“The Mormons.” Religious Herald (Richmond, Virginia) (9 April 1840).
A correspondent requests information as to the peculiar tenets of this modern sect. We have never seen a copy of the book of Mormon, nor any abstract of their creed upon which we could fully rely, as a fair exposition of their opinions. In the extract subjoined, it is stated, that their preaching and views much resemble those of the Reformers or adherents of Mr. Campbell.
This we supposed to be a misapprehension, but on pointing out the sentence to one of the preachers of the Reformed or Campbellite church, he stated that it was so; that there was much resemblance in their views and manner of proclaiming the gospel, and it had been supposed to have arisen from the fact, that Mr. Rigdon, their ablest leader, had been an active and influential associate of Mr. Campbell.
They immearse, on a personal profession, for the remission of sins. They believe literally that the saints are to inherit the earth. That the New Jerusalem is to be an earthly abode, and to be locaed in this Western world. They adopted the system of having all things in common like the primitive disciples and modern Shakers. In addition to Joe Smith, their founder and prophet, they have twelve apostles.
The book of Mormon is a bungling and stupid production, purporting to be a continuation of the Old Testament, by one Nephi, the last of a family of Jews, who, after the captivity, by some means, reached this Continent. It was found, as alleged by Joe Smith, engraved on golden plates, in Western New York, and by him, through an assumed miraculous power, deciphered and transcribed. It contains some trite, moral maxims, but the phraseology in which they are embodied frequently violates every principle and rule of grammar.
We have no hesitation in saying that the whole system is erroneous—carrying falsehood and imposture on its face, and exhibiting a want of skill, of uniformity, of harmony with the gospel, which ought to lead any rational mind to treat it with deserved contempt. There is no redeeming feature in the whole scheme; nothing to commend it to a thinking mind. Yet this miserable, this foolish imposition has secured to itself many devoted adherents, and appears to be on the increase:—a deplorable proof of the awful state to which the fall of Adam has reduced the human race. Continually seeking out new inventions to regain the forfeited favor of their Creator, and slighting the only name and way whereby they can be saved.
WASHINGTON, D. C. FEB. 20, 1840.
Messrs. Editors—A delegation of the “Mormons” having been in this city some time, to seek remuneration of Congress for their Missouri losses, Joseph Smith (“Jo Smith,” as known to fame) has held one or two meetings here. I dropped in a little while on the evening of the 4th instant to see and hear. The prophet, or inspired penman (whichever title he prefers; for, he averred to the meeting that he was inspired to write the golden Bible, or the “Book of Mormon,” a copy of which he held in his hand) is a stout, square-built man of about thirty or thirty-five years of age, of prepossessing manner, and look, and shrewd mind. He has evidently a good English education, and is an energetic, impassioned speaker. The doctrines he professes in Washington are similar to those of the Campbelites of the west, laying great stress on baptism “FOR” the remission of sins. He quotes from the New Testament readily in his addresses. He took good care, as there was an intelligent congregation, including several members of Congress, present, to say but little about the “Book of Mormon.” He averred, however, that nobody wrote it but him, and that it contained nothing contrary to the Bible, or its virtue. In describing the sufferings of his followers in Missouri he was somewhat eloquent, as he has a good voice for the pathetic.
After the meeting was broken up, a gentleman who thought he had concealed studiously in his speech the origin of the “Book of Mormon,” asked him whether the report, that he found it written on gold plates was true. He [column 2] said that it was, that it was written in Egyptian and Chaldee, and that some of the plates were now at his house in the county of Ontario, state of New York. He said, on being questioned as to the account of Mrs. Davidson, (formerly Mrs. Spalding) of Monson, Mass., that her husband wrote said book—that he had her statement “now” that she never authorized any such account or publication. These statements of Smith you may rely on, as the gentleman who had the conversation with him is well and favorably known in this community, and has no sinister motives to prompt him in the matter.— Chris. Advo. and Jour.