Page:Popular Science Monthly Volume 10.djvu/175

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163
MORMONISM FROM A MORMON' POINT OF VIEW.

Lake City. The tone of public feeling throughout the neighboring States and Territories is more favorable toward "woman's rights" than it is in any other part of the world; and, even if this be partly due to a reaction produced by Mormonism, it cannot fail in time to influence the female electors of Utah. Thus it is possible that a peaceable solution of the difficulty may be found, and polygamy may be abolished, not by external force, but by constitutional action within the Mormon community itself.

Meanwhile, this church of the nineteenth century possesses amazing vitality, and seems to carry us back to a by-gone era of belief, exhibiting as it does the phenomenon of a religious sect heartily convinced of its future mission and claiming the present for its own. While other churches look to the past for all that is best and truest in religion, the Latter-day Saints regard the present also as a period of miracle and revelation. They expect, in the immediate future, the conversion of all who inhabit their vast continent with as serene a confidence as that with which the early Christians seem to have anticipated the evangelization of the Roman Empire. It may be said of them that in theology they maintain the modern doctrine of continuity, rather than ancient theories of convulsion and catastrophe. Accepting, in a literal sense, the Jewish and Christian Scriptures, they apparently entertain no fear lest scientific research should undermine their faith, as they look for a continuous course of revelation, which shall harmonize theology with the general advance in human knowledge.

The title of Parley P. Pratt's recent work, "Key to the Science of Theology," 1874, may seem almost to involve a contradiction in terms; but it indicates the desire of a distinguished Mormon theologian to keep abreast, if possible, of the scientific spirit of the age. Whether the attempt to do this may have proved successful or not, his policy is surely wiser than that which has frequently placed science and theology in opposition so direct, that every conquest of knowledge over ignorance has appeared to be also a victory over religion. Indeed, Mr. Parley Pratt is entitled to a welcome from the lovers of free thought, considering how rarely theologians seek to identify the progress of their own tenets with that of humanity in every department of science and art, and how seldom it is that they do not

"Grow pale

Lest their own judgments should become too bright,
And their free thoughts be crimes, and earth have too much light."

To quote his own words:

"The creeds of the Fathers seem to have been cast in the mould of other ages, to be adapted to a more narrow sphere of intellectual development, and to be composed of material too much resembling cast-iron; or, at least, not sufficiently elastic to expand with the expansion of mind, to grow with the growth, and advance with the progressive principles of the age. For these reasons, per-