Parley P. Pratt (1807-1857)
Plain Facts Showing Falsehood
(Manchester, UK: 1840)
SHOWING THE FALSEHOOD AND FOLLY OF
THE REV. C. S. BUSH,
(a Church Minister of the Parish of Peover,)
REPLY TO HIS TRACT AGAINST THE LATTER-DAY SAINTS.
We have a Tract now in our possession purporting to be written by the Rev Mr. Bush, entitled "Plain Facts, showing the falsehood and folly of the Mormonites or Latter-day Saints," &c.
If so many books are left out of the volume, and yet actually quoted in it; there may have been hundreds of others of which we have not account.
But, besides all these, it is evident that God was Revelator to man from the days of Adam to the days of Moses, who commenced to write the Bible; and surely, the Bible cannot be supposed to contain the thousandth part of the word of the Lord which had been revealed in those early ages.
Indeed, the Bible contains but a very small portion of the word of the Lord which was spoken and revealed to man during the progress of those writings; that is, from Moses to John the Revelator.
Does it contain the words of the prophets who prophesied in the camp of Israel at the time Moses exclaimed, "Would to God the Lord's people were all prophets?" Or, will any one contend that what they prophesied, was not the word of the Lord. Does the Bible contain what the Corinthians, Ephesians, Romans, and others prophesied in the churches, when assembled together from time to time in the enjoyment of the different gifts of the Spirit? Does the Bible contain the word of the Lord which he has manifested in visions, in prophesying, and revelations, from age to age, down to the present day? Does it contain all which God has revealed to other nations remote from Jerusalem, and all that he will reveal on or before the day of judgment? Shall we stand before a DUMB God at the judgment day, who, if he speaks in order to pronounce judgment, will be found a transgressor of his own Book, by speaking after the "Canon of Scripture is complete?"
Does it contain that which God will speak to Israel in the wilderness in the great restitution, when he "pleads with them face to face," in fulfillment of the 20th chapter of Ezekiel?
The Bible holds forth the doctrine of CONTINUAL and UNIVERSAL REVELATION, SO far as men would live up to their privileges.
"If ANY MAN lack wisdom, let him ask of God, who giveth to ALL MEN liberal]y and upbraideth not, and it SHALL BE GIVEN HIM.
Again, the apostle prays that God will give unto the children of men the spirit of WISDOM and REVELATION in the KNOWLEDGE OF GOD.
Again, it is written, that no man knoweth the Son but the Father, and him to whom the Father REVEALS him.
Do away the principle of direct Revelation then, and we do away the religion of the Bible, and have nothing left but atheism.
Do away the principle of direct and continued Revelation, and you have not a witness on earth that Jesus is the Christ.
Do away the principle of continued Revelation, and there is not a man on earth who knows his sins forgiven, or that can get a call to preach the gospel.
Do away the principle of continued revelation, and you worship a DUMB and changeable God, and have no communion with the ANGELS, nor with the HOLY GHOST.
We call upon the hundreds of thousands of Methodists -- upon the Society of Friends or Quakers -- upon the Christian world at large -- nay, -- upon the Church of England herself, to speak out upon this subject -- to rise up in the dignity and majesty of their holy profession, and bear their testimony against this atheism in a new dress -- this religion which shuts heaven, and cuts off all communication between God and his creatures.
So much for the Reverend Gentleman's first pretended "fact," we now come to his second pretended "fact."
He says "There are men come to us, who profess that they have found a revelation, which they say is from God. I will prove by facts that what they say cannot be true, because the widow of the man who wrote the book which they pretend is a revelation from God, has published a letter proving that it was "written by her late husband, &c."
He further says, that "the title-page may be considered as a specimen of the blasphemous jargon of the whole. He then proceeds to quote the title-page in part, but does not point out one thing which is jargon or blasphemy in it. Therefore the reader is left at a loss "that Jesus is the Christ, the Eternal God manifesting himself unto all nations."
He says, "at least thirty pages of the book are copied from the Holy Gospels." With the same propriety he might say that the "Holy Gospels" were copied from each other, because they are nearly alike. The thirty pages to which he alludes contain the gospel and teachings of the Son of God, as revealed to another branch of Israel, in a distant land from Jerusalem. Why should his Gospel not be the same in one nation or country as in another? Does it alter it to reveal it to another people? He puts us in mind of the decision of the Mahometan tyrant in relation to the Alexandrian Library, who ordered the 600,000 manuscript volumes to be burned for this reason, that if they agreed with the "Koran", they were useless, as that was all-sufficient; but if they did not agree with it, they were false any how.
So this gentleman condemns one part of the book for agreeing with the "Gospels," and the other part for some other reason. But after all, can find no ground of condemnation for 600 pages of "closely written matter" except to call it stupid, without reading it, and let it go.
He then mentions, that the book contains the testimony of eleven witnesses, who all testify that they have seen the original copy which has been found; and three of these witnesses testify that they know the truth of it by the ministering of an angel, and by the voice of God.
This evidence he can pass over in silence, while, at the same time, he can take newspaper statements, containing a forged letter with an old woman's name signed to it, and publish it for a POSITIVE FACT, which he supposes will have great weight with the honest.
But lest the people should still be disposed to doubt his statements, he again affirms as follows: "My object is not to mislead by false statements or pretended truths -- I WRITE ONLY FACTS." I suppose he thinks that the statement of a Reverend, to something he has read in a newspaper, is quite sufficient -- that people will not have the impoliteness to call it in question for a moment. But the days of such credulity have gone by -- it requires something more than a forged letter in a newspaper, with an old woman's name signed to it, and the statement of a Reverend, who never pretended to know any thing about it himself, to go down with the people for fact: the people require some evidence.
He complains of one of our ministers, as having denied that the Bible is the "whole truth of God." But who, in the name of common sense, will contend that the Bible is the "whole truth of God?"
It is a truth that America exists; but the Bible does not tell it. It is a truth that Washington lived and fought; but that truth is not in the Bible. It is a truth that her Majesty Queen Victoria now reigns in England; but the Bible does not contain it. It is a truth that men have invented steamboats and rail-roads; but the Bible does not tell it. It is a truth that the Rev. C. S. Bush is in existence, (I suppose) but the Reverend Gentleman himself disputes it; for he says the Bible contains the whole truth of God, and it nowhere mentions the existence of this gentleman, and surely he will not have the impiety to believe in any thing which is not in the Bible, as it contains "the whole truth of God." Surely then he will call in question his own existence.
But to the Reverend gentleman's next "fact." He says, "I have just received from a brother minister the following FACT. -- In describing a conversation held with a young woman who has heard them, and whose sister has been deluded by them, he made use of the word "Mormonite." -- "O yes" she said, "my sister tells me that is their name; they go by the Book of Mormon, and they say that the Bible is only true in part."
Now the foregoing must be received as FACT; for a Minister heard a "Brother minister" say, that he heard a young woman say, that she heard a young woman say, that she heard some member of our society say, that we held so and so; and whoever knew any thing but FACTS so come from ministers and young women when associated with each other in so holy a cause!!!
This last FACT is so well authenticated that we shall not be so uncourteous to the ladies and clergy as to call it in question.
We therefore proceed to notice his next "fact." He says "There is no revelation from God but that which proceeds from him."
This is a fact which we do not wish to call in question: but we merely quote it as a specimen of the Reverend gentleman's logic, and to give him the credit which would seem to be his just due, for having discovered an axiom so important.
It would be similar use of language to say, there is no news from France except that which proceeds from France.
The gentleman quotes Paul to Timothy, where he says "from a child thou hast known the Holy Scriptures, which are able to make thee wise unto salvation, through faith which is in Christ Jesus."
He then observes: "Here the Holy Scriptures, and not pretended revelations from angels, are spoken of as being able to make men wise unto salvation."
What does he mean by this? Surely he is not ignorant that Paul and others received revelations from angels both before and after this letter to Timothy. Did not John receive a revelation from an angel many years after Paul wrote this Epistle? Surely he did.
I know not why the gentleman quoted this text, unless it was to infer that we must reject all Scripture which was given later than that which Timothy was acquainted with when a child. If this text proves anything against modern revelation, it proves too much; for it speaks expressly of the Old Testament Scriptures, and no other, because no other was in existence when Timothy was a child. Indeed, the New Testament did not yet exist when Paul was writing this text.
Will Mr. Bush give up the New Testament, and say it is not necessary, because the other was able to make one wise unto salvation? Will he reject everything which has been revealed by angels since that text was written? It seems so, from the inference which he has drawn.
But now to his next "fact."
He says, THE WORD OF GOD'S REVELATION IS CLOSED FOR EVER. He then quotes Rev. xxii. 18, 19, and Proverbs xxx. 5, 6. The latter is, "Add thou not unto his words, lest he reprove thee, and thou be found a liar." In the former text he was for rejecting all the Scriptures, except the Old Testament which Timothy had known from a child; but now he seems inclined to reject all which has been added since the Proverbs were written. This sweeps off most of the prophets. I think by the time he gets through with his logic we shall have but a small Bible indeed; that is, if his conclusions are tenable. What object can he have in quoting this text, except to cut off all which has been added since?
These texts do not prohibit God, or angels, or the Holy Spirit, from giving revelations to man, in any age of the world. But they only prohibit man from perverting that which God gives, by additions or diminutions of their own.
Mr. Bush intimates, that the Latter-Day Saints are "open to the excommunication of the Church of Christ," and "open to being denied CHRISTIAN BURIAL," and "lost for ever;" to which we reply, that we want no fellowship with a professed Church of Christ, whose charity is so limited that it denies BURIAL to the dead bodies of those who dissent from them, or even to the heathen. As to burial, we are not careful with whom or by whom we are buried; but the great object with us is to secure part in the first resurrection.
He says, "This must be true," (that we are lost for ever) "if Christ is the only way, truth, and light, for we point out another way -- we appeal to another so called truth, that of Mormon, and seek guidance from another light than that of the spirit of the Holy One, that of the wicked lie, Mormon."
In reply to this false accusation, we will quote some of the writings of Mormon, to show to all men that Mr. Bush has misrepresented Mormon, as well as those who believe in his writings. The following are some closing remarks made by Mormon, in his writings to the remnant of Israel, his brethren; and it is such doctrine that this gentleman is pleased to term "damnable doctrines" and "wicked lies." We quote Book of Mormon, page 560:
"And now, behold, I would speak somewhat unto the remnant of this people who are spared, if it so be that God may give unto them my words, that they may know of the things of their fathers; yea, I speak unto you, ye remnant of the house of Israel, and these are the words which I speak, know ye that ye are of the house of Israel. Know ye that ye must come unto repentance, or ye cannot be saved. Know ye that ye must lay down your weapons of war, and delight no more in the shedding of blood, and take them not again, save it be that God shall command you. Know ye that ye must come to the knowledge of your fathers, and repent of all your sins and iniquities, and believe in Jesus Christ, that he is the Son of God, and that he was slain by the Jews,
and by the power of the Father he hath risen again, whereby he hath gained the victory over the grave; and also in him is the sting of death swallowed up. And he bringeth to pass the resurrection of the dead, whereby man must be raised to stand before his judgment seat. And he hath brought to pass the redemption of the world, whereby he that is found guiltless before him at the judgment day, hath it given unto him to dwell in the presence of God in his kingdom, to sing ceaseless praises with the choirs above, unto the Father, and unto the Son, and unto the Holy Ghost, which are one God, in a state of happiness which hath no end.
Therefore, repent and be baptized in the name of Jesus, and lay hold upon the gospel of Christ, which shall be set before you, not only in this record,but also in the record which shall come from the Gentiles unto you.
For, behold, this is written for the intent that ye may believe that; and if ye believe that, ye will believe this also; and if ye believe this, ye will know concerning your fathers, and also the marvelous works which were wrought by the power of God among them; and ye will also know that ye are a remnant of the seed of Jacob; therefore, ye are numbered among the people of the first covenant; and if it so be that ye believe in Christ, and are baptized, first with water, then with fire and with the Holy Ghost, following the example of our Saviour, according to that which he hath commanded us, it shall be well with you in the day of judgment. Amen."
The foregoing is a sample of the purity of Mormon's doctrine throughout his record; and we challenge Mr. Bush, or the world, to produce from the 6~9 pages of the Book of Mormon one principle of doctrine which does not breathe the same spirit of purity and holiness. "Damnable doctrines!" "wicked lie!" What loving terms, what charitable expressions for a professed follower of the meek and holy Lamb of God! but they are in accordance with that spirit which would leave a dissenter without a decent BURIAL.
He further says, that, when we baptize a person, we require him to "renounce all other religions on the face of the earth." This we acknowledge to be true. We most freely renounce all other religions but the religion set forth in the page of Mormon's writings which we have quoted, and other writings which are in accordance with it. We want no religion but pure Christianity. He says, "It can easily be proved, too, that they have used and quoted the Book (of Mormon) at their meetings." To this we reply, that we will own it, and save them the trouble of proving it. We do use and quote the Book of Mormon; and, farther than this, we intend to publish it to all nations and languages under heaven; for we know, and hereby testify, that it is an ancient record, written by the commandment of the Lord, and that it is now sent forth by his commandment; and all the powers of earth and hell will never stop its progress till earth is overwhelmed with its light and glory.
He says, they "have declared that parts of the Bible are the WORDS or WORKS of bad men and bad women, an assertion which at once ranks them with the infidel dangers of the inspiration of the Bible."
This, too, we acknowledge to have said, and we do still say it; and, if it ranks us with the infidel, we cannot help it. It is what the Bible professes, and while we believe the Bible, we are bound to believe that it contains some of the works and words of bad men and bad women -- nay, more, it contains the words of a SERPENT, of DEVILS, and of an ASS; and he that says to the contrary is an infidel, and not a believer in the Bible at all. We will here give a few samples: --
The word of the serpent to Eve.
The word of the ass to Balaam.
The word of the Devil to Christ.
The word of the wicked men and women of Ephesus, crying, "Great is Diana of the Ephesians."
The word of Potipher's wife to Joseph, saying, "Come, lie with me."
The word of Job's wife, "Curse God and die."
We could give a hundred other examples, but we trust these will suffice. We now leave this part of the subject for a candid public to judge which is the infidel—whether it is Mr. Bush, who believes all the above Scriptures to be the word of the Lord, or whether it is the Latter-Day Saints, who believe they are just what they profess to be.
Mr. Bush quotes the words of John, in his second Epistle, 8, 9, 10, and 11. It speaks concerning those who transgress and abide not in the DOCTRINE of Christ, and declares that they have not God. To this we would reply, that we are willing to compare our doctrine with that of the Church of England at any time, and let the world see which comes up to the standard of the doctrine of Christ. The doctrine of Christ was a doctrine of REVELATION and miracles: the doctrine of Mr. Bush is the opposite. He says, we are to receive NO REVELATIONS; but Christ promises us the Holy Spirit of revelation, which would guide us into ALL TRUTH, teach us ALL THINGS, and show us things to come.
He quotes Paul to the Galatians, concerning preaching another gospel, and asks the question, "Was the Book of Mormon, its baptism, its folly, preached of Paul?" "Was it of Christ?" He answers "No;" and then proceeds to curse those who preach the principles of Mormon. Well, let him curse. But still we will reply to his questions. We say, then, as to the doctrine or gospel contained in the Book of Mormon, together with its baptism, it is precisely the same as taught by Paul and Christ. This, Mr. Bush himself has acknowledged, and even said it was copied from the "Holy Gospels;" but, for further proof of its being the same gospel, we again refer to the page of the writings of Mormon, which we have already quoted in this pamphlet. But as to the "folly" of the Book of Mormon, Mr. B. has not been so kind as to point out one specimen of its "folly," and we, after several years' acquaintance with it, have not been able to discover any "folly" in it. If there is any in it, perhaps Paul would have preached it; for, if his own testimony is to be credited, he wrote folly to the Corinthians, and requested them to "bear with him a little in his folly."
But if the question be asked, whether Jesus and Paul preached the Book of Mormon, we answer, "No;" for surely we would not expect
them to preach a book in Asia which was only had in America, and especially 400 years before it was written, or before the writer lived. Jesus and Paul lived in Palestine 1800 years since, and Mormon lived in America about 1400 years since. But this question makes as much against many of the books of the New Testament as it does against the Book of Mormon.
Paul and Christ did not preach any book except the Old Testament. The gospel did not consist of a book, but rather of a message of glad tidings proclaimed among the people, whereby they might be saved.
I ask, did Paul preach the Revelations of John, which he received on the Isle of Patmos many years after Paul was dead? I answer No. What then? Shall we reject John's book? No. But Mr. Bush's argument would make as much against the Book of Revelations as against the Book of Mormon, for Paul preached neither; and Mr. B. curses those who preach a book which Paul did not preach. Paul did not refer to a book which he had preached, and then curse those who should preach any other; but he referred to certain principles, and wherever these principles are found, whether written or verbal, they are the same gospel which was preached by Paul. Let them be written by Matthew, Mark, Luke, John, Paul, or Peter, in Asia, or let them be written by Nephi, Alma, Mormon, or Moroni, in America, they are still the same unaltered Gospel. Let them be written on parchment, papyrus, tables of stone, paper, or plates of gold, they are still the same unchangeable principles. They will remain the same although the material on which they are written should perish or be dissolved, -- the same, even if heaven and earth should pass away.
We shall now proceed to lay before the public the forged letter which Mr. Bush has published in his tract, as the principal foundation of his whole fabric, together with several replies to the same, which have been published by some of the most respectable journals in the United States, and which will effectually expose and lay open one of the deepest plots of Satan and of wicked men which was ever laid against the truth since the priests gave the soldiers "large money" to hire them to report that Jesus' disciples had stolen his body. By that means priestcraft continued to blind the eyes of a majority of the Jews unto this day; and by this Spaulding fable the priests of the present age may contrive to keep many of the Gentiles in blindness in relation to the fulness of the gospel, and thus plunge them into a similar destruction.
The following is a copy of the forged letter. It was, when first published in America, headed
"MORMON BIBLE.""The Boston Recorder of last week contains the following singular development of the origin and history of the Mormon Bible. It accounts most satisfactorily for the existence of the book, a fact which heretofore it has been difficult to explain. It was difficult to imagine how a work containing so many indications of being the production of a cultivated mind should be connected with a knavery so impudent and a superstition so gross as that which must have characterized the founders of this pretended religious sect. The present narrative, which, independently of the attestations annexed, appears to be by no
means improbable, was procured by the writer from the Reverend Mr. Stow [sic], of Holliston, who remarks that "he has had occasion to come in contact with Mormonism in its grossest forms." It was communicated by him for publication in the Recorder.
As this book has excited much attention, and has been put up by a certain new sect, in the place of the sacred Scriptures, I deem it a duty which I owe to the public to state what I know touching its origin. That its claims to a divine origin are wholly unfounded needs no proof to a mind unperverted by the grossest delusions. That any sane person should rank it higher than any other merely human composition is a matter of the greatest astonishment; yet it is received as divine by some who dwell in enlightened New England, and even by those who have sustained the character of devoted Christians. Learning recently that Mormonism had found its way into a church in Massachusetts, and has impregnated some with its gross delusions, so that excommunication has become necessary, I am determined to delay no longer doing what I can to strip the mask from this monster of sin, and to lay open this pit of abominations. Reverend Solomon Spaulding, to whom I was united in marriage in early life, was a graduate of Dartmouth College, and was distinguished for a lively imagination, and a great fondness for history. At the time of our marriage, he resided in Cherry Valley, New York. From this place [h]e removed to New Salem, Ashtabula County, Ohio, sometimes called Conneaut, as it is situated upon Conneaut Creek. Shortly after our arrival at this place, his health sunk, and he was laid aside from active labours. In the town of New Salem there are numerous mounds and forts supposed by many to be the dilapidated dwellings and fortifications of a race now extinct. These ancient relics arrest the attention of the new settlers, and become objects of research for the curious. Numerous implements were found, and other articles evincing great skill in the arts. Mr. Spaulding being an educated man, passionately fond of history, took a lively interest in th[o]se developments of antiquity; and, in order to beguile the hours of retirement, and furnish employment for his lively imagination, he conceived the idea of giving a historical sketch of this long lost race. Their extreme antiquity, of course would lead him to write in the most ancient style; and as the Old Testament is the most ancient book in the world, he imitated its style as nearly as possible. His sole object in writing this historical romance was to amuse himself and his neighbours. This was about the year 1812. Hull's surrender at Detroit occurred near the same time, and I recollect the date well from that circumstance. As he progressed in his narrative the neighbours would come in, from time to time, to hear portions read, and a great interest in the work was excited among them. It claimed to have been written by one of the lost nation, and to have been recovered from the earth, and assumed the title of "Manuscript Found." The neighbours would often inquire how Mr. S. progressed in deciphering [the] "manuscript," and when he had sufficient portion prepared, he would inform them, and they would assemble to hear it read. He was enabled, from his acquaintance with the classics and ancient history, to introduce many singular names, which were particularly noticed by the people, and could be easily recognized by them. Mr.
S. Spaulding had a brother, Mr. John Spaulding, residing in the place at the time, who was perfectly familiar with this work, and repeatedly heard the whole of it read. From New Salem [h]e removed to Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania. Here Mr. S. found an acquaintance and friend in the person of Mr. Patterson, an editor of a newspaper. He exhibited his manuscript to Mr. P., who was very much pleased with [it], and borrowed it for perusal. He retained it for a long time, and informed Mr. S. that if he would make out a title-page and preface, he would publish it, and it might be a source of profit. This Mr. S. refused to do, for reasons which I cannot now state. Sidney Rigdon, * who has figured so largely in the history of the Mormons, was at that time connected with the printing-office of Mr. Patterson, as is well known in that region, and as Rigdon himself has frequently stated. Here he had ample opportunity to become acquainted with Mr. Spaulding's manuscript, and copy it if he chose. It was a matter of notoriety and interest to all connected with the printing establishment. At length the manuscript was returned to its author, and soon after we removed to Amity, Washington county, Pa., where Mr. S. died in 1816. The manuscript then fell into my hands, and was carefully preserved. It has frequently been examined by my daughter, Mrs. M'Kinstry, of Monson, Mass., with whom I now reside, and by other friends. After the "Book of Mormon" came out, a copy of it was taken to New Salem, the place of Mr. Spaulding's former residence, and the very place where the "Manuscript Found" was written. A woman preacher appointed a meeting there, (New Salem) and in the meeting read and repeated copious extracts from the "Book of Mormon." The historical part was immediately recognized by all the older inhabitants as the identical work of Mr. S., in which they had been so deeply interested years before. Mr. John Spaulding was present, who is an eminently pious man, and recognized perfectly the work of his brother. He was amazed and afflicted, that it should have been perverted to so wicked a purpose. His grief found vent in a flood of tears, and he arose on the spot, and expressed in the meeting his deep sorrow and regret that the writings of his sainted brother should be used for a purpose so vile and shocking. The excitement in New Salem became so great that the inhabitants had a meeting, and deputed Dr. Philastus Hurlburt, one of their members, to repair to this place, and obtain from me the original manuscript of Mr. Spaulding, for the purpose of comparing it with the Mormon Bible, to satisfy their own minds, and to prevent their friends from embracing an error so delusive. This was in the year 1834. Dr. Hurlburt brought with him an introduction, and request for the manuscript, signed by Messrs. Henry Lake, Aaron Wright, and others, with all of whom I was acquainted, as they were my neighbours when I resided at New Salem. I am sure that nothing would grieve my husband more, were he living, than the use which has been made of his work. The air of proud antiquity which was thrown about the composition doubtless suggested the idea of converting it to the purposes of delusion. Thus, a historical romance, with the addition of a few pious expressions and extracts from the sacred Scriptures, has been construed into
* One of the leaders and founders of the sect.
a new Bible, and palmed off upon a company of poor deluded fanatics as divine. I have given the previous brief narration that this work of deception and wickedness may be searched to the foundation, and its author exposed to the contempt and execration he so justly deserves.
Rev. Solomon Sapulding was the first husband of the narrator of the above history. Since his decease she has been married to a second husband, by the name of Davidson. She is now residing in this place -- is a woman of irreproachable character, and an humble Christian -- and her testimony is worthy of implicit confidence.
D. R. AUSTIN, Principal of Monson Academy.
TO THE EDITOR OF THE NEW ERA.SIR, -- In your paper of the 25th instant there is an article, copied from the Boston Recorder, headed "Mormon Bible," and signed "Matilda Davidson," which justice to our society and to the public requires me to answer and I trust that a sense of justice will induce you sir, to give your readers both sides of the question.
I am one of the society who believe the "Book of Mormon," and as such I am assailed in the statement professing to come from Matilda Davidson.
In the first place there is no such book in existence as the "Mormon Bible." The Mormons, as they are vulgarly called, believe in the same Bible that all Christendom professes to believe in, viz.: the common version of the Old and New Testament. The Book of Mormon is not entitled a Bible, except those who misrepresent it. It is entitled the "Book of Mormon."
The religious sect alluded to in your paper are there accused of knavery and superstition. Now, we are not sensible of being guilty of knavery, and we do not know wherein we are superstitious, but very much desire to know, in order that we may reform. If some good minister or editor will condescend to particulars, and point out our superstitions, we will take it as a great kindness, for we are the declared enemies to knavery and superstition.
If a firm belief in the gospel of a crucified and risen Redeemer, as manifested to all nations, and as recorded in their sacred books, amounts to superstition, than we are superstitious. If preaching that system to others and calling them to repentance, is superstition, then we are superstitious. If refusing to fellowship the modern systems of sectarianism which are contrary to the pure doctrines of the Bible, be superstition, then we are superstitious; for we hereby declare our withdrawal from all the mysticism, priestcraft and superstitions, and from all the creeds, doctrines, commandments, traditions and precepts of men, as far as they are contrary to the ancient faith and doctrine of the Saints; and we hereby bear our testimony against them.
We do not believe that God ever instituted more than one religious system under the same dispensation, therefore we do not admit that two different sects can possibly be right. The churches of Jesus Christ, in any age or country, must be all built upon the same faith,
the same baptism, the same Lord, the same Holy Spirit, which would guide them in all truth, and consequently from all error and superstition. The Book of Mormon has never been placed by us in the place of the sacred Scriptures, but, as before said, the sacred Scriptures stand in their own place, and the Book of Mormon abundantly corroborates and bears testimony of the truth of the Bible. Indeed, there is no society within our knowledge whose members adhere more closely to the Bible than ours. For proof of this we appeal to the multitudes who attend our religious meetings in this city and in all other places.
The piece in your paper states that "Sidney Rigdon was connected in the printing-office of Mr. Patterson," (in Pittsburgh) and that "this is a fact well known in that region, and as Rigdon himself has frequently stated. Here he had ample opportunity to become acquainted with Mr. Spaulding's manuscript, (romance) and to copy it if he chose." This statement is utterly and entirely false. Mr. Rigdon was never connected with the said printing establishment, either directly, or indirectly, and we defy the world to bring proof of any such connection. Now, the person or persons who fabricated that falsehood would do well to repent, and become persons of truth and veracity, before they express such acute sensibility concerning the religious pretensions of others.
The statement that Mr. Rigdon is one of the founders of the said religious sect is also incorrect. The sect was founded in the state of New York while Mr. Rigdon resided in Ohio, several hundreds of miles distant. Mr. Rigdon embraced the doctrine through my instrumentality. I first presented the Book of Mormon to him. I stood upon the bank of the stream while he was baptized, and assisted to officiate in his ordination; and I myself was unacquainted with the system until some months after its organization, which was on the 6th of April, 1830, and I embraced it in September following.
The piece further states that "a woman preacher appointed a meeting at New Salem, Ohio, and in the meeting read and repeated copious extracts from the Book of Mormon." Now, it is a fact well known, that we have had no female preacher in our connexion, for we do not believe in a female priesthood. It f[a]rther says, that the excitement in New Salem became so great that the inhabitants had a meeting and deputed Doctor Philastus Hurlburt, one of their members, to repair to Spaulding's widow, and obtain from her the original manuscript of the romance, &c. But the statement does not say whether he obtained the manuscript, but still leaves the impression that he did, and that it was compared with the Book of Mormon, &c. Now, whoever will read the work got up by the said Hurlburt entitled "Mormonism Unveiled," will find that he there states, that the said manuscript of Spaulding's romance was lost, and could no where be found. But the widow is here made to say, that it is carefully preserved. Here seems to be some knavery or crooked work; and no wonder, for this said Hurlburt is one of the most notorious rascals in the
western country. He was first cut off from our society for an attempt at seduction and crime, and, secondly he was laid under bonds in Geauga county, Ohio, for threatening to murder Joseph Smith, jun., after which he laid a deep design of the Spaulding romance imposition, in which he has been backed by evil and designing men in different parts of the country, and sometimes by those who do not wish to do wrong, but who are ignorant on the subject. Now, what but falsehood could be expected from such a person? Now, if there is such a manuscript in existence, let it come forward at once, and not be kept in the dark. Again, if the public will be patient, they will doubtless find that the piece signed "Matilda Davidson" (Spaulding's widow) is a base fabrication by priest Stores [sic], of Holliston, Mass., in order to save his craft, after losing the deacon of his church, and several of its most pious and intelligent members, who left his society to embrace what they considered to be truth. At any rate, a judge of literary productions, who can swallow that piece of writing as the production of a woman in private life, can be made to believe that the Book of Mormon is a romance; for the one is as much like a romance as the other is like a woman's composition.
The production signed "Matilda Davidson" is evidently the work of a man accustomed to public address, and the Book of Mormon I know to be true, and the Spaulding story, as far as the origin of the Book of Mormon is connected with it, I know to be false.
I now leave the subject with a candid public, with a sincere desire that those who have been deluded with such vain and foolish lies may be undeceived.
Editors, who have given publicity to the Spaulding story will do an act of justice by giving publicity to the foregoing.
New York, Nov. 27th, 1839. P. P. PRATT.
Copy of a letter written by Mr. John Haven of Holliston, Middlesex Co., Massachusetts, to his daughter, Elizabeth Haven, of Quincy, Adams Co., Illinois.
Your brother Jesse passed through Monson, where he saw Mrs. Davidson and her daughter, Mrs. M'Kinestry, and also Dr. Ely, and spent several hours with them, during which time he asked them the following questions, viz.: --
Did you, Mrs. Davidson, write a letter to John Storrs, giving an account of the origin of the Book of Mormon? -- Ans.: I did not. Did you sign your name to it? -- Ans: I did not; neither did I ever see the letter until I saw it in the Boston Recorder; the letter was never brought to me to sign. Ques.: What agency had you in having this letter sent to Mr. Storrs? -- Ans.: D. R. Austin came to my house, and asked me some questions, took some minutes on paper, and from these minutes wrote that letter. Ques.: Is what is written in the letter true? -- Ans.: In the main it is. Ques.: Have you read the Book of Mormon? -- Ans.: I have read some in it. Ques.: Does Mr. Spaulding's manuscript and the Book of Mormon agree? -- Ans.: I think some few of the names are alike. Ques.: Does the manuscript describe an idolatrous or a religious people? -- Ans.: An Idolatrous people. Ques.: Where is the manuscript? -- Ans.: Dr. P. Hurlburt came here and took it, said he would get it printed, and let me have
one half the profits. Ques.: Has Dr. P. Hurlburt got the manuscript printed? -- Ans: I received a letter stating it did not read as they expected, and they should not print it. Ques.: How large is Mr. Spaulding's manuscript? -- Ans: about one third as large as the Book of Mormon. Ques.: (To Mrs. M'Kinestry) How old was you when your father wrote the manuscript? -- Ans.: About five years of age. Ques.: Did you ever read the manuscript? -- Ans: When I was about twelve years old I used to read it for diversion. Ques.: Did the manuscript describe an Idolatrous or a religious people? -- Ans.: An idolatrous people. Ques.: Does the manuscript and the Book of Mormon agree? -- Ans.: I think some of the names agree. Ques.: Are you certain that some of the names agree? -- Ans.: I am not. Ques.: Have you ever read any in the Book of Mormon? -- Ans.: I have not. Ques.: Was your name attached to that letter which was sent to Mr. John Storrs by your order? -- Ans.: No; I never meant that my name should be there.
Commerce, May 27, 1839.Messrs. Bartlett and Sullivan: -- In your paper of the 18th inst., I see a letter signed by somebody calling herself Matilda Davidson, pretending to give the origin of Mormonism, as she is pleased to call it, by relating a moonshine story about a certain Solomon Spalding, a creature with the knowledge of whose earthly existence I am entirely indebted to this production; for, surely, until Doctor Philastus Hulburt informed me that such a being lived, at some former period, I had not the most distant knowledge of his existence; and all I now know about his character is, the opinion I form from what is attributed to his wife, in obtruding my name upon the public in the manner in which she is said to have done it, by trying to make the public believe that I had knowledge of the ignorant, and, according to her own testimony, the lying scribblings of her deceased husband; for, if her testimony is to be credited, her pious husband, in his life-time, wrote a bundle of lies, for the righteous purpose of getting money. How many lies he had told for the same purpose while he was preaching she has not so kindly informed us; but we are at liberty to draw our own conclusions; for he that would write lies to get money, would also preach lies for the same object. This being the only information which I have, or ever had, of this said Rev. Solomon Spalding, I, of necessity have but a very light opinion of him as a gentleman, a scholar, or a man of piety; for had he have been either, he certainly would have taught his pious wife not to lie, nor unite herself with adulterers, liars, and the basest of mankind.
It is only necessary to say in relation to the whole story about Spalding's writings being in the hands of Mr. Patterson, who was in Pittsburg, and who is said to have kept a private printing-office, and my saying that I was cocerned in same office, &c., &c., is the most base of lies, without even the shadow of truth. There was no man by the name of Patterson, during my residence in Pittsburg, who had a printing-office; what might have been before I lived there, I know not. Mr. Robert Patterson, I was told, had owned a printing-office before I lived in that city, but had been unfortunate in business, and failed before my residence there. This Mr. Patterson, who was a Presbyterian
preacher, I had a very slight acquaintance with during my residence in Pittsburgh. He was then acting under an agency, in the book and stationery business, and was the owner of no property of any kind, printing-office or anything else, during the time I resided in the city.
If I were to say that I ever heard of the Rev. Solomon Spalding and his hopeful wife until Dr. P. Hurlburt wrote his lie about me, I should be a liar like unto themselves. Why was not the testimony of Mr. Patterson obtained to give force to this shameful tale of lies? the only reason is, that he was not a fit tool for them to work with; he would not lie for them; for, if he were called on, he would testify to what I have here said.
Let me here, gentlemen, give a history of this Dr. P. Hulburt and his associates who aided in getting up and propagating this batch of lies.
I have seen and heard, at one time and another, by the persecutors and haters of the truth, a great deal said about the eminent physician, Doctor Hulburt. I never thought the matter worthy of notice, nor probably ever should, had it not made its appearance in your paper, or some one of equal respectability. And I believe, gentlemen, had you have known the whole history of this budget of lies, it would never have found a place in your paper. But to my history.
This said Doctor was never a physician, at any time, nor anything else, but a base ruffian. He was the seventh son, and his parents called him doctor: it was his name, and not the title of his profession.
He once belonged to the Methodist Church, and was excluded for immoralities. He afterwards imposed himself on the Church of "Latter-Day Saints," and was excluded for using obscene language to a young lady, a member of said Church, who resented his insult with indignation, which became both her character and profession.
After his exclusion he swore -- for he was vilely profane -- that he would have revenge, and commenced his work. He soon found assistance; a pious old deacon of the Campbellite Church, by the name, of O[n]is Clapp, and his two sons, Thomas J. Clapp and Matthew S. Clapp, both Campbellite preachers, abetted and assisted by another Campbellite preacher, by the name of Adamson Bentley. Hulburt went to work, catering lies for the company. Before Hulburt got through, his conduct became so scandalous that the company utterly refused to let his name go out with the lies which he had collected, and he and his associates had made, and they substituted the name of E. D. Howe. The change, however, was not much better. There were scandalous immoralities about the Howe family of so black a character that they had nothing to lose, and became good tools for this holy company to work with. A man of character would never have put his name to a work which Hulburt was concerned in. But while Hulburt was busily employed in the service of the company, old deacon Clapp was employed in taking care of his wife. How many others of the company aided in this business must be left to futurity to disclose. At a certain time, Hulburt being out till a late hour in the night, returned to his house, and, in going to his bed-room where his wife was, behold and lo! there was the pious old deacon, either in the bed with his wife, or at the side of it. He had a five dollar bank
note in his hand, and his dress was rather light to suit the Doctor's taste; for he was not quite as well off as was Aaron when he offered sacrifice, not even having on a pair of "linen breeches." Hulburt laid hold of him, and called for help, which. soon came to his assistance. The pious old deacon was arraigned before a justice of the peace, and was on the eve of being bound over for his appearance to the county court, when to put an end to the evils which might result from his pious care of Mrs. Hulburt, he kindly offered a yoke of oxen and a hundred dollars. This was accepted. Hulburt took his wife and left the country forthwith; and the pious old deacon and his sons, and the good Mr. Bentley, are left to wear out the shame of their great effort to destroy the character of innocent men, whom they never dare meet in argument. The tale in your paper is one hatched up by this gang before the time of their explosion.
It has always been a source of no ordinary satisfaction to me to know, that my enemies have no better weapon to use against me, or the cause in which I am engaged, than lies; for, if they had any better, they would certainly use them. I must confess, however, that there is some consistency in our persecutors; for, as truth never can destroy truth, it would be in vain for our persecutors to use truth against us, for this would only build us up; this they seem to know, and lay hold of the only available means they have, which are lies. And this, indeed, is the only weapon which can be, or ever has been, used against the truth. As our persecutors are endeavoring to stop the progress of truth, I must confess that they act with a degree of consistency in the choice of means, namely, lies; but if truth would do it, they would surely not have recourse to lies.
In order to give character to their lies, they dress them up with a great deal of piety; for a pious lie, you know, has a good deal more influence with an ignorant people than a profane one. Hence their lies came signed by the pious wife of a pious deceased priest. However, his last act of piety seems to have been to write a bundle of lies, themselves being witnesses; but then his great piety sanctifies them, and lies become holy things in the hands of such excessive piety, particularly when they are graced with a few Reverends; but the days have gone by when people are to be deceived by these false glossings of Reverend's sanctions; the intelligent part of the communities, of all parts of the country, know that Reverends are not more notorious for truth than their neighbours .
The only reason why I am assailed by lies is, that my opposers dare not adventure on argument, knowing that if they do they fall. They try, therefore, to keep the public from investigating, by publishing and circulating falsehoods. This I consider a high encomium on both myself and the cause I defend. Respectfully,
W. R. Thomas, Printer, 61 Spring Gardens, Manchester.
Apostle Parley P. Pratt's 1840 tract, Plain Facts Showing the Falsehood... was arguably the first major Mormon publication effort aimed at discrediting the Solomon Spalding claims for Book of Mormon origins. Previous LDS responses in this quarter had been mostly limited to letters and notices published in the newspapers. Contemporary LDS publications contain only three other brief mentions of the authorship claims -- all in Apostle John Taylor's 1840 pamphlets, Calumny Refuted, An Answer, &c., and An Answer to... Rev. Robert Heys). Taylor's three small tracts came out in England in Oct. 1840, but the precise date of Pratt's Plain Facts... remains unknown. It was ostensibly written in response to Rev. C. S. Bush's Plain Facts Shewing the Falsehood and Folly of the Mormonites, published at Macclesfield in Cheshire, on Feb. 5, 1840; but the content of Pratt's little brochure makes it clear that he and the Mormons in England were speaking to more anti-Mormon challengers in their new text than just to the Rev. C. S. Bush. Plain Facts... was published when it was and where it was, according to careful planning on the part of the top LDS leaders; it was not a piece of apologetic serendipity.
Parley P. Pratt left Commerce (Nauvoo) for the British Isles on August 29, 1839, and arrived in time to attend the April 15, 1840 LDS Conference at Preston in Lancashire. There he was chosen to serve as editor and publisher of the newly authorized Latter-day Saints Millennial Star. Pratt started up the newspaper, publishing its first issue during the middle of May, 1840. The Star's printer in Manchester was "W. R. Thomas," whose press also ran off Pratt's Plain Facts... In July Pratt was called to New York to attend to his sick family. He arrived back in England during the second week in October. Pratt's Plain Facts... was apparently printed either shortly before, during, or shortly after his summer jaunt to America.
David J. Whittaker, in his 1995 article "East of Nauvoo: Benjamin Winchester...", credits the Church's publication in England during 1840, of defensive tracts like Pratt's Plain Facts..., as serving as "the inspiration for Winchester's The Origin of the Spaulding Story." Whittaker places Elder Winchester's 1840 visit to England as beginning "in late summer," probably about the same time Parley P. Pratt was temporarily back in the States. Although Pratt was aware of Winchester's plans to visit England, there is no record of the two Mormon elders having met during the course of the summer of 1840, and by the time Winchester left on his return to America, about the first of October, Pratt's was already returning from the States. It is possible that Winchester himself finished up the writing of Pratt's abruptly ending Plain Facts..., and that the pamphlet was printed during Pratt's absence. Winchester's possible involvement in the production of Plain Facts... might help explain why both it and The Origin of the Spaulding Story make use of much of the same documentary material. Whittaker dates Winchester's pamphlet to "November or early December" of 1840, making Plain Facts... the first LDS publication to feature Rigdon's letter. Following closely behind was Winchester's The Origin of the Spaulding Story, the first LDS publication devoted exclusively to refuting the Spalding claims, but one that did not feature Rigdon's letter. The modern investigator can only wonder why this was so.
The Importance of Pratt's Pamphlet
In his 1840 tract Apostle Parley P. Pratt announces his intention to reprint important "replies" to the Spalding authorship claims, from "some of the most respectable journals in the United States." The articles he selected for reprinting were: 1) Matilda Spalding Davidson's 1839 "Mormon Bible" article from the Boston Recorder; 2) Pratt's own reply, Nov. 27th, 1839 letter witten to the editor of the New Era in New York City; 3) the surreptitious reply of Jesse Haven's 1839 interview with Matilda Spalding Davidson, first printed in the Quincy Whig; and, 4) Sidney Rigdon's problematic reply, the May 27, 1839 letter addressed to "Messrs. Bartlett and Sullivan" of the Illinois Quincy Whig. Item 1 was then circulating in English anti-Mormon publications. Items 2 and 3 had been previously reprinted by the Church -- in the Jan. 1840 issue of the Times and Seasons. What was new and somewhat startling about Pratt's Plain Facts... is that it reprinted -- for the first time in the LDS press -- both the 1839 Matilda Spalding Davidson statement and the 1839 Sidney Rigdon letter.
It is perhaps significant that the Davidson and Rigdon pieces were first tried out by the Church in England, where negative published response from the clergy was beginning to make use of the Spalding authorship claims as one way of thwarting Mormon missionary efforts in that country. The Church leaders first experimented with a limited reprinting of these two potentially inflammatory statements in their British publications, far from the possible scrutinizing of Solomon Spalding's aging widow and her anti-Mormon friends. While the top Mormons watched to see if their experiment in England met with encouraging results, Elder Benjamin Winchester of Phladelphia published his own anti-Spalding tract without including Rigdon's letter of refutation.
Although the wording of Pratt's tract provides the impression that the Haven and Rigdon letters were printed in "the most respectable journals," both epistles appeared first in the relatively obscure Quincy Whig and not in the eastern newspapers published close to where Spalding's widow lived (betwen Boston and Springfield, Massachusetts). Other than Pratt's own 1839 letter to the New York Era, it appears that no Mormon denial or refutation of the Spalding authorship claims was ever printed in or near Massachusetts during the lifetime of Matilda Spalding Davidson. Even Pratt's 1839 letter is known only from its reprint in the Times and Seasons, leaving open the possibilty that the editors of the Era never published the piece.
Some Mormon missionary preaching in the United Kingdom during the 1840s may have provided the impression that Rigdon's letter of May 27, 1839 was addressed to (or printed in) a Boston newspaper. This was the mistaken understanding of Charles Mackay, the writer of the 1850 British book The Mormons. There the anonymous author says, on page 33, that "The denial was made by Sidney Rigdon, who was himself accused of being the principal agent of the fraud, and was addressed, on the 27th of May, 1839, to the editors of the Boston Journal. A search of that paper's files for the years 1839 and 1840 turned up no letters or articles concerning Elder Sidney Rigdon, however.
In fact, a clipping of Rigdon's vitriolic 1839 letter to the Quincy Whig was almost certainly passed along to Parley P. Pratt by its writer, when both men attended a Jan. 13, 1840 LDS conference in Philadelphia. One of the items almost certainly on the agenda of that exclusive meeting of LDS leaders was the problem of the Spalding authorship claims. At least Dr. Robert D. Foster, recalling the events of those days many years later, related that a prominent Washington D. C. minister was then preaching that the Book of Mormon "was nothing but an irreligious romance, and that Smith had obtained it from the widow of one Spaulding." Foster then "wrote this to Mr. Smith" in Philadelphia, just prior to the Jan. 13, 1840 Conference, and Smith replied that "there must be some preaching in Washington to counteract these statements." It is very likely that the LDS decision to produce some journalistic antidotes to the Spaldimg claims -- in the form of pamphlets by accomplished writers like Pratt, Winchester, Taylor, etc. -- was made at the Philadelphia conclave, with Apostle Parley P. Pratt assuming a leadership role in the hopeful endeavor.
Pratt likely carried the text of Rigdon's 1839 letter across the ocean with him, to Manchaster and later appended it as the final item in his 1840 tract. The text of Plain Facts... breaks off immediately after the concluding words in Rigdon's letter, leaving two blank pages at the end. Pratt generally delighted in filling up the last empty space of his works with his own religious poetry. It seems rather odd that Plain Facts... ends so abruptly, with no such final words from the writer. There is no explanation from the writer as to what Rigdon's letter was, where it came from, or what response it had generated from interested readers in America.
Whether or not a copy of the 1839 Rigdon letter was entrusted to Benjamin Winchester at the time of the Jan. 13, 1840 Philadelphia Conference, remains unknown. Winchester was the host of the meeting, so presumably he was privy to any Church plans to write and issue tracts refuting the Spalding claims. It is also reasonable to assume that Winchester (who lived with the Rigdons for a while as a youth) did his 1840 anti-Spalding journalism under Elder Rigdon's direction. While Joseph Smith, Jr. returned west to Nauvoo that winter, Rigdon remained in the east and would have been available for consultation while Winchester was readying his text for The Origin of the Spaulding Story.
Winchester's inexplicable passing over of the 1839 Sidney Rigdon letter, while writing his 1840 pamphlet, was remedied in that booklet's second edition, the following year when an expanded version was "re-published" by Elder George J. Adams, under the title: Plain Facts Shewing the Origin of the Spaulding Story. Actually, Adams' tract is something like a conflation of Winchester's and Pratt's 1840 efforts, but done without reproducing much of Winchester's prose. By 1841 Benjamin Winchester was proving to be something less than a loyal follower of Joseph Smith, Jr. and the Nauvoo leaders may have felt it was time to move away from using very much of the published material he had produced on behalf of the Church. It must be noted, however, that Adams' pamphlet was only published in England. Perhaps in 1841 the LDS leadership was still skiddish of circulating Sindey Rigdon's "refutation" of the Spalding authorship claims too close to the residence of Spalding's widow in Massachusetts. Only in 1843, with the widow practically on her death-bed, did Apostle John E. Page finally make Sidney Rigdon's letter available to the Mormons in America, and then in a tract said to have had a press run of less than 500 copies.