Eber D Howe - Mormonism Unvailed part 1 (intro - chapter 7)
Eber Dudley Howe
(Painesville Ohio: Telegraph Press, 1834)
A FAITHFUL ACCOUNT OF THAT SINGULAR IMPOSITION AND
D E L U S I O N,
FROM ITS RISE TO THE PRESENT TIME.
WITH SKETCHES OF THE CHARACTERS OF ITS
AND A FULL DETAIL OF THE MANNER IN WHICH THE FAMOUS
W A S B R O U G H T B E F O R E T H E W O R L D.
TO WHICH ARE ADDED,
INQUIRES INTO THE PROBABILITY THAT THE HISTORICAL PART
OF THE SAID BIBLE WAS WRITTEN BY ONE
MORE THAN TWENTY YEARS AGO, AND BY HIM INTENDED TO HAVE
BEEN PUBLISHED AS A ROMANCE.
BY E. D. HOWE.
P A I N E S V I L L E :
PRINTED AND PUBLISHED BY THE AUTHOR,
(Entered according to Act of Congress, in the year 1834,
BY E. D. HOWE,
In the Clerk's Office of the District Court of Ohio.)
A D V E R T I S E M E N T.
==> THE following work was undertaken with reluctance, at the earnest solicitation of a great number of friends, who had, with the author, long looked upon the subject of which it treats, with mingled feelings of abhorence and pity -- the Impostors and their victims of delusion, were viewed through these two different media. The truth, and the whole truth, have been his constant aim: But the difficulty of procuring, or arriving at the whole truth, in relation to a religious imposition, which has from its birth been so studiously vailed in secrecy, and generally under a belief that the judgments of God would follow any disclosures or what its votaries had seen or heard -- will be readily discovered. He fears, therefore, that the half is yet untold. He has, in all his enquires, endeavored to pay the most rigid regard to all the ordinary methods of eliciting truth, from every source within his reach. If he shall have failed in his desires and exertions, in any important particular, it will be a matter of regret. That his statements should fully escape censure or contradiction, by a sect whose foundation was falsehood, and which has been built up of the same material, is more than he can expect. He is fully persuaded, nevertheless, that sufficient, and more than sufficient, has been developed by unimpeachable testimony, to satisfy every rational person, whose mind has not already been prostrated by the machinations of the Imposters, that the Supreme Being has had as little agency in the prosperity of Mormonism, as in the grossest works of Satan.
Painesville, (Ohio) October, 1834. E. D. H.
OF all the impositions which "flesh is heir to," none ought to be more abhorred or dreaded, then those which come in the garb of sanctity and religion: But that none are more ardently seized upon and cherished, by a certain portion of mankind, all history goes to substantiate. Absurdities, like comets, move in orbits both eccentric and peculiar. At one time they are obscured and lost in distance; then again they are to be seen shining with a full face, frightening silly mortals from their sphere, and turning into chaos the majesty of mind. Astronomy has scarcely taught us to fortel the appearance of the one; but metaphysics will enable us to calculate the periodical return of the other, when it shall have enabled us to fathom the abysses of the human mind, and discover the springs of human action.
There is nothing more curious than the connection between passion and credulity -- and few things more humiliating and extraordinary, than the extent to which the latter may be carried, even in minds of no vulgar order, when under the immediate influence of any strong interest or excitement. It is also true that we have frequently to encounter a perverse incredulity and a callous insensibility to evidence, when we attempt to convince any one of what is contrary to his opinions, wishes or interests. But this is only another exemplification of the remarkable fact, that where any object, whether desirable, detestable, or dreadful. agitates the mind to a certain degree, our belief is very far from being regulated by the weight of testimony. In such a frame of mind, men are not in a situation to listen to the suggestions
of sober reason; their attention is rivited to one particular view; they form their opinions with seeming deliberation, from circumstances which would be little regarded by minds of a sounder state, but which, seen through the medium of a distorted imagination, appear with an overpowering magnitude; and in fact, if a deep impression is made by any recital seriously delivered, or by any idea whose falsehood is not manifest, the strength of the impression is very apt to be mistaken for a sure proof of its reality. Even in cases where the greatest calmness and deliberation might be expected, and among those whose profession it is to investigate truth -- the ambition of founding a sect, or displaying intellectual superiority -- the veneration for great names, or long established opinions -- and the anxiety to penetrate into the mysteries of nature -- have sometimes produced, not modest querists and patient inquirers, but zealous preachers and zealous believers of the most fanciful creeds of philosophy; about the influence of the stars; the whirlpools that guide the planets in their course; about the concavity or internal regions of the earth; and about the formation of the skull as furnishing a sure index to the passions and propensities.
If such dreams are indulged in the calm investigation of philosophy, what are we to expect when the mind is dazzled by supernatural objects, animated by supernatural hopes and pressed upon the understanding by supernatural terrors? Our wonder therefore ceases, that mankind apparently delight in being misled by the grossest delusions; that the pure truths of Christianity are so strangely mingled with the wildest fancies that can be imagined by the lunatic, or invented by the designing knave.
"Every age of the world has produced impostors and delusions. Jannes and Jambers withstood Moses, and were followed by Pharaoh, his court and clergy. To say nothing
of the false prophets of the Jewish age, the diviners, soothsayers, the magicians, and all the ministry of idols among the Gentiles, by which the nations were so often deceived, the Impostors which have appeared since the Christian era, would fill volumes of the most lamentable details. The false Messiahs which have afflicted the Jews since their rejection of Jesus Christ, have more than verified the predictions of the "true and faithful witness." No less than twenty-four distinguished false Messiahs have disturbed the Jews. Many were deceived, and myriads lost their lives through their impostures. Some peculiar epochs were more distinguished for the number and impudence of those Impostors. If the Jews had fixed upon any year as likely to terminate their dispersion, and as the period of their return, that year rarely failed to produce a Messiah. Hence in the 12th century, no less than ten false Messiahs appeared. Numerous have been the impostors among Christians, since the great apostacy began; especially since and at the time of the reformation. Munzer, Stubner and Stork were conspicuous in the 16th century. These men taught that among Christians, who had the precepts of the Gospel to guide them, and the spirit of God to direct them, civil offices and laws were not only unnecessary, but an unlawful encroachment upon their spiritual liberty; that all Christians should put their possessions into common stock; and that polygamy was not incompatible with either the Old or New Testaments. They related many visions and revelations which they had from above, but failing to propagate their doctrines by these means, they attempted to enforce them by arms. Many Catholics joined them, and in the various insurrections which they effected, one hundred thousand souls are said to have been sacrificed.
"Since the millennium became a subject of much speaking and writing, Impostors have been numerous. In the memory
of the present generation, many delusions have been propagated and received, to a considerable extent. The Shakers, styling themselves the "Millennium Church," a sect instituted by ANN LEE, in 1774, still maintain a respectable number. This "elect lady," as they sometimes styled her, was the head of the party, and gave them a new bible. They asserted that she spoke seventy-two different tongues, and conversed with the dead. Through her all blessings flowed to her followers. She appointed the sacred dance and the fantastic song; and consecrated shivering, swooning, and falling down, acts of acceptable devotion. They hold all things in common, rank marriage among the works of the flesh, and forbid all sexual intercourse.
In 1792, Richard Brothers published a book of prophecies and visions, and an account of his daily intercourse with God, in London. He too had his followers; and among them a member of the British Parliament, a profound scholar and one of the most learned men of his time. He even made a speech in the House of Commons, declaring his full belief in one of the craziest pieces of absurdity that was ever presented to a British populace.
Joanna Southcott, the most disgusting old hag that ever pretended to 'set up for herself,' in the business of blasphemy and dupe-making, was countenanced and encouraged by respectable and wealthy individuals in England; who, not only believed in the divine origin of her ministration, but swallowed with the most implicit faith, her "Dialogue with the Devil," a farrago of filthy licentiousness that would suffuse the face of a fisherwoman. By her arts of deception she succeeded in procuring the certificate of a respectable physician that she was pregnant of the Holy Ghost.
In Scotland a few years since, a Miss Campbell pretended to have come back from the dead, having the "gift of tongues," was believed in by many of the Clergy and Bar,
and carried allong with her a numerous train of lesser note. The pretensions of Jemima Wilkinson, the Barkers, Jumpers and Mutterers, of our own time and country, are also well remembered.
But at these things we only intended to hint, in this place, in order to prepare the mind for a detailed account of the more recent, more absurd, and, perhaps more extensive, delusion of MORMONISM. It will present in somewhat a new light, to the enquiring mind, the depths of folly, degradation and superstition, to which human nature can be carried. It will show that there is no turning a fanatic from his folly -- that the distemper is more incurable than the leprosy -- that the more glaring the absurdity, the more determined the tenacity of its dupes -- and the more apparent you can render the imposture, the stronger become its advocates.
Our object, therefore, in the present undertaking, will not be so much to break the spell which has already seized and taken possession of great numbers of people in our enlightened country, as to raise a warning voice, to those who are yet liable, through a want of correct knowledge of the imposition, to be enclosed within its fetters.
We make no pretensions to literary merit, and anticipate adding but little to the common stock of useful information. What is related, is in a plain, unvarnished style; such as we hope will be the more beneficial to those who are the most usually obnoxious to religious impositions.
M O R M O N I S M.
C H A P T E R I.
CONTAINING A BRIEF SKETCH OF THE CHARACTER OF THE
MODERN PROPHET AND HIS FAMILY, AND SOME OF THE
PRINCIPAL ACTORS IN THE IMPOSITION.
WITH the exception of their natural and peculiar habits of life, there is nothing in the character of the Smith family worthy of being recorded, previous to the time of their plot to impose upon the world by a pretended discovery of a new Bible, in the bowels of the earth. They emigrated from the town of Royalton, in the State of Vermont, about the year 1820, when Joseph, Jun. was, it is supposed, about 16 years of age. We find them in the town of Manchester, Ontario county, N.Y. which was the principal scene of their operations, till the year 1830. All who became intimate with them during this period, unite in representing the general character of old Joseph and wife, the parents of the pretended Prophet, as lazy, indolent, ignorant and superstitious -- having a firm belief in ghosts and witches; the telling of fortunes; pretending to believe that the earth was filled with hidden treasures, buried there by Kid or the Spaniards. Being miserably poor, and not much disposed to obtain an honorable livelihood by labor, the energies of their minds seemed to be mostly directed towards finding where these treasures were concealed, and the best mode of acquiring their possession.
Joseph, Jun. in the mean time, had become very expert in the arts of necromancy, jugling, the use of the divining rod, and looking into what they termed a "peep-stone," by which means he soon collected about him a gang of idle, credulous young men, to perform the labor of digging into the hills and mountains, and other lonely places, in that vicinity, in search of gold. In process of time many pits were dug in the neighborhood, which were afterwards pointed out as the place from whence the plates were excavated. But we do not learn that the young impostor ever entered these excavations for the purpose of assisting his sturdy dupes in their labors. His business was to point out the locations of the treasures, which he did by looking at a stone placed in a hat. Whenever the diggers became dissatisfied at not finding the object of their desires, his inventive and fertile genius would generally contrive a story to satisfy them. For instance, he would tell them that the treasure was removed by a spirit just before they came to it, or that it sunk down deeper into the earth.
The extreme ignorance and apparent stupidity of this modern prophet, were, by his early followers, looked upon as his greatest merit, and as furnishing the most incontestable proof of his divine mission. These have ever been the ward-robe of impostors. They were even thrown upon the shoulders of the great prince of deceivers, Mohammed, in order to carry in his train the host of ignorant and superstitious of his time; although he afterwards became a ruler of Nations. That the common advantages of education were denied to our prophet, or that they were much neglected, we believe to be a fact. His followers have told us, that he could not at the time he was "chosen of the Lord," even write his own name. But it is obvious that all those deficiencies are fully supplied by a natural genius, strong inventive powers of mind, a deep study, and an unusually correct estimate of human passions and feelings. In short, he is now endowed with all the requisite traits of character to pursue most successfully the humbug which he has introduced. His address is easy, rather facinating and winning, of a mild and sober deportment, when not irritated. But he frequently becomes biosterous by the impertinence or curiosity of the skeptical, and assumes the bravado, instead of adhering to the meekness which he professes. His followers, of course, can discover in his very countenance all the certain indications of a divine mission.
For further illustrations of the character of the Smith family, the reader is referred to the numerous depositions and certificates attached to this work.
MARTIN HARRIS is the next personage of note in the Golden Bible speculation. He is one of the three witnesses to the truth of the book, having been shown the plates through the agency of an Angel, instead of the Prophet Joseph, who always had them in possession. Before his acquaintance with the Smith family, he was considered an honest, industrious citizen, by his neighbors. His residence was in the town of Palmyra, where he had accumulated a handsome property. He was naturally of a very visionary turn of mind on the subject of religion, holding one sentiment but a short time. He engaged in the new Bible business with a view of making a handsome sum of money from the sale of the books, as he was frequently heard to say. The whole expense of publishing an edition of 5000 copies, which was borne by Martin, to secure the payment of which, he mortgaged his farm for $3000. Having failed in his anticipations about the sale of the books, (the retail price of which they said was fixed by an Angel at $1.75, but afterwards reduced to $1.25, and from that down to any price they could obtain) he adopted Smith as his Prophet, Priest and King. Since that time, the frequent demands upon Martin's purse have reduced it to a very low state. He seems to have been the soul and body of the whole imposition, and now carries the most incontestible proofs of a religious maniac. He frequently declares that he has conversed with Jesus Christ, Angels and the Devil. Christ he says is the handsomest man he ever saw; and the Devil looks very much like a jack-ass, with very short, smooth hair, similar to that of a mouse. He says he wrote a considerable part of the book, as Smith dictated, and at one time the presence of the Lord was so great, that a screen was hung up between him and the Prophet; at other times the Prophet would sit in a different room, or up stairs, while the Lord was communicating to him the contents of the plates. He does not pretend that he ever saw the wonderful plates but once, although he and Smith were engaged for months in deciphering their contents. He has left his wife to follow the fortunes of Smith. He has frequent fits of phrophecying, although they are not held in very high repute among his brethren. A specimen of his prophetic powers we subjoin. They were written for the special information of a friend of his who placed them upon the wall of his office, and are in these words:
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 down, 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.
Martin is an exceedingly fast talker. He frequently gathers a crowd around him in bar-rooms and in the streets. -- Here he appears to be in his element, answering and explaining all manner of dark and abstruse theological questions, from Genesis to Revelations; declaring that every thing has been revealed to him by the "power of God." During these flights of fancy, he frequently prophecies the coming of Christ, the destruction of the world, and the damnation of certain individuals. At one time he declared that Christ would be on earth within fifteen years, and all who did not believe in the book of Mormon would be destroyed.
He is the source of much trouble and perplexity to the honest portion of his brethren, and would undoubtedly long since have been cast off by Smith, were it not for his money, and the fact that he is one of the main pillars of the Mormon fabric. Martin is generally believed, by intelligent people, to be laboring under a partial derangement; and that any respectable jury would receive his testimony, in any case, of ever so trifling a nature, we do not believe; yet, the subjects of the delusion think him a competent witness to establish miracles of the most unreasonable kind. But we leave him for the present.
OLIVER COWDERY comes next in the catalogue. He was also a chief scribe to the prophet, while transcribing, after Martin had lost 116 pages of the precious document, by interference of the Devil. An Angel also has shown him the plates, from which the book of Mormon proceeded, as he says. He is a blacksmith by trade, and sustained a fair reputation until his intimacy commenced with the money-diggers. He was one of the many in the world who always find time to study out ways and means to live without work. He accordingly quit the blacksmithing business, and is now the editor of a small monthly publication issued under the direction of the prophet, and principally filled with accounts of the spread of Mormonism, their persecutions, and the fabled visions and commands of Smith.
DAVID WHITMAR is the third special witness who signed the certificate with Harris and Cowdery, testifying to having seen plates. He is one of five of the same name and family who have been used as witnesses to establish the imposition, and who are now head men and leaders in the Mormonite camp. They were noted in their neighborhood for credulity and a general belief in witches, and perhaps were fit subjects for the juggling arts of Smith. David relates that he was led by Smith into an open field, on his father;s farm, where they found the Book of plates lying upon the ground. Smith took it up and requested him to examine it, which he did for the space of half an hour or more, when he returned it to Smith, who placed it in its former position, alledging that it was in the custody of an Angel. He discribes the plates as being about eight inches square, the leaves being metal of a whitish yellow color, and of the thickness of tin plates. The back was secured with three small rings of the same metal, passing through each leaf in succession; that the leaves were divided equidistant between the back and the edge, by cutting the plates in two parts, and again united with solder, so that the front might be opened, while the back part remained stationary and immovable, and was consequently a sealed book, which would not be revealed for ages to come, and which Smith himself was not permitted to understand. On opening that part of the book which was not secured by seals, he discovered inscribed on the aforesaid plates, divers and wonderful characters, some large and some small, but beyond the wisdom of man to understand without supernatural aid; this account is sometimes partly contradicted by Harris.
C H A P T E R I I.
THE GOLDEN BIBLE AND ITS CONTENTS.
The various verbal accounts, all contradictory, vague, and inconsistent, which were given out by the Smith family respecting the finding of certain Gold or brazen plates, will be hereafter presented in numerous depositions which have been taken in the neighborhood of the plot. -- Since the publication of the book they have been generally more uniform in their relations respecting it.
They say that some two years previous to the event taking place, Joseph, Jun., began his interviews with Angels, or spirits, who informed him of the wonderful plates, and the manner and time of obtaining them. This was to be done in the presence of his wife and first child, which was to be a son. In the month of September, 1827, Joseph got possession of the plates, after a considerable struggle with a spirit. The remarkable event was soon noised abroad, and the Smith family commenced making proselytes among the credulous, and lovers of the marvelous, to the belief that Joseph had found a record of the first settlers in America.
Many profound calculations were made about the amount of their profits on the sale of such a book. A. religious speculation does not seem to have seriously entered into their heads at that time. The plates in the mean time were concealed from human view, the prophet declaring that no man could look upon them and live. They at the same time gave out that, along with the plates, was found a huge pair of silver spectacles, altogether too large for the present race of men, but which were to be used, neverthe less, in translating the plates.
The translation finally commenced. They were found to contain a language not now known upon the earth which they termed "reformed Egyptian characters." The plates, therefore, which had been so much talked of, were found to be of no manner of use. After all, the Lord showed and communicated to him every word and letter of the Book. Instead of looking at the characters inscribed upon the plates, the prophet was obliged to resort to the old "peep stone," which he formerly used in money-digging. This he placed in a hat, or box, into which he also thrust his face. Through the stone he could then discover a single word at a time, which he repeated aloud to his amanuensis, who committed it to paper, when another word would immediately appear, and thus the performance continued to the end of the book.
Another account they give of the translation, is, that it was performed with the big spectacles before mentioned, and which were in fact, the identical Urim and Thumim mentioned in Exodus 28 -- 30, and were brought away from Jerusalem by the heroes of the book, handed down from one generation to another, and finally buried up in Ontario county, some fifteen centuries since, to enable Smith to translate the plates without looking at them!
Before the work was completed, under the pretense that some persons were endeavoring to destroy the plates and prophet, they relate that the Lord commanded them to depart into Pennsylvania, where they could proceed unmolested. Smith, accordingly, removed his family thither; but it appears that it was at the request of his father-in-law, instead of the command of the Lord. A box, which he said contained the plates, was conveyed in a barrel of beans, while on the journey. Soon after this, his father-in-law, Mr. Isaac Hale, on account of his daughter, agreed to sell Smith a part of his farm, provided he would go to work and quit his impositions. He said he had given up his former occupation, and concluded to labor for a living. But, in a few weeks Harris made his appearance there, and soon after Cowdery, and Smith again commenced looking into the hat, and telling off his bible. In the mean time, Satan had made an assault upon Harris, and robbed him of one hundred and sixteen pages of the bible, which had been translated. Cowdery was the chosen scribe to complete the work; after which the plates were again buried up by the command of the Lord, in a place unknown to the prophet or any other person.
The Golden Bible was finally got ready for the press, and issued in the summer of 1830, nearly three years from the time of its being dug up. It is a book of nearly six hundred pages, and is unquestionably one of the meanest in the English, or any other language. It is more devoid of interest than any we have ever seen. It must have been written by an atheist, to make an experiment upon the human understanding and credulity. The author, although evidently a man of learning, studied barrenness of style and expression, without an equal. It carries condemnation on every page. The God of Heaven, that all-wise Being, could never have delivered such a farrago of nonsense to the world. But we must proceed to examine it more in detail. The title page says: ---
"The Book of Mormon, an account written by the hand of Mormon, upon plates taken from the plates of Nephi; wherefore it is an abridgment of the record of the people of Nephi; and also of the Lamanites, which are a remnant of the House of Israel; and also to Jew and Gentile; written by way of commandment, and also by the spirit of prophesy and of revelation: written, and sealed up, and hid up unto the Lord, that they might not be destroyed; to come forth by the gift and power of God, unto the interpretation thereof; sealed by the hand of Moroni, and hid up unto the Lord, to come forth in due time by the way of Gentiles; the interpretation thereof, by the gift of God; an abridgment taken from the book of Ether.
Also, which is a record of the people of Jared, which were scattered at the time the Lord confounded the language of the people, when they were building a tower to get to Heaven, which is to show unto the remnant of the house of Israel, how great things the Lord has done for their fathers; and that they may know the covenants of the Lord, that they are not cast off forever; and also to the convincing of the Jews and Gentiles, that Jesus is the Christ, the Eternal God, manifesting himself to all nations. And now if there be fault, it be the mistake of men; wherefore condemn not the things of God, that ye may be found spotless at the judgment seat of Christ.
By Joseph Smith, Jun. Author and proprietor."
It is necessary that the reader should constantly bear in mind, that the impostor is held out to be a very ignorant person, so much so, that he can write nothing except it be dictated to him, word by word, by the mouth of the Lord. Here then we have a specimen of a title page according to infinite wisdom: constituting Joseph Smith, Jun. "Author and proprietor," in order that he may have the sole profit of the work. Although the Mormon may have a faculty of pointing out examples, and proving every thing by scripture, we think it will trouble them to find an instance where the Great Jehovah has ever sent a message to fallen man, and that in the most miraculous way; and constituted any individual its retailer, and sole sharer of its profits! But we are told that "the ways of God are past finding out," and he has therefore given to Joseph Smith a "copy right" to sell this last message, and that too from under the hand and seal of "R. R. Lansing, clerk of the Northern District of New York."
But a saving clause is inserted in the title page, and several times repeated in the book. It seems that neither the Lord or Smith, were willing to avow themselves the authors of the whole fable: "and now if there be fault, it be in the mistake of men"!!! Here then we have an acknowledgment that there may be faults, a bundle of truths and falsehoods, sent forth to imperfect man, without a single rule being given to distinguish one from the other!!! Oh! the credulity of man!
The real author, notwithstanding his studied ignorance, was well acquainted with the classics. The names of most of his heroes have the Latin termination of i, such as Nephi, Lehi, and Moroni. The word Mormon, the name given to his book, is the English termination of the Greek word "Mormoo," which we find defined in an old, obsolete Dictionary, to mean "bug-bear, hob-goblin, raw head and bloody bones." It seems, therefore, that the writer gave his book not only a very appropriate, but classical name. His experiment upon the human mind, he thought, would be more perfect, by giving it a name, in addition to its contents, which would carry upon its face the nature of its true character -- a fiction of hob-goblins and bug-bears.
Next comes the "Preface," signed "the Author," which shows that the Lord was willing to approve and adopt the most modern plan of making books, by inserting a title page, copy right, and a preface. The substance of the preface is, that the author had translated one hundred and sixteen pages from the plates of Lehi, written by the hand of Mormon, which were stolen by some persons: "and being commanded by the Lord, that I should not translate the same over again, for Satan had put it into their
hearts to tempt the Lord their God, by altering the words, that they did read contrary from that which I translated, and caused to be written; and if I should bring forth the same again, they would publish that which they had stolen, and Satan would stir up the hearts of this generation, that they might not receive this work; but behold, the Lord said unto me, I will not suffer that Satan shall accomplish his evil design in this thing: therefore shalt thou translate from the plates of Nephi, until ye come to that which ye have translated, which you have retained; and behold ye shall publish it as the record of Nephi; and thus I will confound those who have altered my words."
The facts respecting the lost manuscript, we have not been able to ascertain. They sometimes charged the wife of Harris with having burnt it; but this is denied by her. They were, however, taken from the possession of Harris, by a miracle wrought by Satan. The prophet has undertaken to inform the reader how the Lord got him out of this dilemma: "thou shalt translate from the plates of Nephi until thou come to that which ye have translated, which ye have retained, and behold ye shall publish it as the record of Nephi." Here the Lord, in order to counteract the works of the Devil, is represented by Smith as palming off upon the world an acknowledged falsehood, -- the records of Lehi must be published as the records of Nephi. Again, how could Smith know when he came to that which he had translated, without looking at the plates, (which he could not read if he did,) for he does not pretend that there was any miracle in this operation. But who, except one fully endued with the folly and wickedness of "the author," can believe for a moment, that the Lord would make known his will in such language. Again, an important record which had been made by a miracle, kept for ages by a miracle, dug from the ground by a miracle, and translated by a miracle, was stolen by some one, so that even a miracle could not restore it, and thus were the designs of the Lord counteracted by "Satan putting it into their hearts to tempt the Lord."
C H A P T E R I I I.
THE SAME SUBJECT CONTINUED.
"The Book of Mormon," is divided into a number of books, each one purporting to have been written by different individuals upon plates of brass, so far as the history of Lehi, the founder of the vast settlements which were situated on the isthmus of Darien, were concerned; and upon plates of gold, so far as it relates to one Jared and his posterity, who were not confounded at the destruction of Babel. but were miraculously navigated by the hand of the Lord across the ocean. The history of Lehi and his posterity, commences in the reign of Zedekiah, King of Judah, six hundred years before the Christian era, and ends about four hundred years afterwards, which concludes the history, or fiction. The whole work is written in a miserable attempt to imitate the style of King James the first, and the sameness is such, and the tautology of phrases from the beginning to the end of the work, that no one can be left in doubt in identifying the whole with one individual author. We are not aware that the style of king James is better calculated to reveal the will of Heaven, than is the modern and more refined language; but is a strong evidence against the work now under our consideration. If God chose to reveal himself, it would be reasonable to expect that it would be done definitely, and in such language as could be easily understood by all; and why this long circumlocution of history? it has nothing to do with salvation. Christ, nor the inspired writers of the new testament, furnish no such example; the bare facts of the plan of redemption is set before us, and a few self evident rules to govern our moral conduct.
The first book is entitled "the book of Nephi," and commences its narrative with the departure of Lehi from Jerusalem. He had four sons, Laman, Lemuel, Sam, and Nephi; the last of whom is the principal hero in the present book, and the historian. He is a scholar, an engraver, and a worker of metals; for he says: "Behold I make an abridgment of the record of my father, upon plates of brass, which I have made with mine own hands; wherefore, after that I have abridged the record of my father, then will I make an account of mine own life." Lehi dreams marvelous dreams previous to his departure from Jerusalem, and sees wonderful visions. He goes about prophesying of the great calamities that await the Jews, and warns them to flee from the wrath to come. The people become vindictive at his clamor, and threaten his destruction.
To rescue Lehi, and to bring about wonderful events, God warns him to flee into the wilderness, and leave all his great possessions, his gold and his silver, and take nothing with him but his family, his tents, and provisions. A miserable condition for the wilderness indeed; no clothing, no weapons, nor tools to make them with.
The command is obeyed, and he travels until he arrives on the borders of the Red sea. The three elder brohers become disaffected, probably from their adversity and privations, and accuse the father with being visionary, &c. Nephi represents himself as being a particular favorite with the Lord, (or his narrator does for him) for he says: "And it came to pass that I, Nephi, being exceeding young, nevertheless being large in stature, and also having great desires to know the mysteries of God," &c. God blesses him, and makes a covenant with him, and promises him a choice land, which is above all others. -- p. 9. Nephi is commanded by his father, together with his three brothers, to go back to Jerusalem, to the house of one Laban, who has in his possession a record of the Jews, engraven on plates of brass, as he is informed by the Lord in a dream; and that it likewise contained the genealogy of his ancestors. Nephi is ready to obey, and by some little persuasion, the four brothers embark for the plates at Jerusalem. Laban, who has them in possession, refuses to give the plates to the embassadoros. But Nephi was not to be foiled. Two unsuccessful attempts are made, and, the third time, Nephi finds Laban drunk within the walls of the city, and says: "And I, Nephi, beheld his sword, and I drew it forth from the sheath thereof, and the hilt thereof was of pure gold, and the workmanship thereof was exceeding fine; and I saw the blade thereof was of most precious steel." p. 12.
This is the earliest account of steel to be found in history. Alexander the Great, who lived about three hundred years after the period here spoken of, employed iron for points to his implements of war, as Josephus tells us; and the same author says, that he complained that his weapons were so easily blunted; now, if steel had been in use, either at Rome, Jerusalem, or Damascus, at the time here spoken of, in Alexander's time it would have been common, and he would have used it for his weapons instead of iron. Damascus was once famous for manufacturing swords, but it was long after the Christian era. A coarse kind of steel, or iron carbonated, was used in the days of Julius Caesar, about one hundred years before Christ.
The covenant with Nephi gives him a choice land. And again he says that his father has obtained a promise from the Lord that he should have a choice land, p. 14. Whether these are separate lands, we are left to conjecture. If they are the same, one of the promises is gratuitous; because when the Lord covenanted with Abraham, he promised him the land of Canaan, which should be inherited by his posterity forever. It is true, the covenant was renewed with Isaac; but he was the rightful heir. If the Lord had have covenanted with Abraham, and with Isaac, for a land, we should naturally infer that they were different countries, especially if the covenant had been made with Isaac first. Nephi says the promise of the choice land, is to him, exclusively, as can be seen on page 9: consequently each have a seperate land. But the sequel of the fiction informs us, that they all embark into one ship, -- land on this side of the Atlantic, and dwell together until Lehi dies.
Nephi says, he drew forth the sword of Laban, and cut his head off, which enabled him afterwards to obtain the plates by false pretences and deception. Thus we see the author would have us believe, that the Lord sometimes accomplishes his designs by murder and lying.
Lehi receives the plates from his sons, -- examines them, and finds to his great satisfaction, that he is a descendant from Joseph, the son of Jacob. "And now, when my father saw all these things, he was filled with the spirit, and began to prophecy concerning his seed; that these plates of brass should go forth unto all nations, kindreds, tongues and people, which were of his seed. Wherefore, he said that these plates of brass should never perish, neither shall they be dimmed any more by time." p. 15.
The above plates have not been found; if they have, we have not been furnished with a translation.
Nephi, and his brethren, are again sent back to Jerusalem, to bring with them into the wilderness, a man by the name of Ishmael, and his family, which consists of daughters and sons enough, to furnish each family with husbands and wives. They all arrive in the wilderness, and very soon a quarrel ensues between the different individuals of the families, which Nephi settles in a most masterly manner; after which, the males of both families take wives, with which the provident author has kindly provided them.
The three next pages, to wit: 18, 19, and 20, are taken up in relating a marvelous dream, or vision, in which Laman and Lemuel are represented as being finally apostates, and would be cut off.
Nephi informs us, that he is at that time employed in engraving, or writing, on the plates, which he now names after himself; and whether the plates of Laban are included, we are not told, nor are we informed how they were disposed of. The plates, hereafter, are called the plates of Nephi, p. 21.
A little further, on the same page, he says he has a commandment from the Lord, to make plates for the special purpose of making a record of his own ministry, and of his own people.
Here our hero introduces himself as a minister, and as having the charge of a people -- he is in the wilderness destitute of any thing, nothing but tents and provisions, every thing was left behind, gold, silver, no metals or tools as a matter of course, but the command to make his plates is obeyed. We shall be compelled to institute a chapter of miracles in order to account for the manner of making brass plates in the wilderness, without tools or metals, and likewise to satisfy our readers upon many other points in our review. Miracles will account for any thing, however ridiculous, whenever our minds preponderate in favor of the subject to which the story may be attached. Any thing, however preponderous and false it may be, if believed to be of divine origin, needs no evidence, because nothing is impossible with Deity.
Lehi comes out with a marvelous prophecy, considering the period in which it is made; not so much on account of the prophecy as the language, in which he uses to express it. After the doctrine of the fall is explained, he speaks of the Messiah, and calls John by name, and quotes the words from Isaiah, or Matthew's gospel: "Prepare ye the way of the Lord: make his paths straight;" and continues, "for there standeth one among you, whom ye know not; and he is mightier than I, whom shoes' latchet I am not worthy to unloose." -- John 1, 26-27. Here is another miracle in choosing the exact language of King James' translation, more than two thousand years before it was arranged, and six hundred before the sentiment was uttered. The plan of redemption is explained at the same time, and the only way of salvation proclaimed; consequently the law was abrogated at that time, and the Nephites were christians. The prophets of the old testament, doubtless, had very clear views of the promised Messiah, and of the atonement through his blood. But that they preached the law, and felt themselves bound by it, we never entertained a doubt. In the wise dispensations of God, man was not to avail himself of the redeeming doctrines of the gospel, until the time was fully come, when Christ was to appear to fulfill the law, and offer mercy through grace. Christ must appear on earth -- die, and be raised from the dead, before all was fulfilled, as the sacred writers understood it, and taught the disciples, and the world of mankind. If it were possible for the plan of redemption to have been unfolded, without the actual appearance of Christ in the flesh, why did not the patriarchs with whom God made his covenants, and his promises, preach redemption through the atonement, instead of sacrifices and ceremonies? But we are informed by this same prophet Lehi, that "all mankind was in a lost, and in a fallen state; and ever would be, save they should rely on this Redeemer." p. 22. From the last paragraph, the author views the matter in the same light with us. that is, that the Christian religion was revealed and made known to the Nephites, six hundred years before the advent of Jesus Christ. Lehi speaks by the power of the Holy Ghost, which power he received by faith on the son of God. 'And the son of God was the Messiah.' Let us compare the above sentiments with the declarations and views of the inspired writers of the New Testament. "But when the comforter is come, whom I will send unto you from the father," &c. John XV, 26. From this we should infer, that the Holy Ghost was yet in anticipation, because he is promised; and to confirm our view of this subject, we will cite a few other passages. "It is expedient for you that I go away; for if I go not away the comforter will not come unto you," John XIV, 7. "And when he is come, he will reprove the world of sin, and of righteousness, and of judgment." John 16, 8. "But ye shall receive, after that the Holy Ghost has come upon you," Acts 1, 8. In the second chapter of the Acts, we find all the above promises fulfilled.
Lehi continues his preaching, speaks of John and of the Virgin Mary, and calls her the "mother of God," and declares the way to salvation, by Jesus Christ, through faith and repentance, p. 25. All the prophets of old, were far behind our Lehi, and they prophecied falsely too, if our book of Mormon is true, according to our appreciation of the doctrines which they taught. If any one can reconcile the contradictions and incongruities between the sacred writings and Lehi's prophecies, we should be gratified to hear it, and will be among the first to acknowledge our misconceptions and error. We are among the last who would be willing to vilify, and ridicule, any thing that is counted sacred, without the best evidence of its falsehood and imposition. We consider, and believe, the prophecies and doctrines of the Bible of divine origin, and any thing which contravenes its precepts, or its revelations, will be regarded by us as false.
Our hero, Nephi, next presents himself in the drama, as a dreamer and a prophet, and is more explicit as to particular incidents than his father. In his vision, he is made acquainted with all the particulars of our Savior's birth and life, to his baptism, which he witnesses, and sees the Holy Ghost descend in the form of a dove, and abide upon him. It is worthy of remark, that no circumstance is mentioned by Nephi, in relation to the life and ministry of our Savior, only what can be found in the New Testament. Very little is said by the evangelists of Jesus Christ, between the time of his birth and his entering upon the ministry. But we might expect some little incidents from such a revelation as the book of Mormon, which would throw some light upon that interesting subject, which is not to be found in the New Testament. It furnishes to us good evidence that the author was guided by the new Testament, when his low and licentious imagination conceived, and brought to light the "Book of Mormon." He could not, nor dared not, fabricate any thing, for fear of detection, which could not be found in the historical part of the sacred writings. But upon any thing which pertains to spiritual affairs, and is not susceptible of contradiction, only through the medium of reason, every license is taken by our author.
Nephi's vision gives us a poor account of the corruptions of the Roman church, showing that the author understood very little of church History. The name of Jesus Christ is mentioned on page 28, and of John, the apostle, page 35. Nephi's vision takes up about ten pages, from page 25, and gives, as his own views, a cursory account of the popular doctrines which have been agitated since the Reformation. To give credit to the pretence, that Nephi, living six hundred years before the christian era, could, or would, have had the name of Jesus and John revealed in preference to any other prophet, is repugnant to common sense, and in direct violence to the universal belief of those who have ever been distinguished for piety, and a critical knowledge of the holy Bible. Besides, we cannot reconcile a view of revealed truth, with a disquisition on Church schisms, such as we find in Nephi's vision. If the Book of Mormon is a revealed truth from God, we are compelled, irresistibly, to conclude, that Paul was mistaken when he said the twelve apostles of the Lamb, developed certain secrets which were hid from ages and generations, and were ordained before the world to their glory, that they should have the honor of announcing them. But our author pretends that Nephi, together with sundry other prophets which he has created, had the whole christian system developed to them, many centuries before the twelve apostles, of which Paul speaks, had the honor of announcing it, and preaching it to a set of Jews, who had been miraculously landed on, or near the Isthmus of Darien. Not only this, if we are to take the brass plate revelation for sacred truth, we must infer that there has been a great deficiency in the record of our Savior's mission, or that he did not exhibit his truths while here, as fully, and as clearly as he did to these Nephites, through their prophets; and consequently left the world in darkness, to grope their way in superstition and ignorance, until the mineral-rod necromancy of Joseph Smith, Jun. searching after Robert Kidd's money, which was buried in Manchester, Ontario county, New York, found the plates of Nephi, which had been buried there one thousand four hundred and twenty-eight years. How long he kept them, we are not informed; but they were taken from him, and hid up again by the Lord, so that no divination, nor legerdemain, will enable him to find them.
"And it came to pass," says Nephi, "that the voice of the Lord spake unto my father, and commanded him, that on the morrow he should take his journey into the wilderness. And it came to pass, that as my father arose in the morning, and went forth to the tent door, to his great astonishment he beheld upon the ground, a round ball of curious workmanship; and it was of fine brass. And within the ball were two spindles, and the one pointed the way whither we should go into the wilderness." Which way the other pointed, we are not told, but probably the way they should not go. If this ball was a compass, as we are hereafter told by the author, many improvements have been made upon that instrument, except in the construction of the negative spindle, since that time. But what is most ridiculous, is, that it was a fine brass ball, and yet the spindles could be seen to traverse in the inside of it. Perhaps Lehi had a stone which favored his vision, and enabled him to look into opaque bodies as well as into futurity.
The revealing stone, and the stone spectacles, will hereafter be described, which will account for many wonderful things. without searching into the chapter of miracles.
From page 39 to 42, is principally taken up in giving an account of eight year's travels, following the direction of one of the spindles through the wilderness. It traversed eastwardly and southeastwardly, bringing them all safely on the borders of the Red sea, with the exception of Ishmael, who dies in the mean time.
Nephi is now commanded by the Lord, to repair to the top of a mountain, where he sees a vision, in which he is informed that he must build a ship, and where he can find ore from which to manufacture tools. We are now presented with our hero in a new character, -- that of a ship-builder. So that in his youth he is a scholar, a historian, a worker of metals, a ship-carpenter, a prophet and a priest. It now seems that ore and tools are necessary, in order to construct a ship; but to make plates of brass, neither ore, tools, nor metals were essential. Six pages are next occupied in giving an account of quarrels between Nephi and his brethren. But Nephi, in the mean time, builds a ship contrary to the opinions of his brothers, and the rational inference is, that he makes his own tools out of ore, and builds the ship without assistance from any one. It requires some little stretch of credulity, to believe that Nephi done all the above work, such as making iron from ore, and converting it into steel, and then making the tools necessary to build a ship, without tools with which to do it. The manner in which he built the ship, he accounts for in the following language: -- "Now, I, Nephi, did not work the timbers after the manner of men, &c. but I did build it after the manner which the Lord did teach me," p. 47. -- How long he was in accomplishing this great work, we cannot learn; but if all was done by a miracle, as the author intimates, we can see no necessity for any interference on the part of Nephi, but give to him the glory who accomplished the work.
The patriarch Noah, had special directions for building the ark, the kind of wood, &c., and he built it after the model given him, and he had many years in which to accomplish it. And we have good reason to believe that the work was done in the same manner as other ships were built, and that he employed workmen to aid him in it. Nephi arrogates to himself a great preference with the Lord, over the patriarch Noah.
Lehi, and all his host, after the ship is completed by our hero, go on board, and immediately embark for the promised land. But the wicked dispositions of Laman and Lemuel would not allow the crew to remain in peace. A mutiny takes place on ship board, and our hero and admiral was taken and bound so tight that he could not move. But the Lord is represented as being on Nephi's side, and a remedy was at hand at once. The famous brass ball-compass ceased to traverse! "and they knew not whither to steer the ship, insomuch, that there arose a great storm, yea, a great and terrible tempest." We will leave the reader to draw the inference, whether the terrible storm arose from the abuse of Nephi, or, because the compass would not traverse! p. 48.
If the bare statement of a succession of miracles, such as have been recorded thus far in the Book of Mormon, unaccompanied by any testimony, or carrying with it any plausible probability of truth, entitles the work to the credit of Divine authenticity, we have already failed in our attempt to prove it a fiction. But we apprehend our readers will not receive the ridiculous story of Nephi, although it be clothed in the mantle of sanctity, without first instituting a critical enquiry and comparing the probabilities with the sacred truths of Holy Writ.
We might have mentioned, that Lehi had two sons born in the wilderness, after he departed from Jerusalem. The oldest was called Jacob, and the other Joseph; these two sons are somewhat important personages in the como-tragedy hereafter.
To return to our crew. Finding the compass would not traverse, they get frightened, and set Nephi at liberty; the magnet again operates -- the seas become calm -- and every thing quiet. Whether the ship had sails, or was propelled by oars, or by a current, or by the will, or by the power of the spindle, we cannot inform our readers, for it is not stated. But Nephi, or the author, says that they all landed safely on the promised land.
"And it came to pass, that we did find upon the land of promise, as we journeyed in the wilderness, that there were beasts in the forest of every kind, both the cow and the ox." p. 48. More miracles to substantiate the divine authenticity of the Book of Mormon. We had supposed that oxen were the result of a surgical operation upon bulls, changing their natures, in order to render them docile and useful to man; and nothing can be more ludicrous than to suppose the matchless power of the Almighty, had interfered with these animals in the wilderness, and caused the transformation of them as represented.
Nephi is again commanded to manufacture more plates to engrave upon, and in this land of promise materials are plenty. The art of making them without materials is probably lost. Gold, silver and copper ores are found, and no other mentioned, but brass plates can be made, doubtless, by Nephi out of gold, silver, and copper ores, as well as out of nothing, as he must have done before he navigated the tribe across the ocean. p. 50.
We are next presented with a recapitulation of the prophecies of Lehi, in relation to the coming of our Savior, together with a fictitious quotation from the prophecies conceived by our author, and brought forth in his own miserable, barren style. "To be lifted up according to the words of Zenoch, and to be crucified, according to the words of Neum, and to be buried in a sepulchre, and according to the words of Zenos, which he spake concerning the three days of darkness." Here we are presented with three new prophets, which were known to our hero, prophecying of the most important events which have ever transpired, or ever will. The last of which uttered a falsehood, he speaks of three days of darkness at the time of the crucifixion, p. 51. The evangelists in the New Testament, state, that there was a darkness over the land from the sixth to the ninth hour, varying from three hours to three days. Profane history, likewise, corroborates the statement made by the evangelists. If such prophets as Zenoch, Neum, and Zenos, had ever existed, would not there have been some trace left, or allusion made, either in sacred or profane writing respecting them! The known characteristic of the Jews, from time immemorial, is conclusive evidence that these prophets are fictitious characters. The Jews have ever been distinguished for their tenacity to their traditions and religion. They have ever held their prophets in the highest veneration, particularly those who spake clearly of the coming Messiah.
We are now relieved by the author, from the coarse style in which the book is written, by the introduction of the 48th and 49th chapters of Isaiah, in the approved translation. To contrast the sublime style of the inspired writer, with the insipid and tasteless diction of the author of the Book of Mormon, requires more ability than we possess.
C H A P T E R I V.
The marvelous always has something about it, to fascinate, however coarsely it may be clad; and fiction has its charms, and when combined and presented to the mind in the mantle of inspiration, it is not singular that the credulous and unsuspecting should be captivated. This propensity for the marvelous in the human mind, is constantly leading them into error and delusion, and to it the fabricators of the new revelation are indebted for their success.
Our moral faculties are always improved by embracing simple philosophical truths, and, in proportion as we reject them, we become depraved, and less capable of discriminating between falsehood and error. He who embraces falsehood and error, will sink deeper and deeper in the vortex of folly and madness; wild vagaries, apparitions, intercourse with the spirits of other worlds, and ten thousand other follies, will dance through his imagination in shapeless confusion. Realities are no longer a subject worthy his attention, but he is guided by the whims of his imagination, which he believes to be the breathing of the Holy spirit, and an internal revelation, and thus we find him enveloped in the fatal cords of fanaticism.
Our object is to unvail the deceptions, and impositions, which are now practiced by the leaders of a sect which are called Mormons, or, as they have recently christened themselves, "Latter day Saints;" and so place the Book, or Golden Bible, as it has been called, before the public, as to prevent any further deception. The subject of eternity is of infinite moment to all; and each individual has sufficient capacity to embrace truth instead of error, provided the due exercises of the faculties are instituted. Then, when any subject is presented to us in the garb of religion, we ought carefully to investigate it, and compare it with the standard which should be our rule of faith and practice. The divine authenticity of the Book of Mormon, is the question now before us. Is it presented to us accompanied with such conclusive testimony as entitles it to our implicit credit, and such as we should be willing to risk our eternal all upon? If any doubts hang over the subject, it is reasonable that a scrupulous search, and a critical enquiry be instituted by us.
Permit us to examine in what way the two above named chapters of Isaiah, became introduced in the modern version. The translation of King James is the one used. We believe the translation to be a correct one, and that the translators were guided by truth as far as human frailty would permit; but, at the same time, they were governed by the then existing rules of the English language, which now vary considerably. The rules which governed at the time of the translation was made, are so far lost, that we presume a new one made at this period under our present rules, would vary the diction and phraseology very considerably, but not the true sense. We suppose that the object of the sacred writings, is to convey a definite meaning to the reader in his own language, without regard to words or phrases, and, consequently, if we were to receive a translation from the hand of the Lord at this time, we might rationally expect that it would appear in our own language, and not in that of King James' time, any more than in that of William the Conqueror. It is a remarkable coincidence that the author of our book should be able to give us an exact copy of those two chapters, reading them in a stone placed in a hat! We are truly inclined to accuse him of plagiarism, not only from the above circumstance, but because he attributes the authorship of the whole book to the Lord; and we cannot see why, if he could dictate such grand and lofty sentiments to Isaiah, together with the unparalleled figures, he could not have maintained a style and diction through the rest of the Book of Mormon, that would have appeared decent, and been somewhat in the language of the present time. Again we remark, that the beginnings of the question commences with the chapter, and closes with the next chapter, which is, of itself, evidence that it was copied, because the division of the prophecies into chapters is both modern and arbitrary -- the original furnishes no such arrangement. Then it would have been natural for an ignorant plagiarist to have blundered into that method of copying. If the two chapters had have been inserted in the author's language, at the same time preserving the sense strictly, there would have been more plausibility, and the deception not so easily detected. But the ignorance of the author led him to suppose that the translation was the only one that could be made, and that the division into chapters was done by Isaiah himself.
Nephi is represented as a wonderful prophet. He could prophecy what would be said, in the precise sentences, six hundred years afterwards, and so arrange and punctuate it, that a translator, by means of a stone which was prepared fro that purpose, could, two thousand four hundred and thirty years afterwards, copy sentences which had been arranged about two hundred and twenty years previously, by a set of learned divines, assembled under the authority of James the first, king of England. There are no prophecies in the old Testament which compares with this; we deem it beyond the marvelous. In our examination of the prophecies in the old Testament, (which we suppose is not tantamount authority to the Golden Bible with a "latter day saint,") we are unable to find even an attempt made by the inspired authors to prophecy the doctrines of our Saviour, in the words in which he would utter them. Besides, the evangelists themselves, who heard the wonderful sayings as he spake them, choose their own manner of expressing it. Each had his own peculiar style, and penned the sentiments in their own way. Our Savior uttered many prophecies, but in all he said he never attempted to represent the diction and phraseology which would be used on a future occasion. But our hero, Nephi, is made by the author to far surpass the Savior.
We are next presented with something like a sermon, in which the prophecies of the old Testament, (which, we presume, the author had by him,) is the matter of discussion and explanation. The Arian doctrine is denied, of which he, Nephi, has a prophetic knowledge, and instructs his readers after the popular doctrines of the present day. No particular denomination is sustained, but partakers of many, from which we suppose they had no articles of faith yet established; but in the sequel they become Anabaptists. And thus ends the first "Book of Nephi."
The second Book of Nephi is introduced to the reader, by an attempt at a christian sermon, by Lehi, (Nephi having retired behind the curtain,) and in the course of his remarks, he makes several patriarchal promises to his sons; all conditioned upon a faithful and implicit obedience to the requirements and commands of Nephi. Lehi preaches repentance and remission of sins. He expounds the law as it relates to original sin, and settles many of the leading points which are subjects of disputation between different denominations at the present day, p. 72. We will again, for the benefit of our readers, quote a remarkable passage, which the bold blasphemer has presumed to insert in his book, as matter revealed to him, and as having been penned by Nephi, nearly six hundred years before it actually was!!! "And by the law no flesh is justified. Behold, he offereth himself a sacrifice for sin." "Which layeth down his life according to the flesh, and taketh it again by the power of the spirit, that he may bring to pass the resurrection of the dead, being the first that should rise." p. 63. --
There are a variety of sermons in this discourse taken from the new Testament, somewhat garbled and transposed, and so varied as to suit the views of the writer, in his fictitious tenets.
Lehi next addresses his son Joseph, who was born in the wilderness, and reminds him of the commandments of the Holy one of Israel, and intimates that he is born for some great purpose, "For behold thou art the fruit of my loins; and I am a descendant of Joseph, which was carried captive into Egypt. And great was the covenants of the Lord which he made unto Joseph; wherefore Joseph truly saw our day. And he obtained a promise of the Lord, that out of the fruit of his loins the Lord God would raise up a righteous branch unto the house of Israel. Not the Messiah," &c. He then goes on to explain the covenant, by representing himself, and his posterity, as the branch meant, to which the Messiah be made manifest in the latter days. We next have a question from the prophecies of Joseph. "Yea Joseph truly said, thus saith the Lord unto me: a choice seer will I raise up out of the fruit of thy loins. And unto him will I give a commandment," p. 66. "And thus prophecied Joseph, saying: -- Behold that Seer will the Lord bless; and they that seek to destroy him shall be confounded." Behold I am sure of the fulfilling of this promise. And his name shall be called after me, and it shall be after the name of his father. Yea, thus prophecied Joseph," -- p. 67. Here is the prophecy which settles the matter as to Joseph Smith, Jun. He is, doubtless, from the lineage of Lehi, the father of the Nephites and the Lamanites, and a descendant of Joseph. -- The Lamanites were all cursed by the Lord, and all marked and transformed into Indians. A curse was pronounced upon all who should ever mix with them. The Nephites warred with each other until they exterminated the whole race except three, who were immortalized. Whether the object of their immortality was to perpetuate the notable branch of Joseph by crim.con. we are left to conjecture. --
We are not aware that Joseph ever uttered the above remarkable sentences. He held the highest standing among his brethren, and if he had ever made them, we have no doubt full credit would have been given to his sayings, and they would have been preserved by the Jews, and handed down to the latest posterity among them, well authenticated. But, the fact is, the whole is a base forgery, and he who attempted to palm it off as truth upon a credulous community, cannot but receive the frowns and punishments of a just God.
Again, on the same page, "And the Lord said unto me, also, I will raise up unto the fruit of thy loins; and I will make for him a spokesman. And the spokesman of thy loins shall declare it." This prophecy of Joseph is also fulfilled to the letter, in the person of Sydney Rigdon; he is also from this same illegitimate race. It is true his name is not mentioned in the prophecy, but he fulfils the functions assigned him, are not the circumstances mentioned in the prophecy, pointing out so plainly these two persons, Joseph Smith, Jun, and Sydney Rigdon, who are the founders, and are still the leaders among Mormon fanatics, good grounds to infer that they were, at least, advisers, if not the authors, of the present form of the Book of Mormon?
If they did not originally compose the book, they might easily, at the time of amending and copying, alter and insert the patent of their commissions, in order to give validity to their undertaking.
Joseph Smith, Jun. was well skilled in legerdemain, and the use of the divining-rods, which afforded him great facilities in translating. He doubtless had become acquainted with mystifying every thing, and collected that class of people about him, who were willing dupes, and anxious devotees to the marvelous. To establish the truth of any pretension, however ridiculous and absurd it might be, required nothing but some little necromancy, and it would be received as of divine inspiration by them.
In the conclusion of the present chapter, Lehi bestows his last benediction. "And now, blessed art though Joseph. Behold thou art little." We think the mind of this little Joseph must have been quite precocious, to have comprehended the whole rigmarole which has been addressed to him. Not only this; Nephi must have had a very tenacious memory, or have been a stenographer, in addition to his great literary attainments, in order to have engraved the oration of his father. The boy being little, perhaps might account for the circumlocution, and tautology, in the whole speech, if the whole book was not written in precisely the same words and phrases. The old and new Testaments are written in an ancient and very perfect style, and there is no doubt that, at the time it was written, it was in all respects, the most finished, and complete production, into which our language was capable of being modeled. --
But many improvements, and innovations have been made in our vocabulary, since that period, which now renders the style, measurably obsolete. A translation from the original Greek, in our present improved language, would be desirable, and, if it could be accomplished, many scisms would be abandoned, and sectarianism would be greatly diminished.
We mention this, as an argument against the divine authenticity of the Book of Mormon. A few years have only elapsed, since the pretended translation of that work took place, and instead of its being given us in a chaste and clear style, it is the most miserable and barren of any thing we ever saw, in the form of a book. Would it not be reasonable to conclude, that any book, whose author was the Holy Ghost, would be clear and perfect in all its parts; so plain that the wayfaring man need not err? particularly if the translation and style be chosen and dictated by himself, as it is pretended that the book of Mormon was. But we are forbidden this test, otherwise the book would fall to the ground at once.
Nephi is the next person on the stage, and commences his harangue. He recapitulates his father's prophecies, and those of their ancestor, Joseph, in nearly the same language which Nephi used, and reminds the whole family of the promises in the covenant. Lehi is now old, and after he finishes his valedictory, gives up the ghost, and is buried, p. 69. The scene is now changed wholly. Nephi is the Major-domo. Laman, Lemuel, and the sons of Ishmael, rebel against his authority; and Nephi is warned of the Lord to flee into the wilderness. A little previous, after the death of Lehi, Nephi is disconsolate, and a long soliloquy is penned, or engraved, upon the brass plates, which is principally patched up from detached sentences taken from Psalms and Jeremiah, badly arranged. p. 70. -- The rebellion and civil war is so great, that Nephi comes to the rare conclusion, after receiving his special command, to take another journey into the wilderness! The promised land is not yet obtained, according to page 49, where it says, "we did arrive at the promised land." Whether the land of both Noah and South America was in the charter, or not, we cannot say, but a part is surrendered forthwith, which is never restored again, therefore it was not the promised land, or the Lord had broken his covenant.
"Wherefore it came to pass, that I, Nephi, did take my family, and also Zoram," (Zoram was a servant man of Laban's, whom Nephi and his brethren, decoyed from Jerusalem, at the time the renowned plates were obtained which contained the genealogy of Lehi,) "and Sam, and his elder brother, and his family, and Jacob, and Joseph, my younger brethren, and also my sisters, and all they which would go with me."
They journeyed through the wilderness, until they arrived at a place which they call Nephi, after their leader; those who were left behind, to wit: Laman and Lemuel, and their families, were afterwards called Lamanites, together with all their descendants, without distinction. Nephi instructs his people to manufacture swords, after the manner of the sword of Laban, to defend themselves against the Lamanites, p. 72. Nothing can be more ridiculous than to suppose it necessary to manufacture swords with which to defend themselves against the Lamanites, as there could not have been to exceed twenty adults, including both parties; for he says on the very next page, that thirty years only had passed away since they left Jerusalem, and five males constituted the whole at the onset. We will admit that five men were added; but Ishmael and Lehi are dead; and Jacob and Joseph are born, and but a short time since, Joseph is called little. But see what follows in immediate connexion with their removal, and previous to the time mentioned of thirty years having elapsed since the hegira of Lehi. "And I did teach my people that they "should work in all manner of wood, and of iron, and of copper, and of brass, and of steel, and of gold, and of precious ores, which were in great abundance, And I, Nephi, did build a temple, and I did construct it after the manner of the temple of Solomon, save it were not built of so many precious things. But the manner of the construction, was like unto the temple of Solomon, and the workmanship thereof was exceeding fine." All this was accomplished in the short time which remains after deducting eight or nine years previous to their embarking for the promised land, and the time they were located previous to Nephi's journey into the wilderness, where they now are with not more than twenty or thirty persons, including women and children. How much time remains from the thirty years which has not quite elapsed, we will leave for some Nephite, or Mormon, to determine. But this is not all -- there is still another incongruity. Nephi has just told us, that gold, silver, brass, steel, iron, copper, and precious ores, in great abundance, were found; and in the next sentence tells us, that he built a temple in all things like the temple of Solomon, "save it were not built of so many precious things, for they were not to be found upon the land." We know not the precious things that were in Solomon's temple, more than our book enumerates. Brass and steel are represented native. He was compelled to mix and form his own brass, -- steel he had none. If any can reconcile all these incongruities, and unscientific mistakes, which have been exhibited thus far in the book of Mormon, with revealed truths from Heaven, we know not what inconsistencies, and fooleries, could be instituted under a pretence of divine authenticity, that would not have its enthusiastic devotees.
C H A P T E R V.
If any man is curious to know the origin of the American Indian, he has it here. "That inasmuch, as they will not hearken unto thy words they shall be cut off from the presence of the Lord." This is prophecy that Nephi pretends to repeat as coming from the Lord, against all those who would not hearken to him as their ruler. Nephi describes the Lamanites as being very white, fair, and delightsome, and very enticing to his people. "Therefore the Lord God did cause a skin of black to come upon them." -- "And cursed shall be the seed of him that mixeth with their seed p. 75. The known habits and characteristics of the Indian, are briefly set forth, in order to satisfy the credulous inquirer. "And thirty years have passed away from the time we left Jerusalem." p. 73. Jacob and Joseph are now consecrated priests. It may not be improper to examine this subject of consecrating priests out of the families to which it belonged; and it will be recollected, that, according to the account given by the author, that neither Jacob nor Joseph were yet thirty years old. God made a covenant with the Jews at Sinai, and instituted three orders, the high priests, priests, and Levites. The high priesthood was made hereditary in the family of Aaron, and the first born of the eldest branch of that family, if he had no legal blemish, was the high priest. "Thou shalt appoint Aaron and his sons, and they shall wait on the priest's office, and the stranger that cometh nigh shall be put to death. -- Numb. chap. III, 10.
The priesthood was conferred upon the tribe of Levi, and the covenant gave them the office, and it was irrevocable while the temple stood, or until the Messiah came. "And the priests, the sons of Levi, shall come near, for them the Lord thy God hath chosen to minister unto him, and to bless in the name of the Lord, and by their word shall every controversy and every stroke be tried. -- Deut. XXI, 5. Korah, Dathan, and Abiram, with two hundred and fifty men of renown, rebelled against the institution of the priesthood, and the Lord destroyed them in the presence of the whole congregation. This was to be a memorial that no stranger invade any part of the office of priesthood, Numbers XIV, 40. Fourteen thousand seven hundred of the people were destroyed by a plague, for murmuring against this memorial. Even Paul declared, that Christ, while on earth, could not be a priest, for he descended from a tribe concerning which Moses spake nothing of priesthood. So fixed was this covenant in regard to the priesthood in Levi and of the high priesthood to Aaron, that even the Savior was excluded by the law!
Our author being ignorant on this subject, makes Lehi the offspring of Joseph, and represents him as "offering sacrifices and burnt offerings to the Lord," p. 15. And to cap the climax of absurdity, after preaching faith and repentance as the only way of salvation, from the very commencement of the campaign, Nephi tells us, "Notwithstanding we believe in Christ, we keep the law of Moses, and look with steadiness unto Christ until the law shall be fulfilled."!!! p. 105. In answer, to the above difficulty, into which the author has plunged himself, the priests say that Lehi's priesthood was of the order of Melchisedic. -- In what way the laws of Moses could be kept under a new order of priesthood, we cannot determine. Paul says "For that after the similitude of Melchisedic, there ariseth another priest, who is made, not after the law of a carnal commandment, but after the power of an endless life." Heb. VII, 13-16.
Here then the matter is set at rest, that a priest after the order of Melchisedec could not exist under the law, nor could such a priest offer sacrifices and burnt offerings, nor could the law of Moses, in any sense, be fulfilled without the three orders of priesthood. From what has been seen, the opinions of Paul, and the law of Moses, are at direct issue with the Book of Mormon.
Jacob and Joseph having been consecrated priests, they commence the duties of their holy office, with a few prefatory remarks, interlarded with quotations from the prophecies. p. 74.
The 50th and 51st chapters of Isaiah, is inserted at full length for our relief. Whether the quotation was made as a matter of necessity by the young priest, or as being appropriate, we cannot determine from the connection in which it stands.
The choice in the quotation is certainly a good one, and is a great relief to the reader. The sublimity of sentiment and poetic style of Isaiah, is truly captivating, and in what manner it became inserted, according to the diction and phraseology of King James' translators, is, with us, a mystery -- unless it was copied. Why not in the translation of J. Wicliffe, and J. de Travisa, of Tindal, and Cloverdale, of Luther, and of half a dozen others we might mention? Perhaps the author had not, while composing the Book of Mormon, any of the above copies; and he might not have known that any such translations were ever made.
After the accurate quotation from Isaiah, Joseph, who is now preaching, anticipates the apostle Paul in his own language, nearly, on the subject of the resurrection, baptism, and repentance, and many other leading points upon which he was so pre-eminent for his clearness of thought and doctrine. We should conclude from the manner in which the quotations are made, that it was done by the author from recollection, and that he had a tolerable knowledge of the gospel doctrine. The following are a few of the sentences quoted, or, as is pretended, that Joseph is the original author of, instead of the apostle, or the Savior. -- "They which are filthy, are filthy still," 'and they shall go away into everlasting fire,' p. 80. 'And he commandeth all men that they must repent.' 'And where there is no law given, there is no punishment, and where there is no punishment there is no condemnation.' p. 81.
There are a variety of other sentences in this sermon which are taken promiscuously from the Old and New Testaments. Who can be credulous enough to believe, that a preacher, five hundred and fifty years before the ministry of the Savior and his apostles, who taught the way of salvation, did preach and instruct not only the same principles, but the very words and phrases were used to convey the sentiments which are found in the evangelical writings?
Nephi next takes the stand, and testifies roundly to the truths which Joseph, his brother, had been preaching, and adds that they both had seen the Savior, and he had declared that he would send his word forth to the people of Nephi. "Wherefore, by the words of three, God hath said I will establish my word." Who the three are, here referred to, we cannot say. It may be Oliver Cowdery, David Whitmer, and Martin Harris, who are appended to the Book of Mormon, to establish its divine authenticity; and they may be the immortal three, selected out of the three American apostles. The chapter of miracles will reconcile all this. Nephi says "his soul delights in the words of Isaiah," and he says he will write some of them for the benefit of his people, that they may "rejoice for all men," p. 86. -- Thirteen chapters of Isaiah are then copied, commencing with the second chapter.
Nephi, after the quotation from Isaiah, comments upon it, and concludes by offering to prophecy a little plainer, so that all could understand him. The doctrines which are found in the new Testament, in relation to the coming Messiah, and his rejection by the Jews, is explained; a task not very difficult for any one in the nineteenth century. Nephi says it had been told him concerning the destruction which came upon those who remained in Jerusalem, immediately after his father had left it, and that they then were destroyed, and carried captive into Babylon, p. 103.
We have been told by our authors, a number of times, that Christ would make his appearance just six hundred years after Lehi left Jerusalem, and we have been told, likewise, that Lehi, and his family, travelled eight years about the borders of the Red sea, in the wilderness, after which time Nephi builds his ship. And between thirty and fifty-five years, after the crusade commenced, he tells the people that Jerusalem is destroyed, and the Jews carried captive into Babylon. According to history, and according to Jeremiah, in the ninth year of the reign of Zedekiah, in the tenth month, Nebuchadnezzar, King of Babylon, besieged Jerusalem, which was six hundred and six years before the christian era. Here we see the ignorant author has made too great a mistake, for, according to the Bible, Jerusalem must have been besieged six years before the pretended departure of Lehi from Jerusalem, and the city destroyed, and the Jews carried captive into Babylon, four years and six months, for the siege lasted only eighteen months. So much for dates, which are given by Mormon inspiration.
We will give for the benefit of our readers, a specimen of Mormon inspired language. "And behold it shall come to pass, after the Messiah hath risen from the dead, and hath manifested himself unto his people, unto as many as will believe on his name, behold Jerusalem shall be destroyed again; for woe unto them that fight against God and the people of his church, p. 104.
In the valedictory of Nephi, we have the doctrines of salvation through Jesus Christ preached, and about twenty pages of the book are taken up. A great many of the incidents which transpired in the days of our Savior, is prophetically mentioned, together with the reasons why it was necessary to baptize Christ, p. 108. We are likewise told, in the same discourse, that the plates, or book, would be sealed up, and should finally be found by an unlearned man, who should see them, and show them to three others, and then hide them again, for the use of the Lord. All this the Mormons believe that their prophet, Joseph Smith, Jr. translated, and as having been engraved by the hand of Nephi, on plates of brass, two thousand four hundred years ago! (when the plates were hid by Smith, but did not know where,) by means of a stone in a hat! Before Nephi concludes to die, he appoints a king over his people which they call second Nephi, p. 124.
The ignorance of the author, has caused the sceptre to depart from Judah, hundreds of years before Shiloh came. It must be recollected, that all their people were Jews, living under the law, to the fulfilling of it, and preaching the Gospel, baptism, and repentance, making priests out of those families, concerning which Moses spake nothing of priesthood, and kings, contrary to the blessings of Jacob, which he pronounced upon Judah.
Nephi prophecies that after the book of which he has spoken shall be found, and written unto the Gentiles, and afterwards sealed up again unto the Lord, many would believe and carry the tidings to the remnant of their seed, which is the Lamanites, or the aborigines, and that they were of the Jewish parentage, and that they had had the Gospel preached to them six hundred years before there was a gospel.
"And it came to pass, that the Jews which are scattered also shall begin to believe in Christ; and they shall begin to gather in upon the face of the land, and as many as shall believe in Christ, shall also become a delightsome people,' p. 117.
From the above prophecies, we may expect to see our Indians and the Jews flocking in, becoming Mormons, and the former laying aside their dark skins for white ones.
The prophecies continue, and inform us that at this time, the Lord will commence his work among all nations, kindreds, tongues, and people, in order to restore them; and that great divisions will take place among the people, and terrible anathemas are pronounced against those who will not become Mormons, and quotes Isaiah's poetic description of the commencement of the Millennium, p. 117.
The sin against the Holy Ghost is defined as follows" after repentance, baptism by water, and by fire, and by the Holy Ghost, and can speak with a new tongue, and with the tongue of angels, and then deny the Savior, the unpardonable sin is committed, p. 119. He tells the people he is not "mighty in writing like unto speaking," p. 121. For he says that he speaks by the power of the Holy Ghost. -- We know not what kind of a speaker he was, but we have a sample of the author's composition, and we should readily concur with him that the inspiration of God had no agency in the composition. The Evangelists both spoke and wrote by inspiration, as we believe; at all events we find no apology made by them for not being able to convey their ideas, for want of language. Our author finally closes his sermon by making his hero possess the keys of the kingdom of heaven, and as having the power to seal on earth, etc. p. 122.
C H A P T E R V.
We have thus far looked over the Book of Mormon, endeavoring to treat the sacred truths of the everlasting God, which have been profaned for one of the vilest of purposes, with the solemnity which it deserves; and to expose in a becoming manner, the falsehoods which have been interwoven for the purposes of fraud and deception. If the book had been presented to us, for our inspection, we should never have anticipated that a religious sect could ever have been established from its doctrines. We should have come to the conclusion that the author was a fearless infidel, and had attempted a ridicule upon the Holy Bible; and we still think that it is not improbable that the original design of the author was to bring down contempt upon the inspired writers, and the religion of Jesus Christ.
"THE BOOK OF JACOB THE BROTHER OF NEPHI."
Jacob commences his book fifty-five years after Lehi left Jerusalem, p. 123. Jacob says, the word of the Lord came unto him, saying, "Jacob, get thou up into the temple, on the morrow, and declare the word which I shall give thee, unto this people."
"And now behold, my brethren, this is the word which I declare unto you, that many of you have begun to search for gold, and for silver, and all manner of precious ores, in the which this land, which is a land of promise unto you, and to your seed, doth abound most plentifully. And the hand of Providence hath smiled upon you most pleasingly, that you have obtained many riches; and because that some of you have obtained more abundantly than that of your brethren, ye are lifted up in the pride of your hearts, and wear stiff necks and high heads, because of the costliness of your apparel, and persecute your brethren, because that ye suppose that ye are better than they." p. 126. Jacob received a special command from the Lord to get up into the temple and declare the above paragraph!!! There seems to be a prevailing passion in the writer to represent the Nephites as being great miners after the precious metals. They are often represented as diging and searching after gold and silver -- which will perhaps be an apology for Joseph Smith's early habits in searching after hidden treasures, he being a remnant of the Nephites. The love of gold among the Jews is proverbial; and it is a far more laudable method of obtaining it by diging after the deposits of pirates than by over reaching in commercial, or in other business transactions. There would seem but little prospect of obtaining pirate's money, either on the mountains, near the head waters of the Susquehannah, or in the town of Manchester, Ontario County, N. Y. But Don Quixote told his squire Sancho, that great fortune was very near when we least expected it; thus it was with Smith in diging after hidden treasures -- the famous brass plates, the gold spectacles and the interpreting stone were found, perhaps when he least expected it; and if the sword of Laban had been added, instead of being found by "Guy of Warwick," in England, some centuries ago, we have no doubt but the mob in Missouri would have been quiet before this time, or Gen. J. Smith would have slain the whole. A similar adventure will be noticed which can be found on page 271, Book of Mormon.
In the third discourse, which Jacob favors us with, he informs us that only a small part of his doings can be engraved on plates; and in the close of the second discourse, he says that a hundredth part of the doings of these people could not be engraved in plates on the account of their having become so very numerous, p. 129, and all sprang from five or six females, in about forty years; and in the mean time they had had wars and contentions, and the reigns of kings, the history of which is written upon larger plates, which are called the plates of Jacob, p. 129. According to the most extravagant calculation, in point of increase among five or six females, the whole could not have amounted to more than about sixteen hundred, in the time mentioned, allowing no deaths to have occurred; besides, about one half of that number would be under ten years old. The story of wars and contentions, and of kings having passed away, is too ridiculous and inconsistent to be noticed and refuted in a serious manner.
Jacob reminds the people of a parable which the prophet Zenos spoke, p. 131. In this parable, the author has no means of dissembling, there not being such a prophet nor such a parable, he is compelled to use his own phraseology, as he penned it.
The style of the Book of Mormon is sui generis, and whoever peruses it, will not have a doubt but that the whole was framed and written by the same individual hand. The phrases, "And it came to pass," is at the beginning of every paragraph, with a few exceptions, throughout all the original part of the work. "Behold," "Beholdest," "exceeding," "Thereof," "also," "giveth," are favorite phrases.
Let us compare a paragraph which the author pretends was spoken by the prophet Zenos, and repeated by Jacob, with one translated from the gold plates of Jared, about seven hundred years afterwards by the hand of Moroni.
The following are the words of the prophet Zenos:
"Ye shall clear away the branches which bring forth bitter fruit, according to the strength of the good and the size thereof; and ye shall not clear away the bad thereof, all at once, lest the roots thereof should be too strong for the graft and the graft thereof shall perish."
Seven hundred years afterwards, Moroni translated the following elegant description of the ships in which the Babelites navigated themselves across the ocean:
"And they were built after a manner that they were exceeding tight, even that they would hold water like unto a dish; and the bottom thereof was tight like unto a dish; and the sides thereof was tight like unto a dish; and the ends thereof were peaked; and the top thereof was tight like unto a dish; and the length thereof was the length of a tree, and the door thereof, when it was shut was tight like unto a dish," p. 512. We leave the intelligent reader to draw his own conclusions.
The parable of Zenos occupies about nine pages, and is followed by Jacob with an explanation, and a short Christian exhortation to his people. The last chapter of the book of Jacob is principally taken up in relating an anecdote about a man by the name of Sherem, who came and preached to the people, denying Christ; Jacob finally confounds him by the power of the Lord, which struck Sherem to the earth, p. 141. Jacob is now grown old, and he gives the plates of Nephi to his son Enos, together with the commands which Nephi gave to him. Enos promises obedience, and Jacob bids farewell to the reader, p. 143.
"THE BOOK OF ENOS." -- Enos commences with giving his father a good name, as any dutiful son would do, and then tells us of a mighty wrestle he had with the Lord before that he received a remission of his sins, he then exhorts the people to repentance and faith in Christ; he tells us he is a great prophet, but prophecies nothing. He says an hundred and seventy-nine years had passed away since Lehi left Jerusalem, p. 145.
"THE BOOK OF JAROM" is said to be written by Jarom the son of Enos, who is an engraver like all his predecessors in the priesthood; he tells us the plates are so small that he could engrave but little. About two pages in the Mormon translation is all, and delivers the plates to Omni, two hundred and thirty-eight years since the hegira of Lehi, p. 147.
"THE BOOK OF OMNI." -- Omni receives the plates from his father, who commands him to write a little to preserve the genealogy. Omni writes a couple of paragraphs, each commencing with, "And it came to pass," and confers the plates upon his son Amaron. Amaron writes a few sentences and delivers his plates to his brother Chemish. He follows the example in three or four sentences, and declares the plates genuine. Abinadom is the son of Chemish; he takes the plates by right, but declares he knows of no revelations, save what has been written, and says that is sufficient, p. 149. Amaleki is the son of Abinadom who takes the plates, and says he has something to say. A certain man, by the name of Mosiah was warned by the Lord to flee into the wilderness, with as many as would go with him. They all, with Mosiah for their leader, arrive at a place called Zarahemla, and bring with them the plates of brass, which pleased the people very much, because they contained the record of the Jews.
The people of Zarahemla, Mosiah discovered, came out from Jerusalem at the time of the Babylonish captivity, and had become very numerous. Their language had become degenerated so much that Mosiah could not understand them at all; but Mosiah causes them all to learn the language of the Nephites, and they make him king over the land, p. 149. Mosiah discovered upon a stone which was brought him with hieroglyphics engraved upon it, which he interpreted by the gift and power of God -- and it gave an account of another people, which escaped the confounding of languages at the tower of Babel, and of their destruction at the north. They were called the people of Coriantumr. Amaleki says he was born in the days of king Mosiah, and is acquainted with Benjamin, who is his son, and succeeds his father in the regal office, p. 150. Three or four more paragraphs, and the plates of Nephi are full. The plates were transferred to king Benjamin by Amaleki for safe keeping.
"THE WORDS OF MORMON." -- The scene is now changed by the author, and we are carried forward, "many hundred years after the coming of Christ." But the inspired historian, who is called Mormon, begins with his record at the precise period when Amaleki delivers the plates to king Benjamin. Mormon commences his history with a kind of preface, in which he mentions that king Benjamin fought great battles with the Lamanites, and says "he did fight with the strength of his own arm, with the sword of Laban," p. 152. We suppose the sword of Laban was probably a kind of keep-sake, and descended to their generals; and we are sorry to say that our Gen. Smith has not been favored with the possession of it. Such a specimen of antiquity, as a sword made 2400 years ago, which had slain so many in the hands of such renowned kings and prophets of God, would be a great curiosity.
Mormon is the author of the "Book of Mosiah." King Benjamin is the father of three sons whose names are called Mosiah, Helorum and Helaman, who were taught in the language of their fathers, p. 154, which was the Egyptian; thereby they were enabled to read the engravings upon the plates, p. 155. Lehi has been represented as a pious Jew, living in Jerusalem, and of the tribe of Joseph, who separated himself from the Jews, and departed into the wilderness, and never again associated with any community or nation of people, until king Mosiah found another settlement, who came off at the time of the Babylonish captivity, in the land of Zarahemla, who were likewise Jews. The sacred records of the Jews, and all their religious ceremonies in the temple, were in the Hebrew language; and it is well established that no other language was in use among that nation in Jerusalem, until the temple was destroyed. It may be true that Jews who were born and lived in other countries, spoke other languages. But the known hostility of the Egyptians towards every other nation, and particularly towards the Hebrews, renders it improbable that the Egyptians had sufficient intercourse with the Jews, so as to have them adopt their language and literature. The Jews have a religious veneration for the Hebrew tongue, which also furnishes a strong argument against the position that our pious Hebrews spoke the Egyptian language, and recorded their holy religion in it upon plates of brass, to be handed down to posterity.
After king Benjamin had finished the education of his sons, he "waxed old" -- and as it became necessary to confer the kingdom on some one, he caused Mosiah to come forth. He orders him to issue a proclamation that on the morrow he would preach in the temple, and proclaim Mosiah king, p. 154.
King Benjamin took care to give his sons charge as to the affairs of the kingdom: and handed down the old legacy, consisting of the sword of Laban, the brass ball or compass, and the records on brass plates, p. 155.
The people assemble, according to the request of King Benjamin, in great multitudes -- "And they took of the firstlings of their flocks, that they might offer sacrifices and burnt offerings, according to the law of Moses," p. 155.
In the sermon which king Benjamin is now preaching in the temple, where the people are offering sacrifice, we find the following sentences: "I am come unto you to declare the glad tidings of great joy," p. 160. "And he shall be called Jesus Christ, the Son of God, the Father of Heaven and Earth, the Creator of all things from the beginning, and his mother shall be called Mary, ii p. 160 -- for salvation cometh to none such, except it be through repentance and faith on the Lord Jesus Christ," p. 161. We are at a loss, inasmuch as it is not defined, what kind of a dispensation it was, to preach salvation through Christ and offer burnt offerings at the same time, according to the law of Moses, which they could not do agreeably to the law, not having legal priests to officiate. "And moreover I say unto you, that there shall be no other name given, nor other way nor means whereby salvation can come unto the children of men, only in and through the name of Christ, the Lord Omnipotent," p. 101. We cannot gather from any part of the sermon of Benjamin, any disapprobation of the ceremonial law, but infer that both the law of Moses and the gospel were binding upon them at one and the same time!!
The sermon is continued with many good doctrines extracted from the New Testament, with a pretense that it had been revealed to him by an angel.
The author doubtless had some knowledge of the revivals of religion, in the different churches; for he represents the whole congregation prostrated, crying for mercy through the atoning blood of Christ -- "For we believe in Jesus Christ the Son of God," p. 162. This would be judged, a priori, wonderful preaching, considering the period in which it took place, at least 300 years before the nativity of Christ.
Permit us to propound a few interrogatories to the reader, if he be a Mormon, or even has doubts in relation to the divine origin and authenticity of the new revelation: 1. When did God institute the ceremonial and moral laws? If upon Mount Sinai, [2.] when did it terminate, and in what? 3. For what purpose was those laws instituted? 4. If at the coming of the Savior, all the ceremonies of the law were done away, why were they in force among the Nephites as early as the gospel was made known to them, not relying upon the law and obedience to it, but upon the Gospel, six hundred years before the shepherds heard the glad tidings of great joy, which was unto all nations! except the Nephites, with whom the author pretends it was an old story.
Mosiah is the next king, and is son to king Benjamin: he is consecrated a priest. The king's and priest's office seems to be inseparably connected at this time among our ancients.
Mosiah's reign commences four hundred and seventy-six years from the time Lehi left Jerusalem. He despatches sixteen of his strong men to reconnoiter and search after another settlement of the Nephites which appears to be disconnected from the land of Zarahemla. They lose their way, not having been provided with the brass ball to direct them, and are taken prisoners by Limhi. After king Limhi ascertains that they are from the land of Zarahemla, he recounts to them his troubles, and represents himself as being under bondage to the Lamanites; and that one half of all their products were paid to them, annually, as a tribute. The prisoners are set at liberty; and plates containing their record, from the time they left the land of Zarahemla. -- Ammon, who is represented as captain of the scouts, reads the record upon the plates. After which, king Limhi asks him if he could interpret languages -- being answered in the negative, he commences a narrative of having sent out forty-three of his men in search of the land of Zarahemla; and that they all got lost, and after many days they returned -- having discovered a land that was covered with the bones of men and beasts! and was also covered with the ruins of buildings, having the appearance of being peopled as numerous as the hosts of Israel. As a testimony of the truth of their discovery, they brought home with them twenty-four plates of pure gold, containing a history of a people to which we have alluded, called the people of Jared, who were not confounded at the destruction of Babel. Ammon is again enquired of, whether he knows any one who can translate languages -- he answers in the affirmative, and says "for that he hath wherewith to look, and translate all records that are of ancient date: and it is a gift from God: and the things are called interpreters; and no man can look in them, except he be commanded" -- the king of Zarahemla is the man, p. 173. We will make no remark on the gold spectacles, but will leave the intelligent reader to infer whether the story and the manner in which it is told, comports with his views of divine revelation or not.
THE RECORD OF ZENIFF. -- Zeniff is the leader of a band of Nephites, who left the land of Zarahemla, and is the father of Noah, who is the father of Limhi the king, of whom we have been speaking.
Zeniff confers the kingdom upon his son Noah, whose people become wicked, and wars ensue between them and the "Lamanites, and they are mostly all destroyed; hence they become tributary, as above alluded to. About this time, a prophet makes his appearance, by the name of Abinadi. He attempts to imitate Isaiah in his prophecies, and quotes many passages from the Old Testament, which were pronounced against the Jews for their wickedness and rebellion, and foretelling the destruction of Jerusalem -- pretending that he is the author of the sentiments, and declares them against these Nephites, upbraiding them for their disobedience to the commands of Christ, and describes the awful calamities which shall follow, and concludes with the decalogue, p. 184.
The decalogue here inserted, is in our approved translation, like every thing else which is taken from the Old and New Testament. It is true that the pronoun which is used twice or three times, instead of that, consequently, we should infer that the quotation was made from recollection. The fact that so great a proportion of the whole book being made from quotations from the Bible, a part of which was not written until six hundred years after the pretended period of our author, places the matter beyond controversy, and is conclusive testimony that the author was an infidel.
The prophet Abinadi was somewhat expert in the sacred scriptures, and measurably understood the views of modern theologians; -- he says, "And now ye have said that salvation cometh by the law of Moses. I say unto you that it is expedient that keep the law of Moses as yet; but I say unto you, that the time shall come when it shall no more be expedient to keep the law of Moses," p. 185. The doctrines of salvation and the law, according to our prophet, were inseparably connected in their time, and both were indispensable to salvation. Whether the ceremonial and moral laws were both included by our prophet, we cannot determine; but to reconcile the idea that the ceremonial law which was typical of Christ, and was only obligatory until the gospel church was erected, with the literal obedience of it, by a community of people who had the gospel as fully revealed to them, as it was to the rest of mankind at any future period whatever, is a task beyond our abilities, so long as we view the writings of St. Paul as inspired of God. In immediate connection we are told that the Jews were a "stiff-necked people, quick to do iniquity" -- "therefore, there was a law given them, yea, a law of performances and ordinances, a law which they were to observe strictly" -- "But behold, I say unto you, that all these things were types of things to come," p. 185. We are next led into the doctrines of the New Testament; and are told of the coming of the Messiah, and of his doctrines and crucifixion, about as well as any tolerably well informed man, who made no pretensions to literature, would do at the present time, having the scripture before him.
In the following quotation, we have the views of our author on the resurrection -- "And if Christ had not risen from the dead or have broken the bonds of death, that the grave should have no victory, and that death should have no sting, there could have been no resurrection," p. 180. In this quotation the cloven foot is uncovered -- the deformity brought into open daylight. The prophet is represented by the author, as living some centuries before our Savior's nativity; but the slightest examination of the text quoted, will show the reader that the subject is spoken of in the imperfect tense, representing the event of the resurrection as past and finished, which was doubtless the truth, at the time it was written. The phrase, "if Christ had not risen" implies past time; again in the same sentence, "there could have been no resurrection," implies past time; but if the author had said, if Christ does not rise, &c. -- there will be no resurrection, we could have understood him, in reference to the time in which he represents his prophet speaking, to wit, some centuries before the great event of which he spake, took place, according to his own calendar.
The sagacity of our imposter has not been sufficient in all instances, to avoid detection. His deliberations were insufficient to supply the place of erudition, and consequently, he plunged himself into which renders the book in question, good evidence against itself, that it is a miserable forgery and a libel upon the Christian religion. We will venture to predict that if the golden bible should be rendered into intelligible English, there would not remain a single honest Mormon who should examine the book, (providing he possessed common capacity,) among "the latter day saints."
Alma is the next hero, who is represented as a descendant of Nephi, and having repented of his sins, commences preaching and repeating the prophecies of Abinadi, who had recently fallen a victim, by the hands of king Noah's priests. Our hero is more successful than his predecessor, as he succeeds in converting king Noah to the Christian faith, together with many of his subjects.
After their conversion, the ceremony of baptism is to be performed, and the manner in which it was accomplished, in the first exhibition, is somewhat unique. The priest with his disciple are represented as going down into the water, in the river Mormon, and at the same time the believer is buried in the water, he buries himself with him. We are not told whether it was accidental or intentional that they both were immersed at the same time, but we learn, in immediate connection, that the mode adopted at the present day by the anabaptists, was followed and practiced afterwards.
The gospel doctrines, according to the views of our author have, in his clumsy manner, been spread before us, beginning with the hegira of Lehi, pretending that the whole plan of redemption was exhibited by a special revelation to an apostate Jew, six hundred years before our Savior expressly declares the ceremonial law was abrogated and the gospel preached -- "The law and the prophets were until John: since that time the kingdom of God is preached, and every man presseth into it," Luke 16. We will leave the controversy whether the book of Mormon is true, on the subject of this special revelation, or the words of Jesus Christ, as recorded by the evangelist, to be determined at the great BAR of Justice.
The Book of Mosiah is continued by narrating the most ludicrous events, of wars and church schisms, imaginable, under the pontificate of our first immersed king, and the last one in our notable history.
Alma being warned by the Lord to flee his country, he gathers a large concourse of people, and they all start into the wilderness, and travel eight days where they pitch their tents, and afterwards build buildings. The sojourners with Alma endeavor to make him accept the royal sceptre, but he piously declines, and establishes a pontificate and builds a church, p. 203. Alma consecrates divers priests, and they were all just men, and they built a city and called it Helam; but in the midst of their prosperity and devotions, an army of the Lamanites appeared upon their borders, and they all fled, and finally arrived at the land of Zarahemla, under king Mosiah. The king receives the pilgrims with great kindness, and Alma is continued his high priest. He is authorized by the king to establish churches and ordain priests over them. Seven churches are forthwith built and dedicated to the Christian religion, in which, faith, repentance and baptism is preached by king Mosiah's priests, in its primitive purity. Alma has a son who has at this time arrived at manhood. (we should infer from this that he was not a Catholic Pontiff,) who persecutes the Christians, to their great annoyance. But the Lord would not suffer his Christian Jews to be persecuted; and therefore, in the full tide of his wicked career, he is converted, not very unlike that of Paul the Apostle, according to our narator, p. 213. The miracle of young Alma's conversion is described in the following language. An angel appeared unto Alma and said, "Go thy way, and seek to destroy the church no more, that their prayers may be answered" -- "And now Alma, and those that were with him, fell again to the earth, for great was their astonishment" &c. -- "And it came to pass, after they had fasted and prayed for the space of two days and two nights, the limbs of Alma receive their strength; and he stood up and began to speak," &c. and said, "I have repented of my sins, and have been redeemed of the Lord; behold I am born of the spirit."
Mosiah's sons are zealous Christians, all of them; they decline severally, the regal honors, and choose the humble station of missionaries. They consequently all embark with a view of christianizing the heathen. Mosiah suggests the propriety of abolishing the office of king among them, because his sons had all refused, and that if any other should be crowned over them, the rightful heir might return and claim the crown as his legal patrimony, which would create contention, &c. among the people, p. 217. -- King Mosiah's sons are represented as being extremely humble and devout, they are willing to abandon all for the cause of Christ -- home, country, and their princely fortunes -- and go missionating. But the eagle eye of the king looks upon his sons with suspicion, or the author of the Golden Bible is under the necessity of bringing up this kind of reasoning, in order to frame a pretence to change his government to one which will appear to the ignorant reader as much like the Jewish polity as possible. The reign of the Judges is next instituted, as answering the author best. Previously, however, we are presented with the following tirade of nonsense. Mosiah causes all records to be revised -- "therefore, he took the records which were engraven upon the plates of brass, and also upon the plates of Nephi; and all the things which he had kept and preserved according to the commandments of God, and after having translated and caused to be written upon the plates of gold which had been found by the people of Limhi, which was delivered to him by the hand of Limhi: and this he done because of the great anxiety of the people, for they were desirous beyond measure to know concerning those people which had been destroyed. And now he translated them by the means of two stones, which was fastened into the two rims of a bow. Now, things were prepared from the beginning, and were handed down from generation to generation, for the purpose of interpreting languages; and they have been kept and preserved by the hand of the Lord, that he should discover to every creature which should possess the land, the iniquities and the abominations of his people; and whosoever has these things, is called seer, after the manner of old times."
We were told by Lehi that the plates should not perish, nor be dimmed by time; but our king has found it necessary, not only to revise, but to transcribe them; so much for Mormon promises
Mosiah, after a long period, is enabled to translate the gold plates, by means of a pair of goggles, which he must have had in his possession from the time he was made king, because he says they had been kept with the plates from the beginning. It is certainly very remarkable that he should have kept in his possession a pile of gold plates, known to have been found by Limhi, for thirty years, with every facility for reading them, and yet never bestowed one leisure moment to examine their contents.
After the gold plates were examined, and were found to contain a full and complete history of a people who came from Asia, and which God had preserved at the time of the destruction of the tower of Babel, and navigated in a miraculous manner to this continent at that time, but now, or at the pretended period of our history, were totally extinct; he expresses great satisfaction at arriving to such important information!! In connection, we are promised a detailed account of these Babelites, by giving a translation of the plates in full. In the Book of Ether, which is placed at the end of the Book of Mormon, we shall see the wonderful translation, and make our remarks.
Mosiah reigned thirty-three years being sixty-three years old; and he died -- making the whole time since Lehi's departure from Jerusalem, five hundred and nine years, p. 221. Thus endeth the reign of the Mormon kings. Alma, of renowned conversion to the doctrines of the New Testament about an hundred years before it was published, is constituted Judge over the people of Zarahemla, and is also high priest over the church of Christ. He was the exclusive law-giver and umpire in all matters, both civil and ecclesiastical, and the most absolute monarch of which we have ever heard or read.
C H A P T E R V I.
A new era has now commenced: Judge Alma, the high priest, is an engraver, as a matter of course, and is represented as keeping his own record: he tell us that in the first year of his reign a man was brought before him who had been preaching and bearing down against the church, persuading the people that ministers ought to become popular, and that they ought not to labor, but ought to be supported -- "and he also testified unto the people that all mankind would be saved at the last day," p. 221.
The name of our ancient Universalist is called Nehor, and [he] is represented as quite successful in gaining proselytes. Gideon, an orthodox Nephite priest, meets Nehor, and a warm debate on Christianity ensues between them -- they are represented as able combatants -- but the Universalist finally gets angry, and he draws his sword upon pious Gideon and kills him, which was the occasion of his being arraigned before his honor, Judge Alma. The declaration includes two counts -- one of being guilty of priestcraft, and the other for attempting to enforce it by the sword. The murder of good old Gideon, was not set forth in the declaration, and therefore we suppose it was no crime to commit homicide in that early day, although it be a priest who is the victim. Nehor is, however, sentenced to die, as an example to those who might be guilty of the high crime of priestcraft, thereafter. But the sequel informs us that the ignominious death of Nehor, served no purpose in preventing priestcraft, and from that period the Nephites were greatly annoyed by impostors and preachers of the Devil.
The Book of Alma contains 204 pages and reaches down to the sixty-ninth year of the Judges, and is principally taken up in giving accounts of mighty wars and great generals. The civil, the military, and the ecclesiastical authority, were usually vested in the same individual; representing them as conducting the government much after the Mosaic polity. The miserable manner in which the story is told, renders it extremely irksome to the reader; but the knight errantry of Don Quixote bears no parallel, nor does the story of the Peloponnesian wars speak of such generals, nor of such brave achievements, as the book of Alma. -- Besides, in the sixty-nine years, many large cities were founded and built, fortifications were erected, military costumes of great splendor were manufactured and worn. -- Their implements of war consisted of swords, spears, scimitars, javelins, bows and arrows, slings, &c. We can see no propriety in the omission by the author of the use of guns and ammunition. We think it would have been as credible as most of the events of the narrative, and would have been matter for Mormon credulity and admiration.
A mint for coining money was probably in operation, for it is mentioned that they had an abundance of gold and silver, and they were used for money. The names of the gold coins senine, seon, shum, simnah, antion and shubloon, making in all, six varieties; their relative value is stated, but within our comprehension. Let the reader fancy for a moment that all these things are true, will he not enquire whether any of the coin which was so abundant, has ever been found. It is a well known fact that gold is not subject to oxidation, and is therefore indestructible -- and if such coin had ever existed, specimens would have been discovered among the ancient ruins of our country, which our present Mormons believe, on the authority of their high priest and golden bible, were the remains of the settlements of the Nephites. Copper and silver have often been found, (but not in the form of coin.) in the mounds on the Ohio River, and other places. The copper is usually in flat corroded plates, and the silver in the form of a ferule.
Next in order, comes the silver coin, which are called senum, amnor, ezrom and onti; their relative values are stated, but equally unintelligible with the former. Why has none of the silver coin been discovered? fifteen hundred or even two thousand years would not be sufficient to destroy a piece of silver the size and value of a dollar, lying in the ground or out of it, p. 252.
The doctrine of personal identity and of the resurrection is explained by our chief judge and high priest, which, if John Locke or the Bishop or Worcester had read, that great matter of controversy between them would have been avoided, and they would both have been satisfied of their error. Just hear him -- "The spirit and the body shall be raised again, in its perfect form; both limb and joint shall be restored to its proper frame, even as we now are at this time; and we shall be brought before God, knowing even as we know, and have a bright recollection of all our guilt -- and be arraigned before the bar of Christ the Son of God the Father, and the Holy Spirit which is one Eternal God, to be judged according to their works whether they be good or whether they be evil." If the Bishop of Worcester had been in possession of the above paragraph, he would probably not have suffered such a disgraceful defeat as he did in the controversy with Dr, Locke; nor would the learned divines of Harvard University spread heresy any longer.
The civil, military and ecclesiastical departments of the government being incorporated and concentrated in the supreme power of our hero and historian -- no movement can be detailed, either of the one or of the other, without including the whole. If a military campaign is the subject matter of any story in the book of Mormon, civil and ecclesiastical rites and ceremonies are inseparably connected, as best suits the author's views, to aid him out of difficulties. When any religious matter is interlarded, in a particular narrative of any event, which is usually the case throughout the whole book, they are the opinions of the author concerning the doctrines, together with garbled extracts from the New Testament.
We have been in the habit of viewing human nature in a state of moral depravity, but not wholly without some redeeming qualities -- not such, indeed, as would justify any one before the all-searching scrutiny of an Omnipotent God, but such as constitute a social being. But the contents of the work before us presents the author, and consequently human nature, in an entirely new light. We could not have believed that any man would have attempted to have prostituted every moral virtue which wisdom and ages have established. If the Bible is a fabrication and a forgery, it is the foundation upon which our rights, our civil privileges, our personal safety, and in fine the whole of human happiness are based. If any one denies this position, let him examine those countries where they have not the Bible, or even communities where it is disregarded, and we will venture to predict that his opinion will be with ours. We have carefully examined the works of Hume, Gibbon, Voltaire and Volney, and with all their sarcasm against the divine authority of the Bible, they have addressed themselves to the most noble and learned of the human family; they left the field covered with rubbish, it is true, but of such materials as soon evaporated to the four winds.
But the work before us -- which is doubtless, not only an attempt to institute a new religion, but to bring contempt and reproach upon Christianity -- is fabricated upon the pretension of inspiration, and is placed at an era which denies all research. If a history or a doctrine be known to have been revealed from God, the subject matter is not to be questioned, however improbable it may appear; consequently, whenever the fact is established in the mind that the Book of Mormon is true, the victory is gained, and whatever fictions, absurdities, contradictions or doctrines it may contain, they will be received as unerring as Deity himself.
In our review, we are left without weapons to combat the credulous Mormon believer; but we trust that to any man who is not a Mormon maniac, who has not inhaled the malaria of the imposter, enough has been said to place the matter beyond the shadow of a doubt, that the Book of Mormon is a fabrication, and that the author has addressed the work to the lowest of our passions. No one but the vilest wretch on earth, disregarding all that is sacred, intrepid and fearless of eternity, would ever dared to have profaned the sacred oracles of truth to such base purposes.
We have not yet done -- the task, however loathsome, shall be honestly pursued, and placed before the reader.
Above, we have seen that the doctrine of Universalism was preached by Nehor, for which he was put to death. -- The next sect was a kind of Episcopalians, who were also heretics -- who "gathered themselves together on one day of the week, which day was called the day of the Lord -- and they had a place which was high and lifted up, which held but one man, who read prayers, the same prayers every week, and this high place was called Rameumptom, which being interpreted is the holy stand, p. 311. The Episcopalians and Universalists can claim, on Mormon authority, great antiquity for their orders, at least fifty years before the gospel dispensation.
To amuse the reader, we will narrate an event which is found on page 271. One Ammon, a gospel missionary, who had previously devoted himself to the missionary cause, went among the Lamanites to preach baptism, repentance, and the remission of sins, through Jesus Christ. The servants of king Lamoni of the Lamanites, took Ammon prisoner and brought him before the king, who being rather pleased with his sober honest deportment took him into his service. The king's servants, together with Ammon, were sent to water the flocks at some distance. On their way they were met by another party of Lamanites, who sought a quarrel by scattering the king's flocks -- a loss of any one of the cattle was punished by death. This circumstance presented a fine opportunity for Ammon to distinguish his knight errantry; for he was a brave knight, as well as a priest. The servants of the king were greatly frightened, as they might well be, in consequence of the severe penalty, in case any of the flock should be lost, which would unavoidably be executed. But Ammon seized upon this favorable opportunity, and said to the other servants, "encircle the flocks round about, that they flee not; and I go and contend with these men which do so scatter our flocks -- Ammon stood forth and began to cast stones at them with his sling; yea, with mighty power he did sling stones amongst them; and thus he slew a certain number of them, insomuch that they began to be astonished at his power; nevertheless they were angry because of the slain of their brethren, and they determined that he should fall; therefore, seeing that they could not hit him with their stones, they came forth with their clubs to slay him. But behold, every man that lifted his club to smite Ammon, he smote off their arms with his sword, insomuch that they began to be astonished, and began to flee before him; yea, they were not a few in number; and he caused them to flee by the strength of his arm. Now six of them had fallen by the sling, but he slew none, save it were their leaders; and he smote off as many of their arms as was lifted against him, and they were not a few." In this Don Quixote adventure, there are two important circumstances worthy of our consideration and investigation, to wit: that this horde of Lamanites should be astonished twice, inasmuch as Ammon only killed six and cut off the arms of, perhaps, not more than twenty!! And the other is, that they got angry because Ammon slew a few of them. Ammon certainly showed great forbearance, for he only killed their captains and leaders, and punished the rest by simply loping off a few of their arms. The result shows us that the battle was very unequal, much more so than the conflict between Sampson and the Philistines; for Sampson had no sword, but our hero not only had a sword, (which afterwards fell into the hands of Guy of Warwick,) but he doubtless understood the scientific use of it. Missionaries in those days wore swords, and for aught we know the chapeaux des bras. We are ready to give full credit to the whole account, provided it can be proven that those Lamanites got angry once and were astonished twice -- those circumstances seem improbable on so slight an occasion.
Chief Justice Alma has three sons, viz: Helaman, Shiblon and Corianton -- towards the end of his career, three commandments, one for each son, were written, each in separate chapters. We should view them rather as patriarchal valedictories, if they were not headed commandments.
To Helaman he commits the plates of Nephi, or the records, as he calls them, which he says shall be preserved by the hand of the Lord, and shall go forth into every nation, kindred and tongue, p. 326.
We are presented with another method of translating the plates -- possibly the spectacles may get lost, or they may not suit the eyes of all. "And the Lord said, I will prepare unto my servant Gazelam, a stone, which shall shine forth in darkness unto light, that I may discover unto my people which serve me, that I may discover unto them the works of their brethren; yea, their secret works, their works of darkness and abominations," p. 328.
Now, whether the two methods for translating, one by a pair of stone spectacles "set in the rims of a bow," and the other by one stone, were provided against accident, we cannot determine -- perhaps they were limited in their appropriate uses -- at all events the plan meets our approbation.
We are informed that Smith used a stone in a hat, for the purpose of translating the plates. The spectacles and plates were found together, but were taken from him and hid up again before he had translated one word, and he has never seen them since -- this is Smith's own story. Let us ask, what use have the plates been or the spectacles, so long as they have in no sense been used? or what does the testimony of Martin Harris, Oliver Cowdery and David Whitmer amount to? They solemnly swear that they saw the plates, and that an angel showed them, and the engravings which were upon them. But if the plates were hid by the angel so that they have not been seen since, how do these witnesses know that when Smith translated out of a hat, with a peep-stone, that the contents of the plates were repeated and written down? Neither of the witnesses pretend that they could read the hieroglyphics with or without the stone; and, therefore, are not competent testimony -- nor can we see any use, either in finding the plates or the spectacles, nor of the exhibition of them.
The notable ball is committed to the charge of Helaman, by the right of the law of primogeniture, with the following descriptive and pathetic remarks from his father -- "And now my son, I have somewhat to say concerning the thing which our fathers call a ball or director, or our fathers called it Liahona, which is, being interpreted, a compass: and the Lord prepared it." The sons of Alma were all priests, and were called missionaries, because they devoted their time to traveling and preaching among the heathen, declaring unto them the glad tidings of great joy. Alma now prophecies of the destruction of the Nephites; he says, that four hundred years after the coming of Christ they will entirely lose their religion, p. 348.
The following extraordinary doctrines were preached in the days of the Judges; and believers were called Christians, and "baptism unto repentance" was declared the only door of salvation. "And it came to pass that they did appoint priests and teachers throughout all the land, over all the churches, p. 349. "And those who did belong to the church were faithful; yea, all those who were true believers in Christ took upon them gladly the name of Christ or Christians, as they were called, because of their belief in Christ," p. 301. "And it came to pass that there were many who died, firmly believing that their souls were redeemed by the Lord Jesus Christ: thus they went out of the world rejoicing," p. 353. The word was preached by Helaman, Shiblon, Corianton, Ammon, and his brethren, &c. "yea, and all those who had been ordained by the holy order of God, being baptised unto repentance," (John's baptism) "and sent forth to preach unto the people," p. 362. "And that great and last sacrifice will be the son of God; yea, infinite and eternal; and thus he shall bring salvation to all those who believe on his name; this being the intent of this last sacrifice, to bring about the bowels of mercy, which overpowereth justice and bringeth about means unto men that they may have faith and repentance, p. 320.
It will be remembered that the author pretends that the above doctrines were preached from about fifty to an hundred years before Christ's nativity. The clumsy manner in which the above quotations are written, cannot be attributed to the veil which hangs over the spirit of prophecy, for the doctrines are as distinctly explained as the same author can do it at this time, unless he has, since writing the Book of Mormon, undergone a classical drilling, which is far from probable.
Moroni is the next important personage in the drama; he is represented as master of all the modern military tactics, according to the record of Helaman, and is now the scribe of all the important matters that are passing; but not the author yet of a book.
Moroni, who now commands all the forces of the Nephites against the Lamanites, is represented as conducting the war with great skill, and the number which was slain in the battles surpasses any other account in the annals of history. The prowess of Gen. Moroni is only equaled by Ammon in his battle with the Lamanites, where he killed six and cut off the arms of "not a few."
In the thirty-sixth year of the reign of the Judges, Helaman dies, and delivers the old legacy over to Shiblon, which consisted of the brass plates, gold plates, the compass, the big sword, the stone spectacles and the peep-stone, all sacred relics!! In the thirty-sixth year, Moroni dies, after having in a pious manner killed hundreds of thousands of the heathen.
At about the conclusion of the Book of Alma, one Hagoth is ushered on the stage as and old ship carpenter -- "And it came to pass, that Hagoth, he being an exceeding curious man, therefore he went forth and built him an exceeding large ship, on the borders of the land Bountiful, by the land Desolation, and launched it forth into the West Sea, by the narrow neck which led into the land northward. -- Query -- did John Bunyan, when writing his Pilgrim's Progress, pilfer terms from the Book of Mormon, or had the author of our new revelation become familiar with the words Bountiful and Desolation by reading that eccentric but excellent production?
The ship which Hagoth built, was large and commodious for passengers. Many are said to have embarked in this ship for other countries northward, and our ship carpenter built a great many more within the term of two years! -- This furnishes the credulous Mormon with a plausible account of the first inhabitants upon the Islands in the Pacific Ocean, and of those west of the Rocky mountains.
The sacred legacy, consisting of the plates and the peepstone, is next conferred upon Helaman, the son of Helaman, which ends the account of Alma, and his sons Shiblon and Helaman, p. 406.
C H A P T E R V I I.
THE BOOK OF HELAMAN. -- Helaman, the son of Helaman, is the next writer of a book, which commences with the fortieth year of the reign of the Judges and reaches down to the ninetieth, and is the year preceding the nativity of Jesus Christ.
In the commencement of this book, we are presented with the account of mighty wars and battles, with great slaughter -- next, with multitudes of holy prophets, prophecying of the coming of the Messiah. Thousands were baptised unto repentance and for the remission of sins. "And the Holy Spirit of God did come down from heaven, and did enter into their hearts, and they were filled as with fire, and they could speak forth marvelous words," p. 421. Freemasonry is here introduced and is said to have originated with a band of highwaymen. This institution is spoken of in very reproachful terms, in consequence of the members having bound themselves by secret oaths to protect each other in all things from the justice of the law. The Nephites are represented as being Anti-masons and Christians, which carries with it some evidence that the writer foresaw the politics of New York in 1828-29, or that work was revised at or about that time.
Nephi, who is the son of Helaman, now receives the sacred charge of keeping the plates, &c. together with the power of loosing and sealing in Heaven, and the gift of working miracles. He invokes a famine, which follows, as a matter in course, in order to bring the people to the remembrance of their religion. The distress and suffering occasioned by the famine is beyond description, without the aid of Mormon inspiration.
The Nephites, notwithstanding all their wars and difficulties, were not idle -- they made progress in the sciences: their arts were not confined to the building of temples, houses and large ships, &c., but they understood astronomy, of which any one will be convinced after reading the following elegant extract: "If he saith unto the earth thou shalt go back that it lengthen out the day for many hours, and it is done; and thus according to his word the earth goeth back, and it appeareth unto men that the sun standeth still; yea, and behold, this is so; for sure it is the earth that moveth, and not the sun." If the prophet Elijah had taken the same precaution when he commanded the sun to stand still, and explained it in such a clear and astronomical manner as did our Nephite prophet, the infidel caviling of Hume, Gibbon, and others, would doubtless have been avoided upon the subject of that miracle. But we perceive that the prophets of the Old Testament were of the minor class or were only satellites, when compared to an inspired Nephite.
The events of our history are growing more and more important -- the heathen or the Lamanites send forth a prophet, (in what way it is brought about after all their curses we cannot see, but such is the fact) among the Christians: his name is Samuel, and he foretells the coming of Christ, and says the night before he will be born, will be as light as day, but in order that the people may distinguish the two periods of time, they shall see the sun rise and set, but the light would not be extinguished but remain as bright as day all night, p. 445. The crucifixion and death of our Savior is also foretold and described in the following poetic style: "The sun shall be darkened and refuse to give light unto you; and also the moon and stars; and there shall be no light upon the face of this land, for the space of three days," and he adds that great earthquakes and convulsions, hills and mountains shall be leveled, and valleys shall become mountains; and divers atmospherical phenomena, such as thunder and lightning, tempests, &c. will take place, p. 446-7.
Samuel likewise prophecies of the restoration of the Lamanites, to the true religion of the Redeemer, and that they finally would be numbered among his sheep. Samuel is persecuted as usual among the Nephites, by the infidels, but he is represented as having so much of the spirit of God, that he was invulnerable to their missiles and other weapons.
"THE BOOK OF NEPHI, the Son of Nephi, which was the son of Helaman," p. 452. -- The great and notable year has at length arrived, "and it was six hundred years from the time that Lehi left Jerusalem." This is the year in which the Savior must be born, and the event is consequently brought about by our author, accordingly. During this year the infidels rallied all their forces, and towards the close they had rejoicings and festivities because they fancied that Samuel had prophecied falsely. They not only rejoiced, but sent forth threatenings against the Christians! But Nephi prayed to God for protection, who informed him that the time was at hand, that, that very night the sign should be given -- and lo! the sun set, and the brightness of the day continued, to the discomfiture and confounding of the infidels. A star appeared, which every body saw even in the bright light of day. By what kind of vision it could be seen, we cannot conjecture, unless through the medium of those huge magic spectacles. The power of seeing stars in a bright light day was never heard of previous, nor since that time, unless through the medium of optical instruments; but whether the spectacles were used, or whether the star was as large and as bright as the sun, we cannot determine.
We have heretofore mentioned that free-masonry originated with a band of robbers, and at the present period of our history, that class of men are the most formidable foes of the Nephites. They inhabited the mountains and lurked in secret caverns of the rocks, and could not be ferreted out. The only safe-guard which the Nephites possessed, was, to appoint such men as were filled with the spirit of prophecy and revelation for their chief captains and generals; and by this means they could not be surprised and destroyed by the mountain robbers.
We do not object to this mode of making rulers over the people; but we cannot see why, when God appointed and anointed Joseph Smith his high priest on earth, and ruler over his people, he did not give him sufficient prophetic knowledge so that he might have avoided the disturbances in Missouri and his own tom fool's errand, together with about three hundred deluded followers, to reinstate the disinherited from the "promised land"?
Mighty battles are fought between the Nephites and their mountain enemies, but the former are always successful, on account of their inspired rulers and generals. "And thus they did put an end to all those wicked, and secret, and abominable combinations, in the which there were so much wickedness, and so many murders committed," p. 463.
The writer says his name is Mormon, and is a "pure descendant of Lehi," p. 464. He assures us that his record is true, but complains of the impoverished condition of their language, and that many things cannot be written in consequence of it. This is the first instance of any complaint that we have ever met with, where an inspired writer could not convey divine history, for want of language. In this case, the Almighty is represented as forestalling himself by undertaking to make a history of important events without language, through the medium of a brass plate engraver. -- Preposterous!!
In the thirty-fourth year of the reign of the Judges, Samuel's prophecies are realized. A great and terrible tempest is described, which lasted three hours; thunder and lightning, such as were never before witnesses. The great city of Zarahemla took fire, and the city of Moroni sunk in the depths of the sea, cities which were in vallies were destroyed & their location became mountains, the rocks were split asunder and the face of the whole earth became "deformed," p. 470-1.
After the terrible tempest, then came on darkness, which was so intense that it could be felt -- candles, nor torches, nor fires, however dry the fuel, would not give the least scintillation of light -- all was darkness; "the sun, nor the moon, nor the stars," were any more useful. In this terrible period, sixteen cities were destroyed, together with their inhabitants; some were burned, and others sunk into the depths of the sea!! p. 471-2.
The troubles of the Nephites and the destruction at this time, is represented by our author as surpassing all other events, and even if the description was truth, we should not differ with him in the least. But let us see how it compares with the words of our Savior, as recorded in St. Matthew's gospel -- "For there shall be great tribulation, such as was not, nor ever shall be." Here our blasphemer is at direct issue with the Son of God.
After the description of the great signs which were seen and heard during the three days of darkness and trouble, the people gather themselves in a great multitude about the temple, which was situate in the land Bountiful, and were expressing their astonishment of the past events, and conversing about Jesus Christ, when they heard a voice from heaven, which "caused their hearts to burn" -- they cast their eyes toward Heaven, and they saw a man descend, clothed in a white robe. Fear came upon all for they thought it was an angel. The whole multitude are called upon to thrust their hands into his side and examine the points of the nails, and they did so, one by one, which satisfied them that it was the Son of God. After having authorized Nephi and a number of others to baptize, the Savior issues the following explicit command in relation to receiving members into the church: "Behold, ye shall go down and stand in the water, and in my name shall ye baptise them. And now behold, these are the words which ye shall say, calling them by name, saying -- Having authority given me by Jesus Christ, I baptize you in the name of the Father, the Son, and of the Holy Ghost, Amen. And then shall ye immerse them in the water, and come forth again out of the water." It seems to us that the instructions here given are wholly gratuitous, for this mode, precisely, has already been practiced by the Nephites, for about four hundred years, or since King Noah was baptized, in the river Mormon.
The number which were authorized to administer and preach, were twelve, which were afterwards called apostles. After every thing is organized the beatitudes are repeated to them in a translation corresponding with that found in the 5th Chap. of St. Matthew's Gospel, together with the sermon on the mount, somewhat transposed, but the variations are inconsiderable. The Savior is represented as continuing to address the multitude with almost precisely the same sentences which are recorded by the evangelists, somewhat picked up, and not very judiciously arranged.
The preaching is finally finished, and Christ departs into Heaven, and we are then presented with apostolic writing, from which we extract the following beautiful, descriptive sentence: "And after this manner do they bear records; the eye hath never seen, neither hath the ear heard before, so great and marvelous things as we saw and heard Jesus speak unto the Father; and no tongue can speak, neither can the hearts of men conceive so great and marvelous things as we both saw and heard Jesus speak; and no one can conceive of the joy which filled our souls at the same time we heard him pray for us unto the Father." p. 489.
The only additional commandments which were given to the American apostles on this special visit of the Savior, were -- "Pray in your families unto the Father, always in my name, that your wives and your children may be blessed" -- "meet often, and forbid no man from coming unto you, when you shall meet together," p. 492.
Nephi, our present hero, was the archbishop -- he baptized himself, and then baptized the eleven, whose names were Timothy, Jonas, Mathoni, Mathonihah, Kumen, Kumenonhi, Jeremiah, Shemnon, Jonas, Zedekiah, and Isaiah -- "They were baptized with fire and the Holy Ghost." -- Many marvelous sayings are represented to have been uttered, but not one of them could either be spoken or written, although he spoke for many days!!
The plates of Nephi were critically examined, and only one omission could be found which was, that no mention was made of the resurrection of the saints which were raised in America at the time of the great tempest, who were very numerous!!
"THE BOOK OF NEPHI, THE SON OF NEPHI." -- This book includes only four pages, and contains the whole history of three hundred and twenty years after Christ. -- Events appear to be unimportant, or otherwise they are of that character which cannot be written nor spoken.
In the thirty-sixth year, all the inhabitants of the land were converted and baptized, and a perfect community of peace was the result. This condition of Millennial happiness, continued for one hundred and seventy years. Three of the apostles were immortalized and were seen four hundred years after their induction into the sacred office by the Savior. Where they are at this time, has not been revealed, but it is conjectured by some that the three witnesses appended to the Book of Mormon, to establish the truth of the brass-plate revelation, are the identical immortal three.
We cannot be dismissed by our author until we are told that sectarianism commenced among the Christians, which terminated in wars and bloodshed, and almost a total extinction of vital religion, which happened in the year, A.D. 320.
All the events, from the time when Amaleki delivered the plates to king Benjamin up to the present period of our history, have been written by Mormon, who is the recording angel of the whole matter. And he now keeps the record under his own observation; and commences a book in the following sublime language; "And now I, Mormon, make a record of the things which I have both seen and heard, and call it the Book of Mormon." We have never read of so great a general, nor so great a Christian as was our hero Mormon. He commanded in one engagement against the Lamanites, 42,000 men, all with splendid equipage, and under complete martial discipline. The terrible battle was fought, and Mormon came off victorious, as a matter of course, A.D. 330.
A definitive treaty was concluded, after the great battle between the two hostile powers; and the Lamanites took South America and the Nephites North America; there being only a small remnant left of either side. Mormon exhorts the people to obey the commands of Christ, and laments over the slain, and represents that thousands of females had fallen in the great battle, p. 530.
Moroni is the next on the stage, and finishes what his father left undone, and continues the history down to A.D. 400. He complains that the plates are so small, (the art of manufacturing the sacred brass leaves we suppose is lost) he is obliged to make the record in "Reformed Egyptian," otherwise he would have written or engraved the whole matter in Hebrew. The whole record "being handed down and altered according to our manner of speech," p. 538. -- He says that no one shall disbelieve his record, because of its imperfections! and declares that all who receive it, will not condemn it for that reason, and promises to those who believe, not doubting, shall know far greater things, p. 532. "He that condemneth it shall be in danger of hell fire." We are told by Moroni, in a lamentable manner, that Free-masonry will be very prevalent in the days that the unlearned man shall find the plates; and establishes the doctrine that miracles will never cease unless it be through unbelief.
Previous to baptism each applicant must relate his religious experience, as being a duty and satisfaction to the church, and be sure not to partake of the sacrament unworthily.
THE "BOOK OF ETHER," which commences, "And now I, Moroni, proceed to give an account of the ancient inhabitants which were destroyed by the hand of the Lord, upon the face of this north country." The privilege of recording the great events of the people of Jared, has been reserved for our hero, Moroni. The people of Jared are those who were not confounded in their language at the destruction of Babel, but built ships, eight in number, and came to America, nearly 4000 years ago. The record is taken as we are told, from the gold plates which were found by the forty men whom king Limhi despatched to make discoveries.
One Ether is the reputed author of the engravings on the gold plates, and in the translation by Moroni, alias Smith, we are presented with a genealogy of the fathers down to Jared, who left the great Tower, together with sundry other families and embarked for America. The genealogy is somewhat amusing; he gives us TWENTY-NINE generations down to the time of Jared, and the time when the Lord confounded the languages. According to the writings of Moses, the Tower was built in the days of Shem, the son of the patriarch Noah, and agreeably to the evangelist Luke, there were only TEN generations between Shem and Adam!! If we are not allowed the Bible to prove the Book of Mormon false, we must resort to the reasonableness of the story and positions taken.
To rescue Jared and his people, God marched before them in a cloud, and after reaching the sea he directed them to construct eight barges, in which to cross the seas. The whole eight are finally built, after the directions given by the Lord, and when finished they were air tight! The Lord directs them how to remedy the evil -- they are commanded to make a hole in the top to admit air, and one in the bottom to admit water; in each whole was put a molten stone, which, when touched by the finger of Jesus, becomes as transparent as any glass, and gave them light under the "mountain waves," as well as above water. He that touched these stones appeared unto the brother Jared, and said, "Behold I am Jesus Christ, I am the Father and the Son." Two of these stones were sealed up with the plates, according to a prediction before Abraham was born. How, and in what manner they became set in the "two rims of a bow," and fell into the hands of the Nephites, has not been explained, nor what has become of the remaining fourteen molten stones, is likewise hidden in mystery.
Moroni says, in his Book of Ether, that he that should find the plates, should have the privilege of shewing them unto those who should assist him in publishing the book, "and unto these shall they be shewn by the power of God: wherefore they shall of a surety know that these things are true," p. 548.
Those barges or ships are literally described on page 57 of this work as it is found on p. 542. The barges are represented air tight, and after diving and swimming three hundred and forty four days, they all safely arrive at the land of promise.
The people of Jared had the gospel of Jesus Christ revealed and preached to them -- and in the lapse of ages and generations, they became very numerous, and wars and contentions ensue. Two renowned generals take the command of the two hostile forces; one is named Coriantumr and the other Shiz. Shiz pursues Coriantumr to the sea shore, where a battle is fought; with unparalleled slaughter, which lasted three days -- three battles more are fought, and Coriantumr is represented as successful in every rencountre, but on the fifth attack, Shiz comes off conqueror.
Coriantumr now remembers the prophecies of Ether, and he counts his slain, and they amount to nearly TWO MILLION!! How many Shiz lost, is not computed. However, the cessation of hostilities did not last long; the two generals commenced rallying together their troops, which occupied four years; and every person was enrolled that was in all the land -- "MEN, WOMEN AND CHILDREN," -- on one side or the other, except Ether, who was then the recording angel and prophet. "And it came to pass that when they were all gathered together, every one to the army which he would, with their wives and children; both men, women and Children, being armed with weapons of war, having shields, and breast-plates, and head-plates, and being clothed after the manner of war, they did march forth, one against another, to battle, p. 572.
They fought five successive days without conquering, and the slain could not be numbered; but the remains of Coriantumr's army were fifty-two, and those of Shiz, sixty-nine. The next day the forces met again, and the soldiers of Coriantumr were reduced to twenty-seven and those of Shiz to thirty-two; and on the next day they fought again -- they were all killed except the two generals. Coriantumr took advantage of Shiz, and cut off his head, and then he "fell to the earth and became as if he had no life," p. 573. This story cannot be doubted, for Ether went forth and saw it, and finished his record; and adds, that he is uncertain whether he shall be translated or not, and concludes by saying that it is no matter if he can be saved in the kingdom of God. Thus ends the Book of Ether, giving an account of the people of Jared, who were of a different race from the lineage of Adam, because we have their genealogy, which embraces twenty-nine generations, and begins to count back from the days of Shem. Neither Noah nor any other of the antediluvian patriarchs are mentioned, consequently others must have been preserved from the flood than Noah and his family, if this history be true. Besides the inspiration of Moses is not only contradicted in this particular, but in the plain declaration that the Lord confounded the language of the whole human race, Gen. XI:9.
"THE BOOK OF MORONI," -- Moroni is the last of the Nephites! He has survived his whole race, amidst wars and carnage, for the important purpose of "abridging" the records of the people of Jared and of sealing up the plates of Nephi, which is done, A.D. 420.
Contrary to his expectations, he lives, and concludes to write a book for the benefit of his brethren the Lamanites, which he hopes will ultimately convert them. To avoid discovery, by the Lamanites, he remains incognito;* (* Moroni, however, has been seen by Smith, as he says, in Susquehannah Co., Pa., since the plates were translated. A more particular account of this interview will be found in a subsequent part of this work.) he expresses great fear of assassination by them, if discovered,
on account of his great belief in Christ, which he asserts, roundly, he will not renounce, p. 574.
The manner of ordaining priests and teachers, and of "administering the flesh and blood of Christ" is the first subject explained; after which, the particular qualifications for admission into Christ's visible church is described, together with the ordinance of baptism, which must be done by immersing the candidate under water.
Moroni notices the manner in which the ancient Nephites worshiped, and says they met often to converse about the welfare of their souls, and met often to partake of the bread and wine, in remembrance of the Lord Jesus. It was customary to forgive their members for their transgressions, as often as they required it, and the confessions were made before the Elders of the church. Previous to the death of Mormon, he wrote a few espistles to his son Moroni, which he inserts, and then concludes to write something which seems good to him. Spiritual gifts, he assures us, will never cease, only through unbelief and want of faith. And when the plates of Nephi should be dug up out of the earth, Moroni "exhorts you that ye should ask God, the Eternal Father, in the name of Christ, if these things are not true; and if ye shall ask with a sincere heart, with real intent, having faith in Christ, and he will manifest the truth of it unto you by the power of the Holy Ghost," p. 586.
Here we are directed how we can all become Mormons, to wit: first believe all the fooleries, and forgeries, and lies of Jo Smith's translation of the brass plates; and then pray to be convinced of its divine authenticity, not doubting, and then, by the power of the Holy Ghost, it will all be made manifest!!
We have now gone through with the new revelation, or the Bible of the Mormonites, the analysis of which we present to our readers. The task has been a laborious one, and we acknowledge but little has been effected, and would cheerfully make an apology to our readers for the uninteresting results, if the forest through which we have traveled had furnished better materials for our review. We should have abandoned the task, were it not that so many of our worthy fellow citizens have been seduced by the witcheries and mysterious necromances of Smith and his colleagues, from the paths of wisdom and truth, into folly and madness. We anticipate the bitter vituperation and sneers of the Mormon leaders, and their influence over their already numerous followers, and do not expect to accomplish a reformation amongst them; but if we shall serve to enlighten any, who are not already the slaves of Mormon madness, alias the Devil, we will feel richly compensated.
The next subject is the testimony of the "three witnesses," Oliver Cowdery, David Whitmer and Martin Harris, which is appended to the Book of Mormon, to establish its divine authenticity. It is as follows:
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, 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 shewn 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 honor be to the Father, and to the Son, and to the Holy Ghost, which is one God.
The solemnity of an oath has been regarded sacred in all ages of the world, both by the pagan and the Christian. In all civil communities, like ours, when an individual calls the searcher of all hearts to whom he expects and firmly believes he must render a final account in a future state of existence, to bear him witness by the solemn truth of his ascertions, we are irresistibly led to give full cedit to his testimony. Bur experience has taught us, that sometimes individuals have purjured themselves, however revolting it may seem at first view; yet suspicions as to the credibility of a witness ought to be well grounded.
There are many circumstances which go to destroy the credibility of a witness, and his competency. By the common law, no person can be a witness, who does not entertain a just sense of the obligation of an oath, and disbelieves in a God, and a future state of accountability. Nor can any person be a witness who is interested in the event of a suit, that is, when he may gain or lose by the verdict.
These rules are taken, and are well founded, together with many others equally well established.
It is unnecessary for us, in this place, to give the reasons for the above rules of the common law; but the long application of them in our municipal courts, and the justice which has uniformily resulted from their operations upon the rights of individuals and communities, are sufficient arguments in favor of their equitable claim for the continuance in all our civil tribunals.
At the end of the Book of Mormon the names of Oliver Cowdery, David Whitmer and Martin Harris, are affixed under a most solemn oath, testifying to the divine exhibition of the plates to them, and of their having been translated by the power of God!!
Here are positive declarations, under the solemnities of an oath, with circumstances that will justify us in an examination, as to the credibility and competency of the witnesses.
In the first place, do each of these witnesses entertain a just sense of the obligation of an oath? do they believe in a future state of existence and accountability? We think the rational answers are in the negative; nor will any one disagree with us, when we shall have proven that the Book of Mormon was a joint speculation vetween the "author and proprietor" and the witnesses.
How stands the matter? Martin Harris was the scribe for Smith, for a considerable part of the work, and then mortgaged his farm to the publisher as collateral security for the payment of $3000, and after the book was completed he claimed the whole profits of the sale, until he should be reimbursed. These are facts which can be substantiated in a court of justice. Then, was he not a partner? would not the law consider him connected with Smith and make him jointly liable?
Oliver Cowdery was the principal amanuensis, probably better qualified for the task, than his predecessor Harris. -- How, and in what way he was connected we can only infer from circumstances. His pecuniary situation was very low, and the labor of writing, if he charged common wages, would amount to no inconsiderable sum, and Smith was wholly irresponsible to pay him, nor can we learn that Harris had indemnified him in any manner whatever. Then, the rational inference is, that after having the plot disclosed to him, he was willing to risk his chance for a fortune. He is now associated with the leaders, and appears in easy circumstances.
David Whitmer is a very inconsiderable person, but is in high standing, as a leader, among the Mormons. We know but little about him, only that he has been known as a man of small capacity, an anxious dupe to the marvwlous, and a firm believer in witches. Whether he was suborned or deceived by the impostor we are unable to determine.
So far as it relates to Smith, Cowdery and Harris, we have clearly shown that they were connected in the outset as the result has proven; a failure of which, would have reduced Harris to beggary, and blasted the fond hopes of Smith and Cowdery, and brought down upon them everlasting contempt and disgrace.
In addition to the joint speculation, we may connect the attempt to institute a new religion, contrary to the revelations of Jesus Christ, as revealed in the Bible -- which we claim to have clearly shown in our analysis of the Book of Mormon. And he who would be guilty of so gross a sacrilege, necessarily disbelieves in accountability to God, and therefore would perjure himself, with impunity.
We contend, therefore, that no credit ought to be given to those witnesses, nor are they competent, firstly, because they were under no conscientious restraint, and secondly, their worldly prospects depended upon the issue.
Above, we have copied the solemn testimony of "the three witnesses," accompanied with circumstances which renders it proper for us to critically examine and analyze it. They call God to witness, that they have seen the plates from which the Book of Mormon is translated; and that the translation was accomplished by the power of God, for his voice had declared it unto them!! At what time this special revelation was made, is not specified; but we infer that the voice of God declared the fact to them in relation to the translation, at one time, and that they saw the plates at another; and they were severally chosen, and no others, to bear the testimony to the world. Nor could any others have seen and heard as they did, had they been present.
If an individual swears to a particular fact or facts, in order that the testimony may be believed -- time, place nd other circumstances must be mentioned, without which others might be prejudiced, by not giving them an opportunity to rebut. If the time and the place had been mentioned, when and where the plates were seen, it is not impossible but that testimony of equal credibility might be produced, to show that there was no such place; and that the witnesses were hundreds of miles from the country in which they testified they saw them. Then the testimony is vague and uncertain, and not entitled to credit upon that ground. If the subscribing witnesses saw the plates and heard the voice of God; they themselves must have been in some place or places when the communications were made; and it is not unreasonable to enquire into it.
But this is not all. Testimony must be of such a nature that others, if they were present, could have testified to the same facts. But in the testimony, the three would have us believe that they were specially chosen to testify to the truth of the Book of Mormon, and no others, according to the predictions of the Mormon prophets, made over two thousand years ago. Besides all the transactions which have been and will be shown in the course of this work, in relation to the getting up of the Book of Mormon, the testimony carries strong suspicions upon the face of it; and were it disconnected from all other circumstances of fraud and deception, it would not be believed, however solemnly declared, in a court of justice.
We have, likewise, the testimony of eight other witnesses subjoined, consisting of four Whitmers, Hiram Page, Joseph Smith, Sen., (the father of the prophet,) and two of his brothers.
They testify that Joseph Smith, Jun., showed them the plates, and that they looked like gold, and that they saw the engravings and hefted them.
Who are the witnesses? four Whitmers of the same family with the one who sunscribed to the miraculous exhibition of them, and three Smiths, the father and two brothers of the prophet. And what is their testimony? Why, that Jo Smith showed them some plates, that were yellow and had engravings upon them, which they could not read nor understand; but Jo probably told them that he had translated a part of them, and intended to continue the work until he had finished them. So much for the eight witnesses.