Letter to A Sister in New Hampshire
We are all well here, and are prosperous and happy in our family circle. My children, four in number, are healthy and cheerful, and fast expanding their physical and intellectual faculties. Health, peace, and prosperity have attended us all the day long.
It seems, my dear sister, that we are no nearer together in our religious views than formerly. Why is this? Are we not bound to leave this world, with all we possess therein, and reap the reward of our doings here in a never-ending hereafter? If so, do we not desire to be un-deceived, and to know and to do the truth? Do we not all wish in our very hearts to be sincere with ourselves, and to be honest and frank with each other?
If so, you will bear with me patiently, while I give a few of my reasons for embracing, and holding sacred, that particular point in the doctrine of the Church of the Saints to which you, my dear sister, together with a large majority of Christendom, so decidedly object. I mean, a "plurality of wives."
I have a Bible, which I have been taught from
my infancy to hold sacred. In this Bible, I read of a holy man named
Abraham, who is represented as the friend of God, a
faithful man in all things, a man who kept the commandments of God, and
who is called, in the New Testament, "the father of the faithful." See James
2:23; Romans 4:16;
I also find his grandson Jacob possessed of four
wives, twelve sons, and a daughter.
Jacob himself was also a man of God, and the Lord
blessed him and his house, and commanded him to be fruitful and multiply.
See Genesis 30 to 35 and particularly 35:10,11.
Now God talked with Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob
frequently; and His angels also visited and talked with them, and blessed
them and their wives and children. He also reproved the sins of some of the sons
of Jacob, for hating and selling their brother, and for adultery. But in all His
communications with them, He never condemned their family organization; but, on
the contrary, always approved of it, and blessed them in this respect.
David the Psalmist not only had a plurality of wives, but the Lord Himself spoke by the mouth of Nathan the Prophet, and told David that He (the Lord) had given his master's wives into his bosom; but because he had committed adultery with the wife of Uriah, and had caused his murder, He would take his wives and give them to a neighbor of his, &c. See 2 Samuel 12:7-11.
Here, then, we have the word of the Lord, not only sanctioning polygamy, but actually giving to king David the wives of his master (Saul), and afterward taking the wives of David from him, and giving them to another man. Here we have a sample of severe reproof and punishment for adultery and murder, while polygamy is authorized and approved of God.
But to come to the New Testament. I find Jesus
Christ speaks very highly of Abraham and his family.
Again he said, "If ye were Abraham's seed, ye would do the works of Abraham."
Paul the Apostle wrote to the saints of his day, and informed them as follows: "As many of you as have been baptized into Christ have put on Christ; and if ye are Christ's, then are ye Abraham's seed, and heirs according to the promise."
He also sets forth Abraham and Sarah as patterns of faith and good works, and as the father and mother of faithful Christians, who should, by faith and good works, aspire to be counted the sons of Abraham and daughters of Sarah.
Now let us look at some of the works of Sarah, for which she is so highly commended by the Apostles, and by them held up as a pattern for Christian ladies to imitate. "Now Sarah, Abram's wife, bare him no children; and she had a handmaid, an Egyptian, whose name was Hagar. And Sarah said unto Abram, Behold now, the Lord hath restrained me from bearing: I pray thee go in unto my maid: it may be that I may obtain children of her. And Abram harkened unto the voice of Sarah. And Sarah, Abram's wife, took Hagar her maid, the Egyptian, after Abram had dwelt ten years in the land of Canaan, and gave her to her husband, Abram, to be his wife." See Genesis 16:1-3.
According to Jesus Christ and the Apostles, then, the only way to be saved is to be adopted into the great family of polygamists, by the Gospel, and then strictly follow their examples.
Again, John the Revelator describes the Holy City of the heavenly Jerusalem, with the names of the twelve sons of Jacob inscribed on the gates. Revelation 21:12.
To sum up the whole, then, I find that polygamists were the friends of God; that the family and lineage of a polygamist were selected, in which all nations should be blessed; that a polygamist is named in the New Testament as the father of the faithful Christians of after ages, and cited as a pattern for all generations; that the wife of a polygamist, who encouraged her husband in the practice of the same, and even urged him into it, and officiated in giving him another wife, is named as an honorable and virtuous woman, a pattern for Christian ladies, and the very mother of all holy women in the Christian Church, whose aspiration it should be to be called her daughters; that Jesus Christ has declared that the great fathers of the polygamic family stand at the head in the kingdom of God; in short, that all the saved of after generations should be saved by becoming members of a polygamic family; that all those who do not become members of it are strangers and aliens to the covenant of promise, the commonwealth of Israel, and not heirs according to the promise made to Abraham; that all people from the east, west, north, or south, who enter into the kingdom, enter into the society of polygamists, and under the patriarchal rule and government; indeed, no one can even approach the gates of heaven without beholding the names of twelve polygamists (the sons of four different women by one man) engraven in everlasting glory upon the pearly gates.
My dear sister, with the Scriptures before me, I could never find it in my heart to reject the heavenly vision which has restored to man the fullness of the Gospel, or the Latter Day Prophets and Apostles, merely because in this restoration is included the ancient law of matrimony and of family organization and government, preparatory to the restoration of all Israel.
But, leaving all Scripture, history, or precedent out of the question, let us come to nature's law. What, then, appears the great object of the marriage relations? I answer, the multiplying of our species, the rearing and training of children.
To accomplish this object, natural law would dictate that a husband should remain apart from his wife at certain seasons, which, in the very constitution of the female, are untimely; or, in other words, indulgence should be not merely for pleasure or wanton desires, but mainly for the purpose of procreation.
The mortality of nature would teach a mother, that, during nature's process in the formation and growth of embryo man, her heart should be pure, her thoughts and affections chaste, her mind calm, her passions without excitement, while her body should be invigorated with very exercise conducive to health and vigor, but by no means subjected to anything calculated to disturb, irritate, weary, or exhaust any of its functions.
And while a kind husband should nourish, sustain, and comfort the wife of his bosom by every kindness and attention consistent with her situation, and with his most tender affection; still he should refrain from all those untimely associations which are forbidden in the great constitutional laws of female nature; which laws we see carried out in almost the entire animal economy, human animals excepted.
Polygamy, then, as practiced under the Patriarchal law of God, tends directly to the chastity of women, and to sound health and morals in the constitutions of their offspring.
You can read, in the law of God, in your Bible, the times and circumstances under which a woman should remain apart from her husband, during which times she is considered unclean; and should her husband come to her bed under such circumstances, he would commit a gross sin both against the laws of nature and the wise provisions of God's law, as revealed in His word; in short, he would commit an abomination; he would sin both against his own body, against the body of his wife, and against the laws of procreation, in which the health and morals of the offspring are directly concerned.
The polygamic law of God opens all vigorous, healthy, and virtuous females a door by which they may become honorable wives of virtuous men, and mothers of faithful, virtuous, healthy, and vigorous children.
And here let me ask you, my dear sister, what female in all New Hampshire would marry a drunkard, a man of hereditary disease, a debauchee, an idler, or a spendthrift; or what woman would become a prostitute, or, on the other hand, live and die single, or without forming those inexpressibly dear relationships of wife and mother, if the Abrahamic covenant, or Patriarchal laws of God, were extended over your state, and held sacred and honorable by all?
Dear sister, in your thoughtlessness,
you inquire, "Why not a plurality of
husbands as well as a plurality of wives?"
I again repeat, that nature has constituted the
female differently from the male; and for a different purpose.
Not so with man. He has no such drawback upon his strength. It is his to move in a wider sphere. If God shall count him worthy of an hundred fold, in this life, of wives and children, and houses, and lands, and kindred's, he may even aspire to Patriarchal sovereignty, to empire; to be the prince or head of a tribe, or tribes; and like Abraham of old, be able to send forth, for the defense of his country, hundreds and thousands of his own warriors, born in his own house.
A noble man of God, who is full of the Spirit of the Most High, and is counted worthy to converse with Jehovah, or with the Son of God; and to associate with angels, and the spirits of just men made perfect; one who will teach his children, and bring them up in the light of unadulterated and eternal truth; is more worthy of hundred wives and children, than the ignorant slave of passion, or for vice and folly, is to have one wife and one child. Indeed the God of Abraham is so much better pleased with one than with the other, that he would even take away the one talent, which is habitually abused, neglected, or put to an improper use, and give it to him who has ten talents.
In the Patriarchal order of family government, the
wife is bound by the law of her husband. She honors,
The children are also under his government, worlds without end. "While life or thought, or being lasts, or immortality endures," they are bound to obey him as their father and king.
He also has a head, to whom he is responsible. He must keep the
commandments of God, and observe His laws.
Hence a nation organized under
the law of the
Gospel, or in other words, the law of Abraham and the Patriarchs,
O my dear sister! could the dark veil of tradition be rent from your mind! could you gaze for a moment on the resurrection of the just! could you behold Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob, and their wives and children, clad in the bosom, freshness, and beauty of immortal flesh and bones; clothed in robes of fine white linen, bedecked with precious stones and gold; and surrounded with an offspring of immortals as countless as the stars of the firmament, or as the grains of sand upon the sea shore; over which they reign as kings and queens for ever and ever! you would then know something of the weight of those words of the sacred writer which are recorded in relation to the four wives of Jacob, the mothers of the twelve Patriarchs, namely: "These did build the house of Israel."
O that my dear kindred could but realize that they have need to repent of the sins, ignorance, and traditions of those perverted systems which are misnamed "Christianity," and be baptized - buried in the water, in the likeness of the death and burial of Jesus Christ, and rise to newness of life in the likeness of his resurrection; receive his Spirit by the laying on of hands of an Apostle, according to promise, and forsake the world and the pride thereof. They would be adopted into the family of Abraham, become his sons and daughters, see and enjoy for themselves the visions of the Spirit of eternal truth, which bear witness of the family order of heaven, and the beauties and glories of eternal kindred ties; for my pen can never describe them.
Dear, dear kindred: remember, according to the New Testament and the testimony of an ancient Apostle, if you are ever saved in the kingdom of God, it must be by being adopted into the family of polygamists - the family of the great Patriarch Abraham: for in his seed, or family, and not out of it, "shall all the nations and kindreds of the earth be blessed."
You say you believe polygamy is "licentiousness;" that it is "abominable,"
"beastly," &c; "the practice of only the most barbarous nations, or of dark
ages, or of some great or good men who were left to commit gross sins."
Now in order to comply with your wishes, I must renounce the Old and New Testaments; must count Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob, and their families, as licentious, wicked, beastly, abominable characters; Moses, Nathan, David, and the Prophets, no better. I must look upon the God of Israel as partaker in all these abominations, by holding them in fellowship; and even as a minister of such iniquity, by king Saul's wives into king David's bosom; and afterwards by taking David's wives from him, and giving them to his neighbor. I must consider Jesus Christ, and Paul, and John, as either living in a age, as full of the darkness and ignorance of barbarous climes, or else willfully abominable and wicked, in fellowshipping polygamists, and representing them as fathers of the faithful, and rulers in heaven. I must doom them all to hell, with adulterers, ignorant persons, who, knowing little, were beaten with few stripes. While, by analogy, I must learn to consider the Roman Popes, clergy, and nuns, who do not marry at all, as foremost in the ranks of glory; and those Catholics and Protestants who have but one wife, as next in order of salvation, glory, immortality, and eternal life.
Now, my dear friends, much as I long to see you, and
dear as you are to me, I can never come to these terms.
For instance, I have (as you see, in all good conscience, founded on the
word of God) formed a family and kindred ties, which are inexpressibly dear to
me, and which I can never bring my feelings to consent to dissolve. I have a
good and virtuous husband whom I love. We have four little children which are
mutually and inexpressibly dear to us.
Now, as to visiting my kindred in New Hampshire, I would be pleased to do so, were it the will of God. But first, the laws of that state must be so modified by enlightened legislation, and the customs and consciences of its inhabitants, and of my kindred, so altered, that my husband can accompany me with all his wives and children, and be as much respected and honored in his family organization, and in his holy calling, as he is at home; or in the same manner as the Patriarch Jacob is in the ascendancy; the house of Israel is about to be restored: while "Mystery Babylon," with all her institutions, awaits her own overthrow. Till this is the case in New Hampshire, my kindred will be under the necessity of coming here to see us, or, on the other hand, we will be mutually compelled to forgo the pleasure of each other's company.
You mention, in your letter, that Paul, the Apostle,
recommended that Bishops be the husband of one wife. Why this was the case, I do
not know, unless it was, as he says, that while he was among the
Romans he did as the Romans did. Rome, at that
time, governed the world, as it were; and although gross idolaters, they held to
the one wife system. Under these circumstances, no doubt, the Apostle Paul,
seeing a great many polygamists in the Church, recommended that they had better
choose for this particular temporal office, men of small families, who would not
be in disrepute with the government. This is precisely our course in those
countries where Roman institutions still bear sway.
You inquire why Elder W., when at your house, denied that the Church of
this age held to the doctrine of plurality.
Now, dear sister, I must close. I wish all my kindred and old acquaintances to see this letter, or a copy thereof; and that they will consider it as if written to themselves. I love them dearly, and greatly desire and pray for their salvation, and that we may all meet with Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob, in the kingdom of God.
Dear sister, do not let your prejudices and
traditions keep you from believing the Bible; nor pride, shame, or love
of the world keep you from your seat in the kingdom of heaven, among the royal
family of polygamists. Write often and freely.