Compromise and Concession



Ogden Kraut

Pioneer Publishing
1067 E Cumorah Dr
Genola, UT  84655



1st printing, 1977

Let not that which I have appointed be polluted by mine enemies, by the consent of those who call themselves after my name; for this is a very sore and grievous sin against me, and against my people. … (Doc. & Cov. 101:97-98)


“Truth and error, good and evil, cannot be reconciled.”

Joseph Smith

TPJS, p. 326

Human life is a record of experience and of principles in action; but surely if we look to the past for its legacies of experimental wisdom, we cannot discover more practical lessons on truth and holiness than are to be found in the lives and deaths of those who have formed the noble army of martyrs.

The heathen philosopher thought that there was no sublimer sight for heaven or earth than a great man struggling with adversity; but there is a greater emphasis in this reflection if we apply it to the noble victory of the Christian Martyr over the assaults of the world, the flesh, and the devil. In him we behold a spirit upheld, not by the motives of vanity, self-sufficiency, or indifference, but by the simple power of truth; we witness a soul so under the influence of good, that evil, even in its most cruel form, cannot dim its beauty, but serves as a contrast to heighten its lustre. Here is self-sacrifice, springing not from pride, but from humility; founded not upon ignorant prejudice, but upon a faith based upon conviction; arising not from hatred or contempt for man, but from the love of God. Truly theirs was the victory that overcame the world, even their faith–a faith which, accepting the future as a true inheritance, enabled them to give up for Christ’s sake houses and lands, children and relationships, yea, and their own lives also, rather than be false to their conscience and their God.

The history of Christian Martyrdom is, in fact, the history of Christianity itself; for it is in the arena, at the stake, and in the dungeon, that the religion of Christ has won its most glorious triumphs.

Foxe’s Book of Martyrs, p. 5


The following stories and incidents represent only a small portion of such accounts from out of the pages of secular and ecclesiastical history. They illustrate the conflicts and pressures between men and principles. Through the pains of torture, political persuasions, or by simply following other men, these stories reflect the values men place on their faith.

These brief sketches portray the lives of good men and bad–and the conflict between them. It reveals the nature and source of the pressures that often extract a compromise or a concession from men. Those who concede, abjure, or relinquish to the demands of others are not necessarily bad men. Many good men have confessed, recanted, or signed statements against their will. Some were deceived, or forced beyond their power to resist, while a few others are always willing to concede by renouncing the principles of their faith. But it is in the fire of adversity that a man’s spiritual mettle or the convictions of a man’s faith are proved.

The purpose of this historical vignette is meant to illustrate the penalties and the futility of compromising gospel principles. The past is filled with thousands upon thousands of pages that reflect the courage or the cowardice of men. But valiancy or failure, loyalty or disloyalty, are the results and the reasons for opposition. It is necessary that there be a test of men’s faith. Their triumph or their failure can be an important lesson for others who may have to tread in their footsteps. This is the reason for written history. One man’s life may become the most valuable lesson in the life of another.

It is the wish of the author that this book will promote faith and courage in those who read it, so they may not make compromises or concessions in the Gospel of Jesus Christ.

— The Author



[5]                               CHAPTER I



I will always maintain a true principle, even if I stand alone in it. (Joseph Smith, D.H.C. 6:223)

Faithful and uncompromising Saints have often been thrown into prisons, dungeons, and suffered torture or death. Many were deprived of everything but a meager sustenance of life–with prison their permanent home and death their final release. But with faith in their cause, they were encouraged by the scriptures which described a similar fate for many of the ancient prophets. Some were “tortured, not accepting deliverance; that they might obtain a better resurrection.” (Heb. 11:35)

Jesus made many promises to those who would suffer such trials and persecutions. He said that men “shall separate you from their company” and “cast you out,” but He added, “Rejoice ye in that day, and leap for joy: for, behold, your reward is great in heaven: for in the like manner did their fathers unto the prophets.” (Luke 6:23) Thus Christ’s faithful disciples were expected to carry the cross of sacrifice and suffering.

From out of the chambers of torture, and the solitary gloom of dungeons, or death in the crackling flames–heaven, for reasons within itself, watches in loving approval. God’s consolation to His faithful disciples was to “fear none of those things which thou shalt suffer: behold, the devil shall cast some of you into prison, that ye may be tried;” and then He adds further encouragement by saying “be thou faithful unto death, and I will give thee a crown of life.” (Rev. 2:10)

For these peaceful soldiers of Christ, unlike the armies of men, their death became a mark of victory.

Persecution became a heritage for the Saints, for persecution is a cleansing process for the Church. As tribulation came upon the disciples of Christ, only those who were willing to sacrifice everything would remain

faithful. Thus, as long as persecution continued, the church would remain pure, but as opposition decreased, then compromising converts were added to the fold. Through these weak and unstable members of the Church, Satan gained [6] a foothold in Christ’s Kingdom. So when persecution ceases against God’s people, it is usually because they have compromised with their enemies.

But there is no union between the Prince of light and the prince of darkness, and there can be no union between their followers. When Christians consented to unite with those who were but half converted from paganism, they entered upon a path which led further and further from the truth. Satan exulted that he had succeeded in deceiving so large a number of the followers of Christ. He then brought his power to bear more fully upon these, and inspired them to persecute those who remained true to God. None understood so well how to oppose the true Christian faith as did those who had once been its defenders; and these apostate Christians, uniting with their half-pagan companions, directed their warfare against the most essential features of the doctrines of Christ. (The Great Controversy, Ellen G. White, p.50)

And Christ was not without the temptations of compromise with the Prince of Darkness. Satan came to the Son of God while he was in the wilderness to offer Him the kingdoms of the world and the glory thereof. But Jesus would not concede one “jot or tittle” of the gospel and He never made a concession or a compromise with men or the devil. He thereby established a pattern for all men to follow.

But Satan meets with much greater success when he presents these same temptations to other men. This master deceiver has gained inroads into the minds and hearts of some of the most devoted saints in God’s kingdom. To obtain worldly honors, to gain special favors, to be influenced by close friends, or to be relieved of suffering, many faithful disciples have lacked courage and conviction and therefore made concessions in their faith.

Every man, at various times in his life, will meet with the Great Tempter. And each man must travel through that spiritual “wilderness” for a trial of his faith. They may be brought to their knees in the dark hours of a “Gethsemane”–and a few more may have to carry the cross of Christ to their own “Calvary.” But this is not an end–it is another path to God and life everlasting.



[7]                               CHAPTER II



But he that received the seed into stony places, the same is he that heareth the word, and anon with joy receiveth it; Yet hath he not root in himself, but dureth for a while: for when tribulation or persecution ariseth because of the word, by and by he is offended. (Matt. 13:20-21)

In these last days the devil is to manifest more subtle, cunning and persuasive influences than ever before. So powerful are these deceptions that if it were possible, he “shall deceive the very elect.” One of his most effective seductions is the use of menticide, thought control, or brainwashing. In the past he has used force, compulsion, and terror, but now he has revised his tactics to use psychological persuasions and intellectual enticements. This modern warfare has been changed from capturing and torturing a man’s body, to carefully and skillfully subverting his mind.

It is increasingly essential to our salvation that we become aware of satan’s new warfare of mental intrusion. Strong character can tolerate much physical agony, which often tends to increase stubborn resistance; but to withstand mental invasion requires a much stronger constitution and an unyielding will.

Some men are easily subdued by the enticements of passion, money, or social status. Others will abandon truth from the pressures of authoritative demands, public opinion, or the persuasions of intellectual superiors. Thus through a gradual process of mental erosion many men are led to believe that their own standards are “insignificant” or that they “really don’t matter.” This is when a man’s perspective and his values are lost.

Yielding one’s will to the will of others is often accomplished through a careful, systematic and camouflaged process of indoctrination. Many methodical and subversive influences today are gradually swaying the masses into passive submission. An individual, an organization, or even a nation can be gradually and carefully molded into prejudice, passivism, war, or servitude. A thorough investigation into the modern fields of advertising, the [8] news media, and the messages of both political and religious leaders exemplify the clever inducements and the cunning subterfuges of our present society.

Communism is one of the most effective instruments of brainwashing. A good example of their final product was described by a Lutheran minister who wrote:

I will never forget my first encounter with a Russian prisoner. He told me that he was an engineer. I asked him if he believed in God. If he would have said “no,” I would not have minded it much. It is the right of every man to believe or disbelieve. But when I asked him if he believed in God, he lifted his eyes toward me without understanding and said: “I have no such military order to believe. If I have an order, I will believe.”

Tears ran down my cheeks. I felt my heart rent in pieces. Here stood before me a man whose mind was dead, a man who had lost the greatest gift God has given to mankind — to be an individual. He was a brainwashed tool in the hands of the communists, ready to believe or not on an order. He could not think any more on his own. This was a typical Russian after all these years of communist domination. (Tortured for Christ, Richard Wurmbrand, 1969, p. 14)

To yield one’s standards can often be the result of an emotional trauma rather than an intellectual conclusion. An upsetting experience may cause a man to lose his mental or spiritual resistance. It is then that he becomes puzzled or confused and begins to lose his reason. When doubts prevail, a man will distrust his own judgment and will rely on others to do their thinking for him. Thus he loses his individuality and becomes committed to mental or physical servitude.

The ultimate objective of the inquisition, in the Middle Ages, was to depersonalize people, blending them all into one thought, and to dominate them by one centralized despot. Such mental and physical subversion is the ultimate objective of every dictator and totalitarian government.

The mind that must exist upon the thinking of another is a pawn. It becomes an egoless robot. And when a man is willing to renounce his individualism and succumb to the dictates of another, he then becomes a mental and [9] physical slave. In such a condition he is conditioned to be obedient to anything, right or wrong, upon the order of some superior. Such men become traitors to themselves, to their friends, their nation and even their God. But to every sin there is a justification, and for every failure there is an excuse.

Joost A. Meerloo, an internationally famous psychologist, who was himself faced with imprisonment and interrogations during World War II, studied many such case histories. He interrogated many men, on both sides of the war, who had made compromises with their enemies. He said that in almost every case these men presented a self-satisfying justification. Meerloo wrote:

In my study of political traitors and collaborators, I found that most of them shared two common characteristics: they were easily influenced by minds stronger than their own, and none of them would admit his disloyalty as an act of treason. The traitors I interviewed always volunteered innumerable justifications of their behavior, always surrounded their treachery with a complicated web of sophisms and rationalizations. Actually, they could not tolerate an objective picture of their actions. If they did, they would condemn themselves out of their own mouths. Unconsciously, most of them realized the nature of their crimes and were tormented by guilt feelings. These guilt feelings would have been unbearable if they admitted, even to themselves, the enormity of their deeds.

The Nazis also played a strange game with some authors and artists who had not received enough appreciation. The enemy flattered these men by buying and praising their work. The artists were first told that they could write and create as they pleased, without fear of interference. Gradually, little political services were asked of them, tiny little concessions like a favorable report of a meeting or a favorable reference to a philosophy with which they did not agree.

It is the impact of that first little concession that starts the inner avalanche of self-justification that finally leads to self-betrayal. Following the first compromise and self-justification comes the second; and this one is met with shrewder self-exculpations. After all, the compromiser has had experience in rationalization by now. The repeated concessions [10] turn into submission and voluntary cooperation. As I said before, once a man is seduced into a small ideological concession, it is very difficult for him to stop. From now on his imagination produces enough justifications which help him maintain his self-respect. (Rape of the Mind, Meerloo, p. 239)

Throughout the annals of history every totalitarian form of government, large or small, has compelled men to sacrifice a portion of their freedom. Freedom is lost when a person totally surrenders himself to the rule of another man or government. Every form of dictatorship is based upon this premise. Indeed it is necessary for totalitarianism to survive. Thus the more freedom is sacrificed, the more powerful the dictator. And so it continues until the individual becomes a tool without a conscience–a slave without a mind.

Those who understand the principle of freedom best can appreciate it most. Pres. John Taylor, who was called the champion of liberty, once wrote:

I was not born a slave! I cannot, will not be a slave. I would not be slave to God! I’d be His servant, friend, His son. I’d go at His behest; but would not be His slave. I’d rather be extinct than be a slave. (Life of John Taylor, B. H. Roberts, p. 424)

One of the most significant factors of freedom is the independence that it creates in a man. When he obtains total freedom, he is politically and religiously dependent upon no one. He learns to think and act for himself. It is then that he assumes the right and the responsibility for a blessing or cursing through his own decisions. With such independence, he can blame no one, nor can anyone else claim credit, for the results of his acts. So freedom ends where submission begins. And so does the right for individual blessing or reward. Thus both the physical and mental forces of opposition are needed to prove, to test, and to mold a man into a Saint or a sinner. It is in such a condition that a man can prove his valiancy and loyalty to his faith.

Under these mental or physical pressures, some men are prone to submission–but to others it creates that stubbornness of will to resist. This is one of the strange factors in human experience, but it is necessary to develop [11] loyalty to principle in every man’s character. The attributes of loyalty or disloyalty are as much of an integral part in a man’s character as intelligence. It is like honesty–an inherent quality that will always bloom under the proper conditions.

But Satan’s ultimate objective is to convert men’s faith and loyalty away from God. One of the first steps the prince of darkness uses, is to force a man to betray himself. He knows that once a man makes a compromise, verbal or written, to a minor truth, it soon becomes easy for him to make concessions in his major values.

A man’s faith in God is lost when he places his faith in other men. This is brought about when confidence turns to trust; and respect becomes reverence. Thus from such loyalty they blindly follow other men–right or wrong–until their loyalty to God has been overthrown. Hence, men often revere the instrument more than its Creator.

Many religious leaders who are thus revered soon lose sight of their own dependence upon God, and become intoxicated with power, honorary titles and their own self esteem. Then the masses, who look to them for guidance and the word of God, become guided by the arm of flesh and the word of man.

Men should learn this simple lesson–that whatever influence or power seeks to contradict or change God’s eternal laws or His ordinances or abandon true principles, that force is from the devil. It is when men believe in some perverted system rather than the gospel of Christ, that the devil has been victorious in destroying their loyalty to God. Satan’s final objective has been reached.

It is necessary then that a man’s loyalty to a cause or to principles be tested by various forms of opposition. For men, like gold, must be tried in the furnace of affliction and opposition. Loyalty cannot be bought–for disloyalty may offer a higher price. Loyalty cannot be enforced or extracted, because compulsion is the root of slavery. Even a loyalty oath is the first step toward thought control and servitude. Taking an oath does not make men loyal. It doesn’t create loyalty, nor does it prove that he will always remain loyal. Such an oath is a form of mental blackmail. If anything, it creates suspicion and distrust. Allegiance is a voluntary and self-chosen expression that grows with knowledge and experience.


[12]         Loyalty oaths are in themselves an act of disloyalty for they usually force a man to submit to something he does not believe. Therefore, any form of mental, verbal, or written compromise is a form of treason. The very definition of treason is to give away loyalty, or secrets–to aid the enemy–or to take part in a conspiracy against your friends or your principles. For this reason, a loyalty oath may itself be an oath of treason.

True loyalty is faithfulness to true principles. Hence, brutal physical assaults by an enemy may be dangerous, but they can often be healed or restored. However, the inconspicuous manipulation of the mind, which disways man from his convictions may be catastrophic. Physical damages may be temporary, but the mental or spiritual damages of deception or compromise of principle may be eternal.



[13]                             CHAPTER III



For the Lord heareth the poor, and despiseth not his prisoners. (Psalms 69:33)



The ancient prophets and patriarchs of God were also faced with the conflict between the laws of man and the laws of God. In every age of the world that controversy has existed.



Abraham resided in the land of the Chaldeans where his father dwelt. He soon learned that the people had “turned from their righteousness, and from the holy commandments which the Lord their God had given them.” They worshipped the stone and wooden gods of the heathen. But Abraham gained a testimony of the true gospel and was ordained with the priesthood. His first mission was to teach the gospel to the Chaldeans.

However, Abraham met with little success, for the priest of Elkenah was rebellious and angry with him and “laid violence” upon him. He was taken as a captive prisoner because he taught against the customs and laws of the land. According to Abraham’s own record he was brought to judgment and condemned to death.


[14]         The Priest of Pharoah had been offering the lives of many people to his gods. Men, women and children had been sacrificed to these idols. They were placed upon an altar shaped like a large bedstead; then a priest would take a knife and kill them as a blood sacrifice to these gods of the land.

Just before Abraham was brought to the sacrificial altar, he learned of a “thank-offering” which had just been made. It was the killing of a little child. He also discovered that three virgin girls had been killed on that same altar. He wrote:

These virgins were offered up because of their virtue; they would not bow down to worship gods of wood or of stone, therefore they were killed upon this altar, and it was done after the manner of the Egyptians. (Abraham 1:11)


Abraham fastened to the sacrificial altar.


[15]         Abraham was taken to the priests of Pharoah who were to make a living sacrifice of him. As they lifted up their hands against him, Abraham lifted up his voice in a mighty prayer and asked the Lord for deliverance. A vision burst open to Abraham, and he saw a guardian angel of the Lord standing beside him. His bands were then broken and he escaped from his persecutors. Abraham said the Pharoah’s high priest was killed and the altar destroyed with all of its strange gods. Finally, a famine came which became a very sore affliction upon all those who had opposed the God of Abraham.

Because of Abraham’s faithfulness in this crisis, the Lord had promised him that he should always be led and instructed throughout his life. His ministry would also be known upon the earth forever. God also said that He would “destroy him who has lifted his hand against thee”–which promise was kept. The gods of the land were all destroyed and the high priest was killed.

Abraham rightfully gained the title of the “Father of the Faithful,” for he established a righteous example for others. His faith was always in God and he never compromised with any other gods or any mortal man. For example, when Sarah told the Pharoah that she was the sister of Abraham, she did it according to Abraham’s instructions. This incident has become an excuse for some to justify the making of falsehoods or denials of certain gospel doctrines. Sarah’s statement was in fact a spiritual truth; however, the deception was her failure to tell the Pharoah that she was also Abraham’s wife. Sarah and Abraham made no denials nor did they compromise any gospel principles with their enemies. There were no signed documents or concessions. No one is justified in using Abraham as an example for their own compromises or refutations of gospel principles.

Every man who believes in the God of Abraham should not be disappointed if he, too, is persecuted, taken captive, or receives the sentence of death. If a man’s faith in God is sufficient, he may also be delivered from prison or death, and inherit the same blessings that God gave to Abraham.


[16] Joseph

There are many ways that men may make concessions and thus sin against God, or turn traitor to their faith and conscience. A great test for Joseph was to be sold into Egypt by his own brothers, but it was the moral temptations which best proved his faith and uncompromising principles.

When Joseph came to Egypt he was not only a prisoner, but also a slave. Thus he was cast down to the lowly depths of a dungeon but proved faithful and rose to become a ruler over all Egypt. Thus descending below all things, he ascended above all things.

Joseph became an overseer to Potiphar, an officer or captain of the guard to the Pharaoh. It was here that Joseph’s greatest test began. Potiphar’s wife sought to seduce him, but Joseph would not yield to her passions. For his virtue he was thrown into prison, and from the record of Jasher we learn that even there she did not cease to torment and tempt him.

…she did not cease from speaking to him day after day to hearken to her, and at the end of three months Zelicah continued going to Joseph to the house of confinement day by day, and she enticed him to hearken to her, and Zelicah said unto Joseph, how long wilt thou remain in this house? but hearken now to my voice and I will bring thee out of this house. And Joseph answered her, saying, it is better for me to remain in this house than to hearken to thy words, to [17] sin against God; and she said unto him, if thou wilt not perform my wish, I will pluck out thine eyes, add fetters to thy feet, and will deliver thee into the hands of them whom thou didst not know before.

And Joseph answered her and said, behold the God of the whole earth is able to deliver me from all that thou canst do unto me, for he openeth the eyes of the blind, and looseth those that are bound, and preserveth all strangers who are unacquainted with the land.

And when Zelicah was unable to persuade Joseph to hearken to her, she left off going to entice him; and Joseph was still confined in the house of confinement. (Book of Jasher XLIV:77-80, p. 142)

According to the record of Jasher, Joseph remained in prison for 12 years. He was a lad of 18 when he went to prison and was 30 when he was released. But “the Lord was with Joseph and showed him mercy” and he gained many favors and was honored by those who knew him. Then by the intervention of inspired dreams, Joseph gained his release from “out of the dungeon”. Joseph had been committed to a prison for something he did not do. Yet, through his faithfulness to God he gained the respect of the Pharoah and then became second in power over all of Egypt.

Joseph looked upon his prison experience as an appointment from God because he told his brothers who had sold him to the Egyptians that “IT WAS NOT YOU THAT SENT ME HITHER, BUT GOD: and He hath made me a father to Pharoah, and lord of all his house, and a ruler throughout all the land of Egypt.” Although the brothers of Joseph recognized their sin in selling him as a slave, they bowed before him and begged forgiveness for their evil. Joseph replied, “ye thought evil against me; but God meant it unto good, to bring to pass, as it is this day, to save much people alive.”

Joseph’s rejection by his brothers, his captivity as a slave, and the 12 years he spent in prison, prove that it was all according to the will of God. The Lord may have a reason for his servants to suffer in patience a long term in prison. Deliverance from prison or death is not always God’s will. Such endurance may be proof of a man’s faith, or it may be a preparation period for the Lord’s intervention for a wise purpose in Him.

Too many pages of history contain stories of men’s faith failing them in the hour of trial. Too often men [18] give in to the demands of their enemies by making compromises to avoid prison or death. But the greatest faith is exemplified by those who “WAIT ON THE LORD” and are to “ENDURE ALL THINGS” according to His will. Men should even be willing to endure a long prison term, just as Joseph did, to allow the Lord to manifest His purposes.


Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego

Nebuchadnezzar, a king in the province of Babylon, made a golden image which was to be their god. When it was finished, he sent for all the princes, governors, captains, and rulers to come to the dedication. An immense crowd assembled and a spokesman declared that when the music commenced, everyone should bow down and worship the image. Anyone caught not worshipping the image was to be thrown into a fiery furnace.

The music began and the people fell down to worship Nebuchadnezzar’s golden image. But certain Chaldeans came to the king saying that three Jewish men had not obeyed the king, for they had not worshipped the image. Then “Nebuchadnezzar in his rage and fury commanded the three Hebrews to be brought before him.” When these three came, the king said, “Do not ye serve my gods, nor worship the golden image which I have set up?” They answered by saying, “O king, we will not serve thy gods, nor worship the golden image which thou hast set up.” This made the king angry and he commanded that a furnace should be heated seven times more than usual. The three Hebrews were then bound and taken to the furnace to be thrown into it. The furnace was so hot that the men who threw in the Hebrews were burned to death.

Then the king saw “four men loose, walking in the midst of the fire” one of which appeared to be the Son of God. The king called for Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego to come out of the fire. As they came out of the furnace, the princes, governors, captains and all the king’s subjects saw that not a hair of their head was singed, nor were they harmed in any way. Nebuchadnezzar then said,

Blessed be the God of Shadrach, Meshach and Abednego, who hath sent his angel, and delivered his servants that trusted in him, and have changed the king’s word, and yielded their bodies, that they might not serve nor worship any god, except their own God. (Dan. 3:28)


[19]         The king was fully converted to the God of Israel and declared that “there is no other God that can deliver after this sort.” The three Hebrews were then promoted to higher positions in the king’s province of Babylon, leaving a most classic example for all generations. Everyone to this day remembers the faith of those three Hebrews, and the miraculous power of deliverance by the God of Israel.



King Belshazzar was the son of King Nebuchadnezzar. He took gold and silver vessels out of the temple in Jerusalem to have an impious feast by worshipping the gods of gold, silver, wood and stone. In the midst of the feast, a hand appeared and wrote on the wall of the palace. This caused the king to tremble so much that “his knees smote one against the other.” All of the king’s astrologers, soothsayers and wise men of the kingdom could not interpret the writing. But the queen knew that Daniel was a man of understanding and had the gift of interpreting dreams. So Daniel was brought before the king and asked to interpret the writing. Daniel proceeded to chastise the king for defiling the vessels of the temple and for not humbling his heart before the Lord of heaven. Then he proceeded to interpret the handwriting on the wall for the king. That night the king was slain.

Darius was set up as the new king, and he recognized Daniel as worthy of being placed into one of the highest positions of the realm. This created a conspiracy among other princes who plotted to destroy Daniel. Since they could find no fault in him, they decided to make a law which would conflict with his religion. The rule was that anyone who petitioned any god, except the king, should be thrown into a den of lions. They caught Daniel praying three times a day to his God; so they brought him to the king for punishment. When King Darius saw what had happened, he was greatly grieved. He fasted and went without sleep for the sake of Daniel. He had great confidence in Daniel and the God that he served, and he said, “Thy God whom thou servest continually, he will deliver thee.” But according to the law, Daniel must be cast into a den of lions–so it was done.

The next morning the king rushed to the den, crying in a lamentable voice, saying, “Daniel, O Daniel, is thy God whom thou servest continually, able to deliver thee [20] from the lions?” Daniel replied, “My God hath sent His angel, and hath shut the lions’ mouths, that they have not hurt me.”


The king was exceedingly glad to see Daniel alive and ordered his release. Then the king proceeded to find out who had formed that conspiracy against Daniel. When it was discovered who was responsible for the deed, the king had them, with their wives and children, thrown into the lions’ den and God did not spare them.

The king then sent out a decree that everyone throughout the dominions of his kingdom should…

tremble and fear before the God of Daniel: for he is the living God and stedfast for ever, and his kingdom that which shall not be destroyed and his dominion shall be even unto the end. He delivereth and rescueth and he worketh signs and wonders in heaven and in earth,… (Dan. 6:26-27)

The imprisonment and condemnation of Daniel was a means of bringing to pass the miraculous power of God in delivering his servants. It was by this divine intervention that Daniel was saved, and the wicked destroyed. It manifested the greatness of the God of Israel. The story of Daniel’s deliverance still lives in the hearts of those who believe in the power of God.

It is said that a Sunday School teacher asked a small boy why the lions didn’t eat Daniel. The reply was, “Because he was all grit and backbone.” It takes a special courage and loyalty in men to endure imprisonment and perhaps the sentence of death, that their faith can be a witness to God’s powers of deliverance.



Isaiah was considered one of the greatest prophets of the Old Testament. No other prophet wrote as much about the coming of the Savior as he did; yet he was to suffer rejection and persecution from those who should have received his message.

Isaiah, like all the other prophets, was personally acquainted with wicked persecutors and unjust laws. He said, “Woe unto them that decree unrighteous decrees, and that write grievousness which they have prescribed.” (Isa. 10:1)


[21]         Traditional stories and apocryphal writings tell us that he was severely persecuted and driven into the wilderness. Finally he was hunted down but he hid in a hollow tree. However, his adversaries discovered his hiding place; so they took a large saw and sawed down the tree. Isaiah was sawn asunder. His blood was shed as a witness to the truth of his writings and his testimony. Isaiah, the prophet, died violently, but valiantly.



The Prophet Jeremiah was one of the major prophets of ancient scripture. He was to learn, with sadness, the rejection of his revelations from the Lord. His grief over the wickedness of his nation resulted in writing a book in the Bible entitled “Lamentations.”

By order of the king, Jeremiah was thrown into prison where he was fed on bread and water. He was also tormented and beaten, but the treatment he suffered resulted in God’s judgment against the king. Because Jeremiah refused to say what the king wanted him to say, he was beaten on his face.


Jeremiah was determined to fulfill his mission, and he resolved to withstand whatever was hurled against him. This made him one of the great witnesses of the Lord. Regardless of what the rulers of the nation decreed, he still remained steadfast to the word of the Lord.

It is apparent that the Lord usually sends his prophets at a time and place where opposition is often very severe. Almost every prophet has had some form of persecution, imprisonment or violent death. Usually the more wicked a nation is, the greater the opposition against the servants of the Lord.



Israel always suffered worst when its people apostatized, notwithstanding any persecution or opposition by laws or armies. Whenever the Israelites conceded to the laws, customs or practices of the heathen, they brought down curses and condemnation from heaven.

An early indication of apostasy in the Apocrypha was described in one of its first books called Maccabees:


[22]                         In those days went there out of Israel wicked men, who persuaded many, saying, Let us go and make a covenant with the heathen that are round about us: since we departed from them, we have had much sorrow. So this device pleased them well. Then certain of the people were so forward herein, that they went to the king, who gave them license to do after the ordinances of the heathen: Whereupon they built a place of exercise at Jerusalem according to the customs of the heathen. (I Maccabees 1:11-14)

It was this compromise of making “a covenant with the heathen” that they “forsook the holy covenant, and joined themselves to the heathen, and were sold to do mischief.”

Moreover King Antiochus wrote to his whole kingdom, that all should be one people. And every one should live his laws; so all the heathen agreed according to the commandment of the king. Yea, many also of the Israelites consented to his religion, and sacrificed unto idols, and profaned the sabbath. For the king had sent letters by messengers unto Jerusalem and the cities of Judah, that they should follow the strange laws of the land …. And whosoever would not do according to the commandment of the king, he said, he should die. (I Maccabees 1:41-44, 50)

This was a great test to the Israelites. But such a test proves to be the Lord’s sieve to separate the righteous. Persecution is God’s way of proving the faithful. It is under such circumstances that he separates the wheat from the tares.



A wicked king decided to force the Jews into departing from their faith; so he sent a man from Athens to compel them to change the laws of their fathers. They were not allowed to live after the laws of God any longer. He was sent to pollute the temple in Jerusalem, and to change its name to “the temple of Jupiter.” Then came another decree saying that the Jews must observe the same fashions and laws of the king.

Now, Eleazar was one of the principal scribes and an aged man. He was brought up to set the example of following the new laws. First he was told to open his mouth and to “eat swine’s flesh.” It had to be forced into his mouth, [23] but Eleazar “choosing rather to die gloriously, than to live stained with such an abomination, spit it forth.” Then he told his accusors that they may as well send him to his grave because if he obeyed the king, the young Israelites would suppose that he had turned from his faith. He said that “through mine hypocrisy, and desire to live a little time and a moment longer,” the Israelites would be inclined to be deceived, but worse he would “get a stain to mine old age, and make it abominable. For though for the present time I should be delivered from the punishment of men; yet should I not escape the hand of the Almighty, neither alive, nor dead.” (II Maccabees 6:25-26) He was manfully willing to leave a notable example to the young Israelites. If necessary he was willing to die maintaining the holy laws. He was condemned to be beaten to death with the whip. He said that he could have easily been delivered from death by compromising his religion, but rather “I now endure sore pains in body by being beaten; but in soul am well content to suffer these things, because I fear Him.”

So this man died leaving his death for an example of noble courage–not only to the young men of Israel, but to everyone else in his nation.



A Jew by the name of Mattathias became discouraged at the king’s law of making sacrifices to strange gods and profaning the Sabbath Day. He went through the city recruiting souls to follow him into the wilderness where they might properly worship the God of Israel. The king heard of his little gathering in the wilderness, so he sent an army out to destroy them. When the army reached them, they were entreated to make a return and to “come forth, and do according to the commandment of the king, and ye shall live. But they said, We will not come forth, neither will we do the king’s commandment, to profane the sabbath day.” (I Maccabees 2:33-34)

So the army slew them all including their wives and children, but Mattathias was not with those who were slain. He therefore told every Israelite that they should be…

zealous for the law, and give your lives for the covenant of your fathers. Call to remembrance what acts our fathers did in their time; so shall ye receive [24] great honour and an everlasting name. Fear not then the words of a sinful man: for his glory shall be dung and worms. Wherefore, ye my sons, be valiant, and shew yourselves men in the behalf of the law; for by it shall ye obtain glory.” (I Maccabees 2:50, 50, 62, 64)

Then the king’s men killed him, too, and his sons buried him. So “all Israel made great lamentation” for this faithful soul who left such a noble stand for the laws of God.


A Mother and Her Seven Sons

The king was so determined to make the Jews transgress their laws that he decided he would begin by making them all eat pork. A woman and her seven sons were then brought to this test. They endured the tortures of scourging by being beaten with whips in an attempt to make them eat swine’s flesh. But one of the sons spoke up and said, “We are ready to die rather than transgress the laws of our fathers.” The king was enraged and demanded that his tongue be cut off and also other extremities of his body–his mother and brothers witnessing the horrible deed. Then they killed him by fire in a cauldron. They took the second son, and upon his refusal to eat the pork, they scalped him and then killed him, too. But as he was dying, he replied, “Thou like a fury takest us out of this present life, but the King of the World shall raise us up, who have died for His laws, unto everlasting life.”

The third son was mocked and then threatened with losing his hands if he refused to obey. He held up his hands and said, “These I had from heaven; and for His laws I despise them; and from Him I hope to receive them again.” The king and others marvelled at the courage of the young man, but they killed him anyway. The fourth son was brought up, and he also refused to obey the king. When the sentence of death was passed upon him, he said, “It is good, being put to death by men, to look for hope from God to be raised up again by Him: as for thee, thou shalt have no resurrection to life.” So they killed him, also.

When they brought up the fifth son, he too proved faithful. He spoke to his murderers by saying, “Thou hast power over men, thou art corruptible, thou doest what thou wilt; yet think not that our nation is forsaken of God; [25] but abide a while, and behold his great power, how he will torment thee and thy seed.” He also was put to death.

The sixth son, just before he died, said, “…we suffer these things for ourselves, having sinned against our God: therefore marvelous things are done unto us. But think not thou, that takest in hand to strive against God, that thou shalt escape unpunished.”

Now Antiochus the king felt despised by the Israelites. He, therefore, tempted the last son while he was still alive. He was promised great wealth and happiness if he would turn away from the laws of his fathers. But the young man would not accept the offer. So the mother was told that she should counsel him to be obedient to the king to save his life. But the mother took her last son and said:

I beseech thee, my son, look upon the heaven and the earth, and all that is therein, and consider that God made them of things that were not; and so was mankind made likewise. Fear not this tormentor, but, being worthy of thy brethren, take thy death, that I may receive thee again in mercy with thy brethren. (II Macc. 7:28-29)

The son then replied: “I will not obey the king’s commandment; but I will obey the commandment of the law that was given unto our fathers by Moses.” The young man then turned to the king and said:

And thou, that hast been the author of all mischief against the Hebrews, shalt not escape the hands of God. For we suffer because of our sins. And though the living Lord be angry with us a little while for our chastening and correction, yet shall he be at one again with his servants. But thou, O godless man, and of all other most wicked, be not lifted up without a cause, nor puffed up with uncertain hopes, lifting up thy hand against the servants of God; for thou hast not yet escaped the judgment of Almighty God who seeth all things. For our brethren, who now have suffered a short pain, are dead under God’s covenant of everlasting life but thou, through the judgment of God shalt receive just punishment for thy pride.

But I, as my brethren, offer up my body and life for the laws of our fathers, beseeching God that he would speedily be merciful unto our nation; and thou by torments and plagues mayest confess, that he alone is God.” (II Macc. 7:31-37)


[26] The king considered himself severely mocked so he treated the lad worse than the others. So this young man died putting his whole trust in God. Then last of all, after her sons, the mother was also killed:

But the mother was marvellous above all, and worthy of honourable memory: for when she saw her seven sons slain within the space of one day, she bare it with a good courage, because of the hope that she had in the Lord. Yea, she exhorted every one in her own language, filled with courageous spirits; and stirring up her womanish thoughts with a manly stomach, she said unto them, “I cannot tell how ye came into my womb; for I neither gave you breath nor life, neither was it I that formed the members of every one of you; but doubtless the Creator of the world, who formed the generation of man, and found out the beginning of all things, will also of his own mercy give you breath and life again, as ye now regard not your own selves for his law’s sake.” (Book of Apocrypha, II Macc. 7:20-23)




Alma and Amulek

Alma, the prophet, came into trouble with the authorities of his nation because he had rebuked the law makers. He said that “the foundation of the destruction of this people is beginning to be laid by the unrighteousness of your lawyers and your judges.” In other words those who made the laws of the land were guilty of making corrupt laws which would bring about destruction. Alma had “reviled against their law and also against their lawyers and judges” which was soon to be the cause of his trouble.

Many of the people–probably the lawmakers–wanted to destroy Alma and Amulek by some secret means. But they decided to condemn them and punish them by the laws of the land. They were caught and “bound with strong cords” and brought before the chief judge of the land for judgment. Witnesses were called in to testify that they had broken the law of the land, or else taught against it.

Those who believed in the teachings of Alma and Amulek were also persecuted. They were spit upon, stoned or imprisoned. Many of them were put to death by being thrown into a huge fire. Then a most important incident occurred.


[27]                         And it came to pass that they took Alma and Amulek, and carried them forth to the place of martyrdom, that they might witness the destruction of those who were consumed by fire.

And when Amulek saw the pains of the women and children who were consuming in the fire, he also was pained; and he said unto Alma: How can we witness this awful scene? Therefore let us stretch forth our hands, and exercise the power of God which is in us, and save them from the flames.

But Alma said unto him: The Spirit constraineth me that I must not stretch forth mine hand; for behold the Lord receiveth them up unto himself, in glory; and he doth suffer that they may do this thing, or that the people may do this thing unto them, according to the hardness of their hearts, that the judgments which he shall exercise upon them in his wrath may be just; and the blood of the innocent shall stand as a witness against them, yea, and cry mightily against them at the last day. (Alma 14:9-11)


Here is one of the most important keys to understanding the reason why the Lord allows such seemingly terrible things to happen to His people. When the Saints suffer persecution, prison or death by their enemies for the sake of the Gospel, then “the Lord receiveth them up unto Himself” as a reward. But more important–it is a means of judgment which shall “stand as a witness” against those who reject them and the words of the Lord. In the day of judgment the wicked shall have to face those souls whom they condemned.

Then Amulek said to Alma that those wicked leaders may burn them up also. Alma answered with that inspired lesson which few ever understand when they pass through such trials, Alma replied: “Be it according to the will of the Lord!”

When the persecutors had finished killing the men, women and children, they turned against Alma and Amulek. The chief judge then “smote them with his hand upon their cheeks,” and said that was what happened to those disobedient people who believed in Alma’s religion. He further explained how their faith had not saved them. The two captives were again struck in the face and sent back to prison.

After three days they were visited by lawyers, judges, priests and teachers, who questioned them but the two would make no answer.


[28]                         And it came to pass that the judge stood before them, and said: Why do ye not answer the words of this people? Know ye not that I have power to deliver you up unto the flames? And he commanded them to speak; but they answered nothing. (Alma 14:19)

Those wicked rulers were trying to get them to make some sort of compromise or promise by threatening them with the flames.

So they all came back and “smote them again on their cheeks.” Alma and Amulek were chastised because they condemned the laws of the land. But these two servants of the Lord withstood mocking, spitting, taunts and beatings for many days, “And they did withhold food from them that they might hunger, and water that they might thirst; and they also did take from them their clothes that they were naked; and thus they were bound with strong cords, and confined in prison.” Thus these two faithful men of God withstood all the trials and sufferings that the wicked could bring against them. But then in the misery of that dungeon a miracle happened:

And it came to pass that they all went forth and smote them saying the same words, even until the last; and when the last had spoken unto them the power God was upon Alma and Amulek, and they rose and stood upon their feet.

And Alma cried, saying: How long shall we suffer these great afflictions, O Lord? O Lord, give us strength according to our faith which is in Christ, even unto deliverance. And they broke the cords with which they were bound; and when the people saw this, they began to flee, for the fear of destruction had come upon them.

And it came to pass that so great was their fear that they fell to the earth, and did not obtain the outer door of the prison; and the earth shook mightily, and the walls of the prison were rent in twain, so that they fell to the earth; and the chief judge, and the lawyers, and priests, and teachers, who smote upon Alma and Amulek, were slain by the fall thereof.

And Alma and Amulek came forth out of the prison, and they were not hurt; for the Lord had granted unto them power, according to their faith which was in Christ. And they straightway came forth out of the prison; and they were loosed from their bands; and the prison had fallen to the earth, and every soul within [29] the walls thereof, save it were Alma and Amulek, was slain; and they straightway came forth into the city. (Alma 14:25-28)

Thus God may allow his servants to suffer many indignities and torments before He delivers them. For many others His will is to endure more than prison and torture–He may require them to suffer death for His cause. It is often through the deaths of God’s servants that His righteous judgment can be brought against the wicked.



[30]                              CHAPTER IV





They shall lay their hands on you, and persecute you, delivering you up to the synagogues, and into prisons, being brought before kings and rulers for my name’s sake. And it shall turn to you for a testimony. (Luke 21:12-13)



Every prophet since the beginning of time has foretold the coming of the Great Messiah. Jesus was appointed and qualified as the perfect example–a life without sin or error. He was the “Good Shepherd” which the sheep of Israel should follow. Before He began His ministry, the devil presented him with the temptations of the flesh, of great power, and worldly glory, but He yielded to none of them. He was confronted with a continuous barrage of opposition and attacks by his mortal and spiritual enemies. Kings, priests, lawyers and hosts of the wicked were always seeking ways to condemn or trap him, but He never conceded to any threat or temptation. He lived a perfect life–without compromising a single principle!


[31]         The great objective lesson of Christ’s ministry was teaching men to yield themselves to the will of God. But to surrender one’s life to the will of God requires a submission not easily attained by most men. The ministry of Christ required disciples who would be willing to sacrifice everything for the Lord. If necessary they must give their treasures, their worldly possessions, their time, and talents, their family, and if necessary their own life as a total sacrifice for the gospel.

From the sacrifice of Abraham we learn that all men must have their hour of test and trial. In the crucible of sacrifice, their character is formed and purified. Only by such devotion–the complete yielding of the will to God–can a man’s faith be proven true. It is by giving that men receive, by sacrificing all, they obtain all. A half-hearted, partial sacrifice does not qualify men for the discipleship; for Jesus said, “Whosoever that forsaketh not all that he hath, he cannot be my disciple.” Faith cannot achieve its fulness until the believer is willing to sacrifice everything for the gospel. Jesus taught a parable to illustrate the value of the Gospel by saying:

Again, the kingdom of heaven is like unto a merchant man, seeking goodly pearls: Who, when he had found the pearl of great price, went and sold all that he had, and bought it. (Matt. 13:45-46)

Exaltation in the Kingdom of Heaven can be purchased only by the willing sacrifice of all that a man has. The most exemplary principle in Christ’s life was His ability to direct His eye single to the glory of God. Nothing could interfere or detract Him from His duty to God. He also commanded other men to serve God “with all thy heart, and with all thy soul, and with all thy mind.” (Matt. 22:37) For it is the sacrifice of service to God that a man’s love is measured.

The Gospel is a covenant to take upon one’s self the name of Christ. It is a vow to walk in obedience to the commandments of God and to follow the example of Christ. It is a commitment that must be kept. Any vow or oath to men or God is an obligation to be honored as Jesus illustrated in the following experience:

When Jesus came to Capernaum several tax collectors came to inquire of Peter if they would pay tribute money. Peter acknowledged that they would by saying “yes,” but [32] when he consulted with Jesus, he learned that such tribute was not required of them because they were in the ministry. But Peter had made a commitment; therefore he was told that they must meet that obligation, “lest we should offend them.” They had no money so Jesus told Peter to go get the money from a fish’s mouth and pay the debt. From this we realize that a promise made is a promise to be kept, and any commitment is a moral obligation, “for by thy words thou shaft be justified and by thy words thou shalt be condemned.” (Matt. 12:37) Any commitments, written or verbal, become a moral issue regardless of whether they be with an individual or a government–with a friend or a foe.

When Jesus said, “agree with thine adversaries,” He did not mean to sacrifice or deny gospel principles in compliance with the demands of wicked mobs or an unrighteous nation. Many things can be agreed upon with an enemy, but it does not mean to agree with that which is wrong. Christ reminded them that “every idle word that men shall speak, they shall give account thereof in the day of judgment.” (Mat. 12:36) And regarding written statements, men must also be careful for, “whatsoever ye shall bind on earth shall be bound in heaven.” (Mat. 18:18)

Disciples were taught that they should serve only God. They may offer tribute or pay taxes to mortal men, but they must live “by every word that proceedeth out of the mouth of God”, and “HIM ONLY” should they serve; because Jesus taught them that “No man can serve two masters: for either he will hate the one, and love the other; or else he will hold to the one, and despise the other.” (Matt. 6:24)

This is the basic issue of Christianity. There was to be no division in their faith or service, and they must learn to obey God’s laws regardless of any conflict of interest or man-made interference.

Jesus was careful to warn His disciples about any laws, doctrines or customs that would contradict the teachings of the Gospel. Relinquishing or bartering any doctrine, or principle, was apostasy. These were the real methods of the devil to corrupt the Gospel. Jesus warned His disciples by saying:

How is it that ye do not understand that I spake it not to you concerning bread, that ye should beware [33] of the leaven of the Pharisees and of the Sadducees? Then understood they how that he bade them not beware of the leaven of bread, but of the doctrine of the Pharisees and of the Sadducees. (Matt. 16:11-12)

Thus, any doctrine, law or obligation which was contrary to the teachings of Christ, was to be shunned, disregarded and opposed.

The first disciple of Christ to suffer imprisonment or death was John the Baptist. Jesus said that “among those that are born of women there is not a greater prophet than John the Baptist.” Yet John seemed to expect Jesus to deliver him from prison. John saw no profitable reason why he should remain in prison so he expected some intervention for his release. He sent some disciples to Jesus imploring Him for help. But Jesus sent word back to John saying, “blessed is he, whosoever shall not be offended in me.” Jesus inferred that His disciples should be strong and faithful, enduring to the end. Then Jesus spoke

…unto the multitudes concerning John, What went ye out into the wilderness to see? A reed shaken with the wind? But what went ye out for to see? A man clothed in soft raiment? behold, they that wear soft clothing are in the king’s houses. (Matt. 11:7-8)

A reed shaking in the wind aptly describes men who tremble and shake at every little opposition. John was not supposed to be like a reed shaking in the wind, but rather a courageous disciple who could face imprisonment and death if necessary.

Neither was John to be “clothed in soft raiment” because that described those who were rich and seldom found in God’s work. Jesus said “the poor have the Gospel preached to them” because “a rich man shall hardly enter into the Kingdom of Heaven.” The poor and the rough would usually describe the true disciples of Christ.

Among the first lessons Jesus gave his disciples was that they should be willing to suffer all things for the Gospel. He warned them that they would “be hated of all men” for His sake, but he that “endureth to the end shall be saved.” Also said he–they should not “fear them which kill the body.” Hence, the call of the Gospel was not to be a popular cause nor would it be easy for anyone to qualify for its demands.


[34]         John continued to remain in prison until the birthday of Herod. To celebrate the festivity, the daughter of Herodias danced. Her dance so pleased Herod that “he promised with an oath to give her whatsoever she would ask”–and she, being instructed by her mother, asked for the head of John the Baptist. The oath of Herod was honored and John was beheaded.

It was well within the power of Jesus to deliver John from prison. Performing miracles was a daily task of the Savior’s, and the last words that John received from Jesus was a description of the great miracles that He was performing among the believers. A miraculous deliverance from prison could have been just as easy as healing the sick or restoring sight to the blind–especially for a disciple as great as John.

But Jesus suffered John to be imprisoned and to be executed. We don’t even know if Jesus ever went to visit John in prison. We may ask why? Was John required to endure prison and death as a test or some special ordeal that he must endure? Was John’s imprisonment and death to be an example for the other disciples? Or was John to die as a witness to the truth, and his blood to be a testimony to his mission as a witness to Christ? Perhaps God had many reasons for John to die as he did–but one thing we do know: his imprisonment and death were according to the will of God. It is necessary for every disciple to learn that he must be willing to go to prison or if necessary to suffer death.

Any disciple who seeks for some way to save his life, or to get out of prison, may lose the reward he had expected. Jesus said, “He that findeth his life shall lose it: and he that loseth his life for my sake shall find it.” (Matt. 10:39) This was more fully explained in the Inspired Translation by the Prophet Joseph Smith who wrote:

And now for a man to take up his cross, is to deny himself all ungodliness, and every worldly lust, and keep my commandments. Break not my commandments for to save your lives; for whosoever will save his life in this world, shall lose it in the world to come. And whosoever will lose his life in this world, for my sake, shall find it in the world to come. Therefore, FORSAKE THE WORLD, AND SAVE YOUR SOULS; for what is a man profited, if he shall gain the whole world, and lose his own soul? Or what shall a man give in exchange for his soul? (Ins. Trans., Matt. 16:26-29)


[35]         Jesus told His disciples to expect trouble for “it must needs be that offences come.” (Matt. 18:7) Therefore, persecution and afflictions would necessarily come to them because the world would not accept or tolerate the fulness of His Gospel. For these reasons, He said, “Ye shall be hated of all men for my name’s sake” because “the disciple is not above his master, nor the servant above his Lord.” (Matt. 10:24)

The cross of crucifixion represented the greatest suffering and the bitterest sacrifice a man could endure. The cross was the severest form of trial and torture ever conceived by mortals. So Christ took the cross as a symbol or similitude of the burden of the Gospel. When people accepted the Gospel, it would usually become a source of trial, suffering and sacrifice. “And he that taketh not his cross, and followeth after me, is not worthy of me.” (Matt. 10:38) And again He said, “…if any man will come after me, let him deny himself, and take up his cross, and follow me.” (Matt. 16:24)

Finally the Gospel, or the cross, required Jesus to make a sacrifice of His own life. “And he went a little further, and fell on his face, and prayed, saying, O my Father, if it be possible, let this cup pass from me: nevertheless not as I will, but as thou wilt.” (Matt. 26:39)

His love and desire to care for and teach His Church, His Kingdom, and His family were justification for staying alive. It was reasonable that He could do more for all of them if he remained alive. But when Jesus learned the will of the Father, then nothing could prevent Him from that objective.

From that time forth began Jesus to shew unto his disciples, how that he must go unto Jerusalem, and suffer many things of the elders and chief priests and scribes, and be killed, and be raised again the third day. Then Peter took him, and began to rebuke him, saying, Be it far from thee, Lord: this shall not be unto thee. But he turned, and said unto Peter, Get thee behind me, Satan:…thou savourest not the things that be of God, but those that be of men. (Matt. 16:21-23)

That which prevents men from obeying the will of God is that which is “savoured” by men. Lands, possessions or family are often considered their first and foremost duty. But Jesus placed these things as secondary to the Gospel. [36] He even declared that if they were sacrificed, they would be returned many times over.

And every one that hath forsaken houses, or brethren, or sisters, or father, or mother, or wife, or children, or lands, for my name’s sake, SHALL RECEIVE AN HUNDREDFOLD, and shall inherit everlasting life. (Matt. 19:29)

At the trial of Jesus, He “opened not His mouth” in His own defense. He made no concession or compromise to relieve the burden that had come upon Him by His enemies. He was allowing them to make their own judgments. He endured insults, derisions, beatings and the most horrible form of death. In the last moments of His life in mortality, the devil and all the hosts of hell crushed Him in body and spirit until blood came from His pores. The devil was trying to make Jesus say just one word of compromise, only one word of relinquishment to give in and thereby relieve His suffering. But it was without avail. Christ endured and finally died valiantly for God. He suffered on that cross without any compromise so that others might follow His example.


The Apostles

The apostles of Christ were simple and common men. However, they were chosen because they would place the Gospel above any other allurements. Opposition would only solidify their faith–and death held no fear to sway them from their duty. However, through the frailties of the flesh, fear from suffering, and the usual failings of mortal men, they would all exhibit certain weaknesses, Such has always been the history of man.

The chief apostle of Christ was Peter. His devotion and enthusiasm to serve the Lord displayed the faith of a noble spirit. Yet, as valiant as Peter was to Christ, he still suffered from the foibles and frailties of human nature.

Peter knew that Jesus was the Son of God by a revelation from heaven. (See Matt. 16:16-17.) The other apostles probably gained the same testimony. Yet on that fateful night when Jesus needed the faith and prayers of His apostles, they “all slumbered and slept.” Jesus warned them that “all ye shall be offended because of me this night,” [37] but Peter boldly asserted that “though all men shall be offended because of thee, yet will I never be offended”, and he further asserted that “though I should die with thee, yet will I not deny thee.” We further read that “likewise also said all the disciples.” (Matt. 26:33, 35) But Jesus could read their hearts and knew the shortcomings of their character; He warned them that the “spirit is willing but the flesh is weak.” And so it was. Later that night Peter denied knowing Jesus, and then “all the disciples forsook him, and fled.” (Matt. 26:56)

Peter was always so diligent in following the Lord that he said: “Lord I am ready to go with thee, both into prison, and to death,” but Jesus knew that men are always eager to declare their allegiance and bravery, but in the hour of trial and temptation, almost all men manifest their unstable character and weakness.

Peter said unto him, Lord, why cannot I follow thee now? I will lay down my life for thy sake. Jesus answered him, Wilt thou lay down thy life for my sake? Verily, verily, I say unto thee, The cock shall not crow, till thou hast denied me thrice. (John 13:37-38)

According to the prophecy of Jesus, this chief apostle exposed his irresolute mettle that very night. When this valiant leader of Christ displayed such a weakness, then surely it gives a truer perception of the wayward disposition of all mortal men.

The high priests and the Sadducees were always filled with malice at the Christians. Finally they “laid their hands on the apostles, and put them in the common prison.” But their release was more important than their incarceration; therefore, “the angel of the Lord by night opened the prison doors, and brought them forth.” (Acts 5:19) Thus, if God wishes His disciples to be released from prison, He will provide the way.

Herod’s viciousness resulted in severe persecutions for many members of the Church. When he had killed James the brother of John by the sword, it pleased the Jews so much that he was persuaded to continue his persecutions. He then ordered the capture of Peter. When Peter had been taken captive, he was put into prison under the guard of four “quaternions of soldiers”. The story is beautifully described in Acts:


[38]                         Peter therefore was kept in prison: but prayer was made without ceasing of the church unto God for him. And when Herod would have brought him forth, the same night Peter was sleeping between two soldiers, bound with two chains: and the keepers before the door kept the prison.

And, behold, the angel of the Lord came upon him, and a light shined in the prison; and he smote Peter on the side, and raised him up, saying, Arise up quickly. And his chains fell off from his hands. And the angel said unto him, Gird thyself, and bind on thy sandals. And so he did. And he saith unto him, Cast thy garment about thee, and follow me. And he went out, and followed him; and wist not that it was true which was done by the angel; but thought he saw a vision.

When they were past the first and the second ward, they came unto the iron gate that leadeth unto the city; which opened to them of his own accord: and they went out, and passed on through one street; and forthwith the angel departed from him.

And when Peter was come to himself, he said, Now I know of a surety, that the Lord hath sent his angel, and hath delivered me out of the hand of Herod, and from all the expectation of the people of the Jews. (Acts 12:5-11)

Thus the faith and power of God were displayed in the miracles of the early Saints and served as a pattern for any other Saints who might be called to endure similar persecutions. God has often brought about great miracles of deliverance for His people according to His will.

An example of divine intervention occurred to Paul and Silas who had been captured. Their crime was that they

teach customs which are not lawful for us to receive, neither to observe, being Romans. And the multitude rose up together against them: and the magistrates rent off their clothes, and commanded to beat them. And when they had laid many stripes upon them, they cast them into prison, charging the jailor to keep them safely: Who, having received such a charge, thrust them into the inner prison and made their feet fast in the stocks.

And at midnight Paul and Silas prayed, and sang praises unto God: and the prisoners heard them. And suddenly there was a great earthquake, so that the [39] foundations of the prison were shaken: and immediately all the doors were opened, and every one’s bands were loosed. And the keeper of the prison awaking out of his sleep, and seeing the prison doors open, he drew out his sword, and would have killed himself, supposing that the prisoners had been fled.

But Paul cried with a loud voice, saying, Do thyself no harm: for we are all here. Then he called for a light, and sprang in, and came trembling, and fell down before Paul and Silas. And brought them out, and said, Sirs, what must I do to be saved? And they said, Believe on the Lord Jesus Christ, and thou shalt be saved, and thy house. And they spake unto him the word of the Lord, and to all that were in his house. And he took them the same hour of the night, and washed their stripes; and was baptized, he and all his, straightway. And when he had brought them into his house, he set meat before them, and rejoiced, believing in God with all his house. (Acts 16:21-34)

The miracles and wonders of God were a testimony to the Saints and to those who witnessed them. God often has many reasons for His servants to endure prison.

Paul said he had been “in stripes” above measure and had been beaten, stoned and “in prison more frequent” than any other apostle. His mind had been so attuned to affliction and suffering for Christ that he said, “If I must needs glory, I will glory of the things which concern mine infirmities.” (II Cor. 11:30) This displays a soul completely devoted to the Gospel cause and he wrote, “I have suffered the loss of all things, and do count them but dung, that I may win Christ.” (Phil. 3:8)

Paul could not divide his devotion, nor compromise his faith. His whole mind and soul were dedicated to keeping his “conscience void of any offense toward God.”

When Paul was in Caesarea at the house of Philip, a prophet of the Church came by and prophecied that Paul would be captured and his hands and feet would be bound in the city of Jerusalem; then he would be delivered over to the gentiles. The Saints begged and pleaded with Paul not to go to Jerusalem, but Paul answered:

…What mean ye to weep and to break mine heart? for I am ready not to be bound only, but also to die at Jerusalem for the name of the Lord Jesus. And when [40] he would not be persuaded, we ceased, saying, The will of the Lord be done.” (Acts 21:13-14)

The Prophet Joseph gave the following beautiful description of the Apostle Paul:

That those who keep the commandments of the Lord and walk in His statutes TO THE END, are the only individuals permitted to sit at this glorious feast, is evident from the following items in Paul’s last letter to Timothy, which was written just previous to his death,–he says: “I have fought a good fight, I have finished my course, I HAVE KEPT THE FAITH: henceforth there is laid up for me a crown of righteousness, which the Lord, the righteous Judge, shall give me at that day: and not to me only, but unto all them also that love His appearing.” No one who believes the account, will doubt for a moment this assertion of Paul which was made, as he knew, just before he was to take his leave of this world. Though he once, according to his own word, persecuted the Church of God and wasted it, yet after embracing the faith, his labors were unceasing to spread the glorious news: and like a faithful soldier, when called to give his life in the cause which he had espoused, he laid it down, as he says, with an assurance of an eternal crown. Follow the labors of this Apostle from the time of his conversion to the time of his death, and you will have a fair sample of industry and patience in promulgating the Gospel of Christ. Derided, whipped, and stoned, the moment he escaped the hands of his persecutors he as zealously as ever proclaimed the doctrine of the Savior. And all may know that he did not embrace the faith for honor in this life, nor for the gain of earthly goods. What, then, could have induced him to undergo all this toil? It was, as he said, that he might obtain the crown of righteousness from the hand of God. No one, we presume, will doubt the faithfulness of Paul to the end. None will say that he did not keep the faith, that he did not fight the good fight, that he did not preach and persuade to the last. And what was he to receive? A crown of righteousness. And what shall others receive who do not labor faithfully, and continue to the end? We leave such to search out their own promises if any they have; and if they have any they are welcome to them, on our part, for the Lord says that every man is to receive according to his works. Reflect for a [41] moment, brethren, and enquire, whether you would consider yourselves worthy a seat at the marriage feast with Paul and others like him, if you had been unfaithful? (T. P.J.S., p. 63-64)



[42]                              CHAPTER V




Under Popes and Emperors

It is by the blood of its confessors, and not of its adversaries, that the gospel triumphs. (History of the Reformation, I:88)

At the time of Christ, and for the next 500 years, righteous Christians had to contend with the unholy powers of the Roman Empire. But finally the reign of the emperors dissolved with the fall of that empire. Then from out of the ashes of the emperors, rose the same tyrannical powers from the popes. Rome changed titles, but her despotism was the same. Thus true Christians suffered from one despicable tyrant or another.

But, as with all totalitarian governments, the populace suffered the loss of personal freedom. And, what is worse, such tyranny always breeds corruption.

During the fifteen hundred years of apostasy and dictatorial reigns of emperors and popes, public morality dropped to its lowest ebb. People would say anything, or do anything, for gain. Robbery was so prevalent that it appeared to be one of the major occupations. As apostasy gradually overtook the Church of Christ, so did crime and immorality overtake its members. A man’s word became worthless.

The laws arranged for solemn oaths at every turn; men swore on the Scriptures or the most sacred relics; sometimes they were required to take an oath that they would keep the oath they were about to take; yet perjury was so frequent that trial by combat was sometimes resorted to in hope that God would identify the greater liar. (The Story of Civilization, IV, The Age of Faith, Will Durant, p. 829)

The Christians who were more obedient to the doctrines and teachings of Christ than to the allegiance of an emperor or pope, were often placed in fearful circumstances. Whenever Christians were brought before a magistrate of the Roman Empire, they were often presented with an oath


[43]         THE COLISEUM–the arena of death for many Christian martyrs.


[44] of allegiance to the laws. If they refused, they were usually sentenced to death. Later, at the height of the pope’s power, a similar “oath of allegiance” was administered, and the direful consequences were just the same.

The following stories illustrate the struggle of those faithful Saints who had these two despotic powers to contend with. Only a few random examples will have to suffice, for thousands upon thousands died in valor during those centuries of the Dark Ages.



Justin, the famous philosopher, was born in the year 103. He was given the best education that money could afford and went to Egypt to further his studies. When he was 30 years of age, he became a convert to Christianity and did much writing and speaking, principally to the Jews to convince them of the truths of Christianity. He later took up residence in Rome, where he became a teacher and continued his writings, which gained him great renown as a Christian philosopher. One example of his talents and gifts was exhibited during the persecutions by the Romans. He wrote an apology for the Christians, addressing it to the Emperor Antoninus, the senate, and to the people of Rome. This apology displayed such learning and genius that the emperor published an edict in favor of the Christians.

Later Justin entered a debate with Crescens, a cynic philosopher. Justin defeated the heathen’s arguments, but in revenge he was able to have Justin brought to a trial. Crescens stood as the accuser and Justin, with six others, was demanded to make a denial of their faith and sacrifice to the Roman gods. They refused to do either. They were then condemned and scourged with whips. One of the Christians, by the name of Concordus, was dragged before the image of Jupiter and demanded to worship it. But, he spit in its face–for which he was beheaded with a sword. The rest, with Justin, then suffered the same fate.



Persecutions extended throughout all the Roman provinces, which also included northern Africa, at about 200 A.D. One of those captured was Perpetua, a young married lady of about 26 years of age. Her father, who dearly [45] loved her, went to the prison and begged her to renounce Christianity. When brought to trial, she was taken before the procounsul, Minutius, who demanded that she make a sacrifice to the idols. She refused, for which she was put into prison and her little baby was taken away from her. Perpetua’s father came again and begged her to renounce Christianity so she could be liberated from the dungeon. She remained firm to her faith by refusing her father’s wish, saying “God’s will must be done.” With a broken heart he left her in the darkness of the dungeon.

After a few more days of imprisonment, the Christians were summoned to appear before the judge. One by one they were exhorted to forsake their religion and deny their Lord, but they one and all remained firm. When it came to Perpetua’s turn, suddenly her father appeared, carrying her child in his arms; he came near to the young mother, and pointing to the helpless little one, dependent on her for subsistence, entreated her to have compassion on her babe. Even the judge seemed to be moved, and added his persuasions to those of her father. “Spare the gray hairs of your father,” he said; “spare your child. Offer sacrifice for the welfare of the emperor.” But Perpetua answered, “I will not sacrifice.” Still her father continued his entreaties, until the judge, tired of his frequent interruptions, ordered him to be removed by the guards. He then passed sentence on the Christians; it was that they should be killed by wild beasts as a spectacle for the people on the next holiday. (Christian Martyrs, John Foxe, p. 67)

While she was in prison awaiting her punishment, her father returned to sit silently in grief. “All this was bitterly hard for Perpetua to bear; but God did not leave his servants comfortless. Bright visions of heavenly glory came to many of them, and to Perpetua among the rest.”

Finally those days of imprisonment were ended and the Christians were brought to the arena. Perpetua and others came singing. The men were sentenced to be torn to pieces by leopards and bears. Perpetua and a young woman named Felicitas “were hung up in nets, at first naked” where they were soon placed before a wild bull. The bull, goaded into mad fury, was let loose upon them and Felicitas fell wounded while Perpetua was tossed aside. She then arose and rushed to the side of the dying Felicitas. The bull made no further attacks but the fierce multitude [46] clamored for them to receive their death sentence. Having kissed each other they were attacked by gladiators who killed them with the sword.



During the reign of Decius, a dreadful persecution began in 249 A.D. His jealousy towards the Christians became furious as he watched their numbers continue to increase, while the temples of the heathen were gradually being forsaken. In his anger he became determined to destroy the Christians.

In Cilicia a Christian man by the name of Julian was arrested and tortured. He would not sacrifice to the Roman gods, nor would he deny his own religion. He was “frequently tortured,” but he remained firm. He was then made to travel for 12 months, from town to town, being exposed to the insults and torments of Roman citizens. Then “when all endeavors to make him recant his religion were found ineffectual,” he was brought before a judge, stripped, and whipped in a dreadful manner. Then he was put into a leather bag, together with a number of serpents and scorpions, and in that condition he was thrown into the sea.



The Roman Emperor Valerian came to the throne in 257 A.D., and for nearly four years brought about a vicious attack against Christians. National laws were made which brought them under condemnation. During this time martyrs were numerous. The Christians were tortured with many and vicious new kinds of torments.

Laurentius was a deacon when Sextus a bishop was led out to be executed. As they parted from each other for the last time, the bishop prophecied that his young friend, too, would someday have to follow him to martyrdom. Macrianus, the governor of Rome, under the Emperor Valerian had heard a rumor that the Christians were rich, causing him considerable yearning to have their wealth for himself. He sent soldiers to arrest Laurentius, or Laurence, as he was usually called. He was dragged up to the governor who said that he had heard of the great treasures of the Church, to which Laurence agreed that the Church did indeed [47] have treasures. “Then bring those treasures forth, for do not your sacred books tell you to render unto Caesar the things that are Caesar’s? The emperor has need of those riches for the defense of the empire; therefore, you must render them up.” After reflecting deeply for a few moments, Laurence replied, “In three days I will bring before you the greatest treasures of the church.” Laurence was set free after which on the appointed day he appeared before the governor. “Are the treasures collected?” was the first question of Macrianus.

“They are, my lord,” replied Laurence; “will you enter and view them?” With these words he opened a door and displayed to the astounded gaze of the governor, the poor pensioners of the church, a chosen number–a row of the lame, a row of the blind, orphans and widows, the helpless and the weak. Astonished by the sight, the governor turned fiercely upon Laurence, saying: “What mean you by this mockery? Where are the treasures of gold and silver you promised to deliver up?”

“These that you see before you,” replied the undaunted Laurence, are the true treasures of the church. In the widows and orphans you behold her gold and her silver, her pearls and precious stones. These are her real riches. Make use of them by asking for their prayers; they will prove your best weapons against your foes.” (Christian Martyrs, Foxe, p. 86)

The governor was enraged and greatly disappointed at not getting gold and silver. He commanded his guards to seize Laurence and take him to a dungeon. A fire was built on the floor of the dungeon upon which was placed a huge gridiron. Laurence was then stripped of his clothing and thrown upon it. The cruel tyrant, who condemned him, was there to witness the sight. But the martyr had the spirit to offer a prayer and with his dying breath he prayed for the Christian Church, and that someday Rome would be converted to God.

Thus, in terrible agony and suffering he finally gave up the ghost. But a Roman soldier, named Romanus, who witnessed the spectacle of such suffering and the bravery of Laurence, was so much affected by that courage and faith, that he was converted to Christianity. When it was discovered, he too, had to pay the price by being severely scourged and then beheaded.


[48] The Christian Legion

In 284 Diocletian became the emperor. Under his jurisdiction there was a legion of soldiers consisting of about 6000 men who were nearly all Christians. It was called the Theban legion, and had just been ordered by the Emperor Maximian to march to Gaul (now France) to assist in fighting against the rebels of Azuitania. Passing the Alps, they finally were joined by the emperor. But, just before engaging with the enemy, Maximian ordered a general sacrifice to the gods of the empire, in which the whole army was to participate. He “commanded that the men should also take oaths of allegiance, and swear to assist him in driving Christianity” out of Gaul.

This order caused great concern to the soldiers. After some consideration they refused to either sacrifice or take the oath. This enraged Maximian and he ordered every tenth man to be cut down with the sword. This cruel and inhuman order was carried out, and 600 men fell by the sword for refusing to take that oath. Those who remained were still firm to their convictions. Again the order to cut down every tenth man was given, and carried out. But the second slaughter made no more impression of renunciation than the first. By the advice of the officers, a letter was drawn up to remonstrate, indicating that they realized their pay was obtained from the emperor; however, their lives were given them by their God. They wrote:

Our arms are devoted to the emperor’s use, and shall be directed against his enemies; but we cannot stain our hands with Christian blood; and how, indeed, could you, O emperor, be sure of our fidelity, should we violate our obligation to our God, in whose service we solemnly engaged before we entered the army? You command us to search out and to destroy the Christians; it is not necessary to look any further than ourselves; we ourselves are Christians, and we glory in the name. We saw our companions fall without the least complaint, and thought them happy in dying for the sake of Christ. But nothing shall make us lift up our hands against our sovereign; we would rather die wrongfully, and by that means preserve our innocence, than live under a load of guilt. Whatever you command, we are ready to suffer: we confess ourselves to be Christians, and therefore cannot persecute our brothers nor sacrifice to idols. (Christian Martyrs, p. 99)


[49]         This noble reply should have moved the mercy of the emperor into pardoning them, but it had an opposite effect upon him. He was enraged at their refusing to obey his orders. He commanded all of his officers to fall upon the whole Theban legion and put them to death. His orders were carried out–thus all six thousand Christian soldiers were put to death for their refusal to subscribe to the emperor’s “oath of allegiance.”



The first British martyr was said to have been Alban. He had been brought up believing in the ancient gods of Rome. But being a kindly man, he once sheltered a Christian named Amphibalus, who was being pursued because of his religion. After the two had conversed about the Christian religion, Alban was greatly impressed by his guest and became converted. But, the enemies of Amphibalus had discovered his hiding place and came to the house of Alban to capture him. But Alban now became more than a friendly host–he decided to change clothes with Amphibalus so that when the soldiers came, he gave himself up as the prisoner they were seeking.

Alban was taken before the governor, but the fraud was discovered. Alban was then demanded to sacrifice to Jupiter, but Alban declared, “I am a Christian.” The governor ordered him to be dragged to the foot of the statue and scourged so that he would worship the idol. But the punishment bore no fruits as Alban continued courageous with his new found faith. They continued to beat and torture him but he endured with great courage. Finally the governor ordered his head to be taken off with the sword. This martyrdom took place in England, then a Roman province, in a town called Verulam. It is now named St. Albans, in Hertfordshire.



The governor of Dalmatia, about 300 A.D., resided on the eastern shore of the Adriatic Sea. He received with great pleasure an order to persecute the Christians. The populace were urged on by the governor to persecute them, so everyone seized and imprisoned every Christian they could find. Thus by their efforts to capture Christians, they were allowed to take their goods and possessions, in-[50]cluding their homes. Many Christians fled into the woods where some starved to death.

During this dreadful time, Theodotus, a Christian innkeeper, did all he could to comfort, feed, and to hide other Christians. He buried the bodies of several Christians which was also forbidden. But not all Christians could brave the sufferings and afflictions that were thrown upon them. One of them named Polychronichus was seized and soon began to renounce his faith. Then he informed on other Christians–Theodotus being one. So Theodotus was seized and brought before the governor, where he looked upon the numerous instruments of torture without any fear. The governor informed him that it was still in his power to save him if he would sacrifice to the gods of the empire. Then he was also promised to become one of the chief men of the city. Theodotus displayed great courage and eloquence in his answer, which was a refusal to renounce his faith or to pay homage to the strange gods of the empire. Bystanders and the priests of the empire were enraged and demanded that he be punished according to the law. He was then scourged and put on the rack, after which his flesh was seared with burning torches. He was then taken back to prison, and on the way he spoke to the crowd saying, “It is but just that a Christian should suffer for Him who suffered for us all.” Five days later he was taken from prison for more torturing, after which he was beheaded.



In the fifth century, the great Roman Empire was taken into captivity, and consummated its historic fall. Centuries of its barbarity and cruelty finally came to an end. Shortly after this, the Christian Church began to gain in numbers, power and wealth. But ironically sad, the Church began to employ the same barbarity, cruelty and bloody persecutions that she herself had once suffered. From persecuted to persecutor, the Christian religion had fallen back into the inducements of the heathen.

Historians noticed that when the “throne of Caesar was overturned, how the chair of Peter stood erect!” The leadership of the Church soon threw off the rags of persecution, only to be vested with the styles and customs of Babylon. The poor contemptible Christian had now become honored in the palaces of the rich. The Church–once hidden, driven and mobbed–had now become a major power over [51] the minds and pockets of nations. And, he who once sat as the great high priest for Christ, now became the banker, investor, and the temporal manager of business enterprises throughout the world.

The spread of the Christian religion during the first three centuries was rapid and extensive. Its power of conversion was attributed to the zeal of its ministers, and the heroic examples of its leaders. One of the main privations of the church came from these horrid persecutions causing the loss of its most stalwart men. But the most terrible blow against the Church was the influence of the half-converted wealthy intellectuals.

Dignities and wealth now flowed in upon its ministers and disciples, and according to the uniform testimony of all the early historians, the faith which had maintained its purity and rigour in the humble sanctuaries and lowly position of the first age, and amid the fires of its pagan persecutors, became corrupt and waxed feeble amid the gorgeous temples and the worldly dignities which imperial favour had lavished upon it. (History of Protestantism, J. A. Wylie, p. 3)

These worldly minded men gave the church temporal power by the sacrifice of spiritual gifts. As doctrines and principles of the Gospel were changed, the church purchased new favors and more powerful positions in the world.

It was because of these changes in the church that the humble, spiritual men of the church began to rebel.


Stephen and Lesoie

During the 9th century two young men, Stephen and Lesoie, were very distinguished because of their pious sincerity and acts of charity to others. They became adept at teaching the scriptures and promoting faith in Christ. At every opportunity they would be teaching and instructing others, which soon brought them under the suspicion of the Catholic Church. Many came to hear them expound the gospel; however, they were to be betrayed by one who reigned as a disciple, named Arefaste. Although this fellow seemed to always be “craving to be instructed in the things of God, he seemed to listen not only with the ear, but with the heart also.” So these two instructors explained how foolish it was to pray to statues and how impossible it [52] was for the sacrament to become the literal flesh of Christ. Arefasts listened to these teachings and then secretly returned with his report to those who had sent him. A council of bishops was immediately summoned and the “pretended disciple became the accuser!” The council tried to diswade them for their beliefs. A written oath was presented, but the two stood boldly to “the truth which they had long held; the arguments and threats of the council were alike powerless to change their belief, or to shake their resolution.” Then the council threatened their lives with burning at the stake–but they would not yield. So the sentence of death was passed upon them.

They were first stripped of their clerical vestments, then buffeted like their Master, then smitten with rods; the queen, who was present, setting the example in these acts of violence by striking one of them, and putting out his eye. Finally, they were led outside the city, where a great fire had been kindled to consume them.” (Hist. of Protestantism I:50)

There were another ten disciples, some say twelve, who were also willing to share the stake with them. Together this little band of Christians, bound together, refused to yield their faith. They, too, entered the flames to be set free from the toils of mortal life. They perished in the year 1022.



John Vitarius was a Franciscan monk in Tournay. He witnessed many of the corruptions which had crept into the church and sought to warn the people of their dangers. On one occasion he wrote: “It is better to cut a child’s throat than to place him in a religious order that is not reformed.” He declared that the convents had been converted to brothels, and the monasteries had been filled with mistresses. Perceiving the moral and spiritual dangers of such corruption in the orders of the church, he said that many of the priests were sensual seducers. Vitarius saw so many dangers from men robed in the priestly attire, that he wrote: “If thy curate, or any other priest, detains a woman in his house, you should go and drag the woman by force out of the house.” To these moral lepers he declared: “There are some who repeat certain prayers to the Virgin Mary, that they may see her at the hour of death. But thou shalt see the devil, and not the virgin.”


[53]         In 1498 he was brought up before the Council and told that he should recant or else suffer the consequences. The monk gave way and conceded to the council. Vitarius, like many others had and would do, gave a verbal or written statement of recantation of what he knew or believed to be true. Through the threat of prison or death many men give way to their faith and renounce the truth.



During these Dark Ages, when the torch of persecution was lit, it was by the church rather than against it. She could not tolerate any belief other than her own; so the Crusades and the Inquisition were created as a muscle of temporal terror to conform the mind and consciences of men.

The crusaders were organized by the promises of the church that their sins would be washed away when they shed the blood of church foes. Some of these forces numbered as many as 500,000 men who swept through cities killing, robbing, and raping their victims–all in the name of a “Holy War.” They would have been more appropriately named the “Wicked Wars” because of the crimes of murder and plunder that were created by them. Nearly half a million men were armed with every conceivable weapon, and their tempests of war thundered all over Europe. In the spring of 1209 A.D. these fanatics began to march against the rich territories of Raymond VI, Count of Toulouse.

This overwhelming host precipitated itself upon the estates of Raymond VI, Count of Toulouse. Seeing the storm approach, he was seized with dread, wrote submissive letters to Rome, and offered to accept whatever terms the Papal legate might please to dictate. As the price of his reconciliation, he had to deliver up to the Pope seven of his strongest towns, to appear at the door of the Church, where the dead body of the legate Castelneau, who had been murdered in his dominions, lay, and to be there beaten with rods. Next, a rope was put about his neck, and he was dragged by the legate to the tomb of the friar, in the presence of several bishops and an immense multitude of spectators. After all this, he was obliged to take the cross, and join with those who were seizing and plundering his cities, massacring his subjects, and carrying fire and sword throughout his territories. Stung by these humiliations and calamities, [54] he again changed sides. But his resolution to brave the Papal wrath came too late. He was again smitten with interdict; his possessions were given to Simon de Montfort, and in the end he saw himself reft of all. (Hist. of Protestantism, Vol. 1:41)

Thus by the sword and blood, the church gained victories over men and their possessions. But such extreme fanaticism created only more revolt and stronger opposition. It gave birth to Protestantism.



[55]                              CHAPTER VI



It is better that I should die a thousand times than I should retract one syllable…. (Martin Luther)

Some of the most noble examples of Christian faithfulness are found in the history of the Reformation. Prior to the Reformation there was only a sprinkling of stalwart souls scattered throughout those dark centuries who dared oppose the evils of Rome. But, during the Reformation many valiant souls joined as communities and nations to rebel against the tyranny of the papacy. Freedom to worship God according to the dictates of their conscience became more precious than life.


The Waldenses

Probably the first major influence for a Reformation came from the little band of Waldenses. They were a small group of Christians led by Peter Waldo. In 1176 Peter gave away all his goods to the poor and began a life of poverty and religious devotion. His followers were all from the poorer class who hung tenaciously to the teachings of the scriptures. Their loyalty to the doctrines of the Bible soon caused them direct opposition from the Pope, from whom they suffered untold persecutions.

The fact that these people taught the doctrines of Christ was an affront to the continual reversions of Catholicism. Their words and faith were a witness of the apostasy of Rome. Such exemplary lives, for the doctrines and principles of Christ by these poor disciples, were a constant rebuke to the fallacies and superstitions of the prelates.

When Rome issued warrants for the submission of the followers of Waldo, the Pope’s holy troops marched in force against them. Wherever these disciples were found, they were tortured as a means of making them return to Catholicism. Quiet villages were uprooted. Many innocent souls were slaughtered; homes and families were broken or crushed by these “soldiers of the Pope.” Rather than peaceably live according to their own conscience, they [56] were being forced to live by the will of the Pope. This conflict was to evolve into a war of extermination.

The Pope pleaded for all Catholics to assist in removing that “malicious and abominable sect of malignants.” He declared that they were having an influence on the “sheep of the true fold.” Therefore, everyone was enlisted in fighting against these “heretics.” An international crusade was formed against these humble followers of Christ, simply because they would not follow the Pope. As an incentive to engage all Catholics into this holy work of persecution and murder, the Pope made them an offer. Everyone who would aid him in stamping out these heretics and cultists would be…

absolved from all ecclesiastical pains and penalties, general and particular; it released all who joined the crusade from any oaths they might have taken; if legitimatized their title to any property they might have illegally acquired; and promised remission of all their sins to such as should kill any heretic. (Hist. of Protestantism, Wylie, B. 16, CH. I)

Thus was the beginning of a major work for these holy butchers. A tribunal was organized by the Pope to stop such heresies which became known as the “Inquisition.” The members were called the “Congregation of the Holy Office.” They soon became so powerful and deadly that it was even condemned by most of the Catholics. It held trials, organized spies, tortured, and persecuted or killed thousands and thousands of people–for both religious and secular crimes. This savage gang continued in power until 1834 with 600 years of blood and carnage for its history.

Under new threats from the Pope, the Waldenses offered to emigrate somewhere else, but the “viceroy of Christ” could not tolerate such a merciful solution; he would accept nothing but full repentance, which was a complete return to the dictates of the Church. Waldo’s followers refused to submit to his demands for they were prepared to surrender their lives rather than surrender their faith.

One of these mass executions was witnessed and recorded by a Catholic. He later described how 88 men were butchered by the Inquisitors. He related how the men, one by one, were led out to a place where their throat was cut. He said that anyone witnessing one execution could not look upon another. He was scarcely able to refrain from [57] tears while he wrote the story. He related that, “The meekness and patience with which they went to martyrdom and death are incredible. Some of them at their death professed themselves of the same faith with us, but the greater part died in their cursed obstinancy.”

One of many such beautiful Waldenses places of worship which was overtaken, plundered, or destroyed by the warriors of the Pope.

These execution orders coming from Rome were blood thirsty. They sounded more like the raving demands of a wounded general on a battlefield rather than from a man who claimed to be a servant of Christ. In one of these mandates, the Pope declared that if the Waldenses refused [58] to abjure, they were to be “crushed like venomous snakes.” This marked one of the first popular efforts to force people to comply to a test oath. They had to sign or suffer–sign or die!

The viceroy, seeing the difficulty of the enterprise, issued an edict promising a free pardon to all bandits, outlaws, and other criminals, who might be willing to undertake the task of scaling the mountains and attacking the strongholds of the Waldenses. In obedience to this summons, there assembled a mob of desperadoes, who were but too familiar with the secret paths of the Apennines. Threading their way through the woods, and clambering over the great rocks, these assassins rushed from every side of the barricades on the summit, and butchered the poor Vaudois. Thus were the inhabitants of San Sexto exterminated, some dying by the sword, some by fire, while others were torn by bloodhounds, or perished by famine.

While the outlaws of the Neapolitan viceroy were busy in the mountains, the Inquisitor-General and his monks were pursuing their work of blood at La Guardia. The military force at their command not enabling them to take summary measures with the inhabitants, they had recourse to a stratagem. Enticing the citizens outside the gates, and placing soldiers in ambush, they succeeded in getting into their power upwards of 1,600 persons. Of these, seventy were sent in chains to Montalto, and tortured, in the hope of compelling them to accuse themselves of practising shameful crimes in their religious assemblies. No such confession, however, could the most prolonged tortures wring from them.

Some were thrown from the tops of towers, or precipitated over cliffs; others were torn with iron whips, and finally beaten to death with fiery brands; and others, smeared with pitch, were burned alive.

But these horrors pale before the bloody tragedy of Montalto, enacted by the Marquis di Buccianici, whose zeal was quickened, it is said, by the promise of a cardinal’s hat to his brother, if he would clear Calabria of heresy. One’s blood runs cold at the perusal of the deed. (Hist. of Protestantism, p. 472-73)

But the blood of these martyrs did not extinguish them–it created more of them! Such noble examples of heroism became a testimony and an example for many of the [59] persecutors. Little bands of these heretics began to spring up all over the realm of Catholicism.

In 1299 the Council of Beziers sounded the alarm by announcing that perfected heretics had made their appearance in the land, and ordering close search made after them. At Albi, Bishop Bernard was, as usual, at variance with his flock, who were pleading against him in the royal court to preserve their jurisdiction. The occasion was opportune. He called to his assistance the inquisitors Nicholas D’Abbeville and Bertrand de Clermont, and towards the close of the year 1299 the town was startled by the arrest of twenty-five of the wealthiest and most respected citizens, whose regular attendance at mass and observance of all religious duties had rendered them above suspicion. The trials were pushed with unusual celerity, and, from the manner in which those who at first denied were speedily brought to confession and to revealing the names of their associates, there was doubtless good ground for the popular belief that torture was ruthlessly and unsparingly used; in fact, allusions to it in the final sentence of Guillem Calvefie, one of the victims, leave no doubt on the subject. Abjuration saved them from the stake, but the sentence of perpetual imprisonment in chains was a doubtful mercy for those who were sentenced, while a number were kept interminably in jail awaiting judgment. (History of the Inquisition, Vol. 2:71)

Those subjects who recanted, retracted, or compromised with their persecutors were never received back into full fellowship. They were never given a full pardon, neither did they obtain any advantages by their renunciation. This example and lesson was to be continually repeated through the centuries. Authoritarians are always suspicious and distrustful. Their pardons and mercies are always restricted, conditional, and often worthless.


John of Wesel

The Inquisition gained momentum and power with each new onslaught against the free thinkers. Men were often condemned who were the most innocent. But the bounds of the Inquisitors soon over-reached their objectives. They began purges within the church which caused havoc everywhere. Rather than cleanse the Church of revolt–individual [60] or organized–it became the means of creating it. Righteous and innocent souls deplored the evils of the Inquisition and sought means to stop it, or else to be liberated from it. Such was the case with John of Wesel. He had been condemned by Inquisitors even though no fault could be found in him, but the power of the evil machinery ran far ahead of mercy or justice; it was now dedicated to torture and slaughter. After John had been imprisoned and tortured, he was brought in to face his accusers–the Friar Gerhard von Eltern and Archbishop Diether.

John of Wesel entered, pallid, bent with age, leaning on his staff, and supported by two Franciscans. He was made to sit on the floor; von Elten repeated to him the message, and when he attempted to defend himself, he was cut short, badgered and threatened, until he was brought to sue for pardon. After this he was put through a long and exhausting examination, and was finally remanded until the next day. A commission consisting principally of the Cologne and Heidelberg doctors was appointed to determine what should be done with him. The next day he was again brought out and examined afresh, when he endeavored to defend his views. “If all men renounce Christ,” he said, “I will still worship him and be a Christian,” to which von Elten retorted, “So say all heretics, even when at the stake.” Finally it was resolved that three doctors should be deputed, piously to exhort him to abandon his errors. As in the case of Huss, it was not his death that was wanted, but his humiliation.

On the 10th the deputies labored with him. “If Christ were here,” he told them, “and were treated like me, you would condemn him as a heretic–but he would get the better of you with his subtlety.” At length he was persuaded to acknowledge that his views were erroneous, on the deputies agreeing to take the responsibility on their own consciences. He had long been sick when the trial was commenced, all assistance was withheld from him; age, weakness, and the dark and filthy dungeon from which he had vainly begged to be relieved broke down his powers of resistance, and he submitted. He publicly recanted and abjured, his books were burned before his face, and he was sentenced to imprisonment for life in the Augustinian monastery of Mainz. (History of the Inquisition, Vol. 2:422)


[61]         Here again is an example of a man conceding to the mandates of an unjust court only to receive a punishment as bad as death itself. John went to prison in the Monastery in Mainz, Germany, but he did not long survive the ordeal, for he died soon afterward.


John Wycliffe

John Wycliffe was an Englishman born in 1320. His life is of great interest and is an ecclesiastical study itself. His works became so popular and effectual in reform that he later became known as the “Morning Star of the Reformation.” His writings were recognized and used by nearly every other reformer that followed after him.

Wycliffe acquired a broad education in nearly every branch of learning and proved to be a profound scholar. He particularly devoted his scholastic ability to philosophy, [62] the canons of the Church, and to civil law. He was also a pious student and religious by nature. When he first sought to read the scriptures, he found that they were written in an ancient and foreign language; so he acquired a knowledge of the Greek and Hebrew languages so that he could read the scriptures for himself.

In the Bible, John learned the simple and beautiful teachings of Christ, but he also discovered a marked distinction between Bible teachings and the current teachings of the Church. As a professor with integrity, he began to preach the pure doctrines of Christ–much to the dismay and anger of many of the church prelates.

Eventually there were three major edicts issued against Wycliffe from Rome. They were intended to silence him. One came to the university where he taught, another to the church prelates, and another to the King of England. All were directed to an immediate means of silencing the heretic. He faced a trial by the church and was imprisoned, which was that certain path that led to the flames. But death by-passed the reformer and struck the Pope instead. So, upon the death of Pope Gregory XI, there arose two popes rather than one–each claiming divine infallibility. War broke out between these two popes, and for a season Wycliffe was forgotten. Wycliffe openly declared that both popes spoke the truth when they condemned each other as “anti-Christ.”

As professor of theology at Oxford, Wycliffe became popularly known as the “gospel doctor.” In a work entitled, “On the Truth and Meaning of Scripture,” he announced his intention of translating the Bible into the English language. He wanted it distributed so that every man in England might have a copy to read.

But he was now nearly 60 years old and his labors had taxed his strength. In this weakened condition he contracted a severe illness, which news brought joy to the Catholic friars. They presumed that he would now repent of his evils against the Church. They expected him to make a full confession and a retraction, or they assumed that they could now force him into a renunciation of his former teachings and beliefs. So representatives from the four religious orders and four civil officers came to the bed of the dying man to hear his final subjugation.


[63]                         “You have death on your lips,” they said, “be touched by your faults, and retract in our presence all that you have said to our injury.” The reformer listened in silence; then he bade his attendant to raise him in his bed, and, gazing steadily upon them as they stood waiting for his recantation, he said, in the firm strong voice which had so often caused them to tremble: “I shall not die, but live; and again declare the evil deeds of the friars.” (History of the Reformation, D’ Aubigne, B. 17, Ch. 7)


Wycliffe Rebukes the Monks from His Deathbed.

The monks were taken back astonished and quickly left the room. Wycliffers words were fulfilled. He lived and continued to expose the evils of his enemies. His firm will to live and the conviction of his mission gave him the strength and power to finish the task he had begun. If Wycliffe had shrunk before his foes, his work would [64] have been dimmed and his subjugation to the church and the civil authorities would have bound him with restrictions, spiritually if not socially. But he returned to health and lived to translate the Bible into English, thus placing the scriptures into the hands of his countrymen. John Wycliffe was the means of bringing nearly half of England into the work of the Reformation.

But the story of Wycliffe does not close here. When his Bible was translated and distributed, it brought even greater dismay to the authorities of the Church. Again they conceived a plot to silence the reformer. They would bring him to trial and in some way find evidence to convict him and sentence him to prison or death. Twice they took him to court, but Wycliffe turned the court into a trial against the church for its temporal usurpation and doctrinal reverses. His enemies were thrown into confusion. However, by the time of his third trial, most of his strongest supporters had been compelled to submit to the Pope through fear of prison or death. Verbal or signed pledges put them into spiritual and temporal bondage and now Wycliffe began to feel the loneliness of his cause.

John Wycliffe was at this time in his old age, seemingly alone, and in a weakened position. His condition was an opportunity for an attack by his enemies. Even the king, young Richard II, had been won over to the papal leaders. This new and final plot against the old warrior was to be a conclusive one. The king approved an edict by royal decree that anyone who taught heretical or condemned doctrines should be consigned to prison. Wycliffe was now their main target and the papists believed they had sufficient ammunition to destroy him. He was ordered to appear before the highest tribunal in the kingdom, and no favors here would be shown for heresy. The ultimate objective was to offer Wycliffe two choices–to abjure before the church and the state, or else be consigned to flames.

But Wycliffe did not retract; he would not dissemble. He fearlessly maintained his teachings and repelled the accusations of his persecutors. Losing sight of himself, of his position, of the occasion, he summoned his hearers before the divine tribunal, and weighed their sophistries and deceptions in the balance of eternal truth. The power of the Holy Spirit was felt in the council room. A spell from God was upon the hearers. They seemed to have no power to leave the place. As arrows from the Lord’s quiver, [65] the Reformer’s words pierced their hearts. The charge of heresy which they had brought against him, he with convincing power threw back upon themselves. Why, he demanded, did they dare to spread their errors? For the sake of gain, to make merchandise of the grace of God?

“With whom, think you,” he finally said, “are ye contending? With an old man on the brink of the grave? No: With Truth–Truth which is stronger than you, and will overcome you.” So saying, he withdrew from the assembly, and not one of his adversaries attempted to prevent him. (Great Controversy, Ellen White, p. 90)


The Papal Trial of John Wycliffe.

Some time later, he was served a summons to appear before a papal tribunal in Rome. He was not blind to the dangers of such a summons, and he would have made the long journey if he had not been suffering from palsy. So, he wrote a letter to Rome, informing them of his personal convictions.


[66]                         Verily, I do rejoice to open and declare unto every man the faith which I do hold, and especially unto the bishop of Rome…. First, I suppose that the gospel of Christ is the whole body of God’s law…. I do give and hold the bishop of Rome, forasmuch as he is the vicar of Christ here on earth, to be most bound, of all other men, unto that law of the gospel. For the greatness among Christ’s disciples did not consist in worldly dignity or honors, but in the near and exact following of Christ in His life and manners.

No faithful man ought to follow either the pope himself or any of the holy men, but in such points as he hath followed the Lord Jesus Christ.

Let us pray unto our God, that He will so stir up our Pope Urban VI, as he began, that he with his clergy may follow the Lord Jesus Christ in life and manners; and that they may teach the people effectually, and that they, likewise, may faithfully follow them in the same. (Acts and Monuments, by John Foxe, Vol. 3:49)

John Wycliffe was certainly a man of personal courage and conviction. He lived with boldness, and for him to retreat in order to obtain peace or personal safety was out of the question. He once declared: “Preach the gospel of Christ to haughty prelates, and martyrdom will not fail you. What! I should live and be silent? Never! Let the blow fall. I await its coming.” But God had always been his constant shield. When Wycliffe reached a ripe old age, he peacefully passed on. His example, his faith and his courage, have touched the hearts of every faithful man for centuries. Many people may never have had a chance to read the Bible if it had not been for the courage and work of translating it into the English language by John Wycliffe.


John Huss

John Huss was born in Husinec, Bohemia, about 1369, and was soon orphaned by the loss of his father. He grew quickly in knowledge and finally sought to acquire an education at the University of Prague. His mother kneeled beside the road, leading to the university and asked God to care for and guide her son. Little was she to know how his fame would grow out of that university to cover the earth.


[67]                   John Huss the Bohemian Reformer.

After completing his college, he became attached to the court of the king, and dean of the philosophical faculty. He later became the university rector in 1402. By now he was made a priest and became a very influential preacher. His good friend, Jerome, returned from England about this time with many of the writings of Wycliffe. They both studied them arduously and believed what Wycliffe had written. Since both of these men were ardently powerful speakers, they began to use Wycliffe’s materials in their publishing and preaching.


[68]         The enraged Pope demanded the trial of Huss, and the city of Prague fell victim to the Pope’s interdict. Such a sentence condemned the whole city, and even the gates of heaven were to be closed against it. All services were suspended, the churches were closed, marriages were performed in the churchyard, and the dead were denied the right to be buried in the graveyard but had to be interred in fields or ditches. Most of the people of Prague condemned Huss, and for a while he had to leave the city. It was under such turmoil that Huss thoroughly realized that God was speaking in the scriptures and not through Rome.

About this time came a schism at the head of the church. The Pope died and suddenly there arose three Popes at once–all claiming title as the infallible leader of the Church. This furthered Huss’s reasons for exposing the errors that had crept into the church.

The church reorganized with only one Pope and made new efforts to heal its wounds. Then they set out on a course to depose the heresies caused by Huss. This council called Huss to appear before them at Constance and assured him that he would have safe conduct. Huss knew the inconsistency of such promises but was determined to meet their council. He wrote a letter to his friends:

My brethren,

I am departing with a safe-conduct from the king to meet my numerous and mortal enemies…. I confide altogether in the all-powerful God, in my Saviour; I trust that He will listen to your ardent prayers, that He will infuse His prudence and His wisdom into my mouth, in order that I may resist them; and that He will accord me His Holy Spirit to fortify me in His truth, so that I may face with courage, temptations, prison, and, if necessary, a cruel death. Jesus Christ suffered for His well-beloved; and therefore ought we to be astonished that He has left us His example, in order that we may ourselves endure with patience all things for our own salvation? He is God, and we are His creatures; He is the Lord, and we are His servants; He is Master of the world, and we are contemptible mortals–yet He suffered! Why, then, should we not suffer also, particularly when suffering is for us a purification? Therefore, beloved, if my death ought to contribute to His glory, pray that it may come quickly, and that He may enable me to support all my calamities with constancy. But [69] if it be better that I return amongst you, let us pray to God that I may return without stain–that is, that I may not suppress one tittle of the truth of the gospel, in order to leave my brethren an excellent example to follow. Probably, therefore, you will nevermore behold my face at Prague; but should the will of the all-powerful God deign to restore me to you, let us then advance with a firmer heart in the knowledge and the love of His law. (The Reformers Before the Reformation, Vol. 1, p. 147)

Huss arrived safely in Constance, where he was arrested and thrown into a dungeon. Ironically, some time later, the Pope himself was to be thrown into this same dungeon for “murder, simony, adultery, and sins not fit to be named.” Huss soon contracted a fever in prison which nearly ended his life. Finally he was brought out to face the Emperor.


The Trial and Condemnation of Huss.


[70]                         Huss was at last brought before the council. Loaded with chains he stood in the presence of the emperor, whose honor and good faith had been pledged to protect him. During his long trial he firmly maintained the truth, and in the presence of the assembled dignitaries of church and state he uttered a solemn and faithful protest against the corruptions of the hierarchy. When required to choose whether he would recant his doctrines or suffer death, he accepted the martyr’s fate. (The Great Controversy, White, p. 107)

While Huss lay there in the lonely dark dungeon, the Lord gave him dreams to show him that the work he had done was acceptable, and also that others would follow his example, thus expanding the work of reformation around the world.

In a letter to a friend he wrote about one of his dreams by saying:

I maintain this for certain, that the image of Christ will never be effaced. They have wished to destroy it, but it shall be painted afresh in all hearts by much better preachers than myself.

For the last time Huss was brought before the council. The emperor, the princes of the empire, the royal deputies, the cardinals, bishops, priests and a large crowd gathered to witness the results of this last great conflict.

Being called upon for his final decision, Huss declared his refusal to abjure, and, fixing his penetrating glance upon the monarch whose plighted word had been so shamelessly violated, he declared: “I determined, of my own free will, to appear before this council, under the public protection and faith of the emperor here present.” A deep flush crimsoned the face of Sigismund as the eyes of all in the assembly turned upon him.

Sentence having been pronounced, the ceremony of degradation began. The bishops clothed their prisoner in the sacerdotal habit, and as he took the priestly robe, he said: “Our Lord Jesus Christ was covered with a white robe, by way of insult, when Herod had Him conducted before Pilate.”

Being again exhorted to retract, he replied, turning toward the people: “With what face, then, should I behold the heavens? How should I look on [71] those multitudes of men to whom I have preached the pure gospel? No; I esteem their salvation more than this poor body now appointed unto death.”

The vestments were removed one by one, each bishop pronouncing a curse as he performed his part of the ceremony. Finally “they put on his head a cap or pyramidal-shaped miter of paper, on which were painted frightful figures of demons, with the word `Archheretic’ conspicuous in front. `Most joyfully,’ said Huss, `will I wear this crown of shame for Thy sake, O Jesus, who for me didst wear a crown of thorns.”

When he was thus arrayed, “the prelates said, `Now we devote thy soul to the devil.’ `And I,’ said John Huss, lifting up his eyes toward heaven, `do commit my spirit into Thy hands, O Lord Jesus, for Thou has redeemed me.'”


Huss Sings on His Way to Death.


[72]                         He was now delivered up to the secular authorities and led away to the place of execution. An immense procession followed, hundreds of men at arms, priests and bishops in their costly robes, and the inhabitants of Constance. When he had been fastened to the stake, and all was ready for the fire to be lighted, the martyr was once more exhorted to save himself by renouncing his errors. “What errors,” said Huss, “shall I renounce? I know myself guilty of none. I God to witness that all that I have written and preached has been with the view of rescuing souls from sin and perdition; and, therefore, most joyfully will I confirm with my blood that truth which I have written and preached.”

When the flames kindled about him, he began to sing, “Jesus Thou Son of David, have mercy on me,” and so continued till his voice was silenced forever. (The Great Controversy, White, p. 108)

Even his enemies were struck with such a noble example. His consistent firmness and devotion to his beliefs were testimony of their truth.

When the flames had finally consumed the body of the martyr, his ashes and the soil upon which they fell, were gathered up and thrown into the Rhine River. His enemies thought that would end the teachings of John Huss, but it was seed, for his writings became scattered, like his ashes, throughout the world. His voice in the council hall of Constance had a ring that continued for centuries to follow. His example of faith and consistency encouraged a multitude of others. His enemies thought they had destroyed Huss, but his death only furthered the cause of the reformation and freedom.


Jerome the Reformer

Jerome had been active in publishing the scriptures, teaching their doctrines, and exposing many of the evils that were creeping into the Catholic Church. His good friend John Huss had just been consigned to the flames at Prague. Jerome discovered that the prelates of the church were now seeking him. While he was on his way out of Constance, he was caught by a band of soldiers. As he was led before the council he was met with shouts “To the flames with him!” Thrown into a dungeon, chained in an excruciating position, and fed on bread and water, he suffered [73] a fate which his friend Huss had seen in a dream. After several months he contracted an illness which threatened his life. His enemies, fearing that they might lose their victim, began to treat him with less severity–although he remained in prison for a full year.


Jerome of Prague

The council decided that instead of burning him, they would force him to retract his teachings and beliefs.

He was brought before the assembly, and offered the alternative to recant, or to die at the stake. Death at the beginning of his imprisonment would have been a mercy in comparison with the terrible sufferings which he had undergone; but now, weakened by ill-[74]ness, by the rigors of his prison house, and the torture of anxiety and suspense, separated from his friends, and disheartened by the death of Huss, Jerome’s fortitude gave way, and he consented to submit to the council. He pledged himself to adhere to the Catholic faith, and accepted the action of the council in condemning the doctrines of Wycliffe and Huss, excepting, however, the “holy truths” which they had taught. (The Reformers Before the Reformation, Bonnechose, Vol. 1:234)

Thus he signed a denial to ease his sufferings and to relieve such severe tortures from his enemies. At the time, it did not seem to be a serious compromise or a consequential concession.

By this expedient Jerome endeavored to silence the voice of conscience and escape his doom. But in the solitude of his dungeon he saw more clearly what he had done. He thought of the courage and fidelity of Huss, and in contrast pondered upon his own denial of the truth. He thought of the divine Master whom he had pledged himself to serve, and who for his sake endured the death of the cross. Before his retraction he had found comfort, amid all his sufferings, in the assurance of God’s favor; but now remorse and doubts tortured his soul. He knew that still other retractions must be made before he could be at peace with Rome. The path upon which he was entering could end only in complete apostasy. His resolution was taken: To escape a brief period of suffering he would not deny his Lord.

Only by an unreserved surrender of the truth could Jerome preserve his life. But he had determined to avow his faith and follow his brother martyr to the flames.

He renounced his former recantation and, as a dying man, solemnly required an opportunity to make his defense. Fearing the effect of his words, the prelates insisted that he should merely affirm or deny the truth of the charges brought against him. Jerome protested against such cruelty and injustice. “You have held me shut up three hundred and forty days in a frightful prison,” he said, “in the midst of filth, noisomeness, stench, and the utmost want of everything; you then bring me out before you, and lending an ear to my mortal enemies, you refuse to hear me…. If you be really wise men, and the lights of the world, take care not to sin against justice. As to me, I am only a feeble mortal; my life is but [75] of little importance; and when I exhort you not to deliver an unjust sentence, I speak less for myself than for you.” (The Great Controversy, White, p. 111-112)

Although Jerome was shut up in a prison, under great physical suffering and mental torment, he delivered his final testimony, which had a depth of thought and inspiration. Once again he was defending the truth, and with pain in his soul he regretted the document of retraction he had signed. He suffered in the depth of remorse for that deed. It was made worse because it was also a denial directed against his friend John Huss. Now he arose, filled with faith and conviction, and said: “I knew him from his childhood, he was a most excellent man, just and holy; he was condemned notwithstanding his innocence.” He continued with deep remorse and a confession of repentance by saying:

Of all the sins that I have committed since my youth, none weigh so heavily on my mind, and cause me such poignant remorse, as that which I committed in this fatal place, when I approved of the iniquitous sentence rendered against Wycliffe, and against the holy martyr, John Huss, my master and my friend. Yes! I confess it from my heart, and declare with horror that I disgracefully quailed when, through a dread of death, I condemned their doctrines. I therefore supplicate…Almighty God to deign to pardon me my sins, and this one in particular, the most heinous of all. * * * The things which they have affirmed, and which are irrefutable, I also think and declare, like them. (The Reformers Before the Reformation, Bonnechose, Vol. 2:151-2)

His enemies were outraged. They clamored for him to be thrown to the flames. But there were some upon whom his words had a deep effect. A few of the dignitaries of the church urged him to again sign a denial of his writings and to submit to the pope, offering some very favorable prospects for his future. But Jerome continued:

“Prove to me from the Holy Writings that I am in error,” he said, “and I will abjure it.”

“The Holy Writings!” exclaimed one of his tempters, “is everything then to be judged by them? Who can understand them till the church has interpreted them?”

[76]                         “Are the traditions of men more worthy of faith than the gospel of our Saviour?” replied Jerome. “Paul did not exhort those to whom he wrote to listen to the traditions of men, but said, `Search the scriptures.'”

“Heretic!” was the response, “I repent having pleaded so long with you. I see that you are urged on by the devil.” (History of Protestantism, Wylie, B. 3, Ch. 10)

Now there was no compromise between Jerome and his enemies–no more than truth can compromise with error. Jerome gained courage while his persecutors increased their threats. Finally the sentence of death was passed upon him and he was led out to the very same spot where his friend John Huss had given up his life. He went “singing on his way, his countenance lighted up with joy and peace,” and as the executioner was about to light the fire at his feet, he stepped behind the martyr, but Jerome exclaimed: “Come forward boldly; apply the fire before my face. Had I been afraid, I should not be here.”

His last words, uttered as the flames rose about him, were a prayer. `Lord, Almighty Father,’ he cried, `Have pity on me, and pardon me my sins; for Thou knowest that I have always loved Thy truth.’ His voice ceased, but his lips continued to move in prayer. When the fire had done its work, the ashes of the martyr, with the earth upon which they rested, were gathered up, and like those of Huss, were thrown into the Rhine. (The Great Controversy, pp. 114-115)

So the lives of two great reformers were extinguished in flames. But such heroic examples were the sparks which ignited the light of the gospel in hearts of thousands of others.


Joan of Arc

Joan of Arc was born in Domremy, France, in 1412. She was a most devout young girl, but never learned to read or write. She began to have “visions” which told her that she was to liberate her country from the British. At the age of 17 she left her home to fulfill that task. First she went to Vaucouleurs and asked the garrison commander for a horse, some armor, and an escort of men because she needed to see the king. The commander laughed at her, then thought she was insane, but was finally persuaded to [77] give in to her demands. When Charles VII heard of the visionary girl coming to see him, he decided to test her spirituality. He slipped into the ranks of his courtiers and placed another man on the throne. When Joan came in, she gave only a glance at the man on the throne and then went directly to the king and courtsied to him as the acknowledged king. Charles was only half convinced, but when she told him of the things he had been praying to God for, while alone in the palace chapel, he believed her. However, as a final test he asked his learned theologians to test her–and she passed their tests, too. So, Joan took up the sword and the command of the king’s troops.

At first the king’s commanders were reluctant to obey her, but soon they noticed that they had victories when they followed her, but only defeats when they didn’t. She liberated the city of Orl’eans in 1429, which was a mark of a great success. Her victory at Orl’eans was the turning point in that 100-year war. She defeated the British in four more battles. Her orders were those of a military genius, and her fame spread throughout the nation, and also through the ranks of the enemy.

Finally she had completed her objective and her visions diminished. She now wanted to return to Domremy, but the king would not let her go. She gave in to his request to continue fighting at Paris, where the British still held power. The attack failed, and she was badly wounded and captured. She was tried as a witch and a heretic, but she insisted that her visions had come from heaven.

Her judges were the Bishop of Beauvains and Jean Le Moistre, vice-inquisitor of France. The trial was to be at Rouen where she was cast into prison. Two guards stood outside of her cell–three were placed inside the cell with her. At various times she was placed in chains and irons, and from Feb. 21 to March 24 she was pressured by a dozen interrogations. Then for two days she had to answer charges to 70 complaints against her–some of which were for claiming divine guidance, for prophecy, for stating that the “voices” which spoke to her from heaven were spoken in French instead of English, and for wearing men’s clothes instead of women’s.

On March 31, she was again pressured to make a “submission to the church militant.” But, she did her best to avoid this trap by saying that she knew the church militant should not err; but it was to God that she held herself answerable to, for both her words and her actions.


[78]         Finally the number of charges were dropped from 70 to 12 after consultation with many notable theologians. By April 18, she had become exceedingly ill. In this trying condition she was again visited for the purpose of badgering her to concede on certain points. On May 9 she was threatened with torture if she would not give in. Again she refused. It was decided that torture was useless. On May 23 she was informed that if she persisted in her errors, she would be turned over to the secular authorities for punishment, which of course meant certain death. Still she was definite in her views. The next day she was taken out to the church cemetery where a most direful sentence was read which abandoned her to the secular authorities and final judgment.

Hearing this dreadful pronouncement, Joan quailed, saying she would do all that the church required of her. She was therefore, presented with a form of abjuration which must already have been prepared. She hesitated in signing it, eventually doing so. (Encyclopedia Britannica, p. 6)


But signing this declaration did little or nothing for Joan. She was condemned to “perpetual imprisonment.” But, within a few days her judges had another “turn of heart”; they handed her over to the secular authorities. The next day she was led out to a stake and burned to death, and her ashes were thrown into the Seine River. So, for Joan the signing of an oath of loyalty was worthless.


Robert Oguier’s Family

It was Saturday, March 6, 1556, at about 10 o’clock at night when the city marshal and his deputies came to the home of Robert Oguier. They were searching for Protestants, and they knew that Robert’s home was a meeting place for many of the “outlaw” Christians. In searching through the house, they discovered many books which were confiscated to be used as evidence against them. Robert, his wife, and their son Martin were home, but their oldest son Baudicon was out for the evening. The marshal decided to wait. When he came home, Martin tried to warn him, but Baudicon failed to understand the signal, and the marshal met him and said, “Ah, sir, you are well met,” and added, “I arrest you all in the emperor’s name.”


[79]         Robert, his wife, and the two sons were bound and taken to prison. He was brought before the magistrate and accused of not attending mass, and that he had people coming to his home for secret meetings, where they were taught “false and erroneous doctrines.” To the charge of not attending mass, Robert replied that “Christ’s blood had atoned for all men” and furthermore…

Do we read in all the Scriptures that either the prophets, Christ, or any of the Apostles, ever said mass? They knew not what it meant. If you please to read the Bible over, you will never find the mass once mentioned therein; therefore it is the mere invention of men.

As to the second accusation, I will not deny but there have met together in my house honest people fearing God; I assure you, not with intention to wrong any, but rather for the advancement of God’s glory and the good of many. I know, indeed the emperor had forbidden it, but I knew also that Christ in his Gospel, had commanded it. “Where two or three (saith he) are gathered together in my name, there am I in the midst of them.” Thus, you see, I could not well obey the emperor but I must disobey Christ. In this case then, I chose rather to obey my God than man.” (Book of Martyrs, Foxe, p. 87)

All of the family confessed their beliefs and that they had meetings. They were then taken to the dungeons where they were tortured to learn the names of others who had attended their meetings.

When they were again taken before the magistrate, Robert and His son Baudicon were sentenced to be burned to ashes. But no sooner had they been taken back to their prison cell to await their execution, than some friars came to tempt them into returning to the Church. One of the friars, trying to persuade Robert, said that he held the power to save his life. Robert replied:

Poor man! how darest thou attribute that to thyself which belongs to the eternal God, and so rob him of his honour? For it seems by thy speech, that if I will hearken to thee, thou wilt become my saviour. No, no; I have only one Saviour, Jesus Christ, who by-and-by will deliver me from this miserable world. I have one teacher whom the heavenly Father hath commanded me to hear, and I purpose to hearken to none other. (Book of Martyrs, p. 88)


[80]         Robert told the friar that he had put all of his confidence in God; therefore, He would direct his life. Furthermore, he replied, “I believe what the holy prophets and apostles have written, and in that faith will I live and die.” The friar replied, “Out, dog! Thou art not worthy the name of Christian.”

Soon the time came for the execution. As they were dragging Baudicon to the stake, he began to sing the 16th Psalm. One of the friars cried out, “Do you not hear, my masters, what wicked errors these heretics sing to beguile the people with?” Baudicon turned to the friar saying, “Simple idiot–how callest thou the psalms of David errors?” Then turning to his father who was being chained to the stake, he said, “Be of good courage, father; the worst will be past by-and-by.”

When the straw and wood at their feet was about to be lighted, Baudicon turned his eyes toward heaven and cried, “I see the heavens open, and millions of bright angels are ready to receive us, rejoicing to see us thus witnessing the truth in the view of the world. Father, let us be glad and rejoice, for the joys of heaven are opened unto us.”

Fire was then touched to the straw, and as the flames sprang up, the last words to be heard were, “Jesus Christ, thou Son of God, into thy hands we commend our spirits.”

The friars came later to the prison cell of Mrs. Oguier and her son Martin. Their intentions were to turn them from their faith. To accomplish this they decided it best to separate them. They then continuously pleaded with Mrs. Oguier, and after awhile the poor woman began to waver –which brought considerable glee to her enemies. She finally consented to do their bidding. They felt that her persuasions could turn her son Martin, too. So they placed them together where she began to petition her son to turn to the Roman Catholic faith.

When Martin heard his mother’s pleas, he began to weep and said, “Oh, Mother, what have you done? Oh, that I should live to [hear] this which pierces my heart.” At seeing her son weep for her, she revived her faith and prayed for strength to stand by her son.

When the friars returned, she said, “I will, by the help of God, stand to my first confession, and if I may not sign it with ink, I will seal it with my blood.” Thus, [81] this frail vessel who so wavered in prison now became stronger and stronger.

Later Martin and his mother were bound and brought to the place of their martyrdom. As they were bound to the stake, spectators gathered around to witness this unusual execution. But she spoke to them saying, “We are Christians, but because we will believe no more than that which the Word of God teaches us.”

These two souls both grew more zealous and joyful that they were considered worthy of that last great sacrifice for their faith. Their final words were a prayer–the same one that Robert and Baudicon had offered at the same place upon their death.



Galileo Galilei was born February 15, 1564, in Pisa, Italy. While he was a child he was quick to show unusual skill in building toys and playthings. As a youth he also played the lute and organ, and won a reputation for his outstanding paintings. In his teens he studied medicine and philosophy, and at the age of 20 he discovered the law of the pendulum. He soon gave up the study of medicine for mathematics, and during this study he discovered the hydrostatic balance now used in the law of physics and in the study of falling bodies. He also designed the sector which is still being used by draftsmen. He improved and built telescopes, making them a practical instrument in gathering facts on astronomy. He also discovered the moons on Jupiter, the rings of Saturn, and the phases of Venus and Mars. It was Galileo who also discovered the sunspots.

When Pope Paul V made a visit to Florence, with other high church officials, Galileo used one of his own telescopes to show his discoveries to them. But his demonstrations did not fully persuade them of the truths of his scientific achievements. Galileo firmly upheld the theory of Copernicus that the earth moves around the sun. Church officials, however, warned him to abandon that false Copernican idea. The church had placed the works of Copernicus on their list of prohibited books where it remained for over 200 years.

In 1632 Galileo published his masterpiece called “A Dialogue on the Two Principle Systems of the World.” The [82] Inquisition immediately called him to trial. The trial was a long one. And, even though the truth was on his side, he was not able to convince the Council of the value of his discoveries. The Inquisitors deviously showed him instruments of torture which they had used on all who had not conformed to the rules of the church. These instruments, he was informed, might be used on him if he refused to retract or re-align himself with the church authorities.

Galileo continued his work with the telescope, nonetheless, making it range from three power to 30 power. He thought that all he had to do was to illustrate the principles of Copernicus were right and the church authorities would have to be convinced. Reason and logic added to the laws of science were sufficient to convince anyone, he thought. But the prejudice, jealousy and the pride of the church authorities would not bow to the truth.

That clash of principles and, of course, of personalities came into the open at his trial in 1633. But every political trial has a long hidden history of what went on behind the scenes. (Ascent of Man, p. 205)

Galileo went to trial and faced ten judges–all Cardinals, one of whom was the Pope’s brother and another his nephew. The first trial came about because of his book. It was published in 1630 and became an instant success–but for him it was an instant disaster. The result of the third trial was that he was ordered not to publish any more works and that he must submit himself to the Pope, who had personally attended the trial. He was forced to sign a retraction, which he reluctantly did. It reads:


I, Galileo Galilei, son of the late Vincenzo Galilei, Florentine, aged seventy years, arraigned personally before this tribunal, and kneeling before you, most Eminent and Reverend Lord Cardinals, Inquisitors general against heretical depravity throughout the whole Christian Republic, having before my eyes and touching with my hands, the holy Gospels — swear that I have always believed, do now believe, and by God’s help will for the future believe, all that is held, preached, and taught by the Holy Catholic and Apostolic Roman Church. But whereas — alter an injunction had been judicially intimated to me by this Holy Office, to the effect that I must altogether abandon the false opinion that the sun is the centre of the world and immovable, and that the earth is not the centre of the world, and moves, and that I must not hold, defend, or teach in any way whatsoever, verbally or in writing, the said doctrine, and after it had been notified to me that the said doctrine was contrary to Holy Scripture — I wrote and printed a book in which I discuss [83] this doctrine already condemned, and adduce arguments of great cogency in its favour, without presenting any solution of these; and for this cause I have been pronounced by the Holy Office to be vehemently suspected of heresy, that is to say, of having held and believed that the sun is the centre of the world and immovable, and that the earth is not the centre and moves:

Therefore, desiring to remove from the minds of your Eminences, and of all faithful Christians, this strong suspicion, reasonably conceived against me, with sincere heart and unfeigned faith I abjure, curse, and detest the aforesaid errors and heresies, and generally every other error and sect whatsoever contrary to the said Holy Church; and I swear that in future I will never again say or assert, verbally or in writing, anything that might furnish occasion for a similar suspicion regarding me; but that should I know any heretic, or person suspected of heresy, I will denounce him to this Holy Office, or to the Inquisitor and ordinary of the place where I may be. Further, I swear and promise to fulfil and observe in their integrity all penances that have been, or that shall be, imposed upon me by this Holy Office. And, in the event of my contravening, (which God forbid!) any of these my promises, protestations, and oaths, I submit myself to all the pains and penalties imposed and promulgated in the sacred canons and other constitutions, general and particular, against such delinquents. So help me God, and these His holy Gospels, which I touch with my hands.

I, the said Galileo Galilei, have abjured, sworn, promised, and bound myself as above; and in witness of the truth thereof I have with my own hand subscribed the present document of my abjuration, and recited it word for word at Rome, in the Convent of Minerva, this twenty-second day of June, 1633.

I, Galileo Galilei, have abjured as above with my own hand.

But signing such a concession did not benefit him. He was confined as a prisoner for the rest of his life in his little hamlet under strict arrest. The Pope decreed that he would never publish again. He was not to discuss his beliefs with anyone. He was not even allowed to speak to a Protestant. And the last five years of his life in that prison were spent in blindness and sorrow.


John Louis Paschale

Another famous case brought before the Pope was that of John Louis Paschale, a Piedmont minister of the Waldenses. His first profession was that of a soldier, but throwing down his weapons, he took up the cross. He had just completed theological study at Lausanne when he was betrothed to a young protestant girl named Camilla Guerina. [84] He was soon to receive his first mission — Calabria, to which He departed alone to get established. His newly acquired wife wept at his departure saying, “So near to Rome and so far from me.” Her heavy heart and fears were not ungrounded because it was to be the last time she would see her young husband.


Paschale Leaves Home for the Last Time.


The young minister carried with him to Calabria the energetic spirit of Geneva. His preaching was with power; the zeal and courage of the Calabrian flock revived, and the light formerly hid under a bushel was now openly displayed. ***

The Marquis of Spinello, summoned the pastor and his flock before him. After a few moments’ address [85] from Paschale, the marquis dismissed the members of the congregation with a sharp reprimand, but the pastor he threw into the dungeons of Foscalda. The bishop of the diocese next took the matter into his own hands, and removed Paschale to the prison of Cosenza, where he was confined eight months.

The Pope heard of the case, and delegated Cardinal Alexandrini, Inquisitor-General, to extinguish the heresy in the Kingdom of Naples. Alexandrini ordered Pashale to be removed from the Castle of Cosenza, and conducted to Naples. On the journey he was subjected to terrible sufferings. Chained to a gang of prisoners–the handcuffs so tight that they entered the flesh–he spent nine days on the road, sleeping at night on the bare earth, which was exchanged on his arrival at Naples for a deep, damp dungeon, the stench of which almost suffocated him.

On the 16th of May, 1560, Paschale was taken in chains to Rome, and imprisoned in the Torre di Nona, where he was thrust into a cell not less noisome than that which he had occupied at Naples.

His brother, Bartolomeo, having obtained letters of recommendation, came from Coni to procure, if possible, some mitigation of his fate. The interview between the two brothers, as told by Bartolomeo, was most affecting. “It was quite hideous to see him,” says he, “with his bare head, and his hands and arms lacerated by the small cords with which he was bound, like one about to be led to the gibbet. On advancing to embrace him I sank to the ground. `My brother,’ said he, `if you are a Christian, why do you distress yourself thus? Do you know that a leaf cannot fall to the ground without the will of God? Comfort yourself in Christ Jesus, for the present troubles are not worthy to be compared with the glory to come.'” His brother, a Romanist, offered him half his fortune if only he would recant, and save his life. Even this token of affection could not move him. “Oh, my brother!” said he, “the danger in which you are involved gives me more distress than all that I suffer.” (History of Protestantism, Vol. 2, p. 471)

While he sat in his lonely prison, he wrote to his bride. He wrote of his great love for her and said that it “grows with that which I feel for God.” He continued the letter by saying that he didn’t feel he was a real captive because he was being obedient to the Lord, and “I am prepared to die for Christ, and not only once, but ten thousand times if it were possible.”


[86]         The Inquisition met in the old castle near St. Peters. There were dignitaries from many places and from many ranks. In the center of the courtroom was placed a chair emblazened with colors and richness. It was for the Pontiff, Pious IV, who had already taken his seat there. Behind him in scarlet robes were the cardinals. Other dignitaries in a wide range of mitres, cowls, and colored robes were also in attendance. The room of this court in St. Angelo was huge but the spectators filled it from end to end.

Finally the summons for Jean Paschale was heard. Jean was escorted into the vast arena to face his accusors. A storm of hissing greeted him. As he walked along the stone floor of the court, the clanking of irons and chains depicted the weight upon his limbs. He was still a young man, but his face was pale and haggard from the torment and suffering he had undergone. Nevertheless, there was a calm courage within him that left an untroubled peace gleaming within his eyes. “Good people,” he speaks out to get their attention, “I have been brought here to die for confessing the doctrine of my Divine Master and Savior, Jesus Christ.” Then he turned to the Pope and accused him of sanctioning the cruelties and murderers of the Inquisitors; and the cardinals would also be called to the throne of the Lamb of God to answer for their barbarity. He denounced the evil deeds of other popes and prelates against thousands of innocent souls. He spoke with such clarity and persuasiveness that all the spectators were deeply moved. But, the Pope and cardinals gnashed their teeth in rage.

The Inquisitors hastily gave the signal. The executioners came round him, and having strangled him, they kindled the faggots, and the flames blazing up speedily reduced his body to ashes. For once the Pope had performed his function. With his key of fire, which he may truly claim to carry, he had opened the celestial doors, and had sent his poor prisoner from the dark dungeons of the Inquisition, to dwell in the palace of the sky.

So died, or rather passed into the life eternal, Jean Louis Paschale, the Waldensian missionary and pastor of the flock in Calabria. His ashes were collected and thrown into the Tiber, and by the Tiber they were borne to the Mediterranean. And this was the grave of the preacher-martyr, whose noble bearing and undaunted courage before the very Pope himself [87] gave added value to his splendid testimony for the Protestant cause. Time may consume the marble, violence or war may drag down the monumental pile, but the tomb of the far-sounding sea to which the ashes of Paschale were committed, with a final display of impotent rage, was indeed a nobler mausoleum than ever Rome raised to any of her Pontiffs, and it will remain through all the ages, until time shall be no more. (History of Protestantism, pp. 474-76)


Martin Luther

Foremost among all the reformers was Martin Luther. This man possessed the gifts of being intellectual, zealous, devoted, persevering and wise. He proved to be the man for the time. His work towards the reformation gained him the title of the “Father of the Reformation.”


[88]         Luther was born in poverty, his father was a laborer in a mine. His parents were so poor that he was often obliged to sing for food from door to door on his way to school. Their family often suffered from hunger. Yet despite the adversities of life, and its discouragements, he gained high moral and intellectual achievements.

At the age of eighteen, he entered the University of Erfurt where his retentive memory, strong reasoning powers, and his untiring drive gained him the foremost rank among his associates. While in the library of the university one day, Luther discovered a Latin Bible. For the first time as he looked through it, he thought, “O that God would give me such a book.” His attachment to the scriptures would set a precedence for thousands of others.

His studies and researches caused him to enter a cloister and become a monk. Here he was made to perform the most menial tasks and lowest forms of drudgery, while he begged from house to house for a livelihood. Such an existence was repulsive to his nature but he patiently endured the humiliation, believing that it was a necessary part of salvation. He was most vigorous in his fastings, scourgings, and vigils, so that he might subdue the evils of his nature. He freely offered every form of sacrifice to attain a purity of heart. He once wrote:

I was indeed a pious monk, and followed the rules of my order more strictly than I can express. If ever a monk could obtain heaven by his monkish works, I should certainly have been entitled to it…. If it had continued much longer, I should have carried my mortifications even to death. (History of the Reformation, D’Aubigne, Bk. 2, Ch. 3)

While Luther was torturing himself with his efforts to receive a pardon for his sins, a friend, Staupitz, opened his eyes by saying, “Instead of torturing yourself on account of your sins, throw yourself on the Redeemer. Trust in Him and His atonement.” Luther then realized the meaning of such a doctrine. Peace finally came to his soul.

Martin Luther was later ordained a priest and also called to the professorship in the University of Wittenberg. Here he studied the scriptures in the original tongues, and often lectured from the Bible. His eloquence and masterful conviction brought many listeners. He made a pilgrimage to Rome, taking the journey on foot, and [89] visited monastaries along the way. But in Italy he was filled with amazement at the wealth and luxury that he witnessed. Even the monks were living in splendid apartments, dressed in costly robes, and feasted at sumptuous tables. Everywhere he saw sights that caused him perplexity and astonishment. He witnessed iniquity in every office of the church throughout the city. Later he wrote: “No one can imagine what sins and infamous actions are committed in Rome; they must be seen and heard to be believed.” Then, while Luther was climbing “Pilate’s staircase” to receive an absolution, a voice like thunder said to him, “THE JUST SHALL LIVE BY FAITH.” He sprang to his feet and left Rome with a totally new concept of the Gospel.

On his return to Wittenberg he received the degree of doctor of divinity which gave him the opportunity to devote more time to the study of the scriptures. Then came an event which was to turn Luther’s life upside down. An official of the Pope, Tetzel by name, was appointed to travel throughout Germany selling indulgences. Whoever purchased these indulgences would receive a forgiveness of sins. He said that his certificates would also pardon the sins of the purchaser for all the sins he would commit in the future! He claimed power to even save the dead. The very moment that money should clink in the bottom of his chest, the soul for whom it had been purchased would escape purgatory and would make its way to heaven. Thousands flocked to buy these “indulgences”. A salvation that could be bought was much easier to acquire than one that requires faith, repentance and strict obedience.

Luther was filled with horror. It was a blasphemous assumption without any basis in the scriptures and he boldly proclaimed it as such. Luther refused absolution to many people who brought indulgences. He told them they must repent and reform their lives before they could expect a pardon. Many complained to Tetzel and requested their money back. Tetzel was furious, but Luther pointed to his own experience and from the scriptures, showing that repentance was a prerequisite for forgiveness and is a most necessary part of the Gospel.

Tetzel continued to merchandise his salvation packets and Luther continued to object. Finally, Luther wrote a list of 95 propositions as reasons for opposing this doctrine of indulgences, and nailed them to the door of the Wittenberg Chapel. His theses proved that the power to [90] grant pardons for sin, or to remit penalties, had never been committed to the Pope or any other man. The whole scheme was a farce and a money making scheme.


Luther Nails His Theses to the Church Door.

When word got back to the Pope of Luther’s obstinancy, he became furious. The reformation war was beginning. Luther began to feel the attacks from close friends all the way to Rome. He was teaching people to think and act as responsible beings, and to look to Christ for salvation, not to some man. Luther’s doctrine was a blow at the pontiff’s throne. Luther trembled as he looked upon himself–one man opposed to the mightiest powers on earth. “Who was I,” he wrote, “to oppose the majesty of the Pope, before whom the kings of the earth and the whole world trembled?” But as his enemies defended church customs, traditions, and the authority of the Pope, Luther met them [91] with the scriptures. These were arguments which they could not answer. Rome was in an uproar, and they howled, “It is high treason against the church to allow so horrible a heretic to live one hour longer. Let the scaffold be instantly erected for him!” Luther received a summons to appear at Rome to answer the charge of heresy. Finally after considerable disputations, Augsburg, Germany, had been fixed as the place of his trial. Luther set out on foot to make the journey, but he went without fear. He wrote:

I am like Jeremiah, a man of strife and contention; but the more their threats increase, the more my joy is multiplied. They have already destroyed my honor and my reputation. One single thing remains; it is my wretched body: let them take it; they will thus shorten my life by a few hours. But as for my soul, they cannot take that. He who desires to proclaim the word of Christ to the world, must expect death at every moment. (History of the Reformation, Bk. 4, Ch. 4)

The intention was to force Luther to retract, or else go to Rome to share a fate as Huss and Jerome had. As a ruse they decided to attempt to win Luther over by kindness and friendliness. Politely and persuasively they asked Luther to acknowledge the authority of the church and yield to it; but the legate had not correctly judged the character of Martin. Luther expressed his regard for the church, his desire for the truth and to answer any objective as to what he had taught. He also protested against the cardinal’s request for him to retract without having proved him in error. The response was simply, “Retract, Retract.” But Martin arose to the occasion and defeated the prelate by overthrowing his defense of church traditions and teachings. When the Cardinal saw Luther’s reasoning was unanswerable, he lost all self-control and cried out:

Retract! or I will send you to Rome, there to appear before the judges commissioned to take cognizance of your cause. I will excommunicate you and all your partisans, and all who shall at any time countenance you and will cast them out of the church. (History of the Reformation, Bk. 4, Ch. 8)

Martin withdrew with his friends declaring that they need not expect a retraction from him. The large assembly [92] had a clear insight of the two men–and how great was the contrast! The Reformer was simple, humble, firm, and stood on the truths of the scriptures and the word of God. The Cardinal was self-important, overbearing, haughty, unreasonable and without a single argument from the scriptures to defend his position.

Word had slipped out that the Romanists were plotting to seize him before he left Augsburg and throw him into prison. So, Luther left before daybreak and secretly made his way out of the city. Again he escaped from his persecutors. News of Luther’s escape reached the Cardinal, who in a furious rage wrote a letter to Fredrick, the elector of Saxony, denouncing Luther and demanded that Fredrick send Luther to Rome or else banish him.

But Fredrick resolved to stand in the defense of Luther and wrote to the Cardinal, “Since Dr. Martin has appeared before you at Augsburg, you should be satisfied. We did not expect that you would endeavor to make him retract without having convinced him of his errors.”

Luther was still only partially convinced of the errors of Romanism and wrote, “I am reading the decrees of the pontiffs, and I do not know whether the Pope is anti-Christ himself, or his apostle, so greatly is Christ misrepresented and crucified in them.” Luther still supported the church and had no thought of separating from it.

It was about this time that Luther, reading the works of John Huss, declared that, “We have all been Hussites without knowing it!” Soon Luther’s writings and doctrinal teachings reached Italy, Spain, Belgium, Holland, France and Switzerland. Thousands were getting their eyes opened through Dr. Luther’s expose of the errors that were creeping into the church. Rome was getting more exasperated at him and some of its fanatical opponents declared that anyone who should kill the rebel monk would be without sin.

The Pope made the decree that his doctrines should be condemned and 60 days were granted the Reformer and his adherents to recant or else they would all be excommunicated. Luther was not blind to the coming storm. He stood firm and resolute, declaring:

What is about to happen I know not, nor do I care to know. Let the blow light where it may, I am without fear. Not so much as a leaf falls, without the [93] will of our Father. How much rather will He care for us! It is a light thing to die for the Word, since the Word which was made flesh hath Himself died. If we die with Him, we shall live with Him; and passing through that which He has passed through before us, we shall be where He is and dwell with Him forever. (History of the Reformation, Bk. 6, Ch. 9)

Luther took many of the books published by the papacy and burned them, saying, “My enemies have burned my books, to the injury of truth; therefore I consume theirs.”

Again the Pope threatened Luther with excommunication if he did not recant. Luther refused, so Rome excommunicated him. The church denounced him as accursed of Heaven which was to include everyone else, too, who accepted his doctrines.

A new emperor of Germany took the throne, Charles V. Roman delegates hastened to offer their congratulations and win his approval. The electors of Saxony, to whom he was indebted for his crown, asked him to take no action against Luther. It was a position of great perplexity. After considerable thought the emperor declared that “neither his imperial majesty nor any other person had shown that Luther’s writings had been refuted.” He then offered Dr. Luther safe conduct to appear before a tribunal of learned, pious, and impartial judges. From all parts of Germany came dignitaries of the church and state. Luther was anxious to appear before the emperor and stated that, “If I cannot go to Worms in good health, I will be carried there, sick as I am,” and, “It is not for me to decide whether my life or my death will contribute most to the salvation of all. You may expect everything from me…except flight and recantation. Fly I cannot, and still less retract.”

The assembly at Worms was an immense one. The first speaker was Alexander who was to plead for Rome. He had the gift of eloquence, and he well displayed his talents. Rome had picked the ablest of her orators for the occasion. He spoke against Luther’s followers as a “crew of insolent pedagogues, corrupt priests, dissolute monks, ignorant lawyers and degraded nobles” who associated with the “unlearned, few in numbers, and of the poorer class.” He defended the church because of its “many great and learned men” and of its “great power.” These are the arguments for the world, but they have never been a reason to support the sons of God.


[94]         The council then demanded that Luther appear before them. Luther replied, “They are busy at Worms about compelling me to retract; and this shall be my retraction: I said formerly that the Pope was Christ’s vicar; now I assert that he is our Lord’s adversary, and the devil’s apostle.”

As Luther traveled through Erfurt, on his way to Worms, he was received with honor. Crowds pressed near him with admiration and encouragement. He passed along the streets where he once walked with his beggar’s purse. He visited his convent cell, and thought about the past, and of how far this trail of struggles had brought him.

Reaching Worms he found great commotion; many of his friends trembled for his safety, and his enemies trembled for their cause. The crowds that turned out to greet him were larger than had ever appeared for an emperor.

Finally Luther stood before the council. Never had any man appeared in the presence of a more imposing assembly. He was conducted to a position directly in front of the emperor’s throne. An officer arose and pointed to a collection of Luther’s writings demanding Luther to answer two questions–whether they were his writings, and whether he proposed to retract the opinions which he had written in them. As to the first question he acknowledged that they were his. As to the second he said he must be careful because Christ had said, “Whosoever shall deny Me before men, him will I also deny before my Father which is in heaven.”

Then, proceeding to the question, he stated that his published works were not all of the same character. In some he had treated of faith and good works, and even his enemies declared them not only harmless but profitable. To retract these would be to condemn truths which all parties confessed. The second class consisted of writings exposing the corruptions and abuses of the papacy. To revoke these works would strengthen the tyranny of Rome and open a wider door to many and great impieties. In the third class of his books he had attacked individuals who had defended existing evils. Concerning these he freely confessed that he had been more violent than was becoming. He did not claim to be free from fault; but even these books he could not revoke, for such a course would embolden the enemies of truth, and they [95] would then take occasion to crush God’s people with still greater cruelty.

“Yet I am but a mere man, and not God,” he continued; “I shall therefore defend myself as Christ did: If I have spoken evil, bear witness of the evil…. By the mercy of God, I conjure you, most serene emperor, and you, most illustrious princes, and all men of every degree, to prove from the writings of the prophets and apostles that I have erred. As soon as I am convinced of this, I will retract every error, and be the first to lay hold of my books and throw them into the fire.”

When he finished speaking the spokesman for the Diet said angrily: “You have not answered the question put to you….You are required to give a clear and precise answer…. Will you, or will you not, retract?” (The Great Controversy, p. 159)

Luther then rose to the occasion with words which will continue to ring for centuries yet to come:

“Since your most serene majesty and your high mightinesses require from me a clear, simple and precise answer, I will give you one, and it is this: I cannot submit my faith either to the Pope or to the councils, because it is clear as the day that they have frequently erred and contradicted each other. Unless therefore I am convinced by the testimony of Scripture or by the clearest reasoning, unless I am persuaded by means of the passages I have quoted, and unless they thus render my conscience bound by the word of God, I cannot and I will not retract, for it is unsafe for a Christian to speak against his conscience. Here I stand, I can do no other; may God help me. Amen.” (History of the Reformation, Bk. 7, Ch. 8)

The whole assembly was for a time speechless. The princes of Germany looked with pride and joy upon this representative of their nation. The representative of Rome had been worsted for they had sought to maintain their position by power, not by the scriptures. They could only resort to threats–Rome’s unfailing argument. They were upset that their power, which had caused kings and nobles to tremble, should be so despised by a humble monk.

The princes of Germany, some even the enemies of Luther, dared not make a breach in Luther’s safety and thus [96] bring about a stain on the nation. Reluctantly they were forced to honor their agreement.

Had the Reformer yielded a single point, Satan and his hosts would have gained the victory. But his unwavering firmness was the means of emancipating the church, and beginning a new and better era. The influence of this one man, who dared to think and act for himself in religious matters, was to affect the church and the whole world, not only in his own time, but in all future generations. His firmness and fidelity would strengthen all, to the close of time, who should pass through a similar experience. (The Great Controversy, p. 166)

Luther now obtained the freedom he needed to continue his work–one portion of which was to translate the Bible into the German language. He wanted his nation to read for themselves the truths he had defended with his life.

On the subject of penance, however, Eck kept pressing Luther with the query, “Are you the only one that knows anything? Except for you is all the Church in error?”

“I answer,” replied Luther, “that God once spoke through the mouth of an ass. I will tell you straight what I think. I am a Christian theologian; and I am bound, not only to assert, but to defend the truth with my blood and death. I want to believe freely and be a slave to the authority of no one, whether council, university, or pope. I will confidently confess what appears to me to be true, whether it has been asserted by a Catholic or a heretic, whether it has been approved or reproved by a council.”

“Balaam’s ass was wiser than the prophet himself. If God then spoke by an ass against a prophet, why should he not be able even now to speak by a righteous man against the pope?” (Here I Stand, pp. 92 & 119)

Luther’s opponents continued to contend against him because he would not recant. By suave and well meaning friends, or by the thunders of the Pope in Rome, “retract” was the paramount issue against Martin. But Luther consistently rallied a defense equal to each attack.

Luther was the “Father of the Reformation” and the mainspring of protestantism. Protestant means to protest–[97] that spirit of opposition against tyranny, oppressive rule and unjust law. With these men who lived and died for protestantism, came the spirit of freedom–that spiritual light necessary for the fullness of the Gospel. For God needed the valiant spirit of strong willed men who would rather die than forsake the true principles of their conscience. It is only through such men that God can usher in the millennial reign of Christ on earth.

* * * * *

These rare qualities and sacred examples from out of the past are too soon forgotten. If history leaves anything for us to gain from, it would be to capture the spirit and the faithfulness of these honorable men of the Lord. These protestants had only a Bible for a guide, but they were faithful unto death.

From the crucifixion of Christ to the founding of America, nearly 2,000 years had been splattered with the blood of religious reformers and patriots of freedom. Their valor and valiancy bear a solemn testimony to their faith and their love of freedom. No one can read that history without honoring the noble sacrifice they placed upon the altar of Christ.


Statues of the Reformers in Worms, Germany.



[98]                             CHAPTER VII



Stand fast, ye Saints of God, hold on a little while longer, and the storm of life will be past, and you will be rewarded by that God whose servants ye are, and who will duly appreciate all your toils and afflictions for Christ’s sake and the Gospel’s. (T.P.J.S., p. 185)

The faithful and valiant Christian reformers laid the foundation for the restoration of the Gospel. With the restoration of the Priesthood came revelation, additional scripture and all of the gifts and powers of the Gospel. God needed a very special and faithful people. Foremost among them was Joseph Smith.

Those who are acquainted with the life of Joseph Smith are familiar with the trials and opposition which he constantly endured. The intriguing story of his life illustrates the loyalty of the Prophet to principle–and it also exposed the disloyalty of many others.


[99]         Joseph Smith lived and died as many of the prophets of God have done. He was favored by the Lord as a chosen and special witness of Him. Joseph’s life reads like a legend, for he was a man’s man, and a hero’s hero. Whatever men’s conception or description of a prophet may be, the life of Joseph Smith would exceed their expectations.


Joseph Smith, the Prophet and Seer of the Lord, has done more, save Jesus only, for the salvation of men in this world, than any other man that ever lived in it. In the short space of twenty years, he has brought forth the book of Mormon, which he translated by the gift and power of God, and has been the means of publishing it on two continents; has sent the fulness of the everlasting gospel, which it contained, to the four quarters of the earth; has brought forth the revelations and commandments which compose this book of Doctrine and Covenants, and many other wise documents and instructions for the benefit of the children of men; gathered many thousands of the Latter-day Saints, founded a great city, and left a fame and name that cannot be slain. He lived great, and he died great in the eyes of God and his people; and like most of the Lord’s anointed in ancient times, has sealed his mission and his works with his own blood; and so has his brother Hyrum. In life they were not divided, and in death they were not separated! (D. & C. 135:3)

All the prophets of God received the heritage of persecution; and Joseph Smith was no exception. He was only 14 years of age when the clouds of persecution gathered in upon him, but from his youth till the day of his martyrdom he never compromised with his enemies. He relates:

I soon found, however, that my telling the story had excited a great deal of prejudice against me among professors of religion, and was the cause of great persecution, which continued to increase; and though I was an obscure boy, only between fourteen and fifteen years of age, and my circumstances in life such as to make a boy of no consequence in the world, yet men of high standing would take notice sufficient to excite the public mind against me, and create a bitter persecution; and this was common among all the sects–all united to persecute me. (History of Joseph Smith, Lucy Mack Smith, p. 72-73)


[100] Joseph’s mother noted that “it seemed as though something was always taking place to jeopardize his life.” On one occasion someone shot at him and the bullet narrowly missed his head. In the first year the Church was organized, Joseph was awakened at night to find himself “going out of the door in the hands of about a dozen men.” They beat and scratched him, and then tarred and feathered him. The rest of the night was spent in cleaning the tar from his body and dressing his wounds. He was a constant victim of vicious mobs and persecutors. Over 40 times he was brought to court to face some false charge.

On one occasion in Missouri a mob gathered with the intention of killing him. The leader swore with an oath that Joseph would be killed or else he would die–and the Lord honored the oath. Joseph wrote:

The tempest of an immediate conflict seemed to be checked, and the Jackson mob to the number of about fifteen, with Samuel C. Owens and James Campbell at their head, started for Independence, Jackson County, to raise an army sufficient to meet me, before I could get into Clay County. Campbell swore, as he adjusted his pistols in his holsters, “The eagles and turkey buzzards shall eat my flesh if I do not fix Joe Smith and his army so that their skins will not hold shucks, before two days are passed.” They went to the ferry and undertook to cross the Missouri River after dusk, and the angel of God saw fit to sink the boat about the middle of the river, and seven out of twelve that attempted to cross, were drowned. Thus, suddenly and justly, went they to their own place. Campbell was among the missing. He floated down the river some four or five miles, and lodged upon a pile of drift wood, where the eagles, buzzards, ravens, crows, and wild animals ate his flesh from his bones, to fulfill his own words, and left him a horrible example of God’s vengeance. (D.H.C. 2:99-100)

At another time some mobocrats made a similar oath, which history proves went unfulfilled. However, they were so sincere in their intent to kill the Prophet, they would have been willing to die in the attempt.

This day a company of about fifty men in Davies County swore that they would never eat or drink, until they had murdered “Joe Smith.” Their captain, William Bowman, swore, in the presence of Theodore Turley, that he would “never eat or drink, after he had seen Joe Smith, until he had murdered him.” (D.H.C. 3:306)


[101] In November of 1838, Joseph was sent to a prison dungeon in Liberty County Missouri. For nearly half a year Joseph and his companions were confined to this horrible, smelly dungeon where even the “food was very course, and so filthy that we could not eat it until we were driven to it by hunger.” In such a condition Joseph wrote: “Know assuredly, dear brethren, that it is for the testimony of Jesus that we are in bonds and in prison.”

Months later Joseph wrote another letter, which contained the same spirit and feelings in the epistles of Apostle Paul. Being in prison, he explained the reason why.

To the Church of Latter-day Saints–

Your humble servant, Joseph Smith, Jun., prisoner for the Lord Jesus Christ’s sake, and for the Saints, taken and held by the power of mobocracy, under the exterminating reign of his excellency, the governor, Lilburn W. Boggs, in company with his fellow prisoners and beloved brethren, Caleb Baldwin, Lyman Wight, Hyrum Smith, and Alexander McRae, send unto you all greeting. ***

For inasmuch as we know that the most of you are well acquainted with the wrongs and the highhanded injustice and cruelty that are practiced upon us; whereas we have been taken prisoners charged falsely with every kind of evil, and thrown into prison, enclosed with strong walls, surrounded with a strong guard, who continually watch day and night as indefatigable AS THE DEVIL DOES IN TEMPTING AND LAYING SNARES FOR THE PEOPLE OF GOD. ***

And now, beloved brethren, we say unto you, that inasmuch as God hath said that He would have a tried people, that He would purge them as gold, now we think that this time He has chosen His own crucible, wherein we have been tried; and we think if we get through with any degree of safety, and shall have kept the faith, that it will be a sign to this generation, altogether sufficient to leave them without excuse; and we think also, it will be A TRIAL OF OUR FAITH equal to that of Abraham, and that the ancients will not have whereof to boast over us in the day of judgment, as being called to pass through heavier afflictions; that we may hold an even weight in the balance with them;…

Our respects and love and fellowship to all the virtuous Saints. We are your brethren and fellow-sufferers, and prisoners of Jesus Christ for the Gos-[102]pel’s sake, and for the hope of glory which is in us. Amen. (D.H.C. 3:289, 290, 294, 298)

Not unlike the ancient apostles and prophets, Joseph and his brethren lived in the most trying of circumstances and under the diabolical threats of their enemies. While in Liberty Jail, Alexander McRae described a mob that surrounded the prison:

The scene that followed this defies description. I should judge, from the number, that all the town, and many from the country, gathered around the jail, and every mode of torture and death that their imagination could fancy, was proposed for us, such as blowing up the jail, taking us out and whipping us to death, shooting us, burning us to death, tearing us to pieces with horses, etc. But they were so divided among themselves that they could not carry out any of their plans, and we escaped unhurt. (D.H.C. 3:258)

It was at the Liberty Jail that the Lord gave a revelation for the Saints to expect and be willing to withstand these terrible forces of evil. The Lord re-assured them that:

If thou art called to pass through tribulations; if thou art in perils among false brethren; if thou art in perils among robbers; if thou art in perils by land or by sea; if thou art accused with all manner of false accusations; if thine enemies fall upon thee; if they tear thee from the society of thy father and mother and brethren and sisters, and if with a drawn sword thine enemies tear thee from the bosom of thy wife, and of thine offspring,… and thou be dragged to prison, and thine enemies prowl around thee like wolves for the blood of the lamb; and if thou shouldst be cast into the pit, or into the hands of murderers, and the sentence of death passed upon thee; …and above all, if the very jaws of hell shall gape open the mouth wide after thee, know thou, my son, that all these things shall give thee experience, and shall be for thy good. The Son of Man hath descended below them all; art thou greater than he? (TPJS, p. 143; also D. & C. 122:5-8)

In December of 1842 Joseph was again arrested and sent to jail. He was accused of being an accessory to the murder of Governor L. W. Boggs of Missouri. Joseph was forced [103] to remain in jail for nearly a month before he was released. The Prophet Joseph expected such persecutions and warned the Saints that they should expect the same.

Those who cannot endure persecution, and stand in the day of affliction, cannot stand in the day when the Son of God shall burst the veil, and appear in all the glory of His Father, with all the holy angels. (T.P.J.S., p. 42)

Now, dear brethren, if any men ever had reason to claim this promise, we are the men; for we know that the world not only hate us, but they speak all manner of evil of us falsely, for no other reason than that we have been endeavoring to teach the fullness of the Gospel of Jesus Christ. (T.P.J.S., p. 124)

He that will war the true Christian warfare against the corruptions of these last days will have wicked men and angels of devils, and all the infernal powers of darkness continually arrayed against him. When wicked and corrupt men oppose, it is a criterion to judge if a man is warring the Christian warfare. When all men speak evil of you falsely, blessed are ye. (T.P.J.S., p. 259)


It is a shame to the Saints to talk of chastisements, and transgressions, when all the Saints before them, prophets and apostles, have had to come up through great tribulation;… (T.P.J.S., p. 261)

It was in the doctrinal teachings of the Prophet that we learn that the eternal warfare between light and darkness–between the righteous and the wicked–would not cease until the end of time. The Lord confirmed this in revelations to the Saints. The disciples of Christ could expect persecution or opposition by the wicked.

For verily I say unto you, blessed is he that keepeth my commandments, whether in life or in death; and he that is faithful in tribulation, the reward of the same is greater in the kingdom of heaven. Ye cannot behold with your natural eyes, for the present time, the design of your God concerning those things which shall come hereafter, and the glory which shall follow after much tribulation. For after much tribulation come the blessings. (D. & C. 58:2-4)



And all they who suffer persecution for my name, and endure in faith, though they are called to lay down their lives for my sake yet shall they partake of all this glory. Wherefore, fear not even unto death; for in this world your joy is not full, but in me your joy is full. Therefore, care not for the body, neither the life of the body; but care for the soul, and for the life of the soul. (D. & C. 101:35-37)

When the doctrine of plural marriage was introduced to Joseph and others, the Prophet knew he could make no compromise, nor stop teaching and urging others to practice it. Said he:

If I do TEACH IT, and PRACTICE IT, and URGE IT, they say they will kill me, and I know they will. But we have got to observe it. It is an eternal principle and was given BY WAY OF COMMANDMENT and not by way of instruction. (Cont. 5:259)

Joseph was aware of losing his children and some of his wives and eventually losing his own life because of this principle. But he continued to “teach it, practice it, and urge it” upon others. He also knew that this principle would cause mobs to confiscate the temple, and all the work for the living and dead would cease–just as Woodruff was shown that it would also happen in his day–but Joseph Smith refused to make any kind of Manifesto that might hinder the practice of that principle. The Prophet realized that this principle would cause the Saints to lose the city of Nauvoo, many would apostatize, and the Saints would be driven into the wilderness. In spite of all the calamities that would result because of the doctrine of plural marriage, the Prophet never made any compromise or concession to alleviate those troubles.

Joseph knew that his persecutors would become more numerous and powerful until he would be killed. He prophecied that he would never become 40 years of age.

In the spring of 1844 a bitter and murderous spirit prevailed in and around Nauvoo. The wicked were seeking for an opportunity to take the life of the Prophet. They finally resolved to form an organization, or secret combination, dedicated to that foul deed.

A secret meeting was held at the home of William Law. All of those who were sympathetic or might be converted to [105] Joseph’s destruction were invited to attend. Two young boys, Denison Harris and Robert Scott, by chance happened to be invited. The boys told Denison’s father and told him about their invitation to the secret meeting, to which he suggested they tell Joseph. At Joseph’s request the boys were to attend the meeting. They reported to Joseph all that was said and done, and also of another meeting to be held on the following Sunday. The boys attended and reported again to Joseph. A third meeting was scheduled, but just before going to this meeting, the boys went to Joseph for their final instructions. The Prophet spoke to the young men in a very serious mood. He said to them:

“This will be your last meeting; this will be the last time that they will admit you into their councils. They will come to some determination. But BE SURE,” he continued, “THAT YOU MAKE NO COVENANTS, NOR ENTER INTO ANY OBLIGATIONS WHATEVER WITH THEM. Be strictly reserved, and make no promise either to conspire against me or any portion of the community. Be silent, and do not take any part in their deliberations.” (See Contributor 5:253)

The boys went to the meeting knowing that their lives might be taken. But they reasoned among themselves that they were “determined to trust in the Lord and die rather than betray the Priesthood.”

At the meeting the boys heard the leaders declare that Joseph was a fallen prophet–that he was trying to take other men’s wives, that he had committed adultery, and that he was leading the people to destruction. Therefore, they declared that Joseph must die!

An oath had been prepared which each member of the organization was now required to take. Francis Higbee, a justice of the peace, sat at a table in one end of the room and administered the oath to each individual separately, in the following manner: The candidate would step forward to the table, take up a Bible, which had been provided for the purpose, and raise it in his right hand, whereupon the justice would ask him in a solemn tone, “Are you ready?” And, receiving answer in the affirmative would continue in a tone and manner that struck awe to the minds of the boys as they listened: “You solemnly swear, before God and all holy angels, and these your brethren by whom you are surrounded that you will give your life, [106] your liberty, your influence, your all, for the destruction of Joseph Smith and his party, so help you God!” The person being sworn would then say, “I do,” after which he would lay down the Bible AND SIGN HIS NAME TO A WRITTEN COPY OF THE OATH in a book that was lying on the table, and it would be legally acknowledged by the justice of the peace.

The boys sat gazing upon this scene, wondering how intelligent beings who had once enjoyed the light of truth could have fallen into such depths of wickedness as to be anxious to take such an oath against the Prophet of God and his faithful followers. They also felt no little uneasiness concerning their own fate, and almost dreaded the moment when the last one should have taken the oath. At length that portion of the business was accomplished, and about two hundred persons had taken the oath. Among that number were three women, who were ushered in, closely veiled to prevent being recognized, and required to take the same oath. Besides doing this, they also testified that Joseph and Hyrum Smith had endeavored to seduce them; had made the most indecent and wicked proposals to them, and wished them to become their wives. After making affidavit to a series of lies of this kind, they made their exit through a back door. One of the women, whom the boys suspected as being William Law’s wife, was crying, and seemed to dislike taking the oath, but did so as one who feared that the greatest bodily injury would surely follow a refusal.

After the oath had been administered to all but the two boys, Law, Cowles and others again commenced their labors to get them to take it, but met the same success as before. Arguments, persuasions, and threats were in turn used to accomplish their desire, but in vain. They exhausted their ingenuity in inventing arguments, lies, and inducements to get the boys to unite with their band. “Have you not heard,” said they, the strong testimony of all present against Joseph Smith? Can a man be a true Prophet who would commit adultery? He is a fallen Prophet, and is teaching the people doctrines that his own imagination or lustful desires have invented, or else he received that revelation from the devil. He will surely lead the whole Church to destruction if his career is not stopped. We can do nothing with him by the law, and for the sake of the Church we deem it our solemn [107] duty to accomplish his destruction and rescue the people from this peril. We are simply combining and conspiring to save the Church, and we wish you to join us in our efforts, and share the honors that will be ours. Come, take the oath and all will be well.”

“Oh, we are too young,” they replied, “to understand or meddle with such things, and would rather let others who are older and know more do such work. We came to your meetings because we thought you were our friends and gave us a kind invitation. We did not think there was any harm in it, but if you will allow us to go now we will not trouble any more of your meetings. Joseph Smith has never done us any harm, and we do not feel like injuring him.”

“Come, boys,” said another of the crowd, “do as we have done. You are young, and will not have anything to do in the affair, but we want you should keep it a secret, and act with us; that’s all.”

“No,” replied the boys in a firm but cool tone, as they rose to leave, “we cannot take an oath like that against any man who has never done us the least injury.” They would gladly have passed out and escaped the trouble they saw brewing for them; but, as they feared, they were not allowed to depart so easily. One of the band exclaimed in a very determined voice: “No, not by a d–d sight! You know all our plans and arrangements, and we don’t propose that you should leave in that style. You’ve got to take that oath, or you’ll never leave here alive.”

The attention of all was now directed to the two boys, and considerable confusion prevailed. A voice in the crowd shouted, “Dead men tell no tales!” whereupon a general clamor arose for the boys to take the oath or be killed. Even their pretended friends, Cowles and Law, turned against them. “If you do not take that oath,” said one of the leading members, in a blood curdling tone, “we will cut your throats.” The looks and conduct of the rest showed plainly that he had spoken only what they were ready to execute. It was evident the mob were eager for blood. That moment certainly must have been a trying one, but it seemed that fear had suddenly vanished from the bosoms of the two boys, and they coolly but positively again [108] declared that they would not take that oath nor enter into any other movement against the Prophet Joseph.

The mob was now enraged, as they thought they were betrayed, and it was with the greatest difficulty that the leaders succeeded in keeping them from falling upon the boys and cutting them to pieces. The leaders, however, were no less determined that the boys should die, but as the house in which the meeting was held stood but a short distance back from the street, they thought it better to be more quiet about it, lest some one might be passing and discover what was going on. Order was at last restored, when it was decided to take the boys down into the cellar, where the deed could be more safely accomplished. Accordingly, a guard, with drawn swords and bowie knives, was placed on either side of the boys, while two others, armed with cocked muskets and bayonets, at their backs, brought up the rear as they were marched off in the direction of the cellar. William and Wilson Law, Austin Cowles, and others, accompanied them to the cellar. Before committing the murderous deed, however, they gave the boys one more chance for their lives. One of them said: “Boys, if you will take that oath your lives shall be spared; but you know too much for us to allow you to go free, and if you are still determined to refuse, we will have to shed your blood.” But the boys, with most commendable courage, in the very jaws of death, once more rejected the only means that would save their lives.

At this juncture, when it seemed that each moment would end the earthly existence of these two noble young men, a voice from some one in the crowd, as if by Divine interposition, called out just in time to save their lives: “Hold on! Hold on there! Let’s talk this matter over before their blood is shed!” and with great difficulty some of the more cautious ones succeeded in quieting those whose anger and excitement prevented them from weighing well what they were on the verge of committing, and considering the consequences that would inevitably follow. Thus the instantaneous death of the boys was prevented, while the crowd retired to the further end of the room and consulted earnestly together, in so low a tone, however, that the boys could not hear what they said. It was evident, however, that they were nearly equally divided in their views of the feasibility of [109] putting the boys to death. Some appeared to be enraged and fully determined to shed their blood, while others were equally resolved to prevent the cruel deed. During the discussion the boys distinctly heard one of them say: “The boys’ parents very likely know where they are, and if they do not return home, strong suspicions will be aroused, and they may institute a search that would be very dangerous to us. It is already late, and time that the boys were home.”

This was a very important consideration, as well as a very unexpected circumstance in favor of the boys. Hope rose high in their breasts as the discussion continued, and one by one of the more excited conspirators was silenced, if not convinced, until at length the tide turned in favor of the boys, and it was decided that they should be released. (Contributor 5:254-256)

On the morning of the 25th of June, 1844, Joseph and Hyrum were arrested for treason. They were thrown into the Carthage Jail with Richards, Taylor, and Markham, where they were left in the custody of some of the worst enemies of the Mormons. Two hundred men with painted faces soon rushed to the jail, leaving Joseph and Hyrum dead and critically wounding John Taylor.

It was upon an oath that Joseph was killed–and soon after the Saints took an oath never again to make a compromise with any of the wicked. Mosiah Hancock describes what happened:

I saw the Prophet and the rest when they departed from Nauvoo for the last time; and I went out to meet their martyred bodies when they were brought from Carthage with Apostle John Taylor, who was himself so badly wounded that he could not stir. Many of the Saints went out to meet them, and their hearts were full of sorrow. I went to see those noble martyrs after they were laid out in the Mansion.

After the people had gone home, my father took me again into the Mansion and told me to place one hand on Joseph’s breast and to raise my other arm and swear with hand uplifted that I would never make a compromise with any of the sons of hell, which vow I took with a determination to fulfill to the very letter. I took the same vow with Hyrum. (Autobiography [110] of Mosiah L. Hancock, pp. 29-30, BYU Library; also They Knew the Prophet, Hyrum Andrus, p. 104)

There are some who would seek to justify a compromise by quoting from early Church history or some of Joseph Smith’s statements in regard to plural marriage. It is true that early editions of the Doctrine and Covenants contained a statement against plural marriage, which was written by Oliver Cowdery. Joseph Smith also stated in 1838 that the “Mormons” did not believe in more wives than one. (DHC 3:28) Other similar statements were made and published, but these “seeming denials” were issued as a response for the general body of the Church. There were a few individuals who believed and advocated the doctrine of plural marriage, and Joseph was one of them. However, he never openly advocated that doctrine, and at one time explained that–

…it is not always wise to relate all the truth. Even Jesus, the Son of God, had to refrain from doing so, and had to restrain His feelings many times for the safety of Himself and His followers, and had to conceal the righteous purposes of His heart in relation to many things pertaining to His Father’s kingdom. (T.P.J.S., p. 392)

Joseph always declared that “I never told you I was perfect; but there is no error in the revelations which I have taught.” This should give men their foundation and defense. Joseph knew they would kill him if he lived the law of plural marriage, but he said, “But we have got to observe it. It is an eternal principle…. ”

Men should be very careful concerning the oaths or the pledges they enter into. Once they have taken the oath and covenant of the Priesthood, they should never seek justifications or excuses from obeying God’s laws. The Prophet gave his life for those covenants–men who bear the Priesthood of God should be willing to do the same.



[111]                            CHAPTER VIII


I would rather you would cut me into inch pieces, than to flinch from my duty, the Lord being my helper. I would rather live with a few men who will serve the Lord, than live with ten thousand hypocrites. (Mill. Star 14:35)

The restoration of the Gospel was established under God’s direction with principles, doctrines, and ordinances that should have lasted for centuries. The Prophet Joseph Smith left the Saints with inspired words, revelations and a most noble example. But he knew the weaknesses of his people and advised them to hold tenaciously to their faith, without compromising. He compared their sufferings with the prophets of old:



You are not as yet brought into as trying circumstances as were the ancient Prophets and Apostles. Call to mind Daniel, the three Hebrew children, Jeremiah, Paul, Stephen, and many others, too numerous to mention, who were stoned, sawn asunder, tempted, slain with the sword, and wandered about in sheep skins and goat skins, being destitute, afflicted, tormented, of whom the world was not worthy. They wandered in deserts and in mountains, and hid in dens and caves of the earth; yet they all obtained a good report through faith; and amidst all their afflictions they rejoiced that they were counted worthy to receive persecution for Christ’s sake.

We know not what we shall be called to pass through before Zion is delivered and established; therefore, we have great need to live near to God, and always be in strict obedience to all His commandments, that we may have a conscience void of offense toward God and man. (T.P.J.S., p. 32)

Every man, regardless of how prominent in the Church, was warned of sin and apostasy. Joseph gave specific warnings as though they were some foreboding or premonition of a future betrayal. On one occasion his admonition began with the Quorum of Twelve:

O ye Twelve! and all Saints! profit by this important Key–that in all your trials, troubles, temptations, afflictions, bonds, imprisonments and death, see to it, that you do not betray heaven; that you do not betray Jesus Christ; that you do not betray the brethren; that you DO NOT BETRAY THE REVELATIONS OF GOD, whether in Bible, Book of Mormon, or Doctrine and Covenants, or any other that ever was or ever will be given and revealed unto man in this world or that which is to come. (T.P.J.S., p. 156)

Even while the Prophet was living, the betrayal of trusts and the influence of apostasy affected many of the leading elders. From out of the original Quorum of Twelve there were but two who stood the test. Joseph remarked that:

Of the Twelve Apostles chosen in Kirtland, and ordained under the hands of Oliver Cowdery, David Whitmer and myself, there have been but two but what have lifted their heel against me–namely Brigham Young and Heber C. Kimball. (D.H.C. 5:412)


[113] After the death of the Prophet Joseph, the Saints were consigned to the strong leadership of Brigham Young. He led them from out of the “civilized” mobs in the east and took them to the barren wilderness. And here they were safe and protected from the gentiles by many miles. They could enjoy the fruits of their labors and the freedom that had been vouchsafed to them by God and the constitution. The Government had been established to guarantee freedom of religion, of the press, and of meetings. But when the devil’s mobbers couldn’t reach the Mormons, he turned the Government into a huge legalized mob. Formerly little bands of persecutors destroyed property and tortured the Mormons, but now the Government took over with their obnoxious laws, kangaroo courts, and military forces. The odds were against the Saints and the outcome seemed to result in the overthrow of one or the other. Under such stress, their faith began to fail them and when their money, their property, and families were put upon the altar, the sacrifice was too much. They would concede by bartering principles for peace.

The first major compromise between Saints and sinners was over the marriage covenant. Some authors have tried to excuse the Church from the obligation of sustaining the law of plural marriage by saying that it had not been voted on nor accepted by the members as a doctrine of their faith as stated in the following quote:

President Young spoke on the subject,–and the revelation was read to the congregation,and that was all there was to it. No vote was called for. No alternatives were offered. No reasons were given. (That Manifesto, Gilbert Fulton, p. 132)

But history records the matter in a different light:

There on the 29th of August, 1852, the revelation on Celestial Marriage, first recorded from the lips of the Prophet Joseph Smith on July 12th, 1843, was read to the assembled Saints AND SUSTAINED BY THE UPLIFTED HANDS of the large congregation AS A DOCTRINE OF THEIR FAITH and a revelation from the Almighty. (History of Utah, Orson F. Whitney, I:493)

Now plural marriage was a part of the doctrinal creed of the Mormons. It was their obligation to sustain it as one of God’s laws, irrespective of any threats or opposition from their enemies. Brigham Young would make no changes or concessions with the government.


[114] Other leaders in the Church realized the obligation that this law and principle of the Gospel had upon them as people and it was meant to continue until the millennium.

The law of the patriarchal order of marriage belongs to this dispensation, and after it was revealed to the Prophet Joseph, he was commanded to receive it. If he and the people had rejected it, the Church and Kingdom of God would have advanced no further and God would have taken it from them and given it to another people. (Life of Wilford Woodruff, Cowley, p. 546)

The reason why the Church and Kingdom of God could not progress if we did not receive the patriarchal law of marriage is that IT BELONGED TO THIS DISPENSATION as well as the baptism for the dead and any law or ordinance that belongs to this dispensation must be received by the members of the Church, or it cannot progress. (Life of Wilford Woodruff, Cowley, p. 542)

Government leaders were beginning to call plural marriage and slavery the “twin relics of barbarism.” In 1862 President Lincoln signed an anti-polygamy bill which made the Mormon people outlaws.

Church leaders then knew that a showdown was inevitable. Either the Church would be overcome by Gentile persecution and their laws, or else the laws of God would somehow prevail. Brigham Young said:

I can deliver a prophecy upon it…and I tell you–for I know it–it will sail over, and ride triumphantly above all the prejudice and priestcraft of the day. (Mill. Star 15:31)

Brigham Young had always experienced conflict with the laws of man against the laws of God. At Camp Douglas preparations were made for the purpose of making a descent with an armed force upon Pres. Brigham Young with a writ for his arrest. It was 1863 and an affidavit was made before the Chief Justice J. F. Kinney charging Brigham Young with violating the act of Congress by taking another wife. This was given to the Marshal who arrested him. But the Grand Jury failed to indict him on the grounds of insufficient evidence and he was released.


[115] On October 2, 1871, President Brigham Young was arrested on a charge of unlawful cohabitation. Being sick at the time and unable to leave his home, the prisoner was permitted to remain at his residence in charge of a deputy U.S. Marshal. After months of delay he was granted his freedom with other leading members of the Church on grounds of a technicality that the jury bringing the indictments was “not selected and summoned in conformity with the law.”

The Government was pressing the issue for statehood. The Saints would have to compromise by abandoning plural marriages before they could be accepted as a state. Pres. Brigham Young retorted:

Now then, it is said that this [polygamy] must be done away before we are permitted to receive our place as a State in the Union…. Do you think that we shall ever be admitted as a State into the Union without denying the principle of polygamy? If we are not admitted until then, we shall never be admitted. (J.D. 11:269)

But the showdown looked too ominous for many Mormons, and they hoped for some ram in the thicket–they thought perhaps the Lord would consider the gravity of the situation and give a revelation to revoke plural marriage. This would relieve the persecutions, prosecutions and also allow Utah to become a state. Brigham Young spoke directly to such persons in his usual unmistakable manner:

There is no half-way house. The childish babble about another revelation is only evidence of how half informed men can talk. The “Mormons” have either to spurn their religion and their God, and sink half-damned in the eyes of all civilization at a moment when most blessed in the practice of their faith, or go calmly on to the same issue which they have always had….

The doctrine of polygamy with the “Mormons” is not one of the kind that in the religious world is classed with “non-essentials.” It is not an item of doctrine that can be yielded, and faith in the system remain…. The whole question, therefore, narrows itself to this in the “Mormon” mind. Polygamy was revealed by God, or the entire fabric of their faith is false. To ask them to give up such an item of belief is to ask them to relinquish the whole, to acknowledge their Priesthood a lie, their ordinances a deception, [116] and all they have toiled for, lived for, bled for, prayed for, or hoped for, a miserable failure and a waste of life. (Mill. Star 27:673)

The Lord revealed the Gospel with all of its eternal principles. This principle of plural marriage was one of those eternal laws of the Gospel. The Lord had said:

Wherefore, verily I say unto you that all things unto me are spiritual, and not at any time have I given unto you a law which was temporal;… for my commandments are spiritual; they are not natural nor temporal, neither carnal nor sensual. (D. & C. 29:34, 35)

For God doth not walk in crooked paths, neither doth he turn to the right hand nor to the left, neither doth he vary from that which he hath said, therefore his paths are straight, and his course is one eternal round. (D. & C. 3:2)

Joseph had warned the Saints that the principle of plural marriage would always cause opposition and persecution. The true Saints of God would of necessity expect opposition if they lived all of God’s laws.

It is thought by some that our enemies would be satisfied with my destruction; but I tell you that as soon as they have shed my blood, they will thirst for the blood of every man in whose heart dwells a single spark of the spirit of the fulness of the gospel. *** It is not only to destroy me but every man and woman who dares believe the doctrines that God hath inspired me to teach to this generation. (Fate of the Persecutors, N. B. Lundwall, p. 144)

Rather than compromise, or ever grumble because they must pay the price of persecution, strong leaders of the Church tried to prepare the Saints for the price of the sacrifice they were expected to make:

A man that enters this Church ought to be able to die for its principles if necessary, and certainly should be able to go to prison for them without crying about the matter. If you are sentenced to prison for marrying more wives than one, round up your shoulders and bear it like men and no murmuring about it; prepare yourselves to take the consequences. (George Q. Cannon, J.D. 20:276)


[117] Brigham Young was a fearless man that could not sacrifice principle for expediency. He had expressed such sentiments all of his life. In Nauvoo he said:

If there are not more than ten men who hang on to the truth, and to Joseph and the Temple, and are willing to do right in all things, let me be one of that number. If there should be but ten left, and their lives should be threatened; threatened with destruction by mobs, the Temple not be built, etc., because they are determined to do right, let me be one that is martyred for the truth. (Minutes of LDS meeting held in Nauvoo, Sept. 8, 1844; see Times and Seasons, 5:647-687)

Brigham never claimed to be anyone or anything more than a servant of the Lord trying to keep the Saints living the Gospel as restored

through the Prophet Joseph Smith. He said:

You may say Joseph was a devil, if you like, but he is at home and still holds the keys of the kingdom, which were committed to him by heavenly messengers, and always will. Do you ask who brother Brigham is? He is an humble instrument in the hands of God, to keep His people in the path he has marked out through the instrumentality of his servant Joseph and to travel in which is all I ask of them. (Cont. 10:2)

President Young realized that not everyone who claimed to be a Saint would prove to be one. He likened this mixture of half-converted Saints to sheep and goats.

I have often heard men say they were convinced that Mormonism is true, and that they would cleave to it; but as for their hearts being converted, it is altogether another thing…. for you will always find that the goats will run and lick salt with the sheep; and the Lord who made them has placed them in the world to serve his own purpose.

The Lord must, and will have a company of Saints who will follow him to the cross if it be necessary, and these he will crown. (Des. News, April 7, 1852)

Thus, the Saints were always to be plagued with semi-apostates whom the Lord used to test and try the faithful. Judas was in the quorum of Jesus, and Joseph had Judases in his quorum. And every quorum since has had one or more half-apostate members who loved the world more than the Lord.


[118] Brigham Young stood like a lion for the Lord–he was strong and valiant for every principle of the Gospel. An example such as his, in our own generation, should be enough to promote a firm unshaken faith in men who bear the Priesthood. It is inconceivable to imagine President Brigham Young sacrificing a principle of the Gospel for any reason. We should be just as firm in our own convictions.

President George Q. Cannon and other leading Church men in prison. For a few years after the death of Brigham Young, these men still would not compromise the eternal laws of God for the changeable laws of men.



[119]                             CHAPTER IX



In every principle presented to us, our first inquiry should be, “Is it true?” “Does it emanate from God?” If He is its Author, it can be sustained just as much as any other truth in natural philosophy; if false it should be opposed and exposed just as much us any other error. (J.D. 13:15)

After the death of Brigham Young, a few of the leading brethren tried to carry on his example of faithfulness. The Lord made it clear that He would support those who would remain faithful to those eternal laws.

Keep all the commandments and covenants by which ye are bound; and I will cause the heavens to shake for your good, and Satan shall tremble and Zion shall rejoice upon the hills and flourish. (D. & C. 35:24)


[120] John Taylor was one of those valiant men who could cause the heavens to shake for the Saints. He had always proved true to the defense of the gospel. He suffered in Carthage at the death of Joseph and Hyrum and such mobocracy was a thorn in his side.

President Taylor had already shown his fearless attitude toward his enemies many times and in many ways. On one occasion he spoke out with the courage of a modern Joshua:

When the Johnston Army of 1857 was camped on Ham’s Fork, Captain Van Vliet came to Salt Lake for grain for the command, but there was none for him; the people had made up their minds not to be persecuted any more, and this is what they said and did. Elder Taylor addressed the meeting that the captain attended, and the Elder asked the people, “Would you, if necessary, put the torch to your houses and lay the land in waste and go to the mountains?”

Brigham Young said: “Try the vote.”

Elder Taylor–“All you that are willing to set fire to your property and lay it in ashes rather than submit to military rule and oppression, raise your right hand.”

About four thousand all voted.

Elder Taylor–“I knew what your feelings would be. We have been persecuted and robbed long enough, and in the name of Israel’s God we will be free!”

The captain was astonished and went home a friend to the people.

While preaching that day Elder Taylor got very earnest, and President Young caught him by the coat-tail as a reminder. Taylor turned around and said, “Brother Brigham, let go my coat-tail; I tell you, the bullets in me yet hurt.” *** Well, Elder Taylor was like Joshua, only more so; when he got into debate or in a moral fight he wanted the sun, moon and stars all to stand still and look on while he demolished his adversaries. (Mill. Star 56:389; also Truth 18:320)


[121] The war was on and the front line was drawing closer to the hearth of every Mormon.

After the 1862 Anti-polygamy law was enacted, it was contested in the trial case of George Reynolds in 1878. Through the action of that law the Church was disincorporated by the Federal Government. In 1882 that law was further amended and strengthened by the passage of the Edmunds Law. With that law came a test oath which attempted to force individuals of the Church to compromise their faith and principles:

Territory of Utah, )

) ss.

County of …….. )

I, …… being first duly sworn (or affirmed), depose and say that I am over twenty-one years of age, and have resided in the Territory of Utah for six month, and in the precinct of ….. one month immediately preceding the date hereof, and (if a male) am a native born or naturalized (as the case may be) citizen of the United States and a taxpayer in this Territory, (or if female), I am native born, or naturalized, or the wife, widow or daughter (as the case may be), of a native born or naturalized citizen of the United States; and I do further solemnly swear (or affirm) that I am not a bigamist or a polygamist; that I am not a violator of the laws of the United States prohibiting bigamy or polygamy; that I do not live or cohabit with more than one woman in the marriage relation, nor does any relation exist between me and any woman which has been entered into or continued in violation of the said laws of the United States, prohibiting bigamy or polygamy; (and if a woman) that I am not the wife of a polygamist, nor have I entered into any relation with any man in violation of the laws of the United States concerning polygamy or bigamy.

Subscribed and sworn before me this….day of …… 1882. (History of Utah, Whitney, 3:228)

Senators and congressmen were using illegal means, contrary to the Constitution, to create the breakup of the marriages of the Mormons. LDS were now told by men in the Government that they must give up their wives who were given to them under a covenant by God. But Jesus warned: “What therefore God hath joined together, let not man put [122] sunder.” (Matt. 19:6) Men were now trying to put asunder the marriages of the Saints and the laws of God.

Joseph had previously given words of strength and encouragement for men of the Priesthood by saying, “…we feel to exhort you in the name of the Lord Jesus, to be strong in the faith in the new and everlasting covenant, and nothing frightened at your enemies.” (T.P.J.S., p. 129)

With the Edmunds Law the Government had power to bring Church members into court for fine and imprisonment.

On October 17, 1884, President John Taylor was brought to court and his testimony illustrates his uncompromising attitude:

  1. — Do you know of any plural marriages entered into by any members of the faith, residents of the Territory of Utah, ever having been performed and entered into outside of any one of the Endowment Houses, within the past three years?
  2. — I have recollection of many such.
  3. — Now, are there no other places than those that you have mentioned where the Church authorizes the rite of plural marriage to be performed?
  4. — The rite of plural marriage can be performed in other places. There is no place set apart specifically for it.
  5. — When this authority is conferred upon any one by you, is it an authority limited to some particular case, or a general authority?
  6. — It would be a general authority until rescinded.
  7. — can you not give the name of any person in the Church who was authorized to celebrate plural marriages within this period of time?
  8. — I will state in relation to these matters, that I have nothing to do with the details.
  9. — Then you do know upon whom you do confer authority?


[123] A. — There are hundreds of people who have authority.

  1. — Do you know whether a record of marriages is kept?
  2. — It is very probable there is.
  3. — If you wanted to see it, is there any means of ascertaining where it is?
  4. — I could find out by inquiry.
  5. — Will you be good enough to do so?
  6. — Well, I am not good enough to do so.
  7. — Who is the custodian of the records?
  8. — I cannot tell you. ***
  9. — Who in this city is authorized to celebrate plural marriages?
  10. — A great many have been appointed –hundreds.
  11. — Is it not a fact, Mr. Taylor, that plural marriage is a secret rite, a secret ceremony?
  12. — It is a secret to some and not to others.
  13. — What is the ceremony of plural marriage?
  14. — I do not propose to state it.
  15. — Do you decline to answer?
  16. — I do.

President Taylor having exchanged a few words with Judge Zane, left the room, and with him the interest for a large number went also, for they passed out in swarms after him. (Des. News, Oct. 18, 1884)

President George Q. Cannon was then brought to the stand and sworn in as a witness, and asked questions similar to those given to Taylor:


[124] Q. — can you give me the names of those authorized during the year 1883 to celebrate plural marriages in this city.

  1. — I do not know.
  2. — Who else solemnized marriages during 1883?
  3. — I think Mr. Taylor.
  4. — Anybody else to your knowledge?
  5. — I suppose any of the Twelve have the right to solemnize marriages.
  6. — You say they have the right to solemnize plural marriages ?
  7. — I do not know of any distinction. Formerly the Apostles were the ones who attended to these marriages, but latterly a great many others have been authorized. (Ibid.)

Speaking of this incident a few days later, President Taylor remarked:

Another thing: I was lately called upon as a witness–perhaps you may have seen some account of it in the papers–and I want to make some explanation in relation to the matters that I then presented, because they are not generally understood. I was required to divulge certain things. I did not know them to divulge. Perhaps some of you have had people come to you with their confidences. I have. But I don’t want to be confidant. Why? Because if they made a confidant of me and I was called before a tribunal, I could not, as an honorable man, reveal their confidences, yet it would be said I was a transgressor of law; but no honorable man can reveal confidences that are committed to him. Therefore I tell them to keep their own secrets, and remember what is called the Mormon creed, “MIND YOUR OWN BUSINESS;” I don’t want to know the secrets of people, those that I cannot tell. And I could not tell very much to that court; for I have studiously avoided knowing any more than I could possibly help about such matters. I was asked questions about our temple, which of course I could not divulge. I was asked questions about records [125] which I could not tell them, because I did not know. I have studiously avoided entering into a knowledge of these matters. They did not build our temples. We have never had any revelations from God, through them! We may have had from the devil (laughter), but never have had revelations from God through them. And I think there are some things we have aright to guard sacredly in our own bosoms. We are told “The secret of the Lord is with them that fear Him; and He will show them His covenant.” * * * I was asked if certain ordinances could be performed in different places. I told them, yes, under certain circumstances. “Where,” I was asked–“Anywhere besides in temples?” Yes. Anywhere besides the Endowment House? Yes. ***

…It is the authority of the Priesthood, not the place, that validates and sanctifies the ordinance. I was asked if people could be sealed outside. Yes. I could have told them I was sealed outside, and lots of others.

I want to show you a principle here, you Latterday Saints. When Jesus was asked if He thought it was proper for His disciples to pluck ears of corn on the Sabbath Day, He told them “The Sabbath was made for man, and not man for the Sabbath.” What else? I will say that man was not made for temples, but temples were made for man, under the direction of the Priesthood, and without the Priesthood temples would amount to nothing. (J.D. 25:355-356)

From this statement we can see that the principles of the Gospel are more important than the temples. If the Saints were to sacrifice one or the other, it should be the temples. However, it was not long before they would sacrifice principles to keep the temples.

Pres. Taylor voiced the spirit and sentiment of a valiant officer in the midst of battle. He was continually writing editorials in the Deseret News warning the weaker Saints against compromises.


Influences are at work whose object is to create impression in favor of the renunciation or temporary suspension of the law of celestial marriage, arguments are being used to that end, in a semi-private way, with a view to gaining converts to that idea. Perhaps such pleadings may influence a few people who [126] are not in the habit of probing subjects to the bottom and are not particularly gifted with the power to analyze the motives by which men are actuated.

GOOD LATTER-DAY SAINTS, however, who have within themselves that needful reason for the hope that inspires them are not affected by the shallow pretexts of semi-apostates. But they should not be so inconsistent as to put forth the flimsy claim that their course is sustained by the revelations of the Almighty.

They had better acknowledge that their faith in revelation has dwindled to a fine point, if it ever existed in their breasts, at all, until it is scarcely discernable. They should at once proclaim themselves as unbelievers in the claim that the revelation on Celestial Marriage is of divine origin, or else admit that they do not possess the courage of their convictions.

But we are not yet through with treating upon the quotations sometimes referred to by the weak-backed who need a ramrod fastened parallel with their spinal column, and occasionally manifest a desire to see the stiffening taken out of others. (Editorial, Deseret News, April 1885)

Some of the other apostles also spoke out to defend the Gospel at all costs. George Q. Cannon said:

Our enemies hope, in making this raid upon us, that they will get us in a corner and compel us, by the violence of their proceedings, to surrender the principle of plural marriage. Mr. Dickson is credited with saying that he is tired of this prosecution. Perhaps so. I am not, however, inclined to believe all his statements. But he says that PRESIDENT TAYLOR, BY A VERY FEW WORDS PUBLISHED IN THE DESERET NEWS, COULD END IT. That is, I suppose, President Taylor could surrender the principle of plural marriage and tell the people to do so. That is what Mr. Dickson means. (Juv. Instr. 20:197, 1885)

Pressure from state and national persecution was beginning to parallel similar situations to those in the Bible–and with those of the Reformers. Wilford Woodruff made this comparison a leading factor for their faithfulness to the Gospel cause.



The question was asked the Hebrews, what God is there that is able to deliver you out of the hands of King Nebuchadnezzar? A righteous answer of faith was given, that we do not know as our God will deliver us out of your hands, but one thing we know, that we will not bow down and worship the golden image which thou hast set up. So say I, as an Apostle of the Lord, Jesus Christ, I will not desert my wives and my children and disobey the commandments of God, for the sake of accommodating the public clamor of a nation steeped in sin and ripened for the damnation of hell! I would rather go to prison and to death. IF I WOULD NOT I WOULD NEVER BE FIT TO ASSOCIATE WITH THE PROPHETS AND PATRIARCHS OF OLD, and I could not but despise in my heart any man who professed to be a Latter-day Saint do otherwise.

I would say to all Israel, treat your wives and children kindly and keep the commandments of God and trust in Him, and He will fight your battles. And I will say in the name of Jesus Christ, the Son of the living God, that Mormonism will live and prosper; Zion will flourish, and the Kingdom of God will stand in power and glory and dominion as Daniel saw it, when this nation is broken to pieces as a potter’s vessel and laid in the dust and brought to judgment, or God never spoke by my mouth.

Therefore I say to all Latter-day Saints throughout the world, be faithful and true to your God and to your religion, to your families and to yourselves. Jesus of Nazareth has suffered death on the cross for the redemption of the world, and His apostle followed His example for the Word of God and testimony of Jesus Christ, and Joseph Smith proved to God, angels and men, that he would and did abide in his covenants unto death, and none of us shall be called to do anything more. We certainly, any of us, would be ashamed to deny the faith to accommodate our enemies then meet the Prophets and Apostles in the spirit world. MAY GOD FORBID THAT THIS SHOULD BE THE CASE WITH ANY OF THE BLOOD OF EPHRAIM. (Wilford Woodruff, Mill. Star, 42:241-43)

Other apostles joined in by making this comparison between modern and ancient Saints. Probably the finest spirit of faith and logic ever attributed to Heber J. Grant was expressed in one of these defensive sermons during the 1880’s.



No matter what restrictions we may be placed under by men, OUR ONLY CONSISTENT COURSE IS TO KEEP THE COMMANDMENTS OF GOD. We should in this regard place ourselves in the same position as that of the three Hebrews who were cast into the fiery furnace. If we are living in the light of the gospel we have a testimony of the truth, and we have but one choice, that is to abide in the Law of God, no matter as to the consequences.

It is sometimes held that the Saints are in error because so many are opposed to them. But when people know they are right it is wrong for them to forego their honest convictions by yielding their judgment to that of a majority, no matter how large. (Des. News, April 6, 1885)

But as noble as these attitudes were, the Mormon defenses were weakening. Flesh is weak and the Mormons were flesh. The faithful elders noticed this weakening within their ranks, and they considered any compromise on the marriage issue as apostasy. An editorial in the Deseret News left no doubts as to what the effect that a voluntary surrender of that principle would have on the Mormon Church.

It goes without saying that the crusaders are anxious to obtain among those who are pursued by them as many examples of recreancy as possible not only on account of the satisfaction that such cases of themselves impart to them, but it is desired that they should have a strong effect in influencing others to take a similar course. The good Saints, however, can afford to suffer any species of discomfort, even to the sacrifice of life itself if it be necessary, but they cannot entertain the alternative of proving recreant to principle, to wives and children, and turning their backs upon their religion and their God.

What would be necessary to bring about the result nearest the hearts of the opponents of “Mormonism,” more properly termed the Gospel of the Son of God? Simply to renounce, abrogate or apostatize from the new and everlasting covenant of marriage in its fullness. Were the Church to do that as an entirety, God would reject the Saints as a body. The authority of the Priesthood would be withdrawn, with its gifts and powers, and there would be no more heavenly recognition of the ministrations among the people. The [129] heavens would permanently withdraw themselves, and the Lord would raise up another people of greater valor and stability, for his work must, according to His unalterable decrees, go forward, for the time of the second coming of the Savior is near, even at the doors. Therefore, the Saints have no alternative but to stand by the truth and sustain what the heavens have established and propose to perpetuate. This they will do, come life or death, freedom or imprisonment, and there is, so far as we can observe, no use to attempt to disguise this fact. (Deseret News, April 23, 1885)

The Mormons began to weaken and their enemies were gaining strength. Government officials were adding new strategems and unconstitutional laws against the Mormons. In 1887 the government passed the Tucker Bill which added more teeth to the Edmunds Bill.

One more conniving scheme was another “Test Oath” which was a pledge against a belief in the principle of plural marriage. A refusal to sign the oath disqualified the person from any rights as an American citizen. In the state of Idaho the oath was so stringent that any member of the Mormon Church, whether they believed in polygamy or not, was deprived from the rights of citizenship.

  1. H. Roberts explained the nature of one of these test oaths used against the Saints. Said he:

The first act of the Commission appointed by that law, was to frame a test oath which they required every person to take before he was permitted to register or vote. This practically disfranchised a whole Territory at one fell swoop; and in order to be reinstated as a voter, every man had to take the oath, which required him to swear that he had never simultaneously lived with more than one woman “IN THE MARRIAGE RELATION;” or if a woman, that she was not the wife of a polygamist, nor had she entered into any relation with any man in violation of the laws of the United States concerning polygamy and bigamy.

By this arrangement it will be seen that those who cohabited with more than one woman in adultery or prostitution, were not affected by its provisions. The roue, the libertine, the strumpet, the brothelkeeper, the adulterer and adulteress could vote. No [130] matter how licentious a man or a woman might be, all but the Mormons were screened and protected in the exercise of the franchise by the ingenious insertion of the clause, “in the marriage relation,” a clause which nowhere appears in the Edmunds Law. Such broad constructionists were the Commission, that they declared no man or woman who had ever been a member of a family practicing plural marriage, should be permitted to register or vote, no matter what their present status might be. (Life of John Taylor, B. H. Roberts, pp. 369-370)


An editorial appeared in the Church News commenting on the practice of oath signing or compromise among the ancient prophets of God.

They had not been cast into a fiery furnace, but they were thrown into dungeons. THEY PREFERRED PRISON RATHER THAN ACCEPT LIBERTY AT THE PRICE OF RENOUNCING THEIR SACRED COVENANTS.

A law had been passed requiring all who desired to register to take an oath provided for them. Many were unable to take this oath because of having entered into the relationship of celestial marriage. Abraham, to secure God’s friendship, had been willing to undergo all things, and had been rewarded. Today men who had entered into celestial marriage were not in a position to take the oath but those who had not were.

If men took the oath and intended to keep it, their motives in that regard were pure. The manner in which many professing Saints had neglected the law of celestial marriage showed that they could keep the other.

The Lord would justify them in what they did honestly. If you take the oath, keep it, but DO NOT PROMISE THAT YOU WILL NOT OBEY GOD. If the oath required that, the Saints could not take it. (Angus M. Cannon, Deseret News, May 9, 1887)

One bad feature of signing oaths which made agreements with the wicked is the example it sets for others. It may or may not affect the one signing but others may be led to do the same. The purpose of these inquisitions was to create a betrayal to their principles. The spirit of compromise could gain momentum as others began to follow their example.



The Savior Himself had it in His power to compromise with his enemies and escape the cruel and ignominious death inflicted upon Him. Abraham might have bowed to the gods of his idolatrous father, and needed no angel to rescue him from his impending doom. Daniel and his three brethren, also, might have submitted to the decree and law of the ruling powers under which they lived, and escaped the fiery furnace and the den of lions. Their refusals to obey the decree and law doubtless appeared to those who had not the knowledge of God which they possessed, as acts of wicked obstinancy that should be summarily punished. But had they, to escape the threatened penalty, obeyed these edicts, posterity would have lost the benefit of their example, and the great God would not have been glorified before their contemporaries as He was by their acts. (John Taylor and George Q. Cannon, Des. News, Oct. 7, 1885)

The Lord’s warnings had often been given to the Saints. The greatest danger to the L.D.S. was not their enemies–it was their own weaknesses!

At night I went to prayer meeting at Father Perkins…one of the brethren spoke in a Nephite tongue, which was interpreted saying that the Saints had naught to fear from their enemies, but from themselves and their own sins, etc. (Diary of Charles Walker, p. 685)

George Q. Cannon and some of the visiting brethren called on President Taylor that day for the purpose of conveying to him some of these demands for cessation of the teaching and practice of plural marriage. George Q. Cannon had with him a document very similar to the Manifesto presented and approved fourteen years later. This instrument had been prepared by some of the most bitter opponents of this doctrine, members and non-members of the Church, with slight assistance from two of the faithful brethren. Some of these not only asked but demanded President Taylor’s signature to that paper. (Leaf in Review, B. H. Allred, p. 183)

It seemed that some form of compromise with the world was necessary. Cannon and some of the others requested Pres. Taylor to take up the matter with the Lord. President Taylor inquired of the Lord and revelation was received. A special meeting was called to present the revel-[132]ation for those who would bear the responsibility of continuing that principle.

After the meeting referred to, President Taylor had L. John Nuttall write five copies of the revelation. *** He then set us apart and placed us under covenant that while we lived we would see to it that no year passed by without children being born in the principle of Plural Marriage. WE WERE GIVEN AUTHORITY TO ORDAIN OTHERS IF NECESSARY TO CARRY THIS WORK ON, THEY IN TURN TO BE GIVEN AUTHORITY TO ORDAIN OTHERS WHEN NECESSARY, under the direction of the worthy senior, so that there should be no cessation in the work. He then gave each of us a copy of the revelation. ***

He stated that the document, referring to the manifesto, was from the lower regions. ***

President Taylor said that the time would come when many of the Saints would apostatize because of this principle. He said,”one-half of this people would apostatize over the principle for which we are now in hiding, yea, and possibly one-half of the other half.” He also said the day will come when a document similar to that then under consideration would be adopted by the church, following which “APOSTACY AND WHOREDOM WOULD BE RAMPANT IN THE CHURCH.” ***

The following morning all was clear to his mind. The will of God was now confirmed. God had spoken. Where before there was uncertainty towards that Manifesto, now his attitude was absolute. After talking to the Prophet Joseph Smith and the Savior of the world, his attitude towards a Manifesto was: “Sign that document, — never! I would suffer my right hand to be severed from my body first. Sanction it,–never! I would suffer my tongue to be torn from its roots in my mouth before I would sanction it!” (See Questions on Plural Marriage, Dennis Short, pp. 67-68; also Truth 14:149-152.)

President Taylor and some of his closest associates took new courage. Now they had heavenly sanction and particular reason to stand against attacks of their enemies. John Taylor’s pen became intensely busy in defense of the Gospel. There was not to be any compromise!


[133] An article had appeared in the Millennial Star which conveyed this spirit.

It is an idea that is prevelant in the world, and we are sorry to say it exists, to some extent, in the minds of the individuals calling themselves Latter-day Saints, that the principles of our religion are so elastic and accommodating in their nature, that implicit obedience thereto is not at all times strictly necessary; that certain of its doctrines, such as are peculiarly objectionable in the eyes of mankind, can be ignored, compromised, or abandoned at the option of their professors, and that whenever the laws and ordinances revealed from God for the guidance of His people conflict with human enactment, or run counter to personal inclinations, the former can conveniently, and should invariably give way.

Then again, we occasionally hear older members, in view of the impending persecutions to the Church, conversing as to the advisability of its relinquishing certain tenets of the faith, in order to appease the gathering wrath of the wicked;…

Are we to imagine, like the infidel would, that the voice of the people is invariably the voice of God, that the privilege of doing wrong signifies the right to do wrong and that neglect of or disobedience to his requirements will be justified upon the ground that we yielded homage to our selfish inclinations, or were intimidated by the threats and attempted coercions by our enemies? Heaven forbid such heresies in the Church of Jesus Christ! Let not the glorious light of heaven look upon that day when such dangerous sentiments shall prevail in the midst of Israel!

Implicit obedience to the mind and will of the Omnipotent, utterly regardless of self or of the opinions or actions of humanity, is the adamontive principle upon which it has been based and established in these latter days.

The commandments of heaven are and have ever been a standing reproach, a moral barrier to the crimes and corruptions of humanity, and as the heavens are above the earth, so are the thoughts and purposes of God above the desires and inventions of man. Which must give way in the hour of conflict?



Are we not his Saints, and has he not sworn that it is His business to take care of his saints? Are we not his disciples and, have we not agreed to live by every word that proceedeth forth from His mouth? Did we not, as spirits, covenant in the worlds eternal, on condition of being permitted to descend and take up these mortal tabernacles, that we would do whatsoever He commanded us, and that we were willing to be tried and proven in all things, that we might demonstrate our worthiness to return as resurrected and glorified beings–as naturalized citizens of the Kingdom of Heaven? And shall we now when the anticipated test is applied, begin to waver and doubt, and wonder whether it would not be prudent and politic to compromise with the powers of darkness, for the purpose of securing personal safety, and immunity from oppression? GOD FORBID! (Mill. Star 44:132)

His love of freedom came to the fore at every hint of restriction or dominion. As the Government approached with their yoke of servile arraignments. Taylor labored furiously to protect the Mormons. Almost daily he wrote letters, preached sermons and counselled in public and private. The following letters characterize his uncompromising nature and the attitude he wished the Saints to adopt. Note the devices, compromises and manifestos that seemed to be continually plaguing Pres. Taylor.

February 19, 1887

  1. S. Richards
  2. W. Penrose

… In most forceful language you describe the evils with which we are menaced, and which are likely to come upon us under the operation of the Tucker Bill should it become law, and be almost irrevokably fastened upon us unless we adopt this plan which is now being urged by our friends, namely, that of framing and voting for a Constitution which shall forever prohibit the practice of bigamy and polygamy in the new state.

A letter just received from Brother John W. Young, giving a description of the interview with President Cleveland, does not furnish ground for believing that such a concession as you suggest would be all that he would ask. You must bear constantly in mind the fact that President Cleveland has been anxious to settle [135] the question; but the basis of settlement in his mind, as presented by Dr. Miller when he came here, was the future discontinuance of plural marriages.

…For years before President Young’s death, the First Presidency of the Church assumed an attitude upon this question which has not been changed by the First Presidency up to the present time. That attitude has been both dignified and consistent with our professions and belief. We have not conquitted with this question, have shown no inclination to compromise with principle, or in any manner wavered in our maintenance of our rights connected with it. Every well informed public man knows this; and they are conscious that this principle is so deeply imbedded in our belief and practice that nothing but the most cruel and far reaching measures will cause us to abandon it. Their expressions show that they would have no confidence that such language as is used in the Scott amendment would bind us to a renunciation of this practice. If we were to make such a proposal, we should lower the ground upon which we had so long stood, and so consistently maintained, and take new ground. In doing so we should have the mortification of proposing a concession that would be spurned and thrown back at us with contempt. We should, thereby, not only lose our self-respect, but our own people would be weakened, and the world would say we offered to barter away principle for the sake of expediency.

If the plan which you suggest would be accepted by the nation, and could be successfully carried out in the manner which appears to you feasible, the question would then present itself in a very different light to what it does now to our minds. It is as clear to us as light that this is not practicable, and that it is a plan which, under present circumstances, we cannot possibly accept. Whatever the evils and terrors of the Tucker Bill may be, personally we prefer to endure them than to take this other course. We have put our trust in God in the past, and we must trust Him in this as in all other things in the future. In doing so we are not troubled with even a shadow of a doubt as to what the result will be.

We remain, your brethren


(Box 9, File #1, John Taylor Letter File, Church Historian’s Dept.)


[136]                                                                                                                                      May 2, 1887

Hon. John Sharp



Dear Brother:

We are in receipt of your Communication of the 29th describing a visit which you and Brother E. A. Smith and Richards have had with Messrs. Carlton and McClernand of the Utah Commission.

We are much obliged to you for this communication, and are pleased to learn from you of the kind and sympathetic feeling which they exhibited in our behalf; while we know their advice upon questions involving our religion and the proper method of living it is unwise, and utterly out of our power to adopt, while Latter-day Saints; still we can appreciate the motives which prompt them to give it. They can forsee the danger we are in from the plots and machinations of the Loyal League. Political experience teaches them what the results to us will be if our enemies should be successful. But they cannot measure its tremendous consequences which would follow to us if we offended our God by repudiating the Commands He has given us.

With kind regards,

Your Brother,



(Journal #1 John Taylor Letter File, Church Historians Dept., Letter #104 and 105)


[137]                                                                                                                                                      May 2, 1887

  1. Richards Esq.


Dear Brother:

Your letter of the 30th enclosing letter from Brother C. W. Nibley has been received, and his letter has been perused.

It is quite interesting and it is pleasing to know that the brethren are so active in looking after our interest. We return it herewith.

The statement of the interview between Brothers Sharp, Smith, yourself and the two Commissioners, has also been read and considered. Any good feelings they can manifest towards us we appreciate; but when they talk about our doctrine and practice of plural marriage, they touch a subject upon which they are blindly ignorant, and their suggestions and recommendations, if accepted by us, would only have the effect to destroy us, and bring upon us more terrible evils than they depicted to you as likely to come upon us if we persist in our course, or that their imaginations can conceive. It is very well to talk glibly about compromising and arranging for dispensing with polygamy, as they call it; but THEY KNOW NOTHING OF THE TREMENDOUS CONSEQUENCES THAT WOULD BEFALL US AS A PEOPLE, OR AS INDIVIDUALS, IF WE SHOULD FOLLOW THEIR SUGGESTIONS, or allow sympathy, or acquiescence with their views, to have place in our hearts.

Your brother,


(Journal #1, John Taylor Letter File, Church Historian’s Dept., Letter #102 & 103)


[138]                                                                                                                                      June 7, 1887

President Wm. King


Sandwitch Islands


Dear Brother:

***Elders John W. Young, C. W. Nibley and others are laboring energetically and with much zeal at Washington in the interest of our political liberties. It is gratifying to know that thus far nothing of a discouraging nature has occurred to dim their prospects or to weaken their efforts. It is the duty of us all to labor indefatigably for the advancement of Zion and for the emancipation of her people from every a pecion [sic] and burden which the wicked seek to lay upon us. When we have done all we can, the Lord will control the results.

Our enemies do not seem to read well the lessons to be found on the pages of this world’s history. It attests that no people who are willing to suffer for the principles in which they believe need fear the effect of violence and unjust treatment. If their convictions are deep and profound, persecution solidified them and evokes sympathy for their cause. Their constancy excites admiration, creates an interest in their doctrines and adds converts to their ranks. This has always been the effect of persecution, and the great cause in which by God’s grace, we are engaged, is no exception to the general rule; and we find that the efforts of the ungodly are bearing their results in the increased faith, diligence, and unity of the Saints, and these efforts, we hope and anticipate, will be yet more marked in the future.

With love to yourself, to the brethren and sisters from Zion and to the Saints generally.

We are,

Your Brethren in the Gospel




(Box 5 Journal #1, John Taylor Letter File, Church Historian’s Dept., #397-400)


[139] President Taylor, who was called the “Champion of Liberty”, had no intention of abandoning the principle of plural marriage. His outstanding characteristic both as an individual and as president of the Church, was his unyielding will to temptation or servitude:

During the former administration storm clouds had again gathered, which broke with great fury soon after John Taylor assumed the Presidency. The Church and the world were again at variance, as they have always been, and must continue to be until the doctrines taught by the Redeemer are accepted and applied.

* * * While this storm raged, John Taylor stood immovable in his conviction that the anti-polygamy law was unjust, and died without making any concession. That was the outstanding feature of his administration. (A. W. Ivins, Conf. Rept., April 1922, p. 37-38)

Angus M. Cannon used the fearless John Taylor as an example to others by saying:

I trust that from the ashes of our beloved President –who obtained the title of champion of Freedom and Liberty, the champion of the people’s rights–I trust that from his ashes may spring innumerable champions who will stand in the image of their Maker, as has our departed president, and that they may maintain the right and the rule of truth of God as he has done. WE CANNOT SACRIFICE PRINCIPLE. WE CAN GO TO PRISON. WE CAN ENDURE DEATH: WE CAN SEPARATE OURSELVES FROM OUR FAMILIES, WITH THE HOPE THAT WE WILL HAVE THEM ETERNALLY WITH GOD. BUT WE CANNOT FORSAKE THE WORK THAT HE HAS ASSIGNED UNTO US. *** (Life of John Taylor, B. H. Roberts, p. 460)

John Taylor’s life expressed courage and faith as few men in the Church have ever shown. He left an influence upon every stalwart saint who has read his words or studied his life.



[140]                             CHAPTER X



Let not that which I have appointed be polluted by mine enemies, by the consent of those who call themselves after my name; For this is a very sore and grievous sin against me, and against my people, in consequence of those things which I have decreed and which are soon to befall the nations. (D. & C. 101:97-98)

The influence and example of such men as Joseph Smith, Brigham Young and John Taylor left a deep imprint upon Church members, but only a few would prove as faithful. The Lord was now about to test them by various means of persecution, including imprisonment by the Gentiles.

Mortality was meant to be a test–a trial of men’s faith. Under conflict and stress the qualities or weaknesses of men are brought to light; and the crusades became the crucible to the verification or the failure of the Mormons. When a man defends his faith, right or wrong, he displays a courage that everyone is constrained to admire. Joseph once remarked:

God, men, and angels will not condemn those that resist everything that is evil, and devils cannot; as well might the devil seek to dethrone Jehovah, as overthrow an innocent soul that resists everything which is evil. (TPJS, p. 226)

One of the faithful men during these political crusades against the Church was a Mormon bishop named Francis A. Brown:

“…before I will prove recreant to my wives and children, and betray my trust, I will suffer my head to be severed from my body.”


[141] Bishop Francis A. Brown was one of those rare individuals who rose up to meet the conflict with a valor that will be admired by noble saints forever. It may be difficult to find a more inspiring and unyielding testimony than that which was given by this bishop. It was June 30, 1885, and one of the first cases in Weber County was the trial of Bishop Brown. The courtroom was crowded and the defendant pleaded not guilty to the indictment against him for unlawful cohabitation. Bishop Brown at his own request was sworn as a witness and so addressed the judge and the jury.

He began by stating that his forefathers fought for freedom in the war for American Independence. He had always honored the laws of his country and expressed a love of America. He joined the Mormon Church at the age of 20 and embraced the fulness of the gospel as revealed through the Prophet Joseph Smith and had been a member of the Church for over 40 years. He knew the Saints were a most loyal people and that the doctrine of plural marriage was a most holy law of God and he had accepted and embraced that celestial marriage covenant. He then said:

I have struggled in poverty now for nearly thirty years, to provide for my beloved wives and dear children as a kind husband and a fond father should; and I have kept inviolate my solemn vows and most sacred contracts that I made with those women up to the present time, to the best of my ability and I believe to their entire satisfaction. * * *

I now ask your honor, what I am to do? Shall I break the most sacred obligations man can enter into, *** and sever the strongest ties of love and affection that have grown up in the human heart? Shall I abandon my wives and children (who are as dear to me as any man’s wife and children are to him) and cast them off upon the charities of a cold world?

I know not of what metal your honor is composed, but for myself, before I will prove recreant to my wives and children, and betray my trust, I will suffer my head to be severed from my body. I have not wronged a man or a woman on the earth during my life that I am aware of. I have trespassed on no one’s rights to my knowledge. This is the first time in my life I have been called to answer to the charge of crime against the laws of my country. * * *



No one ever heard me take the name of God in vain. No one ever saw me intoxicated. No one ever knew me to patronize houses of ill-fame or gambling dens. I have lived above reproach and set a Christian example before my family and all the world, and no one can justly accuse me of violating the laws of my country or of being guilty of committing any crime: unless it is a crime to love my wives and children.***

If the conscience of the American people is outraged at my conduct in obeying what my conscience prompts me to be my duty to my God, and demand my liberty, they are welcome to it. Decisions of courts, enactments of congresses, and edicts of tyrants strike no terror to me, when they come in contact with my known duty to my God. * * * I bow submissively to an unconstitutional law, which your honor has the power to execute. I am in your hands, and if your honor thinks it will subserve the interest of our country or benefit humanity in any way by inflicting pains and penalties upon me for doing what I know to be my duty to God, you can incarcerate me in prison. *** Death itself cannot obliterate the knowledge God has given me of this great latter-day work.

I stand here innocent of any crime. I have a conscience void of offense before God and all men. I am guiltless of violating any law of God or constitutional law of the land.

Now, while you are enjoying your liberty, and the immunities of a free government, and while gamblers, libertines and prostitutes can revel in sin and corruption, without the fear of prosecution, or of being deprived of their liberty, remember me and my brethren, innocent of any crime, whom you are instrumental in depriving of our liberties.

While you and yours are enjoying all the comforts and even luxuries of life, remember the innocent women and children you cause to suffer by tearing from them their only support.

I have made up my mind that while water runs, or grass grows, and a drop of blood flows through my veins, or I am permitted to breathe the breath of life, I shall obey the supreme laws of my God, in preference to the changeable and imperfect laws of man.



In conclusion, I wish to say to this Court, as you are a stranger among us and ignorant of our doctrines and practices, that we honor and respect you as a representative of our great Government. I entertain no malice in my heart towards this court or any of my accusers. * * * With what measure you mete unto others it shall be measured unto you again.

I expect to stand before the bar of God in the court above, and give an account of the deeds done in the body, and if I cannot obtain my rights in the courts on earth, I have no fear but what I shall receive equity and justice at the hands of God in heaven, and I can afford to wait. *** May God have mercy upon this court, and all who are engaged in this unholy crusade against an honest, virtuous, industrious, and God-fearing people! (History of Utah, Whitney, Vol. III: 396-398)

The courtroom listened in deep silence as his voice lingered like an echo of reality and conviction. Then the judge told the jury they were not to take any portion of the defendant’s statement as evidence except to that portion to which he admitted to living with his wives as such, and that he had children by them.

It took twelve minutes for the jury to find a verdict of guilty.

The next day the Salt Lake Tribune even had to admit the valor of Bishop Brown by stating:

  1. A. Brown, the Mormon Saint convicted in Ogden on Tuesday last by his own testimony, had the courage of his convictions. However much one may deplore such wrong-headedness, the admission must be made that here is a man; one who does not quibble and lie, and who scorns to show the white feather. (History of Utah, Whitney, Vol. III:398)

Editorials continued to come through the Deseret News advocating the laws of God over the inconsistent laws of man.


Any man who says that he really and firmly believes a certain law of God binding on him, and who will not obey it in preference to a conflicting law of man or a decision of a court, has either an un-[144]sound mind or a cowardly soul, or is a most contemptible hypocrite. (Des. News, July 7, 1886)

The most faithful members of the Church were being sent to prison in great numbers. But rather than concede to an unjust law, they were willing to suffer for a righteous principle. Rudger Clawson relates:

I was sentenced to four years imprisonment, and was incarcerated three years and one month. I saw three hundred of my brethren enter the penitentiary for similar reasons and 220 of them emerged from prison while I was there. I feel none the worse for my experiences. MY TESTIMONY IS STRONGER THAN EVER. It is pleasing to God for men to go to prison under an unjust law rather than act contrary to their covenants. The brethren who were imprisoned exhibited great patience in the midst of the worst class of criminals. IT WAS BETTER FOR THEM TO DO THIS THAN TO ENTER INTO AN AGREEMENT NOT TO SERVE GOD. (Mill. Star 1:292)

A few Saints lost faith in their cause by signing an agreement to abandon the practice of plural marriage. Apostle George Teasdale depicted the nature of those who signed the compromise.

Out of the seven hundred convictions for “Unlawful Cohabitation,” up to July 1, 1888, but very few, not more than fifty, perhaps, have been induced through proffers of clemency from the courts to give up their relationship with their families and in many these cases the parties had lost their faith in the gospel. They were apostates.

All had proffered to them the like clemency that is either a suspension of sentence altogether or the punishment mitigated to the payment of a nominal fine.

On condition, of course, that they promise to obey the law as interpreted by the courts, which meant the abandonment of their wives and their children whom they had covenanted to love, protect and provide for. But to the everlasting honor of the very grand majority of the seven hundred who have been convicted of living with their wives, and supporting their children, be it said, they scorned to stoop so low as to purchase the clemency of the courts at the price de-[145]manded for it: THE LOSS OF HONOR, SELF-RESPECT, AND EVERY SENSE OF NOBLE MANHOOD.

Liberty is indeed a jewel, a pearl of great price, but desirable as liberty is there are prices that ought not be paid for it, and in these exceptions we note, HONOR, SELF-RESPECT, AND THE RIGHTS OF CONSCIENCE.

WHENEVER IMMUNITY FROM PRISON INVOLVES A SACRIFICE OF ALL OR ANY ONE OF THESE THINGS EVERY TRUE MAN WILL SPURN THE GILDED OFFER WITH THE CONTEMPT IT DESERVES. It is the preservation of these things to the individual that makes life worth the living. Once they are lost, liberty is thenceforth but a name, life a mockery, earth a hell, and heaven could it be entered by such characters would yield them no delight. (Mill. Star, L:568, and Des. News, July 8, 1888)

The Saints as a body were weakening from the trials of persecution. They were being given a chance to accept their doctrines and the persecution that went with them, or they could manifest their will by concession with their enemies.

On Monday, August 1, 1887, at a Territorial General Election a new Constitution of the State of Utah was voted upon and received over 13,000 votes with only 502 against it. That Constitution was opposed to the celestial law. On September 30, 1887, a report to the Utah Commission declared that “THE MASS OF THE MORMONS HAVE TAKEN THE TEST OATH AND VOTED AGAINST POLYGAMY.”

Ambrose Carlton, a member of the Utah Commission, wrote an article entitled “Fair Play for Mormons”. In it he said:

The next important step in the direction of reform was the holding of a constitutional convention of June 30, 1887, with delegates from all the counties in the Territory. The Gentiles having declined to participate, THE CONVENTION WAS COMPOSED ENTIRELY OF MORMONS. The constitution thus formulated contained a provision prohibiting polygamy and making it a crime, with a severe penalty; and at the August election following, 95 PER CENT OF ALL THE MORMON VOTERS IN THE TERRITORY VOTED FOR THE RATIFICATION OF THIS CONVENTION. (Des. News, Aug. 30, 1890)


[146] A legislative assembly, composed of 31 Mormons and five Gentiles declared that all plural marriages are illegal and void, and made it a crime with a heavy penalty. Plural marriage was being defeated by the people who were supposed to sustain it. The battle had not yet begun, and the Mormons were already surrendering. THE LORD HAD TOLD THEM HE WOULD FIGHT THEIR BATTLES. But before a shot was fired or blood was drawn, Mormons were raising the white flag.

Apostle John W. Taylor seemed to carry on where his father left off. While traveling to the settlements in the south, he stopped to speak to the Saints in Nephi. The Salt Lake Tribune reported on his talk by saying:

Having got thus far in his remarks, he became very earnest, if not very eloquent, and assured his hearers that as he understood Mormonism, when polygamy was a dead issue, the whole religion was dead. He did not wish to teach polygamy, but it was one of the principles of the religion, and if any of the principles of Mormonism were true and correct, this one was. (March 6, 1889)

On January 13, 1888, a bill was introduced to the Utah Legislature by Hon. Wm. H. King, a portion of which would punish any polygamist with “a fine of not more than $500 and imprisonment for a term of not more than five years.” (Des. News, Jan. 14, 1888) By now Pres. Woodruff had declined to give temple recommends for plural marriages, and others would be required to carry on that work elsewhere.

Elder Dan Jones, one of the stalwarts of Mormonism, was reported to have said:

Here’s just the way it is. I want to baptize a convert and approach a pond. But just as we are getting over a fence, the owner calls out, “Hey there! This is my property, you can’t go in there.” So there is nothing left of us to do but hunt up some other body of water; and hunt it up we would, for without baptism no man can enter the Mormon Church; and as it is with baptism so it is with plural marriage, one cannot live up to the faith without practicing it, and if the United States Government will not allow us to do this in Utah, what else is there but for us to look up a country where we can live unmolested in living our religion? (S. L. Tribune, Aug. 15, 1889)


[147] The Prophet Joseph testified that if the Lord’s chosen people fail to continue His work, He will find others who will prove faithful and carry on that work.

His word will go forth, in these last days, in purity for if Zion will not purify herself, so as to be approved of in all things, in His sight, He will seek another people…. (TPJS, p. 18)

Heber C. Kimball also added testimony that many of the Latter-day Saints had already broken those covenants and warned them of losing favor with God:

Many of this people have broken their covenants. …But you cannot do that, for God will cut you off and raise up another people that will carry out his purposes in righteousness unless you walk up to the line in your duty. (J.D. 11:145)

While some of the Latter-day Saints were voting or signing oaths to do away with the belief and practice of plurality, others were just as busy defending the issue. In an editorial of the Church News came this thought provoking statement:

If the Saints were to give up one tenet alleged to be the great object of aversion, another would be objected to with equal dislike and similar demands, and so on with every point receded from, until the creed of the Church would be entirely obliterated and the Saints themselves be trodden under foot as they would deserve to be. (Des. News, Oct. 4, 1890)

The Lord had warned the Saints that these trials would continue and the test would be severe:

For he will give unto the faithful line upon line, precept upon precept; and I WILL TRY YOU AND PROVE YOU HEREWITH. And whoso layeth down his life in my cause, for my name’s sake, shall find it again, even life eternal. (D. & C. 98:12-13)

Let no man be afraid to lay down his life for my sake; for whoso layeth down his life for my sake shall find it again. And WHOSO IS NOT WILLING TO LAY DOWN HIS LIFE FOR MY SAKE IS NOT MY DISCIPLE. (D. & C. 103:27-28)


[148] Under the pressure from Gentile persecution, and over 90% of the Saints wanting to abandon plural marriage, Pres. Woodruff was constrained to seek for an answer from the Lord.

Abraham Cannon recorded the minutes of the meeting in which the resulting revelation was read:


Thurs., Dec.19 [1889]: During our meeting a revelation was read which Pres. Woodruff received Sunday evening, Nov. 24th. Propositions had been made for the Church to make some concessions to the Courts in regard to its principles. Both of Pres. Woodruff’s counselors refused to advise him as to the course he should pursue, and he therefore laid the matter before the Lord. The answer came quick and strong. THE WORD OF THE LORD WAS FOR US NOT TO YIELD ONE PARTICLE OF THAT WHICH HE HAD REVEALED AND ESTABLISHED. He had done and would continue to care for His work and those of the Saints who were faithful, and we need have no fear of our enemies when we were in the line of our duty. WE ARE PROMISED REDEMPTION AND DELIVERANCE IF WE WILL TRUST IN GOD AND NOT IN THE ARM OF FLESH. We were admonished to read and study the Word of God, and to pray often. The whole revelation was filled with words of the greatest encouragement and comfort, and my heart was filled with joy and peace during the entire reading. It sets all doubts at rest concerning the course to pursue. (Journal of Abraham Cannon)

Excerpts from the revelation given upon this crucial issue follow:

Let not my servants who are called to the Presidency of my Church deny my word or my law, which concerns the salvation of the children of men. *** Place not yourselves in jeopardy to your enemies by promise.

***If the Saints will hearken unto my voice, and the counsel of my servants, the wicked shall not prevail.

Let my servants who officiate as your counselors before the courts make their pleadings as they are moved upon by the Holy Spirit, without any further pledges from my Priesthood. ***


[149]      Fear not the wicked and ungodly. ***

Awake! O Israel, and have faith in God and his promises and he will not forsake you. ***

I cannot deny my Word, neither in blessings nor judgments. Therefore let mine anointed gird up their loins, watch and be sober, and keep my commandments. (1889 Revelation Through Wilford Woodruff, Revelations 1880-1890, pp. 38-40; also Questions on Plural Marriage, Dennis Short, pp. 61-63)

Although many Saints had hoped for a revelation that would revoke the law of plural marriage, the Lord continued to sustain His position that He cannot deny His word (D. & C. 3:2). The Saints were free to accept or reject that principle, but it was an eternal law of the Priesthood. Lorenzo Snow had testified that the Lord would not send a revelation to discontinue or revoke that law.

In February of 1886 Apostle Lorenzo Snow had been convicted under the Edmunds Law and appeared in the First District Court in Ogden. Being asked if he had anything to say before receiving his sentence he declared:

I married my wives because God commanded it. The ceremony which united us for time and eternity, was performed by a servant of God, having authority. God being my helper, I would prefer to die a thousand deaths than renounce my wives and violate these sacred obligations.

The prosecuting attorney was quite mistaken in saying “The defendant Mr. Snow was the most scholarly and brightest light of the Apostles;” and equally wrong when pleading with the jury to assist him and the “United States of America,” in convicting Apostle Snow, and he `would predict that a new revelation would soon follow changing the Divine law of celestial marriage.’ Whatever fame Mr. Bierbower may have secured as a lawyer, he certainly will fail as a prophet. The severest prosecutions have NEVER been followed by revelations changing a divine law, obedience to which brought imprisonment or martyrdom.



Though I go to prison, GOD WILL NOT CHANGE HIS LAW OF CELESTIAL MARRIAGE. (Mill. Star 48:110-11)

Oppressive statutes from the government on the outside, and verbal assaults from the Saints on the inside, left Woodruff with a serious and sombre decision. But the Lord knew their problems. Such quandries have always confronted the prophets and saints of God, and the Lord had already answered this question for the Latter-day Saints many years before by saying:

Therefore, BE NOT AFRAID OF YOUR ENEMIES, for I have decreed in my heart, saith the Lord, that I will prove you in all things, whether you will abide in my covenant, even unto death, that you may be found worthy. For if ye will not abide in my covenant ye are not worthy of me. (D. & C. 98:14-15)

But inasmuch as they keep not my commandments, and hearken not to observe all my words, the kingdoms of the world shall prevail against them. (D.& C. 103:8)

Be diligent in keeping all my commandments, lest judgments come upon you, and your faith fail you, and your enemies triumph over you. So no more at present. Amen and Amen. (D. & C. 136:42)

The temporal possessions of the Saints were about to be confiscated. The Government was proposing a bill which would not only take away all Church property, but also all private property. The Mormon people now came to the ultimate test–would the temporal be sacrificed for the spiritual–or would they sacrifice the spiritual for the temporal? After considerable deliberation, Pres. Woodruff replied:

I have arrived at a point in the history of my life as the President of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints where I am under the necessity of acting for the temporal salvation of the Church. The United States Government has taken a stand and passed laws to destroy the Latter-day Saints on the [151] subject of polygamy, or patriarchal order of marriage, and after praying to the Lord and FEELING INSPIRED, I have issued the following proclamation which is sustained by my counselors and the Twelve Apostles. (Wilford Woodruff Journal, Sept. 25, 1890)

Those who stood to lose the most temporally were those who were crying the loudest. The financial interests of the Saints were now their primary concern. Their spiritual interests became secondary. It was the wealthy saints–those with position and prestige that put most of the pressure upon Woodruff for a Manifesto. Joseph Musser recalls that on…

Aug. 6, 1922, at a meeting held at the home of Nathan Clark, Bountiful, Lorin C. Woolley said, “The outsiders were not responsible for the issuing of the Manifesto, but the responsibility rests upon the shoulders of such men as Geo. Q. Cannon, Bp. Hyrum Clawson, James Jack, Franklin S. Richards and John T. Cain, who worked incessantly with Pres. John Taylor, from June to Sept. of 1886, to get him to sign a manifesto. Other men who wrote letters urging the issuing of the manifesto, were W.W. Riter, Ira Hinckley, W.W. Cluff, Abram Hatch and scores of other financial men. After the death of John Taylor, these men were hammering Pres. Woodruff to death, trying to get a manifesto. They cried, “We want a manifesto or we will lose our property. The Gentiles will take it. They will take our banks, etc,” They finally succeeded to get Pres. Woodruff to surrender to them in 1890. (Book of Remembrance of J. W. Musser, p. 4)

The Lord made it very evident what He wanted the Saints to do. But only a small percentage of them would live celestial law. (3% to 5%) Very few of the monogamists were willing to defend plural marriage against such odds.

One last hopeful but futile effort to rally the Mormon people in sustaining that principle appeared in the Deseret News. It was an editorial entitled “They Will Never Be Satisfied.”

The history of the Latter-day Saints has demonstrated, beyond a reasonable doubt, that it is useless for them to attempt to please the world or satisfy the demands made upon them by their enemies. No matter what they may say, it would not remove their [152] opposition to the Church and their hatred of the Saints, their encroachments will never be stopped by submitting to their clamors, but every point yielded will only encourage them in their oppressions and increase their determination to destroy.

If the Saints were to give up one tenet alleged to be the great object of aversion, another would be objected to with equal dislike and similar demands, and so on with every point receded from, until the creed of the Church would be entirely obliterated and the Saints themselves be trodden under foot as they would deserve to be.

Whatever is done by the Church, or its leaders, or its members, should always be done in this spirit. Be sure you are right, then go ahead. Never mind what the world may say or do. Never think to gain their favor by yielding to their requirements. When a thing is right, do it. When it is wrong, or unwise, refrain from it. Let the wicked rage. Let the heathen imagine vain things. But be not swerved to the right or the left by what they may howl, nor think for a moment that they will ever be satisfied. (Des. News, Oct. 4, 1890)

The Lord revealed to His servants what they should do, but most of the Saints did not want to do it. Because of this contention, Woodruff asked the Lord what should be done. The Lord offered the Saints two choices–and they were free to make their own decision:

Shortly before Wilford Woodruff issued the Manifesto, he was shown by the Lord two courses in vision:

1st: Stand for the law and let the Gentiles and government confiscate both Church and individual property, and leave the battle for the Lord to fight.

2nd: Issue the Manifesto, hold on to the property, but open the way for whoredom and destruction among the people, the result of rejecting the perfect law of social conduct.

The second plan prevailed and whoredom is rampant throughout the land and the faith of the Saints has been greatly weakened. (Lorin Woolley, Joseph Musser Reminiscences)


[153] The Lord had given many revelations regarding the sacredness of the principle of plural marriage, but most Saints were unfamiliar with those revelations. They were tired and sorely tried at maintaining such principles. They were scared and willing to give up to their enemies. When Woodruff presented the Manifesto, they eagerly grasped it. The Manifesto promised to be a release from so many of their troubles. But the Manifesto was not a revelation, and it did not read like a revelation. Even the gentiles detected that. The Salt Lake Tribune responded to Woodruff’s Manifesto in the following manner:

He speaks merely as an individual. He does not speak as though that advice had come authoritatively by revelation, but as a poor human being in perplexity he gives to his flock the advice of a patriarch.

We cannot resist the thought that this was not prompted by President Woodruff at all, but that it was prompted by shrewd men in the Church, and that the object is purely political. (S.L. Tribune, Sept. 26, 1890)

Bishop Heber Bennion also made the same deduction:

Abraham Lincoln belonged to no church, but he never wrote an important public document that did not contain some reference to the Supreme Being, and yet this Manifesto, supposed by many to be a revelation to revoke and annul the revelations of God to Joseph Smith and John Taylor, does not contain the remotest reference to the Supreme Being, much less “Thus Sayeth Lord.” (Supplement to Gospel Problems, p. 64)

Thus the Manifesto was not a revelation from God, but an alternative escape from a principle of the Gospel that required a sacrifice. Those who support or sustain the Manifesto must justifiably answer the following questions:


  1. Should the laws of man supercede the laws of God?


  1. Can eternal principles of the Gospel change?


  1. If plural marriage is ever forbidden by the Lord, it would be because of unworthiness of the individuals. (a) Over 90% of the Mormons refused to live that law. (b) They refused to defend that law against the threats of their enemies. (c) They had eagerly asked for, and [154] willingly accepted, a chance to discard that principle. Could such a people still be classified as valiant and worthy of celestial glory?


  1. When the enemies of God threaten His Saints, must we assume that He will not intervene in their behalf? (as He did for Noah, Abraham, Moses, etc.)


  1. If the Manifesto was given because the Saints should obey the laws of the land, why was Section 132 of the D. & C. given in a state that forbid it? And why wasn’t the Manifesto given in 1862 when Lincoln signed a bill against polygamy?


  1. If the Manifesto was sanctioned by the Lord, why didn’t He give it sooner so that many Saints wouldn’t have had to go to prison and suffer so much persecution?


  1. Could men who peacefully lived monogamy after the Manifesto receive the same glory as those before the Manifesto who suffered so much for living plural marriage?


  1. Would God place such importance upon that principle from the beginning of this dispensation–and continue emphasizing that importance right up to a few months before the Manifesto–and then suddenly put it aside as a non-essential?


  1. Would the Lord give a strict law that only those men who lived plural marriage were worthy of presiding in the Church–then suddenly change that law so that polygamists were unworthy to preside at all–and should even be excommunicated?


  1. If the Manifesto was meant to stop plural marriage, why were so many such marriages continued in Canada, Mexico, and the U.S.?


  1. If the Manifesto was the Lord’s will to stop plural marriage, why did so many apostles and several presidents of the Church continue to live, teach and encourage that practice?


  1. Would God allow the enemies of the Church to destroy the temples and then put to death all the worthy Saints and allow the Gospel and the Priesthood to be destroyed from off the face of the earth without fighting their battles for them as He had promised?


[155] All these variances are like a compass continually pointing to different directions. Such a compass would be worthless and fit to only be thrown away. A gospel that continually changes its course is not worth any more than a broken compass.

In regard to the acceptance of the Manifesto by the Church, there is a very sad commentary much too evident to be overlooked. The Church has never received another written revelation from the Lord. Nothing else has ever been added to the Doctrine and Covenants–as though the Manifesto stood there blocking the way. Whenever the revelations of heaven are rejected and denied by anyone, then no more will be given to them.

Nearly every other spiritual gift and power has also gradually diminished from the Church. It is evident that when men take a stand against the doctrine and revelation of plural marriage, they forfeit many blessings they could have otherwise enjoyed.

Joseph Musser quoted John H. Butt in this matter:

Father cannot bring to pass the things that are shortly to transpire with men in power who have openly or secretly, directly or indirectly, raised their hands against plural marriage. John H. Burt claims this to have been told him by Joseph Smith in dream or vision. (Book of Remembrance, J. W. Musser, p. 17)

And the Savior had also previously said, “…whosoever shall deny me before men, him will I also deny before my Father which is in heaven.” (Matt. 10:33)

A year after the Manifesto, a letter of amnesty was written to Benjamin Harrison, President of the United States. It was written with the intention of obtaining relief for the Mormon people from any further prosecutions as criminals. It explained their compromise with the government by voluntarily giving up part of their religious principles to obtain that peace.

Salt Lake City, Utah

December 19, 1891

We, the First Presidency and Apostles of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, beg respectfully to represent to your Excellency the following facts:


We formerly taught to our people that polygamy, or celestial marriage, as commanded by God through Joseph Smith, was right; that IT WAS A NECESSITY TO MAN’S HIGHEST EXALTATION IN THE LIFE TO COME.

To be at peace with the Government and in harmony with their fellow citizens who are not of their faith, and to share in the confidence of the government and people, OUR PEOPLE HAVE VOLUNTARILY PUT ASIDE SOMETHING WHICH ALL THEIR LIVES THEY HAVE BELIEVED TO BE A SACRED PRINCIPLE.

As shepherds of a patient and suffering people, we ask amnesty for them, and pledge our faith and honor for their future.

And your petitioners will ever pray.

Wilford Woodruff                               H. J. Grant

George Q. Cannon                               John Henry Smith

Joseph F. Smith                    John W. Taylor

Lorenzo Snow                                      M. W. Merrill

Franklin D. Richards           Anthon H. Lund

Moses Thatcher                                   Abraham H. Cannon

Francis M. Lyman

(Contributor 13:197)

In 1904 during the Smoot hearings at Washington, D.C. President Joseph F. Smith was confronted by Government officials who stated that a revelation making plural marriages obsolete had not appeared in the Book of Doctrine and Covenants. They expected the revelation sanctioning plural marriage should either be taken out, or else a revelation forbidding it should be published in the D. & C. Joseph F. Smith indicated that it would appear in the next D. & C., but when the next edition was published (in 1907), the book was published without a date, and it did not include the Manifesto either. Finally, after much criticism and demands, it was published in the D. & C. of 1911.

The Prophet Isaiah looked upon the world’s future and


The earth also is defiled under the inhabitants thereof; because they have transgressed the laws, changed the ordinance, broken the everlasting covenant. (Isa. 24:5)


[157] Every dispensation has broken the everlasting covenant and slipped into a state of apostasy, usually without knowing it. Our own dispensation is suffering from this same peril. Joseph Fielding Smith once commented on this particular passage of scripture by saying:

Are we not too much inclined to blame the generations that are past for the breaking of the new and everlasting covenant, and to think it is because of the great apostasy which followed… the apostles in primitive times…? Perhaps we should wake up to the realization that it is because of the breaking of covenants, especially the new and everlasting covenant which is the fulness of the Gospel that the world is to be consumed by fire and few men left. Since this punishment is to come at the time of the cleansing of the earth when Christ comes again, should not the Latter-day Saints take heed unto themselves? We have been given the new and everlasting covenant, and many among us have broken it. (Des. News, Oct. 17, 1936)

The Latter-day Saints instigated a compromise with their enemies in 1890 with the Manifesto. They further supported and sustained that same position again in 1904. Later in 1933 their position was reinforced and anyone who believed, taught or practiced plural marriage was excommunicated. The Manifesto had created a reversal of belief in that principle. That which was once taught as a most holy principle was now twisted to become a sin next to murder. But this was not all. A careful analysis of what occurred at the issuance of the Manifesto is now very evident:


  1. Most of the Latter-day Saints wanted the compromise of a Manifesto because they were afraid of losing their temporal goods to their enemies.


  1. Mormons yielded voluntarily to the demands of their enemies.


  1. The Saints had sustained and supported the doctrine of plural marriage as a revelation and an eternal principle of the Gospel, but they chose to abandon it by voting it out of their faith.


  1. They knew what was right but favored that which was wrong.


  1. They chose an appeasement and a compromise with their enemies rather than a sacrifice for their God.


  1. They yielded one point of their religion only to learn that their enemies would demand more and more from them until they were bound by thousands of obnoxious and unconstitutional laws, bills, and ordinances.


  1. By making one major concession, they learned that it became easier and easier to make others.


  1. They were more concerned about what their enemies would do to them if they continued that holy law than what God would do to them if they forsook it.


  1. They sacrificed a principle of the Gospel for the favors and praise of the worldly. J.By sustaining, supporting and accepting the unconstitutional laws of the land they voluntarily rejected one of the most holy and sacred laws of God.


  1. By making compromises and concessions to their enemies, they left a most dreadful example for all others who may look to them as a pattern to follow.

The Manifesto was the result of weak faith in the majority of the Mormon people. Many notable and realistic scholars and historians now review the Manifesto as a political compromise rather than a spiritual revelation.

The able historian, Dr. Henry J. Wolfinger, researched and explained this gradual abandonment of plural marriage by saying:

This paper seeks to offer a new approach to the Manifesto, one which argues that the Church’s surrender was a slow process of yielding up the practice of polygamy rather than a sudden moment of capitulation. (“A Re-examination of the Woodruff Manifesto,” Utah Historical Quarterly, Fall 1971, p. 329)

Such views had been expressed before but not accepted by those who used the Manifesto as a divine excuse to disobey that law. Matthias Cowley explained:

During the agitation in Washington for more drastic measures against the Latter-day Saints, Utah’s [159] representative at the Capitol had not unfrequently declared that polygamy was a dead issue. There were strong political sentiments in favor of some sort of a compromise, and President Woodruff had been importuned to recede from his former attitude on that important principle. (Life of Wilford Woodruff, p. 569)

The Salt Lake Tribune of January 16, 1906, exposed the plot behind the Manifesto. The headlines read: “Manifesto Only Trick to Beat Devil at Own Game.” The political schemers of the Church decided on a political Manifesto with the Federal Government to “beat them at their own game.” They conceived the idea that if they made the polygamy concession with the Government, they would then obtain statehood. As a state they would introduce a law which would provide protection for those who lived plural marriage. They gained their statehood and finally introduced a bill which would allow a religious practice of plural marriage in the State.

It was just five years after Utah became a state that the bill protecting polygamists was introduced on the 6th of March 1901 by Abel John Evans. It was Senate Bill No. 113, amending Section 4611 of the Revised Statutes of Utah. But the governor, Heber M. Wells, a product himself of plural marriage, vetoed the bill with the excuse that it offered the polygamists only “a false hope of protection.”

So that ray of hope that the Manifesto was written for was shattered in 1901. Then instead of laws being amended by the State for the protection of polygamists, the laws turned worse and in 1934 plural marriage was made a felony.

Thus, the Manifesto became a concession which resulted in a disaster for one of God’s most holy laws.



[160]                             CHAPTER XI



Surely we ought not to be obliged to declare what we believe or do not believe as the price of suffrage. Our consciences are at least our own. (George Q. Cannon, Des. News, Feb. 21, 1890)

A religious test oath is contrary to the rights of conscience as given by God. The conscience has its obligation. It is one of the principle rights and privileges of freedom. An article of Mormon faith is that “We claim the privilege of worshipping Almighty God according to the dictates of our conscience, and allow all men the same privilege.” It is the creed of the Latter-day Saints to follow their own conscience–secondly, to allow others the same privilege. A religious test oath is a contradiction to both. Politically such an oath is just as wrong. Such illegal test oaths were once used by the Government. During the debate on such practices with the Edmunds-Tucker Bill, Senator Vest made this statement:

The whole spirit of this test-oath legislation is wrong; it is contrary to the principles and spirit of our republican institutions; and whenever the time comes in the Territories or States of this Union that test-oaths are necessary to preserve republican institutions then republicanism is at an end.”

The Government once used these oaths against the Church. Now the Church uses them against their own members. It is sad to see men in leadership positions attempting to use their priesthood authority to coerce others into sustaining them. A righteous man would refuse to sustain anyone for using compulsory means to bind him into such subjection. But worst of all is the fact that leading men of the Church are excommunicating people because they will not repudiate a divine principle–one that is clearly sustained in the revelations and standard works of the Church. Men must often relinquish their membership in the Church because they believe all the revelations of God and refuse to sign a test oath against them. To sign an oath against personal beliefs is a compromise of principle.


[161] One of these examples of compromising was the case of Matthias F. Cowley. He had once been asked to be temporarily released from the Quorum of Twelve–as “a mission” to help get the Government off the back of the Church. Later the First Presidency required him to make a written confession to come back into the fellowship of the Church.



Letters Passing Between The First Presidency

And Elder Matthias F. Cowley

The following letters have passed between Elder Matthias F. Cowley and the First Presidency. They are self explanatory:

Salt Lake City, Utah

April 1st, 1936

To The Presidency of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints.


Dear Brethren:

This is to confess that I have been deceived, and to say that wherever and whenever I have given counsel or taken action contrary to the principles, rules, and regulations of the Church, as adopted by the Church and in force, I have been wholly in error in counsel, and my actions have been null and void. This I now plainly see and freely confess, and humbly and with a contrite spirit of true repentance I ask forgiveness.

I honestly and solemnly pledge myself hereafter to live, to act, and to counsel in strict accordance with the principles, rules, and regulations of the church as adopted by the Church.

My heart is in the work of the Lord and always has been from my childhood. If there is anything I prize more than another it is to have the love and approval of God, and the fellowship, love, and confidence of you, His servants, who represent Him here upon the earth. I have made mistakes, I have suffered for them, I confess them, and trust that you will pardon and forgive the same.

I wish to assure you that I have no sympathy for the attitude taken by mischief-makers who are trying to belittle and to be-lie the Authorities of the Church, nor have I a fellowship with them. I have never been associated with them in any way. I have never failed to take advantage of every opportunity which has presented itself to speak against those who are opposing the Authorities of the Church.

You are at liberty to publish this letter if you so desire.

Trusting that you will consider me worthy of your forgiveness and confidence, I am, as ever,

Your friend and brother,



[162] Mental coercion also existed in the early days of the Church, and the Prophet Joseph Smith said:

…all have the privilege of thinking for themselves upon all matters relative to conscience. Consequently then, we are not disposed, had we the power, to deprive any one of exercising that free independence of mind which heaven has so graciously bestowed upon the human family as one of its choicest gifts. (TPJS, p. 49)

Later when an elderly gentlemen, Peletiah Brown, mis-interpreted some Bible passages, he was called up before the High Council of the Church. When Joseph heard of it, he replied:

I did not like the old man being called up for erring in doctrine. It looks too much like the Methodists, and not like the Latter-day Saints. Methodists have creeds which a man must believe or be asked out of their church. I want the liberty of thinking and believing as I please. It feels so good not to be trammelled. It does not prove that a man is not a good man because he errs in doctrine. (DHC 5:340)

That policy continued down through the Church to the time of Joseph F. Smith, the predecessor of Heber J. Grant. Pres. Smith declared:

We desire that the Latter-day Saints will exercise the liberty wherewith they have been made free by the Gospel of Jesus Christ; for they are entitled to know the right from the wrong, to see the truth and draw the line between it and error; and it is their privilege to judge for themselves and to act upon their own free agency with regard to their choice as to sustaining or otherwise those who should exercise the presiding functions among them. (Gospel Doctrine, Joseph F. Smith, p. 60)

Freedom of thought began to be lost within the Church shortly after the turn of the century. It continued to wane until the 1930’s when the subjugation of mind was enforced with a written test oath.


[163]                      THE SHORT CREEK EPISODE


(picture of Short Creek)

Short Creek, Arizona, a small community with very few families, on the Southern Utah border, was to gain international fame. It all began in the spring of 1935 when their peaceful little branch received a Church “Test Oath.” The members were all told to sign the anti-polygamy oath or they would be excommunicated.

President Heber J. Grant was then President of the Church. He had once lived plural marriage but now was the perpetrator for this declaration repudiating that doctrine. How strange that he was compelling monogamists and batchelors to repudiate a belief in a doctrine that he had practiced! The President of the Church was excommunicating men for belief in a principle which he himself had lived!


[164] The following test oath was given to members of the Short Creek Branch which all the members, with the exception of one family, refused to sign. Twenty-one members were excommunicated as the result. A copy of this first test oath at Short Creek, in 1935, follows:


I, the undersigned member of the Short Creek Branch of the Rockville Ward of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, solemnly declare and affirm that I, without any mental reservation whatever, support the Presidency of the Church; and that I repudiate those who are falsely accusing them, and that I denounce the practice and advocacy of plural marriage as being out of harmony with the declared principles of the Church at the present time.


This was perhaps the beginning of the use of test oaths in the Church. This oath is clearly meant to coerce members into supporting and sustaining the leaders of the Church with a blind obedience. Even if the members didn’t believe in plural marriage, they couldn’t sign this oath if they were intelligent enough not to consign their eternal destiny into the hands of mortal men. It explains that any mental reservation for not supporting the leaders is a sin worthy of excommunication. Being subject to a leadership which requires such servitude “without any mental reservation whatsoever,” is equal to the demands of any European or Oriental dictator.

This type of subjugation is slavery for both the body and the mind. None of the honorable ancient prophets ever demanded such servitude. The Lord said that “All things must be done in order and by common consent in the Church, by the prayer of faith.” But if members of the Church must sign statements forcing them to sustain their leaders “without any mental reservation whatever,” then why should any voting to sustain the leaders be called for at conference time? Common consent by voting is done away by the demands of a test oath, and all this with the threat of excommunication!

Twenty-one members refused to sign the Short Creek Test Oath which resulted in the inactivity of over 100 members. This test oath by the Church resulted in Short [165] Creek’s becoming one of the biggest headaches the Church has ever had. At first the Church used test oaths–then excommunication. Finally in their effort to stamp out the doctrine of plural marriage, they assisted in civil prosecutions.

But each time the Church made efforts to destroy the principle of plural marriage, it created only more publicity for that doctrine. Three major prosecutions against Short Creek only caused sympathy and interest from people all over the world. These raids made headlines in the nation’s newspapers, and those who persisted the most in the persecutions would eventually suffer the most.

With the raid in 1935 came the publication of Truth magazine, which presented a defense for the polygamists’ own story. This magazine became exceedingly popular and gained a distribution throughout the country. Many Church members and other American citizens were interested in the Short Creek story. They wanted to know the reasons why those Saints were keeping alive those principles which once characterized the restoration of the Gospel of Jesus Christ.

Another test oath came out in the Church about four years after the one used at Short Creek. It was revised and used in many of the wards and branches. This second test oath read:


  1. That I solemnly declare and affirm that I support the Presidency and Apostles and the other General Authorities of the Church.


  1. That I accept and believe the solemn affirmation by the Presidency and Apostles of the Church that no one of them is living a double life; that I repudiate those who are accusing them of leading such a life.


  1. That I accept the “Official Declaration” or Manifesto of October 6, 1890, as interpreted by the President of the Church and accepted by the Church as being the word and the will of the Lord to this people and Church on the subject of plural marriage.


  1. That we believe and accept the Articles of Faith of the Church promulgated by the Prophet Joseph, and have particularly in mind Article Twelve thereof. (We believe in being subject to kings, presidents, rulers, and magistrates, in obeying, honoring, and sustaining the law.)


  1. That I denounce the practice and advocacy of plural marriage as contrary to the word and will of the Lord and to the declared principles governing the Church as adopted by the Church in accordance to the word and will of the Lord; and that I, myself, am not living in such marriage relationship nor counseling nor advising others to do so.

This second test oath dropped some of the objectionable features of the first one, but it added a few more. The clause of “without any mental reservation whatsoever” was left out, but it added the demand to not only support the Presidency of the Church, but also the Quorum of Twelve and other general authorities. They also added the clause which indicates that plural marriage was done away by the Manifesto by the “word and will of the Lord.” The “living a double life” clause was inserted because members knew that some of the general authorities lived plural marriage after the Manifesto. Notwithstanding such things did occur, and are matters of history, yet this oath requires members by covenant to state that they will not believe it, even if they may know it is the truth. This oath would force any knowledgeable members to a lie.

Shortly after the second test oath, the Church came out with another revised edition.

I, the undersigned, member of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, residing in _________Ward, _________Stake, do hereby solemnly declare and affirm that I accept and fully subscribe to the “Official Declaration” or “Manifesto” adopted by the Church, October 6, 1890, prohibiting the practice of plural marriage, and that I also fully accept the declarations of the Presidents of the Church since the issuance of the “Manifesto” as prohibitions against such practice, the President of the Church having the sole authority to solemnize or authorize the solemnization of such marriages.



I further declare that I am not living in the so-called plural marriage relationship, which as now pretendedly solemnized by unauthorized persons is an adulterous relationship, nor counseling or advising others to do so; that I am in full sympathy with the attitude and practice of the Presidency of the Church in their effort to free the Church by excommunication or otherwise of those who bring reproach upon it and who themselves sin by endeavoring and conniving to perpetuate the practice of this illegal and sinful relationship.


In the presence of




An elder in Rexburg, Idaho, refused to sign this test oath and wrote the following well-defined response:

Rexburg, Idaho

November 18, 1939


Rexburg Stake Presidency

Rexburg, Idaho


Dear Brethren:


* * *In as much as you are under orders to require my signature to a pledge (the purpose of which I can only surmise), I feel that I must qualify the same by giving you my understanding of its contents, and so I will treat it in its five major points, each in their order:

1st: That I “solemnly declare and affirm that I support the Presidency and Apostles and the other General Authorities of the Church.”

This matter we have discussed before. Particularly have I been questioned concerning my belief in the President and his qualification as Prophet, Seer, and Revelator. Now it seems to me that we should be reluctant to embarrass the President by forcing him [168] to devulge these qualifications. I have heard it affirmed that he has never received a revelation. Can anyone state from knowledge that he possesses the Seer Stone (the requisite of a Seer)? Has anyone ever heard him prophesy?

No doubt it was an unpleasant experience for President Joseph F. Smith to testify under oath in the Smoot investigation concerning such matters and to state that while he was designated as a Prophet, Seer, and Revelator that he has never received a revelation for the Church or an individual revelation for himself. ***

2nd: That I “ACCEPT AND BELIEVE the solemn affirmation by the Presidency and Apostles of the Church that no one of them is living a double life; that I repudiate those who are accusing them of leading such a life.”

To this proposition I cannot reply because I know nothing regarding their private lives and my testimony regarding the same would have no value in any court in the land. ***

3rd: That I “accept the `Official Declaration’ or Manifesto of October 6, 1890, as interpreted by the President of the Church and accepted by the Church as being the word and the will of the Lord to this people and Church on the subject of plural marriage.”

This statement is not clear to my mind. Does “being the word and will of the Lord” mean that it was a revelation?

It was not considered as such until recent date. The subject is so vast that space does not permit me to dwell upon it. Suffice it to say I have gone through a bound volume of the Deseret News of 1890. I read all the sermons delivered at the Conference at which the Manifesto was presented, and nothing was said indicating that the Lord had anything to do with it. ***

4th: “That we believe and accept the Articles of Faith of the Church promulgated by the Prophet Joseph, and have particularly in mind article Twelve thereof.” (We believe in being subject to kings, [169] presidents, rulers, and magistrates, in obeying, honoring, and sustaining the law.)

I can subscribe to this without reservation providing the Eleventh Article is included which reads: “We claim the privilege of worshiping Almighty God according to the dictates of our own conscience, and allow all men the same privilege, let them worship how, where, or what they may.” ***

May I say in this connection if I was forced to make a choice between obeying a law of God and an unrighteous human law, I would not pledge myself to obey the latter.

Blackstone has said in connection with this subject: Any law that runs counter to divine law is invalid.

5th: “That I denounce the practice and advocacy of plural marriage as contrary to the word and will of the Lord and to the declared principles governing the Church as adopted by the Church in accordance to the word and will of the Lord; and that I, myself am not living in such marriage relationship nor counseling nor advising others to do so.” ***

Now, brethren, I have tried to state my position and understanding of these matters as I have found them to be. If I am in error I will be indeed grateful to the one that sets me right. From my youth I have had a love in my heart for the Gospel of Jesus Christ and have prized next to my mortal life my standing and membership in the Church and acknowledge with gratitude the testimony and knowledge I have of God’s work. My trust is not in man or in his precepts but in the Lord and in His eternal word.

If the purpose or intent of this pledge is what I suspect it to be, to place a seal upon my lips and to deprive me of the greatest heritage God has vouchsafed to man, my agency and right to live my own life, to think my own thoughts, and to voice my honest convictions, and to enjoy the rights guaranteed under the constitution of our country; if such is the case, the very thought does violence to my conscience for there are certain things that are dearer to me than life.

Sincerely, your brother,



[170] Nevertheless, Elder Jones was excommunicated by the Church in spite of this reasonable and proper objection.

Test oaths did not suffice as a means of destroying plural marriage. So the Church became involved in civil law and political intrigue in its effort to stop plural marriage.

In 1935 plural marriage was changed on the statutes from being a misdemeanor to a felony. This was mostly, if not totally, the efforts of some of the leading elders of the Church. Hugh B. Brown, while Heber J. Grant was president of the Church, is known to have inspired this change. The maximum sentence as a misdemeanor was imprisonment for six months; but under a felony charge, it could bring a maximum sentence of five years in the state penitentiary. This bill was passed and known as H.B. 224 and is claimed to have been prepared by lawyer Hugh B. Brown while he was president of Granite Stake. The bill was then fathered in the Utah Legislature by Lyle B. Nichols, another Mormon official who was assisted by a Church steering committee consisting of David O. McKay, who was the second counselor to President Heber J. Grant, and also by David A. Smith of the Presiding Bishopric of the Church.

On August 3rd, an Associated Press release from Kingman, Arizona, proclaimed that a polygamous colony existed in Short Creek, Arizona, and County Attorney Elmo Bollinger was quoted as saying, “Officials of the regular Church (LDS) were assisting to bring about the arrest and conviction of polygamists;” and David A. Smith, of the presiding bishopric is quoted as saying that, “Persons using the Church as a cloak for such practices are bringing ill repute to us, and we are cooperating wherever possible in obtaining enforcement of the law.”

Short Creek was 78 miles from Cedar City, the nearest railroad point, and 25 miles from Hurricane, the nearest mercantile community, and 400 miles from Kingman, the Mojave County Seat for Short Creek. It had a combination store and gas station, a post office and about 20 houses.

Kingman County rolled up its sleeves and decided that wholesale arrests would be made and the penitentiary would be filled with these monsters. But only three men and a woman were arrested.


[171] The trial was set for September 6th. The little combination Church-schoolhouse was filled to capacity by people coming from hundreds of miles to see this “show.” Within a half hour all of the complaints were dismissed by the Justice of Peace, J. M. Lauritzen, because of improper pleadings by the County Attorney. New complaints were prepared to be served on three men, Price Johnson, I. C. Spencer, and John Y. Barlow.

Barlow was dismissed without a conviction or sentence, but Spencer and Johnson were sentenced from 18 to 24 months in prison. Shortly afterwards, Spencer wanted to sign something to get out of prison, but because of some contradictions in his case, they would not accept the offer. He spent nearly a year in prison, after which he was released with time off for good behavior. He eventually moved to Mexico where he died.

Price Johnson also had to spend nearly a year in prison. While he was serving his time, he was offered a chance to sign a pledge or manifesto, but rather than make an agreement or commitment against the principles of his faith, he chose to remain in prison. His testimony is best expressed in his own words for they have that ring of courage that inspires the hearts of all who hear them.


[172] Price Johnson

“If I signed a Manifesto denying that doctrine of my faith, it would undo all of the international publicity I have received for sustaining that principle. My time in prison would be a waste, and my life’s work would be undone.” (Arizona State Prison, 1936)

Once, while reading the Doctrine and Covenants, Price received a manifestation that the principle of plural marriage was a true doctrine and that it should be lived. It was also made known to him who he was to invite into this principle with him. Shortly after this, Apostle Widtsoe was traveling in that area and Price told him all about his experience. The Apostle turned to Price with tears in his eyes and said, “Brother Johnson, that’s a genuine revelation from God–but don’t obey it.” Price asked him why a revelation from God should not be obeyed, and Widtsoe replied, “It’s just a test to see if you will do it.” In time Price met the Woolleys and heard for the first time the story of the 1886 Revelation and also of the meeting that was held afterwards.

Price Johnson became acquainted with John Woolley, Lorin Woolley, and Samuel Bateman on a personal and close relationship. Price was introduced to the whole story of the principle of plural marriage in 1924 when he visited John Woolley in his home in Centerville. He heard John’s own testimony about the Savior and Joseph Smith coming there to visit John Taylor. Brother Woolley took Price into the room where John Taylor received the 1886 revela-[173]tion, which was to continue that practice after the Church abandoned it in 1890. Price said:

Brother Woolley bore witness to me that the Lord had prepared men to keep that principle alive when the Church rejected it. And he said to me, “I wonder if you can stand to endure what I can see ahead of you if you go into this principle? You’ll lose your standing in the Church and your good name among men. I wonder if you can stand to go to prison for this thing you are about to do.” And I said, “Brother Woolley, I don’t know. I don’t think any man knows what he’s able to stand until he actually goes through the experience. But I’m willing to try.” He said, “That’s all that’s necessary.”

The Lord had said that all who have this law revealed unto them must obey the same, and Price had no peace of mind, nor could he rest until he had obeyed that commandment. When he did obey that law, he began to experience some of the troubles that often attend it. Shortly after returning from his second mission for the Church he was arrested. His brother-in-law, his stake president, and a high councilman were the complaining witnesses against him.

He went through a preliminary trial at Short Creek, Arizona, and later another trial at Kingman. He was convicted with a sentence of from 18 to 24 months with two for one time off for good behavior. Later it was discovered that all of the evidence used against him at the trial was illegal. Then Price spent 27 days in the Kingman Jail, which didn’t count against his sentence, and then nearly a year in the Florence, Arizona, State Prison. It was 1936 and for nearly that whole year, Price never got to see his family. He became the first man in Arizona to be imprisoned for plural marriage.

After about a month in prison, Price was called up before the parole board. There were about 15 men present consisting of the parole board and prison officials. The chairman said, “Mr. Johnson, we have a letter from your wife applying for a parole. We will be glad to grant this, but in order to prevent your being sent back to this prison, you will be required to sign a statement agreeing to straighten out your family affairs so you will be conforming with the law, and to agree to conform with the law in the future.”


[174] Price stood up and replied:

Mr. Hoffman, I was put in this prison on the charge of open and notorious cohabitation, but this is not the real charge against me. The real charge is having more than one wife. This is an essential part of my religious belief, and I firmly that if I keep the covenants I made with these women, and with my God, I will have them in the eternal worlds after this life is ended; and before I would break these covenants, I would remain in this prison the remainder of my life, yes, before I would break these covenants, I would go to that gas chamber over there.

The heads of all the men on that panel bent down and for a moment all was silent. Price then asked, “Is that all you want of me?” to which they replied, “That is all.”

After serving over 11 months in jail and prison, Price was released and returned to Short Creek. This noble warrior not only paid a price for his faith in the fulness of the Gospel, but he left a most honorable example for many others who would soon be forced into prison.



[175]                            CHAPTER XII




Salt Lake Telegram

Salt Lake City, Utah, Tuesday Evening, March 7, 1944




Federal Jury Indicts 20 in Three States;

Utah Charges 34 With Conspiracy

“March 7, 1944, I was sleeping … in Apt. No. 2 upstairs, when at 6:45 a.m., an hour before daylight, I was awakened by loud shouting and commotion in my room. I sat up in bed while being shaken and was told to get out of bed. `This is the F.B.I.’ I said, `What do you want?’ Someone said, ~You are under arrest.’ I asked, `Where is your warrant?’ The spokesman said, `We don’t need any.’ I said, `How do I know who you are?’ I was handed an F.B. I. badge and commanded to get up.

“***In the meantime I sat on the edge of the bed and was handcuffed. I put on my pants while handcuffed and was told to get into the other room….

“***The first thing they did was to search my person. My wallet contained $137.00. They asked me how I had so much money. I did not answer them. They joked and talked [176] much among themselves about the money, such as, `How can a man with so many wives have so much money, etc….

“***I asked to see a search warrant and asked them what they were searching for and I was told, `We don’t need any search warrant.’

“***I said, `I am an American citizen and I know my rights.’ Newman remarked, `We don’t care anything about that.’


`”***They took me to the S.L. County Jail that was then located between 4th and 5th So. on 2nd East St. in the center of the block east of the S.L.C. and County Bldg. I arrived at the jail at exactly 11:35 a.m. *** They took me upstairs to the fourth floor and in a large dormatory, after the door had been unlocked, I saw there, Apostles John Y. Barlow, Jos. W. Musser, Dr. LeGrand Woolley, Louis A. Kelsch, and many others, perhaps 25 or 30 people. *** I was the last one of the `so-called polygamist renegades’ to arrive at the jail house. *** Louis Kelsch said, `Welcome Fred, we were wondering when you would arrive.’ I said, `I had to wait for an exploratory search of my home and it took time,’ and Louis said, `All of us had the same experience.'” (Journal of Heber C. Cleveland, Vol. 3, see pp. 371-381.)

* * *

Thus began another effort by state and federal officers to put an end to plural marriages.

In the March raid of 1944, Federal F.B.I. agents, U.S. Deputy Marshals, Deputy Sheriffs and City Policemen all swooped down in a sudden raid to arrest 46 men and women for Federal and State conspiracy acts, the Mann and Lindbergh Kidnapping Acts. F.B.I. agents proceeded to search the homes and premises of the defendants to confiscate documents, books, letters and other private papers which they thought might be used against them. All this was done without search warrants.

The defendants were placed behind bars of the County Jail. Later they were taken handcuffed through the streets into Federal Court and placed under heavy bonds. While they were in prison,~ 15 of them were re-arrested on charges of unlawful cohabitation, and 34 were arrested for conspiracy to promote unlawful cohabitation. Truth magazine was also adjudged a conspiracy for “obscene,” “lewd” and “lascivious” publishing.


[177] On May 25, 1944, 15 members of the Fundamentalists were brought into court. Before the imposition of sentence was given by Judge Ray Van Cott, Jr., the following address was presented to the court by Claude T. Barnes, chief counsel for the defendants.

As an officer of this court I am indignant at the suggestion, that perhaps we are all dupes and that the statute under which these men were convicted is but the instrumentality of vengeance of one religious sect upon another. No church, not even the dominant one that wins the respect of my heart, has a right to a special statute in its behalf; nevertheless, let us consider the facts that arouse my displeasure.

From the beginning of Utah’s statehood unlawful cohabitation was a misdemeanor punishable by a maximum fine of $300 and six months in the county jail. Indeed two of the finest men, both presidents of what we have designated as the “dominant church,” one of whom is now living, paid fines for it as follows: September 9, 1899, $100, and 1905, $300. In ten minutes I could if necessary bring those records before you.

But in 1935 someone prevailed upon the Utah Legislature to make unlawful cohabitation a felony punishable by a maximum sentence of five years: an anomalous situation, that adultery, a grievous offense against one spouse, is a lesser crime than unlawful cohabitation, which is an offense against no one except that it is prohibited.

If this be a fight of sect against sect I am indignant that it should seek to prostitute the judiciary and the bar. Strong men uphold the independence and fairness of justice.

There is another egregious unfairness about this matter. I have in my hand the record of 886 cases of sexual offenses, a large portion of them adultery, by respected citizens of Salt Lake City during the year 1943, I have fifteen pages here of names, dates, arresting numbers and other data; but did you or I ever hear of a single one of them? No, and rather than break the hearts of hundreds of homes I will unless challenged burn the list as soon as I leave court. [178] They are all caught-in-the-act cases involving, frequently, fathers and mothers. I am not criticizing the county attorney or my brilliant friend the district attorney, for like them I should hesitate before making homes unhappy. But these defendants have happy homes. Are they to be immolated? We know that because of their belief men were once mangled by dogs in the Colosseum at Rome, tied to posts and made living torches along the Via Appia, or covered with sulphureous pitch; crucified and burned on the colonades of St. Peter’s, which was then the garden of Nero. Have we reached that state of religious persecution? Have we reached the stage when 886 citizens are released with fines of from $5 to $50 and these men with a lesser offense are to go to the State Prison for five years?

The people of this State do not want these men to serve time behind bars. There is another way: Your honor has under the 1943 law the discretion of suspended sentence and probation when “it is compatible with the public interest.” It is compatible with the public interest.

This I know: The wrath of the bar will be aroused if it feels that its judiciary is in the slightest degree persuaded to be the instrumentality of religious vengeance.

On June 7th the Hon. Judge T. Blake Kennedy pronounced sentences on eight men and one woman. Prison terms of from one year and a day (to Mrs. Edna Christensen Zitting) to the long term of four years to Heber Cleveland were set. Others received from two to three year terms. By September the U.S. Government suit against 12 Fundamentalists for “conspiracy” was abandoned. The State Conspiracy case moved forward for trial.

Edna C. Zitting was convicted of kidnapping under the Lindbergh Act. Her crime was accompanying a girl across the border for which she drew a year and a day. She was helping the girl to get a legal status for her child.

A few days later in the same court a man was convicted of murdering another man in a drunken brawl and was sentenced a year in the County Jail. One assisted in bringing life into the world, while the other destroyed life. The lady was adjudged as the greater criminal.


[179] Back in December of 1943, John Zenz was convicted of a Mann Act charge in Federal Court. He had taken two wives from Utah to Las Vegas, Nevada, where he was employed. Zenz was given five years in a federal prison and his legal wife was sentenced to a reformatory in West Virginia for two years. On the same day, in the same court, a man pled guilty to transporting a woman across state lines for immoral purposes. He received two years. One case involved a hard working man raising a family, bringing life into the world, and was given five years; the other man, a confessed law-breaker, engaged in an occupation of debauching and destroying womanhood, drew only a sentence of two years!

By now the whole nation had become aware of the arrests of these Fundamentalists. Numerous articles in newspapers and magazines around the country carried the story of their arrests and convictions. These men were involuntarily giving testimony to the nation of their faith and beliefs. No amount of missionary work could have equalled the publicity and comment that had been aroused.

In May of 1944, the court found the Fundamentalists guilty of unlawful cohabitation with indeterminate sentences of one to five years in the State Penitentiary.


Salt Lake Telegram

Salt Lake City, Utah, Saturday Evening, May 20, 1944

Utah Judge Convicts 15 of Polygamy

Utah Judge Finds 15 Guilty of Polygamy


[180] The case was appealed and it wasn’t until a year later, after the U.S. Supreme Court upheld the verdict the lower courts, that these 15 men were imprisoned as the price they had to pay for their religious convictions. They were initially sent to the old state penitentiary on 21st South in Salt Lake City. (pictured below)

Later some of the prisoners were sent to the new state prison at the Point of the Mountain near Draper.

Many Church leaders were pleased to see the polygamists sent to prison. President Heber J. Grant had once written a letter to Joseph Musser saying:

I shall rejoice when the Government officials put a few of these “best blood,” as you call them, in the county jail or the state penitentiary.

President Grant, however, rejoiced for only one day because he died the day after these Fundamentalists went to prison.



Like many ancient prophets and apostles, these soldiers of Christ were sent to prison for their testimony.

Rather than give up that sacred principle, these men suffered the consequences of an unjust law. Apostle George Q. Cannon, who had once gone to prison, said:

The Latter-day Saints can avoid going to prison they reject their wives. * * * Women especially, however much they may dislike patriarchal marriage, must admire men who are so true to their wives and children that, rather than discard them, they will go to prison. All honorable people will be impressed by such devotion and courage. IT WILL HAVE MORE WEIGHT THAN ANY AMOUNT OF PREACHING OR WRITING UPON THE SUBJECT. (Juvenile Instructor 20:197)

Fifteen faithful men honorably went to prison defending the doctrine of plural marriage as revealed to Joseph Smith. Newspapers throughout the United States and even foreign countries featured articles on these men and the principles they believed in. Men going to prison for living the ancient law of Abraham was a testimony to the world [182] that the Gospel restored in its fulness was still alive in America. A few months earlier Truth magazine also printed an editorial stating:

With regard to compromising a single principle of the gospel, if we as a people were to be guilty of such an act of moral cowardice, we would prove ourselves unworthy the name we bore, and we could not escape the very opposition we would fain avoid. (Truth, June, 1945, Vol. II, No. 1)

Then after these men served nearly six months in prison, a strange thing happened. Ten of these 15 men would once more make the newspaper headlines.


The Deseret News

Salt Lake City, Utah, Saturday Evening, October 20, 1945


10 Cultists Sign Promise

To Drop Polygamy Teaching

Ten members of a polygamist cult today asked the state board of pardons to terminate their indeterminate sentences and presented to the board, meeting at the state prison, a “declaration of policy” in which they promised to refrain in the future from the practice and teaching of polygamy and plural marriages.

It was understood that five other members of the cult serving similar sentences which were not to exceed five years and which resulted from their conviction on charges of unlawful cohabitation refused to sign the policy declaration.

The policy statement was signed by cult members as follows:

John Y. Barlow, Joseph White Musser, A. A. Timpson, Edmund F. Barlow, Oswald Brainich, I. W. Barlow, Albert E. Barlow, Dr. R. C. Allred, Joseph Lyman Jessop and David B. Darger.

The other five who are serving terms in the state prison are:

Morris Quincy Kunz, Arnold Boss, Heber Kimball Cleveland, Louis Alma Kelsch and Charles Frederick Zitting.

A notarized “declaration of policy” by these ten men was presented to the Utah State Board of Pardons at their regular monthly meeting. The statement was given to Governor Herbert B. Maw, chairman of the board, and the other board members, by Frank Jensen, publisher of the Utah Searchlight. (Jensen’s letter to the Governor follows.)

October 15, 1945.


Governor Herbert B. Maw

State Capitol

Salt Lake City 1, Utah


Dear Governor:

Enclosed is a copy of the “little manifesto” which I have prepared and which has been signed by the persons indicated and duly notarized. I will present it at the board meeting.

I talked to Attorney General Giles and he expressed the opinion that you might find it desirable to make these cases a special order of business to keep them segregated from the remaining cases coming up before the Board.

I hope this suggestion meets with your approval.

Sincerely yours,


Frank L. Jensen


[183] Other local newspapers carried the news of the ten men who were seeking for a means to be released from prison.


Salt Lake Telegram

Tuesday, OCT. 30, 1945

Cultists to Explain Pledges to Desist

Ten men, alleged members of a polygamist cult, who are seeking pardons from Utah state prison, where they are serving indeterminate terms up to five years, Tuesday were scheduled to explain further the meaning of written pledges given the state board of pardon.

The pledges state the signers agree to refrain from advancing, teaching or countenancing plural marriage or polygamy in violation of state and federal laws.

Members of the board of pardons agreed to meet late Tuesday at state prison to hear oral pleas of the following: Rulon C. Allred. Ianthus W. Barlow, Albert E. Barlow, David B. Drager, Joseph L. Jessop, Edmund F. Barlow, John Y. Barlow, Joseph W. Musser, Alma A. Timpson and Oswald Brainich.

The petitioners, who were convicted in district court of Salt Lake county, have each served five and a half months.




Oct. 30, 1945

Cultists Meet Pardon Board

Ten members of a polygamous cult appeared before the state board of pardons in special session at the State Prison today to explain further their recently adopted “declaration of policy,” in which they agreed to refrain from the practice and teachings of plural marriage in the future.

The members adopted the policy statement and submitted it to the board at the last regular meeting on Oct. 20, at which time they applied for termination of their indeterminate sentence of not to exceed five years which were imposed following convictions on charges of unlawful cohabitation.

Those seeking freedom from the prison and who signed the policy declaration are John Y. Barlow, Joseph White Musser, A. A. Timpson; Edmund F. Barlow, Oswald Brainich, I. W. Barlow, Albert E. Barlow. Dr. R. C. Allred, Joseph Lyman Jessop, and David B. Darger.

The policy statement said in part “… that we individually and severally pledge ourselves to refrain hereafter from advocation, teaching or countenancing the practice of plural marriage of polygamy in violation of state and federal laws.”


[184] The statement came as a surprise to the Board of Pardons. It was an appeal for a release from prison on the condition of abandoning the practice and teaching of plural marriage.

The board, which studied the printed pledge at a meeting at the state capitol last Tuesday indicated that the promise was satisfactory as far as stated, but was in doubt whether the cultists understood what they had signed.

The Fundamentalists in their pledge agreed to refrain from advancing, teaching or countenancing plural marriage or polygamy in violation of state and federal laws. (Salt Lake Tribune, Tues., Oct. 30, 1945)

The pledge was also printed in the newspapers. However, this statement of compromise was a gradual development of three different pledges that had been drawn up and printed by Joseph W. Musser and John Y. Barlow. The first statement had only the approval of Musser and Barlow.

The two leaders had “felt inspired” that this document was from the Lord and that it would be the means of their liberation from prison. It was sent to a printer and 15 lines were added for the signatures of all 15 men. However, after it was printed, none of the other 13 men would accept the terms and conditions of the document. All 13 considered it to be a restriction of their rights and a repudiation of their faith. No one signed it. After this failure, another document was drawn up but only five or six signed. Then a third was printed which was signed by ten of the prisoners. Copies of these three documents are as follows:


[185]                       DECLARATION OF POLICY


To Whom It May Concern:

We, the undersigned, members of the so-called Fundamentalist religious group, desiring to live as good citizens of the State, do hereby declare as follows:

That if granted a parole from our present prison confinement,

we will endeavor to faithfully and truly conduct ourselves as law-abiding citizens. That since our arrest and conviction we have not, nor is it our intention in the future to encourage, by teaching or otherwise, further polygamous marriages, or to engage in them ourselves contrary to the constitutional laws of the State of Utah or of the United States.


______________________________   ________________________________

______________________________   ________________________________

______________________________   ________________________________


Dated at Salt Lake City, Utah, this …….. day of …………….., 1945.

Subscribed and sworn by me the day and year above written.


Notary Public

This first declaration was presented to some of the prisoners on August 27, 1945, at the Utah State Prison. Only two men agreed to sign it.


[186]                       DECLARATION OF POLICY


To Whom It May Concern:

The undersigned officers and members of the so-called Fundamentalist religious group, desiring to bring about peace and harmony within the Church, and recognizing the futility of disobeying the laws of the land even in the practice of a religious belief, do hereby declare as follows:

That we individually and severally pledge ourselves to refrain hereafter from advocating, teaching, or countenancing the practice of plural marriage or polygamy, in violation of the laws of the State of Utah and of the United States.

The undersigned officers of the religious group above referred to further pledge ourselves to refrain from engaging in or from solemnizing plural marriages from and after this date.


_____________________________    ________________________________

_____________________________    ________________________________

_____________________________    ________________________________


Dated at Salt Lake City,

Utah, this…… day of

……………, 1945.

A few days after the first declaration failed, this second document was presented to the men. One man’s journal states that six were willing to sign it.


[187]                       DECLARATION OF POLICY


To Whom It May Concern:

The undersigned officers and members of the so-called Fundamentalist religious group do hereby declare as follows:

That we individually and severally pledge ourselves to refrain hereafter from advocating, teaching, or countenancing the practice of plural marriage or polygamy, in violation of the laws of the State of Utah and of the United States.

The undersigned officers of the religious group above referred to further pledge ourselves to refrain from solemnizing plural marriages from and after this date contrary to the laws of the land.


John Y. Barlow                                                                    Joseph Lyman Jessop

  1. W. Musser David B. Darger
  2. A. Timpson Edmund F. Barlow

Oswald Brainich

  1. W. Barlow

Albert E. Barlow

Dr. R. C. Allred


Dated at Salt Lake City, Utah, this 24 day of September, 1945.


Subscribed and sworn by me the day and year above written.


Notary Public

Ten men signed this final statement in the order that they appear above. This copy is now on record at the Utah State Capitol.


[188] District Attorney, Brigham E. Roberts, protested against the release of the Fundamentalists before they had served the five-year maximum sentence. He questioned the sincerity of the prisoners’ pledge. Roberts said the polygamous practice could be rubbed out only by keeping the applicants in the state prison and “even this might not be enough,” he said in his letter, “but at least it will be a step in the right direction.”

This incident brings up another very interesting fact worthy of consideration. Men are not always composed of the same mettle as their fathers; nor do sons always follow in the footsteps of their fathers. Many a child becomes a prodigal while his brother remains faithful. Many peculiar incidents have occurred in regard to the doctrine of plural marriage which show division in the home over this principle.

Many cases indicate that children of polygamists become opponents and persecutors of that practice. On the other hand, some children of those who oppose that principle become believers and enter into that law.

It is interesting to note that Brigham E. Roberts was the son of Brigham H. Roberts, who valiantly defended and lived the doctrine of plural marriage, even paying the price of loss of his membership in Congress and also served time in prison. Except for the factor of time, B. E. Roberts could have prosecuted his own father and sent him to prison! (B. H. Roberts’ defense of plural marriage before Congress is worthy to be read by every Latter-day Saint. See Roberts Defense Before Congress, Pioneer Press.)

  1. H. Roberts’ son, B. E. Roberts, was now making attacks from his political office to destroy the principle that sired him. His letter to the Board of Pardons is as follows:


[189]                  OFFICE OF THE DISTRICT ATTORNEY

Third Judicial District

State of Utah


Brigham E. Roberts                                             November 26, 1945                            910 Boston Blvd.

District Attorney                                                                                                                                Salt Lake City,


  1. D. Lowry

Deputy District Attorney

Board of Pardons,

State Capitol Building

Salt Lake City, Utah

In re: Joseph White Musser and others.


I am taking the liberty of writing a single letter in reference to the ten persons who are doing terms in the Utah State Prison for unlawful cohabitation, and who are applying for parole.

It is the recommendation of this office that said persons, and each of them, remain in the State Prison for the maximum term as provided by law. The individuals who are convicted of these crimes were members of a cult that advocates the practice of polygamy. The meetings of that cult are still being held at the same address at which they were held when these individuals were at large. The persons now in prison are considered by the authorities to be the leaders, if this cult is to be stamped out it is our considered judgment that these leaders must be kept in confinement. Even this might not be enough, but at least it will be a step in the right direction.

I have noticed in the press that some of these persons have now stated they will not advocate polygamy or practice it. I question the good faith of this statement. These people have practiced polygamy for years knowing that it was against the law. However, now, for their own convenience and advantage, they are willing to make this promise. No security is given that the promise will be kept. Their past conduct convinces me that this promise will not be kept. These people will return to their families and cult, and it will again be necessary for the law enforcement agencies to build a case against them. This will take a great deal of time and a great deal of money. I submit that to permit these people to get out at this time would make law enforcement a joke in this community.

Respectfully submitted,


Brigham E. Roberts


[190] The men who signed the pledge were to be released from prison on December 15, 1945. The Salt Lake Tribune said:

Boss, Kunz, Kelsch and Zitting purportedly told their fellow cultists that they would not sign the pledge, but it was believed by inmates that when the 11 others won release dates, that some of the quartet would capitulate and apply at the December meeting. (Friday, Nov. 30, 1945)

Truth magazine also published the “Declaration” in its columns after the men were released from prison. The editor wrote:

We publish the above “Declaration of Policy,” as it was signed and presented to the Utah State Board of Pardons, that our readers may be fully informed in the premises.

The statement binds the signers to hereafter refrain from teaching the practice of plural marriage or polygamy, entering into the principle themselves, or solemnizing such marriages, contrary to the laws of the land. It is the sincere intention of the parties involved to adjust and conform their lives and marital conduct, to both the letter and spirit of this pledge.

The signers wish it clearly understood that they bear no animosity towards the state law enforcing officials.

The Board of Pardons, after careful consideration, granted parole privileges to the ten signers; also to defendant Heber K. Cleveland, who afterwards subscribed orally to the conditions. The parole was effective December 15th, after seven months of prison confinement. Four remaining defendants, for reasons of their own, did not petition the Board for parole. (Truth, Jan. 1946, Vol. 11:218-19)

The agreements made in the declaration were attempted. A notice appeared in Truth magazine which stated:



The regular meetings that have been held at 2157 Lincoln Street, Salt Lake City, by the so-called Fundamentalists, will hereafter be discontinued. This is also true of the Sabbath Schools. It is suggested [191] that in wards where our children may not be welcome, Sunday School classes and exercises be held in the various homes. (Truth, Jan. 1946, Vol. 11:227)

The controversial and debatable issue over signing this “Declaration of policy” had become a mammoth and knotty problem for those who were involved; also for those who read about it, and especially confusing for anyone interested in the details of its history.

All of these men went to prison in the best of spirits, but the signing of that declaration and the refusal to sign it, became a most significant barrier between them.

Whatever love and unity these men had as they entered the prison, it was all lost by that declaration. They had a solemn agreement as they entered prison, that they would endure in patience or even die, if necessary. Going to prison brought a unity of feelings and spirit–all were in harmony and glad to pay that price to serve their Lord. That unity continued until that Declaration was drawn up for signing. After it was signed, the ill feelings of antagonism and a separation of individuals and of the group was the result.

Each man acted upon his own convictions, and justified to himself that what he did was what he should have done–regardless of what the others chose to do. As Joseph Musser stated, each acted “for reasons of their own.”

One of the main reasons for signing the Declaration was because of the fear of losing some of their families. This proved to be inaccurate because some of those who refused to sign did not lose their families. Furthermore, some of those who did sign it lost some of their families afterwards.

Some of the men declared that losing a family was not as important as signing and publishing a statement against a principle of their religion. But those who refused to sign the declaration took consolation that if they did lose some of their family, the Lord would bless them by making up the loss. They quoted the scriptures which said:

And Jesus answered, and said, Verily I say unto you, There is no man that hath left house, or brethren, or sisters, or father, or mother, or wife, or children, or lands, for my sake, and the gospel’s, [192] but he shall receive an hundredfold….” (Mark 10:29-30) (See also Luke 18:28-30.)

Another reason given for signing the Compromise was so they could preach the Gospel again. After putting their signatures to a document that stated they would “refrain hereafter from advocating, teaching, or countenancing the practice of plural marriage …,” that somewhat limits the amount of teaching and preaching they could do. A much greater sermon could have been preached to the world had these men remained united in their stand on this principle. What a story of valiancy would have appeared in the newspapers and magazines if the headlines would have read: “15 MEN STAND UNITED AND REFUSE TO COMPROMISE THEIR FAITH IN PLURAL MARRIAGE.” Example is the most effective teacher.

The four men who refused to sign or agree to the conditions of that official declaration stood their ground on three major principles:

  1. It was wrong to sign a statement against the principles of their religious convictions.
  2. It was wrong to publish such a declaration against the belief and practice of the Gospel.
  3. It was wrong for them to break such a pledge once it was signed, witnessed and published.

The four men who refused to sign or agree to the conditions of that declaration also made the news for their convictions:


Salt Lake Telegram

Friday, NOV. 30, 1945


4 Cultists Refuse To Sign Pledge

Refusing to alter their stand, four Fundamentalists, Arnold Bess, Morris Q. Kunz, Louis A. Kelsch and Charles F. Zitting, who did not sign the pledge not to advocate or practice plural marriages were due to remain in Utah state prison, while 11 others who signed the pledge will be paroled Dec. 11.


[193] They were convinced that if God wanted them liberated from prison, He would not choose this method of accomplishing it. They argued that God does not have to require men to abandon His laws to be liberated. They said that signing an oath not to live plural marriage was a weak excuse to live it–that such a deed is hypocrisy.

One of the most serious problems that face those who sign a statement contrary to their convictions is that it continually comes back for justification. A great many people became troubled over the “Official Declaration” of 1890 and it is still an issue that requires clarification and a great deal of study to understand.

Some argue that the Manifesto of 1890 was wrong, but a similar position in 1945 was justifiable. Others contend that the official declaration of 1890 and the official declaration of 1945 are the same–that both of them are manifestos–both were compromises with the gentiles.

It has been stated that the Manifesto of 1890 was not the same as the 1945 prison statement, or manifesto. But there are similarities that cannot be overlooked:

  1. Both were signed on September 24th–just 55 years apart to the very day.
  2. Both began as a “To whom it may concern”– unlike the revelations of the Lord contained in the Doctrine and Covenants.
  3. Both were self created and not made by enemies. Both were signed by leaders as a political expedience to obtain favors from the government.
  4. Not everyone under their leadership agreed to the documents as “inspired of the Lord.”
  5. Both are disclaimed as a revelation, but based upon the “will of the Lord” and having been written by “feeling impressed.”
  6. Both agree to submit to the “laws of the land.”
  7. Both speak of their “intent” to conform to monogamy marriage laws.
  8. Both agree not to solemnize any more plural marriages.
  9. The leaders after 1890 and 1945 did not keep the pledge but continued to live and teach the doctrine of plural marriage.
  10. Woodruff said, “We are not teaching polygamy or plural marriage, nor permitting any person to enter into its practice …. ” Musser wrote:that [194] they would “refrain hereafter from advocating, teaching, or countenancing the practice of plural marriage or polygamy…. “

An argument is entertained as to what effect the Manifesto had to do with priesthood keys of seniority. Truth magazine says:

In setting the five men apart and ordaining them to the Priesthood presidency of seven, John W. Woolley was first given that high calling, coming next to Wilford Woodruff in order of ordination; so that the keys to Priesthood passed in natural order from Wilford Woodruff to John W. Woolley. (Truth 9:75)

Forfeiting seniority and keys was done in the following manner:

Those who agreed to the Manifesto automatically forfeited their former seniority, as upon previous occasions others had done and those chosen by President Taylor at Centerville became senior and the lawful administrators of the fullness of the ordinances, holding the keys to bind or loose on earth and in heaven. (Truth 9:251)

Now then, if Woodruff lost keys of his priesthood seniority by agreement or signature to the Manifesto of 1890, then would Priesthood seniority keys be conceded by a signed statement or manifesto in 1945? Both declarations agreed to submit to the laws of the land in regard to plural marriage. But, the official declaration of 1945 was much the worse for it was an agreement to refrain from even “countenancing” the practice of plural marriage.

Joseph Smith is claimed to have told John H. Burt in a dream that:


These arguments have been presented against any compromise, concession, or statement against the doctrine of plural marriage. It is a very treacherous ground for anyone to tread upon. Convictions must be certain.


[195] Some of these 15 men claim to have had a “personal revelation” concerning this declaration. However, their testimonies are very contradictory. One man had a dream showing him that signing that document was wrong. The next morning he told his cellmate of this dream–and with tears in his eyes, he declared that he would remove his name from that list. But he never did.

Another signed it, then prayed to know if he did the right thing. He had a dream showing him that by signing that document he had cowardly left the battlefield, and would never be able to get back. He was told that without the fight he could not gain the victory.

One person bore a testimony of a vision in which he went to see John Taylor who advised him to follow Joseph Musser. He then signed it.

Still another man had an angel appear to him instructing him that it was a wicked document. The heavenly messenger said that it was so bad that if everyone signed or agreed to it, God would cast them all off.

Another individual wanted a “witness” and asked the Lord to send His servant to instruct him what to do. Joseph Musser came to him and recommended his signing the document–which he then did.

One prisoner signed it against his conscience because he was persuaded by his father to do it. He was impressed by the Spirit that it was wrong, but he finally conceded and signed it anyway, but later regretted it.

One of the men who helped to create the document had a dream later indicating that it was not of God.

Thus, so many contradictory testimonies over signing this document become so confusing that men must determine for themselves whose testimony was of the Lord.

No other doctrine in this dispensation has endured so many controversial and conflicting encounters as the plural marriage issue. The conflict from its beginning to the present has encompassed churches, groups, state and federal officials in a maze of inconsistencies.


[196] Wilford Woodruff justified his Manifesto of 1890 by saying it was given by way of “revelation.” Some of the men who signed the “Little Manifesto” of 1945 said they also did it by “revelation.” Some people are convinced by “revelation” that both of these documents are not of God. Thus the contentions and confusion persist.

Some have said that if the Lord had sent that declaration by “revelation” and only two men agreed to it, then it should not have been revised and revised again to obtain more signatures. They contend that the first document was the most sufferable because the word “parole” was included. The two other forms agreed to suspend the practice or teaching of plural marriage “hereafter” and “from and after this date” which is much longer than the terms of a parole.

We know the Prophet Joseph Smith petitioned the Lord three times to give the Book of Mormon manuscript to Martin Harris. On his third supplication, the Lord gave His permission to the direful consequences which followed. We do not know how many times John Y. Barlow and Joseph Musser prayed concerning this document. We do know that it was the third revision that was signed and used.

The Lord has also warned the Saints that “…if ye ask anything that is not expedient for you, it shall turn unto your condemnation.” (D. & C. 88:65)

Men bearing the Priesthood still support or oppose these two declarations. Hence, the necessity for each man to learn which course is the most pleasing to the Lord–and to determine for himself what he would do in similar circumstances.

One man, Albert Barlow, had the rare, but priceless experience of standing on both sides of this dispute.


[197] Albert Barlow

“No way am I going to sign anything. I’ll take my medicine and I’ll die in the damn joint before I’ll sign anything.”


Albert Barlow is the son of I. W. Barlow. He was born and raised in the principle of plural marriage and had been taught to honor this sacred law. He was very familiar with the blessings and trials of a large plural family and had gained a firm conviction of its truthfulness.

When Albert was arrested, he went to prison with his father and the other 13 polygamists. Bert’s story and testimony is perhaps the most unique of any of the men who went to prison, as he experienced both sides of this “manifesto” controversy and felt the effects of both the remorse and pride of signing and not signing that declaration. Here in his own words is his story:

“It was on May 15, 1945, when we were incarcerated at the old prison which was part of the old federal territorial prison at Sugarhouse. After being there about three months, I was sent out to the new prison site at the Point of the Mountain. I was considered a minimum security. At the new site we were imprisoned in Army barracks, which had been moved there and remodeled into prison barracks, inside of a 12 ft. high chain link fence. There were no guards on the towers, or anywhere around except for one guard at night.

“Two of the brethren were sent out several days before this. While we were there–I don’t remember how many weeks it was–the warden came out with a paper for us to sign. It was just before our six months’ hearing. At [198] that time they used to have a hearing after you had been in prison six months. They were trying to do something to get out on that six months’ hearing when they met with the parole board. The warden came out with this paper, and it said in there that we would not practice plural marriage, we’d live according to State laws, and that we would not even countenance the practice of plural marriage. All three of us knelt with our hands on each others’ shoulders, in the circle of prayer, and prayed about signing it. All three of us came up with a positive spirit NOT TO SIGN IT –that IT WAS FROM THE DEVIL.

“In about another week, another one came out, similar to this one. Some of the extreme parts of it were omitted. We prayed about that, and all three of us came up with the same answer again–that it was from the devil.

“In the meantime, before the third one came out, my father and another brother were sent out, making five of us there, of the 15, who were minimum security prisoners. At this time, the warden drove out there in his big limosene. In the limosene were five more brethren, and of course, warden Harris. They came out there for the full purpose of getting the majority of us to sign this Manifesto. All of them signed it–that left me. Dad had signed it. I said, “We’ve already had our answer on that. I know that it isn’t right.” And my father said, “Well, you know what your patriarchal blessing said–`If you will honor and obey your father, you’ll never go very far astray.'” And he said, “I’m asking you to sign it.” I didn’t want to sign it, but I stood there for a few minutes and then said, “All right, I’ll sign the damn thing, but God knows I won’t live up to it.” That’s when I signed it.

“The other boys didn’t sign it–Louis Kelsch, Morris Kunz, Arnold Boss, and Charles Zitting. Several days later these four brethren were sent out to the barracks and we five men were returned to the old prison for our release next day. As I was about to leave, I shook hands with them and talked to them for a few minutes. The spirit of the Lord came to me and said, “Your place is here with these boys.” I was chicken. I had a yellow streak up my back that wide. So I didn’t. I went back into the old prison, and there were so many there, that there were no barracks, no cells or anyplace for us to put a bed down to sleep. So they put three of us down in the old furnace room right under the Administration Building. I put in a bad night–[199] kept getting the impression I should not go–I should not go. But all my folks were coming to get me the next day and I had no way to get in touch with them. I thought how disappointed they’d be. It was Christmas time–and all these things were on my mind as to why I should go out. Well, I went on out.

“Now, here’s something for the record that very few people know. She (pointing to one wife) never had another child; she (pointing to another wife) had a miscarriage and nearly died. Another had a pregnancy of the tube, and laid at death’s door for almost 24 hours. She had to have one of her tubes taken by operation, and nearly lost her ability to reproduce again. I’ll tell you I cried unto the Lord and repented the best I knew how. I knew all the time that I had goofed. I knew that when you sign something, even though you say you won’t live up to it, the Lord will see to it that you will keep your word. When the Lord withdraws from you, where are you going to go? Between the devil and the deep blue sea! That’s where I was!

“Well, I went to a meeting and I was called to speak. It was before the group had split. They split after this prison term. While speaking at this meeting, I testified to everybody that I knew I had made a mistake. I knew that I should not have signed that thing. I wished I could repent of it, but I didn’t know how. I think I said that if I ever got a chance again I would not sign anything. I voiced it dozens of times. This was 1945. We were arrested exactly ten years later–1955–on Halloween Day. I was incarcerated overnight, bond was set up and I was released. I came to see Louis Kelsch, who was out on bond, too. He said to me, `Well, Bert, thank the Lord you’ve got another chance up at bat. Don’t fan out this time. Hit a home run.’ I said to him, as we clasped hands in the Patriarchal grip, `With the help of God, I will make a home run. I’ll not sign another damn cotton pickin’ document of any kind. They can take it off right to here. (motioning across his throat) That’s the way I feel. Whether I’d let them or not, I don’t know, but that’s the way I feel.’

“I never got to see Louis after that. He was incarcerated and I stalled for time. I couldn’t get a job anywhere. Everywhere I went, my name and picture had been in the papers. Nearly everybody knew me–at least I thought they did. By the way, being a carpenter, and working in the carpenter trade, I was doing very good out at Hoffman [200] Homes. When I was arrested and went back to work–the next morning–I asked the foreman there if I still had a job. He said, `No, you don’t have a job.’

“So I applied for at least 50 different jobs and was accepted until they found out who I was. Then they said, `Well, it’s not that I care, but I don’t know what the public will think,’ and `I don’t know what the boss will think,’ or `I don’t know how this will react to the public.’

“From then on I had an awful hard time to make a living, because when they found out who I was, I’d get fired. I wasn’t hypocrit enough to change my name or hide it.

“Finally I went to selling insurance stock out of town and out of state, and did very well at that.

“I was waiting for the Supreme Court to hand down a decision. I had just returned home from Arizona and got back the night of February 25, 1959. In the morning of the 26th, I picked up the newspaper, and there it was–appeal denied; I was to be incarcerated. My imprisonment was delayed until May 15, 1959–exactly 14 years to the date and the hour that I was incarcerated in 1945! “On the day of imprisonment, I got the girls in the car with me and I drove right to prison, turned the car over to them and got in one of the sheriff’s cars.

“They had abolished the six months’ hearing. It was one year before we had a hearing before the parole board. About every six months I had a representative come out there and tell me that I could get out of there if I would just go along with the boys and sign a parole. I refused, said, `No way am I going to sign anything. I’ll take my medicine and I’ll die, in the damn joint before I’ll sign anything.’ Believe me sometimes I thought I was going to die. The terms of the parole were like those at my first hearing. It was to live according to all the laws of the State of Utah. It was worded so that I could return to my home to my wife Kate if I would forget all about the other two women and the children I had raised with them. That was the way the parole officer put it.

“You have to do according to what they want you to do, not what you want to do. What they want you to do is to obey the law–and that is the Edmunds-Tucker Law, of course, or on Utah law books known as unlawful cohabitation.


[201] I can say now that this was the hardest trial I had ever had, and by the same token the greatest privilege I ever had to stand for what I believed to be right. The suffering was immense. My women folks were put through many hardships and were tried very much.”

* * *

Albert was brought into the unique position of experiencing both sides of this intriguing fence. His pentance and his answered prayer carry the weight of honest conviction and a powerful personal testimony.


Bishop John H. Koyle and The Dream Mine Episode

Another man had a similar experience with a written statement of compromise. It, too, was signed by a man against his personal convictions, but was done because of pressure from his friends. It was the Church case against Bishop John H. Koyle of Salem, Utah.

John H. Koyle was to become well known as “Bishop Koyle” of the Dream Mine fame. He was born in 1864. One time, as a young man, he attended a meeting in which the speaker said that anyone who really wanted to know if this gospel were true could pray in faith and God would reveal it to them. He asked the Lord for a forgiveness of his sins and a testimony of the gospel. That night he had an unusual dream showing him where his cow, which had been missing for several days, was lying near a railroad with its horn bent over. He went to the place and there was the cow just as he had seen it in the dream. This was to be the beginning of many inspiring and revealing dreams that led this man on a most unusual mission for the rest of his life.

His gift of dreams was especially noted by his missionary companions while he was on a mission in the Southern States. The district president, J. Golden Kimball, was a living testimony to Elder Koyle’s dreams of warning and guidance.

In August 1894 he was visited by an angel who directed him to a mountain near Salem, Utah. Here he was shown nine large caverns which had been mined for gold by the Nephites of old. These ancient treasures would be released at the time of world crisis. The honest in heart from all [202] nations would seek relief from the chaos and distress which would come upon them. This wealth would be the means of both temporally and spiritually saving a multitude of people. Bishop Koyle was shown how he was to labor on this mountain to bring about this great latter-day work.

On September 3, 1894, Bishop Koyle began his life’s work and mission on that mountain. The work continued with miraculous spiritual and prophetical experiences. Then one morning in January of 1914, Bishop Koyle was visited by two messengers having white hair and beards–one somewhat taller than the other. The shorter one did the talking, and for two hours Bishop Koyle was told of the conditions prevailing on the earth and the Lord’s work which was soon to come to pass.

Ere his two heavenly visitors departed they gave him a final warning in addition to the charge that he must not reveal the hour and half portion of their two hour conversation. First: He must never at any time write anything nor sign any written statements about the nature of this mining operation. And second: He was not to allow brothers to be on the board of directors at the same time. (The Dream Mine Story, Norman C. Pierce, p. 21)

Although more and more people became convinced of the divine mission of the Dream Mine, many of the general authorities of the Church began to oppose it. Articles in the Deseret News and sermons over the pulpit were waged against the mine. Finally more drastic measures were taken against Bishop Koyle, and on January 7, 1947, he was called before his high council for a formal trial. A statement was presented which was to result in a repudiation of spiritual claims of the mine or excommunication from the Church. He held his membership in the Church with the highest regard, yet he had seen in vision the wealth of that ancient mine. He was in his 84th year and was brought out of a sick bed to appear at the trial. Two of his close friends, Quayle Dixon and Wallace Strong, were urging him to sign the statement and submit to the leaders of the Church. He was told that if he didn’t, that he and many of the stockholders would lose their membership in the Church. He was told that the statement would not be published, but would be a means of subsiding the opposition of the Church authorities against the mine.


[203] In a sickened condition and persuaded by his friends, Bishop Koyle signed the declaration. The next day, it appeared on the front page of the Deseret News.


John H. Koyle Repudiates All

Claims Regarding Dream Mine



I, JOHN H. KOYLE, do sustain the President of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints as the Prophet, Seer and Revelator of the Lord in this day.

I do believe that the President of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints alone has the right to receive divine guidance for the people of this Church as a whole, and am willing to sustain the First Presidency of This Church is all things, including their stand and instruction with regard to the so-called Dream Mine, of which I am the principal leader.

I hereby repudiate all statements which I have made against the advice of the First Presidency of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints as pertaining to this Dream Mine and my conduct of it, and I hereby repudiate all spiritual claims I have made with respect to the mine.

I appeal to all of my followers to join with me in this repudiation of claims to divine guidance in connection with this mine and to regard this mine as a business venture without any religious significance. I also ask all stockholders in this mine to harmonize their thinking with the published statements of the First Presidency of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints with respect to the Dream Mine and to honor and sustain the First Presidency as the only ones chosen of the Lord to give divine direction on any subject pertaining to the Church at large.

I ask my followers likewise to retract all statements they have made to the effect that the Authorities of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints have been mistaken with regard to our mine.

I appeal to all stockholders in this mine to rally around the Authorities of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints and give to them their undivided loyalty, which I now hereby do.

I voluntarily do this of my own free will and choice.

John H. Koyle (sig.)


Quayle Dixon (sig.)

Wallace Strong (sig.)


State of Utah   )

) SS

County of Utah  )

Personally appeared before me, a Notary Public, this 7th day of January, 1947, Quayle Dixon and Wallace Strong, the signers of this instrument, as witnesses, and John E. Koyle, the principal signer of the above.

B.L. Isaac (sig.)

Notary Public, Residing at

Spanish Fork, Utah


Stockholders Asked To Take Similar Stand

SPANISH FORK–John H. Koyle, head of the so-called Dream Mine, or Relief Mine, which is located in the mountains east of here, last night completely repudiated all claims to divine guidance with regard to the mine.

He accepted fully and completely the stand of the First Presidency of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints regarding the mine, and retracted any and all statements he had made in which he said that the First Presidency were mistaken concerning this mine. He also called upon all of his followers and stockholders to make similar repudiation and retraction, and asked them to “regard this mine as a business venture without any religious significance.”

Accepts Statement

He accepted the published statement of the First Presidency concerning the Dream Mine, and asked his followers to “harmonize their thinking with the published statements of the First Presidency of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints, with respect to the Dream Mine and to honor and sustain the First Presidency as the only ones chosen of the Lord to give divine direction on any subject pertaining to the Church at large.”

His statement was signed following a formal high council trial held here last night, presided over by President William J. O’Bryant of the Palmyra Stake, and his two counselors, J. Angus Christensen and Wallace H. Gardner. The statement was signed in the presence of the stake high council, and was signed by two of Mr. Koyle’s followers, as legal witnesses. They are Quayle Dixon and Wallace Strong. The document was then notarized by B. L. Isaac, notary public.


[204] Because of this exploiting of Bishop Koyle’s statement, he then felt the impact of what he had done by signing that declaration. He had signed a statement–against the warning of the Nephite messengers 33 years before. He began to endure remorse and sorrow with such agony and suffering that he nearly came to death. In such a state of regret his departed wife came to him in a dream to give him the necessary will to continue with his life and his mission. She concurred that the signing of that document was wrong, and also that they on the other side understood the powers which are brought upon men to compel them to sign these kinds of statements. Bishop Koyle always referred to that incident as the “worst thing I ever did in my life.”

The men responsible for Bishop Koyle’s trial did not keep their word. First, they published the document to the public; secondly, they excommunicated Bishop Koyle; and thirdly, they continued to threaten, harass and excommunicate the stockholders of the mine. Thus, from the results of Bishop Koyle’s agreement with his enemies, we must conclude that it was not only a worthless document, but also detrimental.

Yet, much credit must be given to Bishop Koyle. He later recognized that document for what it really was and repented of having signed it, in every way he knew how. He suffered extreme remorse for his part in it and then boldly declared that it was an evil concoction and useless to God’s work.

* * * * *

A written pledge may be good or bad. It can bind an individual, a people, or a nation to obedience. Thus, a public document can be a heritage–or a shameful experience. The devil must certainly place a great value on signed confessions, oaths and pledges, because he works so intently to persuade men to sign them against their will.

The Prophet Joseph Smith explained that:

Pure friendship always becomes weakened the very moment you undertake to make it stronger by penal oaths and secrecy. Your humble servant or servants, intend from henceforth to disapprobate everything that is not in accordance with the fullness of the Gospel of Jesus Christ, and is not of a bold, and frank, and upright nature. (T.P.J.S., p. 146)



A man’s signature to an oath may bring him shame or honor. One such respected document was the signing of the Declaration of Independence.

Faced with the death penalty for high treason, courageous men debated long before they picked up the quill pen to sign the parchment that declared the independence of the colonies from the mother country on July 4, 1776. For many hours they had debated in the State House at Philadelphia, with the lower chamber doors locked and a guard posted.

According to Jefferson, it was late in the afternoon before the delegates gathered their courage to the sticking point. The talk was about axes, scaffolds, and the gibbet, when suddenly a strong, bold voice sounded– “Gibbet! They may stretch our necks on all the gibbets in the land; they may turn every rock into a scaffold; every tree into a gallows; every home into a grave, and yet the words of that parchment can never die! They may pour our blood on a thousand scaffolds, and yet from every drop that dyes the axe a new champion of freedom will spring into birth! The British King may blot out the stars of God from the sky, but he cannot blot out His words written on that parchment there. The works of God may perish: His words never!

“The words of this declaration will live in the world long after our bones are dust. To the mechanic in his workshop they will speak hope: to the slave in the mines freedom: but to the coward kings, these words will speak in tones of warning they cannot choose but hear.

“Sign that parchment! Sign, if the next moment the gibbet’s rope is about your neck! Sign, if the next minute this hall rings with the clash of falling axes! Sign, by all your hopes in life or death, as men, as husbands, as fathers, brothers, sign your names to the parchment, or be accursed forever! Sign, and not only for yourselves, but for all ages, for that parchment will be the textbook of freedom, the bible of the rights of man forever.

“Yes, as I sank into the gloomy shadows of the grave, with my last faint whisper I would beg you to sign that parchment for the sake of those millions whose very breath is now hushed in intense expectation as they look up to you for the awful words: `You are free.'”

The unknown speaker fell exhausted into his seat. The delegates, carried away by his enthusiasm, rushed forward. John Hancock scarcely had time to pen his bold signature before the quill was grasped by another. It was done.

The delegates turned to express their gratitude to the unknown speaker for his eloquent words. He was not there.

Who was this strange man, who seemed to speak with a divine authority, whose solemn words gave courage to the doubters and sealed the destiny of the new nation?

His name is not recorded; none of those present knew him; or if they did, not one acknowledged the acquaintance.

How he had entered into the locked and guarded room is not told, nor is there any record of the manner of his departure.

Secret Destiny of America

by Manley P. Hall


[205] Many years later Joseph F. Smith became so convinced of this fact that he declared:

When you obtain possession of a principle of truth, let the world shake to pieces, let the heavens fall, and the stars tremble, but stand by that truth and never swerve from it, nor yield from it, living or dead. (Supplement to Gospel Problems, p. 64)

When God inspires men with His sacred and holy truths, He expects them to persevere with courage and patience. The Lord knew that His servants would be “hated of all men” for His sake; therefore they were counselled to “endure to the end.” Those who enlist in the service of God must expect the storms of wrath to follow, for there can be no reconciliation between God and mammon.


[206]                            CHAPTER XIII




Battle Of Short Creek

On July 26, 1953, Governor Howard Pyle of Arizona commenced a massive raid on Short Creek. He had given $50,000 of state funds to the attorney general and declared the [207] Fundamentalists in a state of insurrection. A literal army of over 200 law enforcement men and other personnel were mobilized for the attack. The attorney general, state troopers, deputy sheriffs, a dozen liquor inspectors, judges, welfare workers, juvenile court officials, doctors, nurses, police women, and even the National Guard all combined to administer “justice” under martial law to these “outlaws.”

Most of the leading newspapers throughout the nation were notified and present in the raid. Even many of the European newspapers were represented–with the exception of Russia; this wasn’t news to them because they always do things in a similar manner.

The Short Creekers had already received word of what was coming and had posted a sentry near town. When the governor’s army drove down the road at 4:30 a.m. on that Sunday morning, the sentry blew off a charge of dynamite for the signal. The motorcade dashed into the dark and dusty community with guns drawn and ready for shooting, only to find the inoffensive inhabitants standing in the church yard singing “America.”

The state militia was embarrassed but not outdone, as officers chased after the children, pushed women into cars, and solemnly arrested an 85-year-old man, with two of his sons who had just arrived home the night before on furlough in the service of their country. The boys in the uniform of their country were embarrassed and disgusted at what was happening to their home town. They expected to see such things only in foreign lands.

The elderly Joseph Smith Jessop died soon after the raid, and his 281 children, grandchildren, and great-grandchildren said his heart was broken because the state had ruined their settlement.


[208]                  Short Creek, Arizona–July 1953

State officials interrogating a Short Creek mother at 4:00 a.m., July 26, 1953.

A military police camp was established to feed and guard the Short Creek citizens.


[209] Mothers with their children were separated from their homes and husbands before any of them had been proven guilty of any crime. Arizona had just become a “police state.” Women and children were herded off to the “juvenile officers,” like cattle or slaves.

The Short Creekers could have left before the raid, but they preferred to stay and defend their rights. The Constitution of the United States forbids Congress from making any law respecting the establishment of religion or prohibiting the free exercise thereof. Therefore, the fundamentalists wanted to know:

By what law is our property confiscated and tempts made to sell what can be sold to pay our fines before we have been tried in a court of law, proven guilty, or sentenced. (Truth 18:108)

Among the rights of citizens are those rights for the pursuit of happiness of our own choosing. The children chose to stay with their parents, but the “law” was going to force them into foster homes. Tears from children and parents had no influence upon these officials. But there would be a reckoning because Jesus had said:

Whosoever shall offend one of these little ones which believe in me, it were better for him that a millstone were hanged about his neck, and that he were drowned in the depth of the sea. (Matt. 18:6)

Over a dozen men who witnessed this raid, and who had served in the armed forces in Europe, said they saw the same tactics used by the Gestapo. There was no law on the statute books of Arizona against plural marriage so some were invented to make up complaints against the Short Creekers. So many law officials were involved that it has been said only nine officers were left on duty in other parts of the state. For 26 months Governor Pyle had been planning this attack.

Thirty-nine Fundamentalist men were taken to Kingman. Within two weeks they were released on bail to await trial. When they returned to Short Creek, they found a silent city–empty of their families and friends. Eighty-six women and 263 children had been taken to Phoenix, and some of the older women had been taken to the Kingman County Jail.


[210] The officials of the State of Arizona planned to put all the children into foster homes, give prison sentences to the parents, and destroy or remove the houses, the dairy, cannery, sawmill and agricultural buildings that belonged to the community. This was the Governor’s device to prevent the re-establishment of homes in Short Creek. It was a plan to destroy the practice and teaching of the doctrine of plural marriage. But behind all of this, it was beginning to appear to be an object for political aggrandizement.

The people of Short Creek had just celebrated “Pioneer Day”–a day of appreciation for those early pioneers, who believed in the same doctrines, and had forged an empire in the West as a heritage for those who loved the freedoms of America. Then came the “Pyle Drive” against them. Tax money that was paid for the protection of citizens in their God given rights, was now spent in breaking up the homes of citizens.

Pyle said he was going to “protect” the children of Short Creek, but he tore them away from their parents. These people were called “conspirators and insurrectionists” but it was Pyle who conspired to tear a whole community apart with his own insurrection.

Citizens were hauled off to a jail 400 miles away, while national newsmen made hysteria worldwide. The whole campaign was a political scheme for publicity of personal favor and fame. But Pyle’s balloon popped and his prospects were soon reversed.

Most of the news media began to turn against the Governor and his exploitation program. The editor of an Arizona newspaper wrote:

An artificially created cloak-and-dagger script–typical of Hollywood’s worst product–was followed by state officials at Short Creek.

A veritable army of law enforcement officers roared into the tiny village in the dark of the moon.

Bristling with guns, they swept into the homes of misguided women and children. In fact, the raid on Short Creek and its polygamists was planned and carried out in an atmosphere that would have made Mack Sennett and his Keystone Kops green with envy.


The only life they know has been disrupted in a bewildering raid that resembles too closely the hated police-state roundups of the Old World.

By what stretch of the imagination could the action of the Short Creek children be classified as insurrection? Again we say–officials of the State of Arizona have humiliated its citizens by a pistol and shotgun raid that resembled an operation to subdue Pork Chop Hill.

Insurrection? Well, if so, an insurrection with diapers and volleyballs! (The Arizona Republic, Phoenix, Arizona)

From the front page of another newspaper came the following:

But Governor Howard Pyle and his own Attorney General Ross Jones appear to have looked the other way when the “Civil Rights” of the citizens of Short Greek, Arizona, were involved.

It is a pity that the truth about Governor Pyle’s hunger for publicity which will cost the taxpayers of Arizona more than $600,000.00 before it ends, has been hidden from the voters and others of Arizona.

The United States Supreme Court has time after time ruled–“no one has a right to take a person’s papers without proper and legal authority”–but that did not stop the armed raiders, led by Attorney General Ross Jones and instigated by Governor Howard Pyle–he had to have his publicity–no matter who was hurt–who was destroyed.

Yes, Communistic Russia and China moved into Short Creek the morning of July 26, 1953. Is that not the story we read about Russia and China?

The mothers of the children who were and are legally married under the law of the State of Arizona, were brow beaten intimidated and told their children would be taken away from them and they would never see them again.

Oh, you may say –“so what”–maybe that’s why we are losing our rights so readily–is because unless it hits us as individuals the average person just does not care–but that was how Hitler, Mussolini and Stalin became possible, the apathy and so what attitude of the citizens of Germany, Italy and Russia. Then it became too late. (Arizona News Reporter, Oct. 22, 1954)


[212] The raid had soon become even more political than it looked. An election was coming up and all this exhibition and ceremony boomeranged to become political suicide for Governor Pyle. Even State and Federal officers got “burned” for the way they handled the citizens at Short Creek. One editor said the Short Creek community merits a full measure of censure, but not destruction. Why such a circus?”

Another editor wrote:

Aside from the human side of the situation, think of the cost to the taxpayers. Each of the 122 persons charged must be given a fair trial. A jury panel of 70 persons for each trial must be drawn and paid for. The person selected cannot serve on the next case. That would mean 122 separate trials. As far as we are concerned, it is just a cheap publicity stunt the way it was handled, and a costly one. (Graham County Guardian)

The Fundamentalists, of course, were outraged and Joseph Musser wrote:

In reviewing the history of Missouri and the recent raid upon the innocent of Short Creek, one would suppose that Governor Boggs, together with his friends Governor Ford of Illinois and Judge Douglas, had been temporarily released from the infernal regions to brief their modern co-conspirators and to assist them with the proceedings. (Truth 19:98)

Although millions of American citizens were aroused against such an uncivilized attack upon a helpless people, the Deseret News expressed the mind of most of the Mormon leaders as it applauded Governor Pyle and his Nero-type police-state tactics;

Law-abiding citizens of Utah and Arizona owe a debt of gratitude to Arizona’s Governor Howard Pyle and to his police officers who Sunday, raided the polygamous settlement at Short Creek and rounded up its leaders for trial.

Again, we commend the Governor for his forthright efforts. We have full confidence that the rights of the innocent will be protected, the accused will be given a fair trial, and we hope the unfortunate activities at Short Creek will be cleaned up once and for all. (Des. News, Mon., July 27, 1953)


[213] A governor in Utah later said that this raid had disturbed the conscience of most Americans–even those who previously had no regard for the Short Creekers. He said there is something in the heart of every American that becomes riled up when any sort of influence strikes against a man’s home, and his family affairs. Loyal Americans will not tolerate that kind of interference and despotism to the home and family.

At the time of the raid, Governor Pyle boldly took all the responsibility and glory, but months later he wanted to “wash his hands” of the whole mess. It is ironic that for all the international publicity given this raid, these men spent less than two weeks in prison.

On November 30, 1953, the 27 men of Short Creek were sentenced by Judge Robert S. Tullar in Kingman, Arizona. The judge decided they should not be given heavy sentences of imprisonment because, he said, “Imprisonment for you would make martyrs and heroes of you in the eyes of others who are inclined in the same direction,…” The sentence of the court was as follows:

Gentlemen, it is the judgment of the court that you are guilty of the crime charged, and it is the order of the court that the imposition of sentence upon you (the Court names each of the defendants individually) be suspended until December 1, 1954, upon the following conditions:

First: That you shall violate no laws.

Second: That you, and each of you, shall report once each month by letter, over your signature, to Mr. Charles F. Adams, the chief probation officer of Mohave County, here at Kingman, or his successor. Your letter must be mailed so as to reach him as nearly as possible on the first day of each month, commencing with the first of January, 1954, and under no circumstances later than the 5th day of each month.

In your report you shall state what your residence address has been for the past month, and whether you have been continually at that address. In the event that you have changed your residence during the month, you shall so state.

It is also required that you state whether you plan to change your residence during the following 30 days and, if so, to where.


Lastly, it will be required that you state, in writing, that you have not practiced polygamy during the preceding 30 days. I think it is not necessary to define the word to you; I think you all well know what I mean. This requirement is a token of my respect for you. It would be meaningless to require it of the ordinary offender. I believe, however, that you are all men of honor and I trust your word.

A violation of the conditions of your probation by any one of you will mean that upon December 1, 1954, or at any date prior thereto, in the discretion of the court, the violator–the individual who violates the conditions of his probation–will be sentenced to imprisonment. (Closing Remarks of Judge Robert S. Tullar, Nov. 30, 1954, Kingman, Arizona. On file at the County Courthouse in Kingman.)

However, at a later date nine of these 27 men were accused of violating one or more of the terms of this probation:

Leroy Sunderland Johnson                                                Daniel Calvin Jessop

Louis Jessop Barlow                                                           Joseph Israel Barlow

William Benjamin Cooke                                  Warren Elmer Johnson

Carl Nathaniel Holm                                                          Clyde Chapman Mackert

Lynn Hunter (should have been Lynn Cooke)

Possibly because of insufficient evidence, however, these men were not subsequently imprisoned.

It is interesting to note here, that during all the court trials, threats, accusations, brief incarceration, etc., imposed upon these men, the court records never indicate that any of these men signed a statement denying their belief in the principle of plural marriage in order to obtain a lighter sentence, or be released from prison or their probation.

The mothers and children also suffered for their support of this principle. For nearly two years children lived in foster homes and mothers were unable to return to their homes in Short Creek. In January of 1954 the parents of these children received the following letter from the Washington County judge, offering them a “test oath” compromise so they could regain possession of their children:


[215]                                                                                                                                      January 26, 1954

To the Parents of Short Creek, Utah.

At the conference held at Short Creek January 25th it was represented to the court that the Utah parents are not now either practicing or teaching plural marriage and that families are appropriately segregated. However, the court was given no assurance that this state of affairs would continue beyond the time the fathers are under suspended criminal sentence imposed by the Superior Court of Mohave County, Arizona. The cases were all set for trial on March 25th, 1954, and the parents concerned given until February 25th to submit to the court sworn statements to the effect that they would forever desist from practicing polygamy and teaching the doctrine to their children and that they would otherwise comply with the laws of Utah relating to marriage and sexual offenses. If these statements are submitted to the court and the court is satisfied that polygamy is not being practiced or taught to the children and that the parents are otherwise complying with the Utah laws relating to marriage and sexual offenses, then the cases will be continued to a date certain for further observation. If this procedure is followed by the parents, further sworn statements will be required from time to time as to present and past conduct of the parents until the court is satisfied from the statements and investigation that there is compliance with the law. ***

If sworn statements are not submitted to the court by February 25th, then those cases will be heard on March 25th or as soon thereafter as possible.

The parents will be permitted to retain actual custody of their children only if sworn statements are submitted at the time judgment is entered and periodically thereafter and the court is satisfied from investigation that there is at all times compliance with the laws relating to polygamy, marriage and sexual offenses.

It is almost inconceivable that you would be willing to compromise your beliefs in order to avoid a one year prison sentence for the fathers but would not be willing to change your ways for the sake of your children. How could this be justified?

It is up to you to decide whether you will comply with the law or will force the court to take the action outlined where the unfitness of homes is proved.

Yours very truly,

David A. Anderson, Judge

(See S.L. Tribune, p. 24, March 25, 1954.)


[216] The judge received no statements from any of the parents after his order. When questioning Mr. Leroy Johnson, the judge said “Are you going to risk the prospect of losing custody of your children?” Mr. Johnson solemnly replied, “It looks as though we’ll have to.”

No one can fully understand this situation unless he has experienced such unjust treatment. One mother told her story which was printed in an Arizona newspaper:


An Arizona Short Creek Mother’s Experience

A mother says: We had seven (7) daughters–two (2) being twins–at the time of the raid–after holding us in armed custody, they gave me about a half hour to get ready to leave. They told me I would be gone only a few days. We were placed in a bus. It was raining and cold. The children were frightened, so was I.

I was pregnant at the time.– We reached Phoenix and we were placed in a so-called “Rest Home.” –They placed six (6) mothers and twenty-nine (29) children in one (1) room and hallway. There was one (1) toilet available for all of us. We were kept under these unhealthy–unsanitary–conditions for three and one half (3«) months. It was terrible. We were alloted three (3) cots for the eight (8) of us. At home in “Short Creek” we had a two (2) story house. To take care of seven (7) daughters I needed so many things, which they simply ignored.–The authorities.–Their reason and excuse being–“It was all for the welfare of our children. Was and is that what they call welfare?

Here it is October, 1954– we were taken from our home in early August 1953. I’m kept separated from my husband. They still refuse to allow us to go home. Oh so many times I’ve been “threatened” they were going to take my children away from us. My husband and I are properly and legally married. I’ve been advised about eight (8) months ago there was filed a petition for a “Writ of Habeas Corpus.”–But here we are still under the control and custody of the State Welfare Department.

My children cry for their father, I need the comfort and help of my husband. We are ordinary people. At home our children were raised on fresh milk from our own cows and goats. We keep asking ourselves, why? We were bothering no one at “Short Creek.” We moved to “Short Creek” and were living there a little over a year–when the armed raid took place. We are bewildered–confused. It seems the only way we can or ever will receive justice, is for a change in the administration of things.


[217] One famous case involved Leonard and Vera Black. Their children were taken from them because they would not conform by signing the State’s “thought control” affidavit along “religious lines.” A few attorneys became so disgusted with such injustice, they entered the arena to recover the children.

The State Board of Education in Arizona also got into the limelight. Three Short Creek teachers–Clyde Mackerr, Louis J. Barlow, and Jerald Williams were indicted and required to sign the following oath before July 31, 1954, or they would lose their teaching certificates. It read:


State of Arizona

County of ____________

I, _______, do solemnly swear that I will not live or engage in polygamy or plural marriage from this day forward.

Subscribed and sworn to before me

this ____day of _____ , 1954

__________Notary Public

If they refused to sign this oath, it would mean the death-sentence to their teaching career–not only throughout Arizona, but also in every other state.

Louis J. Barlow answered the State Board of Education by saying, “I can not denounce my religion with hopes of eternal progression for such a trivial reward you have to offer.”

Jerold Ray Williams also wrote them and said: “If I should sign this, your special, extraordinary religious test oath, I would violate a previous oath I made to uphold the Constitution of Arizona and the Constitution of the United States.”

Many others wrote letters of protest. Richard S. Jessop added his contempt of such proceedings by saying:

It is a sad commentary upon our American educational system that those who are the foremost leaders and who are the most learned in the scholastic fields could be so lacking in statesmanship and moral courage as to sign their names to such an obviously unconstitutional demand as a special religious test for certain teachers in our state. Is not the time-honored [218] oath to support the Constitution of the United States and the Constitution and laws of the State of Arizona sufficient?                                                                                                                                –Richard S. Jessop

The day had arrived in America that citizens were being required to sign oaths to conform to the policies of officials as well as to their own private beliefs regarding religion. “Thought control” was becoming a law of the land.

But Article 6, Clause 3, of the United States Constitution states very clearly that “no religious test shall ever be required as a qualification to any office or public trust under the United States.”

Article II, Section 12, of the Arizona Constitution clearly states that “No religious qualification shall be required for any public office or employment.” But now they were!


It is a disgrace that common citizens of America have to present the fundamental constitutional laws to the attention of its learned officials. Such tyrants are only prompted by religious bigotry. The greater crimes were not committed by the victims, but by the persecutors. Official villains were corrupting the courts, shattering the Constitution, and bringing abuse upon the rights of men, women and children by such illegal prosecutions.



[219]                            CHAPTER XIV



Within two years persecutions and prosecutions again made newspaper headlines. In October of 1955 polygamist roundups and arrests were once more conducted in Utah.


Deseret News

Salt Lake Telegram

Wednesday, October 26, 1955


  1. L. Man Arrested In Cohabitation Case

Counts Pending Against 2 Other Men

Many times Utah newspapers carried headlines of polygamists being arrested. Out of all these arrests and imprisonments, four men–united in their convictions–were noted for their uncompromising stand. These four were Louis Kelsch, Morris Kunz, Arnold Boss and Charles Zitting. Brief life sketches and a few of their personal views are included here.


[220] Louis Kelsch

The Salt Lake Tribune

Salt Lake City, Utah–Thursday Morning–October 27, 1955


County Arrests One, Seeks Two In Crackdown to Halt Polygamy

Suspect Tells of Marriage to 5 Women

“I believe in plural marriage because it is a part of my religion–and I intend to practice it.” (Dec. 19, 1956, Louis Kelsch to Utah State Board of Pardons)


[221] The most outstanding example for length of time in prison for plural marriage belongs to Louis Kelsch. No man in this dispensation has served as long in prison for living the Law of Abraham. He served nearly seven years in state prison. Louis often referred to his time in prison as a term in “crowbar college.”

Louis was born in 1905 and died in 1974. His father was a convert from Germany who had served 18 years on missions for the Church. Louis Sr. and Louis Jr. were both personal friends of Lorin C. Woolley. Louis Jr. was born and raised in Salt Lake City and filled a mission for nearly three years in the Eastern States. He was called to the apostleship by revelation, being the last man in the council called through Lorin Woolley.

At his funeral he was described as “honest, humble, unpretentious and uncompromising.” Anyone who knew him would readily agree that this well described him. His close friend, Nathan Boss, spoke at his funeral and described Louis by saying:


He was like stainless steel. He had the guts to stay in there and he did it. There isn’t a man in this audience that could raise his hand and say, “I equalled it.” And nobody questions it.

At the time of Louis’s arrest, Frank E. Moss was county attorney for Salt Lake. He probably saw an opportunity in these arrests to gain some personal public notoriety. He announced that his office was going to “keep going until we clean up this sect.” He boasted that “we have been cooperating in this matter with the state attorney general’s office and Davis County officials.” (Tribune, Oct. 27, 1955)

Kelsch was arrested October 27, 1955, when he was 49 years old and had 31 children and five wives. He had previously served 2-1/2 years in prison for unlawful cohabitation with the same five women. He was jailed by Salt Lake County sheriff’s deputies and was brought before the county attorney, Frank E. Moss, for questioning. Kelsch, in a quiet voice, voluntarily acknowledged that he was living with five women who were his wives.

After a year at the Point of the Mountain prison, in December of 1956, Louis and a fellow prisoner, Carl E. Jentzsch, were brought before the State Board of Pardons. [222] Jentzsch told the Board, “If granted parole, I intend to live up to the law in every respect.” When asked if this included abstaining from the practice of plural marriage, Jentzsch replied, “yes.” His parole was granted and became effective January 1, 1957.

When Louis was brought before the Board, he was questioned about plural marriage. He replied that it was a part of his religion and that he intended to continue living it. Kelsch was then turned over to Warden Marcell Graham for the remainder of his five-year sentence.

Louis later told a friend that he would rather “rot in prison” than sign a statement renouncing that doctrine. He continued by saying that he was ashamed that any man of God would ask him to sign such a statement.

Louis remained true to his convictions until his death in Salt Lake City, on July 16, 1974.


Morris Kunz

“If I signed that manifesto, when I walked out of prison, I would turn right, not left towards home. I would go East until it started to go West again and then I’d stay there. Why? Because I would be too ashamed to face my family. (Utah State Penitentiary)


[223] Morris Kunz was born on November 13, 1904, in Bern, Idaho. It was Morris’s family who settled Bern, which was named after their native city in Switzerland. David Kunz, Morris’s father, immigrated to this country while he was a young lad in the 1860’s. He later returned to Switzerland to serve a mission for the Church, followed by son, Morris, several years later.

Morris is one of the few men living today who was acquainted with both John and Lorin Woolley. He spent many enjoyable and inspirational days with Lorin and can testify to the spiritual strength of the man and to the testimony that he bore of the work of the Priesthood.

Morris remembers the time when Lorin Woolley was once pacing the floor in a worried frustration. When asked why he seemed so troubled, he explained that it had been made known to him that some of the brethren would soon be forced to go to prison. Some of those men who had 2, 3, 4, or 5 wives would not make the glory they hoped to attain–yet some who had only one wife would make it. Therefore, going to prison would do some of them no good.

It was because of his testimony of the laws of the Priesthood that Morris served time in prison. He was arrested in March of 1944 at Hill Field in Ogden, where he was working for the Hill Field Fire Department. Three men were sent from Salt Lake to make the arrest, one of them being the man who had requested to be the prosecuting attorney against Morris. Morris spent the next few days in the county jail in Salt Lake City; and while he was there, he heard the news that this prosecuting attorney had been in an automobile accident by Farmington. At first he was reported to have a broken leg, and not in serious condition, but strangely enough he died a few days after the accident.

Morris, along with the other polygamists that were arrested, was released on bail. However, 15 of them were imprisoned about a year later. Just prior to their going to prison, Joseph Musser, Louis Kelsch, and Morris went to Elko, Nevada, to enjoy a couple of days of freedom before serving out their sentence. During this time Joseph Musser said that since their first plan of throwing a writ of habeas corpus hadn’t been successful, he still had another “ace” up his sleeve. At the time Joseph Musser made this statement, Morris didn’t know what he was referring to. Later, however, he assumed he must have been considering [224] the compromise agreement that he helped to draw up for the signatures of the 15 polygamist prisoners.

When asked about Joseph Musser’s part in the “Little Manifesto” (as it was called), Morris explained a situation in I Kings, Chap. 13, which he thought could be considered as a very similar situation. A certain man of God was told by the Lord that he should eat no bread, nor drink any water, nor was he to return by the same way that he came to Bethel. Another prophet was then sent by the Lord to meet him and said: “I am a prophet also, even as thou, and an angel spake unto me by the word of the Lord, saying, Bring him back with thee into thine house, that he may eat bread and drink water ….” So the man of God returned with the Prophet and did eat and drink with him. Then the Lord spoke through the prophet to rebuke the man of God by saying: “Thus saith the Lord, Forasmuch as thou hast disobeyed the mouth of the Lord, and hast not kept the commandment which the Lord thy God commanded thee, thy carcass shall not come unto the sepulcher of thy fathers.” The man of God had been tested by the Lord to see if he would remain faithful to the commandment of the Lord. When the man of God left, a lion met him and killed him. When the Prophet heard of his death, he said that it came upon him because he “was disobedient unto the word of the Lord.”

Thus the Lord will often test the men of God, to see if they will remain steadfast to the word of the Lord which they had already received.

Morris did not spend as much time in prison as the other three, because his wife, Rachel, was killed, and he was released to take care of some legal family matters.

Morris told about the harmony that existed among those four men who stayed in prison. They were united in their testimonies to the day of their death. None of them ever regretted their refusal to sign that prison declaration. He also noted the disharmony and contention that developed among those who did sign it, and mentioned that the division still exists today. Morris is the only one of the four still living today and is the proud father of 31 children, with a total posterity exceeding 300.


[225] Arnold Boss

“Rather than sign that and give up my wives I would prefer to be taken out and shot. If I went back on that principle, I feel that I would be deserting my God. I, and we, prefer to fight it out and serve our time. Even though the church, the state and the nation have taken sides against us, we will remain true to our covenants and do our part to keep this holy principle alive in the land.” (November 1946, Utah State Prison)

Arnold Boss was born in Midway, Utah, on January 12, 1894. He grew up there in Heber Valley, and then went to work as a farmer with his brother who lived near Tremonton. He later was a salesman in various areas.

Arnold was set apart to gather information for the Truth magazine, working very closely with the editor, Joseph Musser. Arnold Boss once wrote in an article:

The writer has been given personal testimonies from those who have heard from the lips of pioneer leaders the declaration, “this fulness consisted of the United Order and plural and celestial marriage.”



That this was the Dispensation of the Fullness of Times and that never again would a single principle and ordinance be taken from this earth. (Truth 1:57)

Arnold was grieved at the “weakening of spiritual faith” among the Mormons. He said that “a mighty change has come over the Mormon people. A great spiritual transformation has taken place. Principles that were life itself to them in days past, today are meaningless.” He noted the constant compromises with the world that had taken place in less than a century, and stated that “spiritual bondage” had been the result.

In an extensive article written by Arnold for the Truth magazine, he recorded an excellent and detailed account of plagues and famines brought on by the Lord. He said the Lord brought these judgments upon Israel anciently when they strayed from the Lord and became covenant breakers. He warned the Latter-day Saints that famine and plague could again become one of God’s judgments upon this people because of their transgressions.

Arnold Boss was a man who had experienced some of the difficulties in life with an understanding of their purpose. He was not offended, ashamed or afraid of prison because he knew God had a purpose for such events in the lives of His chosen people. He once said that he learned from these things that–“the testimonies of heaven usually come and are imparted under great stress, struggle, and mental anxiety.”

Arnold was a man firm in his conviction against signing any declaration or statement denying his beliefs. Although he was quiet by nature, he was very strong in his personal convictions. He was never loud or boisterous, but was very friendly and sociable.

He had two wives and three children, and was a good father to them. He was a friend of Lorin Woolley’s, and was included in many visits in the homes of friends. Arnold Boss died on July 3, 1969, and is buried in Salt Lake City.


[227] Charles Fredrick Zitting

“I cannot agree to compromise my conscience and obey all laws, just or unjust, without question.” (Utah State Penitentiary)

Charles Fredrick Zitting was born of pioneer stock on March 30, 1894, in Harrisville, Utah. His parents and family then moved to Idaho where Charles spent most of his childhood. He came back to Utah to attend the university, where he graduated as a geological engineer. He had a great affinity to the soil and loved to farm. He also helped others to buy land for cultivation.

He was honest to a fault and was an advocate of the “pay as you go” philosophy which is so uncommon today. He knew his course in life, and was faithful in defending that unpopular religion.

The Lord blessed him with a large and loyal family which consisted of ten wives and 37 children, who all sustained him during his trials.


[228] It was said of him that he abhorred division and disunity, and he was always known as a peacemaker. Once when he was in the county courthouse, a politician loudly shouted at him for all nearby to hear, saying, “Zitting, you are the most evil man in the world, and I wish you were in the penitentiary.” Charles turned to the man and softly replied, “Mr. ___________, I don’t wish you were in prison.”

Although Charles had assisted many people in temporal pursuits, it was in the spiritual field of religion that his greatest interest and endeavors rested. It was early in his life that he gained a testimony of the fullness of the Gospel, and his efforts to live and teach the Gospel took him from Canada to Mexico. His religion also brought him many social and financial setbacks because of unconstitutional laws and unjust Church actions. It was written of him that “he has been persecuted and driven the greater portion of his life” but “death and hell had no power to stop him once he knew his course was right.”

Brother Zitting had been taken to jails seven different times during his life. The last 28 years of his life he was almost constantly in conflict with ecclesiastical leaders or unjust officials of the law. His longest stay in prison was during the 1944 crusade in Utah when he and 14 others were sentenced to the Utah State Penitentiary for plural marriage. It was here that he refused to sign a document agreeing to stop the teaching and living of plural marriage. He remained in prison for 31 months.

While he was in that prison he wrote a letter to the governor, which best portrays the spirit of the Gospels and of freedom that Charles possessed. It follows:


For the record’s sake and general information to our readers, we herewith present a copy of a very excellent letter written to the Governor and members of the Board of Pardons, by Charles F. Zitting, one of the so-called “Fundamentalists” who elected to remain in prison rather than make any concession to a law which he regarded as unconstitutional. –Editor


[229]                                                                                                                      1400 East 21st South St.

Salt Lake City, Utah

August 25, 1947

Governor Herbert B. Maw

and other members of the

Utah State Board of Pardons,

State Capitol Building

Salt Lake City, Utah.


Honorable Gentlemen:

On June 22, 1947, Warden John E. Harris interviewed Louis A. Kelsch, Arnold Boss and myself and told us that he had been officially authorized by the Utah State Board of Pardons to inform us — “That it would not be necessary for us to remain at the Utah State Prison another day if we would promise to obey the laws of Utah.”

We could have been paroled on December 15, 1945, had we compromised our conscience and made similar promises, but we then chose to stay until we could get a termination and be released as free men. We have now served over two years and three months laboring on the Prison Farm.

To date, you gentlemen have done all you could for us. You are responsible to administer the laws of the State as they stand. We honor you in your calling, but haven’t you now administered the law in our case? We have served nearly one-half of our top time in our sentence of nothing to five years. Bank robbers, thieves, adulterers and murderers are leaving this prison–and many of them on a termination with no strings attached–with twenty per cent to one-half of their top time served.

Must the laws of Utah be above the laws of God and above a man’s conscience? Probably in a Totalitarian reign, but not in a true democracy. The citizens of this country have a right to break laws when it requires them to compromise their conscience in order to live the law.

The following is from Whitney’s popular History of Utah, page 324: Thomas Jefferson had said: “The rights of conscience we never submitted, we could not submit, we are answerable for them to our God,” and [230] Blackstone, the great authority on human laws, set forth this trite rule: “If ever the laws of God and men are at variance, the former are to be obeyed in derogation of the latter.”

My ancestors–John Alden and Priscilla Alden–came to this country on the Mayflower over 325 years ago, because they could not conform to the laws of their European homeland without compromising their conscience, and another one of my ancestors–David Pettigrew, Chaplain of the Mormon Battalion, came to Utah in 1847, with the Mormon pioneers because he and they could not subscribe to the ethics demanded by the citizens of Illinois without compromising their conscience.

George Washington, Patrick Henry, Thomas Jefferson and other early colonists rebelled against England and a boat load of tea was dumped in Boston Bay because they could not subscribe to England’s unjust tax laws without compromising their conscience and becoming economic slaves and thus came the American Revolution and the birth of our great nation.

When a citizen of our country feels a law is unjust he has a right to carry it to the Supreme Court of the United States, but first he must break the law before he has a case to take on up to the highest tribunal of the country. This is his right, and it is being done every year. Every year the Supreme Court of our Country is ruling in favor of the individual by terming laws unconstitutional.

But, when the Supreme Court rules against the individual by terming the law constitutional, is that the end of his fight? Must he compromise his conscience and live the law? He is not compelled to by the law of this country. I wish to draw your attention to the Dred Scott case. In the days of Abraham Lincoln, a Negro slave by the name of Dred Scott, broke the law by running away from his master who had whipped him severely and he crossed the Mason-Dixon Line into the northern states. At that time a law of our land stated that the Negro slaves were mere chattel, the same as farm animals, and it gave the masters the right to whip or abuse them at will. This law had also been termed constitutional by a ruling of the United States Supreme Court. Abraham Lincoln was [231] criticised because he took up the fight for Dred Scott in the face of this Supreme Court decision and then he came out with his famous declaration — “A question is never settled until it is settled right.” He carried this case to the United States Supreme Court and the decision was reversed. Shouldn’t we, or anyone, have the same recourse as Dred Scott?

Now, entirely aside from my religious views regarding plural marriage, I cannot agree to compromise my conscience and obey all laws, just or unjust, without question. If I did, I would be letting my sons down, who offered their lives by fighting for nearly three years in the South Pacific for the four freedoms, and I would be helping to sow the seeds of Totalitarianism in the structure of our Government. I think too much of true democracy and true democratic laws to agree to do that, and I cannot agree to do something I don’t intend to live up to.

This position is set forth clearly by the Mormon Church in the 134th Section of their Doctrine and Covenants, and Utah is 74 per cent Mormons. However, other citizens of this State take this same position.

The Most Reverend Duane G. Hunt, Bishop of the Salt Lake Catholic Diocese, in giving a Centennial address just last month before the luncheon meeting of the Salt Lake Rotary Club in the Hotel Utah (as reported in the Salt Lake City Deseret News on July 22, 1947) stated, among other things: “No one must be asked to compromise his conscience.” He also said, “God is the Creator; He created all men; they are equal; human rights come from God, obviously, not from society or government; Government exists to protect human rights, certainly, not to usurp them.” Bishop Hunt declared the Christian order of things is “God is first, man second, and Government third.” This order, as outlined by Bishop Hunt does not weaken our Government but strengthens it. It was the order followed in forming our Government. It is our guarantee against fascism, communism, and all other forms of dictatorial governments. A man’s conscience should be granted perfect freedom by law as long as the exercise of it does not trample on the rights and privileges of others.


[232] Therefore, in respect to your offer to release us from the Utah State Prison if we will promise to live the laws of Utah, I will give you my answer: I love this land and its Constitution as it was framed by the inspiration of God, and I intend to live all the laws of our State and Nation except wherein it requires me to compromise my conscience.

With only the kindest of feelings towards our State and its officers, I remain,

Respectfully yours,


(Truth 13:256-258)

It was the power of conviction and the spirit of the Lord that attended him, that gave Charles courage and wisdom in any circumstance. Once during a raid by the law, when everything seemed to be filled with confusion and uncertainty, Charles was quiet and comfortably relaxed. While others who were arrested were pacing the floor and bewildered by the events, Charles seemed to be almost unconcerned. During this black hour of indecision, Charles arose and bore a strong testimony to the others that he knew what the will of the Lord was. He also understood what the outcome would be if they would remain faithful. It was later written that “many people are happy today because this man labored with them in their hour of decision, and planted within their hearts the principles of unity.”

Joseph Musser wrote of Charles:

One of his most outstanding characteristics was that he had to have a witness for himself before he would take steps in any direction. This characteristic enabled him to stay true to the faith and die without making any concessions to the enemies of truth. (Truth 20:100)

It was on the night of July 14, 1954, at 9:00 p.m. that this stalwart soul passed from this realm of earth life. His last two weeks were spent without pain, but he serenely grew weaker day by day until–with the faintest handclasp–he closed his eyes in mortal rest.

* * * * *


[233] Those who refuse to sign a compromising declaration do so because they believe that such a document is evidence to others that their convictions were wrong. A public denial of a man’s beliefs is either an admission that they were wrong, or else those beliefs were not worth the price of a prison sentence. But, being willing to suffer in prison in defense of certain principles, is an evidence or testimony that they feel they are defending the truth. Many times such an act of sacrifice for a man’s beliefs–right or wrong–creates greater respect from others.

Several of the finest men that ever came to earth have gone to prison for their beliefs. Prison and dungeons have fashioned and molded the spirits of prophets and men of God ever since the beginning of time. When men descend below all things for a righteous cause, they have the promise that they will rise above all things.



[234]                             CHAPTER XV



… and I saw the souls of them that were beheaded for the witness of Jesus, and for the word of God, and which had not worshipped the beast, neither his image, neither had received his mark upon their foreheads, or in their hands; and they lived and reigned with Christ a thousand years. (Rev. 20:4)

Today is not without martyrs. Men are being tortured, imprisoned and killed for their testimony of Christ. Behind the Iron and Bamboo curtains, millions upon millions suffer torture and death in every conceivable form. The example of their courage should spark fire in the faith of the men who bear the Priesthood. But these Christians do not die in vain. Their testimony shall yet stand as a witness to the nations of the earth.

It is under pressure that men display strength or weakness. Temptations and opposition measure a man’s faith and fortitude. In a Gethsemane men must choose between their will or the will of God, and many of those who prove faithful are often brought to Calvary. But it is also in the torment of trial that men excuse themselves from the battle of resistence and thereby succumb to the temptation of peace at any price. In these trials of life a man’s strength is measured. True strength is not measured in muscle or mind, nor in social or financial power, but rather in the mastery of himself. Without overcoming the opposition of evil forces, no man can gain a crown.

While American Christians feast and banquet upon surpluses, millions of their Christian brothers are starving under Communism. And while free-world Christians enjoy a peaceful night’s sleep, millions of others are being tortured and beaten throughout the night. Only a few live long enough or ever escape to tell the horrid stories of the persecution and death under modern-day slavery. One such soul who lived to witness the rise and fall of men in these prison camps was Reverend Richard Wurmbrand. He saw many men compromise their faith or abandon it, while a few others nobly defended it to their death.


[235] Reverend Wurmbrand witnessed the take-over of his native land of Romania by the Communists. He saw thousands of priests, pastors and ministers compromise their beliefs by praising Communism when it took over the country. At a special congress of various Christian churches, the Communists asked the ministers to arise and speak. Each began by offering praise for Communism. They said that Christianity and Communism were fundamentally the same and could co-exist. Rev. Wurmbrand said:

My wife and I were present at this congress. My wife sat near me and told me: “Richard, stand up and wash away this shame from the face of Christ! They are spitting in His face.” I said to my wife: “If I do so, you lose your husband.” She said: “I don’t wish to have a coward as a husband.” (Tortured for Christ, p. 7)

Richard arose to speak, and that was the beginning of his serving 14 years in Soviet prison camps. He was later miraculously released and came to America where he spoke to a U.S. Government Senate hearing and said:

I received these scars from the Communist oppressors you are defending. I have seen many men die under torture rather than turn against God and yield to atheism and communism. There can be no compromise with communism. I saw a Catholic priest die, boasting that a pope would never shake hands with a communist. I am glad he does not know it has happened. (Chicago Tribune, May 7, 1966)

Reverend Wurmbrand was a witness to many men who would not make any compromises with Communism. Two such heros were a father and son.

A pastor by the name of Florescu was tortured with red hot iron pokers and with knives. He had been beaten very badly. Then he was put in a cell. Starving rats were driven into his cell through a large pipe. He could not sleep, but had to defend himself all the time. If he rested a moment or closed his eyes, the rats would attack him.

He was forced to stand for two weeks, day and night. The communists wished to compel him to betray his brethren, but he resisted steadfastly. In the end, they brought his son of the age of 14 and they began to whip the son in front of the father, saying [236] that they will continue to beat the child until the pastor says what they wished him to say. The poor man was half mad. He bore it as much as he could. When he could not stand it any more, he cried to his son: “Alexander, I must say what they want! I can’t bear any more your beating!” The son answered: “Father, don’t do to me the injustice to have a traitor as a parent. Withstand! If they kill me, I will die with the words `Jesus and my fatherland’.” The communists, enraged, fell upon the child and beat him to death, with blood spattered over the walls of the cell. He died praising God. (Tortured for Christ, p. 20)

Again he relates the story of a faithful devoted Christian girl who left one of those rare and noble examples never to be forgotten.

One of our workers was a young girl of the Underground Church. The communist police had discovered that she secretly spread Gospels and taught children about Christ. They decided to arrest her. But to make the arrest more agonizing and as painful as they could, they decided to delay her arrest a few weeks, until the very day she was to be married. On her wedding day the girl was dressed as a bride. The most wonderful, joyous day in a girl’s life! Suddenly, the door was pushed upon and the secret police rushed in.

When the bride saw the secret police, she held out her arms toward them to be handcuffed. They roughly put the manacles on her wrists. She looked toward her beloved, then kissed the chains and said, “I thank my heavenly Bridegroom for this the jewel He has presented to me on my marriage day. I thank Him that I am worthy to suffer for Him.” She was dragged off with weeping Christians and a weeping bridegroom left behind. They knew what happens to young Christian girls in the hands of communist guards. After five years she was released–a destroyed, broken woman, looking 30 years older. Her bridegroom had waited for her. (Tortured for Christ, p. 21)

Unless someone stands out to leave a proper example, too many others will follow the crowd of conformists. It is apparent that many of the sheep of Christ need someone to follow before they can stand by themselves. Such an experience happened to a minister in Hungary.



A Russian Army captain came to a minister and asked to see him alone. The boy was very young, very brash, very conscious of his role as conquerer. When he had been led to a small conference room and the door was closed, he nodded towards the cross that hung on the wall.

“You know that thing is a lie,” he said to the minister. “It’s just a piece of trickery you ministers use to delude the poor people to make it easier for the rich to keep them ignorant. Come now, we are alone. Admit to me that you never really believed that Jesus Christ was the Son of God.!”

The minister smiled. “But, my poor young man, of course I believe it. It is true.”

“I won’t have you play these tricks on me!” cried the captain. “This is serious. Don’t laugh at me!”

He drew out his revolver and held it close to the body of the minister. “Unless you admit to me that it is a lie, I’ll fire!”

“I cannot admit that, for it is not true. Our Lord is really and truly the Son of God,” said the minister. The captain flung his revolved on the floor and embraced the man of God. Tears sprang to his eyes.

“It is true!” he cried. “It is true, I believe so, too, but I could not be sure men would die for this belief until I found it out for myself. Oh, thank you! You have strengthened my faith. Now I too can die for Christ. You have shown me how.” (from the book, Through God’s Underground)

If men compromise or concede their faith, that is the example they leave. It displays a weak and inconsistent faith. A faith which wavers is of course a false faith. (See James 1:6, 7, 8, 12.) No one is impressed with a half-hearted faith.

Men who conform or abandon their faith must first justify their actions. When Holland surrendered to the German Army in 1940, many of the anti-Nazi Dutch surrendered and then gave total submission. “Maybe there is something good in Nazism,” they told themselves as they saw the tremendous show of German strength. They soon became traitors and collaborators because they were taken in by the show of the enemy’s strength and a realization of their own weakness. Other men are subdued by other reasons.


[238] One of the officers in the American Army was court-martialed for collaborating with the enemy in a Korean prison camp. He justified his conduct by saying that he took such a course of action in order to keep himself and his men alive. Isn’t that a perfectly valid argument? However, it was not necessarily true.

An internationally famous psychologist, Dr. J. Meerloo, made an intensive and comprehensive study of the principles of loyalty and disloyalty. He wrote that:

In general, we can say that the person who is honest with himself and shows a minimum of self-deceit, the man who exhibits a stable structure of character, the person with genuine maturity, is most true to himself, and, as a result, most loyal to others.

The simple man with deep-rooted, freely absorbed religious faith could exert a much greater inner resistance than could the complex, questioning intellectualist. (Rape of the Mind, p. 248, 250)

One of the noblest examples of Christian faith in our times is reflected in the life of a minister by the name of Harlan Popov. Harlan was one of those little-known ministers who lived behind the Iron Curtain. He soon became pastor of the largest protestant congregation in Bulgaria and later one of his country’s foremost “evangelists.”

But on July 24, 1848, early in the morning, his doorbell rang and three men had come to take him to the police station for “a little questioning.” The result was his spending 13 years in communist prisons and suffering many of their tortures.

Harlan had come to that rare point in a man’s life which separates ordinary men from the men of God. He had prayed all one night in his spiritual dedication, by saying, “God, my entire life is yours. I am ready to give unto you all I have.” He was soon to learn and realize a rare lesson that “to serve Him is wonderful, but to suffer for Him is an even higher privilege.”

The communists at first tolerated the ministers of religion, but as they gained control over the nation, the ministers were soon all declared “spies” and “instruments of imperialism.” The communists were determined to destroy Christianity and so they put puppets in as leaders and [239] ministers. The faithful ministers were all hauled off to prison.

When Harlan Popov was taken to the police station, he stood for ten days before a wall without moving, without food or without water. He was not allowed to speak or move. On the tenth day he said:

Still the collapse didn’t come. I lost all track of time. One day blurred into another. My swollen legs became huge, engorged with blood from complete immobility. My lips were cracked wide open and bleeding. My beard was long, for I had not been allowed to wash nor shave since the day I was arrested. My eyes were balls of fire. Yet, somehow I stood. On the tenth night, sometime after midnight I heard my interrogator snoring as he dozed off. I moved my stiff neck to the right and left. Off to the left about six feet away there was a window. Since it was dark outside I could see a reflection in the window, like a mirror. I recoiled in horror. It was a monster’s reflection! I saw a horrible emaciated figure, legs swollen, eyes like empty holes in the head, with a long beard covered with dried blood from cracked, bleeding and hideously swollen lips.

It was a grotesque, horrible figure. I was repulsed by it.

Suddenly, it struck me. That horrible, bleeding grotesque figure was ME! That “monster” was me.

My numbed mind slowly absorbed this fact and tears came to my eyes. Suddenly, I felt crushed, so alone, so by myself. I felt as Christ must have when He cried, “My God, my God, why hast thou forsaken me?” I couldn’t weep tears, but my body heaved with unwept tears. Then, in that moment of total, crushing hopelessness, I heard a voice as clear and distinct as any voice I have ever heard in my life. It said, “I WILL NEVER LEAVE YOU NOR FORSAKE YOU….”

It was so audible I dared to glance to my dozing interrogator, certain he had heard it, too, but he slept on.

The presence of God filled the Punishment Cell and enveloped me in a divine warmth, infusing strength into the shell that was my body.

It had a definite, startling physical effect on me.

My interrogator awoke with a start. He came over next to me and could sense something had happened. He didn’t know what, but he was so aware of the [240] difference he rushed out and returned with another officer. They couldn’t understand it. I heard the anxious, whispered voices of the interrogators behind me, trying to figure out what happened. I seemed to be so fresh and alive, infused with a new strength. I have never felt closer to God in my life than at that moment. He became so close to me, my heart longed to see Him. I had felt the presence of God so close and it was wonderful, superior to any feeling I have ever had. It was like a foretaste of what being with God in eternity will be like and I didn’t want to go back. (Tortured for His Faith, Harlan Popov, 31-32)

With two slices of bread and six tablespoons of soup each day, he was placed into a black and wet cell. He had spent one year without seeing a blade of grass or a living thing. Night after night he listened to the screams and crying of those who were tortured. Once he spent nine months in an airless pit, and at another time he went ten days without food or drink in sub-zero weather. He spent 13 years in communist indoctrination classes but he never “graduated”. He saw men who turned from God and he explained that “there is no limit to their depravity or to the depths to which they will sink.” He learned that “prison either destroys a man from within, or it gives him a deep spiritual strength.” He came out of communist prisons with the testimony that “if there is one certainty in this uncertain world, it is the Word of God.”

Harlan said that man’s first reaction to suffering is that it is too hard to bear. But he soon learned that suffering is of great value to a man and it is often more precious than gold. His resistance became His strength. For thirteen years, he heard them say, “…we know you are a good person, but you must conform to us and the new society we are building.” He said he continually heard the words “conform to us,” but he never would.

He describes a most unusual experience which happened to him in one of those torture chambers. When all hope seemed to be lost, he gained a testimony worth more than life itself.

One day I was taken to a little office where one of the cruelest members of the DS, Comrade Aneff, was waiting for me. Standing beside him was a man I had not seen before. He was dark and thin, with extreme-[241]ly fierce eyes and the features of a drunkard. Almost immediately, he jumped on me and began to beat me all over my body. I fell under the rain of blows, while on the floor he kicked me with all his might and screamed horrible obscenities. He screamed, “Popov, we know you! You’ve been trying to start a plot with the other pastors. We’re going to teach you who will triumph over whom!” He ordered me taken to the dampest cell in the prison. As I was led out he screamed, “You’re going to rot down there by yourself! You’ll never see the light of day again! You’re a dead man, Harlan Popov!”

Two guards led me down to the basement floor of the prison. There, at the end, was a heavy metal door, rusty from the dampness. As I was pushed through it I saw another flight of stairs going almost straight down like a ladder. I descended the steep steps into the cold dark dampness. The only light now was from the guards’ flashlights. I felt as though I were descending into the very pits of hell itself. I waited at the bottom of the steps as the guards made their way down the steep stairs. It was inhumanly cold with an unearthly blackness, blacker than I have ever seen before.

The guards took me by each arm, led me down a narrow walkway to a cell door. Opening it, they roughly shoved me in and locked it. I heard their footsteps leave, going back up the stairs to the world above.

It was deathly quiet and totally black. I couldn’t see my hand in front of my face. I felt around like a blind man, found the tin drinking cup and tapped on the walls, but I got no reply from either side of my cell. I was all alone down here in the black bowels of the earth. Then the enraged communist’s words struck me, “You’ll never see the light of day again…. You’re going to rot down there!”

I resigned myself to being forgotten down here in this deep, forgotten crevice far below even the lowest level, left to rot. And it wouldn’t be long before a man would rot here. I felt the walls and they were wet with moisture dripping down. Deep in this forgotten cell so unbelievably dark, I got on my knees and prayed, “God, I know there is no cell deep [242] enough, no iron bars strong enough to separate me from You. God, be with me. Give me strength.”

The floor of the cell was so wet from subterranean underground moisture I couldn’t lie down. I felt my way around, over to the corner and huddled down there with my arms wrapped around me for warmth and went to sleep. I don’t know when I awoke. In such absolute darkness one loses all track of time. It is like being suspended in another world. I tried to measure time in my mind, but it began playing tricks on me. Without some usual references, stars, daylight, shadows–something–a man loses all sense of measuring time. Even the blind have braille clocks, or other means. Imprisoned in that absolute vacuum of black space I had nothing.

For the first time in over a year I began to fear for my sanity. Had I been here for a day? or 20 days? For an hour, or for a week?

Only occasionally would I hear a voice, an iron grate would open and a metal plate be scooted on the floor with a little water and three or four carrots or a rotten potato with worms in it.

I now resigned myself to spending the rest of my life here. Mentally, I had accepted it. One day while I was praying, the hopelessness of my situation struck me full force. Starved, beaten, forgotten here, I knew there was no hope of ever getting out. It was a high-ranking officer who told me I would “rot” here and he meant business. Tears came to my eyes. For weeks I had been like this. “Oh, God,” I cried.

Then something happened which has never happened before or since. A light glow began to shine and a warming sensation filled the cell and enveloped my weakened, starved frame. I felt strong arms around me, cradling me in the arms of Christ Himself. That same voice which I had heard when I had stood at the wall for two weeks spoke again. I can never describe that voice. Overwrought with love and compassion, Christ spoke to me saying, “My son, I shall never forsake you. My arms are around you and in them I shall comfort you and give you strength.”



Tears flowed down my cheeks as I was held in the embrace of Christ. I know some readers may think this extreme, but when I was at the point of madness and despair, Christ let me know He had not forgotten me there huddled in the blackness of a forgotten cell in the bowels of the earth. It was a beautiful loving embrace and a moment that made all the suffering worthwhile. How I love Him! If all men in the world could only know this Christ in His beauty and love! (Ibid., pp. 59-62)

Men everywhere today are making compromises under the guise of improvement, progression or safety. In every field of social, educational, religious or political endeavors, the reconciling and compromising are leading the world into a total vortex of destruction. Even America is selling freedom by a gradual deliverance to the inter-national slave-masters of communism.

The international Communists, through the Communist Party, U.S.A., and their numerous liberal allies in America, sold the “powers that be” in high places of Washington, D.C., this damnable doctrine that if the United States want peace in the world, we must constantly seek areas of compromise and adjustment with the Soviet Union and Red China.

In other words, the United States should sit still and play dead, while Soviet Union rolls over the free world, for if we were to object or resist Red aggression, we would risk war. Unwilling to plunge the world into a nuclear war, we must seek accommodation and/or compromise with the Communist countries, giving in to their every little demand for peace sake.

All of these terms. . . “peaceful coexistence,” “accommodation,” and “detente” mean simply “appeasement.” Officially, the United States is in the process of appeasing our international enemy. The policy of piecemeal political surrender to the hostile demands of an aggressive dictatorial enemy, such as world communism is now considered by the makers of our federal policy less dreadful than war.

There is no difference between what Chamberlain did in Munich and what Nixon and Kissinger have done in Red China or Red Russia. It is appeasement. They have chosen to surrender piece-meal in preference to an allout atomic war, but it is surrender and suicide, no matter what you call it. (Christian Crusade Weekly, May 25, 1975, p. 1; excerpts)


[244] Men and nations have generally become corrupted by compromising their faith in God. As faith is weakened, there is a loss of the Spirit of God–and without the Spirit of God, destruction is certain.



[245]                            CHAPTER XVI





Let us here observe, that a religion that does not require the sacrifice of all things never has power sufficient to produce the faith necessary unto life and salvation. (Sixth Lecture on Faith, No. 7)

There is no reason for a true Saint to have fear. We do not stand alone because God is with us. He has also promised to fight our battles. Paul the Apostle, writing to young Timothy said, “God has not given us the spirit of fear; but of power.” God is the strength within us.

The weaknesses of fear and doubt destroy faith because fear and faith cannot exist together. Men of faith must learn to place everything upon the altar of God–nothing should have more value than the love of God. When we are willing to serve Him “at all hazards”, it is then that we perfect our faith in Him. And only then will He manifest Himself to us.

Paul’s advice to Timothy was, “If we suffer, we shall also reign with him: if we deny him, he also will deny us.” (II Tim. 2:12) Paul wrote these words from a prison in Rome, knowing that it would probably be the last letter he would ever write. He then added,

For I am now ready to be offered, and the time of my departure is at hand. I have fought a good fight, I have finished my course, I have kept the faith.” (II Tim. 4:6-7)


God desires that kind of spirit in men because “without faith it is impossible to please Him.” (Heb. 11:6)

It is a truth that men do not necessarily believe what is written in their creeds–but rather in the things they are willing to die for.

In our own dispensation God said to His people:



…be firm in keeping the commandments wherewith I have commanded you; and if you do this, behold I grant unto you eternal life, even if you should be slain. (D. & C. 5:22)

God cannot accomplish His work with cowards. The Prophet Joseph Smith said that “God never will acknowledge any traitors” because once they betray, they will betray again. The weak always find excuses to compromise gospel principles with their enemies. When danger approaches, they can concoct many justifiable reasons to save them selves, their families, or something else. But half-hearted leaders and laymen pose the most serious threat to the work of God, for they assert their own will and compromises as the “will of God.” Therefore, men who take upon themselves the name of Christ must be totally committed to Him. Joseph Musser said the scriptures clearly say that…

…to claim immunity from a divine requirement, one must first put forth every effort to accomplish it–“go with their might,” “cease not their diligence,” otherwise there can be no valid excuse. Having done their part, the Lord has promised to vindicate them, fight their battles, and punish their enemies accordingly. Conversely, Saints failing in their part must expect to suffer for such failure. The enemy, while receiving just censure for its actions, will not be made to carry the whole load of condemnation. (Truth, 6:83)

When traditions, customs, family or even the laws of the land conflict with the laws of God, such opposition may be God’s way of testing men’s faith. Confronted by any conflict with the laws of God, a true Saint will always honor the commandments of God. He knows that abandoning gospel standards is sinful, it is a betrayal, and is the first step towards apostacy. If God requires a Christian to suffer, to sacrifice, or to die, then such offerings become his sacred duty. God has no reason to offer blessings to men who whine, complain or make compromises because of chastisements or suffering.

You and I cannot be made perfect except through suffering: Jesus could not. In His prayer and agony in the Garden of Gethsemane, He foreshadowed the purifying process necessary in the lives of those whose ambition prompts them to secure the glory of a celestial kingdom. NONE SHOULD TRY TO ESCAPE BY RESORTING [247] TO ANY COMPROMISING MEASURES. (Lorenzo Snow, J.D. 26:367, Jan. 10, 1886)

Some suppose that if they are sent to prison, they will gain no more than wasting away, But they do not understand the reason for such experiences. President Brigham Young explained:

Is it necessary we should suffer? Yes, it is just as necessary that Saints should be persecuted, afflicted, cast down and suffer, as anything else in the providences of God that is dealt out to them.

You cannot receive an exaltation without your first knowing how to appreciate it. If you take an idiot that is so far sunk into idiocy as to be entirely incapable of understanding, seeing, hearing, tasting, and smelling, and place him upon an earthly throne, clothed in the robes of state, and tell him he has dominion over a great nation, would he feel any different than he would on a dung hill clothed in filthy rags? You might as well sit him on a stool in the stable, and tell him to count, or play with the straws, and he will experience as much, taste as much, see and hear as much, know and enjoy as much as he would seated upon a throne as the king of a great nation. He should be equally as useless, as inactive, and look as foolish seated upon an eternal throne as everlasting kings without experiencing earthly sufferings, toil, and fatigue. (Unpub. Dis., Oct. 1, 1854, p. 11)

Thousands upon thousands of Christians have been terrified by the fury of their persecutors and purchased their freedom at the sacrifice of their faith. But there have always been a few, both poor and rich, the humble and the noble, who have fearlessly born their testimony to the truth from dungeon cells, and in painful tortures, but they were rejoicing that they were counted worthy to know “the fellowship of His sufferings.” God has reserved the Celestial Kingdom only for these valiant emissaries of Christ.

The devil is the most frightful and dreaded enemy of the soldiers of Christ. Yet, Satan and his imps are an essential factor in man’s ascent to exaltation. For this reason it is necessary that every Saint understand the methods and battle tactics of this arch-enemy. Hence, it is in the spiritual arena that a man of God receives his severest combats, and his most sublime experiences.


[248] Why did Paul the Apostle say that we should “put on the whole armour of God” (Eph 6:11) if there is no battle? We have been warned of Satan’s great “powers, and signs and lying wonders,” (I John 3:10) yet today he is considered more of a doctrinal trinket than a powerful and dangerous force in the world.

The scriptures inform us that he is a “deceiver” (2 Cor. 11:3), “a hinderer” (I Thes. 2:18), “an adversary” (I Peter 5:8), “a tempter” (I Thes. 3:5), with such power that he can “appear as an angel of light.” (2 Cor. 11:14) and that he will someday be seated “in the temple of God, shewing himself that he is God.” (2 Thes. 2:4) He has gained the title of “Prince of the power of the air” (Eph. 2:2) and of the waters of the earth. (D. & C. 61:19). Indeed the devil has become “the god of this world” (Eph.2:2 and 2 Cor. 4:4), and he claims to be the ruler of all its kingdoms. (Matt. 4:9 and D. & C. 103:7) The world today clearly represents the masterful achievements of this “prince of darkness.”

Modern civilization has developed into an advanced state of decomposition and moral depravity. In place of our time-honored virtues of hard work, self-discipline, love of family and liberty, we look around to see corruptions of vice, the welfare dole, a bloated government bureaucracy that destroys initiative and freedom. A general trend of molding everyone into a conglomerate mass of an institutionalized society pervades the thinking and character of today’s Americans. The old time standards and the common sense values of right and wrong are being broken down. Men have compromised righteous virtues for permissiveness, conceded thrift for massive indebtedness, and abandoned restraint and self-discipline for “doing their own thing.”

The world is adrift on a sea of sin. Men have abandoned religious faith. Our materialistic world is not only violating moral standards, but also believing that there aren’t any. One indignant father told his kids, “If you don’t stand up for something, you’ll fall for anything,” and most of them do.

Our world today excells in its knowledge of the keys of science. Our computer age of rocketry to the moon and atom-splitting technology is leading an immoral society into passivism and atheism.


[249] Men’s moral strength and righteous convictions are becoming a thing of the past. We are being taught to justify, to modify, and make excuses for our lack of faith. We are being brainwashed from the concessionary swamp of timidity and expediency. The result is that our hospitals, mental institutions and prisons are overflowing. We live in a sick and dying society.

The history of the world is nothing more or less than the story of man’s faith or faithlessness toward God. In righteousness men and nations prosper, but if they disregard His laws, their empires crumble to dust. The Psalmist has said that “righteousness exalteth a nation but sin is a reproach to any people.” Individuals, like nations, rise or fall according to their trust in God.

God, like an artist, has painted a vivid and descriptive portrait of our apostate world in these last days. He illustrates this picture as a fallen woman who became a harlot. This unfaithful woman became guilty of the worst kinds of immorality and sin. This is the picture painted by God to describe the great apostasy of the last days. In the revelation given to the Apostle John, God portrays the world’s social, economic, religious and political powers as the great deceiving, enticing and cunning harlot. This wicked woman is arrayed in purple and scarlet robes, ornamented with gold, silver and precious jewels. And, the harlot is drunk–she is drunk with the blood of the true disciples of Christ, for in her drunken rage and rebellion she fights against them. Thus, the leaders of all the nations “commit fornication with her and the inhabitants of the earth are made drunk with her wine.” (Rev. 17:1-2)

God has also used this illustration before. He once spoke of Israel as the wife of Jehovah (Isa. 54:5), but when they apostatized they were described as an unfaithful wife. (Hosea 2:1-2) In the New Testament the true Church is also described as the “bride” of Christ (Rev. 19:7) but by apostatizing she would, of course, become an “unfaithful” and “rebellious” wife.

John said this woman in the last days would be riding upon a “beast” which was full of the “names of blasphemy.” In the 13th Chapter of Revelations the beast is represented as the anti-Christ and the world is his empire. The beast has ten horns–these represent the major kingdoms, or nations, used by the anti-Christ to fight against the Saints of God. Later, a “little horn” or nation would grow up in [250] these latter days and this little horn would make war upon the Saints of God and it “prevailed against them.” (Dan. 7:21) This “little horn” or nation is the United States! It is the only new nation in the last days to make a hostile and victorious war against the true Saints of God. But how did it “overcome” the Saints? Simply by causing them to abandon the “faith that was once delivered to them.” Abandoning the doctrines of Christ becomes the most dangerous temptation of the wicked woman–it is a seductive evil and sin which brings about spiritual darkness and spiritual infidelity.

Who then, are those who are not included in the harlot’s great seduction? Those faithful few who have neither turned to the right nor to the left from the principles and doctrines of Christ. All the others who have compromised with the world, are drinking from the wine of the harlot’s golden cup! In doing so they will also become as drunk as she is–then in that spiritually weakened condition they become conditioned for her fatal seduction of apostasy.

The Prophet Joseph Smith said that the devil may declare “many true things and many false things,” and he can “make righteousness appear strange.” But he always “opposes good men” and “seeks to thwart the decrees of God.” His “smooth sophisticated influence” has “deceived the whole world” and only a man who “possesses intelligence which is more than human” can detect the evil “power and influence.” Therefore, he warned, “if we are not drawing towards God in principle, we are going from Him and drawing towards the devil.” Then the Prophet continued: “There are so many fools in the world for the devil to operate upon, it gives him the advantage oftentimes.”

But nothing marks the pathway of Lucifer more clearly than a study into history to discover his infiltration into the quorums of the servants of Christ. It is here that Satan is seen as the great master counterfeiter. He transforms evils into something that appears to be good. He peddles his merchandise as an offering from God. In every dispensation he has incorporated changes, compromises and reverses in gospel principles. And regretfully many of God’s servants, who should have been the foremost defenders of the gospel, were lured away by these deluded deceptions.


[251] The most ardent desire of Satan is to make the gospel of Christ inconsistent. Consider these devices he has employed in his tactics to modify and transform the gospel:


  1. He creates malice and enmity against the Lord’s uncompromising Saints. The true Saints of God are always spoken of as evil.


  1. He makes error appear to be the truth. He slightly and continuously makes minor changes in the truth as an “improvement” or “progressive” measure, but always maintaining that it is still the truth.


  1. He substitutes the laws of man for the laws of God. He will convince men that to obey the laws of man is really the will of God–even though the laws of God and the laws of man contradict each other.


  1. He convinces men to follow other men rather than their Creator. By persuading men to put their trust in the arm of flesh, he soon establishes leaders who become objects of reverence.


  1. Then he persuades leading men to revere their own words above the words of God. By their own decrees the word of God is altered, disregarded or set aside.


  1. The devil misconstrues the identity and true character of God while tradition or philosophy is incorporated into men’s faith.


  1. He prevents people from obeying the laws of God by saying they are revoked, done away, or outdated. Eternal principles soon become temporary principles. Eternal laws and ordinances are then taught to be “lived only in heaven but not on earth.” Some Gospel principles are taught as “true principles,” but anyone living them is committing an “evil.”


  1. He attempts to govern people by persuasion, impressions, influences, feelings and fears rather than the written word of God.


  1. He uses money, social positions, and man-made traditions to persuade men to compromise. By making a man of God feel alone, peculiar and rejected, he is often persuaded to join with the larger, richer and more popular clans of men.


  1. He uses peace and prosperity as a barometer of “God’s blessings” and that “all is well.” When men feel secure they become satisfied that “all is well in Zion.” Thus the devil cheateth their souls and “carefully leads them.”

With these and many other influences, the devil leads the Saints by separating them from the true gospel of Christ–and the association of God. Each minor compromise is a victory for Lucifer because the Prophet said, “the moment we revolt at anything which comes from God, the devil takes power.” (T.P.J.S., p. 181)

Apostasy is not always known by its violent opposition or its gruesome persecution against the Church. Apostasy may be a very minor altering, changing or denial of eternal truth. Thus, men should be extremely careful about any written, verbal, public or secret form of concession to an error. Men should be more fearful of apostasy than death itself, for Jesus warned His disciples that they should “fear not them that kill the body,” but “fear him which is able to destroy both soul and body in hell.” (Mat. 10:28)

Not all men have faith (D. & C. 88:118), and many of them must be taught “words of wisdom” and the simple principles pertaining to faith in Jesus Christ. Such men in these moments of testing and trial suppose that God would forsake them, or leave them in a prison to rot. But God–knowing our weaknesses and our strength–has promised that “the Lord giveth no commandments unto the children of men, save he shall prepare a way for them that they may accomplish the thing which he commandeth them.” (I Nephi 3:7) Men need not resort to surrender, retraction or apostasy to accomplish it.

Lorenzo Snow said it best by stating:

I wish to offer a word of caution to my brethren that you may beware, and commit no grave errors when brought into positions of trial and temptation. Some, unfortunately, have disregarded this injunction, and have imprinted a stain upon their character, and a blot upon their record which cannot be erased in time–perhaps not in eternity. These are fearful mistakes. Better suffer a thousand deaths than succumb to the force of persecution by promising to discard a single principle which God has revealed for our glory [253] and exaltation. Our character, as Latter-day Saints, should be preserved inviolate, at whatever cost or sacrifice. (Lorenzo Snow, J.D. 26:368, Jan. 10, 1886)

When Joseph Smith went into the woods to pray for wisdom, he learned two important things: first, that he must ask and depend solely upon God for wisdom and guidance. And secondly, that he must have faith, “nothing wavering, for he that wavereth is like a wave of the sea, driven with the wind and tossed.” An editor of the Church News ironically wrote the following article at the time 15 men were arrested for plural marriage:


The Lord loves stability, and expects it in His people. He desires not only that we pray with unwavering faith, but that we keep all of His commandments without wavering. Faith in the gospel and compliance with its teachings are closely related. If our faith in a given principle is not sound, we are not likely to live that principle with devotion. On the other hand, faith is strengthened by living the gospel. Seeing divine laws work out in practice gives us assurance and bolsters our conviction as to their truth.

To earn the blessings of heaven we must serve the Lord with all our heart, might, mind and soul. We cannot half-heartedly contribute to His cause, or keep some of the commandments and feel at liberty to ignore others, and expect to win the crown.

We must set our hand to the plow, and not look back. We must follow the Master with complete devotion each day of our lives, and never waver “for he that wavereth is like a wave of the sea, driven with the wind and tossed.” (Des. News, abt. June 8, 1944)

Joseph Smith learned that in the waters of baptism the Saints would “take upon them the name of Christ.” This meant they would lose their own identity and become servants to their Master Jesus Christ. No longer would their own will or their own wishes precede the will of the Lord.

Men accept baptism as a covenant to serve the Lord with a total commitment. There are to be no half-hearted or half-willed Christians. The Lord demands the whole of their “might, mind and strength.”


[254] Many Saints make further covenants in the Lord’s temple. If they do not keep those covenants, the devil has decreed they would then be in his power.

In the early days of the Church an elder by the name of Behunnin learned that once he took upon himself the name of Christ, there never would be any more neutral ground. The Prophet Joseph told him that when…

…you enlisted to serve God, you left neutral ground, and you never can get back on it. Should you forsake the Master you enlisted to serve, it will be by the instigation of the evil one, and you will follow his dictation and be his servant. (Juv. Instr. 27:492)

Pure faith is pure devotion. A true disciple of Christ will not only teach God’s word, but he will also sacrifice or suffer to defend it.

Valiant Saints have become “destitute, afflicted, tormented; (of whom the world was not worthy;) they wandered in deserts, and in mountains, and in dens and caves of the earth” (Heb. 11:37-38)–simply because they would not compromise with the world. These soldiers of Christ were brought to trial and suffered “bonds and imprisonment,” with a “mocking and scourging.” Many had to seal their testimony of the truth with their blood. Some were thrown to wild beasts, or burned alive, while others finally expired from mortality through thirst and famine in some dark recess of an obscure dungeon.

Even in the Reformation courageous men died for much less than Mormonism. When we look back upon those bloodstained pages of history, we know they were not sacrificed in vain. Under severe persecutions these valiant men of God bore witness of the pathway to Christ. With the loss of every earthly blessing, through privations and suffering, they could not be forced to renounce their faith nor abandon those sacred principles. And, like their Master, they would suffer all things, including an ignominious death rather than make concession with the servants of the prince of darkness. Thus, like all of God’s true servants, they proved their valiancy to the truth by being “tortured, not accepting deliverance; that they might obtain a better resurrection.” (Heb. 11:35)


[255] Their living example and their dying testimony stand as a light and a witness for Christ to all those weak and wayward who would deny or change the principles, doctrines and ordinances of the Gospel.

Illustrious heroes! They have gone, but their examples stand like pillars in the temple of faith. Their lives now shine like monuments of valor to all those thousands that may yet travel through their Gethsemane and Golgatha. If you are ever brought to the test of your faith, will you alter your convictions to appease your enemies? Will you sign an oath to save your life? How sacred are the principles you declare to be true? Perhaps no man knows until he is brought to his Gethsemane. But now is the time to prepare for that trial.

The Prophet Joseph Smith learned an important lesson from the Lord during his incarceration in a dungeon in Missouri. The Lord revealed:

My son, peace be unto thy soul; thine adversity and thine afflictions shall be but a small moment; And then, if thou endure it well, God shall exalt thee on high; thou shalt triumph over all thy foes. (D. & C. 121:7-8)

In those dark hours of peril when men drink of that bitter cup, they must endure to be worthy of bearing the cross of Christ. In the providence of God, His straight and narrow path is often a trial of men’s faith. It serves as a purification of the dross so that men may inherit a place of glory with Him in His Kingdom.

If a soldier on a bloody battlefield can be claimed a hero for a few minutes of valor in combat, then what honors shall be for those who offer a lifetime of faith and courage in the battle against the prince of darkness? It is only in this contest that men obtain their crown, for without a battle there is no victory; and without a victory there is no honor. In God’s work men must not stop short of death or victory.

From out of the archives of the past and the present, there are too few honorable examples of valiant men of God. Too many men have yielded to temptations and compromised their faith. But how magnificent have been those souls who made no excuses, or justifications, but nobly stood before tribunals, magistrates, officers of the law, or [256] murderous mobs–unwilling to yield to unholy demands. Their fate they left in the hands of God–live or die-fetters or freedom–they stood the test. No price was too great; no sacrifice was too precious for the Gospel of Christ. When these Christian soldiers let God decide their destiny, it was in that magnificent faith that they humbly proclaimed, “Not my will but Thine be done.”


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