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proclaimed by Smith and others in corroboration of the prophetic pretension. This circumstance explains the otherwise apparent inconsistency of the following allegations of eleven witnesses, which are appended to the printed volume:
"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, his brethren, and also of the people of Jared, which came from the tower of which hath been spoken; and we also know that they have been translated by the gift and power of God, for His voice hath declared it unto us; wherefore we know of a surety that the work is true. And we also testify that we have seen the engravings which are upon the plates; and they have been shown unto us by the power of God, and not of man. And we declare with words of soberness, that an angel of God came down from Heaven, and he brought and laid before our eyes, that we beheld and saw the plates, and the engravings thereon; and we know that it is by the grace of God the Father, and our Lord Jesus Christ, that we beheld and bear record that these things are true; and it is marvellous in our eyes: nevertheless,
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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. Amen.
"And also the Testimony of eight Witnesses:
"Be it known unto all nations, kindreds, tongues, and people, unto whom this work shall come, that Joseph Smith, Jr., the Author and Proprietor of this work, has shown unto us the plates of which hath been spoken, which have the appearance of gold; and as many of the leaves as the said Smith has translated we did handle with our hands; and we also saw the engravings thereon, all of which has the appearance of ancient work, and of curious workmanship. And this we bear record, with words of soberness, that the said Smith has shown unto us, for we have seen and hefted, and know of a surety, that the said Smith has got the plates of which we have spoken. And we give our names unto the world, to witness unto the
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world that which we have seen: and we lie not, God bearing witness of it.
PETER WHITMER, JR.,
JOSEPH SMITH, SR.,
SAMUEL H. SMITH."
How to reconcile the act of Harris in signing his name to such a statement, in view of the character of honesty which has always been conceded to him, could never be easily explained. In reply to uncharitable suggestions of his neighbors, he used to practise a good deal of his characteristic jargon about "seeing with the spiritual eye," and the like. As regards the other witnesses associated with Harris, their averments in this or any other matter could excite no more surprise than did those of Smith himself.
It is interesting to quote the standard of Mormon authority for the justification of Smith's changed revelation which opened the way for these witnesses to sustain the existence of the metallic records. Here it is, as recorded in the eleventh chapter of the "Second Book of Nephi":
"And it shall come to pass, that the Lord God shall bring forth unto you, the words of a book, and
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they shall be the words of them which have slumbered. And behold, the book shall be sealed; and in the book shall be a revelation from God, from the beginning of the world, to the ending thereof. Wherefore, because of the things which are sealed up, the things which are sealed, shall not be delivered in the day of the wickedness and abominations of the people. Wherefore the book shall be kept from them. But the book shall be delivered unto a man, and he shall deliver the words of the book, which are the words of they which have slumbered in the dust; and he shall deliver these words unto another; but the words which are sealed, he shall not deliver, neither shall he deliver the book. For the book shall be sealed by the power of God, and the revelation which was sealed, shall be kept in the book until the own due time of the Lord, that they may come forth; for, behold, they reveal all things from the foundation of the world, unto the end thereof. And the day cometh that the words of the book which were sealed, shall be read upon the house-tops; and they shall be read by the power of Christ: and all things shall be revealed unto the children of men which ever hath been among the children of men, and which ever will be, even unto the end of the earth. Wherefore, at that day when the book shall be delivered unto the man of whom I have spoken, the book shall be hid from the eyes of the world, that the eyes of none shall behold
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it, save it be that three witnesses shall behold it, by the power of God, besides him to whom the book shall be delivered; and they shall testify to the truth of the book, and the things therein. And there is none other which shall view it, save it be a few, according to the will of God, to bear testimony of His word unto the children of men: for the Lord God hath said, that the words of the faithful should speak as if it were from the dead. Wherefore, the Lord God will proceed to bring forth the words of the book; and in the mouth of as many witnesses as seemeth Him good, will He establish His word; and woe be unto him that rejecteth the Word of God.
"But behold, it shall come to pass that the Lord God shall say unto him to whom He shall deliver the book, Take these words which are not sealed, and deliver them to another, that he may show them unto the learned, saying: Read this, I pray thee. And the learned shall say, Bring hither the book, and I will read them; and now, because of the glory of the world, and to get gain, will they say this, and not for the glory of God. And the man shall say, I cannot bring the book, for it is sealed. Then shall the learned say, I cannot read it. Wherefore, it shall come to pass, that the Lord God will deliver again the book and the words thereof, to him that is not learned; and the man that is not learned, shall say, I
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am not learned. Then shall the Lord say unto him, The learned shall not read them, for they have rejected them, and I am able to do mine own work; wherefore, thou shalt read the words which I shall give unto thee. Touch not the things which sealed, for I will bring them forth in mine own due time: for I will show unto the children of men, that I am able to do mine own work. Wherefore, when thou hast read the words which I have commanded thee, and obtained the witnesses which I have promised unto thee, then shalt thou seal up the book again, and hide it up unto me, that I may preserve the words which thou hast not read, until I shall see fit in mine own wisdom, to reveal all things unto the children of men. For behold, I am God; and I am a God of miracles; and I will show unto the world that I am the same yesterday, to-day, and forever; and I work not among the children of men, save it be according to their faith."
Another theory in regard to the plates and hieroglyphics claimed to be found by Smith may possibly be explained in this way. In the list of American antiquities found in the Western country, and preserved in the museums of antiquarians, are what are called glyphs, consisting of curious metallic plates covered with hieroglyphical characters. Professor Rafinesque, in his Asiatic Journal for 1832, describes similar plates found by him in Mexico, being "written from top to
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bottom like the Chinese, or from side to side indifferently, like the Egyptians and the Demotic Libyan." A number of these remains were found a few years ago in Pike County, Illinois, described as "six plates of brass of a bell shape, each having a hole near the small end, with a ring and clasps through a;; of them, and clasped with two clasps. The ring and clasps appeared to be iron, very much oxidated. The plates first appeared to be copper, and had the appearance of being covered with characters. A cleansing by sulpheric acid brought out the characters distinctly."
Smith may have obtained through Rigdon (the literary genius behind the screen) one of these glyphs, which resemble so nearly his description of the book he pretended to find on Mormon Hill. For the credit of human character, it is better at any rate to presume this, and that the eleven ignorant witnesses were deceived by appearances, than to conclude that they willfully committed such gross moral perjury before high Heaven, as their solemn averments imply.
Mormonism and its bible being thus the candidates for acceptance or rejection before the public judgment, an early popular decision was sought by their supporters. Up to this time Sidney Rigdon had played his part in the background and his occasional visits at Smith's residence had been noticed by uninitiated observers as those of the mysterious stranger. It had been his policy to remain in concealment until
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all things should be in readiness for blowing the trumpet of the new gospel. He was a backsliding clergyman of the Baptist persuasion, and at the period referred to was the principal preacher of a sort of religious society calling themselves "Reformers" or "Disciples," at Mentor, Ohio, near Kirtland. From all that is known by the writer, of his character, he is believed to have been a man possessing considerable educational and scientific abilities; an active, sanguineous temperament; a bold and persevering disposition; and inclinations preponderating toward original theories and schemes of philosophical adventure. His age at this period was about thirty-eight years.
This man Rigdon now appeared as the first regular Mormon preacher in Palmyra. Martin Harris was his forerunner, and relieved him of his incognito position. Harris had in vain sought the use of the churches respectively for his appointed service. But the hall of the Palmyra Young Men's Association, in the third story of Exchange Row, was yielded for the object, upon the earnest entreaty of Harris, whose sincerity and good intentions were unquestioned. At the designated hour, a respectable audience had assembled; but it was a small one, for be it remembered that the church of the order of Latter-Day Saints was just emerging from its chrysalis state.
Rigdon introduced himself as "the Messenger of
SIDNEY RIGDON IN HIS FIRST MORMON SERMON.
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God," declaring that he was commanded from above to proclaim the Mormon revelation. He then went through the ceremonious form of prayer, in which he expressed his grateful sense of blessings of the glorious gospel dispensation now opening to the world, and the miraculous light from Heaven to be displayed through the instrumentality of the "chosen revelator," Joseph Smith, Jr. Bespeaking the favor of the Most High in return for the kindness of the Association in granting the use of their hall, he concluded his prayer by commending all believers to the divine care and protection against the sneers and persecutions of their adversaries.
The discourse was based upon the following text read by the preacher from the recently published Book of Mormon, which the searcher may find in "First Book of Nephi," chapter iv. (page 32, original edition): --
"And the angel spake unto me, saying: These last records which thou hast seen among the Gentiles, shall establish the truth of the first, which is of the Twelve Apostles of the Lamb, and shall make known the plain and precious things which have been taken away from them; and shall make known to all kindreds, tongues, and people, that the Lamb of God is the Eternal Father and Saviour of the world; and that all men must come unto Him, or they cannot be saved."
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The preacher assumed to establish the theory that the Book of Mormon and the old Bible were one in inspiration and importance, and that the "precious things" now revealed had for wise purposes been withheld from the book first promulgated to the world, and were necessary to establish its truth. In the course of his argument he applied various quotations from the two books to prove his position. Holding the Book of Mormon in his right hand, and the Bible in his left, he brought them together in a manner corresponding to the emphatic declaration made by him, that they were both equally the Word of God; that neither was perfect without the other; and that they were inseparably necessary to complete the everlasting gospel of the Saviour Jesus Christ. The "latter-day" theory was dwelt upon at some length, with apparent seriousness. Reiterating the declaration made in his introduction, that he was "commanded" to proclaim these truths for the salvation of fallen man, he wound up his discourse by a warning appeal to the confidence and faith of his hearers; adding a benediction.
This is by no means offered as a literal report of the "sermon" beyond a few points, but is believed to state truthfully and fairly its essential features, as quite distinctly remembered after a lapse of nearly thirty-seven years. Altogether, though evidencing some talent and ingenuity in its matter and manner,
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and delivered with startling boldness and seeming sincerity, the performance was in the main an unintelligible jumble of quotations, assertions, and obscurities, which was received by the audience as shockingly blasphemous, as it was painful to hear. The manifestations of disfavor were so unequivocal that Harris hesitatingly assented to the suggestion of his "Gentile" friends to withhold all further request for the use of the hall for a repetition of the exhibition. And "regular preaching" upon the Mormon plan was never again attempted by Rigdon or any other man in Palmyra, according to the best knowledge and belief of the writer.
Rigdon, however, remained at Smith's for some days, preaching in the neighborhoods, and baptizing several converts. Smith himself, with Harris, Cowdery, and Stoddard, also made some advances toward preaching in an irregular, miscellaneous way, in barns and in the streets; but all these failed to find "orderly-behaved" hearers in sufficient numbers to encourage their persistence in the clerical vocation. They "lacked the gift of public speaking" to communicate the revelation, as it was explained by themselves. Cowdery excelled in the baptismal service, but that seemed to be the extent of his ministerial talent.
An anecdote, well remembered by numerous people now living near the scene of the performance, will
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serve as an illustration of the facility with which Smith gained converts and co-laborers.
Stoddard was an early believer in Mormonism, and was quite as eccentric a character as Harris. He was slightly impressed that he had a call to preach the new gospel, but his mind was beclouded with perplexing doubts upon the question. One dark night, about ten o'clock, Stephen S. Harding, then a stalwart, fun-loving, dare-devil genius of eighteen years, late Territorial Governor of Utah (not a Mormon), who well knew Stoddard's peculiarities, and being bent on making a sensation, repaired with his genial friend, Abner Tucker, to the residence of the enthusiast; and awakening him from sleep by three signals upon the door with a huge stone, deliberately proclaimed, in a loud, sonorous voice, with solemn intonations -- "C-a-l-v-i-n S-t-o-d-d-a-r-d! t-h-e a-n-g-e-l o-f t-h-e L-o-r-d c-o-m-m-a-n-d-s t-h-a-t b-e-f-o-r-e a-n-o-t-h-e-r g-o-i-n-g d-o-w-n o-f t-h-e s-u-n t-h-o-u s-h-a-l-t g-o f-o-r-t-h a-m-o-n-g t-h-e p-e-o-p-l-e a-n-d p-r-e-a-c-h t-h-e g-o-s-p-e-l o-f N-e-p-h-i, o-r t-h-y w-i-f-e s-h-a-l-l b-e a w-i-d-o-w, t-h-y c-h-i-l-d-r-e-n o-r-p-h-a-n-s, a-n-d t-h-y a-s-h-e-s s-c-a-t-t-e-r-e-d t-o t-h-e f-o-u-r w-i-n-d-s o-f h-e-a-v-e-n!"
The experiment was a complete success. Stoddard's former convictions were now confirmed. Such a convincing "revelation" was final, and not to be disregarded. Early the next morning the subject of this
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"special call" was seen upon his rounds among his neighbors, as a Mormon missionary, earnestly telling them of the "command" he had received to preach. Luminous arguments and evidences were adduced by him to sustain the foundation of his belief in this his revealed sphere of duty!
In further illustration of the strange superstitions characterizing these pioneer disciples of Mormonism, and to complete the chain of facts going to make up this truthful history, it is proper to add one other important incident, which has never appeared in any accepted record of the saints. Enthusiastic members of the brotherhood -- perhaps it should be said the more visionary of the believers -- had plied the "spirit of prophecy" in foretelling the event of a miraculous birth in association with an unmarried daughter of Joseph Smith, Sr. This predicted event was to astonish the gentile world as a second advent of triune humanity. Harris was exceedingly happy in the belief of a forthcoming prophet or Messiah under the Mormon dispensation, and spoke unreservedly of an "immaculate conception in our day and generation." The ample shrewdness of the prophet had probably been called in requisition to allay some unfavorable surmises on the part of his observing disciple, who was a frequenter at the family mansion; and it is apparent that the theory invented was readily adopted by Harris. Rigdon had been an occasional sojourner
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at Smith's for a year or more though the reader may fail to perceive what this circumstance had to do with the case. The upshot of the story is, that soon after the family started for Ohio, the miracle eventuated somewhere on the route, in the birth of a lifeless female child! The accident was readily set down to the account of divine intervention to avenge some act of Mormon disobedience, and Harris was thus easily reconciled.
In the summer of 1830, the founders of the Mormon Church then remaining at the scene of its birthplace, who had talked much of going on a mission into the Western country to convert the Lamanites (meaning Indians), started on their western expedition with their unsold Golden Bibles, and went to Mentor, Ohio, the residence of Rigdon, and of Parley P. Pratt, his friend and co-worker. Near this place is Kirtland, where there were a few families belonging to Rigdon's congregation, who had become extremely fanatical under his preparatory preaching and prophecies, and were daily looking for the occurrence of some wonderful event. Seventeen of these people, men and women, readily espoused the new revelation, and were immersed by Cowdery in one night, in attestation of their Mormon faith. By the continued ministration of Rigdon, aided by Pratt, Smith, Cowdery, and their auxiliaries, conversions rapidly followed; a powerful impetus was given to the cause; and over one
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hundred persons were added to the fold in a short time. Kirtland from about this period became the headquarters of the Mormons, where their Church and colony were thoroughly organized and temporarily established.
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The chief denominations of the fabulous tribes purporting
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to have inhabited this wilderness continent in the times of the first Mormon, according to the Smith revelation, were the Nephites and the Lamanites. they were exceedingly belligerent races of people, apparently bent on each other's destruction, and prosecuting an almost continuous warfare between themselves for century after century; and this, too, so far as assigned, for causes about as explicable as are those impelling like hostilities in this modern Christian era. A melancholy history on this head is presented in the book, from which is appears that the Nephite tribes though the better people, were eventually annihilated; while to the wandering tribes of the native Indians of this country are to be traced the surviving remnants of their enemies the Lamanites.
By the following series of compilations from the different chapters of this Mormon volume, as translated and published by Prophet Smith, the reader will discover a chain of events, incidents, episodes, perils, and tribulations, by wilderness and by sea, constituting the story of immigration by various Israelitish tribes, with their brazen and golden records, from the beginning of their journeyings at Jerusalem, to the consummation of the same in the promised land, where their records were hidden in the "hill Camorah," which being interpreted, signifies "Mormon Hill," in the town of Manchester, N.Y. The fabulous narrative will repay patient perusal by the curious"
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Journeyings of Nephi and his brethren from Jerusalem to the Promised Land, with their records and history. Also Laman and his brethren.
"I, Nephi, having been born of goodly parents, therefore I was taught somewhat in all the learning of my father; and having seen many afflictions in the course of my days -- nevertheless, having been highly favored of the Lord in all my days; yea, having had a great knowledge of the goodness and the mysteries of God, therefore I make a record of my proceedings in my days; yea, I make a record in the language of my father, which consists of the learning of the Jews and the language of the Egyptians. And I know that the record which I make, to be true; and I make it with mine own hand; and I make it according to my knowledge.
"For it came to pass, in the commencement of the first year of the reign of Zedekiah, king of Judah, (my father Lehi having dwelt at Jerusalem in all his days;) and in that same year there came many prophets, prophesying unto the people, that they must repent, or the great city Jerusalem must be destroyed. Wherefore it came to pass, that my father Lehi, as he went forth, prayed unto the Lord, yea, even with all his heart, in behalf of his people.
"And it came to pass, as he prayed unto the Lord,
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there came a pillar of fire and dwelt upon a rock before him; and he saw and heard much; and because of the things which he saw and heard, he did quake and tremble exceedingly.
"And it came to pass that he returned to his own house at Jerusalem; and he cast himself upon his bed, being overcome with the spirit and the things which he had seen; and being thus overcome with the spirit, he was carried away in a vision, even that he saw the heavens open; and he thought he saw God sitting upon his throne, surrounded with numberless concourses of angels in the attitude of singing and praising their God.
"And it came to pass that he saw one descending out of the midst of heaven, and he beheld that his lustre was above that of the sun at noonday; and he also saw twelve others following him, and their brightness did exceed that of the stars in the firmament; and they came down and went forth upon the face of the earth; and the first came and stood before my father, and gave unto him a book, and bade him that he should read.
"And it came to pass that as he read, he was filled with the spirit of the Lord, and he read, saying, Woe, woe unto Jerusalem! for I have seen thine abominations; yea, and many things did my father read concerning Jerusalem; that it should be destroyed, and the inhabitants thereof; many should perish by the
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sword, and many should be carried away captive into Babylon. . . .
"And it came to pass that the Lord spake unto me saying: Blessed art thou, Nephi, because of thy faith, for thou hast sought me diligently, with lowliness of heart. And inasmuch as ye shall keep my commandments, ye shall prosper, and shall be led to a land of promise; yea, even a land which I have prepared for you; yea, a land which is choice above all other lands. . . .
"And I, Nephi, and my brethren, took our journey in the wilderness with our tents, to go up to the land of Jerusalem. And it came to pass that when we had come up to the land of Jerusalem, I and my brethren did consult one with another; and we cast lots which of us should go in unto the house of Laban. And it came to pass that the lot fell upon Laman; and Laman went in unto the house of Laban and he talked with him as he sat in his house. And he desired of Laban the records which were engraven upon the plates of brass * which contained the genealogy of my father.
* In other portions of the book, plates of gold are spoken of. For instance, in the "Book of Mosiah," occurs this passage: "Therefore he took the records which were engraven on the plates of brass and also the plates of Nephi, and all the things which he had kept and preserved, according to the commandments of God, after having translated and caused to be written the records which were on
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"And behold, it came to pass that Laban was angry, and thrust him out from his presence; and he would not that he should have the records. . . .
"And behold, it is wisdom in God that we should obtain these records, that we might preserve unto our children the language of our fathers; and also that we may preserve unto them the words which have been spoken by the mouth of all the holy prophets, which have been delivered unto them by the spirit and power of God, since the world began, even down unto this present time.
"And it came to pass that after this manner of language did I persuade my brethren, that they might be faithful in keeping the commandments of God. And it came to pass that we went down to the land of our inheritance, and we did gather together our gold, and our silver, and our precious things. And after that we had gathered these things together, we went up again unto the house of Laban.
"And it came to pass that we went in unto Laban, and desired him that he would give unto us the records which were engraven upon the plates of brass, for which we would give unto him our gold, and our silver, and all our precious things....
"And after that they had given thanks unto the
PLATES OF GOLD," etc. In the first instance, these plates or glyphs or myths, were claimed by Smith and his followers to be plates of gold or resembling gold.
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God of Israel. And after that they had given thanks unto the God of Israel, my father Lehi took the records which were engraven upon the plates of brass, and he did search them from the beginning. And he beheld that they did contain the five books of Moses, which gave an account of the creation of the world, and also of Adam and Eve, which was our first parents; and also a record of the Jews from the beginning, even down to the commencement of the reign of Zedekiah, King of Judah; and also the prophecies of the Holy prophets, from the beginning, even down to the commencement of the reign of Zedekiah; and also many prophecies which have been spoken by the mouth of Jeremiah.
"And it came to pass that my father Lehi also found upon the plates of brass, a genealogy of his fathers; wherefore he knew that he was a descendant of Joseph; yea, even that Joseph which was the son of Jacob, which was sold into Egypt, and which was preserved by the hand of the Lord, that he might preserve his father Jacob and all his household from perishing with famine. And they were also led out of captivity and out of the land of Egypt, by the same God who had preserved them. And thus my father Lehi did discover the genealogy of his fathers. And Laban also was a descendant of Joseph, wherefore he and his fathers had kept the records.
"And now when my father saw all these things, he was filled with the spirit, and began to prophesy concerning his seed; that these plates of brass should
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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 should they be dimmed any more by time. And he prophesied many times concerning his seed.
"And it came to pass that thus far I and my father had kept the commandments wherewith the Lord had commanded us. And we had obtained the record which the Lord had commanded us, and searched them and found that they were desirable; yea, even of great worth unto us, insomuch that we could preserve the commandments of the Lord unto our children. Wherefore it was wisdom in the Lord that we should carry them with us, as we journied in the wilderness towards the land of promise. . . .
"And it came to pass that we did again take our journey in the wilderness; and we did travel nearly eastward, from that time forth. And we did travel and wade through much affliction in the wilderness; and our women did bear children in the wilderness. And so great were the blessings of the Lord upon us, that while we did live upon the raw meat in the wilderness, our women did give plenty of suck for their children, and were strong, yea, even like unto the men; and they began to bear their journeyings without murmurings. And thus we see that the commandments of God must be fulfilled. And if it so be that the children of men keep the commandments of God,
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he doth nourish them, and strengthen them, and provide means whereby they can accomplish the thing which he hath commanded them; wherefore, he did provide means for us while we did sojourn in the wilderness. And we did sojourn for the space of many years, yea, even eight years in the wilderness. And we did come to the land which we called Bountiful, because of its much fruit, and also, wild honey; and all these things were prepared of the Lord, that we might not perish. And we beheld the sea, which we called Irreantum, which being interpreted, is, Many waters.
"And it came to pass that we did pitch our tents by the seashore; and notwithstanding we had suffered many afflictions and much difficulty, yea, even so much that we cannot write them all, we were exceedingly rejoiced when we came to the seashore; and we called the place Bountiful, because of its much fruit....
"And it came to pass that the Lord spake unto me, saying: Thou shalt construct a ship, after the manner which I shall shew thee, that I may carry thy people across these waters. And I saith, Lord, whither shall I go, that I may find ore to molten, that I may make tools to construct the ship, after the manner which thou hast shewn unto me? And it came to pass that the Lord told me whither I should go to find ore, that I might make tools.
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And it came to pass that I, Nephi, did make bellowses wherewith to blow the fire, of the skins of beasts; and after that I had made bellowses, that I might have wherewith to blow the fire, I did smite two stones together, that I might make fire; for the Lord had not hitherto suffered that we should make much fire, as we journeyed in the wilderness; for he saith, I will make that thy food shall become sweet, that ye cook it not; and I will also be your light in the wilderness; and I will prepare the way before you, if it so be that ye shall keep my commandments; wherefore, inasmuch as ye shall keep my commandments, ye shall be led towards the promised land; and ye shall know that it is by me that ye are led. Yea, and the Lord said also, that after ye have arrived to the promised land, ye shall know that I, the Lord, am God; and that I, the Lord, did deliver you from destruction; yea, that I did bring you out of the land of Jerusalem; wherefore, I, Nephi, did strive to keep the commandments of the Lord, and I did exhort my brethren to faithfulness and diligence.
"And it came to pass that I did make tools of the ore which I did molten out of the rock. And when my brethren saw that I was about to build a ship, they began to murmur against me, saying: Our brother is a fool, for he thinketh that he can build a ship; yea, and he also thinketh that he can cross these great waters. And thus my brethren did complain against
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me, and were desirous that they might not labor, for they did not believe that I could build a ship; neither would they believe that I was instructed of the Lord.
"And now it came to pass that I, Nephi, was exceeding sorrowful, because of the hardness of their hearts; and now when they saw that I began to be sorrowful, they were glad in their hearts, insomuch, that they did rejoice over me, saying: We knew that ye could not construct a ship, for we knew that ye were lacking in judgment; wherefore, thou canst not accomplish so great a work; and thou art like unto our father, led away by the foolish imaginations of his heart; yea, he hath led us out of the land of Jerusalem; and we have wandered in the wilderness for these many years; and our women have toiled, being big with child; and they have borne children in the wilderness, and suffered all things, save it were death; and it would have been better that they had died, before they came out of Jerusalem, than to have suffered these afflictions. Behold, these many years we have suffered in the wilderness, which time we might have enjoyed our possessions, and the land of our inheritance; yea, and we might have been happy; and we know that the people which were in the land of Jerusalem, were a righteous people; for they kept the statues and the judgments of the Lord, and all his commandments, according to the law of Moses; wherefore, we know that they are a righteous people; and
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our father hath judged them, and hath led us away because we would hearken unto his words; yea, and our brother is like unto him. And after this manner of language did my brethren murmur and complain against us.
"And it came to pass that I, Nephi, spake unto them, saying: Do ye believe that our fathers, which were the children of Israel, would have been led away out of the hands of the Egyptians, if they had not hearkened unto the words of the Lord? Yea, do ye suppose that they would have been led out of bondage, if the Lord had not commanded Moses that he should lead them out of bondage? Now ye know that the children of Israel were in bondage; and ye know that they were laden with tasks, which were grievous to be borne; wherefore, ye know that it must needs be a good thing for them, that they should be brought out of bondage. Now ye know that Moses was commanded of the Lord to do that great work; and ye know that by his word, the waters of the Red Sea were divided hither and thither, and they passed through on dry ground. But ye know that the Egyptians were drowned in the Red Sea, which were the armies of Pharaoh; and ye also know that they were fed with manna, in the wilderness; yea, and ye also know that Moses, by his word, according to the power of God which was in him, smote the rock, and there came forth water, that the children of Israel might quench
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their thirst; and notwithstanding they being led, the Lord their God, their Redeemer, going before them, leading them by day, and giving light unto them by night, and doing all things for them which was expedient for man to receive, they hardened their hearts, and blinded their minds, and reviled against Moses and against the true and living God.
"And it came to pass that according to his word, he did lead them; and according to his word, he did do all things for them; and there was not any thing done, save it were by his word. And after they had crossed the river Jordan, he did make them mighty, unto the driving out the children of the land, yea, unto the scattering them to destruction. And now do ye suppose that the children of this land, which were in the land of promise, which were driven out by our fathers, do ye suppose that they were righteous? Behold, I say unto you, nay....
"And it came to pass that they did worship the Lord, and did go forth with me; and we did work timbers of curious workmanship. And the Lord did shew me from time to time, after what manner I should work the timbers of the ship. Now I, Nephi, did not work the timbers after the manner which was learned by men, neither did I build the ship after the manner of men; but I did build it after the manner which the Lord had shewn unto me; wherefore, it was not after the manner of men.
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"And I, Nephi, did go into the mount oft, and I did pray oft unto the Lord; wherefore, the Lord shewed unto me great things.
"And it came to pass that after I had finished the ship according to the word of the Lord, my brethren beheld that it was good, and that the workmanship thereof was exceeding fine; wherefore, they did humble themselves again before the Lord.
"And it came to pass that the voice of the Lord came unto my father, that we should arise and go down into the ship. And it came to pass that on the morrow, after that we had prepared all things, much fruits and meat from the wilderness, and honey in abundance, and provisions, according to that which the Lord had commanded us, we did go down into the ship with all our loading and our seeds, and whatsoever thing we had brought with us, every one according to his age; wherefore, we did all go down into the ship, with our wives and our children. *
* The Book of Ether gives a further account of eight vessels for other tribes. these vessels, built by the "brother of Jared. according to the instructions of the Lord," are thus described: "They were very light upon the water, even like the lightness of a fowl upon the water; 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 were 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." (Breathing-holes, with
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"And now, my father had begat two sons, in the wilderness: The eldest was called Jacob, and the younger, Joseph. And it came to pass that after we had all gone down into the ship, and had taken with us our provisions and things which had been commanded us, we did put forth into the sea, and were driven forth before the wind, towards the promised land; and after that we had been driven forth before the wind, for the space of many days, behold, my brethren, and the sons of Ishmael, and also their wives, began to make themselves merry, insomuch that they began to dance, and to sing, and to speak with much rudeness, yea, even to that they did forget by what power they had been brought thither; yea, they were lifted up unto exceeding rudeness. And I, Nephi, began to fear exceedingly, lest the Lord should be angry with us, and smite us, because of our iniquity, that we should be swallowed up in the depths of the Sea; wherefore, I, Nephi, began to speak to them with much soberness; but, behold, they were angry with me, saying: We will not that our younger brother shall be a ruler over us.
"And it came to pass that Laman and Lemuel did take me and bind me with cords, and they did treat
stoppers, were afterward made in the top.] "And the Lord said unto the brother of Jared, Behold ye shall be as a whale in the midst of the sea; nevertheless, I will bring you up again out of the depths of the sea."
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me with much harshness; nevertheless, the Lord did suffer it, that he might shew forth his power, unto the fulfilling of his word which he hath spoken, concerning the wicked.
"And it came to pass that after they had bound me, insomuch that I could not move, the compass, which had been prepared of the Lord, did cease to work; wherefore, they knew not whither they should steer the ship, insomuch, that there arose a great storm, yea, a great and terrible tempest; and we were driven back upon the waters for the space of three days; and they began to be frightened exceedingly, lest they should be drowned in the Sea; nevertheless, they did loose me not. And on the fourth day which we had been driven back, the tempest began to be exceeding sore.
"And it came to pass that we were about to be swallowed up in the depths of the sea. And after that we had been driven back upon the waters for the space of four days, my brethren began to see that the judgment of God was upon them, and that they must perish, save that they should repent of their iniquities; wherefore, they came unto me and loosed the bands which was upon my wrists, and behold, they had much swollen, exceedingly; and also, mine ancles were much swollen, and great was the soreness thereof. Nevertheless, I did look unto my God, and I did praise him all the day long; and I did not murmur
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against the Lord, because of mine afflictions.... And it came to pass that after they had loosed me, behold, I took the compass, and it did work whither I desired it. And it came to pass that I prayed unto the Lord; and after that I had prayed, the winds did cease, and the storm did cease, and there was a great calm.
"And it came to pass that I, Nephi, did guide the ship, that we sailed again towards the promised land. And it came to pass that after we had sailed for the space of many days, we did arrive to the promised land; and we went forth upon the land, and did pitch our tents; and we did call it the Promised Land.
"And it came to pass that we did begin to till the earth, and we began to plant seeds; yea, we did put all our seeds into the earth, which we had brought from the land of Jerusalem. And it came to pass that they did grow exceedingly; wherefore, we were blessed in abundance.
"And it came to pass that we did find upon the Land of Promise, as we journied in the wilderness, that there were beasts in the forests of every kind, both the cow, and the ox, and the ass, and the horse, and the goat, and the wild goat, and all manner of wild animals, which were used for the use of men. And we did find all manner of ore, both of gold, and of silver, and of copper.
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"And it came to pass that the Lord commanded me, wherefore I did make plates of ore, that I might engraven upon them the record of my people. And upon the plates which I made, I did engraven the record of my father, and also our journeyings in the wilderness, and the prophecies of my father; and also, many of mine own prophecies have I engraven upon them. And I knew not at that time when I made them, that I should be commanded of the Lord to make these plates; wherefore, the record of my father, and the genealogy of his fathers, and the more part of all our proceedings in the wilderness, are engraven upon those plates of which I have spoken; wherefore, the things which transpired before that I made these plates....
"And after that I had made these plates by way of commandment, I, Nephi, received a commandment, that the ministry, and the prophecies, the more plain and precious parts of them, should be written upon these plates; and that the things which were written, should be kept for the instruction of my people, which should possess the land, and also for other wise purposes, which purposes, are known unto the Lord; wherefore, I, Nephi, did make a record upon the other plates, which gives an account, or which gives a greater account, of the wars, and contentions, and destructions of my people. And this have I done, and commanded my people that they should do, after that I was gone, and that these plates should be handed down from one generation to another, or from
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one prophet to another, until further commandments of the Lord.....
"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. And thus had the twenty and second year passed away, and the twenty and third year also, and the twenty and fourth, and the twenty and fifth; and thus had twenty and five years passed away, and there had been many things transpired which, in the eyes of some, would be great and marvellous; nevertheless, they cannot all be written in this book; yea, this book cannot contain even a hundredth part of what was done among so many people in the space of twenty and five years; but behold there are records which do contain all the proceedings of this people; and a more short but a true account was given by Nephi; therefore I have made my record of these things according to the record of Nephi, which were engraven on the plates which were called the plates of Nephi. And behold I do make the record on plates which I have made with mine own hands. And behold, I am called Mormon, being called after the land of Mormon, the land in the which Alma did establish the church among the people; yea, the first church which was established among them after their transgression. Behold I am a disciple of Jesus Christ, the Son of God. I have been called of him to declare
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his word among his people, that they might have everlasting life.....
"And it came to pass in the thirty and fourth year, in the first month, in the fourth day of the month, there arose a great storm, such an one as never had been known in all the land; and there was also a great and terrible tempest; and there was terrible thunder, insomuch that it did shake the whole earth as if it was about to divide asunder; and there was exceeding sharp lightnings, such as never had been known in all the land. And the city of Zarahemla did take fire; and the city of Moroni did sink into the depths of the sea, and the inhabitants thereof were drowned; and the earth was carried up upon the city of Moronihah, that in the place of the city thereof, there became a great mountain; and there was a great and terrible destruction in the land southward. But behold, there was a more great and terrible destruction in the land northward: for behold, the whole face of the land was changed, because of the tempest, and the whirlwinds, and the thunderings, and the lightnings, and the exceeding great quaking of the whole earth; and the highways were broken up, and the level roads were spoiled, and many smooth places became rough, and many great and notable cities were sunk, and many were burned, and many were shook till the buildings thereof had fallen to the earth, and the inhabitants thereof were slain, and the
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places were left desolate; and there were some cities which remained; but the damage thereof was exceeding great, and there were many in them which were slain; and there were some which were carried away in the whirlwind; and whither they went, no man knoweth, save they know that they were carried away; and thus the face of the whole earth became deformed, because of the tempests, and the thunderings, and the lightnings, and the quaking of the earth. And behold, the rocks were rent in twain; yea, they were broken up upon the face of the whole earth, insomuch that they were found in broken fragments, and in seams, and in cracks, upon all the face of the land. . . .
"And it came to pass that there was thick darkness upon all the face of the land, insomuch that the inhabitants thereof which had not fallen, could feel the vapour of darkness; and there could be no light, because of the darkness, neither candles, neither torches; neither could there be fire kindled with their fine and exceeding dry wood, so that there could not be any light at all; and there was not any light seen, neither fire, nor glimmer, neither the sun, nor the moon, nor the stars, for so great were the mists of darkness which were upon the face of the land.
"And it came to pass that it did last for the space of three days, that there was no light seen; and there
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was great mourning, and howling, and weeping among all the people continually; yea, great were the groanings of the people, because of the darkness and the great destruction which had come upon them. And in one place they were heard to cry, saying: O that we had repented before this great and terrible day, and then would our brethren have been spared, and they would not have been burned in that great city Zarahemla. And in another place they were heard to cry and mourn, saying: O that we had repented before this great and terrible day, and had not killed and stoned the prophets, and cast them out; then would our mothers, and our fair daughters, and our children have been spared, and not have been buried up in that great city Moronihah; and thus were the howlings of the people great and terrible....
"And now I, Mormon, being about to deliver up the record which I have been making, into the hands of my son Moroni, behold, I have witnessed almost all the destruction of my people, the Nephites. And it is many hundred years after the coming of Christ, that I deliver these records into the hands of my son; and it supposeth me that he will witness the entire destruction of my people. But may God grant that he may survive them, that he may write somewhat concerning them, and somewhat concerning Christ, that perhaps some day it may profit them.
"And now, I speak somewhat concerning that which I have written: for after that I had made an abridgment from the plates of Nephi, down to the reign of this king Benjamin, of which Amaleki spake, I searched among the records which had been delivered
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into my hands, and I found these plates, which contained this small account of the Prophets, from Jacob, down to the reign of this king Benjamin; and also, many of the words of Nephi. And the things which are upon these plates pleasing me, because of the prophecies of the coming of Christ; and my fathers knowing that many of them have been fulfilled, yea, and I also know that as many things as have been prophesied concerning us down to this day, has been fulfilled; and as many as go beyond this day, must surely come to pass; wherefore, I chose these things, to finish my record upon them, which remainder of my record I shall take from the plates of Nephi; and I cannot write a hundredth part of the things of my people. But behold, I shall take these plates, which contain these prophecyings and revelations, and put them with the remainder of my record, for they are choice unto me; and I know they will be choice unto my brethren. . . .
"And now I, Mormon, proceed to finish out my record, which I take from the plates of Nephi; and I make it according to the knowledge and the understanding which God hath given me. Wherefore, it came to pass that after Amaleki had delivered up these plates into the hands of king Benjamin, he took them and put them with the other plates, which contained records which had been handed down by the kings, from generation to generation, until the days of king Benjamin; and they were handed down from king Benjamin, from generation to generation, until they have fallen into my hands. And I, Mormon, pray to God that they may be preserved, from this
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time hence forth. And I know that they will be preserved: for there are great things written upon them, out of which my people and their brethren, shall be judged at the great and last day, according to the word of God which is written. . . .
"And now I, Mormon, make a record of the things which I have both seen and heard, and call it the Book of Mormon. And about the time that Ammaron hid up the records unto the Lord, he came unto me, (I being about ten years of age; and I began to be learned somewhat after the manner of the learning of my people,) and Ammaron saith unto me, I perceive that thou art a sober child, and art quick to observe; therefore when ye are about twenty and four years old, I would that ye should remember the things that ye have observed concerning this people; and when ye are of that age, go to the land of Antum, unto a hill, which shall be called Shim; and there have I deposited unto the Lord, all the sacred engravings concerning this people. And behold, ye shall take the plates of Nephi unto yourself, and the remainder shall ye leave in the place where they are; and ye shall engrave upon the plates of Nephi, all the things that ye have observed concerning this people. And I, Mormon, being a descendant of Nephi, (and my father's name was Mormon,) I remembered the things which Ammaron commanded me . . . .
"And now I finish my record concerning the destruction
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of my people, the Nephites. And it came to pass that we did march forth before the Lamanites. And I, Mormon, wrote an epistle unto the king of the Lamanites, and desired of him that he would grant unto us that we might gather together our people unto the land of Camorah, by a hill which was called Camorah, and there we would give them battle. . . .
And it came to pass that when we had gathered in all our people in one to the land of Camorah, behold I, Mormon, began to be old; and knowing it to be the last struggle of my people, and having been commanded of the Lord that I should not suffer that the records which had been handed down by our fathers, which were sacred, to fall into the hands of the Lamanites, (for the Lamanites would destroy them,) therefore I made this record out of the plates of Nephi, and hid up in the hill Camorah, all the records which had been entrusted to me by the hand of the Lord, save it were these few plates which I gave unto my son Moroni. * ...
Behold I, Moroni, do finish the record of my father Mormon. Behold, I have but few things to
* From the Book of Ether: "And behold these two stones will I give unto thee, and ye shall seal them up also, with the things which ye shall write. For behold the language which ye shall write I have confounded; wherefore, I will cause in my own due time that these stones shall magnify to the eyes of men those things which ye shall write." (Urim and Thummim.)
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write, which things I have been commanded of my father. And now it came to pass that after the great and tremendous battle at Camorah, behold, the Nephites which had escaped into the country southward, were hunted by the Lamanites, until they were all destroyed; and my father also was killed by them; and I, even I remaineth alone to write the sad tale of the destruction of my people. But behold, they are gone, and I fulfil the commandment of my father. Behold, four hundred years have passed away since the coming of our Lord and Saviour. And behold, the Lamanites have hunted my people, the Nephites, down from city to city, and from place to place, even until they are no more; and great has been their fall; yea, great and marvellous is the destruction of my people, the Nephites....
"Behold, I am Moroni; and were it possible, I would make all things known unto you. Behold, I make an end of speaking concerning this people. I am the son of Mormon, and my father was a descendant of Nephi; and I am the same which hideth up this record unto the Lord; the plates thereof are of no worth, because of the commandment of the Lord. For he truly saith, That no one shall have them to get gain; but the record thereof is of great worth; and whoso shall bring it to light, him will the Lord bless. For none can have power to bring it to light, save it be given him of God: for God will that it shall be
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done with an eye singled to his glory, or the welfare of the ancient and long dispersed covenant people of the Lord. And blessed be him that shall bring this thing to light: for it shall be brought out of darkness unto light, according to the word of God; yea, it shall be brought out of the earth, and it shall shine forth out of darkness, and come unto the knowledge of the people; and it shall be done by the power of God: and if there be faults, they be the faults of a man."
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But neither the specimen passages reprinted in the preceding pages, nor the book in its entirety, furnish any satisfactory answer to the question of its origin and purpose. Nor is such answer found in the fabulous visions and revelations of the preacher Smith, nominally corroborated as they are by the testimony of his eleven confederate witnesses. The glyph problem, even if Smith had obtained one of those fossil
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curiosities, as has been suggested in another connection, can in no wise apply in this case. these questions, therefore, must necessarily be left to individual choice of solution, as between the conflicting theories and evidence at hand; and it will best accord with the design of this publication, to present for that choice the opposing conclusions of Mormons and Gentiles.
"That a single man, in the midst of the enlightenment of this century, should have been able to throw the lines of mysticism so thoroughly over the minds of hundreds and thousands of men and women, is not more wonderful than the earnest and self-denying faith with which his devotees have sustained an unbroken unity, under circumstances of remarkable privation and peril. Nor is it less surprising that the assumption of a power very nearly absolute, by one man, who is regarded as the legitimate successor of the original prophet, has come to be accepted by this people as a divine ordination, and that to one guiding spirit alone is yielded the homage and obedience which insure the autocratic sway of Brigham Young. Considered in all their relations -- religious, political, moral, or social -- the Mormons are a curious people. Occupying for their headquarters a portion of the American continent which is far removed from the influences of civilization, * and indeed is for many months in the
* This description (from Introduction to Wright & Co.'s New York edition "Book of Mormon") dates back to the beginning of the Mormon
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year totally inaccessible -- cooped up among overhanging mountains -- destitute of the refinements of ordinary social life -- bent beneath the sway of an unscrupulous hierarchy -- holding to practices which, elsewhere than in their own territory, would subject them to the penalties of the law; and, withal, noted for a spirit of zeal, industry, and perseverance, which has enabled them to convert the wildest moods of Nature into servants of their will -- the Mormons have earned an enduring reputation for sincerity, and energy, and capacity. When the secrets of their origin, and progress and government, shall have been added to the published record of their religious belief, this people will rank among the most extraordinary of all the sects that have sprung into life as the world has run its course."
First, in the pursuit of information showing the true origin and correct history of the Book of Mormon, let the reader consider the legendary account adopted by the Mormons themselves. This is furnished in a published statement by Parley P. Pratt, the early convert at Palmyra, and the contemporary of Smith and Rigdon at their first confederated appearance in Ohio, and also an accepted oracle in the subsequent history of Mormonism. According to that authority, the Latter-Day Saints claim that portion
colony in Utah, when that territory was yet in the wilds of Mexico, and before its acquisition by the United States.
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of their history runs back to that extremely remote age when the tongues were confounded at the Tower of Babel. They hold that at the time of that event, the tribes of the earth were scattered abroad, and that the migrations of one particular colony were especially directed by the Lord, who led the favored few across the sea to the Western Continent, now called America. This colony inhabited America for some fifteen hundred years, but were destroyed for their wickedness at a period about six hundred years before Christ. A prophet, Ether, was their historian, and one of the books in the Mormon Bible, which bears his name, gives a full account of his genealogy and of the nature of his prophetic office. Ether seems to have been a lineal descendant from Jared, and Jared was one of the favored colony, led out from the polyglot tribulation at the Tower, and conducted subsequently to the land of rest which was provided on the territory now known as America. the prophet lived to see the last vestige of his nation become extinct, and, having finished the record of its history and destruction, deposited it, under divine direction, in the locality where it was found by another colony.
"The second colony according to the best Mormon authority, was composed of Israelites, and came from Jerusalem about the year 600 B.C., occupying the place of the original colony, which was then extinct
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and re-peopling America. the new colonists were descendants of the tribe of Joseph. They grew and multiplied, became rich and powerful, and in process of time divided into two nations; one of which, the Nephites, so named after its founded Nephi, became noted for enlightenment and civilization, -- while the other branch, the Lamanites, taking their name from their leader Laman, lapsed into barbarism, and were destitute of the refinements and advantages which attend a state of civilized existence. the Mormon historians make this latter branch the immediate progenitors of the American Indians,
"The Mormon history proceeds to record the progress of the opposing nations of the Nephites and Lamanites. the Nephites appear to have been highly favored of the Lord. they enjoyed visions, received the visitation of angels, and the gift of prophecy was handed down from age to age. Finally, they were blessed with a personal appearance of Jesus Christ after His resurrection from the dead; received from Him the doctrine of the Gospel, and were invested with the power of foretelling the events of the future. In this happy condition of grace and wisdom, the race of the Nephites continued until the fourth century of the Christian era, when, through temptation, they fell from their high estate, and finally were destroyed by their wicked neighbors, the Lamanites. the most noted prophet of the
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golden age of the Nephites was Mormon. By divine commandment, Mormon made an abridgment of the sacred records, which contained the history of his forefathers, narrated the prophecies which were made to them, and sketched the events which attended the introduction of the Gospel among them. the history of his own time was appended to this record, and Mormon put the finishing touch to his historical labors, by narrating the destruction of his nation -- both he and his predecessor Ether having been permitted to escape the general destruction, in order that the record of the great events which produced the catastrophe might descend safely to future generations. Mormon, having completed his work, laid him down to die, and intrusted to his son Moroni the task of concealing the plates upon which he had recorded the story of his nation. From this point commences the history of the Mormon Bible.
"In order to preserve the plates from falling into the impious hands of the Lamanites, Moroni deposited them carefully in the earth, in a locality then called the Hill Camorah -- now a part of Ontario County, in the State of New York. the record was carefully sealed up, and buried several feet below the surface of the hill, and the date of that occurrence is fixed about A.D. 420. Fourteen hundred years passed away, until, on the 22d day of September, 1827, an angel of the Lord directed Joseph Smith, Jr. (the
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original prophet), to exhume the long-buried history." *
The legend proceeds with a description of the metallic volume, a part of which was sealed and not to be seen, even by Smith himself, until further revelation, and also of the Urim and Thummim or large spectacles to be used in translating, which are substantially the same as given elsewhere.
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of beans, and proceeded upon his journey. He had not gone far, before he was overtaken by an officer with a search-warrant, who flattered himself with the idea that he should surely obtain the plates; but after searching very diligently, he was sadly disappointed at not finding them. Mr. Smith then drove on, but before he got to his journey's end he was again overtaken by the officer on the same business, and after ransacking the wagon very carefully, he went his way as much chagrined as in the first instance, at not being able to discover the object of his search. Without any further molestation, he pursued his journey until he came into the northern part of Pennsylvania, near the Susquehanna River. Here, by the power of God, and with the aid of two crystals set in a bow (the Urim and Thummim), he translated the unsealed portion of the records into the English tongue, in obedience to the divine command."
The latter portion of this Mormon second-thought -- the alleged procurement of the "translations" in Pennsylvania -- is probably a little nearer the truth than the pretensions first put forth by Smith, Cowdery, Harris, and their prime associates; for their story then was, that the translations were made in the manner before stated, at Smith's residence in Manchester. Whereas, no doubt, the exact truth is, that a copy of their production was made from a manuscript then held by an accomplice in Pennsylvania
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The whole idea of an attempt to harm Smith in any way, or to rob him of his "golden bible," is purely a Mormon invention, based upon no other circumstance in truth, than that an individual creditor in vain sent a constable after him in the hope of securing the payment of a small debt.
"Elder Oliver Cowdery," who was one of the pioneer Mormons at Manchester and Palmyra, published at Independence, Mo., in 1834, a description of the hill where Smith claimed to have obtained the records, with the following ingenious account of their deposit by Moroni; and the same account was republished by one of the Mormon missionaries at Edinburgh in 1840:
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man to draw his own conclusion, and form his own speculation. A hole of sufficient depth was dug; at the bottom of this was laid a stone of suitable size, the upper surface being smooth; at each edge was placed a large quantity of cement, and into this cement at the four edges of this stone, were placed erect four others; their bottom edges resting in the cement, at the outer edges of the first stone. The four last named, when placed erect, formed a box; the corners, or where the edges of the four came in contact, were also cemented so firmly, that the moisture from without was prevented from entering. It is to be observed, also, that the inner surfaces of the four erect or side stones was smooth. This box was sufficiently large to admit a breast-plate, such as was used by the ancients to defend the chest, etc. from the arrows and weapons of their enemy. From the bottom of the box, or from the breast-plate, arose three small pillars, composed of the same description of cement used on the edges; and upon these three pillars was placed the record. This box containing the record was covered with another stone, the bottom surface being flat, and the upper crowning."
Does the reader require proof of the utter untruth of all this parade of particulars about finding any thing of the kind pretended, either in Ontario County or elsewhere? But it is a noticeable incident in the whole progress of the imposture, that the uneducated
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and ignorant character of Smith was turned to his advantage over his followers. His want of cultivation in respect to "the world's wisdom," precluded in their minds the idea of the exercise of any natural or acquired faculties in producing his wonderful revelations and translations. Their reasoning was: "He is unlearned of men, therefore how could he acquire the ancient learning displayed, if it were not supernaturally communicated to him? And they argued, that he could not have made the translations without the plates. Convincing logic for Mormon fanatics!
Here comes in for application and reflection the coincidence of Sidney Rigdon's long-continued incognito sojournments at the money-digger's residence during the Mormon incubation. Who can doubt that he and Smith had become confederates in a grand scheme of cupidity and imposture? They had surreptitiously possessed themselves of a fabulous composition peculiarly adapted to their design. Secrecy and falsehood were necessary to the success of such a scheme, and to these, it is self-evident, they were mutually sworn. The following explanatory statements, received from the best authority, supply the proof:
"About the year 1809, the Reverend Solomon Spaulding, a clergyman who had graduated from Dartmouth College, and settled in the town of Cherry Valley, in the State of New York, removed from that
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place to New Salem (Conneaut), Ashtabula County, Ohio. Mr. Spaulding was an enthusiastic archaeologist. The region to which he removed was rich in American antiquities. The mounds and traces of fortifications abounding there, which have puzzled the brains of many patient explorers, attracted his attention. On account of failing health, he had retired from the active labors of his profession; and being possessed of a lively imagination, and familiar with the classics and ancient history, he sought to beguile the hours of retirement and employ his mind by writing a fabulous historical record of a long-lost race, adopting the hypothesis that his manuscript was found in one of the mounds. He accepted the theory that the American continent had been peopled by a colony of the ancient Israelites. The ample material by which he was surrounded, full of mythical interest and legendary suggestiveness, led him to the conception of the curious literary project referred to. the work was commenced, and progressed slowly for some time. Portions of it were read by Mr. Spaulding to his friends, as its different sections were completed, and after about three years' labor, that is, in 1812 or 1813, the volume was completed, bearing the title of 'The Manuscript Found.'"
Mr. Spaulding submitted his work to a printer named Patterson, at Pittsburgh, Pa., with a view to its publication on joint account. The printing proposal, however, for
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some reason, was not carried out, and the manuscript remained in Patterson's office until 1816, when it was reclaimed by the author, who in that year removed to Amity, Washington County, N. Y. [sic], where he died in 1827. The manuscript remained in the widow's possession until it was missed or stolen from a trunk in Otsego County, where she had removed, about the time the "Book of Mormon" began to be publicly mentioned.
"In the employment of the printer Patterson was a versatile genius, one Sidney Rigdon, to whom no trade came amiss, and who happened at the time to be a journeyman printer at work with Patterson. Disputations on questions of theology were the peculiar delight of Rigdon; and the probable solution of the mystery of this Book of Mormon, is found in the fact, that he had made a copy of Spaulding's manuscript, and communicated information of the existence of the fictitious record to Joseph Smith, Jr.," after becoming acquainted with Smith's money-digging operations. Patterson died in 1826 [sic].
From all the evidence possessed, there can be no doubt that the plan of founding a new system of religion was concocted by these two shrewd and unscrupulous persons, and that the Spaulding fable was its basis. "The fact that the style of the Mormon book so closely imitates that of the received version of the Bible -- a point which seems to have been constantly
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kept in view by Mr. Spaulding, probably in order to invest the fiction with a stronger character of reality -- answered admirably for the purposes of Rigdon and Smith. Superstition readily embraces any thing which has a show of reality, especially if it be sustained by a sanction apparently divine; and the success of this remarkable literary imposture is not more wonderful than the devotion of the Mohammedan to the Koran, which, like the Book of Mormon, is accepted as the standard of a religious faith. The Millerite fanaticism was less marked, but found not less earnest followers."
These statements are derived from the declaration of Mrs. Spaulding herself, as made in 1831 [sic], and subsequently. In that year, Dr. Philastus Hurlburt, living near New Salem, Ohio (after Mormonism had become seated in that State), who had obtained a copy of the Book of Mormon, came by appointment of a public meeting of his neighbors, in pursuit of information on the subject, to Palmyra, N. Y., where he stated that he was acquainted with several reliable persons who had seen the Spaulding manuscript, and who recognized its identity in the main with the printed book. He furthermore obtained the same recognition from Mrs. Spaulding, and from Mr. John Spaulding, a brother of the deceased.
No doubt the Spaulding manuscript was altered by Rigdon and Smith to suit the case in hand and
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meet rising exigencies. Instead, it is apparent from the marked changes in style of composition occurring in numbers of instances, that emendations and additions were made by some other than the original writer's hand
Then too, the verbose title-page -- the incendiarism of Mrs. Harris -- the testimonies of witnesses, and the long line of revelations that followed -- which are not presumed to have been composed by the illiterate Smith, but by Rigdon during Smith's lifetime -- all these are strong corroborative considerations connected with the proofs that Rigdon supplied the literary aliment needed in conforming the Spaulding production to the grand co-partnership Mormon speculation. And it is not known that he has ever disclaimed the part that for more than thirty years has been publicly assigned to him in the great plagiarism and imposture.
Rigdon was in possession of a copy of this manuscript before he had heard of Smith's money-digging delusions, and the application ultimately made of it, as Smith's accomplice, was incidental. It is not a noteworthy retribution in his case, that his Mormon history should come to a sudden close after the murder of Joseph Smith and his brother Hyrum in 1844, when he was defeated by Brigham Young in a contest for the successorship as prophet, and quit Nauvoo and the "saints," under the ban of expulsion?
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He was expelled from a church and colony which he had been so instrumental in bringing into being, and went to Allegany County, N. Y., where he has lived to the present time. A citizen of that county, in reply to inquiries writes: "Rigdon used to lecture on various scientific subjects, and was regarded as a man of ability and a good public speaker. He has been solicited to publish an authentic history of the Mormon speculation, but is said to decline doing so from fear of Mormon vengeance. It is supposed he might, if so minded, give a better reason for his refusal. He is now seventy-five years of age, and his habits are those of seclusion and reticence."
In the pursuit of data for this history, the favor of information was sought from Mr. Rigdon. Preliminary to a proposed personal interview, a note was addressed to him by mail, at "Friendship, Allegany County, N. Y.," of which the following is a copy:
(Prepaid and postage-stamps enclosed.)
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Are you willing to be consulted personally regarding the origin of the Book of Mormon? Or, will you favor me by mail with any information such as may suggest itself to you as useful to me in carrying out a design in hand to write up for publication, a brief, connected, and truthful history of Mormonism and its founders, from the commencement to the present date of that system?
No answer came from Mr. Rigdon.
Brigham Young, now the autocrat-prophet of the saints at Salt Lake City, in reply to the admonition of a friend at the time he joined Smith and the Mormons at Kirtland, said: "The doctrine Smith teaches is all I know about the matter; bring any thing against that if you can; as to any thing else, I don't care if he acts like a devil; he has brought forth a religion that will save us, if we abide by it; he may get drunk every day of his life, sleep with his neighbor's wife
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every night, gamble, and run horses, and be guilty of all you allege against him -- I don't care any thing about these questions, for I don't embrace the man in my faith." This closed the argument.
Peter Ingersoll, a respectable citizen of Palmyra, who had believingly taken some part in Smith's money-digging operations, and was at first inclined to put faith in his "Golden Bible" pretensions, declared under oath, that "Smith told him the whole story was a hoax; that he had found no such book; but that as he had got the d----d fools fixed, he was bound to carry out the fun."
Testimony of the same tenor on this head might be multiplied, if it were not considered superfluous.
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Joseph Smith, Sr., the first "patriarch and president" of the Church, soon removed with his family to Kirtland, and fulfilled the dignity of his office. Harris early made a purchase of property there, and took his place in the Church with the Smiths, Rigdon, Pratt, Cowdery, the Whitmers, and other pioneers -- making occasional return visits in looking after his property affairs at Palmyra.
The next interest was to disseminate to the people the newly revealed "latter-day" religion. The system of missionary labor already inaugurated at Mentor, was put in active requisition; the emissaries pressed the cause with zeal and artistic effect; the trumpet of "the true gospel" was sounded to the gentiles; the superstitious and ignorant were captivated; respectable men and women quaked amid the scene; and conversions were multiplied and blazoned abroad. A sensation was produced unparalleled in the annals of that community; and multitudes, embracing the Smith and Rigdon theory, rushed into the new Zion, as if believing the last days were at hand in sober verity. And fanaticism stood aghast!
Thus was the Mormon Church matured, and the colony of the saints speedily enlarged. Incomers from a distance, professing the faith, reinforced their numbers, including some families of character, influence, and wealth. The prophet, though "uneducated and unlearned in worldly wisdom (quoting the phrase
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used). was acknowledged to possess by the spirit of revelation great heavenly gifts, such as "speaking in unknown tongues, performing miracles, and healing the sick."
No doubt Rigdon from the start had more to do with this strange adventure than Smith; for without the fictitious "records" derived through his instrumentality from the Spaulding fable, the Mormon device, in all probability, would never have been invented. But as a result of circumstances, Smith was necessarily the nominal chief; and, considering his lack of cultivation, he must have been naturally the superior genius of the two. he had been put forward as the prophet, seer, and revelator, and his native sagacity was equal to his opportunity. He availed himself of his advantage in maintaining his preeminence as the grand oracle and generalissimo; and continued to exercise this superiority until the day of his death.
Finding himself surrounded and sustained by large and increasing numbers of believing followers, including some people of ample pecuniary means, Smith tried a bold venture upon their credulity in his own behalf. This was a "revelation" which he communicated to his disciples, to the effect that they should "immediately build a house for the prophet, in which he might live and translate." It was in February, 1831, and the command was cheerfully accepted and
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obeyed. Another revelation, alike successful, shortly followed, commanding that "my chosen Joseph shall not labor for a living."
Though the impostor "seemed to intelligent men little better than a buffoon, his followers regarded him as almost deserving of adoration," and he was enabled by their tribute to revel in whatever luxury or profligacy was most agreeable to his vulgar taste and ambition. His power was now next to omnipotent in Mormondom.
Brigham Young was converted and joined the Mormons at Kirtland in 1832. Like Joseph Smith, Jr., he was a native of Vermont, being his senior by four years. It is a further noteworthy coincidence, that of all his father's family, consisting of five sons with himself, and six daughters, became Mormons -- the father, John Young, afterwards becoming president and patriarch of the Church. Furthermore, Brigham's peculiarities of character were similar to Joseph's. He was shrewd, bold, and resolute, possessing an almost intuitive knowledge of men. He soon attracted attention, and became influential with his brethren. They were involuntarily swayed by his strong, electrical will; and he was recognized as a man born to rule and lead the masses. He was soon ordained one of the quorum of Twelve Apostles that had been organized; and in 1836, the president of that body having apostatized, he was elected to succeed
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him. He went forth and preached and proselyted with marked success. From that day to this his influence and power within the jurisdiction of Mormondom has been resistless.
Brigham Young was early trained to farming, which was his father's occupation, but had learned the trade of painter and glazier, which he followed in the State of New York, until his Mormon conversion at Kirtland. Here the coincidence between him and Smith is broken, for the latter never learned a trade, nor harbored a disposition to "labor for a living."
Up to 1834, the Mormon creed and system of church government were altogether subject to the caprice of "revelation." Smith, sustained by Rigdon, Pratt, and Young, was the supreme ruler in fact over both the spiritual and temporal affairs of his disciples. It became necessary, to avoid possible discontents and jealousies, to have an outward form of organization. In carrying out this purpose a high council was formed as follows:
"This day a general council of twenty-four high priests assembled at the house of Joseph Smith, Jr., by revelation, and proceeded to organize the high council of the Church of Christ, which was to consist of twelve high priests, and one or three presidents as the case might require. The high council was appointed by revelation for the purpose of settling important difficulties which might arise in the Church,
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which could not be settled by the church or the bishop's council to the satisfaction of the parties --
"Joseph Smith, Jr., Sidney Rigdon and Frederick G. Williams were acknowledged presidents by the voice of the council; and Joseph Smith, Sr., John Smith, Joseph Coe, John Johnson, Martin Harris, John S. Carter, Jared Carter, Oliver Cowdery, Samuel H. Smith, Orson Hyde, Sylvester Smith, and Luke Johnson, high priests, were chosen to be a standing council for the Church, by the unanimous voice of the council."
Each quorum had its president; and the president of the quorum of three is the president of the high council, and over all the Church, from whom "comes the administration of ordinances and blessings upon the Church, by the laying on of hands." Joseph Smith, Jr., was the first president. The president is "the seer, revelator, and prophet, having all the gifts of God, which he bestows upon the head of the Church." As president of the high council, he may, "in cases of difficulty respecting doctrine or principle, inquire and obtain the mind of the Lord by revelation."
The prophet had previously provided for his supremacy in the revelation:
"Behold, there shall be a record kept among you, and in it thou shalt be called a seer, a translator, a prophet, an apostle of Jesus Christ, an elder of the
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Church, through the will of God the Father, and the grace of our Lord Jesus Christ, being inspired of the Holy Ghost to lay the foundation thereof, and to build it up into the most holy faith."
And the following important celestial enunciation was added:
"But behold, verily, verily, I say unto thee, no one shall be appointed to receive commandments and revelations in this Church excepting my servant Joseph Smith, Jr., for he receiveth them even as Moses; and thou shalt be obedient unto the things which I shall give unto him, even as Aaron, to declare faithfully the commandments and revelations with power and authority unto the Church. And if thou art led at any time by the Comforter to speak or teach, or at all times by the way of commandment unto the Church, thou mayst do it; but thou shalt not write by way of commandment, but by wisdom. And thou shalt not command him who is at thy head, and at the head of the Church; for I have given him the keys of the mysteries and the revelations which are sealed, until I shall appoint unto them another in his stead."
By these exalted authorities, the prophet becomes the president of the Church, and preserves his absolute power over Mormondom. This absolutism was exercised in continuing to put forth revelations, "performing miracles, preaching in unknown tongues, healing the sick," and sending off missionaries; and at the
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same time securing to himself nearly all the wealth of his followers, under a system of tithing and other forms of ecclesiastical appropriation.
Tithing, in the Mormon hierarchy, is a regular system of the appropriation of individual property for the support and aggrandizement of the prophet and his priesthood. By an early revelation Smith discovered that those having property should convey it to the bishop and his counselors for the support of the poor, for the purchase of lands for the public benefit of the Church, and the building of houses of worship, etc. In August it was revealed to Smith that "all the moneys which can be spared, it mattereth not whether it be little or much, be sent up unto the land of Zion, unto them whom I have appointed to receive."
Subsequently, to meet the rising emergencies, the prophet gave out this very definite revelation:
"In answer to the question, O Lord, show unto thy servants how much thou requirest of the properties of thy people for a tithing? Verily, thus saith the Lord, I require all their surplus property to be put into the hands of the bishop of my church in Zion, for the building of mine house, and for the laying of the foundation of Zion and for the priesthood, and for the debts of the presidency of my Church; and this shall be the beginning of the tithing of my people; and after that, those who have thus been tithed shall pay one-tenth of all their interest annually; and this
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shall be a standing law unto them forever, for my holy priesthood, saith the Lord. Verily I say unto you, it shall come to pass that all those who gather unto the land of Zion shall be tithed of their surplus properties, and shall observe this law, or they shall not be found worthy to abide among you."
The machinery of church government is diversified in its functions, and is not altogether apparent to the profane. The great, studied design, has been to secure despotic power in the few chief impostors, and thus perpetuate the Mormon hierarchy.
There are two priesthoods in the Church -- the Melchisedek and the Aaronic (which latter includes the Levitical). All other authorities are appendages to one or the other of these priesthoods. Each priesthood holds the key of the peculiar mysteries which it has in charge. The key is an important emblem in Mormon symbolics. All heavenly mysteries are duly locked up, and cannot be opened except by the agent who is authorized to hold and use the key. The Melchisedek is the superior priesthood, and consists of high-priests and elders; the Aaronic is inferior, and made up of bishops, priests, teachers, and deacons. The Melchisedek priesthood is clustered about with holy sanctions and sublime mysteries, which strike awe into the minds of the simple-minded believers.
"And the sons of Moses, according to the holy
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priesthood which he received under the hand of his father-in-law Jethro, and Jethro received it under the hand of Caleb, and Caleb received it under the hand of Elihu, and Elihu under the hand of Jeremy, and Jeremy under the hands of Gid, and Gid under the hand of Esaias, and Esaias received it under the hand of God; Esaias also lived in the days of Abraham, and was blessed of him; which Abraham received the priesthood from Melchisedek, who received it through the lineage of his fathers, even till Noah; and from Noah till Enoch, through the lineage of their fathers; and from Enoch to Abel, who was slain by the conspiracy of his brother, who received the priesthood by the commandments of God, by the hand of his father Adam, who was the first man; which priesthood continueth in the Church of God in all generations, and is without beginning of days or end of years."
The power and authority of the Melchisedek priesthood is to hold the keys of all the spiritual blessings to the Church, to have the privilege of receiving the mysteries of the kingdom of heaven, to have the heavens opened unto them, and to enjoy the communion and presence of God the Father, and Jesus Christ the Mediator of the new covenant.
The power and authority of the lesser, or Aaronic priesthood, is to hold the keys of the ministering of angels, and to administer in outward ordinances -- the letter of the gospel -- the baptism of repentance for
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the remission of sins, agreeably to the covenants and commandments. *
The following sketch of the "Faith and Doctrine of the Mormon Church" has been publicly put forth as the accepted theology of Mormonism:
"First, we believe in God, the Eternal Father, and in His Son, Jesus Christ, and in the Holy Ghost, who bears record of them, the same throughout all ages and forever.
"We believe that all mankind, by the transgression of their first parents, and not by their own sins, were brought under the curse and penalty of that transgression, which consigned them to an eternal banishment from the presence of God, and their bodies to an endless sleep in the dust, never more to rise, and their spirits to endless misery under the power of Satan; and that, in this awful condition, they were utterly lost and fallen, and had no power of their own to extricate themselves therefrom.
"We believe, that through the sufferings, death, and atonement of Jesus Christ, all mankind, without one exception, are to be completely, and fully redeemed, both body and spirit, from the endless banishment and curse, to which they were consigned, by Adam's transgression; and that this universal salvation and redemption of the whole human family from the endless penalty of the original sin, is effected
* Ferris's "Utah and the Mormons."
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without any conditions whatsoever on their part; that is, that they are not required to believe, or repent, or be baptized, or do any thing else, in order to be redeemed from that penalty; for whether they believe or disbelieve, whether they repent or remain impenitent, whether they are baptized or unbaptized, whether they keep the commandments or break them, whether they are righteous or unrighteous, it will make no difference in relation to their redemption, both spirit and body, from the penalty of Adam's transgression. the most righteous man that ever lived on the earth, and the most wicked wretch of the whole human family, were both placed under the same curse, without any transgression or agency of their own, and they both alike will be redeemed from that curse without any agency or conditions on their part. Paul says, Rom. v. 18: 'There fore, as by the offense of one, judgment came upon all men to condemnation; even so, by the righteousness of one, the free gift came upon all men unto the justification of life.' This is the reason why all men are redeemed from the grave. This is the reason that the spirits of all men are restored to their bodies. This is the reason that all men are redeemed from their first banishment and restored into the presence of God; and this is the reason that the Saviour said, John xii. 32. 'If I be lifted up from the earth, I will draw all men unto me.' After this full, complete, and universal redemption, restoration, and salvation
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of the whole of Adam's race, through the atonement of Jesus Christ, without faith, repentance, baptism, or any other works, then, all and every one of them, will enjoy eternal life and happiness, never more to be banished from the presence of God, if they themselves have committed no sin: for the penalty of the original sin can have no more power over them at all, for Jesus hath destroyed its power, and broken the bands of the first death, and obtained the victory over the grave, delivered all its captives, and restored them from their first banishment into the presence of his Father; hence eternal life will then be theirs, if they themselves are not found transgressors of some law.
"We believe that all mankind, in their infant state, are incapable of knowing good and evil, and of obeying or disobeying a law, and that, therefore, there is no law given to them, and that where there is no law, there is no transgression; hence they are innocent, and if they should all die in their infant state, they would enjoy eternal life, not being transgressors themselves, neither accountable for Adam's sin.
"We believe that all mankind, in consequence of the fall, after they grow up from their infant state, and come to the years of understanding, know good and evil, and are capable of obeying or disobeying a law, and that a law is given against doing evil, and that the penalty affixed is a second banishment from the presence of God, both body and spirit, after they
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have been redeemed from the first banishment and restored into his presence.
"We believe, that the penalty of this second law can have no effect upon persons who have not had the privilege, in this life, of becoming acquainted therewith; for although the light that is in them, teaches them good and evil, yet that light does not teach them the law against doing evil, nor the penalty thereof.
"We believe that all who have done evil, having a knowledge of the law, or afterwards, in this life, coming to the knowledge thereof, are under its penalty, which is not inflicted in this world, but in the world to come. Therefore such, in this world, are prisoners, shut up under the sentence of the law, awaiting, with awful fear, for the time of judgment, when the penalty shall be inflicted, consigning them to a second banishment from the presence of their Redeemer, who had redeemed them from the penalty of the first law... Be assured, O sinner, that thou canst not devise any way of thine own to escape, nor do anything that will atone for thy sins. Therefore, they case is hopeless, unless God hath devised some way for thy deliverance; but do not let despair seize upon thee: for though thou art under the sentence of a broken law, and has no power to atone for thy sins, and redeem thyself therefrom, yet there is hope in thy case; for He who gave the law, has devised a
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way for they deliverance. That same Jesus, who hath atoned for the original sin, and will redeem all mankind from the penalty thereof, hath also atoned for thy sins, and offereth salvation and deliverance to thee, on certain conditions to be complied with on thy part.
"We believe that the first condition to be complied with on the part of sinners is, to believe in God, and in the sufferings and death of his Son Jesus Christ, to atone for the sins of the whole world, and in his resurrection and ascension on high, to appear in the presence of his Father, to make intercession for the children of men, and in the Holy Ghost, which is given to all who obey the gospel.
"That the second condition is, to repent: that is, all who believe, according to the first condition, are required to come humbly before God, and confess their sins with a broken heart and contrite spirit, and to turn away from them, and cease from all their evil deeds, and make restitution to all they have in any way injured, as far as it is in their power.
"That the third condition is, to be baptized by immersion in water, in the name of the Father, Son, and Holy Ghost, for remission of sins: and that this ordinance is to be administered by one who is called and authorized of Jesus Christ to baptize, otherwise it is illegal, and of no advantage, and not accepted by him; and that it is to be administered only to those
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persons, who believe and repent, according to the two preceding conditions.
"And that the fourth condition is, to receive the laying on of hands, in the name of Jesus Christ, for the gift of the Holy Ghost: and that this ordinance is to be administered by the apostles or elders, whom the Lord Jesus hath called and authorized to lay on hands, otherwise it is of no advantage, being illegal in the sight of God; and that it is to be administered only to those persons, who believe, repent, and are baptized into this church, according to the three preceding conditions. These are the first conditions of the gospel. All who comply with them receive forgiveness of sins, and are made partakers of the Holy Ghost. Through these conditions, they become the adopted sons and daughters of God. Through this process, they are born again, first of water, and then of the Spirit, and become children of the kingdom -- heirs of God -- Saints of the Most High -- the church of the first-born -- the elect people, and heirs to a celestial inheritance, eternal in the presence of God...
"It is the duty and privilege of the Saints thus organized upon the everlasting gospel, to believe in and enjoy all the gifts, powers, and blessings which flow from the Holy Spirit -- such, for instance, as the gifts of revelation, prophecy, visions, the ministry of angels, healing the sick by the laying on of hands in the name of Jesus, the working of miracles, and, in
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short, all the gifts as mentioned in scripture, or as enjoyed by the ancient Saints." We believe that inspired apostles and prophets, together with all the officers as mentioned in the New Testament, are necessary to be in the Church in these days."
The Mormons profess to found their faith and doctrine, and their system of theology, upon the common Bible and Book of Mormon. Very profound reverence is paid by the disciples to the following portion of the latter authority, giving an account of Christ's descent from heaven among the ancient Nephites in the wilderness -- (from first edition, Book of Mormon, p. 476):
"And now it came to pass that there were a great multitude gathered together, of the people of Nephi, round about the temple which was in the land Bountiful; and they were marveling and wondering one with another, and were shewing one to another the great and marvellous change which had taken place; and they were also conversing about this Jesus Christ, of which the sign had been given, concerning his death.
"And it came to pass that while they were thus conversing one with another, they heard a voice, as if it came out of Heaven; and they cast there eyes round about, for they understood not the voice which they heard; and it was not a harsh voice, neither was it a loud voice; nevertheless, and notwithstanding it
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being a small voice, it did pierce them that did hear, to the centre, insomuch that there were no part of their frame that it did not cause to quake; yea, it did pierce them to the very soul, and did cause their hearts to burn. And it came to pass that again they heard the voice, and they understood it not; and again the third time they did hear the voice, and did open their ears to hear it; and their eyes were towards the sound thereof; and they did look steadfastly towards Heaven, from whence the sound came; and behold, the third time they did understand the voice which they heard; and it saith unto them, Behold, my beloved Son, in whom I am well pleased, in whom I have glorified my name: hear ye him.
"And it came to pass as they understood, they cast their eyes up again towards Heaven, and behold, they saw a man descending out of Heaven: and he was clothed in a white robe, and he came down and stood in the midst of them, and the eyes of the whole multitude was turned upon him, and they durst not open their mouths, even one to another, and wist not what it meant: for they thought it was an angel that had appeared unto them.
"And it came to pass that he stretched forth his hand, and spake unto the people, saying: Behold I am Jesus Christ, of which the prophets testified that should come into the world; and behold, I am the light and the life of the world, and I have drank out
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of the bitter cup which the Father hath given me, and have glorified the Father in taking upon me the sins of the world, in the which I have suffered the will of the Father in all things, from the beginning.
"And it came to pass that when Jesus had spake these words, the whole multitude fell to the earth, for they remembered that it had been prophesied among them that Christ should shew himself unto them after his ascension into heaven.
"And it came to pass that the Lord spake unto them saying: Arise and come forth unto me, that ye may thrust your hands into my side, and also that ye may feel the prints of the nails in my hands, and in my feet, that ye may know that I am the God of Israel, and the God of the whole earth, and have been slain for the sins of the world.
"And it came to pass that the multitude went forth, and thrust their hands into his side, and did feel the prints of the nails in his hands and in his feet; and this they did do, going forth one by one, until they had all gone forth, and did see with their eyes, and did feel with their hands, and did know of a surety, and did bear record, that it was he, of whom it was written by the prophets that should come.
"And it came to pass that when they had all gone forth, and had witnessed for themselves, they did cry out with one accord, saying, Hosanna! Blessed be
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the name of the Most High God! And they did fall down at the feet of Jesus, and did worship him.
"And it came to pass that he spake unto Nephi, (for Nephi was among the multitude,) and he commanded him that he should come forth. And Nephi arose and went forth, and bowed himself before the Lord, and he did kiss his feet. And the Lord commanded him that he should arise. And he arose and stood before him. And the Lord said unto him, I give unto you power that ye shall baptize this people, when I am again ascended into heaven.
"And again the Lord called others, and said unto them likewise; and he gave unto them power to baptize. And he saith unto them, On this wise shall ye baptize; and there shall be no disputations among you. Verily I say unto you, that whoso repenteth of his sins through your words, and desireth to be baptized in my name, on this wise shall ye baptize them: Behold, ye shall go down and stand in the water, and in my name shall ye baptize them. And now behold, these are the words which ye shall say, calling them by name, saying: Having authority given me of Jesus Christ, I baptize you in the name of the Father, and 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. And after this manner shall ye baptize in my name, for behold, verily I say unto you, that the Father, and the Son, and the Holy
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Ghost are one; and I am in the Father, and the Father in me, and the Father and I are one. And according as I have commanded you, thus shall ye baptize. And there shall be no disputations among you, as there hath hitherto been; neither shall there be disputations among you concerning the points of my doctrine, as there hath hitherto been; for verily, verily I say unto you, he that hath the spirit of contention, is not of me, but is of the Devil, which is the father of contention, and he stirreth up the hearts of men to contend with anger, one with another. . . .
"I bear record of the Father, and the Father beareth record of me, and the Holy Ghost beareth record of the Father and me, and I bear record that the father commandeth all men, every where to repent and believe in me; and whoso believeth in me, and is baptized, the same shall be saved; and they are they which shall inherit the kingdom of God. And whoso believeth not in me, and is not baptized, shall be damned. . . . Therefore go forth unto this people and declare the words which I have spoken, unto the ends of the earth.
"And it came to pass that when Jesus had spoken these words unto Nephi, and to those which had been called, (now the number of them which had been called, and received power and authority to baptize, were twelve,) and behold he stretched forth his hand unto the multitude, and cried unto them saying: Blessed
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are ye, if ye shall give heed unto them saying, Blessed are ye, if ye shall give heed unto the words of these twelve which I have chosen from among you to minister unto you, and to be your servants; and unto them I have given power, that they may baptize you with water; and after that ye are baptized with water, behold I will baptize you with fire and with the Holy Ghost; therefore blessed are ye, if ye shall believe in me, and be baptized, after that ye have seen me, and know that I am."
(Here follows in continuation nearly the whole of Christ's Sermon on the Mount, as plagiarized from Matthew, with some immaterial alterations, omitting the verse divisions and numbers.) A Mormon temple was erected at Kirtland, at a cost of about fifty thousand dollars, by contributions in money and labor obtained from the saints through the resistless power of Smith's revelation process.
Mormonism, however, became distasteful to the unconverted people of Ohio, and especially obnoxious to the outside inhabitants residing at and near Kirtland. These outsiders were familiar, by information, with the source and history of the "Golden Bible" scheme, and scorned the impostor as beyond the public tolerance. The saints became involved in accusations of immoral and criminal practices -- to which, with the feeling mentioned, and the general exceptionable demeanor of the leaders, may be traced the popular opprobrium rising against the sect. Moreover,
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the "promised land" had been looked for in a more western region, and probably Kirtland had never been fixed upon as a permanent locality for the saints. The two facts combined to determine the Mormon authorities upon a voluntary change of headquarters.
Rigdon [sic] and Cowdery had been sent forward as missionaries and explorers to find a place for the future Zion, and on their return reported in favor of Jackson County, Missouri. Smith and Rigdon repaired there to further view the situation, and they concurred in the selection, and fixed upon the spot now called Independence, in that county. The occasion called forth the following revelation in August of that same year:
"Hearken, O ye elders of my church saith the Lord your God, who have assembled yourselves together, according to my commandments, in this land which is the land of Missouri, which is the land which I have appointed and consecrated for the gathering of the saints. Wherefore this is the land of promise, and the place for the city of Zion... Behold, the place which is now called Independence, is the center place, and the spot for the temple is lying westward upon a lot which is not far from the courthouse; wherefore it is wisdom that the land should be purchased by the saints; and also my tract lying westward, even unto the line running between Jew * and Gentile; and also
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my tract bordering by the prairies, inasmuch as my disciples are enabled to buy lands. Behold, this is wisdom, that they may obtain it for an everlasting inheritance. He that sendeth up treasures unto the land of Zion shall receive an inheritance in this world, and his works shall follow him, and also reward in the world to come. Let all the moneys that can be spared, it mattereth not whether it be little or much, be sent up into the land of Zion, unto them whom I have appointed to receive."
A large tract of land was accordingly purchased at the locality selected; a town site was laid out, which they named Independence; a division of the Mormons removed there, and the work of upbuilding was commenced at once and vigorously prosecuted.
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the benefit of the Church. He had there a sort of bank of issue, on what was then called the "wild-cat" principle, together with a store and a mill. He had, moreover, at Kirtland, a comfortable, well-furnished dwelling house, which the "saints" had provided for him in obedience to revelation. He was, naturally enough, in no haste to part with these luxuries, and it was convenient for him to be "commanded of the Lord" to retain his dwelling-place as stated. Other Mormons, chiefly those with families, also remained behind, to work their farms and better prepare to join the new settlement.
Rigdon took the temporary lead at Independence, though he and Smith occasionally exchanged visits, and continued to act harmoniously together in the revelation business. At one period, however, during this separation by locality, an alienation between these worthies was apparently threatened by some cause not definitely understood; though this menace -- perhaps unfortunate for both of them ultimately -- was averted without an open rupture. Very likely the aspiring ambition of Brigham Young, who was with Smith at Kirtland at this time, was the chief agency in giving rise to some jealousies; but the threatened rupture, if permitted by Smith to occur, would have endangered if not blown up the whole Mormon project. And, of course, the culmination was averted.
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Smith's banking and commercial enterprises at Kirtland finally resulted disastrously. His circulating medium had no redeeming basis, and was worthless in the hands of the people. His bank exploded, his mill stopped, and his store closed. These secular operations proved him an incompetent banker, and indifferent merchant, and a poor business-man. The popular excitement rose high against him and his religious pretensions. His effects in Ohio were hastily disposed of to the best practicable advantage, and in 1835 he accepted Missouri as his "promised land" and safer abiding-place. Young fled with him.
In the month of January, 1838, Smith and Rigdon, being at Kirtland together, were both arrested on charges of swindling, in connection with their worthless paper bank and other fraudulent operations. The suit was instituted by citizens who had become incensed by the perplexing losses they had sustained; and they were understood to be joined in the proceeding by some disaffected or "apostate" Mormons. The prisoners, however, escaped back from the sheriff in the night, and made their way on horseback to Missouri. Smith gave the following version of the affair in the Evening and Morning Star, at Independence:
"A new year dawned upon the Church at Kirtland in all the bitterness of the spirit of apostate mobocracy, which continued to rage and grow hotter and hotter, until Elder Rigdon and myself were
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obliged to flee from its deadly influence, as did the apostles and prophets of old, and as Jesus said, 'When they persecute you in one city, flee ye to another;' and on the evening of the 12th of January, about ten o'clock, we left Kirtland on horseback to escape mob violence, which was about to burst upon us under the color of legal process to cover their hellish designs, and save themselves from the just judgments of the law. The weather was extremely cold, and we were obliged to secrete ourselves, sometimes, to elude the grasp of our pursuers, who continued their race more than two hundred miles from Kirtland, armed with pistols etc., seeking our lives."
Before leaving Kirtland, the "saints" encountered schisms and dissensions among themselves, such as would have put an end to the progress of a less persevering people in a better cause. Renunciations, secessions, and apostasies, at this period in their career, had become common occurrences. And these troublesome elements, as will be seen, were transmitted to Missouri, and indeed wherever they have had existence. Expulsions from the Church, and published proscriptions, have been the frequently occurring consequences, though restorations have been brought about when acceptable to the parties affected.
Martin Harris, it will be remembered, was the devoted follower and generous patron of Smith in the times of his greatest need. He supplied the material
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aid so necessary in starting the Mormon train. He paid for printing the original edition of the "Golden Bible," thus supplying the foundation of the Mormon Church; and he gave to Smith his wedding-suit, on the pretense of its being consecrated to the "missionary" service. he was, moreover, the sole "witness" approaching to credibility in the matter of the veritable existence of the metallic records. And notwithstanding the failure of the book-printing as an anticipated money speculation, he continued his liberal contributions to Smith, accepting as binding the latter's "revelations" from time to time requiring his coffers to be filled by the "saints." But Harris, becoming reduced in his worldly circumstances, fell into disrepute with his trusted friend, who complained of his extreme fanaticism, his loquacity and officiousness. He demanded higher "spiritual" consideration in the synagogue than was held to be consistent or safe by the prophet. the fanaticism that was so welcome when available in the pecuniary means, was not at all the qualification required by the cunning Smith in the conductors of the imposture at its maturity. Appeals were made for recognition of the obligation imposed and the promises made at Manchester and Palmyra. But these appeals were unheeded by Smith. Having lost his property and his home in the incipiency of the "saint" speculation, the cheated fanatic was ungratefully discarded by the
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now comparatively affluent recipient of his early munificence.
The alienation was widened, and the feud became bitter. Smith posted Harris and others in the "Elder's Journal" in this form:
"There are negroes who wear white skins, as well as black ones -- Grames Parish and others who acted as lackeys, such as Martin Harris; but they are so far beneath contempt, that a notice of them would be too great a sacrifice for a gentleman to make."
Harris was expelled from the Church. he was, however, afterward awarded a restoration, which proffer of grace he declined, and permanently seceded from the Smith organization. he nevertheless maintained his adhesion to his Mormon faith. This is in accordance with his own declaration as made when he was last at the scene of his early delusion, in the summer of 1858. Then his condition was that of extreme poverty, being an object of deep-felt sympathy to the contemporaries of his days of prosperity. His last fixed residence is understood to have been at Kirtland.
Others of the pioneer "saints" found difficulties in their pathway. Oliver Cowdery, the amanuensis to the translator of the Golden Bible, and David Whitmer, another of the "witnesses" in this matter, appear to have been prominent among those falling into transgression and tribulation. At Independence, Rigdon
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publicly charged these men with being connected with "a gang of counterfeiters, thieves, liars, and blacklegs of the deepest dye," and with "deceiving, cheating, and defrauding the saints." And Hyrum Smith, who had been imprisoned in the Jackson County jail, wrote this certificate of character for Cowdery:
"Those with whom I had been acquainted from my youth, and who had ever pretended the greatest friendship toward me, came to my house while I was in prison, and ransacked and carried off many of my valuables; this they did under the cloak of friendship. Among those who treated me thus, I cannot help making mention of Lyman Cowdery, who, in connection with his brother, Oliver Cowdery, took from me a great many things, compelled my aged father, by threatening to bring a mob upon him, to deed over to him, or to his brother Oliver, about one hundred and sixty acres of land, to pay a note which I had given Oliver for one hundred and sixty-five dollars."
Oliver Cowdery was afterward arraigned before the Church, and found guilty of the following among other charges:
"Seeking to destroy the character of Joseph Smith, Jr., by falsely insinuating that he was guilty of adultery.
"Disgracing the Church by being connected with the bogus business, as common report says."
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Conviction and expulsion were the fate of Cowdery, in this instance; though he was shortly afterward received again into the bosom of the Mormon sanctuary, and continued his labors as an accredited "elder" of that persuasion.
In Missouri, after a brief career of prosperity, the history of the Mormons became one of almost continuous warfare with the citizens of the neighboring country as a community, and with the public authorities of their different localities and the State. jealousies and dissensions among themselves aggravated their afflictions and their perils. But determination and perseverance, such as is repelled by no obstacles within human endurance, marked the character of Smith and his associate leaders to the last -- Mormonism knowing no other motto than "onward," while its pursuit is possible.
The interests of their embryo town (Independence) having been confided to committees appointed for that purpose, who had been indefatigable in the prosecution of the required improvements, the place had come to contain about twelve hundred Mormons in 1834. At this early period of their Missouri history, the alleged licentious character and fraudulent practices in regard to the then existing slavery question, caused an excited state of feeling among the Missouri people against them. They were accused of stealing cattle
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and other property, of being connected with counterfeiting gangs, and of nearly all the various offenses in the criminal catalogue.
A public meeting of the inhabitants of the surrounding towns was called to consider the subject of ridding themselves of the source of their annoyance. The meeting was held on the 20th of July, at which it was resolved to expel the Mormons from the State. What was characterized as an "indecent and libelous publication" had appeared in Phelps' paper, and this served to inflame still more the excited minds of the Missourians. Riotous scenes of violence followed. the printing-office was destroyed, several of the "saints" were tarred and feathered, and others were killed and wounded while defending their rights.
By the interposition of the local authorities, a temporary suspension of this mob violence followed, but the populace refused to revoke their resolution. the meeting reassembled on the 23d of July, in augmented and armed force, when the determination for the expulsion of the whole Mormon tribe from the State was unanimously voted. Conferences were held between the belligerents, resulting in an agreement on the part of the "saints" to remove from Jackson County as soon as practicable, reserving the privilege of an opportunity to dispose of their property and provide for removal. the agreement was in writing, and signed by the leaders of the two parties. the Mormons
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were allowed the time until the following spring to complete their part of the agreement.
In the interim, the governor of the State was appealed to by the Mormons for redress, and he advised them to apply to the courts. Accordingly, encouraged by this favor of the State, suits were commenced against several of the ringleaders of the mob; and having taken the advice of Smith at Kirtland, the aggrieved party resolved to disregard the forced treaty and maintain their ground. Further lawless violence was thus provoked; a sort of civil war took place; both parties were armed; and two Missourians were among the Killed. the saints were overpowered.
The Mormons now hastily abandoned their position, most of them going into Clay County as a temporary refuge, expecting to return to Independence and resume their possessions there after judicial action should secure to them protection. the persecution endured by them enlisted in their behalf the general sympathies of the people, and brought in converts. they spread into Caldwell and Davies Counties, establishing the city of Far West in the latter county, and under the prevailing impulse continued for a while to prosper and multiply their numbers.
The Missourians "found in their midst an ignorant, clannish population, combined together by religious fanaticism, arrogant and overbearing in their pretensions, and completely under the control of a single
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will." The popular outside feeling again became excited against the tribe. This gave rise to a public meeting of the inhabitants in June, 1836, by which a resolution was passed admonishing the obnoxious community to leave the State -- time being allowed them as before to harvest their crops and dispose of their property. The "saints," fearing the consequences of a different policy, agreed to the proposal.
In the mean time, the Mormons had not sold their property at Independence; and, under Smith's advice, refused to sell at any price, contending that "the Lord had said that Zion should not be removed out of her place; therefore the land should not be sold, but be held by the saints, until the Lord in his wisdom opens a way for their return." Criminal proceedings were instituted against those who had forcibly ejected the owners, and were in some instances lawlessly occupying the property.
Time passed; one provocation led to another; mob violence revived; the State militia was called out by the governor; both parties were armed; Smith determined to defend his legal rights at all hazards; and mortal combat was imminent. the sum and substance of the result was, the anti-Mormons achieved an easy victory. None were killed or seriously wounded on either side. the Prophet Joseph and his brother Hyrum, with some forty others of their party, were captured and imprisoned in the county
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jail. Thus ended the struggle, and the Mormons finally agreed with the State authorities that they would permanently leave the State. What heightened the difficulty of the Mormons in this, as in the former conflicts, was the fact of their having to encounter exasperated seceders among the most savage of their enemies.
General Clark, who commanded the Missouri State militia in this affair, said, in a dispatch to governor Boggs, November 10, 1838:
"There is no crime, from treason down to petit larceny, but these people, or a majority of them, have been guilty of -- all, too, under the counsel of Joseph Smith, Jr., the prophet. they have committed treason, murder, arson, burglary, robbery, larceny, and perjury. They have societies formed under the most binding covenants in form, and the most horrid oaths, to circumvent the laws and put them at defiance; and to plunder, and burn, and murder, and divide the spoils for the use of their Church."
In answer to this dispatch, the governor wrote to the general, that "the ringleaders of the rebellion should be made an example of; and, if it should become necessary to the public peace, the Mormons should be exterminated or expelled from the State."
The Mormons could not longer stem the tide of popular exasperation against them, and had no other alternative than to quit Missouri, which they did as
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speedily as possible. By agreement, commissioners were appointed by the Governor to sell their property, pay their debts, and aid them in removing. the Legislature appropriated two thousand dollars for this object, and liberal contributions to the same end were made by individuals. Many of the retreating families were in destitute circumstances, and could not have gone without great distress, but for the means thus supplied.
Thus reduced to fugitives and wanderers, the proscribed 'saints" were compelled to scatter in different directions. their condition would now challenge comparison with that of the "scattered tribes" of their Babylonish ancestors. they had almost come to doubt, indeed, that "the earth is the residence of the saints." Before the close of 1839 they had all been driven from Missouri.
Governor Boggs, in a special communication on this subject to the Missouri Legislature, in 1840, thus refers to the Mormons:
"These people had violated the laws of the land by open force and avowed resistance to them; they had undertaken, without the aid of the civil authority, to redress their real or fancied grievances; they had instituted among themselves a government of their own, independent and in opposition to the government of this State, that had, at an inclement season of the year, driven the inhabitants of an entire county
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from their homes, ravaged their crops, and destroyed their dwellings. Under these circumstances, it became the imperious duty of the executive to interfere, and exercise the powers with which he was invested to protect the lives and property of our citizens, to restore order and tranquillity to the country, and maintain the supremacy of the laws."
Leaving Missouri, the Mormons crossed the river into Illinois, most of them finding refuge in Hancock County -- some of them, however, returning to Ohio, and a few of the repentant dupes withdrawing entirely from the brotherhood. The main body established themselves at the point on the Mississippi, in Hancock County, which they named Nauvoo,
Perhaps the occasion should not pass without the remark, that by enlightened people the Mormons were regarded as the victims of misguided vengeance in Missouri. the ruffianly violence they encountered at the hands of lawless mobs, in several instances eventuating in deliberate murder, finds no extenuation in any alleged provocation. The due process of law might have afforded adequate redress for the criminalities of which they should be found guilty on legal trial. Such were the view of the subject rightly taken by the people of Illinois and of the world, though it may have been wrongfully applied in favor of the cause of the persecuted.
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leaders, and the endurance and enthusiasm evidenced by their ignorant and fanatical followers, amid all the varieties of their good and evil fortune, would have deserved high admiration in a meritorious cause.
From Brigham Young, Parley P. Pratt, * and others, who had been sent out from Ohio and Missouri as foreign missionaries, to spread the Mormon gospel to the uttermost parts of the earth, vividly encouraging accounts were received by Prophet Smith. In the spring of 1841, Young shipped from Liverpool to New York for the "promised land." seven hundred and sixty-nine of the faithful; and at the same time returned himself to Nauvoo, leaving in England, Scotland, and Wales, numerous churches with organizations completed, as the results of the labors of himself and his colleagues. the Book of Mormon had been distributed, religious papers established and circulated, and all the proselytizing machinery set in operation in those countries, such as were calculated to convince and win the minds suitably constituted to receive the pretensions put forth.
These immigrants, followed by similar masses from abroad, were joyfully received at Nauvoo, rapidly
* Pratt rejoined the Mormon brotherhood at Salt Lake, and was afterwards assassinated by the exasperated husband of a woman who had been converted to Mormonism in Arkansas, in 1856. See Appendix for particulars.
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augmenting the population of that "Saints' rest." Like accessions of foreign converts had been previously received in Missouri; and these, with others originally destined for that State, were turned to a the city. Mormonism was proving its claim as the grand focus of the fanatical element of the world.
Smith saw his opportunity and embraced it. he put forth a revelation, in which, among other requirements, a temple was commanded to be built, and the saints, far and near, were called upon to come forward with their gold, silver, precious stones, and property and means of every kind needed, and also with the labor of their hands to fulfill this "requirement of the Lord." The response was prompt and enthusiastic. In the same season, with imposing ceremonies, was laid the corner-stone of a temple, which was to compare in size and magnificence with Solomon's at Jerusalem. An effective lever in aid of this enterprise was the Mormon invention of the doctrine of "baptism for the dead," whereby the living could be baptized for the salvation of the souls of deceased friends. This, to be efficacious, must be done in a spiritually dedicated temple. The doctrine continues to be a prominent feature in the Mormon faith and practice.
A liberal city charter was obtained from the Illinois Legislature, in 1842, granting, among other extraordinary powers, that of raising a strong military
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organization. The "Nauvoo Legion," extending finally to an armed force of four thousand men, with Smith as the general in command, was one of the fruits of this State action. Smith superbly equipped himself, and called to his aid a splendid staff. At the last dress parade of the Legion, he was accompanied in the field by a display of ten of his spiritual wives or concubines, dressed in a fine uniform, and mounted on elegant white horses.
Mormonism was more than itself again, and things went on swimmingly. The "saints" were now estimated to number from twelve to fifteen thousand, in Nauvoo City and its vicinity. Smith had introduced the system of "spiritual wifeism," and had largely increased his household by celestial "ensealment." This was the preliminary step of polygamy, or its practical adoption, though it had not yet been revealed as a tenet in the Mormon creed. Howbeit, he wanted a house built for himself, and made a call upon his followers. It was a revelation for a hotel institution, in which he was to have his headquarters, concluding as follows:
"Therefore, let my servant Joseph, and his seed after him, have place in that house from generation to generation, for ever and ever, saith the Lord; and let the name of that house be called the Nauvoo House; and let it be a delightful habitation for a man, and a resting place for the weary traveler."
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This command, like all other communications from the same source, was accepted as of heavenly authenticity, and fulfilled with alacrity; for it was reasoned by his disciples, that "an uneducated man who could outdo all the wisdom of the world in translating the hieroglyphic records constituting the Book of Mormon, can be no other than an inspired prophet who is to be obeyed."
The Nauvoo House was built, and amply furnished, and Smith was at once its proprietor and chief guest. Suits of well-furnished rooms were appropriated to the use of himself and his family -- most of his spiritual wives continuing to live at their respective homes, some of them remaining with their believing temporal husbands. he reveled in luxury, played the gentleman and the saint, hospitably entertained his friends, and became exceedingly popular in the Church and in the outside world. From the vagabondish, taciturn, penniless "Joe Smith," at the beginning of his Mormon scheme, he had become the rubicund, genial, affluent autocrat-prophet, of two hundred and twenty pounds avoirdupois, with forty wives all told. His children could not be enumerated with any degree of accuracy.
The great Mormon ruler, in addition to his extraordinary ecclesiastical prerogatives, was now (1843) commandant of the Nauvoo Legion, mayor of the city, and "monarch of all he surveyed." He aspired to yet
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higher dignity, and was announced in the Times and Seasons as a candidate for the presidency of the United States. He held correspondence with Clay and Calhoon upon grave national topics, especially in reference to the policy he ought to pursue if he should be elected. Thousands of his followers cherished an undoubting faith in the realization of such a result, By this tithing levies, he had amassed a fortune estimated at a million of dollars, as property was valued at Nauvoo. The number of converts, at home and abroad, was claimed to be one hundred thousand, and rapidly increasing.
Such is a glancing view of Smith's spiritual and temporal circumstances when the first revelation in favor of polygamy occurred. This heavenly communication, however, was for years withheld as a secret from all but the initiated dignitaries of the Church. It was not, indeed, generally admitted as a part of the religion of the "saints," until after the hegira to Salt Lake, when its first publication appeared by authority in the Deseret News, September 14, 1852. From that date it has been accepted as a fundamental tenet in the Mormon theology.
This subject may be regarded as a vastly important one, whether considered as the epoch of an institution under assumed religious sanctions, which is condemned by the laws and by the civilization of the age, or in reference to the ultimate consequences and
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perils to the sect immediately affected. Both on this account, and as a further specimen of the Smith-Rigdon adroitness in "revelation," the essential portions of the document are here inserted. As officially promulgated in the manner above stated, it is entitled --
"Verily, thus saith the Lord unto you, my servant Joseph, that inasmuch as you have inquired of my hand to know and understand wherein I, the Lord, justified my servants Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob; as also Moses, David and Solomon, my servants, as touching the principle and doctrine of their having many wives and concubines: Behold! and lo, I am the Lord thy God, and will answer thee as touching this matter: therefore, prepare thy heart to receive and obey the instructions which I am about to give unto you; for all those who have this law revealed unto them must obey the same; for behold, I reveal unto you a new and an everlasting covenant; and if ye abide not that covenant, then are ye damned; for no one can reject this covenant and be permitted to enter into my glory. . . .
"And verily I say unto you, that the conditions of this law are these: All covenants, contracts, bonds, obligations, oaths, vows, performances, connections, associations, or expectations, that are not made and
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entered into and sealed by the Holy Spirit of promise, of him who is anointed, both as well for time and for all eternity, and that too most holy, by revelation and commandment through the medium of mine anointed, whom I have appointed on the earth to hold this power (and I have appointed unto my servant Joseph to hold this power in the last days, and there is never but one on the earth at a time on whom this power and the keys of this priesthood are conferred), are of no efficacy, virtue, or force in and after the resurrection from the dead; for all contracts that are not made unto this end, have an end when men are dead....
"Therefore, if a man marry him a wife in the world, and he marry her not by me nor by my word, and he covenant with her so long as he is in the world and she with him, their covenant and marriage are not of force when they are dead, and when they are out of the world; therefore, they are not bound by any law when they are out of the world; therefore, when they are out of the world they neither marry nor are given in marriage; but are appointed angels in heaven, which angels are ministering servants, to minister for those who are worthy of a far more, and an exceeding, and an eternal weight of glory. . . .
"And again, verily I say unto you, if a man marry a wife, and make a covenant with her for time and for all eternity, if that covenant is not by me or
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by my word, which is my law, and is not sealed by the Holy Spirit of promise, through him whom I have anointed and appointed unto this power, then it is not valid neither of force when they are out of the world, because they are not joined by me, saith the Lord, neither by my word; when they are out of the world it cannot be received there, because the angels and the gods are appointed there, by whom they cannot pass; they cannot, therefore, inherit my glory; for my house is a house of order, saith the Lord God.
"And again, verily I say unto you, if a man marry a wife by my word, which is my law, and by the new and everlasting covenant, and it is sealed unto them by the Holy Spirit of promise, by him who is anointed, unto whom I have appointed this power and the keys of this priesthood; and it shall be said unto them, Ye shall come forth in the first resurrection; and if it be after the first resurrection, in the next resurrection; and shall inherit thrones, kingdoms, principalities, and powers, dominions, all heights and depths, then shall it be written in the Lamb's Book of Life, that he shall commit no murder whereby to shed innocent blood . . . .
"Verily, verily, I say unto you, if a man marry a wife according to my word, and they are sealed by the Holy Spirit of promise, according to mine appointment, and he or she shall commit any sin or transgression of the new and everlasting covenant whatever,
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and all manner of blasphemies, and if they commit no murder wherein they shed innocent blood, yet they shall come forth in the first resurrection, and enter into their exaltation; but they shall be destroyed in the flesh, but shall be delivered unto the buffetings of Satan unto the day of redemption, saith the Lord God....
"I am the Lord thy God, and will give unto thee the law of my Holy priesthood, as was ordained by me and my Father before the world was. Abraham received all things, whatsoever he received, by revelation and commandment, by my word, saith the Lord, and hath entered into his exaltation and sitteth upon his throne.
"Abraham received promises concerning his seed, and of the fruit of his loins -- from whose loins ye are, namely, my servant Joseph -- which were to continue so long as they were in the world; and as touching Abraham and his seed, out of the world they should continue; both in the world and out of the world should they continue as innumerable as the stars; or, if ye were to count the sand upon the seashore ye could not number them. This promise is yours also, because ye are of Abraham, and the promise was made unto Abraham; and by this law is the continuation of the works of my Father, wherein he glorifieth himself. Go ye, therefore, and do the works of Abraham; enter ye into my law and ye shall be
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saved. But if ye enter not into my law ye cannot receive the promise of my Father, which he made unto Abraham.
"God commanded Abraham, and Sarah gave Hagar to Abraham to wife. And why did she do it? Because this was the law; and from Hagar sprang many people. This, therefore, was fulfilling, among other things, the promises. Was Abraham, therefore, under condemnation? Verily I say unto you, Nay; for I, the Lord, commanded it. Abraham was commanded to offer his son Isaac; nevertheless, it was written: Thou shalt not kill. Abraham, however, did not refuse, and it was accounted unto him for righteousness.
"Abraham received concubines, and they bore him children; and it was accounted unto him for righteousness, because they were given unto him, and he abode in my law; as Isaac also and Jacob did none other things than that which they were commanded; and because they did none other things than which they were commanded, they have entered into their exaltation, according to the promises, and sit upon thrones, and are not angels but gods. David also received many wives and concubines, and also Solomon and Moses my servants, as also many others of my servants, from the beginning of creation until this time; and in nothing did they sin save in those things which they received not of me.
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"David's wives and concubines were given unto him of me, by the hand of Nathan, my servant, and others of the prophets who had the keys of this power; and in none of these things did he sin against me save in the case of Uriah and his wife; and, therefore he hath fallen from his exaltation, and received his portion; and he shall not inherit them out of the world, for I gave them unto another, saith the Lord.
"I am the Lord thy God, and I gave unto thee, my servant Joseph, an appointment, and restore all things. Ask what ye will, and it shall be given unto you according to my word; and as ye have asked concerning adultery, verily, verily, I say unto you, if a man receiveth a wife in the new and everlasting covenant, and if she be with another man, and I have not appointed unto her by the holy anointing, she hath committed adultery and shall be destroyed. If she be not in the new and everlasting covenant, and she be with another man, she has committed adultery; and if her husband be with another woman, and he was under a vow, he hath broken his vow and hath committed adultery; and if she hath not committed adultery, but is innocent and hath not broken her vow, and she knoweth it, and I reveal it unto you, my servant Joseph, then shall you have power, by the power of my holy priesthood, to take her and give her unto him that hath not committed adultery but hath been faithful; for he shall be made ruler over
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many; for I have conferred upon you the keys and power of the priesthood, wherein I restore all things, and make known unto you all things in due time.
"And verily, verily, I say unto you, that whatsoever you seal on earth shall be sealed in heaven; and whatsoever you bind on earth, in my name and by my word, saith the Lord, it shall be eternally bound in the heavens; and whosoever sins you remit on earth shall be remitted eternally in the heavens; and whosoever sins you retain on earth shall be retained in heaven....
"And again, verily I say unto you, my servant Joseph, that whatsoever you give on earth, and to whomsoever you give any one on earth, by my word and according to my law, it shall be visited with blessings and not cursings, and with my power, saith the Lord, and shall be without condemnation on earth and in heaven, for I am the Lord thy God, and will be with thee even unto the end of the world, and through all eternity; for verily I seal upon you your exaltation, and prepare a throne for you in the kingdom of my Father, with Abraham your father. Behold! I have seen your sacrifices, and will forgive all your sins; I have seen your sacrifices in obedience to that which I have told you. Go, therefore, and I make a way for your escape, as I accepted the offering of Abraham of his son Isaac.
"Verily, I say unto you, A commandment I give unto mine handmaid, Emma Smith, your wife, whom I
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have given unto you, that she stay herself and partake not of that which I commanded you to offer unto her; for I did it, saith the Lord, to prove you all, as I did Abraham, and that I might require an offering at your hand, by covenant and sacrifice; and let mine handmaid, Emma Smith, receive all those that have been given unto my servant Joseph, and who are virtuous and pure before me; and those who are not pure, and have said they were pure, shall be destroyed, saith the Lord God; for I am the Lord thy God, and ye shall obey my voice; and I give unto my servant Joseph that he shall be made ruler over many things; for he hath been faithful over a few things, and from henceforth I will strengthen him.
"And I command mine handmaid, Emma Smith, to abide and cleave unto my servant Joseph, and to none else. But if she will not abide this commandment she shall be destroyed, saith the Lord; for I am the Lord thy God, and will destroy her if she abide not in my law; but if she will not abide this commandment, then shall my servant Joseph do all things for her, even as he hath said; and I will bless him and multiply him and give unto him an hundred-fold in this world, of fathers and mothers, brothers and sisters, houses and land, wives and children, and crowns of eternal lives in the eternal worlds. And again, verily I say, let mine handmaid forgive my servant Joseph his trespasses; and then shall she be
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forgiven her trespasses, wherein she has trespassed against me; and I; the Lord thy God, will bless her, and multiply her, and make her heart to rejoice.
"And again, I say, let not my servant Joseph put his property out of his hands, lest an enemy come and destroy him; for Satan seeketh to destroy; for I am the Lord thy God, and he is my servant; and behold, and lo, I am with him, as I was with Abraham, thy father, even unto his exaltation and glory....
"And again, as pertaining to the law of the priesthood: if any man espouse a virgin, and desire to espouse another, and the first give her consent; and if he espouse the second, and they are virgins, and have vowed to no other man, then he is justified; he cannot commit adultery, for they are given unto him; for he cannot commit adultery with that belonging unto him, and to none else; and if he have ten virgins given unto him by this law he cannot commit adultery, for they belong to him, and they are given unto him; therefore is he justified. But if one or either of the ten virgins, after she is espoused, shall be with another man, she has committed adultery, and shall be destroyed; for they are given unto him to multiply and replenish the earth, according to my commandment, and to fulfill the promise which was given by my Father before the foundation of the world, and for their exaltation in the eternal worlds, that they
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may bear the souls of men; for herein is the work of my Father continued, that he may be glorified.
"And again, verily, verily, I say unto you, If any man have a wife who holds the keys of his power, and he teaches unto her the law of my priesthood as pertaining to these things, then shall she believe and administer unto him, or she shall be destroyed, saith the Lord your God; for I will destroy her; for I will magnify my name upon all those who receive and abide in my law. therefore it shall be lawful in me if she receive not this law, for him to receive all things whatsoever I, the Lord his God, will give unto him according to my word; and she then becomes the transgressor, and he is exempt from the law of Sarah, who administered unto Abraham according to the law, when I commanded Abraham to take Hagar to wife. And now, as pertaining to this law, verily, verily, I say unto you, I will reveal more unto you hereafter; therefore let this suffice for the present. Behold! I am Alpha and Omega. Amen."
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