of Moses, Christ, and Apostles, were performed publicly, in the presence of enemies and friends, to induce faith.” And again, “let people be put in possession of the fact that they have a right to see the miracles of those who pretend to work miracles; and that they were bound to disbelieve all accounts of men working miracles unless they work them publicly, in the presence of enemies as well as friends.” I am not aware, sir, of the Mormons professing to do miracles; indeed, I know that they do not; they merely believe in the same principles that the Apostles believed in. But this is nothing to the point; it is evangelical religion that we are investigating. The grand principle that now comes under our consideration, is, that “miracles must be performed publicly to induce faith.” Consequently, Jeremiah, Ezekiel, Hosea, Habbakuk, Amos, David, Solomon, and many other of the prophets are not entitled to the faith of an evangelical church; for they did not work miracles; and also John the Baptist; there was not a greater prophet born among men, than he: “yet he did no miracle,” say the scriptures. What a pity it is that the bible of the evangelicals should be burtheded with such “humbugery.”—For they did no miracles ‘to induce faith,’ and conseqently an evangelical church has no faith in them. I had a curious thought here, sir, and wondered whether the evangelicals work miracles or not to prove their religion, as it is a ‘poor rule that will not work both ways.’ The grand rule, however, seems to be, that if the Mormons will not work miracles to ‘induce belief’ they are ‘humbugites!’ consequently, if I find a people asking for miracles, I set them down as evangelists. However, as Mr. Knapp tells me to carry my bible in my pocket, to pray over it, to search it diligently,’ &c. I must take it out of my pocket, and have you search it again with me, sir. I find, then, recorded in Luke, 23. that Herod was a true evangelist, for he sent for Jesus, hoping to have seen some miracle done by him, but it could not be done for him; and no doubt, being a true evangelist, but he thought Christ was a humbug. The evangelical church in Jerusalem before referred to, had this trait, as well as others; hence they said to our Savior, ‘what sign shewest thou.’ But he would not give so honorable a body as that any answer, and they thought of course that he was a humbug. Then there was a respectable church on Mount Calvary, composed of Gentiles and Jews, who cried out tauntingly, ‘if thou be the son of God, come down from the cross, and then we will believe in thee,’—but he did not do it; ah, say they, ‘he saved others, himself he cannot save.’ These were purely evangelical. Paul, sir, had a most complete way of getting rid of Mr. Johnson’s arguments; he was a sly fellow; hence, says he, ‘to one is given the gift of faith, to another the power to work miracles,’—‘do all work miracles? do all prophesy?’ Hence, if any of his members had been asked for a miracle, they would have come flatly out and said, ‘all do not work miracles,’ ah, says Mr. Johnson, a pure evangelist, that is humbugery, ‘I have a right to look for miracles.’ But lastly, on this subject, I found a most eminent personage, one that I least expected, belonging to the evangelical church; one who is ‘the prince and the power of the air;’ one who ‘wanders to and fro in the earth;’ one, against whom ‘Michael the Archangel, dared not to bring a railing accusation;’ one who has often appeared among the ‘sons of God;’ one who says that ‘this world, and its glory and dominion, belongs to him;‘—coming to our Savior and wanting him to make stones bread, and requesting him to ‘cast himself down from the temple,‘ or to perform some miracle, that he might know that he was the son of God; and perhaps the old gentleman would have believed if he had seen a miracle—but he did not do it. What a pity.
But having said so much upon this subject, I must now touch upon another, and then close. I find, sir, that it is not truth that the evangelical church are in quest of, but miracles; hence, for instance, although there is so much humbugery about Mormonism, and it is palpably false, and unscriptural, if they would work a miracle it would be true at once; all its obnoxious features would depart; all its errors would be removed; and it would be changed from the perfectly ridiculous, to the most sublime; error would at once become truth, and wickedness be transformed into righteousness. The evangelicals were no doubt convinced that the Magicians of Egypt were of God, for they performed miracles. The Witch of Endor also possessed supernatural agency, and would of course be believed by tbe orthodox church. Simon the Sorceror, seems to have been an honorable man, and obtained great credence among the orthodox. But, unfortunately for our modern evangelical churches, they have not had much of an opportunity of seeing miracles performed; however, as a glorious day is about to dawn upon them, they have cause to lift up their hearts and rejoice; for Paul says, that ‘Satan will come with all deceivableness, and signs, and lying wonders, and for this cause God will send them strong delusions, that they may believe a lie and be damned; because they received not the love of the truth, but had pleasure in unrighteousness.’ John says, I saw three unclean spirits, like frogs, come out of the mouth of the Dragon; and out of the mouth of the beast; and out of the mouth of the false prophet; for they are the spirits of devils working miracles, which go forth unto the kings of the earth, and of the whole world.’ Rev. xvi: 13, 14. John further speaks of a beast that made war with the saints, and overcame them. The evangelical church in have patterned well after their great prototype. But he [p. 794] shall do great wonders, yet; so that he maketh fire come down from heaven in the sight of men, and deceiveth them that dwell on the earth, by the means of those miracles which he had power to do, in the sight of the beast. Rev. xii. hence, when the church shall be fully established, it will every way meet the desires and hopes of Mr. Johnson, and all the evangelical church. Its pretensions will be fully attested by miracles; the evangelical church will enlarge its borders; and all the world will wonder after the beast, saying, ‘who is like unto him.’
You will perceive, sir, by this brief synopsis, that evangelical religion has prevailed in every country, and abounded in all nations; that it is as old as the antediluvians, and as modern as the Missourians; and that it has found strenuous advocates in every age; that the prophets testify of it, and that it is likely to be great, powerful, and almost universal. Therefore the editor of the Cross and Journal may take courage. He has already seen the great prosperity of the HOME MISSION in the WEST, aided by his indefatigable exertions, and untiring zeal; and from the prospects that lay before him as the champion and advocate of evangelical principles,there is every prospect of his becoming honorable in the earth, and of having his name handed down to future generations; and perhaps when it is well with him, he may remember his friend, Mr. Johnson.
I. T. [p. 795]