Evidences in Proof of the Book of Mormon


Times and Seasons

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“Evidences in Proof of the Book of Mormon.” Times and Seasons (Nauvoo, Illinois) 3, no. 5 (1 January 1842): 640–44.


We have laying before us, a neat little work of 256 pages, 32 mo. Entitled “Evidences in proof of the Book of Mormon” &c. By Charles Thompson, minister of the gospel; published at Batavia, N.Y. We are much pleased with the spirit manifested by the writer, and feel to commend him in his laudable undertaking.

We make the following extracts, commencing on the 97th page.

I will next introduce the description of some of these ancient fortifications and military works of defence, as recorded in the American Antiquities, by Josiah Priest, and also introduce a history of the building of these fortifications and works of defence, as recorded in the Book of Mormon; and I will here remark, that the Book of Mormon was published in A.D. 1830, and the American Antiquities, by Josiah Priest, was not published until A.D. 1833, three years after.

Antiquities, page 158 and 159, “Near Newark in the county of Licking, Ohio, is situated one of the immense works or fortifications of the ancient nations of America. It embraces in the whole, a circumferance of about six hundred rods, or nearly two miles; a wall of earth about four hundred rods, is raised on the sides of this fort next to the small creek which comes down along its sides from the west and east. It would seem that the people who made this settlement, undertook to encompass, with a wall, as much land as would support its inhabitants, and also sufficient to build their dwellings on, with several fortifications arranged in a proper manner for its defence. There are within its ranges four of these forts, of different dimensions; one contains forty acres, with a wall of about ten feet high; another containing twenty-two acres, also walled, but in this fort is an elevated observatory, of sufficient height to overlook the whole country; a third fort, containing about twenty-six acres, having a wall around it thrown out of a deep ditch on the inside of the wall. This wall is now from twenty-five to thirty feet in height. A fourth fortification encloses twenty acres with a wall of about ten feet high.”

Book of Mormon, page 378, 2nd Ed., “Now it came to pass that while Amalickiah had thus been obtaining power by fraud and deceit, Moroni on the other hand, had been preparing the minds of the people to be faithful unto the Lord their God, yea, he had been strengthening the armies of the Nephites, and erecting small forts or places of resort, throwing up banks of earth round about to enclose his armies, and also building walls of stone to encircle them round about their cities and the borders of their lands.”

Antiquities, page 160, “A second fort si uated southwesterly from the great works on the Licking, encloses about forty acres; its wall is entirely of stone. [640] Antiquities, page 163, “At Circleville, Ohio, there is a circular fort surrounded by two walls with a deep ditch between them; also, a square fort about eighteen rods in circumference enclosed by a wall without a ditch.”

Book of Mormon, page 382, “Now behold, the Lamanites could not get into their forts of security by any other way save by the entrance, because of the highness of the bank which had been thrown up and the depth of the ditch which had been dug round about, save it was by the entrance.”

Antiquities, page 165, “Near the round fort at Circleville is another fort ninety feet, high and was doubtless erected to overlook the whole works of that enormous military establishment.

That it was a military establishment is the decided opinion of the President of the Western Antiquarian Society, Mr. Atwater. He says the round fort was picketed in, if we are to judge from the appearance of the ground on and about the walls. Half way up the outside of the inner wall, is a place distinctly to be seen, where a row of pickets once stood, and where it was placed when this work of defence was originally erected. These works have been examined by the first military men now living in the United States, and they have uniformly declared their opinion to be, that they were military works of defence.”

Book of Mormon, page 383, 2nd Ed., “And now it came to pass that Moroni did not stop making preparation for war, or to defend his people against the Lamanites, for he caused that his armies should commence in the commencement of the twentieth year of the reign of the Judges, that they should commence in digging up heaps of earth round about all the cities throughout all the land which was possessed by the Nephites; and upon the top of the ridges of earth, he caused that there should be timbers, yea, works of timbers built up to the height of a man, round about the cities. And he caused that upon those works of timbers there should be a frame of pickets built upon the timbers, round about, and they were strong and high; and he caused towers to be erected that overlooked those works of pickets. And he caused places of security to be built upon those towers, that the stones and arrows of the Lamanites could not hurt them; and they were prepared, that they could cast stones from the top thereof, according to their pleasure and their strength, and slay him who should attempt to approach near the walls of the city. Thus Moroni did prepare strong holds against the coming of their enemies, round about every city in all the land.”

The foregoing is but a few of the corresponding accounts of fortifications and works of defence there are to be found in the Book of Mormon and American Antiquities, but these are sufficient to show to the public that the people whose history is contained in the Book of Mormon, are the authors of these works.—But again; as we trace the history of this people down through succeeding generations, we find that one Gadianton, a robber, rose up and organized a band to rob and plunder. These robbers prepared strong holds and secret places in the mountains, to which they could flee, and be secure when the armies of the Nephites pursued them. Some of these strong holds and secret places were discovered in 1832—two years after the Book of Mormon was published—by a Mr. Furguson, and communicated to the editor of the Christian Advocate and Journal. This account is recorded on page 169 of the American Antiquities. Mr. Furguson describes this discovery as follows:

“On a mountain called the Lookout Mountain, belonging to the vast Allegany chain, running between the Tennessee and the Coos rivers, rising about one thousand feet above the level of the surrounding valley. The top of the mountain is mostly level, but presents to the eve an almost barren waste. On this range, notwithstanding its hieght, a river has its source and after traversing it for about seventy miles, plunges over a precipice. The rock from which the water falls, is circular, and juts over considerably. Immediately below the fall, on each side of the river, are bluffs, which rise about two hundred feet. Around one of these bluffs the river makes a bend which gives it the form of a peninsula. On the top of this are the remains of what is esteemed fortifications, which consist of a stone wall built on the very brow of this tremendous ledge. The whole length of the wall, following the very course of the brink of this precipice, is thirty seven rods and eight feet, [641] including about two acres of ground. The only descent from this place if between two rocks, for about thirty feet, when a bench of the ledge presents itself from two to five feet in width and ninety feet long. This bench is the only road or path up from the water’s edge to the summit. But just at the foot of the two rocks where they reach this path and within thirty feet of the top of the rock, are five rooms, which have been formed by dint of labor. The entrance to these rooms is very small, but when within, they are found to communicate with each other by doors or appertures.”

Mr. Furguson thinks them to have been constructed during some dreadful war, and those who constructed them, to have acted on the defensive; and believes that twenty men could have withstood the whole army of Xerxes, as it was impossible for more than one to pass at a time, and might by the slightest push, be hurled at least an hundred and fifty feet down the rocks.

Book of Mormon, page 479, 2nd Ed., “And it came to pass that the ninety and third year (of the reign of the Judges over the people of Nephi) did also pass away in peace, save it was for the Gadianton robbers, who dwelt upon the Mountains, who did infest the land; for so strong were their holds and their secret places, that the people could not overpower them; therefore they did commit many murders, and did do much slaughter among the people.” Again; Book of Mormon, page 481, “And it came to pass in the commencement of the fourteenth year, (form the time the sign was given of the birth of Christ,) the war between the robbers and the people of Nephi did continue, and did become exceeding sore; nevertheless the people of Nephi did gain some advantage of the robbers, insomuch that they did drive them back out of their land into the mountains and into their secret places.” Again; Book of Mormon, page 485, 2nd Ed., “But it came to pass that in the latter end of the eighteenth year, those armies of robbers had prepared for battle and began to come down and to sally forth from the hills, and out of the mountains and the wilderness, and their strong holds and their secret places, and began to take possession of the lands.” And on the 487 and 488 pages, we are informed how these robbers were finally destroyed; it was by a stratagem. A part of the Nephite armies getting between the robbers and their secret places and strong holds, by which they were cut off in their retreat.

This again, is evidence that the Book of Mormon is true, and that this band of robbers were the constructors of this strong hold and these secret rooms which Mr. Furguson has described; for mark! this discovery was not made untill two years after the Book of Mormon was published, consequently the writer of the Book of Mormon could not have written this tale concerning the robbers, to account for the construction of those caverns, for it was not known that there was such a place in existence, until after the book was written and published. And thus we have abundance of proof from recent discoveries, American Antiquities and prophecy, that the history contained in the Book of Mormon is true.

Again; this history inrfoms us that about four hundred years after Christ, this nation of Nephites were brought down and destroyed by the Lamanites; and this because they became proud and lifted up, practising all manner of wickedness and abominations, and they refused to repent when God sent men to warn them to repent and turn again unto God; therefore because they were more wicked than the Lamanites, God stirred up the Lamanites to camp against them round about, and to raise forts against them with a mount, and thus they were brought down. But just before their final overthrow, a man by the name of Mormon took their record containing their history and sacred writings, from the time they left Jerusalem, (the city where David dwelt,) unto his days, and made an abridgement therefrom, and engraved it upon plates which he made out of ore. These plates, after Mormon’s death, fell into the hands of Moroni, his son, who survived the entire destruction of the Nephites, finished the record, and deposited it in a stone box in the earth, that it might not be destroyed; to come forth in due time for a sign to Israel, that the time of their redemption had come. And also, in connection with the Bible, to be set up as an ensign for the nations; and thus, this nation of Nephites possessing the light of God’s revelation, which constituted them Ariel, or Lion of God, and being “of the city [642] where David dwelt,” (that is, having come out from Jerusalem,) was brought down and their words having been written and hid up in the earth and come forth again out of the earth, they “speak out of the ground and their voice whispers out of the dust.”

This account also agrees with the Indian traditions which I have quoted in a former part of this work. It says, that their forefathers were once in possession of a sacred Book, which was handed down from generation to generation, and at last hid in the earth; but these oracles are to be restored to them again and then they shall triumph over their enemies and regain their ancient country.

But again, when this Book was taken from the place of its deposite, the words thereof were delivered to the learned Dr. Mitchel of New York, with a request that he should read them, but he could not; thus fulfilling the 11th verse of the 29th chapter of Isaiah, which says, the words of a book which is sealed men deliver to one that is learned, saying, read this I pray thee; and he saith I cannot for it is sealed. And the book is delivered to him that is not learned, saying read this I pray thee; and he saith I am not learned. Wherefore the Lord said, forasmuch as this people, (the people of this generation,) draw near me with their mouths, and with their lips do honor me; but have removed their hearts far from me, and their fear towards me is taught by the psecepts of men; therefore behold, I will proceed to do a marvelous work among this people, even a marvelous work and a wonder: for the wisdom of their wise men shall perish, aud the understanding of their prudent men shall be hid. And this he has done—

First; by inspiring the unlearned Joseph Smith, and giving him wisdom and power from on high, with the means which were before prepared, to read and translate the Book of Mormon, the words of which the learned Dr. Mitchel could not read; thus the wisdom of the wise has perished and the understanding of the prudent is hid.

Secondly.—By raising up and inspiring illiterate and unlearned men, and sending them forth with the Book of Mormon in connection with the Bible, as an ensign for the nations, to preach the fulness of the gospel, and to build up the kingdom of God on the earth, in direct opposition to all the jarring systems of modern sectarianism, and giving them knowledge and wisdom from on high, insomuch that they have been enabled to confound, astonish and bring to shame, confusion, and disgrace, every wise and learned man who has dared to oppose them by fair arguments or candid investigation.

Thirdly.—It is a marvel and a wonder to this generation that this work has spread so rapidly under the following circumstances: First, the men who were engaged in preaching this doctrine were men of no influence, being the poor, illiterate, and despised ones of the earth.

Second,—they had not the advantages of education which the most of the preachers of the different denominations have. Third,—the advantages of that mighty engine, the press, which all the Christain world are so highly blessed with, they were almost wholly destitute of, while at the same time its power was put in requisition against them in all parts of the land. It is true, they undertook, and did publish a monthly periodical at diferent times and places, but its circulation was very limited, and their office, press and type have been three times entirly destroyed by mobs and incendiaries. Fourth,—they had to sustain the shock of an overwhelming religious influence opposed to them by the combined powers of every sect in America—they had to contend with the prejudices of the ignorant and the pen of the learned, together with all the lying slanders and misrepresentations which the devil and all his emissaries on earth could invent; while at the same time the combined powers of earth and hell were hurling a storm of persecution unparalelld in the history of the world. They were insulted by mobs, their houses torn down or burned, their goods destroyed and fields of grain laid waste, some of them were cast into dungeons and there kept for months loaded with chains. Yea more—some of them were shot; others had their brains dashed out; others were whipped to death; others were cut in pieces with swords knives, corn-cutters, &c., while the whole society, at one time amounting to about 12 000 souls, were banished from the State of Missouri and driven two hundred miles from their lands, houses, homes and property, in the winter season; and this by the order of [643] the Executive of Missouri, one of the free and independent states of this boasted republic. And the blood of many of these people now stains the soil of Missouri because of their religious principles, in this their native land; the land of boasted liberty and equal rights, whose officers, both of the state and nation, have been deaf to the voice of innocence, imploring at their feet for justice and protection in the enjoyment of their rights as American citizens. And no doubt many of the instruments of these diabolical proceedings verily thought they were doing God service, being inspired by the press and pulpit, and encouraged by the officers of state; or what is still worse, by the personal example of both officers of state and professed preachers of the gospel, who were actually the leaders and abettors of all the above horrible deeds. But under all these conflicting circumstances, this work has spread and has penetrated every state in the Union from Maine to Missouri as well as the Canadies. It has reacheed the islands of the sea—it has spread nearly all over England, and is now preached in Ireland, Scotland and Wales—all this in the short space of ten years. Churches are organized and conferences are held in all these regions, and the number of disciples who have already embraced this work is from an hundred to an hundred and twenty thousand. What but the arm of the Omnipotent could have moved it forward thus! Under the conflicting circumstances referred to above, surely it is a marvelous work and a wonder, causing the wisdom of the wise to perish and the understanding of the prudent to be hid.

But again, another feature about this work which constitutes it marvelous and wonderful among the people of this generation, is these preachers profess no authority from antiquity to administer the gospel ordinances, but say that an angel has come down from the midst of heaven, and conferred on them the priesthood and authority to preach and administer the everlasting gospel unto them that dwell on the earth, and to every nation, and kindred, and tongue, and people, sayiug with a loud voice, fear God and give glory to him for the hour of his judgement is come: and worship him that made heaven and earth and the sea and the fountains of waters. (See Revelations 14th chap. 6th and 7th verses.) And they profess to be apostles, prophets, evangelists, pastors and teachers, all inspired by the Holy Ghost, just like the ancient officers of the church and kingdom of God—(See Ephesions 4th chap. 11th 12th and 13th verses.) Also the believers in this Book of Mormon, being baptized for the remission of sins and receiving the laying on of hands by these apostles and prophets, they speak with new tongues and prophesy, cast out devils, and sometimes lay hands on the sick and they recover, and thus one has given him by the Holy Ghost the word of wisdom, and another the word of knowledge, and another faith, and another the gifts of healing, and another the working of miracles, and another prophecy, and another the diserning of spirits, and another divers kinds of tongues, and another the interpretation of tongues—just as was anciently given to the church of Christ. (See 1st Cor. 12th chap.) And in consequence of these gifts the blind are made to see, the deaf to hear, the meek increase and their joy is in the Lord, and the poor rejoice in the Holy One of Israel. Also, they that erred in spirit come to understanding, and they that murmured learn doctrine. All these things are marvelous to this generatiun because their fear towards God is taught by the precepts of men, and they know nothing of inspiration or the power of God, therefore they have a form of godliness but deny the power thereof. From such says Paul turn away. (See 2nd Timothy iii: 1—9.)

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