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Merritt E. Cornell: 1827 – 1893 on the Trinity

“Protestants and Catholics are so nearly united in sentiment, that it is not difficult to conceive how Protestants may make an image to the Beast. The mass of Protestants believe with Catholics in the Trinity, immortality of the soul, consciousness of the dead, rewards and punishments at death, the endless torture of the wicked, inheritance of the saints beyond the skies, sprinkling for baptism, and the PAGAN SUNDAY for the Sabbath; all of which is contrary to the spirit and letter of the new testament. Surely there is between the mother and daughters, a striking family resemblance.” (M. E. Cornell, 1858, Facts For The Times, page 76)

Who are Mormons? 

SOMETIMES our opponents, failing in argument, for effect, raise the cry of “Mormonism.” They cannot show that our views of spiritual gifts are unscriptural, or unreasonable, but because the Mormons professed to have those gifts, they think it a happy hit to excite prejudice against us, by calling us Mormons. But this charge loses all its force when we consider that faith in spiritual gifts is not peculiar to the Mormons. The most devoted and learned men of the Protestant sects have claimed the same thing both in theory and practice. [See work entitled “Miraculous Powers,” published at Review Office.] The truth is, we do not believe with the Mormons on a single point that is peculiar to them. But if to agree with the Mormons on leading points of doctrine, makes a man worthy of their name, then, verily the orthodox churches of the day are full of Mormons.

1. The Mormon Creed teaches the doctrine of the Trinity. “That Christ was the God, the Father of all things.” Mormon Bible, Book of Mosiah, par. 5.

“Behold! I am Jesus Christ. I am the Father and the Son.” Book of Esther, ch. 1, par. 3.

“Is the Son of God the very Eternal Father?

“Yea, he is the very Eternal Father.” Book of Alma, ch. 8, par. 7.

2. They believe in an immaterial God. “It is truth, light, and love, that we worship and adore; these are the same in all worlds; and as these constitute God, He is the same in all worlds; wherever you find a fullness of wisdom, knowledge, truth, goodness, love and such like qualities, there you find God in all his glory, power, and majesty—therefore if you worship these adorable qualities you worship God.” Mormon Seer pp. 24, 25.

Compare the above with Mr. H. W. Beecher in the Independent A. D. 1859. “A dim and shadowy effulgence arises from Christ, and that I am taught to call the Father. A yet more tenuous and invisible film of thought arises, and that is the Holy Spirit. But neither are to me aught tangible, restful, accessible.”

That Christ is the very and eternal God, and that God is immaterial, without body, parts or passions, is the teaching of most of the church creeds.

3. They believe in rewards and punishments at death.

“Immortal spirit joined with the choir above at Benjamin’s death.” Book of Mosiah, ch. 1, par. 8.

4. They believe the second death is endless torment.

“Then cometh a death, even a second death, which is a spiritual death. They cannot die seeing there is no more corruption.” Alma, ch. 9, par. 2, 3.

“Lake of fire is endless torment.” Book of Jacob ch. 4, p. 140.

5. The Mormons keep the Pagan, Sunday, so do Protestants in general. But why go farther? There is not a class of religious people in the world that differ with the Mormons in both theory and practice more widely than the Seventh-day Adventists.Those very men who charge us with “Mormonism,” agree with the Mormons in ten points to our one. We conclude therefore that such persons have simply mistaken the parties, and raise a charge applicable to themselves alone, to create prejudice against another class to whom it does not apply. (M. E. Cornell, April 7, 1863, Review & Herald, vol. 21, page 149, par. 5-16)

Scriptural Investigation

WHILE at West Union, I noticed that the doctrine of man’s mortality produced a great stir among the people. In a discussion with Eld. R. Swearagen (Methodist) on the nature of man, the truth shone brighter for the scouring it received.

Proposition. Do the Scriptures teach that man possesses an immortal, conscious principle?

This question was discussed before Judge McClintock as moderator, for seven evenings. The investigation made sale for books and tracts, and I think the result is as good as the generality of discussions. The brethren thought we could not well avoid it, as the cause might suffer if we appeared to be afraid to meet their positions. As a full report would be tedious, I give but a brief selection from the many positions and arguments.…

Swearagen. Christ gave up his soul, not merely his breath. He says, “I have power to lay down my life, and have power to take it again.” Something was conscious to take the life again.

Reply. His soul was the offering. “Hath poured out his soul unto death.” Isa. 53:10-12. The offering must die. The Son could take his life again when his Father gave it to him. “We have testified of God that he raised up Christ.” 1 Cor. 15:15. “Whom God hath raised up, having loosed the pains of death.” Acts 2:24. “Thou (God) wilt not leave my soul in hell (hades or grave) neither wilt thou suffer thy Holy One to see corruption.” Verse 27.

S. He is not satisfied when he says the soul of man dies with the body, but he rises higher in his blasphemy, and says, The soul of Christ died—that divinity died! He even kills a part of God! What awful blasphemy!!

R. If it be blasphemy to say that the divine Son of God died, how much greater blasphemy is found in the Methodist Discipline—“Very God and very man, who truly suffered, was crucified, dead and buried,” &c. Watson, speaking of Christ’s death, says, “The death of One who partook of flesh and blood,” “in that lower nature he dies.” “Sufferings and death of the incarnate Deity.”—Institutes, pp. 219, 259.

Dr. Clarke says, “A body was prepared for the eternal Logos, and in that body he came to do the will of God, that is, to suffer and die.” Com. on Heb. 10:6.

This charge of blasphemy is not only against his own Discipline, and principal theologian, and commentator, but his hymn book is full of such blasphemy.

“The incarnate God hath died for me.”

    —Hymn 133, revised ed.

“Christ, the mighty Maker, died.”—146.

“The rising God forsakes the tomb.”—148.

“Down from the shining seats above,

    With joyful haste he fled;

    Entered the grave in mortal flesh,

    And dwelt among the dead.”—131.

But worst of all, this awful charge is against the Bible. In John 1:2, 14, we learn that the “Word” which “was in the beginning with God,” “was made flesh.” And in Heb. 1:2, 3, the Son of God, who was the “express image of his person,” did “by himself purge our sins.” That which was “the express image” of God, was the sacrifice, and of course had to die. In Phil. 2:5-8, “Let this mind be in you, which was also in Christ Jesus; who, being in the form of God, thought it not robbery to be equal with God; but made himself of no reputation, and took upon him the form of a servant, and was made in the likeness of men; and being found in fashion as a man, he humbled himself, and became obedient unto death, even the death of the cross.”

There is nothing more clearly taught in the Scriptures than that he that came down from heaven died; that he “was made a little lower than the angels for the suffering of death,” and was “put to death in the flesh.” Heb. 2:9; 1 Pet. 3:18. “He hath poured out his soul unto death.” Isa. 53:12.

If Christ died, soul and body, and was raised, soul and body, then man will be raised from the dead, soul and body, for Christ in his resurrection was the first-fruits (or sample) of them that slept.” 1 Cor. 15:20.

If, as Clarke says, the “Eternal Logos” did “suffer and die,” it is folly to talk about an essential part of man not being subject to death. Such talk sounds much like the echo to that lie of the old serpent, “Thou shalt not surely die.” (M. E. Cornell, December 23, 1862, I vol. 21, no. 4, pages 25, 26)