The Prophet of the Nineteenth Century


Caswall, Henry, 1810-1870 Caswall, Henry, 1810-1870

❮ Community

Caswall, Henry. The Prophet of the Nineteenth Century; or, the Rise, Progress, and Present State of the Mormons, or Latter-day Saints: To Which is Appended, An Analysis of the Book of Mormon, 13–50, 72–83, 231–77. London, England: Henry Caswall, 1843.





Spaulding’s birth and education—He becomes a preacher—then a tradesman—then a bankrupt—He removes to Ohio and becomes bankrupt a second time—He writes an historical romance respecting the American Indians—He removes to Pittsburg, where his manuscript remains in a printing office—He removes to Amity—He dies—The Book of Mormon appears—

It is compared with Spaulding’s work, and found to be generally identical with it—Spaulding’s original work is lost.

THE reader is now requested to look backward more than eighty years. In the year 17612, before the Revolution had separated the best portion of America from the British Empire, a person was ushered into existence, who unconsciously became a conspicuous character in the history of heresy. This was Solomon Spaulding, who was born in the town of Ashford, in the quiet and steady colony of Connecticut. From his youth he was distinguished [13] by a lively imagination and a great fondness for history. Having completed his preparatory course of study, he proceeded to Dartmouth College, at Hanover, in New Hampshire. This institution was then of recent origin, and derived its name from an English nobleman who had been one of its principal benefactors. Having taken his degree, Mr. Spaulding studied the Calvinistic theology, and was ordained a minister of the Congregational denomination. He officiated in this capacity for three or four years, when, for some reason which has not transpired, he deserted the pulpit, and commenced business as a tradesman at Cherry Valley, in the state of New York. His previous pursuits, and perhaps his speculative turn of mind, seem to have disqualified him for worldly engagements; and an event took place which in other countries would have proved a serious calamity. Solomon Spaulding became a bankrupt3. At that period the more western part of America presented great inducements to emigration. The Indian tribes in Ohio had ceased to be dangerous, and the fertile lands in that agreeable country were eagerly sought by numbers who had the world before them, and who desired to carve out their fortunes by the active energies of their own right [14] hands. To a person of Spaulding’s imaginative character, the prospect of recovering his position, and of attaining a respectable competence in the new country, appeared peculiarly inviting. He accordingly joined the stream of western emigrants, and arrived at Conneaut, in Ohio, near the southern shore of Lake Erie, in the year 18094. Here he commenced 2 Clark’s “Gleanings by the Way,” p. 249. Turner, p. 207.

3 Turner, p. 207.

4 Clark, p. 250. as a speculator in land5, purchasing a considerable tract at a small price, and endeavouring to sell it out in small lots at a large profit. He also engaged in building a forge, in the hope of materially increasing his means by the manufacture of iron. He entered into partnership in the following year with a person named Lake, and the two conjointly completed the erection of the forge. This speculation was unfortunate, and the traffic in land appears to have been equally disadvantageous6. In fact, the war between Great Britain and America was then raging, and Lake Erie and its shores were, in a great measure, the scene of hostile operations. In 1812, Spaulding had failed once more, and was considerably involved in debt7. Whether from disappointment, or from the effects of a sickly climate, or from both causes combined, his health had now given way8, and he was disabled from active labours. His mind once [15] more reverted to literary pursuits9, and he conceived the idea of publishing a book which he had already in part prepared.

His sanguine imagination assured him that successful authorship would enable him to discharge his debts1, and, perhaps, to acquire a competency. The subject of the work was suited to his peculiar temperament. He had been long in the habit of contending that the aborigines of America were the descendants of some of the tribes of Israel; and in this opinion, it is but fair to add, he was by no means singular2. Several exceedingly ingenious and plausible essays have been written to prove the same point. The arguments most commonly adduced, appear to be derived from the resemblance of some Indian words to the Hebrew, the general belief in one Supreme Being, the practice of various ceremonial rites, and traditions, which seem to point to Asia, as the original cradle of the race3. In the vicinity of Conneaut, as in many other parts of the West, there are numerous works of earth, regularly constructed, and bearing the appearance of fortifications, which evidently belong to a period of remote antiquity4. On forming excavations in the sides [16] of these mysterious remains, numerous implements were found5, some of which evinced a skill in the arts altogether surpassing that of the existing Indians6. Spaulding’s peculiar views led him to take a lively interest in these developments of antiquity7, and he had long devoted much of his leisure time to the construction of an historical romance8, describing the adventures of the nations by which these fortifications were reared. Under the guidance of Nephi and Lehi, their ancestors were represented as leaving Jerusalem, to escape the judgments coming on the old world. There was a detailed account of their journey from Jerusalem by land and sea, till they arrived in America with their leaders. The settlers were described as having various contentions among themselves, and as finally separating into two distinct nations, denominated Nephites and Lamanites. Between these parties cruel and bloody battles were fought; giants performed prodigies of valour, and the ground was frequently covered with the slain. They buried their dead in large heaps, and thus produced the mounds or barrows which are found 5 Ib. p. 309.

6 Ib. p. 308.

7 Ib. p. 309.

8 Ib. p. 250.

9 Clark, p. 251.

1 Ib. p. 309.

2 See Newhall’s Sketches of Iowa, p. 237.

3 See Bishop M ‘Ilvaine’s preface to the “Antiquities of America.”

4 Newhall, p. 234.

5 Newhall, p. 232.

6 See Atwater’s Antiquities of Ohio.

7 Clark, p. 251.

8 Ib. p. 305. throughout North America9. Their arts, sciences, and civilization were brought into view, and an account was [17] given of the origin of the curious antiquities in North and South America.

The story was entitled, “The Manuscript Found1,” and purported to be a translation of a record discovered beneath the earth, and written by one of the “Lost Nation.” In order to keep up an appearance of consistency, the author adopted a style of writing similar to that of the English version of the Scriptures2. Nearly every sentence was made to commence with the phrase “and it came to pass,” or, “now it came to pass3.” The names of Nephi, Lehi, and Moroni were often repeated4; many paragraphs began with “I, Nephi;” and there was a tragic story recounting the particulars of the death of a certain Laban5, previous to the departure of the emigrants from the old world. As the author advanced in his narrative, the neighbouring settlers frequently came to his house, and inquired pleasantly how he proceeded in deciphering the manuscript6. When he had prepared a sufficient portion, he informed them, and they assembled to hear it read. Much interest was excited among them, although none imagined the tale to be any thing more than an ingenious fiction. Many of those who had been present on these occasions remembered the general outlines of the story, and [18] from their testimony, in the absence of the manuscript itself, the foregoing facts were collected after an interval of twenty years. The widow, the brother, and the partner of Spaulding, are among the witnesses7; and their statements are too circumstantial, and too well supported by collateral evidence, to admit of any reasonable doubt. In the year 18128 Spaulding removed from Ohio, and, having been furnished by his late partner with the means of defraying his travelling expences9, he arrived at Pittsburg in Pennsylvania, where he resided for about two years. Here he designed to print his book, from the proceeds of which he assured his creditors that he should be enabled to satisfy their demands1. Meeting with a Mr. Patterson2, the editor of a newspaper, and partner with one Lambdin in the business of a printing-office, he exhibited to him his manuscript, with a view to its publication. Patterson seemed pleased with it, and borrowed it for perusal. He retained it for a long time, and obstacles appearing in the way of publication, it was finally laid upon the shelves of the printing-office, together with other unfortunate productions of genius. Here it was not altogether unnoticed, and it was in the power [19] of any person frequenting the office, to read it, to make extracts from it, or to copy it entirely3. The widow of Spaulding testifies that it was a subject of notoriety and interest to all connected with the establishment4; but whether the manuscript was ever returned to the author, is still a subject of uncertainty. In 18145, Spaulding removed to Amity, some distance from Pittsburg, where his numerous disappointments were 9 Ib. pp. 306, 307.

1 Clark, p. 251.

2 Ib.

3 Ib. p. 305.

4 Ib. p. 308.

5 Ib. p. 307.

6 Ib. p. 251.

7 Turner, p. 210.

8 Ib. p. 211.

9 Ib. p. 210. Clark, p. 252.

1 Clark, p. 309.

2 Clark, p. 252.

3 Clark, pp. 252, 266. Turner, p. 211.

4 Clark, p. 252.

5 Turner, p. 211. finally terminated by his death6, which occurred in the fifty-fifth year of this age, and in the year 1816. The widow then removed to the county of Onondaga in the state of New York7; and, among the small effects of her deceased husband, she took with her a trunk, containing a quantity of his writings, and probably the important manuscript mentioned above8. From Onondaga county she went to Hartwick, in the county of Otsego, leaving the trunk and its contents at her brother’s house, in a place denominated Onondaga Hollow. In 1820 she married again, on which occasion the trunk was taken to Hartwick, where she left it with a friend on her removal from that place in 1832. At that period she accompanied her second husband, Mr. Davidson, to Monson9, in Massachusetts, where it is believed she still resides, [20] and to which place the trunk and its contents appear to have been ultimately forwarded.

In the meantime a remarkable book had appeared, printed at Palmyra, in Western New York, in 1828, and denominated “The Book of Mormon.” It was a volume of 588 pages1, consisting of fifteen different books, purporting to have been written at different times, by the authors whose names they respectively bear, and collected by the prophet Moroni2. These historical records covered a period of about one thousand years,—from the time of Zedekiah, king of Judah, to the year of our Lord 420. They professed to trace the history of the American aborigines, referring their origin to the Jews, and giving an account of their contentions, adventures, and wars, from the time of their leaving Jerusalem under the guidance of Nephi and Lehi, down to the final dissolution of their power in the time of the prophet Moroni. Before leaving Jerusalem, Nephi was represented as being constrained by the Spirit of the Lord to kill a certain Laban, the keeper of the genealogy of his forefathers. After their arrival in America, the emigrants were described as separating into two distinct nations of Nephites and Lamanites, and waging the most destructive and bloody wars [21] with each other. The whole style of writing was in imitation of the English version of the Scriptures; and the work itself claimed divine authority, as having been translated through miraculous power, by one Joseph Smith, from certain plates hidden in a cave, and discovered to him by an angel3.

The publication of this book excited, as may be readily imagined, a considerable sensation in a new country, where authorship is by no means a common vocation4. A copy of it found its way to Conneaut in Ohio, where poor Spaulding had resided in 1812. A preacher of Mormonism had addressed a meeting in that place in the year 1834, and had read copious extracts from the pretended new revelation. Some of the older inhabitants, who were present, immediately observed the resemblance of the Mormon history to the “Manuscript Found” of the unfortunate Solomon. Mr. John Spaulding, the brother of the deceased, recognized the work, and was penetrated with amazement and grief5. Bursting into a flood of tears, he rose up on the spot, and interrupted the preacher by warm expressions of indignation and regret. The Book of Mormon was immediately afterwards examined by Mr. John Spaulding himself, and six other per- [22] sons, who had been well acquainted with Solomon and his writings6. It immediately 6 Clark, p. 252.

7 Turner, p. 212.

8 Ib. p. 212.

9 Clark, p. 249.

1 See Book of Mormon, first edition.

2 See Appendix.

3 See Preface to the Book of Mormon, first edition.

4 Clark, p. 252.

5 Ib. p. 253.

6 Clark, chap. xxviii. brought the “Manuscript Found” to their recollection, after an interval of more than twenty years.

It contained the same historical matter, the same names, and many passages which were readily identified as verbatim transcriptions from the work of the deceased. There was, however, much additional matter mixed up with it7, together with copious extracts from the Scriptures.

Christianity was declared to have been introduced among the American aborigines, and the Saviour was represented as descending in America (after his ascension in Judea), for the purpose of preaching to the people of Nephi8. Several hands had evidently been employed in the preparation of this book. Occasional marks of literary skill were displayed in the management of the main story, while in some of the details and hortatory parts, and especially in those passages designed to give a Christian complexion to the work, there were unequivocal evidences of blundering ignorance.

In consequence of this examination of the Book of Mormon, a considerable excitement was produced in Conneaut9; some of the more credulous inhabitants expressing their belief in the divine [23] inspiration of the work, and others maintaining that it was Solomon Spaulding’s production, with some alterations and additions. They finally commissioned a Dr. Hurlbut, one of their number, to repair to the residence of Mrs. Davidson in Massachusetts, a distance of about seven hundred miles, in order to obtain from her the original manuscript, for the purpose of comparing it with the professed revelation1. This Hurlbut had been a zealous Mormon2, and a distinguished preacher in that sect; but had lately quitted them, and now professed to be their decided opponent. On his presenting his credentials to Mrs. Davidson, at her residence in Massachusetts, she produced3 the trunk of papers, which she does not appear to have examined for many years. On opening it, a variety of writings, which it formerly contained, were discovered to be missing. The required manuscript was not there, and in fact nothing but a short unfinished romance, deriving the origin of the Indians from Rome, by a ship driven to the American coast while on a voyage to Britain. This manuscript was taken by Hurlbut, and shown to the persons in Conneaut4 who had deputed him to obtain the required document. Of course it did not answer their expectations; but they recog- [24] nized in it the first plan of Spaulding’s romance. They said that he began his work in this way5, and wrote perhaps a quire of paper to that effect; but finally gave it up, and determined on deriving the origin of the Indians from the Jews.

It is, therefore, certain that Solomon Spaulding wrote a book, about the year 1812, similar in all its leading features to the historical portions of the Book of Mormon. That the manuscript, or a copy of it, was taken from the printing-office in Pittsburg, is probable; but that the original was removed from the trunk, while in Otsego county, appears equally probable. That it is gone, that it came into the hands of the founder of Mormonism, and that it was made subservient to the purposes of a vile imposition, is as certain as that the Book of Mormon exists6.[25]


7 Ib. p. 308.

8 Book of Mormon, 5th chapter of Nephi.

9 Clark, p. 253.

1 Clark, p. 253.

2 Ib. p. 260.

3 Turner, p. 213.

4 Ib. p. 213.

5 Turner, p. 213.

6 Ib. p. 214.


Birth of Joseph Smith, the Prophet—The Prophet is dissatisfied with all religious sects, and begins to dig for money—He meets with Spaulding’s manuscript, and digs for a silver mine—He falls in love, and pretends to discover another silver mine—He elopes with Emma Hale, and obliges a Dutchman to pay the expenses of his flight—He begins to tell a story respecting his discovery of a Golden Bible—He persuades his own family to believe, and succeeds in enlisting Martin Harris—Harris visits New York—The Prophet and Harris produce the Book of Mormon, which is published with the testimony of eleven witnesses besides the Prophet.

THE 23rd of December, 1805, was distinguished by the birth of Joseph Smith7, a person who was destined to appear as one of the great phenomena of the nineteenth century, and to become, to some extent, a living type of the heresy, the schism, and the religious imposture of the age.

While the [26] unfortunate Solomon Spaulding was engaged upon his equally unfortunate manuscript in Ohio, the future prophet of Mormonism was growing up among the green hills of Windsor county, in the state of Vermont8. His father, whose name was also Joseph, appears to have been a farmer of small property, of no particular religious opinions, and addicted to intemperance and other vicious habits9. The mother does not seem to have been particularly superior to her husband; and it may be readily imagined that the offspring of such a couple were not likely to be trained up “in the nurture and admonition of the Lord.” The prophet had six brothers,—Alvin, Hyrum, Samuel, Harrison, William, and Don Carlos, together with three sisters, Sophronia, Catharine, and Lucy1. When the prophet was in his tenth year, namely, in 1815, the whole family removed several hundred miles westward, and took up their residence at Palmyra, and afterwards at Manchester, both in Wayne county, in the western part of the state of New York2. In the year 1821, when our prophet was about fifteen years of age, a “revival of religion,” as it is called, commenced in Manchester. It began with the Methodists, under the preaching [27] of a Mr. Lane3; but soon became general among the various sects. Indeed, the whole district of country was affected by it, and numbers were “ professedly added to the kingdom of the Lord.” The usual strife for proselytes commenced between the Methodist, Baptist, and Presbyterian sects4, and some of the Smith family declared themselves converted.

The mother, three of the brothers, and a sister, joined the Presbyterian communion; the young prophet asserted his partiality for the Methodists, but could not make up his mind to unite with them, and ultimately professed himself unable to decide which sect was right and which was wrong5. Notwithstanding, however, the new professions of the family, and the singular conscientiousness of young Joseph, it appears that the character of the Smiths was not materially improved6. From a variety of documents, certified before proper tribunals, it is evident that the father and sons were notoriously addicted to falsehood, drunkenness, and idleness, that they frequently boasted their skill in deception, and were also suspected of gaining their livelihood in 7 “Times and Seasons,” p. 727.

8 “Times and Seasons,” p. 727.

9 Turner, p. 152.

1 “Times and Seasons,” p. 727.

2 Ib.; Turner, p. 14.

3 Turner, p. 14; “Times and Seasons,” p. 727.

4 Ibid.

5 Ib. pp. 284. 14; Ib. p. 727.

6 Ib. p. 152. part by theft. They spent much of their time in digging for money, which they pretended had been hidden in the earth during the revolutionary war; and to this day [28] many of their excavations are to be seen in the neighbourhood of Manchester7. For breach of contracts, for non-payment of debts and borrowed money, and for duplicity with their neighbours, the family was notorious8; and their whole object appears to have been to live without work, upon the industry of others. In this school of villainy our prophet was trained from a child, and finally became the most distinguished of his vagrant family for cunning and unscrupulous audacity9. In 1822, while digging a well, in company with his brother Hyrum and a person named Chase, the last-mentioned individual found a curious stone, about twenty feet from the surface, and brought it to the top of the well1. Joseph immediately placed it in his hat, alleging that, by putting his hat over his face, he could see great wonders in the stone. Chase accordingly valued it highly; but Smith succeeded in obtaining it from him, first for a considerable time, and afterwards entirely.

His father now claimed for him a kind of second sight; namely, a power to look into the depths of the earth, and discover where its precious treasures were hidden2. When the worthless family engaged in their nocturnal excursions for money-digging, the younger Joseph was their guide,—

[29] putting the wonderful stone into his hat, and then closing the hat over his face to decide by the appearance of the stone where they should begin to excavate3.

In September, 1823, his reputation for this mode of conjuring having become considerable, he was employed in his vocation by a Dutchman named Stowell4, residing in Chenango county, New York. Smith was now in the vicinity of Hartwick, at which place, Solomon Spaulding’s trunk and manuscripts had been deposited for several years. It is probable, that by some means he succeeded, between 1823 and 18275, in obtaining possession of the “Manuscript Found,” the professed discovery of the work in the earth agreeing remarkably well with his burrowing propensities. For the space of four years he led a wandering life, without any ostensible business6, and was once or twice arrested as a common vagabond. He was seemingly out of employ during the greater part of the time, without resources and without friends. By his own confession, he was engaged by Stowell, together with his father, and others of the same occupation, in digging7 for a silver mine, supposed to have been anciently worked by the Spaniards. He was, therefore, in the society of men not only accustomed to [30] deceive others, but ready to become duped, and prepared for wonders and sudden speculations. During this period, viz. in 1825, while engaged in digging near Harmony in Pennsylvania, not far from Hartwick, in New York, he boarded, with his father and the rest of the band, in the house of a distinguished hunter of the name of Hale8, a person of good character, and a member of the sect of Methodists9. Mr. Hale testifies, that Smith was the leader of the money-diggers, in consequence of his supposed supernatural powers. At first he gave them great encouragement in 7 Turner, p. 152.

8 Ib. p. 155.

9 Ibid.

1 Ib. p. 204.

2 Clark, p. 242.

3 Turner, p. 204.

4 Ib. p. 205.

5 Ib. p. 206.

6 Ib. p. 206.

7 Ib.

8 Clark, p. 242.

9 Ib. regard to the silver mine, but when, in the course of digging, they had arrived near the place where he had stated that an immense treasure would be found, he said that the enchantment was so powerful, that he could not see. They then became discouraged, and soon afterwards dispersed1. Smith returned to Manchester; but during his sojourn in Harmony he had found an attraction in the person of Emma, the daughter of Mr. Hale2. Being destitute of means to travel, our prophet adopted the following mode of raising money3, and of obtaining at the same time a recommendation to the young lady. He went to a person named Lawrence, in the autumn of 1826, and pre- [31] tended that he had discovered, near Harmony, in Pennsylvania, a rich silver mine, the produce of which could be readily loaded in boats and taken to Philadelphia for sale.

By promising to go himself and point out the spot, Lawrence was induced to believe and to accompany him. Larwence soon found that he was expected to advance money to Smith, and to pay all the travelling expences. When they arrived at Mr. Hale’s, Smith persuaded Lawrence, in the first place, to recommend him to Miss Emma, and after he had effected this object, they both went to look for the mine. Of course nothing was discovered, and the unfortunate Lawrence was left to return home and to pay his expences back as he best could. Smith then requested Mr. Hale4 to consent to receive him as a son-in-law; but this impudent proposal of the money-digger was indignantly declined by the worthy father. Our prophet appeared to acquiesce in the decision, and departed; but soon afterwards, watching his opportunity, he returned during Mr. Hale’s absence, and eloping with his daughter, was soon afterwards clandestinely married to her5. He now required the means of taking his wife to his father’s residence at Manchester. He accordingly went6 to Stowell, the Dutchman who had formerly employed [32] him, and told him that he had discovered a cave on the banks of Black River in New York, in which he had found a bar of gold as thick as his leg, and about three or four feet long; but that, on account of its being firmly fixed at one end, he could not get it out without assistance. He stated, however, that if Stowell would convey him and his wife to Manchester, he would get a chisel and mallet and accompany him to the cave, when they would detach the gold and divide it between themselves.

The old Dutchman gladly acceded to this arrangement, and the whole party arrived safely at Manchester. Soon afterwards Stowell reminded Smith of his promise respecting the gold; but our prophet calmly replied, that he did not intend to go in search of the cave, for his wife was now among strangers, and would be unwilling to be left alone. Like Lawrence, the unhappy Dutchman returned home, without seeing any gold, except what he had paid himself to defray the expences of the party7.

It was about this period that Smith seems to have devised the grand scheme of converting to his own purposes the manuscript of Spaulding, which by some means had certainly fallen into his hands. The first notice we have on this subject is from Peter Ingersol8 who testifies on oath, that the [33] elder Smith told him that a book had been found in a hollow tree in Canada, giving an account of the first settlement of America before it was discovered by Columbus. In January 1 Hale’s affidavit taken before a magistrate. Clark, p. 242.

2 Clark, p. 243. Turner, p. 156.

3 Turner, p. 156.

4 Hale’s testimony. Clark, p. 243.

5 Ib.

6 Turner, p. 156.

7 Turner, p. 156.

8 Ingersol’s testimony, Turner, p. 215. Harris, p. 10.

1827, old Smith told one Willard Chase9 an improved story; viz., that a spirit had appeared to his son Joseph, informing him of a record on golden plates which he could obtain by repairing to a given place, dressed in black, and riding on a black horse with a switch tail. He stated that Joseph had proceeded according to these directions; that he found a box containing the plates; that on opening it he saw the book; but was hindered in his attempt to get it. A toad in the box assumed the form of a man, and struck Smith a blow on the head, which threw him backward a considerable distance. The spirit who guarded the book then commanded him to return in one year in company with his eldest brother, and promised that at that time he should receive the plates.

By stories of this kind our prophet seems to have first tested the credulity of his father and his money-digging comrades. In August of the same year (1827) he visited Mr. Hale1, accompanied by his wife, in order to obtain the property of the latter, consisting chiefly of clothing, furniture, and cows. [34] On this occasion, the hypocritical prophet told his father-in-law that he had given up what he called glass-looking, and that he expected to work hard for a living, and was willing to do so. After a short visit, he returned with his wife to Manchester, where the following circumstance2, mentioned by him to a companion, seems to have decided him upon the plan which he ultimately pursued. In the course of the autumn, while walking in the woods, he happened to find some beautifully white sand which had been washed up by a stream of water. He took off his frock, tied up some quarts of it, and returned home. On entering the house he found the family at dinner; and when they expressed their desire to know the contents of the frock, he gravely told them that it was the “Golden Bible.” To his surprise, they were credulous enough to believe the story, and expressed a strong desire to see the wonderful work. The prophet told them solemnly that no man could see it with the naked eye and live; but that if they were ready to take the consequences he was quite willing to show it to them. They now positively refused to see it, and fled from the apartment in great consternation.

“Now,” said the prophet, with an [35] oath, “I have got the fools fixed3, and I will carry out the fun.”

After4 this, he applied to Willard Chase to make a case for his Golden Bible; but as Chase refused to do it, he made a box of coarse boards himself. He put the sand in a pillow-case and then into the box, which he permitted all to see and handle, but not to examine. Shortly after this, he determined to go with his wife into Pennsylvania again5. Being in want of money for the journey, his fertile genius led him to the adoption of a singular scheme. There was residing6 in Palmyra at that time one Martin Harris, a farmer of some property, but of a peculiar turn of mind.

He had been first a Quaker, then a Methodist, and afterwards a Universalist, then a Baptist, and next a Presbyterian7, but at this time, in his religious views he was floating upon the sea of uncertainty. He was well versed in the Scriptures; but was quarrelsome, and possessed an evident inclination to religious controversy. He had always been a firm believer in dreams, visions, and apparitions, and [36] for some time had expressed his conviction that, by means of 9 Chase’s testimony, p. 215.

1 Hale’s testimony quoted above.

2 Oath of P. Ingersol, Turner, p. 216.

3 An American expression, used in a great variety of senses and (like the word “box” in England) to be interpreted only by the help of the context.

4 Turner, p. 216.

5 Ibid.

6 Testimony of Mr. Clark. Clark, p. 222.

7 Turner, p. 166. Clark, p. 223. his wonderful stone, Smith could see into the earth and discover any secrets he desired8. The fact that the same Harris was a domestic tyrant, having often beaten and kicked his patient wife9, afforded no presumption against his becoming the slave of imposture. Smith determined on making this man his dupe, with the hope of obtaining from him at least sufficient money to furnish his travelling expenses1; and as he had succeeded in the case of Lawrence and in that of the Dutchman Stowell, he felt confident of success in a third trial of his skill. Having procured a piece of paper, he marked upon it sundry characters which he arranged in columns like the Chinese mode of writing. Greek, Hebrew, and all sorts of letters more or less distorted, were intermingled with sundry delineations of half-moons, stars, and other objects, and the whole ended in a rude representation of the Mexican zodiac2. He exhibited this to Harris, and told him that it was copied from one of the pages of a book composed of golden plates3, which had been discovered to him by an angel. He added that, together with the book, two trans-[37]parent stones had been given him, through which he had been enabled to read the plates, though the box containing them had not yet been opened. He spoke of the immense value of the plates4, and of the riches which would accrue from the publication of so wonderful a work, and offered Harris a share in this sudden influx of wealth if he would advance a few dollars for present necessities.

He even carried his audacity so far as to propose5 to Harris, that the latter should sell his valuable farm, and apply the proceeds to the printing of a translation of the golden book. He engaged to leave with him the golden plates as a security6, until he should be reimbursed by the sale of the work. To convince him more clearly that there was no risk in the business, and that the work was actually what it claimed to be, he told him to take the paper of mysterious characters to the city of New York and submit it to learned men, who would soon dispel all his doubts; and satisfy him as to the safety of the investment7.

In this way, by skilfully working on the credulity, superstition, and avarice of Harris, he fairly enlisted him, and obtained from him immediately the sum of fifty dollars. With this money, he started for Pennsylvania8, together with his wife [38] and his box of sand. The latter article he exhibited to Mr. Hale, soon after his arrival at Harmony. He permitted him to feel its weight, and having told him that the plates of the golden Bible were contained in it1, refused to satisfy his curiosity by opening it. Mr. Hale then requested his hopeful son-in-law to inform him who would be the first person privileged to see the golden plates. He replied, that it would be a young child. After this Mr. Hale became dissatisfied, and informed Smith that he would not permit the box to remain in his house, unless he were allowed to see its contents. Our prophet accordingly removed his box, and soon afterwards declared, that the golden plates had been concealed in the woods2.

8 Mrs. Harris’s testimony, Turner, p. 167.

9 Ibid.

1 Turner, p. 217.

2 Testimony of Professor Anthon, Clark, p. 232.

3 Ibid. p. 234

4 Turner, p. 217.

5 Clark, p. 235.

6 Ibid.

7 Ibid.

8 Turner, p. 217.

1 Hale’s testimony quote above.

2 Ibid.

In the meantime, Martin Harris, in a state of high excitement, had proceeded three or four hundred miles to the city of New York, with the scrawl of mysterious characters given him by Smith. He obtained an introduction to the eminent Professor Anthon3 of Columbia College, a gentleman well known by his valuable editions of several of the classics. To this gentleman he exhibited his extraordinary document, and requested him to examine it and to state his opinion upon the subject. Professor Anthon at once concluded, [39] that some cunning fellow had prepared the paper in question for purposes of imposition, and gave this opinion to Harris without any hesitation. Harris then requested Professor Anthon to state this opinion in writing.

The request was granted without any reluctance, the Professor certifying that the characters appeared to be merely an imitation of various alphabetical signs, and that they seemed to have no meaning connected with them. Harris then took his leave with many thanks, and with the express declaration that he would not sell his farm, or embark in the speculation of printing the golden book. On his return homewards he seems to have departed from this wise resolution, and, like a monomaniac, to have abandoned himself altogether to his delusion. By the time he had reached his home, near Palmyra, he was again a perfect believer in the divine commission of Smith; and said that he had no more doubt of it than of the inspiration of the Apostles4. The very fact, that Smith was an obscure and illiterate man, was a sufficient proof to him that the money-digger must be acting under divine impulses. He declared his intention to sustain Smith in carrying on the work of the Lord, and his determination that a translation of the golden book should be published, [40] even though the cost of it should consume the whole of his worldly substance5. All sensible persons wondered at his credulity, and finding him inaccessible to expostulation, contented themselves with ridiculing the absurdity of his story. The infatuation of Harris became more and more complete, and soon after his return from the city of New York, he followed the prophet to Pennsylvania6.

Smith’s plans had now, viz. in the summer of 1828, assumed some definiteness, and he proceeded boldly with his new “revelation.” Seating himself in a private room, behind a curtain or blanket7, he placed the wonder-working stone in his hat, and put the hat over his face. He declared himself to be thus enabled to see in plain English, the characters inscribed on the golden plates, which he averred to be at the same time hidden in the woods. He read aloud his fictitious translation, which was, doubtless, merely an altered coy of Spaulding’s work, or, perhaps, to some extent, the original manuscript itself. On the outside of the curtain, Martin Harris was stationed, who carefully wrote down the words, as they proceeded from the lips of the concealed interpreter. Harris was told that it [41] would arouse the most terrible divine displeasure, if he should attempt to draw near the sacred chest, or even to look at Smith while engaged in deciphering its contents8.

While9 thus employed as the prophet’s amanuensis, Harris took one hundred and sixteen pages of his manuscript, and carrying them home with him, locked them up in a drawer, thinking them quite safe. But his wife, who had the sense to despise Smith and his proceedings, slipped out the upper drawer in Harris’s absence, and thus succeeded in abstracting the manuscript, which she placed in the hands of a neighbour for safer keeping. When Harris discovered it to be 3 Professor Anthon’s testimony quoted above; also Clark, 229.

4 Clark, p. 230.

5 Clark, p. 240.

6 Turner, p. 218. Hale’s Testimony quoted above.

7 Turner, p. 18. Clark, p. 230.

8 Clark, p. 230.

9 Ibid. p. 247. Turner, p. 197. missing, he suspected his wife, and demanded its restoration. She refused to give him any information on the subject, upon which he beat her most cruelly, declaring at the same time that she was trying to hinder him from making money1. She still persisted in her refusal, and very properly told him, that if the translation had been made by divine power, the same being who revealed it could easily replace it. Supposing that Smith and Harris would attempt to reproduce the part which she had concealed, and that they could not do this verbatim, she intended to keep the manuscript until the publication of the [42] book2, and then to place the hundred and sixteen pages in the hands of those who would print them and expose their variation3 from the “golden bible.” 4But she had to deal with a person who was too wily to be thus caught. The author of the imposture, having, doubtless, altered Spaulding’s manuscript considerably, and having reserved no copy of these alterations, did not dare to attempt a reproduction of the abstracted pages.

Accordingly, in July, 1828, Smith issued his first pretended verbal “revelation,” which has been made public, and which may be seen in one of his books, denominated the “Book of Covenants.”

In this5, after rebuking the prophet for his negligence, and intimating that his work was ended for the present, the Deity is represented as informing him, that after due repentance, he should be called again to the work of translation. After ten months had elapsed, viz. in May, 1829, another revelation6, was produced, which is inserted as follows, as a preface to the Book of Mormon, or Golden Bible7.

“As many false reports have been circulated respecting the following work, and also many unlawful measures taken by evil designing persons to destroy me, and also the work; I would inform [43] you that I translated by the gift and power of God, and caused to be written one hundred and sixteen pages, the which I took from the book of Lehi, which was an account abridged from the plates of Lehi by the hand of Mormon; which said account, some person or persons have stolen and kept from me, notwithstanding my utmost exertions to recover it again; and being commanded of the Lord that I should not translate the same over again, for Satan had put it into their hearts to tempt the Lord their God, by altering the words, that they did read contrary from that which I translated and caused to be written; and if I should bring forth the same words again, or, in other words, if I should translate the same over again, they would publish that which they had stolen, and Satan would stir up the hearts of this generation, that they might not receive this work; but, behold! the Lord said unto me, I will not suffer that Satan shall accomplish his evil design in this thing; therefore thou shalt translate from the plates of Nephi, until ye come to that which ye have translated, which ye have retained; and behold, ye shall publish it as the record of Nephi; and thus I will confound those who have altered my words. I will not suffer that they shall destroy my work; yea, I will show unto them that my wisdom is greater than the cunning of the devil. Wherefore, to be [44] obedient unto the commandments of God, I have, through his grace and mercy, accomplished that which he hath commanded me respecting this thing. I would also inform you that the plates of which hath been spoken, were found in the township of Manchester, Ontario county, New York.”

It appears, however, that even the faith of Martin Harris occasionally wavered. In the winter following the loss of the hundred and sixteen pages, he told the prophet that he needed a 1 Mrs. Harris’s testimony quote above.

2 Turner, p. 197. Clark, p. 248.

3 Ibid.

4 Clark, p. 248.

5 Turner, p. 197.

6 Book of Covenants, p. 156.

7 Ib. p. 163. Book of Mormon, Preface to the first edition. greater witness, and expressed a wish to behold the original golden plates8. Smith informed him that he dared not show them; but said that he would go into the woods to the place where they were deposited, and that, after he returned, Harris should be permitted to follow his track in the snow, to find the golden book, and to examine it for himself. Harris attended to these directions, but, not succeeding in his object, returned greatly dissatisfied. That he had reason to be somewhat annoyed, is plain, from the fact, that Smith had promised to deposit the golden plates in his keeping as a security for the money which he was to advance for the maintenance of Smith while translating, and also for the publication of the book when completed. Smith [45] now perceived that Harris must in some way be pacified, and accordingly it was revealed9 to him that he would be authorized to show them only to three individuals, who should assist in bringing forward the work. He then persuaded Harris to believe, that in some sense he actually beheld10 the wonderful plates. There was a worthless fellow1, named Oliver Cowdery, residing in the neighbourhood, a school teacher by profession, and also a Baptist preacher, who, together with one David Whitmer, was similarly persuaded by our ingenious prophet. Harris, Cowdery, and Whitmer actually signed a certificate, afterwards appended to the book of Mormon, in which they declared that an angel of God had descended from heaven, and laid before their eyes “the plates and the engravings thereon2.” Whitmer reported, that the angel who appeared was “like a man in grey clothes having his throat cut3.” The there witnesses also certified, that the voice of God had declared to them, “that the plates had been translated by Divine power.” The following circumstance will, however, exhibit the value of this testimony. On one occasion a sensible and religious gentleman in Palmyra put the following question to Harris: [46] “Did you see those plates?” Harris replied, that he did. “But did you see the plates and the engravings on them with your bodily eyes?” Harris replied, “Yes, I saw them with my eyes,—they were shown unto me by the power of God and not of man.” “but did you see them with your natural, your bodily eyes, just as you see this pencil-case in my hand? Now say no or yes to this.” Harris replied, “I did not see them as I do that pencil-case, yet I saw them with the eye of faith; I saw them just as distinctly as I see any thing around me,—though at the time they were covered over with a cloth.”

To the testimony of Cowdery, Whitmer, and Harris, inserted in the book of Mormon, the certificates of eight additional witnesses were annexed, although Smith had originally revealed, that three persons only were to be permitted to behold the plates4. These witnesses consisted of the prophet’s unprincipled father, two of his equally unprincipled brothers, Hyrum and Samuel, and four brothers of the Whitmer who had signed the first certificate. They5 declared that the prophet had shown them the plates, that they had handled them with their hands, and felt their weight, and that they had also seen the ancient and curious engrav- [47] ings with which they were covered. All the eleven witnesses concerned in the two certificates, were deeply interested in the success of the imposture, and expected to make their fortunes by it. Three of them have 8 Hale’s testimony, Clark, p. 244.

9 Clark, p. 254.

10 Turner, p. 174.

1 Testimony of David Stafford. Turner, p. 171.

2 Turner, p. 179.

3 Clark, p. 256.

4 Clark, p. 257.

5 Book of Mormon. since died in the profession of Mormonism, but all the rest, excepting the prophet’s two brothers, have apostatized from the system, and have become its opponents6.

After the loss of the hundred and sixteen pages, Cowdery was employed as a scribe in the place of Harris, and his courage was sustained like that of his predecessor by revelations7, which Smith readily produced as they were required by circumstances. By his assistance the Book of Mormon was finally completed early in the year 18308. It was published soon afterwards, the entire cost being defrayed by Martin Harris, who raised the necessary funds by a mortgage on his farm9. Harris now considered himself inspired, and imagined that revelations from heaven were made to him in reference to the most minute affairs of life10. He declared that the Lord had commanded him to sell the Book of Mormon at the price of a dollar and a [48] half, and with this object he again visited New York. While in the metropolis1, he called a second time on Professor Anthon, and made an unsuccessful attempt to induce that gentleman to accept a copy of the book as a present. During the interview, he informed the Professor that he had never seen the plates themselves, which were carefully locked up in a trunk, but that he had the trunk in his possession. He added, that he was afraid to open the trunk, for if he were to do so, the curse of Heaven would descend upon himself and upon his children.

Finding2, to his disappointment, that the book did not sell very briskly at the price of a dollar and a half, Harris now declared that he had received another revelation from heaven which required him to sell the book for one dollar a copy. Wherever he went this deluded wretch imagined that he saw visions and supernatural appearances all around him. He told a gentleman, after one of his excursions to Pennsylvania, that on the way he had met the Lord Jesus Christ, who walked along by his side in the shape of a deer for two or three miles, talking with him as familiarly as one man talks with another. [49]

With a knowledge of the facts stated in this chapter, it is not difficult to account for the introduction of the Book of Mormon as a divine revelation, and for the extraordinary success which afterwards attended the imposition. [50]

. . . .



The prophet tells a new and complete story respecting the golden plates—Smith’s theory of inspiration—Book of Mormon and its claims—Book of Covenants and its inconsistencies—New version of the Old and New Testaments, with the Prophet’s alterations and interpolations—

Pratt’s “Voice of Warning”—“Times and Seasons,” &c.

6 Turner, p. 164.

7 Ibid. p. 180. Book of Covenants, pp. 162. 150.

8 Turner, p. 18.

9 Clark, p. 231.

10 Ib. p. 258.

1 Testimony of Professor Anthon quoted above.

2 Clark, p. 258.

HITHERTO the prophet had related various and contradictory stories respecting the angel and the golden plates, the narrative being altered to suit his successive exigencies1. But after the publication of the Book of Mormon, it became necessary to adopt a uniform and consistent detail of the whole transaction, to satisfy the curiosity of those who, from different motives, might inquire into the origin of the new “revelation2.” Accordingly, the following account was produced, and subsequently given to the world in the columns of [72] several Mormon periodicals3, under the supervision of Smith himself4.

In the year 1823, when Smith was living at Manchester, and about seventeen years of age, an unusual religious excitement was produced in the whole community. It commenced with the Methodists; but soon extended to the Baptists, Presbyterians, and other sects in the vicinity.

Smith began to reflect on the importance of being prepared for a future state; but, upon inquiring the way of salvation, he found that each sect pointed to its own particular creed as the perfection of truth. So great was the confusion and strife among the different denominations, that it was impossible for him to come to any certain conclusion upon the subject. He now determined to investigate the question more fully, believing, as he said, that “if God had a Church, it would not be split into factions5.” While labouring under extreme difficulties produced by the contests of the sectarian bodies, he happened to read the fifth verse of the first chapter of St. James: “If any of you lack wisdom, let him ask of God, that giveth to all men liberally, and upbraideth not, and it shall be given [73] him.” He determined to act in accordance with this precept, and retired into the woods, in order to make the attempt. Having looked around and found himself alone, he kneeled down, and began to express the desires of his heart. He had scarcely done so, when he was seized by a power which entirely overcame him, and bound his tongue, so that he could not speak. Thick darkness gathered around him, and he was ready to sink into despair. But, exerting all his powers to call upon God, he saw a pillar of light exactly over his head, above the brightness of the sun, which gradually descended till it fell upon him. Immediately he found himself delivered from the enemy who had bound him. When the light rested upon him, he saw two personages of surpassing brightness and glory standing above him in the air. They exactly resembled each other in features, and were surrounded with a brilliant light which eclipsed the noon-day sun. Smith begged them to inform him, which of the sects was right, and which it was his duty to join. He was answered, that he must join none of them, for they were all wrong, and their creeds were an abomination in the sight of God. At the same time he received a promise that the fulness of the gospel should, at some future time, be made known to him. After this, however, he was left to all kinds of temptations, and gave way, [74] by his own admission, to the gratification of many sinful appetites. On the 21st of September, 1823, after he had retired to bed, he betook himself to prayer. He begged for the forgiveness of his sins, and also for a further manifestation of divine glory. Suddenly his room was filled with light, far purer and more glorious than the light of day. The appearance produced a shock which affected his whole body, and in a moment a form stood before him, whose countenance was as lightning, and whose person beamed with unutterable splendour. The celestial visitant was of somewhat more than 1 Turner, p. 17.

2 Ib. p. 214.

3 “Messenger and Advocate”—“Times and Seasons,” &c.

4 Turner, pp. 14. 17. 214. 219. 204. Corrill, p. 12. Clark, p. 243. Harris, p. 4. “Times and Seasons,” pp. 706. 726. 753.

5 See Smith’s assertion, “Times and Seasons,” p. 706. ordinary size, and his garments were pure white, and apparently without seam. He proclaimed himself to be an angel of God, sent to bring the joyful tidings that the covenant made with ancient Israel was about to be fulfilled, and that the preparatory work for the second coming of the Messiah was speedily to commence. He declared to the enraptured Smith, that his sins were forgiven, and that the Lord had chosen him to bring forth and translate the Book of Mormon.

Moroni, the last of the Nephites, of the seed of Israel, had abridged this book from the records of his tribe, and had engraved the work upon golden plates. These plates were deposited in a stone box, under the hill Camorah, near Manchester, about three miles from Smith’s residence, where they had already been [75] concealed about 1400 years. Although these marvels were twice repeated before morning, Smith went as usual to his labour on the following day, and it was not until the angel had appeared once more, and expressed displeasure at the delay, that he proceeded to the spot indicated to him, in search of the hidden treasure.

Having removed a portion of the soil, he found these precious documents deposited in a box of stone near the surface of the earth, and secured from air and moisture by a peculiar cement applied to the joints of the box. The plates were thin leaves of gold, about eight inches long by six wide, and were held together at one edge by three golden rings passing through each leaf. On removing the stone from the top of the box, he attempted to take possession of the plates, but received a shock, which not only frustrated his attempt, but deprived him of his natural strength. This was repeated three times, until finally he exclaimed aloud, “Why cannot I obtain this book?” Suddenly the angel of the Lord appeared, and informed him that the book was withheld from him because he had indulged in mercenary thoughts, and had desired to enrich himself by the plates of the book to be translated from them. He resorted to prayer, and again the heavens were opened, the glory of the Lord shone around, and Satan with his hosts [76] passed in dread array before him. The angel then declared that he must desire to obtain and translate the plates solely for the glory of God and the good of mankind. As a punishment for his covetous wishes, the angel forbade his removing the plates at this time, and told him that he should not obtain them, until he had repented of his folly. Four years after this memorable day, viz. on the 22d of September, 1827, the angel delivered the records into his hands. They were filled with engravings in Egyptian characters, small in size, but beautifully executed. With them were found the mystic Urim and Thummim, which appeared in the form of two transparent stones, set in the rim of a bow, like a pair of spectacles, and fastened to a golden breastplate. By looking through these, Smith was enabled to read the Egyptian characters in English “by the gift and power of the Almighty.” After completing the translation, the plates, the Urim and Thummim, and the breastplate, were again taken by the angel, and concealed from human sight.

Such was the blasphemous tale substituted for the former inventions of the same description. We will now consider the theory of inspiration, on which Smith professed to write his revelations.

This theory is wonderfully simple, and may be [77] found in the “Book of Covenants6” as follows: “Behold, you have not understood. You have supposed that I would give it unto you when you took no thought, save it was to ask me. But behold, I say unto you, you must study it out in your own mind. Then you must ask me if it be right; and, if it is right, I will cause that your bosom shall burn within you. THEREFORE you shall feel that it is right. But if it is not right, you shall have no such feelings; but you shall have a stupor of thought, that shall cause you to forget the thing which is wrong. THEREFORE you cannot write that which is sacred, save it be given you from me.”

6 “Book of Covenants,” p. 162; Harris, p. 9.

Upon this last principle, was constructed much that claims to be pre-eminently Divine Revelation; viz. large portions of the Book of Mormon, and the whole of the Book of Covenants.

The Book of Mormon has been in part described, and will be found in an abridged form in the Appendix.

It claims a rank and an importance excelled by nothing that has preceded it. It is declared to be a new and everlasting covenant, abolishing all former covenants7; it is pronounced to be the ful- [78] ness of the everlasting Gospel; and it professes to make known “the plain and precious things which have been taken away8.”

“The Book of Covenants and Revelations” contains about two hundred and fifty pages, 18mo., of which the first seventy-five pages consist of a series of seven lectures on faith, with questions and answers appended to each9. The remaining hundred and seventy-five pages were occupied with professed revelations from heaven, given at various times to Joseph Smith, respecting the translation of the Book of Mormon, the organization, doctrines, and government of the “Church” so called, the management of finance, the sending forth of preachers, and many subjects of an exceedingly trivial description1. This book is obviously designed to concentrate all power and resources in the hands of Joseph and his accomplices2. It has exerted far more influence on the doctrines and destinies of Mormonism than the Book of Mormon itself, although it has been generally kept in the back-ground, and the Book of Mormon put forward as the main authority of the “Saints,” after the Bible3. Two editions of this work were published, the first in 1833, and the second in 18354. [79] Great inconsistencies exist between the several parts of the book; and the editions of 1833 and 1835 are in several respects repugnant to each other5. In 1833, before the prophet had fully defined his own position, a “revelation” was published, dated in March 1829, while Smith was engaged in his “translation6.” In this the Lord is represented as commanding Smith to pretend to “no other gift,” except to translate, and expressly declares that he will “grant him no other gift7.” But in publishing the second edition, it was found expedient to leave the prophet free to usurp whatever power he pleased8. The clause, therefore, was made to read as follows, the words in italics being now interpolated:—“I have commanded that you should pretend to no other gift save to translate, until my purpose is fulfilled in this, for I will grant you no other gift until it is finished9.”

This Book of Covenants and Revelations, although the real basis of the Mormon faith, contains only a small part of the pretended revelations received by Smith1. There is still a large folio of many hundred unpublished revelations, which a Mormon is bound to believe and obey wherever he meets them2. [80]

7 Harris, p. 10; “Book of Covenants,” pp. 91. 178.

8 Harris, p. 10; “Book of Covenants,” pp. 30. 32. 180.

9 Turner, p. 20.

1 Ibid.

2 Ibid.

3 Ibid.

4 Ib. p. 244.

5 Turner, p. 225.

6 Ib. p. 266.

7 Ibid.

8 Ibid.

9 Ibid.

1 Ib. p. 243.

2 Ibid.

Smith, with Rigdon as his scribe, prepared, about the year 1832, another work of considerable importance to his scheme, although published as yet (1842) only in small parts, on account of the want of funds3. This is none other than a new edition of the Holy Scriptures,

translated through the power and gift of God.” In this most audacious and infamous undertaking (the idea of which was probably derived from Alexander Campbell’s New Testament) whole verses and almost entire chapters are added to the original text, in order to make the Bible appear to speak the words of the false prophet4. Thus, in the first chapters of Genesis, certain doctrines of the Trinity, and of atonement by sacrifice, are fully explained to Adam by the angel of the Lord5. Again, in Malachi iv. 1, we find the following alteration: “For behold the day cometh that shall burn as an oven, and all the proud, yea, all that do wickedly shall burn as stubble, for they that come [ i. e. the Mormons] shall burn them, saith the Lord of hosts, that they shall leave them neither root nor branch6.” So in the 5th verse, “Behold I will[81] reveal unto you the priesthood by the hand of Elijah the Prophet, before the coming of the great and dreadful day of the Lord7.” The last verse of the 23rd chapter of St. Matthew is made to read thus: “For I say unto you, ye shall not see me henceforth till ye shall say, blessed is he that cometh in the name of the Lord. Then understood his disciples that he should come again on the earth after that he was glorified and crowned on the right hand of God8.”

The “Voice of Warning,” by Parley P. Pratt, does not profess peculiar inspiration; but is considered, by the Mormons, as the most able exposition and defence of their doctrines, especially of those derived from the prophecies, and pertaining to the “kingdom of God9.”

Other books of great authority and influence have been produced from time to time, some in the form of periodical publications, such as the “Morning and Evening Star;” “Messenger and Advocate,” “Elders’ Journal,” and “Times and Seasons,” and some in the shape of pamphlets, published occasionally, in defence of Mormonism, by its leading elders and functionaries1. From the [82] sale of these works, conjoined with other sources of profit, Smith and his accomplices derived a considerable revenue, and the Smith family in particular, after their arrival in Kirtland, were soon raised from poverty to comparative affluence2. [83]

. . . .


THE Book of Mormon consists, as already stated, of fifteen separate books, professing to have been written at different periods by various authors, whose names they respectively bear. These authors are represented as belonging to the same people, and as being inspired by Jehovah to write a faithful record of events as they occurred. The record was engraved on metallic plates, 3 Clark, p. 328; Turner, pp. 21, 22; Corrill, p. 48.

4 Turner, p. 21.

5 Ibid; “Book of Covenants,” p. 13.

6 “Times and Seasons,” p. 753.

7 “Times and Seasons,” p. 753.

8 Corrill, p. 48.

9 Turner, p. 21.

1 Ib. p. 13.

2 Clark, p. 320.

1 In drawing an abridgment of the Book of Mormon, the author has derived much assistance from an analysis of the work in question, by the Rev. J. A. Clark, D.D. of Philadelphia. and deposited by the author in the same ark of testimony which contained the plates handed down to them by their predecessors.

The first book is denominated the Book of Nephi, and contains seven chapters. It opens with an account of Lehi, the father of Nephi, who [231] appears as the grand hero of the story.

Lehi resided in Jerusalem in the first year of Zedekiah, king of Judah, and was a person of great piety and devotion. Being greatly alarmed by the words of the prophets, who declared that Jerusalem would be destroyed, he went forth and prayed unto the Lord in behalf of his people.

While in the act of prayer, a pillar of fire descended upon a rock before him, and a voice addressed him from the midst of the flame. Terrified by this divine manifestation, he went home and cast himself upon his bed, whence he was suddenly carried away in a vision, and saw God sitting on his throne, surrounded by numberless angels. He beheld One descending from heaven, followed by twelve others of surpassing brightness, and the first gave him a book which contained awful predictions respecting Jerusalem. After this vision, Lehi himself became a prophet, and predicted the overthrow of the Holy City, on account of which he was persecuted by the Jews, who sought to destroy him. Upon this the Lord spoke to him in a dream, and commanded him to take his family, and depart into the wilderness. He immediately obeyed, left his house, his land, and his precious things; and taking his wife Sariah, and his sons, Laman, Lemuel, Sam, and Nephi, arrived at the borders of the Red Sea, where he pitched his tent in a valley by a stream of [232] water. His two eldest sons were quite unbelieving, and murmured against him because he had led them out of Jerusalem to perish in the wilderness. But Nephi was piously disposed, and persuaded his brother Sam to believe in the words of Lehi their father. In consequence of his piety, the Lord revealed to Nephi, that he should be led to a land of promise, and be made a ruler and a teacher over his brethren.

After this, Lehi had another vision, in which he was commanded to send back Nephi and his brethren to Jerusalem, to obtain “the record of the Jews, and also a genealogy of his forefathers, engraven upon plates of brass.” In obedience to this command, the four youths proceeded to Jerusalem, where they cast lots to decide who should proceed to the house of Laban, and ask for the records in his possession. The lot fell upon Laman, the eldest, who met with a rough reception at the hands of Laban, and was obliged to flee for his life without attaining the object of his wishes. The two elder brothers now determined to return to their parents; but Nephi, resolving to persevere, persuaded them to go with him to the late residence of their father, and to collect his precious things, in order to prevail upon Laban, by the offer of them, to surrender the plates of brass. Laban was pleased with the exhibition of their wealth, and determined to slay [233] them in order to obtain it. They fled into the wilderness, and hid themselves in a cave, where the two elder brothers began to punish Nephi and Sam for leading them into difficulty. An angel immediately appeared and rebuked them, enjoining them to return to Jerusalem, and not to desist from their enterprise; for that the Lord would deliver Laban into their hands. Notwithstanding this divine admonition, the two elder brothers went towards Jerusalem with reluctance, and on reaching the walls of the city, refused to proceed any farther.

Nephi, however, offered to go again to the house of Laban, and proposed that his brothers should conceal themselves without the walls until his return. Favoured by the darkness of the night, he stole carefully into the city, directing his steps towards the house of Laban. As he approached the dwelling, he found a man stretched on the ground in a state of intoxication, who, on examination, proved to be Laban himself. He was armed with a sword, the hilt of which was “of pure gold, and the workmanship exceeding fine.” Nephi drew the sword from its scabbard, and, prompted by the Spirit, conquered his feelings of repugnance, took Laban by the hair of his head, and decapitated him with his own sword. He then dressed himself in Laban’s garments, girded himself with his armour, and went to the treasury of the deceased. The [234] servant who kept the keys, mistaking Nephi for his master, readily took the plates of brass and carried them without the walls. On discovering his mistake, he was much terrified; but, being persuaded to accompany the adventurers, the whole party returned to the tent of Lehi in the wilderness.

Lehi now examined the records engraved upon the plates of brass, and found that they contained the five books of Moses, a record of the Jews terminating with the commencement of the reign of Zedekiah, and many of the prophecies of Jeremiah. He also found a genealogy of his fathers, from which he learned that he was a descendant of Joseph. Lehi was now filled with a spirit of prophecy, and foretold that these plates of brass should 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.”

After this, Nephi and his brethren went to Jerusalem again by revelation, and persuaded one Ishmael and his family to return with them into the wilderness. On the way, Nephi’s two elder brothers sought to slay him, but he was miraculously delivered out of their hands. Soon afterwards Lehi had a vision, which he described to his two elder sons, for whom he feared exceedingly. This [235] vision presented an allegorical representation. A man appeared dressed in a white robe, who stood before Lehi, and bade him to follow him. Lehi was then conducted by his supernatural guide through a dark and dreary wilderness. After travelling for many hours, he began to offer up prayers, and was immediately conducted into a spacious field, where he beheld “a tree whose fruit was desirable to make one happy.” As soon as he had partaken of the fruit, “his soul was filled with exceeding great joy,” and he desired that his family should partake of it also. As he cast his eyes round about, he beheld a river which ran near the tree of delicious fruit. At the head of the stream he perceived his wife and his two younger sons, whom he invited to come and partake of the fruit, and accordingly they came. At length he discovered his two elder sons; but was unable to induce them to approach the tree. Then he beheld a rod of iron extending along the bank of the river, leading to the tree, and also “a straight and narrow path, which came along by the rod of iron even to the tree; and it also led by the head of the fountain unto a large and spacious field, as if it had been a world.” Here Lehi saw “numberless concourses of people, many of whom were pressing forwards, that they might obtain the path which led unto the tree by which he stood. As [236] soon as they entered the narrow path, they encountered a great mist of darkness,” so that many lost their way, while others caught hold of the iron rod, and pressing through the mist, finally arrived at the light in which the tree stood, and partook of the delicious fruit. After tasting it, they looked around, and some appeared to be ashamed. Lehi then beheld on the other side of the river a spacious building filled with gaily dressed people, who mocked those who were partaking of the fruit, in consequence of which many fell away and were lost. He saw multitudes pressings towards the tree, and multitudes feeling their way to the spacious building. Many were drowned in the fountain, many were lost from view, wandering in strange roads, and Laman and Lemuel partook not of the fruit.

After relating this vision, Lehi prophesied in relation to the Messiah, and told very distinctly what is recorded of him in the New Testament. Nephi became very anxious to see the tree described by his father, and at length the same vision was repeated to him with an interpretation. The Spirit enabled him to behold also Jerusalem, then Nazareth, and “in the city of Nazareth, a virgin exceeding fair and white.” And then he saw the heavens open, and an angel came down and said, “The virgin which thou seest, is the mother of God, after the manner of the flesh.” Again Nephi [237] looked and beheld the virgin bearing a child in her arms, and the angel said to him, “Behold the Lamb of God, yea, even the eternal Father! Knowest thou the meaning of the tree which thy father saw?” Nephi replied, “Yea, it is the love of God.”

Afterwards he saw the Son of God going forth among mankind. He beheld his miracles, the scenes that followed his crucifixion, and the whole history of Christianity up to the date of the publication of the Book of Mormon. The Roman Catholic Church was described to him as “that great and abominable church, and the devil was the founder of it.” The tree seen in the vision was interpreted to be the love of God in Christ, the rod of iron leading to it was the word of God, the mist and darkness were the temptations of the devil, the large and spacious building was the pride and vain imaginations of the children of men.

After this vision, Nephi returned to his father’s tent, where he found his brethren disputing about the allegorical sense of the vision of their father Lehi. He was prepared to enlighten them, and, in reply to their inquiries, he gave them a full exposition, in the course of which he informed them that the river of the vision represented the filthy and awful gulf which separates the wicked from the tree of life. [238]

Laman and Lemuel now humbled themselves before the Lord, and soon afterwards the four sons of Lehi were married to the daughters of Ishmael. Immediately afterwards, Lehi received a command to strike his tent and take his journey into the wilderness. On arising in the morning, he beheld upon the ground before his door a round brass ball of curious workmanship.

“Within the ball were two spindles, and the one pointed the way whither they should go into wilderness2.” They travelled four days toward the south-east, and encountered many trials, at which the elder brothers murmured, while Nephi was uniformly submissive. The brass ball was their guide, pointing out the way, and exhibiting changing inscriptions on its sides, which gave them all necessary intelligence from time to time, according to their faith and diligence; Ishmael died in the wilderness, where they sojourned for the space of eight years. At length they pitched their tents by the sea-shore, in a land which they called Bountiful, because of the fruits and wild honey which abounded there. After many days Nephi went up to the top of a moun- [239] tain, by divine monition, where the Lord commanded him to construct a ship to carry his people to the promised land. He commenced the construction of his ship in the face of much opposition and of many difficulties, being quite ignorant of the art of shipbuilding, and at the same time being ridiculed by his brethren, who would not believe in his competency for the undertaking. But the Lord helped him, so that ultimately his brethren desisted from their opposition, and assisted him in completing the vessel. When the work was finished, they loaded the ship with fruits, meat, seeds, honey, and other provisions obtained in the wilderness, and embarked on their voyage.

After they had proceeded some distance, Nephi’s elder brothers began to be once more rebellious, and having bound him with cords, treated him with great cruelty. They took upon themselves the management of the ship; but, to their consternation, the compass refused to work, and in the midst of their perplexity, an adverse gale arose, which drove them back from their course, and soon increased to a terrible tempest. At length, when on the verge of destruction, they repented of their wickedness and released the unfortunate Nephi, who for with resumed the command. The compass again began to work, and, at the prayer of Nephi, the storm ceased, and there was a great [240] calm. After this the voyage advanced favourably, and in due time the pilgrims safely landed on the shores of America, where they found beasts of every useful kind, and abundance of gold, silver, and copper. By divine command, Nephi made metallic plates 2 A Mormon elder being raunted with the anachronism involved in this allusion to the compass, gravely replied, that the instrument in question was mentioned in the Bible. Being asked for the passage, he pointed to Acts xxviii. 13.

“We fetched a compass and came to Rhegium.” soon after his arrival, on which he recorded the peregrinations of his party, and all the prophecies which he had received concerning the future destinies of his people, and of the human race.

These plates were to be kept for the instruction of the people of the land, and for other purposes known to the Lord.

The second book of Nephi opens with an account of Lehi’s death. Previously to the event he called his children and grandchildren around him, reminded them of God’s goodness in bringing them to the promised land, and gave to each a patriarchal blessing, accompanied by predictions in references to their future destinies. To his youngest son Joseph (who, like his brother Jacob, was born after the departure of the family from Jerusalem,) he predicted that a seer named Joseph should be raised up in the latter days, “whose name should be called after the name of his father.” This wonderful seer [Joseph Smith] should out of weakness be made strong, and all that should seek to destroy him would be confounded. Lehi having spoken to all his household, according to the feelings of his [241] heart, died and was buried, soon after which event, Laman and Lemuel again sought to destroy Nephi. He fled into the American wilderness, taking with him his own family, his brother Sam, and his younger brothers, Jacob and Joseph, and their families. He also took with him the plates of brass, and the miraculous compass by which they had been directed through the wilderness and across the ocean. Being thus separated, they became the heads of various tribes. The Nephites soon grew into a numerous people, and Jacob and Joseph being consecrated priests, they built a temple “like unto Solomon’s, and the workmanship thereof was exceeding fine.” As for the descendants of Laman and Lemuel, they became the red men of the American continent. “As they were white and exceeding fair and delightsome, that they might not be enticing to the Nephites, therefore the Lord God did cause a skin of blackness to come upon them.” Nephi adds, that on account of the curse of God upon them, “they did become an idle people, full of mischief and subtlety, and did seek in the wilderness for beasts of prey.”

In this book are also introduced “the words of Jacob the brother of Nephi, which he spake unto the people of Nephi.” He predicts the incarnation of the Holy One of Israel, and the restoration of the Jews on their coming to the knowledge of [242] their Redeemer. In regard to the Gentiles he foretels, that if they repent, and fight not against Zion, and do not unite with the Roman Catholic Church, they shall be saved. Nephi then takes up the subject, and transcribes several chapters from Isaiah by way of corroboration. These are followed by a long harangue, setting forth the theology of the New Testament, and afterwards by a prediction of the appearance of a great prophet, and of a wonderful book which he shall bring to light. The Book, of course, is the Golden Bible, and the prophet Joseph Smith. “Therefore,” he continues, “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 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.” This is evidently contrary to what actually happened, since have seen that eight witnesses, besides the three, testified that they had seen the golden plates. To elude the difficulty, a saving clause is added in the following words:

“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 the men.” The reason is also here as- [243] signed, why the plates are not spread before the learned; it is to teach them humility. An unlearned man is chosen to transcribe the words of the book, that the learned may read them. The learned refuse to read the characters, unless they can see the plates whence they are taken. This God will not permit. He has no need of learned men, and is able to do his own work. He will therefore make use of the unlearned to bring these hidden things to light. The prophet, though an unlearned man, will be competent through the power of God, not only to transcribe, but to translate the book. It is easy to see the application of this prophecy to Professor Anthon of New York, and to Martin Harris with his scrawl of mysterious characters.

Nephi then predicts, that in the latter days various conflicting churches shall arise, each of which shall claim divine authority for itself, while all shall agree in denying the existence of miracles. “They shall also say, ‘A Bible, A Bible, we have got a Bible, and there cannot be any more Bible.’ . . . . Thou fool, that shalt say, ‘A Bible, we have got a Bible, and we need no more Bible.’ Have ye obtained a Bible, save it were by the Jews? Know ye not that there are more nations than one? Know ye not that I the Lord your God have created all men, and that I remember [244] they which are upon the isles of the sea; and that I rule in the heavens above, and in the earth beneath; and I bring forth my word unto the children of men, yea, even upon all the nations of the earth? . . . . Wherefore, because ye have a Bible, ye need not suppose that it contains all my words; neither need ye to suppose that I have not caused more to be written; for I command all men, both in the east and in the west, and in the north and in the south, and in the islands of the sea, that they shall write the words which I speak unto them. . . . . Behold, I speak unto the Jews and they shall write it, and I shall also speak unto the Nephites, and they shall write it, and I shall also speak unto the other tribes of the house of Israel, which I have led away, and they shall write it; and I shall also speak unto all the nations of the earth, and they shall write it.”

Nephi afterwards predicts the ultimate conversion of the American Indians to Christianity through the influence of Mormonism, and foretels, that soon after this event they will change their colour, and become “a white and delightsome people.” The Jews shall be converted and gathered in, and the Lord shall commence his work among all nations, kindreds, tongues, and people, to bring about the restoration of his people upon the earth.

The next book in course is the Book of Jacob, [245] one of the younger brothers of Nephi. This book gives an account of the ordaining of Jacob by Nephi, to be priest over the people, and the particulars of Nephi’s death. It contains several specimens of Jacob’s sermons, which appear to have been directed against the increasing immorality of his people. He told them that in many respects they had sunk below the level of their brethren the Lamanites, and that, unless they repented, their skins would be darker than those of the red men at the day of judgment. After some years, a Nephite, named Sherem, began to preach that there would be no Christ. A miracle having been wrought upon the person of this heretic, he confessed that he had been deceived by the devil, after which he became speechless and gave up the ghost. In consequence of this awful event, the love of God was restored among the Nephites, and they devised many means, all of which proved unavailing, for the restoration of the Lamanites to the knowledge of the truth. The red men continued to delight in wars and bloodshed, and cherished a lasting hatred against their brethren. In consequence of their enmity, the Nephites fortified their land with armies, “trusting in the God and the rock of their salvation.” Jacob, when he saw that he must soon go down to the grave, committed the sacred plates to his son Enos, and left him his successor in office over the people of Nephi. [246]

The Book of Enos is short, as also are the two following books of Jarom and Omni, containing little, except an account of the transmission of the plates from one generation to another, till the time of King Benjamin, about 320 years after the flight of Lehi from Jerusalem.

During the latter part of this period, many wars took place between the Nephites and Lamanites; so that Mosiah, then king, was warned to emigrate with his people into a new region called Zarahemla. Here the Nephites discovered a people who had originally emigrated from Jerusalem, at the time when Zedekiah was carried captive to Babylon, and who, like the family of Lehi, had been miraculously conveyed over the mighty ocean. They united with the Nephites, and formed one nation with them, over which Mosiah reigned until his death, when he transmitted the kingdom to his son Benjamin. The Lamanites, at this period, are described to be “a wild, ferocious, and blood-thirsty people, wandering about in the wilderness with a short skin girded about their loins, and with their heads shaven; and their skill was in the bow, and the scimitar, and the axe. And many of them did eat nothing, save it was raw meat.”

At length we arrive at the Words of the great and famous prophet Mormon, from whom the renowned sect of Mormons derives its name. This [247] prophet lived nearly a thousand years after the emigration of Lehi from Jerusalem, and about four hundred years after the coming of Christ. Mormon, while yet a child, received a command in relation to the sacred plates, and ultimately he obtained the precious deposits, which contained the record of all the generations of his fathers down to his own time. From these plates, he made an abridged record, which, in connection with the record of his own times, constitutes the Book of Mormon. He was, in fact, an Ezra, who compiled and arranged the entire canon of sacred writings. He lived at an eventful period, when the Nephites had fallen into a fearful apostasy, and he survived them all, except twenty-four persons. He was afterwards slain, together with the whole of this feeble remnant, with the solitary exception of his son Moroni, who lived to tell the mournful tale, and to deposit the sacred plates under the hill where Joseph Smith found them. Mormon took his name from the place where the first American Church was founded, and where the first candidates for admission to the Church were baptized, about two hundred years before the Christian era.

We have traced the history of the Lamanites and Nephites down to the period of king Benjamin, between three and four hundred years from the period of Lehi’s flight from Jerusalem.

Zara- [248] hemla, the new residence of the nation, was the scene of many great events in their history. Benjamin not only fought bravely, but exerted himself with a zeal worthy of the sweet Psalmist of Israel to establish true religion among the people. He punished the false Christs and false prophets who had arisen; he encouraged the holy prophets in speaking the word of God with power and authority, and he reigned over his nation in righteousness and equity. In his old age he assembled the Nephites, and exhorted them powerfully, declaring, that the time was near at hand when the Lord God Omnipotent would descend from heaven, and dwell in a tabernacle of clay among the children of men. Having thoroughly instructed them in the doctrines of repentance and faith, the multitude “fell to the earth, for the fear of the Lord had come upon them, and they viewed themselves in their carnal state, even less than the dust of the earth. And they all cried aloud with one voice, saying, ‘Oh, have mercy, and apply the atoning blood of Christ, that we may receive forgiveness of our sins, and that our hearts may be purified: for we believe in Jesus Christ, the Son of God, who created heaven and earth, and all things, who shall come down among the children of men.’ And it came to pass that after they had spoken these words, the Spirit of the Lord came upon them, and [249] they were filled with joy, having received a remission of their sins, and having peace of conscience, because of the exceeding faith which they had in Jesus Christ which should come, according to the words which King Benjamin had spoken to them.”

King Benjamin having seen all his people, except the little children, enter into covenant with God to keep his commandments, resigned the throne to his son Mosiah II., and died three years afterwards, “four hundred and sixty years from the time that Lehi left Jerusalem.” Mosiah walked in the ways of the Lord, and cultivated the earth with his own hands, that he might not be burdensome to his people, and that he might do according to that which his father had done.

In the fifth Book of Mosiah an episode is introduced. It has been already stated, that the Nephites had left their first residence and emigrated to the land of Zarahemla. Some of their number, however, desired to go back to the land where they formerly dwelt. The first party that went for this purpose met with no success, by reason of internal dissensions. The second attempt, under a leader named Zeniff, resulted in their making a settlement in that land, and building a city called Lehi-Nephi. No intercourse was kept up by this colony with its parent country, and the result of the enterprize remained unknown in Zarahemla until the [250] reign of Mosiah. At that period sixteen strong and mighty men under the command of Ammon were permitted by King Mosiah to go to the land of Lehi-Nephi to inquire concerning their brethren.

After travelling forty days through the wilderness, they came to a hill near the land of Shilom, where they pitched their tents. Ammon then took three of his brethren and proceeded into the land of Nephi, where, encountering the king of the people, they were seized and committed to prison. On the second day they were brought before his majesty for examination when, to their surprise and delight, the king informed them that he was Limhi, the son of Noah, the son of Zeniff. Ammon then made known his country and the reasons of his pilgrimage, upon which Limhi greatly rejoiced, released his fellow Nephites from their bonds, and treated them with the greatest hospitality. He sent to the hill near Shilom, and brought the remaining twelve of the deputation into the city, where he invoked their aid, and that of the Nephites generally, to the deliverance of himself and his nation from bondage to the Lamanites. The next day he assembled the people at the Temple, where he made an oration on the subject of their oppression by the Lamanites, after which he announced the character of his visitors, and caused Ammon to rehearse before the multitude the history of the [251] Nephites in the land of Zarahemla. The assembly was then dismissed, and soon afterwards Limhi brought forth the plates which contained the record of his people from the time they left the land of Zarahemla. Ammon, being permitted to examine them, interpreted them in substance as follows:—

Zeniff, the founder of this nation, after leaving Zarahemla, travelled a long way through the wilderness, and, having wandered many days, arrived at the land of Lehi-Nephi and Shilom.

They found the country in possession of the Lamanites, but obtained by treaty the privilege of occupying the land. The Lamanites allowed them to build cities and make improvements for twelve years, after which, they sought to enslave them, but were defeated in every attempt until the death of Zeniff. This vigorous monarch was succeeded by his son Noah, who proved to be a depraved, extravagant, and oppressive king. He was fond of splendid architecture; and, besides ornamenting the temple, he built a gorgeous palace and a lofty tower, from which he could overlook the territories of the Lamanites. The people were fast sinking into corruption, when a prophet, named Abinadi, was raised up, who reproved them for their iniquities, and openly denounced the judgments of God against them. This fearless and independent course excited the displeasure of the people and their king, who de- [252] termined to slay the man of God.

Abinadi escaped, and after two years, returning in disguise, again reproved them, and declared the vengeance of heaven upon Noah and his subjects. The people bound him and brought him before the king, who committed him to prison, and afterwards caused him to be brought up for examination. He was not intimidated, but enforced his bold commands by repeating to the king and his prophets the commandments of the decalogue. This exasperated them beyond all bounds, and they sought to destroy him on the spot; but he calmly defied their efforts, and declared, that they could have no power over him until he had finished his message.

Accordingly, he proceeded, and preached respecting the coming of Christ and the method of salvation, teaching “that redemption cometh through Christ the Lord, which is the very Eternal Father.” The king now commanded the priests to take him and destroy him, and notwithstanding the pleadings of the youthful Alma, a descendant of Nephi, he remained steadfast in his wicked purpose. Abinadi succeeded in effecting his escape, but was retaken and sentenced by the king to death on the charge of maintaining the divinity of the future Messiah. The prophet not only refused to recant his principles, but declared his readiness to suffer martyrdom in their defence.

The king was impressed by his [253] words, and was about to release him, when the priests, who were wicked, and derided the idea of a future Messiah, succeeded in causing him to be put to death by burning.

Alma now avowed himself a firm believer in the doctrines of Abinadi, which he taught privately through fear of the king. Many believed his words and resorted with him “to a place which was called Mormon,” which received its name from the king, and was in a neighbourhood infested by wild beasts. In Mormon, there was a fountain of pure water, adjoining a thicket of underwood, in which Alma hid himself in the day-time from the emissaries of the king. Here he instructed his followers in the doctrines of Christ, and baptized them by immersion in the waters of Mormon. About two hundred and four persons were thus baptized, “were filled with the grace of God, and were called the Church of God, or the Church of Christ from that time forward.”

Alma ordained one priest to every fifty of his converts, and required this priesthood to maintain themselves without dependence on their flocks. The record then proceeds to say, “All this was done in Mormon, yea, by the waters of Mormon, in the forest that was near the waters of Mormon; yea, the place of Mormon, the waters of Mormon, the forest of Mormon, how beautiful are they to the eyes of them [254] who there came to the knowledge of their Redeemer, yea, how blessed are they, for they shall sing to his praise for ever.”

Alma and his proceedings at Mormon were soon discovered by the king’s agents, and, being denounced as a rebel, an army was sent to destroy him and his converts. The believers, who now amounted to four hundred and fifty souls, were apprized of the king’s designs and departed into the wilderness for safety. The wickedness of the people of Lehi-Nephi was not long unpunished, for the Lamanites came upon them and reduced them to a state of vassalage.

They were still allowed to keep up the shadow of a government, and Limhi was permitted to succeed Noah in the kingdom. They were not only made tributary to the Lamanites, but repeated efforts were made by that people to cut them off, in consequence of which they were always in a warlike posture. Their former priests, whom Limhi had driven into the wilderness, became a regular banditti, and often came into their land, and plundered their grain and precious things.

When Ammon and his party were seized by the forces of Limhi, they were supposed to be one of these marauding bands. Having thus explained to Ammon the cause of the treatment which he had received before his story had been told, Limhi proceeded to relate, that a short [255] time before, a small party had been sent by him to search for the land of Zarahemla. Failing in their object, they accidentally discovered a land which was covered with dry bones and other remains, indicating that a populous nation had once existed there. They found, also, the records of the extinct race engraved on twenty-four plates of pure gold, but in a language which neither Limhi, nor Ammon, nor any of the people could understand. Ammon, however, informed Limhi, that the king of Zarahemla had a gift from God, whereby he could interpret such engravings. He added “he hath wherewith he can look and translate all records that are of ancient date, and it is a gift of God. And the things are called interpreters; and no man can look in them, except he be commanded, lest he should look for that he had not ought, and he should perish.” Ammon greatly magnified the office of such a looker in the following beautifully grammatical words:

“Whosoever is commanded to look in them, the same is called seer. A seer is a revelator, and a prophet also. A seer can know of things which has past, and also of things which is to come: and a gift which is greater can no man have.”

Limhi was filled with joy on learning these glad tidings; and it will appear in the sequel that he was fully gratified in his desire to learn the history of the extinct race. At present, however, his [256] great object was to extricate his people with the help of Ammon, from their bondage to the cruel Lamanites. “And it came to pass that they could find no way to deliver themselves out of bondage, except it were to take their women and children, their flocks, and their herds, and their tents, and to depart into the wilderness.” They watched their opportunity, and fled away secretly in the night, together with their gold and silver and precious things, just as Joseph Smith, after the lapse of centuries, escaped from his creditors at Kirtland. They travelled through the wilderness for many days, the Lamanites pursuing them in vain, and ultimately arrived at the land of Zarahemla, where they joined the people of Mosiah and became his subjects.

In the meanwhile various adventurs had befallen Alma, and the believers who accompanied him into the wilderness. After leaving the land of Lehi-Nephi, they travelled eight days through the dense forests, until they came to “a very beautiful and pleasant land, a land of pure water.” Here they established themselves, and, after the manner of modern Mormons, proceeded with great industry to cultivate the ground, and to erect houses. They offered to make Alma their king; but he declined the honour, and, like his successor Joseph Smith, was content with his theocratical authority as prophet. [257] He consecrated priests and teachers, and selected none but just men for ecclesiastical offices, in consequence of which, “they did watch over their people, and did nourish them with things pertaining to righteousness.” Their secluded retreat was at length discovered by the roving tribes of Lamanites, who immediately subjected them to a bondage that was peculiarly oppressive. They succeeded at length in escaping from the hands of their enemies, and fled to the land of Zarahemla, where king Mosiah received them with joy, shortly after the arrival of Ammon, with king Limhi and his people.

All the people of Nephi were now assembled together, with the original inhabitants of Zarahemla, the people of Limhi, and the people of Alma. Before this great convocation, Mosiah read the records of Zeniff and of Alma, which produced great amazement and joy. Alma followed with exhortations to repentance, faith, and baptism; after which he went into the water and baptized Limhi and all his people, “after the manner he did his brethren in the waters of Mormon, yea, and as many as he did baptize did belong to the Church of God; and this because of their belief on the words of Alma. And it came to pass that king Mosiah granted unto Alma, that he might establish Churches throughout all the land of Zarahemla, [258] and gave him power to ordain priests and teachers over every Church. Now this was done because there was so many people that they could not all be governed by one teacher; neither could they all hear the word of God in one assembly; therefore they did assemble themselves together in different bodies called Churches, every Church having their priests and teachers, and every priest preaching the word according as it was delivered to him by the mouth of Alma; and thus, notwithstanding there being many Churches, they were all one Church, yea, even the Church of God; for there was nothing preached in all the Churches, except it were repentance and faith in God. And now there were seven Churches in the land of Zarahemla; and the Lord did pour out his Spirit upon them, and they were blest, and prospered in the land.” There were, however, many of the rising generation who “did not believe the tradition of their fathers,” and “would not call upon the Lord their God.” Among the number were the sons of the king, and also a son of Alma, who bore the name of his father. While this young Alma was going about with the sons of Mosiah, seeking to destroy the Church, an angel appeared to him by the way, and, descending in a cloud, spoke to him in a voice of thunder which caused the earth to shake upon which he stood.

He instantly fell to [259] the ground, being struck dumb and senseless. He continued in this state for two days and two nights, and then rose up a converted man, and became a most zealous preacher of righteousness. Four of the king’s sons were also converted and became zealous preachers. Having obtained their father’s approbation, “they took their journey into the wilderness, to go up and preach the word unto the Lamanites.” We shall in due time hear what was the result of their efforts; but years passed away without any intelligence being received from them. The king was growing old, and had no one upon whom he could confer the kingdom. He therefore committed the records of his people for transmission to the younger Alma, having previously translated the records of the extinct people found by the subjects of Limhi, “by the means of those two stones which was fastened into the two rims of a bow.”

These miraculous spectacles came ultimately, as we have seen, into the hands of Joseph Smith.

The records thus translated are called the Book of Ether, and were placed by Mormon nearly at the end of the book called by his name, and consequently out of their chronological order. The substance of them is as follows:

The people who inhabited the desolated country, were the descendants of Jared and his brother, who were among those engaged in building the [260] tower of Babel. When Jared and his brother saw that God was confounding the language of the builders, they cried to him for mercy, in consequence of which their language was not confounded, and with their friends and families, they were directed to the new abode where Providence designed them to dwell. By divine monition, they went into the valley of Nimrod, north of Babel, where they collected flocks and herds, together with swarms of bees and seeds of every kind. The Lord then appeared in a cloud, and led them to the sea-side, where they dwelt in tents during four years1. After that time the Lord commanded them to build barges to convey them over the ocean. “And they were small, and they were light upon the water, like unto 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 length thereof was the length of a tree; and the door thereof, when it was shut, was tight like unto a dish. And it came to pass that the brother of Jared cried unto the Lord, saying: O Lord, I have performed [261] the work which thou hast commanded me, and I have made the barges according as thou hast directed me. And, behold, O Lord, in them there is no light, whither shall we steer. And also we shall perish, for in them we cannot breathe, save the air that is in them, therefore we shall perish. And the Lord said unto the brother of Jared, Behold, thou shalt make a hole in the top thereof, and also in the bottom thereof; and when thou shalt suffer for air, thou shalt unstop the hole thereof and receive air. And if it so be that the water come in upon thee, behold, ye shall stop the hole thereof, that ye may not perish in the flood. And it came to pass that the brother of Jared did so, according as the Lord had commanded. And he cried again unto the Lord, saying, O Lord, behold, I have done even as thou hast commanded me; and I have prepared the vessels for my people, and behold there is no light in them. Behold, O Lord, wilt thou suffer that we shall cross this great water in darkness?

And the Lord said unto the brother of Jared, What will ye that I shall do, that ye may have light 1 A different account is given in page 424, where, speaking of the devil, the Book of Mormon says: “That same being who put it into the hearts of the people to build a tower sufficiently high that they might get to heaven, led on the people which came from that tower into this land.” in your vessels? For behold, ye cannot have windows, for they will be dashed in pieces; neither shall ye take fire with you, for ye shall not go by the light of the fire; for, behold, ye shall be as a whale in the midst of the sea; for the mountain waves shall dash upon you.” “And it came to[262] pass, that the brother of Jared (now the number of the vessels was eight) went forth unto the mount which they call the mount Shelem, because of its exceeding height, and did moulten out of a rock sixteen small stones, and they were white and clear like unto transparent glass.”

These stones, being touched by the finger of God, became like so many stars to enlighten the passengers in the dark barges. Jared and his party now placed their animals and provisions on board, and soon afterwards embarked on their voyage. A furious tempest ensued, in the course of which the barges were often buried in the depths of the sea, but no storm could hurt them, “the vessels being tight like unto a dish.” After being thus driven for three hundred and thirty-four days, “they did land upon the shore of the promised land.” Here they became mighty nations; they built cities; they cultivated the arts, and finally, on account of their wickedness, became exterminated by dreadful wars among themselves. And it came to pass, that when they had all fallen by the sword, save it were Coriantumr and Shiz, behold Shiz had fainted with loss of blood. And it came to pass, that after he had smote off the head of Shiz, that Shiz raised up on his hands and fell, and after that he had struggled for breath, he died. And it came to pass, that[263] Coriantumr fell to the earth, and became as if he had no life.”

We have now reached the five hundred and ninth year after the flight of Lehi. Here the book of Mosiah ends, giving an account of the termination of the reign of kings, and the commencement of a kind of republican government under judges. Alma was appointed chief judge, being also high priest by the ordination of his father, who soon afterwards died at the age of eighty-two. Mosiah also died in the thirty-third year of his reign, and the sixty-third year of his age.

The Book of Alma follows the Book of Mosiah, and occupies 186 pages of the Book of Mormon. It is principally filled with details of the events which happened under the reigns of the early judges, of the wars and contentions among the people, of the efforts of Alma and others to establish the Church, and of a war between the Nephites and the Lamanites. Soon after Alma was raised to the judgment-seat, Nehor, a very large and powerful man, was brought before him on two charges of heresy and one of murder. The first charge was, that he had declared “unto the people that every priest and teacher had ought to become popular; and that they ought not to labour with their own hands, but that they had ought to be supported by [264] the people.” The second charge was, that he had “testified unto the people that all mankind should be saved at the last day, and that they need not fear nor tremble, but that they might lift up their heads and rejoice; for the Lord had created all men, and had also redeemed all men; and in the end all men should have eternal life.” This heretic had also slain one Gideon, an orthodox preacher, who had withstood him with arguments. Being found guilty on all three charges, he was caused to acknowledge, “between the heavens and the earth,” that his doctrines were false; and afterwards, on the hill Manti, he was put to an ignominious death. His doctrines, nevertheless, had taken root, and, about five years afterwards, one Amlici, a cunning, shrewd man, of the same opinions, arose and tried to pervert the people. He “drew away much people after him, even so much that they began to be very powerful; and they began to endeavour to establish Amlici to be a king over the people.” The question whether he should be a king, was decided by popular vote, and he was defeated. His adherents, however, gathered themselves together, and anointed him king, in consequence of which a civil war ensued. The Amlicites were routed in a battle, in which they lost 12,532 souls, while the Nephites bewailed the slaughter of 6562 of the orthodox party. The surviving Amlicites fled to the La- [265] manites, and joined them in an invasion of Zarahemla.

Another battle ensued, in which Alma and Amlici having met in single combat, the latter was slain, and the Lamanites and Amlicites were totally defeated. Several engagements followed, in which the orthodox Nephites were uniformly victorious, and a season of universal prosperity to their church was the consequence. They began to grow proud of their wealth and greatness, and very shortly, envying, malice, and contention grew up among them. Alma, in order to check their increasing depravity, resigned his judicial authority to Nephihah, and went forth as high-priest, devoting himself wholly to the business of preaching. Many specimens of his sermons are given, which are generally similar in their manner and matter to the exhortations of itinerant preachers among the modern Methodists and Baptists. He prophesied also respecting the speedy coming of the Messiah, proclaimed with boldness the doctrine of regeneration by baptism, and freely quoted the New Testament long before the writers of the New Testament were born.

Great effects attended his preaching generally, but when he reached the city of Ammonihah, he could make no impression upon the minds of the people, who even reviled him, spit upon him, and cast him out of their city. As he was departing in despair, an angel appeared and [266] commanded him to return to Ammonihah and make a second attempt. Returning privately to the city, he was met by a man named Amulek, to whom the angel had also appeared, and who hospitably entertained him at his own house. Amulek, being converted to the faith, went forth with him to preach the word, but the lawyers opposed them, and stirred up the people to persecute them, together with those who believed their doctrines. Accordingly, several of their converts were burned at the stake; the Holy Scriptures also were brought forth and committed to the flames. Alma and Amulek were tormented in prison, and, finally, on the twelfth day, the chief judge, and lawyers, and priests, came to them and smote them cruelly. The valiant confessors then cried unto the Lord, and immediately an earthquake ensued, so severe that the prison walls fell and crushed their tormentors. Alma and Amulek came forth in safety, and soon afterwards had the satisfaction of converting Zeezrom, the most distinguished of the lawyers, who became their powerful auxiliary. Alma, having seen a great religious change among the people, returned to his home at Zarahemla, accompanied by his friend Amulek. Soon afterwards the armies of the Lamanites invaded the land, and utterly destroyed the city of Ammonihah with its in- [267] habitants, but were finally expelled with great slaughter.

We have next an episode, describing the adventures of Ammon, Aaron, Omner, and Himni, the four sons of Mosiah, who had gone as missionaries among the Lamanites. After an absence of fourteen years, they returned and related the following story:—

When they first reached the land of the Lamanites, they were seized and made slaves in the service of several chiefs. Ammon was made a shepherd under King Lamoni, in which situation he exhibited his prowess by defeating, with his single arm, an entire band of hostile shepherds, who sought to scatter his flock. When his valour was described to the king, the latter concluded that Ammon was the Great Spirit in human form, and showed him the greatest reverence. Ammon declared that he was merely a man, and forthwith preached and prophesied with such power, that the king fell to the ground and remained in a trance like a dead person for the space of three days. At length he arose in an ecstasy, and began to declare the heavenly wonders which he had seen, and to prophesy respecting the advent of the Messiah. A great revival ensued, and scenes took place similar to the enthusiastic manifestations of modern [268] times,—the king, the queen, and all their servants falling down insensible, and then reviving to shout praises, and to declare that they had seen angels, and conversed with them. The converted persons were named Anti-Nephi-Lehies, and seem to have abandoned their wild Indian habits and to have adopted the Quaker principle of non-resistance. Ammon succeeded in delivering his brothers from bondage; and the four missionaries proceeded through the land, establishing numerous churches, baptizing thousands of converts, and consecrating priests and teachers in the true Mormon fashion. Soon the fiercer tribes of unconverted Lamanites made war upon the believers, who appeared to be on the verge of extermination. Instead of defending themselves, they buried their swords and other weapons, and suffered a thousand and five of their people to be butchered. Their patience finally moved the Lamanites to mercy, and more than a thousand of the latter were converted: thus abundantly compensating for those who had been slain. They were, however, attacked by other tribes of their Lamanitish brethren, and, adhering to their principles of non-resistance, they ultimately, at the suggestion of the four missionaries, emigrated to the land of Zarahemla. The four brethren asked permission for their converts to settle in that country, which was readily granted to them by the [269] religious and benevolent Alma; and they were called the people of Ammon.

Subsequently to this event, the Lamanites invaded the territory of the Nephites, and, after tremendous slaughter on both sides, were driven out and scattered. Peace ensued, and the people, observing the law of Moses with strictness, continued to increase in numbers and prosperity. Soon afterwards an antichrist arose, named Korihor, who was miraculously struck dumb by Alma, and his infidel doctrines nipped in the bud. A sect of Unitarian “dissenters,” named Zoramites, also appeared, who refused to observe the laws of Moses, rejected the traditions of the fathers, and established separate synagogues and a liturgical form of worship.

These “dissenters” finally joined their forces with the Lamanites, and made war against the orthodox Nephites. They were totally defeated, and Zerahemnah, the captain of the Unitarian heretics, being scalped by the orthodox party, his scalp was exposed in triumph on the point of a spear.

Alma, about this time, assembled his sons, Helaman, Shiblon, and Corianton, and gave them long lectures, in which he expounded the prophecies, foretold the descent of Christ in America, and laid down several of the doctrines of Mormonism. To Helaman he committed all the sacred plates, the [270] mystic stones (or Urim and Thummim), and the compass which guided Lehi through the wilderness and across the ocean. He foretold to him, also, that in four hundred years after the appearance of Christ, the Nephites would dwindle in unbelief, and finally become extinct. After uttering this prophecy, he disappeared, like Moses; and nothing was known concerning his death or burial.

Helaman and his brethren succeeded their father as high-priests, and were soon annoyed by a pretender, who desired to found a monarchy and abolish true religion. Moroni, the commander of the Nephite armies, hoisted a flag of liberty, and rallied around him the believers in a future Messiah, who were now called Christians. The pretender, being defeated, fled among the Lamanites, and became their king; after which, he invaded the territory of the Nephites. The latter, however, under Moroni, had erected many forts and mounds of earth, from which they defended themselves successfully against their enemies, and inflicted prodigious slaughter upon them. After this they sallied forth, and carried the war into the territory of the Lamanites, where they destroyed all the strongholds, and returned in triumph.

A class of political dissenters now arose, who threatened to weaken the Nephite republic.

Moroni, like a true Danite, marched against them, [271] and put four thousand to death. About the same time, the pretender invaded the Nephite territory at the head of his Lamanites, but was secretly assassinated by a Nephite; in consequence of which his army was dispersed. Many wars of a similar nature followed at various intervals. The Nephites were generally victorious; and ultimately purchased by their efforts a protracted peace, during which they multiplied and became exceedingly strong. They even sent out emigrants in ships to other countries; and Corianton, the son of Mosiah, was among the adventurers. Helaman, Moroni, and Shiblon died, and the sacred plates were committed to a son of Helaman of the same name.

The Book of Helaman details melancholy accounts of dissensions and wars, and strange alternations of prosperity and adversity to the Church. A son of Helaman, named Nephi, who was now chief judge, imitated the example of Alma, and, resigning his civil office, became a great prophet and preacher, performing miracles and mighty wonders, in company with his brother Lehi. He even went to the Lamanites, and was so successful in converting them, that he arrested the tide of war, and restored peace to the land. He reclaimed many dissenting Nephites; and in proof of his faith and holiness, the earth shook, the heavens opened, and angels came down at his voice. After [272] Nephi, rose up Samuel, a Lamanite, who predicted that Christ would come into the world in five years, and that on the day of his birth there would be no night, although the sun would go down as usual. Another sign was to attend his death, namely, three whole days of darkness, in which there were to be thunderings and lightnings, earthquakes, and the rending of rocks and hills. Thirty-three years were to elapse between these two tremendous signs, which were to be the period of the Messiah’s earthly existence.

The five years spoken of by Samuel had nearly expired, and the unbelievers, who were now numerous among the people, had determined on slaying the Christians, if the prophecy should fail of accomplishment. At length the suspense of both parties was removed by the appearance of the first sign. There was an entire night without darkness, although the sun went down as usual. The people, therefore, knew that Christ had come into the world. Nephi, the son of the last-mentioned Nephi, went forth among them, and baptized immense multitudes for the remission of sins. The converted Lamanites now became as white as the Nephites, and great signs and wonders were wrought by the hand of Nephi. At the end of thirty-three years, in the six hundred and thirty-fourth year after the flight of Lehi from Jerusalem, [273] the awful signs appeared which had been foretold as accompanying the death of Christ. There was a great tempest and terrible thunder, the earth shaking as if it were about to fall in pieces. Vivid lightning ran along the ground; cities were overturned and buried in the midst of the sea; a terrible darkness continued for three days; and there was great howling and weeping among the people. The voice of Christ was heard amid the tempest, denouncing woes upon sinners, and offering grace and salvation to all who would repent and believe.

After these signs had disappeared, a great multitude of Nephites were gathered together, conversing upon what they had seen, when “they heard a voice, as if it came out of heaven; and they cast their 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, being a small voice, it did pierce them that they did hear to the centre… 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 stedfastly towards heaven from whence the sound came; and behold! the third time they did understand the [274] 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 no 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 have drank out of that 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.”

There were several occasions on which the Messiah is said to have appeared subsequently; at which times he is blasphemously represented as teaching Anabaptist and Mormon doctrines, besides repeating the instructions and performing the miracles of the New Testament. With equally [275] audacious blasphemy he is described as instituting the sacraments, ordaining twelve apostles, and, finally, ascending into heaven. All were now baptized in the name of the Trinity; and the whole of the Nephites, with most of the Lamanites, became converted. For more than 150 years, America was almost a paradise; for there were no contentions, envyings, strifes, tumults, lyings, murders, or uncleanness. About the commencement of the third century of the Christian era, the love of many began to wax cold, and iniquity once more abounded, till the wicked became exceedingly more numerous than the people of God. Terrible wars ensued between the Nephites and Lamanites, which are duly recorded by the prophet Mormon. The Nephites, in their degenerate state, had lost the favour of God, and were slaughtered in prodigious numbers by their enemies. The prophet Mormon refused to head their armies, on account of their wickedness and abominations. At length, about the year 400, their scattered forces were collected at the hill Camorah, where they hoped to gain some advantage over the Lamanites. A dreadful battle ensued, in which two hundred and thirty thousand Nephites were slain, twenty-four persons alone escaping, with Mormon and his son Moroni. Mormon was severely wounded, and soon afterwards was slain with his companions, Moroni alone surviving [276] to tell the dreadful tale. To him the sacred records had been entrusted; and, faithful to his charge, he deposited them in the hill Camorah, whence, after an interval of 1427 years, they were disinterred by the prophet Joseph Smith.

THE END. [277]

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