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If other leaders of the Mormons have not imitated their first prophet in openly aspiring to the headship of the nation, they have not failed to indicate their belief that the right to universal rule belongs to themselves, as holding the sceptre of the true theocracy upon earth. Brigham Young, who fulfilled the part of a second founder by leading the Mormons to Utah, declared: "Our ecclesiastical government is the government of heaven, and includes all governments in earth and hell. It is the fountain, the mainspring, the source of all light, power, and government that ever did or ever will exist. It circumscribes the governments of this world. ... There is no true government on earth but the government of God or the holy priesthood."1 To similar effect are the words of Orson Pratt: "It is not consistent that the people of God should organize or be subject to man-made governments. If it were so, they could never be perfected. There can be but one perfect government, that organized by God, a government by apostles, prophets, priests, teachers, and evangelists; the order of the original church of all churches acknowledged by God."2 The place of the Mormon president in this government is thus defined by Jedediah M. Grant: "Mormonism is one, it is governed by one head, one president, and that head representing God on earth. If Joseph Smith held the keys of the kingdom of God on earth, of the apostleship, does not his successor possess the same?" 8
1 Journal of Discourses, vii. 112, quoted by Lyford, The Mormon Problem.
2 Quoted by Bancroft, History of the Pacific States of North America, xxi. 368, 369.
Journal of Discourses, ii. 15.
The practice of the Mormons has corresponded with this theory. They have been distinguished by an extraordinary political solidarity. Wherever any interest of their Church has been involved, or appeared to be involved, all else has been ignored. The voice of the priesthood has always virtually silenced that of the civil government in the ears of the Saints. Thus they have shown an inveterate tendency to constitute an imperium in imperio, an independent sovereignty within the nation. From this unhappy singularity, supplemented by a free venting of very arrogant claims and anticipations, sprang in large part the hostility which drove them out of Missouri and Illinois, and the dislike which has continued to be entertained against them by their non-Mormon neighbors. It is felt that a theocratic system which makes subserviency to a priestly hierarchy to completely overshadow all other claims is antagonistic to the obligations of citizenship, an alien factor in the republic, a pestiferous thing to manage.
If theocratic pretension, sustained by a very thorough and pervasive system of official supervision, has been the leading feature of Mormonism, the doctrine and practice of plural marriage must be placed next to this. According to the orthodox Mormon theory the revelation in behalf of plural marriage, though not published till 1852, was received by Joseph Smith in 1843. On the other hand, the non-polygamous Mormons deny that any such revelation was given. If the main body of Mormons is right in assuming that the document which purports to be a divine sanction of polygamy dates from
1 These style themselves the Reorganized Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. At the census of 1890 they numbered 21,773.
1843, then Joseph Smith was guilty of barefaced deception; for in a notice published in the "Times and Seasons" of February 1, 1844, he numbered polygamy among "false and corrupt doctrines." On the same supposition he was also guilty of flagrant self-contradiction; since there are passages in the Book of Mormon and in the Book of Covenants which plainly discountenance polygamy. If, on the contrary, he made no pretence to having received the revelation in question, the lie rests with the Mormon chiefs who followed. Doubtless either party could have carried off the falsehood without change of countenance; but the early initiation of polygamous practice, and the fact that several women in Utah have claimed to have been wives of the deceased prophet, make it highly probable that Joseph Smith sanctioned the odious practice in the inner circle of Mormonism, while reprobating it before the public.
In the Mormon scheme plural marriage holds not merely the rank of a permissible social arrangement, but has a far-reaching importance as being vitally related to the future destiny of men. It hastens, it is claimed, the embodiment of pre-existent spirits, by increasing the number of births within a given time, and thereby forwards the development of spirits into [Mormon] saints, and so into heirs of immortal blessedness. Moreover, exaltation in the life to come is made to depend on the extent of a man's family establishment, or the number of his wives and children. In a discourse delivered July 14, 1855, Brigham Young said: "If I be made the king and lawgiver to my family, and if I have many sons, I shall become the father of many fathers, for they will have sons, and so on, from generation to
generation; and in this way I may become the father of many fathers, or the king of many kings. In this way we can become King of kings, and Lord of lords, or Father of fathers, or Prince of princes; and this is the only course, for another man is not going to raise up a kingdom for you." 1 The imperative nature of this item of Mormon teaching was declared at the same time in these strong terms: "Now if any of you will deny the plurality of wives, and continue to do so, I promise that you will be damned; and I will go still further and say, take this revelation, or any other revelation that the Lord has given, and deny it in your feelings, and I promise that you will be damned."
Marriage may be exclusively for time, or exclusively for eternity, or possibly for both time and eternity. The second type, which is described as spiritual marriage, provides for a mixed sense of proprietorship, since it enables a man to become the prospective husband of another man's wife by the simple process of having her sealed to him for eternity. That this mixed sense of proprietorship is favorable to connubial fidelity, no one can believe who seriously ponders the conditions.
While thus an ambition for multiplied marriage reiations has been promoted, facility of divorce has not been neglected. "Brigham, as head of the Church, claimed authority not only to marry, but also to divorce at will. . . . In a district removed from the capital, only the consent of the bishop is necessary, and the bill of divorcement is a very simple writing." 2
It can hardly be regarded as an accident that the very conception of Deity is made conformable in the 2 Bancroft, xxi. 355.
1 Journal of Discourses, iii. 266.
Mormon scheme to the doctrine of polygamy. God the Father is declared by Smith and Young to have a body of flesh and bones as tangible as man's,1 and in Mormon thought it is counted no derogation from His honor to assign to Him veritable connubial relations. Christ is asserted to have lived upon earth as a polygamist. In a sermon, of October 6, 1854, Orson Hyde said: "I do not despise to be called a son of Abraham, if he had a dozen wives; or to be called a brother, a son, a child of the Saviour, if he had Martha and Mary and several others as wives; and though he did cast seven devils out of one of them, it is all the same to me." 2 Not infrequently a suggestion is given that, inasmuch as kingly dominion depends on extent of progeny, God is only relatively distinguished from men. In fact, a polytheistic phraseology is freely employed. Thus we have this from Brigham Young: "The Lord created you and me for the purpose of becoming Gods like Himself. . . . We are created, we are born for the express purpose of growing up from the low estate of manhood to become Gods like unto our Father in heaven." 3 On another occasion, if he has been correctly reported, Brigham went so far as to say of Adam, "He is our Father and our God, and the only God with whom we have to do." 4
At one time the doctrine of blood atonement was industriously proclaimed among the Mormons. Its im1 Compendium of Faith and Doctrines, compiled by F. D. Richards, pp. 146, 152.
2 Journal of Discourses, ii. 82.
8 Journal of Discourses, iii. 93.
Tabernacle Sermon, April 9, 1852, quoted by Stenhouse, Rocky Mountain Saints, p. 485.