D., B. “Mormonism.” Peoria Register and North-Western Gazetteer (Peoria, Illinois) 3, no. 13 (29 June 1839).
MR. DAVIS: Knowing that it is the wish of every honest and candid person to hear both sides of a question before they come to a conclusion, I believe it necessary to notice to the public a few of the errors contained in a publication signed Matilda Davison.
First. It says: “As this book has excited much attention, and has been put by a certain new sect, in the place of the sacred scriptures.” This would mean as much as if they had laid the Bible and Testament entirely aside; for before we can put any thing in the place of another, we must remove the former. This I can testify to be a false statement, and so can any honest person that is acquainted with their preaching; for there are no people of any denomination whatever that put more belief in the Bible and Testament, and the fulfillment of the writings of the prophets and the apostles.
Second. We must recollect, as we go along, that Mr. Spaulding is styled a minister of the gospel, as he is called Rev. Solomon Spaulding; yet he scrupled not to write a romance. “It claimed to have been written by one of the lost nations, and to have been recovered from the earth, and assumed the title of ‘Manuscript Found.’” Thus it appears that he was wilfully deceiving his neighbors, as they “would often inquire how Mr. S. progressed in decyphering ‘the manuscript,’ and when he had a sufficient portion prepared he would inform them, and they would assemble to hear it read.”
Third. “A woman preacher appointed a meeting there, and, in the meeting, read and repeated copious extracts from the ‘Book of Mormon.’” This is the first woman preacher that I have ever heard of belonging to the church of Latter Day Saints, or Mormons, as they are generally called; for they do not authorize women to preach in their churches. They believe in the writings of the apostle Paul on this subject, (see 1st Cor. chap xiv. ver. 34, 35) as I have been personally acquainted with their preaching for the last seven years. In the meeting of the woman’s Mr. S. is called a saint by his brother, which is the first saint I believe that we have any account of ever writing a romance. The public can read the different publications about Mr. S.’s manuscript, and see how they agree. One says the printer in Pittsburg offered to publish it and make it a source of profit, which Mr. S. refused. Another writer says that Mr. S. wrote it for the purpose of profit, but was unable to raise the funds to publish it. As to the Mormon Bible and Golden Bible, they have no books bearing such titles.
The following is an extract from the testimony of P. P. Pratt, an elder in the church of Latter Day Saints, published by himself in the city of New-York some time since:
“But that ridiculous story concerning S. Spaulding’s ‘Manuscript Found’ converted by Sidney Rigdon to the Book of Mormon, without a shadow of truth. And many are as willing to believe this as the Jews were that the disciples had come and stolen the body of Jesus, in order to palm a deception upon that age. But for the sake of the honest in heart, who love the truth, I here offer my testimony on this subject, as I was a personal actor in the scenes which brought S. Rigdon into an acquaintance with the Book of Mormon, and into connection with the church of Latter Day Saints.
“About A. D. 1827 Messrs. A. Campbell, W. Scott and S. Rigdon, with some others residing in Virginia and Ohio, came from the Baptist, and established an order under the name of Reformed Baptists or Disciples, and they were termed by their enemies Campbellites, Rigdonites, &c.—This reformation, as to its doctrine, consisted principally of the baptism of repentance for the remission of sins, &c. and Mr. Rigdon in particular held to a literal fulfillment and application of the written word; and by this means he was an instrument to turn many from the false notions of sectarian tradition to understanding of the prophecies touching the great restoration of Israel and the mighty revolutions of the last days. Many hundred disciples were gathered by his ministry throughout the lake country of Ohio, and many other preachers stood in connection with him in those principles. I was then pursuing an agriculture life, but being a member of the Baptist church and a lover of truth, I became acquainted with Mr. Rigdon, and a believer in and a teacher of the same doctrine. After proclaiming those principles in my own neighborhood and adjoining country, I at length took a journey to the state of New-York partly on a visit to Columbia co., N. Y., my native place, and partly for the purpose of ministering the word. This journey was undertaken in August, 1830. I had no sooner reached Ontario co., N. Y., than I came in contact with the Book of Mormon, which had then been published about six months, and had gathered about fifty disciples, which were all that then constituted the church of the Latter Day Saints. I was greatly prejudiced against the book, but remembering the caution of Paul, “Prove all things, hold fast that which is good,” I sat down to read it, and after carefully comparing it with the other scriptures and praying to God, he gave me the knowledge of its truth by the power of the Holy Ghost. [Illegible] I accordingly obeyed the ordinances, and was commissioned by revelation and the laying on of hands to preach the fullness of the gospel.
Then, after finishing my visit to Columbia county, I returned to the brethren in Ontario co., where for the first time I saw Mr. Joseph S., jr. who had just returned from Pennsylvania to his father’s house in Manchester, about the 15th of Oct. 1830. I took my journey in company with elder Cowdery and Peter Whitmer to Ohio. We called on elder S. Rigdon, and then for the first time his eyes beheld the Book of Mormon. I myself had the happiness to present it to him in person. He was much surprised, and it was with much persuasion and argument that he was prevailed on to read it; and after he had read it, he had a great struggle of mind before he fully believed and embraced it. And when finally convinced of its truth, he called together a large congregation of his friends, neighbors and brethren, and then addressed them very affectionately for near two hours, during most of which time both himself and nearly all the congregation were melted into tears. He asked forgiveness of everybody who might have had occasion to be offended with any part of his former life; he forgave all who had persecuted or injured him in any manner; and the next morning himself and wife were baptized by elder O. Cowdery. I was present. It was a solemn scene: most of the people were greatly affected: they came out of the water overwhelmed in tears. Many others were baptized by us in that vicinity, insomuch that during the fall of 1830, and the following winter and spring, the number of disciples were increased to about one thousand. The holy Holy Ghost was mightily poured out, and the word of God grew and multiplied.
“Early in 1831, Mr. Rigdon having been ordained under our hands, visited elder J. Smith, jr. in the state of New-York for the first time, and from that time forth rumor began to circulate that he (Rigdon) was the author of the Book of Mormon. The Spaulding story was never dreamed of until several years afterwards, when it appeared in ‘Mormonism Unveiled,’ a base forgery by D. P. Hulbert and others of similar character, who had long strove to account for the Book of Mormon in some other way beside the truth. Now I testify that the forgers of the Spaulding story concerning S. Rigdon and others are of the same description as those who forged the story against the disciples of old, accusing them of stealing the body of Jesus, &c. And in that day when the secrets of all hearts shall be made manifest, then shall they know that these things and many others were base falsehoods, put in circulation by the devil and his servants, and that the Book of Mormon is a record of eternal truth, which speaks from the dust as from the dead, bearing record of the gospel of a crucified and risen Redeemer, reproving the sins of the world, and warning them of the things which must shortly come to pass. Therefore repent all ye ends of the earth and be baptized for the remission of sins, and you shall receive the gift of the Holy Ghost; and signs shall follow those that believe; and this gospel of the kingdom shall first be preached among all nations, and then shall the Son of man come.” B. D.
Tazewell county, Ill. June 22, 1839.