Proclamation to priests
Ronald D. Dennis, trans. and ed., Defending the Faith: Early Welsh Missionary Publications (Provo, Utah: Religious Studies Center, Brigham Young University, 2003).
J19 JONES, Dan. Annerchiad at offeiriaid, parchedigion, pregethwyr, a holl athrawon crefydd yn Nghymru. (Proclamation to priests, reverends, preachers, and all teachers of religion in Wales.) Merthyr Tydfil: D. Jones, Printer, . 2nd edition. The eighth thousand.
16 pp. 17.3 cm. Welsh Mormon Writings 79.
No first edition of Proclamation is extant—if, in fact, one was ever done besides its serial appearance in the 1854 Zion’s Trumpet (10 June [pp. 341–48], 17 June [pp. 357–62], and 24 June [pp. 375–79]). It was not Jones’s practice to label as second editions those pamphlets that had first appeared in Zion’s Trumpet. Perhaps he did so with Proclamation in order to impress the intended audience. A similar motive may have prompted him to indicate “the eighth thousand” on the pamphlet, nothing similar having been done on any other of his publications.
Jones presents his message in Proclamation in the form of an open letter to all the people indicated in the title. The established procedure among this elite group throughout Wales was simply to ignore Mormons and their publications. A few, however, gave public lectures and wrote pamphlets against them, and these Jones addressed directly in hopes of receiving more attention. Despite the best efforts of Jones and others, however, only a handful of ordained ministers ever converted to the Church in Wales.
Proclamation to Priests, Reverends, Preachers, and All Teachers of Religion in Wales
Respected Gentlemen,—Deep consideration of the importance of educating the human mind in things that determine its eternal destiny, in light of the fact that “God shall bring every work to judgment,” and that he who transgresses one of Christ’s commandments, and teaches others to do likewise, will be called the least in the kingdom of heaven, together with a great desire for you to understand the beneficial and important divine truths that are known to us, are what persuaded, yes, forced us to draw your attention to the following:—
God has sent messengers from heaven to the inhabitants of the earth in our days. Do not cast this small treatise from your hand as being unworthy of your notice; for it is a fact that God has spoken by sending one of his angelic messengers to our earth with a gracious and important message from Him; this is true, and we know this! This is incontrovertible truth, truth that is shown in this treatise so that you can know it, through facts that are just as irrefutable as those which were proved to us.
An important truth also is that the present and eternal happiness of all who hear, or have a chance to hear this message, depends on their obedience to it; and it is according to their behavior toward it that its divine Author will establish the fate of all who are able to hear it. On the basis of the fact that the salvation of the world depends on their obedience to the message of God through his messengers in the past ages and dispensations, comparative logic acknowledges the equal importance of this message and theirs, if our witness is true, and we are not ignorant of the difficulties that are along the way for one to believe the divinity of our message; but the fact will prove that the task is not greater than we dare to venture upon. It is a venture worthy of a more able adventurer it is true, worthy of all human and angelic talents; from your midst then, we shall strive to find some to enjoy a divine witness of this fact, and we are confident that you will be more able to convince others; our confidence for success is founded on your profession of honesty of principle, a love for the truth, and a desire to obey God and to save people.
It is professed that the benefit of others is what every order, class and denomination have in mind in their religious endeavors, and while we feel respect and love for every effort for kindness according to the conscientiousness of the striver, yet it is all too clear to hide that our nation is deteriorating more and more despite the efforts that are made in favor of “Christianity” in their midst; and the more that are won over to the one party the more numerous are the enemies of the other, which is as harmful in its influence as far as it reaches as is the shameful and public immorality of those who are not proselyted to the one or to the other. The irreligious fruits of our country, after several centuries of opportunities to prove them, force thousands to completely scorn and shun religion and to assert that there is no benefit to be obtained through it; and is it not a natural conclusion, since the malady is worsening from the ineffectiveness of the medicines that are administered?
Granted that it is a desire to benefit your listeners that compels you in all that you do for them, but what good can you do for them unless you can direct them to receive a divine religion; or how can you direct them properly except you enjoy divine religion yourselves? The divinity of religion proves the uniqueness of religion; the uniqueness of the Author proves either the uniqueness of his religion or His own mutability. If the latter option is not allowed, we must acknowledge that all the religious sects and organizations throughout the world except for one are not divine, rather secular. It is true that this is an unpopular statement, and its utterance brings to an end the popularity of the one who utters it; yet, it is totally logical and scriptural, and popular in heaven, and with all of God’s appointed servants on the earth. The important question is which one of all is the divine religion, and may it have a thorough and sincere search. The variety of opinions that continues after so much debating, preaching, writing, and explaining by so many learned men on this topic, proves that the way of getting hold of the divine religion is not infallible; yet, the differences that divide our nation into opposing sects do not gainsay the uniqueness of religion, except for the woeful facts of failure in the search for it, and they compel us to search for it along some other road, which we shall do as follows:—
We acknowledge that divine religion was self-proving in previous ages; we also acknowledge that the immutability of the Author, and the objective of religion proved the immutability of religion, which obliges us to acknowledge that a believer’s doubt about the divinity of his religion proves that it is not divine: the religion that does not bring forth proofs of its divinity is not scriptural, for there is no account in the scriptures of any true religion in any age of the world except for the one for which its Author proved its divinity, to every one of its adepts, by explanatory facts; consequently, factual logic is that the present enjoyment of such facts, by obedience to such conditions, will be proofs just as strong of the divinity of the religion that bears them now as they were at that time; for if the religion was false it would not be approved by the only One who can furnish divine proofs of the true religion: His approval of it, and not suppositions or opinions of secular wisdom will be our standard to prove which one, of all that profess to be, is the true religion.
Which proofs of the divinity of religion are considered sufficient? Does one need to see a miracle for that purpose? Those who assert that the purpose of miracles was to convince unbelievers should, in order to be consistent with themselves, work miracles to convince the world of the divinity of their own various contradictory and unscriptural sects; for we do not allow that working miracles before the world is God’s way of convincing men; but the devil’s way is to try to convince by working a miracle, he being the first one who asked that from our Lord:—”If thou be the Son of God, command this stone that it be made bread,” said he; but, “get thee behind me, Satan,” was the answer of our Lord to him, despite how reasonable his request appeared to the world in every age. There is no account of anyone’s asking for a sign to prove religion except those who are condemned by their contemporaries for being evil men: “An evil and adulterous generation seeketh after a sign,” says Christ; and since there is not one instance in which He or any of his servants ever obeyed the anti-Christ, the chief sign seeker, as far as to work a miracle to satisfy him, comparative logic says that the divinity of religion will not now be proved in this manner. Since it is on God we depend for proofs, it is logical that we should seek those proofs according to the conditions on which they are promised, and that way was “by the foolishness of preaching” a message, [and not by giving signs] “that it pleased God to save them that believed” what they heard, and not what they saw. Faith is indispensable for salvation; without faith it is impossible to please God, and the scriptures confirm that faith comes through hearing the word of God, and not through seeing miracles. It is prophesied in the scriptures that the time will come when the devil will make “great signs and wonders,” and that he will even make fire come down from heaven in the sight of men to prove that the servants of God are his servants, and that his message is divine. This proves that he could thus trick the world into believing the false to be true, if working miracles for signs is the way to prove the divinity of religion. But it is so clear that that is not the correct way, that we shall not enlarge upon it; rather we shall offer a way that we consider far easier, shorter and clearer, as follows:—All Bible believers acknowledge that there are blessings that none but God could give. Such blessings are enjoyed by those who obey the religion that is acknowledged as a standard of the true religion in early times, and those blessings are such that they would not permit their possessor to doubt their existence; and the possessor’s logic would not allow him to doubt the divinity of the system that put them in his possession; and neither logic nor religion will permit anyone to doubt the divinity of the religion that brings the enjoyment of such blessings now.
No one who believes the scriptures,—and who believes in the immutability of the Author of religion, and accepts the philosophical fact that the immovable laws that govern all His creations connect every effect to its essential cause, will be displeased to determine this important matter according to what is found in the scriptures. What do the scriptures say were the promises of the true religion? There is no need to quote passages that are most certainly so familiar to you as are the valuable and numerous promises that speckle the pages of the Bible, and in a letter as short as this one we can do no more than simply refer to them. The great Author and Establisher of true religion promised that his subjects would enjoy the influences of His Spirit in a powerful manner, and that the effects of His Spirit would bring them all to a “unity of the faith.” And such unity would cause them all to agree amongst themselves in the principles, ordinances, responsibilities and blessings of religion, for they would all be in agreement with Him according to the standard. This Spirit would cause them to love one another with a godly love, because of the love it would nurture in each one of them for the truth. And such love would motivate all of them to strive together to bring others to the same Church by doing the same things, and not in opposition to one another for various churches by doing different things. Together they would testify to them with their spirits that they are children of God by presenting them with revelations of His will—by showing them his gifts and the fulfillment of his promises to his children only; all this would remove every doubt from their minds about their relationship with God, and consequently it would remove every doubt about the plan they obeyed. Various were the ways in which they influenced others by their own testimonies, but the effect in every case was to make them more like Him in proportion to the power of those influences. At times their eyes would see splendid sights from heaven and its glory, things that non-spiritual eyes could not behold; historically, politically, and religiously portrayed before them were things future and past about themselves, about each other, their families, the nations, the ages, and the world, all of which constitute visions. Would not the enjoyment of such things prove to you that the religion that furnished them is of God? Would not the heart be compelled to testify, “here is a divine religion,” while the soul enjoys the ecstasy of the brilliant glory of such sights?
This Spirit overcame them at times until it used their tongues to speak angelic languages, and to speak the mysteries of the Lord, which were unknown to them without that, which is “to speak with new tongues.” The same Spirit influenced others to interpret that speech to the language that was intelligible to those present, and by that they were strengthened in the faith—they rejoiced in the divine approval of themselves and of their service through the condescension of their Father to associate with them in that manner; and it created in them a renewed determination to obey the commandments they received, line upon line, here a little, and in another Church meeting a little more, all of which is the “interpretation of tongues.” How could anyone who enjoyed these effects himself doubt their cause? Well, these are the divine, enlightening proofs of religion. These would constitute direct revelations from God. These revelations would warn them of dangers that awaited them and teach them the way to avoid these dangers, comforting them in trials, making their hearts happy, increasing their love and hopes, and strengthening their testimonies; and all of these things would sanctify them continually. When they were sick, this Spirit, through their faithful practicing of the ordinances, would restore them to health, unless such sickness was unto death. These were some of the blessings of the religion acknowledged as divine on a scriptural foundation. Not unfamiliar to us is the effort that has been made and continues to be made to convince the world of the superfluity of these blessings now, and to prove that their purpose at that time was “to establish Christianity.” These assertions we have proved unscriptural and illogical in treatises called “The Ancient Religion Anew,” the “Scriptural Treasury,” and in other writings; thus there is no need to enlarge upon them here, except to say that if you were to enjoy these blessings now you would have proof so undeniable of their necessity that you would not believe the assertions of all the men of the world that they are “superfluous.”
Gentlemen! Who among you, who has a love for the truth—for personal benefit, or a yearning to benefit others, would not desire with his whole heart to enjoy these godly blessings for himself, and would not take pleasure in instructing his listeners how to enjoy the same blessings and the same proofs of the divinity of their religion? Who can think that forms without these foundations are better now? Or who can solemnly consider the importance of those blessings that were enjoyed by the early Saints without sighing from his heart to heaven his desire to have them? May the Spirit of truth impress that wish on the soul so that it will not be removed until it is obtained; for we testify in soberness and declare in fact that that divine religion that brought the aforementioned blessings to its subjects earlier has been restored from heaven to men in our days, and that its subjects enjoy the fulfillment of its promises now as at that time, and we KNOW that! To that religion we implore your strict attention to it, your thorough examination of it, and your conformity to all its requirements. If you will do so, we testify earnestly in the name of and in behalf of its divine Author that He, and not we, will give a witness to you, as he has given to us through nothing less than the enjoyment of such gifts, that the true Church of God is the one into which we lovingly invite you to come. This is a fair way—a free and attainable way for all to prove the divinity of our religion. No one who has enjoyed these gifts has ever said, nor does any reasonable person say, that seeing miracles is the best way to convince the world of the divinity of a message; therefore, we say this to you, one and all, come and see that the gifts and fruits of the true religion are now to be found IN the Church of the living God, and not outside its walls. Not only come and see, but come and hear—come and feel—come, and you yourselves will enjoy them as surely as the God who promised them lives, and as surely as He who ascended to the heavens and who gives these gifts to his Church lives. He imparts them even now to his children. Why debate any longer—why doubt such an emphatic statement so simple to prove by facts, whether it is true or false? It is futile to debate about religion, for it is not something secular—rather it is God who proves that his religion is true in every age. It has never been within the power of man to prove it to his fellowman, nor within the power of man or the devil to ever prove it false. If you doubt our testimony, come and prove it through the only practical way, namely, through proving yourselves destitute of the blessings that we promise, and not through the unproved assertions and lying tales of our enemies. Our testimony is of sufficient importance to merit your examination, for it proves that we are the ones who have the Only True Church of God. To be outside it is to be destitute of the true religion, thereby depriving you of eternal life. On the other hand, if it is false, this is the way to prove it false; and thus, there is no reason to debate anything concerning our religion, and there is no need for anyone in the country to continue in uncertainty of mind whether it is true or false, because its Author proves to its loyal subjects that it is divine. And its opponents, even if they had the wisdom of the whole world, cannot prove it false.
It would not be reasonable to turn a deaf ear to this testimony, declaring it to be impudent and presumptuous; we would be presumptuous if we did not testify, soberly, clearly and definitely about that which we know,—that which we enjoy. It would be presumption for us not to testify of that which God commands us to do, and we would be presumptuous if we were to go out in the name of the Lord to teach people to be religious before we knew that he had sent us, which, after knowing it would be presumptuous not to say it. Thus, the supposed presumption, in the proper consideration of it, is an exhortatory reason to believe us, because the knowledge of the fact about which we testify is what gives us such independence,—the certainty we have of our divine mission is what compels us to promise these blessings, and the enjoyment of them would make you testify just as positively as we do: to the doubter, if there is one, we say, “Come, and see.”
It is not reasonable to disregard this testimony, saying that we have been deceived to believe the things we do; for, it is not on belief that our testimony is founded, rather on knowledge, which caused us to know through self-evident, powerful, and substantial facts, and not through whim or fanaticism. Not from man or the devil do these facts derive, for the one and the other are inimical to them, and they deny the need and the usefulness of them. That they are blessings from heaven is proved through their being manifest after—not before or without—rather through our obedience to the commandments of heaven. We never enjoyed them or anything similar until after we obeyed the commandments of the plan to which we draw your attention. The fact that these blessings are lost when its commandments are broken also proves that they are enjoyed in connection with it. The nature and purpose of the blessings prove their divinity; consequently, if we are deceived, heaven “deceives” us, and the more the better of such “deceit,” until we are “deceived” to enjoy the fulness of its blessings and its glory. Furthermore, these blessings come to us through obedience to the religion portrayed in the scriptures, and they are so similar to the blessings the early Saints enjoyed, according to the scriptural account, that we cannot have been deceived without their having been deceived, thereby deceiving us to the same deceit. Also, the early Saints profess having foreseen that a message would be sent like the one that we declare,—they profess having seen those who obeyed enjoying the same blessings that are enjoyed by us. And through what they professed to be the Spirit of Prophecy they saw them being despised, falsely portrayed, and their message scorned as deceit; and they saw them being reviled with the bad names that we are called by those who profess the greatest respect for religion, those who should be in the lead and most eager to receive the message that has been sent. The early Saints saw all this, and they saw it much more precisely through the Spirit they possessed, the fulfillment of which things we now testify; and thus it must be with a similar deceit that we and they are deceived; and it must be that we are in a class of people who are considered true and sincere. We give thanks for such deceivers as company and such deceit to comfort us, and we are confident that we shall have eternal enjoyment of the fulness of such deceit with them where no one will oppose. Since believing false as true is deceit, we cannot be deceived, for we not only believe what we say, we know it, see it, hear it, and feel it by means of all our senses to the point of confirming the fact on our soul beyond the possibility of error; and thus, instead of being deceived, if our testimony is not true, we must be deceivers,—deceivers of the worst kind.
Furthermore, if we are deceivers we are the most foolish of all deceivers, for we set our listeners on the path to prove us so; we put the scales in their hands to weigh us, and we are still in it, and have been for years; and if we were found wanting of the truth we are ignorant of that until this time. We cannot be deceivers without knowing that ourselves; and if we did know that, would we be giving promises to our adepts that no one but God can fulfill? Those promises are such that people cannot be deprived of them without being aware of their absence, and would we not foresee that their being deprived of them would prove the promises were false? And therefore would it not be obvious that it was a deceiver who gave them? Is this not an inevitable result, and does not our own reason force us to foresee that it would be thus? And foreseeing that, would we promise that our adepts would receive such blessings? We do not believe that there ever was an example of such foolishness in a deceiver unless he was an obvious madman. And thus, if we are deceivers, we are miraculous deceivers, because we are without equal in the ages of the world. We have been over numerous throngs of wise people of “this enlightened age” from one corner of the country to the other. We have promised them gifts of the Holy Ghost, and thousands have obeyed and have continued with us afterwards, often losing their good names and their jobs, suffering all manner of wrath, mockery, contempt and abuse. These are people who have held every office and walked in all circles of every other religion throughout the country, and yet they continue to suffer all that has happened to them for the sake of our deliberate deceit to them. Meanwhile your diligence in attempting to turn them back shows that they continue with us in spite of you. We continually challenge them to explain our deceit to us if we are deceivers. But to the present time we have failed to obtain anything but evidence of their satisfaction. We pledged to give them the truth, and God has fulfilled our pledge by granting to them the promised blessings. Oh, no, what we say is nothing like the language of a deceiver; it would be more like deceit for us to go around persuading men that these blessings are not to be had, and that “they are not needed.” We would be more likely to hide deceit by saying that there is no testimony of divine approval, or assurance of a true religion to be had, and that it is pointless to search for it. It would be far easier to teach more popular principles and refrain from giving to the people a promise of proof until they are in the river of death; for it would be of no benefit to us to give the promise unless they received the fulfillment of it; rather it would be of benefit to them in helping them to understand the deceit, if it is deceit. Besides that, it is up to those who claim that we are deceivers to prove, from our deeds, that our consciences have been seared to the extreme required to assert such illogic and that there is neither fear of God in us nor respect for man, nor care for our own souls. But this task is as impossible for them to accomplish as it is to gainsay the divinity of our religion.
Furthermore, if we are deceivers, we must have some false purposes that we hide under the pretense—what are they? Who will reveal them? Is it for gain? One can hardly think that our motive is profit while we preach for free and ask for nothing; rather we desire to give something which but a few would seek from those who were deceived by us. It is said that only the poor of the country believe us, so they could not make us very wealthy. And if they are deceived, why is it that not only our preachers testify, but also the members, male and female, old and young, rich and poor alike? And why do the most devout testify more strongly than the weaker ones, and why do they contribute their money to demonstrate their conscientiousness in the matter?
It cannot be popularity and praise we have in mind, or we would have been convinced years ago by the wrath and mockery of the world that we had mistaken the road to popularity completely, and we would not have been so foolish as to continue forward. No one has ever heard of anyone winning the praise of the world by saying the things we say, and by doing the things we do; and it is strange if we are all considered too foolish to foresee that we would be unpopular by preaching what has been considered unpopular in every age and country! Oh no, we do not declare deceit, nor are we deceivers, rather the knowledge we have of the divinity of our religion is what causes us, yes, forces us to testify; a constraint has been placed on us, and woe betide us unless we do this. Our only purpose in urging you to consider these things is love for you and a desire for you and your listeners through you to have the divine blessings offered. You know that we would not be so unreasonable to say this unless it were true; for if it is false it would be impossible to hide. And thus the logic of our testimony merits trust—its refusal will bring condemnation.
It is unreasonable to ask us to prove the divinity of our message, because it is not secular; mankind has never been able to prove divinity; no one but God has been able to prove the divinity of any message he has sent to the world. And it is unreasonable to ask for proof from Him, except in the way that he has set up. We cannot prove, nor has any servant of God ever proved except by reasoning and testifying the things he knew. This we have done, and we shall continue to do, and we shall direct you to the infallible way to have God prove to you that our testimony is true, by giving you the same testimony. It is pointless for us to quote scriptures that you well know to prove how to get this testimony, for they have been distorted so greatly through private explanations and interpretations. Consequently, they would not put an end to arguments any more than they have brought opposing parties to a unity of the faith. Since they have not yet come to any such unity it is vain to expect they ever will in that way. However, we know of a far more sure way—on the truthfulness of our testimony we must know independently of every instruction we have ever received from the scriptures and independently of every living man in what manner we have received this testimony ourselves. Consequently, it is fruitless to argue about this. Since God gives a testimony to those who do as we have outlined and since he has never given a testimony to any who teach in opposition to us, it is reasonable to believe what we say, and also because we say only what we know. We realize that this is different from the ways that are taught by others, but we also know that this is the only way that all the missionaries of God have taught. And if we are blamed for this, our Lord is therefore blamed for doing the same thing, for it was He who set down this rule:—”If any man will do his will, he shall know of the doctrine, whether it be of God, or whether I speak of myself.”—John vii.17. What more sincere and more divinely proven language could even the truthful Jesus speak? It is impossible for a deceiver or for any man of himself to say such a thing; and yet every preacher who cannot say the same thing and give the same promise for the same knowledge is a deceiver. He who does not know that God has sent him dares not say that; but he who knows his mission dares not refrain from saying that to please the world or to receive its wealth. He was sent to say that and to show the world how to obtain this knowledge. And here we see proof of the principle taught earlier, namely, that doing that which is commanded is essential to one’s receiving the knowledge; and there is no promise that God will give you knowledge in advance or before doing—not your own will, rather His will. And here is what he wishes for you and all men everywhere who are called on to do:—Believe in the divine mission, crucifixion and resurrection of His Son, Jesus Christ,—repent of all your rebellion against him with a determination to serve Him from now on—be baptized by His missionaries by immersion for the remission of sins, and afterwards, by the laying on of hands by the Elders of His Church, you shall receive the gift of the Holy Ghost! Now it has been said—this is the way that God has set up, and he honors this way by presenting the Holy Ghost from on high in his several gifts, just as Jesus Christ promised while on the earth. There is no use refusing this way without trying it and then declaring belief in the scriptures, for the enjoyment of this Spirit is what will provide proof. Conversely, the absence of this Spirit will prove that the place where the Church of God is not is where He will not be found.
Gentlemen—here is a correct testimony for you, for your own sakes, and for the sake of those who listen to you, and for the glory of God who calls on you through us; obey, put to the test, and enjoy a religion that has power—a religion that proves by your adoption through it that you are children of God. It is a religion that will fill your hearts with ten thousand times more joy, light, and happiness than you ever thought you could have on the earth—a religion that will enrich you with heaven’s unsearchable wealth for eternity. We leave this sober testimony and this priceless promise with you; make whatever use of it you wish; you will be held accountable for the outcome. There is nothing that excuses the refusal of it before the tribunal where we must meet face to face, and eye to eye.
Do not discount our message just because some of our doctrines appear new to you or contrary to your thoughts, for every divine doctrine seemed thus to the human mind until it was understood. And it is reasonable for those who expect to achieve a perfection of knowledge to receive the law of God “line upon line,” for without that knowledge they cannot progress. Furthermore, we assure you that the Spirit of God will make clear to all who obey this message that those principles that seem to be so opposed to human wisdom are divine. Thus, what need is there to fear? What reason is there to refuse them without putting them to the test?
Do not condemn our message because of the fables that are told, preached, published, and sung throughout our country and the world against the characters of the instruments that God has chosen to deliver them to the world; for it is not reasonable to believe the stories of our enemies while God offers to prove just the opposite by confirming our message. The accusations that are brought against us are not true: although none of us profess to be but fallible men; furthermore, it is known to us that all the bad things we have read and heard about Joseph Smith and the other elders of this Church are lies. Our reason for this assertion is because we have had years of time to search into the roots of those stories, for the most part where they originated, and have found them to be lies. We have had personal and thorough acquaintance with that “despised” person in different circles and under various circumstances, in family, in private and in public. We have received an abundance of facts through his well known deeds to prove to us that he was a meek, humble, moral, and pious man. Consequently, and as infallible proofs of this, we offer our special witness that he was a servant of God, living worthy of the honorable character attributed to him. He endeavored to serve God, because the God of heaven is fulfilling Joseph Smith’s promises to us and to all who ever gave obedience to the religion he taught. This has never been said of any deceiver. We cannot believe that he is the man that some are trying to convince the world he is; and we cannot refrain from believing the opposite to that, because it is the Spirit of God that compels us. Not to believe so would be to believe his enemies instead of believing God, something we cannot do, although on God’s truthfulness it makes liars of all his accusers.
It is obvious from the tireless efforts of our enemies who scour the world and its most corrupt newspapers for false accusations against persons, supposing that such accusations would gainsay the divinity of our message. But we doubt the truth of such supposition. While we can allow that men consider strong testimony as corresponding to their own opinion about the character of the witness, we cannot allow that a witness who is wrong about some things can testify correctly and credibly about other things, which, in and of itself, proves the erroneous bias of the reasoning. But, say some, we base our belief that Joseph Smith and others are not servants of God on the truthfulness of the shameful accusations declared against them. Certainly God would not claim such corrupt men. But, say we, coming closer to the root of that argument, the truthfulness of your witnesses against Joseph Smith depends on their characters, in the same way that the truthfulness of his own testimony of the divinity of his mission depends on his character, which leads us to examine what kind of men are his accusers, and whether they are impartial. It is said that they are very religious, pious, and saintly people, and that many of them have superior titles, from every party and denomination on this side and the other side of the seas, such as,—Reverends, Bishops, Priests, Vicars, Curates, Teachers, a host of Preachers, and a list of D.D’s, A.B’s, B.A’s, &c. Power of testimony is considered to accompany those titles; but as is well known, was there not an army just as numerous of persons, just as pious and zealous with as many titles, just as honorable attesting to the same accusations against practically every servant that God ever sent to the world, not excluding his Only Begotten Son or his apostles after him! There is evidence of that in the scriptures, and certainly the least likely place to obtain the truth concerning the character of someone of a different belief is among that class. For a servant of God will earn the anger of the dishonest among them by testifying against their deceit and their heresies and by calling them to repent and to return to the correct way; and those who are the greatest in religious appearance are the most zealous to destroy the character of the witness who would testify against them, believing that they could thus prevent the public from listening to him while he exposed their deceit.
It is unreasonable to condemn any who profess to be missionaries of God because of the accusations of their enemies against their characters, for the scriptural accounts prove that thus has the world done with all the missionaries of God in every age and country; and so, instead of being counter proofs, these accusations, on the basis of comparable reasoning, prove that this is the same mission that incites the world to revile the missionaries and falsely accuse them now as that one earlier that is acknowledged as divine although it was opposed in the same way.
We have been striving with all our might for years to convince the country of the divinity of our Message. We have published refutations for all the lying stories and false accusations we have heard against this religion, and for those who have been falsely accused for its sake, through fair reasonings, truthful testimonies of eye witnesses who did not profess any religion. Our defenses are now across the country as far as we can distribute them. But the preachers and Editors are so eager to believe lies and certify them as truth from their pulpits and their publications, that it is almost as difficult to get the public to listen to or read our defenses as it was for Paul to get the Ephesians to hear his voice in the midst of that shout,—”Great is Diana of the Ephesians.” To get those who believe the shameless stories that are spread about us to examine our own story and witnesses is the same as shouting for the furious roar of the ocean waves to be still—or arguing amidst the roar of cannons and the tumult of weapons mixed with the moaning of the dying. Over the pulpits people are encouraged to send children after us to howl and make noise to drown out our voices wherever there is preaching. This is reminiscent of the children earlier who shouted “go up, thou bald head” at the Prophet when he declared his message, a prophet no more godly than the one we have. Every denomination warns its listeners that there is danger in coming to hear us, and sometimes people are excommunicated for doing so. Lectures are given here and there against us by our enemies, and in every lecture we and our religion are falsely accused. And permission to defend ourselves is always refused. Inasmuch as you profess to be the leaders of the people you are the ones who should be the first in the country to examine the message that professes to come from God, lest, like the Scribes or Saul of Tarsus, you be found opposing God with misdirected zeal.
Do not let the supposed unpopularity of this denomination prevent you from receiving its divine message. You know that every divine message that has come to the earth was considered unpopular by the world and all the contemporary religionists. Since religion is popular, the best religion should be considered the most popular in truth; and since this religion promises more blessings than any other religion promises, why is this one not the most popular? We know that this is the most popular religion in heaven, and the one that likens man unto his God—the infallible standard of true popularity, and it ought to be considered the most popular by all His worshipers on the earth. Yet, the fellow sufferers with its Author in his earthly shame are the ones who will be crowned with true popularity at his side. Since you are popular, bring your popularity with you then, to honor the true Church of Christ: you yourselves, and not we can do that, for our popularity has vanished by receiving the Church. Thus if its unpopularity is blameworthy, the blame is on you!
That which compels us to address you in this manner is not a desire to proselyte or to obtain what is yours; matters concerning your wages, your chapels, and your possessions are for you to decide, as we do not seek them. But for the God who sent us and in his name we beseech you to receive this gracious message that God has sent to you, and to use the influence that He has given you to convince all you can to receive it, so that you and yours will be reconciled with God, and so that you may enjoy the unity, the love, the happiness, the assurance, and all the blessings that your hearts desire. We sincerely beseech your assistance for this, because in your hands are the keys of the hearts of thousands whose ears we cannot reach; consequently, at your doors lies the responsibility for the souls of your listeners if you do not do this! God asks this of you,—and we KNOW, and TESTIFY this!
Now we bring our “Proclamation” to an end, earnestly praying that the divine Author of the message we declare, through the Spirit of truth, will open your eyes to see the importance of obeying it, so that your souls will be saved and that you yourselves will be made missionaries for God to save others, until all the lovers of truth throughout our country will become children of God, and heirs of the substance of Christ’s religion, which is the primary objective of the present effort and the desire of the soul of,
Your humble servant,