“The Mormons,” New York Daily Times, 29 May 1857.
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THEIR “BRANCH” IN NEW-YORK.
Sabbath Services—Communion Ceremony—Speeches by Salt Lake Missionaries—
A Hand-cart Song to “Oh Susannah,” &c.
The Mormons do not all live at Salt Lake, as some persons seem to suppose, although one of the chief aims of Mormon missionary enterprise seems to be to “gather the Saints together in Zion,—in the valleys of the mountain,” as they term their settlement's in Utah. Members of this strange sect are found in our large cities all over the land,—but chiefly at the points where foreign immigration is most prosperous, or in the more populous mercantile centers of the Western States. “The Church” is located at Salt Lake, and the lesser associations scattered elsewhere about the land are known as “Branches.” One of these Branches exists in our midst, and holds its meetings every Sabbath at the hall of Brooks’ Dancing Academy in Broome street near Elizabeth.
Happening in at this place yesterday afternoon, we propose to give our readers some account of what we saw and heard. We found assembled about two hundred persons, of which about half were women. It required but a single glance to show that the audience was by no means an intellectual one. Indeed there were few faces in the room indicating possession by their wearers of even an average degree of intelligence. Nor were there many American physiognomics present. As well as we could judge nine-tenths of the audience were English, and of the poor and ignorant lower classes found in the coal and manufacturing districts of Great Britain,—precisely the sort of people among whom religious superstition and fanaticism would be expected to thrive luxuriantly.
Our visit was well-timed, for we had opportunity to witness the administration of the Lord’s Supper and also to see and hear a band of Mormon missionaries just arrived from Salt Lake. The form of communion service was not very dissimilar to that of the Presbyterian or Congregational denomination. The service opened with prayer and singing. Two brethren (deacons, we believe) were then called forward from the audience, who “brake the bread.” While this was being done, somebody was admitted into the “branch,” by certificate from another society, the congregation voting on the question of his admission by raising of hands. In a similar manner a certificate was voted to a retiring member who wished to go to St. Louis.
This concluded, the brethren who broke the bread knelt before it with their backs to the congregation, when one of them asked the Divine blessing upon it. The same ceremony was subsequently performed with reference to the wine. The sacramental elements were distributed to the audience by two young men, and offered to all without distinction, even the little eight-year-old urchin partaking, who we saw twirling a “Tee-to-tum” on the seat while the blessing was asking a few minutes before. No address appropriate to the ceremony was made—no explanation of the rites, no reference to the sublime scene on which these sacramental elements are designed to be the solemn symbols. The whole proceeding was gone through with as a matter-of course affair—form having no significance beyond the partaking of bread or wine at any public table. In this particular and in the administration to young children, was the only marked difference of the ceremony from that in the Congregational service.
The Missionary brethren, whose arrival I have already referred to, occupied seats at the left of the stand, and faced the audience so that we could see their faces well. It was difficult to discover from their appearance, what had marked them out for selection as propagandists of the faith. The appearance of neither one of them indicated superior intelligence, and among the several who subsequently addressed the meeting, there were none who manifested the least speaking talent, while only one of the number failed to aspirate his “h,” in genuine cockney style, or otherwise to outrage the English language most villainously. We refer to these facts only to show the caliber of the men who are sent out from Salt Lake to gather new disciples into the Mormon fold.
After the administration of the sacrament was concluded, one of the leaders announced the presence of the several missionaries form the “Vallies of the Mountains,” and introduced a Mr. MACKINTOSH as one of them, who spoke substantially as follows. We confess that our report of the speech is rather deficient in continuity of ideas; but as we lost none that were presented, the fault is with the speaker, who said:
I don’t know that I am acquainted with any of you in this Branch. I have been for some time in the Western States and in New Orleans, but never before had the privilege of being where the height of civilization is. You down here think this is the most civilized place on the globe, and we in the vallies of the mountains think that is. We have got pretty well tanned in coming across the plains, and now we are here we find the weather very warm—at least, it seems so to us. There is a great difference in the climate here and in the mountains.
I wont detain you long, as there are others here to speak. I may have opportunity to appear before you again, as my mission is to the United States, and I suppose I am near my journeys end. But among my brethren who came with me, are several who are going to Europe—some to England, others to Italy, and Denmark, and to Canada. These may not, for a long time, have another chance to be with you. I suppose you want to hear about Utah. The people there get along by industry and hard work. They enjoy the spirit of the Lord and are at peace with each other, and, for what I know, with all the world. We wish peace and good will to all men, and that the light of the Gospel may be in their hearts; but if they wont have it, we feel to let them alone.
We have set an example how to go and preach the Gospel. We have taken our hand-carts,—about seventy of us—have put into them our cooking utensils and provisions, and have traveled on foot, rolling them along over the plains, a distance of eleven hundred miles. This is evidence of our sincerity. We have started to preach the Gospel. We started with-out purse or scrip, but have wanted for nothing. A way was always opened for us. Once or twice we got nearly out of food. The first time, just when we were wondering where to obtain our next meal, seven buffaloes came along, and one of the brethren shot two of them. The next time we were in similar straights, an elk was chased in to us by wolves, and we just had to kill him. And so we had a plenty to eat and got fat, until now that we are here we are getting lighter, I think.
I am thankful that I have had the privilege of coming here with a hand-cart. It is and example for you which you should profit by. The problem is solved that the journey can be made across the plains with the hand-carts. We done it and are all alive and well. None of us have been sick. We all feel first rate in health and first rate towards the work of God. For sixteen years I have been in the work, and generally in positions where I have had plenty to do. I believe it has been good for me, for it brings me often in connection with the people of God. I know that the leaders in this Church are pure men and no hypocrites, and I know Mormonism to be true, whatever unbelievers may say.—and that it will flourish. The evils which people think are now coming upon us will be the very opportunity for us. I would want no better time to thrust in the sickle and reap—no better time to pitch in even here in the Eastern States.
We say in the mountains that there is Heaven, and we call this here something lower; but there are folks who think this Heaven, and call the mountains the other place. We know that we have the spirit of Heaven there; we know that JOSEPH SMITH, “that imposter,” was the Prophet of God, and we know that BRIGHAM YOUNG, “the awful man,” is his legitimate successor. Why, if he was to come here, I believe he would be more notorious than the President of the United States. He is a good man; I have been in his employ for years, and never was better situated in my life. I suppose he thought it would do me good to send me off on a mission.
In the valleys of the mountains you know a reform is commenced, and you know what that means. He who stole is ordered to steal no more, and he who lied to lie no more; and all are made to cense their evil doings of all kinds. We have come down to bring to you some of the fire kindled there. I am happy to see so many of you here assembled, and that you live in the spirit of religion. I won’t lengthen my remarks, as my brethren, who are going to cross the water, may have no other opportunity to speak. May you continue to enjoy the light and peace of the Gospel: Amen.
Each speaker closed with a benediction to which the congregation responded Amen!
AB NER YOUNG was the next speaker. He felt to be thankful that he was here, and that he had the privilege of declaring his testimony. He was thankful too that he was here a good ways on his journey, and would be just as pleased if his destination was here as he was that he was to go further. He knew one thing among a great many others that he knew,—that he was the servant of God, who had called him, was the preserver of his life, and does all things just about right. I suppose, he continues, the Gentiles call me a fool, but I don’t care what they call me, nor care what they think of me. I just calculate that God is my friend and will take care of me while he wants me to live upon earth and when he calls me hence it’s all right. While I live I expect to testify to the truth of Mormonism and the purity of my brothers and sisters in the valleys of the mountains, and to give the lie to the slanders circulated about them. I have been one of those who came across the plains with the hand-carts,—not because I was so poor that I couldn’t get a donkey,—but I done it as a testimony to the children of men, that it might be a stimulus to others. We done it for your sakes, that we might teach you to do it for your own sakes.
Well now we have had a good time. I have traveled on the plains for ten years, and never had so pleasant a time and easy trip as this. When I crossed with oxen we were always afraid the Indians would come down upon us and rob us of our animals, and leave us to starve on the plains, without or ever thinking of taking off a pair of wheels and making a hand-cart. I think now I could do that, if I had occasion. We used to stand guard for half the night for fear of the Indians, and had to chase our animals in the morning, losing a great deal of time. Now we get up in the morning, get our breakfast, roll along the hand carts until we are tired and hungry and want our dinner, and then on again until night, when we lay down in our blankets to sleep in the pure air. This we enjoy and fat under,—but since we have got down here in this climate, a man wants a prop under each eyelid to keep awake in meeting or anywhere else. I say this for your encouragement—that each of you may go and get a hand cart and start off for Zion. I tell you the day will come soon when you will be glad to flee to the valleys in the mountain, because the judgments of God will soon sweep over the nations with the besom of destruction. I know—for God has said it—that famine and pestilence are coming upon the earth, and we go to proclaim it to the people of God that they may gather together and be saved.
The speaker expressed the hope that when he got back from his mission to Europe there would not be left in this city a single person who bears the name of Mormon. I know they say they are going to break up the church of the Latter-day Saints, but they are not going to do it. Every time they strike it it will roll over and double every time. If they want to make it that great church which it’s bound to be, just let them kick it and thump it.
The speaker denied that there would be any collision with the United States Government. The only possible chance for a rupture with the Government would occur if the President should send out there a hot-blooded fool to oppress the people. When he left Salt Lake he had never heard that the Mormons had rebelled;—but when he got down to the States he learned that BRIGHAM was in open rebellion, and had a band of Danites who were murdering people by scores. This he declared false as hell and the spirit from which it emanated. He referred to Judge—“such men as bring prostitutes to sit on the bench with them, and when they won’t be permitted to do so any longer, come back and preach that the only thing to be done with the Mormons is to sweep them off the face of the earth.” That couldn’t be done, no how”