"Divine Origin of the Book of Mormon"  from The Contributor.

The 1881 Series by Elder Moses Thatcher

H. M. Stebbins' article (1889-90)   |   B. H. Roberts, in: Contributor (1888)   |   1880s Articles

The Contributor
(Salt Lake City: LDS Church)

  • 1881 Thatcher Articles:
    No. 1  (April)
    No. 2  (May)
    No. 3  (June)
    No. 4  (July)
    No. 5  (August)

  • Transcriber's Comments


    Fr. Clavigero (1807 ed.)   |   A. Von Humboldt's Researches (1814)   |   Del Rio's Ruins (1822)
    Madoc (1805)   |   Antiquities of Mexico (1831)   |   Ten Tribes (1836)   |   America in Prophecy?

    Vol. II.                                           Salt Lake City,  April, 1881.                                           No. 7.

            [p. 193]



    In considering this part of our subject, we shall quote largely from such original Indian historical information as has fortunately survived the wreck of Vandalism, and escaped the destruction of the religious fanaticism of the early Papal clergy; under whose influence and promptings the records of the Indians were piled up by the cord and burned, in the presence of their owners; who wept bitterly at the wanton destruction of books, which had cost them and their forefathers so much time and patience to write and preserve. In quoting from copies and abridgments of original records still remaining, and from the writings of early Spanish historians, we shall endeavor to carefully compare them with facts, as recorded in the Book of Mormon, bearing upon the subject under consideration. In this manner we hope to be able to advance sufficient historical evidence to establish, in the mind of every thoughtful and unprejudiced reader, the divine origin of the Book of Mormon, which has been preserved, brought forth and translated by the gift and power of God. In treating this subject we hope to be able, also, to throw light upon many important points of interest, which have and do still puzzle the minds of the thoughtful and inquiring of our enlightened age.

    From whence came the ancient inhabitants of America? From whom did they descend? Whence their religious knowledge and civilization? These are questions which scientists, as yet, have been utterly unable to solve. Very many conflicting but ingenious theories regarding these interesting and important subjects have been advanced. Some of these are attesting monuments of the wonderful imagination with which the writers were gifted; others show remarkable tenacity in following preconceived ideas; others again manifest real bias induced by prejudice against well authenticated facts, in the vain endeavor to refute which some writers have expended their efforts; while still others are written logically, expressing views strongly supported by judicious citations and well sustained by sound reasoning.

    The researches of distinguished antiquarians, while challenging the admiration and receiving the encouragement of the civilized world, have, unfortunately, like the religious teachings of modern divines, only resulted in inducing greater diversity of opinion. Thus the Christian world rivals the antiquarian field of America, as a stage upon which to manufacture doubt, by man made doubly doubtful. In each we find teachers "ever learning, but never able to come to a knowledge of the truth."

    That the Indians, before and at the time of the Spanish conquest, had very clear knowledge as to who they were; and that they came, at a very early date, over the great waters, from a far distant country, wandering many years in the wilderness, suffering deprivations and untold hardships in their migrations, are matters so well established by the early historians that we can rest reasonably satisfied with their testimony, if we had no more, on these points. That they had a knowledge, we shall hereafter see, of the creation, the deluge, the tower of Babel, and of the confusion of the language which was caused there; and of the birth, crucifixion, resurrection and doctrines of Christ, as well as of the war in heaven, is equally clear. We shall hereafter see to what straits the early Catholic clergy and writers were subjected, in trying to account for the possession, by the original inhabitants, of this varied and far reaching knowledge.

    Commencing with an account of the creation, as had among them, we will proceed to show the source of their information upon this and other important subjects. The "Popol Vuh," written in the dialect of the Quichés, was translated over two hundred years ago, by Ximinez, into the Spanish language, but was not printed. The Quichés of Guatemala, it is understood, eventually amalgamated with the Nahua nations of Central Mexico, but are believed to have been, originally, a branch of the great Maya family. In 1860 Brasseur de Bourbourg, considering the translation made by Ximinez very imperfect, translated it into French. Baldwin, in his "Ancient America," published by Harper Brothers, 1871, states that it was written "in 1558 as an abridged reproduction of a very ancient Quiché book which contained an account of their history, traditions, religion and cosmogony. * * *

    For those who study the book it is full of interest. It shows us their conception of the Supreme Being and His relation to the world; it enables us to see what they admired in character, as virtue, heroism, nobleness and beauty; it discloses their mythology and their notions of religious worship; in a word, it bears witness to the fact that the various families of mankind are all of 'one blood,' so far, at least, as to be precisely alike in nature." (p. 193.)

    "The account of the creation, with everything else in this cosmogony and mythology, is original, like the civilization to which it belongs. According to 'Popol Vuh,' the world had a beginning. There was a time when it did not exist. Only 'Heaven' existed, below which all space was an empty, silent, unchanging solitude. Nothing existed there, neither man, nor animal, nor earth nor tree. Then appeared a vast expanse of water on which divine beings moved in brightness. 'They said earth!' and instantly the earth was created. It came into being like a vapor; mountains rose above the waters like lobsters, and were made. Thus was the earth created by the Heart of Heaven. Next came the creation of animals; but the gods were disappointed because the animals could neither tell names, nor worship the Heart of Heaven. Therefore it was resolved that man should be created. First man was made of earth, but his flesh had no cohesion; he was inert, could not turn his head, and had no mind, although he could speak; therefore he was consumed in the water. Next men were made of wood, and these multiplied, but they had neither heart nor intellect, and could not worship, and so they withered up and disappeared in the waters. A third attempt followed. Man was made of a tree called Tzité, and woman of the pith of a reed; but these failed to think, speak or worship, and were destroyed, all save a remnant, which still exists as a race of small monkeys found in forests. A fourth attempt to create the human race was successful, but the circumstances attending this creation are veiled im mystery. It took place before the beginning of dawn, when neither sun nor moon had risen, and it was a wonder-work of the Heart of Heaven. Four men were created, and they could reason, speak and see in such a manner as to know all things at once. They worshiped the Creator with thanks for existence, but the gods, dismayed and scared, breathed clouds on their eyes to limit their vision, and cause them to be men and not gods. Afterwards, while the four men were asleep, the gods made for them beautiful wives, and from these came all the tribes and families of the earth." (pp. 194-5.)

    In "The North Americans of Antiquity," second edition, Harper Brothers, New York, 1880, by John T. Short, the author states, in a note on page 212, as follows: "The copy is stated ambiguously to have been made to replace the original 'Popol Vuh' -- national book -- which was lost. How a book that had been lost could be copied literally, the Father (meaning Ximinez) fails to tell us."

    Speaking of the Quichés, the same author, referring to Brasseur de Bourbourg's Hist. Nat. Civ., vol. i, pp. 105-6, and to Bancroft's Native Races, vol. v, p. 21, both quoting from the Quiché MS., says (p. 212): "With loving and obedient hearts they addressed their prayers to Heaven for the gift of offspring. 'Hail, Creator and Maker! regard us, attend us. Heart of Heaven, Heart of Earth, do not forsake us, do not leave us. God of Heaven and Earth, Heart of Heaven, Heart of Earth, consider our posterity always. Accord us repose, a glorious repose, peace and prosperity, justice, life and our being. Grant to us, Hurakan, enlightened and fruitful, Thou who comprehendest all things great and small.' " The author, referring (p. 213), for a fuller account of the "strange, wild poetry of the Quichés," to Mr. Bancroft's (vol. iii), says: "In the order of the Quiché creation, the heavens were first formed and their boundaries fixed by the Creator and Former, by whom all move and breathe, by whom all nations enjoy their wisdom and civilization. At first there was no man, or animal, or bird, or fish, or green herb -- nothing but the firmament existed, the face of the earth was not yet to be seen, only the peaceful sea and the whole expanse of heaven. Silence pervaded all; not even the sea murmured; there was nothing but immobility and silence in the darkness -- in the night. The Creator, the Former, the Dominator -- the feathered Serpent [The name Quetzalcoatl (Nahua), Gucumatz (Quiché), and Cukulcan (Maya), mean, as translated, "feathered" or "plumed" or "winged" Serpent, which indicated not only power, but was "considered an emblem of the vernal showers." "The feathery vapor-clouds of summer are but the plumes or wings of the shower which the serpent symbolizes." -- Short's Antiquities, pp. 272-3.] -- those that engender, those that give being, moved upon the water as a glowing light. Their name is Gucumatz, the Heart of Heaven God."

    "The persons of the Godhead (see p. 214) having counseled regarding the creation of more perfect man, on the fourth attempt succeeded so that 'Verily, at last, were there found men worthy of their origin and their destiny; verily, at last, did the gods look upon beings who could see with their eyes and handle with their hands and understand with their hearts; grand of countenance and broad of limb, the four lives of our race stood up under the white rays of the morning star -- sole light as yet of the primeval world -- stood up and looked. Their great clear eyes swept rapidly over all; they saw the woods and rocks, the lakes and the sea, the mountains and the valleys, and the heavens that were above all; and they comprehended all and admired exceedingly. Then they returned thanks to those who had made the world, and all therein was: we offer up our thanks, twice -- yea, verily, thrice; we have received life, we speak, we walk, we taste, we hear and understand, we know both that which is near and that which is far off, we see all things, great and small, in all the heaven and earth. Thanks, then, Maker and Former, Father and Mother of our life, we have been created, we are."

    Thus from a copy of a single ancient Indian book which fortunately escaped the fate of the many which furnished fuel for numerous fanatical bonfires, we learn sufficient, we think, to convince every thoughtful, unprejudiced reader that at least one important branch of the ancient inhabitants of America possessed, previous to the conquest of the country by the Spaniards, very remarkable knowledge of matters pertaining to the creation of the world. The questions, therefore, naturally arise, Where, and when did they become possessed of this knowledge? So far as the Christian civilized world is generally informed, the great law-giver Moses was the first to write and give detailed information upon this important and extremely interesting subject. Did the knowledge had by the Quichés come from that source, and if so, when and in what manner did it reach these continents? On the other hand, if the writings of the inspired historian were not the source from whence they derived their information of the creation, where did they get it? Did God, through their prophets and revelators, reveal it to them direct? Let us consider these questions with the view of throwing light, if we can, upon a mystery which has seemed greatly to puzzle the wise of several generations. This having been, and still remaining the case, it may be well for our readers to remember that "the wisdom of the world is foolishness with God."

    Before referring for information to the Book of Mormon, we will make a few comments on a paragraph which we have already quoted from "The North Americans of Antiquity," as follows, "the copy is stated ambiguously to have been made to replace the original 'Popol Vuh' -- national book, which was lost. How a book that had been lost could be copied literally the Father (Ximinez) fails to tell us." Now, we have already shown by quotations from Baldwin (p. 193) that the "Popol Vuh" was written in the year 1558, as an "abridged reproduction" of a very ancient Quiché book. Francisco Ximinez made his translation about one hundred and sixty years later, and which may indeed have been a literal copy of the abridgment, but not of the original, to which he doubtless refers as having been lost. Again, Ximinez having written "about A. D. 1720 and subsequently," may have secured a literal copy of the "abridged reproduction," which may also have been afterwards lost. We have an account of other lost books, which were probably of greater value, and which would prove, by reason of their details, far more interesting, if we had them, than even the original unabridged "Popol Vuh" would be likely to do if we had it.

    In the year 1735, the Countess Santibay, who claimed to be a descendant of Montezuma, employed, as her agent, Chevalier Boturini, to go from Italy to America in her interest. He remained in Mexico and Central America eight years, and succeeded in making, during that time, the finest collection of ancient manuscripts known to have been gathered together on this continent; and the value of which, being intelligent and having antiquarian tastes, he fully understood. His diligence and years of labor were rewarded, when about to leave Mexico, by being thrown into prison and robbed of his treasure by the Spanish viceroy. Succeeding finally in leaving with a portion of his collection, he was captured by an English cruiser and again despoiled. Preserving from the wreck of his former magnificent collection only sufficient material from which to compile one small volume of less than three hundred pages, which was published at Madrid, by Juan de Zuruga, A. D. 1746. The manuscripts of which he had been despoiled in Mexico were sold some seventy years later, at auction. Humboldt, being present at the time, secured a portion of them. M. Aubin, having secured the remainder, made additions thereto, and took them to France; and it is believed that his is the best collection now in Europe. Désiré Charnay, in part five of "The Ruins of Central America," published in "The North American Review" of January 1881, says that the historian Veytia, who had the privilege of examining the Boturini collection, "bitterly bemoans the loss of the most precious of all these documents, the Teoamoxtli -- Book of God, or of divine and sacred things -- a work composed by Hueman, [ Hueman, understood to be the same as Quetzalcoatl, to whose character and doings we shall hereafter refer in detail. Lord Kingsborough, in his "Mexican Antiquities," describes him as having been a white man, with strong formation, broad forehead, large eyes and long beard. His life was exceedingly chaste and pure.] a sort of Toltec Bible, containing the laws, the religious precepts, the traditions, and all facts relating to Toltec history, from the remotest period."

    We make the following quotation from the inspired historian Moses: "So the Lord scattered them abroad from thence upon the face of all the earth; and they left off to build the city. Therefore is the name of it called Babel; because the Lord did there confound the language of all the earth: and from thence did the Lord scatter them abroad upon the face of all the earth." (Gen. xi, 8, 9.)

    This historical item carries us back in our researches, according to Bible chronology, four thousand one hundred and twenty-seven years; a date beyond that which the scientists of our age have been able to definitely fix the first inhabiting of these continents. By it we not only learn that the Lord did confound the language of the people at the tower of Babel, but that he also scattered them abroad upon the face of all the earth." Now, how could this be accomplished without scattering some of them upon the Western Hemisphere, as well as others upon the Eastern? Was not the former, at that date of the world's history, a part of the face of all the earth," as well as the latter? A supposition that it was not, would be so weak and inconsistent, so utterly opposed to reason, as well as to the developments of science, that it must fail to find among the thoughtful either support or credence. That the people were "scattered" upon the face of the old world is a fact so well authenticated and so well understood, that we deem it unnecessary to adduce historical citations in relation thereto. We may, however, be, by some, considered not only presuming, but egotistical, in venturing the assertion that when the histories, pertaining to America, which have been preserved shall have been as carefully and diligently studied as those pertaining to the old world have been, the fact that a portion of the people who were at the tower of Babel, when the language of all the earth was confounded, were "scattered" from thence upon the face of the new world, will be equally well established; and, we trust, equally and generally as well understood. Thus the declaration of the historian Moses, that the Lord did scatter them "abroad upon the face of all the earth" shall be fully verified by the writings of those who were far removed from his earthly stage of action. And thus, though dead, their words still magnify and praise and do continue to honor the name of Him that made the heavens and the earth, and all things that therein are. We will here make a few quotations from the Book of Mormon, bearing upon this subject:

    "And now I, Moroni, proceed to give an account of those ancient inhabitants who were destroyed by the hand of the Lord upon the face of this north country (North America). And I take mine account from the twenty and four plates which were found by the people of Limhi, which is called the book of Ether. And as I suppose that the first part of this record, which speaks concerning the creation of the world, and also of Adam, and an account from that time even to the great tower" (Babel), "and whatsoever things transpired among the children of men until that time, is had among the Jews; therefore I do not write those things which transpired from the days of Adam until that time; but they are had upon the plates, and whoso findeth them, the same will have power that he may get the full account." (Book of Ether, i: 1-4; Book of Mormon, new. ed., p. 570-1.) "Which Jared came forth with his brother and their families, with some others and their families, from the great tower, at the time the Lord confounded the language of the people, and sware in his wrath that they should be scattered upon all the face of the earth; and according to the word of the Lord the people were scattered." (Ib. p. 571, v. 33.)

    Here, then, we find the inspired record of the historian Moses, written upon the Eastern Hemisphere, confirmed by the no less inspired writings of the historian Ether, who wrote nearly twenty-five hundred ago upon the Western Hemisphere; bearing testimony, not only of the creation, but of the fact of his forefathers having been brought to America from the tower at the time the Lord confused the language of all the earth. Later we shall refer frequently to the book of Ether, as abridged by Moroni about A. D. 400. The latter was a descendant of Nephi, the youngest of four brothers, who, with their father's family and a few others, came to America from Jerusalem during the reign of Zedekiah, king of Judah, 600 B. C. To the migration of this family, as well as to those of Jared and his brother and their families and friends, we shall, in the course of this series, frequently refer, making detailed comparisons between the Book of Mormon record of these wanderings and the knowledge of the same, which comes to us through the writings of the early Spanish historians, who followed closely Indian records and traditions at the time of, and subsequent to, the conquest. At present, however, it is only to our purpose to add that Nephi, being favored of the Lord, secured, on leaving Jerusalem, the records, engraven on brass plates, of his forefathers; and among these, as he states, was a copy of the five books of Moses. Hence, we learn that there were at least two records existing in America at a very remote period (600 B. C.), containing, among other things, an account of the creation; the first being written upon the gold plates of Ether, which were found by the people of Limhi, and the second upon the brass plates brought by Nephi from Jerusalem.

    Having secured this information, it no longer appears difficult to understand how the Quichés and other branches of the original inhabitants of America became possessed of facts which, though adulterated by the errors of superstitious vagaries, introduced, no doubt, by false priests and uninspired writers subsequent to the death of their prophets, comes to us, nevertheless, sufficiently clear and comprehensive to convince, we trust, every honest reader desiring the truth, that one of two things occurred, namely: that the ancient inhabitants of this country brought a knowledge of the creation of the world with them from the Eastern to the Western Hemisphere, or that God who revealed the facts pertaining thereto to Moses there, did likewise to those living here; for the two accounts are too nearly identical to indicate separate or distinct original sources. -- MOSES THATCHER.

    Note: This "Divine Origin of the Book of Mormon" episode (#1) was subsequently reprinted in the Millennial Star of June 6 and June 13, 1881.

    Vol. II.                                           Salt Lake City,  May, 1881.                                           No. 8.

            [p. 225]



    Boturini, to whose single remaining work we referred in our previous article, says, on page six, in speaking of the knowledge possessed by the American Indians, regarding God's dealings with man during the earlier ages, that, "there is no Gentile nation that refers to primitive events with such certainty as the Indians do. They give us an account of the creation of the world, of the deluge, of the confusion of languages at the Tower of Babel and of all other periods and ages of the world, and of the long peregrinations which their people had in Asia, representing the specific years by their characters; and in the Seven Conejos (rabbits) they tell us of the great eclipse that occurred at the death of Christ our Lord."

    This eminent and reliable author, whom nearly all others that have written on the subject of American antiquities have honorably mentioned, having come to this country commissioned to search its history and not to propagate Roman Catholicism, may be considered as having been in his researches possessed with but little religious bias. His statements, because of his qualifications and for the reason above given, have been generally received with more than ordinary credence by other writers. We may, therefore, regard his testimony as very strong, and his historical collection as positive proof that the early inhabitants of this continent did have a comprehensive knowledge of facts contained in the Mosaic record.

    When we realize that the Book of Mormon (which we have very good circumstantial evidence for believing to be the original, from which, no doubt, portions were at different times copied direct, and other portions, retained in the memory of the learned, transmitted and afterwards written and compiled into that book now spoken of as Teoamoxtli, the lost book of divine things) was hidden in the earth, with other valuable inspired records, by the prophet Moroni, in the early part of the fifth century of the Christian era, we have reason, I think to wonder at the remarkable preservation, for a period of a thousand years, and that among a migratory and warlike people, of so many well connected facts relating to very remote times, rather than to be surprised that the early Spaniards should find mixed up with these divine truths, fables and mythological traditions, of a later origin.

    Boturini, on page one hundred and twenty-nine, clearly indicates the manner in which this knowledge was preserved and handed down from generation to generation. He says: "during the reign of Yittilcuexahuac, in Tula, about the year of our Lord 660, Huimatzin, a celebrated astronomer of the Toltecs, called together all the wise men, with the approval of the monarch, and painted that great book which they called Teoamoxtli, that is, "divine book," in which with distinct figures account was given of the origin of the Indians; of the time of the separation of the people at the confusion of the language; of their peregrinations in Asia; of their first cities and towns that they had in America; of the foundation of the Empire of Tula (Jerusalem); of their progress until that time; of their monarchs, laws and customs; of the system of their ancient calendars; of the characters of their years, and symbols of their months and days; of the signs and planets, cycles and series; of the first day of new moon; of the transformations, in which is included moral philosophy; as also the arcanum of the vulgar wisdom hidden in the hieroglyphics of their gods, with all that pertains to religion, rights and ceremonies; for which cause the book was called, a magori analogato, "Divine Book," and from this cause the Indians called the sacred Bible "Teoamoxtli;" that is to say "Divine Book;" and in imitation of said Teoamoxtli, each one of the historians kept in his house particular maps (picture maps) of the things of which they took note in their time."

    Now what is indicated by the calling together of these wise men of a nation, to compile, under the approval of the Monarch, a "divine book," containing knowledge reaching back to the dispersion which occured at the Tower of Babel? Can anyone suppose for a moment that it was done for the purpose of reducing to writing, traditions which had been held, as such, and handed down from father to son for nearly three thousand years? Can anyone suppose that facts so clearly showing that the Indians knew of the creation, flood, confusion of language, &c., as already demonstrated in these articles, could have brought this knowledge by means of tradition only, down to the year 660? At this time their wise men are brought together and compile a book so remarkable that their descendants a thousand years later, on becoming acquainted with the contents of our Bible (probably the Vulgate rendering), called it, also Teoamoxtli, and declared it to be "in imitation" of their sacred and "Divine Book, "which, judging from their intimate knowledge of its contents, could not long have been out of their hands. It was probably destroyed in one of the many bonfires kindled by fanaticism and fed with native records, which were burned by cords. The Book of Mormon was buried in the hill Cumorah, Ontario County, State of New York, United States, in the year of our Lord 420. Now it is not only reasonable to suppose, but the most natural thing to expect, of an intelligent people, on finding themselves deprived of records containing matters of such vital importance, would be is to call their "wise men" together and again, as far as they could, restore in written form those great truths. This we have seen is just what was done by the Indians, and, as only two hundred and forty years had elapsed between the loss of the Book of Mormon and the writing and compiling of "Teoamoxtli," we can easily understand how they succeeded in producing a work so much like our Bible as to induce the Indians later on to call ours an "imitation" of theirs. For, as before observed, those "wise men" no doubt had other material than mere tradition from which to draw their information, for if, as stated by Boturini, "each one of the historians kept in his house particular maps of the things of which they took note in their time," they must have possessed many very authentic records. Let any person read the Book of Mormon, particularly as to its religious teachings, and he will easily understand how the Indians could say that the Bible was but an imitation of their "Divine Book."

    Prof. Short, in his North Americans of Antiquity, page two hundred and thirty-eight, quotes from the native writer, Ixtlilxochitl, as follows: "It is found in the histories of the Toltecs, that this age and first world, as they call it, lasted seventeen hundred and sixteen years; that men were destroyed by tremendous rains and lightnings from the sky, and even all the land, without exception of anything, and the highest mountains were covered up and submerged in water 'caxtolmoletlti' or fifteen cubits, and here they add other fables of how men came to multiply from the few who escaped from this destruction in a 'toptlipetlacali,' this word signifies a close chest."

    No one who reads the Mosaic account can fail to recognize the analogy, which in these cases approach almost to exactness. Who fails to recognize their common origin, must be skeptic indeed. But that all and every doubt may be, if possible, removed, we make further citations. The one that now presents itself is so interesting that we reproduce it in full, although not all pertaining to the deluge. It is from the work last above quoted and is found on page four hundred and sixty, as follows: "Lord Kingsborough is, no doubt, warranted in holding that the Nahuas were of old world origin, at a very remote period prior to their having developed any special tribal characteristics, because of their singular and, we think, certain knowledge of the Mosaic deluge; but he is not justified in claiming for them any particular relationship to the Jewish or any Shemitic people." (Here the author, in a note, inserts an extract from Kingsborough's work, which we give below).

    "It is impossible on reading what Mexican mythology records of the war in heaven, and of the fall of Zontemoque and other rebellious spirits; of the creation of light by the word Touacatecutli, and of the division of the waters; of the sin of Yztlacohuhqui, and his blindness and nakedness; of the temptation of Suchiquecal and her disobedience in gathering roses from a tree, and the consequent misery and disgrace of herself and all her posterity, not to recognize scriptural analogies. But the Mexican tradition of the deluge is that which bears the most unequivocal marks of having been derived from a Hebrew source. This tradition records, that a few persons escaped in the Ahuehueti, or ark of fire, when the earth was swallowed up by the deluge, the chief of whom was named Patecatle or Cipaquetona; that he invented the art of making wine; that Xelua, one of his descendants, at least one of those who escaped with him in the ark, was present at the building of a high tower, which the succeeding generation constructed with a view of escaping from the deluge, should it again occur; the Tonacatecutli, incensed at their presumption, destroyed the tower with lightning, confounded their language and dispersed them; and that Xelua led a colony to the New World." -- Mex. Antiq., tom vi, p. 401.

    In our historical researches we find none so obstinate to Biblical analogies as Prof. Short, yet even he is compelled to admit the traditional knowledge existing the among the American Indians of a flood, and that they were of old world origin. On page two hundred and two, he says: "That the American population is of old world origin there can be but little doubt; but from whence it came, and to what particular people or peoples it owes its birth, is quite another question." In a note on the same page we find the following: "Tylor Anahuac, London, 1861, p. 104, says: 'On the whole, the most probable view of the origin of the Mexican tribes seems to be the one ordinarily held, that they really came from the old world, bringing with them several legends, evidently the same as the histories recorded in the book of Genesis." A further note from Pritchard's National History of Man, London, 1845, reads: "The era of their existence as a distinct and isolated race must probably be dated as far back as that time, which separated into nations the inhabitants of the old world, and gave to each branch of the human family its primitive language and individuality."

    The native author, Ixtlilxochitl, fixes the date of the first peopling of America about the year 2000 B. C., which closely accords with that given by the Book of Mormon, which positively declares that it occurred at the time of the dispersion, when God in His anger scattered the people from Babel upon the face of the whole earth. Scientific researches and further discoveries will continue, in our opinion, to confirm not only the fact that Adam is the sole stock from which has sprung the whole human family, but that the Bible and Book of Mormon, being divine, and bearing on their historical and prophetic pages their own confirmation, cannot be impeached by the wisdom or learning of this or any other age; for God has decreed that they should come together as the Sticks of Judah and Ephraim and become one, in bearing testimony of the dealings of the Almighty with His children.

    Prof. Short, from whose able compilation we have, and shall probably continue to extract, while a seeming hater of the Book of Mormon, which I presume he has never read, only referring to it because other writers of great ability have made extracts from it, has nevertheless accomplished much, we think, in confirming its "Divine Origin" by his judicious compilation of historical records. As to his opinions, we hold them valuable only so far as they are supported by recorded evidence. We have the same right to disagree with his theories as he has freely and without stint exercised in disagreeing, apparently often without any reason whatever, with those advanced, and at least circumstantially well supported, by Lord Kingsborough; who, certainly is entitled to be considered among the greatest compilers of original American writings known; as well as one of the most pains-taking persevering and exhaustive writers on American antiquities which our age has produced. His works, embodied in nine immense volumes, while being spoken of by some respectable authors as an inexplicable maze, have, notwithstanding, proven a standard and source of information, of which most modern writers on American antiquities have liberally availed themselves, and from which, also, we expect to make extracts as occasion may offer in preparing these articles.

    Returning to the subject under consideration, we will quote from the writings of one of those early Catholic priests, who sought to destroy every vestige of tradition or history from among the natives pertaining to religious matters. Bishop Las Casas, as quoted by Short, p. 228, says: "They (the Guatemalians) have among them knowledge of the flood and of the end of the world. They call it 'butic,' a name which signifies a flood of many waters. They also believe that another 'butic' and judgment will come, not of water but of fire. They hold that certain persons who escaped from the flood populated their land; these were called the Great Father and Great Mother." -- Hist. Apologetica, MS. Cap. 235 p. 327.

    The Book of Mormon, as we plainly proved in number one of this series, gives a distinct account of two records had among the ancient inhabitants of this continent, each of which contained a detailed account of the matters which we have hastily brought forward and compiled in this number from authentic records, namely the brass plates brought by Nephi from Jerusalem, 600, B. C., containing a copy of the five Books of Moses; and the same knowledge written previously upon the gold plates of Ether. It would appear unnecessary to make quotations from the Bible on these points for the sake of comparison. To those desiring to do so we refer them to Genesis, chapter vi, 14, 15 16, and chapter vii, 13, 17, 19, 20 23.

    Referring to the quotations from Ixtlelxochitl, seventeen hundred and sixteen years are said to have elapsed from the creation to the flood. Moses places it sixteen hundred and fifty-six, a difference of only sixty years. They agree exactly as to the number of cubits, "fifteen," which the waters prevailed over the highest mountains. Such a coincident can lead to but one conclusion, the identity of origin of the two accounts.

    Kingsborough says that Patecatle, who escaped in the ark invented the art of making wine. Moses informs us that Noah became a husbandman, planted a vineyard, drank of the wine and was drunken. A remarkable coincident. -- MOSES THATCHER.

    Note: This "Divine Origin Book of Mormon" episode (#2) was subsequently reprinted in the Millennial Star of June 20 and June 27, 1881.

    Vol. II.                                           Salt Lake City,  June, 1881.                                           No. 9.

            [p. 257]



    Desiring in this number to trace the migrations of the aboriginal inhabitants, or first colonists of America, we will here briefly consider the reasons which induced the descendants of Noah to build the Tower of Babel, from which God dispersed them. In the fourth chapter of the first book of the "Antiquities of the Jews," by Flavius Josephus, we find the following: "Now, the sons of Noah were three -- Shem, Japheth and Ham, born one hundred years before the deluge. These, first of all, descended from the mountains into the plains, and fixed their habitations there; and persuaded others who were greatly afraid of the lower grounds on account of the flood, and so were very loth to come down from the higher places, to venture to follow their examples. Now, the plain in which they first dwelt was called Shinar. God also commanded them to send colonies abroad, for the thorough peopling of the earth, that they might not raise seditions among themselves, but might cultivate the great part of the earth, and enjoy its fruits in a plentiful manner; but they were so ill instructed, that they did not obey God; for which reason they fell into calamities, and were made sensible, by experience, of what sin they had been guilty; for when they flourished with a numerous youth, God admonished them again to send out colonies; but they, imagining the prosperity they enjoyed was not derived from the favor of God, but supposing that their own power was the proper cause of the plentiful condition they were in, did not obey Him. Nay, they added to this, their disobedience to the divine will, the suspicion that they were therefore ordered to send out separate colonies, that, being divided asunder, they might the more easily be oppressed. Now, it was Nimrod who excited them to such an affront and contempt of God. He was the grandson of Ham, the son of Noah -- a bold man, and of great strength of hand. He persuaded them not to ascribe it to God, as if it was through His means they were happy, but to believe that it was their own courage which procured that happiness. He also gradually changed the government into tyranny -- seeing no other way of turning men from the fear of God, but to bring them into a constant dependence upon his power. He also said he would be revenged on God, if He should have a mind to drown the world again; for that he would build a tower too high for the waters to be able to reach; and that he would avenge himself on God for destroying their forefathers!

    "Now, the multitude were very ready to follow the determination of Nimrod, and to esteem it a piece of cowardice to submit to God; and they built a tower, neither sparing any pains, nor being in any degree negligent about the work, and, by reason of the multitude of hands employed in it, it grew very high, sooner than any one could expect; but the thickness of it was so great, and it was so strongly built, that thereby its great height seemed, upon the view, to be less than it really was. It was built of burnt brick, cemented together with mortar, made of bitumen, that it might not be liable to admit water. When God saw that they acted so madly, He did not resolve to destroy them utterly, since they were not grown wiser by the destruction of the former sinners; but He caused a tumult among them, by producing in them divers languages; and causing that, through the multitude of those languages, they should not be able to understand one another. The place wherein they built the tower is now called Babylon; because of the confusion of that language which they really understood before; for the Hebrews mean by the word Babel, confusion."

    This lengthy extract from Josephus, is inserted here to show the will of God, regarding the re-peopling of the earth as it was previous to the deluge. We learn from it, that His command, positive and explicit, to send out colonies, was twice unheeded by the disobedient descendants of those whom God had saved, by means of the Ark from the flood, and these commands were not only disobeyed and the Almighty defied, but that Nimrod (upon whom, no doubt, the curse of Noah rested, he being the grandson of Ham, whom, Josephus says, Noah cursed not, because of his nearness of kinship, but his children after him), sought to defeat the plans of God in re-inhabiting the whole earth, by gathering the people under a self-constituted tyrannical government of his own, by means of which he turned them from God, and made them dependent upon his personal rule and power. But God defeated the ends of this wicked man, and those who listened to and obeyed his treasonable counsels. And, as we find recorded in the fifth chapter of the work from which we have quoted, that: "After this, they were dispersed abroad on account of their languages, and went out by colonies everywhere; and each colony took possession of that land which they lighted upon, and into which God led them; so that the whole continent was filled with them, both the inland and maritime countries. There were some also who passed over the sea in ships and inhabited the islands."

    The great Jewish historian explains in his excellent work, the location, as far as he was able to do so, of these different tribes, or peoples, and shows from whom they were descended. In speaking of those who passed over the sea by means of ships, he evidently possessed sources of information not now generally known. He further informs us that the Greeks had changed the names of the various nations, founded by the colonies which were led out by the Almighty, and also the names of countries, rivers and cities, "that they might be better understood among themselves, and setting agreeable forms of government over them, as if they were a people derived from themselves." This the Greeks did after they became potent, and acquired a desire for the glory of antiquity. We will now turn our attention to, and follow the wanderings of the colony whom God led to America.

    From the eighth volume, pages twenty-five and twenty-seven, of Kingsborough's Mexican Antiquities, we quote the following: "Don Francisco Munoz de la Vega, the Bishop of that diocese (Chiapa), certifies in the prologue to his 'Diocesan Constitutions,' declaring that an ancient manuscript of the primitive Indians of that province, who had learned the art of writing, was in his record office, who retained the constant tradition that the father and founder of their nation was named Teponahuale, which signifies the lord of the hollow piece of wood, and that he was present at the building of the Great Wall, for so they named the Tower of Babel, and beheld with his own eyes the confusion of language; after which event, God, the Creator, commanded him to come to these extensive regions, and to divide them amongst mankind." "They affirm that at the time of the confusion of tongues, there were seven families who spoke the same language, which was Nahuatl, that which is still spoken by the Mexicans (Aztecs), and since they understood each other, they united, and, forming a single company, proceeded on their journey, through divers lands and countries as chance directed them, and without any particular destination, in search of a convenient habitation; and having traveled during a century (which amongst them was a period of time amounting to one hundred and four years), passing in the interval, mountains, rivers and arms of the sea, which they noted down in their paintings, they arrived at the place where they made their first settlement, in the northern part of this kingdom, which they named Tlapalan, which signifies the red country, on account of the soil being of that color; and even still, in all modern maps (picture writings), they gave the name of the Red Sea to the gulf which is situated between the eastern coast of the province of New Mexico and Sonora; and the river (Colorado) which flows into the northern part of the gulf is named the Red River."

    To my mind there is something remarkable in this name "Tlapalan" as signifying red country, for the "Hue hue Tlapalan," appears to be the original land from whence came the different colonies that inhabited and peopled America in the early ages, "Hue hue," meaning "old." Thus we would say, "Hue hue Tlapalan" -- old, or original, red country. Now, we may reasonably suppose that the country, at least, in the vicinity of the Red Sea, is of a similar color, and, Josephus says: "This man was called Adam, which, in the Hebrew tongue, signifies one that is red; because he was formed out of the earth, compounded together; for of that kind is virgin true earth." -- Chap. i, 2 Antiq. of the Jews. According to this authority, then, we learn that virgin true earth was originally red, hence, as I view the matter, we have a very natural foundation for the word "Tlapalan" -- red country -- as applied to that land in the vicinity of the Gulf of California, and for "Hue hue Tlapalan," as applied to the original land beyond the seas, from whence came the primitive inhabitants of America.

    The historian Clavigero, as quoted by Prof. Short, on p. 204, says: The Chiapanese have been the first peoplers of the New World, if we give credit to their traditions. They say that Votan, the grandson of that respectable old man who built the great ark to save himself and family from the deluge, and one of those who undertook the building of that lofty edifice, which was to reach up to heaven, went by express command of the Lord to people that land. They say also that the first people came from the quarter of the north, and that when they arrived at Soconusco, they separated, some going to inhabit the country of Nicaragua and others remaining at Chiapas." Prof. Short, on same page, commenting upon this and other writings of Clavigero, says: "According to this tradition, Votan came from the East, from Valum Chivim, by way of Valum Votan, from across the sea, by divine command, to apportion the land of the new continent to seven families which he brought with him." Regarding this colony coming in from the east, and not from the west, we may have something to say hereafter. It appears to be a matter about which authors differ greatly; and, in tracing the arrival of subsequent colonies, we may have occasion to give some views upon the subject.

    We shall now turn our attention to the Book of Mormon for testimony confirming the historic quotations made in this article, and tending to establish the divine origin of that sacred book:

    "Which Jared came forth with his brother and their families, with some others, and their families, from the great Tower, at the time the Lord confounded the language of the people, and sware in his wrath that they should be scattered upon all the face of the earth; and according to the word of the Lord the people were scattered. And the brother of Jared being a large and mighty man, and being a man highly favored of the Lord; for Jared his brother said unto him, cry unto the Lord, that he will not confound us that we may not understand our words. And it came to pass that the brother of Jared did cry unto the Lord, and the Lord had compassion upon Jared; therefore He did not confound the language of Jared; and Jared and his brother were not confounded. * * *

    And it came to pass that the brother of Jared did cry unto the Lord, and the Lord had compassion upon their friends, and their families also, that they were not confounded. * * * And it came to pass that the Lord did hear the brother of Jared, and had compassion upon him, and said unto him: go to and gather together thy flocks, both male and female, of every kind; and also of the seed of the earth of every kind, and thy families; and also Jared thy brother and his family; and also thy friends, and their families, and the friends of Jared and their families." -- Book of Ether, chap. i, 33, 34, 35, 37, 40 and 41.

    "And it came to pass that Jared, and his brother, and their families, and also the friends of Jared and his brother and their families went down into the valley which was northward, (and the name of the valley was Nimrod, being called after the mighty hunter,) with their flocks which they had gathered together, male and female, of every kind. And they did also lay snares and catch fowls of the air, and they did also prepare a vessel, in which they did carry with them the fish of the waters; and they did also carry with them Deseret, which, by interpretation, is a honey bee; and thus did they carry with them swarms of bees, and all manner of that which was upon the face of the land, seeds of every kind. And it came to pass that when they had come down into the valley of Nimrod, the Lord came down and talked with the brother of Jared; and He was in a cloud, and the brother of Jared saw him not. And it came to pass that the Lord commanded them that they should go forth into the wilderness, yea, into that quarter where never had man been. And it came to pass that the Lord did go before them, and did talk with them as He stood in a cloud, and gave directions whither they should travel. And it came to pass that they did travel in the wilderness, and did build barges, in which they did cross many waters, being directed continually by the hand of the Lord. And the Lord would not suffer that they should stop beyond the sea in the wilderness, but He would that they should come forth even unto the land of promise, which was choice above all other lands, which the Lord God had preserved for a righteous people." -- Book of Ether, chap. ii, 1-7.

    In the third chapter and third verse of same book, we find this language: "Behold, O Lord, thou hast smitten us because of our iniquity, and hath driven us forth, and for this many years we have been in the wilderness; nevertheless thou hast been merciful unto us." The first verse of the same chapter mentions eight as being the number of vessels built by divine command, and in which this colony crossed the great deep. The sixth chapter gives a detailed account of their entering these barges, which were the length of a tree, with their families, animals, fowls, food, seeds, etc., and the Lord caused a furious wind to blow unceasingly towards the promised land. "And thus they were driven forth, three hundred and forty and four days upon the waters; and they did land upon the shore of the promised land."

    Thus we have traced the migrations of this small colony from the Tower to America, as they journeyed under the direction of the Almighty; and will conclude this article with a brief comparison of the two accounts. Josephus says that Nimrod was a mighty man, the grandson of Ham; the Book of Mormon speaks of the brother of Jared and his companions going down into a valley of that name called after the mighty hunter. Josephus speaks of ships in which some crossed over the sea, when God scattered the people everywhere from the Tower, and led them whithersoever He willed. We have seen that the colony of Jared's brother used eight barges or vessels in which to cross the great deep. Most writers on American antiquities say seven, but the historian, Francisco Espinosa, states the number as being eight. The Book of Mormon quotations made in this article, refer to animals, fowls, fishes, bees, etc., and to seeds of every kind being gathered together by command of the Lord. Boturini, on page one hundred and twenty-six, states that the seven families wandered a long time in Asia, carrying with them, seeds, corn, beans, peppers, etc., and that their families increased in numbers during their journeyings. Book of Ether (chap. vi, 16) says: "And the friends of Jared and his brother, were in number about twenty and two souls; and they also begat sons and daughters before they came to the promised land; and therefore they began to be many." The extract, from Kingsborough, states that the manuscript of the primitive Indians refers to the Tower as the "Great Wall," which the lord of the "hollow piece of wood" saw, when it was being built, and beheld with his own eyes the confusion of the language of the people. Votan, it is stated, was a grandson of Noah, and came by express command of the Lord to the people of this land. The brother of Jared did the same; pleading with the Lord not to confound the language of Jared, or their friends and families. The seven families, being the same, doubtless, whom Votan led, maintained one language, being not confounded. They formed one company and traveled together many years (104), over rivers, mountains and arms of the sea. So did the colony led by Jared's brother, who was in the wilderness many years and built barges to cross many waters. If the records of the Indians, which survived the vandalism of the Roman Catholic clergy, who followed in the wake of the Spanish conquerors, are reliable, and form, when combined with the traditions of the primitive inhabitants of the land, a chain of facts like those produced even thus far in this series of articles, then who can consistently deny the divine origin of the Book of Mormon? -- MOSES THATCHER.

    Note: This "Divine Origin Book of Mormon" episode (#3) was subsequently reprinted in the Millennial Star of July 4 and July 11, 1881.

    Vol. II.                                           Salt Lake City,  July, 1881.                                           No. 10.

            [p. 289]



    In the preceding number we traced the historic migrations, from the old to the new world, of Votan and the seven families whom he led by divine command to this continent. We likewise made brief extracts from the Book of Mormon, showing that a similar commandment had been given by the Lord to the brother of Jared, who led, under divine instruction, a small colony to America. The two accounts evidently refer to the same persons and circumstances; the account of the peregrinations of the one colony being almost, if not entirely, identical with the other. In this number we desire to make further comparisons, and to briefly note the historical account of this remarkable character and founder of the Votanic dynasty, under which the first peopling of America was accomplished.

    "The achievements of Votan in the new world were as great as any of the heroes of antiquity. His great city, named Nachan (city of the serpents), from his own race, which was named Chan, a serpent. This Nachan is unquestionably identified with Palenque." De Bourbourg fixes the founding of this city shortly after the journeyings of Votan, 1000 B. C.; while Garcia Pelaez states that Votan founded Culhuacan, or Palenque, in the year 3000 of the world.

    "The kingdom of the serpents flourished so rapidly that Votan founded three tributary monarchies, whose capitals were Tulan, Mayapan, and Chiquimula. The former is supposed to have been situated about two leagues east of the town of Ococingo; Mayapan is well known to have been the capital of Yucatan, and Chiquimula is thought to have been Copan, in Honduras. * * * Votan deposited a great treasure at Huehuetan, in Soconusco, which he left under the vigilant care of a guard directed by one of the most honorable women of the land. Finally, he wrote a book in which he recorded his deeds and offered proof of his being a Chane (or serpent.) This ancient document, which is claimed to have been written by one of Votan's descendants, of the eighth or ninth generation, and not by himself, was in the Tzendal language, a dialect or branch of the Maya, spoken in Chiapas and around Palenque. Its history is, however, quite checkered, and the information which it contained comes very indirectly. For generations the Votanic document was scrupulously guarded by the people of Tacoalya, in Soconusco, but was finally discovered by Francisco Nuez de la Vega, bishop of Chiapas. In the preamble of his Constituciones, sec. xxx, he claims to have read this document, but it is probable that only a copy, still in the Tzendal language but written in Latin characters, had come into his possession. He fails to give any definite information from the document except the most general statements with reference to Votan's place in the calendar, and his having seen the Tower of Babel, at which each people was given a new language. He states that he could have made more revelations of the history of Votan from this document but for bringing up the old idolatry of the people and perpetuating it. With the zeal of a true Vandal, the bishop committed the dangerous documents, together with the treasure which he claims Votan to have buried in the dark-house, to the flames in 1691. There seems to have been other copies, however, of this remarkable manuscript, for about the close of the eighteenth century, Dr. Paul Felix Cabrera was shown a document in the possession of Don Ramon de Ordoez y Aguiar, a resident of Ciudad Real in Chiapas, which purported to be the Votanic memoir." -- Short, pp. 205-7.

    In connection with this brief extract there are several important points which demand the careful attention of the reader. First, let us consider the evident ruling desire of Votan to perpetuate, in his own name, and in that of the capital city of the extensive empire founded by him, the greatness and glory typified by a serpent; which, throughout the entire history of the Quichés, Olemecs, Toltecs or Nahua races, is found to be an emblem of power. The vivifying force in nature, "the god of the harvest and of the air," "the vapor clouds and vernal showers with their refreshing and fructifying influences," giving life, light and being -- a deity as personified by Quetzalcoatl among the Nahuas, Gucumatz among the Quichés, and Cukulcan among the Mayas, each meaning, when translated, identically the same thing, namely, "feathered," or "plumed," or "winged" serpent.

    When Moses led the children of Israel from bondage into the wilderness, we learn that they were on a certain occasion grievously afflicted by fiery serpents, whose bite inflicted death. God, however, commanded Moses to make a serpent of brass, and to lift it up upon a pole, in the midst of the people, so that all who had been bitten might be healed through the exercise of faith prompting obedience to the commandment requiring them to look upon the brazen serpent which was lifted up, that they might not perish. In this we find represented the death wrought by Satan in the Garden of Eden, when our parents yielded to the temptation of the serpent; and we also have typified the lifting up, or crucifixion of the Savior. So that, as in the wilderness, those who were bitten unto death had life again, by looking up to the emblem which was raised in their midst to secure their temporal salvation; so, in like manner, all who die from the effects of the bite inflicted by the serpent upon Adam shall live again through the atoning blood and redeeming power of Jesus.

    With this view, it would hardly seem reasonable to suppose that Votan, who had led a colony from Babel to this land, had written a book to prove that he was the descendant, or the representative of the powers or excellencies of an ordinary serpent, or common reptile. He, having acted under divine command, is it not far more reasonable and consistent, and more in harmony with the leading idea of the primitive inhabitants of the continent, that he sought to perpetuate, in his own name, and in the name of his great capital, the healing, redeeming, revivifying, characteristic powers of Christ Jesus our Lord?

    Recent explorations, by Charnay, at Palenque go far to prove that it was built, if not entirely, almost wholly as a city of worship -- a place for the performance of religious ordinances and ceremonies. When we consider this fact in connection with the testimony already herein given of the bishop of Chiapas, "that he could have made more revelations of the history of Votan from this document but for bringing up the old idolatry of the people and perpetuating it," we can readily understand that Votan was not only a hero, an empire founder, a great leader, but was more than all these -- a deeply religious character. As to what the early Catholic bishops and clergy were pleased to consider the idolatry of the Indians at the time of the Spanish conquest of Mexico and Peru, we need only mention how they endeavored to account for the remarkable knowledge, with which they found the primitive inhabitants familiar, pertaining to Jewish laws, customs and ceremonies, and pertaining to the Gospel plan of human redemption, namely, "that the devil, seeing the effects of these things on the inhabitants of the old world, sought to, and had counterfeited them in the new." Men who could manifest such a high order of inventive credulity, would not be likely to prove slow in pronouncing the belief and practice of others idolatrous, though they might, in every particular, agree with that enjoined by the law and the Gospel. Be this, however, as it may, we find no reason for believing that De la Vega ever had in his possession either the treasure of Votan or the book written by him; though he may have had, and undoubtedly did have one written by some of the primitive historians many centuries later; which doubtless contained a transcript of some of the truths contained in the original Votanic document. The value of the treasure and writings of this great follower of the Divine voice is evidenced by the fact of their having been so carefully guarded for so many generations.

    We will now turn to the Book of Mormon in search of clearer light upon this interesting subject; after which we shall leave the reader to draw his own conclusions as to whether or not Votan and the brother of Jared were identical. We have already seen, as shown in a previous article, that the former led, by divine command, a small colony, whose language was not confounded, from the great Tower to America, and that the brother of Jared, being favored of the Lord, and a man of mighty faith, did likewise. The third chapter, verses 21-25, Book of Ether, contain the following:

    "And it came to pass that the Lord said unto the brother of Jared, Behold, thou shalt not suffer these things which ye have seen and heard, to go forth unto the world, until the time cometh that I shall glorify my name in the flesh: wherefore, ye shall treasure up the things which ye have seen and heard, and shew it to no man. And behold, when ye shall come unto me, ye shall write them and seal them up that no one can interpret them: for ye shall write them in a language that they cannot be read. And behold, these two stones will I give unto thee, and ye shall seal them up also, with the things which ye shall write. For behold, the language which ye shall write I have confounded, wherefore I will cause in my own due time that these stones shall magnify to the eyes of men these things which ye shall write. And when the Lord had said these words, He shewed unto the brother of Jared all the inhabitants of the earth which had been, and also all that would be: and he withheld them not from his sight unto the end of the earth."

    "And the Lord commanded the brother of Jared to go down out of the mount from the presence of the Lord, and write the things which he had seen; and they were forbidden to come unto the children of men, until after that He should be lifted up upon the cross; and for this cause did king Mosiah keep them, that they should not come unto the world until after Christ should shew Himself unto His people. And after Christ truly had shewed Himself unto His people, He commanded that they should be made manifest. And now, after that, they have all dwindled in unbelief, and there is none, save it be the Lamanites, and they have rejected the Gospel of Christ; therefore I am commanded that I should hide them up again in the earth." -- Ether,iv, 1-3.

    Now, if the brother of Jared, of whom the Book of Mormon bears this record, and Votan, of whom the Popol Vuh and other historic ancient American writings, as we have seen, speak, are one and the same, then we can readily understand why he should write a book recording his genealogy and deeds, and giving an account of the wonderful things which Jesus, before He appeared in the flesh, had shown him, and why, also, he and his generations after him should guard the same and the treasure (the stones of interpretation) with such sacred care, for a period of perhaps not less than two thousand four hundred years.

    Ether, who wrote his book about 600 B.C., being a great Prophet of God, was familiar with the writings and history of the brother of Jared, and it was doubtless through his record that it became understood that one of the descendants of Votan, and not Votan himself, had written the book; when the facts are, that they each wrote, but one many centuries previous to the other.

    Moroni having again, about A. D. 420, hidden, by divine command, these books and the treasure in the earth, where they remained until brought forth by the great modern Prophet, Joseph Smith, it is clear that the bishop of Chiapas failed to destroy them. -- MOSES THATCHER.

    Note: This "Divine Origin Book of Mormon" episode (#4) was subsequently reprinted in the Millennial Star of Sept. 5, 1881.

    Vol. II.                                           Salt Lake City,  August, 1881.                                           No. 11.

            [p. 321]



    "The second division of the Popol Vuh contains the account of two attempts at the overthrow of the great Xibalban monarchy, founded by Votan. The first of these proved unsuccessful and fatal to the enemies of the great power; the second, undertaken by the descendants of the defeated chieftains, resulted in the downfall of the empire of the Serpents, or Votanites, and in the revenge of the death of the unsuccessful warriors. The account is provokingly figurative: different allies of each power being spoken of as owls, wild beasts, rabbits, deer, rats, lice, ants, etc., a custom which has always prevailed among savage and semicivilized nations. Savages of the forests are usually referred to as wild beasts in early tradition. Xibalba is so hated by its enemies that its usual title is the 'infernal regions.' Torquemada refers to it as hell, and its king as the king of the 'shades.' The hatred was intense, and the worst invectives were mild in the estimation of the enemies of the, no doubt, oppressive power. We have already given the account of the creation, in which Gucumatz (the Plumed Serpent) figured conpicuously. He, however, is seen to have acted at the word of Hurakan (Heart of Heaven). The closing paragraphs of the first division of the Popol Vuh give some of the exploits of the young heroes Hunahpu and Xbalanque, who figure as the defendants of the worship of the Heart of Heaven. A certain Vucub Cakix, who assumed to be the sun and god of the people, and who, in his pride, offended the Heart of Heaven, fell at their avenging hands. His sons, Zipacna and Cabrakan, whose pride was as offensive to Hurakan (God) as had been their father's, shared the same fate." -- Short, pp. 221-2.

    From the above, we learn that the first attempt to overthrow the empire was defeated, but that the second was successful. We further learn that the contentions and wars, which were waged between the two parties, were not only in order to extend and perpetuate the succession of power on the one hand, and to destroy, or transfer it by usurpation on the other, but the main object, on the part of the two brothers Hunahpu and Xbalanque, was the defense of the worship of the Heart of Heaven against the encroachments of its enemies, whose pride was offensive to the Creator.

    By reference to the Book of Mormon, we find recorded in the Seventh Chapter of Ether how the words of the brother of Jared were fulfilled in relation to a kingly government leading to captivity. For, in the rebellion of Corihor was brought to pass the captivity of his father Kib, who was the legitimate and rightful king. This rebellion by the son of a king led to dissensions, secret societies, oath-bound combinations, murders, and, finally, the ruin and utter destruction of the entire people, God having declared that an unrighteous people should not inhabit this land; and that such, when ripened in iniquity, should be destroyed. The descendants of the first colonists of America were frequently warned by prophets of this decree of the Almighty. But they heeded not the warning and, some fifteen hundred years after the arrival and settlement of their forefathers on this continent, they were wasted away by war until they utterly perished from the land. The history of these matters is plainly recorded in the Book of Ether, which is neither ambiguous nor figurative in its language, but tells the sorrowful tale of the sufferings and final extermination of a great, highly civilized but disobedient people.

    It is evident that the translators of the Popol Vuh, or those who abridged the work of more ancient documents, succeeded in very much mixing important facts, and in obscuring and misplacing prominent events and personages in the account which has been rendered and from which we have quoted. But sufficient is indicated by it to show a remarkable knowledge of many, as we have shown, of the leading events in the history of the primitive inhabitants to whom it refers. We would be glad to follow these matters more in detail as there is abundance of material, but it is impossible to do so satisfactorily and keep within the limits of a few articles in our young people's magazine. If, however, these brief sketches shall succeed in awakening in the minds of even a few, the desire for further research and more extended comparison, the writer will feel amply repaid for the efforts made in compiling them and can assure all such persons of one great fact, the knowledge of which is worth more than gold and silver, houses and lands, or earthly fame and perishable glory, it is: the more they search the historical records of the ancient inhabitants of America, the more clearly manifest to them will be the divine origin of the Book of Mormon. For the evidences are such that they cannot fail to carry conviction to every honest, unprejudiced mind.

    When the Book of Mormon was first published, some fifty years ago, one of the strong arguments brought against it by its disbelieving opponents, was that it spoke of the primitive inhabitants possessing elephants, horses, asses, oxen and so on; when, as these knowing individuals triumphantly pointed out, such animals were unknown in America, as evidenced very strikingly by the historical fact that the Aztecs of Mexico at the time of the conquest were greatly frightened and annoyed with the few horses which Cortez brought with him; believing them to possess supernatural powers against which it was useless for them to contend.

    It does not appear that our elders at that time had any historical or scientific knowledge, with which to meet what was generally conceded to be the well established fact that horses and elephants had been from the remotest periods unknown in this country. Nor are they mentioned, so far as our knowledge extends, in any of the records of American antiquities. The Latter-day Saints knew the Book of Mormon to be true, and, therefore, willingly and faithfully bore testimony of its divine origin. But, in the estimation of the learned, who seldom make allowance for, or even admit the existence of what is known as the "illusions of history," their testimony on such points were treated with derision, and they themselves as fanatics. The fact that the Book of Mormon spoke of the existence, on this continent of horses and elephants was thrown into the teeth of our elders as an unanswerable argument, proving the Book of Mormon to be a fraud. But the wisdom of God in this case, as in many others, has proven greater than the wisdom of boasting man. Had Joseph Smith been a close student of history -- a learned man -- instead of the unlearned boy that he was, and sought to palm upon the world in the Book of Mormon a fraud, as he was without stint, accused of doing, he would have guarded all such points and not have made it appear that horses and elephants were possessed by the inhabitants of this land nearly 4,000 years ago, when it was understood by the learned that no such animals were known here previous to the Spanish conquest. But, being unlearned, he did not guard such points; and, failing to do so, subjected his followers, the Book of Mormon, and himself to the scorn and ridicule of the worldly-wise.

    Scarcely fifty years have passed, yet the developments of scientific research have already shown that the mound builders of North America had, at least, a knowledge of the elephant form, for they have left it represented almost perfectly in some of their immense monumental mounds; and one need only examine the fine collection of bones, which have been found in Mexico, and are now carefully preserved in the Mexican National Museum, at the capital of the republic, to convince him that such animals, though, perhaps, long since extinct, did once actually exist here.

    On this subject, we extract the following from the reports of Désiré Char nay, published in the December (1880) number of the North American Review: "We collected a few ornaments, also some animal remains, viz.: some ribs (probably of the roebuck, though on this point I will not be positive, not being a Zoologist), some small scapulas, two teeth, and, stranger still, two enormous humerus, much larger than the humerus of an ox; both of these bones are broken longitudinally, as though to take out the marrow. We found also the radius of an animal considerably larger than a horse. Whence these bones? It is generally agreed that, previous to the conquest, there were neither oxen nor horses in America. * * * We found again to-day bones of large ruminants -- a radius thirteen inches long and three and seven-tenths inches in diameter, and teeth from one and five-tenths to one and eight-tenths inches in length. Here are the remains of unknown animals, probably of mammoth bison, domesticated by the Toltecs, at least used by them for food. This is in contradiction of history, which affirms that the Indians had no large domestic animals. Now, would a people, after once domesticating an animal, suffer the race to die out?

    "On my return to the City of Mexico, Seor Del Camarillo, Professor of Zoology in the School of Mines, on examining the bones of animals found at Tulsa, pronounced them to be the remains of Bos Americans, horses, Andes sheep, llama, stag, etc., and fossil! If his judgment is confirmed by that of the savants of Paris and the Smithsonian Institution, a new horizon is opened for the history of man in America. My victory will then be complete, as I shall have brought to light a new people, and a city unique in its originality, and shall have opened to the learned a new branch of natural history. Surely, this were enough to satisfy the most ambitious investigator."

    Let it be remembered that these bones, which Mr. Char nay considers so remarkable a find, one that will open to the learned a "new branch of natural history," were discovered by his workmen while exhuming the ruins of some extensive buildings at the ancient metropolis of the Toltecs, situated about sixty-five miles to the north of the City of Mexico, in the month of August, 1880, A. D. and fifty years after the publication of the Book of Mormon. In speaking of these ruins, the great antiquarian explorer says: "It seems evident that, tradition to the contrary notwithstanding, the buildings must have been overturned, for not a wall of the oratorio was standing." Elsewhere he speaks of the date at which this occurred, and consequently the time when the bones and fine specimens of porcelain beautifully enameled, and parts of a glass vase, iridized from being long in the ground, which he found there, to reach, at least, a thousand years into the mysterious past of a shadowy people, whose works partly remain as monuments of a remarkable race.

    Alluding to the discovery of the piece of glass mentioned above, Mr. Char nay says: "On this subject, I made no comments, yet I will add that nations are like individuals: they always esteem themselves more highly civilized than their predecessors. The Chinese, the Hindoos, the Egyptians, have left to us evidences of their genius: they understood the making of glass and of porcelain, and many other arts before we did, and to me, it is no matter of surprise that an intelligent population such as the Toltecs, should have been able to erect monuments, to cut stone, to make porcelain, to invent enamel, and to make glass."

    Thus, not only do we find strong historical evidences confirming the divine origin of the Book of Mormon, but we find also that scientific researches, through the efforts of learned and eminent men, backed by liberal contributions, while prosecuting their labors under the patronage and encouragement of two of the most highly civilized governments on earth, are, year after year, adding link upon link, which will eventually form a chain of evidence so perfect, confirming the truth and inspiration of the book, that it will prove irrefutable. So that none shall be left with a reasonable excuse for rejecting that divine record and the testimony which it bears. The disbelieving scorner, the vain, boasting skeptic may hereafter be forced, by the accumulation of strikingly remarkable historical proofs, like those which we have cited in favor of the Book of Mormon, to advance the weak plea, as some have recently done, that the knowledge which Joseph Smith possessed of these same historical records, enabled him to write the book. But all such will find, that the wisdom of God is greater than the cunning of man, and that, in assuming a position so inconsistent and self-refuting, they have placed themselves in a worse dilemma, than that formerly occupied by them, and will still be unable to account for its truths, which have been more recently vindicated by the discovery of facts, the existence of which, neither Joseph Smith nor any other man, without the assistance of divine inspiration, could possibly have known anything of, even ten, much less fifty years ago.

    And thus, while the wisdom of the wise perish, and the understanding of the prudent is hid -- the weak things of the earth confounding the mighty -- the great purposes of God fail not, neither do His words return to Him unfulfilled. -- MOSES THATCHER.

    Note: This "Divine Origin of the Book of Mormon" episode (the final, #5) was subsequently reprinted in the Millennial Star of Sept. 19, 1881.


    Transcriber's Comments

    LDS Apostle Moses Thatcher  (1842-1909)

    Who Was Votan?"

    (under construction)

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