The Claims of the Book of Mormon Established

1841-03-15

The Gospel Reflector Winchester, Benjamin, 1817-1901

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Winchester, Benjamin. “The Claims of the Book of Mormon Established—It alsoDefended.” The Gospel Reflector (Philadelphia) 1, no. 6 (15 March 1841): 121–28.

THE CLAIMS OF THE BOOK OF MORMON ESTABLISHED—IT ALSO DEFENDED.

( Continued from page 120.)

THESE with the following, are the effects that this book was to produce: “The meek also shall increase their joy in the Lord, and the poor among men shall rejoice in the Holy One of Israel. For the terrible one is brought to naught, and the scorner is consumed, and all that watch for iniquity are cut off: that make a man an offender for a word, and lay a snare for him that reproveth in the gate, and turn aside the just for a thing of naught. Therefore, thus saith the Lord, who redeemed Abraham, concerning the house of Jacob, Jacob shall not now be ashamed, neither shall his face now wax pale. But when he seeth his children, the work of mine hands, in the midst of him, they shall sanctify my name, and sanctify the Holy One of Jacob, and shall fear the God of Israel. They also that erred in spirit shall come to understanding, and they that murmured shall learn doctrine.” According to the above, it was to be but a little while after the book came forth, before the terrible one [Satan] should be brought to naught. He is not yet brought to naught; therefore, the appearing of the book was a work of as late a date as the nineteenth century. The house of Jacob shall not now be ashamed, or in other words they will be brought to a knowledge of the truth, and no more be degraded, cast off, or made ashamed, because of their transgressions. This corresponds with what Ezekiel says about Israel after the two sticks were to come [121] together. “They also that erred in spirit shall come to understanding,” &c. Since the appearance of the Book of Mormon many thousands that were blinded by sectarian doctrines, and erred in spirit, have been made to rejoice in God: for they have come to a correct understanding of the principles of righteousness. But says one, what is the use of this book, admitting it is true?—We answer, first, it brings to light an important history before unknown to man; second, it reveals the origin of the American Indians; third, it contains important prophecies, yet to be fulfilled, which immediately concern this generation; fourth, it contains much plainness in regard to points of doctrine, inasmuch that all may understand, and see eye to eye, if they take the pains to read it; fifth, it helps to fill the measure of the knowledge of God, that it may cover the earth as the waters cover the sea.

Now reader, we have said much about the tribe of Ephraim, and that the Book of Mormon, to use Ezekiel’s words, is the “stick of Joseph in the hands of Ephraim;” and it is plain from the prophets that the Lord has chosen the tribes of Ephraim, and Judah, to be instruments in his hands to perform great works. Christ was of Judah, and the apostles were chiefly of the same tribe. They have performed their work, namely, preached the gospel to the nations of the earth, and written much by inspiration;—but God has sent forth some of the writings of the tribe of Ephraim, or Joseph, and he will yet make instruments of them to gather Israel; and help prepare the way for the Millenium: therefore, it is reasonable for us to look for their writings: for, according to Isaiah they were to have an abundance of them; speaking of the Ephraimites, he says: “But the word of the Lord was unto them precept upon precept, precept upon precept; line upon line, line upon line; here a little and there a little.”—Isa. xxviii. 13. David says by the word of the Lord: “Ephraim is the strength of mine head; Judah is my law giver.”—Ps. lx. 7. Moses says: “His glory is like the firstling of his bullock, and his horns are like the horns of unicorns: with them he shall push the people together from the ends of the earth: and they are the ten thousands of Ephraim, and they are the thousands of Manasseh.”—Deut. xxxiii. 17. Now the children of Joseph, or Ephraim never have been the instruments in the hands of God to gather in the people from the ends of the earth; but according to the above they will yet do it. Jeremiah is very plain on this subject: “For there shall be a day, that the watchmen upon the mount Ephraim shall cry, arise ye, and let us go up to Zion unto the Lord our God. For thus saith the Lord, sing with gladness for Jacob, and shout among the chief of the nations: publish ye, praise ye, and say, O Lord, save thy people, the remnant of Israel. Behold, I will bring them from the North country, and gather them from the coasts of the earth, and with them the blind and the lame, the woman with child, and her that travaileth with child together: a great company shall return thither. They shall come with weeping, and with suppli- [122] cations will I lead them: I will cause them to walk by the rivers of waters in a straight way, wherein they shall not stumble; for I am a Father to Israel, and Ephraim is my first born. Hear ye the word of the Lord, O ye nations and declare it in the isles afar off, and say, he that scattereth will gather him, and keep him, as a shepherd doth his flock. For the Lord hath redeemed Jacob, and ransomed him from the hand of him, that was stronger then he. Therefore they shall come and sing in the height of Zion, and shall flow together to the goodness of the Lord.”—Jer. xxxi. 6–12. First it is said, in the above that the watchmen of Ephraim shall cry to the people, saying, “arise ye let us go up to Zion;” second, it is said that the children of Israel shall be restored; third, when they are restored, Ephraim shall be the Lord’s first-born. Ephraim was the second son of Joseph, and Joseph was the eleventh son of Jacob; therefore, this birth has reference to the Ephraimites, first of all the tribes receiving the gospel—being born of God. Therefore, it is perfectly consistent with reason, for their writings to come forth to assist in this work of gathering.

Jeremiah connects the following with this work: “Behold, the days come, saith the Lord, that I will make a new covenant with the house of Israel, and with the house of Judah;” “And they shall teach no more every man his neighbour, and every man his brother, saying, know the Lord: for they shall all know me, from the least of them to the greatest of them, saith the Lord: for I will forgive their iniquity, and I will remember their sin no more.”—Jer. xxxi. 31–34. Isaiah speaking of their restoration, and the everlasting covenant that the Lord will make with them, says: “And their seed shall be known among the Gentiles, and their offspring among the people.”—Isa. 1xi. 9. Now we ask, can any one tell whether the American Indians are of Israel unless by revelation from God? This was a hidden mystery, which was necessary to be revealed in time for their gathering.—But enough is already said upon this part of the subject.—There is an abundance of collateral evidence in favour of this work, such, as the predictions of the prophets concerning the ensign that God will rear for the gathering of Israel; “setting his hand the second time to recover them,” &c., which we shall hereafter notice under another head.

We will also for the satisfaction of the reader give a brief history, as recorded in the Book of Mormon, of the ancients in America—How they came here—Their prosperity—Some of their teachings—Some of their prophecies, and their fulfilment—Their destruction—The depositing of their records—The manner in which the Book of Mormon was discovered and brought to light—

The testimony of several who testify to its truth—O. Cowdery’s Letters, embracing the life and character of Joseph Smith, and some of the most important incidents connected with the establishment of the work of God in this our day and age of the world, &c. &c. [123]

HISTORY OF THE ANCIENTS OF AMERICA, AND ALSO OF THE BOOK OF MORMON.

SIX hundred years B. C., according to the Book of Mormon, Lehi, who was a righteous man, was fore-warned of the destruction of Jerusalem and the Babylonish captivity, who was commanded by the Lord, took his family and fled into the wilderness. He pitched his tent in the wilderness near the Red Sea, and sent back his sons to Jerusalem, who persuaded one Ishmael and his family to accompany them to their father Lehi. The Lord promised to lead them to a choice land above all lands; therefore they set out on their journey for this land. After a long and tedious journey, they came to the great waters, or the Ocean. Nephi the son of Lehi, who was also a prophet, and their pilot, or leader in the wilderness; was commanded and instructed to build a ship sufficiently large to transport them over the sea. This work was accomplished in eight years from the time they left Jerusalem. They set sail, and in a proper time they landed, as we infer from their record, somewhere on the Western coast of South America. They immediately commenced tilling the earth, and erecting mansions for dwelling places.

Lehi had six sons, Laman, Lemuel, Nephi, Sam, Jacob, and Joseph. Laman, Lemuel, and the sons of Ishmael rebelled against God, and would not keep his commandments: for this they were cursed. Their posterity in process of time became a powerful nation; but extremely wicked, and their chief occupations were hunting, plundering, and roving about from place to place. In the Book of Mormon they are called Lamanites. The other sons ef Lehi were obedient to the commands of God. Their posterity also in the course of time became a great nation, and were called Nephites. To them God committed his divine oracles, (the holy priesthood) and they had prophets and inspired men among them. They also kept a record of their prophecies, and revelations, and the proceedings of their nation. When they left Jerusalem they brought with them the law of Moses, and the writings of the former prophets, down to the days of Jeremiah.

This accounts for the quotations from Isaiah and others, which are found in the Book of Mormon.

The Nephites tilled the land, built cities, and erected temples for places of worship; but the Lamanites lived a more indolent life; although, in some instances they built cities. The Nephites were at times faithful to God, at other times they were indifferent, and would not be faithful. They frequently had long and tedious wars with the Lamanites, and were often driven before them. They were constantly emigrating to the North. At length they commenced settlements in the region of country, not far from the Isthmus of Darien, and while in those parts they advanced farther in science and arts, than [124] at any time previous; and built more spacious cities, and buildings than they did before.

Six hundred and thirty odd years from the time Lehi left Jerusalem, Christ, after his resurrection, appeared unto many of the Nephites and established his church, chose disciples and sent them throughout the land to preach his gospel, thus fulfilling the saying: “Other sheep I have which are not of this fold them I must go and bring also.”

Individuals of the Lamanites at times were obedient to the faith. The Nephites after Christ’s appearance were faithful for many years; but in the third or fourth century iniquity began to abound, and their love began to wax cold. Some dissented and raised up churches for the sake of gain; and thus they were troubled with the spirit of pride and haughtiness. God commanded Mormon, who lived in the fourth century, to preach repentance to them, and foretell their destruction if they would not repent. The Lord foreseeing that they would not repent, commanded Mormon to collect the writings of his forefathers—their revelations and prophecies, &c., and make an abridgment of them, and engrave them upon new plates, (their manner of keeping records was to engrave them on metallic plates.) But in consequence of their wars, and their flight to the North, to escape the Lamanites, he did not live to finish this work; and when the final destruction of the Nephites drew near, he gave the records to his son Moroni, who lived to see their final extermination, or destruction by the hands of the Lamanites, and they with his father left to moulder on the plain.

Thus a powerful nation, whose fathers were the favourites of heaven, were cut off, and their names have faded into oblivion. Oh! sin thou foul monster! Thou art terrible, thy ways are death! why didst thou cause such a nation to be blotted out of the earth?

The Indians of America are the descendants of the Lamanites, and according to predictions that are in the Book of Mormon, they will yet lay down their weapons of war and be converted unto the Lord.

Moroni finished compiling and abridging the records of his fathers, which he engraved upon new plates, for that purpose, to use his own words, as follows: “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. But the Lord knoweth the things which we have written, and also that none other people knoweth our language, therefore he hath prepared means for the interpretations thereof.”

He also engraved on them an account, called the “Book of Ether,” of a people who left the Old world, and came to this continent, at the time the language was confounded at Babel; which was a partial fulfil- [125] ment of the saying: “So the Lord scattered them abroad from thence upon the face of all the earth.”—Gen. xi. 8. If any person should wish to learn further concerning this people, let him read the Book of Mormon.

Moroni was then commanded to deposite this record in the earth, together with the Urim and Thummim, or as the Nephites would have said, Interpreters, which were instruments to assist in the work of the translation, with a promise form the Lord that it should be brought to light by means of a Gentile Nation that should possess the land; and be published to the world, and go forth to the Lamanites, and be one of the instruments in the hands of God for their conversion. It remained safe in the place where it was deposited, till it was brought to light by the administration of angels, and translated by the gift, and power of God. But says one, who ever heard of such a thing as a record being deposited in the earth? We answer: that it is nothing more strange than it was for Jeremiah to hide the tabernacle, and the ark of the covenant, which contained the tables of stone, written upon by the finger of God, Aaron’s rod, and the pot of manna, in mount Nebo. This account is to be found in the Apocrypha of the Old Testament; 2nd Book of Maccabees, ii chapter. But says the objector, perhaps the account is not true? We answer: that history corroborates it. This record was not designed to be a source of wealth, or wordly profit to any one; but to be deposited again, because they were sacred, as much so, as the tables of stone, on which the ten commandments were written. However they were shown to chosen witnesses, men of undoubted veracity, who testify that they saw it, and know by the voice of an angel that it is the work of God. But says the objector, again, why was it not shown to the world, and then there would have been no doubt about this matter? We answer: first, because God commanded otherwise, which is the best of all reasons; second, the same may be said about the tables of stone; why did not Moses show them to all the children of Israel? We have no account of his showing them to but a few; but on the contrary they were placed in the Holy of Holy where the High-priest was only allowed to enter once a year. Third, why did not Christ show himself to the Jews after his resurrection, and thus convince them that he was the true Messiah? Peter said: “Him God raised up the third day and showed him openly: not to all the people, but unto witnesses, chosen before of God, even to us who did eat and drink with him after he rose from the dead.”—Acts, x. 40, 41. Thus the world had to believe the resurrection of Christ from the testimony of interested witnesses, and not from disiniterested. What men often think to be the best way, God generally looks upon as foolishness. We will here insert the testimony of three witnesses, which is appended to the Book of Mormon; page 572, third edition.

. . . [126] . . .

Now reader the above is as positive a testimony as there ever was concerning any truth that God ever revealed since the world began, and the knowledge that enabled them to testify, professes to have come from heaven: therefore, if it is deception, there is no other way to find it out, but to receive intelligence from whence it professes to have come. It is affirmed to be true, from the testimony of an angel, and a million negatives will not make it false, or effect its truth in the least. There was a few individuals that testified to the resurrection of Christ from an actual knowledge—they had seen him; but there were many nations that denied, and said, he had not rise from the dead; but what did it all amount to? He came from heaven, and the only way for them to know whether he did or not, was to get a revelation. Noah testified of the flood, and for all that we know, all the Antediluvians took the negative side of the question; but what did it all amount to? Noah obtained his knowledge from heaven, and condemned the whole world by his testimony; and yet they had as many reasons for rejecting him, as the people have for rejecting the Book of Mormon. Noah alone testified of the flood; but there are thousands that can testify that the Book of Mormon is true. If the Book of Mormon is the work of wicked men, it cannot be found out in any other way but by revelation; therefore, those who oppose it, that have received no revelation, do not know whether they are fighting against God, or the Devil. Thus the Book of Mormon is [127] supported by that kind of evidence, that all the divines, priests, and professors, cannot overthrow it. It bears its own weight: for it is true, and none can make it false. Indeed, if there was no other evidence in favour of it, but the testimony of the three witnesses which we have inserted, we should consider ourselves under obligation to believe it, until a testimony is received from heaven to over-balance that which is in favour, which professes to have come from heaven. Others may think as they please. But says one, the characters of some of the founders of the sect are such that we have reason to believe that it is all a fabrication. We know of nothing that is derogatory to their characters, but the foul misrepresentations of priests, professors, and editors. The professors of religion circulated falsehoods about Christ, and the apostles; but all did not make Christ a false prophet. A thousand falsehoods are in circulation about the Book of Mormon, and those who were the instruments in the hands of God to bring about this work and what do they all prove? If they prove any thing, they prove that they are men of God, and that the Book of Mormon is true. Christ said: “Blessed are ye when they shall say all manner of evil against you falsely for my sake.” “Woe be unto you when all men shall speak well of you.” “If they have hated me they will hate you.” Again, why were not these things revealed to some of the learned divines, instead of Joseph Smith? Answer: why did not Christ choose for his apostles some of the High-priests of the Pharisees, or some of the doctors of the law, instead of fishermen. “Not many wise men after the flesh, not many mighty, not many noble are called; but God hath chosen the foolish things of the world to confound the wise.”

There is also the testimony of eight other witnesses, who testify that they saw this record.

Their testimony is to be found on the last page of the Book of Mormon.—We will now extract a few prophecies from the Book of Mormon. . . . [128]

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