Mormon History

Analysis of Orson Pratt's Sermon - 1875

The Salt Lake Daily Tribune July 25, 1875


A Review of His Sermon by Elder Briggs.

Eds. Tribune: Mr. Pratt's discourse on Sunday, July 11, 1875, in the Tabernacle, Salt Lake City, was an elaborate effort of two hours, in which he assumed to speak for the Latter-day Saints, and proposed to give (to the editorial excursion party, a small part of whom were present) the peculiar doctrines of the Latter-day Saints. We listened to the discourse, and having noted its prominent features, shall here give them to the reader, and our answer to them. But first, we object to Mr. Pratt's speaking unqualifiedly for the Latter-day Saints, because the Utah people with whom Mr. Pratt is connected, is, and ever have been, only a fraction, and a sect or faction of the great body of the Latter-day Saints. This is shown by the following


In 1844, the Latter-day Saints were estimated at 200,000 (Times and Seasons, vol. 5, p. 517). And in 1853, after nine years of gathering and proselyting, the number in Utah is given by Mr. Pratt himself, as 30,000. Now, allowing that the proselytes during these nine years were equal to those in fellowship out of Utah, the while number was in 1853, 20,000, less than one-sixth the number of Latter-day Saints in 1844. And when it is remembered that in that year (1853) polygamy was first proclaimed, resulting in the withdrawal of large numbers, this proportion may be conceded as unchanged, and of the original 200,000 in 1844, probably not one-fiftieth are now in fellowship with Mr. Pratt's party. But waving the further consideration of his assumption, let us see whether he represents or misrepresents the faith. He says we are here in these vallies, gathered out from the various nations, in fulfillment of the prophecy of Isaiah, 21 chapter, 2d verse: "And it shall come to pass in the last days that the mountain of the Lord's House shall be established in the tops of the mountains -- and all nations shall flow unto it." Now, if these mountains around this valley were the only ones known, it would need be the ones referred to; but as they are not, how did Mr. Pratt identify them as the one the prophet referred to? Simply by affirming it. But we will prove that they are not. The first verse settles this as follows: "The word that Isaiah the son of Amos saw concerning Judah and Jerusalem," -- not Utah, or Salt Lake City. So Mr. Pratt has cited this scripture to deceive others, and to his own condemnation.

The same is found in Micah, 1th chapter, And in chapter 1, verse 1, we learn it is applied to Samaria and Jerusalem, and in chapter 3, verse 12 we are told where the Mountain of the House is, viz: in Jerusalem. On applying these prophecies to Utah, Mr. Pratt necessarily assumed that the temples here were within the Zion therein mentioned and of course a chosen place of the Lord, etc. Two strange contraditions are here involved. 1st this location, this city, temple, etc. is not upon the tops of the mountains "nor" above the hills; but at the foot of them. 2nd, in the Seer, vol. 1. p. 77, Mr. Pratt states that the people here, are in exile, driven here. Now if they are within the boundaries of Zion, they are not in exile; and if they are out of the boundaries, what authority is there for temples?

We learn in Doc. and Cov. sec. 13th, par. 3, that Zion, is the new Jerusalem, and in sec. 27, part1, we learn where the center of the city of Zion, or New Jerusalem is; viz: Independence, Jackson County, Mo.; and in par. 21-1 we have the measurement, viz: 12,000 furlongs, or 1500 miles square. Salt Lake City's Temple is thus more than 500 miles outside of the boundaries of Zion. Israel did not found a Zion at Babylon in their exile! But if Isaiah and Micah did not speak of Utah, evidently Jeremiah did, chapter 17, 2, 5, 6, where it is said, "Those who trust in man and made flesh his arm -- or did as they were told by man -- should inhabit the parched places in the wilderness, in a salt land and not inhabited." This place, in fact, also shows why Mr. Pratt's exiles were locared here, because their hearts "departeth from the Lord,"

Mr. Pratt then introduced marriage as a peculiar tenet of the Saints. By refering to the nuptials of Adam and Eve, his reasonings and assumptions were as follows: Adam and Eve were immortal, hence their union was for eternity. Mr. Webster defines immortal thus: "Exemption from liability to die, undieing, imperishable, etc." Adam and Eve were liable to die, asnd did die, therefore were not immortal. Therefore Mr. Pratt's "eternity of marriage," is false, and the inference drawn from it must be false also. But he goes on and affirms that the object of marriage is the production of offspring, hence the begetting and bearing of children will continue through all eternity. But in Lu. 20, marriage is clearly limited to this world. This world and that world is this side and the other side of the resurrection. The contrast is drawn between the two upon this point, thus: The children of this world marry, the children of that world neither marry nor are they given in marriage. Doc. and Cov., Sec. 68, par. 3, declares "That marriage is ordained to fill the earth (not eternity)" with the measure or offspring of man. Mr. Pratt having


of course every proper inference from it, we find is falsehood also. But the main object of Mr. Pratt was to establish polygamy, which he asserted grew out of the eternity of marriage, as follows: The object of marriage being children, and in case the wife of a man -- a man in the prime of life, says Mr. P., should die -- such do die -- the man may take another and raise children, and this second is his wife as much as the first; and in the resurrection both will be his wives. So says Mr. Pratt, triumphantly; polygamy will exist in eternity, in spite of Congress. To this it might be replied, that a husband might die, and leave a wife "in the prime of life," and she would be equally entitled to marry again, to obey that "great command," to multiply, and her second, would be just as much her husband as the first; and in the resurrection she would have two husbands; and thus establish poliandry in eternity, in spite of Congress.

But Mr. Pratt thus assuming that he had firmly established polygamy in eternity, asks, why not practice it in this world? He does not forget to mention Abraham and his two wives, Sarah and Hagar; but he forgot to notice that the Lord and Sarah divorced him from the latter, so that Abraham went into that world a monogamist, and not a polygamist. Mr. Pratt then asked, who says polygamy is a crime, does the bible? And answers, "no prophet, no aspostel, no inspired man ever called polygamy a crime." To this we oppose the following: In the Book of Mormon, page 118, it is twice referred to as a "grosser crime." Jacob, here speaking, says he was burdened by the word of the Lord because of those "grosser crimes." And then forbid in the name of the Lord that any among them "should have save it be one wife and concubines none." Again, Joseph and Hyrum Smith in their notice to the Church, February 1st, 1844, polygamy is placed with other false and corrupt doctrines, the teachings of which is called "iniquity." This is equivalent to calling it a crime.


Mr. John Taylor (one of Mr. Pratt's quorum of Apostles) said in 1845, "For once let me say that Cain who went to Nod and taught the doctrine of a plurality of wives, and the giants who practiced the same iniquity, etc. -- are all co-workers on the same plane;" (T. & S., vol. 6, p. 888). If iniquity is criminal, then here is an apostle of Mr. Pratt's own quorum who once called "plurality of wives" or polygamy a crime. Again, Doc. & Cov., sec. 108, par. 4, "Inasmuch as this Church of Christ has been reproached with the crime of fornication and polygamy, we declare that we believe that one man should have one wife, and one woman one husband." This item of law was adopted by the general assembly of all the quorums of the Church, Mr. Pratt among them, who here calls polygamy a crime. Thus we have shown that both prophets and apostles, and the whole Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints call polygamy a crime.

Then why did Mr. Pratt make the statement he did? Was it not to deceive? He knew he was stating an untruth. And does not this prove that he is one of the "false Apostles' deceitful workers," of whom Saints and honest Gentiles are


Mr. Pratt then claimed immunity for polygamy under the Constitution, as being "part of our religion," and said, suppose the majority (in Congress) should enact a law to imprison all who practicd sprinkling, etc. The following is also a part of the religion of this faction represented by Mr. Pratt. "I could refer you to plenty of instances where men have been righteously slain, in order to atone for their sins." (Brigham Young's Jour. Dis. vol. 4, page 22). "This is loving our neighbor as ourselves. If he wants help, help him. If it is necessary to spill his blood on the earth, in order that he may be saved, spill it." Ibid.


Now here is a peculiar doctrine fo this people -- a part of their religion. To spill the blood of such as is "necessary, (they of course being judges) in order that he may be saved," Hence, according to Mr. Pratt, Congress has no right to enact laws against "spilling blood" or killing in Utah, beacuse, forsooth, it is part of their religion. And it is upon this view of the subject, that all attempts at ferreting out, and punishing the Church murders, is called persecution! The time has come, Mr. Pratt, to uncover iniquity, rebuke hypocracy, and call crime by its right name.       J. W. BRIGGS
Salt Lake, July 21, 1875.

Note: See also this Josephite chief apostle's other articles of this period, in his own Salt Lake Messenger.