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had baptized 589, before their mission had been established twelve months. These proselytes were all previously Christians, converted from heathenism by American missionaries. The other foreign missions have as yet only succeeded in making a very small number of proselytes. The accounts published by their founders are often exceedingly absurd. Among the most grotesque is the record of the Italian mission, by the apostle, Lorenzo Snow. He begins by informing us that he sailed from Southampton to a place called • Avre de grace.' In due time he reached the valleys of the Waldenses, who have received many
priviledges from the Sardinian Government.' With him were three other Mormons — the first, an Americo-Sicilian; the second, an Englishman; and the third, a Scotchman. The four met on a hill in Piedmont, which they named Mount Brigham. They record their proceedings in the style of a Yankee public meeting, as follows:
• Moved by Elder Snow— That the Church of Latter Day Saints be now organised in Italy. Seconded and carried.
Moved by Elder Stenhouse — That Elder Snow, of the quorum of twelve apostles, be sustained President of the Church in Italy. Seconded and carried.
* Moved by Elder Snow — That Elder Stenhouse be Secretary of the Church in Italy. Seconded and carried. Thus was formed the Church of Italy,' which contained at the time of its formation not a single Italian member. Its founders boast, however, that they have contrived to deceive the Roman Catholic authorities, by publishing a Tract under the title of - The Voice of Joseph,' with a woodcut of a Nun for frontispiece, and a vignette of the Cross upon the title-page. Under these false colours, they hope soon to win their way.
But Great Britain is the true theatre of Mormon triumph, An official census is published half-yearly, whence we learn that in July 1853, the British Saints amounted to 30,690, and contained 40 Seventies,' 10 High Priests, 2578 Elders, 1854 Priests, 1416 Teachers, and 834 Deacons.* Thus one-fifth of
* The most numerous Church in England is that of Manchester, which contains 3166 members; the next is that of Glamorganshire, which contains 2338, mostly at Merthyr. In the very valuable and authentic Report on religious worship by Mr. Horace Mann, which has lately appeared under the auspices of Mr. Graham, the Registrar General, as superintendent of the Census, there is an account of the Mormons, p. cvi.cxii., from which we extract the following passage:- In England and Wales there were, in 1851, reported by the • Census officers, as many as 222 places of worship belonging to this the whole number are invested with some official function. We may add, that 25,000 copies of the Millennial Star,' the Mormon organ, are sold weekly.
To explain the causes of this success, gained by the preachers of a superstition so preposterous, is a most important part of our task. Yet it needs no long investigation, for these causes are not difficult to detect. In the first place, it may be laid down as an axiom that every impostor may at once obtain a body of disciples large enough to form the nucleus of a sect, provided he be endowed with sufficient impudence. This is true not only of religious empirics, but of all speculators on human credulity. What quack ever failed to sell his pills, if he mixed them with the proper quantum of mendacity? The homeopathist, the spirit-rapper, and the phrenologist, each attracts his clique of believers. All this is only an illustration of the Hudibrastic maxim,
• Because the pleasure is as great
In being cheated as to cheat.' In religion, Joseph Smith has had many predecessors, no less successful than himself. The German Anabaptists, who resembled him both in their pretensions to inspiration, and in their practice of polygamy, held temporary sway over cities larger than Nauvoo. Not many years are past since Joanna Southcote persuaded thousands to accept her as a New Messiah. Nay, even now, the Agapemone of Bridgwater is full of crazy fanatics, who maintain an impostor, more blasphemous than Brigham, in a state as princely as that of the President of Utah. The weakness of credulity in some, the strength of madness in others, ensures to every fraudulent pretender the
• body : most of them, however, being merely rooms. The number of • sittings in these places (making an allowance for 53, the accommo
dation in which was not returned) was 30,783. The attendance on ' the Census Sunday (making an estimated addition for 9 chapels, ' from which no intelligence on this point was received) was : Morning, 7,517; Afternoon, 11,481; Evening, 16,628. The preachers, it fulcrum which he needs. The latter cause, indeed, has no doubt contributed the corner-stone to many Mormon churches besides that of Hamburg; the founder of which ingenuously confesses, the woman whom I baptized first here was in the * madhouse for a long time. She was possessed by an evil spirit for fourteen years.'
appears, are far from unsuccessful in their efforts to obtain disciples : 'the surprising confidence and zeal with which they promulgate their 'creed, the prominence they give to the exciting topics of the speedy * coming of the Saviour, and his personal millennial reign, and the • attractiveness to many minds of the idea of an infallible church, ' relying for its evidences and its guidance upon revelations made
perpetually to its rulers, these, with other influences, have combined 'to give the Mormon movement a position and importance with the ' working classes, which, perhaps, should draw to it much more than it has yet received of the attention of our public teachers.'
Thus a heap of materials lies ever ready for the torch of the religious incendiary. But in general the straw and stubble burns out as quickly as it kindles; and even if a few ashes continue to smoulder (as, for instance, there are still a few Southcotians), yet the flame has died away. But Mormonism has already outlived this ephemeral stage of sectarian existence, and, after twenty years of growth, is now more vigorous than ever. The first and most important cause of its permanent power, is its claim to possess a living prophet and a continuous inspiration. Its votaries tell us that they are not left, like other men, in anxious uncertainty, but are guided in every step by the audible voice and visible hand of God. In every age there are multitudes who would gladly suffer the moral problems of life to be solved for them by an outward authority. And an age remarkable for religious earnestness will be especially exposed to the seductions of those who pretend to reveal to it with definite accuracy the will of Heaven. The most conspicuous example of this in our days has been the conversion of so many truth-seeking men to the Church of Rome. We have all heard their enthusiastic description of their present happiness contrasted with their former distress. Once they were compelled to grope their way in darkness, or only lighted by the dim lamp of duty, and the disputed precepts of Scripture. Now they have emerged into the clear sunshine of heavenly day, and have only to obey, at every turn, the voice which cries so clearly, this is the way, walk ye in it. But these converts have been chiefly confined to the higher classes. Englishmen in the lower and less educated ranks are seldom allured to the Church of Rome; being repelled from it by a feeling of its anti-national character, and by the appearance of idolatry in its ceremonial. The bold pretensions of a Protestant sect to more than Roman infallibility, satisfy their longing for religious certainty, without shocking their hereditary instincts. The power of such an attraction is proved by the fact that even the Irvingite Church still possesses congregations in many large towns, although its claims to miraculous gifts have become faint and hesitating, and its members are not proselytising fanatics, but quiet and unobtrusive dreamers. The Mormonites are of a very different temper. Eager and impatient to pro
pagate their sect, peremptory in their demand of obedience, unscrupulous in their assertions, and unhesitatingly promising absolute assurance to their proselytes. By their revelations, their miracles, and their prophecies, faith is changed into sight. So their organ tells us
· Latter Day Saints KNOW that the Lord has spoken in this age. Thay KNOW that angels do now converse with men. They KNOW that the gifts of the Holy Ghost are manifested in these days by dreams, visions, revelations, tongues, prophecies, miracles, healings. Latter Day Saints have come to a KNOWLEDGE of the truth.' (XIV. 444.)
Secondly, the success of Mormonism is due to its organisation, which has enabled it to employ the obedience of its votaries to the best advantage. The submission rendered to a voice which men believe divine, supplies a motive force of unlimited power; and when this is applied by well-constructed machinery, the results which may be effected are almost incalculable. When the energies of masses are directed by a single mind, wonders will be accomplished, even though (as often happens in military achievements) the service is rendered with sullen indifference or extorted by compulsion. But when the obedience is the obedience of the will, and when the unity of action is blended with a unity of heart and purpose, the results of such a concentration of moral force upon any given point are not more really surprising than the raising of the Menai bridge by the hydrostatic paradox.
Thirdly, we may attribute the welcome which Mormonism has met from our working classes to the prevalence of discontent among the poor against the rich. The repinings of labour against capital, which have covered England with strikes and Europe with barricades, are at once sanctioned and consoled by the missionaries of the Saints.' They invite their hearers to fly from oppression to that happy land where the poor are lords of the soil, where no cruel millowners can trample on the rights
of labour,' where social inequalities are unknown, and where all the citizens are united by the bonds of a universal brotherhood and a common faith. In the minutes of a recent General • Conference' we read that • Elder Taylor related a conversa*tion which he had held with a French Communist, wherein he • proved that the Saints have done all which the French Com• munists have failed to establish.' (XV. 389.) And certainly they may appeal with just pride to the contrast presented by Nauvoo in its decay with the flourishing city which they abandoned. For M. Cabet's Socialists (its present possessors) have been unable even to preserve from ruin the farms and workshops which Mormon industry had left ready to their hands. To such promises of substantial comfort these skilful propagandists add glowing pictures of the millennial glories which are soon to dawn on · Zion’; gratifying, yet surpassing, the aspirations after a 'good time coming,' which fill the dreams of their democratic converts.
Another, and perhaps not the least influental, aid to Mormon proselytism, is the adaptation of their materialising theology to
testantism. That Judaizing spirit which would supersede the New Testament by the Old; which imposes Mosaic ordinances as Christian laws; which turns even the new dispensation into a string of verbal shibboleths*; prepares the mind for the corresponding dogmas of Mormonism. But while the Mormon teachers fall in with this popular system, they carry out its carnal views to a more logical development. Thus they have pushed its Judaizing tendencies (as we have seen) into actual Judaism. And even while discarding the morality of the New Testament, they found their hierarchy on the most servile adherence to its letter; and maintain that any departure from its nomenclature in the designations of ecclesiastical officers is indefensible. It is instructive to observe how easily this formalism, which is usually regarded as preeminently Protestant, blends with their Romanising attribution of a magic power to outward rites, an inherent sanctity to earthly temples, and an efficacious virtue to offerings for the dead; for, in truth, these several modes of substituting a formal for a spiritual religion, whether patronised by Pope or Presbyter, are only diverse manifestations of the same idolatrous superstition.
Such are the principal causes which explain the rapid growth of this singular sect. But we do not believe them sufficient to secure its permanent stability; for, in the first place, when the necessity for increasing the population of Utah has passed away, the zeal for proselytism which it has bred must burn less warmly. Secondly, that agglomeration of the sect upon a single spot, which, up to a certain point, gives strength and centralisation, contains also an element of weakness; for it makes the Church of Mormon local instead of catholic, and tends to restrict the converts to that small number who intend to emigrate. Thirdly, the success of the leaders in rendering the
* We have often regretted that Coleridge should have applied Lessing's term of Bibliolatry (a word sure to be misrepresented to this tendency of popular religionism. Grammatolatry would have been a better word for that against which St. Paul protests as i διακονία του γράμματος.