“Author of the Book of Mormon.” Zion’s Advocate (Portland, Maine) 10, no. 51 (20 December 1837). Reprinted in the Morning Star, 27 December 1837.
It is agreed on all hands that Smith is too ignorant and stupid to have originated such a book. This his followers readily admit, and glory in it as an evidence that he must have been divinely inspired. But others regard it as a proof of nothing more than that the book was indited by some other man. It is probable that Solomon Spaulding was the original author of the book of Mormon. He was a native of Ashford, Conn. born in 1761— was graduated at Dartmouth College, and ordained to the Christian ministry; but afterwards left the ministry, and went into mercantile business in Cherry Valley, N. Y. where he failed in business in 1809; and then removed to Conneaut, Ohio, where he was known to be employed in writing a book, with the avails of which he hoped to pay his debts. His book was entitled “The Manuscript found”—it was an historical novel, purporting to be a record of the first settlers of America, who were represented as descendants of the Jews. In 1812, Spaulding went with his manuscript to Pittsburgh, Pa. where he soon after died. The vanity of Spaulding had led him to read his writings to several persons, who were surprised, upon reading the book of Mormon, to find the filling up of the very story which had before been read to them in the “Manuscript found.” This induced them to send to the widow of Spaulding, who was then living in Massachusetts, to inquire into the fate of his papers. She recollected the “Manuscript found,” but could not find it among his papers—she thought that while her husband was living, the manuscript was taken to the printing office of one Lambdin, in Pittsburgh, but whether it was ever returned, she could not tell.— Zion’s Advocate of April 19 th.
Previous to this, there had been residing in Pittsburgh, a man by the name of Sidney Rigdon. He was once pastor of the Baptist church—then a Campbellite preacher, and then he spent about three years principally in retirement, for the purpose, as he alleged, of studying the Bible. There is little reason to doubt that Rigdon, in connexion with Lambdin, was at this time revising the manuscript of Spaulding, and transforming it into the Book of Mormon. It no doubt received further alterations at the suggestion of Smith and others. The foundation of the whole book was a manuscript novel, by Solomon Spaulding.
Among the early converts to Mormonism, was a Methodist Elder, in Ohio, by the name of Ezra Booth. In company with many others, and in accordance with a vision and prophecy of Smith Mr. Booth emigrated to Missouri, where he become convinced that the whole concern was in imposture; and returning to Ohio, he published in the Ohio Star, a series of letters, exposing the delusion. Mr. Booth says,
‘When I embraced Mormonism, I conscientiously believed it to be of God. The impressions of my mind were deep and powerful, and my feelings were excited to a degree to which I had been a stranger. Like a ghost, it haunted me by night and by day, until I was mysteriously hurried, as it were, by a kind of necessity, into the vortex of delusion. At times, I was much elated; but generally, things in prospect were the greatest stimulants to action.
‘On our arrival in the western part of the State of Missouri, the place of “our destination, we discovered that prophecy and vision had failed, or rather had proved false. The fact was so notorious, and the evidence so clear, that no one could mistake it—so much so, that Mr. Rigdon himself said, that “Joseph’s vision was a bad thing.” This was glossed over apparently, to the satisfaction of most persons present; but not fully to my own. It excited a suspicion that some things were not right, and prepared my mind for the investigation of a variety of circumstances, which occurred during my residence there, and indeed, to review the whole subject, from its commencement to that time. My opportunities for a thorough investigation, were far greater than they could have been, had I remained at home; and therefore, I do not regret that I made the journey, though I sincerely regret the cause of it. Since my return, I have had several interviews with Messrs. Smith, Rigdon and Cowdery, and the various shifts and turns, to which they resorted in order to obviate objections and difficulties, produced in my mind additional evidence, that there was nothing else than a deeply laid plan of craft and deception.
“The relation in which Smith stands to the church; is that of a Prophet, Seer, Revealer, and Translator; and when he speaks by the Spirit, or says he knows a thing by the communication of the Spirit, it is received as coming directly from the mouth of the Lord. When he says he knows a thing to be so, thus it must stand without controversy. A question is agitated between two Elders of the church—whether or not a bucket of water will become heavier by putting a living fish in it. Much is said by each of the disputants; when at length, Smith decides it in the negative, by saying,—“I know by the spirit that it will be no heavier. Any person who chooses, may easily ascertain by actual experiment, whether the Prophet was influenced in this decision, by a true or false spirit.”
To account for the success of this imposture, Mr. B. says,
“This system, to some, carries the face of plausibility and appears under an imposing form. It claims the Bible for its patron, and proffers the restoration of the apostolic church with all the gifts and graces with which the primitive saints were endowed. It is called the fullness of the Gospel of both Jew and Gentile; and is the test by which every man’s faith is to be tried. Judgments are denounced against the sinners of this generation; or in other words, all who reject the Book of Mormon, are threatened with eternal damnation.”
The Mormonites not only had this addition to the Bible, but for some time after its publication, they were constantly receiving as they said, new commandments from the Lord.
When these commandments are at variance with the scriptures, they allege that the scriptures are wrongly translated, and Smith, though ignorant of his mother tongue, and probably not acquainted even with the Greek alphabet, is always ready to set the translation right. Mr. B. adds—
“Every thing in the church is done by commandment: and yet it is said to be done by the voice of the church. For instance, Smith gets a commandment that he shall be the ‘head of the church,’ or that he ‘shall rule the Conference,’ or that the Church shall build him an elegant house, and give him 1000 dollars. For this the members of the church must vote, or they will be cast off for rebeling against the commandments of the Lord. In addition to the Book of Mormon, and the commandments, there are revelations which are not written.—In this department, though Smith is the principal, yet there are others who profess to receive revelations; but after all Smith is to decide whether they come from the Lord or the devil. Some have been so unfortunate as to have their revelations palmed upon the latter. These revelations entirely supercede the Bible, and in fact, the Bible is declared too defective to be trusted, in its present form; and it is designed that it shall undergo a thorough alteration, or as they say, translation. This work is now in operation.
The Gospel of St. Matthew has already received the purifying touch, and is prepared for the use of the church. It was intended to have kept this work a profound secret, and strict commandments were given for that purpose; and even the salvation of the church was said to depend upon it. The secret is divulged, but the penalty is not as yet inflicted.—Their revelations are said to be an addition to the Bible. But instead of being an addition, they destroy its use; for every thing which need be known, whether present, past or future, they can learn from Smith, for he has declared to the church, that he ‘knows all things that will take place from this time to the end of the world.’
If then, placing the Bible under circumstances which render it entirely useless, is infidelity, Mormonism is infidelity.