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LDS Leaders




From Elder John Taylor's Journal (later a president of the Mormon Church), Liverpool, May 5, 1839, being a dialogue between Elder Taylor, and the Rev. John James, a celebrated "Church of England" Minister, in Liverpool, England

Times and Seasons, Vol.3, p.693-695

"I was baptizing on the North Shore, when a Church of England minister, by the name of James, entered into conversation with some of the brethren while I was baptizing; after I got through I went to the company, when he addressed me rather uncourteously, saying: 

Mr. James. -- This is Mr. Taylor, I suppose?

Mr. Taylor. Yes sir, I answered.

J. I am told that you can answer me any question, and give a reason of the hope that is within you.

T. If sir, it is asked in meekness and humility.

J. Oh, that is the condition, is it sir?

T. I suppose, sir, that it will remain discretionary with me.

J. What need have we of any further revelation?

T. Because we have transgressed the laws, changed the ordinances, corrupted the gospel, and lost the priesthood.

J. Did not our Savior say that the gates of hell should prevail against his 

T. If, sir, it was built upon the rock spoken of.

J. Christ is that rock; and he said he would build his church upon that, and the gates of hell should not prevail against it.

T. It will be necessary, sir, to examine the context: our Savior asks, "whom say men that I the son of man am?" The disciples answer, some say Moses, some Elias, and some that John the Baptist is risen from the dead. But whom say ye that I am? was asked by the Savior. -- Peter answered, "thou art Christ, the son of the living God." How did you know it Peter? Flesh and blood hath not revealed this unto thee, but my father who is in heaven. It is evident that Peter had demonstrative evidence, from the revelations of God, that Jesus was the Messiah; and our Savior says, "Thou art Peter; and on this rock will I build my church, and the gates, &c." Now, although Christ might be said to be the chief corner stone, the rock, they, (the people) did not know him: some thought that he was one person, and some another; none, however, had positive evidence but Peter, and he obtained his knowledge through revelation, and if they could not know him they did not build upon him; they could not be his church; and that promise could not apply to them; and wherever, and whenever the church is built upon that rock, and have the revelation of heaven for their guide, as Peter had, the gates of hell cannot prevail against it. But Paul, in writing to the Romans, says, "The Jews were broken off because of unbelief; and thou standest by faith, be not highminded but fear; for if God spared not the natural branches, take heed lest he also spare not thee." He moreover tells them that if they do not continue in faith, they shall be cut off. Why were the Jews cut off? Because they killed the prophets, and stoned those that were sent unto them. And what did the Gentiles do with their prophets and apostles? They killed them, as the Jews did, and according to Paul's testimony must be cut off. Besides, Daniel speaks of a certain power that was to "make war with the Saints, and prevail against them, until the ancient of days come."

J. That shews that there must be saints!

T. Daniel further says that he should "think to change times, and seasons, and they should be given into his hand," &c. 

and if that power, being hostile to God, prevails against them, and they are given into his hand, what becomes of the church?

J. I will prove sir, that there has been a priesthood of apostolic succession, and a pure church, from the Savior's day until the present.

T. If you will, sir, and that church has pure, scriptural ordinances, I will give 
up my preaching, depart from this church, and join myself to that standard.

J. I refer you, sir, to Mosheim's and Milner's Church history, who shew that thing clearly.

T. I must have demonstration, sir, show me the church.

J. We ought to have confidence in the testimony of good, accredited historians.

T. But you say, sir, that it not only did exist, but does exist, consequently it 
is not only a matter of history, but a matter that can be now demonstrated, if such a church is now in being.

J. The Church of England, ordains as you do.

T. But they sprinkle infants, sir, and that is unscriptural.

J. Peter says, "The promise is unto you, and to your children."

T. But it does not say to your infants; a man may have a child thirty years old and he is as much his child as though he were an infant; and you cannot point me out one single instance in scripture of an infant's being baptized.

J. Do not misunderstand me, sir, I do not find fault with your baptism.

T. But I should with yours, sir, if you were pointing out a true church, which you said that you could prove, had been in existence, and still existed.

J. We do it, either by dipping, pouring, or sprinkling.

T. This is singular indeed, sir, you believe that a man, is sent of God, to teach, and does not know which ordinance to administer in; but must leave it to those that he is teaching to decide upon the matter: Peter did not do so.

J. The Baptists baptize by immersion.

T. But do they lay on hands, for the gift of the Holy Ghost!

J. I do not know.

T. They baptize, and you lay on hands: they have got one limb of the body and you another but none of you have the whole body.

J. I can, (beginning at our Savior,) trace an unbroken chain of apostolic 
succession until the present.

T. I suppose, sir, through the medium of the Roman Catholic Church.

J. Yes, sir.

T. You say that the Church of Rome is fallen; that she is the mother of harlots: if so, sir, how can she impart authority.

J. Just the same as she can the scriptures.

T. "Can an impure fountain, send forth pure streams? Our Savior said not.

J. Oh, it makes no difference.

T. Then, sir, if she had power to "bind on earth, and to bind in heaven," she 
also professed the power, (according to the scriptures) to "loose on earth, and to loose in heaven," and you know, that she cut off, and excommunicated, the Church of England, and all Protestant Reformers, and that would place you, sir, according to your creed, in a curious situation.

J. Do you believe in your heart, sir, that she had power to confer this?* 

T. If she had not there is no priesthood; and if she had she took it away from you, sir, and from all Protestants; consequently you have no priesthood or authority in either case: You say that she is apostate, the mother of harlots; and she says that you are heretics; so I leave the matter between you, and both of your testimonies shall decide the case.

J. I can trace regular succession of authority, independent of the Church of Rome, in two different ways; one through the Waldenses, and Albigenses, and the other through the Welsh church.

T. As it regards the first of those, sir, I want to know where it is?

J. There may be some of them in the valleys of Piedmont; and if, at the time of the reformation, some of them went from this country to America, they might be there.

T. And if, and if, and may be is no demonstration, sir, there may not be any in the valleys of Piedmont, and if at the time of the reformation some having authority went to America there would be no priesthood there, and consequently no priesthood in existence that you can prove.  And as it regards the other churches you know sir that the whole of the Church of England was under the dominion of the Pope in Henry the eighth's time, and all submitted to his authority.

J. There was always a few that protested against it.

T. The Church of England is not that few; nor the Church of Scotland; nor are the Methodists, Presbyterians, or Baptists; nor any body that you can point me out in England; and all the Episcopal form of Church Government in the United States, came either directly from the Church of Rome, through the Church of England or indirectly from the Church of England, through the Methodists, and is consequently all a figment.

J. And you belong to a church only ten years old, ten years old, ten years old.

T. These, sir, are my reasons for believing my former statements That we had transgressed the laws, changed the ordinances, corrupted the Gospel, and lost the Priesthood, and your potent arguments have not convinced me to the contrary, especially your last ten years old one.
*Why he should ask this question I do not know; except he did not believe himself, what he said, he could prove, as the statement was of his own propounding.