Prove all things
Ronald D. Dennis, trans. and ed., Defending the Faith: Early Welsh Missionary Publications (Provo, UT: Religious Studies Center, Brigham Young University, 2003).
D3 [DAVIS, John.] Profwch bob peth. (Prove all things.) Merthyr Tydfil: J. Davis, Printer, Georgetown, .
4 pp. 17 cm. Welsh Mormon Writings 26.
Prove all things consists of 3 parts:
1. “The doctrine of baptisms” by J. D. (2 pp.)
2. “Reasons why I stand for the principles of the Saints” by R. Evans. (1 p.)
3. “The lame man at the temple” by J. D. (1 p.)
The first two parts were published in the February 1849 Zionʼs Trumpet (pp. 25–29), and the third part appeared in the March 1849 issue (pp. 45–46). “J. D.” is most likely John Davis, inasmuch as he identified himself with these intitials in some of his other writings. “R. Evans” is Robert Evans, a convert to Mormonism of four years and a former Campbellite.
Prove All Things
“Doctrine of Baptisms.”
MANY people think, because Paul says “one baptism,” that it is wrong to baptize a person more than once. But this is a great error, which arises from the traditions of our forefathers, who were not aware of the difference between “one baptism” and several administrations of it. The administering of the ordinance on two persons does not constitute two baptisms; and, of course, neither does baptizing a man twice constitute two baptisms, any more than does baptizing two persons. Baptism is one administering of the ordinance, and “baptisms” are several administerings. “The doctrine of baptisms,” then, is the subject in question; and we wish to prove it to be reasonable and scriptural. We are as willing as anyone to acknowledge that there ought to be “one baptism;” and we are just as willing to state that more than one is being claimed in Wales these days, and it is by those who are fiercely shouting “one baptism.” Dare we say that baptism of the sign, baptism of example, baptism of sprinkling, baptism of immersion, baptism of infants, baptism of believers, and baptism for the remission of sins are all “one baptism”? No, we have known for years now, that many cannot be one.
Now, since there ought to be “one baptism,” we can search out what kind it is, so that we can determine whether it is a baptism that can be administered more than once on the same person. Perhaps the words of Peter on the day of Pentecost will be sufficient to explain the purpose of baptism. He said, “Repent, and be baptized every one of you, in the name of Jesus Christ for the remission of sins” (Acts ii, 38). That must be the baptism Paul was thinking about when he said “one baptism,” and no other. It was not a baptism to signify forgiveness, but one through which one can receive forgiveness; and those obedient to such a baptism, receive forgiveness of their sins from God, through the response of a good conscience in the baptism. Only by being obedient to the baptism for the remission of sins, or receiving his “birth of water and of the Spirit,” can man enter the kingdom of God. When in the kingdom of God, there is no need for anyone to be baptized, or to be born again, for every transgression he commits: it will be enough for him to ask forgiveness of the King and of his fellow subjects, for the Son of the King pleads for each one in the kingdom. But when the subject does not ask forgiveness, thus committing greater sin, he is cast out into the kingdom of darkness, namely to the same condition he was in at the beginning. Now, imagine that the one in question is eager to humble himself a second time, and wishes to enter again into the kingdom of God;—which way could he go? Should he be like a thief, climbing in to unlawful places, or should he go through the door as at first? If he should go through the door, like any honest man, would that make that one door two doors? And if the door is not baptism for the remission of sins, or being “born of water,” what can it be? This is not a difficult matter to answer: for the administering of baptism two or three times to the same person does not make more than “one baptism,”—any more than the believing of the same thing two or three times over, by the same person, makes more than “one faith.” It is obvious, then, that a man must believe again, receive his baptism again, before he can go in again to the kingdom of God; and if he takes another way, he is a thief and a robber, as much the second time as the first time.
Having shown the logic of the “doctrine of baptisms,” we can look further into what the scriptures show about it. Paul says to the Hebrews, that although for the time they ought to be teachers, they have need for one to teach them what are the “first principles of the oracles of God,” and that they had become such as had need of milk, instead of strong meat which they could have, if they were used to it. Then, Paul reasons like this—”Therefore leaving the principles of the doctrine of Christ, let us go on unto perfection; not laying AGAIN the foundation of repentance from dead works, and of faith toward God, of the doctrine of BAPTISMS, and of laying on of hands” (Heb. vi, 1, 2). “And this will we do,” he says, “if God permit. For,” he says again, showing the danger, “it is impossible for those who were once enlightened, and have tasted of the heavenly gift, and were made partakers of the Holy Ghost, and have tasted the good word of God, and the powers of the world to come, if they shall fall away, to renew them again to repentance” (ver. 3–6). If a man is open to laying a foundation again for repentance and faith, why not for baptism and the laying on of hands? We see that it is not possible for those who have had strong meat, and fall afterwards, to be renewed again; and that it is possible for those who are accustomed to milk, to lay again a foundation for repentance, faith, baptism, and the laying on of hands—but that it is far better to try to avoid this, by going “on to perfection,” “being confident of this very thing, that he which hath begun a good work in you will perform it until the day of Jesus Christ.” Let each one of the Saints who does not love the doctrine of “baptisms,” proceed as Paul counsels, lest he be turned out of the kingdom, and face the danger of failing to be renewed in order to enter again. And if there be any of the world who choose to oppose this doctrine, let them do so on the grounds of reason and scripture, so that we may know where to look for the battle, in order to be nearby.
Reasons Why I Support the Principles of the Saints
1. The strongest point in law is witness: so it is with the gospel, which is the “perfect law of freedom.” It must also have a witness for every case. But the question is, who are the witnesses? 1. I am a witness by seeing, hearing, and feeling; therefore, of that which I know I testify; namely that God has revealed his will in this age, and has raised up a prophet to establish his church (the Latter-day Saints) on the earth, and that his servants have been sent with authority. 2. The Bible, which people say they believe, is a witness; this states that God will restore all things in the latter days, which cannot be achieved without restoring the church as it was in the beginning. 3. The Holy Ghost is a witness; but we cannot obtain it without first obeying. “The world cannot receive it,” says Christ; and Peter said, “we are his witnesses of these things; and so is also the Holy Ghost, whom God hath given to them that obey him.”
2. There is no mission or commission except the one preached by the Saints; for the commission is to be read like this:—”Go ye into all the world, and preach the gospel to every creature.” Here no one is sent except apostles; and since the sects of this age deny the existence of apostles, they have no one to begin to preach, according to this message; therefore, they ought to refrain from preaching, or else admit that there are apostles and prophets in the church, remembering also that “no man taketh this honour unto himself, but he that is called of God, as was Aaron.” Aaron was called by a prophet, namely Moses; likewise Timothy was called “by prophecy and by the laying on of hands of the eldership;” and since they do not have the spirit of prophecy, how is it possible for them to have as much as one preacher among them, much less that all their teachers be servants of Christ? Also, the chosen servants must preach to the kings and archbishops, priests and preachers, in the same way they do to the ungodly; for Christ said to preach to “every creature;” and if they needed to preach to the Jewish priests, they need to preach to the preachers of our own country.
3. If Joseph Smith was a false prophet, and all the Saints are deceivers, that does not prove that as much as one of the other religious sects is a church of God: therefore, they ought not to try to prove that the Saints are false, but rather to show that their churches are true; and I suppose that this would be a year’s work for them, at least.
Here I shall put forward the plan of the primitive church, to show whether any sect of our country answers the description. 1. Before anyone can be a witness, he must have the spirit of prophecy. 2. There must be chosen witnesses to stand up for the truth that is taught in the church. 3. The church must be one society, and in no way can it be more than one. 4. The witnesses must be capable of putting an end to every argument by testifying, “Thus saith the Lord;” therefore, these servants know who are the subjects of baptism, what is the manner, what is the purpose, &c.; and not only in regard to the topic of baptism, but every other topic that may be necessary for the church to know. Who would not wish to be a member of such a church as this?
The Lame Man at the Temple
HOW great the fame of the old lame man who sat by the temple gate has become in these days. Mention is made of him in every discussion about faith. He is made out to be a very faithful man in money, but in nothing else. He was as much without faith to receive healing as is a mountain, if we believe what the uninformed say. It is reasonable to assume that he had faith to receive money, otherwise he would not have sat at the temple gate for that purpose; but the question is, did he have faith to receive healing? Ask all the learned of the age, and they will say, “He did not.” Rather it appears that Peter, with John, when they “fastened their eyes on him,” and commanded him, “Look on us,” thought that he had something besides money-type faith, for there was no need to fasten much attention on him, he being so obvious in the sight of everyone. Furthermore, it is reasonable to judge that the lame man of the temple had as many qualifications to receive healing, as did the other lame man of Lystra (Acts xiv, 9) to receive the same. After Paul had “beheld STEDFASTLY” the latter, he perceived “that he had faith to be healed,” and he said to him, “Stand upright on thy feet.” Peter did the same at the gate of the temple; after fastening particular attention on the other lame man, and after having a chance to see what he had, he dared to tell him in the name of Jesus of Nazareth to arise. Why did the two apostles pay such particular attention, with just Paul having a purpose in so doing? and how is it that one apostle, any more than the other, would venture to heal their lame men, without their seeing, through the gift of “discerning of spirits,” whether they had faith? By faith in the name of Jesus Christ the two were healed; but if only the lame man of Lystra possessed faith, how much better off was he for that, if the other one received a blessing without faith? If men able to work by faith, received health without it, why then did our Lord say to the father of the deaf and dumb boy, “If thou canst believe, all things are possible to him that believeth?” (Mark ix, 23). It is contrary to reason and scripture to judge that the lame man of the temple did not have faith; because the healing that he received proves that the apostle was satisfied concerning his faith, or God would not have blessed him, “for without faith it is impossible to please him.” If one agrees that each receives according to his faith, then one believes that the lame man also had faith; and if we cannot believe that, we will be, and that justifiably, “returned like a wave of the sea,” for daring to accept silence in one part of scripture, to oppose the surety in another part. Hail to the time when the old lame man of the temple can show himself again before those who deny his faith in these days, so they can see that Christ is always of the same word.
J. D.3 Prove all things