Reply to Mr. J. B. Rollo's "Mormonism Exposed."


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“Reply To Mr. J. B. Rollo’s ‘Mormonism Exposed.’” Latter-day Saints’ Millennial Star (Manchester, England) 2, no. 3 (July 1841): 43–48.




Mr. Rollo gives a statement of our doctrine on his first page, in a very correct and intelligent manner, proving it from the Scriptures in a way that no lover of the Bible can object to.

He then gives three reasons for believing the system of the Latter-Day Saints to be another gospel. First, because a society in Edinburgh, in connection with Dr. Hamilton, hold the same principles, and accuse the Saints of borrowing these principles from them. Secondly, because, as the Galatians had added the law of Moses to the Gospel, and thus perverted it, so the Saints had added the law of J. Smith to the Gospel, and thus made it another; and, thirdly, he says, “While the Apostles promised an inheritance incorruptible, undefiled, and which fadeth not away, the Mormonites preach up a temporal and defilable inheritance, which shall soon pass away; and that only to the rich they teach that it is promised as a gift of God, yet must be purchased with money! consequently the poor can have [43] no inheritance: thus the gospel they preach varies in many respects from that preached by Paul.”

To these several objections we reply in order—first: we know nothing of Mr. Hamilton and his principles, and have borrowed nothing from them, and further, we can recognise no apostleship as existing in their society unless they produce new revelation attested by several witnesses who have seen and heard for themselves by heavenly vision.

Secondly, as to the law of Joseph Smith being added to the Gospel by us, we know of no law of Joseph Smith; every law which has been given to the Latter-Day Saints is the law of Christ himself: it is given by revelation from Christ himself, and is in accordance with his laws as given to the saints in Paul’s day, except so far as times and circumstances may differ, as regards the things to be fulfilled.

If Mr. Smith is like unto Moses, it is no sign that his law is like unto Moses’s, for Jesus Christ himself is said to be like unto Moses, for Moses said, in reference to Christ, “A prophet shall the Lord your God raise up of your brethren, LIKE UNTO ME.” If, then, Christ was like unto Moses, and yet introduced another law, and put an end to Moses’s law, why may not Joseph Smith be like unto Moses, especially when we consider that all men are required to be like unto Christ?

He says further, “that the views given of faith, baptism, and the Holy Spirit in the Book of Mormon are incorrect.” This is a bare assertion, and is without shadow of truth, as all men must know who have read it.

Thirdly, as to the inheritance of which Mr. R. speaks, as promised to the Latter-Day Saints, it is the earth, or, rather, an inheritance on the earth. And if Mr. R. has made a difference between Paul and the Latter-Day Saints in this respect, he has made the same difference between Paul, Jesus Christ, and all the holy prophets; nay more, between Paul and Mr. R. himself, for he states on page 7th that the seed of Abraham, and all the Gentiles adopted into their family, will come into possession of the earth, even to the utmost bounds of the everlasting hills.

Now what but extreme prejudice, and a determination to find fault, could have induced Mr. R. on page 2d to accuse the Latter-Day Saints of holding out the same promises which Mr. R. holds out on page 7th of the same work? Or, is it because the Latter-Day Saints purchase the land with money which God has given them as a gift? Query. Did not God promise the land of Canaan as a gift to the seed of Israel? and does not the 32d chap., 44th verse of Jeremiah read as follows: “Men shall buy fields for money, and seal them, and take witnesses in the land of Benjamin, and in the places about Jerusalem, and in the cities of Judah, and in the cities of the mountains, and in the cities of the valley, and in the cities of the south; for I will cause their captivity to return, saith the Lord.” Now if God gave the land of Canaan to the Israelites, and then in restoring them in the last days causes them to purchase with money the very country which he has given them, then his dealings with the Latter-Day Saints are on a par with his dealings with Israel. And if Paul preached any thing contradictory to this way of doing then let him be accursed. It may do for Mr. R., in some of his wild freaks of lunacy to think the gospel of Paul authorises him to withhold from Cæsar the things that are Cæsar’s, and to undertake to enter upon the lands of others without purchasing them, but the inner walls of a prison or mad house would soon show him his fanaticism.

But, says Mr. R., the poor are excluded; none but the rich can have an inheritance with the Saints, because money is required for land. Query. Will the rich only have inheritance in the land of Canaan at the restoration?

To this perhaps Mr. R. would answer that in the return of Israel the money of the rich will purchase land for the poor, and that the law of God will require them to divide with each other.

Well, then, the same answer will apply to the Latter-Day Saints. But here again we shall bring Mr. R. to answer Mr. R.’s objections. On page 10th Mr. R. quotes from the law of Christ given to the saints as follows:—“If there be properties in the hands of the Church, or any individuals of it, more than is necessary for their support, it shall be kept to minister to those who have not, the residue to be kept in my storehouse to administer to the poor.” Again, he quotes, page 11th, a law of Christ given to the saints, commanding them to appoint to the saints “their portion, every man equal according to their families.”

Now, Mr. R., can you as a man bound to eternity, justify yourself for saying on page 2d that the laws or rules of the saints hold out an inheritance only to the rich, and then quote what you have quoted, as the laws of the same saints, on page 10 and 11 of your work?

Mr. R. remarks on spiritual gifts, that every member in Paul’s day immediately received one or more of the spiritual gifts. This assertion needs proof. It is true that the manifestations of the spirit was given to every man to profit withal: but to say that every man had an outward and visible gift immediately is saying too much. There were many gifts which were not so manifest to others as to those who received them.

Mr. R. seems to think the church in his city are deficient in some of the gifts as yet; and I think probably it is the case, for it is in its infancy, but there is room for it to grow “till it comes behind in no gift.” He asks if the signs follow us? to which I reply, yes, as far as we exercise faith and obedience to the commandments of the gospel. I have seen some hundreds of sick healed in the name of [44] Jesus, in almost every country where the Saints have planted the truth.

I have seen and heard thousands of men and women speak in tongues and interpret them, and have heard them preach the word of wisdom, and the word of knowledge, and relate their visions, and prophecy. And I can say of a number of the Churches that they come behind in no gift, but I presume Mr. R. did not receive much of the spirit while a member of the Church of the Saints; and I presume he never will in any Church till he is more honest and consistent in his religious views.

He complains that the Church of the Saints have added many offices not mentioned in the New Testament. He then mentions “revelators,” “councils,” “patriarchs,” and “priests after the order of Aaron.”

Revelators and councils were had in the New Testament church, and patriarchs and priests of Aaron are promised in the restoration of Israel. “I will restore their councillors as at the first, and their judges as at the beginning;” “I will take of them for priests and for Levites. (See Isaiah, last chap., also Malachi III., 3). A patriarch means father, and was known in the New Testament under the name of Evangelist. Mr. R. complains of the American apostles showing no signs and wonders and mighty deeds. To this we reply that there are tens of thousands who witness to the contrary, and their testimony is as good as his.

He complains that we require faith of people who would be healed, as though this was a false doctrine; but Jesus Christ could do no mighty work in one place because of their unbelief; and in another place it is written—“Lest they should see with their eyes, and hear with their ears, and be converted, and I should heal them.” So, it is Mr. R. and Christ that must settle this question, as they are the persons at variance on the subject.

Now as to all the prophets working miracles as a proof of their divine mission, it is expressly said that John did no miracle, and that there was no greater prophet born of women, and it was condemnation to reject him or his baptism. Mr. R. would reject John for the want of the necessary proofs. He reminds us of the people of whom Jesus complained, saying—“John came neither eating nor drinking, and ye say he hath a devil. The Son of Man came eating and drinking, and ye say, behold a gluttonous man and a wine bibber, a friend of publicans and sinners.” So it is with Mr. R. If a prophet were to do great signs and wonders then he (Mr. R.) will quote the text which he has quoted on page 12th, how false prophets should arise, and show great signs and wonders; but if there is not sufficient signs and wonders given, then they are no prophets, but imposters.

Mr. R. brings forward the case of the lame man at the gate of the temple as an instance of a person being healed without faith. But I would simply ask what but the strongest faith could have induced him to make the attempt to arise and walk, seeing he never walked during a troublesome life of 40 years? Indeed, if he had not faith, he would have laughed them to scorn for requiring such a thing of him. Mr. R. feels himself under peculiar obligation to try them who come as apostles, but he seems ignorant of the only means by which a man or Church is qualified to try apostles, viz, the Holy Spirit of truth, which guides into all truth. Now, my dear sir, this trying apostles, upon which you so much dwell, had nothing to do with the world in general, who had the beam in their own eye, but the language was addressed to the Church of God at Ephesus, who had received the Holy Spirit through the ordinances under the hand of an apostle, viz. Paul.

Now this Church had by the spirit of truth tried them who said they were apostles and were not, and had found them liars. So if Mr. R. would know a man’s apostleship he must know it by the spirit of truth, and not by the great signs and wonders which may be performed either by an apostle or a private member, or even by a false prophet.

Mr. R. accuses Mr. Smith of calling himself the president of the high priesthood. Mr. S. has never called himself by any such title. If the God of heaven has spoken by revelation, and has chosen a man to office, it is false to say he calls himself by that title. Again he says, Smith calls himself the head of the Church. This is also a mistake. Mr. S. never called himself the head of the Church. The text alluded to by Mr. R. points out a certain office, whether filled by Mr. Smith or any other man, which office “should possess all the gifts of God which he bestows upon the head of the church;” as much as to say he should be like unto Christ, and possess all the gifts which Christ himself possessed, for it is well understood that Christ is the head of the Church.

But it is evident that a man may possess all the gifts which Christ did possess, from the fact that he has promised that “he that believeth in me, the works that I do he shall do also.” Of course, then, the man who does the same works that Jesus Christ did will possess the same gifts.

Mr. R. draws the following comparison to prove that Smith is not like unto Moses, after falsely accusing him of pretending to be like unto Moses:—

He says, Moses gave sufficient signs by which the people believed him, and Smith does not. But I do not see that Smith finds any difficulty in getting the people to believe him, indeed his success in this respect is far greater than that of Moses, for even in his youth he is hailed as a prophet by tens of thousands, extending over near half the globe. But I think the two will contrast to better advantage after Smith has had a career of 120 years, as Moses had. It is very unjust to compare a [45] youth of 30 to a man of a hundred and twenty. But now to Mr. R.’s contrast of the two.

He says, “Moses drowned the enemies of his disciples, in the Red Sea, and delivered all who had been baptised unto him from their power; but Smith’s disciples fled, and fell before their enemies, and he had no power to deliver them which had been immersed into the Church of which he is the head. Moses provided water and bread for the people in the wilderness; Smith’s bank failed and took the bread ont of the mouths of the people. The earth opened and swallowed up the enemies of Moses; according to Smith’s testimony the earth drunk the blood of his disciples, while his enemies escaped unhurt.

Now, Mr. R., I presume you acknowledge that Jesus Christ is in Scripture justly compared to Moses. Now let us try your contrast to Christ and Moses, and see if it fits any better than it does between Smith and Moses. Moses drowned the enemies of his disciples in the Red Sea, and delivered all who had been baptised unto him from their power; but Christ’s disciples fled and fell before their enemies, and Christ did not deliver those who had been immersed into the Church of which he was the head. Nay, more, they killed Christ himself, and also killed James and Stephen, and Paul, and even Peter, who held the keys of the kingdom, and even John they banished to a desolate island, as if counteracting the commandments of him who had sent him into all the world.

Moses provided water and bread for them in the wilderness. Christ, though sometimes providing bread for his disciples, at other times suffered hunger, and his disciples, too, not having where to lay their heads.

The earth opened and swallowed up the enemies of Moses. The earth drank the blood of Christ and his disciples, while their enemies escaped unhurt.

Now, Mr. Rollo will admit that Christ was like unto Moses, and that Smith differs entirely from Moses; but when he comes to point out the difference—behold! it is in those very points where Christ and his disciples differed from Moses. And yet Mr. R. is an honest impartial judge, at least in his own estimation, and complains bitterly that these modern apostles will not submit to come to Edinburgh that they may be judged, and tested by so high and impartial a standard as the unprejudiced, impartial, and clear-sighted judge Rollo, who at one moment charges the Saints of murder for defending their rights, and the next moment sets them down as false prophets for letting these same enemies escape unhurt.

Mr. R. asserts that O. Cowdery, one of the three witnesses to the Book of Mormon, is declared in the Book of Doctrine and Covenants (sec. 28) to be unworthy of trust. This is not so.

The quotation has no allusion to O. Cowdery’s trustworthyness, but rather to the necessity of some one going with him as he had a long journey of 1000 miles to travel through a wild country with a sum of money.

On page 5 Mr. R. sums up every manner of evil which has been spoken against us for Christ’s sake, and then says such a multiplicity of evidence against it must completely outweigh the testimony of the witnesses in its favor. Here again he comes in direct contact with the rules of Scripture. “Woe unto you when all men shall speak well of you, for so did their fathers of the false prophets.” Blessed are you when men hate you, and speak ALL MANNER of evil against you falsely for my sake, &c. The signs following the believer is not more in accordance with the promises of Jesus Christ than the fact that all manner of evil will be spoken of them, and that they will be hated of all men.

The Jews of a foreign synagogue said unto Paul “as for this sect it is everywhere spoken against.” Now if Mr. Rollo had lived in the days of Paul, he would have said that such a multiplicity of evidence was quite sufficient to outweigh the testimony of Paul and others.

Mr. R. represents us as saying that the promises and blessings to Joseph, Ephraim, &c., have been fulfilled; but this is a mistake. We say that they are now to be fulfilled; the Lord making (the American Indians) “her that halteth a remnant, and gathering her that has been afflicted, and making her that was cast far off a strong nation, and reigning over them in Mount Zion, from henceforth, even for ever.”—(See the Prophecy of Micah.) Mr. B. quotes Zechariah 14th, “And all the families of the earth shall go up to Jerusalem once a year and do homage.” By an unreasonable translation of the Hebrew word Arates, which signifies earth or land, Mr. R. is led into one of the most ridiculous blunders, namely, that the inhabitants of the most inland parts of America are all to perform a journey to Jerusalem every year, making them a journey of two or three thousand miles on the continent of America, three or four thousand more across the ocean, and then two thousand more up the Mediterranean sea, in all at least seven thousand miles. This doubled by going and coming, would make fourteen thousand miles that every man, woman, and child must perform every year to appear at Jerusalem. All this Mr. R. can believe, sooner than believe that America will have a sanctuary of its own and a holy city for the resort of its tribes and nations.

Well, Mr. R., the Latter-Day Saints cannot stretch their marvellousness enough for to believe this; so, to avoid this extraodinary stretch of the marvellous and unreasonable, they take the liberty of translating the Hebrew word Arates, land instead of earth, in this text. It will then read thus: “All the families of the land shall go up once a year to Jerusalem,” &c. This does not transgress the laws of the Hebrew language, and at the same time renders the fulfilment of the prediction possible. [46]

Mr. R. complains of the use we make of the 37th of Ezekiel, in regard to the stick of Judah, meaning the Bible, and the stick of Joseph, meaning the Book of Mormon; but it is sufficient to say that these two sticks evidently had allusion to writings,—and that the Bible is a record of Judah or of the Jews is so manifest as to need no proof—and that the Book of Mormon is the writings of the seed of Joseph is equally evident, and that a man of the tribe of Joseph is the person into whose hands it was committed for translation is established beyond controversy.

(See Lehi’s blessing upon his son Joseph.)

Mr. R. says, “Paul tells us that the Gospel was kept secret since the world began: to which we reply that if Paul tells that, he tells an untruth, for Paul tells that the Gospel was preached unto Abraham, that it was preached to the Children of Israel in the wilderness in the days of Moses, and that life and immortality were brought to light through the Gospel. Enoch, before the flood, had a knowledge of life and immortality, and therefore must have had the Gospel. Melchisedek was a priest after the same order that Christ was, and therefore must have had the Gospel; and John says, “That which was from the beginning declare we unto you.” Will Mr. R. tell us where “Paul says the Gospel was kept secret since the world began?”

He quotes a text which says that there were other ages in which it was not made known that the Gentiles should be fellow-heirs; but in this text he does not even hint that the Gospel was not made known to other ages; and indeed it was made known to Abraham and to the prophets of old that the Gentiles should be fellow-heirs with Israel, for the promises to Abraham, Isaiah, and others, are as plain on that point as the promise to Nephi; so that in the text quoted from Paul it is evident that he only alluded to the blindness of the Jews and others, who did not understand the prophets.

The Scriptures, in declaring Canaan to be the glory of all lands, was not contrasting that land with America, as to which was the best, but was contrasting it with lands known to the ancients, among whom that book was written. But it is now self-evident that America is, in many respects, better than Canaan, both as it regards its extent and the richness and variety of its mineral and vegetable productions.

Mr. R. says the Book of Mormon describes the world as receiving the Holy Ghost, in order to make them Christians; this is not so, and the quotation which is brought to prove it is a garbled one. If quoted in its fulness, it only goes to show that the Saints, not the world, had a general out-pouring of the spirit to prepare them to receive the word at the time of Christ’s coming. (See page 286 of the Book of Mormon.)

Mr. R. brings two quotations from the vision of Nephi, recorded on the 123rd and 124th pages of the Book of Mormon, because it speaks of Christ and baptism in the past tense, when it was yet future. He calls it an imposition, and something which must have been written after Christ; but the vision there recorded explains itself clearly, and Mr. R.’s misrepresentations must have been wilful.—Nephi first had a vision of Christ and his baptism, which he foretells was yet future; and then speaks of it in the past tense, the same as Isaiah, who speaks of the death of Christ in the past tense many hundred years before his birth, saying, “He was led as a lamb to the slaughter,” &c.

Come, Mr. R., come out infidel at once, and say Isaiah was an “imposter,” and that his book must have been written after Christ.

Mr.R. quotes Hebrews, where Paul is made to say that “If Christ were on earth he could not be a priest.” Now, Mr. R., we would have you tell us whether Christ as a priest offered sacrifices on earth, or whether it was in heaven. If Mount Calvery, where he offered an atonement of his own blood, on the tree, was on earth, then Paul has been made by translators or copyers, to say what he never said; for it was on earth, not in heaven that Jesus Christ offered his great and only sacrifice for sin; and Paul knew this fact too well to have said the contrary.

Mr. R. quotes Heb. viii., 12, “the priesthood being changed there is of necessity a change of the law.” He then complains of the Book of Mormon for a change of priesthood, for many years before Christ, without any change of the law till Christ came. To this we would reply, that Christ was under the law during his whole ministry in the flesh;∗ and it was under the law that he, as a high priest, offered sacrifice. Therefore, the same objection would apply equally to the Bible as the Book of Mormon.

∗ The Law Dispensation was in force till the Death of Christ.

He complains bitterly of our not keeping the commandments given us in the Book of Covenents to publish it to the world. To which we reply that it has been published to the world till out of print.

Mr. R., be patient; three printing establishments have been destroyed for us in ten years, by the cruelty and violence of men who were inspired, by such misrepresentations as you have published. The Lord is not so hard a master as Mr. R., he his willing to give us time.

Mr. R. pretends to quote a passage from the Book of Covenants, sec. xvi, 16. This is a mistake of his; the passage is found in sec. xiii 16. But if this misprint were all we could charitably pass over it; but he quotes the passage wrong, and turns it into another meaning altogether.

He makes it read thus: “Thou shalt take the things which thou hast received, and which may be given unto thee in my scriptures for a law.” “The passage reads, “have been given” instead of “may be given,” the true text referring the church to the scriptures for their guide, the false quotations guiding them to some thing which should be. [47]

Mr. R. says we have a law for all surplus properties to be put into Smith’s store. This is false. Smith is not a Bishop; neither has he anything to do with the store house or dividing; that is attended to by the Bishops and their councellors; and Mr. Smith is bound by the same law, to contribute his portion to the store house, if he has any to spare, for the poor. This answers the objection of Mr. R. in regard to profits on the Book of Mormon, if there were any profits on it.

Mr. R. quotes a prophecy of A. Campbell, as follows: “Smith will purchase some land, and then it will be commanded by the Lord that all who do not help to build and inhabit the new city upon the said lands shall be utterly destroyed in the impending vengeance.” He then adds, “this prophecy has been fulfilled in the building up of Nauvoo.” This is almost as near the truth as the other statements.

The land in and about Nauvoo is not purchased by Smith, except a small portion, consisting of one farm and house; the rest is purchased by individuals, and so far from commanding every body to settle there on pain of utter destruction, the saints have something near a dozen towns and villages, besides large farming interests in different parts of the country; and all as much under the sanction of Mr. Smith as Nauvoo.

So I pronounce Mr. A. Campbell a false prophet, and Mr. R. a publisher of lies, in order to establish his predictions.

His remarks in reference to a bishop on page 12, as referring to Mr. Smith needs no answer, as Mr. Smith, to whom he refers, was never a bishop. Neither does he hold any military office, as is conjectured by Mr. R. Lastly, we are represented as saying that the angel spoken of in Rev. xiv has accomplished his mission. We say that he has not accomplished his mission, but only commenced it; it will be completed by the great sound of a trump, sounding the gospel in the ears of all living.

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