THE MORMON'S GOD AND HEAVEN.
BY A. E. P. PERKINS, D. D.
THE philosophy of Mormonism needs to be understood. We have fragmentary accounts of this peculiar people whom we call Mormons, but who call themselves Latter Day Saints—anecdotes illustrative of their manners and customs and of the workings of their system, especially of its despotism and its polygamy.
Many of these accounts are strangely in-correct; but even when they are literally true they fail to give an idea of the system as a whole. And yet Mormonism is a system logical and consistent with itself, and in this is its strength.
Its practices, its customs, its minor be-lief's all grew logically out of a few of its leading tenets. It presents a most strik-ing illustration of the inspired declaration "All people will walk, everyone in the name of his god."
The theology of the Mormons is pro-fessedly in many respects identical with that of the Evangelical sects of Christen-dom; but the truth to be found in its creed is neutralized by the greater prominence given to a few doctrines which are really the root and source of all that is peculiar in Mormonism. These are its doctrines:
I. Of God.
II. Of Heaven.
In regard to both their ideas are as materialistic and gross as can well be con-ceived.
Man is formed literally in the image of God, and God has all the corporeal parts Into a He man. In one of their hymns they say:
“The God that others worship is not the God for me; He has no parts nor body, and cannot hear nor see.''
Brigham Young says: "God is the father of Jesus Christ in just the same way that I am the father of my children." And when he calls Jesus Christ divine he means that he belongs to the race of the gods. One of their hymns discloses their belief in a plurality of "gods," and makes their eternity to rest upon the same ground as the eternity of matter:
“If you could fly to Kolob
In the twinkling of an eye,
And then continue outward
With that same speed to fly,
“D'ye think that you could ever,
Through all eternity,
Find out the generation
Where gods began to be?
"Or see the grand beginning
Where space did not extend?
Or view the last creation
Where gods and matter end?"
Not only God, but all spiritual things are represented as having the same and only the same title to permanence as their in-stitutions:
“There is no end to union,
There is no end to youth,
There is no end to priesthood,
There is no end to truth."
Their ideas of Heaven are of the same sensual nature. Indeed, the only Heaven of which they have any definite idea is this earth. Sometimes, indeed, they speak of Heaven as being "above"; but generally the soul is represented as sleep-ing from death till the resurrection, when the saints are to come back and occupy the forms which they had selected for themselves in this life. The Saints are to be raised first, and take up the best of the land on the earth; and after 1,000 years the Gentiles are to be raised, and take what is left and be the servants of the Saints, The life after the resurrection is to be to the Saints what it is now, except that then their desires are to be more fully gratified. I heard Orson Pratt preach last May from Rev. v, 9, 10, especially from the last clause: "And we shall reign on the earth." One of his inferences was: The Latter Day Saints can know where their inheritance shall be— i. e., they can in this life select the farm which after the resurrection shall be their dwelling-place, and life upon which shall be their Heaven.
Pratt told his hearers that the desire for farms was implanted by God, and one of the staple themes of Young's discourses is the duty of good farming; and his religion, the best part of it, certainly consists in rules and precepts for making farming profitable.
From the hymn from which the lines above are quoted, assigning to God parts and a body, is this stanza:
“The Heaven of sectarians is not the Heaven for me,
So doubtful its location—neither on land nor sea;
But I've a Heaven upon the earth,
The land and home that gave me birth."
It would seem that their religion has no place for the idea of human beings liv-ing separated from this earth; and so they represent Enoch as having taken a part of the earth with him to live upon when he was translated, and hold that there was another disruption of the earth for the accommodation of the ten tribes of Israel.
I refer again to their Hymn-book, which gives their ideas in a more intelligible form than their Bible, though Pratt advanced the same idea in the discourse above alluded to. The hymn says:
"When Enoch could no longer stay
Amid corruption here,
Part of thyself [the earth] was borne away
To form another sphere.
“That portion where his city stood
He gained by right approved;
And nearer to the throne of God
His planet upward moved.
"And, when the Lord saw fit to hide
The ten lost tribes away,
Thou earth wast severed to provide
The orb on which they stay."
But when the "restitution" of all things takes place these scattered fragments of the earth are to be reunited, and the earth given to the Saints to inherit.
Now most of the older Mormons find great satisfaction in such views. Most of them are from such classes of society in this country or in Europe that they had never owned a home, much less a farm; and the religion that can give them a good farm in this life, as the earnest of an eter-nal inheritance, would naturally be re-garded by them as worthy of their belief.
But it is not difficult to trace the effect of such a belief in their lives.
Their Heaven is a material one. All their longings are for sensual pleasures. Their God is a being with human passions as really as was Vulcan or Bacchus.
To the worshipers of such a God and the aspirants to such a Heaven polygamy seems not only allowable, but a duty; and the more sincere one is in his religious be-lief as a Mormon the more strenuously will he hold to and defend this institution.
Again, their idea of the second advent of Christ, and of the final establishment of his kingdom, in which they are to reign with him as "saints," explains the despot-ism of their system, and especially their treatment of the Gentiles who come under their power—this, of course, upon the supposition that they are honest in their religious belief.
I, for one, have not the least charity for Brigham Young; but believe him to be as veritable a monster of cruelty and lust as has ever cursed this earth. And such an impression will be strengthened, rather than weakened, by any personal contact with the man.
But the great mass of his followers, especially of the older and more ignorant of them, are probably honest believers in his teachings, if not in his personal in-tegrity; and, if their doctrines are true, they have as clear a warrant for robbing and putting to death the Gentiles who oppose them as had the Jews for exter-minating the Canaanites.
A man's creed—not what he professes to believe, but what really at heart he does believe—is the foundation of his acts and life.
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