M O R M O N I S M:
AN EXPOSURE OF THE IMPOSITIONS.
ADOPTED BY THE SECT CALLED
"THE LATTER-DAY SAINTS."
BY THE REV. F. B. ASHLEY
VICAR OF WOOBURN, BUCKS.
LONDON: JOHN HATCHARD, 187, PICCADILLY. WYCOMBE: W. BUTLER.
heavy rain, I found in a hollow some beautiful white sand, I took off my frock and tied up several quarts of it, and went home. I found them all at dinner, and they eagerly asked the contents of my frock; at the moment I was thinking of what I had heard of a history found in Canada; called 'the Golden Bible;' so I gravely said it was the Golden Bible': to my surprise they were. credulous enough to believe it. I then told them I had received a command to let no man see it, for says I, 'No man can see it with the naked eye and live,' However, I offered to take out the book and show it, but they, alarmed at what I had said, left the room. Now (said Joe) I have got the ------ fools fixed, and will carry out the fun."*
The reader will recollect that J. Smith had formed a friendship with Sidney Rigdon, and also the story which he gave of the vision of the angel, and finding the golden plates. Now Rigdon was his amanuensis, and wrote the book while J. S. pretended to translate from the golden plates, from behind a blanket, hung up as a curtain for the pretense of hiding the plates. Smith was unable to print the manuscript when it was produced. But he fell in with a certain Martin Harris, a weak superstitious man, who readily accorded with his proposals. Harris mortgaged his farm to furnish funds to print it, and the first edition was published in 1830. Though Harris at first believed the book to be what it pretended to be; he was afterwards induced to forward the imposition, as the only hopes of his getting back his money with the profits which had been promised him. His wife was convinced it was an imposition, and continually pressed him on the point. One day when arguing its falseness with him, he replied, "what if it is a lie, if you will let us alone, I will make money by it. "+ Mrs. Harris persisted in her endeavors to expose the
* See "Mormons," by Daniel G. Kidder, New York.
+ Testimony of Abigail Harris, Palmyra, Wayne County.
fraud, and in her husband's absence took 116 pages of the manuscript and gave them in custody of a neighbour. When charged with it she replied, "if this be a divine communication, the same Being who revealed it to you can easily replace it," She was convinced they could not possibly write it again word for word, (at least not the new matter with which it was interlarded,) and intended when they had replaced the portion and published it, to have it publicly compared. But Smith would not fall into the trap, the 116 missing pages (from the book Lehi, in the book of Mormon) have never been replaced and he declared he was "commanded by the Lord not to translate them over again." But the question remains, whence came the book as it is. The ignorant interpolations from the Bible, and grammatical errors, J. Smith was quite able to place there; but the story is generally beyond his capability. To answer the question, we must transfer ourselves to "New Salem, Ohio, a place commonly called "Conneaut." There lived Mr. and Mrs. S. Spalding. Mr. Spalding was a graduate of Dartmouth College, and entered the ministry. He was a man of lively imagination and fond of antiquarian lore. His health failed and he was laid aside from active duty. At this period some ancient mounds and dwellings were discovered in America; and a few tools, such as were formerly used, were found on digging into the mounds. The event much interested Mr. S. Spalding. To occupy the hours of retirement, he conceived the idea of drawing up a sketch of the supposed original inhabitants of America. He called it the "Manuscript Found," and composed it as though it had been written by one of the former race, and now "recovered from the earth," This was in the year 1812. As he proceeded with the successive portions of "the Manuscript Found," the neighbours used to be invited in to hear it read. His brother, Mr. John Spalding, who was residing there, was accustomed to be of the
party and became well acquainted with the work. The family then removed to Pittsburgh. Mr. Patterson had a printing office there in which he employed the S. Rigdon of whom we have before spoken. Mr. Patterson borrowed the manuscript and wanted to publish it; to this Mr. S. Spalding would not accede, but he left it in Mr. Patterson's printing office. Here Rigdon possessed himself of it, and thus was prepared to aid J. Smith in carrying out the idea of his "Golden Bible."
S. Spalding died in 1816, and his widow, now Mrs. Davidson, has published a declaration, certified to by two clergymen, the Revds A. Austin and Dr. EIy, of Monson Mass; in which she gives a full and clear account of the writing of the manuscript. She also states, "that at a meeting of a new sect (Mormonites) at which Mr. J. Spalding was present, copious extracts were read from a book, the historical parts of which, he and his friends present instantly recognized as her husband's composition, "Mr. J. Spalding was amazed and afflicted that it should have been perverted to so wicked a purpose. His grief found vent in tears, and he arose on the spot, and expressed to the meeting his sorrow and regret that the writings of his deceased brother should be used for a purpose so vile and shocking. She adds "I am sure that nothing would grieve my husband more, were he living, than the use which has been made of his work. The air of antiquity that was thrown over the composition, doubtless suggested the idea of converting it to purposes of delusion. Thus an historical romance, with the addition of a few pious expressions and extracts from the Sacred Scriptures has been construed into a new Bible, and palmed off upon poor, deluded fanatics as Divine." This crushing evidence, supported as it was by the brother and the older inhabitants of Salem, was sufficient on the spot, but interested parties have endeavored to invalidate the testimony at a distance. They reassert J. Smith's inspiration, and find
many ready to shut their eyes, go on in the dark and "believe a lie;" and then those so willingly deceived, become deceivers of others.
What reason is there to believe there were any plates. We have already seen whence J. Smith pretended to get them, and if we take what he says himself they were useless, for he could not use them. He says the language was Egyptian,* and it was necessary God should communicate to his mind what was on them; but the same information might have been given him without the plates, which were superfluous. The only use of which they could have been, would be to convince the unbeliever when shewen to him.+ But no one has ever seen them. No one knows where they are. True, J. Smith says in the book of Mormon, p. 548, that he might show them to three persons; and three names are placed at the beginning of the book. But if we examine these his chosen witnesses, they say they "saw them with the eyes of faith, though at the time they were covered."± Their names are Oliver Cowdery, David Whitmer, and Martin Harris. Let us enquire the value of their testimony. They were not only deeply interested in the success of the forgery, when they gave their names to the testimony, but on other grounds they are quite unworthy of credit. We will take the most impartial evidence. First, that of J. Smith himself against Cowdery: "Revelation given Nov. 1831. Hearken unto me saith the Lord your God, it is not wisdom in me, that Oliver Cowdery should be entrusted with the commandments and the monies, which he shall carry
* In this country it is common for the Mormonites to state, that a copy of the language on the plates was sent to the learned men in America, but none could read it. This is not true. There was only one attempt at showing the language, and the discovery of that trick, prevented them trying it further. Professor Anthon was the party to whom the paper was shown, and he affirmed the letters were from various alphabets, turned different ways, and a figure from Humboldt's Mexican calendar, all evidently done with the intention to deceive!
+ See Dr. G. Lexton "portraiture of the latter day Saints."
± See quoted p. 18, Clarke's "Mormonism."
into the land of Zion, except one go with him, who will be true and faithful." Truly, if he was not to be trusted with "the monies," we cannot repose our souls on his word.
Regarding David Whitmer we find him (and Cowdery). in a document drawn up by Sidney Rigdon and signed by eighty-four Mormons, declared to be "united with a gang of counterfeiters, thieves, liars, and blacklegs of the deepest die, to deceive, cheat, and defraud the saints out of their property."
Touching Martin Harris, the third witness, we have already seen that his object was to "make money out of it;" and Professor Turner declares he was a domestic tyrant, having often beaten and kicked his present wife."* But further, Harris himself renounced Mormonism, disgusted at last with the imposture and hypocrisy of Smith, whom he declared to be "a complete wretch." Here we have sufficient sample of the testimony on which Mormonism rests! Master and Man, "the prophet" and his witnesses, were about the same -- all utterly unworthy of belief. Their book, which manifests much gross ignorance, is contemptible; their characters were disreputable; and their blasphemous pretensions, pretended prophecies, and false doctrines must be abhorrent to the Christian.
Next we enquire, what is,
It pretends to give a history extending from the year B.C. 599, to A.D. 420. It is divided into two parts, one said to give an account of the Nephites of the tribe of Joseph; the other of the Jaredites, a people who went to America, at the period of the building of the tower of Babel, but it does not appear that their language was confounded. At the outset we find symptoms of its having been written at a modern period, for the Nephites had "a compass" to steer by, on their way, an instrument not known until a comparatively late date. A Mormon
*See quotations in the excellent "tracts on Mormonism," published by J. Glover, Leamington.
Priest, absurdly enough, endeavored to substantiate the use of the compass, by a reference to the New Testament, (St. Paul's voyage, Acts xxviii, 13). This would not have helped him on account of its date, even if the reference was good. But every one who can read the language in which it was originally written knows that there is no reference whatsoever to "a compass" the instrument, but that the words mean and might equally well be translated "they made a circuit," they went round.
Some of the stories the book of Mormon contains are supremely ridiculous; we give one instance" -- The Jaredites needed a vessel to cross the ocean, and were commanded to build eight barges. These were of very peculiar construction, "made like unto dishes." They were air tight, but we read of a hole at the top and a hole at the bottom. The barges could swim upon the water and dive under the water with equal ease. There were sixteen windows, two in each vessel, which were of molten stones, which God touched and they became transparent." Now it appears "the Urim and Thummim," or rather the large spectacles which J. Smith used in translating, were two of these stones, which had been preserved. It is humiliating, that in the nineteenth century, such a mean imposition should need refutation! Any tales or works of fiction of the day might furnish equal entertainment.
But though J. Smith formed his plan very artfully, his ignorance exposes him. Whenever he interwove anything into Mr. Spalding's Romance, he left the mark of the cloven foot. In the following instance he contradicts the Word of God. In Numbers iii:10; and Deut. xxi:5, we find God instituted a priesthood and a high priest. The Priesthood was given to Aaron and his sons until the Messiah should come. God jealously watched against any infringement of this institution, and punished any encroachment on the office. (See