And Mormonism by E. C. B.
Brigham Young's career is a valuable
commentary on that of Mohammed,
and will hereafter be a standard citation
with explorers of the natural history of
religions. It might be more proper to
go back of Young, and adhere to Joe
Smith as the figure-head of the Mormon
dispensation. How Smith would have
turned out had he lived, and whether he
would have made as much of Utah as
the man upon whose shoulders his mantle
fell, is not easy to say; but his was a
less robust character, the enthusiast in
him too far obscuring the organizer and
commander. The Church is the thing
to look at, rather than its leaders, when
we consider duration—the soil rather
than the plough. Why has Mohammed's
creation lasted longer and spread wider
than that of Charlemagne or Tamerlane?
And is Smith's to have the like fortune,
or to die out like those of Münster and
The Mormon "revelation" has been
before the world more than forty years.
In twenty-two years from his first vision
Mohammed had reduced all Arabia
under his religious and political sway.
Young's dominions have not expanded
territorially. His faith cannot be said to
exist outside of Utah. His converts are
compelled to go thither for the exercise
of their religion. Salt Lake City is not a
Mecca, the goal of a passing pilgrimage,
but the one and only possible abiding-place
of those who profess its creed. A
system thus localized is in danger of being
stifled. Especially is this the case when its
seat is exposed to invasion by a swelling
current of non-sympathizers or open enemies.
These may be repelled or prevented
from improving their foothold by
the firmness, unity and numerical predominance
of the invaded. So it has
happened at Salt Lake. The Mormons
hold all the serviceable soil, and it is difficult
for the "Gentiles" to effect a lodgment.
Until they do, they must occupy,
even in their own eyes, somewhat the
position of adventurers. They cannot
hope to secure the respect of the industrious
sectaries who own and till the soil,
and who are taught to count them aliens
and persecutors. Irrigation is here the
only means of successful agriculture. It
involves great outlay of capital and labor,
and creates great fixedness of tenure.
Newcomers are thus additionally
Thus entrenched in a well-provisioned
citadel, welcoming all the new levies it
can win, and amply able to provide for
them, Mormonism bids fair to make a
prolonged stand. To emerge from a defensive
position and strike for unlimited
sway is what it cannot, to judge by all
precedents, expect. It will be compelled,
in fact, to lighten itself of some dead
weights in order to maintain its actual
situation. Polygamy must go, and the
absolute power of the priesthood be modified.
With some such adaptations it may
continue a reality for generations to come.
And time is a great sanctifier. A creed
that lives for one or two centuries is by
so much the more likely to live longer.
Youth is the critical period with religions,
as with animals and plants and nations.
Through that period Mormonism is passing
with flattering success. That such a
lusty juvenile will, by favor of the mellowing
effect imposed on all creeds by
early years of toil, trouble and experience,
reach a middle age of presentable
decency, is not a more unlikely supposition
than the worthy Vermont clergyman
would have pronounced, half a
century ago, the idea that his jeu d'esprit
would become the Bible of sixty thousand
industrious, well-ordered English-speaking
people in the heart of the American