Tuesday, July 1, 2008

"Truth will Prevail"

Mr. Editor,-

“Sir, ever since I gave up the editorial department of the "Times and Seasons," I have thought of writing a piece for publication, by way of valedictory, as is usual when editors resign the chair editorial. My principal remarks I intended to apply to the gentlemen of the quill, or, if you please, that numerous body of respectable gentlemen who profess to regulate the tone of the public mind, in regard to politics, morality, religion, literature, the arts and sciences, &c. &c. viz. the editors of the public journals; or, if you please, I will designate them, the lions of the forest.

“This latter cognomen sir, I consider to be more appropriate, because of the dignity of their office, their lofty bearing and mien, their ascendancy and influence over all others, and because of the tremendous noise that they make when they utter their voice.

“It came to pass that as I went forth like a young fawn, one day, to feed upon the green grass in my pasture, an ass saw me, and brayed, and made a great noise; which a neighboring lion hearing roared, even as a lion roareth when he beholds his prey: at the sound of his voice the beasts of the field were alarmed, and the lions in the adjoining jungles pricked their ears and roared in their turn; and behold all the lions of the forest, alarmed by the noise, opened their mouths and uttered forth their voice which was as the roaring of a cataract, or as the voice of thunder; so tremendous was their roaring that the trees of the forest shook, as if they were shaken by a mighty wind; and all the beasts of the forest trembled, as if a whirlwind were passing. I lifted up mine eyes with astonishment when I heard the voice of the lions, and saw the fury of their rage. I asked, is it possible that so many lords of the forest, such noble beasts, should condescend to notice one solitary fawn, that is feeding alone upon his pasture; without attempting to excite either their jealousy or anger?

“I have not strayed from the fold, nor injured the trees of the forest, nor hurt the beasts of the field, nor trampled upon their pasture, nor drunk of their streams; why then their rage against me? When lo! and behold! they again uttered their voices, as the voice of great thunderings, and there was given unto them the voice of men; but it was difficult for me to distinguish what was said, among so many voices; but ever and anon I heard a few broken, incoherent sentences, like the following:-Murder! Desolation!! Bloodshed!!! Arson!!! Treason!!! Joe Smith and the Mormons!!! Our nation will be overturned!!! The impostor should be drove from the State!!!

“The fawn will be metamorphosed into a lion; will devour all the beasts of the field, destroy all the trees of the forest, and tread underfoot all the rest of the lions. I then lifted up my voice and said, hear me, ye beasts of the forest! and all ye great lions pay attention! I am innocent of the things whereof ye accuse me. I have not been guilty of violating your laws, nor of trespassing upon your rights. My hands are clean from the blood of all men, and I am at the defiance of the world to substantiate the crimes whereof I am accused; wherefore, then, should animals of your noble mien stoop to such little jealousies, such vulgar language, and lay such unfounded charges at the door of the innocent?

"It is true that I once suffered an ass to feed in my pasture: he ate at my crib and drank at my waters, but possessing the true nature of an ass, he began to foul the water with his feet, and to trample under foot the green grass, and destroy it. I therefore put him out of my pasture, and he began to bray. Many of the lions in the adjoining jungles mistaking his braying for the roaring of a lion, commenced roaring. When I proclaimed this abroad many of the lions began to inquire into the matter; a few possessing a more noble nature than many of their fellows, drew near, and viewing the animal found that he was nothing more than a decrepit, broken-down, worn-out ass that had scarcely anything left but his ears and his voice.

"Whereupon many of the lions of Quincy; the lion of Sangamo; the lion of Alton, and several other lions, for giving a false alarm, for dishonoring their race, and for responding to the voice of so base an animal as an ass. And they felt ashamed of themselves for being decoyed into such base ribaldry, and foul-mouthed slander. But there were many that lost sight of their dignity, and continued to roar, although they knew full well that they were following the braying of so despicable a creature.

“Among these was a great lion, whose den was on the borders of the eastern sea; he had waxed great in strength; he had terrible teeth, and his eyes were like balls of fire; his head was large and terrific, and his shaggy mane rolled with majestic grandeur over his terrible neck; his claws were like the claws of the dragon; and his ribs were like those of the leviathan; when he lifted himself up all the beasts of the field bowed with respectful deference; and when he spake the whole universe listened, and the cinders of his power cover creation. His might, his influence were felt to the ends of the earth; when he lashed his tail the beasts of the forest trembled; and when he roared all the great lions and the young lions crouched down at his feet.

“This great lion lifting up himself and beholding the fawn afar off, he opened his mouth, and joining in the common roar, uttered the following great swelling yelp:

“ -Joe Smith In Trouble.-
“By a letter which we published on Sunday, from Springfield, Illinois, it appears that Joe Smith, the great Mormon Prophet, has at last given himself up to the authorities of Illinois. He is charged with fomenting or conspiring to assassinate Governor Boggs, of Missouri, and is demanded by the functionary of that State, of the Governor of Illinois. He has taken out a writ of habeas corpus, denying the fact, and is now waiting the decision of the court at Springfield. This will bring Joe's troubles to a crisis. In the mean time, why does not Joe try his power at working a miracle or two? Now's the time to prove his mission-besides being very convenient for himself."

“When I heard it, I said poor fellow! How has thy dignity fallen! and how has thy glory departed! Thou that once ranked amongst the foremost of the beasts of the field, as the lord of the forest! Even thou hast condescended to degrade thyself by uniting with the basest of animals, and to join ion with the braying of an ass. And now, friend B., allow me to whisper a word in thine ear. Dost thou not know that there is a God in the heavens that judgeth? that setteth up one and putteth down another according to the counsel of his own will? That if thou possessest any influence, wisdom, dominion, or power, it comes from God, and to him thou art indebted for it? That he holds the destinies of men in his power, and can as easily put down as he has raised up? Tell me when hast thou treated a subject of religious and eternal truth with that seriousness and candor that the importance of the subject demands from a man in thy standing, possessing thy calling and influence?

“As you seem to be quite a theologist, allow me to ask a few questions, why did not God deliver Micah from the hands of his persecutors? Why did not Jeremiah "work a miracle or two," to help him out of the dungeon? It would have been "very convenient." Why did not Zechariah, by a miracle prevent the people from slaying him? Why did not our Savior come down from the cross? The people asked him to do it; and besides he had "saved others," and could not save himself, so said the people. Why did he not prove his mission by working a miracle and coming down? Why did not Paul by a miracle prevent the people from stoning and whipping him? It would have been "very convenient." Or why did the saints of God, in every age, have to wander about in sheep skins and goat skins? Being tempted, tried, and sawn asunder; of whom the world was not worthy. I would here advise my worthy friend, before he talks of 'proving missions," "working miracles," or any "convenience" of that kind, to read his Bible a little more, and the garbled stories of political demagogues less.

“I listened, and lo! I heard a voice, and it was the voice of my shepherd, saying, listen all ye lions of the forest; and all the beasts of the field give ear; ye have sought to injure the innocent; and your hands have been lifted against the weak, the injured and the oppressed. Ye have pampered the libertine, the calumniator, and the base. Ye have winked at vice, and trodden under foot the virtuous and the pure. Therefore hear, all ye lions of the forest. The Lord God will take from you your teeth, so that you shall no longer devour. He will pluck out your claws, so that you can no longer seize upon you prey. Your strength will fail you in the day of trouble, and your voice will fail, and not be heard afar off; but mine elect will I uphold with mine arm, and my chosen shall be supported by my power. And when mine anointed shall be exalted, and all the lions of the forest shall have lost their strength, then shall they remember that the Lord he is God.”
-Joseph Smith.

[Times and Seasons Vol. IV. No. 7.] CITY OF NAUVOO, ILL. FEB. 15, 1843

No comments: