Picture of the religious world

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

J33 [JONES, Dan.] Darlun o’r byd crefyddol. (Picture of the religious world.) Swansea: Published and printed by D. Jones, [1855?].

4 pp. 17.6 cm. Welsh Mormon Writings 94.

Picture of the religious world is presented as a dream the author experienced, wherein he found himself surrounded by all the religions of the world, which were somehow assembled together. After sorting through their various doctrines, he was not totally satisfied with any of them, but finally settled for one that seemed more acceptable than the rest.

At that point, all were overshadowed by a large cloud in which a manlike creature from another planet stood. Since he knew nothing about religion, they all approached him and endeavored to convert him to their various beliefs. He listened attentively and read the Bible offered to him. When he inquired after the apostles, prophets, and spiritual gifts mentioned in the New Testament, he was told that such things were foolishness in that age. The “hosts” became angry with him, and he had to flee to the top of a high mountain for safety.

The author observed the proceedings and found himself in agree­ment with the being from outer space. The result was his own persecu­tion, from which he was forced to flee. He then awoke.

Picture of the religious world first appeared in the April 1847 Prophet of the Jubilee (pp. 61–65) with only a few differences from the pamphlet.

Picture of the Religious World

While traveling from place to place through the country, trying to ben­efit my fellow nation, and getting a lot of scorn and opposition from them, one day I turned off the road to rest in a pretty grove. While meditating on the scenes I saw, the divided and mixed up state of the religious world, and its similarity to what it was like in the time of the apostles, suddenly I was overtaken by sleep. I saw myself in a great field, among an innumerable host of people of different classes, ages, and colors, all walking back and forth in opposite directions scowl­ing at and quarrelling with one another. In amazement, I asked one of them standing nearby, what could cause such a scene? Who were those people and what were they trying to do? He answered that they were people from all the countries of the world, and that those were their forms of worship, and that they all expected to arrive at the same place in the end. After observing the pains, the punishments, and the cruelties that were used by the pagan part of them on themselves, and on each other, I turned away in deep sorrow, to see the behavior of those who professed Christianity. As soon as I conversed with them, I was asked if I had a religion, and to which sect I belonged. I impartially explained my condition to them, expecting to receive guidance to the right path. By then, several had gathered around me; and to my great surprise, one said, it is over here;—no, said another, we are the ones who are right;—Oh no, don’t believe those people; we are the ones who are treading the right path, said others: and so, they went head to head with each other. I was even more surprised when I heard all of them, though contrary to one another, trying to prove their beliefs through the scriptures! I was so disappointed because of their contradictions, that I was about to turn away in hopelessness, when others came up to me to comfort me, sincerely inviting me to join with them; and they said that what the others were quarrelling about were just small things, unimportant, and unnecessary; and I could choose whether to believe them or not, as long as I was of good cheer; and all I had to do was to join with them and everything would be fine. Although I liked their generosity, reason taught me that they were too generous at the cost of the organization that was established, whatever it was. I knew that I would have to attend that one rather than the one that I or they would have chosen; nevertheless, through their eloquent descriptions of the glory of heaven, the love of God, and the benefit of being Christian and through their gentle voices, and their singing, they charmed me into fol­lowing them for a time; but soon I heard others quarreling, giving dire descriptions of the pains of hell, and threatening all who did not join them, that such would be their fate. Others claimed that there was no such place as hell, rather that all were imaginary pains; and there was no subject that one professed that another would not come along to deny. This disgusted me, and I announced my intention to leave them and their contention, and that I would not trouble myself any further about religion, if that sort of thing was what they called Chrisianity. At this, they urged me to inquire of their learned ones, promising that I should have light and a satisfactory explanation from them. But when I visited with the one and the other of them, they tried to explain the scriptures according to their own beliefs; and as proofs of what they said, they referred to some large books, which were completely different from each other, which, they said, contained the thoughts and opinions of the most famous theologians of the country; and indeed, my own desire for religion so great, the elegance of their explanations and private inter­pretations were such, and their eloquence and their gentleness were so attractive, like plaster on every wound, that I decided to join the most popular ones, and swim with the biggest stream, in ease and dignity. I left aside searching for myself, and I endeavored to believe and to obey them; but before a partial spirit could plant its talons so deeply in my heart, so that I could not listen to anyone else, the scene changed, and I saw my danger. Suddenly they were all covered with a large cloud, and it was a wondrous sight! Some loud and frightening sound was heard, and despite the level of the tumult of the people before that, it silenced them as they gazed intently on it and filled them all with fear. And behold a person like unto a man was coming from it toward us. Frightened, everyone tried to guess who it was, and what would be the results of his coming. Some said that it was a sign of the end of the world; others said, no; but the majority believed the former, because no one was to come henceforth from above, they said, until the end of the world. At that, the bright being stood in their midst; and along with others I pushed toward him to hear his story, from whence he came, &c. But the only answer to be had from him was that he had come from some distant planet. I paid close attention to his behavior, together with what he said, this stranger; for he spoke the same language as we spoke. The learned of the various denominations drew near to him, and they asked him if he believed in and belonged to the Christian religion? He answered that he did not know anything about it, and that he had not heard of such a religion before; but he seemed desirous of understand­ing. The various factions endeavored to persuade him that they had the true religion. Then he became very displeased at these contentions, and he asked for their rules, or the standard of their religions, to bring the discussion to an end. They extended the Bible to his hand, praising it greatly as the book of books, saying that in it he could confirm that which they had told him, and that he could have the pure gospel, and that it was the fountain of light and knowledge, all of which created in him a great desire to read it carefully.

He read the book impartially and liked the doctrine that he read, especially the story of Jesus Christ, the purpose of his coming to the world, the gospels, and the letters of the apostles to the churches. His breast was filled with joy when he read the great promises they made on conditions so attainable. But when he read 1 Cor. xi, Rom. xii, Eph. vi, and other places where he understood that God had established a church on the earth, had set apostles, prophets, &c., in it to lead it, had promised to his subjects forgiveness, and justice, and had said that he would give the Holy Ghost to them and its gifts, such as healing the sick, speaking with strange tongues, interpreting through the Spirit, prophesying, visions, and ministering of angels, &c., he decided, at the expense of everything, to obey the conditions, and become a member of such a glorious church as that. It did not occur to him to doubt the existence of such a church, and he could not imagine that those who professed such zeal for it did not enjoy all these things. He asked to see one of their apostles. They answered him,—”Apostles, indeed! there are no such strange beings as that in our churches now, nor any need for them either.” Then he asked again, for he could not believe that he had understood their answer correctly; but he was forced to believe them the second time, since all of them testified with a scornful smile that it was foolishness to inquire after apostles in this age. Then he inquired about the prophets and the gifts, but the answer he received to this was similar to the other. Again, like a man running for his life, he inquired of the one and of the other, who among them had the church that pos­sessed the offices and the gifts which that good book described, but in vain. Then he asked whether it was the general custom of that country to say everything backwards. This excited the multitude against him, especially when they saw that he was too logical to join with any of their factions. He upbraided them for their hypocrisy, &c. Then they jeered at him, persecuting him cruely, and the learned men warned the people to avoid him. The stranger escaped to the top of a mountain, to a secret place, naked, hungry, and wounded. Upon seeing the treatment he received, without any cause, I took pity on him and tried to defend him; for I had come to believe in, and tried to show the others the necessity for, all the offices and the spiritual gifts in the church, before it could be the church of Jesus Christ; and the corners of my eyes were already beginning to open to see the harmful effects of the apostasy from that form of doctrine delivered to the world by Jesus Christ and his apostles! and the more I manifested that to the people, the more their pastors were jealous of me; they called me a dangerous heretic; and, without any other accusation against me, they turned me out of their midst, warning others not to come close to me, saying that I was affected by a plague more dangerous than leprosy. At this, they jeered at me, and told false stories about me, trying to blacken my character; and then the boys shouted—”That’s the man who believes in the need for apostles, prophets, and miracles.” “There’s a false prophet,” said others; and at last some “Reverend” shouted—”Beware of this wicked and deceitful man there, for he is a Mormon.” Then the same word came from the mouth of practically everyone that was there, until, amidst their noise, and seeing everyone holding a rock, I and the oth­ers who believed the Bible fled from their midst for our lives. At this I awoke, and behold I had had the dream too truthful to doubt, and the whole world hastening to interpret it.