Daniel P. Kidder
Mormonism and the Mormons
(NYC: Lane & Sandford, 1842, 44)
M O R M O N I S M
T H E M O R M O N S:
H I S T O R I C A L V I E W
R I S E A N D P R O G R E S S
OF THE SECT SELF - STYLED
LATTER - DAY SAINTS.
BY DANIEL P. KIDDER.
Now the Spirit speaketh expressly that in the LATTER TIMES
some shall depart from the faith, giving heed to seducing spirits,
and doctrines of devils, speaking lies in hypocrisy, having their
conscience seared with a hot iron. -- I Timothy iv, 1-3.
NEW - YORK:
PUBLISHED BY G. LANE & P.P. SANDFORD,
FOR THE METHODIST EPISCIPAL CHURCH, AT THE CONFERENCE
OFFICE, 200 MULBERRY - STREET.
J. Collord, Printer.
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board this boat was a small, but promiscuous company of passengers, most of whom, having embarked without a knowledge of the peculiar company into which they would be introduced, soon found themselves annoyed by a system of surveillance that was maintained over them. If in their conversation any remarks were dropped indicative of doubt concerning the truth of Mormonism, or of want of respect toward the leaders of that sect, they were almost sure to be reported to Smith. He, as the leader and champion, took it upon himself to chastise with severe words any who had thus offended. He did not explain the manner of his information respecting the expressions of those with whom he had not conversed; but asserted himself to be "a discerner of spirits," and affected to disclose what was in the heart of others. In short, his repeated treatment of those who did not acknowledge his pretensions, exemplified an assertion of his own, viz., that in order to get through the world to the best advantage, he had learned to browbeat his way. I had at that time but little acquaintance with the doctrines or peculiarities of Mormonism, and therefore felt bound to avail myself of all the facilities for gaining information, in the midst of which I was so unexpectedly thrown.
I will neither attempt to detail what passed in the course of the two or three days I spent in company with the individual referred to, nor inquire what agency his prophetic knowledge had in running the boat out of her proper course,
and driving her upon rocks, at a moment when he himself was assisting the pilot at the wheel! It was by the last-mentioned circumstance that my passage on the Nauvoo was interrupted, and the poor boat left fast upon the upper rapids of the Mississippi, until a rise of water took her off.
Perhaps this untoward event was in judgment upon the prophet for violating the command of one of his own revelations, which originating, as it would appear, in his having been sadly frightened in a passage on one of the lakes, forbade himself and his elders ever exposing their precious lives to the perils of navigation otherwise than by canal!
On leaving the Nauvoo for another boat, which came to our relief, several passengers of the former requested me to draw up a statement of what we had witnessed for publication at St. Louis. This I declined, but promised at a future day to prepare an article for the press, in which, without setting down aught on the score of the personal treatment we had received, I would endeavour to place the subject of Mormonism in its true light. Such an article was prepared for publication in the Methodist Quarterly Review. It however being rather too long for an insertion in that periodical, the editor and others recommended its revision with a view to publication in its present form.
The works adopted as a basis of the review were:
I. The Book of Mormon, translated by Joseph
Smith, Jr., third edition, carefully revised by the Translator, Nauvoo, Illinois, stereotyped. Cincinnati, 1840.
II. Doctrine and Covenants of the Church of the Latter-day Saints; carefully selected and compiled from the revelations of God, by Joseph Smith, Jr., Oliver Cowdery, Sidney Rigdon, Frederick G. Williams, (Presiding Elders of said Church,) Proprietors, Kirtland, Ohio, 1835.
III. History of Mormonism; or a faithful Account of that singular Imposition and Delusion, with Sketches of the Characters of its Propagators, to which are added, Inquiries into tho probability that the Historical Part of the Golden Bible was written by one Solomon Spalding, and by him intended to have been published as Romance. By E. D. Howe. Painesville, Ohio, 1840.
IV. A Brief History of the Church of Christ of Latter-day Saints, (commonly called Mormons,) including an Account of their Doctrines and Discipline, with Reasons of the Author for leaving the Church. By John Corrill, a Member of the Legislature of Missouri. St. Louis, 1839.
These books, not having been published in the Atlantic states, have been beyond the reach of many into whose hands this volume will fall. From them, as containing authentic data upon several branches of the subject, extracts have been freely made, while various other sources of information have been resorted to, including
nearly all the official Mormon publications, a volume of the Millennial Star, published in England, and the Times and Seasons, now edited by Smith, at Nauvoo.
A want of materials has not been the difficulty in the present undertaking: but to select such as would repay the reader for examination was a task which it would perhaps be vain in me to suppose accomplished. In refuting pretensions intrinsically absurd, argument itself becomes supererogation. To invest with interest a subject which of itself is low and groveling, can only be done by elevating that subject to a rank it never deserved. These considerations have hitherto induced the comparative silence of the press upon the proper merits of Mormonism. The delusion in the mean time has spread, until its growing evils have won for it a consequence to which the Christian and the philanthropist can be no longer indifferent. Smith already claims to have more than one hundred thousand followers. Such claim is doubtless made for effect, and is grossly exaggerated. Nevertheless, from an examination of the various letters and reports published in his official paper, I am forced to the conclusion that the Mormons actually number at the present time about EIGHTEEN THOUSAND. They are distributed nearly as follows: -- Nauvoo and vicinity, eight thousand five hundred. Other parts of the United States and Canada, three thousand. Great Britain, six thousand five hundred.
While many have feared lest any refutation of their principles should only give them increased notoriety, and while the materiel of a complete and convincing exposure of their errors and schemes has been accessible to but few, they have by no means been indifferent to the power of the press as an auxiliary to their efforts. They have published several newspapers in the United States, and one in England. A third and stereotype edition of the Book of Mormon has been issued in this country. The same work has been republished in England, together with a hymn-book, and various circulars and pamphlets setting forth their dogmas. A book has been prepared to operate in their behalf in Germany. One of their elders was, by the last intelligence, proceeding across the continent of Europe on a mission to Palestine. A newly ordained teacher had sailed for South Australasia, and another in the army ordered to India.
Let any one reflect upon the ruinous nature of this delusion, and on the spiritual blindness and misery it will inevitably entail upon its successive victims, and, answer if American Christians have not been criminally indifferent to their duty both of informing themselves and the world of its true character. Ignorantly it has been received by thousands. The leaven of corruption has begun to work far and near, and who can tell how many souls will be contaminated, or how many years shall pass, ere it will be thoroughly purged out!
In the facts which this work exhibits, the reader will find the spread of Mormonism accounted for on natural principles, altogether independent of its claim to the divine sanction. It will be understood that our only opposition to Mormonism is on the ground of its being a religious imposture.
That its adherents are entitled to all the rights and immunities of freemen we strenuously maintain. That they have been wickedly persecuted is beyond a doubt; and that this circumstance has been a prime cause of their recent increase is equally clear. Finding the plea of persecution to be their strong hold, it is not wonderful that they should resort to it when hard pressed for arguments. Hence it appears to have become their habit to meet whatever is said respecting the origin of their sect with a flat, but unsatisfactory denial. This undoubtedly is their shortest course, and that which is least hazardous of self-contradiction. How much weight such denial is entitled to, may be seen in its conflicting with the plainest certified and circumstantial evidence.
To prevent this retreat from investigation under cover of a denial to well-authenticated facts, I have been obliged to preserve in borrowed language many statements that could have been made at once more brief, and more agreeable to the reader in another dress.
The present work was not undertaken from a desire to interest the curious, or to edify the learned. To place within the reach of all who
might desire them, the means both of understanding and of exposing the schemes of Mormonism, and the fanaticism of the Mormons, was the leading design of the writer. Utility, correspondent to this object, has been preferred in all eases to embellishment. I have not been insensible to the vast field for speculation which is opened in the facts here narrated, especiallly when they are viewed in comparison with the fanaticisms of former ages. This I cheerfully leave to others. To exhibit facts, not theories, has been my simple aim.
The general style of a review has been preserved. To use the utmost fairness has been my aim. Wherein I have failed I hope will be shown.
That these pages may be instrumental in checking the progress both of fanaticism and of infidelity, is the sincere desire with which they are now submitted to the public.
Some delays in the issue of this work, not at first anticipated, have on the whole perhaps been beneficial, as they have enabled the writer to imbody, in an appendix, the more recent facts that have come to his knowledge, up to the very date of publication.
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11 Prevalence of imposture -- Religion its favourite disguise -- Character of Mormonism -- Causes of its spread -- Extent of the delusion -- It furnishes capital for infidelity -- Design of this work -- Wickedness and folly of persecution -- The true remedy -- Notice of Howe's History -- Corrill's -- Golden Bible -- Topics of inquiry
19 Character of inspired men -- Vicious habits of the Smiths -- Cupidity of Harris - A chance lie - Contradictions in maintaining it -- A speculation contrived -- Money-digging on the Susquehannah -- A runaway match - Shocking destitution of moral principle
36 Sidney Rigdon -- Solomon Spalding -- The "Manuscript Found" proved to be identical with the Mormon Bible -- Spalding's widow -- Rigdon's retirement at Pittsburgh -- His subsequent course in Ohio
49 The Book of Mormon published -- Testimony of the witnesses -- Cross examination -- Probable motives of these men -- Contents of the book
340 MORMONISM AND THE MORMONS.
60 P. P. Pratt makes his appearance in Ontario county -- He is forthwith converted and ordained -- Mission to the Lamanites -- Smith's wife constituted amanuensis -- Easy method of getting a revelation -- Lamanites found in Ohio -- Rigdon's conversion -- Pratt's denial of the contrivance examined
70 Early developments in Ohio -- Rigdon visits Smith -- Becomes prime coadjutor -- Revelation -- Kirtland becomes the land of promise -- Spirit of the new religion -- Proper signification and character of Mormonism -- Bugbear stories -- Financial policy -- The gift of tongues
90 Zion established -- Enthusiasm for the gathering to Missouri -- Origin of difficulties -- Mob law -- Mutual provocations -- Expulsion of Mormons from Jackson county -- Revelations on the subject -- Army of Zion -- Essay at miracles -- Exhibitions of valour -- End of the campaign
101 Zion established -- Enthusiasm for the gathering to Missouri -- Origin of difficulties -- Mob law -- Mutual provocations -- Expulsion of Mormons from Jackson county -- Revelations on the subject -- Army of Zion -- Essay at miracles -- Exhibitions of valour -- End of the campaign
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116 Theological studies -- Book of Doctrine and Covenants -- The name of Latter-day Saints adopted -- Speculation in mummies --Manuscript of Abraham -- Authorities of the church -- Description of the temple -- Closing scenes in Ohio
129 Progress of events in Missouri -- Inflammatory preaching -- Secret society -- Hostilities -- War of extermination -- Cruelties inseparable from such an order -- Trial of the leaders -- Testimony before the court of inquiry -- Charged as ex parte
155 Escape to Illinois -- Sufferings -- Persecution defeats itself -- Injustice -- Sympathies of the community -- Isaac Galland -- Magnificent enterprise -- Place of gathering -- Missions to England -- J. C. Bennett -- Revenge -- New revelation, corresponding to Galland's advice -- Charters for a city -- University and legion
183 Military organization -- General orders -- Astonishing parade -- Smith outdoes Matthias -- Progress of the sect in England -- Letter to the queen -- Literary eminence -- Moving orders -- Dissatisfaction among the emigrants -- Latest instructions -- Advantages of the Mormon policy
342 MORMONISM AND THE MORMONS.
215 Theology of Mormonism -- Derivation -- Affinity to Campbellism -- Improvements upon the old system -- Miracles -- Tongues -- Conflicting medley of doctrines -- Duplicity of the advocates of Mormonism -- Honesty of many of its followers -- Real and distinguishing tenets -- Eternity of matter -- Materiality of God -- Baptism for the dead -- Interdiction of the same -- Desecration of the sabbath
253 Relation of Mormonism to Christianity -- Glance at the Book of Mormon -- New and improved edition -- Author and proprietor becomes translator -- Chronology -- A brass ball -- Miraculous navigation -- Narrative -- Antecedent voyages -- Bloody wars -- Antiquities of Central America in proof of Mormonism -- Colour of the Indians accounted for
287 Prophecies -- Plagiarisms -- Caricature of Scripture -- Plates -- Contrivance to forestall objections -- Harris's visit to Dr. Anthon -- Dr. Anthon's letter -- Immersion instituted -- Wickedness of infant baptism -- Duplicity of Mormon teachers exhibited -- Their system carried out -- Foolish vagaries -- Rival revelator in New-York -- Phelps' humiliation -- Cowdery's present position -- Reprobation of Kirtland -- Patriarch's office -- Blessing meetings -- Summary and conclusion
[ APPENDIX. ]
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THERE are no limits to imposture. It has flourished in all ages and in every nation. Sometimes its very simplicity has won for it compassion; at others its hideous features have frightened men into compliance with its mandates. Here it has moulded the dies of the counterfeiter, and there it has woven the gloomy mask of superstition. It is capable of wearing, with equal grace, the fantastic garb of professed jugglery, and the grave insignia of the priesthood. Now it conjures up the contrivances of a petty bargain, and anon it plots the scheme of a political intrigue. It prepares the potion of the empyric, and furnishes testimony to its marvellous effects. It lurks in the courts and cabinets of kings, and is itself enthroned in the tent of the wandering gipsy. In short; its history in different places and in
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successive periods illustrates a metempsychosis more subtle than the Brahmin ever conceived; while its ubiquity has only been second to that of the spirit of evil in the heart of man. But of all the protean shapes it assumes, sanctity is its favourite. Of all the garbs in which it has ever been arrayed, none other so completely hides its deformity as that of religion.
It is no gratifying reflection that this enlightened age, and this intelligent country, have witnessed the rise and spread of one of the most absurd and pitiful delusions of which there is any account. Every one has heard of the "Golden Bible," and of the Mormon prophet. While the very pretensions of either have carried self-refutation to the minds of many, their very extravagance has presented a charm to others.
Associated on the one hand with a moneyed speculation, and on the other with some peculiar notions of religion which had been before assiduously propagated, and which were already popular in some parts of the country, these extravagances did not fail to attract admirers. Minds already settled in the principles of truth, or expanding in the highor pursuits of knowledge; found it an unwelcome task to investigate gravely such a subject, and little apprehended what would grow out of it. Thns negIected by some, and despised by others, Mormonism grew up by degrees, shaping its character to suit the times. It first spread among those who were sufficiently weak to be
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gulled into a belief of its absurdities. It soon had an equal currency among those who were either so unfortunate or so unprincipled as to find it for their interest to follow its leaders, or join its abettors.
Persecution at length arose. Sympathy added to the number of the persecuted. The claims of their cause in the light of natural and civil justice induced many to think there might be similar grounds for their pretensions to religious orthodoxy.
From these, and other causes that will be hereafter indicated, we find that after the lapse of ten years from its origin, the devotees of Mormonism are not numbered by scores or by hundreds, but by thousands. It is still on the increase. Its emissaries, with a zeal worthy of a better cause, have not been content with going through the length and breadth of our own land, they have crossed the Atlantic, and from the subjects furnished by certain classes of society in the old world, they are pouring in their proselytes among us by the ship load.
Gladly would we have been excused from tho task of examining the claims of Mormonism and the Mormons, did not a regard for truth, together with the dictates of conscience, urge us to undertake it.
Justice to the world and to posterity calls upon Americans of the present generation to record facts connected with this subject which are now and here notorious, but which perhaps are unknown abroad, and which ere long might
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become questionable by confused tradition, and eventually lost in the oblivion of time. Conscience, moreover, adjures us to repel the presumption by which the evidences of Mormonism have been asserted to compare with those of Christianity. On the ground of this presumption, the Mormon teacher already assumes to place himself on a level with the evangelists and thc apostles in the propagation of his sect. The avowed infidel yields the same presumptron with an equal zest in his attempted subversion of all revealed truth. There are strong grounds of probability that a disposition to sport with the credulity of mankind, and thus to make capital for skepticism, not only laid the cornerstono of Mormonism, but has planned and, carried up the whole superstructure. Certain it is, that no scheme could have been devised for that purpose with the hope of producing more fruitful results.
In the progress of the present work we shall be obliged to unmask deception, and to place before the world the principal agents of this imposture in their true and attested character; yet we hope to do it in fairness and candour, so that could we gain the attention of any individuals exposed or already subject to the mental and spiritual contamination of which there have been such unhappy examples, we trust they may here find an antidote. At the same time, appealing to reason, to justice, and to the rights of man, we hope to rebuke that spirit of anarchy and intolerance which thinks to smother
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investigation on any subject, or to crush down even error itself, by means of oppression.
The Mormon, however mistaken in any of his views, is none the less a citizen. While he therefore, in common with all others, is amenable to the laws of his country, he deserves equally with them to be maintained in the exercise of all his rights, by the supremacy of the laws, and the integrity of that country. Nor can those rights be infringed upon with. impunity. Aggression is sure to beget retaliation; and when once the restraints of law have been broken over, especially by a community, where can we expect the torrent of evil consequences to be stayed? The aggressor of to-day may be the victim to-morrow, and thus onward till the nation is plunged in a civil war of extermination. While then we have, much to lay to the charge of those whom we believe to be the authors of a scheme of vile deception, we by no means hold guiltless those who, by injudicious and illegal opposition, have done more to advance that very scheme, and multiply its deluded victims, than could ever have been done by its original contrivers, had they been left to themselves.
Nor is it merely in view of the past that we record these sentiments. The numbers attached to the Mormon community, and their peculiar policy toward those without its pale, give cause of apprehension for the future. It is exceedingly important, therefore, that the inhabitants of this country, and of our great west
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especially, should fully understand this subject, and their duty with respect to it. Patience under any aggravations will be the mark of discretion. Truth and reason are the only weapons they can use with safety either in attack or defence. Let knowledge and piety be diffused -- let the pure principles of the gospel be disseminated and practised, and there will be nothing to fear. But in the absence of these, there will be no barrier against the giant strides of fanaticism, and no restraint upon the extravagances of human passion and folly.
A strong presumption in favour of the truth of Scripture history crises from the fact that when it was published to the world no part of it was contradicted. Although numbers refused their assent to the doctrines of Christianity, and were interested to oppose them, yet there has come down to us no contemporaneous denial of its premises, no exposition of the deceptions on which it was based, if such existed.
Such a presumption in favour of Mormonism is wholly destroyed by the existence of two of the works, whose titles are given in the preface. Howe's History of Mormonism, on examination, appears to be what its title indicates, "a faithful account of that singular imposition and delusion" during the first years of its rise. Its author did not content himself with recording facts merely upon the strength of public notoriety, but in every practicable instance he has collected the concurrent and certified testimony of living witnesses. He has imbodied
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the depositions and certificates of a large number of respectable citizens in western New-York, Pennsylvania, and Ohio, respecting the pretended discovery, translation, and publication of the Book of Mormon, and also respecting the character of those engaged in the affair. Whatever may have been the success of this work on its publication, the author will not fail to realize a rich reward in the approbation of all who become acquainted with his industry, and especially in the gratitude of coming generations, should they be so unfortunate as to need demonstrative arguments in refutation of the system of imposture, whose origin he has delineated.
Corrill's "Brief History" comes from another, and a very different source. Its author was for several years a member and an elder of the Mormon church. He explains the process by which he became such, and the reasons why he continued so long an adherent to practices which his good sense and better feelings condemned. He also testifies to the incredible inconsistencies which at length drove him to the extremity of casting off his allegiance to a false prophet. His work is by no means full and explicit, and insomuch fails to be satisfactory. Nevertheless, in several respects, it is valuable. It was manifestly an object for the author, in justification of himself, to state the very best arguments that exist in favour of Mormonism such as had been successful with himself, and with those among whom he had
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been able to propagate the system; and we are disposed to pardon the generality of his remarks, and the reserve in his statements, when we consider that to have divulged more would have seemed like bearing witness against himself, and glorying in his own shame. Query. Why were not some of the elders of Israel, or of the apostolic church, at least as honest as this man, so that if, in the course of long and painful expenence, they became convinced of their delmion, they would, like him, have confessed it, and thus set up a waymark for their countrymen and their children in coming days?
These works correspond in all the important particulars which they both contain, and from them will be abridged the facts which immediately follow.
In the year 1827 it began to be rumoured that a"Golden Bible," or, in other words, a new revelation, recorded upon plates of gold, had been found in Ontario county, New-York, by one Joseph Smith.
In the year 1830 a publication made its appearance, entitled, "The Book of Mormon," purporting to be a translation of said record. Upon the divine authenticity of that book, upon its asserted miraculous preservation "in the bowels of the earth," and upon its equally miraculous discovery and translation, are predicated both the truth and the consistency of the whole system we are now discussing. It consequently becomes us to collect whatever light may be thrown upon the origin of so unusual a
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publication. Upon the Book of Mormon rests the whole fabric of Mormonism: let us examine whether it be not a sandy foundation. That was the starting point of the whole prophetic race: let us see whether it is from above or below. That is the fountain which has sent forth the whole flood of blessings or of curses attributable to this system: let us prove whether its waters are sweet or bitter.
Character of inspired men -- Vicious habits of the Smiths -- Cupidity of Harris -- A chance lie -- Contradictions in maintaining it -- A speculation contrived -- Money-digging on the Susquehannah -- A runaway match -- Shocking destitution of moral principle.
We will indulge for a moment the hypothesis that for wise and worthy reasons God did see proper then and there to make a revelation to the human family. It next becomes important to inquire who are the chosen vessels by whom the Almighty condescended to dispense such grace to the world. From what we know of the former-day saints and prophets, men "of whom the world was not worthy," we should expect if there were any righteous upon earth -- any full of faith and of the Holy Ghost -- any who were watching with prayers and tears for the coming of the Lord, that the election would be made from among them. If this could not be so, we should at least look for the chosen ones
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among the members of moral and respectable society. Both of these expectations are doomed to disappointment by the facts in the case. Here is the testimony.
"Palmyra, Dec. 4, 1833."We, the undersigned, have been acquainted with the Smith family, for a number of years, while they resided near this place, and we have no hesitation in saying, that we consider them destitute of that moral character, which ought to entitle them to the confidence of any community. They were particularly famous for visionary projects, spent much of their time in digging for money which they pretended was hid in the earth; and to this day, large excavations may be seen in the earth, not far from their residence, where they used to spend their time in digging for hidden treasures. Joseph Smith, Senior, and his son Joseph, were in particular, considered entirely
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destitute of moral character, and addicted to vicious habits.
"Martin Harris was a man who had acquired a handsome property, and in matters of business his word was considered good; but on moral and religious subjects, he was perfectly visionary -- sometimes advocating one sentiment, and sometimes another. And in reference to all with whom we were acquainted, that have embraced Mormonism from this neighborhood, we are compelled to say, were very visionary, and most of them destitute of moral character, and without influence in this community; and this may account why they were permitted to go on with their impositions undisturbed. It was not supposed that any of them were possessed of sufficient character or influence to make any one believe their book or their sentiments, and we know not of a single individual in this vicinity that puts the least confidence in their pretended revelations.
"George N. Williams, Clark Robinson, Lemuel Durfee, E. S. Townsend, Henry P. Alger, C. E. Thayer, G. W. Anderson, H. P. Thayer, L. Williams, George W. Crosby, Levi Thayer, R. S. Williams, P. Sexton, M. Butterfield, S. P. Seymour, D. S. Jackways, John Hurlbut, H. Linnell, James Jenner, S. Ackley, Josiah Rice, Jesse Townsend, Richard. D. Clark, Th. P. Baldwin, John Sothington, Durfey Chase, Wells Anderson, N. H. Beckwith, Philo Durfee, Giles S. Ely, R. W. Smith, Pelatiah West, Henry Jessup, Linus North, Thos. Rogers, 2d. Wm. Parke, Josiah Francis, Ames Hollister, G. A. Hathaway, David G. Ely, H. K. Jerome, G. Beckwith, Lewis Foster, Hiram Payne, P. Grandin, L. Hurd, Joel Thayer, E. D. Robinson, Asahel Millard, A. Ensworth, Israel F. Chilson."
After these statements, certified by sixty-two men of character, who may be
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considered as representing the entire community in which this affair took its origin, we may safely regard the character of the persons who "got up" the Book of Mormon as established; at least up to the period when that work was published.
Martin Harris, above and hereafter referred to, was second in importance only to Smith. Indeed, had it not been for his money, which he supposed profitably invested, there is no probability that the miraculous book would have ever been published. Thus the discovery and translation of the record would have been equally vain.
It will now be curious to observe several particulars which are vouched for by the regularly-sworn affidavits of different individuals.
1. When Joseph Smith, Jr., first pretended to have found a Golden Bible, it was merely in jest, not expecting that any would be simple enough to believe him. Peter Ingersol, his neighbor and confidential friend, thus testifies: --
"One day he came, and greeted me with a joyful countenance. -- Upon asking the cause of his unusual happiness, he replied in the following language: -- 'As I was passing, yesterday, across the woods, after a heavy shower of rain, I found, in a hollow, some beautiful white sand, that had been washed up by the water. I took off my frock, and tied up several quarts of it, and then went home. On my entering the house, I found the family at the table eating dinner. They were all anxious to know the contents of my frock. At that moment, I happened to think
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of what I had heard about a history found in Canada, called the Golden Bible; so I very gravely told them it was the Golden Bible. To my surprise, they were credulous enough to believe what I said. Accordingly I told them that I had received a commandment to let no one see it, for, says I, no man can see it with the naked eye and live. However, I offered to take out the book and show it to them, but they refuse to see it, and left the room.' 'Now,' said Jo, 'I have got the damned fools fixed, and will carry out the fun.' Notwithstanding, he told me he had no such book, and believed there never was any such book, yet, he told me that he actually went to Willard Chase, to get him to make a chest, in which he might deposit his Golden Bible. But, as Chase would not do it, he made a box himself, of clap-boards, and put it into a pillow case, and allowed people only to lift it, and feel of it through the case.
2. As is usual, in such cases of fibbing, his stories were contadictory. Here is part of the testimony of Willard Chase.
"In the fore part of September, (I believe,) 1827, the prophet requested me to make him a chest, informing me that he designed to move back to Pennsylvania, and expecting soon to get his gold book, he wanted a chest to lock it up, giving me to understand at the same time, that if I would make the chest he would give me a share in the book. I told him my business was such that I could not make it: but if he would bring the book to me, I would lock it up for him. He said that would not do, as he was commanded to keep it two years, without letting it come to the eye of any one but himself. This commandment, however, he did not keep, for in less than two years, twelve men said they had seen it. I told him to get it and convince me of its existence, and I
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would make him a chest; but he said, that would not do, as he must have a chest to lock the book in, as soon as he took it out of the ground. I saw him a few days after, when he told me that I must make the chest. I told him plainly that I could not, upon which he told me that I could have no share in the book.
"A few weeks after this conversation, he came to my house, and related the following story: -- That on the 22d of September, he arose early in the morning, and took a one-horse wagon, of some one that had stayed over night at their house, without leave or license; and, together with his wife, repaired to the hill which contained the book. He left his wife in the wagon, by the road, and went alone to the hill, a distance of thirty or forty rods from the road; he said he then took the book out of the ground and hid it in a tree top, and returned home. He then went to the town of Macedon to work. After about ten days, it having been suggested that some one had got his book, his wife went after him; he hired a horse, and went home in the afternoon, staid long enough to drink one cup of tea, and then went for his book, found it safe, took off his frock, wrapt it round it, put it under his arm and run all the way home, a distance of about two miles. He said he should think it would weigh sixty pounds, and was sure it would weigh forty. On his return home, he said he was attacked by two men in the woods, and knocked them both down and made his escape, arrived safe and secured his treasure. -- He then observed that if it had not been for that stone, (which he acknowledged belonged to me,) he would not have obtained the book. A few days afterwards, he told one of my neighbors that he had not got any such book, nor never had such an one; but that he had told the story to deceive the d---d fool, (meaning me,) to get him to
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make a chest. His neighbors having become disgusted with his foolish stories, he determined to go back to Pennsylvania, to avoid what he called persecution. His wits were now put to the task to contrive how he should get money to bear his expenses. He met one day in the streets of Palmyra, a rich man, whose name was Martin Harris, and addressed him thus; -- 'I have a commandment from God to ask the first man I meet in the street to give me fifty dollars, to assist me in doing the work of the Lord by translating the Golden Bible.' Martin being naturally a credulous man, handed Joseph the money. In the spring 1829, Harris went to Pennsylvania, and on his return to Palmyra, reported that the Prophet's wife, in the month of June following would be delivered of a male child that would be able, when two years old to translate the Gold Bible. Then, said he, you will see Joseph Smith, Jr. walking through the streets of Palmyra, with a Gold Bible under his arm, and having a gold breast-plate on, and a gold sword hanging by his side. This, however, by the by, proved false.
In April, 1830, I again asked Hiram for the stone which he had borrowed of me; he told me I should not have it, for Joseph made use of it in translating his Bible. I reminded him of his promise, and that he had pledged his honour to return it; but he gave me the lie, saying the stone was not mine nor never was. Harris at the same time flew in a rage, took me by the collar and said I was a liar, and he could prove it by twelve witnesses. After I had extricated myself from him, Hiram, in a rage, shook his fist at me, and abused me in a most scandalous manner. Thus I might proceed in describing the character of these high priests, by relating one transaction after another, which would all tend to set them in the same light in which they were regarded by
26 MORMONISM AND THE MORMONS.
their neighbors, viz: as a pest to society. I have regarded Joseph Smith, Jr. from the time I first became acquainted with him until he left this part of the country, as a man whose word could not be depended upon. Hiram's character was but very little better. What I have said respecting the characters of these men, will apply to the whole family. What I have stated relative to the characters of these individuals, thus far, is wholly true. After they became thorough Mormons, their conduct was more disgraceful than before. They did not hesitate to abuse any man, no matter how fair his character, provided he did not embrace their creed. Their tongues were continually employed in spreading scandal and abuse. Although they left this part of the country without paying their just debts, yet their creditors were glad to have them do so, rather than to have them stay, disturbing the neighbourhood.
"Signed, WILLARD CHASE.
"On the 11th December, 1833, the said Willard Chase appeared before me, and made oath that the foregoing statement to which he has subscribed his name, is true, according to his best recollection and belief. FREDERICK SMITH,
Justice of the Peace of Wayne County.
"Parley Chase addirms as follows: -- 'I was acquainted with the family of Joseph Smith, Sen., both before and since they became Mormons, and feel free to state that not one of the male members of the Smith family were entitled to any credit, whatsoever. They were lazy, intemperate and worthless men, -- very much addicted to lying. In this they freqently boasted of their skill. Digging for money was their principal employment. In regard to their Gold Bible speculation, they scarcely ever told two stories alike."
3. Finding some persons credulous enough
MORMONISM AND THE MORMONS. 27
to received his tales for truth, a moneyed speculation was planned. The following is a part of Henry Harris's affidavit: --
"Joseph Smith, Jr. the pretended Prophet, used to pretend to tell fortunes; he had a stone which he used to put in his hat, by means of which he professed to tell people's fortunes.
"Joseph Smith, Jr., Martin Harris and others, used to meet together in private, a while before the gold plates were found, and were familiarly known by the name of the 'Gold Bible Company.' They were regarded by the community in which they lived, as a lying and indolent set of men, and no confidence could be placed in them.
"The character of Joseph Smith, Jr. for truth and veracity was such, that I would not believe him under oath. I was once on a jury before a justice's court and the jury could not, and did not, believe his testimony to be true. After he pretended to have found the gold plates, I had a conversation with him, and asked him where he found them, and how he came to know where they were. He said he had a revelation from God that told him they were hid in a certain hill, and he looked in his stone and saw them in the place of deposit; that an angel appeared, and told him he could not get the plates until he was married, and that when he saw the woman that was to be his wife, he should know her, and she would know him. He then went to Pennsylvania, got his wife, and they both went together and got the gold plates -- he said it was revealed to him that no one must see the plates but himself and wife.
"I then asked him what letters were engraved on them; he said italic letters, written in an unknown *
* He now says Hebrew and Egyptian. Italic letters in Hebrew!
28 MORMONISM AND THE MORMONS.
language, and that he had copied some of the words and sent them to Dr. Mitchell and Professor Anthon of New York. By looking on the plates he said he could not understand the words, but it was made known to him that he was the person that must translate them, and on looking through the stone was enabled to translate.
"After the Book was published, I frequently bantered him for a copy. He asked fourteen shillings a piece for them; I told him I would not give so much; he told me had had [sic] a revelation that they must be sold at that price.
"Some time afterwards I talked with Martin Harris about buying one of the Books and he told me they had had a new revelation, that they might be sold at ten shillings a piece."
Abigail Harris has made the following affirmation, which is sustained by s similar one from Lucy, the wife of Martin Harris.
"Palmyra, Wayne Co. N. Y. 11th mo. 28th,1833.
"In the early part of the winter in 1828, I made a visit to Martin Harris's, and was joined in company by Joseph Smith, Sen. and his wife. The Gold Bible business, so called, was the topic of conversation, to which I paid particular attention, that I might learn the truth of the whole matter. They told me that the report that Joseph, Jr. had found golden plates, was true, and that he was in Harmony, Pa. translating them. The old lady said also, that after the book was translated, the plates were to be publicly exhibited -- admitance 25 cents. She calculated it would bring in annually an enormous sum of money -- that money would then be very plenty, and the book would also sell for a great price, as it was something entirely new -- that they had been commanded to obtain all the money they could borrow
MORMONISM AND THE MORMONS. 29
for present necessity, and to repay with gold. The remainder was to be kept in store for the benefit of their family and children. This and the like conversation detained me until about 11 o'clock. Early the next morning, the mystery of the Spirit being like myself (one of the order called Friends) was revealed by the following circumstance: The old lady took me into another room, and after closing the door, she said, 'Have you four or five dollars in money that you can lend until our business is brought to a close? the Spirit has said you shall receive four-fold.' I told her that when I gave, I did it not expecting to receive again: as for money, I had none to lend. I then asked her what her particular want of money was; to which she replied, 'Joseph wants to take the stage and come home from Pennsylvania to see what we are all about.' To which I replied, he might look in his stone and save his time and money. The old lady seemed confused, and left the room, and thus ended the visit.
"In the second month following, Martin Harris and his wife were at my house. In conversation about Mormonites, she observed, that she wished her husband would quit them, as she believed it was all false and delusion. To which I head Mr. Harris reply: "What if it is a lie; if you will let me alone I will make money out of it!" I was both an eye and an ear witness of what has been stated above, which is now fresh in my memory, and I give it to the world for the good of mankind. I speak the truth and lie not, God bearing me witness.
Joseph Capron, after detailing sundry necromantic exploits of our hero, adds, --
"At length Joseph pretended to find the gold plates. This scheme, he believed, would relieve the
30 MORMONISM AND THE MORMONS.
family from all pecuniary embarrassment. His father told me, that when the book was published, they would be enabled, from the profits of the work, to carry into successful operation the money-digging business. He gave me no intimation, at that time, that the book was to be of a religious character, or that it had any thing to do with revelation. He declared it to be a speculation, and said he, 'when it is completed, my family will be placed on a level above the generality of mankind!!'"
The scene will now be changed from the state of New-York to that of Pennsylvania, where we shall learn some further particulars respecting the character and operations of these worthies from persons well qualified to judge of both. Smith's father-in-law, Mr. Hale, testifies to the following, among other particulars.
"Harmony, Pa. Mar. 20th, 1834"I first became acquainted with Joseph Smith, Jr. in November, 1825. He was at that time in the employ of a set of men who were called "money diggers;" and his occupation was that of seeing, or pretending to see by means of a stone placed in his hat, and his hat closed over his face. In this way he pretended to discover minerals and hidden treasure.
"About this time, young Smith made several visits at my house, and at length asked my consent to his marrying my daughter Emma. This I refused, and gave my reasons for so doing; some of which were, that he was a stranger, and followed a business that I could not approve; he then left the place. Not long after this, he returned, and while I was absent from home, carried off my daughter, into the state of New York, where they were married without my approbation or consent.
MORMONISM AND THE MORMONS. 31
"Soon after this, I was informed they had brought a wonderful book of plates down with them. I was shown a box in which it is said they were contained, which had to all appearances, been used as a glass box of the common window glass. I was allowed to feel the weight of the box, and they gave me to understand, that the book of plates was then in the box -- into which, however, I was not allowed to look.
"I inquired of Joseph Smith Jr., who was to be the first who would be allowed to see the book of plates? He said it was a young child. After this, I became dissatisfied, and informed him that if there was any thing in my house of that description, which I could not be allowed to see, he must take it away; if he did not, I was determined to see it. After that, the plates were said to be hid in the woods.
"About this time, Martin Harris made his appearance upon the stage; and Smith began to interpret the characters or hieroglyphics which he said were engraven upon the plates, while Harris wrote down the interpretation. It was said, that Harris wrote down one hundred and sixteen pages, and lost them. Soon after this happened, Martin Harris informed me that he must have a greater witness, and said that he had talked with Joseph about it -- Joseph informed him that he could not, or durst not show him the plates, but that he (Joseph) would go into the woods where the book of plates was, and that after he came back Harris should follow his track in the snow, and find the book, and examine it for himself. Harris informed me that he followed Smith's directions, and could not find the plates, and was still dissatisfied.
"The next day after this happened, I went to the house where Joseph Smith Jr., lived, and where he and Harris were engaged in their translation of the book. Each of them had a written piece of paper which they were comparing, and some of the words
32 MORMONISM AND THE MORMONS.
were 'my servant seeketh a greater witness, but no greater witness can be given him.' There was also something said about 'three that were to see the thing' -- meaning I supposed, the book of plates, and that 'if the three did not go exactly according to the orders, the thing would be taken from them.' I inquired whose words they were, and was informed by Joseph or Emma, (I rather think it was the former,) that they were the words of Jesus Christ. I told them, that I considered the whole of it a delusion, and advised them to abandon it. The manner in which he pretended to read and interpret, was the same as when he looked for the money-diggers, with the stone in his hat, and his hat over his face, while the book of plates were at the same time hid in the woods.
"After this, Martin Harris went away, and Oliver Cowdery came and wrote for Smith, while he interpreted as above described. This is the same Oliver Cowdery, whose name may be found in the Book of Mormon. Cowdery continued a scribe for Smith until the Book of Mormon was completed as I supposed and understood.
"Joseph Smith Jr., resided near me for some time after this, and I had a good opportunity of becoming acquainted with him, and somewhat acquainted with his associates, and I conscientiously believe from the facts I have detailed, and from many other circumstances, which I do not deem it necessary to relate, that the whole 'Book of Mormon' (so called) is a silly fabrication of falsehood and wickedness, got up for speculation, and with a design to dupe the credulous and unwary -- and in order that its fabricators may live upon thr spoils of those who swallow the deception.
ISAAC HALE."Affirmed to and subscribed before me, March 20th, 1834.
CHARLES DIMON, Justice of the peace.
MORMONISM AND THE MORMONS. 33
State of Pennsylvania, Susquehana Co., ss.
"We, the subscribers, associate judges of the court of common pleas, in and for said county, do certify that we have been many years personally acquainted with Isaac Hale, of Harmony township in this county, who has attested the foregoing statement; and that he is a man of excellent moral character, and of undoubted veracity. Witness our hands.
"March 21st, 1834.
"Rev. N. C. Lewis, of the Methodist Episcopal Church, also certifies and affirms in relation to Smith as follows: --
"I have been acquainted with Joseph Smith Jr., for some time: being a relation of his wife, and residing near him, I have had frequent opportunities of conversation with him, and of knowing his opinions and pursuits. From my standing in the Methodist Episcopal Church, I suppose he was careful how he conducted or expressed himself before me. At one time, however, he came to my house, and asked my advice, whether he should proceed to translate the book of plates (referred to by Mr. Hale) or not. He said that God had commanded him to translate it, but he was afraid of the people: he remarked, that he was to exhibit the plates to the world, at a certain time, which was then about eighteen months distant. I told him I was not qualified to give advice in such cases. Smith frequently said to me that I should see the plates at the time appointed.
"After the time stipulated, had passed away, Smith being at my house was asked why he did not fulfil his promise, show the golden plates and prove himself an honest man? He replied that he, himself, was deceived, but that I should see them if I were
34 MORMONISM AND THE MORMONS.
where they were. I reminded him then, that I stated at the time he made the promise, I was fearful 'the enchantment would be so powerful' as to remove the plates, when the time came in which they were to be revealed.
"These circumstances and many others of a similar tenor, embolden me to say that Joseph Smith Jr., is not a man of truth and veracity; and that his general character, in this part of the country, is that of an impostor, hypocrite and liar. NATHANIEL C. LEWIS."
"Affirmed and subscribed, before me, March 20th, 1834.
CHARLES DIMON, Justice of the peace."
Various other statements of similar import were collected in the same vicinity. We subjoin the substance of three which develop some of the worst features of human depravity.
"Alva Hale, son of Isaac Hale, states, that Joseph Smith Jr. told him that his (Smith's) gift in seeing with a stone and hat, 'was a gift from God,' but also states 'that Smith told him at another time that this peeping was all d----d nonsense. He (Smith) was deceived himself but did not intend to deceive others; that he intended to quit the business, (of peeping) and labour for his livelihood.' That afterwards, Smith told him, he should see the plates from which he translated the Book of Mormon, and accordingly at the time specified by Smith, he (Hale) called to see the plates, but Smith did not show them, but appeared angry. He further states, that he knows Joseph Smith Jr. to be an impostor, and a liar, and knows Martin Harris to be a liar likewise.
"Levi Lewis states, that he has been acquainted with Joseph Smith Jr. and Martin Harris, and that he has heard them both say, adultery was no crime.
MORMONISM AND THE MORMONS. 35
Harris said he did not blame Smith for his (Smith's) attempt to seduce E. W. &c. Mr. Lewis says that he knows Smith to be a liar; -- that he saw him (Smith) intoxicated at three different times while he was composing the Book of Mormon, and also that he has heard Smith when driving oxen, use language of the greatest profanity. Mr. Lewis also testifies that he heard Smith say he (Smith) was as good as Jesus Christ; -- that it was as bad to injure him as it was to injure Jesus Christ. With regard to the plates, Smith said God had deceived him -- which was the reason he (Smith) did not show them.
"Sophia Lewis, certifies that she "feard a conversation between Joseph Smith, Jr., and the Rev. James B. Roach, in which Smith called Mr. R. a d----d fool. Smith also said in the same conversation that he (Smith) was as good as Jesus Christ; and that she has frequently heard Smith use profane language. She states that she heard Smith say the book of plates could not be opened under penalty of death by any other person but his (Smith's) first-born, which was to be a male." She says she was present at the birth of this child, and that it was still-born and very much deformed."
Such men, we are told by the Mormons, were divinely appointed to usher in the fulness of the gospel. All who will not believe this are to be denounced as children of the devil, and heirs of wrath.
36 MORMONISM AND THE MORMONS.
LEAVING the prophet and his worthy coadjutors in their employment of peeping and comparing notes on the banks of the Susquehannah, we shall now introduce to the reader an individual hitherto behind the curtain, but who was destined to act a prominent part in the farce of Mormonism. This is none other than Sidney Rigdon, known at that time in the northern counties of Ohio as a Campbelite preacher of some distinction, and reputed to possess more than ordinary shrewdness. By means of this latter trait, so much in contrast with the general character of the Smiths, he was enabled to keep his preliminary operations chiefly in the dark. Nevertheless, a combination of circumstances indicates him to have been the prime mover of the whole contrivance, at least as far as a religious imposture was concerned.
The leading features of what has been published to the world, as the Book of Mormon, were conceived and written out as early as the year 1810, or 1811, by one Solomon Spalding. Of the last-mentioned individual we have the following account, written by his surviving brother, a resident of Crawford county, Pennsylvania.
MORMONISM AND THE MORMONS. 37
"Solomon Spalding was born in Ashford, Conn., in 1761, and in early life contracted a taste for literary pursuits. After he left school, he entered Plainfield academy, where he made great proficiency in study, and excelled most of his class-mates. He next commenced the study of law, in Windham county, in which he made little progress, having, in the mean time, turned his attention to religious subjects. He soon after entered Dartmouth college, with the intention of qualifying himself for the ministry, where he obtained the degree of A. M., and was afterward regularly ordained. After preaching three or four years, he gave it up, removed to Cherry Valley, New-York, and commenced the mercantile business, in company with his brother Josiah. In a few years he failed in business, and in the year 1809 removed to Conneaut, in Ohio. The year following I removed to Ohio, and found him engaged in building a forge. I made him a visit in about three years after, and found that he had failed, and was considerably involved in debt. He then told me he had been writing a book, which he intended to have printed, the avails of which he thought would enable him to pay all his debts. The book was entitled, the 'Manuscript Found,' of which he read to me many pas- sages. It was an historical romance of the first settlers of America,-endeavoring to show that the American Indians are the descendants of the Jews, or the lost tribes. It gave a detailed account of their journey from Jerusalem, by land and sea, till they arrived in America, under the command of NEPHI and LEHI. They afterward had quarrels and contentions, and separated into two distinct nations, one of which he denominated Nephites, and the other Lamanites. Cruel and bloody wars ensued, in which great multitudes were slain. They buried their dead in large heaps, which caused the mounds so common
38 MORMONISM AND THE MORMONS.
in this country. Their arts, sciences, and civilization were brought into view, in order to account for all the curious antiquities, found in various parts of North and South America. I have recently read the Book of Mormon, and, to my great surprise, I find nearly the same historical matter, names, &c., as they were in my brother's writings. I well remember that he wrote in the old style, and commenced about every sentence with, 'And it came to pass,' or, 'Now it came to pass,' the same as in the Book of Mormon, and, according to the best of my recollection and belief, it is the same as my brother Solomon wrote, with the exception of the religious matter. -- By what means it has fallen into the hands of Joseph Smith, Jr., I am unable to determine.
"Martha Spalding, the wife of John Spalding, says: --
"I was personally acquainted with Solomon Spalding, about twenty years ago. I was at his house it short time before he left Conneaut; he was then writing an historical novel, founded upon the first settlers of America. He represented them as an enlightened and warlike people. We had for many years contended that the aborigines of America were the descendants of some of the lost tribes of Israel, and this idea he carried out in the book in question, The lapse of time, which has intervened, prevents my recollecting but few of the leading incidents of his writings; but the names of Nephi and Lehi are yet fresh in my memory, as being the principal heroes of his tale. They were officers of the company which first came off from Jerusalem. He gave a particular account of their journey by land and sea, till they arrived in America, after which disputes arose between the chiefs, which caused them to separate into different lands, one of which was called
MORMONISM AND THE MORMONS. 39
Lamanites, and the other Nephites. Between these were recounted tremendous battles, which frequently covered the ground with the slain; and their being buried in large heaps was the cause of the numerous mounds in the country. Some of these people he represented as being very large. I have read the Book of Mormon, which has brought fresh to my recollection the writings of Solomon Spalding; and I have no manner of doubt that the historical part of it is the same that I read, and heard read, more than twenty years ago. The old, obsolete style, and the phrases of, 'And it came to pass,' &c., are the same."
This Solomon Spalding appears to have been, like some other authors, exceedingly vain of his productions: at least, he exhibited and read his principal manuscripts so often to his neighbours and friends, that they still recollect its style and tenor.
The following coincidences are so striking, and so evidently undesigned, that their weight must be felt by every ingenuous mind.
"Conneaut, Ashtabula Co., Ohio, Sep., 1833."I left the state of New-York, late in the year 1810, and arrived at this place about the 1st of January following. Soon after my arrival, I formed a partnership with Solomon Spalding, for the purpose of rebuilding a forge which he had commenced a year or two before. He very frequently read to me from a manuscript which he was writing, which he entitled, the 'Manuscript Found,' and which he represented as being found in this town. I spent many hours in hearing him read said writings, and became well acquainted with their contents. He wished me to assist him in getting his production printed, alleging that a book of that kind would meet with a rapid
40 MORMONISM AND THE MORMONS.
sale. I designed doing so, but the forge not meeting our anticipations, we failed in business, when I declined having any thing to do with the publication of the book. This book represented the American Indians as the descendants of the lost tribes, -- gave an account of their leaving Jerusalem, their contentions and wars, which were many and great. One time, when he was reading to me the tragic account of Laban, I pointed out to him what I considered an inconsistency, which he promised to correct; but by referring to the book of Mormon, I find, to my surprise, that it stands there just as he read it to me then. Some months ago I borrowed the Golden Bible, put it into my pocket, carried it home, and thought no more of it, About a week after, my wife found the book in my coat pocket, as it hung up, and commenced reading it aloud as I lay upon the bed. She had not read twenty minutes till I was astonished to find the same passages in it that Spalding had read to me more than twenty years before, from his 'Manuscript Found.' Since that, I have more fully examined the said Golden Bible, and have no hesitation in saying, that the historical part of it is principally, if not wholly, taken from the 'Manuscript Found.' I well recollect telling Mr. Spalding, that the so frequent use of the words, 'And it came to pass,' 'Now it came to pass,' rendered it ridiculous. Spalding left here in 1812, and I furnished him the means to carry him to Pittsburgh, where he said he would get the book printed, and pay me. But I never heard any more from him or his writings, till I saw them in the Book of Mormon. HENRY LAKE.
"Springfield, Pa., September, 1833."In the year 1811, I was in the employ of Henry Lake and Solomon Spalding, at Conneaut, engaged in rebuilding a forge. While there, I boarded and lodged in the family of said Spalding for several
MORMONISM AND THE MORMONS. 41
months. I was soon introduced to the manuscript of Spalding, and perused it as often as I had leisure. He had written two or three books or pamphlets on different subjects; but that which more particularly drew my attention, was one which he called the 'Manuscript Found.' From this he would frequently read some humorous passages to the company present. It purported to he the history of the first settlement of America, before discovered by Columbus. He brought them off from Jerusalem, under their leaders; detailing their travels by land and water, their manners, customs, laws, wars, &c. He said that he designed it as an historical novel, and that in after years it would be believed by many people as much as the history of England. He soon after failed in business, and told me he should retire from the din of his creditors, finish his book, and have it published, which would enable him to pay his debts, and support his family. He soon after removed to Pittsburgh, as I understood.
I have recently examined the Book of Mormon, and find in it the writings of Solomon Spalding, from beginning to end, but mixed up with Scripture, and other religious matter, which I did not meet with in the 'Manuscript Found.' Many of the passages in the Mormon Book are verbatim from Spalding, and others in part. The names of Nephi, Lehi, Moroni, and in fact all the principal names, are brought fresh to my recollection by the Gold Bible. When Spalding divested his history of its fabulous names, by a verbal explanation, he landed his people near the Straits of Darien, which I am very confident he called Zarahemla; they were marched about that country for a length of time, in which wars and great bloodshed ensued; he brought them across North America, in a north-east direction.
"JOHN N. MILLER.
42 MORMONISM AND THE MORMONS.
"Conneaut, August, 1833."I first became acquainted with Solomon Spalding in 1808, or 1809, when he commenced building a forge on Conneaut creek. When at his house, one day, he showed and read to me a history he was writing, of the lost tribes of Israel, purporting that they were the first settlers of America, and that the Indians were their descendants. Upon this subject we had frequent conversations. He traced their journey from Jerusalem to America, as it is given in the Book of Mormon, excepting the religious matter. The historical part of the Book of Mormon I know to be the same as I read and heard read from the writings of Spalding, more than twenty years ago; the names, more especially are the same, without any alteration. He told me his object was to account for all the fortifications, &c., to he found in this country, and said that in time it would he fully believed by all, except learned men and historians. I once anticipated reading his writings in print, but little expected to see them in a new Bible. Spalding had many other manuscripts, which I expect to see when Smith translates his other plate. In conclusion, I will observe, that the names of, and most of the historical part of the Book of Mormon, were as familiar to me before I read it, as most modern history. If it is not Spalding's writing, it is the same as he wrote; and if Smith was inspired, I think it was by the same spirit that Spalding was, which he confessed to be the love of money.
MORMONISM AND THE MORMONS. 43
writing an historical novel, founded upon the first settlers of this country. He said he intended to trace their journey from Jerusalem, by land and sea, till their arrival in America, -- give an account of their arts, sciences, civilization, wars, and contentions. In this way he would give a satisfactory account of all of the old mounds, so common to this country. During the time he was at my house, I read, and heard read one hundred pages or more. Nephi and Lehi were by him represented as leading characters, when they first started for America. Their main object was to escape the judgments which they supposed were coming upon the old world. But no religious matter was introduced, as I now recollect. Just before he left this place, Spalding sent for me to call on him, which I did. He then said, that although he was in my debt, he intended to leave tho country, and hoped I would not prevent him, for, says he, you know I have been writing the history of the first settlement of America, and I intend to go to Pittsburgh, and there live a retired life, till I have completed the work, and when it is printed, it will bring me a fine sum of money, which will enable me to return and pay off all my debts: the book, you know, will sell, as every one is anxious to learn something upon that subject. This was the last I heard of Spalding or his book, until the Book of Mormon came into the neighbourhood. When I heard the historical part of it related, I at once said it was the writing of old Solomon Spalding. Soon after I obtained the book, and, on reading it, found much of it the same as Spalding had written, more than twenty years before.
44 MORMONISM AND THE MORMONS.
at his house, and also at my house, I once, in conversation with him, expressed a surprise at not having any account of the inhabitants once in this country, who erected the old forts, mounds, &c. He then told me that he was writing a, history of that race of people; and afterward frequently showed me his writings, which I read. I have lately read the Book of Mormon, and believe it to be the same as Spalding wrote, except the religious part. He told me that he intended to get his writings published in Pittsburgh, and he thought that in one century from that time it would be believed as much as any other history.
"Artemus Cunningham, of Perry, Geauga county, states as follows: --
"In the month of October, 1811, I went from the township of Madison to Conneaut, for the purpose of securing a debt due me from Solomon Spalding. I tarried with him nearly two days, for the purpose of accomplishing my object, which I was finally unable to do. I found him destitute of the means of paying his debts. His only hope of ever paying his debts, appeared to be upon the sale of a book which he had been writing. He endeavoured to convince me, from the nature and character of the work, that it would meet with a ready sale. Before showing me his manuscripts, he went into a verbal relation of its outlines, saying, that it was a fabulous or romantic history of the first settlement of this country, and as it purported to have been a record found buried in the earth, or in a cave, he had adopted the ancient, or Scripture style of writing. He then presented his manuscripts, when we sat down and spent a good share of the night in reading them, and conversing upon them. I well remember the name of Nephi, who appeared to be the principal hero of the story. The frequent repetition of the phrase,
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'I Nephi,' I recollect as distinctly as though it were but yesterday, although the general features of the story have passed from my memory, through the lapse of twenty-two years. He attempted to account for the numerous antiquities which are found upon this continent, and remarked, that after this generation had passed away, his account of the first inhabitants of America would be considered as authentic as any other history. The Mormon Bible I have partially examined, and am fully of the opinion that Solomon Spalding had written its outlines before he left Conneaut."
The reader will now desire to know by what process the "Manuscript Found" came into the hands of Rigdon, and, after having been renovated, interpolated, and rigged out to suit his plan, was transferred to the hands of a noted money-digger at a distance from the place where it was designed more especially to operate, in order to be "got up" in a miraculous manner. The letter part of this process, viz., the transfer, was so easy and practicable, that any one may comprehend it by a moment's reflection, although not demonstrated by positive evidence. We think, moreover, that the former part is made very clear, by the facts which Mr. Howe has collected.
In order to ascertain what disposition Spalding made of his manuscripts, he sent a messenger to look up said Spalding's widow, who still survived. From her it was ascertained that the family, after removing from Ohio, resided about two years in Pittsburgh, and subsequently went, to Amity, Pennsylvania, where the
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author died in 1816. His widow then removed to Onondaga county, New-York, married again, subsequently lived in Otsego county, and thence removed to Massachusetts, where she was found.
She stated that Spalding had a great variety of MANUSCRIPTS, one of which she recollected was entitled, the "Manuscript Found." While they lived in Pittsburgh, it was taken, she believed, to the printing-office of Patterson and Lambdin, but whether it was ever brought back to the house again, she was quite uncertain. If it was, however, it must still be in a trunk with his other writings, which she had left in Otsego county, New-York.
"The trunk, referred to by the widow, was subsequently examined, and found to contain only a single manuscript book, in Spalding's hand-writing, containing about one quire of paper. This is a romance, purporting to have been translated from the Latin, found on twenty-four rolls of parchment in a cave, on the banks of Conneaut creek, but written in modern style, and giving a fabulous account of a ship being driven upon the American coast, while proceeding from Rome to Britain, a short time previous to the Christian era, this country then being inhabited by the Indians, This old manuscript has been shown to several of the foregoing witnesses, who recognise it as Spalding's, he having told them that he had altered his first plan of writing, by going further back with dates, and writing in tie old Scripture style, in order that it might appear more ancient. They say that it bears no resemblance to the 'Manuscript Found.'"
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Recourse was now had to the firm of Patterson and Lambdin, in Pittsburgh; but here death had interposed a barrier to full inquiry.
"That establishment was dissolved and broken up many years since, and Lambdin died about eight years ago. Mr. Patterson said he had no recollection of any such manuscript being brought there for publication, neither would he have been likely to have seen it, as the business of printing was conducted wholly by Lambdin at that time. He says, however, that many manuscript books and pamphlets were brought to the office about that time, which remained upon their shelves for years, without being printed, or even examined. Now, as Spalding's book can nowhere be found, or any thing heard of it after being carried to this establishment, there is the strongest presumption that it remained there in seclusion, till about the year 1823, or 1824, at which time Sidney Rigdon located himself in that city. We have been credibly informed that he was on terms of intimacy with Lambdin, being seen frequently in his shop. Rigdon resided in Pittsburgh about three years, and during the whole of that time, as he has since frequently asserted, abandoned preaching and all other employment, for the purpose of studying the Bible. He left there, and came into Geauga county, Ohio, about the time Lambdin died, and commenced preaching some new points of doctrine, which were afterward found to be inculcated in the Mormon Bible. He resided in this vicinity about four years previous to the appearance of the book, during which time he made several long visits to Pittsburgh, and perhaps to the Susquehannah, where Smith was then digging for money, or pretending to be translating plates. It may be observed, also, that about the time Rigdon left Pittsburgh, the
48 MORMONISM AND THE MORMONS.
Smith family began to talk about finding a book that would contain a history of the first inhabitants of America, and that two rears elapsed before they finally got possession of it.
"We are, then, irresistibly led to this conclusion, that Lambdin, after having failed in business, had recourse to the old manuscripts then in his possession, in order to raise the wind, by a book speculation, and placed the 'Manuscript Found' of Spalding, in the hands of Rigdon, to be embellished, altered, and added to, as he might think expedient; and three years' study of the Bible we should deem little time enough to garble it, as it is transferred to the Mormon book. The former dying, left the latter the sole proprietor, who was obliged to resort to his wits, and in a miraculous way to bring it before the world; for in no other manner could such a book be published without great sacrifice. And where could a more suitable character be found than Jo Smith, whose necromantic fame, and arts of deception, had already extended to a considerable distance? That Lambdin was a person every way qualified and fitted for such an enterprise, we have the testimony of his partner in business, an others of his acquaintance. The whole mystery of this affair is solved by adding to these circumstances the facts, that Rigdon had prepared the minds, in a great measure, of nearly a hundred of those who had attended his ministration to be in readiness to embrace the first mysterious ism that should be presented -- the appearance of Cowdery at his residence as soon as the book was printed -- his sudden conversion, after many pretensions to disbelieve it -- his immediately repairing to the residence of Smith, three hundred miles distant, where he was forthwith appointed an elder, high-priest, and a scribe to the prophet -- the pretended vision that his residence in Ohio was the 'promised land,' and the immediate
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immediate removal of the whole Smith family thither, where they were soon raised from a state of poverty to comparative affluence."
The Book of Mormon published -- Testimony of the witnesses -- Cross examination --
Contents of the book.
After the preceding exhibition of "means and appliances to boot," it appears in no way wonderful that the Mormon Bible at length issued from the press.
Such, however, were the external and the internal evidences of its forgery, that the speculation could not be ventured without solemn certificates, averring it to be a REVELATION, communicated by angels, through the medium of certain plates having the appearance of gold. The title-page was embellished with this declaration: -- The Book of Mormon, &c., by Joseph Smith, Jr., AUTHOR AND PROPRIETOR, which was duly confirmed by a certificate of copyright, under the hand and seal of R. R. Lansing, clerk of the northern district of New-York. In flat contradiction to this claim of author and proprietorship, were the following testimonies at the conclusion.
"The testimony of three witnesses. -- Be it known unto all nations, kindreds, tongues, and people, unto whom this work shall come, that we, through the grace of God the Father, and our Lord Jesus Christ,
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have seen the plates which contain this record, which is a record of the people of Nephi, and also of the Lamanites, their brethren, and also of the people of Jared, who came from the tower of which hath been spoken. And we also know that they have been translated by the gift and power of God, for his voice hath declared it unto us; wherefore we know of a surety that the work is true. And we also testify that we have seen the engravings which are upon the plates: and they have been shown unto us by the power of God, and not of man. And we declare, with words of soberness, that an angel of God came down from heaven, and he brought and laid before our eyes, that we beheld and saw the plates, and the engravings thereon; and we know that it is by the grace of God the Father, and our Lord Jesus Christ, that we beheld and bear record that these things are true; and it is marvelous in our eyes; nevertheless, the voice of the Lord commanded us that we should bear record of it; wherefore, to be obedient unto the commandments of God, we bear testimony of these things. And we know that if we are faithful in Christ, we shall rid our garments of the blood of all men, and be found spotless before the judgment-seat of Christ, and shall dwell with him eternally in the heavens. And the honour be to the Father, and to the Son, and to the Holy Ghost, which is one God. Amen.
"And also the testimony of eight witnesses. -- Be it known unto all nations, kindreds, tongues, and people, unto whom this work shall come: That Joseph Smith, Jr., the translator of this work, has shown unto us the plates of which hath been spoken, which have the appearance of gold; and as many of the leaves as the said Smith has translated we did handle
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with our hands; and we also saw the engravings thereon, all of which has the appearance of ancient work, and of curious workmanship. And this we bear record with words of soberness, that the said Smith has shown unto us, for we have seen and hefted, and know, of a surety that the said Smith has got the plates of which we have spoken. And we give our names unto the world, to witness unto the world that which we have seen; and we lie not, God bearing witness of it.
"PETER WHITMER, JR.,
"JOSEPH SMITH, SEN.,
"SAMUEL H. SMITH."
As these certificates constitute the entire evidence of the divine authenticity of the book in question, as they have oftehn been recited in large congregations, and as they are still appealed to in proof of the same, they deserve a patient examination.
If we could for once suppose these individuals to have been honest, disinterested, and credible men, yet the vagueness and contradictoey nature of their statements would render their testimony exceedingly suspicious. Leaving out formal and deceptive redundancies, the whole of the testimony of three witnesses is reduced to these particulars: -- 1. We have seen the plates which contain this record.
2. We know that they have been translated by
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the power of God. 3. Also we have seen the engravings which are upon the plates; and, 4. They have been shown unto us by the power of God, and not of man. 5. An angel of God came down from heaven and brought (what?) and laid before our eyes.
On this we remark -- 1. That these men...
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certainty and plausibility.
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and grammatical blunders we cannot pause to notice.
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known mental phenomenon
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and is recommended
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THE FIRST BOOK OF NEPHI:
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BOOK OF MOSIAH:
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also the prophecies of many holy prophets
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Our own humble opinion is, that just as much correct knowledge and real information may be drawn from the above nondescript and heterogeneous medley of contents, as from a perusal of the entire volume of five hundred and seventy pages. But more anon.
CHAPTER V.P. P. Pratt makes his appearance in Ontario county -- He is forthwith converted and ordained -- Mission to the Lamanites -- Smith's wife constituted amanuensis -- Easy method of getting a revelation -- Lamanites found in Ohio -- Rigdon's conversion -- Pratt's denial of the contrivance examined.
Before this ghostly work issued from the press, numbers were already on the qui vive for its reception. The term Golden Bible, which had been thrown out in the rumours set afloat respecting it, was too well adapted, both to the cupidity and the marvellousness of this money-making age, not to excite great expectations on the part of the ignorant and the fanatical.
Nevertheless, it does not appear that many were added to the company of those primarily initiated, until after the principal seat of operations was transferred to Ohio. It is interesting to observe how miraculously this event was brought about. "It came to pass," not long after the publication of the Book of Mormon, that a man named Pratt, an intimate acquaintance of Sidney Rigdon, and a convert to his
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doctrines, made his appearance in the neighbourhood of the Smiths. This person, in a very short time, became a disciple of Mormonism, and a teacher of its dogmas. He was, indeed, so promising a convert, as almost immediately to deserve and receive a comission to proceed westward on a pretended mission to the Indians. This expedition was fitted out under the nominal direction of Oliver Cowdery, to whom the following was furnished by Smith.
A REVELATION UNTO OLIVER, GIVEN SEPTEMBER, 1830."Behold I say unto you, Oliver, that it shall be given unto thee, that thou shalt be heard by the church, in all things whatsoever thou shalt teach them by the Comforter, concerning the revelations and commandments which I have given. But, verily, verily I say unto you, no one shall be appointed to receive commandments and revelations in the church, excepting my servant Joseph, for he receiveth them even as Moses, and thou shalt be obedient unto the things which I shall give unto him, even as Aaron, to declare faithfully the commandments and the revelations, with power and authority unto the church. And if thou art led at any time by the Comforter to speak or teach, or at all times by way of commandment unto the church, thou mayest do it; but thou shalt not write by way of commandment, but by wisdom: and thou shalt not command him who is at thy head, and at the head of the church; for I have given him the keys of the mysteries of the revelations which are sealed, until I shall appoint unto them another in his stead -- and now, behold I say unto you, that you shalt go unto the Lamanites, and preach my gospel unto them; and thou shalt have revelations, but write
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them not by way of commandment. And now I say unto you, that it is not revealed, and no man knoweth where the city shall be built, but it shall be given hereafter. Behold, I say unto you, that it shall be among the Lamanites. Thou shalt not leave this place until after the conference, and my servant Joseph shall be appointed to rule the conference by the voice of it; and what he saith to thee, that thou shalt tell. And again, thou shalt take thy brother Hiram between him and thee alone, and tell him that those things which he hath written from that stone are not of me, and that Satan deceiveth him, for behold these things have not been appointed unto him, either shall any thing be appointed unto any in this church, contrary to the church covenant, for all things must be done in order, and by commandment, by the prayer of faith, and thou shalt settle all these things before thou shalt take thy journey among the Lamanites; and it shall be given from the time, that thou shalt go, until the time thou shalt return, what thou shalt do; and thou must open thy mouth at all times declaring my gospel with the sound of rejoicing. Amen."
The above document is chiefly remarkable, as being the first of a series of pretended revelations.
It shows, moreover, 1. That migration westward was already anticipated. 2. The narrow-mindedness of Smith, who was growing jealous of rivalry, both from Cowdery and from his brother [sic] Hyrum, who found it no great task to do as Joseph had done, viz., to write things from "that stone," which were not of God. Jo assumes the pereogative of revelation for life, or at least ad libitum.
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Cowdery had been the principal amanuensis hitherto, and having been a schoolmaster, it is presumed that his pedigogical talents found ample scope, as well in giving lessons to "the author." as in transcribing the book, since Smith's followers assured Mr. Howe that the prophet could not write his own name at the time he was "chosen of the Lord." Be that as it may, after two or three years' tution and practice he deemed himself qualified to proceed, without any further assistance in this department than that of his own better half. His idea of self-aggrandizement was now so expanded as to take in his family. Witness the following revelation, commanding his wife "not to work, but to be supported from the church."
"A commandment to Emma, my daughter in Zion, A. D., 1830, -- A revelation I give unto you concerning my will. Behold, thy sins are forgiven thee, and thou art an elect lady, whom I have called. Murmur not because of the things which thou hast [sic] seen, for they are withheld from thee and from the world, which is wisdom in me in a time to come; and the office of thy calling shall be for a comfort unto my servant Joseph, thy husband, in his afflictions with consoling words, in the spirit of meekness; and thou shalt go with him at the time of his going, and be unto him for a scribe, that I may send Oliver whithersoever I will: and thou shalt be ordained under his hand to expound the Scriptures, and to exhort the church, according as it shall be given thee by my Spirit, for he shall lay his hand upon thee, and thou shalt receive the Holy Ghost, and thy time shall be given to writing, and to learning much; and thou
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needest not fear, for thy husband shall support thee from the church, for unto them is his calling, that all things might be revealed unto them, whatsoever I will according to their faith; and verily I say unto thee, that thou shalt lay aside the things of this world, and seek for the things of a better; and it shall be given thee also to make a selection of sacred hymns, as it shall be given thee, which is pleasing unto me, to be had in my church: For my soul delights in the song of the heart, yea, the song of the righteous is a prayer unto me, and it shall be answered with a blessing upon their heads; wherefore lift up thy heart, and rejoice, and cleave unto the covenant which thou hast made. -- continue in the spirit of meekness -- let thy soul delight in thy husband, and the glory which shall come unto him -- keep my commandments continually, and a crown of righteousness thou shalt receive; and except thou do this, where I am you cannot come; and verily, verily I say unto you, that this is my voice unto all. Amen."
It is stated, that from this time neither spectacles nor "peep-stone" were used in order to obtain a revelation, but, when one was wanted, it came to the prophet, who received and uttered the same with his eyes shut. A sufficient amount of faith to receive every thing thus uttered as directly and positively from God, was the prime condition of discipleship. In fact, the Mormons have always been taught, that to question or to doubt the divine authority of these communications, was to endanger their salvation.
The mission extraordinary to the Lamanites at length started, composed of Cowdery, Pratt, Peterson, and Whitmer. Under the direction
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of Pratt, they had no difficulty in calling on Rigdon by the way. Here they made a halt, and "professed to rejoice at finding a people walking according to the Scriptures."
For Rigdon to have acknowledged them at once, would have been to develop the plot too soon. He must needs come into the light by degrees, if not miraculously; wherefore, on first reading the Mormon book, like a sensible man, he pronounced it "a silly fabrication."
"Near the residence of Rigdon, in Kirtland, there had been, for some time previous, a few families belonging to his congregation, who had formed themselves into a common-stock society, and had become considerably fanatical, and were daily looking for some wonderful event to take place in the world. Their minds had become fully prepared to embrace Mormonism, or any other mysterious ism that should first present itself. Seventeen in number of these persons, readily believed the whole story of Cowdery, about the finding of the golden plates and the spectacles. They were all reimmersed, in one night, by Cowdery. At this, Rigdon seemed much displeased, and when the Mormons came, next day, to his house, he told them that what they had done was entirely without precedent or authority, from the Scriptures -- for they had immersed those persons that they might work miracles, as well as come under their new covenant -- showed them that the apostles baptized for the remission of sins, instead of miraculous gifts. But when pressed upon the point, they said it was done merely at the solicitation of those persons. Rigdon again called upon them for proofs of the truth of their book and mission; they then related the manner in which they obtained faith, which was by praying for a sign, and
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an angel was showed unto them. Rigdon here showed from scripture the possibility of their being deceived; 'for Satan himself is transformed into an angel of light.' 'But,' said Cowdery, 'do you think if I should go to my heavenly Father, with all sincerity, and pray to him in the name of Jesus Christ, that he would not show me an angel; that he would suffer Satan to deceive me?' Rigdon replied, 'If the heavenly Father has ever promised to show you an angel, to confirm anything, he would not suffer you to be deceived, for, says John, This is the confidence we have with him, if we ask things according to his will, he hearkens to us.' 'But,' he continued, 'if you should ask the heavenly Father to show you an angel, when he has never promised you such a thing, if the devil never had an opportunity of deceiving you before, you give him one now.'
"However, about two days after this, Rigdon was persuaded to tempt God by asking this sign, which he knew to be contrary to his revealed will: he of course received a sign, and was convinced that Mormonism was true and divine. According to his own reasoning, therefore, the devil appeared to him as an angel of light; but he now imputed his former reasoning to pride, incredulity, and the influence of the evil one."
Respecting the honesty of this pretended conversion, the reader is now prepared to judge, although additional light will be thrown upon it by subsequent facts. It is not claimed that we have any thing more than circumstantial evidence to prove it to have been part of a preconcerted scheme, but it is claimed that such a train of circumstances, as has been developed respecting this matter, utters a testimony infinitely
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more credible than all that has been affirmed by the three witnesses, and the eight. Their story could easily have been fabricated. Mere accident, on the other hand, could never have linked together such peculiar circumstances. They are so manifest, indeed, that the most studied caution seems to have been in vain used to mask the duplicity of the transaction. The only attempt we have seen to show this view of the affair incorrect, is from the pen of P. P. Pratt himself, who certainly ought to be able to show the falsehood of what he calls "the Spalding lie," if a lie it be. We subjoin his own words: -- "For the sake of the honest in heart, who love the truth, I here offer my testimony on this subject, as I was a personal actor in the scenes which brought S. Rigdon into an accluaintance with the Book of Mormon, and into connection with the church of Latter-day Saints." He here proceeds to narrate the circumstances in which he first became acquainted with Rigdon, and a believer in, and a teacher of, the same doctrine -- Campbellism.
"Alter proclaiming those principles in my own neighbourhood, and the adjoining country, I at length took a journey to the state of New-York, partly on a visit to Colambia county, and partly for the purpose of administering the word. This journey was undertaken in Aug., 1830. I had no sooner reached Ontario county, than I came in contact with the Book of Mormon, which had then been published about six months, and had gathered about fifty disciples,
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which were all that then constituted the Church of the Latter Day Saints. (That name was not adopted till some years after.) I was greatly prejudiced against the book, but remembering the caution of Paul, 'Prove all things and hold fast that which is good,' I sat down to read it; and after carefully comparing it with the other Scriptures, and praying to God, he gave me the knowledge of its truth, by the power of the Holy Ghost; and what was I, that I should withstand God? I accordingly obeyed the ordinances, and was commissioned by revelation; and the laying of hands to preach the fulness of the gospel. Then, after finishing my visit to Columbia county, I returned to the brethren in Ontario county, when, for the first time, I saw Mr. Joseph Smith, Jr., who had just returned from Pennsylvania, to his father's house, in Manchester. About the 15th of October, 1830, I took my journey, in company with Elder O. Cowdery, and Peter Whitmer, to Ohio. We called on Elder S. Rigdon, and then for the first time, his eyes beheld the Book of Mormon. I myself had the happiness to present it to him in person. (!) He was much surprised, and it was with much persuasion and argument, that he was prevailed on to read it, and after he had read it." * * * * *
"Now I testify that the forgers of the Spalding lie (concerning S. Rigdon and others) are of the same description as those who forged the lie against the disciples of old, accusing them of stealing the body of Jesus. And those who
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love this lie, are no better; and except they repent they will have their part with drunkards, whoremongers, sorcerers, thieves, murderers, &c., for being guilty of loving and making a lie." * * * * *
In remarking upon the above exposition, for it cannot be considered a refutation of the views expressed concerning this transaction, one cannot fail to observe the singularity of the circumstance, that a traveller, merely passing through western New-York, should come in contact with the then little company of Mormons, who were not located upon either of the great thoroughfares of travel. His unceremonious conversion, and his prompt investment with the priesthood, are equally remarkable. It is not necessary to doubt that Rigdon's eyes first beheld the Book of Mormon when shown him by Pratt. It has generally been supposed, that having arranged the manuscript to his liking, he transferred the task of copying and bringing it through the press entirely to Smith and Cowdery. Nor is this view f the case even contradicted, much less shown to be false, by what Pratt has said.
His cruel denunciation of those who love the truth so well as to give their credence to the complete series of circumstantial evidence exhibited above, rather than to the vague and unsatisfactory denial of one who must either have been a party to the plot, or the tool of its execution, could only have been called for by the want of something better to say. It is, however,
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in good keeping with the generality of Mormon arguments.
But how can Mr. Pratt testify that any persons of the present day are "of the same description" as the Jewish high priests, and the Roman soldiers, who conspired together to say that the body of Jesus was stolen? If he can prove their identity, his testimony is needless. If he cannot, and he certainly has failed to do it, then his testimony must he regarded as false, or, at any rate, as the echo of zeal without knowledge.
Early developments in Ohio -- Rigdon visits Smith -- Becomes prime coadjutor -- Revelation -- Kirtland becomes the land of promise -- Spirit of the new religion -- Proper signification and character of Mormonism - Bugbear stories -- Financial policy -- The gift of tongues.
"On the conversion of Rigdon, a most successful starting point was thought to have been obtained. Cowdery and his associates then began to develop the peculiarities of the new imposition. Scenes of the most wild, frantic, and horrible fanaticism ensued. They pretended that the power of miracles was about to be given to all those who embraced the new faith, and commenced communicating the Holy Spirit, by laying their hands upon the heads of the converts, which operation, at first, produced an instantaneous prostration of body and mind. Many would fall upon the floor, where they would lie for a long time, apparently lifeless. They thus continued these enthusiastic exhibitions for several weeks. The fits usually
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came on during, or after their prayer-meetings, which were held nearly every evening. The young men and women were more particularly subject to this delirium. They would exhibit all the apish actions imaginable, making the most ridiculous grimaces, creeping upon their and feet, rolling upon the frozen ground, go through with all the Indian modes of warfare, such as knocking down, scalping, ripping open and tearing out the bowels. At other times, they would run through the fields, get upon stumps, preach to imaginary congregations, enter the water and perform all the ceremony of baptizing, &c. Many would have fits of speaking all the different Indian dialects, which none could understand. Again, at the dead hour of night, the young men might be seen running over the fields and hills in pursuit, as they said, of the balls of fire, lights, &c., which they saw moving through the atmosphere.
"Before these scenes fully commenced, however, Cowdery had departed for the country inhabited by the Indians, with the expectation of converting to Christianity, by means of his new bible, and miracles which he was to perform among them. These pretensions appeared to have taken possession of the minds of the young men in their aspirations. Three of them pretended to have received commissions to preach, from the skies, after having jumped into the air as high as they could. All these transactions were believed to be the Spirit of God, by the whole congregation, which now numbered more than one hundred. -- That they were honestly impelled by the same causes which have, on all ages of the world, contributed so much to debase human nature, we have no doubt. One of the young men referred to, freely acknowledged, some months afterward, that he new not what he did, for two or three weeks. Such is the mind of man, when his reason is dethroned by
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fanaticism. One of these aerial commissions, which they all supposed was signed and sealed by Christ himself, we here subjoin, verbatim.
"'Oh my servant, there is a great work for you and the other two of your brethren. I send a messenger to tell you where to go and find a piece of parchment that shall contain these words: -- You shall teach repentance and remission of sins to all who shall come in the sound of your voice -- I command you that you do these things in sincerity and in truth; and if you do, you shall be blessed. -- The time is shortly coming and is not far distant when, you shall be bound together for life: the names of your brethren are these: Burr Riggs and Edson Fuller, and if they are not faithful I will choose another in their stead -- my work must be done. My servants, you shall go forth from place to place, and if you are true to your trust, they shall hear. Remember that I am the Lord your God -- serve me above all others, and I will bless you, in the end, Amen.
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"These commissions, they said, came on parchment, and they had only time to copy them before they vanished from their sight. With such papers in their pockets they actually went through the country, preaching, and made many converts. Two or three afterward obtained their reason, and left the concern. All these things were afterwards pronounced by Smith to be the work of the devil, although more than one hundred had been converted to Mormonism, by merely witnessing the exhibitions. They professed, at all times, their inability to work miracles, but were secretly trying to perform them, and frequently proclaimed their success. At a distance from the scene of action, many notable miracles were circulated."
Meantime Rigdon had gone to what Mr. Howe denominates the Bible quarry, in order to have an interview with the prophet. A joyful one it must have been, now that the leaven began to work, and the speculation to prosper. At any rate, within about a month from the time Cowdery and party had appeared in Ohio, a revelation came out in Manchester, coupling Rigdon with Smith, as another chosen vessel. Thus it appears, that a man long known as a preacher of some distinction, in his order, who had, moreover, spent three years in the exclusive study of the Scriptures (?) now, in the course of a few weeks, has surrendered himself up, without any pretence of sufficient reason, to a system opposed to Christianity, and entirely subversive of its principles. We appeal to the world to decide whether this defection is most naturally chargeable upon the
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intellect, or the heart. In copy the following we have italicized a few words, the truth and beauty of which will be still more apparent hereafter.
"A Commandment to Joseph and Sidney, Dec. 7, 1830: saying, Listen to the voice of the Lord your God; I am Alpha and Omega, the beginning and the end, whose course is one eternal round; the same today as yesterday and forever. I am Jesus Christ, [who] was crucified for the sins of the world, even as many as will believe on my name, that they may become the sons of God, even on me as I am in the father, as the father is in me, that we may become one. Behold, verily, verily I say unto you my servant Sidney , I have looked upon thee and thy works; I have heard thy prayers, and have prepared thee for a greater work -- thou art blessed, for thou shalt do great things. Behold thou wast sent forth, even as John, to prepare the way before me and Elijah which should come, and thou knewest it not: thou didst baptize by water unto repentance, but they received not the Holy Ghost; but now I give unto you a commandment, that thou shalt baptize by water, and give the Holy Ghost by laying on of hands, even as the apostles of old. And it shall come to pass, that there shall be a great work in the land even among the Gentiles, for their folly and their abominations shall be made manifest in the eyes of all nations: for I am God, and mine arm is not shortened, and I will shew miracles, signs and wonders, unto all those who believe on my name; and whosoever shall ask, in my name, in faith, shall cast out devils, they shall heal the sick, they shall cause the blind to receive their sight, and the deaf to hear, and the dumb to speak, and the lame to walk: and the time speedily cometh that great things are to come and be shown forth
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unto the children of men; but without faith shall nothing be shown forth except desolation and destruction upon Babylon, the same which hath made all nations drink of the wine of their fornication, and there are none that doeth good except them that are trying to receive the fulness of my gospel, which I have sent forth to this generation. -- Wherefore, I have called upon the weak things, that they are unlearned and despised, to thresh the nations by the power of my Spirit, and their arm shall be my arm, and I will be their shield and their buckler; I will gird up their loins, and they shall fight manfully for me, and their enemies shall put be under their feet; and I will let fall the sword in their behalf, and by the fire of mine indignation will I preserve them, and the poor and the meek shall have the gospel preached to them, and they shall be looking forth for the time of my coming, for it is nigh at hand; and they shall learn the parable of the fig-tree, for even now already, summer is nigh at hand, and I have sent forth the fulness of my gospel by the hand of my servant Joseph, and in meekness have I blessed him; and I have given unto him the keys of the mysteries of those things which have been sealed, even things which have been from the foundation of the world, and the things which shall come from this time till the end of my coming, if he abide in me; and if not, another will I plant in his stead: wherefore watch over him, that his faith fail not; as it shall be given by the Comforter, the Holy Ghost, which knoweth all things. And a commandment I give unto you, that thou shalt write for him, and the Scriptures shall be given, even as they are in mine own bosom, to the salvation of mine own elect, for they will hear my voice, and shall see me, and shall not be asleep, and shall abide the day of my coming, for they be prepared, even as I am prepared; and now, I say unto you, tarry with him, and he shall
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journey with thee: forsake him not, and surely these things shall be fulfilled; and inasmuch as ye do not write, behold it shall be given unto him to prophesy, and thou shalt preach my gospel, and call on the holy prophets to prove his words as they shall be given him. Keep all the commandment and covenants by which ye are bound, and I will cause the heavens to shake for your good, and Satan shall tremble, and Zion shall rejoice upon the hills and flourish; and Israel shall be saved in mine own due time, and by the keys which I have given shall be led and no more be confounded. Lift your hearts and be glad, for your redemption is nigh. Fear not, little flock, the kingdom is yours until I come. Behold I come quickly; even so: Amen."
It makes the heart shudder to contemplate the blasphemy, and the purported wickedness of such attempts to counterfeit the voice and word of God, for the low and sole purpose of deceiving the ignorant. These pretended revelations, however, were only an introduction to the series of incredible iniquities which, in a similar catagory, have come down to the present. What man in his senses can, for one moment, entertain the comparison of Mormonism with Christianity? For what communion hath Christ with Belial?
Their plans of deception appear to have been more fully matured and developed after the meeting of Smith and Rigdon. The latter being found very intimate with the Scriptures, a close reasoner, and as fully competent to make white appear black, and black as white, as any other man; and at all times prepared to establish, to the satisfaction of great numbers
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of people, the negative or affirmative, of any and every question, from Scripture, he was forthwith appointed to promulgate all the absurdities and ridiculous pretentions of Mormonism, 'and call on the holy prophets to prove' all the words of Smith. But the miraculous powers conferred upon him, we do not learn have yet been put in requisition. It seems that the spirit had not, before the arrival of Rigdon, told Smith any thing about the 'promised land,' or his removal to Ohio. It is, therefore, very questionable, 'what manner of spirit' it was which dictated most of the after movements of the prophet. The spirit of Rigdon, it must be presumed, however, generally held sway; for a revelation was soon had, that Kirtland, the residence of Rigdon and his brethren, was to be the eastern border of the 'promised land,' 'and from thence to the Pacific Ocean.' On this land the 'New Jerusalem, the city of refuge,' was to be built. Upon it, all true Mormons were to assemble, to escape the destruction of the world, which was so soon to take place."Progress was soon reported by Rigdon, in the following communication addressed to his brethren in Ohio.
"I send you this letter by John Whitmer. Receive him, for he is a brother greatly beloved, and an apostle of this church. With him we send all the revelations which we have received; for the Lord has declared unto us that you pray unto him that Joseph Smith and myself go speedily unto you; but at present it is not expedient for him to send us. He has required of us, therefore, to send unto you our beloved brother John, and with him the revelations which he has given unto us, by which you will see the reason why we cannot come at this time. The Lord has made known unto us some of his great things
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which he has laid up for them that love him, among which the fact (a glory of wonder it is) that you are living on the land of promise, and that there is the place of gathering, and from that place to the Pacific Ocean, God has dedicated to himself, not only in time, but through eternity, and he has given it to us and our children, not only while time lasts, but we shall have it again in eternity, as you will see by one of the commandments, received day before yesterday. Therefore, be it known to you, brethren, that you are dwelling on your own eternal inheritance; for which, cease not to give ceaseless glory praise and thanksgiving to the God of heaven. Yes, lift up your heads with joy, for the kingdom is ours till the Saviour comes, even so, Amen -- therefore, prepare your hearts to receive salvation which God has sent unto you, knowing that they have come from God; and know assuredly, if you receive them, you shall receive greater things, yes, things unspeakable and full of glory -- 'such as eye hath not seen, nor ear heard, neither hath it entered into the heart of man to conceive,' for our God hath in visions shown it unto me. Therefore, I write with the greatest certainty of these things which he hath prepared for us -- yes, even us, for ever, who receive the revelations of the last days, are the very people of whom the prophets spoke, and the very saints who shall rejoice with Jesus!!!"
"This communication caused a great rejoicing in the congregation. They were then residing upon their 'eternal inheritance!!!' Rigdon tarried with Smith about two months, receiving revelations, preaching in that vicinity, and proving by the prophets that Mormonism was true, as he imagined. He then returned to Kirtland, Ohio, being followed in a few days after by the prophet and his connections. This being the 'promised land,' in it their long-cherished
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hopes and anticipations of 'living without work' were to be realized. Thus, from almost a state of beggary, the Smiths were immediately well furnished with the 'fat of the land' by their fanatical followers, many of whom were wealthy."
The fame of Rigdon's conversion now spread far and wide. His friends and acquaintances flocked to see and to hear the wonders from his own lips. The following facts, in the language of one who witnessed them, are subjoined to show what manner of spirit he possessed, as well as his reasons for the new faith.
"Mr. Rigdon havingreturned from the state of New-York, two friends from Mentor going to see him, required of him a reason for his present hope, and for his belief in the Book of Mormon. He declined, saying he was weary, having just come off his journey, had lost much sleep, and the like. After a number of words had passed, by way of solicitation on one side, and refusal on the other, one of the friends from Mentor said he thought there was no more evidence to confirm the Book of Mormon, than the Koran of Mahomet. At this, Mr. R. seemed very angry, rose up and said, 'Sir, you have insulted me in my own house -- I command silence -- if people come to see us and cannot treat us with civility, they may walk out of the door as soon as they please.' The person then made some apology. Mr. R. said he had borne every thing; he had been insulted and trampled upon by old and young, and he would hear it no longer. The two friends then departed. Two days after, I accompanied several friends to Mr. R.'s residence, and found him in conversation
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with a Methodist elder. That being soon broken off, one of my friends modestly approached Mr. R., and solicited him to give some reason for his present faith. Mr. R., with great show of good nature, commenced a long detail of his researches after the character of Joseph Smith, -- he declared that even his enemies had nothing to say against his charatcter; he had brought a transcript from the dockets of two magistrates, where Smith had been tried as a disturber of the peace, which testified that he was honourably acquitted. But this was no evidence to us that the Book of Mormon was divine. He then spoke of the supernatural gifts with which he said Smith was endowed; he said he could translate the Scriptures from any language in which they were now extant, and could lay his finger upon every interpolation in the sacred writings; adding, that he had proven him in all these things. But my friend, knowing that Mr. Rigdon had no knowledge of any language but his own vernacular tongue, asked him how he knew these things, to which Mr. R. made no direct reply.
"Mr. Smith arrived at Kirtland the next day, and being examined concerning his supernatural gifts, by a scholar, who was capable of testing his knowledge, he confessed he knew nothing of any language, save the king's English. "
"We then asked Mr. R. what object we could have, in receiving the Book of Mormon -- whether it enjoined a single virtue that the Bible did not, or whether it mentioned or prohibited a single additional vice, or whether it exhibited a new attribute of Deity? He said it did not. 'The Book of Mormon,' said he, 'is to form and govern the millennial church; the old revelation was never calculated for that, nor would it accomplish that object; and without receiving the Book of Mormon, there is no salvation for
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any one into whose hands it shall come.' He said faith in the Book of Mormon was only to be obtained by asking the Lord concerning it. To this, Scriptural objections were made. He then said, if we have not familiarity enough with our Creator to ask of him a sign, we were no Christians; and that if God would not condescend to his creatures, in this way, he was no better than Juggernaut!!!"
Mr. Howe adds, --
"From this point in the history of this delusion, it began to spread with considerable rapidity. Nearly all of their male converts, however ignorant and worthless, were forthwith transformed into 'elders,' and sent forth to proclaim, with all their wild enthusiasm, the wonders and mysteries of Mormonism. All those having a taste for the marvellous, and delighting in novelties, flocked to hear them. Many travelled fifty and a hundred miles to the throne of the prophet, in Kirtland, to hear from his own mouth the certainty of his excavating a Bible and spectacles. Many, even in the New-England states, after hearing the frantic story of some of these 'elders,' would forth with place their all into a wagon, and wend their way to the 'promised land,' in order, as they supposed, to escape the judgments of heaven, which were soon to be poured out upon the land. The state of New-York, they were privately told, would most probably be sunk, unless the people thereof believed In the pretensions of Smith."
The fears excited by these alarming fictions, and kept alive by the "madness of the prophets," conspired chiefly to promote the early advancement of Mormonism. Thus the etymological signification of that term was fully illustraled. So far as our knowledge extends,
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the Greek was the only language in which the word Morman had any existence, previous to the origin of the system we are discussing. Whether the author of the "Manuscript Found" selected the word for its intrinsic appropriateness, or whether it was a chance hit of his posthumous editors, matters not.
In Donnegan's Lexicon may be found Mopuwv, uopuuovoc, with this definition, "A hideous female spectre; a phantom -- something used to frighten children, &c." Another dictionary defines it, "Bug-bear, hobgoblin, bloody bones, &c."
What more fitting term could have been chosen, either for the book, or for the measures by which the system was promulgated! The writer recollects, during the winter of 1832 and 1833, to have heard from one of these fanatics, the assertion, that within three years from that time the whole of western New-York would be deluged in blood. By means of this frightful bug-bear, the individual in question was endeavouring to frighten his kindred into an immediate removal to the land of promise.
That such endeavours were often succcsuful, is not to be wondered at, when we consider how often reason is dethroned by terror. Individuals, however, who had taken one step, were obliged to continue on, or become obnoxious to the maledictions of their blind guides. They could seldom be expected to possess sufficient moral courage to endure the rnortification of retreat.
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As further specimens of these false and frightful, or Mormon prophesies, we subjoin two, written by Harris, and preserved by a friend of his.
"Within four years from September, 1832, there will not be one wicked person left in the United States; that the righteous will be gathered to Zion, [Missouri,] and that there will be no president over these United States after that time.
"I do hereby assert and declare, that in four years from the date hereof, every sectarian and religious denomination in the United States shall be broken clown, and every Christian shall be gathered unto the Mormonites, and the rest of the human race shall perish. If these things do not take place, I will hereby consent to have my hand separated from my body.
The rumour that these saints had all things "in common," appears, furthermore, to have exerted a powerful influence over many. Wherever such a rumour originated, Mormonism is indebted to it for numbers of its early converts. These persons, having made a long pilgrimage, with a view to "bettering their condition," found, to their sorrow, that the burden of all revelations, on this subject, fell upon the many, for the benefit of a few. As a sufficient explanation of the common-stock principles held and practised among the Mormons, we insert the following official document.
"If thou lovest me, thou shalt serve me and keep my commandments; and behold, thou shalt consecrate
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all thy properties, that which thou hast, unto me, with a covenant and a deed which cannot be broken; and they shall be laid before the bishop of my church, and two of the elders, such as he shall appoint and set apart for that purpose. And it shall come to pass, that the bishop of my church, after that he has received the properties of my church, that it cannot be taken from the church, he shall appoint every man a steward over his own property, or that which he has received, inasmuch as shall be sufficient for himself and family ; and the residue shall be kept to administer to him who has not, that every man may receive according as he stands in need; and the residue shall be kept in my store-house, to administer to the poor and needy, as shall be appointed by the elders of the church, and bishop, and for the purpose of purchasing land, and the building up of the New Jerusalem, which is hereafter to be revealed; that my covenant people may be gatllered in one, in the day that I sliail come to my temple; and this I do for the salvation of my people. And it shall come to pass, that he that sinneth and repenteth not, shall be cast out, and shall not receive again that which he has consecrated unto me: for it shall come to pass, that which I spoke by the mouths of my prophets shall be fillfilled, for I will consecrate the riches of the Gentiles unto my people, which are of the house of Israel."
Mr. Corrill remarks on this subject: "Much has been said, and great exertions have been used at times, to inspire the members of the church with a spirit of consecration and voluntary offering. Some have thus been led to give up all, while others have been backward, which has caused the leaders at times to resort to other means of obtaining money to carry on their
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operations. From some they would borrow, promising to pay again; others they would stimulate to liberality, by promising them blessings and prosperity, in the name of the Lord, in their future business and prospects. Thus many, from time to time, have lost their property and become dissatisfied, until a great many have lost confidence in their leaders."
We have deemed it necessary to dwell somewhat upon the incipient stages of this delusion, in order to exhibit its orininal and intrinsic character.
Having now arrived at a period, subsequent to which its operations became more generally known, our sketches will be more brief. We shall, however, pause occasionally to exhibit some internal evidences of the fanaticism and the imposture, in the words of those who had been the victims of one or botlh.
It appears, that by 1833, the numerous failures at guessing right, in the shape of prophecies, had become so disheartening to the faithful, and so disgusting to the Gentiles, as to render some new device necessary. Hence the gift of tongues, which, on a previous occasion, had been denounced as a work of the devil, was now offidially resumed. Respecting the modus operandi of this gift, we have the following particulars, published by a Mr. Higby, who was eight months an elder of the Mormon church. Soon after joining the Mormons, an elder said to him, "You must go to work in the vineyard of the Lord, as a preacher of the gospel. I
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have viewed your heart by the spirit of discernment: I see what is in your heart, and what the will of the Lord is concerning you."
Having been accordingly ordained, Mr. H. says, About the 10th of April following, R. Cahoon and D. Patton came again to the place -- a meeting was called, and previous to the meeting, they said that some one would speak with tongues before they left the place. Accordingly, the latter set himself to work at that meeting to verify his prophecy. During the meeting he said, 'Father H. if you will rise in the name of Jesus Christ, you can speak in tongues.' He arose immediately, hesitated, and said, 'My faith fails me -- I have not faith enough.' -- Said Patton, 'You have -- speak in the name of Jesus Christ -- make some sound as you list, without further thought, and God will make it a language.' The old gentleman, after considerable urging, spoke and made some sounds, which were pronounced to be a correct tongue. Several others spoke in a similar manner, and among them was myself. I spoke as I listed, not knowing what I said, yet it was declared to be a tongue. The sound of the words used by some, in speaking in tongues, was a medium between talking and singing -- and all, as I am now convinced, a mere gibberish, spoken at random and without thought.
"We had another meeting shortly after, at which there were present several others, besides those of the church. -- Cahoon spoke in unknown tongues, as he pretended, going on at considerable length, which Patton interpreted. He then asked me to speak, which I did, and he interpreted as he though proper.
"The next time those men came among us, they gave us a rule for speaking in unknown tongues, and also for interpreting what was spoken by others. This rule, they said, was perfect -- that as long as we
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followed it we could not err. And so I believe; it was a perfect rule to lead men astray. The rule, as given by Cahoon, is this: rise upon your feet and look and lean on Christ; speak or make some sound; continue to make sounds of some kind, and the Lord will make a correct tongue or language of it. The interpretation was to be given in the same way."
"Upon this, Mr. H. justly remarks: -- "Men of sense may smile at this recital; and those who scoff at all religion and know nothing of those feelings of the human heart which the devotional man enjoys, in converse with his Maker, will doubtless ridicule what they consider the weakness of folly; but the man of religious feeling will know how to pity, rather than upbraid, that zeal without knowledge, which leads a man to fancy that he has found the ladder of Jacob, and that he sees the angel of the Lord ascending and descending before his eyes; while the Christian philosopher, who has read the history of mankind, will find abundant apology for that man, who, by a constant and over anxious exercise of mind, is led at length to fancy himself on the banks of the Ulai with Daniel, or on the Isle of Patmos with St. John.'
"They would frequently sing in this gibberish forming a tune as they proceeded. The same songs they said, would be sung when the lost tribes appeared in Zion, in Missouri.
"Another seceder from this delusion, relates that he was present on a certain occasion, in an upper room in Kirtland, where were assembled from fifteen to twenty elders and high priests. After sundry exhortations by the priests, the prophet himself arose, and with much earnestness, warned his followers to be zealous and faithful in their duties, saying, 'It is our privilege to see God face to face -- yes, says he, I will prophesy unto you in the name of the Lord, that the day will come when no man will be permitted
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to preach unless he has seen the Lord: people will ask each teacher, 'Have you seen the face of the Lord?' and if he say nay, they will say, 'Away with this fellow, for we have a man to teach us that has seen the face of the Lord,' After a short pause, he added, 'The Lord is willing we should see his glory to-day, and all that will exercise faith, shall see the Lord of glory.' They then concluded to spend the day in fasting and prayer. Each one kept his seat with his eyes closed, and his body inclined forward. Soon after Joseph says, 'Sidney (Rigdon,) have you seen the Lord?' He answered, 'I saw the image of a man pass before my face, whose locks were white, and whose countenance was exceedingly fair, even surpassing all beauty that I ever beheld.' Then Joseph replied, 'I knew you had seen a vision but would have seen more were it not for unbelief.' Sidney confessed his faith was weak that morning. Hiram Smith said he had seen nearly the same as Sidney, which was pronounced by Joseph to be the Redeemer of the world. Upon this, R. Cahoon fell upon his knees, holding his hands in an erect position. In fifteen or twenty minutes he arose and declared he had seen the temple of Zion, filled with disciples, while the top was covered with the glory of the Lord, in the form of a cloud. Another one then placed himself in the same position, but saw no vision, his faith being weak. Joseph next arose, and passing round the room laying his hand upon each one, and spoke as follows, as near as the narrator can recollect: --
"'Ak man oh son oh man ah ne commene en holle goste en haben en glai hosanne hosanne en holle goste en esac milkea jeremiah, exekiel, Nephi, Lehi, St. John,' &c. &c. After administering the sacrament, several of the brethren were called upon to arise and speak in tongues. Several of them performed with
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considerable applause. Our informant says he was at length called upon to speak or sing, 'in tongues,' at his own option -- preferring the latter mode, he sung, to the tune of Bruce's Address, a combination of sounds, which astonished all present.
"This gibberish for several months was practiced almost daily, while they were about their common avocations, as well as when they assembled for worship."
Nor was it in Ohio alone that such scenes were enacted. The same excesses of folly have exhibited themselves in almost every place where Mormonism has made any advancement, both in America and England.
Indeed, this species of jugglery has hardly been second to any other means of securing Mormon converts. Hence, perhaps, the pertinacity with which they assert, in direct opposition to Scripture, that tongues shall not cease.
There is no need, however, of contesting this point with the Mormons, since what they call tongues and prophecies may undoubtedly continue, while the "heart is deceitful above all things, and desperately wicked."
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THE reader will not have forgotten the mission sent from western New-York to "the Lamanites." Although it was a perfect failure in every thing, besides that moral triumph, the conversion of Sidney Rigdon, which many believe to have been its real object, yet it was destined to lead to an early transfer of the promised land.
"Cowdery and his companions, on their way, next tried their skill on several tribes of natives, but made no proselytes, although their deluded brethren at home could daily see them, in visions, baptizing whole tribes. They finally arrived at the western line of the state of Missouri, late in the fall of 1830, with the intention of proceeding into the Indian country, but were stopped by the agents of the general government, under an act of congress, to prevent the white people from trading or settling among them. They then took up their winter quarters in the village of Independence, about twelve miles from the state line. Here they obtained employment during the winter. In the following spring one of them returned to Kirtland, with a flattering account of the country about Independence. About the 1st of June, the prophet assembled all his followers, for the purpose of a great meeting, at which time it was given out that marvelous events were to take place. Here many new
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attempts were made by Smith to perform miracles, and otherwise to deceive his followers. Previous to this time, it should be remarked, nearly all the Mormonites had arrived from the state of New-York, under a revelation, of course, to take possession of the 'promised land.' There were, in all, about fifty families. At the above-mentioned meeting a long revelation was manufactured, commanding all the leading men and elders to depart forthwith for the western part of Missouri, naming each one separately, informing them that only two should go together, and that every two should take separate roads, preaching by the way. Only about two weeks were allowed them to make preparations for the journey, and most of them left what business they had to be closed by others, Some left large families, with their crops upon the ground, &c., &c.
"On arriving at the village of Independence, they proceeded to purchase a lot of land, upon which the prophet directed Rigdon and Cowdery to perform the mock ceremony of laying the corner-stone of a city, which he called Zion. Of the future prosperity and magnificence of this city, many marvelous revelations were had by the prophet and many more marvelous conjectures formed by his dupes. Among others, it was said that it would in a few years exceed in splendour every thing known in ancient times. Its streets were to be paved with gold; all that escaped the general destruction which was soon to take place, would there assemble with all their wealth; the ten lost tribes of Israel had been discovered in their retreat, in the vicinity of the North Pole, where they had for ages been secluded by immense barriers of ice, and became vastly rich; the ice in a few years was to be melted away, when those tribes, with St. John and some of the Nephites, which the Book of Mormon had immortalized, would be seen
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making their appearance in the new city, loaded with immense quantities of gold and silver. Whether the prophet, himself, ever declared that these things had been revealed to him, or that he had seen them through his magic stone, or silver spectacles, we will not say; but that such stories and hundreds of others equally absurd, were told by those who were in daily intercourse with him, as being events which would probably take place, are susceptible of proof.
Here was a scheme, less splendid indeed in conception, but scarcely less successful in its way than the fable of El Dorado, invented as a stimulus to the reckless avarice of the Spanish adventurers, who desolated Mexico, and large portions of South America, in their bloody inquest for gold. Why were not the apostles under the necessity of appealing to some of the baser principles and passions of human nature, in order to advance Christianity?
Among existing and authentic data, respecting both the theory and the practice of Mormonism, by no means the least valuable are a series of letters, addressed to the Rev, Ira Eddy, by Mr. Ezra Booth.
Mr. Booth had formerly been a local preacher in the Methodist Episcopal Church; but, in an evil hour, had become a victim to the Mormon imposture. Painful experience at lebgth revealed to him the iniquity of the scheme by which he had been duped, and faithfully has he exposed it.
From many other items of interest in his letters, we extract the following: --
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"If God be a God of consistency and wisdom I now know Mormonism to be a delusion; and this knowledge is built upon the testimony of my senses. In proclaiming it, I am aware I proclaim my own misfortune -- but in doing it, I remove a burden from my mind, and discharge a duty as humbling to myself, as it may be profitable to others. Thanks be to God! the spell is dissipated, and the 'captive exile hasteneth that he may be loosed, and not die in the pit.'
"When I embraced Mormonism, I conscientiously believed it to be of God. The impressions of my mind were deep and powerful, and my feelings were excited to a degree to which I had been a stranger. Like a ghost, it haunted me by night and by day, until I was mysteriously hurried, as it were, by a kind of necessity, into the vortex of delusion. At times I was much elated; but generally, things in prospect were the greatest stimulants to action.
"On our arrival in the western part of the state of Missouri the place of our destination, we discovered that prophecy and vision had failed, or rather had proved false. This fact was so notorious, and the evidence so clear, that no one could mistake it -- so much so, that Mr. Rigdon himself said that 'Joseph's vision was a bad thing.' This was glossed over, apparently, to the satisfaction of most persons present; but not fully to my own. It excited a suspicion that some things were not right, and prepared my mind for the investigation of a variety of circumstances, which occurred during my residence there, and indeed, to review the whole subject, from its commencement to that time. My opportunities for a thorough investigation, were far greater than they could have been, had I remained at home; and therefore, I do not regret that I made the journey, though I sincerely regret the cause of it. Since my return, I have had several
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interviews with Messrs. Smith, Rigdon and Cowdery, and the various shifts and turns, to which they resorted in order to obviate objectors and difficulties, produced in my mind additional evidence, that there was nothing else than a deeply laid plan of craft and deception.
"The relation in which Smith stands to the church, is that of a Prophet, Seer, Revealer, and Translator; and when he speaks by the Spirit, or says he knows a thing by the communication of the Spirit, it is received as coming directly from the mouth of the Lord. When he says he knows a thing to be so, thus it must stand without controversy. A question is agitated between two Elders of the church -- whether or not a bucket of water will become heavier by putting a living fish in it. Much is said by each of the disputants; when at length, Smith decides in the negative, by saying -- "I know by the spirit, that it will be no heavier." Any person who chooses, may easily ascertain by actual experiment, whether the Prophet was influenced in this decision by a true or false spirit.
"Every thing in the church is done by commandment; and yet it is said to be done by the voice of the church. For instance: Smith gets a commandment that he shall be the 'head of the church,' or that he 'shall rule the conference,' or that the church shall build him an elegant house, and give him one thousand dollars. For this the members of the church must vote, or they will be cast off for rebelling against the commandments of the Lord. In addition to the Book of Mormon, and the commandments, there are revelations which are not written. In this department, though Smith is the principal, yet there are others who profess to receive revelations; but after all, Smith is to decide whether they come from the Lord or the devil. Some have been so unfortunate
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as to have their revelations palmed off upon the latter. These revelations entirely supercede the Bible, and in fact, the Bible is declared too defective to be trusted, in its present form; and it is designed that it shall undergo a thorough alteration, or, as they say, translation. This work is now in operation. The Gospel of St. Matthew has already received the purifying touch, and is prepared for the use of the church. It was intended to have kept this work a profound secret, and strict commandments were given for that purpose; and even the salvation of the church was said to depend upon it. The secret is divulged, but the penalty is not as yet inflicted. Their revelations are said to be an addition to the Bible. But instead of being an addition, they destroy its use; for everything which need be known, whether present, past or future, they can learn from Smith, for he has declared to the church, that he 'knows all things that will take place from this time to the end of the world.' If, then, placing the Bible under circumstances which render it entirely useless, is infidelity, Mormonism is infidelity.
"Smith is the only one at present, to my knowledge, who pretends to hold converse with the inhabitants of the celestial world. It seems, from his statements, that he can have access to them when and where he pleases. He does not pretend that he sees them with his natural, but with his spiritual, eyes; and he says he can see them as well with his eyes shut, as with them open. So also in the translating. The subject stands before his eyes in print, but it matters not whether his eyes are open or shut; he can see as well one way as the other.
"Smith describes an angel as having the appearance of a 'tall, slim, well-built, handsome man, with a bright pillar upon his head.' The devil once, he says, appeared to him in the same form, excepting
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upon his head he had a "black pillar," and by this mark he was able to distinguish him from the former.
"It passes for a current fact in the Mormon church, that there are immense treasures in the earth, especially in those places in the state of New-York from whence many of the Mormons emigrated last spring: and when they become sufficiently purified, these treasures are to be poured into the lap of their church; to use their own language, they are to be the richest people in the world. These treasures were discovered several years since, by means of the dark glass, the same with which Smith says he translated the most of the Book of Mormon. Several of those persons, together with Smith, who were unsuccessfully engaged in digging and searching for these treasures, now reside in this county, and from themselves I received this information."
Having reached the Missourian El Dorado, Mr. Booth witnessed several important transactions.
"The laying of the foundation of Zion was attended with considerable parade and an ostentatious display of talents, both by Rigdon and Cowdery. The place being designated as the site where the city was to commence, on the day appointed we repaired to the spot, not only as spectators, but each one to act the part assigned him in the great work of laying the foundation of the 'glorious city of New Jerusalem.' Rigdon consecrated the ground, by an address, in the first place to the God whom the Mormons profess to worship; and then making some remarks respecting the extraordinary purpose for which we were assembled, prepared the way for administering the oath of allegiance to those who were to receive their 'everlasting inheritance' in that city. He laid them
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under the most solemn obligations to constantly obey all the commandments of Smith. He enjoined it upon them to express a great degree of gratitude for the free donation, and then, as the Lord's vicegerent, he gratuitously bestowed upon them, that for which they had paid an exorbitant price in money. These preliminaries being ended, a shrub oak, about ten inches in diameter at the butt, the best that could be obtained near at hand, was prostrated, trimmed, and cut off at a suitable length; and twelve men, answering to the twelve apostles, by means of handspikes, conveyed it to the place. Cowdery craved the privilege of laying the corner-stone. He selected a small rough stone, the best he could find, carried it in one hand to the spot, removed the surface of the earth to prepare a place for its reception, and then displayed his oratorical power, in delivering an address, suited to the important occasion. The stone being placed, one end of the shrub oak stick was laid upon it; and there was laid down the first stone and stick, which are to form an essential part of the splendid city of Zion
"The next day the ground for the temple was consecrated, and Smith claimed the honour of laying the corner-stone himself. Should the inhabitants of Independence feel a desire to visit this place, destined at some future time to become celebrated, they will have only to walk one half of a mile out of the town, to a rise of ground, a short distance south of the road. They will be able to ascertain the spot by the means of a sapling, distinguished from the others by the bark being broken off on the north and on the east side. On the south side of the sapling will be found the letter T, which stands for temple; and on the east side Zom! for Zomas; which Smith says is the original word for Zion. Near the foot of the sapling they will find a small stone covered over with bushes,
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which were cut for that purpose. This is the corner-stone for the temple. They can there have the privilege of beholding the mighty work, accomplished by about thirty men, who left their homes, traveled one thousand miles, most of them on foot, and expended more than one thousand dollars in cash."
It appears that the eminent failure of this worse than Quixotic expedition, produced so great a dissatisfaction, as well nigh to have broken up the whole concern. The party started to return. Smith, in his pertinacious determination to be at the head of everything. managed, when proceeding down the Missouri in a canoe, to run said craft "foul of a sawyer." thus exposing himself and his companions to a ducking. This untoward event, at the end of so many disappointments, brought on a serious quarrel.
"By the persuasion of Joseph, we landed before sunset, to pass the night upon the bank of the river. Preparations were made to spend the night as comfortably as existing circumstances would admit, and then an attempt was made, to effect a reconciliation between the contending parties. The business of settlement elicited much conversation, and excited considerable feeling on both sides. Oliver's denunciation was brought into view; his conduct and equipage were compared to 'a fop of a sportsman;' he and Joseph were represented as highly imperious and quite dictatorial; and Joseph and Sidney were reprimanded for their excessive cowardice. Joseph seemed inclined to arm himself, according to his usual custom, in case of opposition, with the judgments of God, for the purpose of pouring them, like a thunder bolt upon the rebellious elders; but one or two retorted, 'None
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of your threats;' which completely disarmed him, and he reserved his judgments for a more suitable occasion. Finding myself but little interested in the settlement, believing the principles of discord too deeply rooted to be easily eradicated, I laid myself down upon the ground, and sunk into the arms of sleep, but was awakened at a late hour, to witness and consent to a reconciliation between the parties. The next morning Joseph manifested an aversion to risk his person any more upon the rough and angry current of the Missouri, and, in fact, upon any other river; and he again had recourse to his usual method, of freeing himself from the embarrassments of a former commandment, by obtaining another in opposition to it. A new commandment was issued, in which a great curse was pronounced against the waters: navigating them was to be attended with extreme danger; and all the saints, in general, were prohibited in journeying upon them, to the promised land. From this circumstance, the Missouri river was named the river of Destruction. It was decreed that we should proceed on our journey by land, and preach by the way as we passed along. Joseph, Sidney, and Oliver were to press their way forward with all possible speed, and to preach only in Cincinnati; and there they were to lift up their voices, and proclaim against the whole of that wicked city. The method by which Joseph and Co. designed to proceed home, it was discovered, would be very expensive. 'The Lord don't care how much money it takes to get us home,' said Sidney. Not satisfied with the money they received from the bishop, they used their best endeavors to exact money from others, who had but little, compared with what they had; telling them, in substance; 'You can beg your passage on foot, but as we are to travel in the stage we must have money.' You will find, sir, that the expense of these three
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men was one hundred dollars more than three of our company expended, while on our journey home; and, for the sake of truth and honesty, let these men never again open their mouths, to insult the common sense of mankind, by contending for equality, and the community of goods in society, until there is a thorough alteration in their method of proceeding. It seems, however, they had drained their pockets, when they arrived at Cincinnati, for there they were under the necessity of pawning their trunk, in order to continue their journey home. Here they violated the commandment, by not preaching; and when an inquiry was made respecting the cause of that neglect, at one time they said they could get no house to preach in; at another time they stated that they could have had the court-house, had they stayed a day or two longer, but the Lord made it known to them that they should go on; and other similar excuses, involving like contradictions."
Respecting Rigdon's pretended conversion to Mormonism, Mr. Booth remarks, --
"Before he could fully embrace it, he must 'receive a testimony from God.' In order to do this he labored as he was directed by his preceptor, almost incessantly and earnestly in praying, till at length his mind was wrapped up in a vision; and to use his own language, 'to my astonishment I saw the different orders of professing Christians passing before my eyes, with their hearts exposed to view, and they were as corrupt as corruption itself. That society to which I belonged also passed before my eyes, and to my astonishment It was as corrupt as the others. Last of all that little man who brought me the Book of Mormon, passed before my eyes with his heart open, and it was as pure as an angel; and this was a testimony from God; that the Book of Mormon, was
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a divine revelation." Rigdon is one who has ascended to the summit of Mormonism; and this vision stands as the foundation of his knowledge. He frequently affirms that these things are not a matter of faith with him, but of absolute knowledge."
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Following the lead taken in 1834 by E. D. Howe, Rev. Kidder attributes the text of the Book of Mormon to "none other than Sidney Rigdon, known at that time in the northern counties of Ohio as a Campbellite preacher of some distinction, and reputed to possess more than ordinary shrewdness." Most of the arguments Kidder provides for this claim are drawn directly form Howe. But Kidder also takes the time to address Pratt's 1839 refutation of the Spalding-Rigdon authorship claims. In doing this Kidder makes an statement on page 69: "It is not necessary to doubt that Rigdon's eyes first beheld the Book of Mormon when shown him by Pratt." While Kidder's making this distinction between the "golden bible" reported in Rigdon's local newspaper in 1829 and the published Book of Mormon Rigdon first saw in 1830 may sound like verbal hair-splitting, this is an interesting assertion and may have some basis in fact.
Rev. Kidder's most useful original contribution to the Spalding authorship claims is to be found in his chapter 13, where he attempts to elucidate the "Derivation" and "Theology of Mormonism" by demonstrating its "affinity to Campbellism" and its "improvements upon the old system" of Campbell's reform movement among the Baptists. While Kidder's inspiration for writing this little theological exposition may have come from his reading a few remarks regarding Rigdon's pre-Mormon religious views, chapter 13 contains the first serious published examination of the tenets of Campbellism alleged to occur in the Book of Mormon. Kidder's basic views on this matter would later be taken up, expanded, and further argued by the Baptist minister William H. Whitsitt during the 1880s and by the Disciples minister Clark Braden in 1884.
Kidder's overall view on the origin of the Book of Mormon is neatly summed up on the last page of his Appendix: "We are, however, far from assenting to the position that unity, either of style or sentiment, prevails throughout the Mormon Bible. Those who had seen Spalding's MANUSCRIPT say that the religious parts of the Book of Mormon have been added. Now, these parts bear a distinctive character, (that of Campbellism,) which Smith was utterly unqualified to give them until after his connection with Rigdon. This shows that there were at least three parties to the real authorship; and we think it would he sheer unjustice not to put Oliver Cowdery, the schoolmaster, upon as good (literary) footing as his more ambitious pupil, Joseph Smith, Jr."