In my study of the gentiles and determining that this word refers specifically to the dwarves, I’ve been trying to see if that idea fits with various scriptures.
Generally it fits better than I had hoped and I still firmly believe this idea. One conclusion from my studies is that the primary mission of the early Mormons was to take the BoM to the Gentiles. They were also called to preach to the Jews along with sweeping generalities like preaching “unto every creature”, whatever that means exactly. But there is no mistaking that there was a specific call to preach to the Gentiles.
That call was made primarily to the Twelve of Joseph Smith’s day and specifically to that quorum’s first president, Thomas B Marsh.
Let me first point out that what most Mormons know of Marsh is that he left the church over his wife’s unscrupulous practice of skimming cream from milk that was meant to be shared with another woman. Petty and offended, Marsh left in a huff. There are many reasons to believe this story is false. For one, it was only first told years later by Brighamite named George Albert Smith. Any story told by a Brighamite should generally be viewed as a lie unless proven otherwise in my opinion.
Another reason to doubt the milk story is the contemporaneous proof of why Marsh actually left the Mormons is pretty clear cut — he was opposed to the militancy of the Danites and other Mormons that preceded the infamous Missouri extermination order. The violence of the Mormons drove him away so as to not be associated with it. This link provides a pretty good primer on the milk strippings fable and the true reasons why Marsh left.
Regardless of why Marsh left, however, he was the subject of a pretty impressive revelation known as D&C 112. In that revelation he is chastised a bit but also given some pretty significant responsibilities as the president of the Twelve, one of which was to “bear record of my name, not only unto the Gentiles, but also unto the Jews; and thou shalt send forth my word unto the ends of the earth.”
The revelation then goes on to say that his “path lieth among the mountains“ and that where he goes to preach, “an effectual door shall be opened unto you”.
I highlighted mountains because that’s where dwarves live, so that tie in seems pretty obvious. If the dwarves are gentiles, anyone wanting to preach to them would need to go to some mountains so it makes sense that Marsh’s path to find and preach to the Gentiles would take him to the mountains.
But the next part about the effectual door is also intriguing. The word effectual has this meaning from the 1828 dictionary:
Producing an effect, or the effect desired or intended; or having adequate power or force to produce the effect.1828 Webster’s dictionary
The door that will be opened for Marsh is “effectual” or we could read that as a door that has power associated with it. The Dwarves are known for doors that I think could be called effectual, such as the back door into the Lonely Mountain from The Hobbit or the doors of Moria from The Lord of the Rings. I could imagine a similar prophecy being made about Bilbo, that effectual doors would be opened for him as well.
In this imagining, we have a prophecy where Marsh is told that he will go to the mountains to preach to Gentiles (dwarves) and that in order to do this, a door of power will be opened up for him.
This calling to preach, by the way, was not only given to Marsh. It was made to all the Twelve and Marsh, as the president, was told to admonish the Twelve to the tasks at hand. However, about a year after this revelation, Marsh was gone, which paved the way for the great villain and asshat Brigham Young to take his place as president of the Twelve. I think we could say that if it had not been for Marsh stepping away, Young might have had far less influence than he did. Or who knows, perhaps he would have found another way to get there.
“Nevertheless, inasmuch as thou hast abased thyself thou shalt be exalted”
The above words were said to Marsh in D&C 112:3. What happens next in Marsh’s story was something of a shock to me. The word “pathetic” is what keeps coming to mind as I have read about his path back to Mormonism starting around 1856. After his wife died, Marsh began making overtures to return to fellowship with the Mormons. He first tries at Florence, Nebraska by making a plea to the local leader there, who accepts Marsh’s heartfelt plea but says given his past leadership position he would need permission from Young to move forward. Young agrees to let Marsh be rebaptized and also asks him to come to Salt Lake to speak to the Mormons there and also ask to again have fellowship with the Mormons.
Although an aged, infirm, and impoverished man by this time, Marsh makes the journey west and speaks to a large group in the Bowery. You can read his entire remarks here but all I can say about his words is that they make my stomach turn. The word “pathetic” seems to practically leap from my throat to hear him fawning over Brigham Young and even defending the merits of polygamy briefly. He reminds me of an abused animal who grovels at the feet of any master that will cast a crumb in his direction, or at least not kick him in the ribs for simply exhisting. Yes, pathetic is the word that fits. Pitiful as well.
But in thinking of D&C 112 and the quote at the top of this section, I can’t think of a more keen example of someone abasing themselves. The question I have is why would Marsh do this? But before we answer that question, let’s read Brigham Young’s public remarks after Marsh sat down from making his remarks.
He has told you that he is an old man. Do you think that I am an old man? I could prove to this congregation that I am young; for I could find more girls who would choose me for a husband than can any of the young men.
Brother Thomas considers himself very aged and infirm, and you can see that he is, brethren and sisters. What is the cause of it? He left the Gospel of salvation. What do you think the difference is between his age and mine? One year and seven months to a day; and he is one year, seven months, and fourteen days older than brother Heber C. Kimball.
“Mormonism” keeps men and women young and handsome; and when they are full of the Spirit of God, there are none of them but what will have a glow upon their countenances; and that is what makes you and me young; for the Spirit of God is with us and within us.
When brother Thomas thought of returning to the Church, the plurality of wives troubled him a good deal. Look at him. Do you think it need to? I do not; for I doubt whether he could get one wife. Why it should have troubled an infirm old man like him is not for me to say.Journal of discourses volume 5 p 206-213 (https://journalofdiscourses.com/5/34)
Brigham Young is the kind of guy who kicks that dog I described above. What a dick! Marsh has publicly begged forgiveness, stumped for Young’s position as Joseph Smith’s proper successor, and even gave a shout out for polygamy. Young’s response is to completely emasculate him in front of the very people who just voted to accept his fellowship.
But WHY, Thomas? WHY???
And now for the why. I have two theories.
Theory 1: Thomas Marsh is a pathetic loser
One theory is that Thomas really was that pathetic and/or desperate. He really believed in Brigham’s Mormonism and would do pretty much anything to curry favor with the new big man on campus. And perhaps his indigent circumstances played a part. Marsh was completely destitute and was a frequent beneficiary of the bishop’s storehouse for the 9 years he lived in Utah before dying. Maybe he saw this as a way to kill two birds with one stone: get right w the church and get his basic living needs covered.
He did manage to land a wife, despite Young’s doubts that he could get even one, but he struggled to provide for her. I don’t like this theory very much, but if it’s true, I struggle to muster much sympathy for Marsh. I wish someone could have encouraged him to find some self respect and helped him get back on his feet without crawling to Young. But that is just one theory. Let’s explore another one that’s more fun.
Theory 2: Thomas Marsh is a bad ass
Recall that Marsh first sought reconciliation with local leaders at Florence Nebraska but they advised him to write to the First Presidency. The letter he wrote to Heber Kimball contains much of the same fawning and desperate language we are faced with at the Bowery. But there are two statements by Marsh that lead me to think he was perhaps being wise as a serpant, as the scriptures say. In one part of his letter to Kimball, Marsh acknowledges that:
…a mission was laid upon me I have never filled it and now I fear it is too late but it is filled by another…Letter from Marsh to Kimball
He also claims his actions are being driven by dreams and visions:
…the Lord has been mindful of me and altho I was very stubborn He has followed me up He has visited me with Scourging with visions & dreams…
Perhaps notably, Marsh found passage West from Nebraska with one of the last groups before Johnson’s Army came, bringing chaos to the migration process and to Utah in general. He barely made it before the window closed.
In this second theory, Thomas is merely doing what he has to do to fulfill his prior mission given to him 19 years prior. He knows he had a mission that was left undone (to find and preach to the Gentile-dwarves), God is speaking to him in dreams and visions and telling him what he has to do, which is to go west to the mountains. Remember that in section 112, God said Marsh’s path would take him to the mountains where an effectual door would be opened. Marsh is unsure how to accomplish this but God instructs him to go west and fall at Young’s feet. In other words, abase himself like section 112 says.
You might wonder why he couldn’t just head west without the charade, and if you’re wondering that, you don’t know much about 1850s Utah. It was not a kind place to anyone suspected of not being on team Brigham. Think Mountain Meadows Massacre as a good example of what was at stake. And in the case of Marsh, there was a concern that he would come back seeking office in the church, wanting to reclaim his prior position perhaps. Marsh addresses that concern in his remarks at the Bowery, seeking to allay any suspicions of his intent. In other words, aside from complete and total submission like he did, Marsh would have likely been a marked man every day he spent in Utah.
I want to mention, I don’t know how much we can trust the report of Marsh’s words in the Journal of Discourses. The Brighamites were quite fond of lying, making up stories, and changing records, so for all we know, Marsh never actually gave a plug for polygamy or said half the things in that record. But regardless, to get to the mountains, Marsh clearly had to abase himself and perhaps all of that was merely to get him in a position to find and preach to the gentile-dwarves, who I assume were living somewhere in the Wasatch mountains.
Marsh initially settled in Spanish Fork, which is nestled against the mountains and a canyon that leads well into the mountain chain. After a few years there, Marsh moves up to Ogden and lives out his last few years before dying a pauper. So in this second theory, Marsh succeeds in finding the effectual door, opening it, preaching to the gentile-dwarves by giving them the BoM. Upon succeeding, he heads to Ogden to wait until the end.
In this theory, Marsh hoodwinks the Great Asshole of the West (Brigham Young aka King Noah reborn) by playing to his sizable ego. Right under Young’s nose, Marsh completes his original mission and in so doing, keeps the restoration by Joseph Smith from being a complete failure.
What this means for the gentile-dwarves
Marsh’s mission to the gentile-dwarves would have kicked off an ages-old prophecy about the gentiles sailing to and scattering the Lehite remnant. Meaning, once Marsh succeeded in finding them, opening the effectual door, and preaching to them by giving them the BoM, the dwarves would then have knowledge of Jesus’ prophecy that they were to find the promised land and scatter the remnant. Somehow, whether through their own skill as craftsmen or by some revelation like Nephi’s, they would have built the necessary ships to sail to the Promised Land and scatter the Lehite remnant.
As a quick aside, in this theory, the Promised Land is not the USA. It’s a planet or land mass that does not reside on our globe and is actually the half of Eressea that was “sunk” when Ki-Abroam swung his mighty axe, cleaving the Lonely Isle in two. You can read about this theory here.
If my theory is correct, or close to correct, that would mean the remnant was and likely still is today, already scattered! Which means much of what we read in 2 Nephi and 3 Nephi about the Gentiles and remnant is already fulfilled.
I will try to get to that in more detail in my next post, but for now, at least we have a potential candidate for a messenger to the gentile-dwarves in Thomas B Marsh. I for one am subscribing to the “badass” theory over the “pathetic loser” theory.
I see you, Thomas Marsh!!