Latter Day Saints' Messenger and Advocate/Volume 2/Number 7/Letter to Oliver Cowdery from Sidney Rigdon (Apr. 1836)
For the Messenger and Advocate.
Br. O. COWDERY
Sir:—It appears that the notice which I took of Simons Rider in the Messenger and Advocate of January last, has given some offence to him, as according to his usual way of correcting my errors, he has been leveling his shafts at me, at the distance of thirty or forty miles; where he thinks I suppose that he can vent his feelings with safety, as there will be no person to call him to an account for it.
He complains it appears, that I have injured his character to publishing his conduct to the world in your periodical. Now, that he should be ashamed to have his conduct made a public thing is not at all surprising to me; for I should think that would of necessity be the case; for while there are any people who acknowledge him as a public teacher, his conduct is not very credible to him. But what surprises me is, that he should charge me with injuring his character, as he knows that there was nothing said in your paper concerning him but what was strictly true; for he does know most assuredly, that without cause or provocation, he made an unmanly attack as well as an unrighteous one, upon myself, as well as others of the church of the Latter Day Saints.
He attacked both our characters and religion, in public assemblies, and in his public proclaimings; and that at a time, when we had no way of exposing his wickedness: we had no paper through which we could communicate to the world. He availed himself of this our defens[e]less situation, to do all the injury he could, and if possible, to stop the spread of truth; but in this he failed, and when called upon to support his assertions in my presence, he had recourse to slander and abuse: these things Simons knows to be true. Why then complain that I have injured his character, by publishing them to the world? it is the same as to say, that his character cannot stand where truth prevails, and I have no reason that I know of, to doubt it. I am sure his religion cannot stand the test of truth, and he knows it as well as I do, and I expect he things his character is equally as weak, and would fall as easy to prey to the truth as his religion.
How far the charge of dishonesty, can be preferred in truth against Simons Rider, as well as others, of the smaller animals of this species (I mean the Campbellites) remains yet to be made manifest; as they, at present, are under tutors and governors, and not at liberty to think for themselves. For instance, there are A. Bently S. Rider as well as others, who at present are not at liberty to think for themselves; but must think as A. Campbell, and W. Scott think. They are not at liberty to believe what the bible says, unless they first find it in the Evangelist, or Harbinger, and then, and not till then dare they believe it; but if they find it in the Evangelist, or Harbinger, it matters not whether it is in the bible or whether it is not in it, of course, in their estimation it is true; because brother Campbell, or brother Scott, has said it, that is enough: bible or no bible.
We feel in the mean time at liberty to say, that we have all the evidence necessary to satisfy our mind, that Messrs. Campbell, and Scott, the leaders of that brotherhood, are not honest in their religion: they are men who think and act for themselves, independently, and they do know, that the same Jesus who said to his disciples "Go ye into all the world, and preach the gospel to every creature: he that believeth and is baptized shall be saved, and he that believeth not shall be damned." Also said "That signs shall follow them that believe &c.
Now that Messrs. Bently, Rider and others, should not know this is not surprising, because they never saw it, in either the harbinger, or evangelist and not having seen it there, of course could not say whether it was in any other place or not. But Messrs. Campbell and Scott, are not thus tram[m]eled: they know it is there, and they do know also, that they have the same authority for saying "these signs shall follow them that believe" that they have to say unto the people believe and be baptized, that is, they have the authority of Jesus Christ for both; delivered at the same time, to the same people, and on the same occasion; and of equal truth, and duration. We are not afraid of a contradiction in truth, when we say, we know that Messrs. Campbell and Scott know these things; and the greater share for them, askeep such men as Simons Rider, and A. Bently, held in bondage, whose minds are too limited to exercise one independent thought for themselves, and only think as they are permitted by their masters.
They do know too, that the same Peter who said "Repent and be baptized every one of your in the name of Jesus Christ for the remission of sins, and you shall receive the gift of the Holy Spirit, and said, it consisted in dreaming dreams, and seeing visions, prophesying, &c., and that Peter made that promise to all that were afar off, even as many as the Lord our God shall call.
These things they do know, because they read for themselves, and think for themselves, and are not under bondage to any man, therefore, they have no excuse for their sin, neither cloak for it: all the excuse which can be pled for them is, that the God of this world has blinded their minds, so that when they see a thing, and know it, they will not confess it; for such there is a day of judgment, when their injustice will come up in remembrance before the Lord, and if there is one place in hell hotter than another, or where the torment is great than another, it is surely had in reserve for such men.
Some excuse can be pled for Presbyterians, Methodist, Baptist, Episcopalians, &c. for they profess to be governed not by the bible, but by their respective creeds and confession; against which Messrs Campbell and Scott have spoken with great freedom, denouncing them as heretical in the extreme, and offering in the most positive manner, that the bible, and the bible only, should be our creed, and by that alone we should be governed for rations, deny that which is written as with a sun-beam on almost every page of it, and profess to believe and try to establish an order of things (which by the by he will never accomplish) that is no where found in it.
After generations will rise up and instead of calling them blessed, will view all their labor, and toils in a light less favorable, than they do the crusaders, the missionary projects of the day: yes, worse than the veriest follies of any age.
The scheme of Messrs. Campbell and Scott is the most barefaced and impudent imposition ever attempted to be pawned on any generation, and those who are stupid enough to continue to follow them, will cast a shade upon the character of this generation as long as the name of it is known among the living.
These gentlemen surely have the right to investigate the religion of the bible, but after the principles of it have all been fairly brought to light to call them the barest of impositions, and those servants of God whom he called to this work for the world, fanatics, and impostors, when they do know that those who they thus denounce are contending for the pure principles of the bible, and for that only; and all this because God understood the base corruption of their hearts, did not choose them to be among the honored ones into whose hands the kingdom should be delivered in the last days; but saw proper to choose those whom he knew to be more righteous than they. If it were to be asked why did not the Lord choose Messrs. Campbell and Scott, to lay the foundation of his work in the last days? the answer would be, that God who knows the hearts of all living, knew that they were corrupt to the very core, and destitute of that nobleness of soul which would entitle them to this honor, and because God saw proper thus to reject their sacrifice, as he did Cain's they thought to destroy those on whom God conferred this high honor, (for their honor is truly of man, but not of God) thus proving that they were of the same spirit of Cain, and only lacked in power or else they would have done as he did.
I would call on them now to reflect for a moment on the situation in which they have placed themselves, by reason of their great desire to destroy the saints. Let them look at him who catered lies for them, I mean old Clapp of Mantor, who has sunk into everlasting disgrace, and dragged his family with him because it is a just judgment of God on them for their iniquity.
Would God have suffered a righteous family to have been thus disgraced. I answer nay their very shame rises up and cries against them, and will tell their iniquities to all generations; and why? because they soughtto disgrace the saints, and God has disgraced them, or he has permitted them to be disgraced to their latest generations; for the scandal of their progenitor will be entailed upon them for a patrimony until the race is blotted out from under heaven.
This man Clapp, was the coadjutor of Messrs. Campbell and Scott, he was there fellow laborer in the persecution, and as such they are justly entitled to a share in his disgrace, and that of his family, which is a token of the righteous judgment of God. "For it is a righteous thing with God to recompense tribulation to them that trouble you" 2 Thessalonians 1:6, says Paul to the saints.
If Messrs Campbell and Scott were to consider for but a moment, they could not avoid seeing, that they had espoused a bad cause, and were leagued with adulterers, and of the same spirit. Were they not the same spirit of old Clapp? let them ask themselves and see?
Did old Clapp persecute the saints? So did they. Did he slander them? So did they. Did he exert himself to give credibility to a book of falsehoods? So did they. Are not they then of the same spirit with him? Surely, as face answereth to face in water, so does their conduct and his correspond with each other.
But all their attempts have been vain: their shame is rolling back on their own heads, while the word of God grows and multiplies, and the multitude of the saints increase greatly, and are edified together. And well may the saints rejoice; for the Lord he is their God, and their maker is their husband; and their Redeemer, the holy one of Israel.