Tuesday, January 26, 2016

Ten-thousand [Malicious] Lies

Mr. Sollars stated that James Mullone, of Springfield, told him as follows:—"I have been to Nauvoo, and seen Joe Smith, the Prophet: he had a gray horse, and I asked him where he got it; and Joe said, "You see that white cloud." "Yes." "Well, as it came along, I got the horse from that cloud." This is a fair specimen of the ten thousand foolish lies circulated by this generation to bring the truth and its advocates into disrepute.1
In four years, we will arrive at the 200th Anniversary of the “First Vision”2—a momentous event that began a prolonged era of mendacity targeting Joseph Smith and the “Mormonites.” But being thus distanced from events, we seem to discount the all-out war that commenced in 1820. By doing so, many have been led into deception, unbelief, and false assumptions by the intensity of malignant focus upon Joseph. There has probably been no other in history who has been the subject of such protracted distortion, mockery, and maligning—except, the Savior himself.

After announcing the martyrdom of Joseph at the hands of a mob, a colleague wrote:
Joseph Smith, the Prophet and Seer of the Lord, has done more, save Jesus only, for the salvation of men in this world, than any other man that ever lived in it. In the short space of twenty years, he has brought forth the Book of Mormon, which he translated by the gift and power of God, and has been the means of publishing it on two continents; has sent the fulness of the everlasting gospel, which it contained, to the four quarters of the earth; has brought forth the revelations and commandments which compose this book of Doctrine and Covenants, and many other wise documents and instructions for the benefit of the children of men; gathered many thousands of the Latter-day Saints, founded a great city, and left a fame and name that cannot be slain. He lived great, and he died great in the eyes of God and his people; and like most of the Lord's anointed in ancient times, has sealed his mission and his works with his own blood; and so has his brother Hyrum. In life they were not divided, and in death they were not separated! (Doctrine and Covenants | Section 135:3)
So, to sincere seekers of Truth, let us review some of the records of unrelenting hostilities that plagued Joseph Smith from 1820 to 1844.
"After having received many visits from the angels of God unfolding the majesty and glory of the events that should transpire in the last days, on the morning of the 22nd of September, A. D. 1827, the angel of the Lord delivered the records [engraved on gold plates] into my hands. * * * As soon as the news of this discovery was made known, false reports, misrepresentation and slander flew, as on the wings of the wind, in every direction; the house was frequently beset by mobs and evil designing persons. Several times I was shot at, and very narrowly escaped, and every device was made use of to get the plates away from me; but the power and blessing of God attended me, and several began to believe my testimony."3

About this time a spirit of persecution began again to manifest itself against us in the neighborhood where I now resided, which was commenced by a man of the Methodist persuasion, who professed to be a minister of God. This man had learned that my father-in-law and his family had promised us protection, and were friendly, and inquiring into the work; and knowing that if he could get him turned against me, my friends in that place would be but few, he visited my father-in-law, and told him falsehoods concerning me of the most shameful nature, which turned the old gentleman and his family so much against us, that they would no longer promise us protection nor believe our doctrines.4

Chapter IV: The Smith Family "Reputation" At Palmyra And Manchester[5]
[Internal footnotes are prefaced with fn; square bracket inserts are also by BHR.]
THE Smith family while living in Palmyra and Manchester are said (1) to have been lazy, shiftless, intemperate and untruthful;fn1 (2) to have opened a "shop" in Palmyra where they sold cakes, pies, root beer, and the like; and that on public occasions, such as the Fourth of July, militia training days, and election days, the elder Smith would load a rude hand-cart, made by himself, with these wares and sally forth to find such patronage as might come to hand;fn2 (3) to have been dishonest and guilty of stealing from their neighbors.fn3
"Rumor's Ten Thousand Tongues"
Joseph Smith, the Prophet, states that shortly after obtaining the plates from which he translated the Book of Mormon: "Rumor with her thousand tongues was all the time employed in circulating falsehoods about my father's family, and myself. If I were to relate a thousandth part of them, it would fill volumes."fn4 A statement one can readily believe when he considers the mass of such rumors that have even found their way into print.
When a very aged man, eighty-two, the Prophet's younger brother, William Smith, in an interview given out about two weeks before his death,fn5 answered the following questions:
Question. "It is said that Joseph and the rest of the family were lazy and indolent."
Answer. "We never heard of such a thing until after Joseph told his vision, and not then, by our friends. Whenever the neighbors wanted a good day's work done they knew where they could get a good hand and they were not particular to take any of the other boys before Joseph either. We cleared sixty acres of the heaviest timber I ever saw. We had a good place. We also had on it from twelve to fifteen hundred sugar trees, and to gather the sap and make sugar molasses from that number of trees was no lazy job. We worked hard to clear our place and the neighbors were a little jealous. If you will figure up how much work it would take to clear sixty acres of heavy timber land, heavier than any here, trees you could not conveniently cut down, you can tell whether we were lazy or not, and Joseph did his share of the work with the rest of the boys. We never knew we were bad folks until Joseph told his vision. We were considered respectable till then, but at once people began to circulate falsehoods and stories in a wonderful way."fn6
Question. "Did not you doubt Joseph's testimony [about the Book of Mormon] sometimes?"
Answer. "No; we all had the most implicit confidence in what he said. He was a truthful boy. Father and mother believed him, why should not the children? I suppose if he had told crooked stories about other things we might have doubted his word about the plates, but Joseph was a truthful boy. That father and mother believed his report and suffered persecution for that belief shows that he was truthful. No, sir, we never doubted his word for one minute."fn7
The evidence relied upon to support the charge of being lazy, shiftless, intemperate and unreliable as to speaking the truth, is from a collection of affidavits made in Palmyra, and Manchester, New York; and in Harmony, Pennsylvania, in the closing months of 1833, and published in E. D. Howe's Mormonism Unveiled, 1834. Since then they have been revampedfn8 from time to time by nearly every anti-"Mormon" [even practicing Mormon] writer who has taken in hand the task of enlightening the world respecting "Mormon" origins.
Origin of Adverse Affidavits
These affidavits were collected by one "Doctor" Philastus Hurlburt, under the following circumstances. Hurlburt had been expelled from the "Mormon" church in Kirtland, in June, 1833, for immoralities;fn9 and because he had threatened to take the life of Joseph Smith, Jun., he was placed under bonds "to keep the peace and be of good behavior to all the citizens of the state of Ohio, generally, and to the said Joseph Smith, Jun., in particular." fn10
Hurlburt between these two events,—his excommunication and his trial for threatening the life of Joseph Smith, Jun.,—was sent as the special agent of the anti-"Mormon" party in and about Kirtland, to gather up all that report had to say about the Prophet and his family both in Palmyra, New York, and in Harmony, Pennsylvania. The collection of affidavits in Howe's Mormonism Unveiled was the result. It was simply a matter of "muck raking" on Hurlburt's part. Every idle story, every dark insinuation which at that time could be thought of and unearthed was pressed into service to gratify this 1man's personal desire for revenge, and to aid the enemies of the Prophet in their attempt to destroy his influence and overthrow the institution then in process of such remarkable development. If the vindictiveness of sectarian hate be taken into account; if the unreliability of even well-meaning persons be remembered when under the influence of prejudice and contending for what they may regard as orthodoxy in religion, neither the character nor the mass of these affidavits against the Smith family need occasion any surprise. The most trifling circumstance under prejudice and hate is expanded into immense proportions. A single mis-step is converted into confirmed evil habit. Things indifferent or innocent in themselves are garbed in sinister vestments, and made to appear inexpressibly vile.
Truth Outweighs Fiction
Against this large collection of evil report and false interpretation of the character of the Smiths while at Palmyra, prompted as it was by prejudice and collected by malice, the evidence of accomplished fact, and the subsequent lives of the family may be opposed. Take for example the achievements of the family during the few years of their residence in Palmyra. They arrived there penniless, as all admit, with nothing but their bare hands with which to help themselves. Yet in a few years they built two homes in the wilderness; they cleared sixty acres of heavy timber land, and converted it into a tillable farm. In addition to their farming and gardening, they had a sugar orchard of from twelve to fifteen hundred maple trees, from which they gathered the sap and converted it into syrup or sugar. To aid in making the annual payments upon their farm, as well as to help sustain the family until the farm could be made productive, they took an occasional day's work among the neighboring farmers or the Palmyra village folk, sometimes engaged to dig a well, or harvest a field of grain. It is conceded, in the main, that they did all this; and one marvels in the face of it that the charge of laziness and thriftlessness should be made. But the wonder grows when to all this is to be added the stories of the affidavits about the Smith's "money digging" enterprises. "They * * * spent much of their time in digging for money which they pretended was hid in the earth, and to this day large excavations may be seen in the earth not far from their residence, where they used to spend their time digging for hidden treasures."fn11 Truly if the half of what is told in the affidavits about these exploits, usually carried on at night, is to be believed, then it would be utterly impossible to believe the Smiths to be idle or habitually lazy.
As to the charge of intemperance, one may not be altogether sure what act may have given some color for this accusation. It was a time when drinking hard cider and even spirits was quite general in that locality, and accounted no great harm except when malice prompted some spiteful allusion to a practice so common. But of this one may be assured, that the evil never ripened into habits with the Smith family; for intemperance never claimed a victim among the Smiths, either the father or any of his sons; and within two years after leaving Palmyra, viz., in 1833, it was Joseph Smith, Jun., who gave to the Church of the Latter-day Saints, and to the world, a temperance law that has been the admiration of all who have become acquainted with it. It has rescued thousands from the evils of intemperance, and restrained tens of thousands from contracting intemperate habits, because it enjoins upon the membership of the church, as the law of God, total abstinence from wines and strong drinks. This law is known as "The Word of Wisdom;"fn12 and is not likely to be the product of a man or a family given to habitual intemperance.
Charges of exaggeration and untruthfulness are so easy to make, especially when associated with the announcement of spiritual experiences and religious truths that the world considers unorthodox, that one scarcely need stop to ascertain the grounds of them. It will be enough here to say that the Smith family spent many years with the people gathered together by the ministry of their son Joseph and his associates; and everywhere as a family they won and held the esteem of their people, and this through evil and good report. This is not done by people who are untruthful, who exaggerate, or who are insincere. The well known industry, frugality, honesty, charity, integrity, sobriety and truthfulness, of the Smith family through all their subsequent career, after leaving Palmyra, and of which thousands were witnesses, and which has crystalized into a tradition in the church, is a complete refutation of the idle rumors and trumped up charges of envious neighbors in and about Manchester and Palmyra.
Petty Employments Charged
The second charge against the Smiths is that while at Palmyra "they opened a small shop" and sold cakes, pies, root beer and the like; and that on certain public occasions the elder Smith sold such wares in the streets from a handcart. There is nothing dishonorable in itself in this, even had they engaged in such an occupation. Still it was put forth with evident intention of making the family appear contemptible by representing that its occupations were petty and mean.
"It can never be," said one of old, "that your spirit is generous and noble while you are engaged in petty, mean employments; no more than you can be abject and meanspirited while your actions are honorable and glorious. Whatever be the pursuits of men, their sentiments must necessarily be similar."fn13 One may see a conscious recognition of this truth in the thought of those who would make it appear that the Smiths engaged in "petty, mean employments."
Inventive malice also adds the detail that the "clerkship" of the line of trade above described was assigned to Joseph Smith, Jun.; that here he "learned his first lessons in commercial and monetary science;" and that the boys of Palmyra delighted in "obtaining the valuable goods entrusted to Joseph's clerkship, in exchange for worthless pewter imitation two shilling pieces!"fn14 Inquiry among descendants of the Smith family, and wide knowledge of that which is published in relation to them, besides access to letters and papers and personal journals that have never been published, bearing upon their lives and character, fails to disclose any scrap of evidence that the Smiths at Palmyra or elsewhere ever engaged in or followed any such petty employment as is here described; and had it been part of the family's experience in the days of their misfortunes, it is not likely that it would have escaped mention; especially when it is remembered how frank the members of the family have ever been in detailing their experiences, as well those that relate to their misfortunes and humility, as those that would be esteemed as being to their advantage.
Pomeroy Tucker Vender Of Idle Tales
Pomeroy Tucker was the first to put forth this charge; and his work was published in 1867. He pretends to speak from personal knowledge of the matter, being a resident of Palmyra while the Smiths lived in that vicinity; and an employee on the Wayne Signal during the time the Book of Mormon was being printed in the job department of that publishing establishment; thus frequently being thrown in contact with the Smiths. One thing, however, very seriously mitigates against the probability of Mr. Tucker's story, besides the absolute silence of the Smith family. It has already been recounted in these pages that in 1833 a large collection of affidavits was made by "Doctor" Philastus Hurlburt as the agent of an anti-"Mormon" party in Kirtland, Ohio, who was intensely bitter in its hatred of all things "Mormon," and was determined to destroy both Joseph Smith and the church. Hurlburt was a worthy agent of such principals, and all that malice could suggest or hatred invent was combined in that effort to scrape together everything derogatory to the character of the Smith family. This was only two years after the departure of the Smiths from the neighborhood of Palmyra, when very many were living there who could remember every circumstance derogatory to their character, injurious to their reputation, or humiliating in their career. Yet in all the fifteen separate and independent affidavits collected in Palmyra in 1833 by Hurlburt, and in the affidavit signed conjointly by 68 people of Palmyra and vicinity, derogatory to the Smiths, not a syllable is uttered respecting the "cake and beer shop," or the "peddling" of such wares in the street on public occasions mentioned with such pomp of circumstance by Pomeroy Tucker. The silence of all the affidavits collected in 1833, and of all the anti-"Mormon" writers up to Tucker in 1867, throws strong suspicions of improbability upon his pretended statement of fact. Malice invented the story, and sectarian prejudice accepted the falsehood for truth.
The third charge, viz, that the Smith family was dishonest and preyed upon their neighbors by stealing from them is not only malicious, but he who first promulgated the charge gives evidence by the very manner in which he sets forth the accusation that he is conscious that the charge is not true. Tucker was the first to make the allegation, and he does it in the following terms:
"Existing as they did from year to year in this thriftless manner, with seemingly inadequate visible means or habits of profitable industry for their respectable livelihood, it is not at all to be wondered at that the suspicions of some good people in the community were apt to be turned toward them, especially in view of the frequently occurring nocturnal depredations and thefts in the neighborhood. On these accounts the inhabitants came to observe more than their former vigilance in the care of their sheepfolds, hencoops, smoke-houses, pork-barrels, and the like domestic interests; though it is not within the remembrance of the writer, who in this designedly impartial narrative would 'nothing extenuate nor aught set down in malice,' if the popular inferences in this matter were ever sustained by judicial investigation. It is appropriate to remark, however, that the truth of history, no less than proper deference to the recollections of many living witnesses in Palmyra and its vicinity, demand that these reminiscences should be given, intimately blended as they are with the purpose in hand, to present before the public a candid and authentic account of the origin, rise, and progress of Mormonism, from its first foundation."fn15
Vicious Insinuations
There is nothing more cowardly than a vicious insinuation. It is the character-assassins' readiest and deadliest weapon. It can be used in the absence of proof, and be made to calumniate as readily the innocent as the guilty. It can ally itself so easily with hypocrisy, as it does in the above quotation from Tucker, and pretend to act from the purest of motives, in the interest even of impartial narrative, that "would nothing set down in malice!"
It is here invoked by Tucker in the interest of the "truth of history," the most sacred altar upon which truth's incense burns! But "it is not within the remembrance of the writer (Tucker) * * * if the popular inference in this matter were ever sustained by judicial investigation." That is, the Smiths were never charged with the petty thefts insinuated by Tucker. Notwithstanding all the vigilance of a neighborhood deeply prejudiced against them, and disposed to magnify every peculiarity of temperament or error of conduct, and amid "frequently occurring nocturnal depredations and thefts in the neighborhood"—yet the people of Palmyra prejudiced and watchful as they were, could never find justification for even making a charge against the Smiths that went to "judicial investigation!" Then why is the charge made against them in a pretended historical treatise that boasts itself "a candid and authentic account of the origin, rise, and progress of Mormonism?"
The Truth Of History
It is justified on the ground "that the truth of history, no less than proper deference to the recollection of many living witnesses in Palmyra and its vicinity, demanded that these reminiscences should be given, intimately blended as they are with the purpose in hand, to present before the public a candid account of the origin, rise and progress of Mormonism." But the "truth of history," even as represented by Tucker, raised this charge against the Smith family no higher than "popular inferences." And he is extremely unfortunate in his "deference to the recollections of many living witnesses in Palmyra" on the subject, since, when in 1833 those people were appealed to by Hurlburt, and they made so many affidavits against the Smiths singly and conjointly, some eighty in all, there was not one word said about the Smiths being petty thieves, or of "popular inferences" in relation to such a matter. The fact of silence in the affidavits renders very improbable the vile insinuation of Tucker. And strange to say, on a preceding page, to the one just quoted, Tucker himself gives the Smith family credit for creating the understanding that by means of their "shop" and the "day's works" on the part of the father and elder sons among the "farming people," the elder Smith "was understood to secure a scanty but honest living!"fn16
The charge of petty thieving launched by Tucker is repeated with increasing assurance by many writers who follow him; but it has no force beyond what Tucker's authority gives it. Bring ever so many mirrors into a room where a farthing rush light is burning, you shall not increase the light—you merely reflect what is already there—a single farthing rush light, you make it no more, though you reflect it an hundred times.
[BHR] Footnotes
1. See affidavits in E. D. Howe's Mormonism Unveiled, 1834, where the statement is frequently repeated, ch. xvii; also Tucker's Origin, Rise and Progress of Mormonism, p. 16, and after them nearly all anti-"Mormon" writers, who repeat their fulminations ad nauseam.

2. Tucker was the first to put out this view of the Smith family, 1867; see Origin, Rise and Progress of Mormonism, pp. 12, 14; and after him Kennedy, Linn and others have repeated it. Even Alexander Stevens in so dignified a work as his History of the United States, 1883, p. 548, following Tucker, repeats in substance what Tucker and Kennedy have published on this subject. He states, however, that, it is not within his recollection if these charges were ever sustained by "judicial investigation." (Tucker, p. 15.)
3. Tucker, 1867, Origin, Rise and Progress of Mormonism, p. 15. Also Kennedy, following Tucker, Early Days of Mormonism, pp. 10, 11.
4. History of the Church, Period I, vol. i, p. 19.
5. He died, November 13, 1893, at Osterdock, Iowa; Saints Herald, vol. xl, p. 787.
6. Zion's Ensign, Independence. Missouri, copied into Deseret News, January 20.1894.
7. Ibid.
8. Riley, in his Founder of Mormonism, p. 66, discredits them, saying: "No reliance is to be placed in the multiplied affidavits of jealous neighbors, who swore on oath that there was much intoxication among the Smiths; people in those days had the affidavit habit." Riley, however, claims to believe the charge of intemperance on other grounds. Even Kennedy balks a little at some of the rawness of these affidavits. Commenting on a conjoint affidavit signed by sixty-two residents of Palmyra, which he quotes at second hand from Kidder's Mormonism and the Mormons, in which the statement is made that Joseph Smith, Sen., and his son Joseph were, in particular, considered entirely destitute of moral character, and addicted to vicious habits,"—he says: "Some portion of this may have been dictated by envy, malice, or that form of righteousness which controls men at times when their neighbors have been more successful than themselves, but the allegations had a foundation in fact. (Early Days of Mormonsm, p. 17.)
9. History of the Church, Period I, vol. i, pp. 352, 355, and note.
10. Ibid, vol. ii, pp. 47, 49 and note. The trial was held before Mr. Birchard, J. P., in Chardon, Ohio, in April, 1834.
11. Conjoint affidavit of fifty-three citizens of Palmyra and vicinity, Howe's Mormonism Unveiled, first edition, pp. 261-2.
12. The "Word of Wisdom," was given in February, 1833. [SMS: quote deleted but can be found at] (Doctrine and Covenants, sec. lxxxix.)
13. Demosthenes, oration on The Duties of the State.
14. Tucker, Origin, Rise and Progress of Mormonism, p. 14.
15. Origin, Rise and Progress of Mormonism, by Pomeroy Tucker, p. 15.
16. Origin, Rise and Progress of Mormonism, by Pomeroy Tucker, p. 12.

His [Joseph’s] testimony will arouse the wrath of men, and with unrelenting fury they will pursue him. Slander, outright falsehood and misrepresentation will play havoc with his reputation. Everywhere his name will be held up as evil. Derision will laugh at his message to the world. Ridicule will mock it. On every hand he will be met with the cry of "false prophet! false prophet!" Chains and the dungeon's gloom await him; mobs with murderous hate will assail him again and again; and at the last, while under the protection of the law, and the honor of a great commonwealth pledged for his safety, he will meet martyrdom in the shadow of prison walls!6
These are only a few of the descriptions of the times of Joseph Smith, so to give credence to any of the “proofs” against Joseph that were generated in this setting of intense hostility and prejudice is to be naïve at best and complicit at worst.

How long before we clue in that our sure witness of divine things comes only from God—not scholars, not affidavits, not fallible or hostile “witnesses,” but
the Spirit searcheth all things, yea, the deep things of God. For what man knoweth the things of a man, save the spirit of man which is in him? even so the things of God knoweth no man, but the Spirit of God. Now we have received, not the spirit of the world, but the spirit which is of God; that we might know the things that are freely given to us of God. Which things also we speak, not in the words which man's wisdom teacheth, but which the Holy Ghost teacheth; comparing spiritual things with spiritual. But the natural man receiveth not the things of the Spirit of God: for they are foolishness unto him: neither can he know them, because they are spiritually discerned. (New Testament | 1 Corinthians 2:10-14)
So to those who are becoming “aware” of all the so-called hidden, unsavory “truths” about Joseph Smith, perhaps it is time to give equal time to what God and Joseph had to say about these latter days and not be amongst those
sons of men, whose teeth are spears and arrows, and their tongue a sharp sword. (Old Testament | Psalms 57:4)

And [who] bend their tongues like their bow for lies: … (Old Testament | Jeremiah 9:3).
It is past time (and almost out of time) to cast aside the “wisdom” of the world and actually ask God a few things about Joseph Smith—with real intent to cast aside assumptions, prejudices, dogma, etc. and listen to what God has to reveal about these latter days for He has said:
If any of you lack wisdom, let him ask of God, that giveth to all men liberally, and upbraideth not; and it shall be given him. But let him ask in faith, nothing wavering. For he that wavereth is like a wave of the sea driven with the wind and tossed  (New Testament | James 1:5-6).
And as Paul said:
my speech and my preaching was not with enticing words of man's wisdom, but in demonstration of the Spirit and of power: That your faith should not stand in the wisdom of men, but in the power of God. Howbeit we speak wisdom among them that are perfect: yet not the wisdom of this world, nor of the princes of this world, that come to nought: But we speak the wisdom of God in a mystery, even the hidden wisdom, which God ordained before the world unto our glory: Which none of the princes of this world knew: for had they known it, they would not have crucified the Lord of glory. (New Testament | 1 Corinthians 2:4-8)
And as Joseph said:
You don't know me; you never knew my heart. No man knows my history. [Even those who claim to have written it!]  I cannot tell it: I shall never undertake it. I don't blame any one for not believing my history. If I had not experienced what I have, I could not have believed it myself. … ¶ I cannot lie down until all my work is finished. I never think any evil, nor do anything to the harm of my fellow-man. When I am called by the trump of the archangel and weighed in the balance, you will all know me then. I add no more. God bless you all. Amen.7
Thus, let our witness concerning the work and mission of Joseph Smith come from God, so it will not be said of us at the last day:
This is thy lot, the portion of thy measures from me, saith the LORD; because thou hast forgotten me, and trusted in falsehood  (Old Testament | Jeremiah 13:25).
-------------------------------------/
Note: If one’s biases against Joseph are so strong that one will not ask of God—with real intent to accept His wisdom—then divine witness will probably be delayed, until it is perhaps too late.
1. Teachings of the Prophet Joseph Smith, [TPJS] selected and arranged by Joseph Fielding Smith [Salt Lake City: Deseret Book Co., 1976], p. 270.
2. First Vision: see Pearl of Great Price | Joseph Smith History 1:1-20.
3. B. H. Roberts, A Comprehensive History of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, 6 vols. [Salt Lake City: Deseret News Press, 1930], 1: 96-97; Statement in Wentworth Letter, History of the Church, Period I, vol. iv, p. 538.)
4. Joseph Smith, History of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, 7 vols., introduction and notes by B. H. Roberts [Salt Lake City: The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, 1932-1951], 1: 108.
5.Chapter IV: Smith family reputation: B. H. Roberts, A Comprehensive History of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, 6 vols. [Salt Lake City: Deseret News Press, 1930], 1:39-48.
6. Ibid. 1:58.
7. Teachings of the Prophet Joseph Smith, selected and arranged by Joseph Fielding Smith [Salt Lake City: Deseret Book Co., 1976], 361-2. April 7, 1844. (T&S Aug. 15, 1844.)

Wednesday, January 20, 2016

Part Two: Evil Speaking? Discernment?

(Déjà Vus of Dissent)
“There has probably never been a time in the history of the world when evil speakers and deceivers have had such an instantaneous, global platform—not only to spread latter-day distortions, but to resurrect ones from the past and spread them anew” (DV2-January 16, 2016).
On the other hand, the same applies to truth speaking though it seems the “natural man”1 pursues and generates more of the former, as noted in Part One. Evil Speaking? Discernment?2

But what is evil speaking? To some, it means to say anything critical or negative about another, particularly about church officials—even if the criticism is true.3 But if we run this concept through history and scripture, we would find:
  Elijah   Isaiah
  Jeremiah   Ezekiel
  Amos   Hosea
  Malachi   Lehi
  Abinadi   Samuel the Lamanite   
  John the Baptist   Jesus the Christ
  Simon Peter   John the Beloved
  Stephen the Martyr     Paul
  John Huss   John Wycliffe
  Martin Luther   Huldrych Zwingli
  Henry Barrow   John Smyth
  Thomas Helwys   Roger Williams
  Joseph Smith   et al., al., al.
            Created with the HTML Table Generator
—every one of them offending this broad definition of evil speaking. Each was viewed as a “rogue upstart”—an evil speaker in the eyes of established authorities. Such “rogues” have arisen déjà vu upon déjà vu to warn God’s people and religious leaders that they had become lost in Babylon—in her enticing ways and her fondness for “smooth things.”4 Thus, for the above dissenters, it was as if each had received this commission:
~ various calls; various voices ~
(Source at footnote 24)
CRY aloud, spare not, lift up thy voice like a trumpet, and shew my people their transgression, and the house of Jacob their sins. (Old Testament | Isaiah 58:1)
In hindsight, we hold most of these historical reformers in honor for raising voices of criticism and warning. But in their day they were not held in honor. When we consider the persecutions they suffered—even unto martyrdom—it is clear that their voices of conscience were anathema to those they criticized. They were seen as apostates worthy of death if they refused to reform and conform, even if it meant going against their conscience.

So the dilemma is to know what the Lord means when He denounces “evil speaking.” Let us consider the context and companion words:
Let all bitterness, and wrath, and anger, and clamour, and evil speaking, be put away from you, with all malice: And be ye kind one to another, tenderhearted, forgiving one another, even as God for Christ's sake hath forgiven you (New Testament | Ephesians 4:31-32).

The teacher's duty is to watch over the church always, and be with and strengthen them; And see that there is no iniquity in the church, neither hardness with each other, neither lying, backbiting, nor evil speaking; (Doctrine and Covenants | Section 20:53-54).
The context seems to be where one is speaking in malice, bitterness, deception, etc. But is there a broader meaning uniquely applicable to our latter-day?

The LDS are familiar with the expression “evil speaking of the Lord’s anointed” yet everyone of the officials criticized by the above dissenters also considered themselves to be the “Lord’s anointed.”

So how do we resolve this? How do seekers of God’s will and ways discern what to do:
▪ when instruction or policy disturb conscience?
▪ when teaching or practice seem contrary to canonized scripture?
▪ when “tradition” seems to trump truth-seeking and truth-speaking?
▪ when the Spirit witnesses that all is not well?5
▪ when believers / followers become hostile with questioners?
Perhaps the counsel of Paul the Apostle is the preeminent test for everyone: believers, questioners, and unbelievers.
Prove all things; hold fast that which is good.
(New Testament | 1 Thessalonians 5:21)
And what does “prove” mean if not to investigate, test, study, search, seek—being open to God’s witness through revelation? And what does “all things” mean if not everything?

And when God says: “Doubt not, but be believing”6 does He mean, in part, “Doubt not [that you will get My answer to all your questions], but be believing [in My wisdom—prepared to do My will in My timing7]”?

And could His answers range along a continuum?—from “Do nothing. Say nothing. I am working on the situation” to “This is what I want you to say and do—in this place and with this timing.”

So why does God seem to have inspired “dissenters” down through the ages? Here are some observations and advice from yesteryear.8
[Joseph Smith] To become a joint heir of the heirship of the Son, one must put away all his false traditions.9

President Joseph Smith read the 14th chapter of Ezekiel—said the Lord had declared by the Prophet, that the people should each one stand for himself, and depend on no man or men in that state of corruption of the [house of Israel]— that righteous persons could only deliver their own souls—applied it to the present state of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints—said if the people departed from the Lord, they must fall—that they were depending on the Prophet, hence were darkened in their minds, in consequence of neglecting the duties devolving upon themselves, envious towards the innocent, while they afflict the virtuous with their shafts of envy.10

[Joseph Smith] It always has been when a man was sent of God with the priesthood and he began to preach the fullness of the gospel, that he was thrust out by his friends, who are already to butcher him if he teach things which they imagine to be wrong; and Jesus was crucified upon this principle.11

[Brigham Young] Some may say, Brethren, you who lead the Church, we have all confidence in you, we are not in the least afraid but what everything will go right under your superintendence; all the business matters will be transacted right; and if brother Brigham is satisfied with it, I am. I do not wish any Latter-day Saint in this world, nor in heaven, to be satisfied with anything I do, unless the Spirit of the Lord Jesus Christ, the spirit of revelation, makes them satisfied. I wish them to know for themselves and understand for themselves, for this would strengthen the faith that is within them. Suppose that the people were heedless, that they manifested no concern with regard to the things of the kingdom of God, but threw the whole burden upon the leaders of the people, saying, If the brethren who take charge of matters are satisfied, we are, this is not pleasing in the sight of the Lord. ¶ Every man and woman in this kingdom ought to be satisfied with what we do, but they never should be satisfied without asking the Father, in the name of Jesus Christ, whether what we do is right.12

[George Q. Cannon] Do not brethren, put your trust in man though he be a bishop, an apostle, or a president. If you do, they will fail you at some time or place; they will do wrong or seem to, and your support is gone; but if we lean on God, He never will fail us. When men and women depend on God alone, and trust in Him alone, their faith will not be shaken if the highest in the Church should step aside. Perhaps it is His own design that faults and weaknesses should appear in high places in order that His Saints may learn to trust in Him, and not in any man or men.13

[Samuel Richards] "We have heard men who hold the priesthood remark, that they would do anything that they were told to do by those who preside over them, if they knew it was wrong: but such obedience is worse than folly to us; it is slavery in the extreme; and the man who would thus willingly degrade himself, should not claim rank among intelligent beings, until he turns from his folly. A man of God...would despise the idea. Others in the extreme exercise of their almighty authority have taught that such obedience was necessary, and that no matter what the saints were told to do by their presidents, they should do it without asking any questions. When Elders of Israel will so far indulge in these extreme notions of obedience as to teach them to the people, it is generally because they have it in their minds to do wrong themselves."14

[George Teasdale] I understand that all men and women are their own agents; and I do not know a worse degree of slavery than to be afraid to think for yourself and speak what you believe.15

[J. Golden Kimball] Latter-day Saints, you must think for yourselves. No man or woman can remain in this Church on borrowed light.16

[George Q. Cannon] It is the design of the Lord to develop within every man and woman the principle of knowledge, that all may know for themselves. He has poured out His holy spirit upon all of us, and not upon President Young nor upon bro. Joseph alone. The Lord designs that the principle of knowledge shall be developed in every heart, that all may stand before Him in the dignity of their manhood, doing understandingly what He requires of them, not depending upon nor being blindly led by their priests or leaders, as is the universal custom, and one of the most fruitful sources of evil to the people on the face of the earth. God intends to break down this order of things, and to develop in the bosom of every human being who will be obedient to the gospel and the principles of truth and righteousness, that knowledge which will enable them to perform understandingly all the labors and duties he requires of them. ¶ If we, in our experience, have not yet proved the truth of the words of the prophet—"Cursed is he that trusteth in man, or maketh flesh his arm"—probably we will do if we live long enough. There is a curse attending every man and woman who does this. If we will watch the operations of the gospel of Jesus Christ among us, we will see that it has a tendency to develop knowledge in the bosoms of all, and it is the design of Providence that it should be so. We must all learn to depend upon God and upon Him alone. Why, the very man upon whom we think we can rely with unbounded confidence, and trust with all we possess, may disappoint us sometimes, but trust in God and He never fails. We can go before Him at all times, and upon all occasions, and pour out our souls and desires before Him, and we feel that we lean upon a rock that will not fail, and upon a friend that will not desert us in the day of trial. He is omnipotent, and in Him only can we trust under all circumstances, therefore we perceive why the prophet has said—"Cursed is he that trusteth in man, or maketh flesh his arm." ¶ God, our Heavenly Father, designs that all who will observe truth and righteousness should possess wisdom and understanding for themselves, and He is bringing us through circumstances that will develop within us that portion of the Godhead or Deity which we have received from Him, that we may become worthy of our high and glorious parentage. This being His design respecting us, we should seek by every means in our power to aid Him in carrying it out, until the whole people are enlightened by His Spirit, and act understandingly and in concert in carrying out His designs. In other systems the design is to keep the people down in ignorance and darkness respecting the principles that are taught them, to keep the knowledge in the hands of a select few, upon whom the people are forced to depend, but this is not the genius of the kingdom of God. The spirit of the church of God is that manifested by Moses when, in answer to Joshua, who wished him to reprove some who were prophesying, he said—"No; but I would to God that all were prophets." That is the spirit of the gospel of Jesus Christ. The genius of the kingdom with which we are associated is to disseminate knowledge through all the ranks of the people, and to make every man a prophet and every woman a prophetess, that they may understand the plans and purposes of God. For this purpose the gospel has been sent to us, and the humblest may obtain its spirit and testimony, and the weakest of the weak may obtain a knowledge respecting the purposes of God. This is the difference between the church and kingdom of God and the creeds and institutions of men. The idea that prevails in the world concerning us is that we are hoodwinked and led blindly by our leaders; but the contrary to this is the case, for it is the wish of every man who comprehends this work that the people should all understand it. The bishops and teachers, if they have the right spirit, wish their wards to understand the principles of the gospel and the requirements of heaven as they understand them, and so it is through all grades of the priesthood and through all the ramifications of the church of God. If we take this course continually we will become a great and mighty people before the Lord. If we do anything let us do it understandingly. If we hear any principle taught from the stand that we do not understand let us seek to comprehend it by the Spirit of God. If it be not of God we have the privilege of knowing it. We are not required to receive for doctrine everything that we hear. We may say—"I do not know whether this is true or not, I will not fight it, neither will I endorse it, but I will seek knowledge from God, for that is my privilege, and I will never rest satisfied until I have obtained the light I require." If you hear a doctrine that does not agree with your feelings, or that you do not believe, take this course; do not reject nor endorse hastily, without knowing or understanding. By taking this course you will develop the principle that God designs we should possess, and we will thus become a wise and understanding people, for we will be based on the Rock of Revelation.17

[Charles W. Penrose] Our testimony does not depend upon Joseph Smith; it does not depend upon Brigham Young; it does not depend upon John Taylor, or upon the council of the Twelve Apostles, which is now the presiding quorum in the Church. I pin my faith to no man's sleeve; I am a believer in the Scripture which says, "Cursed be the man that trusteth in man, and maketh flesh his arm." I obeyed this Gospel because I believed it was true, through reading the Scriptures, which I was taught from my early childhood to believe in. When the sound of the Gospel reached my ears I believed; and having bowed in obedience to the ordinances, I received a testimony for myself of its truthfulness, and that testimony has never departed from me.18

[Hugh B. Brown] Faith is the ground of all religion, but there is no special virtue in blind faith. Only faith that is grounded in a courageous search for truth is worthy of the student. We should reject every temptation to irrationality, overcome every inclination to disregard or distort the facts, avoid the extremes of fanaticism, and above all else, demand the truth. Here is the firm foundation for our religion—a religion that describes the glory of God as intelligence and proclaims that man is saved no faster than he gains knowledge. ¶ Just as the truths of science must be tested and verified by reason and factual investigation, so the moral and spiritual truths which the world is seeking from its prophets must be proved and validated in the experience of men. In his search for truth, every man must be true to himself. He must answer to his own reason and to his own moral conscience. Anything less than this would betray his dignity as a human being and a child of God. True dignity is never won by place, and it is never lost when honors are withdrawn.19
Are leaders fallible? History, scripture—even most leaders—agree, “Yes.” And in further witness: If it were not possible for leadership to err, why would the Lord have made provision in Doctrine and Covenants 107 that “inasmuch as a President of the High Priesthood shall transgress, he shall be had in remembrance before the common council of the church” and that “none shall be exempted from the justice and the laws of God.”20

In short, truth speaking prompted by the Holy Ghost is not evil speaking. Our dilemma as laity and leaders is to get things right—to listen, to hear, and to speak or not speak as God wills; BUT what more efficient, effective way could God have to teach His children the way of discernment21 and the necessity of trusting in Him than to place fallible mortals in positions of leadership? As the Apostle Paul said, “Prove all things,” or as Roger Williams phrased it:
The Father of Spirits mercifully persuaded [me] to
Swallow down no longer without Chewing;
To chew no longer without Tasting;
To Taste no longer without
Begging the Holy Spirit of God to
Enlighten and Enliven [me].”22
-------------------------------------/
Note 1: Too often, what could be called evil speaking about leaders of today centers on the personal instead of on fundamentals and makes use of disparaging, abusive language that does not foster discussion or persuasive dialogue.
Note 2: This writer believes that truth endures even if a speaker or writer does not. Thus, truth stands independent of a speaker’s actions or other beliefs. Every one of us is a mix of truth and untruth which is why God is always on our case to get things right. And that is why we can quote people who get or got some things seriously wrong, if they got the things right that we quote. It’s all about discernment which depends on revelation. For most of us, it’s a wheat and tares thing—our openness to discernment being a work in progress. Hopefully, we learn by the mistakes we make. So as Joseph Smith said: “One of the grand fundamental principles of "Mormonism" is to receive truth, let it come from whence it may.”23

1. Book of Mormon | Mosiah 3:19 ~ For the natural man is an enemy to God, and has been from the fall of Adam, and will be, forever and ever, unless he yields to the enticings of the Holy Spirit, and putteth off the natural man and becometh a saint through the atonement of Christ the Lord, and becometh as a child, submissive, meek, humble, patient, full of love, willing to submit to all things which the Lord seeth fit to inflict upon him, even as a child doth submit to his father.
2. http://dejavu-timestwo.blogspot.ca/2016/01/part-one-evil-speaking-discernment.html
3. Dallin H. Oaks: https://www.lds.org/ensign/1987/02/criticism?lang=eng ; et al.
4. Old Testament | Isaiah 30:8-11 ~ Now go, write it before them in a table, and note it in a book, that it may be for the time to come for ever and ever: That this is a rebellious people, lying children, children that will not hear the law of the LORD: Which say to the seers, See not; and to the prophets, Prophesy not unto us right things, speak unto us smooth things, prophesy deceits: Get you out of the way, turn aside out of the path, cause the Holy One of Israel to cease from before us.
Old Testament | Jeremiah 6:13 ~ For from the least of them even unto the greatest of them every one is given to covetousness; and from the prophet even unto the priest every one dealeth falsely.
New Testament | 2 Peter 2:1-3 ~ BUT there were false prophets also among the people, even as there shall be false teachers among you, who privily shall bring in damnable heresies, even denying the Lord that bought them, and bring upon themselves swift destruction. And many shall follow their pernicious ways; by reason of whom the way of truth shall be evil spoken of. And through covetousness shall they with feigned words make merchandise of you: …
Note: this déjà vu tale of seduction and backsliding is repeated throughout Isaiah, Jeremiah, Lamentations, Ezekiel, etc., etc.
5. Book of Mormon | 2 Nephi 28:21, 24-26 ~ And others will he pacify, and lull them away into carnal security, that they will say: All is well in Zion; yea, Zion prospereth, all is well—and thus the devil cheateth their souls, and leadeth them away carefully down to hell. … Therefore, wo be unto him that is at ease in Zion! Wo be unto him that crieth: All is well! Yea, wo be unto him that hearkeneth unto the precepts of men, and denieth the power of God, and the gift of the Holy Ghost!
Book of Mormon | Helaman 13:28 ~ … because he speaketh flattering words unto you, and he saith that all is well, then ye will not find fault with him.
6. Book of Mormon | Mormon 9:27 ~ Doubt not, but be believing, and begin as in times of old, and come unto the Lord with all your heart, and work out your own salvation with fear and trembling before him.
7. New Testament | James 1:5-8 ~ If any of you lack wisdom, let him ask of God, that giveth to all men liberally, and upbraideth not; and it shall be given him. But let him ask in faith, nothing wavering. For he that wavereth is like a wave of the sea driven with the wind and tossed. For let not that man think that he shall receive any thing of the Lord. A double minded man is unstable in all his ways.
8. Additional observations and advice:
[Joseph Smith] It is one of the first principles of my life, and one that I have cultivated from my childhood, having been taught it by my father, to allow every one the liberty of conscience. (Teachings of the Prophet Joseph Smith [TPJS], selected and arranged by Joseph Fielding Smith [Salt Lake City: Deseret Book Co., 1976], 326.)
[Joseph Smith] I have tried for a number of years to get the minds of the Saints prepared to receive the things of God; but we frequently see some of them, after suffering all they have for the work of God, will fly to pieces like glass as soon as anything comes that is contrary to their traditions: they cannot stand the fire at all. How many will be able to abide a celestial law, and go through and receive their exaltation, I am unable to say, as many are called, but few are chosen (Jan. 20, 1844). (TPJS, 313; also DHC 6:183-185.)
[Joseph Smith] We deem it a just principle, and it is one the force of which we believe ought to be duly considered by every individual, that all men are created equal, and that all have the privilege of thinking for themselves upon all matters relative to conscience. Consequently, then, we are not disposed, had we the power, to deprive any one of exercising that free independence of mind which heaven has so graciously bestowed upon the human family as one of its choicest gifts; … (TPJS:49).
[Brigham Young] Shall we deny the existence of that which we do not understand? If we do, we would want to keep an iron bedstead to measure every person according to our own measurements and dimensions; and if persons were too long we would cut them off, and if too short draw them out. But we should discard this principle, and our motto should be, we will let every one believe as he pleases and follow out the convictions of his own mind, for all are free to choose or refuse; they are free to serve God or to deny him. We have the Scriptures of divine truth, and we are free to believe or deny them. But we shall be brought to judgment before God for all these things, and shall have to give an account to him who has the right to call us to an account for the deeds done in the body. (Brigham Young, Discourses of Brigham Young, selected and arranged by John A. Widtsoe [Salt Lake City: Deseret Book Co., 1954], 67.)
[Hugh B. Brown] We are grateful in the Church and in this great university that the freedom, dignity and integrity of the individual is basic in Church doctrine as well as in democracy. Here we are free to think and express our opinions. Fear will not stifle thought, as is the case in some areas which have not yet emerged from the dark ages. God himself refuses to trammel man's free agency even though its exercise sometimes teaches painful lessons. Both creative science and revealed religion find their fullest and truest expression in the climate of freedom. ¶ I hope that you will develop the questing spirit. Be unafraid of new ideas for they are the stepping stones of progress. You will of course respect the opinions of others but be unafraid to dissent - if you are informed. ¶ Now I have mentioned freedom to express your thoughts, but I caution you that your thoughts and expressions must meet competition in the market place of thought, and in that competition truth will emerge triumphant. Only error needs to fear freedom of expression. Seek truth in all fields, and in that search you will need at least three virtues; courage, zest, and modesty. The ancients put that thought in the form of a prayer. They said, 'From the cowardice that shrinks from new truth, from the laziness that is content with half truth, from the arrogance that thinks it has all truth - O God of truth deliver us'. (Speech at BYU, March 29, 1958; also Hugh B. Brown, Continuing the Quest [Salt Lake City: Deseret Book Co., 1961], 200-201.)
  9. TPJS:321.
10TPJS:237-238.
11TPJS:310.
12. Brigham Young, October 6, 1855, Journal of Discourses, 3:45.
13. George Q. Cannon, Millennial Star, 53:674
14. Samuel Richards on Nov. 13, 1852, recorded in the Millennial Star, 14:393-395.
15. George Teasdale, Conference Report, April 1901, Second Day—Morning Session 34-35.
16. J. Golden Kimball, Conference Report, April 1904, Overflow Meeting 97.
17. Remarks by George Q. Cannon delivered in the Tabernacle, Great Salt Lake City, April 21st, 1867, [Reported by David W. Evans.] found at Journal of Discourses, 26 vols. [London: Latter-day Saints' Book Depot, 1854-1886], 12:45-46.
18. Discourse by C. W. Penrose, delivered in the Tabernacle, Salt Lake City, on Sunday Afternoon, August 17th, 1879. (Reported by Geo. F. Gibbs.) found at Journal of Discourses, 26 vols. [London: Latter-day Saints' Book Depot, 1854-1886], 20: 296.
19. Hugh B. Brown, Conference Report, April 1970, Second Day—Morning Meeting 77.
20. Doctrine and Covenants | Section 107:30, 32 ~ The decisions of these quorums, or either of them, are to be made in all righteousness, in holiness, and lowliness of heart, meekness and long suffering, and in faith, and virtue, and knowledge, temperance, patience, godliness, brotherly kindness and charity; … And in case that any decision of these quorums [Presidency of the Church-v. 22; Twelve Apostles-vs. 23-24; Seventy-vs. 25-6] is made in unrighteousness, it may be brought before a general assembly of the several quorums, which constitute the spiritual authorities of the church; otherwise there can be no appeal from their decision.
Doctrine and Covenants | Section 107:82-84 ~ And inasmuch as a President of the High Priesthood shall transgress, he shall be had in remembrance before the common council of the church, who shall be assisted by twelve counselors of the High Priesthood; And their decision upon his head shall be an end of controversy concerning him. Thus, none shall be exempted from the justice and the laws of God, that all things may be done in order and in solemnity before him, according to truth and righteousness.
21. Discernment: A great dilemma in this internet age is to discern what is evil-speaking, deception, guile, etc. and what is truth. Here is what some have had to say:
New Testament | Hebrews 5:12-14 ~ For when for the time ye ought to be teachers, ye have need that one teach you again which be the first principles of the oracles of God; and are become such as have need of milk, and not of strong meat. For every one that useth milk is unskilful in the word of righteousness: for he is a babe. But strong meat belongeth to them that are of full age, even those who by reason of use have their senses exercised to discern both good and evil.
TPJS:204 ~ Or who can drag into daylight and develop the hidden mysteries of the false spirits that so frequently are made manifest among the Latter-day Saints? We answer that no man can do this without the Priesthood, and having a knowledge of the laws by which spirits are governed; for as no man knows the things of God, but by the Spirit of God, so no man knows the spirit of the devil, and his power and influence, but by possessing intelligence which is more than human, and having unfolded through the medium of the Priesthood the mysterious operations of his devices; without knowing the angelic form, the sanctified look and gesture, and the zeal that is frequently manifested by him for the glory of God, together with the prophetic spirit, the gracious influence, the godly appearance, and the holy garb, which are so characteristic of his proceedings and his mysterious windings.
TPJS:205 ~ A man must have the discerning of spirits before he can drag into daylight this hellish influence and unfold it unto the world in all its soul-destroying, diabolical, and horrid colors; for nothing is a greater injury to the children of men than to be under the influence of a false spirit when they think they have the Spirit of God. Thousands have felt the influence of its terrible power and baneful effects. Long pilgrimages have been undertaken, penances endured, and pain, misery and ruin have followed in their train; nations have been convulsed, kingdoms overthrown, provinces laid waste, and blood, carnage and desolation are habiliments in which it has been clothed.
TPJS:206-207 ~ A man must have the discerning of spirits, as we before stated, to understand these things, and how is he to obtain this gift if there are no gifts of the Spirit? And how can these gifts be obtained without revelation? "Christ ascended into heaven, and gave gifts to men; and He gave some Apostles, and some Prophets, and some Evangelists, and some Pastors and Teachers." And how were Apostles, Prophets, Pastors, Teachers and Evangelists chosen? By prophecy (revelation) and by laying on of hands—by a divine communication, and a divinely appointed ordinance—through the medium of the Priesthood, organized according to the order of God, by divine appointment. The Apostles in ancient times held the keys of this Priesthood—of the mysteries of the Kingdom of God, and consequently were enabled to unlock and unravel all things pertaining to the government of the Church, the welfare of society, the future destiny of men, and the agency, power and influence of spirits; for they could control them at pleasure, bid them depart in the name of Jesus, and detect their mischievous and mysterious operations when trying to palm themselves upon the Church in a religious garb, and militate against the interest of the Church and spread of truth. We read that they "cast out devils in the name of Jesus," and when a woman possessing the spirit of divination, cried before Paul and Silas, "these are the servants of the Most High God that show unto us the way of salvation," they detected the spirit. And although she spake favorably of them, Paul commanded the spirit to come out of her, and saved themselves from the opprobrium that might have been heaped upon their heads, through an alliance with her, in the development of her wicked principles, which they certainly would have been charged with, if they had not rebuked the evil spirit.
TPJS:202 ~ It is evident from the Apostles' writings, that many false spirits existed in their day, and had "gone forth into the world," and that it needed intelligence which God alone could impart to detect false spirits, and to prove what spirits were of God. The world in general have been grossly ignorant in regard to this one thing, and why should they be otherwise—for "the things of God knoweth no man, but the Spirit of God." ¶ The Egyptians were not able to discover the difference between the miracles of Moses and those of the magicians until they came to be tested together; and if Moses had not appeared in their midst, they would unquestionably have thought that the miracles of the magicians were performed through the mighty power of God, for they were great miracles that were performed by them—a supernatural agency was developed, and great power manifested.
(See also footnote 11 in Part One: Evil Speaking.)
22. As quoted in Edwin S. Gaustad’s Liberty of Conscience: Roger Williams in America © 1999 Judson Press, Valley Forge, PA, p. 163.
23. TPJS, 313.
24. By illustrators of the 1890 Holman Bible [Public domain], via Wikimedia Commons;
File URL: https://upload.wikimedia.org/wikipedia/commons/5/55/Holman_Trumpets.jpg
Page URL: https://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File%3AHolman_Trumpets.jpg

Saturday, January 16, 2016

Part One: Evil Speaking? Discernment?

(Concerning the Restoration & Joseph Smith)

There has probably never been a time in the history of the world when evil speakers and deceivers have had such an instantaneous, global platform—not only to spread latter-day distortions, but to resurrect ones from the past and spread them anew. Considering this, we seem quite naïve about the machinations of “father of lies” and “a liar from the beginning.”1

Do we not understand that every iota of God’s work will be subject to the intense focus of Lucifer and his minions? that lies will be interwoven into every aspect of God’s plan as Lucifer roams the earth ferreting out false witnesses, fomenting “anger against that which is good,”2 seducing grand-standers, tempting and distracting people of covenant, infiltrating congregations, making false promises, confusing, distorting, maligning, contending, and on and on?

Do we not understand that there are many persons without conscience such as John Cook Bennett3—then and now—who have fashioned and will continue to fashion “exposés” in the manner described by William Paley:4
[T]heir … enquiries (if they deserve the name) are … made rather with a view of confirming themselves in those opinions they have already imbibed, than with an earnest desire to discover and embrace Truth wherever she may be found.
Beyond that, we have researchers who rely on scholarly analyses of documents and affidavits produced years ago in an environment of intense hostility and distortion,5 or with an agenda of recording only those witnesses that favored disparagement? What happens when we run these “proofs” through God’s witness about His servants and events?
And thus he [Satan] has laid a cunning plan, thinking to destroy the work of God; but I will require this at their hands, and it shall turn to their shame and condemnation in the day of judgment. Yea, he stirreth up their hearts to anger against this work. Yea, he saith unto them: Deceive and lie in wait to catch, that ye may destroy; behold, this is no harm. And thus he flattereth them, and telleth them that it is no sin to lie that they may catch a man in a lie, that they may destroy him. And thus he flattereth them, and leadeth them along until he draggeth their souls down to hell; and thus he causeth them to catch themselves in their own snare. And thus he goeth up and down, to and fro in the earth, seeking to destroy the souls of men  (Doctrine and Covenants | Section 10:23-27).

Thus Satan thinketh to overpower your testimony in this generation, that the work may not come forth in this generation. But behold, here is wisdom, and because I show unto you wisdom, and give you commandments concerning these things, what you shall do, show it not unto the world until you have accomplished the work of translation. Marvel not that I said unto you: Here is wisdom, show it not unto the world—for I said, show it not unto the world, that you may be preserved. Behold, I do not say that you shall not show it unto the righteous; But as you cannot always judge the righteous, or as you cannot always tell the wicked from the righteous, therefore I say unto you, hold your peace until I shall see fit to make all things known unto the world concerning the matter  (Doctrine and Covenants | Section 10:33-37; bold emphasis added as a caution to us all).
And well before this 1828 plot, do we imagine that Lucifer was twiddling his thumbs while Joseph Smith, Jr. and his family were being led and prepared by God for the great work of the Restoration? Or was Lucifer already at work? Joseph wrote:
So it was with me. I had actually seen a light, and in the midst of that light I saw two Personages, and they did in reality speak to me; and though I was hated and persecuted for saying that I had seen a vision [in 1820], yet it was true; and while they were persecuting me, reviling me, and speaking all manner of evil against me falsely for so saying, I was led to say in my heart: Why persecute me for telling the truth? I have actually seen a vision; and who am I that I can withstand God, or why does the world think to make me deny what I have actually seen? For I had seen a vision; I knew it, and I knew that God knew it, and I could not deny it, neither dared I do it; at least I knew that by so doing I would offend God, and come under condemnation  (Pearl of Great Price | JS-History 1:25, bold emphasis added).

… there were many things which transpired that cannot be written and my Fathers family have suffered many persecutions and afflictions … [one of which was the malicious rumor circulating in the fall of 1824 that the body of Joseph’s brother Alvin had been dug up from the place of his internment and dissected6].
Can we even fathom the evil that would invoke such cruelty?

How can we even begin to discern where the webs of Luciferian lies begin and end in this momentous time in world history? Are we participating in evil speaking by asserting “facts” that are really speculations, opinions, beliefs, persuasions, even outright historical fabrications—“facts” that contradict God’s witness? Are we bearing false witness?

Many seem so quick to mock “seer stones” and “glass-looking” despite:
the white stone mentioned in Revelation 2:17 [which] will become a Urim and Thummim to each individual who receives one, whereby things pertaining to a higher order of kingdoms will be made known; And a white stone is given to each of those who come into the celestial kingdom, whereon is a new name written, which no man knoweth save he that receiveth it. The new name is the key word (Doctrine and Covenants | Section 130:10-11);
all the while we spend large portions of our own day, glass-looking7 in our devices that magically transport megabits of data to our vision, even to the extent of taking 3-D tours of ghost towns in China—even to panning, at leisure, buildings, sites, and events no longer existing. Could God have an infinitely greater “technology," or even a simpler one like seer stones, or the Liahona8 that Nephi described? Technologies dependent not on batteries but on faith?
And it came to pass that I, Nephi, beheld the pointers which were in the ball, that they did work according to the faith and diligence and heed which we did give unto them. And there was also written upon them a new writing, which was plain to be read, which did give us understanding concerning the ways of the Lord; and it was written and changed from time to time, according to the faith and diligence which we gave unto it. And thus we see that by small means the Lord can bring about great things  (Book of Mormon | 1 Nephi 16:28-29).
How prevalent has it become to discount the witness9 of God, Joseph Smith, and Oliver Cowdery (the primary scribe) about the use of the Urim and Thummim in Joseph’s translation work because others did not remember or record it that way? Can we even be sure that these alleged memories / records are correctly attributed? Does the previously quoted D&C 10 not put us on notice of the “revision / false attribution” strategy of those early deceivers? Even in our own Mormon historical records, how can we be sure what is original-Joseph and what is revision-Joseph?10

Why is it that we put so much trust in the (alleged?) words, memory, and witness of fallible humans (often recorded or attributed years after an event) which contradict the witness of God? Is that not a form of evil speaking? to disregard, discount, disparage?

In the morass of deception that now floods the WorldWideWeb, how do we discern what is true? This is what Joseph said:11
[W]e shall at last have to come to this conclusion, whatever we may think of revelation, that without it we can neither know nor understand anything of God, or the devil; and however unwilling the world may be to acknowledge this principle, it is evident from the multifarious creeds and notions concerning this matter that they understand nothing of this principle, and it is equally as plain that without a divine communication they must remain in ignorance (TPJS:206).
So the gist of this? Lucifer has spent millennia evil speaking and weaving webs of deceit and only the words of Christ, written and revelatory, “can carry us beyond this vale of sorrow into a far better land of promise [and truth].” In other words, we have a responsibility.
And now, my son, I would that ye should understand that these things are not without a shadow; for as our fathers were slothful to give heed to this compass (now these things were temporal) they did not prosper; even so it is with things which are spiritual. For behold, it is as easy to give heed to the word of Christ, which will point to you a straight course to eternal bliss, as it was for our fathers to give heed to this compass, which would point unto them a straight course to the promised land. And now I say, is there not a type in this thing? For just as surely as this director did bring our fathers, by following its course, to the promised land, shall the words of Christ, if we follow their course, carry us beyond this vale of sorrow into a far better land of promise. O my son, do not let us be slothful because of the easiness of the way; for so was it with our fathers; for so was it prepared for them, that if they would look they might live; even so it is with us. The way is prepared, and if we will look we may live forever. And now, my son, see that ye take care of these sacred things, yea, see that ye look to God and live (Book of Mormon | Alma 37:43-47).
Part Two: Evil Speaking? will explore the déjà vus of dissent.

_________________/
NOTE: To readers who don’t believe in scripture; who believe that Joseph’s revelations were self-serving; or who believe that everything was a hoax or fraud, this reference and reliance on scripture may, itself, seem self-serving and circular, but in this writer’s view there has to be a measure somewhere, and that measure is God’s word, though discernment is still essential considering that man has at various times, mistranslated, omitted, revised, even deliberately changed God’s word. And for those who believe that God cannot or will not add to His word, try an experiment—read the Book of Mormon and ask God if He has.

1. Doctrine and Covenants | Section 93:24-25 ~ And truth is knowledge of things as they are, and as they were, and as they are to come; And whatsoever is more or less than this is the spirit of that wicked one who was a liar from the beginning.
Book of Mormon | Ether 8:25 ~ For it cometh to pass that whoso buildeth it up seeketh to overthrow the freedom of all lands, nations, and countries; and it bringeth to pass the destruction of all people, for it is built up by the devil, who is the father of all lies; even that same liar who beguiled our first parents, yea, even that same liar who hath caused man to commit murder from the beginning; who hath hardened the hearts of men that they have murdered the prophets, and stoned them, and cast them out from the beginning.
Pearl of Great Price | Moses 4:4-6 ~ And he became Satan, yea, even the devil, the father of all lies, to deceive and to blind men, and to lead them captive at his will, even as many as would not hearken unto my voice. And now the serpent was more subtle than any beast of the field which I, the Lord God, had made. And Satan put it into the heart of the serpent, (for he had drawn away many after him,) and he sought also to beguile Eve, for he knew not the mind of God, wherefore he sought to destroy the world.
New Testament | John 8:44 ~ Ye [Pharisees] are of your father the devil, and the lusts of your father ye will do. He was a murderer from the beginning, and abode not in the truth, because there is no truth in him. When he speaketh a lie, he speaketh of his own: for he is a liar, and the father of it.
2. Book of Mormon | 2 Nephi 28:20 ~ For behold, at that day shall he rage in the hearts of the children of men, and stir them up to anger against that which is good.
3. Re: John Cook Bennett ~ http://dejavu-timestwo.blogspot.ca/2015/12/could-it-be.html
4. A discussion on this abbreviated quote from Twelve Letters on the Evidences of the Christian Religion by an Enquirer, First printed in the Oriental Star (1802) can be found in at https://www.metabunk.org/einstein-condemnation-without-investigation-is-the-height-of-ignorance.t7015/ ; and the source of the quote at https://books.google.ca/books?id=LQJeAAAAcAAJ&dq=%22contempt+prior%22+investigation&pg=PA10&redir_esc=y#v=onepage&q=%22contempt%20prior%22%20investigation&f=false
See also TPJS:118 ~ Sunday, May 6, 1838, I [Joseph Smith] preached to the Saints, setting forth the evils that existed, and that would exist, by reason of hasty judgment, or decisions upon any subject given by any people, or in judging before they had heard both sides of a question. (Joseph Smith, Teachings of the Prophet Joseph Smith, [TPJS] selected and arranged by Joseph Fielding Smith [Salt Lake City: Deseret Book Co., 1976]).
5. Doctrine and Covenants | Section 123:1, 3-7, 12-15 ~ AND again, we would suggest for your consideration the propriety of all the saints gathering up a knowledge of all the facts, and sufferings and abuses put upon them by the people of this State; … And also the names of all persons that have had a hand in their oppressions, as far as they can get hold of them and find them out. And perhaps a committee can be appointed to find out these things, and to take statements and affidavits; and also to gather up the libelous publications that are afloat; And all that are in the magazines, and in the encyclopedias, and all the libelous histories that are published, and are writing, and by whom, and present the whole concatenation of diabolical rascality and nefarious and murderous impositions that have been practised upon this people—That we may not only publish to all the world, but present them to the heads of government in all their dark and hellish hue, … It is an imperative duty that we owe to God, to angels, with whom we shall be brought to stand, and also to ourselves, to our wives and children, who have been made to bow down with grief, sorrow, and care, under the most damning hand of murder, tyranny, and oppression, supported and urged on and upheld by the influence of that spirit which hath so strongly riveted the creeds of the fathers, who have inherited lies, upon the hearts of the children, and filled the world with confusion, and has been growing stronger and stronger, and is now the very mainspring of all corruption, and the whole earth groans under the weight of its iniquity. … For there are many yet on the earth among all sects, parties, and denominations, who are blinded by the subtle craftiness of men, whereby they lie in wait to deceive, and who are only kept from the truth because they know not where to find it—Therefore, that we should waste and wear out our lives in bringing to light all the hidden things of darkness, wherein we know them; and they are truly manifest from heaven—These should then be attended to with great earnestness. Let no man count them as small things; for there is much which lieth in futurity, pertaining to the saints, which depends upon these things. … [Bold emphasis added.]
Examples from 1841 records: “List of Books: Chapter 14: Vale 1840—Enter 1841—List of Publications for and against the Church— … [recorded in History of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, 7 vols., introduction and notes by B. H. Roberts [Salt Lake City: The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, 1932-1951], 4: 250, 253, 255.]
» The Rev. Robert Hays, Wesleyan minister, Douglas, Isle of Man, published three addresses in pamphlet form, against the Latter-day Saints, which were replied to in the following order:
» "An Answer to Some False Statements and Misrepresentations," published by the Rev. Robert Hays, Wesleyan minister, in an address to his society in Douglas, and its vicinity on the subject of Mormonism, by John Taylor, October 7th, 1840.
» "Calumny Refuted, and the Truth Defended," being a reply to the second address of the Rev. Robert Hays, by John Taylor, Douglas, October 29, 1840.
» "Truth Defended and Methodism Weighed in the Balances and Found Wanting," being a reply to the third address of the Rev. Robert Hays against the Latter-day Saints and also an "Exposure of the Principles of Methodism," by John Taylor, Liverpool, December 7, 1840.
» "The Latter-day Saints and the Book of Mormon;" being a few words of warning against the Latter-day Saints, from a minister to his flock. W. J. Morrish, Ledbury, Herefordshire, September.
» A second warning by the same W. J. Morrish, October 15th.
» "A Few More Facts Relating to the Self-styled "Latter-day Saints,' " by John Simmons, Church of England minister, Dymock, Herefordshire, September 14th.
» Several letters written by Mr. Curran, and published in the Manx Liberal, Isle of Man, in October, were replied to by John Taylor.
» "Mormonism Weighed in the Balances of the Sanctuary and Found Wanting;" the substance of four lectures by Samuel Haining, published in Douglas, Isle of Man; a tract of sixty-six pages. …
» An exposure of the errors and fallacies of the self-named "Latter-day Saints." By William Hewitt, of Lane End, Staffordshire, Potteries.
» An answer to Mr. William Hewitt's tract against the Latter-day Saints. By Elder Parley P. Pratt.
» Plain Facts; showing the falsehood and folly of the Rev. C. Bush (the Church of England minister, of the parish of Peover, Cheshire); being a reply to his tract against the Latter-day Saints by Parley P. Pratt.
» A few remarks by way of reply to an anonymous scribbler, calling himself "a Philanthropist," disabusing the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, of the slanders and falsehoods which he has attempted to fasten upon it. By Samuel Bennett, Philadelphia.
» Mormonism unmasked, and Mr. Bennett's reply answered and refuted. By a Philanthropist of Chester county. Published in Philadelphia.
» An Appeal to the American People; being an account of the persecutions of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, and the barbarities inflicted on them by the inhabitants of the State of Missouri, sixty closely printed pages second edition revised by authority of said Church, Joseph Smith, Jun., Sidney Rigdon, Hyrum Smith, Presidency.
» A Reply to Mr. Thomas Taylor's Pamphlet, entitled "Complete Failure," etc., and also to Mr. Richard Livesey's tract, "Mormonism Exposed" by Parley P. Pratt.
» The editor of the London Dispatch, published an article on November 8th, against the Latter-day Saints, containing some of the false statements of Captain D. L. St. Clair, in his tract against them, which was replied to by Elder Parley P. Pratt, in the November number of the Millennial Star. …
One further example regarding Joseph:
TPJS:270 ~ Mr. Sollars stated that James Mullone, of Springfield, told him as follows:—"I have been to Nauvoo, and seen Joe Smith, the Prophet: he had a gray horse, and I asked him where he got it; and Joe said, "You see that white cloud." "Yes." "Well, as it came along, I got the horse from that cloud." This is a fair specimen of the ten thousand foolish lies circulated by this generation to bring the truth and its advocates into disrepute.  (Bold emphasis added.)
6. See footnote 2 in The Papers of Joseph Smith Vol. 1: Autobiographical and Historical Writings, edited by Dean C. Jessee (Deseret Book Co., Salt Lake City, © 1989), p. 7. Note: If such persecution was already circulating in 1824, what other maliciousness was already contaminating memory and records.
7. Glass-Looking: http://dejavu-timestwo.blogspot.ca/2014/01/glass-lookers-one-and-all.html
8. Book of Mormon | Alma 37:38-41 ~ And now, my son, I have somewhat to say concerning the thing which our fathers call a ball, or director—or our fathers called it Liahona, which is, being interpreted, a compass; and the Lord prepared it. And behold, there cannot any man work after the manner of so curious a workmanship. And behold, it was prepared to show unto our fathers the course which they should travel in the wilderness. And it did work for them according to their faith in God; therefore, if they had faith to believe that God could cause that those spindles should point the way they should go, behold, it was done; therefore they had this miracle, and also many other miracles wrought by the power of God, day by day. Nevertheless, because those miracles were worked by small means it did show unto them marvelous works. They were slothful, and forgot to exercise their faith and diligence and then those marvelous works ceased, and they did not progress in their journey;
9. Doctrine and Covenants | Section 10:1 ~ NOW, behold, I say unto you, that because you delivered up those writings which you had power given unto you to translate by the means of the Urim and Thummim, into the hands of a wicked man, you have lost them.
Pearl of Great Price | JS-History 1:35 ~ Also, that there were two stones in silver bows—and these stones, fastened to a breastplate, constituted what is called the Urim and Thummim—deposited with the plates; and the possession and use of these stones were what constituted "seers" in ancient or former times; and that God had prepared them for the purpose of translating the book.
Pearl of Great Price | JS-History 1:62 ~ By this timely aid was I enabled to reach the place of my destination in Pennsylvania; and immediately after my arrival there I commenced copying the characters off the plates. I copied a considerable number of them, and by means of the Urim and Thummim I translated some of them, which I did between the time I arrived at the house of my wife's father, in the month of December, and the February following.
Pearl of Great Price | JS-History Note:1 ~ [Oliver Cowdery:] "These were days never to be forgotten—to sit under the sound of a voice dictated by the inspiration of heaven, awakened the utmost gratitude of this bosom! Day after day I continued, uninterrupted, to write from his mouth, as he translated with the Urim and Thummim, or, as the Nephites would have said, 'Interpreters,' the history or record called 'The Book of Mormon.'
Book of Mormon | Alma 37:23-25 ~ And the Lord said: I will prepare unto my servant Gazelem, a stone, which shall shine forth in darkness unto light, that I may discover unto my people who serve me, that I may discover unto them the works of their brethren, yea, their secret works, their works of darkness, and their wickedness and abominations. And now, my son, these interpreters were prepared that the word of God might be fulfilled, which he spake, saying: I will bring forth out of darkness unto light all their secret works and their abominations; and except they repent I will destroy them from off the face of the earth; and I will bring to light all their secrets and abominations, unto every nation that shall hereafter possess the land.
10. Re Mormon history revision: All the following quotes are from History of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, 7 vols., [purported author, Joseph Smith], introduction and notes by B. H. Roberts [Salt Lake City: The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, 1932-1951]. (All bold emphasis added.) Note: To date, we do not seem to know what BY meant by revising—just grammar and style errors or something more?
» Moreover, since the death of the Prophet Joseph, the history has been carefully revised under the strict inspection of President Brigham Young, and approved by him, (1:v-vi; 7:243.)
» Tuesday, April 1, 1845.—I [Brigham Young] commenced revising the History of Joseph Smith at Brother Richards' office: Elder Heber C. Kimball and George A. Smith were with me. President Joseph Smith had corrected forty-two pages before his massacre. It afforded us great satisfaction to hear Brother Richards read the history of the infancy of the church. Adjourned at eleven p.m. having read one hundred and forty pages in Book 'A'.
» Wednesday, [April] 2 [1845].—Engaged at Elder Richards' office with Elders Kimball and Smith revising Church History. (7:389.)
» Saturday, [May] 10 [1845].—Brother George A. Smith called upon me this morning and I [BY] accompanied him to the Historian's Office where we read and revised Church History. …
» Monday, [May] 12 [1845].—Evening, with Brothers Heber C. Kimball, W. Richards and George A. Smith at Brother Edward Hunter's revising history.
» Tuesday, [May] 13 [1845].—With Elders Heber C. Kimball, W. Richards and George A. Smith reading and revising Church History at Brother Edward Hunter's where we had retired to keep out of the way of writs reported to have been issued against us. (7:408.) …
» Wednesday, [May] 14 [1845].—Continued at Brother Edward Hunter's as yesterday; my health, and that of Brother Richards poor; but we read and revised history all day. …
» Friday, [May] 16 [1845].—I spent the day at Brother Hunter's in company with Brothers Heber C. Kimball, Willard Richards, George A. Smith and N. K. Whitney revising history: …
» Saturday, [May] 17 [1845].—Revising history as yesterday, with the addition of Brother John Taylor: … (7:411.)
» Tuesday, {May] 20 {1845].—With the brethren named I remained at Brother Pierce's; Willard Richards and George A. Smith joined us. We read and revised fifty-seven pages of History of Joseph Smith from Book 'B': … (7:414.)
» Wednesday, [June] 18 [1845].—I met with Elders Heber C. Kimball, John Taylor and George A. Smith at Brother Taylor's; we revised a portion of the History of Joseph Smith. …
» Thursday, [June] 19 [1845].—I spent the day with Brothers H. C. Kimball and George A. Smith revising history. …
» Friday, [June] 20 [1845].—Elders H. C. Kimball, Orson Pratt, George A. Smith, and myself engaged revising Church History. (7:427-428.)
» Saturday, [November] 8 [1845].—Revising history in company with Brothers Heber C. Kimball, Willard Richards and George A. Smith till 4 p.m. (7:514.)
» Monday, [November] 10 [1845].—I spent the day with Elders Heber C. Kimball, Willard Richards and George A. Smith revising Church History; …
» Tuesday, [November] 11 [1845].—Forenoon, Elders Willard Richards and George A. Smith revising history.
Afternoon, Elder Kimball and I joined them, and assisted in revising history. (7:519.)
» Wednesday, [November] 26 [1845].—At the Historian's Office with Elder George A. Smith and revised fifty pages history. …
» Friday, [November] 28 [1845].—I went to the Trustees' Office, attending to church business. Elders Willard Richards and George A. Smith read and revised history to the end of 1843. (7:532.)
» Monday, [December] 29 [1845].— … Elders George A. Smith and Amasa Lyman revised history. (7:556.)
11. More discernment quotes from Teachings of the Prophet Joseph Smith [TPJS], selected and arranged by Joseph Fielding Smith [Salt Lake City: Deseret Book Co., 1976]:
TPJS: 202 ~ It is evident from the Apostles' writings, that many false spirits existed in their day, and had "gone forth into the world," and that it needed intelligence which God alone could impart to detect false spirits, and to prove what spirits were of God. The world in general have been grossly ignorant in regard to this one thing, and why should they be otherwise—for "the things of God knoweth no man, but the Spirit of God."
TPJS: 203 ~ "Try the spirits," but what by? Are we to try them by the creeds of men? What preposterous folly—what sheer ignorance—what madness! Try the motions and actions of an eternal being (for I contend that all spirits are such) by a thing that was conceived in ignorance, and brought forth in folly—a cobweb of yesterday! Angels would hide their faces, and devils would be ashamed and insulted, and would say, "Paul we know, and Jesus we know, but who are ye?" Let each man of society make a creed and try evil spirits by it, and the devil would shake his sides; it is all that he would ask—all that he would desire. Yet many of them do this, and hence "many spirits are abroad in the world."
TPJS: 203 ~ One great evil is, that men are ignorant of the nature of spirits; their power, laws, government, intelligence, etc., and imagine that when there is anything like power, revelation, or vision manifested, that it must be of God.
TPJS: 204-205 ~ Every one of these professes to be competent to try his neighbor's spirit, but no one can try his own, and what is the reason? Because they have not a key to unlock, no rule wherewith to measure, and no criterion whereby they can test it. Could any one tell the length, breadth or height of a building without a rule? Test the quality of metals without a criterion, or point out the movements of the planetary systems, without a knowledge of astronomy? Certainly not; and if such ignorance as this is manifested about a spirit of this kind, who can describe an angel of light? If Satan should appear as one in glory, who can tell his color, his signs, his appearance, his glory, or what is the manner of his manifestation? Who can detect the spirit of the French prophets with their revelations and their visions, and power of manifestations? Or who can point out the spirit of the Irvingites, with their apostles and prophets, and visions and tongues, and interpretations, etc. Or who can drag into daylight and develop the hidden mysteries of the false spirits that so frequently are made manifest among the Latter-day Saints? We answer that no man can do this without the Priesthood, and having a knowledge of the laws by which spirits are governed; for as no man knows the things of God, but by the Spirit of God, so no man knows the spirit of the devil, and his power and influence, but by possessing intelligence which is more than human, and having unfolded through the medium of the Priesthood the mysterious operations of his devices; without knowing the angelic form, the sanctified look and gesture, and the zeal that is frequently manifested by him for the glory of God, together with the prophetic spirit, the gracious influence, the godly appearance, and the holy garb, which are so characteristic of his proceedings and his mysterious windings.
TPJS: 205 ~ A man must have the discerning of spirits before he can drag into daylight this hellish influence and unfold it unto the world in all its soul-destroying, diabolical, and horrid colors; for nothing is a greater injury to the children of men than to be under the influence of a false spirit when they think they have the Spirit of God. Thousands have felt the influence of its terrible power and baneful effects. Long pilgrimages have been undertaken, penances endured, and pain, misery and ruin have followed in their train; nations have been convulsed, kingdoms overthrown, provinces laid waste, and blood, carnage and desolation are habiliments in which it has been clothed.
TPJS: 205-206 ~ As we have noticed before, the great difficulty lies in the ignorance of the nature of spirits, of the laws by which they are governed, and the signs by which they may be known; if it requires the Spirit of God to know the things of God; and the spirit of the devil can only be unmasked through that medium, then it follows as a natural consequence that unless some person or persons have a communication, or revelation from God, unfolding to them the operation of the spirit, they must eternally remain ignorant of these principles; for I contend that if one man cannot understand these things but by the Spirit of God, ten thousand men cannot; it is alike out of the reach of the wisdom of the learned, the tongue of the eloquent, the power of the mighty. And we shall at last have to come to this conclusion, whatever we may think of revelation, that without it we can neither know nor understand anything of God, or the devil; and however unwilling the world may be to acknowledge this principle, it is evident from the multifarious creeds and notions concerning this matter that they understand nothing of this principle, and it is equally as plain that without a divine communication they must remain in ignorance. The world always mistook false prophets for true ones, and those that were sent of God, they considered to be false prophets, and hence they killed, stoned, punished and imprisoned the true prophets, and these had to hide themselves "in deserts and dens, and caves of the earth," and though the most honorable men of the earth, they banished them from their society as vagabonds, whilst they cherished, honored and supported knaves, vagabonds, hypocrites, impostors, and the basest of men.
TPJS: 206-207 ~ A man must have the discerning of spirits, as we before stated, to understand these things, and how is he to obtain this gift if there are no gifts of the Spirit? And how can these gifts be obtained without revelation? "Christ ascended into heaven, and gave gifts to men; and He gave some Apostles, and some Prophets, and some Evangelists, and some Pastors and Teachers." And how were Apostles, Prophets, Pastors, Teachers and Evangelists chosen? By prophecy (revelation) and by laying on of hands—by a divine communication, and a divinely appointed ordinance—through the medium of the Priesthood, organized according to the order of God, by divine appointment. The Apostles in ancient times held the keys of this Priesthood—of the mysteries of the Kingdom of God, and consequently were enabled to unlock and unravel all things pertaining to the government of the Church, the welfare of society, the future destiny of men, and the agency, power and influence of spirits; for they could control them at pleasure, bid them depart in the name of Jesus, and detect their mischievous and mysterious operations when trying to palm themselves upon the Church in a religious garb, and militate against the interest of the Church and spread of truth. We read that they "cast out devils in the name of Jesus," and when a woman possessing the spirit of divination, cried before Paul and Silas, "these are the servants of the Most High God that show unto us the way of salvation," they detected the spirit. And although she spake favorably of them, Paul commanded the spirit to come out of her, and saved themselves from the opprobrium that might have been heaped upon their heads, through an alliance with her, in the development of her wicked principles, which they certainly would have been charged with, if they had not rebuked the evil spirit.

 
Creative Commons License
Déjà Vu ~ Times II blog by SMSmith is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-ShareAlike 2.5 Canada License.