We have received a communication from a gentleman signing himself "William Smith, President of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints," in reply to a few facts we gave in relation to the Mormons of Salt Lake and Beaver Islands. Instead of there being five hundred on these islands in Lake Michigan, with a prospect of one thousand next fail, as we stated, Mr. Smith thinks there are not over thirty or forty families. Instead of Mr. Strang being a Mormon leader, he says he is an apostate from the "true, faith." As to the Mormons of Salt Lake, he says they are also a "base set of apostates from the true faith and the original Mor-mon Church."
As to the number now on Beaver islands and expected within a few months, our source of information is probably as reliable as that of Mr. Smith. We quote the Buffalo “Commercial Advertiser,” which is brought into immediate con-tact with these islands by a daily line of steamboats. Moreover, the same authority informs us that several missionaries have been sent out to gather in the scattered “saints.”
We understand that "William Smith, President of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints," does not recognize the Mormons of the islands and the wilderness as "Latter Day Saints,"—they are "base apostates. " We would like to put the question to President Smith which was put to Rolla —"How numerous is your army?" He might reply as definitely as Rolla did—"Count the leaves of yonder forest;" but is probable that the followers of President Smith can be numbered by those expert in mathematics. If those who remain in the "true faith” according to him should prove to be more numerous than we suspect, he should be a little modest about pronouncing the main bodies of the Mormons "base apostates” They have probably excommunicated him and his followers, and the world is left sadly in the dark as to the real "Church of Christ of Latter Day Saints.”
As to the communication of President Smith, we decline publishing it because of the apparent bad temper which dictated it, and the unfounded denunciation with which it abounds. Saying nothing of the Presidency of the "Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints," we think the communication unbecoming even the humblest layman among the "saints." Though "base" heretics ourselves, we could not have written so ill-natured an article. We mention these things for the improvement of our friend President Smith, that he may adorn a godly life and dignify his exalted position with patience, humility, long-suffering and charity. We have a high regard for the honor of the "faith," and respectfully commend to President Smith the Scriptures, "which are given for doctrine, for reproof, and for instruction in righteousness.”
A word now as to apostacy. There was a time when apostacy was considered next to the unpardonable sin. He who should break from the evangelical fold was branded under ecclesiastical solemnity and awe, and cast out among the vilest of the earth. For what? Because in the exercise of the mind he had—of the powers he received from the Eternal, he formed a difference of opinion between himself and those with whom he was connected, and as an honest man he could no longer profess his belief in what he thought to be erroneous. The effect was, as it still is in any similar case, that the apostate was disgraced on account of his honesty; for had he been cowardly enough to fear the power of Diets, Synods, Conventicles, and Conferences, and hypocritical enough to profess what he did not believe, he would have glided on in the "true faith,” respected and beloved by his brethren.
And who are they that presume to sit in judgment upon the opinions of their fellows? They are those who are conscientious, to be sure, in what they do, but yet are in error—who know not the rights of mind and therefore cannot respect them—who believe themselves commissioned by the divine will and constantly sustained by the Almighty hand in all they do—they are, in short, individuals who nave surren-dered themselves, soul and body, to faith and forms that have come they know not whence.—They place the best impulses of the heart and the highest thoughts of the head under ban, and thus attempt to annihilate all that is great and glorious in human nature.
The only difference between the past and the present in this respect is, that apostacy is becoming honorable and is no longer a disgrace except with the narrow-minded few whose pride is wounded by the exposures of the apostate.—The man of independence enough to think for himself and owe no thanks to a priesthood, and to act faithfully to his convictions of right, is now regarded as a superior person whom no ecclesiastical censures can intimidate nor no solemn gravity of self-constituted prophets and apostles can awe.
The great truth on this subject is being known—the truth that every man is his own prophet, priest, and king, and it is an insult to high heaven to interfere with the practice of this truth. No body of men have a right to restrain the mental operations of any inquiring mind, except in the individual exercise of the right that all possess, of free and candid conversation with each other for mutual enlightenment.—Reader, you have as much authority to excommunicate a whole conclave of these ecclesiastical conspirators against the right of free inquiry, as they have to excommunicate you.
Little is said at the present day among respectable people, of apostacy; and this affair of President Smith and the Mormons is a rich burlesque on all efforts of the Church in the restraint of freedom of inquiry, and on its excommunication for heresy. President Smith is a benefactor of his race in rendering absurdity ridiculous.
No—every man is himself responsible for the exercise of such faculties as he has, and none can act for him. He annihilates himself in so far as he yields to others his freedom of thought and action. No sect or party can do my thinking, and I regard it as an insult for any to claim my homage. In doing so they propose to strike me from the list of freemen and merge me in a confused mess of incoherent inconsis-tencies.
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