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IN the English mission the year 1864 opened up with improved prospects of success. True there were many and serious obstacles to meet, but compared with the situation one year before, much change had been wrought. Then the Reorganization had not been represented on this side of the water; now there were three able ministers in the field, supported by quite a strong local force; several branches had been organized, besides the seed had been sown with liberal hand, and was doubtless germinating in many hearts, to bear fruitage in future time.
We have not the details of the labor done in the first two months of the year by Elders Briggs and Jeremiah, but we have the information that they were zealously and constantly laboring to disseminate the message intrusted to them. Elder Derry relates that he labored in Wales until January 12,1864, and of the saints met there he says: "I never experienced more disinterested kindness than I received from the Welsh and English saints whom it was my privilege to meet in Wales; and I shall always remember them with gratitude."
He visited Newport in Monmouthshire, where he had some experience with the Utah missionaries, Grant and Benson, who treated him with rude discourtesy. He did missionary work in Forest Dean, Gloucester (where on February 1,1864, he baptized and ordained to the office of elder, James Wiltshire), Norton, Cheltenham, Tewkesbury, Stourbridge, Dudley, Wolverhampton, West Bromwich, and Birmingham.
In the last-named place he visited Thomas Taylor, of which he writes:-
"On the 2d of March Brother Charles Sheen went with me to see Mr. Thomas Taylor in Birmingham, formerly a member of the church, but having been to Utah and finding there had been a great departure from the truth, he had returned to his native land disgusted and discouraged. When he heard the truth as God had revealed it at the first, he acknowledged it with gladness. He treated me very kindly and aided me with means."
In March the first number of the Restorer, a sixteen page monthly, published by the church, and edited by Jason W. Briggs, at No. 305 High Street, Pennydaren, Merthyr-Tydfil, Wales, appeared. A part of it was in the English and a part in the Welsh language.
The declared purpose of this publication as set forth on the first page of this issue was the "restoring the faith once delivered to the Latter Day Saints, and defending it against the assaults of unbelievers, whether strangers to that faith, or once having embraced it have departed from it."
In the first number of the Restorer was published two challenges which had been presented several months before to leading authorities of the Utah Church, and by them ignored. They were as follows:-
"PENNYDAREN, JULY 8, 1863.
"Mr. George Q. Cannon; Dear Sir:-I learn by your paper and by your friends that you are the president of the mission appointed by the authorities in the Salt Lake Valley to the British Isles, and that you act under the direction of Brigham Young, whom you regard as the rightful President of the Church of the Latter Day Saints, that you teach polygamy as a doctrine of the said church, and that one tenth of the possessions and earnings of all members, regardless of the necessities of their families or dependents, is required by the law of tithing. Without claiming more sincerity than I accord to you, now, sir, I am here on a mission of equal extent as your own, but acting under the direction of Joseph Smith, son of Joseph the Martyr, whom I regard as the rightful President of the Church of the
Latter Day Saints; and I teach polygamy as abominable in the sight of the Lord. And I also teach that the tithing required by the law, is a surplus, and a tenth of interest (not principal), and that your teaching in reference to it, when carried out in practice, is oppression and robbery. Hence, one of us must be grossly deceived or a deceiver.
"The above points of difference are palpable and irreconcilable. Either you or myself are teaching falsehood in the name of the Lord. And I am willing to be subjected to the scrutiny of investigation. Are you? If you answer yes, I propose to meet you or any person whom you may substitute; or in case you decline, any volunteer, and discuss the above points. Should you dread the effects of a public discussion of the doctrine of polygamy in a Christian country, I will substitute the pen for the tongue, on equal grounds through the columns of the Millennial Star, or other publications, as may be mutually agreed upon. Any communication will reach me at No. 29 High Street, Pennydaren, Glamorganshire, South Wales.
"J. W. BRIGGS."
"PENNYDAREN, July 8, 1863.
"Messrs. Jeremy and Bywater: -Learning the position you occupy relative to the Latter Day Saints, I feel constrained to address you in plainness and in candor. You stand as leaders and presidents among Latter Day Saints. You teach them the system of doctrines taught by Brigham Young, whom you uphold as the President of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints. That system includes polygamy, the worship of a creature instead of the Creator. You teach a construction of the law of tithing, which, when carried into practice, is oppression and robbery; all of which I regard as anti-scriptural and pernicious, false and mischievous. I also believe that Brigham Young, instead of being President of the Church, has departed from the faith, giving heed to seducing spirits; and that he has drawn many of the Latter Day Saints after him into apostasy, including most of the presidents, elders, quorums, etc., which produced a disorganization of the church to a
great extent. But in fulfillment of the promise, God has called forth one mighty and strong to set in order, or reorganize, the house of God. And that this one so raised up is the seed of him to whom the promise was made! under whose directions I am sent with others to make known to all saints this reorganization, and the renewal of the work of the Lord, and to call upon all such to come back to the old paths, and find rest. Now I propose to meet you and your brethren in your own chapel, or in our own, and examine those things. You or we are in gross error. Error makes slaves, but truth only can make us free. Do not, I beseech you, apply the gag to prevent utterance, or stifle investigation. The deepest wound received by the Savior he received in the house of his friends. Who are acting the part of such friends now? Let us ascertain this for ourselves, among ourselves. Wisdom certainly would dictate such a course. Any reply to this will find me at No. 29 High Street, Pennydaren.
"Yours very truly,
"J. W. BRIGGS.
"P. S.-Should you decide to obey counsel and apply the gag, and stifle investigation, we shall be compelled to bring the matter before the world as well as the saints in a different manner.
J. W. B."
-The Restorer, vol. 1, pp. 6-8.
March 27, 1864, was set apart and observed as a day of fasting and prayer for the following purposes:-
"In compliance with instructions, the 27th day of March is set apart and appointed for a day of fasting and prayer; to ask, unitedly, our heavenly Father to endow his servants with wisdom, perseverance, and patience, that their labors may be effectual in reclaiming the scattered saints from darkness and error, both in this land and in Utah; and for all who have renewed their covenants to walk in the old paths."-The Restorer, vol. 1, p. l6.
At the General Conference held at Amboy, Illinois, April
Elder Charles Derry continued his labors in England and frequently called on Mr. Thomas Taylor, of Birmingham, whose interest in the work constantly increased. On May 20,1864, Elder Derry wrote of the mission as follows:-
"George B. Follows, having been written to by me, came some sixteen miles to see and hear. He requested baptism, and was also ordained an elder, and has thrust in his sickle in good earnest. He is out traveling, and will go with me through the Staffordshire Potteries, and to Liverpool. We are not making a great stir, but I hope we will do some good. Jason is in Wales; I am not advised about matters there. Elder James Wiltshire wrote me from Gloucester that there was some prospect of a branch in that city. The few that remain in West Bromwich branch will be united soon into one branch with those who love the truth in Birmingham. Some from the former place are about to emigrate, and some there are that are 'turned like the dog to his vomit, and the sow to her wallowing in the mire.' Evil practices which they learned in Brighamism cling to them as the spots of the leopard to his skin."-True Latter Day Saints' Herald, vol. 5, p. 190.
About this time Elder Briggs joined Elder Derry in England, and conjointly they labored for a short time.
The situation in Wales is indicated by the following notice of a special conference held at Llanelly:-
"At this conference, held on the 15th of May, there were in attendance brethren from Merthyr, Pennydaren, Aberdare, and Pontypridd, representing the work in those localities, as also in New Tredegar, Argoed, and Nantyglo, as progressing steadily and surely; and at Llanelly the prospects are good. A partial representation of the work in England showed the same general evidence that the renewal of the work is 'marching on' with all the characteristics of truth prevailing against error. Imbued with the true spirit of the gospel, the elders unanimously resolved to improve every opportunity to extend their labors whenever doors can be opened, and cry repentance to this generation, and invite those who have departed from the law of God to return to the law. Elder Thomas Thomas was appointed president of
the district of Carmarthen, including the missions appointed in that region of Wales, and J. Hughes, J. Harris, T. Griffiths, D. Williams, R. Treharne, T. Williams, W. Nash, W. Williams, Benjamin Thomas, and William Bowen, were appointed to labor in that district.
"The appointments of the last conference are continued in Glamorganshire and Monmouthshire, excepting that David Jenkins and John Jenkins are relieved from their appointments at Cap Coch and its vicinity; and William Jones and David Griffiths are appointed to include that locality in their missions. The president of the conference urged upon the elders to improve the coming summer in preaching out where rooms were not attainable. He said, 'The winter is past with its rain, cold, and sleet, and the weather is beautiful, and when we are denied all other places, Nature's temple is open, and upon some spare ground, on some highway, or beside some hedge, let us lift up our voices and call men to repentance, and those that 'have departed from the faith,' to return to the law of God.
"Appointment: Elder William Room is appointed president of the Staffordshire district."-The Restorer, vol. 1, p. 40.
Elder Derry closed his work in England, and on June 21, 1864, sailed from Liverpool for New York on board the James Foster, Junior. Elder J. T. Phillips, of the missionaries appointed to Wales, arrived on the 24th. A conference was held in Pennydaren, Wales, July 24,1864. The minutes give a fair idea of the progress being made. They are as follows:-
"This conference was called for the purpose of ascertaining the condition of the work in this part of the vineyard, and the adopting of such measures as the best wisdom might dictate for to advance the same. All the branches in Wales were represented, and from the reports of elders it appeared that a steady increase and widespread interest characterized the various places of labor. A very unanimous determination was manifested on the part of the elders and saints present to do all in their power to vindicate the truth of the latter day, by teaching its principles as found
in the sacred records, and witnessed to by the Holy Spirit, and to divest it of the perversions and corruptions sought to be incorporated therewith by the false shepherds.
"The question of forming certain districts and appointing presidents of the same was discussed and decided upon, and designated as follows: Aberdare district, Elder David Griffiths president; Newbridge district, Elder Robert Humphrey president; Merthyr district, Elder John Rogers president; Monmouthshire district, Elder Isaiah Thomas president; Carnarvon district (to include North Wales), Elder Robert Evans president. Elder Evans was requested also to visit Liverpool and Birkenhead. All elders in these several districts were appointed to labor under the direction of the above presidents. . . .
"The mists of darkness are visibly dissipating under the genial rays of the Sun of righteousness, the light of truth. Some who attended the conference as inquirers have since united with the church, and rejoice in the foretaste of that deliverance promised.
"Within the last month there has been much outdoor preaching, and a steady increase in number has followed. During that time there have been reported four new branches established in the following places: Birmingham and Hanley, in England; and Hirwain and Nantyglo, in Wales.
"Elder Follows, traveling in the Potteries, writes very encouragingly of the prospects there. Also Elder Robert Evans having begun the work in Carnarvon, North Wales, writes hopefully of its progress in that quarter."-The Restorer, vol. 1, pp. 86, 87.
Thomas E. Jenkins, of the missionary force to Wales, arrived about this time, and on August 11,1864, issued an address to the saints in Wales, which was published in the Restorer, volume 1, pages 84, 85.
On September 2,1864, President Jason W. Briggs made the following challenge to Orson Pratt; but he, like George Q. Cannon, ignored it, and thereby manifested his unwillingness to meet the issue. The challenge
was published in the Restorer, volume 1, page 101. Elder Briggs writes of it as follows:-
"In pursuance of our duties to teach truth and escape error, on arriving in Birmingham, learning that Mr. Orson Pratt, the champion of polygamy and chief expounder of celestial marriage, was in town, we addressed to him the following letter:-
"Mr. Orson Pratt; Dear Sir.-A sense of duty, the love of truth, and good will to my fellow man, prompt me in addressing you these lines. I have been for more than twenty three years a believer in the system of doctrines taught by Joseph Smith, and most of that time have been engaged in promulgating that faith; and believing that the system taught by the Salt Lake people is a corruption and perversion of the truth; that its leaders, acting without authority from God, are leading thousands into sin, spiritual and temporal bondage, social and moral degradation and crime; and as you are a prominent representative of this system, I invite you to come forward in a public manner, and defend certain leading doctrines held by your people: 1. That Adam 'is the only God with whom we have to do.' 2. That polygamy is an integral part of the gospel of salvation. 3. That the Salt Lake Valley is the place of Zion. 4. That Brigham Young is the successor of Joseph Smith in the Presidency of the Church.
"All of the above I emphatically deny. And if these are false, your system is false; and if they are true, there are, perhaps, none among you more competent to defend them than yourself. 'Prove all things, hold fast that which is good,' has been your motto; it is mine still. The motto in use at the Salt Valley, 'Do as you are told, asking no questions,' and 'uphold your President, right or wrong,' is an insult to every honest and religious man. Or if you choose, I will affirm that the acknowledgment of Adam as our God and Father in heaven is idolatry; that polygamy is an abomination in the sight of God; that Utah is not the place of Zion; that Brigham Young is an impostor and a son of perdition; and, lastly, that Joseph Smith, the son of Joseph Smith, Senior, is the true successor of his father in
the Presidency of the Church. Will you negative the above in a public discussion on equal grounds? Any reply to this will find me at 31 Barn Street, Birmingham.
"J. W. BRIGGS,
"Missionary to the British Isles, under the direction of Joseph Smith (son of Joseph, etc.), President of the Reorganized Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints; September 2, 1864."
On September 18, 1864, under direction of President Briggs a branch was organized at Birmingham, England, composed of seventeen members. Elder W. O. Owen, the opponent of the elders in recent discussions, who had subsequently united with the church, was chosen to preside.
On October 6, 1864, President J. W. Briggs issued his farewell address (see Restorer, vol. 1, pp. 113, 114), and sailed for America the same day, accompanied by Elder E. Griffiths, landing in New York City, October 19.
On October 30 and November 1,1864, a general conference of the mission was held at Pennydaren, Wales. Elder T. E.. Jenkins presided, and Nicholas Grigg was clerk; he was also appointed Church Recorder for the Welsh mission. The following is an extract from the minutes:-
"Then the following branches were reported by their respective presidents: Pennydaren; 37 members, 12 elders, 3 priests, 1 teacher, 6 baptized since last reported; John Rogers president. New Tredegar; 16 members, 2 elders; J. Watkins president. Llanvabon; 8 members, 2 elders, 1 baptized since last report; R. Humphrey president. Llanelly; 25 members, 11 elders, 2 priests, 4 baptized since last report; B. Thomas president. Cymbach; 17 members, 9 elders, 1 teacher, 1 deacon, 5 baptized since last report; W. Jones president. Hirwain; 9 members, 4 elders, 1 baptized since last report; R. Griffiths, president. Nantyglo; 17 members, 7 elders, 1 priest, 1 deacon, 11 baptized since last report; J. Jones president. There has been a branch organized at Beaufort, consisting of 8 members, 3 elders, 1 deacon; N. Grigg president. . . .
"Resolved, that we sustain and uphold by our united faith and prayers, Joseph. son of Joseph Smith the Martyr, as Prophet, Seer, and Revelator; the Twelve Apostles, and all the quorums of the holy priesthood of the Reorganized Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints; and also that Elders T. E. Jenkins and J. T. Phillips be upheld and sustained in their appointment in the Welsh mission."-True Latter Day Saints' Herald, vol. 7, p. 14.
The preaching and instruction were good, and encouraging reports were given.
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