“Dialogue on Mormonism. No I.” Times and Seasons (Nauvoo, Illinois) 2, no. 17 (1 July 1841): 456–57.
Mr. M. Good morning Mr. R. Did you go to hear the Mormon preach last evening?
Mr. R. No, indeed I did not, I think it below my notice to listen to those babblers.
Mr. M. Why Mr. R., do you call them babblers and think so meanly of them? I’m sure I heard nothing objectionable in the discourse last evening.
Mr. R. Why! have you not heard the reports which are in circulation respecting them?
Mr. M. Yes, I have heard a great many stories about this people, but some of them were so extravagant and carried their own refutation on the face of them, that I thought I would hear both sides of the question.
Mr. R. Well, for my part, I am astonished that any respectable person should give ear to them. Such imposters should be discarded.
Mr. M. Probably, you may have been mis-informed, and have heard reports which have no foundation in truth. I think if you were properly informed on the subject, you would not feel so inimical to them. You know what the scriptures say “Prove all things and hold fast that which is good,” and you know that public opinion is not always a proper standard for us to judge by, if it were so, our Savior would not have been crucified by the Jews, nor would the apostles have had to flee from one city to another, and be brought before magistrates and rulers.
Mr. R. Well, well Mr. M., that is good reasoning enough; but the idea of walking on the water, their pretensions of raising the dead, and other extravagant notions, are so absurd and ridiculous that I wonder any men of common sense should join them.
Mr. M. I have heard such stories, but when I talk with them on the subject, I find that they make no such pretensions, but speak very rationally, and I assure you they argue very logically on the scriptures.
Mr. R. Why! do you mean to say, that they believe any thing of our bible? Dont you know that they have discarded our scriptures and have got a bible of their own?
Mr. M. Why sir, the preacher last evening confined himself exclusively to the scriptures of the old and new testament, and proved the doctrines he advanced from the same. I, afterwards, had some conversation with him, and made some enquiries respecting the Mormon bible as it is termed, and he very freely and candidly answered my enquires, and said that the “Book of Mormon,” was a record of the aborigines of this contnent, which had been preserved on plates, and handed down from generation to generation, until, on account of the wickedness of the people, they were hid up; and that Joseph Smith was informed by a heavenly messenger where those plates were—was instructed to obtain, and power was given him to translate them. I have not yet had time to examine the book, but I shall certainly read it, and then, afterwards, I shall judge; but they certainly beleive our bible Mr. R.
Mr. R. Really Mr. M., this is strange news. Why how can people get up such wonderful stories? There must be some foundation for them. Again, you know that the Rev. Mr. H. and other very worthy ministers, who are eminent for their piety and learning, speak hard things against them, and warn their people against receiving them into their houses, and not to countenance such renegadoes.
Mr. M. I am aware that this is the fact, and I am sorry that the preachers should have no better weapons to use than to publish the reports which they have done. If Mormonism is a deception why do they not argue the subject like men and christians? If the doctrines they teach are so monstrous, why do not the ministers of the different denominations, expose them and prove them so from the scripture? Such a course would be far more honorable than retailing slanderous reports.
Mr. R. But do the Mormons wish to have their religion investigated? Do they not assume a high dictatorial bearing, and refuse to answer any questions; but say, that if reason and scripture come in contact with their doctrines, they do not care, but assert, that they know that there doctrines are true?
Mr. M. Such have been the reports; but when the preacher had got through his discourse last evening, he said, that inasmuch as there were many reports in circulation respecting their church, and the doctrines they advanced, he would give an opportunity for any one to ask any questions on the subject, and, if any one had any objections to urge against the doctrines he had advanced, they were at liberty to do so.
Mr. R. Did any one make any objections?
Mr. M. No sir. The doctrines he advanced were elucidated with so much clearness, and proof upon every point he advanced was so abundant, that I saw no possibility of making any. Some questions were asked respecting the book of Mormon which were answered very satisfactory, and then the meeting separated. I remained some time longer and conversed with him on the various subjects he had advanced and found him very communicative indeed, and seemed to take considerable pleasure in giving information respecting their faith and doctrine. I wish you had been there Mr. M. I think you would have a better opinion of these people if you could once hear them preach.
Mr. R. I probably might, but I do not think I should. I can never have a great opinion of any people who will condemn the whole world, and say “The temple of the Lord are we, and heathens all beside.”—No, Mr. M. they cannot catch old birds with chaff. I should be sorry to indulge in predjudice against any sect; neither would I persecute any man for his religious opinions. But, really Mr. M., this Mormon doctrine is monstrous.
Mr. M. I have ever considered you a liberal minded person, and I really do think, that if you were to hear them preach once, you would think differently of them to what you do now; or, if you were to converse with them on the subject. I invited the preacher to come and spend the afternoon at my house, to converse with him more fully on these subjects; I should be very much pleased indeed, if you and Mrs. R., could make it convenient to come over, and chat with us awhile. I believe you will find the preacher a gentleman, very affable; and probably we may both hear some thing that may tend to our benefit.
Mr. R. I am obliged to you for your kind invitation and good feelings, probably I shall comply with your request; I shall go home and see if it will be convenient for Mrs. R. to accompany me.—However there is one privilege I wish to have, and that is, if I find the preacher garbling the scriptures, or advancing any erroneous notions, I want to expose him fully and treat him as he may deserve.
Mr. M. I am not afraid of your overstepping the bounds of a gentleman.—Good morning Mr. R.
Mr. R. Good morning.