The Autobiography of Parley P. Pratt – Revised and Enhanced Edition
Edited by Scot Facer Proctor and Maurine Jensen Proctor

Chapter 18, Part 2

Return with my wife to ­Toronto – Meetings at Mr. Lamphere’s – A woman healed and evil spirits rebuked – Mr. Lamareux – A meeting -­ A ­challenge – Discussion held in the open air – Great crowd -­ Opening propositions by Elder O. Hyde -­ Result of the discussion.

May 1, 1836-Early July 1836

The work I had commenced was still spreading its influence, and the Saints were still increasing in faith and love, in joy and in good works. There were visions, prophesyings, speaking in tongues and healings, as well as the casting out of devils and unclean spirits. One remarkable circumstance, among many, I will relate in detail:

There was living within a short day’s journey of Toronto, in a certain neighborhood where I ministered every two weeks (for the circuit of my labors had now so much enlarged that I had to travel continually from branch to branch and neighborhood to neighborhood), a man named Lamphere, who was noted for being the most irreligious man in all the country; he and the family were hardly ever known to attend a religious meeting; they would work on the Sabbath, and swear, curse, etc.

This man and his family were so wrought upon by the power of truth that he opened his house for stated meetings, which I held there regularly every two weeks. He and the family always entertained me with every kindness and every demonstration of hospitality in their power. The people of the neighborhood always turned out to hear, and seemed to receive the Word with faith and joy, but as yet none of them had been baptized, or joined the Church of the Saints.

All noticed the change in the Lamphere family, and all rejoiced, and even marvelled at so sudden a reformation in a family so gospel hardened, as they called it, though in truth none of them had ever heard the gospel in its power and fulness till my visits commenced there.

Now there was living in that neighborhood a young man and his wife, named Whitney; he was a blacksmith by trade; their residence was perhaps a mile or more from this Lamphere’s, where I held my semi-monthly meetings. His wife was taken down very suddenly about that time with a strange affliction. She would be prostrated by some power invisible to those about her, and, in an agony of distress indescribable, she would be drawn and twisted in every limb and joint, and would almost, in fact, be pulled out of joint.

Sometimes, when thrown on to the bed, and while four or five stout men were endeavoring to hold her, she would be so drawn out of all shape as to only touch the bed with her heels and the back part of her head. She would be bruised, cramped and pinched, while she would groan, scream, froth at the mouth, etc. She often cried out that she could see two devils in human form, who were thus operating upon her, and that she could hear them talk; but, as the bystanders could not see them, but only see the effects, they did not know what to think or how to understand.

She would have one of these spells once in about twenty-four hours, and when a period of these spells were over she would lie in bed so lame, and bruised, and sore, and helpless that she could not rise alone, or even sit up, for some weeks. All this time she had to have watchers both night and day, and sometimes four and five at a time, insomuch that the neighbors were worn out and weary with watching.

Mr. Whitney sent for me two or three times, or left word for me to call next time I visited the neighborhood. This, however, I had neglected to do, owing to the extreme pressure of labors upon me in so large a circuit of meetings – indeed, I had not a moment to spare.

At last, as I came round on the circuit again, the woman, who had often requested to see the man of God, that he might minister to her relief, declared she would see him anyhow, for she knew she could be healed if she could but get sight of him. In her agony she sprang from her bed, cleared herself from her frightened husband and others, who were trying to hold her, and ran for Mr. Lamphere’s, where I was then holding meeting. At first, to use her own words, she felt very weak, and nearly fainted, but her strength came to her, and increased at every step till she reached the meeting.

Her friends were all astonished, and in alarm, lest she should die in the attempt, tried to pursue her, and they several times laid hold of her and tried to force or persuade her back. “No,” said she, “let me see the man of God; I can but die, and I cannot endure such affliction any longer.” On she came, until at last they gave up and said, “Let her go, perhaps it will be according to her faith.” So she came, and when the thing was explained the eyes of the whole multitude were upon her.

I ceased to preach, and, stepping to her in the presence of the whole meeting, I laid my hands upon her and said, “Sister, be of good cheer, thy sins are forgiven, thy faith hath made thee whole; and, in the name of Jesus Christ, I rebuke the devils and unclean spirits, and command them to trouble thee no more.” She returned home well, went about her housekeeping, and remained well from that time forth.

Her neighbors watched to see if the trouble would return upon her, but, after a few days they gave up all their fears, and gave glory to God, saying that the ancient gospel had truly been restored.

About seven miles from this place lived a merchant by the name of Lamareux, who was a man of extended thought and general information; he sometimes preached or lectured to the people. This man, on hearing the strange reports of what was going on, sent for me. I visited him on a day appointed; he had shut up his store, suspended all business, dressed in his best, and prepared a dinner, while at the same time a general meeting of the people was convening in his large barn. He received us cordially, and after dinner accompanied us to the barn, where there was, indeed, a crowd of some hundreds of anxious listeners. We preached; after which the old merchant exclaimed to the meeting, that if this was Mormonism he was a Mormon.

He pressed us to tarry a few days, or rather go with him, to which we consented. So, next morning he furnished a horse and saddle for himself, and another for me. We mounted – he leading the way. We travelled through a fine settled country of villages and farms, where I had never been before, and where they were strangers to “Mormonism” and to me, but well acquainted with him.

As we went, he preached, saying to every man he met, and even crying aloud to those at a distance, and as we halted in each little village:

“Hear ye, my friends, the kingdom of Heaven is restored again to man, with the gospel in its ancient fulness and power. Turn out and hear this stranger who is with me, and do not gainsay him, for I testify to you that the sick are healed, the eyes of the blind are opened, and devils are cast out under his hand in the name of Jesus. And if you do not believe it we can give you names and particulars, and prove it by scores and hundreds of witnesses.”

The more I tried to keep him still the more he proclaimed these things.

Leaving a chain of appointments, we travelled as far as

Scarborough, [1] and, preaching there, we returned the next day and filled the chain of appointments given out the day before. The excitement now became general, and a very learned clergyman, a Mr. Browning, of the Presbyterian order – announced himself as the people’s chosen champion to meet us in public debate and put us down, or receive our doctrine, according as truth might appear on investigation.

A public discussion was at last agreed upon, to be held a few weeks thence in the open air, as no building would hold the people. The preliminaries were as follows:

The Bible to be recognized as a standard of truth.

We were to have the opening speech, in which we were to set forth our principles; when the reverend gentleman was to have a certain length of time to reply, and so on alternately.
The meeting at length came off. Thousands attended, and listened with patience. Elder O. Hyde, 2]

who had now arrived from the States to my assistance, took up the matter, as I was unavoidably engaged elsewhere. A large platform had been erected for the speakers, and while Elder Hyde sat almost alone before that vast assemblage, the reverend gentleman had five or six other clergymen beside him as helps.

In the opening speech Elder Hyde laid down the following principles, viz:

A true Church of Christ is composed of apostles, prophets, elders, teachers and members, who have been baptized (immersed) in the name of Jesus Christ, and who have received his spirit by the laying on of hands of his apostles, or authorized servants.

A true Church of Christ believed in visions, angels, spirits, prophesyings, revelations, healings and miracles of every kind, as described in the New Testament.

Any creed or religious body differing from this New Testament pattern could not be considered the Church of
Christ, however sincere they might be.

Having laid down these premises, he demanded of his opponent a positive admission or denial of the premises, before he would allow himself to be drawn to a second question or point of debate. This took his opponents all aback; they had sense enough to see that if they affirmed these premises there was an end of Presbyterianism, and all other sectarian forms which have set aside these powers. On the other hand, if they denied the premises laid down by Elder H., it would be denying the Bible standard, by which both parties agreed to abide.

For these reasons the party of the opposition utterly refused to either affirm or deny. Attempts were made in every possible form to draw Elder H. to other points of debate; but all in vain. Slanderous reports from the press, pamphlets, and newspaper abuse, were offered in abundance; but were not suffered to be introduced into the discussion, because both parties had agreed to abide by the Bible as a standard. Thus, after a few hours of shuffling and trickery on the part of the opposition, and a few vain attempts to introduce the poisonous slanders which so often prevail in blinding the public mind, they were utterly silenced.

Elder Hyde then proceeded to address the vast assemblage at considerable length, congratulating them on the triumph of truth, and exhorting them to obey the gospel, and thus avail themselves of its blessings, after which the discussion closed; but the truth grew and prevailed.

Notes



[1] Scarborough, now a suburb of greater Toronto, was about 10 miles east of Toronto.

[2] Elder Orson Hyde (1805-78) was one of the original Twelve Apostles, fifth in seniority, and a scholar of the scriptures. He had memorized portions of the Bible in English, German, and Hebrew.

 


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