"Something New -- The Golden Bible"
by David Staats Burnet
Dayton, Ohio - March 7, 1831
Original at Disciples of Christ Historical Society
(A second original is in the Coe Collection at the Yale University's Beinecke Library)
Introductory Information on this Source:
David Staats Burnet (1808-1867) was a Baptist minister in Dayton in the early 1820s. While in Cincinnati in 1828 he adopted the reforms of Alexander Campbell. In 1829 some members of the Baptist church in Dayton joined Campbell's reform movement and Burnet returned there to publish his monthly Evangelical Inquirer from June 1830 to May 1831. The Disciples of Christ denomination was then in its infancy and Burnet was on the fringes of that sect. His Inquirer was an independent newspaper favoring Campbell's views.
Burnet's March 7, 1831 issue was printed six months after copies of the Book of Mormon first appeared in Ohio and only about a month after Joseph Smith moved from New York to Kirtland. This was the same period in which E. D. Howe was publishing frequent articles on the Mormons in his Painesville Telegraph. Burnet states he drew his own conclusions on Mormonism from "advocates of this new religion," from the "Post Master at Palmyra," and from "pieces taken from the Telegraph of Painesville." The material Burnet reprinted in this issue came from the Telegraph of Feb. 15, 1831.
Further information on the life and work of David Staats Burnet may be found by consulting various histories of the Disciples of Christ, such as Henry K. Shaw's 1952 Buckeye Disciples.
another copy of the text
comments on Burnet's introduction, etc.
"There is one body, and one Spirit; as also ye are called in one hope of your calling: One Lord, one faith, one baptism, one God and Father of all, who is over all, and with all, and in" all Christians. -- PAUL the Apostle -- McKnight's translation.
The mind of man is ever active. Either in good or in the pursuit of evil, or in the attainment of objects combining both, with all the possible degrees of energy and intelligence it moves, or ceases only momentarily and resuscitates to exert an accelerated and more effective influence. The multiplied departments of human knowledge or speculation afford the channels for the flooding mental operations. Truth and intelligence furnish ample direction and employ for all the ingenuity and labor of man; and the world is beginning to awake to the merits of the observation, as the history of fact and experiment lucidly testify. But in the absence of intelligence, ingenuity is put to the torture for the discovery of other materials and the basest passions are enlisted in the furtherance of projects, the boldest and daring and the artful preseverance of which, both are marvellous, but which the more so, is problematical. Of such a cast is the imposition designated by the head of this piece. Who would have thought of meeting advocates of a fresh revelation in the nineteenth centyry? Judaism contemplated such an event, as a clause in its constitution and the significancy and scope of its observances and prophecies indicate with a distinctness unequivocal, but Christianity never did. Its constitution is perpetual and it is in its own individuality, the consummation of Divine revelations to mortals. The unobscured and unrestrained vision and glory of man immortalized, succeeded the winding up of the administration of the great Philanthropist upon the throne of God, and the jurisdiction of his revealing word. Notwithstanding all
this, some hundreds of the rabble and a few intelligent citizens of the western part of New York and the eastern part of Ohio, have, with the wildest enthusiasm, embraced a feigned revelation purporting to be literally new. From the advocates of this new religion called Mormonism, from a letter received from the intelligent Post Master at Palmyra, extracts from Mr. Thomas Campbell's letters and other sources, embracing the subjoined pieces taken from the Telegraph of Painesville, O.: from these different quarters I learn the following particulars. For a long time in the vicinity of Palmyra, there has existed an impression, especially among certain loose classes of society, that treasures of great amount were concealed near the surface of the earth, probably by the Indians, whom they were taught to consider the descendants of the ten lost Israelitish tribes, by the celebrated Jew who a few years since promised to gather Abraham's sons on Grand Island, thus to be made a Paradise. The ignorance and superstition of these fanatics soon conjured up a ghost, who they said was often seen and to whom was committed the care of the precious deposit. This tradition made money diggers of many who had neither intelligence nor industry sufficient to obtain a more reputable livelihood. But they did not succeed and as the money was not dug up, something must be dug up to make money. The plan was laid, doubtless, by some person behind the curtain, who selected suitable tools. One Joseph Smith, a perfect ignoramus, is to be a great prophet of the Lord, the fabled ghost the angel of his presence, a few of the accomplices the apostles or witnesses of the imposition, and, to fill up the measure of their wickedness and the absurdity of their proceedings, the hidden golden treasure, is to be a gold bible and a new revelation. This golden bible consisted of metallic plates six or seven inches square, of the thickness of tin and resembling gold, the surface of which was covered with hieroglyphic characters, unintelligible to Smith, the finder, who could
not read English. However, the angel (ghost!) that discovered the plates to him, likewise informed him that he would be inspired to translate the inscriptions without looking at the plates, while an amanuensis would record his infallible reading; all which was accordingly done. But now the book must be published, the translation of the inscriptions which Smith was authorized to show to no man save a few accomplices, who subscribe a certificate of these pretended facts at the end of the volume. Truly a wise arrangement! Among the gang none had real estate save one, who mortgaged his property to secure the printer and binder in Palmyra, but who was so unfortunate as not to be able to convert his wife to the new faith, though he flogged her roundly for that purpose several times. The book, an octavo of from 500 to 1000 pages (for when I saw it I did not notice the number) did not meet ready sale and consequently about 500 copies were sent to the eastern part of this state, which was considered a better market. Though at home it had little success, the subjoined pieces will show that in the Western Reserve it found better.
Here I must devote a moment to another branch of the subject. The Baptist Chronicle of Ky. and similar works, have endeavored to fasten this imposition upon the current reformation, as the doings of Munzer have been fastened upon the Baptists of his own stamp. It and other ungentlemanly insinuations may yet stamp the character of his periodical so as not to subserve the interest of the cause it advocates, or the honor of its conductors. Let all those who would identify Mr. Campbell and those associated with him with this Mormonish absurdity, know that this new project makes no approach towards the reformation in its character or object, but would indicate a parentage nearer home. Let them know that a prominent Elder, (I mean an aged christian officer) Thomas Campbell, father of the justly celebrated Alexander Campbell, has offered to meet the apostate champion of this unholy
imposition and publicly discuss its merits and that the intelligent reformers concur with him; that among the Mormonitish converts are found persons from among all the denominations. Presbyterians and Methodists, and that they are as liable to the charge of having originated the scheme as are the reformers; and indeed, that upon the same ground the Baptist Chroniclers are not unimpeachable. For my own part, some time since, having met one of these new fangled teachers in a congregation with which neither of us were connected, I refused to occupy the pulpit if he were invited, well knowing that a reformer by so doing would give occasion to misrepresentation. I had no other particular reason for my refusal, unless it was that the man proclaimed another gospel written in another book. The following documents will finish the tale of woe.
From the Telegraph.
Forasmuch as many have taken in hand to set forth in order a declaration of those things which are most surely believed and done among the Mormonites, it seems good to me also (having had knowledge of many things from the beginning) to testify to my brethren of mankind, that they may know something certainly concerning these wonderful people.
About the last of October, 1830, four men, claiming to be divinely inspired, came from Manchester and Palmyra, Ontario county, N.Y., bringing a pretended revelation, entitled the "Book of Mormon." They came to the brethern of the reformation in Mentor, saluted them as brethern, and professed to rejoice at finding a people walking according to the scriptures of truth, and acknowledging no other guide. They professed to have no commands for them, nevertheless, they called upon them to receive their mission and book as from Heaven, which they said chiefly concerned the western Indians, as being an account of their origin,
and a prophecy of their final conversion to christianity, and make them a white and delightsome people, and be reinstated in the possession of their lands of which they have been despoiled by the whites. -- When called upon for testimony, they appealed (like Mahomet) to the internal evidences of their book. The book was read and pronounced a silly fabrication. When farther pressed upon the subject, they required the brethern to humble themselves before God, and pray for a sign from heaven.
They took up their abode with the pastor of the congregation, (Sidney Rigdon) who read their book and partly condemned it -- but, two days afterwards, was heard to confess his conviction of its truth. Immediately the subtlety and duplicity of these men were manifest -- as soon as they saw a number disposed to give heed to them, then it was they bethought themselves of making a party -- then it was they declared that their book contained a new convenant, to come under which the disciple must be re-immersed. When called upon to answer concerning their pretended covenant, whether it was distinct from that mentioned in Heb. VIII, 10-13, they would equivocate, and would say, (to use their own words) "on the large scale, the covenant is the same, but in some things it is different." Immediately they made a party -- seventeen persons were immersed by them in one night. At this Mr. Rigdon seemed much displeased, and when they came next day to his house, he withstood them to the face -- showed them that what they had done was entirely without precedent in the holy scriptures -- for they had immersed those persons that they might work miracles as well as come under the said covenant -- showed them that the apostles baptized for the remission of sins -- but miraculous gifts were conferred by the imposition of hands. But when pressed upon the point, they justified themselves by saying, it was on their part merely a compliance with the solicitations of those persons. Mr. Rigdon again called upon them for
proof of the truth of their book and mission: they then related the manner in which they obtained faith, which was by praying for a sign, and an angel was shown unto them. Here Mr. Rigdon showed them from the scriptures the possibility of their being deceived: "For Satan himself is transformed into an angel of light" -- but said Cowdrey, "Do you think if I should go to my Heavenly Father with all sincerity, and pray to him in the name of Jesus Christ, that he would not show me an angel -- that he would suffer Satan to deceive me?" Mr. Rigdon replied, "if the heavenly Father had ever promised to show you an angel, to confirm any thing, he would not suffer you to be deceived, for says the apostle John, 'this is the confidence we have with him, if we ask things according to his will, he hearkens to us.' But, he continued, "if you ask the heavenly Father to show you an angel when he has never promised you such a thing, if the Devil never had an opportunity of deceiving you before, you give him one now."
However, about two days after, Mr. R. was persuaded to tempt God by asking this sign, which he knew to be contrary to his revealed will; he received a sign, and was convinced that Mormonism was true and divine. Wherefore, to make use of his own reasoning, we presume the Devil appeared to him in the form of an angel of light. The Monday following he was baptised. On the morning of the preceding day he had an appointment to preach in the Methodist chapel at Kirtland. He arose to address the congregation apparently much affected and deeply impressed. He seemed exceedingly humble, confessed the sins of his former life, his great pride, ambition, vainglory, &c. &c. After he was baptized, he professed to be exceedingly joyful, and said he would not be where he was three days ago for the universe. When reminded of the scriptural objection which he had made against praying for that which was not promised, he imputed his reasoning to pride, carnality, and the influence of
the evil one. In short, the whole man seemed changed, so much so that Mrs. Rigdon said that Mr. Rigdon's appearance was enough to convince any one of the truth of their religion. Mr. R. and indeed the whole of that sect, seem rather disposed to boast of their humility and piety. Mr. R. was formerly very irascible, but now thinks he cannot be ruffled, he was formerly haughty, but now affects great humility. The males among them wear a peculiar kind of hats, by which they distinguish themselves, and exhibit their humility; but while they are calling upon people, as it were, to come and see their humility, we cannot but call to mind an ancient anecdote: when Diogenes the Cynic, saw Plato with a richly embroidered cloak, he caught it from his shoulders, and cast it under his feet, saying "I trample upon the pride of Plato." --"Yes," said Plato, "but with a greater pride."
About three weeks after Mr. R. was baptized by Oliver Cowdery, he went to the state of New York, to see Joseph Smith, jr. while Cowdrey, with his three companions, proceeded on to the western Indians. Before they left us, however, they threw off their mask, and showed their cloven foot. They declared Joseph Smith to be that prophet predicted by Moses, Deut. xviii. 15, and applied to O. Cowdery prophetical declarations which are directly and particularly applied to John the Baptist, harbinger of the Messiah. When the apostle Peter and deacon Stephen were brought to confront them upon their application of Deut. xviii. 15, they would express wonder, saying, "do you think Christ was like Moses?"
Immediately after Mr. R. and the four pretended prophets left Kirtland, a scene of the wildest enthusiasm was exhibited, chiefly, however, among the young people; they would fall, as without strength, roll upon the floor, and, so mad were they that even the females were seen on a cold winter day, lying under the bare canopy of heaven, with no couch or pillow but the fleecy snow. At other times they exhibited all the apish actions
imaginable, making grimaces both horrid and ridiculous, creeping upon their hands and feet, &c. Sometimes, in these exercises the young men would rise and play before the people, going through all the Indian maneuvers of knocking down, scalping, ripping open, and taking out the bowels. At other times, they would start and run several furlongs, then get upon stumps and preach to imagined congregations, baptize ghosts, &c. At other times, they are taken with a fit of jabbering after which they neither understood themselves nor anybody else, and this they call speaking foreign languages by divine inspiration. Again the young men are seen running over the hills in pursuit, they say, of balls of fire which they see flying through the air.
They say much about working miracles, and pretend to have that power. Cowdery and his fellows, essayed to work several while they tarried in Kirtland, one in particular, the circumstances of which I had from the Mormonites themselves. It was a young female who had been confined to her bed for two years -- they prayed over her, laying on hands, and commanded her in the name of Jesus Christ to rise up and walk; however, no effect appeared until the next day, when she was persuaded to leave her couch and attempt to walk. She arose, walked three or four steps, (which they told as a miracle) she then almost fainted, and was assisted back to her bed from which she's not since arisen. But as all their miracles have proved to be a mere sham, to speak vulgarly, the Mormonites have endeavored to save the credit of their prophets, by declaring that they never pronounced these people whole but only prayed for them -- but when confronted by one of the disciples in Kirtland upon the instance just mentioned, as it was so public they could not deny it, one of them said that he did not know but Cowdery did command her to arise, but if he did it was in a laughing, jesting way!!! -- Another of the Mormonites said Cowdery did not command her to arise, but merely
asked her why she did not arise. Another instance of a man in Painesville, who was in the last stage of consumption, was attempted to be healed by Cowdery. A few days afterwards Mr. Rigdon was heard to say "that he would get well, if there was a God in Heaven!" He has since deceased. But these prophets had the policy to cover their retreat in these things, by saying that they would not recover immediately; the Lord would take his own time; and one of these people a few days ago, when put to the worst upon the subject, said that he did not think Cowdery would have attempted to do any miracles, had he have known how things would turn out.
Feb. 1. -- Mr. Rigdon just returned from the state of New York. His irascible temper only left him for a little season. Two friends went from Mentor to see him -- required of him a reason for his present hope, and for his belief in the Book of Mormon; he declined, saying he was weary, having just come off his journey; had lost much sleep, and the like. After a number of words had passed, by way of solicitation on one side, and refusal on the other, one of the friends from Mentor said he thought there was no more evidence to confirm the Book of Mormon than the Koran of Mahomet. At this Mr. Rigdon seemed very angry -- rose up and said, "Sir, you have insulted me in my own house -- I command silence -- If people people that come to see us cannot treat us with civility, they may walk out of the door as soon as they please." The person then made some apology. Mr. R. said he had borne every thing; he had been insulted and trampled upon by old and young; and he would bear it no longer. The other of the friends from Mentor expressed his astonishment, that a man who had just been exhorting others in so meek and humble a manner, as Mr. R. had been doing a few minutes before, should manifest such a spirit. Mr. R. denied that he was angry. The two friends bade him good night and departed. Two days after, I accompanied several friends to Mr. R.'s
residence, we found him in conversation with a Methodist presiding elder -- that being soon broken off, one of my friends modestly approached Mr. R. and solicited him to give some reason for his present faith. Mr. R. with great show of good nature, commenced a long detail of his researches after the character of Joseph Smith; he declared that even his enemies had nothing to say against his character; he had brought a transcript from the docket of two magistrates, where Smith had been tried as a disturber of the peace, which testified that he was honorably acquitted. But this was no evidence to us that the Book of Mormon was divine. He then spoke of the supernatural gifts with which he said Smith was endowed; he said he could translate the scriptures from any language in which they were now extant, and could lay his finger on every interpolation in the sacred writings, adding, that he had proved him in all these things. But my friends knowing that Mr. Rigdon had no knowledge of any language but his own vernacular tongue, asked him how he knew these things, to which Mr. R. made no direct reply.
Mr. Smith arrived at Kirtland the next day; and being examined concerning his supernatural gifts by a scholar, who was capable of testing his knowledge, he confessed he knew nothing of any language, save the king's English.
Mr. R. asserted that our revelation came to us upon human testimony --Ęthis we denied, and gave him reasons which he himself formerly urged against deists. He then said the old revelation was confirmed by miracles, but the Book of Mormon would never be; it was not designed to be thus confirmed. (And Mahomet said, nearly twelve centuries ago, "Moses and Jesus were empowered to work miracles, yet the people did not receive them; wherefore God had sent him without that attestation, to be the last and greatest prophet.") But in this Mr. R. contradicts his book, for that declares it is thus to be established.
We then asked Mr. R. what object we could have in receiving the Book of Mormon -- whether it enjoined a single virtue that the Bible did not, or whether it mentioned and prohibited a single additional vice, or whether it exhibited a new attribute of Deity? He said it did not. "The Book of Mormon," said he, "is just calculated to form and govern the millennial church; the old revelation was never calculated for that, nor could it accomplish that object; and without receiving the Book of Mormon, there is no salvation for anyone into whose hands it shall come." He said faith in the Book of Mormon was only to be obtained by asking the Lord concerning it. To this scriptural objections were made. He then said that if we had not familiarity enough with our creator to ask of him a sign, we were no christians; and, that if God would not condescend to his creatures, in this way, he was no better than Jaggernaut!!!!
Now, courteous reader, I have given a simple statement of facts for the purpose that you might not be deceived by the pretensions of these false prophets. They proclaim the ancient gospel, putting their own appendages to it. When they think it will best suit their purpose, they say nothing about the Book of Mormon, and at other times make it their chief topic. -- Mr. R. said to me, since he became a Mormonite, that it was no part of his religion to defend the Book of Mormon, he only wished the people to give heed to the old revelation, to humble themselves, and enter into the privileges which it conferred upon its believing subjects. Again, there is no salvation without receiving the Book of Mormon! Mr. R. now blames Cowdery for attempting to work miracles, and says that it was not intended to be confirmed in that way. How then are we to obtain faith? Does the book offer any internal evidence of its divinity? If it does, it has not been discovered. It contains nothing but what might have been, and evidently was, borrowed from the sacred writings and from the history of the world. Was it so
with the revelation that was from the beginning? far otherwise. A celebrated English writer, (Soam Jenyns) has proved to a demonstration, that the Christian religion is demonstrably divine, irrespective of any miracle that was ever wrought, from these premises, viz: that there were no writing or systems, then in the world, from which it could have been borrowed. Again, respecting Smith and his followers, do they give any proof of their honesty? They can give none but their own assertion; they have no sacrifice to make -- no loss of fortune or reputation to sustain -- they are in a land of liberty. Very different were the circumstances of those who first promulgated the "faith once delivered to the saints;" -- They had to forsake their relatives, leave their possessions, and forfeit their reputation. Scourging and torture, imprisonment and death, were often staring them in the face, and always in the prospective. Thirteen apostles, all, save one, sealed their testimony with their blood. So whether their religion was true or false, they proved their honesty. But Mormonism is to be proved from beginning to end by assertion, and this we have in whole numbers, without fractions. But we know that they cannot more roundly and positively assert than hundreds of impostors who have gone before them.
But we know who has said, "evil men and seducers will wax worse and worse, deceiving and being deceived," for which cause we are admonished to "continue in the things which we have learned, and been assured of, knowing from whom we have received them." The Pharisees said to the blind man, who had been healed by Jesus Messiah," we know that God spake unto Moses, but as for this fellow we know not whence he is." So we say we know that "God has spoken unto us in these last days by his son," but as for Joseph Smith we know not whence he is. But we know the scripture has said, "cursed is the man that trusteth in man, and maketh flesh his arm, and whose heart departeth from the Lord; for he shall be like the heath in the desert,
and shall not see when good cometh, but shall inhabit the parched places in the wilderness, in a salt land not inhabited." But the contrast is, "blessed is the man who trusteth in the Lord, and whose hope the Lord is; for he shall be as a tree planted by the waters, that putteth out her root by the river, and shall not see when heat cometh, but her leaf shall be green, and shall not be careful in the year of drought, neither shall cease from yielding fruit."
Now let me conclude with the conclusion of that revelation which begins with the beginning of time and ends with the end of time: "If any man shall add unto these things, God shall add unto him the plagues that are written in this book; and if any man shall take away from the words of the book of this prophecy, God shall take away his part out of the book of life, and out of the holy city, and from the things which are written in this book." "And all the people shall say amen."
M. S. C.
To the Editor of the Telegraph.
The following letter was elicited by a public challenge, given by Sidney Rigdon on the 30th ult. in a public meeting held in Kirtland, at which persons from different states were present, in which he defied the world to refute the divine pretensions of the Book of Mormon. The said letter was respectfully presented on the 6th inst. by Nathan P. Goodell, accompanied by Isaac Moore, Esq. both respectable citizens of Kirtland, who inform me, that when he had read about half a dozen lines, till he came to the epithet "infernal." which he found applied to his beloved book, he committed it to the flames, as Jehoiskim, the pious, meek and lowly King of Judah did Jeremiah's roll -- (Jer. 36, 23). Had Mr. R's boasted humility, meekness and patience not been so quickly exhausted, he would have been duly informed, that the writer meant neither to insult him, nor yet to depreciate his beloved author,
more than Christ did the cavillous Jews, when he said to them, "ye are from beneath" -- (Jno. 8, 23.), not meaning that they were from hell, as he after explains himself in the following words, "ye are of this world." Had Mr. R. exercised as much patience as did those proud infidel Jews, he would have learned from my explanation in the very next sentence, that I applied the word infernal to the Book of Mormon, in a just and appropriate sense, according to the claims of the book itself, as being dug up out of the bowels of the earth, or from beneath the bottom of a hill; and, therefore, justly styled infernal, taken in its primary literal sense, as I have explained and applied it in my letter. This, however, Mr. R. knows to be the easiest way to get rid of the matter, having no intention to verify his challenge, as he declared to the above named persons before my letter was presented. It also afforded him an opportunity of gratifying his proud resentment by a consequential high-blooded act of indignant retaliation, the most severe that was in his power to inflict; and which, in the mean time, I accept as a just expression of that spirit, which the Book of Mormon is calculated to inspire, and which has been as abundantly expressed in its murderous, scalping inspirations.
Without further preface or apology, the letter and the answer are hereby submitted to the public, whose right it is to form their own judgments of the merits of the cause at issue. And although the various topics of argument stated below, and designed to have been urged in the refutation of Mormonism, have not been argued, illustrated, and applied for that purpose, through Mr. R.'s failure to make good his empty, boastful challenge, which it appears he has no intention of hazarding, for he fears the light, and therefore cautiously avoids investigation -- they, nevertheless, stand as the pillars of Hercules, the insuperable barriers to the feigned pretentions of Mormonism, for the defence of all who do not wilfully and blindly submit to become
dupes of a shameless combination of unprincipled religious swindlers -- whose unhallowed design is to rob the simple both of their salvation and their property.
Dear Sir: -- It may seem strange, that instead of a confidential and friendly visit, after so long an absence, I should thus address, by letter, one of whom, for many years, I have considered not only as a courteous and benevolent friend, but as a beloved brother and fellow laborer in the gospel -- but alas, how changed, how fallen! Nevertheless, I should now have visited you as formerly, could I conceive that my so doing would answer the important purpose both to ourselves, and to the public, to which we both stand pledged, from the conspicuous and important stations we occupy: you, as a professed disciple and public teacher of the infernal book of Mormon; and I, as a professed disciple and public teacher of the supernal book of the Old and New Testaments of our Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ -- which you now say is superseded by the book of Mormon is become a dead letter -- so dead, that the belief and obedience of it, without the reception of the latter, is no longer available to salvation; to the disproof of this assertion, I understand you defy the world. I here use the epithets infernal and supernal in their primary and literal meaning, the former signifying from beneath, the latter from above, both of which are truly applied, if the respective authors may be accredited; of the latter of which, however, I have no doubt. But, my dear sir, supposing you as sincere in your present, as in your former profession, (of the truth and sufficiency of which you have frequently boasted with equal confidence) neither yourself, your friends, nor the world, are therefore bound to consider you as more infallible in your latter than in your former confidence, any further than you can render good and intelligible reasons for your present certainty. --
This, I understand from your declaration, on last Lord's day, you are abundantly prepared and ready to do. I, therefore, as in duty bound, accept the challenge, and shall hold myself in readiness, if the Lord permit, to meet you publicly in any place, either in Mentor or Kirtland, or in any of the adjacent towns, that may appear most eligible for the accommodation of the public.
The sooner this investigation takes place, the better for all concerned; therefore, it is hoped you will not protract the time beyond what may justly be deemed necessary for giving sufficient publicity to the proposed discussion -- say one week after your reception of this proposal to accept the challenge you have publicly given, for the vindication and eviction of the divine authorship of Mormonism, which, if your assertion be true, that there is no salvation for any that do not embrace it; and not only so, but I am credibly informed you have asserted, that even those who have lived and died in the faith and obedience of the old book, in the triumphant assurance of a glorious resurrection and a blissful immortality, may be in hell for aught you know; therefore, I say again, the sooner this matter is publicly settled, the better. For my part, I do cordially assure you, sir, that if I were in the possession of a nostrum, upon the knowledge and belief of which, the salvation of every soul of man depended, I should consider myself responsible to the whole world for the speedy and effectual confirmation and publication of it; and if it be at all a revelation from God for the salvation of men, he must be wonderfully changed since he gave the former revelation of his will for that important purpose, if he do not require you so to do, for he was then willing that all men should come to the knowledge of the truth and be saved; and, therefore, he not only charged all to whom he made it known, by special revelation, to go into all the world and declare it to every creature, but also furnished them with such potent and evincive arguments, both
prophetic and miraculous, as no candid inquirer could mistake, without abandoning both his senses and his reason. If then, the book of Mormon, which you assume to vindicate as a divine revelation, upon the belief and obedience of which the salvation of all men stands suspended, be such, then surely the unchanged and unchangeable author, who, it seems, has communicated it to you and others by special revelations, has, doubtless, furnished you with such special, intelligible, and convincing arguments, as are abundantly sufficient to convince every candid inquirer, as he did the heralds of the former dispensations. Therefore, woe is unto you if you preach not your gospel. But why should I seem to doubt the philanthropy of my former friend and brother, more than I do my own, or that of the Apostle Paul, that I should thus appear to urge his performance of a challenge, which, no doubt, the purest and most benevolent motives excited him to propose, for the purpose of promoting, as fast as possible, the benign intentions of his mission? Taking this for granted, I shall farther add, in relation to the manner of conducting this all-important investigation, that, seeing it is purely for the discovery and confirmation of the truth, upon the belief and obedience of which, depends the salvation of the world, the parties realizing the deep and awful responsibility of the undertaking, and having no private and personal interest at stake, separate from the rest of mankind, will not only afford each other every facility of investigating and exhibiting the truth by all manner of fairness, both of argument and concession, but also by the mutual allowance of every assistance that can be contributed by the friends on each side, either suggesting matter to the speakers, or by correcting any mistakes that may occur in quotations, references, &c, in an amicable and an obliging manner, without giving or taking offence on these accounts; that for these purposes, each party shall be at liberty to select as many of his intelligent friends as he pleases to assist
him as prompters; and if any difficulty occur, respecting time, order, &c, it shall be refered to a competent board of moderators, equally chosen by the parties, that the whole investigation may be conducted without the least shadow of disorder or partiality.
According to the spirit and tenor of the above proposals on my part, for the speedy and effectual determination of the momentous question at issue, I shall candidly inform you of the course I intend to take, for the confirmation and defence of my side of the question, that you may be the better prepared to meet my arguments with a solid and unanswerable refutation, if possible; as I can have no wish, nor can any man in his common senses, where the salvation of the soul is at stake, but to know and embrace the saving truth. The proposition that I have assumed, and which I mean to assume and defend against Mormonism, and every other ism that has been ismed since the commencement of the Christian era, is -- The all-sufficiency and the alone-sufficiency of the holy scriptures of the Old and New Testaments, vulgarly called the Bible, to make every intelligent believer wise to salvation, thoroughly furnished for all good works. This proposition, clearly and fully established, as I believe it most certainly can be, we have no more need for Quakerism, Shakerism, Wilkinsonianism, Buchanism, Mormonism, or any other ism, than we have for three eyes, three ears, three hands, or three feet, in order to see, hear, work, or walk. This proposition, I shall illustrate and confirm by showing,
1. That the declarations, invitasions, and promises of the gospel, go to confer upon the obedient believer the greatest possible privileges, both here and hereafter, that our nature is capable of enjoying.
2. That there is not a virtue which can happify or adorn the human character, nor a vice that can abase or dishappify, which human heart can conceive, or human language can express, that is not most clearly commanded or forbidden in the holy scriptures.
3. That there are no greater motives, that can possibly be expressed or conceived, to enforce obedience or discourage and prevent disobedience, than the scriptures most clearly and unequivocally exhibit.
These propositions being proved, every thing is proved that can affect our happiness, either here or hereafter.
We shall, however, if deemed necessary, next proceed to expose the blasphemous pretensions of Mormonism, by examining both its external and internal evidences.
1. By examining the character of its author and his accomplices, as far as documents for that purpose may have come to hand.
2. Their feigned pretensions to miraculous gifts, the gift of tongues, &c.; a specimen of the latter we shall afford them an opportunity of exhibiting in three or four foreign languages.
3. We shall next proceed to expose the anti-scriptural assertion, that there has been none duly authorized to administer baptism, for the space of fourteen hundred years up to the present time, by showing that the church or the kingdom of Christ, must have been totally extinct during that period, provided its visible administration had actually ceased during that time, is an express contradiction of the testimony of Jesus, Matt. xvi. 18.
4. We are prepared to show that the pretended duty of common property among Christians is anti-scriptural, being subversive of the law of Christ, and inimical to the just rights of society.
5. We shall next proceed to show, that re-baptizing believers is making void the ordinance of Christ; and that the imposition of hands for communicating the Holy Spirit, is an unscriptural intrusion upon the exclusive prerogative the primary apostles.
6. We shall also show that the pretensions of Mormonism, as far as it has yet been developed, are in no wise superior to the pretensions of the first Quakers,
of the French Prophets, of the Shakers, of Jemima Wilkinson, &c. That all these pretended to as high degrees of inspiration, to prophecyings, to visions, to as great humility, self-denial, devotion to God, moral purity, and spiritual perfection; declaimed as much against sin, denounced as heavy judgments against their neighbors, and against the professing world at large, for their corruptions of Christianity, &c. &c. as the Mormonites have done or can do; the two latter have also insisted as much upon the supposed duty of common property, and have spoken as certainly of the near approach of the millennium, and of their relation to that happy state, as any of the Mormonite prophets, especially the Shakers, who pretend to be living subjects of that happy period, and and who have also given us an attested record of their miraculous operations. -------------- The obvious conclusion of this sixth argument is evident, that if the Mormonite prophets and teachers can show no better authority for their pretended mission and revelations than these impostors have done, we have no better authority to believe them than we have to believe their predecessors in imposition. But the dilemma is, we can't believe all, for each was exclusively right in his day, and those of them that remain are still exclusively right to this day; and if the Shakers be right, the whole world, the Mormonites themselves not excepted, are in the gall of bitterness and bonds of iniquity -- quite as far from salvation as you yourself have pronounced all the sectarians on earth to be, namely, in a state of absolute damnation.
In the last place, we shall examine the internal evidence of the Book of Mormon itself, pointing out its evident contradictions, foolish absurdities, shameless pretensions to antiquity, restore it to the rightful claimant, as a production beneath contempt, and utterly unworthy the reception of a schoolboy.
Thus, my dear sir, I have given you a fair and full statement of my intended method of defence and attack,
of the principal topics of argument pro and con, which I shall use, provided you stand to your proposed challenge. I have also used great plainness of speech, and spoken of things just as I believe they deserve, as you yourself are in the habit of doing; and who can do otherwise upon a subject of such vast importance if he duly realize them? Nevertheless, I would not have you think, although I consider things just as I have spoken, that I suppose myself more infallible than you do yourself; but I should blush to fall short of any one, of any sect whatever, in my expressions of confident certainty of the truth of my profession, which has stood the test of most rigorous investigation for nearly eighteen hundred years, and which I have scrupulously examined for upwards of forty, especially when the investigation is with sectarians of little more than three months standing.
But though I have spoken as positively as you have done, and we have both spoken positively enough, I will yet venture to assure you that you will find me as changeable as yourself, provided you afford me evidence paramount to the evidence which I have proposed to produce for the ground which I at present occupy, for it has ever a fixed principle, that the less should give way to the greater. But in case I should fail to convince you, or that you should fail to convince me, others may be benefitted; and we shall have the consolation of having discharged our duty, both to each other and to the public; for no man liveth to himself.
In the mean time I wait for your reply, which you will please to forward per bearer. I hope you will be as plain and candid with me as I have been with you. My best respects to Mrs. Rigdon, and sincerest wish for the happiness of your family.
I remain, with grateful remembrances of the past, and best wishes for the future, your sincere friend and humble servant,
Mr. Editor. -- I herewith send you an extract from
Martindale's Dictionary of the Bible, giving an account of a sect which rose up in France. It will be acknowledged, after reading this sketch that Mormonism is of a more ancient date than people have imagined, so exactly does it agree in predictions, conduct, and ideas of spiritual things. The old maxim, therefore, that "there's nothing new under the sun," still holds good.
"They first appeared in Dauphiny and Vivarois. -- In the year 1689, five or six hundred Protestants of both sexes gave themselves out to be prophets, and inspired by the Holy Ghost. They soon became so numerous, that there were many thousands of them inspired. They were people of all ages and sexes without distinction, though the greatest part of them were boys and girls from six or seven to twenty-five years of age. They had strange fits, which came upon them, with tremblings and faintings, as in a swoon, which made them stretch out their arms and legs, and stagger several times before they dropped down. They struck themselves with their hands, they fell on their backs, shut their eyes, and heaved with their breasts. They remained awhile in trances, and, coming out of them with twitching, uttered all that came into their mouths. They said, they saw the heavens open, the angels, paradise, and hell. Those who were just on the point of receiving the spirit of prophecy dropped down not only in their assemblies, crying out mercy, but in fields, and their own houses. The least of these assemblies made up four or five hundred, and some of them amounted even to as many thousands of persons. When the prophets had for a while been under agitations of body they began to prophesy, the burden of their prophecies was, Amend your lives; repent ye; the end of all things draws nigh! The hills resounded with their loud cries for mercy, and imprecations against the priests, the church, the pope, and against the anti-christian dominion, with predictions of the approaching fall
of popery. All they said at these times was heard with reverance and awe.
In the year 1706, three or four of these prophets came over into England, and brought their prophetic spirit along with them, which discovered itself in the same ways and manners, by ecstasies and agitations, and inspirations under them, as it had done in France; and they propagated the like spirit to others, so that, before the year was out, there were two or three hundred of these prophets in and about London, of both sexes, of all ages; men, women and children: and they had delivered under inspiration four or five hundred prophetic warnings.
The great things they pretended by their spirit was, to give warning of the near approach of the kingdom of God, the happy state of the church, and the millennial state. Their message, (and they were to proclaim it as heralds to the Jews, and to every nation under heaven, beginning with England,) was, that the grand jubilee, acceptable year of the Lord, the accomplishments of those numerous Scriptures concerning the new heavens and the new earth, the kingdom of Messiah, the marriage of the Lamb, the first resurrection or the new Jerusalem descending from above, were now even at the door; that this great operation was to be wrought on the part of man by spiritual arms only proceeding from the mouths of those who should, by inspiration, or the mighty gift of the spirit, be sent forth in great numbers to labour in the vineyard; that this mission of the servants should be witnessed by signs and wonders from heaven, by a deluge of judgment on the wicked universally throughout the world, as famine, pestilence, earthquakes, &c., that the exterminating angel shall root out the tares, and there shall remain on earth only good corn; and the works of men being thrown down, there shall be but one Lord, one faith, one heart, and one voice among mankind. They declared that all the great things they spoke would be manifest over the whole earth within the term of three years.
These prophets also pretended to the gift of languages, of discerning the secrets of the heart, the gift of administration of the Spirit to others, by the laying on of hands, and the gift of healing. To prove that they were really inspired by the Holy Ghost, they alleged the complete joy and satisfaction they experienced, the spirit of prayer which was poured upon them, and the answer of their prayers. Such were these wild enthusiasts, and where are they now?
The unusual length of the foregoing articles on an interesting subject, has excluded much matter that has been prepared for this number of the Inquirer, especially an answer to a querist in Kentucky, the receipt of whose letter is thus acknowledged.
It is probable that this work will be suspended after the volume is complete. Two numbers will bring us to a close and perhaps those two numbers will be issued together under one cover. A great number of our subscribers are in arrears. We hope they will take the hint and enable us to pay the printer. Agents will confer a favor by being active, as the work will not more than pay for the mechanical execution. Our reasons, &c. in our valedictory. EDITOR.
RECEIPTS -- By S. Rohrer, Ezra Shinn, Germantown; Martin A. Stemmons paid $5 for himself, Dr. W. Huff, Jas. C. Short, Elijah Dawsco and Z. M. Rhinehart, Stanford, Ky; Peter Wiles paid for Thos. C. McConnel, John H. McConnel and John J. Gregory, Ripley, Brown co.,; Dea. Baldwin paid for Robert Taylor, Fort Jefferson, and Uriah Black, West Alexandria; A. G. Burt, Cincinnati; William Hibbin, Wilmington, Clinton co.; John Munday, Mrs. Bradford, John Moffit, John Robins, A. S. Richardson, P. P. Low, Dayton; Elder Caleb Bates, Germantown; George Olinger, Jefferson township.
Rev. Burnet makes the interesting comment that the first converts to Mormonism in New York believed "that treasures of great amount were concealed near the surface of the earth, probably by the Indians, whom they were taught to consider the descendants of the ten lost Israelitish tribes, by the celebrated Jew who a few years since promised to gather Abraham's sons on Grand Island, thus to be made a Paradise." The "celebrated Jew" spoken of here is, of course, Mordecai Noah. Although there is no known evidence in support of the presumption that any of the earliest Mormons knew Mordecai Noah personally, it is quite possible that Joseph Smith, Jr. and his associates in Ontario County were acquianted with the "celebrated Jew's" ideas regarding the Israelite origins of the American Indians and of his plans to establish an Israelite (Jewish) gathering place on Grand Island in the middle of the Niagara River. 1
Major M. M. Noah, Journalist & Politician
The import of this intriguing possibility is heightened by the probable identity of the Niagara River and the Sidon River spoken of the Book of Mormon. The early Mormons looked upon the Great Lakes area as the final refuge of the Nephites prior to their last great battle with their Lamanite foe. Burnet's report saying "treasures of great amount were concealed near the surface of the earth, probably by the Indians," in the Palmyra area probably reflects very early Mormon traditions of Nephite riches hidden in the Great Lakes region. The "intelligent Post Master at Palmyra" was perhaps Burnet's source for both his indirect reference to Mordecai Noah and for his mention of the New York Mormons hunting of ancient Indian treasures.
The location of the "New Jerusalem" Israelite gathering place spoken of in the Book of Mormon (Ether ch. 6 -- 1830 ed.) was not clearly defined. The earliest Mormons thought of it as being situated "among the Lamanites" or, "on the borders by the Lamanites," in "this land" (North America) and most likely somewhere within the bounds of the United States. Grand Island, in Erie Co., New York would have been as good a place as any for their hoped-for millennial earthly paradise. Joseph Smith claimed to receive revelations at Kirtland, Ohio, in February and March of 1831, which appeared to fix the location of this latter day utopia in "the regions westward" or "the western countries" 2 Smith's followers were also learning that the zionic city to be built in the Americas would primarily be a gathering for the scattered "tribe of Joseph" (Mormons and Indians); while the Jerusalem in Ottoman Palestine would play host to a gathering of Jews and other "lost" Israelite tribes. By the close of 1830, Grand Island, NY was becoming an increasingly unlikely location for the American New Jerusalem.
One factor influencing the location of the envisioned Mormon city of refuge was that it had to be somewhere relatively close to the "Lamanites." Congress passed President Andrew Jackson's Indian Removal Act on May 26, 1830 and the bill became law that September. Over the next nine years the "five civilized tribes" of the American southeast would be transported to the "Indian Country" on the west bank of the Missouri River to join other tribes (primarily remnants of the related Shawnee and Delaware Nations) who were already living in that area. It was probably no coincidence that Smith announced revelations at Fayette, NY that same September, sending Oliver Cowdery and three companions on a preaching mission "unto the Lamanites" and hinting that where he ended up (on the west bank of the Missouri, across the river from the frontier settlement of Independence) "the city shall be built." 3
On October 18th the four Mormon missionaries began their fifteen-hundred-mile westward trek. The Grand Island Israelite gathering place of Mordecai Noah was not entirely left out of Cowdery and company's 1830-31 mission to the Indians, however. In fact, the Seneca Indians assigned to the Cattaraugus Reservation of Erie Co., NY (but still residing at the Buffalo Mission, near Grand Island and the city of Buffalo) were the first "Lamanites" visited by the missionaries on their trek westward. Oliver may have also stopped to see his brother, Warren Cowdery, who then lived but a few miles east of the upper reaches of Cattaraugus Creek, in Freedom township; however, he and his companions are not known to have proselyted any Indians there. 4 After having travelled so far to convert Indians to Mormonism, the missionaries spent only a few hours with the Seneca at the Buffalo Mission, telling them that the Book of Mormon was a record of their ancient ancestors. Parley P. Pratt said that the four missionaries left a couple of copies of the Book of Mormon among these literate Indians and then departed for the west. 5
The Seneca had long been associated with Grand Island, but even before their residence in the area another tribe had occupied the site. These were the extinct Erie Indians, who formerly occupied northwestern New York, the Pennsylvania panhandle, and the Erie shore of Ohio. The Erie Nation had been exterminated before the arrival of the British American settlers of the west by their fierce foe, the Iroquois. According to an old account, possibly attributable to Solomon Spalding, what few Erie had escaped this final fate were eventually absorbed into the clans of the Seneca. So, whether by chance or by plan, the Mormon missionaries of 1830 began their preaching tour by contacting the last Native American band whose ancestral relatives could be traced back to the original inhabitants of Mordecai Noah's Grand Island paradise -- an exterminated, allegedly "civilized," people whose story resonates greatly with that of the equally extinct Nephites chronicled in the Book of Mormon. 6
Mordecai Noah was not unaware of the Mormon activities in building a temporary city of refuge at Kirtland in the 1830s. In a late 1835 issue of his Evening Star, Noah protested the Mormons' calling their nearly finished house of worship at Kirtland the "Temple of the Lord." The Jewish editor and would-be American zionist seemingly had no patience with what he termed the Mormons' "unhallowed purposes" in gathering around a "heathen temple." 7 The Mormons never quite lost sight of Mordecai Noah's work, though they have long since forgotten his name. In 1840 the Jewish scholar obtained an English translation and published the extracanonical Book of Jasher. The Mormons became fascinated with the book and have kept it in print and circulation wherever they congregate. The first of their reprintings of this strange volume was published by J. H. Parry & Co. of Salt Lake City, Utah, in 1887 and modern printings are generally kept in stock at the LDS Church's Deseret Book Stores.
For more information on Mordecai M. Noah and the Mormons see M. M. Noah's Ararat: Blueprint for the Mormon Zion at the "Gathering of Israel" web-site.
PART TWO: CAMPBELLITE MORMON ORIGINSRev. Burnet refers in his March 7th issue to an article recently published in "The Baptist Chronicle of Ky." which "endeavored to fasten this imposition upon the current reformation." In other words, Baptists in Kentucky who were unhappy with Alexander, Barton Stone, and the other "reformers" who sought to change the Baptist religion, were saying that Mormonism had sprung from the work of the Campbellites. Burnet, of course, was quick to denounce such allegations, calling them "ungentlemanly insinuations." He did not take kindly to those who might wish to "identify Mr. Campbell and those associated with him with this Mormonish absurdity..." because "this new project" of Latter Day Saint restorationism "makes no approach towards the reformation in its character or object." 8
This otherwise unidentified anti-Mormon article, credited to the Baptist Chronicle & Literary Register, must have one of the very earliest published comparisons noting the ecclesiastical parallels between Campbell's Reformed Baptists' "restoration of the ancient order of things" and the Mormons' own "restoration of all things." Alexander Campbell, Walter Scott and other early Disciples leaders were very cautious throughout the 1830s and early 1840s in admitting any similarities between their own religious tenets and those of the Mormons. In fact, the two groups were remarkably similar in many ways and more than one later author has taken the pains to point out how Mormonism evolved from Campbellism. As early as Nov. 18, 1830, Warren Isham, the editor of the Hudson, Ohio Observer was publishing the allegation that Mormonism was "Campbellism Improved;" and the Norwalk, Ohio Huron Reflector for Apr. 11, 1831 made it a point to imply that the absurdities of the baptismal "external rites and ceremonies" of Campbellism were made even more laughable in the recent Mormon conversion of "Elder Rigdon" the leader of the "Campbellite Society" at Mentor, when "Rigdon embraced the new doctrine and was baptized for the third time -- once as a regular Baptist -- once as a Campbellite -- and now as a disciple of the new revelation [Mormonism]." One of the more erudite critics of early Mormonism was the Rev. Daniel P. Kidder, who pointed out its theological affinities to Campbellism as early as 1842. Years later, the Rev. William H. Whitsitt wrote an entire book centered upon this peculiar fact.
Rev. Alexander Campbell
In another twist of possible theological interdependence, there appears tp be some evidence to support the idea that Solomon Spalding was influenced by incipient Campbellism while he finished writing his infamous manuscript (that allegedly formed the basis for the Book of Mormon). Gerald Langford, in 1961 published a book, that mentioned in passing the fact that Spalding worked on his manuscript while temporarily residing with a Campbellite family in Washington Co., Pennsylvania. The late Vernal Holley outlined the possible influence of the earliest manifestations of Campbellism upon Spalding, in the "Conclusion" of his noted Book of Mormon Authorship.
Although editor Burnet reprints the standard Campbellite denunciation of Sidney Rigdon for his dissimulation in promulgating the Book of Mormon as a revelation from God, he does not accuse Rigdon of having a hand in the authorship of the book. Burnet merely passes on the reports of the Mentor Campbellite preacher, Matthew S. Clapp (M.S.C.) and the Rev. Thomas Campbell (Alexander's father) without editorializing on Mormon origins. Thus, Elder Francis W. Kirkham was perhaps technically correct when he said: "No one at this time had conceived the idea or made the accusation that Sydney Rigdon had had any part in writing the Book of Mormon," in Vol. II of his A New Witness for Christ in America. On the other hand, some early observers DID credit Rigdon with being the secret founder of Mormonism, or at least the secret author of its first book of scripture. On Feb. 15, 1831 the editor of the Cleveland Advertiser published his opinion -- "Rigdon was formerly a disciple of Campbell's and who it is said was sent out to make proselytes, but is probable he thought he should find it more advantageous to operate on his own capital, and therefore wrote, as it is believed the Book of Mormon." On Aug. 31 and Sept. 1, 1831, the notion that Rigdon played a secret part in the formation of Mormonism was given national publicity in a two-part article which appeared in the popular New York Courier & Enquirer: "He had been a preacher of almost every religion... His name I believe is Henry Rangdon or Ringdon... the money diggers renewed their work with fresh ardour, Ringdon partly uniting with them in their operations... the Ex-Preacher from Ohio, thought of turning their digging concern into a religious plot... There is no doubt but the ex-parson from Ohio is the author of the book which was recently printed and published in Palmyra and passes for the new Bible."
Since the Campbellite spokesmen of the early 1830s were rather careful not to mention their own apostate converts to Mormonism (Sidney Rigdon, Parley P. Pratt, Orson Hyde, Lyman Wight, Isaac Morley, etc.) in connection with its origins, it would be left to observers from outside of both "restoration movements" to report on allegations of Rigdon's involvement in the founding of the new sect. As already mentioned, that idea first received national publicity with the 1831 publication of James Gordon Bennett's two-part Courier & Enquirer article: "Mormonism - Religious Fanaticism." From that time forward it became popular for non-Mormon critics of the new movement to credit its earliest theology and holy writ to the Rev. Rigdon.
Parley P. Pratt said in 1838, "Early in 1831, Mr. Rigdon... visited elder J. Smith, Jr., in the State of New York, for the first time; and from that time forth, rumor began to circulate, that he (Rigdon) was the author of the Book of Mormon." So, while published reports of Rigdon's alleged duplicity in the matter of the origin of the Book of Mormon did not reach the national press until August of 1831, according to Pratt those rumors were already in oral circulation by the time that Burnet published his anti-Mormon issue of the Evangelical Inquirer in March of 1831.
1 Mordecai Noah's plans for an Israelite gathering place on Grand Island and his advocacy for the Israelite origin of the American Indians were known in Joseph Smith's home town. His articles appeared in Palmyra area newspapers in 1823 and 1825. See Marvin Hill's "The Roll of Christian Primitivism..." (PhD Disseratation, University of Chicago, 1968, p. 98. Hill did not carry over his material on Noah into his 1989 Quest for Refuge, but the same information has been discussed by other historians of Mormonism. See Robert N. Hullinger, Joseph Smith's Response to Skepticism (St. Louis, 1980) pp. 54-56 & 65-67; Dan Vogel, Indian Origins and the Book of Mormon (Salt Lake City: 1986) pp. 42 - 43, 56; Steven Epperson, Mormons and Jews... (Salt Lake City 1992 ) pp. 12-13; and H. Michael Marquardt & Wesley Walters, Inventing Mormonism (Salt Lake City: 1994) p. 45.
2 See (Book of Commandments (1833) 44:9 & 48:59-67, cf. Evening and Morning Star I:1 (June 1832).
3 See Marquardt, H. Michael, The Joseph Smith Revelations... (Salt Lake City: 1999) pp. 85-89 for a discussion of the results of this mission and the probable reason why the revelation to Cowdery was not printed in the Evening and Morning Star nor in the 1833 Book of Commandments.
4 Warren A. Cowdery had lived in Freedom, Cattaraugus Co., New York as early as 1815-16. Although he also maintained a residence and medical practice in Le Roy, New York during the early 1820s, Warren had evidently settled in Freedom permanently by 1824, when he became the Postmaster of that village. William Hyde, whose owned the farm next to Warren's, said: "In the year 1830 or 1831 he began to hear something concerning the Book of Mormon, and the setting up of the kingdom of god on the earth in the last days. The little information that we gained upon this subject, until the elders came preaching, was through Warren A. Cowdery whose farm joined with our farm. Warren A. obtained from his brother, Oliver, at an early date some of the proof sheets to the Book of Mormon, some of which we had the privilege of perusing..." (William Hyde, "Autobiography," Special Collections, Lee Library, Brigham Young University.
5 Autobiography of Parley P. Pratt (Salt Lake City: 1985), p. 35. This book was written by Pratt and edited and published by his son in 1874. It is available on-line.
6 Oddly enough, one of the most succinct accounts of the Erie-Iroquois war extermination can probably be traced back to the pen of Rev. Solomon Spalding, the sometimes-credited author for the Book of Mormon. This account was published in the History of Ashtabula County, Ohio (1878) as "Destruction of the Eries" (pp. 22-23) under the name of Stephen D. Peet (1831-1914). Peet was an early American cultural anthropologist and paleo-historian who grew up near Solomon Spalding's old home in Ashtabula Co., Ohio and who became intensely interested in all of the old Indian earthworks and relics found in that area. Peet's Indian extermination account in the Ashtabula history book overflows with words, phrases, and grammatical constructions typical of Solomon Spalding's unfinished story of ancient Americans now on file in the archives of Oberlin College. It is entirely likely that Peet's telling of the tale followed the wording of a now lost Spalding original. The fact that Spalding referred to exterminated civilized Indians living south of Lakes Erie and Ontario ties his story closely to Peet's account and to traditions among northern Ohio settlers regarding the mysteriously vanished Erie. Eber D. Howe, who once possessed the Oberlin Spalding manuscript, summarized it in 1884 as being "a Romance of Indian wars along the shore of Lake Erie between various tribes one of which he called Erie." While Howe's memory was not perfect in this recollection his identification of the Oberlin story with the extermination of the Eries is not an unexpected one for anybody living in the Ohio Western Reserve during its earliest period. Spalding's writings are tied to the traditions concerning the extinct Eries and to the geography of the Grand Island region also, by the fact that he called one of the characters in his Oberlin story the "King of Cataraugus."
7 See W. W. Phelps' reply to Mordecai Noah is his "Thou Shalt Not Lie," Messenger and Advocate II:3 (Dec 1835) pp. 232-233.
8 Burnet was echoing the oficial Campbellite party line in his editorial reactions to the statements published by the Baptist Chronicle & Literary Register of Georgetown, Kentucky. See also Alexander Campbell's similar responses in his Millennial Harbinger for Jan. 1831.