Chapter 4

1834

Mormonism Unvailed Howe, Eber D., b. 1798

❮ Home

Howe, E. D. Mormonism Unvailed: Or, A Faithful Account of That Singular Imposition and Delusion, From Its Rise to the Present Time. With Sketches of the Characters of Its Propagators, and a Full Detail of the Manner in which the Famous Golden Bible was Brought Before the World. To Which Are Added, Inquiries Into the Probability that the Historical Part of the Said Bible Was Written By One Solomon Spalding, More than Twenty Years Ago, and By Him Intended to Have Been Published As A Romance. Painesville, Ohio:E. D. Howe, 1834.

CHAPTER IV.

The marvelous always has something about it, to fascinate, however coarsely it may be clad ; and fiction has its charms, and when combined and presented to the mind in the mantle of inspiration, it is not singular that the credulous and unsuspecting should be captivated. This propensity for the marvelous in the human mind, is constantly leading them into error and delusion, and to it the fabricators of the new revelation are indebted for their success.

Our moral faculties are always improved by embracing simple philosophical truths, and, in proportion as we reject them, we become depraved, and less capable of discriminating between falsehood and error. He who embraces falsehood and error, will sink deeper and deeper in the vortex of folly and madness ; wild vagaries, apparitions, intercourse with the spirits of other worlds, and ten thousand other follies, will dance through his imagination in shapeless confusion. Realities are no longer a subject worthy his attention, but he is guided by the whims of his imagination, which he believes to be the breathing of the Holy spirit, and an internal revelation, and thus we find him enveloped in the fatal cords of fanaticism.

Our object is to unvail the deceptions, and impositions, which are now practised by the leaders of a sect which are called Mormons, or, as they have recently christened themselves, “Latter day Saints ;” and so place the Book, or Golden Bible, as it has been called, before the public, as to prevent any further deception. The subject of eternity is of infinite moment to all ; and each individual has sufficient capacity to embrace truth instead of error, [37] provided the due exercises of the faculties are institued. Then, when any subject is presented to us in the garb of religion, we ought carefully to investigate it, and compare it with the standard which should be our rule of faith and practice. The divine authenticity of the Book of Mormon, is the question now before us. Is it presented to us, accompanied with such conclusive testimony as entitles it to our implicit credit, and such as we should be willing to risk our eternal all upon ? If any doubts hang over the subject, it is reasonable that a scrupulous search, and a critical enquiry be instituted by us.

Permit us to examine in what way the two above named chapters of Isaiah, became introduced in the modern version. The translation of King James is the one used. We believe the translation to be a correct one, and that the translators were guided by truth as far as human frailty would permit ; but, at the same time, they were governed by the then existing rules of the English language, which now vary considerably. The rules which governed at the time the translation was made, are so far lost, that we presume a new one made at this period under our present rules, would vary the diction and phraseology very considerably, but not the true sense.

We suppose that the object of the sacred writings, is to convey a definite meaning to the reader in his own language, without regard to words or phrases, and, consequently, if we were to receive a translation from the hand of the Lord at this time, we might rationally expect that it would appear in our own language, and not in that of King James’ time, any more than in that of William the Conqueror. It is a remarkable coincidence that the author of our book should be able to give us an exact copy of those two chapters, reading them in a stone placed in a hat! We are truly inclined to accuse him of plagiarism, not only from the above circumstance, but be- [38] cause he attributes the authorship of the whole book to the Lord ; and we cannot see why, if he could dictate such grand and lofty sentiments to Isaiah, together with the unparalleled figures, he could not have maintained a style and diction through the rest of the Book of Mormon, that would have appeared decent, and been somewhat in the language of the present time. Again we remark, that the beginning of the quotation commences with the chapter, and closes with the next chapter, which is, of itself, evidence that it was copied, because the division of the prophecies into chapters is both modern and arbitrary—the original furnishes no such arrangement. Then it would have been natural for an ignorant plagiarist to have blundered into that method of copying.

If the two chapters had have been inserted in the author’s language, at the same time preserving the sense strictly, there would have been more plausibility, and the deception not so easily detected. But the ignorance of the author led him to suppose that the translation was the only one that could be made, and that the division into chapters was done by Isaiah himself.

Nephi is represented as a wonderful prophet. He could prophecy what would be said, in the precise sentences, six hundred years afterwards, and so arrange and punctuate it, that a translator, by means of a stone which was prepared for that purpose, could, two thousand four hundred and thirty years afterwards, copy sentences which had been arranged about two hundred and twenty years previously, by a set of learned divines, assembled under the authority of James the first, king of England. There are no prophecies in the old Testament which compares with this; we deem it beyond the marvelous. In our examination of the prophecies in the old Testament, (which we suppose is not tantamount authority to the Golden Bible with a “latter day saint,”) we are unable to find even [39] an attempt made by the inspired authors to prophecy of the doctrines of our Saviour, in the words in which he would utter them. Besides, the evangelists themselves, who heard the wonderful sayings as he spake them, choose their own manner of expressing it. Each had his own peculiar style, and penned the sentiments in their own way. Our Savior uttered many prophecies, but in all he said he never attempted to represent the diction and phraseology which would be used on a future occasion. But our hero, Nephi, is made by the author to far surpass the Savior.

We are next presented with something like a sermon, in which the prophecies of the old Testament, (which, we presume, the author had by him,) is the matter of discussion and explanation. The Arian doctrine is denied, of which he, Nephi, has a prophetic knowledge, and instructs his readers after the popular doctrines of the present day. No particular denomination is sustained, but partakes of many, from which we suppose they had no articles of faith yet established ; but in the sequel they become Anabaptists. And thus ends the first “Book of Nephi.”

The second Book of Nephi is introduced to the reader, by an attempt at a christian sermon, by Lehi, (Nephi having retired behind the curtain,) and in the course of his remarks, he makes several patriarchal promises to his sons ; all conditioned upon a faithful and implicit obedience to the requirements and commands of Nephi. Lehi preaches repentance and remission of sins. He expounds the law as it relates to original sin, and settles many of the leading points which are subjects of disputation between different denominations at the present day. p. 72. We will again, for the benefit of our readers, quote a remarkable passage, which the bold blasphemer has presumed to insert in his book, as matter revealed to him, and as having been penned [40] by Nephi, nearly six hundred years before it actually was ! !! “And by the law no flesh is justified.

Behold, he offereth himself a sacrifice for sin.” “Which layeth down his life according to the flesh, and taketh it again by the power of the spirit, that he may bring to pass the resurrection of the dead, being the first that should rise.” p. 63.—

There are a variety of sermons in this discourse taken from the new Testament, somewhat garbled and transposed, and so varied as to suit the views of the writer, in his fictitious tenets.

Lehi next addresses his son Joseph, who was born in the wilderness, and reminds him of the commandments of the Holy one of Israel, and intimates that he is born for some great purpose. “For behold thou are the fruit of my loins ; and I am a descendant of Joseph, which was carried captive into Egypt. And great was the covenants of the Lord which he made unto Joseph ; wherefore Joseph truly saw our day. And he obtained a promise of the Lord, that out of the fruit of his loin the Lord God would raise up a righteous branch unto the house of Israel. Not the Messiah,” &c. He then goes on to explain the covenant, by representing himself, and his posterity, as the branch meant, to which the Messiah should be made manifest in the latter days.

We next have a quotation from the prophecies of Joseph. “Yea Joseph truly said, thus saith the Lord unto me : a choice seer will I raise up out of the fruit of thy loins. And unto him will I give a commandment. p. 66. “And thus prophecied Joseph, saying :—Behold that Seer will the Lord bless ; and they that seek to destroy him shall be confounded.” Behold I am sure of the fulfilling of this promise. And his name shall be called after me, and it shall be after the name of his father. Yea, thus prophecied Joseph.”— p. 67. Here is the prophecy which settles the matter as to Joseph Smith, Jun. He is, [41] doubtless, from the lineage of Lehi, the father of the Nephites and the Lamanites, and a descendant of Joseph.—The Lamanites were all cursed by the Lord, and all marked and transformed into Indians. A curse was pronounced upon all who should ever mix with them. The Nephites warred with each other until they exterminated the whole race except three, who were immortalized. Whether the object of their immortality was to perpetuate the notable branch of Joseph by crim.con. we are left to conjecture.—We are not aware that Joseph ever uttered the above remarkable sentences. He held the highest standing among his brethren, and if he had ever made them, we have no doubt full credit would have been given to his sayings, and they would have been preserved by the Jews, and handed down to the latest posterity among them, well authenticated. But, the fact is, the whole is a base forgery, and he who attempted to palm it off as truth upon a credulous community, cannot but receive the frowns and punishments of a just God.

Again, on the same page, “And the Lord said unto me, also, I will raise up unto the fruit of thy loins ; and I will make for him a spokesman. And the spokesman of thy loins shall declare it.” This prophecy of Joseph is also fulfilled to the letter, in the person of Sydney Rigdon ; he is also from this same illegitimate race. It is true his name is not mentioned in the prophecy, but he fulfils the functions assigned him. Are not the circumstances mentioned in the prophecy, pointing out so plainly these two persons, Joseph Smith, Jun. and Sydney Rigdon, who are the founders, and are still the leaders among the Mormon fanatics, good grounds to infer that they were, at least, advisers, if not the authors, of the present form of the Book of Mormon ?

If they did not originally compose the book, they might [42] easily, at the time of amending and copying, alter and insert the patent of their commissions, in order to give validity to their undertaking.

Joseph Smith, Jun. was well skilled in legerdemain, and the use of the divining-rods, which afforded him great facilities in translating. He doubtless had become acquainted with mystifying every thing, and collected that class of people about him, who were willing dupes, and anxious devotees to the marvelous. To establish the truth of any pretension, however ridiculous and absurd it might be, required nothing but some little necromancy, and it would be received as of divine inspiration by them.

In the conclusion of the present chapter, Lehi bestows his last benediction. “And now, blessed are thou Joseph. Behold thou are little.” We think the mind of this little Joseph must have been quite precocious, to have comprehended the whole rigmarole which has been addressed to him. Not only this ; Nephi must have had a very tenacious memory, or have been a stenographer, in addition to his great literary attainments, in order to have engraved the oration of his father.

The boy being little, perhaps might account for the circumlocution, and tautology, in the whole speech, if the whole book was not written in precisely the same words and phrases. The old and new Testaments are written in an ancient and very perfect style, and there is no doubt that, at the time it was written, it was in all respects, the most finished, and complete production, into which our language was capable of being modeled.—But many improvements, and innovations have been made in our vocabulary, since that period, which now renders the style, measurably, obsolete. A translation from the original Greek, in our present improved language, would be desirable, and, if it could be accomplished, many scisms would be abandoned, and sectarianism would be greatly di- [43] minished. We mention this, as an argument against the divine authenticity of the Book of Mormon. A few years have only elapsed, since the pretended translation of that work took place, and instead of its being given us in a chaste and clear style, it is the most miserable and barren of any thing we ever saw, in the form of a book. Would it not be reasonable to conclude, that any book, whose author was the Holy Ghost, would be clear and perfect in all its parts ; so plain that the wayfaring man need not err? particularly if the translation and style be chosen and dictated by himself, as it is pretended that the book of Mormon was. But we are forbidden this test, otherwise the book would fall to the ground at once.

Nephi is the next person on the stage, and commences his harangue. He recapitulates his father’s prophecies, and those of their ancestor, Joseph, in nearly the same language which Lehi used, and reminds the whole family of the promises in the covenant. Lehi is now old, and after he finishes his valedictory, gives up the ghost, and is buried. p. 69. The scene is now changed wholly. Nephi is the Major-domo. Laman, Lemuel, and the sons of Ishmael, rebel against his authority; and Nephi is warned of the Lord to flee into the wilderness. A little previous, after the death of Lehi, Nephi is disconsolate, and a long soliloquy is penned, or engraved, upon the brass plates, which is principally patched up from detached sentences taken from Psalms and Jeremiah, badly arranged. p. 70.—The rebellion and civil war is so great, that Nephi comes to the rare conclusion, after receiving his special command, to take another journey into the wilderness! The promised land is not yet obtained, according to page 49, where it says, “we did arrive at the promised land.” Whether the land of both North and South America was in the charter, or not, we cannot say, but a part is surrendered forthwith, [44] which is never restored again, therefore it was not the promised land, or the Lord had broken his covenant.

“Wherefore it came to pass, that I, Nephi, did take my family, and also Zoram,” (Zoram was a servant man of Laban’s, whom Nephi and his brethren, decoyed from Jerusalem, at the time the renowned plates were obtained which contained the genealogy of Lehi,) “and Sam, and his elder brother, and his family, and Jacob, and Joseph, my younger brethren, and also my sisters, and all they which would go with me.”

They journeyed through the wilderness, until they arrived at a place which they call Nephi, after their leader ; those who were left behind, to wit : Laman and Lemuel, and their families, were afterwards called Lamanites, together with all their descendants, without distinction. Nephi instructs his people to manufacture swords, after the manner of the sword of Laban, to defend themselves against the Lamanites. p. 72. Nothing can be more ridiculous, than to suppose it necessary to manufacture swords with which to defend themselves against the Lamanites, as there could not have been to exceed twenty adults, including both parties ; for he says on the very next page, that thirty years only had passed away since they left Jerusalem, and five males constituted the whole at the onset. We will admit that five men were added ; but Ishmael and Lehi are dead; and Jacob and Joseph are born, and but a short time since, Joseph is called little. But see what follows in immediate connexion with their removal, and previous to the time mentioned of thirty years having elapsed since the hegira of Lehi.

“And I did teach my people that they “should work in all manner of wood, and of iron, and of “copper, and of brass, and of steel, and of gold, and of “precious ores, which were in great abundance. And, “I, Nephi, did build a temple, and I did construct it after [45] “the manner of the temple of Solomon, save it were not “built of so many precious things. But the manner of the “construction, was like unto the temple of Soloman, and the workmanship thereof was exceeding fine.” All this was accomplished in the short time which remains after deducting eight or nine years previous to their embarking for the promised land, and the time they were located previous to Nephi’s journey into the wilderness, where they now are with not more than twenty or thirty persons, including women and children. How much time remains from the thirty years which has not quite elapsed, we will leave for some Nephite, or Mormon, to determine. But this is not all— there is still another incongruity. Nephi has just told us, that gold, silver, brass, steel, iron, copper, and precious ores, in great abundance, were found ; and in the next sentence he tells us, that he built a temple in all things like the temple of Solomon, “save it were not built of so many precious things, for they were not to be found upon the land.” We know not the precious things that were in Solomon’s temple, more than our book enumerates. Brass and steel are represented native. These were advantages which Solomon had not. He was compelled to mix and form his own brass,—steel he had none. If any can reconcile all these incongruities, and unscientific mistakes, which have been exhibited thus far in the book of Mormon, with revealed truths from Heaven, we know not what inconsistencies, and fooleries, could be instituted under a pretence of divine authenticity, that would not have its enthusiastic devotees. [46]

❮ Back