M O R M O N I S M:
ITS RISE, PROGRESS, AND PRESENT CONDITION.
EMBRACING THE NARRATIVE OF
MRS. MARY ETTIE V. SMITH,
OF HER RESIDENCE AND EXPERIENCE OF
FIFTEEN YEARS WITH THE MORMONS;
A FULL AND AUTHENTIC ACCOUNT OF THEIR SOCIAL
CONDITION -- THEIR RELIGIOUS DOCTRINES,
AND POLITICAL GOVERNMENT.
Mrs. Smith was a sister of one of the Mormon High Priests, and was long in the
confidence of "Prophet" Brigham Young, and was personally acquainted with
most of the Mormon Leaders.
WITH OTHER STARTLING FACTS AND STATEMENTS, BEING A FULL
DISCLOSURE OF THE
RITES, CEREMONIES, AND MYSTERIES OF` POLYGAMY,
Together with the Speech recently delivered before the "Elders,"
in Utah, by Vice President SCHUYLER COLFAX, and the
answer of John Taylor.
BY N. W. GREEN.
B E L K N A P & B L I S S.
RISE, PROGRESS, AND PRESENT CONDITION OF MORMONISM.
"There is no God but God,"-- might have been said for humanity, -- being true: but when the great impostor added, "and Mohammed is His Prophet," he disclosed the self-seeker, in the shrewdest way, certainly, but he had taken the divinity out of his rallying-cry. Henceforth, he was the pretender, and his success became a question of arms, and of worldliness.
This element, -- the yoking of a great truth to an absurd untruth, -- has entered into all the successful delusions since that time: and it is not to the discredit of religion, that its indulgent mantle has been invoked to cover or mystify and give sanctity to the worst causes and the basest men.
"The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints," is an enunciation of this sort.
It is a sadly interesting study, -- this history of the world's delusion, -- religious delusions, and the peoples, and the times, and other conditions necessary to the success of them.
If this subject were fully investigated, it would be developed, that important delusions have never, perhaps, been
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therefore it could not be built like unto Solomon's temple. But the manner of the construction was like unto the temple of Solomon; and the workmanship thereof was exceeding fine. * * * * And it did come to pass that I, Nephi, did consecrate Jacob and Joseph, that they should be priests and teachers over the land of my people. And it came to pass that we lived after the manner of happiness. And thirty years had passed away since we left Jerusalem.After the death of Nephi which occurred about fifty years after his arrival in America, his people were governed by a race of kings, bearing his name, for many generations. This people were called Nephites. The records were continued by Jacob, upon the golden plates, and by his son Enos, and then by Jarom the son of Enos, and Omni the son of Jarom, down to Mormon, the writer of the last book, who "many hundred years after the coming of Christ," gave all these plates to his son Moroni. Besides those mentioned, came in their order, Mosiah, Benif, [sic] Alma, Helaman, Nephi the second, and third. These various books give the history of the wars between the Nephites and the red men, i. e., the Lamanites, and relate to the affairs of North and South America, and particularly to the land of Zarahemla, located in the neighborhood of the isthmus of Darien, where was a great city. The crucifixion of Christ was announced in the days of Nephi the second, by an earthquake, three days after which, the Lord himself descended out of heaven upon one of the chief cities; and exhibited his hands and his feet, with the prints of the nails, where he remained forty days, and founded churches.
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These Nephites, it seems, at once adopted the Christian era for chronological purposes.
For four hundred years after the coming of Christ among them, terrible wars were waged between the Lamanites and these Christian Nephites, to the disadvantage of the latter. Their civilized cities, which were numerous and large, were wasted and captured, and by degrees the Lamanites gained decided ground; and finally, a great and decisive battle was fought (singularly enough) in Western New York, in which the Nephites were entirely defeated. This was A. D. 384, upon the hill Cumorah, where the golden plates were found by Joseph. Two hundred and thirty thousand men were slain in this last conflict. Moroni, one of the survivors of this battle, wandered a fugitive, with these golden plates in custody, until A. D. 420, when he hid them on this hill, where they remained until 1827, as related.
Such is the Book of Mormon.
But there are two other persons bearing important relations to this book.
Solomon Spalding was born in Ashford, Conn., in 1761, and was graduated at Dartmouth, and ordained, and he preached several years; but relinquished the ministry, and went into business as a merchant at Cherry Valley, N. Y., and moved from there to Conneaut, Ohio, in 1809. In 1812, he removed to Pittsburgh, Pa., and thence to Amity, in the same State, and died in 1816.
It is well authenticated that he was addicted to the writing of a class of fiction too poor to find a publisher, but for which he had a passion. That while in Ohio he wrote one
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of these, which he was in the practice of reading to his friends, in which he attempted a plot to account for the origin of the American Indians, upon the theory that they were the descendants of the lost tribes of Israel. He called his book, "Manuscript Found," and mentioned it as a translation of the "Book of Mormon." He proposed to publish a fictitious account of its having been found in a cave in Ohio, as an advertisement.
It is in proof, that the manuscript of this romance was sent in 1812, to a printing office in Pittsburgh, Pa.; the year Spalding removed to that city.
The third important personage in this connection, is Sidney Rigdon. He was born in St. Clair, Alleghany county, Pa., February 19, 1793. When this manuscript was taken to the printing office, he was an employee in it. It was well known about the office that Rigdon had made a copy of Spalding's manuscript, and he admitted he had it. The original was returned to Spalding just before his death.
When the a Book of Mormon" was published by Joseph, the original manuscript was sent by Mrs. Spalding to Conneaut, Ohio, and there compared, at a public meeting, with the "Golden Bible" of Joseph, and the identity fully established. The widow Spalding says, "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 which was thrown about the composition, doubtless suggested the idea of converting it to the purposes of delusion. Thus, a historical romance, with the addition of a few pious expressions and extracts from the sacred scriptures, has
CONDITION OF MORMONISM 423
been construed into a new bible, and palmed off upon a company of poor, deluded fanatics, as divine."
It would be interesting to know how and when Rigdon and Joseph first met. It is certain that previous to their meeting, i. e., between 1816 and 1829, Rigdon took to preaching, and held peculiar views, and had drawn a church about him modeled upon a plan of his own. He does not appear conspicuously upon the stage, in connection with Joseph, until about the time of the first organization of the "Church of Latter-Day Saints," which was effected at Manchester, N. Y., April 6, 1830, by the union of Rigdon's followers with Joseph's. The first conference was held at Fayette, N. Y., in the June following, when the two "prophets" mustered about thirty adherents; from which insignificant following, what results!
There are many indications that the conjunction of these magnates was vital to the success of Mormonism. Rigdon was fierce, unscrupulous, original, and daring as a theorist and innovator, but he was indiscreet, and wanting in ability to influence and impress himself upon the masses. He signally failed to control men, or to win the hearts of the multitude.
Joseph was strong just where Rigdon was at fault. He was patient, and had unbounded perseverance, impudence, and dash in execution. He had the executive ability necessary to success in such a cheat; but he wanted originality. He was full of expedients for a given end, and had great personal courage, and his well-timed assumptions were audacious to sublimity.
424 RISE, PROGRESS, AND PRESENT
But, nevertheless, as far as being the originator of a "religion," he was a cheat. It was Sidney Rigdon who adapted the Rev. Mr. Spalding's romance to serve their joint purpose; and there is abundant proof that the idea of a "new religion" was Rigdon's and not Joseph's. Rigdon also introduced polygamy.
Among the proofs that the authorship of the "Book of Mormon" belong to Spalding, we find in the deposition of his brother John, that he saw the original, and heard Solomon read much of it, which he recognized; and says, "I well remember that he wrote in the old style, and commenced about every sentence with 'And it came to pass,' or 'Now it came to pass,' the same as in the 'Book of Mormon,' and according to my best recollection and belief, it is the same as my brother Solomon wrote, with the exception of the religious matter. By what means it has fallen into the hands of Joseph Smith, Jr., I am unable to determine."
Martha, the wife of John Spalding, and Henry Lake, the co-partner of Solomon in business, and John N. Miller, who was employed by Solomon, and lived in the family, all make conclusive statements to the same effect.
Miller says, "Many of the passages in the Mormon book are verbatim from Spalding, and others in part. The names of Nephi, Lehi, Moroni, and in fact all the principal names are brought fresh to my recollection by the 'Gold Bible.' "
Martin Harris, after advancing $50 to Joseph, for the publication of the "Book of Mormon," wishing to assure