Letter to Orson Spencer, President of the Church in the British Isles, dated July 24, 1846, at Merthyr Tydfil. (Vol 8:40-42)
LETTER TO THE PRESIDENT
Merthyr, July 24th, 1846.
Dear brother,--To an individual who loves the eternal theme, and placed amid the busy scenes and diversified afflictions of mercantile life, at the same time harassed in mind as a child of God while surrounded by the busy hum of worldlings, necessarily attendant in the populous and commercial enterprise of your extending locality, it would not be amiss or uninteresting to change the scene, and in leisure moments peruse the adventures of a wandering brother among the mountains. And inasmuch as I have been lost to the Liverpool world, and they to me for some time, this may open the frozen passage by removing the ice bergs (if any there be that obtrude it) by the gentle breezes that blow from the tropical climes of "Kolob."
Since I left you, I have been preaching on my way through the principal towns of eight counties, in each place had the consolation to know that some more or less believed the gospel, although I baptized only four, organised two branches, ordained two priests, three teachers, and two deacons. One circumstance in particular is worthy of note, because the power of God is manifested thereby. In one place a young man who had a sore leg--past cure by the doctors--upwards of twenty pieces of bone having been worked out of it! and he not able to walk without a crutch since a year last Christmas. When he believed the gospel, I told him he would be healed if he would obey; he walked about a mile with crutches. By the river side we prayed that he might be enabled to dispense with his crutch, and he walked into the water without it--out again, and home--and so far as I have heard has never used it since. I carried his crutch home through the town on my back, the man telling them that he was healed, but strange to say they would neither believe him nor their own eyes, but cried out impostors, &c., and that he might have walked before!! although they knew better; but however, the man got a blessing, and when I left, the wounds in his legs were closing finely, and free from pain. Two others, a priest and a Saint, were miraculously healed by the power of God publicly, yet for all that, there were none but the Saints that would "return glory to God."
In another place, a blind man was persuaded, as I had reason to believe, and for a sign came forward to be baptized. I questioned him hard, suspecting his integrity, but he insisted on being baptized, so then I could forestall his wickedness and frustrate their plan only by publishing a public baptism of a blind man, far and wide, to take place on a certain time. It was astonishing to see the crowds that came from the regions round about; both priests, preachers, persecutors, and people. Oh, what an opportunity that was to explain the whys and wherefores of Mormonism, sign seeking, &c. They all listened with the greatest attention for about two hours, although many had come on purpose to oppose, but I could not get a try out of any of them. I shewed them that our religion was true, whether the blind man got his sight or not; it was true before the blind man was heard of, that it would remain as true when he was dead and forgotten, and that it is eternally true, and I knew it. But after the baptism, while walking up to the house to be confirmed, it was amusing to hear the remarks as the crowd followed, crossing and recrossing to peep at; his eyes, to see whether his sight was restored; some said it was, some that he was blinder than before, and that was difficult. But there and then Madam Slander filled the baskets of her pedlars with a variety of trinkets that were recalled out again at a fine rate, until even her own markets were
entirely deluged. However, I confirmed the man, anointed and laid hands on him, and he shouted for joy in the presence of all, and testified that while hands were on his head he could "see the candle in the candlestick on the table; that he was more than satisfied." But the fun of the matter was, that after I left, the sign-seekers who persuaded him to come, found themselves in their own trap, and again persuaded the man that it was all "conjuring," imposition, &c., and were not satisfied until they got the man back to his former blindness, spiritually and bodily. If this is not a specimen of the "blind leading the blind," tell me what is? However, it is only a prophecy fulfilled, "that both will fall in the ditch together."
But I must hasten to tell you of the grand conference that was held here on the 12th and 13th of July. For a grand one it was, though of the many who had promised to visit us then, not one came, nor brother Kimball either. Whatever loss we sustained by their absence, we were not the only losers I think. I have only room to give you a few of the general items. The hall was thronged in the morning with a warm-hearted and respectable audience. The presiding elders represented 29 branches, almost universally in the bonds of love and union, and in flourishing conditions, containing 23 elders, 42 priests, 25 teachers, 15 deacons. Baptized in the last three months 210. Total, 780. The county of Pembroke was not represented, no one being present, hence it is not included. The meetings were carried on as usual, only much more of the spirit of God among us than I ever before witnessed. I heard not a whisper or an apostate's rumour throughout, nor do I like such dull music.
Monday morning we called and ordained 9 elders, 23 priests, 11 teachers, and 4 deacons--for the Principality organized three new branches, ratified the organization of the Monmouthshire conference, finished our business, and gave room for the ladies to bring in their China, cakes, and delicacies, and by two o'clock the scenery was considerably changed, though for the better still, for I should have told you that our conference was to be sealed up by a glorious Tea Party, and such in short it proved itself in every sense of the word--about one thousand partook of the feast. But about the last, though not least of the business, I suppose you will say that I am tainted with sectarianism! whether so or not, we formed a Missionary Society, the object of which is good, and I hope that the name will not be deemed unfit for it, since it is formed expressly to raise funds, by voluntary contributions, to assist the travelling elders to preach the glad tidings in new places; and so great has been its success already, that it enabled twelve to go into the vineyard and devote their whole time where the fulness of the gospel was never heard. The profits of the tea party (being L22 10s) was consecrated to this object; every presiding elder of a branch through Wales forms a committee; the funds to be appropriated as the majority may direct. In order to increase the funds, as well as to report the progress, I pray Almighty God, who owns the work,
to crown the efforts of the society with success. We have appointed a prayer meeting to be kept in every branch, on the first Monday evening in every month, then to contribute according as the Lord has blessed them. I trust it is so organized as to prevent impositions, misunderstandings, and personal interests, which are the basis of most institutions. If it meets your approval and worthy of your prayers, or if you have any amendments to make, as I hope you will, please advise with me; at any rate I pray with all my heart it may be the means, under the blessing of God, to warn my brethren and sisters of their danger, that they may fly to the strong holds of eternal truth for safety.
I must close least I wear out your patience, as I have done my paper, though I might give you other items that are interesting. What news from America? My love to brother Ward, tell him I have not had a STAR for a good while. That parcel of the Joint Stock receipts, which I left in the office, has never come. Please send them, we are out. Give my love to brother Wilson too, and write soon, and convince me whether my dreams are wrong.
Your obedient servant and brother,