Several months ago I came across an interesting piece by one Rev. W. W. Anksworth that originally appeared in the May 1898 issue of the Christian Advocate, but then was excerpted in the Latter Day Saints Southern Star 1/11 (11 February 1899): 83:
At the risk of saying something superfluous on the much discussed matter of the Latter-Day Saints, I submit a few thoughts from a personal experience stretching throughout one year, on how to successfully meet the attacks of the Saints. I say successfully, for I am satisfied that by the right method they can be turned down in any place. And the work can be done by anybody. The onslaught is made on our weaker charges, often against our younger men. But none need be dismayed. And I believe anyone may profit by the year's experience of the writer.
How not to:
- You can't pray them out. It's a matter of instruction. Only the older men and women remember anything about Joe Smith and Mormonism. The people must be informed.
- You can't revival them out. I tried that. Three whole weeks we ran counter meetings at the same four corners. The Saint beat me in sustaining interest and drawing the crowd. The Saint Missionaries are shrewd, subtle, able fellows, and in most instances will tower above our ordinary men. After three weeks I saw that I was beaten at that game, and adapted a more successful method.
- You can't ignore them out. Silence is doubtless golden, but the preacher, especially the Methodist preachers, who sits by and sees inroads made upon his work by the Saints, is either a laggard or a coward. In either case he is unworthy of his robes. There are in any community many uninformed, innocent, unsuspecting souls, especially sisters, who can be easily wrought upon and prejudiced by the smooth, wily Saint, and it is our work to open their eyes to what is behind. Unless the pastor exerts himself, and that right speedily, they will be lured away and lost.
- Don't debate. This may sound strange. But it is good advice just the same. Debating is peculiar work. It is an art all by itself. Many successful preachers are not debaters. Few debaters are successful preachers. If you know that you have the gift of debate, go ahead. But even then it is not the best way; at least seldom so. Saint Missionaries are tried and gifted debaters. Be careful how you cross swords with them or they may whip the life out of you and carry away the whole community in their hearts.
How to do it:
- Begin the very day the Saint preacher begins. Earlier if you hear of his appointments ahead. They will not undertake an even fight if you fight right. Part of their work is done by making friends. They practice every imaginable wile and trick to get into people's hearts. That is to get people to like them personally. If you begin at once, you head them off on this line, which is very important.
- Master and preach Mormonism as it is. You will find it only in the Mormon Bibles: "Book of Mormon," "Book of Doctrine and Covenants," "The Inspired Translation of the Bible." These are their true books of revelation. Other books will be helpful. But these are all-important. These are the only books that will defeat the Saints at their own work. I defy an angel from heaven to down the Saints in a community, without these books. With these books, any schoolboy is too much for them. Just get these books, study them, take them into your pulpit, read their black and woeful contents to any American audience, and they will drop Saintism as though it were burning brimstone from the pit. You may think this cynical and foolish. But if you have to go through the fight you will understand. These fellows come in with our Bibles in their hand, denying that they have other Bibles. They get their converts baptized and stepped in prejudice against the church and Christians before they say anything of these books at all. Converts to Saintism may be found on my charge today, converts of two years' standing, who will deny that the Saints believe in these books. These books should be bought and mastered now, before the fight comes on. If the Saint Missionary has not been in on you yet, it's only a matter of time till he comes.
- Don't take up unnecessary issues with them. For instance, the Missionary will say: "Please don't call me a Mormon. I am not a Mormon. I am a Latter-Day Saint." All right, call them Saints. Show up Saintism, and soon the people will see that Saintism is as bad as Mormonism: in fact, the same thing. Again they will attack the church and John Wesley. But the church and Wesley can take care of themselves, for all the Saints. Again they preach immersion as the true baptism. Don't dispute it with them. Let the Baptists have all the consolation there is in this agreement with the Saints. Keep to Mormonism as found in those books. Don't be side-tracked.
- Do the work yourself. Nothing can give a man such a grip on any community as to defeat the Saints. After the smoke has cleared away, the pastor finds every man is his friend. To delegate this work is sometimes necessary, but always hurtful to the influence of the pastor, that is, it advertises his incompetency. It is a task where a specialist is not really necessary if the proper method be pursued.
- Keep sweet, cheerful, kind, patient. Be kind and civil to the enemy. Invite him down to dinner. That is, use his own methods on himself.
Victory is as sure as you begin the conflict. The American people are not sufficiently degraded to endorse the Mormon Bibles, which tell us that we shall not commit adultery, unless God wills to raise up offspring to his servants, in which case he will make it known - otherwise obey the Doctrine Book of Mormon.
For my part, I found Rev. Anksworth's article rather amusing. How interesting that, in his era, he thought that LDS missionaries were "tried and gifted debaters" who might actually best local clergy in a match - and how different this is from the modern reality!