P., Letter to the editor of Times and Seasons [JS], [, Hancock Co., IL, ca. 1 Sept. 1842]. Version published in “To the Editor of the Times and Seasons,” Times and Seasons, 1 Sept. 1842, 3:906–908. For more complete source information, see the source note for Letter to Isaac Galland, 22 Mar. 1839.
S. For the same reason, sir, that you do not show the stone tables, and convince the world at once. They were held sacred in the ark of the covenant, and he that looked into that died. Besides Mr. Smith would be the only proper person to exhibit and explain them; and for him to travel and exhibit them to convince the world at once, over a globe of about 25,000 miles in circumference, embracing various climes and inhabitants, using more than 300 different languages, and numbering more than 900,000,000 souls,—would be an eternal work. To do nothing but travel he would do well if he convinced one a day, which would be 365 a year. At this rate, could the present inhabitants live so long, it would require more than two and a half millions of years, leaving the increase, as the world is now, in heathen darkness.
C. I see you are prepared to resist natural reasons by arguments which have never before been presented to me. But as to its being a revelation the world doubts.
S. Don’t the world believe the witnesses to the book?
C. No: they testify too much: saying that an came down from heaven and brought the , and showed them.
S. Is any thing contrary to scripture that an angel should come from heaven in this age of the world, more than another?
C. Yes! The idea of seeing angels is preposterous. Dr. Gill, Dr. Scott, Dr. Clark, and all our great men in divinity discard the idea. Why sir, the presence of an holy angel would consume us.
S. I see you dont believe in the administration of angels in the church of Jesus Christ.
C. No: not I—it is next to blasphemy to suppose that God would send a holy angel among men in such an enlightened age of the world.
S. Sir, your reason is contrary to the bible; now listen to me a moment and I will show you that God never had a church and people upon the earth, without administering to them by angels. Hagar, Abraham’s wife’s servant saw an angel, to comfort her in the hour of distress: The Lord and two angels feasted with Abraham upon a fat calf—see Gen. 18 ch:—and the same angels went from Abraham, while he plead with the Lord for Sodom and Gomorrah, and staid all night with Lot and partook of another feast. This may be the reason why Paul said “be not forgetful to entertain strangers, for thereby some have entertained angels unawares.” Jacob saw concourses of angels descending and ascending from heaven to earth, and even wrestled with God! Moses, who, after he murdered the Egyptian, had no better reputation than other men under the same charge, saw God face to face, and seventy of the elders of Israel with him. And the angel went with the camp—Joshua saw the captain of the Lord’s hosts—and from the reading of the old testament, it would seem that it was no very uncommon sight for men and women to see angels; even old Nebuchadnezzar, when the three holy men were cast into the fiery furnace, saw four walking in the flames, “and the form of the fourth was like unto the son of God.” It appears he knew how Jesus Christ looked several hundred years before he came in the flesh, wicked as he was, and that is more than you allow among what you call righteous.
Again, besides the administering of angels to thousands which I will not now trouble you to hear,—at the birth of Jesus and before,—the Jews, who, you admit were so wicked that they crucified their Lord, were nevertheless visited by an angel yearly at the pool of Bethesda—an angel visited Cornelius before he was initiated into the kingdom: an angel unlocked the prison doors for Peter; and when the Lord was about to show his servants things that must shortly come to pass, he sent and signified it by his angel unto his servant John, and told John that the mystery of the seven stars was the seven angels of the seven churches of Asia.— What think ye, did God ever have a church without an angel in it?
C. You Mormons have too much scripture—you take all. Now we believe that reason and philosophy have the place of revelation, and as the old testament has been fulfilled, so as also the new, when the apostles died, ceased to be any thing more than the foundation upon which our learned divines were to build up churches until they converted the world to christianity, and brought in the millennium.
S. Too much scripture! why sir, the apostle says all scripture given by inspiration, is profitable for doctrine and reproof, &c., and that in the last days God, not man, would pour out his spirit upon all flesh; and they should prophecy, dream dreams, and see visions; and the Lord would reveal the abundance of peace and truth: gather children his from every country whither he had scattered them, and return to them a pure language, that they might call upon him with one consent: gather all nations to the valley of Jehoshaphat, and destroy them, that the children of Israel would be seven years in burning the carriages and implements of war; that instead of your reason and philosophy, Paul says, beware lest any man spoil you through philosophy and vain deceit, after the rudiments of the world, and not after the doc [p. 907]
See 1 Samuel 6:19. JS recorded in his personal history that an angel commanded him not to show the gold plates “to any person” except those to whom he “should be commanded to show them.” In 1838 JS explained that he delivered the plates to an angel after he finished translating them. (JS History, vol. A-1, 6, 8.)
Possibly John Gill, a Baptist minister who lived in England during the eighteenth century and wrote extensively on the nature of angels and other heavenly beings. He also wrote nine volumes of biblical commentary. (See Gill, Body of Doctrinal Divinity, bk. 2, chap. 3; bk. 3, chaps. 2, 5–6; John Gill, An Exposition of the New Testament . . . , 3 vols. [London: By the author, 1746–1748]; John Gill, An Exposition of the Books of the Prophets of the Old Testament . . . , 2 vols. [London: By the author, 1757–1758]; and John Gill, An Exposition of the Old Testament . . . , 4 vols. [London: By the author, 1763–1765].)
Gill, John. A Complete Body of Doctrinal and Practical Divinity; or, A System of Evangelical Truths, Deduced from the Sacred Scriptures. 3 vols. London: W. Winterbotham, 1796.
Gill, John. An Exposition of the New Testament, in three volumes. 3 vols. London: By the author, 1746–1748.
Gill, John. An Exposition of the Books of the Prophets of the Old Testament, Both larger and lesser. 2 vols. London: By the author, 1757–1758.
Gill, John. An Exposition of the Old Testament . . . 4 vols. London: By the author, 1763–1765.
Possibly Walter Scott, the editor of the Evangelist (Cincinnati) who published several articles critical of JS and the church starting in 1832. Or possibly Thomas Scott, the Anglican author of a popular six-volume biblical commentary published in 1822. (See, for example, [Walter Scott], “Mormon Bible—No. 1,” Evangelist, 1 Jan. 1841, 17–21; and Thomas Scott, The Holy Bible . . . , 5th ed., 6 vols. [London: 1822].)
Evangelist. Carthage, OH. 1832–1844.
Scott, Thomas, ed. The Holy Bible, Containing the Old and New Testaments, according to the Authorized Version: With Explanatory Notes and Practical Observations. Vol. 5. 9th American ed. Boston: Samuel T. Armstrong, 1823.
Possibly John A. Clark, rector of St. Andrews Church in Philadelphia, who wrote a book containing his thoughts, sketches of scenery, and accounts of events he witnessed while traveling throughout the United States. He dedicated several chapters to criticizing Latter-day Saints. Or possibly Adam Clarke. (Wilson and Fiske, Appletons’ Cyclopaedia of American Biography, 1:629; John A. Clark, Gleanings by the Way [Philadelphia: W. J. and J. K. Simon, 1842].)
Wilson, James Grant, and John Fiske. Appletons’ Cyclopaedia of American Biography. Vol. 3. New York: D. Appleton and Company, 1898.
Clark, John A. Gleanings by the Way. New York: Robert Carter, 1842.