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The Story of the Mormons: From the Date of their Origin to the Year 1901 by William Alexander Linn

Part 3 out of 15

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"14. But the book shall be delivered unto a man, and he shall
deliver the words of the book, which are the words of those who
have slumbered in the dust; and he shall deliver these words unto
another, but the words that are sealed he shall not deliver,
neither shall he deliver the book.

"15. For the book shall be sealed by the power of God, and the
revelation which was sealed shall be kept in the book until the
own due time of the Lord, that they may come forth; for, behold,
they reveal all things from the foundation of the world unto the
end thereof."

No one will question that a Rigdon who would palm off such a
fraudulent work as this upon the men who looked to him as a
religious teacher would hesitate to suggest to Smith the scheme
for a new Bible. During the work of translation, as we learn from
Smith's autobiography, the translators saw a wonderful vision, in
which they "beheld the glory of the Son on the right hand of the
Father," and holy angels, and the glory of the worlds,
terrestrial and celestial. Soon after this they received an
explanation from heaven of some obscure texts in Revelation.
Thus, the sea of glass (iv. 6) "is the earth in its sanctified,
immortal, and eternal state"; by the little book which was eaten
by John (chapter x) "we are to understand that it was a mission
and an ordinance for him to gather the tribes of Israel."

It may be added that this translation is discarded by the modern
Mormon church in Utah. The Deseret Evening News, the church organ
at Salt Lake City, said on February 21, 1900:--

"The translation of the Bible, referred to by our correspondents,
has not been adopted by this church as authoritative. It is
understood that the Prophet Joseph intended before its
publication to subject the manuscript to an entire examination,
for such revision as might be deemed necessary. Be that as it
may, the work has not been published under the auspices of this
church, and is, therefore, not held out as a guide. For the
present, the version of the scriptures commonly known as King
James's translation is used, and the living oracles are the
expounders of the written word."

We may anticipate the course of our narrative in order to show
how much confirmation of Rigdon's connection with the whole
Mormon scheme is furnished by the circumstances attending the
first open announcement of his acceptance of the Mormon
literature and faith. We are first introduced to Parley P. Pratt,
sometime tin peddler, and a lay preacher to rural congregations
in Ohio when occasion offered. Pratt in his autobiography tells
of the joy with which he heard Rigdon preach, at his home in
Ohio, doctrines of repentance and baptism which were the "ancient
gospel" that he (Pratt) had "discovered years before, but could
find no one to minister in"; of a society for worship which he
and others organized; of his decision, acting under the influence
of the Gospel and prophecies "as they had been opened to him," to
abandon the home he had built up, and to set out on a mission
"for the Gospel's sake"; and of a trip to New York State, where
he was shown the Mormon Bible. "As I read," he says, "the spirit
of the Lord was upon me, and I knew and comprehended that the
book was true."

Pratt was at once commissioned, "by revelation and the laying on
of hands," to preach the new Gospel, and was sent, also by
"revelation" (Sec. 32, "Doctrine and Covenants"), along with
Cowdery, Z. Peterson, and Peter Whitmer, Jr., "into the
wilderness among the Lamanites." Pratt and Cowdery went direct to
Rigdon's house in Mentor, where they stayed a week. Pratt's own
account says: "We called on Mr. Rigdon, my former friend and
instructor in the Reformed Baptist Society. He received us
cordially, and entertained us with hospitality."*

* "Autobiography of P. P. Pratt," p. 49.

In Smith's autobiography it is stated that Rigdon's visitors
presented the Mormon Bible to him as a revelation from God, and
what followed is thus described:--

"This being the first time he had ever heard of or seen the Book
of Mormon, he felt very much prejudiced at the assertion, and
replied that 'he had one Bible which he believed was a revelation
from God, and with which he pretended to have some acquaintance;
but with respect to the book they had presented him, he must say
HE HAD SOME CONSIDERABLE DOUBT' Upon which they expressed a
desire to investigate the subject and argue the matter; but he
replied, 'No, young gentlemen, you must not argue with me on the
subject. But I will read your book, and see what claim it has
upon my faith, and will endeavor to ascertain whether it be a
revelation from God or not'. After some further conversation on
the subject, they expressed a desire to lay the subject before
the people, and requested the privilege of preaching in Elder
Rigdon's church, TO WHICH HE READILY CONSENTED. The appointment
was accordingly published, and a large and respectable
congregation assembled. Oliver Cowdery and Parley P. Pratt
severally addressed the meeting. At the conclusion Elder Rigdon
arose and stated to the congregation that the information they
that evening had received was of an extraordinary character, and
certainly demanded their most serious consideration; and, as the
apostle advised his brethren 'to prove all things and hold fast
that which is good,' so he would exhort his brethren to do
likewise, and give the matter a careful investigation, and NOT

* Millennial Star, Vol. XIV, p. 47.

Accepting this as a correct report of what occurred (and we may
consider it from Rigdon's pen), we find a clergyman who was a
fellow-worker with men like Campbell and Scott expressing only
"considerable doubt" of the inspiration of a book presented to
him as a new Bible, "readily consenting" to the use of his church
by the sponsors for this book, and, at the close of their
arguments, warning his people against rejecting it too readily
"lest they resist the truth"! Unless all these are misstatements,
there seems to be little necessity of further proof that Rigdon
was prepared in advance for the reception of the Mormon Bible.

After this came the announcement of the conversion and baptism by
the Mormon missionaries of a "family" of seventeen persons living
in some sort of a "community" system, between Mentor and
Kirtland. Rigdon, who had merely explained to his neighbors that
his visitors were "on a curious mission," expressed disapproval
of this at first, and took Cowdery to task for asserting that his
own conversion to the new belief was due to a visit from an
angel. But, two days later, Rigdon himself received an angel's
visit, and the next Sunday, with his wife, was baptized into the
new faith.

Rigdon, of course, had to answer many inquiries on his return to
Ohio from a visit to Smith which soon followed his conversion,
but his policy was indignant reticence whenever pressed to any
decisive point. To an old acquaintance who, after talking the
matter over with him at his house, remarked that the Koran of
Mohammed stood on as good evidence as the Bible of Smith, Rigdon
replied: "Sir, you have insulted me in my own house. I command
silence. If people come to see us and cannot treat us civilly,
they can walk out of the door as soon as they please."* Thomas
Campbell sent a long letter to Rigdon under date of February 4,
1831, in which he addressed him as "for many years not only a
courteous and benevolent friend, but a beloved brother and
fellow-laborer in the Gospel--but alas! how changed, how fallen."
Accepting a recent offer of Rigdon in one of his sermons to give
his reasons for his new belief, Mr. Campbell offered to meet him
in public discussion, even outlining the argument he would offer,
under nine headings, that Rigdon might be prepared to refute it,
proposing to take his stand on the sufficiency of the Holy
Scriptures, Smith's bad character, the absurdities of the Mormon
Bible and of the alleged miraculous "gifts," and the objections
to the "common property" plan and the rebaptizing of believers.
Rigdon, after glancing over a few lines of this letter, threw it
into the fire unanswered.**

* "Mormonism Unveiled," p. 112.

** Ibid., p. 116-123.


Having presented the evidence which shows that the historical
part of the Mormon Bible was supplied by the Spaulding
manuscript, we may now pay attention to other evidence, which
indicates that the entire conception of a revelation of golden
plates by an angel was not even original, and also that its
suggestor was Rigdon. This is a subject which has been overlooked
by investigators of the Mormon Bible.

That the idea of the revelation as described by Smith in his
autobiography was not original is shown by the fact that a
similar divine message, engraved on plates, was announced to have
been received from an angel nearly six hundred years before the
alleged visit of an angel to Smith. These original plates were
described as of copper, and the recipient was a monk named Cyril,
from whom their contents passed into the possession of the Abbot
Joachim, whose "Everlasting Gospel," founded thereon, was offered
to the church as supplanting the New Testament, just as the New
Testament had supplanted the Old, and caused so serious a schism
that Pope Alexander IV took the severest measures against it.*

* Draper's "Intellectual Development of Europe," Vol. II, Chap.
III. For an exhaustive essay on the "Everlasting Gospel," by
Renan, see Revue des Deux Mondes, June, 1866. For John of Parma's
part in the Gospel, see "Histoire Litteraire de la France"
(1842), Vol. XX, p. 24.

The evidence that the history of the "Everlasting Gospel" of the
thirteenth century supplied the idea of the Mormon Bible lies not
only in the resemblance between the celestial announcement of
both, but in the fact that both were declared to have the same
important purport--as a forerunner of the end of the world --and
that the name "Everlasting Gospel" was adopted and constantly
used in connection with their message by the original leaders in
the Mormon church.

If it is asked, How could Rigdon become acquainted with the story
of the original "Everlasting Gospel," the answer is that it was
just such subjects that would most attract his attention, and
that his studies had led him into directions where the story of
Cyril's plates would probably have been mentioned. He was a
student of every subject out of which he could evolve a sect,
from the time of his Pittsburg pastorate. Hepworth Dixon said,
"He knew the writings of Maham, Gates, and Boyle, writings in
which love and marriage are considered in relation to Gospel
liberty and the future life."* H. H. Bancroft, noting his
appointment as Professor of Church History in Nauvoo University,
speaks of him as "versed in history, belles-lettres, and
oratory."** Mrs. James A. Garfield told Mrs. Dickenson that
Rigdon taught her father Latin and Greek.*** David Whitmer, who
was so intimately acquainted with the early history of the
church, testified: "Rigdon was a thorough biblical scholar, a man
of fine education and a powerful orator."**** A writer,
describing Rigdon while the church was at Nauvoo, said, "There is
no divine in the West more learned in biblical literature and the
history of the world than he."***** All this indicates that a
knowledge of the earlier "Everlasting Gospel" was easily within
Rigdon's reach. We may even surmise the exact source of this
knowledge. Mosheim's "Ecclesiastical History, Ancient and Modern"
was at his disposal. Editions of it had appeared in London in
1765, 1768, 1774, 1782, 1790, 1806, 1810, and 1826, and among the
abridgments was one published in Philadelphia in 1812. In this
work he could have read as follows:--

"About the commencement of this [the thirteenth] century there
were handed about in Italy several pretended prophecies of the
famous Joachim, abbot of Sora in Calabria, whom the multitude
revered as a person divinely inspired, and equal to the most
illustrious prophets of ancient times. The greatest part of these
predictions were contained in a certain book entitled, 'The
Everlasting Gospel,' and which was also commonly called the Book
of Joachim. This Joachim, whether a real or fictitious person we
shall not pretend to determine, among many other future events,
foretold the destruction of the Church of Rome, whose corruptions
he censured with the greatest severity, and the promulgation of a
new and more perfect gospel in the age of the Holy Ghost, by a
set of poor and austere ministers, whom God was to raise up and
employ for that purpose."

* "Spiritual Wives," p. 62.

** "Utah," p. 146.

*** Scribner's Magazine, October, 1881.

**** "Address to All Believers in Christ;" p. 35.

***** Letter in the New York Herald.

Here is a perfect outline of the scheme presented by the original
Mormons, with Joseph as the divinely inspired prophet, and an
"Everlasting Gospel," the gift of an angel, promulgated by poor
men like the travelling Mormon elders.

The original suggestion of an "Everlasting Gospel" is found in
Revelation xiv. 6 and 7:--

"And I saw another angel fly in the midst of heaven, having the
everlasting gospel to preach unto them that dwell on the earth,
and to every nation, and kindred, and tongue, and people, "Saying
with a loud voice, Fear God, and give glory to him; for the hour
of his judgment is come: and worship him that made heaven, and
earth, and the sea, and the fountains of water."** "Bisping
(after Gerlach) takes Rev. xiv. 6-11 to foretell that three great
events at the end of the last world-week are immediately to
precede Christ's second advent (1) the announcement of the
'eternal' Gospel to the whole world (Matt. xxiv. 14); (2)the Fall
of Babylon; (3)a warning to all who worship the beast.... Burger
says this vision can denote nothing but a last admonition and
summons to conversion shortly before the end."--Note in
"Commentary by Bishops and Other Clergy of the Anglican Church."

This was the angel of Cyril; this the announcement of those
"latter days" from which the Mormon church, on Rigdon's motion,
soon took its name.

That Rigdon's attention had been attracted to an "Everlasting
Gospel" is proved by the constant references made to it in
writings of which he had at least the supervision, from the very
beginning of the church. Thus, when he preached his first sermon
before a Mormon audience--on the occasion of his visit to Smith
at Palmyra in 1830--he took as his text a part of the version of
Revelation xiv. which he had put into the Mormon Bible (1 Nephi
xiii. 40), and in his sermon, as reported by Tucker, who heard
it, holding the Scriptures in one hand and the Mormon Bible in
the other, he said, "that they were inseparably necessary to
complete the everlasting gospel of the Saviour Jesus Christ." In
the account, in Smith's autobiography, of the first description
of the buried book given to Smith by the angel, its two features
are named separately, first, "an account of the former
inhabitants of this continent," and then "the fulness of the
Everlasting Gospel. "That Rigdon never lost sight of the
importance, in his view, of an "Everlasting Gospel" may be seen
from the following quotation from one of his articles in his
Pittsburg organ, the Messenger and Advocate, of June 15, 1845,
after his expulsion from Nauvoo: "It is a strict observance of
the principles of the fulness of the Everlasting Gospel of Jesus
Christ, as contained in the Bible, Book of Mormon, and Book of
Covenants, which alone will insure a man an inheritance in the
kingdom of our God."

The importance attached to the "Everlasting Gospel" by the
founders of the church is seen further in the references to it in
the "Book of Doctrine and Covenants," which it is not necessary
to cite,* and further in a pamphlet by Elder Moses of New York
(1842), entitled "A Treatise on the Fulness of the Everlasting
Gospel, setting forth its First Principles, Promises, and
Blessings," in which he argued that the appearance of the angel
to Smith was in direct line with the Scriptural teaching, and
that the last days were near.

* For examples see Sec. 68, 1; Sec. 101, 22; Sec. 124, 88.


In his accounts to his neighbors of the revelation to him of the
golden plates on which the "record" was written, Smith always
declared that no person but him could look on those plates and
live. But when the printed book came out, it, like all subsequent
editions to this day, was preceded by the following


"Be it known unto all nations, kindreds, tongues, and people unto
whom this work shall come, that we through the grace of God the
Father, and our Lord Jesus Christ, have seen the plates which
contain this record, which is a record of the people of Nephi,
and also of the Lamanites, their brethren, and also the people of
Jared, who came from the tower of which hath been spoken; and we
also know that they have been translated by the gift and power of
God, for his voice hath declared it unto us; wherefore we know of
a surety that the work is true. And we also testify that we have
seen the engravings which are upon the plates; and they have been
shewn unto us by the power of God, and not of man. And we declare
with words of soberness, that an angel of God came down from
heaven, and he brought and laid before our eyes, that we beheld
and saw the plates, and the engravings thereon; and we know that
it is by the grace of God the Father, and our Lord Jesus Christ,
that we beheld and bear record that these things are true; and it
is marvellous in our eyes, nevertheless the voice of the Lord
commanded us that we should bear record of it; wherefore, to be
obedient unto the commandments of God, we bear testimony of these
things. And we know that if we are faithful in Christ, we shall
rid our garments of the blood of all men, and be found spotless
before the judgment-seat of Christ, and shall dwell with him
eternally in the heavens. And the honour be to the Father, and to
the Son, and to the Holy Ghost, which is one God. Amen.



"Be it known unto all nations, kindreds, tongues, and people unto
whom this work shall come, that Joseph Smith, Jun., the
translator of this work, has shewn unto us the plates of which
hath been spoken, which have the appearance of gold; and as many
of the leaves as the said Smith has translated we did handle with
our hands; and we also saw the engravings thereon, all of which
has the appearance of ancient work, and of curious workmanship.
And this we bear record with words of soberness, that the said
Smith has shewn unto us, for we have seen and hefted, and know of
a surety that the said Smith has got the plates of which we have
spoken. And we give our names unto the world, to witness unto the
world that which we have seen; and we lie not, God bearing
witness of it.


In judging of the value of this testimony, we may first inquire,
what the prophet has to say about it, and may then look into the
character and qualification of the witnesses.

We find a sufficiently full explanation of Testimony No. 1 in
Smith's autobiography and in his "revelations." Nothing could be
more natural than that such men as the prophet was dealing with
should demand a sight of any plates from which he might be
translating. Others besides Harris made such a demand, and Smith
repeated the warning that to look on them was death. This might
satisfy members of his own family, but it did not quiet his
scribes, and he tells us that Cowdery, David Whitmer, and Harris
"teased me so much" (these are his own words) that he gave out a
"revelation" in March, 1829 (Sec. 5, "Doctrine and Covenants"),
in which the Lord was represented as saying that the prophet had
no power over the plates except as He granted it, but that to his
testimony would be added "the testimony of three of my servants,
whom I shall call and ordain, unto whom I will show these things,
"adding," and to none else will I grant this power, to receive
this same testimony among this generation. "The Lord was
distrustful of Harris, and commanded him not to be talkative on
the subject, but to say nothing about it except, "I have seen
them, and they have been shown unto me by the power of God."

Smith's own account of the showing of the plates to these three
witnesses is so luminous that it may be quoted. After going out
into the woods, they had to stand Harris off by himself because
of his evil influence. Then:--

"We knelt down again, and had not been many minutes engaged in
prayer when presently we beheld a light above us in the air of
exceeding brightness; and behold an angel stood before us. In his
hands he held the plates which we had been praying for these to
have a view of; he turned over the leaves one by one, so that we
could see them and discover the engravings thereon distinctly. He
then addressed himself to David Whitmer and said, 'David, blessed
is the Lord and he that keeps his commandments'; when immediately
afterward we heard a voice from out of the bright light above us
saying, 'These plates have been revealed by the power of God, and
they have been translated by the power of God. The translation of
them is correct, and I command you to bear record of what you now
see and hear.'

"I now left David and Oliver, and went into pursuit of Martin
Harris, whom I found at a considerable distance, fervently
engaged in prayer. He soon told me, however, that he had not yet
prevailed with the Lord, and earnestly requested me to join him
in prayer, that he might also realize the same blessings which we
had just received. We accordingly joined in prayer, and
immediately obtained our desires; for before we had yet finished,
the same vision was opened to our view, AT LEAST IT WAS AGAIN TO
ME [Joe thus refuses to vouch for Harris's declaration on the
subject]; and I once more beheld and heard the same things;
whilst, at the same moment, Martin Harris cried out, apparently
in ecstasy of joy, 'Tis enough, mine eyes hath beheld,' and,
jumping up, he shouted 'Hosannah,' blessing God, and otherwise
rejoiced exceedingly."*

* Millennial Star, Vol. XIV, Supt., p. 19.

If this story taxes the credulity of the reader, his doubts about
the value of this "testimony" will increase when he traces the
history of the three witnesses. Surely, if any three men in the
church should remain steadfast, mighty pillars of support for the
prophet in his future troubles, it should be these chosen
witnesses to the actual existence of the golden plates. Yet every
one of them became an apostate, and every one of them was loaded
with all the opprobrium that the church could pile upon him.

Cowdery's reputation was locally bad at the time. "I was
personally acquainted with Oliver Cowdery," said Danforth Booth,
an old resident of Palmyra, in 1880. "He was a pettifogger; their
(the Smiths') cat-paw to do their dirty work."* Smith's trouble
with him, which began during the work of translating, continued,
and Smith found it necessary to say openly in a "revelation"
given out in Ohio in 1831 (Sec. 69), when preparations were
making for a trip of some of the brethren to Missouri, "It is not
wisdom in me that he should be intrusted with the commandments
and the monies which he shall carry unto the land of Zion, except
one go with him who will be true and faithful."

* Among affidavits on file in the county clerk's office at
Canandaigua, New York.

By the time Smith took his final departure to Missouri, Cowdery
and David and John Whitmer had lost caste entirely, and in June,
1838, they fled to escape the Danites at Far West. The letter of
warning addressed to them and signed by more than eighty Mormons,
giving them three days in which to depart, contained the
following accusations:--

"After Oliver Cowdery had been taken by a state warrant for
stealing, and the stolen property found in the house of William
W. Phelps; in which nefarious transaction John Whitmer had also
participated. Oliver Cowdery stole the property, conveyed it to
John Whitmer, and John Whitmer to William W. Phelps; and then the
officers of law found it. While in the hands of an officer, and
under an arrest for this vile transaction, and, if possible, to
hide your shame from the world like criminals (which, indeed, you
were), you appealed to our beloved brethren, President Joseph
Smith Jr. and Sidney Rigdon, men whose characters you had
endeavored to destroy by every artifice you could invent, not
even the basest lying excepted....

"The Saints in Kirtland having elected Oliver Cowdery to a
justice of the peace, he used the power of that office to take
their most sacred rights from them, and that contrary to law. He
supported a parcel of blacklegs, and in disturbing the worship of
the Saints; and when the men whom the church had chosen to
preside over their meetings endeavored to put the house to order,
he helped (and by the authority of his justice's office too)
these wretches to continue their confusion; and threatened the
church with a prosecution for trying to put them out of the
house; and issued writs against the Saints for endeavoring to
sustain their rights; and bound themselves under heavy bonds to
appear before his honor; and required bonds which were both
inhuman and unlawful; and one of these was the venerable father,
who had been appointed by the church to preside--a man of upwards
of seventy years of age, and notorious for his peaceable habits.

"Oliver Cowdery, David Whitmer and Lyman E. Johnson, united with
a gang of counterfeiters, thieves, liars and blacklegs of the
deepest dye, to deceive, cheat and defraud the Saints out of
their property, by every art and stratagem which wickedness could
invent; using the influence of the vilest persecutions to bring
vexatious lawsuits, villainous prosecutions, and even stealing
not excepted.... During the full career of Oliver Cowdery and
David Whitmer's bogus money business, it got abroad into the
world that they were engaged in it, and several gentlemen were
preparing to commence a prosecution against Cowdery; he finding
it out, took with him Lyman E. Johnson, and fled to Far West with
their families; Cowdery stealing property and bringing it with
him, which has been, within a few weeks past, obtained by the
owner by means of a search warrant, and he was saved from the
penitentiary by the influence of two influential men of the
place. He also brought notes with him upon which he had received
pay, and made an attempt to sell them to Mr. Arthur of Clay

* "Documents in Relation to the Disturbances with the Mormons,"
Missouri Legislature (1841), p. 103.

Rigdon, who was the author of this arraignment, realizing that
the enemies of the church would not fail to make use of this
aspersion of the character of the witnesses, attempted to "hedge"
by saying, in the same document, "We wish to remind you that
Oliver Cowdery and David Whitmer were among the principal of
those who were the means of gathering us to this place by their
testimony which they gave concerning the plates of the Book of
Mormon, that they were shown to them by an angel; which testimony
we believe now as much as before you had so scandalously
disgraced it." Could affrontery go to greater lengths?

Cowdery and David Whitmer fled to Richmond, Missouri, where
Whitmer lived until his death in January, 1888. Cowdery went to
Tiffin, Ohio, where, after failing to obtain a position as an
editor because of his Mormon reputation, he practised law. While
living there he renounced his Mormon views, joined the Methodist
church, and became superintendent of a Sunday-school. Later he
moved to Wisconsin, but, after being defeated for the legislature
there, he recanted his Methodist belief, and rejoined the Saints
while they were at Council Bluffs, in October, 1848, after the
main body had left for Salt Lake Valley. He addressed a meeting
there by invitation, testifying to the truth of the Book of
Mormon, and the mission of Smith as a prophet, and saying that he
wanted to be rebaptized into the church, not as a leader, but
simply as a member.* He did not, however, go to Utah with the
Saints, but returned to his old friend Whitmer in Missouri, and
died there in 1850. It has been stated that he offered to give a
full renunciation of the Mormon faith when he united with the
Methodists at Tiffin, if required, but asked to be excused from
doing so on the ground that it would invite criticism and bring
him into contempt.** One of his Tiffin acquaintances afterward
testified that Cowdery confessed to him that, when he signed the
"testimony," he "was not one of the best men in the world," using
his own expression.*** The Mormons were always grateful to him
for his silence under their persecutions, and the Millennial
Star, in a notice of his death, expressed satisfaction that in
the days of his apostasy "he never, in a single instance, cast
the least doubt on his former testimony," adding, "May he rest in
peace, to come forth in the morning of the first resurrection
into eternal life, is the earnest desire of all Saints."

* Millennial Star, Vol. XI, p.14.

** "Naked Truths about Mormonism," A. B. Demming, Oakland,
California, 1888.

*** "Gregg's History of Hancock County, Illinois," p. 257.

The Whitmers were a Dutch family, known among their neighbors as
believers in witches and in the miraculous generally, as has been
shown in Mother Smith's account of their sending for Joseph. A
"revelation" to the three witnesses which first promised them a
view of the plates (Sec. 17) told them, "It is BY YOUR FAITH you
shall obtain a view of them," and directed them to testify
concerning the plates, "that my servant Joseph Smith, Jr., may
not be destroyed." One of the converts who joined the Mormons at
Kirtland, Ohio, testified in later years that David Whitmer
confessed to her that he never actually saw the plates,
explaining his testimony thus: "Suppose that you had a friend
whose character was such that you knew it impossible that he
could lie; then, if he described a city to you which you had
never seen, could you not, by the eye of faith, see the city just
as he described it?"*

* Mrs. Dickenson's "New Light on Mormonism."

The Mormons have found consolation in the fact that Whitmer
continued to affirm his belief in the authenticity of the Mormon
Bible to the day of his death. He declared, however, that Smith
and Young had led the flock astray, and, after the open
announcement of polygamy in Utah, he announced a church of his
own, called "The Church of Christ," refusing to affiliate even
with the Reorganized Church because of the latter's adherence to
Smith. In his "Address to Believers in the Book of Mormon, "a
pamphlet issued in his eighty-second year, he said, "Now, in 1849
the Lord saw fit to manifest unto John Whitmer, Oliver Cowdery
and myself nearly all the remaining errors of doctrine into which
we had been led by the heads of the church." The reader from all
this can form an estimate of the trustworthiness of the second
witness on such a subject.

We have already learned a great deal about Martin Harris's mental
equipment. A lawyer of standing in Palmyra told Dr. Clark that,
after Harris had signed the "testimony," he pressed him with the
question: "Did you see the plates with your natural eyes, just as
you see this pencil case in my hand? Now say yes or no." Harris
replied (in corroboration of Joe's misgiving at the time): "Why,
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 anything
around me--though at the time they were covered over with a

* "Gleanings by the Way."

Harris followed Smith to Ohio and then to Missouri, but was ever
a trouble to him, although Smith always found his money useful.
In 1831, in Missouri, it required a "revelation" (Sec. 58) to
spur him to "lay his monies before the Bishop." As his money grew
scarcer, he received less and less recognition from the Mormon
leaders, and was finally expelled from the church. Smith thus
referred to him in the Elders' Journal, July, 1837, one of his
publications in Ohio: "There are negroes who wear white skins as
well as black ones, granny Parish, and others who acted as
lackeys, such as Martin Harris."

Harris did not appear on the scene during the stay of the Mormons
in Illinois, having joined the Shakers and lived with them a year
or two. When Strang claimed the leadership of the church after
Smith's death, Harris gave him his support, and was sent by him
with others to England in 1846 to do missionary work. His arrival
there was made the occasion of an attack on him by the Millennial
Star, which, among other things, said:--

"We do not feel to warn the Saints against him, for his own
unbridled tongue will soon show out specimens of folly enough to
give any person a true index to the character of the man; but if
the Saints wish to know what the Lord hath said of him, they may
turn to the 178th page of the Book of Doctrine and Covenants, and
the person there called a WICKED MAN is no other than Martin
Harris, and he owned to it then, but probably might not now. It
is not the first time the Lord chose a wicked man as a witness.
Also on page 193, read the whole revelation given to him, and ask
yourselves if the Lord ever talked in that way to a good man.
Every one can see that he must have been a wicked man."*

*Vol. VIII, p. 123.

Harris visited Palmyra in 1858. He then said that his property
was all gone, that he had declined a restoration to the Mormon
church, but that he continued to believe in Mormonism. He thought
better of his declination, however, and sought a reunion with the
church in Utah in 1870. His backslidings had carried him so far
that the church authorities told him it would be necessary for
him to be rebaptized. This he consented to with some reluctance,
after, as he said, "he had seen his father seeking his aid. He
saw his father at the foot of a ladder, striving to get up to
him, and he went down to him, taking him by the hand, and helped
him up."* He settled in Cache County, Utah, where he died on July
10, 1875, in his ninety-third year. "He bore his testimony to the
truth and divinity of the Book of Mormon a short time before he
departed," wrote his son to an inquirer, "and the last words he
uttered, when he could not speak the sentence, were 'Book,'
'Book,' 'Book.'"

* For an account of Harris's Utah experience, see Millennial
Star, Vol. XLVIII, pp.357-389.

The precarious character of Smith's original partners in the
Bible business is further illustrated by his statement that, in
the summer of 1830, Cowdery sent him word that he had discovered
an error in one of Smith's "revelations,"* and that the Whitmer
family agreed with him on the subject. Smith was as determined in
opposing this questioning of his divine authority as he always
was in stemming any opposition to his leadership, and he made
them all acknowledge their error. Again, when Smith returned to
Fayette from Harmony, in August, 1830 (more than a year after the
plates were shown to the witnesses), he found that "Satan had
been lying in wait," and that Hiram Page, of the second list of
witnesses, had been obtaining revelations through a "peek-stone"
of his own, and that, what was more serious, Cowdery and the
Whitmer family believed in them. The result of this was an
immediate "revelation" (Sec. 28) directing Cowdery to go and
preach the Gospel to the Lamanites (Indians) on the western
border, and to take along with him Hiram Page, and tell him that
the things he had written by means of the "peek-stone" were not
of the Lord.

* Millennial Star, Vol. XIV, p. 36.

Neither Smith's autobiography nor the "Book of Doctrine and
Covenants" contains any explanation of the second "testimony."
The list of persons who signed it, however, leaves little doubt
that the prophet yielded to their "teasing" as he did to that of
the original three. The first four signers were members of the
Whitmer family. Hiram Page was a root-doctor by calling, and a
son-in-law of Peter Whitmer, Sr. The three Smiths were the
prophet's father and two of his brothers.*

* Christian Whitmer died in Clay County, Missouri, November 27,
1835; Jacob died in Richmond County, April 21, 1866; Peter died
in Clay County, September 22, 1836; Hiram Page died on a farm in
Ray County, August 12, 1852.

The favorite Mormon reply to any question as to the value of
these "testimonies" is the challenge, "Is there a person on the
earth who can prove that these eleven witnesses did not see the
plates?" Curiously, the prophet himself can be cited to prove
this, in the words of the revelation granting a sight of the
plates to the first three, which said, "And to none else will I
grant this power, to receive this same testimony among this
generation." A footnote to this declaration in the "Doctrine and
Covenants" offers, as an explanation of Testimony No. 2; the
statement that others "may receive a knowledge by other
manifestations." This is well meant but transparent.

Mother Smith in later years added herself to these witnesses. She
said to the Rev. Henry Caswall, in Nauvoo, in 1842, "I have
myself seen and handled the golden plates." Mr. Caswall adds:--

"While the old woman was thus delivering herself, I fixed my eyes
steadily upon her. She faltered and seemed unwilling to meet my
glances, but gradually recovered her self-possession. The
melancholy thought entered my mind that this poor old creature
was not simply a dupe of her son's knavery, but that she had
taken an active part in the deception."

Two matters have been cited by Mormon authorities to show that
there was nothing so very unusual in the discovery of buried
plates containing engraved letters. Announcement was made in 1843
of the discovery near Kinderhook, Illinois, of six plates similar
to those described by Smith. The story, as published in the Times
and Seasons, with a certificate signed by nine local residents,
set forth that a merchant of the place, named Robert Wiley, while
digging in a mound, after finding ashes and human bones, came to
"a bundle that consisted of six plates of brass, of a bell shape,
each having a hole near the small end, and a ring through them
all"; and that, when cleared of rust, they were found to be
"completely covered with characters that none as yet have been
able to read." Hyde, accepting this story, printed a facsimile of
one of these plates on the cover of his book, and seems to rest
on Wiley's statement his belief that "Smith did have plates of
some kind." Stenhouse,* who believed that Smith and his witnesses
did not perpetrate in the new Bible an intentional fraud, but
thought they had visions and "revelations," referring to the
Kinderhook plates, says that they were "actually and
unquestionably discovered by one Mr. R. Wiley." Smith himself,
after no one else could read the writing on them, declared that
he had translated them, and found them to be a history of a
descendant of Ham.**

* T. B. H. Stenhouse, a Scotchman, was converted to the Mormon
belief in 1846, performed diligent missionary work in Europe, and
was for three years president of the Swiss and Italian missions.
Joining the brethren in Utah with his wife, he was persuaded to
take a second wife. Not long afterward he joined in the protest
against Young's dictatorial course which was known as the "New
Movement," and was expelled from the church. His "Rocky Mountain
Saints" (1873) contains so much valuable information connected
with the history of the church that it has been largely drawn on
by E. W. Tullidge in his "History of Salt Lake City and Its
Founders," which is accepted by the church.

**Millennial Star, January 15, 1859, where cuts of the plates
(here produced) are given.

But the true story of the Kinderhook plates was disclosed by an
affidavit made by W. Fulgate of Mound Station, Brown County,
Illinois, before Jay Brown, Justice of the Peace, on June 30,
1879. In this he stated that the plates were "a humbug, gotten up
by Robert Wiley, Bridge Whitton, and myself. Whitton (who was a
blacksmith) cut the plates out of some pieces of copper Wiley and
I made the hieroglyphics by making impressions on beeswax and
filling them with acid, and putting it on the plates. When they
were finished, we put them together with rust made of nitric
acid, old iron and lead, and bound them with a piece of hoop
iron, covering them completely with the rust." He describes the
burial of the plates and their digging up, among the spectators
of the latter being two Mormon elders, Marsh and Sharp. Sharp
declared that the Lord had directed them to witness the digging.
The plates were borrowed and shown to Smith, and were finally
given to one "Professor" McDowell of St. Louis, for his museum.*

* Wyl's "Mormon Portraits," p. 207. The secretary of the Missouri
Historical Society writes me that McDowell's museum disappeared
some years ago, most of its contents being lost or stolen, and
the fate of the Kinderhook plates cannot be ascertained.

In attacking Professor Anthon's statement concerning the alleged
hieroglyphics shown to him by Harris, Orson Pratt, in his "Divine
Authenticity of the Book of Mormon," thought that he found
substantial support for Smith's hieroglyphics in the fact that
"Two years after the Book of Mormon appeared in print, Professor
Rafinesque, in his Atlantic journal for 1832, gave to the public
a facsimile of American glyphs,* found in Mexico. They are
arranged in columns.... By an inspection of the facsimile of
these forty-six elementary glyphs, we find all the particulars
which Professor Anthon ascribes to the characters which he says
'a plain-looking countryman' presented to him. "These" elementary
glyphs "of Rafinesque are some of the characters found on the
famous "Tablet of the Cross" in the ruins of Palenque, Mexico,
since so fully described by Stevens. A facsimile of the entire
Tablet may be found on page 355, Vol. IV, Bancroft's "Native
Races of the Pacific States." Rafinesque selected these
characters from the Tablet, and arranged them in columns
alongside of other ancient writings, in order to sustain his
argument that they resembled an old Libyan alphabet. Rafinesque
was a voluminous writer both on archaeological and botanical
subjects, but wholly untrustworthy. Of his Atlantic Journal (of
which only eight numbers appeared) his biographer, R. E. Call,
says that it had "absolutely no scientific value." Professor Asa
Gray, in a review of his botanical writings in Silliman's
Journal, Vol. XL, No. 2, 1841, said, "He assumes thirty to one
hundred years as the average time required for the production of
a new species, and five hundred to one thousand for a new genus."
Professor Gray refers to a paper which Rafinesque sent to the
editor of a scientific journal describing twelve new species of
thunder and lightning. He was very fond of inventing names, and
his designation of Palenque as Otolum was only an illustration of
this. So much for the "elementary glyphs."

* "Glyph: A pictograph or word carved in a compact distinct
figure."--"Standard Dictionary.


The Mormon Bible,* both in a literary and a theological sense, is
just such a production as would be expected to result from
handing over to Smith and his fellow-"translators" a mass of
Spaulding's material and new doctrinal matter for collation and
copying. Not one of these men possessed any literary skill or
accurate acquaintance with the Scriptures. David Whitmer, in an
interview in Missouri in his later years, said, "So illiterate
was Joseph at that time that he didn't know that Jerusalem was a
walled city, and he was utterly unable to pronounce many of the
names that the magic power of the Urim and Thummim revealed."
Chronology, grammar, geography, and Bible history were alike
ignored in the work. An effort was made to correct some of these
errors in the early days of the church, and Smith speaks of doing
some of this work himself at Nauvoo. An edition issued there in
1842 contains on the title-page the words, "Carefully revised by
the translator." Such corrections have continued to the present
day, and a comparison of the latest Salt Lake edition with the
first has shown more than three thousand changes.

* The title of this Bible is "The Book of Mormon"; but as one of
its subdivisions is a Book of Mormon, I use the title "Mormon
Bible," both to avoid confusion and for convenience.

The person who for any reason undertakes the reading of this book
sets before himself a tedious task. Even the orthodox Mormons
have found this to be true, and their Bible has played a very
much less considerable part in the church worship than Smith's
"revelations" and the discourses of their preachers. Referring to
Orson Pratt's* labored writings on this Bible, Stenhouse says,
"Of the hundreds of thousands of witnesses to whom God has
revealed the truth of the 'Book of Mormon,' Pratt knows full well
that comparatively few indeed have ever read that book, know
little or nothing intelligently of its contents, and take little
interest in it."** An examination of its contents is useful,
therefore, rather as a means of proving the fraudulent character
of its pretension to divine revelation than as a means of
ascertaining what the members of the Mormon church are taught.

* Orson Pratt was a clerk in a store in Hiram, Ohio, when he was
converted to Mormonism. He seems to have been a natural student,
and he rose to prominence in the church, being one of the first
to expound and defend the Mormon Bible and doctrines, holding a
professorship in Nauvoo University, publishing works on the
higher mathematics, and becoming one of the Twelve Apostles.

** "Rocky Mountain Saints," p. 553.

The following page(omitted in this etext) presents a facsimile of
the title-page of the first edition of this Bible. The editions
of to-day substitute "Translated by Joseph Smith, Jun.," for "By
Joseph Smith, junior, author and proprietor."

The first edition contains 588 duodecimo pages, and is divided
into 15 books which are named as follows: "First Book of Nephi,
his reign and ministry," 7 chapters; "Second Book of Nephi," 15
chapters; "Book of Jacob, the Brother of Nephi," 5 chapters;
"Book of Enos," 1 chapter; "Book of Jarom," 1 chapter; "Book of
Omni," 1 chapter; "Words of Mormon," 1 chapter; "Book of Mosiah,"
13 chapters; "Book of Alma, a Son of Alma," 30 chapters; "Book of
Helaman," 5 chapters; "Third Book of Nephi, the Son of Nephi,
which was the son of Helaman," 14 chapters; "Fourth Book of
Nephi, which is the Son of Nephi, one of the Disciples of Jesus
Christ," 1 chapter; "Book of Mormon," 4 chapters; "Book of
Ether," 6 chapters; "Book of Moroni," 10 chapters. The chapters
in the first edition were not divided into verses, that work,
with the preparation of the very complete footnote references in
the later editions, having been performed by Orson Pratt.

The historical narrative that runs through the book is so
disjointedly arranged, mixed up with doctrinal parts, and
repeated, that it is not easy to unravel it. The following
summary of it is contained in a letter to Colonel John Wentworth
of Chicago, signed by Joseph Smith, Jr., which was printed in
Wentworth's Chicago newspaper and also in the Mormon Times and
Seasons of March 1, 1842:--

"The history of America is unfolded from its first settlement by
a colony that came from the Tower of Babel at the confusion of
languages, to the beginning of the 5th century of the Christian
era. We are informed by these records that America in ancient
times has been inhabited by two distinct races of people. The
first were called Jaredites, and came directly from the Tower of
Babel. The second race came directly from the city of Jerusalem
about 600 years before Christ. They were principally Israelites
of the descendants of Joseph. The Jaredites were destroyed about
the time that the Israelites came from Jerusalem, who succeeded
them in the inhabitance of the country. The principal nation of
the second race fell in battle toward the close of the fourth
century. The remnant are the Indians that now inhabit this

This history purports to have been handed down, on metallic
plates, from one historian to another, beginning with Nephi, from
the time of the departure from Jerusalem. Finally (4 Nephi i. 48,
49*), the people being wicked, Ammaron, by direction of the Holy
Ghost, hid these sacred records "that they might come again unto
the remnant of the house of Jacob."

* All references to the Mormon Bible by chapter and verse refer
to Salt Lake City edition of 1888.

To bring the story down to a comparatively recent date, and
account for the finding of the plates by Smith, the Book of
Mormon was written by the "author." This subdivision is an
abridgment of the previous records. It relates that Mormon, a
descendant of Nephi, when ten years old, was told by Ammaron
that, when about twenty-four years old, he should go to the place
where the records were hidden, take only the plates of Nephi, and
engrave on them all the things he had observed concerning the
people. The next year Mormon was taken by his father, whose name
also was Mormon, to the land of Zarahemla, which had become
covered with buildings and very populous, but the people were
warlike and wicked. Mormon in time, "seeing that the Lamanites
were about to overthrow the land," took the records from their
hiding place. He himself accepted the command of the armies of
the Nephites, but they were defeated with great slaughter, the
Lamanites laying waste their cities and driving them northward.

Finally Mormon sent a letter to the king of the Lamanites, asking
that the Nephites might gather their people "unto the land of
Cumorah, by a hill which was called Cumorah, and there we would
give them battle." There, in the year 384 A.D., Mormon "made this
record out of the plates of Nephi, and hid up in the hill Cumorah
all the records which have been entrusted to me by the hand of
the Lord, save it were those few plates which I gave unto my son
Moroni."* This hill, according to the Mormon teaching, is the
hill near Palmyra, New York, where Smith found the plates, just
as Mormon had deposited them.

* Hyde gives a list of twenty-four additional plates mentioned in
this Bible which must still await digging up in the hill near

In the battle which took place there the Nephites were
practically annihilated, and all the fugitives were killed except
Moroni, the son of Mormon, who undertook the completion of the
"record." Moroni excuses the briefness of his narrative by
explaining that he had not room in the plates, "and ore have I
none" (to make others). What he adds is in the nature of a
defence of the revealed character of the Mormon Bible and of
Smith's character as a prophet. Those, for instance, who say that
there are no longer "revelations, nor prophecies, nor gifts, nor
healing, nor speaking with tongues," are told that they know not
the Gospel of Christ and do not understand the Scriptures. An
effort is made to forestall criticism of the "mistakes" that are
conceded in the title-page dedication by saying, "Condemn me not
because of mine imperfection, neither my father, because of his
imperfection, neither them who have written before him" (Book of
Mormon ix. 31).

Evidently foreseeing that it would be asked why these "records,"
written by Jews and their descendants, were not in Hebrew, Mormon
adds (chap. ix. 32, 33):--

"And now behold, we have written this record according to our
knowledge, in the characters which are called among us the
reformed Egyptian, being handed down and altered by us, according
to our manner of speech.

"And if our plates had been sufficiently large, we should have
written in Hebrew; but the Hebrew hath been altered by us also;
and if we could have written in Hebrew, behold, ye would have had
no imperfection in our record."

Few parts of this mythical Bible approached nearer to the
burlesque than this excuse for having descendants of the Jews
write in "reformed Egyptian."

The secular story of the ancient races running through this Bible
is so confused by the introduction of new matter by the "author"*
and by repetitions that it is puzzling to pick it out. The Book
of Ether was somewhat puzzling even to the early Mormons, and we
find Parley P. Pratt, in his analysis of it, printed in London in
1854, saying, "Ether SEEMS to have been a lineal descendant of

*Professor Whitsitt, of the Southern Baptist Theological
Seminary, Louisville, Kentucky, in his article on Mormonism in
"The Concise Dictionary of Religious Knowledge, and Gazetteer"
(New York, 1891), divides the Mormon Bible into three sections,
viz.: the first thirteen books, presented as the works of Mormon;
the Book of Ether, with which Mormon had no connection; and the
fifteenth book," which was sent forth by the editor under the
name of Moroni. "He thus explains his view of the "editing" that
was done in the preparation of the work for publication:--

"The editor undertook to rewrite and recast the whole of the
abridgment (of Nephi's previous history), but his industry failed
him at the close of the Book of Omni. The first six books that he
had rewritten were given the names of the small plates.... The
book called the 'Words of Mormon' in the original work stood at
the beginning, as a sort of preface to the entire abridgment of
Mormon; but when the editor had rewritten the first six books, he
felt that these were properly his own performance, and the 'Words
of Mormon' were assigned a position just in front of the Book of
Mosiah, when the abstract of Mormon took its real

"The question may now be raised as to who was the editor of the
Book of Mormon.... In its theological positions and coloring the
Book of Mormon is a volume of Disciple theology (this does not
include the later polygamous doctrine and other gross Mormon
errors). This conclusion is capable of demonstration beyond any
reasonable question. Let notice also be taken of the fact that
the Book of Mormon bears traces of two several redactions. It
contains, in the first redaction, that type of doctrine which the
Disciples held and proclaimed prior to November 18, 1827, when
they had not yet formally embraced what is commonly considered to
be the tenet of baptismal remission. It also contains the type of
doctrine which the Disciples have been defending since November
18, 1827, under the name of the ancient Gospel, of which the
tenet of socalled baptismal remission is a leading feature. All
authorities agree that Mr. Smith obtained possession of the work
on September 22, 1827, a period of nearly two months before the
Disciples concluded to embrace this tenet. The editor felt that
the Book of Mormon would be sadly incomplete if this notion were
not included. Accordingly, he found means to communicate with Mr.
Smith, and, regaining possession of certain portions of the
manuscript, to insert the new item.... Rigdon was the only
Disciple minister who vigorously and continuously demanded that
his brethren should adopt the additional points that have been

Very concisely, this Bible story of the most ancient race that
came to America, the Jaredites, may be thus stated:--

This race, being righteous, were not punished by the Lord at
Babel, but were led to the ocean, where they constructed a vessel
by direction of the Lord, in which they sailed to North America.
According to the Book of Ether, there were eight of these
vessels, and that they were remarkable craft needs only the
description given of them to show: "They were built after a
manner that they were exceeding tight, even that they would hold
water like unto a dish; and the bottom thereof was tight like
unto a dish; and the sides thereof were tight like unto a dish;
and the ends thereof were peaked; and the top thereof was tight
like unto a dish; and the length thereof was the length of a
tree; and the door thereof, when it was shut, was tight like unto
a dish" (Book of Ether ii. 17). This description certainly
establishes the general resemblance of these barges to some kind
of a dish, but the rather careless comparison of their length
simply to that of a "tree" leaves this detail of construction

Just before they embarked in these vessels, a brother of Jared
went up on Mount Shelem, where the Lord touched sixteen small
stones that he had taken up with him, two of which were the Urim
and Thummim, by means of which Smith translated the plates. These
stones lighted up the vessels on their trip across the ocean.
Jared's brother was told by the spirit on the mount, "Behold, I
am Jesus Christ. "A footnote in the modern edition of this Bible
kindly explains that Jared's brother "saw the preexistent spirit
of Jesus."

When they landed (somewhere on the Isthmus of Darien), the Lord
commanded Nephi to make "plates of ore," on which should be
engraved the record of the people. This was the origin of Smith's
plates. In time this people divided themselves, under the
leadership of two of Lehi's sons--Nephi and Laman--into Nephites
and Lamanites (with subdivisions). The Lamanites, in the course
of two hundred years, had become dark in color and "wild and
ferocious, and a bloodthirsty people; full of idolatry and
filthiness; feeding upon beasts of prey; dwelling in tents and
wandering about in the wilderness, with a short skin girdle about
their loins, and their heads shaven; and their skill was in the
bow and the cimeter and the ax" (Enos i, 2o). The Nephites, on
the other hand, tilled the land and raised flocks. Between the
two tribes wars waged, the Nephites became wicked, and in the
course of 320 years the worst of them were destroyed (Book of

Then the Lord commanded those who would hearken to his voice to
depart with him to the wilderness, and they journeyed until they
came to the land of Zarahemla, which a footnote to the modern
edition explains "is supposed to have been north of the head
waters of the river Magdalena, its northern boundary being a few
days' journey south of the Isthmus" (of Darien). There they found
the people of Zarahemla, who had left Jerusalem when Zedekiah was
carried captive into Babylon. New teachers arose who taught the
people righteousness, and one of them, named Alma, led a company
to a place which was called Mormon, "where was a fountain of pure
water, and there Alma baptized the people. The Book of Alma, the
longest in this Bible, is largely an account of the secular
affairs of the inhabitants, with stories of great battles, a
prediction of the coming of Christ, and an account of a great
migration northward, and the building of ships that sailed in the
same direction.

Nephi describes the appearance of Christ to the people of the
western continent, preceded by a star, earthquakes, etc. On the
day of His appearance they heard "a small voice" out of heaven,
saying, "Behold my beloved Son, in whom I am well pleased, in
whom I have glorified my name; hear ye him." Then Christ appeared
and spoke to them, generally in the language of the New Testament
(repeating, for instance, the Sermon on the Mount*), and
afterward ascended into heaven in a cloud. The expulsion of the
Nephites northward, and their final destruction, in what is now
New York State, followed in the course of the next 384 years.

* In the Mormon version of this sermon the words, "If thy right
eye offend thee, pluck it out and cast it from thee," and "If thy
right hand offend thee, cut it off and cast it from thee," are
lacking. The Deseret Evening News of February 21, 1900, in
explaining this omission, says that the report by Mormon of the
"discourse delivered by Jesus Christ to the Nephites on this
continent after his resurrection from the dead... may not be full
and complete."

There is throughout the book an imitation of the style of the
Holy Scriptures. Verse after verse begins with the words "and it
came to pass," as Spaulding's Ohio neighbors recalled that his
story did. The following extract, from 1 Nephi, chap. viii, will
give an illustration of the literary style of a large part of the

"1.. And it came to pass that we had gathered together all manner
of seeds of every kind, both of grain of every kind, and also of
the seeds of fruit of every kind.

"2. And it came to pass that while my father tarried in the
wilderness, he spake unto us, saying, Behold, I have dreamed a
dream; or in other words, I have seen a vision.

"3. And behold, because of the thing which I have seen, I have
reason to rejoice in the Lord, because of Nephi and also of Sam;
for I have reason to suppose that they, and also many of their
seed, will be saved.

"4. But behold, Laman and Lemuel, I fear exceedingly because of
you; for behold, methought I saw in my dream, a dark and dreary

"5. And it came to pass that I saw a man, and he was dressed in a
white robe; and he came and stood before me.

"6. And it came to pass that he spake unto me, and bade me follow

"7. And it came to pass that as I followed him, I beheld myself
that I was in a dark and dreary waste.

"8. And after I had travelled for the space of many hours in
darkness, I began to pray unto the Lord that he would have mercy
on me, according to the multitude of his tender mercies.

"9. And it came to pass after I had prayed unto the Lord, I
beheld a large and spacious field.

"10. And it came to pass that I beheld a tree, whose fruit was
desirable to make one happy.

"11. And it came to pass that I did go forth, and partake of the
fruit thereof; and I beheld that it was most sweet, above all
that I ever before tasted. Yea, and I beheld that the fruit
thereof was white, to exceed all the whiteness that I had ever

Whole chapters of the Scriptures are incorporated word for word.
In the first edition some of these were appropriated without any
credit; in the Utah editions they are credited. Beside these,
Hyde counted 298 direct quotations from the New Testament, verses
or sentences, between pages 2 to 428, covering the years from 600
B.C. to Christ's birth. Thus, Nephi relates that his father, more
than two thousand years before the King James edition of the
Bible was translated, in announcing the coming of John the
Baptist, used these words, "Yea, even he should go forth and cry
in the wilderness, prepare ye the way of the Lord, and make his
paths straight; for there standeth one among you whom ye know
not; and he is mightier than I, whose shoe's latchet I am not
worthy to unloose" (1 Nephi x. 8). In Mosiah v. 8, King Benjamin
is represented as saying, 124 years before Christ was born, "I
would that you should take upon you the name of Christ as there
is no other name given whereby salvation cometh."

The first Nephi represents John as baptizing in Bethabara (the
spelling is Beathabry in the Utah edition), and Alma announces
(vii. 10) that "the Son of God shall be born of Mary AT
JERUSALEM." Shakespeare is proved a plagiarist by comparing his
words with those of the second Nephi, who, speaking twenty-two
hundred years before Shakespeare was born, said (2 Nephi i. 14),
"Hear the words of a trembling parent, whose limbs you must soon
lay down in the cold and silent grave, from whence no traveller
can return."

The chapters of the Scriptures appropriated bodily, and the
places where they may be found, are as follows:--

First Edition Utah Edition

Isaiah xlviii and xlix pp. 52 to 56 1 Nephi, ch. xx, xxi Isaiah 1
and li ...pp. 76 2 Nephi, ch. vii Isaiah lii .... . pp. 498 3
Nephi, ch. xx Isaiah liv .... . pp. 501, 502 3 Nephi, ch. xx
Isaiah ii to xiv . . pp. 86 to 101 2 Nephi, ch. xii to xxiv
Malachi iii, iv ... pp. 503 to 505 3 Nephi, ch. xxiv, xxv Matthew
v, vi, vii . .pp. 479 to 483 3 Nephi, ch. xii to xix 1
Corinthians xiii ... pp. 580 Moroni, ch. vii

Among the many anachronisms to be found in the book may be
mentioned the giving to Laban of a sword with a blade "of the
most precious steel" (1 Nephi iv. 9), centuries before the use of
steel is elsewhere recorded. and the possession of a compass by
the Jaredites when they sailed across the ocean (Alma xxxvii.
38), long before the invention of such an instrument. The ease
with which such an error could be explained is shown in the
anecdote related of a Utah Mormon who, when told that the compass
was not known in Bible times, responded by quoting Acts xxviii.
13, where Paul says, "And from thence we fetched a compass." When
Nephi and his family landed in Central America" there were beasts
in the forest of every kind, both the cow, and the ox, and the
ass, and the horse" (ix Nephi xviii. 25). If Nephi does not
prevaricate, there must have been a fatal plague among these
animals in later years, for horses, cows, and asses were unknown
in America until after its discovery by Europeans. Moroni, in the
Book of Ether (ix. 18, 19), is still more generous, adding to the
possessions of the Jaredites sheep and swine* and elephants and
"cureloms and cumoms." Neither sheep nor swine are indigenous to
America; but the prophet is safe as regards the "cureloms and
cumoms," which are animals of his own creation.

* "And," it is added, "many other kinds of animals which were
useful for the use of man, "thus ignoring the Hebrew antipathy to

The book is full of incidental proofs of the fraudulent
profession that it is an original translation. For instance, in
incorporating 1 Corinthians iii. 4, in the Book of Moroni, the
phrase "is not easily provoked" is retained, as in the King James
edition. But the word "easily" is not found in any Greek
manuscript of this verse, and it is dropped in the Revised
Version of 1881.

Stenhouse calls attention to many phrases in this Bible which
were peculiar to the revival preachers of those days, like
Rigdon, such as "Have ye spiritually been born of God?" "If ye
have experienced a change of heart."

The first edition was full of grammatical errors and amusing
phrases. Thus we are told, in Ether xv. 31, that when Coriantumr
smote off the head of Shiz, the latter "raised upon his hands and
fell." Among other examples from the first edition may be quoted:
"and I sayeth"; "all things which are good cometh of God";
"neither doth his angels"; and "hath miracles ceased." We find in
Helaman ix. 6, "He being stabbed by his brother by a garb of
secrecy." This remains uncorrected.

Alexander Campbell, noting the mixture of doctrines in the book,
says, "He [the author] decides all the great controversies
discussed in New York in the last ten years, infant baptism, the
Trinity, regeneration, repentance, justification, the fall of
man, the atonement, transubstantiation, fasting, penance, church
government, the call to the ministry, the general resurrection,
eternal punishment, who may baptize, and even the questions of
Freemasonry, republican government and the rights of man."*

* "Delusions: an Analysis of the Book of Mormon" (1832). An
exhaustive examination of this Bible will be found in the "Braden
and Kelley Public Discussion."

Such is the book which is accepted to this day as an inspired
work by the thousands of persons who constitute the Mormon
church. This acceptance has always been rightfully recognized as
fundamentally necessary to the Mormon faith. Orson Pratt
declared, "The nature of the message in the Book of Mormon is
such that, if true, none can be saved who reject it, and, if
false, none can be saved who receive it." Brigham Young told the
Conference at Nauvoo in October, 1844, that "Every spirit that
confesses that Joseph Smith is a prophet, that he lived and died
a prophet, and that the Book of Mormon is true, is of God, and
every spirit that does not is of Anti-Christ." There is no
modification of this view in the Mormon church of to-day.


The director of the steps taken to announce to the world a new
Bible and a new church realized, of course, that there must be
priests, under some name, to receive members and to dispense its
blessing. No person openly connected with Smith in the work of
translation had been a clergyman. Accordingly, on May 15, 1829
(still following the prophet's own account), while Smith and
Cowdery were yet busy with the work of translation, they went
into the woods to ask the Lord for fuller information about the
baptism mentioned in the plates. There a messenger from heaven,
who, it was learned, was John the Baptist, appeared to them in a
cloud of light, "and having laid his hands on us, he ordained us,
saying unto us, 'Upon you, my fellow servants, in the name of
Messiah, I confer the priesthood of Aaron, which holds the keys
of the ministering angels, and of the Gospel of repentance, and
of baptism by immersion for the remission of sins.'" The
messenger also informed them that "the power of laying on of
hands for the gift of the Holy Ghost" would be conferred on them
later, through Peter, James, and John, "who held the keys of the
priesthood of Melchisedec"; but he directed Smith to baptize
Cowdery, and Cowdery then to perform the same office for Smith.
This they did at once, and as soon as Cowdery came out of the
water he "stood up and prophesied many things" (which the prophet
prudently omitted to record). The divine authority thus
conferred, according to Orson Pratt, exceeds that of the bishops
of the Roman church, because it came direct from heaven, and not
through a succession of popes and bishops.*

* Orson Pratt, in his "Questions and Answers on Doctrine" in his
Washington newspaper, the Seer (p. 205), thus defined the Mormon
view of the Roman Catholic church:--

Q."Is the Roman Catholic Church the Church of Christ?" A."No, for
she has no inspired priesthood or officers."

Q."After the Church of Christ fled from earth to heaven what was
left?" A."A set of wicked apostates, murderers and idolaters,"

Q."Who founded the Roman Catholic Church?" A."The devil, through
the medium of the apostates, who subverted the whole order of God
by denying immediate revelation, and substituting in place
thereof tradition and ancient revelations as a sufficient rule of
faith and practice."

Smith and Cowdery at once began telling of the power conferred
upon them, and giving their relatives and friends an opportunity
to become members of the new church. Smith's brother Samuel was
the first convert won over, Cowdery baptizing him. His brother
Hyrum came next,* and then one J. Knight, Sr., of Colesville, New
York.** Each new convert was made the subject of a "revelation,"
each of which began, "A great and marvelous work is about to come
forth among the children of men." Hyrum Smith, and David and
Peter Whitmer, Jr., were baptized in Seneca Lake in June, and
"from this time forth," says Smith, "many became believers and
were baptized, while we continued to instruct and persuade as
many as applied for information."

* Hyrum wanted to start in to preach at once, and a "revelation"
was necessary to inform him: "You need not suppose you are called
to preach until you are called.... Keep my commandments; hold
your peace" (Sec.11).

** Colesville is the township in Broome County of which
Harpursville is the voting place. Smith organized his converts
there about two miles north of Harpursville.

By April 6, 1830, branches of the new church had been established
at Fayette, Manchester, and Colesville, New York, with some
seventy members in all, it has been stated. Section 20 of the
"Doctrine and Covenants" names April 6, 1830, as the date on
which the church was "regularly organized and established,
agreeable to the laws of our country." This date has been
incorrectly given as that on which the first step was taken to
form a church organization. What was done then was to organize in
a form which, they hoped, would give the church a standing as a
legal body.* The meeting was held at the house of Peter Whitmer.
Smith, who, it was revealed, should be the first elder, ordained
Cowdery, and Cowdery subsequently ordained Smith. The sacrament
was then administered, and the new elders laid their hands on the
others present.

* Whitmer's "Address to Believers in the Book of Mormon."

"The revelation" (Sec. 20) on the form of church government is
dated April, 1830, at least six months before Rigdon's name was
first associated with the scheme by the visit of Cowdery and his
companions to Ohio. If the date is correct, it shows that Rigdon
had forwarded this "revelation" to Smith for promulgation, for
Rigdon was unquestionably the originator of the system of church
government. David Whitmer has explained, "Rigdon would expound
the Old Testament Scriptures of the Bible and Book of Mormon, in
his way, to Joseph, concerning the priesthood, high priests,
etc., and would persuade Brother Joseph to inquire of the Lord
about this doctrine and about that doctrine, and of course a
revelation would always come just as they desired it."*

* Whitmer's "Address to Believers in the Book of Mormon."

The "revelation" now announced defined the duty of elders,
priests, teachers, deacons, and members of the Church of Christ.
An apostle was an elder, and it was his calling to baptize,
ordain, administer the sacrament, confirm, preach, and take the
lead in all meetings. A priest's duty was to preach, baptize,
administer the sacrament, and visit members at their houses.
Teachers and deacons could not baptize, administer the sacrament,
or lay on hands, but were to preach and invite all to join the
church. The elders were directed to meet in conference once in
three months, and there was to be a High Council, or general
conference of the church, by which should be ordained every
President of the high priesthood, bishop, high counsellor, and
high priest.

Smith's leadership had, before this, begun to manifest itself. He
had, in a generous mood, originally intended to share with others
the honor of receiving "revelations," the first of these in the
"Book of Doctrine and Covenants," saying, "I the Lord also gave
commandments to others, that they should proclaim these things to
the world." In the original publication of these "revelations,"
under the title "Book of Commandments," we find such headings as,
"A revelation given to Oliver," "A revelation given to Hyrum,"
etc. These headings are all changed in the modern edition to
read, "Given through Joseph the Seer," etc.

Cowdery was the first of his associates to seek an open share in
the divine work. Smith was so pleased with his new scribe when
they first met at Harmony, Pennsylvania, that he at once received
a "revelation" which incited Cowdery to ask for a division of
power. Cowdery was told (Sec. 6), "And behold, I grant unto you a
gift, if you desire of me, to translate even as my servant
Joseph. "Cowdery's desire manifested itself immediately, and
Joseph almost as quickly became conscious that he had committed
himself too soon. Accordingly, in another "revelation," dated the
same month of April, 1829 (Sec. 8), he attempted to cajole Oliver
by telling him about a "gift of Aaron" which he possessed, and
which was a remarkable gift in itself, adding, "Do not ask for
that which you ought not." But Cowdery naturally clung to his
promised gift, and kept on asking, and he had to be told right
away in still another "revelation" (Sec. 9), that he had not
understood, but that he must not murmur, since his work was to
write for Joseph. If he was in doubt about a subject, he was
advised to "study it out in your mind"; and if it was right, the
Lord promised, "I will cause that your bosom shall burn within
you"; but if it was not right, "you shall have a stupor of
thought, that shall cause you to forget the thing which is
wrong." To assist him until he became accustomed to discriminate
between this burning feeling and this stupor, the Lord told him
very plainly, "It is not expedient that you should translate
now." That all this rankled in Cowdery's heart was shown by his
attempt to revise one of Smith's "revelations," and the support
he gave to Hiram Page's "gazing."

Cowdery continued to annoy the prophet, and Smith decided to get
rid of him. Accordingly in July, 1830, came a "revelation,"
originally announced as given direct to Joseph's wife Emma,
instructing her to act as her husband's scribe, "that I may send
my servant Oliver Cowdery whithersoever I will." This occurred on
a trip the Smiths had made to Harmony. On their return to
Fayette, Smith found Cowdery still persistent, and he accordingly
gave out a "revelation" to him, telling him again that he must
not "write by way of commandment," inasmuch as Smith was at the
head of the church, and directing him to "go unto the Lamanites
(Indians) and preach my Gospel unto them." This was the first
mention of the westward movement of the church which shaped all
its later history.

A "revelation" in June, 1829 (Sec. 18), had directed the
appointment of the twelve apostles, whom Cowdery and David
Whitmer were to select. The organized members now began to
inquire who was their leader, and Smith, in a "revelation" dated
April 6, 1830 (Sec. 21), addressed to himself, announced: "Behold
there shall be a record kept among you, and in it thou shalt be
called a seer, a translator, a prophet, an apostle of Jesus
Christ, an elder of the church through the will of God the
Father, and the grace of your Lord Jesus Christ"; and the church
was directed in these words, "For his word ye shall receive, as
if from mine own mouth, in all patience and faith." Thus was
established an authority which Smith defended until the day of
his death, and before which all who questioned it went down.

Some of the few persons who at this time expressed a willingness
to join the new church showed a repugnance to being baptized at
his hands, and pleaded previous baptism as an excuse for evading
it. But Smith's tyrannical power manifested itself at once, and
he straightway announced a "revelation" (Sec. 22), in which the
Lord declared, "All old covenants have I caused to be done away
in this thing, and this is a new and everlasting covenant, even
that which was from the beginning."

Five days after the formal organization, the first sermon to the
Mormon church was preached in the Whitmer house by Oliver
Cowdery, Smith probably concluding that it would be wiser to
confine himself to the receipt of "revelations" rather than to
essay pulpit oratory too soon. Six additional persons were then
baptized. Soon after this the first Mormon miracle was
performed--the casting out of a devil from a young man named,
Newel Knight.

The first conference of the organized church was held at Fayette,
New York, in June, 1830, with about thirty members present. In
recent "revelations" the prophet had informed his father and his
brothers Hyrum and Samuel that their calling was "to exhortation
and to strengthen the church," so that they were provided for in
the new fold.

The region in New York State where the Smiths had lived and were
well known was not favorable ground for their labors as church
officers, conducting baptisms and administering the sacrament.
When they dammed a small stream in order to secure a pool for an
announced baptism, the dam was destroyed during the night. A
Presbyterian sister-in-law of Knight, from whom a devil had been
cast, announced her conversion to Smith's church, and, when she
would not listen to the persuasions of her pastor, the latter
obtained legal authority from her parents and carried her away by
force. She succeeded, however, in securing the wished-for
baptism. All this stirred up public feeling against Smith, and he
was arrested on a charge of disorderly conduct.

At the trial testimony was offered to show that he had obtained a
horse and a yoke of oxen from his dupes, on the statement that a
"revelation" had informed him that he was to have them, and that
he had behaved improperly toward the daughters of one of these
men. But the parties interested all testified in his favor, and
the prosecution failed. He was immediately rearrested on a
warrant and removed to Colesville, amid the jeers of the people
in attendance. Knight was subpoenaed to tell about the miracle
performed on him, and Smith's old character of a money-digger was
ventilated; but the court found nothing on which to hold him.
Mormon writers have dilated on these "persecutions", but the
outcome of the hearings indicated fair treatment of the accused
by the arbiters of the law, and the indignation shown toward him
and his associates by their neighbors was not greater than the
conduct of such men in assuming priestly rights might evoke in
any similar community.

Smith returned to his home in Pennsylvania after this, and
endeavored to secure the cooperation of his father-in-law in his
church plans, but without avail. It was four years later that Mr.
Hale put on record his opinion of his son-in-law already quoted.
Failing to find other support in Harmony, and perceiving much
public feeling against him, Smith prepared for his return to New
York by receiving a "revelation" (Sec.20) which directed him to
return to the churches organized in that state after he had sold
his crops. "They shall support thee", declared the "revelation";
but if they receive thee not I shall send upon them a cursing
instead of a blessing". For Smith's protection the Lord further
declared: "Whosoever shall lay their hand upon you by violence ye
shall command to be smitten in my name, and behold, I will smite
them according to your words, IN MINE OWN DUE TIME. And whosoever
shall go to law with thee shall be cursed by the law." This
threat, it will be noted, was safeguarded by not requiring
immediate fulfillment.

Smith returned to Fayette in September, and continued church work
thereabouts in company with his brothers and John and David

Meanwhile Parley P. Pratt had made his visit to Palmyra and
returned to Ohio, and in the early winter Rigdon set out to make
his first open visit to Smith, arriving in December. Martin
Harris, on the ground that Rigdon was a regularly authorized
clergyman, tried to obtain the use of one of the churches of the
town for him, but had to content himself with the third-story
hall of the Young Men's Association. There Rigdon preached a
sermon to a small audience, principally of non-Mormons, annoucing
himself as a "messenger of God". The audience regarded the sermon
as blasphemous, and no further attempt was made to secure this
room for Mormon meetings. Rigdon, however, while in conference
with Smith, preached and baptized the neighborhood, and Smith and
Harris tried their powers as preachers in barns and under a tree
in the open air.

A well-authenticated story of the manner in which one of the
Palmyra Mormons received his call to preach is told by Tucker*
and verified by the principal actor. Among the first baptized in
New York State were Calvin Stoddard and his wife (Smith's sister)
of Macedon. Stoddard told his neighbors of wonderful things he
had seen in the sky, and about his duty to preach. One night,
Steven S. Harding, a young man who was visiting the place, went
with a companion to Stoddard's house, and awakening him with
knocks on the door, proclaimed in measured tones that the angel
of the Lord commanded him to "go forth among the people and
preach the Gospel of Nephi." Then they ran home and went to bed.
Stoddard took the call in all earnestness, and went about the
next day repeating to his neighbors the words of the "celestial
messenger," describing the roaring thunder and the musical sounds
of the angel's wings that accompanied the words. Young Harding,
who participated in this joke, became Governor of Utah in 1862,
and incurred the bitter enmity of Brigham Yound and the church by
denouncing polygamy, and asserting his own civil authority.**

* "Origin, Rise and Progress of Mormonism," pp. 80, 285

**Stoddard and Smith had a quarrel over a lot in Kirtland in
1835, and Smith knocked down his brother-in-law and was indicted
for assault and battery, but was acquitted on the ground of

AS a result of Smith's and Rigdon's conferences came a
"revelation" to them both (Sec. 35), delivered as in the name of
Jesus Christ, defining somewhat Rigdon's position. How nearly it
met his demands cannot be learned, but it certainly granted him
no more authority than Smith was willing to concede. It told him
that he should do great things, conferring the Holy Ghost by the
laying on of hands, as did the apostles of old, and promising to
show miracles, signs, and wonders unto all believers. He was told
that Joseph had received the "keys of the mysteries of those
things that have been sealed," and was directed to "watch over
him that his faith fail not." This "revelation" ordered the
retranslation of the Scriptures.

The most important result of Rigdon's visit to Smith was a
decision to move the church to Ohio. This decision was
promulgated in the form of "revelations" dated December, 1830,
and January, 1831, which set forth (Secs. 37, 38):--

"And that ye might escape the power of the enemy, and be gathered
unto me a righteous people, without spot and blameless:

"Wherefore, for this cause I give unto you the commandment that
ye should go to the Ohio; and there I will give unto you my law;
and there you shall be endowed with power from on high; and from
thence whomsoever I will shall go forth among all nations, and it
shall be told them what they shall do; for I have a great work
laid up in store, for Israel shall be saved.... And they that
have farms that cannot be sold, let them be left or rented as
seemeth them good."

A sufficient reason for the removal was the failure to secure
converts where Smith was known, and the ready acceptance of the
new belief among Rigdon's Ohio people. The Rev. Dr. Clark says,
"You might as well go down in the crater of Vesuvius and attempt
to build an icehouse amid its molten and boiling lava, as to
convince any inhabitant in either of these towns [Palmyra or
Manchester] that Joe Smith's pretensions are not the most gross
and egregious falsehood."*

* "Gleanings by the Way."

The Rev. Jesse Townsend of Palmyra, in a reply to a letter of
inquiry about the Mormons, dated December 24, 1833 (quoted in
full by Tucker), says: "All the Mormons have left this part of
the state, and so palpable is their imposture that nothing is
here said or thought of the subject, except when inquiries from
abroad are occasionally made concerning them. I know of no one
now living in this section of the country that ever gave them


The Mormons teach that, for fourteen hundred years to the time of
Smith's "revelations," there had been "a general and awful
apostasy from the religion of the New Testament, so that all the
known world have been left for centuries without the Church of
Christ among them; without a priesthood authorized of God to
administer ordinances; that every one of the churches has
perverted the Gospel."* As illustrations of this perversion are
cited the doing away of immersion for the remission of sins by
most churches, of the laying on of hands for the gift of the Holy
Ghost, and of the miraculous gifts and powers of the Holy Spirit.
The new church presented a modern prophet, who was in direct
communication with God and possessed power to work miracles, and
who taught from a Golden Bible which says that whoever asserts
that there are no longer "revelations, nor prophecies, nor gifts,
nor healing, nor speaking with tongues and the interpretation of
tongues,... knoweth not the Gospel of Christ" (Book of Mormon ix.
7, 8).

* Orson Pratt's "Remarkable Visions," No. 6.

It is impossible to decide whether the name "Mormon" was used by
Spaulding in his "Manuscript Found," or was introduced by Rigdon.
It is first encountered in the Mormon Bible in the Book of Mosiah
xviii. 4, as the name of a place where there was a fountain in
which Alma baptized those whom his admonition led to repentance.
Next it occurs in 3 Nephi v. 20: "I am Mormon, and a pure
descendant of Lehi." This Mormon was selected by the "author" of
the Bible to stand sponsor for the condensation of the "records"
of his ancestors which Smith unearthed. It was discovered very
soon after the organization of the Mormon church was announced
that the word was of Greek derivation, uopuw or uopuwv
meaning bugbear, hobgoblin. In the form of "mormo" it is
Anglicized with the same meaning, and is used by Jeremy Collier
and Warburton.* The word "Mormon" in zoology is the generic name
of certain animals, including the mandril baboon. The discovery
of the Greek origin and meaning of the word was not pleasing to
the early Mormon leaders, and they printed in the Times and
Seasons a letter over Smith's signature, in which he solemnly
declared that "there was no Greek or Latin upon the plates from
which I, through the grace of God, translated the Book of
Mormon," and gave the following explanation of the derivation of
the word:

* See "Century Dictionary."

"Before I give a definition to the word, let me say that the
Bible, in its widest sense, means good; for the Saviour says,
according to the Gospel of St. John, 'I am the Good Shepherd';
and it will not be beyond the common use of terms to say that
good is amongst the most important in use, and, though known by
various names in different languages, still its meaning is the
same, and is ever in opposition to bad. We say from the Saxon,
good; the Dane, god; the Goth, gods; the German, gut; the Dutch,
goed; the Latin, bonus; the Greek, kalos; the Hebrew, tob; the
Egyptian, mo. Hence, with the addition of more, or the
contraction mor, we have the word Mormon, which means literally
more good.

This lucid explanation was doubtless entirely satisfactory to the
persons to whom it was addressed.

In the early "revelations" collected in the "Book of
Commandments" the new church was not styled anything more
definite than "My Church," and the title-page of that book, as
printed in 1833, says that these instructions are "for the
government of the Church of Christ." The name "Mormons" was not
acceptable to the early followers of Smith, who looked on it as a
term of reproach, claiming the designation "Saints." This
objection to the title continues to the present day. It was not
until May 4, 1834, that a council of the church, on motion of
Sidney Rigdon, decided on its present official title, "Church of
Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints."

The belief in the speedy ending of the world, on which the title
"Latter-Day Saints" was founded, has played so unimportant a part
in modern Mormon belief that its prominence as an early tenet of
the church is generally overlooked. At no time was there more
widespread interest in the speedy second coming of Christ and the
Day of Judgment than during the years when the organization of
the Mormon church was taking place. We have seen how much
attention was given to a speedy millennium by the Disciples
preachers. It was in 1833 that William Miller began his sermons
in which he fixed on the year 1843 as the end of the world, and
his views not only found acceptance among his personal followers,
but attracted the liveliest interest in other sects.

The Mormon leaders made this belief a part of their early
doctrine. Thus, in one of the first "revelations" given out by
Smith, dated Fayette, New York, September, 1830, Christ is
represented as saying that "the hour is nigh" when He would
reveal Himself, and "dwell in righteousness with men on earth a
thousand years." In the November following, another "revelation"
declared that "the time is soon at hand that I shall come in a
cloud, with power and great glory." Soon after Smith arrived in
Kirtland a "revelation," dated February, 1831, announced that
"the great day of the Lord is nigh at hand." In January, 1833,
Smith predicted that "there are those now living upon the earth
whose eyes shall not be closed in death until they shall see all
these things of which I have spoken" (the sweeping of the wicked
from the United States, and the return of the lost tribes to it).
Smith declared in 1843 that the Lord had promised that he should
see the Son of Man if he lived to be eighty-five (Sec. 130).*
When Ferris was Secretary of Utah Territory, in 1852-1853, he
found that the Mormons were still expecting the speedy coming of
Christ, but had moved the date forward to 1870. All through
Smith's autobiography and the Millennial Star will be found
mention of every portent that might be construed as an indication
of the coming disruption of this world. As late as December 6,
1856, an editorial in the Millennial Star said, "The signs of the
times clearly indicate to every observing mind that the great day
of the second advent of Messiah is at hand."

* Speaking of W. W. Phelps's last years in Utah, Stenbouse says:
"Often did the old man, in public and in private, regale the
Saints with the assurance that he had the promise by revelation
that he should not taste of death until Jesus came." Phelps died
on March 7, 1872.

As the devout Mohammedan* passes from earth to a heaven of
material bliss, so the Mormons are taught that the Saints, the
sole survivors of the day of judgment, will, with resurrected
bodies, possess the purified earth. The lengths to which Mormon
preachers have dared to go in illustrating this view find a good
illustration in a sermon by arson Pratt, printed in the Deseret
News, Salt Lake City, of August 21, 1852. Having promised that
"farmers will have great farms upon the earth when it is so
changed," and foreseeing that some one might suggest a difficulty
in providing land enough to go round, he met that in this way:--

* The similarity between Smith's early life and visions and
Mohammed's has been mentioned by more than one writer. Stenhouse
observes that Smith's mother "was to him what Cadijah was to
Mohammed," and that "a Mohammedan writer, in a series of essays
recently published in London, treats of the prophecies concerning
the Arabian Prophet, to be found in the Old and New Testaments,
precisely as Orson Pratt applied them to the American Prophet."

"But don't be so fast, says one; don't you know that there are
only about 197,000,000 of square miles, or about 126,000,000,000
of acres upon the surface of the globe? Will these accommodate
all the inhabitants after the resurrection? Yes; for if the earth
should stand 8000 years, or 80 centuries, and the population
should be a thousand millions in every century, that would be
80,000,000,000 of inhabitants, and we know that many centuries
have passed that would not give the tenth part of this; but
supposing this to be the number, there would then be over an acre
and a half for each person upon the surface of the globe."

By eliminating the wicked, so that only one out of a hundred
would share this real estate, he calculated that every Saint
"would receive over 150 acres, which would be quite enough to
raise manna, flax to make robes of, and to have beautiful
orchards of fruit trees."

The Mormon belief is stated by the church leaders to rest on the
Holy Bible, the Mormon Bible, and the "Book of Doctrine and
Covenants," together with the teachings of the Mormon instructors
from Smith's time to the present day. Although the Holy Bible is
named first in this list, it has, as we have seen, played a
secondary part in the church ritual, its principal use by the
Mormon preachers having been to furnish quotations on which to
rest their claims for the inspiration of their own Bible and for
their peculiar teachings. Mormon sermons (usually styled
discourses) rarely, if ever, begin with a text. The "Book of
Doctrine and Covenants" "containing," as the title-page declares,
"the revelations given to Joseph Smith, Jr., for the building up
of the Kingdom of God in the last days," was the directing
authority in the church during Smith's life, and still occupies a
large place in the church history. An examination of the origin
and character of this work will therefore shed much light on the
claims of the church to special direction from on high.

There is little doubt that this system of "revelation" was an
idea of Rigdon. Smith was not, at that time, an inventor; his
forte was making use of ideas conveyed to him. Thus, he did not
originate the idea of using a "peek-stone," but used one freely
as soon as he heard of it. He did not conceive the idea of
receiving a Bible from an angel, but readily transformed the
Spaniard-with-his-throat-cut to an angel when the perfected
scheme was presented to him. We can imagine how attractive
"revelations" would have been to him, and how soon he would
concentrate in himself the power to receive them, and would adapt
them to his personal use.

David Whitmer says, "The revelations, or the Book of
Commandments, up to June, 1829, were given through the stone
through which the Book of Mormon was translated"; but that after
that time" they came through Joseph as a mouthpiece; that is, he
would inquire of the Lord, pray and ask concerning a matter, and
speak out the revelation, which he thought to be a revelation
from the Lord; but sometimes he was mistaken about its being from
the Lord."* Who drew the line between truth and error has never
been explained, but Smith would certainly have resented any such

* "Address to Believers in the Book of Mormon."

Parley P. Pratt thus describes Smith's manner of receiving
"revelations" in Ohio, "Each sentence was uttered slowly and very
distinctly, and with a pause between each sufficiently long for
it to be recorded by an ordinary writer in long hand."*

* Pratt's "Autobiography," p. 65.

These "revelations" made the greatest impression on Smith's
followers, and no other of his pretensions seems to have so
convinced them of his divine credentials. The story of Vienna
Jaques well illustrates this. A Yankee descendant of John
Rodgers, living in Boston, she was convinced by a Mormon elder,
and joined the church members while they were in Kirtland, taking
with her her entire possession, $1500 in cash. This money, like
that of many other devoted members, found its way into Smith's
hands--and stayed there. But he had taken her into his family,
and her support became burdensome to him. So, when the Saints
were "gathering" in Missouri, he announced a "revelation" in
these words (Sec. 90):--

"And again, verily, I [the Lord] say unto you, it is my will that
my handmaid, Vienna Jaques, should receive money to bear her
expenses, and go up unto the land of Zion; and the residue of the
money may be consecrated unto me, and she be rewarded in mine own
due time. Verily, I say unto you, that it is meet in mine eyes
that she should go up unto the land of Zion, and receive an
inheritance from the hand of the Bishop, that she may settle down
in peace, inasmuch as she is faithful, and not to be idle in her
days from thenceforth."

The confiding woman obeyed without a murmur this thinly concealed
scheme to get rid of her, migrated with the church from Missouri
to Illinois and to Utah, and was in Salt Lake City in 1833,
supporting herself as a nurse, and "doubly proud that she has
been made the subject of a revelation from heaven."*

* "Utah and the Mormons," p. 182.

These "revelations" have been published under two titles. The
first edition was printed in Jackson, Missouri, in 1833, in the
Mormon printing establishment, under the title, "Book of
Commandments for the Government of the Church of Christ,
organized according to Law on the 6th of April, 1830." This
edition contained nothing but "revelations," divided into
sixty-five "chapters," and ending with the one dated Kirtland,
September, 1831, which forms Section 64 of the Utah edition of
"Doctrine and Covenants." David Whitmer says that when, in the
spring of 1832, it was proposed by Smith, Rigdon, and others to
publish these revelations, they were earnestly advised by other
members of the church not to do so, as it would be dangerous to
let the world get hold of them; and so it proved. But Smith
declared that any objector should "have his part taken out of the
Tree of Life."*

* It has been stated that the "Book of Commandments" was never
really published, the mob destroying the sheets before it got
out. But David Whitmer is a very positive witness to the
contrary, saying, "I say it was printed complete (and
copyrighted) and many copies distributed among the members of the
church before the printing press was destroyed."

Two years later, while the church was still in Kirtland, the
"revelations" were again prepared for publication, this time
under the title, "Doctrine and Covenants of the Church of the
Latter-Day Saints, carefully selected from the revelations of
God, and compiled by Joseph Smith, Jr.; Oliver Cowdery, Sidney
Rigdon, F. G. Williams, proprietors." On August 17, 1835, a
general assembly of the church held in the Kirtland Temple voted
to accept his book as the doctrine and covenants of their faith.
Ebenezer Robinson, who attended the meeting, says that the
majority of those so voting "had neither time nor opportunity to
examine the book for themselves; they had no means of knowing
whether any alterations had been made in any of the revelations
or not."* In fact, many important alterations were so made, as
will be pointed out in the course of this story. One method of
attempting to account for these changes has been by making the
plea that parts were omitted in the Missouri editions. On this
point, however, Whitmer is very positive, as quoted.

* In his reminiscences in The Return.

At the very start Smith's revelations failed to "come true." An
amusing instance of this occurred before the Mormon Bible was
published. While the "copy" was in the hands of the printer,
Grandin, Joe's brother Hyrum and others who had become interested
in the enterprise became impatient over Harris's delay in raising
the money required for bringing out the book. Hyrum finally
proposed that some of them attempt to sell the copyright in
Canada, and he urged Joe to ask the Lord about doing so. Joe
complied, and announced that the mission to Canada would be a
success. Accordingly, Oliver Cowdery and Hiram Page made a trip
to Toronto to secure a publisher, but their mission failed
absolutely. This was a critical test of the faith of Joe's
followers. "We were all in great trouble," says David Whitmer,*
"and we asked Joseph how it was that he received a 'revelation'
from the Lord for some brethren to go to Toronto and sell the
copyright, and the brethren had utterly failed in their
undertaking. Joseph did not know how it was, so he inquired of
the Lord about it, and behold, the following 'revelation' came;
through the stone: 'Some revelations are from God, some
revelations are of man, and some revelations are of the Devil.'"
No rule for distinguishing and separating these revelations was
given; but Whitmer, whose faith in Smith's divine mission never
cooled, thus disposes of the matter, "So we see that the
revelation to go to Toronto and sell the copyright was not of
God." Of course, a prophet whose followers would accept such an
excuse was certain of his hold upon them. This incident well
illustrates the kind of material which formed the nucleus of the

* "Address to All Believers in Christ," p. 30.

Smith never let the previously revealed word of the Lord protect
any of his flock who afterward came in conflict with his own
plans. For example: On March 8, 1831, he announced a "revelation"

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