IF a bishop of the ordinary type is tempted to be at all elated by the pride of episcopal office, a prompt and ready cure is supplied when he finds himself among his Mormon brethren. For every town in the land of the Latter-Day Saints has at least one bishop, and the larger centres, such as Salt Lake and Ogden, abound in them. Nor are these dignitaries bishops in name only. They wield a power most autocratic and far reaching. Let a Christian bishop, for instance, attempt to make a visitation of a Mormon town or village. Through the kind offices of some Gentile friend or perhaps a disgruntled apostate Mormon, the use of a hall or a vacant store has been secured in which to hold a service. The appointment has been duly announced, and the day arrives. Circulars have been distributed, and the local papers have drawn attention to the proposed visit of the bishop. But when the hour comes for the service to begin he finds the hall empty. A little reflection will remind him that there are bishops and bishops, and in that section of the country the bishop who presides over the spiritual affairs of that "stake" has quietly sent word around to the faithful to stay at home that night. Hence, vacant chairs, with scarcely a semblance of a congregation, are almost sure to greet him. Such was my experience again and again, and yet when I met the people themselves in their places of business or in their homes they were never lacking in courtesy and consideration. Indeed, the organization and discipline of the Mormon hierarchy are noteworthy, and go far to explain its almost unlimited control over the people. Of its government some one has said that nothing has been more perfect since the time of the Cassars. The Roman emperor could reach and control with his power at once the proud senator and the humblest picket at the gate of the provincial outpost. But the Mormon president sits on the throne of infallibility not only to pass upon questions of faith and morals when speaking ex-cathedra, but his word is final both as to how and when a man should say his prayers, and as to whether he shall own hogs or trade with Gentiles. Assisting the president rather as assessors to a primate or a chancellor in a diocese, are the two "first councillors." These form the "first presidency." Next are the "quorum of the twelve"; then the "seventies"; then the bishops with two "councillors" each; next the elders and deacons. From the two latter are chosen the "ward teachers"--inquisitors, in fact. The town is divided into "wards." Nine Salt Lake square blocks used to be a "ward." These each have a bishop, acting as a sort of business manager, whose house is probably the best in the "ward." He and his two councillors reach the elders and the teachers. These two latter degrees are grouped in quorums of twelve each, and one is chosen to be a member of a higher quorum, and so throughout. The teachers go in pairs. Mormonism understands the power of going two by two. They never send one on a religious mission. If one can do it well alone two can do it better. If one lonely heart grows sick, two are mutually helpful and reassuring. One-horse teams run away more easily than two-horse teams. Hence, two teachers take a block or go between cross streets together. They ask such questions as these: "Do you say your family prayers?" "Do you uphold the priesthood?" "Do you pay your tithing?" "Have you sent in your quarterly fast money for the poor?" These inquisitors report in "secret council" to the priesthood meeting every month. The delinquents and malcontents are promptly dealt with. Every male among them is made a deacon at about fifteen. He is baptized and confirmed at eight. When he reaches the age of eighteen he is advanced to the priesthood. This office, however, does not involve many home duties of a priestly character. The chief significance of the priestly degree for a young man is that from that hour he is liable to receive a letter from the presidency notifying him that he is appointed to a two years' mission abroad. To this rule there are few, if any, exceptions.
Think what it means to send every year throughout our own country and the various countries of Europe these young missionaries, numbering sometimes over two thousand. Where do they go? Often the young man goes to the native land of his father. Sometimes he arranges to attend a medical or dental or law college by day and preach on the streets at night. On Saturdays he delivers tracts and drums up his crowd for the "branch meeting." His outfit consists of a Prince Albert coat, a white necktie, a Mormon's compendium of "Ready-References of Scripture Texts," and a great deal of courage and self-assurance tempered with enough of religious zeal to arrest the attention of the most careless.
Again, he goes absolutely at his own cost. The church must not be taxed for his services one penny. Perhaps the "ward" gives him a benefit dance, a sort of farewell, the night before he leaves. The proceeds often take him to his destination. Himself or his father must provide the rest. Often he sells his stock, horses or cattle, and sometimes his home, and makes these sacrifices cheerfully. It is a part of his training and of the essence of his religion that he should regard it a great honor to take a part in redeeming "lost Israel." There is an element of heroism and self-sacrifice in it which appeals to his young heart and sets on fire his whole nature. If perchance he should ever fall short in money, then the church stands ready to advance it to him, or, if married, to his family, and collects it from him when he returns or as soon thereafter as possible.
But suppose the man thus appointed to go on a two years' mission should refuse? Ah, but he will not refuse. Why? Long before the mechanic learned the boycott, Brigham Young, a wise man if not a good man, a sort of Mormon Standard Oil magnate and model financier, had all such contingencies carefully safe-guarded.
The Mormon religion is a social religion. Nowhere are social inequalities less distinctly recognized. The Amateur Dramatic Club is under the imprimatur of the bishop. So is the choir and the weekly Dancing Club. So is the Woman's Relief and the Young Men's Mutual Improvement Society. Let a man dare hesitate to obey the high command to leave his home and become an exile for two years, at his own cost, and every one of these strong organizations will refuse him membership and recognition. The women will taboo him in their homes. He will be "visited" by the "teachers." The bishop will be sure to hold him up in scorn and contempt in his next Sunday's sermon, and he will probably be reproved by the presidency, if not suspended. Indeed, life would become intolerable as a result of such a refusal.
Besides, why should he refuse? Two years abroad is not so bad after all. One sees the world, and the welcome of a conquering hero awaits his return. It is hard to endure the life of an exile for two long years, it is true. At home he had the entree of the best families among the Saints. He could frequently gaze upon the glorious Temple of Zion, the pride of his heart and the glory of his fathers. His religion was the all-prevailing and dominant one. All this is changed now, and he is called upon to endure persecution and loneliness, possibly to face death. But here his faith comes to his rescue, and all misgivings flee away. Deep down in his heart is the firm conviction that the whole world is apostate, and that to his young life has been given the unspeakable privilege of making known to perishing men the one and only true salvation. The young Jesuit who prostrates himself before the high altar and offers himself a living oblation to his God has a higher conception of God and a far more spiritual conception of life. I doubt if he has any more intense belief that he is the chosen vessel to proclaim a peculiar message of pardon and peace or a sincerer willingness to make any personal sacrifice than the young Mormon as he sets out on his missionary campaign. Both are trained by men who are known to have made similar sacrifices for like cause within recent years. Both are taught a definite faith, whether right or wrong. Both believe firmly that every sacrifice here gains merit for the soul in heaven, Their heaven is widely different as is their creed. Yet both are led from twelve years of age to look forward to a definite sacrifice and a definite reward of a thousandfold, each after his own conception.
And what do these young people teach, who year by year are flooding the whole civilized world with their missionaries? They preach a very enticing and fascinating gospel. It is a mistake to imagine that they do not profess to be Christians. The Mormon missionary does make this claim, and the Christian Bible goes hand-in-hand with the Book of Mormon. Jesus Christ, the Saviour of the world, is one of their prophets. If they repudiated the Christian Gospel they would be shorn of half their power. They allege that the revelations vouchsafed to Joseph Smith, their founder, are but a modern application of the teaching of Jesus; that the Book of Mormon is but a continuation of the story of the Gospel. In other words, Mormonism is but a corrupted form of Christianity.
The missionaries find their converts in the crowded slums of London and other large cities of Europe. They go to Manchester, Birmingham, Sheffield, Liverpool, and all the large centres of population in England, Germany, Denmark, Norway, and Sweden. Nor do the country villages always escape. Wherever the conditions of life are hard and narrow and discontent is brewing they are likely to find a welcome. It is a great advantage to them, to begin with, that they come from America, the land of the free, where the oppressed of all nations are made welcome. Then they tell of a land flowing with milk and honey, where a rich harvest rewards honest toil. To each convert they offer a farm without money and without price. Of course, he will be expected in due time to pay for this land a nominal price per acre, but meanwhile a home will be built and a good living secured. Even his passage across the Atlantic and the entire cost of transportation from New York to the far distant valley of the Salt Lake are advanced to the convert, with the understanding that when he is able he will repay. Thus it is that converts are made by the thousands, and it cannot be denied that, generally speaking, the material conditions of Mfe in store for those who lend a willing ear to these seductive promises are greatly improved. I am far from saying that false inducements are held out. Still less that disappointment and failure await the Mormon immigrant. On the contrary, the wilderness has been made to blossom as the rose. Vast areas of desert land have been transformed into fertile farms, yielding incredible harvests of grain and fruit. The most prejudiced enemy of the Mormon Church must admit that the thrift, industry, and unremitting labor of the people are beyond all praise.
Much has been said of Brigham Young, who was the maker though not the founder of Mormonism. There are many still living who knew him well, and his character and personality are easily ascertained. He was a New-Englander, and was thirty years of age when he became identified with the Mormons. He was by trade a painter, and did not have the advantages of a liberal education, but was possessed of remarkable natural shrewdness, and was a born leader of men. Large, masterful, somewhat unscrupulous, fertile in resources, he left the impress of his genius and organizing power upon the Mormons indelibly. Indeed, in many respects, as his work unmistakably shows, he was a unique man. As a far-seeing executive, giving attention to every detail which tended to add efficiency to his somewhat complicated machinery, he has had few equals. Innumerable are the stories illustrating his native wit and versatility. It is said that one day a Welshman with one leg had been converted on the promise that Brigham could cause a new leg to grow. He reached Salt Lake, and forthwith presented himself at the "Zion House Office," and was confronted by the great man.
"And so you want a new leg, do you?" said Brigham. "Well, I can give it you, but remember that all the attributes you have in this life will be resurrected at the last day. Now, you have already had two legs, and if I create for you a third, then in eternity you will be like a monstrosity, and will have three legs. Besides, you are already old, and cannot live much longer. Choose, therefore, between a new leg here and three in heaven."
The poor fellow naturally decided to try to be content with one leg here that he might have only two hereafter.
The Mormons' idea of resurrection is sameness rather than identity. Hence, when an amputation is performed in the hospital or elsewhere the friends wait for the dismembered part, label it carefully, and bury it till its owner dies. Otherwise it would be travelling through space to find the body to which it belongs.
It was an old idea which still survives among them that a man's glory in heaven is in proportion to his "kingdom," which means his children here. Hence, a brother who died childless was often succeeded by a "proxy" husband, who took the widow to raise up children "for the dead."
Brigham Young showed his wisdom in many ways, and not least in directing the energies of his people to agriculture rather than mining. Had he permitted them to go into mining in the fifties, there never would have been the thrifty, prosperous, and beautiful valleys and well-laid out towns that now delight the eye in a country so recently a desert of sage-brush.
As this strange religion has become so important a factor in the development of our Western States and Territories, and is destined in some form, however modified, to continue to grow and spread among our people, it may be well at this point to give a brief resumé of its rise and progress. Like every other institution, it has a history, and if many of its claims may seem to us apocryphal, some slight knowledge of its genius and spirit will at least enable us to understand it better.
It is safe to assume that the great mass of those who are classed as Mormons or Latter-Day Saints are honest and conscientious as religious people generally. The great sacrifices which, as we have seen, they are willing to make in attestation of their belief, the industry, thrift, and indefatigable energy which they have evinced in overcoming obstacles wellnigh insurmountable, the superb organization which holds them together as one mind and soul--all this challenges our respectful consideration, and leads us to ask, Whence and how did Mormonism come? The sect in its origin and growth presents one of the most interesting of all the religious phenomena of modern times.
Joseph Smith, its founder, was born in Sharon, Windsor County, Vermont, December 23, 1805. He removed with his father during childhood, and settled near Palmyra, Wayne County, New York. Amid these wild forests he was reared a farmer, and inured to all the hardships, toils, and privations of a newly settled country. His education, therefore, was very limited. His followers claim that when about seventeen years of age he had several open visions in which a holy angel administered to him, admonished him for his sins, taught him repentance and faith in the crucified and risen Messiah, opened to him the Scriptures of the prophets, unfolded to him the field of prophecy pertaining to the latter-day glory and the doctrines of Christ and His ancient apostles.
These followers further allege that on the 226. of September, 1827, the angel directed the youthful prophet to a hill a few miles distant, called anciently Cumorah. Around this hill in the fifth century of the Christian era had rallied the last remnant of a once powerful and highly polished nation called the Nephites. At the head of these was the renowned Mormon, the general of a hundred battles, and second in command General Moroni. These were the last prophets of a nation now no more. They held the sacred records, compiled and transmitted by their fathers from the remotest antiquity. They held the Urim and the Thummim and the compass of Lehi which had been prepared by Providence to guide a colony from Jerusalem to America.
In this hill, Cumorah, they had safely deposited all these sacred treasures. Here they lay concealed for fourteen hundred years; here the angel Moroni directed the young Joseph to find these long-buried revelations and with them the Urim and Thummim. The abridged record thus obtained had been engraved in Egyptian characters on gold plates by the two prophets Mormon and Moroni. Instructed by the angel and the use of the Urim and Thummim, Joseph, now a prophet and seer, was enabled to translate them. Early in 1830 this translation, with the accompanying testimony, was published in English under the title of the Book of Mormon. It has since been translated and published in nearly all European languages.
Joseph continued to receive visions, revelations, and the ministry of angels, by whom he was at length ordained to the apostleship or high priesthood, after the order of Melchizedec, to hold the keys of the kingdom of God, the dispensation of the fulness of time. Thus qualified, he proceeded in 1830 to organize the Church of the Latter-Day Saints. In the same year branches of the church were organized in various parts of New York, Pennsylvania, Ohio, and elsewhere, and the number of his disciples increased to upward of one thousand. In 1835 he ordained a quorum of twelve apostles and several quorums of seventy as a travelling ministry. In 1840 the quorum of the twelve apostles visited England, and gathered great numbers into the church.
It was between the years 1840 and 1844 that the prophet gathered about him many thousands of his disciples, erected the city of Nauvoo, Illinois, on the banks of the Mississippi, and commenced the building of a magnificent temple. Coming into conflict with the civil authority on account of alleged polygamous practices the Mormons were driven from Illinois as they had been previously driven from Missouri. Joseph Smith and his brother Hyrum were thrown in prison at Carthage, Illinois, on the charge of treason, and were killed as a result of an attack upon the jail by the infuriated populace. Wearied with long-continued persecution, the council of the apostles now determined to seek peace for the Saints among the far-off and almost unexplored deserts and mountains of the West.
On July 24, 1847, the pioneers of this vast emigration, headed by the president of the whole church, Brigham Young, entered the valley of the Great Salt Lake. In the mean time, to quote from one of the Mormon historians, "The beautiful Nauvoo and its surrounding farms and villas fell a prey to the enemy, after a vigorous defence. Its temple, the pride and glory of America, was laid in ashes. Its last remnant plundered, robbed of their all, sick, destitute, wounded, bleeding, dying, at length disappeared beyond the horizon of the illimitable plains of the West, and for a moment the curtain of oblivion closed over this strange drama, and the Kingdom of God seemed lost to mortal view."
I have ventured thus to give this summary of the beginnings of this strange sect as a sort of historic setting for the remarks which follow, and as throwing some light on their beliefs and practices. It is not my purpose to enter fully into the discussion of their religious views, in which the public has but little interest, except to observe that among the various revelations which Joseph Smith claimed to receive from the Almighty was one sanctioning polygamy. This revelation bears the date of July 12, 1843.
As the civil laws of the United States, quite apart from questions of religion, make it a crime and misdemeanor for a man to have more than one wife at a time, it is not at all strange that Mormonism, with polygamy as one of its most cherished and characteristic beliefs, aroused, as soon as this became known, the most violent spirit of opposition in all true Americans. It was felt that the sacredness of the home and the purity of family life were seriously imperilled. Hence it was that the governors of our several States, especially those of Missouri and Illinois, where the disciples of Joseph Smith were intrenching themselves, felt called upon to rid their commonwealths of a grave menace to civilization.
The conflicts which ensued were inevitable, and resulted in expelling the Mormons from their borders into the uninhabited desert. Whether our government did not greatly err in tolerating the evil of polygamy among the Mormons for so many years after they went to Salt Lake is now scarcely debatable, but it was only a matter of time when the issue had to be squarely met and the practice put under the ban of the law.
Let us now consider their present attitude towards the government and our duty with reference to them as a people.
As to the practice of polygamy, enjoined by revelation to Joseph Smith, their founder, in 1843, it must not be forgotten that another revelation distinctly repudiating polygamy came to President Woodruff, his successor, in 1890. This second revelation occurred very opportunely, and relieved the Mormon hierarchy of an embarrassing situation, for the government had now become fully aroused to the enormity of the practice, and had determined to put it down. Indeed, it was only on the expressed condition that polygamy should cease that Utah was admitted into the Union. It was a great advantage to have the iron-clad law of the land forbidding plural marriages backed up by the approving voice and sanction of the will of God as communicated by special revelation to the infallible head of the church. Nevertheless, many were the hardships involved in this radical change in social and domestic relations. Those men who had more than one wife, and that was the rule rather than the exception, especially among the well-to-do, had to select the wife first married as the lawful one and put away the others. But there rested on all such the moral obligation wisely recognized by the government, to still provide for and support the wives and children once recognized as a part of the family.
The government then addressed itself to the important duty of seeing that henceforth no more plural marriages should take place. And in this attitude the church was, theoretically, at least, in sympathy with the States. Numerous instances, however, were found where the law of church and state was ignored, and the practice has died a very slow and gradual death. The public conscience has been somewhat shocked to find that high officials of the church when arraigned have unblushingly admitted that they were living with several wives. Just how extensive the practice of plural marriages has been since President Woodruff issued his manifesto forbidding it, would be difficult to judge from the evidence so far produced. For myself, I am clearly convinced that less than three per cent, at present care to practise polygamy, and they find that the risk of exposure is too great to attempt it.
Then, besides the ecclesiastical and civil barriers now imposed, two other considerations have increasing weight in eliminating polygamy. I refer, first, to the economical question involved. As the country is becoming more thickly settled, competition and the difficulty of living make increasing demand on one's resources. When one considers how much it costs the ordinary carpenter, laborer, mechanic, clerk, farmer, to keep the average American home with its regulation number of children, say one son and one daughter and one wife, it becomes evident that polygamy is a luxury for the few only, inside of Mormonism as it is outside; and that only the well-to-do classes can support two homes.
Add to the fact that every Mormon woman reckons her glory here and her joy in eternity on the basis of the number of children she can give her husband, and one can see that modern conditions alone will soon tend to make polygamy prohibitory.
But a second and more potent influence is the effect of education and contact with American civilization. It must be remembered that for years Mormonism was intrenched within itself. It was literally an imperium in imperio. Brigham Young considered it an impertinence on the part of the United States even to set foot on territory reserved exclusively, as he maintained, for the kingdom of the Latter-Day Saints. Nor did he hesitate to say as much in the most unequivocal language. The Mormons were practically isolated and cut off from the rest of the world. But they are no longer apart by themselves. The advent of the railroad and the telegraph has been followed by thousands of Americans who are pouring out West to establish homes in the fertile valleys which irrigation now makes available. In Salt Lake City to-day the Gentiles frequently carry the city elections over the Mormon vote. The disproportion of population in favor of the Saints is becoming less and less daily. They are destined ultimately to be out-voted and to surrender their political supremacy.
Meanwhile, many of the bright children, sons and daughters of the more prosperous families, are being sent East in large numbers, year by year, the young men to Yale, Harvard, Columbia, and the young women to Smith, Vassar, and Wellesley colleges. However loyally these young people may cling to the religious traditions of their fathers, it is impossible to conceive of them as passing four or five years in the atmosphere and companionship of Christian homes without being made to see by contact the immeasurable difference in their environment. Indeed, those best qualified to know whereof they speak, assure us that in the last decade there has been going on among the young women of Utah and the Mormon allegiance generally, a growth of repugnance, amounting in many instances to loathing, at the very idea of polygamy. We are also informed that the young men are keeping pace with them in that regard.
Only recently I met a gentleman, himself a graduate of an Eastern university, who is a manager of a large industrial plant in southern Idaho, where the population is almost solidly Mormon. He informs me that the young men and women who make up a society of unusual intelligence in that community, cherish only sentiments of pity and contempt for the idea of plural marriages.
As I am writing this article, the question of permitting Senator Smoot, a Mormon apostle but not a polygamist, to retain his seat is now pending. It is at least significant that no charges are brought against him as to the purity of his family life. The real contention of this investigation now going on, is that Senator Smoot represents not the people of Utah, but the Mormon hierarchy, and that he should be debarred from his seat in the Senate because he was nominated only after formally asking the consent of that hierarchy. Indeed, it is contended by those opposing him, with every show of proof, that he would have been opposed, defeated, and expelled from his office as an "apostle" if he had not promised implicit conformity with the church's views and objects politically. In other words, it is claimed that Senator Smoot is not a free agent, but the tool of a powerful ecclesiastical body within the body politic, which is openly and often defiantly upholding and even promoting flagrant violators of the law against living in polygamy.
When Brigham Roberts was refused admission to the House of Representatives it was because he was a confessed polygamist and not because he was a Mormon. Of course, the government recognizes no religious test, nor does it discriminate against any religious body per se.
This brings me to consider another important feature of the Mormon problem--namely, their political attitude to the State. Having lived among them for many years, I became convinced that the people voted almost to a man as the ecclesiastical authorities dictated. Whether a candidate up for election was a Democrat or a Republican mattered not in the least to the hierarchy. The question was, What is his attitude to our church, and what favors for the church may we expect from him if he is elected? The church first, and political parties only as incidental; and this is fearfully near the other aphorism, "The church first, the country next." Of course, if the belief and practice of any religious body do not contravene the established laws of the republic, such a principle may be entirely harmless. But when a body of religious devotees holding the balance of power, use that power unscrupulously to maintain and shield violators of the law, it becomes pregnant with the gravest dangers. A ^prominent Western Senator has recently said that Mormonism controls the politics of the Rocky Mountain region, and he sees in that fact a serious menace to liberty and the rights of the individual. He is entirely right as long as the present spirit with reference to politics dominates the Mormon people. There will be no peace for Mormonism in America and no peace for the country till the individual Mormon asserts his right to civil and political liberty. He must cease to be an automaton, and learn to become a man and an American citizen.
Now, a few words finally as to the future of Mormonism. Most people who know personally little of the real conditions that obtain in the West think of Mormonism as polygamy. It means to them that and nothing more. But the two terms are far from being synonymous. There was a time when polygamy was the distinctive doctrine of Mormonism. Now it is rapidly becoming a thing of the past. It is being relegated to the dark ages. As we have already seen, the coming hosts of young men and women who will control its future will no longer tolerate it. They have already scorned and repudiated it, not so much because the law of church and state condemns it, but because the law of the human heart, as soon as that heart has a little ray of light shed upon it, also condemns it. The man with more than one wife is fast becoming an object of ridicule to Mormon girls. The poor wives themselves are fit objects of compassion. The bright, independent young women now coming forward and the rank and file of the young men alike despise it. We may say the snake of polygamy among the Latter-Day Saints is not only scotched, it has had its day, and is now dead or dying.
But how about Mormonism itself? Will it die? No. It will daily increase in strength--at least, for a period of years. In efficiency of organization it is the most pervasive and comprehensive hierarchy that the world has known. Its missionary enthusiasm and its missionary sacrifices often put to shame the zeal of our Christian churches. I am convinced that the common people among them, the masses, are tremendously in earnest. I believe they are sincere. They believe as implicitly in Joseph Smith as the prophet of God as we do that Christ is sent of God to be the Saviour of men.
They do not question the truth of "revelations" made to their leaders. They are absolutely assured that all truth is with them, and the rest of the world is wrong. They regard themselves as the chosen of God, a peculiar people, basking in the sunshine of the Divine favor continually. Such assurance seems to us ridiculous, but it is their religion, and they believe it with all their hearts.
They give one-tenth of all they make to the support of the church. Hence, as a Corporation they are enormously rich. In Pocatello, Idaho, I was entertained by a railroad superintendent, who was receiving thirty-five hundred dollars a year and who contributed three dollars a month to the support of his parish, and thought himself very generous. His Mormon servant, a young man, whom he paid forty-five dollars a month, told me that he gladly gave four and a half dollars each month to the church, and that did not include his free-will offerings.
The Mormon question will gradually settle itself. Its immediate future will be largely influenced by the attitude of our people and the government towards it. Contact with the world will soften and gradually purify and cleanse its worst features. Often Mormonism has been misjudged. Religious fanaticism under the name of Christianity has not infrequently done more harm than good in dealing with these strange, deluded people. The Mormons are a small body, numbering less than a half-million. They are below the average of Americans in intelligence, but they are destined to become American citizens, and ought to be encouraged to enter into the spirit and genius of American citizenship. They are progressing rapidly in enlightenment, and every year marks a great gain. With all their faults, they are our brethren--human beings whose chief misfortune is that they are walking in darkness. Let us bring them to see the light.
The individual Mormon is far better than his religion. His religion is a strange mixture of truth and error, of superstition and grotesque fiction. It is a sort of perverted and corrupted Christianity. But having lived among the Mormons, and coming more or less into contact with them, socially and religiously, I am prepared to say that as friends, neighbors, citizens, and members of society, the Mormon of to-day is greatly in advance of Mormonism as a religious system. In the common instincts of humanity the present-day Mormon resembles very closely other people. He is a good husband and father. He is honest and truthful. He rarely, if ever, indulges even in tobacco, and never drinks; for temperance, meaning total abstinence, is a foundation pillar in his faith. No one ever thinks of locking his door at night when among the Mormons, and nowhere is the personal safety of the individual or the security of his property more absolutely guaranteed. They love each other, and treat their Gentile friends with uniform courtesy and respectful consideration. They pay the greatest reverence to those in authority over them, and cherish the profoundest respect for the memory of their dead heroes, saints, and martyrs.
Mormonism will survive, but not the Mormonism of to-day--still less that of twenty-five years ago. Some day it will be so changed and modified with the leaven of the Christian Gospel that it will be respectable among the various religious bodies of the land. Not denunciation, not persecution, not blind and undiscriminating hatred and prejudice, but the spirit of a wise, gentle, Christian judgment will hasten the day of its renaissance and reform into a purer environment.
If the Christian people of this great republic, the churches with money and the broad-minded philanthropists among us, really wish to help solve the Mormon problem, let them turn on the light and thus help us to drive away the darkness. Let a Christian church be built in every town and in every village. And then, for this is scarcely less important, let these churches be in the control of men of broad-minded and generous sympathy. The petty, narrow, bigoted man, who is the ecclesiastic and nothing more, will do harm rather than good. But for the man who can get at his Mormon brother's point of view, and is big enough to believe him just as honest and just as sincere as himself, there is abundant opportunity for a helpful and illuminating work. Then schools are needed. Let the church plant and generously sustain Christian schools, with teachers who have loving hearts and much faith. Where, finally, would well-selected libraries to attract the young people, now at last wakening up to the privileges of culture and education, do a more blessed work? The night is far spent, the day is almost at hand.