Divisions Among the Mormons - 1845
Warsaw Signal – February 19, 1845
Rigdon has lately been travelling through the
east, preaching up his claims to the Brethren. On his return, he published the
following account of his journey, which, as showing the state of the church
abroad, will interest our readers.
Among the churches we visited, there was a great deal of excitement; many of the principle members had either withdrawn from the church or had been cut off, and of this number were the presiding elders of the church of Philadelphia, New York, Boston, New Egypt, N. J. and Woodstown, N. J. On inquiring into the cause of the difficulties, in every instance, it was the spiritual wife system which had caused the separation, and exclusion. The course pursued by the advocates of this system, which were the traveling elders, were, that as soon as a man became dissatisfied with the teachings of these believers in polygamy, & was bold enough to express his dissatisfaction, calling it incestuous and adulterous, he or she was immediately arraigned before the church and charged with disobedience to the authorities; and with slandering the heads of the church, at the time of the trial, and every one who dare vote in favor of the person charged, was threatened with immediate expulsion from the church by these tyrants, and thus intimidated, and compelled to obey the mandate of their masters. A notable instance of this was related to me while in Boston. Older elder Nickerson, a man who was highly esteemed in Boston, and the father of the church there; when this system, of a plurality of wives, first made its appearance there, rose up against it, as every man of virtue would, and was so deeply affected with it, that he wept over the corruption that was creeping into the church, and declared his intention and determination, to lift his voice against it; this was no sooner known, than he was besieged by two of the so-called authorities, and threatened with exclusion, if he dare give testimony against those whom he had declared he knew were guilty of great improprieties, such as called for the interference of every virtuous man; and the old gentleman was so intimidated by their threats, he shrunk from his duty, and instead of discharging it, with a manly boldness, actually lifted his hand in favor of those whose conduct he had previously deprecated in the strongest terms. Every effort of this kind was made, that the most corrupt could invent, to conceal this system, without their having knowledge of it, till they were informed by some runner sent for the purpose, that at such a meeting they had been cut off from the church.
Every person who was known to be opposed to this system, if he or she could not be won over; or made to succumb by threats, were excluded, and their characters assailed in a most outrageous manner in order to destroy their influence, that their testimony might not be believed. -- By such extraordinary means did the advocates of this system attempt to sustain themselves; but it was all in vain, for concealment was no longer possible, the truth has been made manifest, as Paul said it should, so that the world now knows, that every person, male or female, who adheres to these leaders, do it because they are in favor of the system of a plurality of wives, and for this cause they are found numbered with them. Ignorance can no longer be plead.
A state of things of the above character, must of necessity, produce a confusion and excitement, in a greater or less degree; and such we found through the whole of our journey.
After we left this city, we made no stop until we reached Philadelphia; there we found a separation had taken place in the church, caused as above; a church was organized, to which we delivered a short course of lectures and then proceeded to New York, found the same causes had produced the same effects there; we delivered a course of lectures there, and formed a church, and then proceeded to Boston, and there formed another church. From thence we returned by way of New York, and passed into New Jersey, and formed two churches; returned to Philadelphia and lectured again to the church there, and from thence came home.
At no period of our public ministry, have we been so successful in any one journey; success attended us at every place and in every step, from the time we left till we returned. We delivered as many, as would amount to nearly one lecture for every day we were gone, and we feel that we have cause for unceasing gratitude to our Heavenly Father, for all his mercies and loving kindness, and for the glorious door of hope he has opened unto us.
WORD FAITH INDEX
CATHOLIC CHURCH INDEX