The Mormons and their Doctrines
by John Ritchie
The Mormons, or (as they now prefer to be named) “The Church of Jesus Christ, of Latter Day Saints,” have their headquarters in Salt Lake City, Utah, United States of America. Here they have a great and costly temple, to which they say Christ will come at His Second Advent. The sect was founded on April 6th, 1830, by Joseph Smith, its first prophet and Seer. It claims a membership of several hundred thousand “in the organized states of Zion,” besides fifty thousand in various missions, with a hierarchy of Presidents, Apostles, Patriarchs, High Priests, and Elders, numbering 10,000, divided into two orders, bearing the names of the Melchizedeck and Aaronic Priesthood. Year after year, groups of preaching Elders are sent forth by the Apostles, working under their direction, to gain new converts and make Mormon disciples by their Gospel of Faith, Repentance, Baptism, and Laying on of Hands for the gift of the Holy Ghost. In this capacity, stylishly dressed young men of attractive personal appearance, enter towns and villages, usually in pairs, at first discoursing on subjects which they know to be generally accepted among Christians. Then as they gain the ears and the confidence of their hearers—more particularly of the weaker sex, to whom they pay particular attention, for reasons which will hereafter appear—the real doctrines of Mormonism, or as many of them as it is politic to advance, are brought forth, with every persuasion to embrace and confess the Mormon faith, and be enrolled as true members and citizens of the coming Zion, to be built upon the American Continent. While as the preachers themselves confess, little progress is being made in these “orthodox” and Bible-loving lands, there are always a few stragglers ready to take up with every new religion, no matter what its merits. And the apparent sincerity and zeal, with which the Mormon preachers set forth their doctrines, is an attraction to some who have not known the “depths of Satan,” or with what subtlety and cunning be seeks to deceive and seduce from the Gospel of God’s grace and the simplicity that is in Christ (2 Cor. 11:3), into paths of error and moral degradation. It will be shown in these pages that the Mormon creed is a complete denial of the fundamental truths of the Christian faith, a corruption of the grace of God, a caricature of the Church as set forth in the Scriptures, and a degradation of the sacred relations of husband and wife as God has instituted them and means them to continue. To expose and warn against such blasphemies and immoralities becomes a duty, and if these pages are used to warn the unwary, and deliver any whose feet may be in the snare, they will serve the purpose for which they go forth.
It is only fair that the history and doctrines of this people be here given, as set forth in their own acknowledged writings, by their accredited teachers, and not from the criticisms of their opponents We therefore quote from “the Book of Mormon,” which lies before us, a bulky volume of 623 pages, which they acknowledge to be of “Divine Authenticity,” and which they confess they “believe to be the Word of God” as much as the Bible. We also quote from the works and utterances of Joseph Smith the founder, Brigham Young his successor, and other accredited Presidents and Prophets, who are accepted and proclaimed in the Mormon Church as “divinely authorised to teach.” There can be no doubt therefore that these are the true doctrines and practices of the Mormon Church, as it exists at the present time.
Joseph Smith’s Narrative
In a statement prepared by the prophet himself in 1842, to appear in the “Chicago Democrat,” he says he was born in Sharon, Vermont, on the 25th December, 1805. His father was a farmer, and he
received a very meagre education. At the age of 14, he became concerned about eternal things, and being unable to get any reliable help from ministers and churches, he resolved to investigate the subject for himself. Retiring into a solitary place in a grove, he prayed to God, and while thus engaged, he says he had a vision, two glorious personages encircled with a heavenly light appearing to him, who told him that all the churches and denominations were wrong, that none of them was acknowledged by God as His church, and that the true Gospel and the true church would be revealed to him at a future time. Thus the early dawn of Mormonism is described. It is not claimed that some fresh light had been given on the already existing Word of God, such as Luther received when in the act of climbing Pilate’s stair, on his hands and knees, at Rome, a voice from the Word of God sounded with power through his soul, “The just shall live by faith” (Rom. 1:18), making what was already there a fresh message to meet his need, breaking the bonds of Romanism in which he was bound. No such light arose in the dark and troubled soul of Joseph Smith, but a hallucination, conceived in his disordered mind, or imparted by some lying spirit—as Scripture shows such are capable of giving (2 Chr. 18:21: 1 John 4:6) to deceive, and then use him to lead others into Satanic delusion and deception (2 Tim. 3:13).
With his imagination thus wrought upon and an expectation of a revelation being given him outside of the Bible, which is God’s complete and abiding Word, the guide of all mankind through all the ages, it is no wonder to learn that shortly after, on September 21st, 1823, to this youth of eighteen years, another angelic messenger appeared, announcing that the covenant which God made with his ancient people Israel was about to be fulfilled; that the preparatory work for the second coming of the Messiah was about to begin; that the Gospel in all its fullness was to be preached to all nations, to prepare a people for the Millennial kingdom, and that Joseph Smith was to be the chosen instrument to introduce this glorious dispensation The angel’s name was announced as Moroni,, son of Mormon, who had written an account of the aboriginal inhabitants of America, whose first settlers were said to be colonists from the Tower of Babel, whose builders were scattered over the whole earth. They were named Jaredites. Six hundred years before Christ another company arrived on American soil from Jerusalem, and succeeded the Jaredites in possession of the country, which they held until early in the fourth century, when in a great battle most of them were slain, the remnant being the Indian tribes that now inhabit the country. It was further stated that the Lord Jesus Christ, after His resurrection, went and preached among this people, planting churches among them. These continued for a time, but because of their unfaithfulness they were cast off, the last of their prophets being commanded to write a history of this people, and the prophecies concerning them, to be fulfilled in the latter days, and to hide it in the earth, until the fullness of the time for their fulfilment had come. Then it was to be brought forth, and its teachings used to supplement the Bible, and its revelations preached for fulfilment of God’s purposes in the last days.
Finding of the Golden Plates
On the morning of September 22nd, 1827, while Joseph Smith was engaged at his work, the angel again appeared to him, and pointing him to the side of a hill near the town of Manchester, in the State of New York, a short distance from where he lived, he was told that he would find there these ancient records and prophecies, buried in a cave, written on plates of gold. Arriving at the place indicated by the angel, he found a stone chest, the lid of which he raised, and there discovered the plates, exactly as the angel had described them. Each plate was eight inches long and six inches wide, about the thickness of common tin, graven in Egyptian hieroglyphics, fixed together like the leaves of a book, with three rings running through the whole. With the plates were two transparent stones, set in a hoop fastened to a breastplate. These were named “Urim and Thummin.” By using them as a medium, he was informed by the angel, he would be able to read the mystic writing, and translate it into his own tongue. Nobody except Smith saw the angel or the mysterious cave on the hillside, and nobody save a select circle of immediate followers ever claim to have seen the golden plates or the sacred stones named Urim and Thummin. On the title page of “The Book of Mormon” there appears what is called the “Testimony of Three Witnesses,” who say they have “seen the engravings which are upon the plates, and that they have been shown unto us by the power of God,” but how or where they do not inform us. This document bears the names of three men, who it is said a few years after its publication quarrelled with Smith, and became apostates from the Mormon faith. If these plates and the two mysterious Stones ever existed, why should they not have been shown to ten thousand witnesses and preserved, as the ancient manuscripts of the Bible are in the principal cities of the world until this day. This would have gone a long way to establish the truth of Joseph Smith’s story. Where they went, nobody knows, save what the prophet has told us, namely, that when he had finished the translation, the angel again appeared, and took the plates away. Why? In the absence of this information, we beg leave to question their existence, and to suggest that the entire story of the angel’s visit, the cave on the hill, and the finding of the plates and stones is a tissue of fraud and deception.
The Book of Mormon
The bulky volume which bears this name, and claims to be a translation of the writing found on the golden plates, is a fictitious history written in imitation of the Bible, composed of various books, each bearing the name of its writer, beginning with Nephi, a Jew, who lived in Jerusalem B.C. 60, and ending with Moroni, who claims to have lived after Christ, and had been charged to give an account of the order and ordinances of the church, to be used for guidance of the Latter Day Saints. Its weird and frivolous stories are utterly groundless, and although interwoven with Scripture, can deceive none save the “simple” (Rom. 16:18), and such as are “tossed to and fro, and carried about with every wind of doctrine” (Eph. 4:14). Mormons claim that the book was written by “inspired men” and is “a volume of Scripture” of equal value at least with the Bible, which is acknowledged to be “the Jewish Scriptures,” for saints of the Eastern hemisphere, while the Book of Mormon is “also the Word of God of equal authority with the Bible,” especially for the Western hemisphere, of whose early saints the Bible knows and says nothing. The Bible, according to the Mormon creed, is a very faulty book, full of inaccuracies and errors, with whole books omitted, and at best it is only one of many “Revelations” given to men, “the Book of Mormon, the Book of Covenants and Doctrines,” and other works of the prophets being equal in authority. Isaiah, Paul, Joseph Smith, and Brigham Young are all “Revelators,” the latter, if anything, being of a higher order than the former. The following, culled from many such deliverances in Salt Lake Tabernacle, gives the acknowledged position of the Mormon Prophets, Revelators, and Bible makers: “Joseph Smith was a prophet, Brigham Young was a prophet, Wildford Woodruff is a prophet, and I know that he has a great many prophets around him, and he can make Scriptures as good as those in the Bible.” And Joseph Smith’s revelations are evidently of far greater value in the Mormon Church than those of the Apostles, for it is declared by Brigham Young, his successor, that “if any make light of, or treat them with indifference,” they will prove their “damnation.” Nor need we wonder when we are told that Joseph Smith was not only an inspired prophet, but “he spoke by the authority of an endless priesthood which was upon him,” and all who “hold the priesthood possess Divine authority thus to act for God; and by possessing part of God’s power, they are in reality part of God.” Prodigious! This is surely the “spirit of Antichrist,” of which Scripture warns, which begins by men claiming to have Divine authority, and culminates in “THE Antichrist” claiming to be God, and demanding to be “worshipped as God” (2 Thess. 2:4). Any sect which claims to be receiving continuous revelations through its priests and prophets, which are to be regarded as the voice of God, equal to or greater in authority than the written Word, has in its hands a weapon whereby it can deceive its votaries to any extent, and hold them in its chains. Rome, whose “Tradition” is of equal authority with Scripture, was the first to introduce this deception, and in her hand it succeeded so well that every upstart sect has copied it, and must have in some form its “revelations” through pope, priest, or prophet, making as of old “the Word of God of none effect” (Mark 7:13). Irvingites, Spiritualists, Christian Scientists, Perfectionists, and numerous smaller sects, while differing in much, agree in this, that there is something besides, something beyond Scripture, through which God now speaks, supplementing, and in many instances overturning the Holy Scriptures He aforetime gave, whereas the Word claims for itself that it is complete—filled full (Col. 1:25), that nothing is to be added to it (Prov. 30:6) or taken from it (Deut. 12:31), under awful penalties (Rev. 20:18-19), and that it has within it ALL that is required for all stages of Christian life, from the making wise of a “child” unto salvation, unto the full equipment and furnishing of “the man of God” for “every good work” (2 Tim. 3:17).
Organization of the Mormon Church
In April, 1830, the first Mormon Church was founded in New York State. Visions began to be seen, miracles to be wrought, and prophets to receive revelations, and, as is usually the case with every new religion, converts, chiefly from among the ignorant and unstable classes, were made. Being a political as well as a religious sect, it appealed to a class easily found in the States, and from other attractions of a wholly different kind, which were, soon after its formation, developed in the Mormon community, it drew within its borders many who had not been characterized by excellence of moral rectitude, or who held in reverence the sanctity of the family circle, or considered obedience to the seventh commandment as any part of their code of morals. Colonies were founded in Jackson Co., Missouri, and Hancock Co., Illinois. From the former they were expelled, and in the latter they built a city, giving it the name of Nauvoo. Here, Joseph Smith began to practise polygamy, and in order to pacify his wife, to whom he had been lawfully married ten years previous, and have an answer to give to others who began to question his moral conduct, he alleges he received a revelation on July 12th, 1843, authorising “celestial marriage” with a plurality of wives, and commanding all “who have this law revealed to them, to obey the same.” Even if it extend to “any man having ten virgins given unto him by this law, he cannot commit adultery, for they belong to him,” and if any refuse to obey he “will be damned” (see Doctrine and Covenants, and Brigham Young’s Journal of Discourses). In the practice of this, we are officially told in “Mormonism and its History” that the prophet Joseph Smith himself led the way, and although at the first it was “confined within a small circle of the faithful brethren and sisters,” it eked out, as such practices are apt to do, and then it was “publicly proclaimed as a doctrine of the Church,” and at once acknowledged by nearly the whole of the members as a “proper religious institution.” Just so. And this general acknowledgment of a flagrant breach of God’s sacred law, and the canonization of a system of moral depravity under the name of Religion, such as is only found in the lowest ranks of uncivilized humanity, tells what the Mormon Church is, and the class who compose it. No man who fears God, who has respect to His Word, and regards the sacred bond of husband and wife as therein set forth, would for a moment remain within the pale of a community where these are ruthlessly set at nought, as they have been for over fifty years, and are today by the Mormons, who call themselves “Latter Day SAINTS,” forsooth!
It need scarcely be wondered that the State interfered, that prosecutions were instituted, fines levied, imprisonments made, with the result that the whole colony was removed to the distant wilderness of the Rocky Mountains, more than a thousand miles from government and civilization, where they would be free to continue the obnoxious institution of “celestial marriage” without molestation. The first company, headed by Brigham Young, arrived in Salt Lake Valley on 14th July, 1847, others following in succession, and there the New Zion, the city of the saints, with its gorgeous temple, which is to he their metropolis until the Mormon millennium, has been built.
The Mormon Gospel
The Gospel, as “sent forth by the hand of Joseph Smith,” consists of first principles and ordinances as follows:—First, Faith; second, Repentance; third, Baptism for the remission of sins; fourth Laying on of hands for the gift of the Holy Ghost,” and “All mankind may be saved by obedience to these laws and ordinances.” Men are to be punished for their own sins, but not for Adam’s transgression,” and if any die unrepentant and especially unbaptized, they can be hunted up in the “spirit world” by Mormon prophets, who go preaching the Joseph Smith Gospel there, and relatives on earth may be baptized as “proxies” for them, so as to keep intact the “ordinances” which are so essential to salvation. But all this is “another Gospel,” which the apostle declares, if he or “any man,” or even “an angel from heaven”—such as Joseph Smith’s Moroni claims to be—preaches, “let him be accursed” (Gal. 1:6-8). The Gospel of God, which is His “power unto salvation” to every one that believes it (Rom. 1:16), has no “ordinances” added to it. It needs no “hands” of man laid on to make it effectual. No “Sponsors” or baptism by proxy are required to complete its work. It brings the good news of a present, known, and enjoyed salvation, which is immediately the possession of all who believe it (Acts 16:30), and every sinner who as such comes to the Lord Jesus Christ is received by Him and never cast out (John 6:37). When did the dying thief receive baptism for the remission of his sins? Will any say in the face of Luke 23:43, he did not go to be “with Christ” for want of it?
Baptism is in no recorded case said to be essential to, or part of a sinner’s salvation, but is always regarded as an act of obedience on the part of those who have been already saved by grace apart from works (Eph. 2:8-9), not to make them discipies, but because they are (Matt. 28:19-20). And in the case of Cornelius and his house, the Holy Ghost came upon them while the apostle was speaking and before they were baptized in water (Acts 10:44-48). ALL who now believe the Gospel are “in believing” (see Eph. 1:13, R.V.) sealed with the Holy Spirit of promise. Some in early times, in the inauguration of the work of grace, did receive the Spirit through the laying on of apostolic hands (Acts 8:17; 19:6), not for salvation, but for identification and unity, but there is some little difference between the laying on a of hands of an apostle who had seen the Lord Jesus Christ, and been commissioned by Him, and a Mormon “elder,” whose only authority is derived from Joseph Smith’s fraudulent story of the finding of the plates in the cave on the New York hillside. The Mormon Gospel is like its Bible, a counterfeit and a fraud, which never did and never will bring a sinner from death to life, or “from the power of Satan unto God” (Acts 26:18).
The Mormons’ God
It will be an astonishment doubtless to some, who have been inclined to think charitably of this people and of their doctrines, to learn that according to the Mormon creed, there is “no God,” that is, no Divine Being such as the Scriptures reveal. Here is what the Prophet, Joseph Smith, says: “God Himself was once as we are now, and is an exalted man.” “God Himself, the Father of us all, dwelt on earth the same as Jesus Christ did.” “The Father has a body of flesh and bones as tangible as man’s.” And the following, by Brigham Young, leaves no doubt as to who this “exalted man” is, I who was “once as we are,” and is now a God. “When our father Adam came into the Garden of Eden, he came into it with a celestial body, and brought Eve, one of his celestial wives. He helped to make and organize this world. He is our Father and our God, the ONLY God with whom we have to do” (Journal of Discourses). This is blasphemy! What is the need of a Gospel to convert sinners to fallen Adam, as the “only God” with whom they “have to do,” or of “preaching elders” evangelising to bring converts to worship “an exalted man,” who formerly lived in Eden with one of his celestial wives? The Mormon creed goes on to say that Jesus Christ was Adam’s son by ordinary generation, that the Fall was a necessity, “that men might be,” and that those who practise celestial marriage on earth, will “pass by the angels” and “be God’s themselves”. This brands the Mormon faith as Polytheism of the lowest and grossest kind.
Baptism for the Dead
“If those who die unbaptized are to obtain salvation, the necessary ordinances will have to be attended to by PROXY.” And this is how it is to be done according to Joseph Smith, to whom, we are told, on 3rd April,1836, the prophet Elijah appeared and delivered unto him “the keys of power of the priesthood, which gave him the right to do a work for the salvation of the dead.” Wonderful! Peter’s keys, handed down in succession and held by the present Pope of Rome, are mere toys in comparison with the keys handed down by Elijah to Joseph Smith in the Kirkland Temple, for these keys give power to the Mormon priesthood to bind and loose not only in earth but in heaven, and in a far quicker and easier fashion than Rome’s slow passage through purgatory The words of 1 Corinthians 15:29, “Baptized for the dead,” wrested from their context and then perverted, are used as the slender foundation to build up this theory, of which Scripture knows nothing It is a perversion of all Bible teaching. The Mormon Gospel is, they say, being preached in the spirit world by departed Mormon prophets, and many who died un-Mormonized are accepting it. But then, what about their baptism, for baptism with them is essential to salvation? To meet this difficulty, a “revelation” of course was forthcoming, and it was this: When a spirit receives the Mormon Gospel, a living prophet in Salt Lake gets notice of it, and then one of the relatives on earth is baptized “for” his dead friend, as his “proxy.” Then this baptism is reckoned to the dead man’s account, and the ordinances thus daily performed in the Mormon temple, we are told, are “accepted in the spirit world by those for whom they are performed,” and become “a patent means of salvation to the dead, and of exaltation to the living.” “Baptized for the dead,” in 1 Corinthians 15:29, has no such meaning. It simply means being baptized, and taking one’s place as a Christian, among those who were being slain because of their testimony for Christ’s Name. Baptism by proxy is a pure invention and a patent fraud.
Pretensions to “gifts of healing” in the Mormon Church have been tested and found wanting. Even if such exist, they would not sanction a wicked and corrupt system. Such “miracles” have appeared in “Dowie’s” Zion, among Seventh Day Adventists, and in quite a number of other “religions” which have abandoned “the faith.” Satan has power both to inflict diseases and to remove them, and he uses it for his own ends. Others he deceives, alike as to ailments and cures. A simple test often suffices to expose the hollowness of such pretensions. A Mormon preacher had been holding forth on the street in a mining town in Scotland for months. Night after night he asserted their possession of gifts of healing, always quoting the words of Mark 16:17-18, “In My Name shall they cast out devils: they shall speak with new tongues: they shall take up serpents; and if they drink any deadly thing, it shall not hurt them.” A collier, in passing, heard the Mormon’s assertion, and resolved to put it to the test in one of these particulars. Walking across to a chemist’s shop, he asked for as much poison as would “poison a man,” and explained how he was about to use it. Returning to the Mormon audience, he waited until the preacher had finished, and then quietly walking into the centre of the circle, he took from his pocket and held up in the sight of the company, a small bottle with its red label marked “POISON,” asking the preacher to drink “the deadly thing,” which he declared he could do without hurt. “And if it is true,” said the collier, “I will become a Mormon.” The crowd stood in breathless anxiety to witness the “miracle,” but the Mormon, for reasons best known to himself, declined to risk the deadly draught, and scuttled away.
Polygamy, or Celestial Marriage
The origin or this abominable practice, and the pretended revelation given to Joseph Smith, to sanction it, who himself had “led the way” in it, has already been referred to. The prophet not only had it revealed that he and his people might multiply wives at their pleasure, but that these “celestial” marriages continue in the world beyond, where families go on increasing, and the father presides as “priest and patriarch, king and lord, over his ever-increasing posterity.” Such is the Mormon heaven! Ideal surely! Only it is to be hoped, the numerous “celestial” wives of the one husband, with their ever-increasing progeny, will live more harmoniously in celestial regions than current report has it they do in Salt Lake City! The crowning blasphemy of this detestable subject is reached—and will cause all who love the Lord and adore His peerless Person, to turn on Mormonism and all its belongings for ever with averted face—when they are blandly told, that their Lord was a polygamist. The Seer tells us—“The evangelists do not particularly speak of the marriage of Christ. One thing is certain, there were several holy women that greatly loved Jesus—such as Mary, Martha, and Mary Magdalene. . . . If all the acts of Jesus were written, we, NO DOUBT, should learn, that those beloved women were His wives.” When the United States Government passed a law constituting polygamy a crime, punishable by fines and imprisonment, upwards of a thousand Mormons we are officially told, suffered—proving how far the thing had spread—and the whole Mormon cause was on the eve of collapse. Then it was that President Wilford Woodruff, the then successor of Joseph Smith (who had received a revelation from heaven commanding celestial marriages in 1843), when the relentless law was threatening to make a full end of Salt Lake Zion, received in 1890 a second revelation prohibiting polygamy, and cancelling the command for “celestial” marriages, and we are told, “the Lord permitted the President of the Church to proclaim its discontinuance.” What then becomes of Joseph Smith’s 1843 revelation? Was it a fraud? That the President’s declaration was only intended as a “blind” is perfectly clear from what was issued by him shortly after. He says, “When the declaration quoted is examined in the right spirit, you will see that NOTHING therein contained prohibits any brother from CONTINUING to live with those women who are already sealed to him in the New and Everlasting Covenant. Neither does it prevent any of the brethren from going to Mexico, or Canada, where ‘sealing’ is not forbidden by the law of the land, and THERE have the celestial marriage consummated, and bring the PLURAL WIFE back to Utah, and LIVE WITH HER as we have always done.” Let all, and especially young females who are in the habit of hearing and following Mormon preachers, mark this, and understand what their conversion to Mormonism and emigration to Salt Lake City involves. Many have found it out to their cost, too late, for once within the entanglements of this diabolical system of fundamental errors, denial of the Godhead, blasphemous perversions of the Scripture, fraudulent revelations, and degrading immorality, it is next to impossible to escape from its iron grasp. Let those who read the Mormon’s tracts, listen to their preaching, and thus gradually get drawn into the meshes of the Mormon net, be warned of their danger. Nothing has such a power of deception, and for the eternal ruin of souls, as a perverted Gospel, and this the Mormon Gospel undoubtedly is. The only Saviour is the Son of God, Christ Jesus, Who “came into the world to save sinners” (1 Tim. 1:15), Who died the Just for the unjust to bring us to God (1 Pet. 3:18), and in virtue of whose perfect atoning work, finished on the Cross, and accepted in heaven, apart from ordinances, help of man, or works of any kind whatever, God declares, “All that believe ARE justified from all things” (Acts 13:39).