The Rise and Progress of the Mormon Faith and People

1844-09

Southern Literary D., E.

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D., E. “The Rise and Progress of the Mormon Faith and People.” Southern Literary Messenger 10 (September 1844): 526–38.

THE RISE AND PROGRESS OF THE MORMON FAITH AND PEOPLE.

1st. “Facts in relation to the discovery of Ancient American Records, with a sketch of the rise, faith, and doctrine of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day-Saints.” By O. Pratt, Minister of the Gospel—1841.

2nd. The Book of Mormon. Translated by Joseph Smith; 4 th Edition—1842.

3rd. The Nauvoo Neighbor. Weekly Newspaper; published at Nauvoo.

4th. The History of the Persecutions in Missouri.

5th. The Times and Seasons; a Semi-Monthly Periodical, Nauvoo.

6th. An Address to the People of the U. States. By a Minister of the Church of Latter-day-Saints.

The works which head this page, are by no means remarkable in themselves, either for excellence of composition, or intrinsic value; but owe their importance, solely and exclusively, to the fact, of their forming the basis and foundation of the Mormon Faith—constituting the starting point of the Mormon people; of whom much has been spoken and written, and but little known, and even that little, so discolored and distorted by prejudice and falsehood, as to be almost valueless for purposes of real information.

The object of the present article is briefly to trace the leading and fundamental articles of their creed; with a glance at their present condition and prospects. This we are the better enabled to do from having personally visited, during the summer of 1843, the City of Nauvoo, the head-quarters of the faithful; in which are congregated 17,000 Mormons. While there, we had frequent conferences with the Elders of the Faith, conversed with the redoubtable “Prophet” himself; and procured all the information, relative to the faith and people, accessible to a stranger.

Having possessed these facilities, we would fain impart the information thus acquired, relative to this new and strange faith, which bids fair, at no very distant day, to constitute an important element in the population of the Mississippi Valley; and which, from its rise, increase, and steady growth, may well claim the attention of all thinking men; since religious fanaticism, in all times and all ages, has ever been found a most powerful lever to uproot and destroy existing Institutions; and no sect can be deemed contemptible, or powerless for mischief, the members of which are thoroughly in earnest, and cursed with a proselyting spirit, which “will compass sea and land to make one proselyte;” who, when convinced, surrenders himself heart and soul to the guidance of a scheming, unprincipled, and ambitious leader, whose whole life hitherto, has been an acted lie, and whose malignity is only equalled by his power.

For the Mormon people are not, as is generally supposed, a small and scattered band of ignorant and squalid fanatics, destitute of all worldly wisdom, or common sense,—victims of an artful delusion, blindly staggering on to ruin in the steps of the arch hypocrite, who, by his pretended Revelations from Heaven, has duped and plundered them. On the contrary, they are an eminently practical and industrious people; sober, orderly, and discreet, as far as temporal matters are concerned; but in Religion, bigotted and fanatical to the last degree; yet, so far from rejecting or despising the test of argument, willing and ready, at all times, to enter into Theological controversies with strangers, in which their wonderful familiarity with the Bible, (the Prophecies especially,) is very apt to give them a decided advantage; be their adversary either Laic, or Polemic.

We were informed by the Captains of the Steamboats on the upper Mississippi, that their boats were actually haunted by these itinerant Mormons, roving “like roaring lions” seeking whom they might entrap into a religious controversy; and often is the incautious traveller amazed to find, in the shrewd and sensible individual with whom he has been agreeably conversing, a member of the church of “Latter-day-Saints,” (as they somewhat vaingloriously term themselves,) ready to maintain, even to the death, the “Revelations” of the “Prophet,” Joseph Smith, and firmly persuaded that he and his church are alone of the “Elect.”

Nor is this an entirely new and distinct Religion, which has sprung up in the wilds of the Far-West to supersede the doctrines of Christianity; for it is based upon the Prophecies in the Old and New Testaments, and its professors claim to be the only genuine Christians. The “Book of Mormon,” whence they derive the name by which they are commonly known, and which is generally supposed to be their Bible, is in fact intended merely as a supplement to the Bible, which they make their rule of faith, and chiefly contains a pretended history of the Aborigines of this country, to which we shall presently refer in its proper place. For the present, as it is both curious and instructive at all times, to trace out the growth of a delusion in the human mind from its first imperfect glimmering to its final blaze, we would briefly sketch the origin and growth of this idea in the mind of its founder, finally developing itself in the form of [526] a new Religion; tracing his steps, from his first hesitating hints of possessing some secret sources of information, not shared by others, to his daring and arrogant assumption of inspiration and prophetic powers; by which some clue may be afforded to the strange self-abandonment, and wild credulity, which can induce his followers, many of whom are men far his superiors in intellect and knowledge, to prostrate themselves in lowly reverence at the feet of this ignorant and blasphemous impostor.

If we needed another confirmation of the Poet’s words, “How strangely subject is the human mind, Godlike, and gifted as it is,—to err!” we might find it here; for though on the page of history we may read of the strange absurdities and barbarous crimes men could commit in Religion’s name; although the blood-stained catalogue of the enormities perpetrated under the mask of faith, is enrolled on the chronicle of the past; and although, turning even to our own early history, the sad spectacle is presented us of the Puritan Fathers flying from persecution, and braving danger and death for freedom of conscience; yet, in their turn, becoming bitter persecutors, and driving forth with stripes and scorn, the harmless Quakers and Anabaptists; yet still, we fondly hoped, that fanaticism had been expelled from our land by the light of enlarged intelligence and general education; that the people had grown too wise, to be made the slaves of their own religious fears, and that religious freedom might flourish here. Sadly have these high hopes been disappointed; for few countries have been more rent and divided by Religious factions; whose war has hitherto been carried on by words. But a new element is now arising in our Western valley; a new creed, whose fanatic followers are ready, had they the power, to proselytise like the Mohammedans, at the point of the sword, and number already, by their own account, 200,000 in the United States, and with untiring zeal extending the numbers of the faithful.

The prevalence of religious delusions in the U. States, is a subject of curious inquiry; not that they prevail to a greater extent among us than among the people of other nations, but because, from our peculiar institutions, and the general diffusion of intelligence, it would be supposed more difficult to find dupes to delude; yet, in a country professing of all others to be the most free, no sooner have the fetters been stricken from the limbs of the people, than artful and designing fanatics attempt to forge them for their minds; and Faith, that pure Spirit, whose seat should be “fast by the throne of God,” breathing to erring man of mercy and peace, is by their hellish arts converted into a grim Demon of terror and pain; enslaving the souls of those whose bodies are vainly free; for the true seat of freedom is in the soul, and he whose will is subject to the commands of another through superstitious fear, is the most abject of slaves.

Strange that Religion, the very essence of which is love, should be so often based on fear, lowest and meanest of the springs of action; base in itself, and baser in its promptings—that the hope of immortality, elevating man to a place in the scale of being, but “little lower than the Angels,” should be made “the hangman’s whip to scourge us!”

Yet with the Apostles of all the new creeds, in which, unhappily our country is so prolific, fear is the motive principle; freedom of thought, is reprobated as “want of faith;” and the unhappy convert, whose heated imagination has caught at the absurdities, so zealously preached to him, and is ready, in his blind zeal, to follow the new light whithersoever it may lead, is stripped of all free will, and hurried on so far by the contagious enthusiasm of his fellow victims, that his pride forbids him to recede after his eyes are opened to his folly, and the earnest fanatic is converted into a cold and callous hypocrite, anxious to cover his own shame, by deluding others into sharing it with him.

The rapidity with which impostors gain converts in this country is indeed remarkable; witness Matthias, Swedenborg, Miller, Joe Smith, and innumerable others; with but one exception, coarse, illiterate and vulgar impostors, whose ignorance is only equalled by their villainy. And yet, the American people have the reputation of being a very sensible people; hard, shrewd, unimaginative; little prone to enthusiasm, and perpetually inquiring into the “reason” of every thing. Such is their admitted character.

These contradictions are difficult to reconcile; so much hard common sense, and so much wild credulity. A partial explanation may be found in the reaction that ever takes place in the human mind, from not thinking at all, to thinking too much; the excitement and feverish activity of intellect, induced by free institutions and the diffusion of knowledge, before the stormy elements, so violently agitated, have had sufficient time to settle down and form their proper combinations. Such was the case in France, when the ecclesiastical and civil fetters, which had galled the people so long, were suddenly stricken off, and they grew drunk with freedom, rushing headlong into the wildest infidelity and most lawless license. Then, as ever, the violence of the rebound was proportioned to the weight of the pressure, which so long had bowed down and crushed the people.

Our revolution, though it was different in kind, was yet similar in character; it was built up on the “wreck of old opinions;” it was an impatient shaking off of exploded formulas, the substance of which had long worn out; but whose forms still remained; and the same chainless and terrible en-[527]ergies of awakened mind, which wrapt France in the flames of a revolution, a Saturnalia of crime ushering in the dawn of a brighter day, are here employed in working out the grand moral problems of man’s mission and destiny on earth, and his existence in a future state,—once, the vexed questions of a few speculative and daring minds, but now entering into the popular mind, and absorbing the attention of the masses of the people.

Such are the strong and earnest struggles after a satisfying doctrine, now convulsing the minds of our countrymen, and driving many of them into “false doctrine, heresy, and schism” against common reason and common sense; such is the storm, at present black with its angry and rolling clouds, through which the sun of truth will finally shine forth in triumphant splendor, to flash on the inquiring minds, now darkened with error, the conviction of these ever-abiding truths, that the ways of God’s providence are, and ever will be, inscrutable to the finite creatures formed by his hand, and the servants of his will; and that “the upright heart and pure” is more earnestly to be sought after and valued, than any new and Titanic efforts to scale the heavens by ranting violence, or stormy piety.

Viewed in connection with this national tendency, the Mormon movement is one well worthy of notice; being an attempt to establish a new Theocracy, to substitute “Revelations” through inspired individuals, for fixed and settled rules of conduct; a daring effort to create an “imperium in imperio;” and to crush all individual will and freedom of thought, under a stupendous church machinery; a despotism extending not alone to the mind and body, but seeking to fetter even the soul; and all this the work of a poor, ignorant, obscure, and heartless hypocrite; devoid of social position, mental culture, or even that great world-lever, wealth—but possessed of a stubborn, dogged energy, an unflinching effrontery, and a profound knowledge of human nature in its weakest points.

By these means, and these alone, he has reared up a church in the wilderness, who firmly believe in him, as an inspired “Prophet;” and as the fire spreads over the wintry prairie, so has their infectious zeal multiplied converts to their new doctrine, until the “Latter-day-Saints” number their tens of thousands, whose active emissaries never rest.

In the western and northern cities, their churches may be found; and scarce a nook or corner of our Union that has not been visited by their itinerant preachers. They have penetrated into Western Virginia; in the States further South they rarely venture; but from the “East,” as they quaintly term the Northern States, are drawn many of their converts: “the old Puritan leaven” is often kneaded up into this new “bread of life;” and the mighty Valley of the Mississippi begins to feel their power and to fear their ultimate designs.

In Missouri especially, the jealousy and hatred of the people burst forth in actual and open violence. They thrust them forth, not without a shedding of blood, from their borders, and forbade them, by an order of extermination, from again setting foot on their soil; and this persecution has done more to strengthen the Mormon cause, than any good works of their own could have done; since, from time immemorial, the sympathies of the people have always been with those who suffer, and against those who persecute, verifying the words that “the blood of the martyrs is the seed of the church.”

The Mormons have themselves published an account of these persecutions, the title of which heads this article; from whence our information on this subject is chiefly derived, which, although probably exaggerated, is in its main facts, unhappily, not entirely devoid of truth, as we learned from the admissions made to us while in St. Louis by disinterested persons, who united in deploring the extremities to which the citizens of Missouri were carried by hatred of this people; stating, at the same time, that ample cause was given them for their conduct, by the actions of the Mormons; which the latter, however, sturdily deny.

The Missouri version of the matter is simply this, that the “Latter-day-Saints” have two creeds. One Exoteric, or public, which they profess to the world at large; the other, Esoteric, or private, known only to the initiated when they become members of the church, and that the latter is in fact the real religion and rule of conduct which they impose on themselves and are governed by in their intercourse with the rest of the world; and that this creed simply amounts to this, viz:

“That the earth is the Lord’s, and the fulness thereof—that the Saints are the rightful inheritors of the earth—that they are the Saints, therefore the earth with all it contains belongs to them, and is theirs of right.”

And that acting upon these principles, the Mormons unscrupulously appropriated the goods and property of the neighboring Missourians, and perpetrated divers wrongs and enormities against them; which finally induced them, since mild measures had failed, to drive them out of the country, as a nuisance which had to be abated; all of which, the Mormons most solemnly deny; attributing the conduct of their enemies to a desire of appropriating their property and goods, which they certainly did do, without making (as far as we could learn) any reparation therefor.

For the present, however, we will pass by this controversy, and attempt briefly to sketch the early history of the “Prophet,” Joseph Smith, as detailed in one of the works before us, written by a member of his church, which, as Goëthé said of his own autobiography, is composed both of truth and fiction, the latter preponderating to a very considerable extent. The book, however, is well [528] written, and in addition to the imaginative life of Joseph, contains a sketch of the Mormon creed, to which we shall presently call the attention of the reader. It is a very curious production altogether, considering it as written by an educated and well informed man in the 19th century, apparently in sober seriousness, being much better fitted for the meridian of the 13th or 14th century, when marvels and miracles were not uncommon, but matters of every day occurrence. The narrative is quite matter of fact in its tone and style, and would compare well with De Foe’s “Robinson Crusoe,” were it not for the exceedingly unromantic name of its hero; a name, which no skill could render euphonious, or remarkable.

The style and title of this veracious and peculiar little book, are as follows: “An Interesting Account of Several Remarkable Visions, and the Late Discovery of Ancient American Records, which unfold the History of this Continent, from the earliest ages after the flood, to the beginning of the 5th century of the Christian era. With a Sketch of the Rise, Faith, and Doctrine of the Church of Jesus Christ of ‘Latter-day-Saints.’ By O. Pratt, Minister of the Gospel.”

From this work (obtained in Nauvoo) is to be derived all the information, attainable to the uninitiated, touching the history of “the Prophet” and his doctrine.

From it we learn, that “Mr. Joseph Smith, Jr. who made the following important discovery, was born in the town of Sharon, Vermont, on the 23rd December, A. D., 1805. When ten years old, his parents with their family removed to Palmyra, New York, in the vicinity of which he resided for about eleven years. Cultivating the earth for a livelihood employed most of his time. His advantages for acquiring literary knowledge, were exceedingly small hence his education was limited to a slight acquaintance with two or three of the common branches of learning. He could read without much difficulty, and write a very imperfect hand; and had a very limited understanding of the ground rules of Arithmetic. These were his highest and only attainments.

It may be supposed, that he had subsequently applied himself, to remedy the defects of his early training, by diligent study and self-improvement, but such is not the case; any one conversing with him can easily perceive, that he is an illiterate, ignorant and vulgar man, rough in his exterior, and boorish and unpolished in manners and address; so that we can confirm the statement of the veracious Pratt.

The author then proceeds to say, that “When somewhere about 14 or 15 years of age, he began seriously to reflect on the necessity of being prepared for a future state of existence; but how, or in what way to prepare himself, was a question as yet undetermined in his own mind. He saw that if he understood not the way, it would be impossible to walk in it, except by chance, and the thought of resting his hopes of eternal life upon chance, or uncertainties, was more than he could endure.”

These thoughts were exceedingly natural and probable, as occurring to the mind of an ignorant, uneducated plough-boy, 15 years old; but the prefatory remarks are merely intended as a foretaste of the wonders which immediately after he pours out with a prodigal hand. So he continues with the meditations of young Joseph, carried on probably while he was running a crooked furrow, or attending a “cider frolic,” in which the Green Mountain boys especially delight.

“The great question to be decided in his mind,” quoth Pratt, “was—if any of these denominations be the Church of Christ, which one is it? Until he could become satisfied in relation to this question, he could not rest contented. The only alternative that seemed to be left him was to read the Scriptures and endeavor to follow their directions.”

Finding reading rather fatiguing, probably from want of sufficient exercise in that way, although he “could read without much difficulty,” our young “Gallio” hit upon a shorter plan of solving his doubts, and here the respectable Pratt, who has hitherto been rather prosy, and snuffling through the nose, begins to display the imaginative vein, which entitles him to be considered a species of prose Milton, dealing in “Angels holding converse with mortals,” etc., though the snuffle through the nose, is still at times perceptible; for Joseph

“Now saw that if he inquired of God, there was not only a possibility, but a probability; yea more, a certainty that he should obtain a knowledge which of all the doctrines was the doctrine of Christ, and which of all the Churches was the Church of Christ.” “He therefore retired to a secret place in a grove, but a short distance from his father’s house, and knelt down and began to call upon the Lord. At first he was severely tempted by the Powers of Darkness, which endeavored to overcome him; but he continued to seek for deliverance until darkness gave way from his mind, and he was enabled to pray in fervency of spirit and in faith. And while thus pouring out his soul, he at length saw a very bright and glorious light in the heavens above, which gradually drew near.” “It continued descending slowly until it rested on the earth, and he was enveloped in the midst of it.”

The effects of this light were somewhat peculiar upon Joseph’s system, being somewhat similar to those produced by the inhalation of the Nitrous Oxide Gas, for Pratt, who seems intuitively to have known the feelings of Smith on that occasion, proceeds to say, “When it first came upon him, it produced a peculiar sensation throughout his whole system; and immediately his mind was caught away from the natural objects with which he was surrounded, and he was enwrapped in a glorious vision, and saw two heavenly personages, who exactly resembled each other in their features or likeness. He was informed that his sins were forgiven. He was also informed that none of the existing churches was the true church; and that the fulness of the [529] Gospel should at some future time be made known to him. After which the vision withdrew, leaving his mind in a state of calmness and peace indescribable.”

We have quoted this bare-faced lying and miserable twaddle, merely as a specimen of the general tone and temper of the book, which abound in similar scenes.

The impression would be purely one of unmitigated disgust, did not the reader reflect, that this wild raving was accepted as truth by numbers of intelligent and apparently rational beings; and we have ourselves heard Joseph’s divine mission, and communications with celestial visitants, sustained with rare powers of argument and reasoning, in a squallid garret at Nauvoo, by analogies drawn from the New Testament, and the meek and lowly character of the Founder of the Christian faith.

The vision has not even the merit of originality, since it was evidently suggested, and in fact almost copied, from a scene in the life of poor Cowper, whose diseased imagination once suggested to him a similar phenomenon, with the exception of the heavenly shapes; but in his case, it was evidently the phantom of an excited and diseased imagination acting upon a nervous and shattered frame, the precursor of that madness, which afterwards prostrated his powerful intellect; but which this coarse impostor seeks to appropriate for his own purposes of deception.

But this was only the first act; the interest is much heightened in the second, where the scene opens with Joseph in bed, (another lame imitation of Samuel’s vision,) thus detailed by the veracious and imaginative “Minister of the Gospel.” And

“It pleased God on the evening of the 21st of September, 1823, again to hear his prayers. For he had retired to rest as usual, only that his mind was drawn out in fervent prayer, and his soul was filled with the most earnest desire ‘to commune with some kind messenger who could communicate to him the desired information of his acceptance with God;’ and also unfold the true doctrines of Christ, according to the promises which he had received in the former vision. On a sudden, a light like that of day, only of a purer and far more glorious appearance and brightness, burst into the room. Indeed the first sight was as though the house were filled with a consuming fire. This sudden appearance of a light so bright, as must naturally be expected, occasioned a shock or sensation visible to the extremities of the body. It was, however, followed by a calmness and serenity of mind and an overwhelming rapture of joy that surpassed understanding, and in a moment a personage stood before him.” “The stature of this personage was a little above the common size of men in this age; his garment was perfectly white, and had the appearance of being without seam.” “This glorious being declared himself to be an angel of God sent forth by commandment to communicate to him that his sins were forgiven, and that his prayers were heard; and also to bring the joyful tidings that the covenant which god made with ancient Israel concerning their posterity was at hand to be fulfilled; that the great preparatory work for the second coming of the Messiah was speedily to commence; that the time was at hand for the Gospel in its fulness to be preached to all nations, that a people might be prepared with faith and righteousness for the millennial reign of universal peace and joy.

“He was informed that he was called and chosen to be an instrument in the hands of God, to bring about some of his marvellous purposes in this glorious dispensation. It was also made manifest to him that the ‘American Indians’ were a remnant of Israel; that when they first emigrated to America they were an enlightened people, possessing a knowledge of the true God, enjoying his favor and peculiar blessings from his hands.

That the Prophets and inspired writers among them were required to keep a sacred history of the most important events transpiring among them; till at length they fell into great wickedness; the most part of them were destroyed and the Records, (by commandment of God to one of the last Prophets among them,) were safely deposited to preserve them from the hands of the wicked who sought to destroy them. He was informed that these Records contained many sacred Revelations pertaining to the gospel of the Kingdom, as well as Prophecies relating to the great events of the last days; and that they were to come forth to the knowledge of the people. If faithful he was to be the instrument who should be thus highly favored in bringing these holy things to light. After giving him many instructions concerning things past and to come, he disappeared, and the light and glory of God withdrew, &c. But before morning the vision was twice renewed with further instructions. In the morning he went out to his labor as usual, but soon the vision was renewed, the Angel again appeared; and having been informed by the previous visions of the night concerning the place where those Records were deposited, he was instructed to go immediately and view them.”

He accordingly repaired to the place, which is minutely described by one Oliver Cowdery, a neighbor and proselyte of Smith’s, in Western New-York, from whose narrative we extract the following particulars.

“As you go on the Rail-road from Palmyra to Canandaigua, in the State of New-York, before arriving at the little village of Manchester, you pass a large hill on the east side of the road, as large perhaps as any in that country.”

The southern side of this hill was the place where the discovery of the pretended Records was made. Mr. Cowdery goes on to say—

“How far below the surface these Records were anciently placed I am unable to say, but from the fact that they had been for some fourteen hundred years buried, and that too on the side of a hill so steep, one is ready to conclude that they were some feet below, as the earth would naturally wear away more or less in that space of time.” “A hole of sufficient depth was dug; at the bottom of this was laid a stone of suitable size, the upper surface being smooth. On this stone rested four others bedded in cement, forming a box impervious to rain or moisture. This box was sufficiently [530] large to admit a breast-plate, such as was used by the ancients to defend the chest, &c., from the arrows or weapons of their enemies. From the bottom of the box, resting on this breast-plate, arose three small pillars of cement, and upon these three pillars were placed the Records. This box containing the Records was covered with another stone: the bottom surface of which was flat, the upper crowning.” “When it was first visited by Mr. Smith, on the morning of the 22d September, 1823, a part of the crowning stone was visible above the surface, while the edges were concealed by the soil and grass. After arriving at the repository, a little exertion in removing the soil from the edges of the box, and a light pry brought to his natural vision its contents.”

Then follows another blasphemous description of the reappearance of the “Angel of the Lord” and his instructions and admonitions to Joseph Smith: he also exhibited to him “The Prince of Darkness, surrounded by his innumerable associates,” whose old title of the “Father of Lies” has been fairly wrested from him by this new “Prophet.” He was informed that he was not yet quite purified enough in heart to obtain the “Records,” but should at some future time; followed by a long string of prophecies touching the future glory of his people, which the pious narrator summarily disposes of in the following words—

“Although many more instructions were given by the mouth of the Angel to Mr. Smith, which we do not write in this book, yet the most important items are contained in the foregoing relation. During the four following years he frequently received instruction from the mouth of the heavenly messenger; and on the morning of the 22nd September, 1827, the Angel of the Lord delivered the Records into his hands.”

“These Records were engraved on plates which had the appearance of gold. Each plate was not far from seven to eight inches in length and width, being not quite as thick as common tin. They were filled on both sides with engravings in Egyptian characters, and bound together in a volume, as the leaves of a book, and fastened at one edge with three rings running through the whole. This volume was near six inches in thickness, a part of which was sealed. The characters or letters on the unsealed part were small and beautifully engraved. The whole book exhibited many marks of antiquity in its construction, as well as much skill in the art of engraving. With the Records was found a curious instrument, called by the Ancients ‘Urim and Thummim,’ which consisted of two transparent stones clear as crystal set in two rims of a bow. This was in use in ancient times by persons called Seers. It was an instrument, by the use of which, they received revelations of things distant, or of things past or future.”

“Soon the news of his discoveries spread abroad throughout all those parts. False reports, slanders, etc., flew as if upon the wings of the wind in every direction. The house was frequently beset by mobs; several times he was shot at, and very narrowly escaped; every device was used to get the plates away from him.”

Finally, being wearied out by these annoyances, he determined to leave that part of the country, and “putting the plates in a barrel of beans,” says his biographer, “emigrated to the northern part of Pennsylvania,” after having been twice stopped and searched vainly for the plates of gold; which, by a special miracle, we suppose, were hidden from the eyes of the searchers.

“Having provided himself with a home, he commenced translating the Record by the gift and power of God, through the means of the Urim and Thummim; and being a poor writer, (inspiration not being a school-master,) he was under the necessity of employing a scribe, to write the translation as it came from his mouth;”

Though the name and residence of this scribe, so important a witness of the truth of this statement, is no where given. He then continues to state that—

“Mr. Smith continued the work of translation as his pecuniary circumstances would permit, until he finished the unsealed part of the Records. The part translated is entitled the ‘Book of Mormon,’ and contains nearly as much reading as the Old Testament.”

He then proceeds to give an analysis of the contents, to which we will presently recur.

Such is the pretended origin of the Mormon Faith. The name of “Latter-day-Saints” was adopted by them from a passage in the prophecies of Daniel, which they have applied to themselves, which is as follows—

“And the Kingdom and dominion, and the greatness of the Kingdom, under the whole Heaven, shall be given to the people of the Saints of the Most High; whose Kingdom is an everlasting Kingdom; and all dominions shall serve and obey him.”—

Daniel vii, 27.

A very interesting question here arises, whether Smith actually discovered any plates at all, divesting his narrative of its supernatural machinery, and making allowances for a poetic amplification of his materials? On this point conflicting opinions prevail, among those best qualified to decide. It is true that he parades the “Testimony of Three Witnesses,” and also the “Testimony of Eight Witnesses” in the sequel of the “Book of Mormon,” to prove the existence of the plates; but their testimony goes for nothing, for they prove too much, more than they possibly could have known; and are all of them, friends, kinsmen, converts and probably assistants in imposture with the Prophet. The

“Testimony of the Three Witnesses,” laying claim to their knowledge “through the actual presence and direct communication of an angel,” we will not insult the understandings of our readers by quoting. It is signed by Oliver Cowdery, David Whitmer and Martin Harris.

The “Testimony of the Eight Witnesses” is more plausible and reasonable, and is in the following words—

“Be it known unto all nations, kindreds, tongues [531] and people unto whom this work shall come, that Joseph Smith, Jr., the translator of this work, hath shown unto us the plates of which hath been spoken, which have the appearance of gold; and as many of the leaves as the said Smith has translated, we did handle with our hands. And we also saw the engravings thereon, all of which has the appearance of ancient work and of curious workmanship. And we give our names unto the world to witness unto the world that which we have seen. And we lie not, God bearing witness of it.”

Signed.

CHRISTIAN WHITMER,
JACOB WHITMER,
PEETER WHITMER, JR.,
JOHN WHITMER,
HIRAM PAGE,
JOSEPH SMITH, SR.,
HYRAM SMITH,
S. H. SMITH.

None others have ever seen these plates, and the weight of evidence would be therefore strongly against the probability of any such discovery, were it not for one or two corroborating circumstances; the first of these is, that at or about the period of Smith’s discovery of the plates, a few of the original characters transcribed by him were sent by a person named Martin Harris to professor Anthon of New York, who examined them, but professed himself unable to decipher them, expressing however the opinion, that were the original records brought he might be able to decipher them. It can not for a moment be supposed that an ignorant country boy as Smith then was, destitute of all culture or knowledge, could have imposed his own clumsy fabrications upon so learned and acute a scholar as Dr. Anthon is universally acknowledged to be; but must have copied them from some originals in his own possession, in some way discovered or procured; and this view of the matter is somewhat confirmed by the second corroborating circumstance before alluded to, which is the discovery of “six brass plates,” similar in shape and character to those described in the narrative of Smith, which were discovered near Kinderhook, in the State of New York,* in April 1843, buried in the centre of a large mound, surrounded by human bones, which apparently had been burned. The communication to the newspaper relating the particulars of the discovery, was made by a Dr. Harris of that place, to which was appended the following certificate.

*Hardly probable. The plates spoken of were found at Kinderhook, Illinois.—[ Ed. Mess.

“We, citizens of Kinderhook, whose names are annexed, do certify and declare that on the 23d of April, 1843, while excavating a large mound in this vicinity, Mr. M. Wiley took from said mound “six brass plates” of a bell shape, covered with ancient characters. Said plates were very much oxydated. The bands and rings on said plates mouldered into dust on a slight pressure. The above described plates we have handed to Mr. Sharp for the purpose of having them taken to Nauvoo.” Signed by nine citizens of Kinderhook.

It will be recollected that when Smith left the State of New York for Pennsylvania he was twice stopped upon the road, and subjected to a strict search; yet the plates could not be found; is it not then, under the circumstances, a reasonable inference, that he concealed the plates in this mound, at Kinderhook,* for his future uses, and that either by artful management or accident they were discovered and sent to him as above mentioned, forming an additional link in the chain of his proofs.

We have now before us a fac-simile of these brazen plates, and the hieroglyphics they contain are certainly very curious, bearing but a slight resemblance to either the Mexican or Egyptian hieroglyphics, with which we have compared them. The mound from which they were taken was in the shape of a sugar loaf; the usual shape of the mounds which abound in the valley of the West. So much for the plates; now for the pretended translation of the hieroglyphics inscribed upon them.

The ancient mounds and other antiquities which have been brought to light upon this Western continent, many of which bear marks of a much higher civilization than the Indian tribes ever could have attained to,—the bones of a race different from the Indian, which have been discovered in caves in Ohio, Kentucky and elsewhere, and the thousand traditions among the Indians relating to events, recorded only on the pages of the sacred volume, have all combined to induce the belief among the learned who have made this matter their peculiar study, that the Indians were not the aborigines of this country, but dispossessed and destroyed a far superior and more civilized race, the relics of whose skill in the arts still remain to testify the proficiency they had made in the comforts and refinements of life.

The recent and startling discoveries of Stephens in Yucatan and central America, who has stumbled upon the ruins of magnificent and splendid cities, unknown to history or tradition, which must in former times have been the seat of some powerful but vanished race, extending back into the earlier ages of the world; The strange and peculiar civilization of the Aztecs, as graphically described by Prescott in his delightful history, evidently a rude graft upon some purer and higher civilization—the origin of which their own traditions ascribed to a white stranger coming from the East; The many rites and ceremonies prevailing among the rude Indian tribes, resembling, or copied from those of the Eastern nations, though strikingly perverted from their original intent—and the relics of an older and higher civilization daily disentombed from the mounds of the Western valley—all combine to prove with irresistible force, that the Indian Savages were not the earliest and only inhabitants of this Western continent, and that they so called New World, although its records have perished, leaving only a few crumbling ruins to attest the existence of a former people who dwelt within its borders, may yet have nourished in her bosom [532] a civilization coeval with and as distinctive as that of Egypt.

Whence this civilization was derived, whether indigenous to the soil, or brought by its framers from a foreign land, we have no means of ascertaining now, though many of the customs and ceremonies still lingering among the Indian tribes, would go to confirm the latter. Some of these are peculiarly striking; such for example as the form observed in taking a solemn oath among the Western Indians, where the person affirming placed his hand under the left thigh of him to whim he was pledging his faith; a custom extensively prevailing among the Oriental Nations in ancient times, which existed among the Israelites, and is frequently referred to as a prevailing and common usage, in the Book of Genesis, and in other parts of the Sacred writings. It is from these and some other analogies, that the opinion has been strenuously urged and maintained, by learned inquirers, that the Indians were in fact the lost Tribes of Israel; and much skill and learning has been employed to set forth and defend this theory. The North-Western passage was supposed to have been the route by which they reached this continent; and the transition from the shepherd to the hunter state, was by no means difficult or unnatural: the change of color is, by these theorists, accounted for by the gradual change wrought in successive generations by exposure to the elements and the hardships of a hunting life.

It is this captivating, but wild theory, which has been artfully seized as the basis of the Mormon faith; which is wrought out with much artistic skill and imaginative power in the “Book of Mormon;” a book far beyond the powers of Smith to compose, and which as an imaginative fiction, will take a high rank in American literature, long after Mormonism, as a faith, shall have shared the fate of all other falsities, which ever bear within them the seeds of their own destruction.

Before giving a brief and rapid analysis of the contents, it may not be amiss to attempt an answer to the inquiry, whether Smith himself was capable of composing this book? To this question an emphatic negative must be returned. As before stated, the man himself is a vulgar and illiterate impostor, whose ordinary conversation is grossly incorrect and trivial; totally incapable of composing a connected sermon, far less a sustained and skilful narrative; yet by his deluded followers, this very argument is used, as a proof of his inspiration, (an analogy drawn, we suppose, from the case of Balaam’s Ass.) Who then did write the Book of Mormon? The belief of the best informed on this subject is, that it was the production of a young Lawyer, or Divine, in Western New-York; a young man of high talent and much promise, who was early the victim of a rapid decline; and that this history of a new Religion was composed by him to while away the tedious hours of a sick man’s chamber. Upon his death, the MS. is supposed to have fallen into the hands of a man, whose name (we think) was Sidney Rigdon; a keen, shrewd, unscrupulous man, of a restless and daring intellect, but lacking physical courage. Finding in Joseph Smith the qualities, which (as he supposed) would make him an useful and obedient tool, in case of success; or a convenient scapegoat in the event of failure; he tutored and drilled him in the part which he was to play; and the event showed, that unfortunately, his calculations as to the “dupability” of his fellow citizens, were too correct. The new doctrine took like wild-fire, Smith was elevated into the dignity of a Prophet; and an injudicious persecution endeared him to his followers, by the cement of a common suffering in a common cause; and Rigdon, too late perceived that he had mistaken his man; that beneath the rough exterior was hidden an iron will, before which he himself was forced to bend; and that like the Sorcerers of old, who invoked the Fiend, he had gained a master, where he sought a slave.

He had committed himself too far with Smith to expose him; and had shared too much in the imposture to recede; so he was forced to play a subordinate part, but still remains the secret guiding spirit of the Mormon policy; of which, he is the head, and Smith is the hand to execute.

That the account given above of the composition of the “Book of Mormon” is the correct one, is verified (to our mind) by the internal evidence of the name, of which neither Smith nor his colleagues, understood the latent meaning; as we presume our readers know, that the word “Mormon,” in Greek, signifies a “bugbear,” or imposition: the name “Moroni” too, next in importance in this book, signifies in the same language “a foolish person.” The division of the work into different books, as well as the style, is in studied imitation of the Scriptures, and as far as such imitation can be, successful. The names of the different books are as follows: the Book of Nephi; of Jacob; of Mosiah; of Alma; of Helaman; of Nephi, Jr.; of Ether; Mormon, and Moroni, prefaced by an extract from the latter, who was the son of Mormon, as follows:

“The book of Mormon; an account written by the hand of Mormon, upon Plates, taken from the Plates of Nephi.”

“Wherefore it is an abridgment of the record of the people of Nephi and also of the Lamanites; written to the Lamanites, who are a remnant of the House of Israel; and also to Jew and Gentile—written by way of commandment and also by the Spirit of Prophecy and Revelation. Written and sealed up and hid up unto the Lord, that they might not be destroyed, to come forth by the gift and power of God into the interpretation thereof. Sealed up by the hand of Moroni and hid up unto the Lord; to come forth in due time by the way of Gentile; the interpretation thereof by the gift of God.” [533]

Our limits, and the space we have already occupied, will not permit us to give more than a very brief outline of the contents of these several books, contained in the book of Mormon. The following, which we quote from one of their elders, contains the chief events:

“In this important and interesting book, we can read the History of Ancient America from its early settlement by a colony, who came from the Tower of Babel, at the confusion of languages, to the beginning of the fifth century of the Christian era. We learn that America, in ancient times, was inhabited by two distinct races of people: the first, or more ancient race, came directly from the great Tower, being called Jaredites; the second race, came directly from the city of Jerusalem, about six hundred years before Christ, being Israelites, the descendants of Joseph. The first nation, or Jaredites, were destroyed about the time that the Israelites came from Jerusalem, who succeeded them in the inheritance of the country. The principal nation of the second race fell in battle towards the close of the 4th century. The remaining remnant having dwindled into an uncivilized state, still continue to inhabit the land; although divided into a ‘multitude of nations,’ and are called, by Europeans, the ‘American Indians.’

“The remnant of Joseph, after arriving in this country, separated into two distinct nations, the Nephites and the Lamanites; the former having a copy of the Scriptures, engraven on plates of brass, in the Egyptian language; the Nephites emigrated towards the Northern part of South America, leaving the Lamanites in possession of the Northern and middle parts of the continent. The Nephites throve and flourished; but the Lamanites, because of the hardness of their hearts, brought down many judgments on their own heads; and the Lord cursed them in their complexions, and they became a dark, loathsome and filthy people; wild, savage and ferocious, waging desperate war against the Nephites, by whom they were repulsed with great slaughter; tens of thousands being frequently slain on both sides, who were piled together in great heaps upon the ground, with a shallow covering of earth; which accounts for the existence of those ancient mounds filled with human bones, so numerous at the present day both in North and South America.

“The Nephites were favored with the personal ministry of Jesus Christ, for after he arose from the dead, and finished his ministry at Jerusalem, and ascended into Heaven, he descended in the presence of the Nephites who were assembled round about their Temple, in the Northern part of South America.”

Finally, a tremendous war took place between the Nephites and Lamanites, in the Western part of New-York; where, like the Kilkenny Cats, they actually demolished each other; the records of the Nephites having been concealed in the hill, “Cummorah,” which is in the State of New-York, about 200 miles West of the city of Albany; Moroni, the son of Mormon, escaped from the battle and continued the record down to the 420th year of the Christian era; when he

“Hid them up in the hill Cummorah, where they remained concealed until, by the ministry of an Angel, they were discovered by Mr. Smith, who, by the gift and power of God, translated them into the English language, by the means of the Urim and Thummim, as stated in the foregoing.”

In the year 1829, Mr. Smith and Mr. Cowdery, having learned the correct mode of baptism, from the “Book of Mormon,” but knowing that no one of any of the denominations had the authority to administer it, were somewhat puzzled, until the difficulty was solved by the appearance of an Angel, who laying his hands upon their heads, ordained them and ordered them to baptize one another, which they accordingly did.

In the year 1830, a large edition of the “Book of Mormon” first appeared in print; converts were made; and in the same year, on the 6th of April, “The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day-Saints” was organized in the Town of Manchester, State of New-York; and this was the “cloud no bigger than a man’s hand,” which now hangs with ominous blackness upon our Western Horizon, presaging a terrible storm. Since that time their numbers have increased with an amazing rapidity, unparalleled by the spread of any other religion. Their first move was to a place in Missouri called “Far West:” here they settled in great numbers, until in that neighborhood alone they amounted to 12 or 13,000.

The jealousy of the Missourians, excited by religious and political causes, aggravated by alleged outrages committed by them on the citizens of Missouri, at last burst out into open violence, and a war was waged between the two parties, in which many lives were lost on both sides; but the Mormons finally worsted and driven from the borders of the State. They have published their statements of the matter, which charges the Missourians with the perpetration of great cruelties, but whether truly or not we have not means of ascertaining. It is stated, however, that Governor Boggs of that State issued an exterminating order against them to the following effect.

“HEAD QUARTERS OF THE MILITIA.

Jefferson City, Oct. 27, 1828.

SIR:—Since the order of the morning to you, I have received information of the most appalling character, which changes entirely the face of things, and places the Mormons in the attitude of an avowed defiance of the laws, and of having made war upon the people of the State. The Mormons must be treated as enemies, and must be exterminated or driven from the State, if necessary for the public peace. Their outrages are beyond all description. If you can increase your force, you are authorized to do so to any extent you may think necessary. The whole force will be placed under your command.

Signed, L. W. BOGGS, Governor and Commander in Chief.

This document is very much to the point; stern [534] enough and merciless, but giving reasons for the terrible severity of his orders, in those brief words. “Their outrages are beyond description.” What they are he does not state, probably because well understood by the officers to whom the order is addressed; there is some confirmation afforded, too, by the very vindication put forth by the Mormons; for in it appears an admission of a secret organization existing among themselves, known by the name of the

“Danite Band,” who “had certain signs and words by which they could know one another, either by day or night.” They are bound to keep those words and signs secret. And the author of the “defence,” speaks much of the “horror expressed by the mob at some secret clan known as the Danites,” of whose real character and objects, he professes ignorance, “not being a member.”

Driven from Missouri, the “Latter-day-Saints” took refuge in Illinois, where they were kindly received, and from the Legislature of which State, they have received some valuable privileges; one of which is the incorporation of their city, and the establishment there of a municipal court of their own, which, as we were informed by the Prophet himself, has jurisdiction of all civil and criminal causes arising within the corporate limits; thus insuring their civil independence of the State authorities; the other important privilege being the authorized establishment of the “Nauvoo Legion,” a military force, which has been subjected to a thorough and perfect training under able officers, invited and paid for that special purpose, and which, animated by fanatic zeal, would be an effective and dangerous force, led by a reckless desperado, burning with hatred and unsatisfied revenge.

The city of Nauvoo, (a Hebrew word, signifying beautiful,) is the great city of the faith, the Mecca of Mormonism. It is beautifully situated on a range of hills, sloping gently down to the Mississippi’s edge. As a military position it would be almost impregnable, three of its sides being washed by the waters of the Mississippi; and the fourth protected by a range of hills. It merits richly the name it has received, for as our noble boat, breasting the rapid current of the Mississippi, majestically glided up to the city, her deck was thronged by eager strangers, and exclamations of delight and astonishment burst from every lip. We knew that but three years before, a scattered and persecuted remnant had fled to this spot for refuge, and expected only to find a few wretched hovels with squalid and poverty-stricken inmates. And lo, in the bright sunlight of an August morning, we looked upon a thriving and populous city, from whence arose the hum of labor, and the stir of peaceful industry. The dwellings on the water’s edge were humble indeed, for here it was the terrified and stricken Mormons had first paused to rest, after escaping from their enemies; but stretching back from the water’s edge, for six miles, was one unbroken row of finished and partially finished buildings of substantial brick or stone, and on a hill, towering above the rest, keeping, as it were, watch and ward over the infant city—its graceful proportion clearly defined against the bright blue sky, arose the walls of that classic and stately “Temple,” which, when completed, will proudly vie with any similar edifice in the United States, and which is to make Nauvoo the centre spot and rallying place of all the faithful.

It was indeed wonderful to think of. But four years before, the wild primeval forest, the silence alone broken by the dashing of the Mississippi against its banks—and now, a city numbering 17,000 souls, whose population was increasing each day by emigrants from Europe, and the States. The Prophet himself said to us, “My city has grown up like Jonah’s gourd:” he may well beware lest the further analogy holds good.

The city is situated on the upper Mississippi, about 400 miles above its junction with Missouri, midway almost between Quincey and Galena. The surrounding country is the still an unbroken forest, and he who has never seen the forests of the Far-West can form but an imperfect idea of nature’s gigantic products in the wilderness.

We were strenuously dissuaded from stopping at the city, being warned that it was dangerous; but persevered in our original intent, and candor compels us to admit that we received every kindness and hospitality at the hands of the Prophet and his people. They are not a polished and courtly people; to forms they attach no value; but in that truer politeness, which consists in a sincere desire to aid in fulfilling all the wishes excited by the curiosity of a stranger, the rugged “Saints” of Nauvoo might give some useful lessons to the perfumed and contemptible dandies of the older cities. Justice, too, compels us to admit that during our residence in the city we saw or heard nothing which was calculated to offend the most scrupulous delicacy, or the nicest morality, and we pried about and questioned, with genuine American spirit, in all directions; and a careful and watchful examination and inquiry, forced upon our minds the conviction that whatever the sins of the Mormon people might be, they did not lie upon the surface of their society. Their city is the most quiet and orderly of its size we have ever visited; there are no loungers to be seen in their streets, all is hard work; there are no public houses or drinking houses allowed within the city, and they refrain entirely from the use of spirituous liquors; in fact, in its police and arrangements, it is a model city.

The only objectionable feature that struck us, was the bitter fanaticism of the people; not that they refuse to argue their doctrines, or speak intolerantly, but any one who looks upon their stern and rigid features, flashing forth a fierce enthusiasm on [535] any allusion to their creed, or listens to their conversation, garnished like that of the old Puritans, with Scriptural quotations, must be convinced that with them the passion of religious fanaticism, like Aaron’s rod, has swallowed up all others; they may be dupes, but the mass of them certainly are not hypocrites. Every thing revolves around the church, of which Joe Smith is the acknowledged head. The church owns much property, which he holds as trustee, and the profits of which he manages. The old system of tithes has been revived among them, and he who has no property must contribute a tenth part of his labor to the erection of the “Temple;” the walls of which are already upwards of thirty feet in height; the building is of yellow stone, which can be procured in great abundance near the city, and the design of the temple is both novel and imposing. In the basement story is placed a baptismal font, in imitation of that in Solomon’s Temple, supported by twelve oxen, carved out of hard wood, the size of life, and beautifully executed. The Prophet is said to have been the architect who planned the building; if this be true he has displayed as much skill in fabricating buildings as religions.

He deserves no credit for it, however, since his followers declare that he received the plan by special revelation; as well as the plan of a very extensive hotel, now in the course of erection, by which revelation, himself and children are to have and hold a suite of rooms in the said hotel, when finished, in perpetuity, rent free, which the infatuated people have willingly assented to, on condition that the “Prophet” keeps the tavern, which he has actually agreed to do.

The Temple being unfinished, in favorable weather their religious services are conducted in a grove, bordering on the Temple; and here we saw assembled upwards of 5,000 people, men and women, listening with eager attention to the words which fell from the lips of the Prophet, who preached to them on that day. They came in carriages, carts and wagons, and remained seated as they came. Others were ranged upon benches, set out upon the grass. The Prophet stood upon an elevated platform of boards, with 12 of his elders seated behind him; his appearance was by no means prepossessing; his voice harsh and untunable, his sermon a compound of ranting violence and scraps of Scripture badly applied, and ungrammatical to the last degree. Judging of him by this specimen of his powers, we should have regarded him as a stupid, ignorant ranter, devoid of intellect or sagacity; but a subsequent interview in private, dispelled these opinions, and convinced us, that if not an orator, he was eminently fitted for a man of action; a rude Cromwell on a smaller scale, of dauntless energy, and fertile in resources. In person, he is large and bulky, upwards of six feet in height, and broad in proportion, possessing great physical power; his head is small and phrenologically bad; the animal greatly preponderating over the intellectual; his hair of a light brown brushed back from his face; his complexion ruddy, the cast of his features heavy, common-place and sullen in expression; his eye small and of a dull gray color, heavy and lustreless when in repose, but when we mentioned the Missouri outrages, glaring with suppressed passion; the whole face indicated but little intellectual power, but much low-cunning and subtlety, with an hypocritic humility upon it, evidently not its natural expression.

His whole aspect and appearance was that of a rough, ignorant countryman; and no stranger meeting him by chance, would ever dream that that heavy, inert looking individual was the celebrated “Prophet” of the Mormons; the founder of a New Faith; verifying the scornful words of Oxenstiern to his son—

“Nescis, mi fili, quam parva sapientia regitur mundus.”

The space we have already occupied, warns us to close this article on a subject, which we fear may not interest the generality of readers; the importance of which, however, we have by no means exaggerated.

It only now remains for us to give a brief outline of their doctrine or rule of faith, which we shall extract from an “Address” by one of their elders to the people of the United States, the caption of which heads this article.

CREED OF THE LATTER-DAY-SAINTS.

The Latter-day-Saints believe in God the Eternal Father, and in his Son, Jesus Christ, and in the Holy Ghost who bears record of them, throughout all ages the same, and forever.

They believe that in Adam’s fall all men sinned, but that Christ’s atonement was all sufficient for the removal of “original sin” in man and that all men not transgressing some law in their own persons are guiltless in the sight of God. For which they quote Romans v., 28. John xii., 32.

All infants, by their creed being incapable of knowing good and evil and of obeying or disobeying a law, and there being no transgression where there is no law, if they should die in their infant state would enjoy eternal life, being neither transgressors themselves, nor accountable for Adam’s sin.

They believe that all men will be judged by the light that is in them, and that those who do not know a law can not transgress it.

They believe in the Holy Scriptures of the Prophets and Apostles; and that all mysticism, or private interpretation ought to be done away with. The Scriptures should be taught, understood and practised in their most plain, simple, easy and literal sense, according to the legitimate meaning of the words and sentences, precisely the same, as if [536] found in any other book. The prophetical and doctrinal writings contained in the Bible are mostly adapted to the capacities of the simple and unlearned—to the common sense of the people. They are designed to be understood and practised, without which none can profit by them.

The Latter-day-Saints believe that the “Gospel dispensation revealed and established one Lord, one faith, one baptism, one Holy Spirit; in short, one system of religion, one church, or assembly of worshippers, united in their doctrine and built upon the truth; and all bearing the general name of Saints. God is not the author of jarring and discordant systems— His kingdom is not divided against itself; and for this reason we have no confidence in the sects, doctrines and teaching of modern times, so far as they are at variance with each other, and contrary to the Scriptures of truth. We have therefore withdrawn from all these systems of error and delusion, and have endeavored to restore the ancient doctrine and faith which was once delivered to the Saints, and to build a society thereon, hoping thereby to enjoy the peculiar gifts and blessings which were so abundantly bestowed upon the churches in ancient times.”

“We hold it as the duty of all men to believe the Gospel, to repent of their sins; and to be immersed in water in the name of Jesus Christ ‘ for the remission of sins. ’ The Latter-day-Saints also after immersion lay on hands in the name of Jesus Christ for the gift of the Holy Ghost; they are then considered Saints, or full members of the church.”

“The Latter-Day-Saints believe that the gathering of Israel and the second advent of the Messiah are near at hand; that it is time for the Saints to gather together and prepare for the same.”

In accordance with this article of faith, the Prophet has summoned the faithful from all parts of the world to remove to Nauvoo by special order, which is so curious and characteristic, that we can not refrain from quoting one addressed to the people in Philadelphia.

Special Message to the Church in Philadelphia.

All the members of that branch of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day-Saints which is located in Philadelphia, Penn., who are desirous of doing the will of Heaven, and of working out their own salvation by keeping the laws of the Celestial Kingdom, are hereby instructed and counselled to remove from thence without delay, and locate themselves in the city of Nauvoo, where God has a work for them to accomplish. Done at Nauvoo, 29th day of May, 1843.

By order of the quorum of the 12. BRIGHAM YOUNG.”

Similar circulars were sent elsewhere, and met with prompt obedience. In relation to the Book of Mormon and the Revelations of Smith they use the following language.

“We have implicit confidence in the Book of Mormon, not however as a new Bible to exclude the old, as some have falsely represented. We consider the Book of Mormon as a historical and religious record, written in ancient times by a branch of the House of Israel, who peopled America and from whom the Indians are descended. The Book of Mormon corroborates and confirms the truth of the Scriptures by showing that the same principles were revealed and enjoyed in a country far remote from the scenes where the Jewish Bible was written.

“Many Revelations and Prophecies have been given to this church since its rise, which have been printed and sent forth to the world. They also contain the Gospel in great plainness, and important instructions to the Saints. We believe that wherever the people enjoy the religion of the New Testament, there they enjoy visions, revelations, the ministry of Angels, &c.; and that wherever these blessings cease to be enjoyed, there they also cease to enjoy the religion of the New Testament.”

Such is a faint and imperfect outline and sketch of this strange faith and people, drawn from their own lips, and from personal observation; a new and startling product of our free institutions; showing how far men may be misled by a confidence in their own judgments and contempt for established forms; rejecting a creed for its alleged inconsistencies, and embracing in its stead one which is a tissue of contradictions and absurdities!

As a sect already important and powerful, and every day gaining accessions of numbers and strength; fortified in an almost impregnable position, and consumed by a fanatic seal, which sends its missionaries to Jerusalem and the “farthest Ind”—which has already drawn into the Holy City converts from Calcutta; and whispers its words of consolation to the Australian savage,—this new doctrine may be wondered at and dreaded, but may not be despised.

To us, its import is sad and humiliating; weakening our confidence in the strength of the human intellect; and clouding our brightest visions of the onward progress of the human mind in successive ages. That an imposture so palpable, gross and monstrous as this, should succeed, even for a day, in duping so many thousands of rational beings, as are even numbered in the city of Nauvoo, is indeed a mortifying reflection on human wisdom and human pride. It may serve as a warning and a lesson to the Sciolists of the present day, that in all respects the XIX century has not progressed so far in advance of the so called “dark ages” of the world, as their own inflated vanity would induce them to believe; and furnishes yet another proof, even in this practical age, that “Man can not live on bread alone,” but yearns after some spiritual food, and as the mariner, tossed on the billows of an unknown and mighty ocean, in the dark mid watches of the night, looks to the bright Polar Star to guide him safely on his course into a safe harbor, so the soul of man, involved in a black chaos of uncertainty and doubt, tempted, tried, [537] and suffering, yet turns in longing hope to the bright Morning Star of Faith, which is to usher it into a cloudless and glorious world, “where the wicked cease from troubling, and the weary are at rest.”

South Carolina.

E. D.

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