The Book of Mormon—second treatise

Ronald D. Dennis, trans. and ed., Defending the Faith: Early Welsh Missionary Publications (Provo, UT: Religious Studies Center, Brigham Young University, 2003).

J35 [JONES, Dan.] Llyfr Mormon, ei darddiad. Traethawd 2il. (The Book of Mormon, its origin. Second treatise.) Swansea: Printed and published by D. Jones, [1855?].

12 pp. 17.6 cm. Welsh Mormon Writings 96.

This is the second, and apparently the last, treatise of what Dan Jones intended to be a series of pamphlets about the Book of Mormon. At about the time of the publication of the first and second treatises Jones learned that he would be released from his mission the following year to lead a large group of Welsh converts to Utah. Perhaps this news diverted his attention away from all his intended publishing activity except for Zion’s Trumpet, which continued to appear bi-weekly.

Nearly all the contents of this second treatise were printed several years earlier, in the July 1846 Prophet of the Jubilee (pp. 7–16) and again in History of the Latter-day Saints (pp. 4–12), J12). The logic of modern-day angelic visitations is the main thrust; the source is unclear but was probably the writings of Orson Pratt.

The Book of Mormon, It’s Origin

Present-day Ministering of Angels is Logical and Scriptural

In the first treatise of the series that we promised to publish about the Book of Mormon, we gave a brief history of the visit of an angel from heaven to Joseph Smith, his message to him, the discovery of the plates that had the contents of the Book, together with the way that everyone can receive knowedge from God that the whole thing is true; the importance of belief in the fact together with our knowl¬edge of the obstacles that put prejudice in the way of men to believe in angelic ministering in this traditional age, prompts us to examine in this treatise the logical and scriptural nature of the appearance of angels to men on the earth in this age as follows:—

In the first place, we ask whether it is logical for those who believe in the Bible to acknowledge the coming of angels in the early ages to the patriarchs and the prophets, for them to have eaten and drunk with Abraham, to have conversed with Lot, the wife of Manoah, Moses, Daniel, John, and a host of others that are named in the scrip¬tures, and for the same people to assert that the appearance of angels now is something illogical, without offering either scripture or reason for that except for their own unfounded prejudice? The scriptures are sprinkled with accounts of the visitation of angels in the early ages, and the question that we would like to have answered by those who profess that is, why is it not just as logical to believe a truthful wit¬ness of the coming of angels now as at that time? And if the reader can find a scripture or some logic to answer in the negative, he will have gotten that which the author failed to get after thorough research into the one and the other, and that which no man he has seen until now has been able to give to him. On the truthfulness of this, then, he is excused for believing, and he was blamed for not believing an irrefutable witness about something of so much importance as the message of an angel; this forces him to believe, or he will be self-condemned.

Why is it not as logical to believe the truthfulness of the witness of contemporaries about present-day angelic visitation as it is to believe the similar witness of the ancients about the same thing? How can the profession of contemporaries prove men wicked while the same profession of the ancients is acknowleged as proof of their goodness? Does time change logic to illogic, and true to false? Why is it not as illogical to persecute and kill contemporaries because they testify of the coming of angels now as it was for the Sodomites, the scribes, and the false religionists of the early ages to do the same with their contemporaries for testifying the same thing? But, say our critics, the illogic of the statement depends on its truthfulness, something we find doubtful. While they acknowledge the witness of the ancients, they do not allow that anyone’s unbelief in it is any refutation of its truthfulness; our purpose is to reason its supposed illogic away, to cause belief in it to be easier.

They say that the witness of those ancients is a scriptural fact, and because of that it is more easily believed than the witness of contem¬poraries. To that we answer, that it is in a totally opposite manner the witness of the living and the dead should be considered, because since the former can be examined and cross-examined we have advantages given us to believe their witness that we do not have with the latter. It is a historical fact that the witness of contemporaries in every age was not believed by those who professed to believe the witness of their predecessors about the same thing. It is a contemporary fact that those who profess to be the most zealous in their belief of the appearance of angels to the ancients are those who are the most opposed to the profession of their contemporaries about the same thing. As proof of this we ask, who offers greater condemnation of their contemporaries for believing in the coming of an angel, than those who believed in, and who prayed for the visitation of angels just a short time ago? It is only a few years since hundreds said they heard heavenly choirs singing hallelujah in the sky, above their meetings, from Beddgelert to the ends of the principality; and we do not doubt that the same story would be believed if it were told on Bala Green; but let no one else dare profess such a thing. Preachers were heard asserting from the pulpits to hundreds, that angels bring blessings from heaven now, and associate with the occasional elderly lady in her cottage, &c.; but, if others profess the same thing, woe betide them: “all deceit,” they say. And when they are asked how profession of the thing can be deceit in the one case, without being so in the other they say, “Oh, we do not think that we see angels with our physical eyes, rather it is some mysterious apparition,” like the “still, small voice:” and is this not a contradiction? And how could anyone see an angel except with his eyes? This is how saints saw them in former times; they would look into their eyes, speak to them, eat at the same table, walk hand-in-hand with them, and sometimes struggle with them until they had proof of their strength. There is a race now living which testifies to the truth of this, since they will not eat “the thigh joint” in memory of the injury sustained by their father in his struggle with an angel; and although others did not see the angels at the time, that does not prove that they were not there, but rather that angelic ministry is a gift of God; and if they were not there, how could they see them? If they did not see them, they were deceivers for asserting that! Oh no, it was not some witchcraft that the early saints practiced, any more than we do; it was angels they saw when they said they did, namely, persons from other worlds, of various degrees; and the reason others did not see them was that the veil had not been lifted from their eyes through receiving that gift; and that, perhaps, because they were not as godly as the others, or because the particular angel’s message was not for them personally. It is questionable whether any angel would dare reveal himself to anyone without permission; and even then, it is doubtful whether he would be allowed to appear to anyone except the one he is sent to, because “they are dutiful servants.” They are subject to laws in their circles, and they do not come on paltry, unnec¬essary errands, to satisfy the eyes or the whims of men.

It is illogical to deny angelic ministry in this age; and those who deny it show themselves to be evil men, for they admit that those who were guilty of the same denial were evil men in every previous age. I do not suppose that the Saints ever professed to have seen an angel without receiving the same condemnation; and the greater the zeal for the religion of the fathers, the longer the faces, the more frequent the synagogue meetings, the longer the false prayers, the harsher is the verdict always. What gave rise to greater wrath among the false prophets and the false teachers against the patriarchs, the prophets, and the saints in every age, than this? The enemies regard this as a blasphemy against their God, and an insult to the religion of their fathers; it is easier for them to swallow a camel than to believe this, and there was nothing to be done but kill them if they would not be silent about their angels, their revelations, and indeed everything they themselves did not possess. If they would join with them in “denying its power,” they would happily walk hand-in-hand with them; but, “we cannot but speak the things we have seen, and heard and felt” is the defense of God’s missionaries in every age, even if speaking them should cost them their lives. So it was with Zacharias; he was killed in the temple. It was the angels’ message to the shepherds which aroused Herod’s jealousy, prompting the cruel killing of hundreds of innocent babies. When Stephen said that he had seen Jesus Christ sitting on his Father’s right hand, stones were showered on his head. The religious men of the time listened to Paul tell his story quite happily, until he said he had seen an angel, and that was enough; that was the end of his life as far as they were concerned; they swore they would eat no food until he was killed. The multitudes listened quite happily to Christ until he performed a miracle, or referred to his being sent from another world; and as soon as the words came from his pure lips, everyone had a stone in his hand. Had they been asked if they believed the prophets, they would have said they were willing to die in defense of their godly fathers; and when this generation is asked, were they not evil men, despite their great profession of faith? Oh yes, they say, worse than their fathers. For what? Was it not for disbelieving their godly contemporaries, and persecuting them? Well, dear reader, beware lest “thou be the man” who “fills the measure of thy fathers” in this age; if it be so, “how shalt thou escape the judg¬ment of hell?” Although there are so many examples in the scriptures that prove how unreasonable it is to persecute for this thing, yet so do the children after their fathers, and their children’s children after them. “Oh that they were wise, that they understood this!”

It is illogical for those who profess to be children of God in one age, to deny the ministering of God’s angels to his children in another age, and to profess that he is unchanging! He is no respecter of per¬sons, but in every age the righteous are acceptable to him; for logic tells us that such an assertion is a contradiction, and as impossible as it would be for an earthly father who had a number of sons serv¬ing him here and there throughout the world, to visit or send mes¬sengers to the one and never to send word or message to the others who served him just the same. Such a father would be a respecter of persons in everyone’s view; so then must be the other, if he does not send his angels with the message to the younger brothers in this age, as he did to their older brothers in former times. This is the lan¬guage of reason. But now they say, if we were as godly as our older brothers, we too would have the company of angels as did they. And indeed, we must admit this now or get into worse confusion: if this is admitted, it would be the end of the argument, by recognizing that angelic ministry is logical in this age; for it was the logic of the mat¬ter that was in question, not the fact.

Enough has been said for now to prove that it is not the logic, but the tradition of the age which denies the coming of angels in our time: and logic in every way, if given a fair chance, proves the consistency of the statement; and every logical thinker will believe consistent testimony about the coming of an angel to our earth, now as before, and will act accordingly.

Next, we shall weigh this statement on the scriptural scales: if it is found wanting there, beware—we do not wish anyone to believe it; but, on the other hand, if the weight bears up in this correct scales, we are confident that everyone will be pleased to believe and accept it.

The first witness we call to prove that an angel was to come to our earth, as late as this age, was John. When he was on the isle of Patmos, “on the Lord’s day,” and “in the Spirit,” about the year A.D. 96, “the Lord showed unto him the things that should be thereafter.” And the most remarkable thing was the strange “beast” which was to rise up, and “war against the saints, until he overcame them,” by killing them. Then the kingdom of God, namely the apostolic church, would go to the wilderness for a time, and times, and half a time, in which season God would not authorize servants to do work for him. Even though there might be in the world a certain number of good, gifted, moral, God-fearing men who would worship him the best they could, and acceptably in his eyes according to the light they had received, this does not prove that even the best of them would be servants sent from God, which they could not be unless they were sent by God; “for no man taketh this honor unto himself, but he that is called of God, as was Aaron,” namely, through some kind of revelation. Paul agrees with this—”How shall they preach, except they be sent?”—that is, by God, of course. And since God did not send a message to our ancestors before they died, they are not under condemnation as if they had refused a message from God through his messengers.

And after the whole world has been in the confused and divided situation described by John, for that space of time, it is shown to him (in Rev. xiv, 6) that God would send an angel to restore that which had been lost, namely, the right or effective authority to preach the eternal gospel—not a new gospel, but a new dispensation to preach the old gospel, and to administer the laws of the kingdom of God. In this way would they receive the authority, not only to restore and to administer the ordinances of his house, but to authorize others to do likewise. The necessity for this must be recognized in order for the great work of the latter days to be fulfilled. It must also be rec¬ognized that it is impossible even for the Almighty himself, and I say this with the greatest respect, ever to send a servant to do anything for him, without revealing this to him in one way or another. He had several ways of sending servants, from the beginning of the world; through his own voice, by sending his Son, or through his angels. He has the right to choose his own way, and his own time; and although his ways do not always please men, he will act according to his own counsel and purpose though all the people of the world oppose him. John says that it was by sending an angel that this great work would start; and since all the theologians and wise men of earlier times, for centuries, from what we hear of them, deny that an angel came on such a mission to them, it is useless for us, or any of their successors, to claim otherwise. Let us await then, the fulfillment of this valuable prophecy, and let us be prepared to receive it. We know that there are many different opinions among men about this remarkable proph¬ecy, as about almost every other one. Some say it refers to the Bible Society; others, as appropriately, that it is to the Missionary Society, or the air balloons, &c. It would take too long to trace men’s fertile imaginations on this subject; and since everyone follows his own commentator, we shall follow John himself. An angel is what John says; and to say anything different is, according to our interpretation, “to add to the words of the book of this prophecy.” There is solid evi-dence of the state of deterioration the world would be in up until this time, in the fact of an angel coming from heaven on such a mission; and either the necessity for it must be recognized or else the angel comes on an unnecessary errand. If the ones who dwelt on the earth had either the pure gospel, or the right to administer it, then it would be unnecessary for an angel to bring them from heaven something they already possessed.

Something else that is obvious in this prophecy is the time this angel would come. The same message informs us—”For the hour of his judgment is come,” that is, after the eternal gospel this angel presented to men was preached “unto them that dwell on the earth; and to every nation, and kindred, and tongue, and people:” not after some other doctrines were preached to the whole world, but this gospel brought by this angel at this time. Ver. 8 also proves that it would be accomplished as late as our time, since the next angel says, “Babylon is fallen, is fallen, that great city.” Every Protestant we have seen agrees that this is the “mother whore of all the earth,” as she is called; and everyone knows that she has not yet fallen, but is gathering strength as if she were going to live for eternity; but there was not much time between the coming of the angel mentioned with the eternal gospel and the fall of Babylon—only enough time for the inhabitants of the earth to hear, to understand, to believe, and to obey the message, not from the mouth of the angel, but from the mouths of men; for it has been God’s custom to “put this treasure (the gospel) in earthen vessels,” in every previous age. This is John’s testimony about the coming of an angel in the latter times. If no other witness were available, this statement weighs fully on the scriptural scales, as does the logical one. But in order to give a clearer explanation of the matter, see Matt. xxiv, 31, “And he shall send his angels with a great sound of a trumpet, and they [the angels] shall gather together his elect, from the four winds.” “To gather them together,” to which place, I wonder, except to the land that God vowed through an oath to give to their fathers. Not to the sky—not to another planet—not to any earth other than this one; for it is here that the “Son of Man,” their Messiah, will come to be King over them forever. He will come on the clouds of heaven, and all his saints with him. Neither he nor they will remain on the clouds of heaven, but those will be their chariots to come “to reign with him on the EARTH,” “for a thousand years.” This is the testimony of the Son of God himself on the subject, and it is stated more clearly in verse 14—”And THIS gospel of the kingdom SHALL BE PREACHED [ this could not be done without divine authority, which could not be obtained without revelation through an angel, or in some manner] in all the whole world, FOR A WITNESS, and then shall the end come.” This is further proof that he does not refer here to the dispensation he gave to the apostles, for it was not for a witness at the “end” that they preached it, and there could be no consistency in that for some 1800 years, since the end has not come yet; for it is of the end of this deformed and sinful world that He speaks, and that in response to a question from his disciples seen in ver. 3. Nor is ver. 34 any obstacle to this; if it is thought to be, ver. 33 removes it instantly, with one word, “when ye shall see these things,” that is, you who will be living in that age in which they take place—when ye shall see them, your age shall not pass until all these things be fulfilled. But, to be brief, let us compare these two reliable witnesses with each other. “And this gospel,” says Christ; “the eternal gospel,” says John. “Shall be preached,” says Christ, i.e., I shall give the right through revelation to do that; “And I saw an angel,” says John. “To preach,” “for a witness, and then shall the end come,” says the one; “the hour of his judgment is come,” says the other. It can be seen that the two agree word for word, to prove that there are promises in the book of God about the coming of angels as late as our time. If anyone has any further objection to that, let it be between him and the Bible; we have proved it there.

Next, let us proceed to look into the same scriptural mirror in order to see what kind of persons the angels are. Since there is so much prejudice against them, if we can only get to know them better, and understand their nature, their composition, and their work, perhaps that will be a means of eliminating some of the opposition created by prejudice against them, and making men willing for angels to come into our midst from time to time, to deliver their message, and return in peace. Or else, let us take warning from what happened in the days of Lot; for “the same way also that it was in the days of Lot, so shall it be in the day when the Son of man is revealed.” No doubt poor Lot committed unpardonable sin in the eyes of the Sodomites, by men¬tioning that angels were coming to the earth; but if the profession of such a thing made them act cruelly towards him, it was even worse when their eyes forced them to believe in angelic ministry, and they tried to destroy them! Strange, is it not, that they did not believe after seeing? Not so strange, either, when we consider that the eyes are not the best guides to find God; rather, faith, from reliable testimony, is the means which He provided. “Preaching Christ crucified” was the apostolic way, and not proclaiming themselves great miraculous doc¬tors to men.

From what we understand from the scriptures, there are three, if not more, types of angels. 1. The archangels Paul and Judas speak of, namely the highest in authority and the strongest in power. 2. The angels, or those early saints who were resurrected, and consequently are corporeal beings, or like Enoch or Elijah, were translated. There is mention in Gen. xviii of angels eating and drinking with Abraham and Lot; and they did not just pretend to eat, otherwise where did the calf, the cakes, and the milk go? 3. The angels which are called “ministering spirits;” and if one were to search carefully, perhaps it could be proven that this third category of spiritual beings comprises two groups in the heavenly realms. The Psalmist says that God cre¬ated man “a little lower than the angels:” let this be linked with what Paul says in the proper translation—”Who maketh [or sendeth] his ministering spirits, his angels [messengers], a flame, or in flames of fire.” Such would make up the fourth class of angels. There is further proof that one class of angels eats, from what Paul says—”Be not forgetful to entertain strangers, for thereby have some entertained angels unawares.” It is said also in the book of the Psalmist, that man eats the bread of angels. The risen Christ ate bread, and fish roasted on a fire he himself had lit on the seashore. If he had not flesh and bones, why did he say to Thomas, “Reach hither thy hand, and thrust it into my side, and thy finger into the print of the nails,” &c.? What is clearer in the Bible, than that the angelic beings have flesh and bones, eat and drink like men, and with men; and if here, then why not at home?—although we cannot describe their food there. The saying “Flesh and blood cannot inherit the kingdom of God,” does not contradict this; for there is a big difference between saying “flesh and blood,” and saying “flesh and bones:” and it is this difference that confuses the minds of many. And however small one thinks the difference between them is, it is as great as between Christ resur¬rected and Christ before he died, yes, as much difference as there will be between “this mortal” and “immortality.” And since such persons exist, why would it be illogical for them to associate with men now as before?

From these examples, and others that could be noted, it is seen that there are resurrected angelic beings—that it is they who come on errands from God to man, and spirits ministering to spirits. John fell at the feet of one angel, about to worship him, but the angel told him, “See thou do it not; I am thy fellow-servant, and of thy brethren that have the testimony of Jesus. Worship God; for the testimony of Jesus is the spirit of prophecy.” One might think from these words, that this angel could be godly old Daniel, or one of the prophets who was resurrected with Christ.

Satan says that the angels are the guardians of the saints; and even he would not dare lie to the Son of God. He says—”He shall give his angels charge over thee, lest at any time thou dash thy foot against a stone.”

The angels come in and through the authority of God, as is obvi¬ous in the account of Jacob wrestling with God. “And when Jacob was left alone, there wrestled a man with him until the breaking of the day;” but when he prevailed not, he inquired “the name of the man;” so he called “the name of the place Peniel, the face of God.” This is also confirmed by the coming of “the Captain of the Lord’s host” to Joshua, and his revealing to him precisely the way to take Jericho, its fate, and everything essential for him to know in order to fulfill the work of the Lord. To prove this even more clearly, read the testimony of John on the isle of Patmos—”The revelation of Jesus Christ, which God gave unto HIM [Jesus Christ], to shew unto his servants things which must shortly come to pass; and he sent and signified it by his angel, unto his servant John.”

The angels are the instruments God uses to gather his elect to those places which he has prepared for them for their deliverance, when the “vials” of his wrath shall be poured onto the ungodly, before he comes to reign on the earth with his saints for a thousand years. The angels are the missionaries of heaven, to report the things which men do, and which God chooses for them to do; it is they who will gather his wheat into his storehouse, before he burns “the chaff with unquenchable fire.” And this will be done by influencing them in the manner stated, namely, through giving to them revelations, the spirit of prophecy, &c. It is these who bottle “the prayers of the saints” in “golden vials” and take them before the throne! By now, it can be seen that angelic ministry is not only as logical and scriptural in this age as in any previous age, but is more necessary, because of the greater work God will do on earth. Oh, how useful they are! How merciful is gracious God to send them “in this dispensation of the fulness of times,” in which “He will gather together in one all things in Jesus Christ.” Let us thank him for such heavenly blessings. Let no one be found in this age “filling up the measure of their fathers,” yes, those fathers whom they condemned for refusing these things in earlier times. And should not the testimony of those who are alive now, yes, thousands of the elect of the earth, who know in fact that pure angels have come to our earth in this age, have some effect in persuading men to believe this? They cannot all have been deceived in what their eyes saw, their ears heard, their hands felt, and which they know for themselves. If we have been deceived in this, our rea¬son, our ears and our eyes have been deceived. And if it is asserted that this is deception now, it would be the same as claiming that the whole story about such strange things as happened in the earlier times was deception; and we are prepared to be “deceived” to believe this fact, as were the saints in former times; and the more the better of such deceit. Thus shall we be deceived into their company in the end, which is our wish. We cannot deceive others in this; for if they obey the same heavenly order, it will prove itself to be true to all who are honest in their principles, in every corner of the earth; indeed, it has already, and is doing so to hundreds now in Wales, by confer¬ring heavenly blessings and spiritual gifts on them; not so that they might believe, but, as before, after they have believed and obeyed, to strengthen, sanctify, and perfect them. And whoever experiences our principles “shall know of the doctrine, whether it be of God, or whether I speak of myself.” It will prove itself to be divine truth, “the eternal gospel,” and “the power of God unto salvation;” and this is why we said that it cannot deceive anybody. Do not fear it, reader; prove it; and it is certain that, if your purpose is honest, you will never regret it. Having prepared the way, by removing the previous obstacles, we think you are anxious to ask, To whom did that angel appear? We in turn ask, does the truth of the story depend on the character the world gives to the person to whom he appeared? If so, if I said he appeared to Mohammed, the whole Christian world would reject him. If it were to the Pope of Rome, would the Protestants believe that? Or, if the angel had come with this message to one of the most prominent, godly men of the highest character, who leads some sect now, perhaps that party would believe; but we have no doubt that all the others would reject him and his testimony as decep¬tion, and they would say all manner of evil about him and his fol¬lowers. That would cause such animosity and jealousy towards them that they would kill them, if they could. If they were asked why they do that, their answer would be, “They deserve to die; they deceive the minds of the weak, and they say that no one is right but they; we cannot bear for anyone to insult in any way the religions given to us by our godly fathers.” Could not the children of all fathers in every age and country defend their religions as appropriately as this? We have heard as good a reason as that from the Hindus for worshipping Juggernaut! “Oh no,” they say, “it is the religion of the Bible that we have; not idolatry.” There is a great difference between professing and believing the religion of the Bible, for the religion of the Bible is angelic ministry in every age. In short, the accuracy of this phenom¬enon does not depend very much on the character given by popular opinion to the person who had the great honor of witnessing it; for it is God who chooses his instruments, and it was the weak things of the earth that he chose in former times, “that the excellency of the power may be of God, and not of men.” The glory of his name and the good of mankind are his purpose.