New York Weekly Messenger

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“Mormonism.” New York Weekly Messenger and Young Men’s Advocate (29 April 1835). Reprinted from The Pioneer (Rock Springs, Illinois), March 1835.


This imposture had its origin in Ontario county, N. York, in 1830. The ostensible projector was an idle, worthless fellow, by the name of Jos. Smith—the real inventors of the delusion, have had adroitness enough to “keep dark” as yet. Smith pretended that he had found some golden or brass plates, like the leaves of a book, hid in a box in the earth, to which he was directed by an Angel, in 1827,—that the writing on them was in the “Reformed Egyptian language,”—that he was inspired to interpret the writing, or engraving, by putting a plate in his hat, putting two smooth flat stones, which he found in the box, in the hat, and putting his face therein—that he could not write, but as he translated, one Oliver Cowdry wrote it down. The next step was to operate upon a superstitious and credulous farmer, by the name of Martin Harris, and induce him to sell his farm, worth, it is said three thousand dollars, to raise funds to print the Book!

Harris was a professor of religion, and believed much in dreams, and supernatural communications, and was easily persuaded to believe Smith’s story about the plates and the Angel. To confirm his faith, and get his money, they pretended to show him some of the plates, and got him several other persons by name of Whitmir, and Smith’s relations, to certify to the plates. The probability is that Smith, who had been a book-pedlar, and was frequently about printing establishments, had procured some old copper plates for engravings, which he showed for his golden plates.

It is pretended that the “Book of Mormon,” was translated by Joe Smith from these plates.

Of the falsehood of this, the book itself contains the most unquestionable evidence. On the truth or falsity of Smith’s pretended inspiration and of the character of this “Book of Mormon,” rests the whole scheme. If the Book in general is a fable—with the extravagant stories, then Joe Smith Junior, is a base imposter—a worthless fellow, and all his followers are most wretchedly deceived and deluded.

I have not space, nor is it necessary, to give any thing like a regular account of its contents. Its composition is the work of three kinds of authors, each peculiarly and distinctly marked.

1. It contains many extracts, and sometimes whole chapters from our common Bible, both the Old and New Testaments, word for word as it is in our common translation. But it is scripture perverted, because it is mixed up with the most extravagant and monstrous fictions—and low, vulgar, cant expressions.

2. A series of extravagant and romantic histories about two sorts of people, that at two remote periods of time, are supposed to have crossed the Atlantic Ocean, and lived on this continent.

One class came here shortly after the confusion of tongues at Babel, lived here for many generations, became very warlike, and fought till at last every man, woman and child was killed off!! The Kilkenny cats only fought till nothing was left but the tips of their tails, but the “Jaredites,” unmerciful wretches, fought up tails and all!

But this is not more extravagant than the manner in which this race first came to the American continent. They built eight small barges both air and water tight, had the identical stones, which Joe Smith now uses to translate by, for lights, and partly by skimming the surface, and partly by diving like ducks, they crossed the ocean, with their families, flocks, herds, fowls, and “all manner of provisions,” in 344 days!

The second race of men migrated here about six hundred years before the birth of Christ, from Jerusalem, and became the ancestors of the present race of Indians. They were of the tribe of Joseph, and constituted the Mormons.

The extravagant fictions of this portion of the story, outdo the Arabian Night’s Entertainment, or the stories of Sinbad the Sailor.

They might pass for wild romances, however, where it not for the blasphemous assertion that Jesus Christ, after ascending to heaven from Mount Olivet, descending again on this continent, chose here twelve apostles, organized a church, and stayed some time on earth again.

The family of Lehi, who first came over, had a quarrel, and became divided into two parties under the name of Lamanites and Nephites. The Lamanites became corrupt and idolatrous—the Nephites, though descending from Joseph as the tale supposes, had there High Priests, common priests, temple service and Jewish religion, with baptism and many christian usages long before Christ was born. Three or four hundred years after Christ, the Nephites and Lamanites were engaged in the most exterminating wars—more were slain in battle than ever were slain in all the wars of Alexander, Caesar, and Napoleon, until all the Nephites were slain except Moroni, the “last of the Mormons,” who buried the plates for the special purpose of having Joseph Smith find them!

The Book of Mormon pretends to have been written during the space of 1030 years, by twelve different authors, the last of which, Moroni, gives the story of the “Jaredites,” who came over in the LitLe barges, under the ocean, before the days of Abraham.


About twenty years since, a singular, eccentric gentleman, by the name of Spalding, in the north eastern part of Ohio, was engaged in writing a series of romances, the prolific fruits of his own fertile imagination, about the early settlement of America. He was a man of some talent, of much eccentricity of character, and in poor circumstances. He went to Pittsburgh to get his book printed, but soon died, and the manuscripts were supposed to be mislaid or lost. From a number of circumstances it appears now evident that Joseph Smith, jun. got possession of them, and hence the legends in the Book of Mormon! Smith had the cunning with others to turn the whole to a religious account, impose upon the credulous, superstitious and visionary, and became the prophet and leader of a new sect.

Hence, 3d, the preface, conclusion, and occasionally a few sentences interspersed through it, are the genuine writings of the Imposter Smith and his coadjutors.

As a religious system, Mormonism is false, most impiously and ridiculously false!


1. The Book of Mormon represents the descendants of Joseph in the family of Lehi, as instituting a priesthood, and high priests, on the continent of America, whereas God expressly forbid any stranger, or the person of another tribe than Levi, and any family but that of Aaron, from administering the priestly office in Israel on penalty of death! See Numbers 3:10–16: 40.

Deut. 21:5. Paul affirms the same in Heb. 7:13,14.

2. The impious book makes God violate his covenant engagements with Abraham and his posterity, concerning the land of Canaan, and of the law of the Jews, by separating the family of Lehi from the rest, and sending them across the ocean to a strange land:—whereas, according to Deut. 20:21, this separation was to accommodate all the curses of that law upon such a family.

3. It represents the temple service continuing in this land, contrary to every precept of the divine law to the Jews in the Bible.

4. The book states that Christ was born in Jerusalem, (p. 240,) whereas every child that has read the Testament, knows that Christ was born in Bethlehem.

5. The Mormon prophets 2400 years ago, (according to Mormonism,) heard the saying of a Pagan, who lives 634 years after, “The God of nature suffers”—they quoted from Shakespeare,

“The silent grave from whence no traveler returns,”—and many other like expressions. “Had ought”—”light lit up the soul”—”I who ye call your king”—and fifty other expressions peculiar to illiterate Yankees, were in use by them.

6. The name of “Jesus Christ” was declared to Nephi, 545 years before it was announced to Mary, and who, in true Roman phraseology, is called “The Mother of God. ” Baptism was discussed, performed, and all controversies settled, hundreds of years before John came as the precursor of Christ. The great questions of the trinity, regeneration, atonement, original sin, transubstantiation, penance, and the lesser ones of freemasonry, republican government, steamboats, and mariner’s compass were all known, discussed, and decided, either by angels, the prophets, or Jesus Christ himself, in that early period.

7. Christ is represented as having descended and spent some time on the western continent, after having ascended to heaven from Mount Olivet in Judea! This fabulous Mormon story, to say nothing of its impious character, is in opposition to the declarations of God, in the New Testament, and places Momonism in direct hostility with the word of God. See the following scriptures. Mark 16:19—John, chapter 14: verses 2 ,3,19—chapter 16; verses 7, 10, 17, 28—chapter 17: verses 4,11, and 24—Acts 3:20, 21. (This passage alone overthrows the whole Mormon scheme.) See also Heb. 1:3, 5—chapter 4:14—chapter 6:20, also, chapter 9: verses 27 and 28. In this last passage it is affirmed that Christ will come at the day of Judgment, “the SECOND time,” whereas Mormonism affirms that he appeared the second time on the continent of America, and that he will soon come the third time to the Mormons.

The above are but a few of the many internal evidences that Mormonism furnishes of its own base and worthless imposition.

Parents are required to have their children baptized for the remission of their sins at eight years old, and receive the “laying on hands,” for the gift of the Holy Ghost.

READER—If you wish to become a Mormon, you must believe the following things, amongst many absurdities:

1. All the foolish, ridiculous, impious stories and sayings in the Book of Mormon.

2. That no gospel church existed on earth from the year 420 to 1830, when Joe Smith and his coadjutors organized the Mormon Society in Manchester N.Y. notwithstanding the pledge of Christ that the gates of hell should not prevail against his church.

3. That Joseph Smith, jun. a strolling vagabond, is the Great Prophet of God, and found and translated the golden plates of the Book of Mormon, though he cannot show now a single plate—that this book was in the language of the “Reformed Egyptian,” though no such language ever existed—and that its fables are all verities.

4. If you have been previously a professor of religion, you must be prepared to renounce all that religion—that you have always been deluded, and that there is no true light but what comes through Joe Smith.

To conclude—Mormonism adds another to the thousand lamentable proofs of the obliquity and perverseness of the human mind—of the deceptions of the Evil One, and of the delusions of imposters.

Its existence amongst us, warns us of the folly of remaining ignorant of the “sure word of prophecy,” and pleads in a most impressive manner for the children and youth of our land to be well instructed in the living oracles of God, that they may be prepared to reject the “filthy dreams” of superstition and imposture.

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