Prophetic Truth...of the
Book of Mormon
Confirmed in the appearing of the
B O O K O F M O R M O N.
AN ISRAELITISH RECORD OF A
Being the Subject of an Evening's Conversation
Respecting Its Origin.
Its Divinity Proved by the Scriptures and Collateral
Evidence. Prefaced with a Brief Sketch of
the Life of the Prophet, showing the
Way and Manner of his becoming
Possessed of the Record.
By Elder JOSIAH ELLS,
Of the Reorganized Church of Jesus Christ of Latterday Saints.
"If they believe not Moses and the Prophets, neither will they be persuaded
though one rose from the dead."
LUKE, xvi: 31.
P R E F A C E.
We have long been of the opinion that the increase of truth required a small work of this character, such as its friends can circulate, thereby in a measure counteract the floods of sensational articles and publications put forth upon the subject, which for the sake of gain are written to pander to a perverted sentiment, regardless of truth and the sober fact, for with those persons the simple truth is distorted until it is made to appear hideous.
We do not wish to conceal that the work has been betrayed in the house of his friends, giving cause for re[proach] but truth crushed to the earth will rise again. God is its author, His work never fails, but "will accomplish that whereunto He has sent it," "making even the wrath of man to praise Him."
It is probable that no publication that ever appeared has been the subject of as much persistent animosity and denunciation, from both the pulpit and the press, as the Book of Mormon and its translator, Joseph Smith.
From the first appearance of the book, almost unseen, and except by comparatively few, unread, it has been condemned, and every species of wrongdoing has been attributed to the man ordained to bring it forth. Yet he, when in prison and threatened with death in the State of Missouri because of his faith, in his letters addressed to his people, testified the record was of God, as did all those who gave their names as witnesses of its truthfulness. Not one of these in life or death recanted the evidence they have given.
The writer was personally acquainted with the family, the father and mother of Joseph Smith, and favored with the friendship of the seer himself; also an eye-witness to many incidents connected with its history, therefore he knows something whereof he speaks, that after a life subject to continual persecution, was finally betrayed by Thomas Ford, Governor of the State of Illinois, he promising that safety and an impartial trial should be afforded him, against charges preferred. But, when it was found in the preliminary investigation that those charges were ill-founded, and therefore conviction impossible, he was abandoned to the power of his enemies, by whom he was basely assassinated on the 27th of June, 1844. However, he met a Prophet's fate, as had been initmated in a revelation given concerning himself while translating the record, March, 1829. "Be thou firm in keeping the commandments I have given thee, and behold I grant you eternal life even if you should be slain."
It is a principal in the divine economy respecting revelation that in the mouth of two or three witnesses every word shall be established. 2 Cor., 13:1; John, 8:17.
To the authenticity of the record Oliver Cowdery, David Whitmer and Martin Harris, as special witnesses, testify as follows:
[ 1 ]
TEACHER: Good Evening, neighbor Berean, I am visiting our people, as that is one of the duties pertaining to my office in the Church, and having frequently seen you at our meetings, have made free to call, and, if agreeable, have an interchange of opinions respecting the lectures the Elder has been delivering.
BEREAN. I am pleased to see you, and thank you for calling. It gives me pleasure to have my neighbors call and have a chat. Conversing on subjects that come under our notice helps to enlarge and perfect our ideas; besides, it is friendly. I am fond of hearing extemporaneous speaking. Most of us are constituted somewhat as were the Athenians of whom we read, and like to hear or learn of something new. That, together with curiosity to learn something of the strange things reported about your people, induced me to attend your meetings.
T. There are several pressing invitations from around the neighborhood to hear preaching, and the Elder has gone to respond to some of them. When he returns he intends delivering a series of lectures on the divine authenticity of the Book of Mormon.
B. Please excuse me; you know we all have our own opinions,
and I find there did exist a good deal of prejudice in minds of some persons regarding your doctrines and that book. But so far as I have heard the Elder, I have not heard anything objectionable in his preaching. On the contrary, I admit I wasrather pleased with his elucidations of the subjects pertaining to the gospel. Faith, Repentance, Baptism, for the remission of sins, the laying on of hands for the gift of the Holy Ghost, the Resurrection of the Dead, and Eternal Judgement...
(pages 2 - 48 under construction)
[ 49 ]
Martin Harris, the "plain-looking country farmer," mentioned by Professor Anthon, and who has given his name as one of the special witnesses of the authenticity of the Book of Mormon, became acquainted with Joseph Smith at an early date in his work of translating the records from which the Book of Mormon was taken. Mr. Smith having transcribed some of the characters on the plates and obtained their translation, sent Harris to New York to obtain an expression of opinion of the learned ones respecting the characters themselves and the translation of the words presented. Harris informed the writer he first visited Dr. Mitchell, a Presbyterian clergyman, who said he could not read them, but gave him a note addressed to Professor Anthon, remarking, "If any man living could decipher the characters, Mr. Anthon was the man." Anthon said they were true characters, but could not read them. Harris reported the result of his mission, that the learned could not decipher the transcript, naming the parties to whom he had exhibited them: the report of Harris reached the professor, who, supposing his fame as a linguist was thereby affected, addressed a letter to an Episcopal clergyman in New Rochelle, West Chester County, near New York, in which he attempts to disparage the character of the glyphs presented to him by Harris, presumable as his reason for inability to read them. We give an extract or two from his letter; it can be found in "The History of the Mormons," published by Derby & Miller, Auburn, 1852. The letter was from New York, dated Feb. 17, 1834: "Some years ago a and apparently simple-hearted farmer called upon me with a note from Dr. Mitchell, of our city, requesting me, if possible, to decipher a paper which the farmer would hand me
* * * This paper in question was, in fact, a singular scroll; it consisted of all kinds of crooked characters disposed in columns, and had evidently been prepared by some person who had before him at the time a book containing various alphabets. Greek and Hebrew letters, crosses and flourishes, Roman letters inverted and placed sideways, were arranged in perpendicular columns, and the whole ended in a rude delineation of a circle, divided into various compartments, decked with various strange marks; and had evidently been copied after the Mexican calender given by Humboldt, but copied in such a way as not to betray the source whence it was derived. I am thus particular as to the contents of the paper, inasmuch as I have frequently conversed with my friends on the subject, since the Mormonite excitement began * * * Some time after, this same farmer paid me a second visit and brought with him the golden bible in print, and offered it to me for sale. I declined purchasing; he then asked permission to leave the book with me for examination. I declined receiving it, although his manner was strangely urgent." In reviewing this letter, O. Pratt says: "I have given you a statement of all I know of the origin of Mormonism." Two years after the Book of Mormon appeared in print, Professor Rafenseque, in his Atlantic Journal for 1832, gave a public fac simile of American glyphs found in the ruins of a stone city; they are thus described" 'The glyphs of Otolum are written from top to bottom, like the Chinese, or from side to side indifferently, like the Egyptian or Demotic Lybian, although the most common way of writing the groups is in rows, and each group separated, yet we find some formed, as it were, on oblong squares or tablets, like those of Egypt.' They are arranged in columns, being forty-six in number. These the learned professor denominates the 'elements of the glyphs of Otolum;" and he supposes that by the combination of these elements, words and sentences were formed, constituting the written language of the ancient nations of this continent. By an inspection of the fac simile of the forty-six elementary glyphs, we find all the particulars, which Professor Anthon ascribes to the characters, which. he says, a
51plain-looking country man presented to him. The Greek, Hebrew and all sorts of letters, inverted and in different positions, with sundry delineations of half moons, planets, suns and other natural objects are found among these forty-six elements. This plain, country-looking man, according to Professor Anthon's testimony, got some three or four years the start of Professor Rafensque, and presented him the genuine elementary glyphs years before the Atlantic Journal made them public. And, what is more remarkable, Anthon says "they were arranged in columns, like the Chinese mode of writing," which exactly corresponds with what Professor Rafenesque testifies, as quoted above, in relation to the glyphs of Otolum. We see nothing in Professor Anthon's statement that proves the characters presented to him to be a "hoaz," as he terms it, unless, indeed, he considers their exact resemblance to the glyphs of Otolum, and their being arranged in right kind of columns is a "hoax." But, as Joseph Smith was an unlearned young man, living in the country, where he had not access to the writings and discoveries of antiquarians, he would be entirely incapable of forging the true and genuine glyphs of ancient America. Therefore, we consider this testimony of Professor Anthon, coming, as it does, from an avowed enemy of the Book of Mormon, to be great collateral evidence in its favor. Professor Rafenesque, as already quoted, says the glyphs of Otolum are written from top to bottom, like the Chinese, or from side to side, like the Egyptian. Indeed, it was written in the ancient Egyptian reformed by the remnant of the tribe of Joseph. (See O. Pratt's authenticity of the Book of Mormon.)
THE SPAULDING ROMANCE.
of the country, circulated in every direction over the land.
Time is a revealor of many things, and has at last brought forward a statement from the Spaulding family regarding the fable. It appeared in Scribner's Monthly for August, 1880, under the caption of "The Book of Mormon." In the table of its contents it is said to have been written by Ellen E. Dickinson. With the addition of a statement made on oath, before Charles Walter, Notary Public, D. C., which the author declares she was obliged to write and rewrite four times before she could get in in such shape that Mrs. McKinstry could make oath to it. And the author further states that this is the only attempt made by Mr. Spaulding's family to set the matter right. We subjoin a review of Miss. E. E. Dickenson's article, from which the reader can glean the pith of the statements and allegations set forth.
Editor Scribner's Monthly:
Dear Sir:-- About a year ago an article on the Book of Mormon, written by Miss. E. E. Dickenson, appeared in your Magazine. I did not have time to reply when I first read it, and I did not see it till the following winter, and it appeared in the August number; and besides, I believed that some among the thousands who were able to refute the many false statements it contained, would have replied to it long ago, and perhaps they all have thought as I did, hence the opportunity has been neglected. I do not claim but little space, and I think I have a right to a brief defence of the position held by the people called Mormons, on the "Book of Mormon" question.
That Miss Dickenson is sincere in her opinion I do not question, and I am just as fully satisfied that she is entirely mistaken in several important matters introduced by her in the article referred to, and the contradictory character of some of them will readily appear when pointed out. I can only speak for that portion of the people called Mormons, known as "The Reorganized," who believing in the inspirational character of the Book of Mormon, and repudiate the doctrine of Polygamy as vile and heretical. Strange as this statement may appear to
53many of your readers who have been led to believe that polygamy is a fundamental principle of Mormonism, yet it is a fact that no one who has ever read the Book of Mormon can gainsay, that in every edition of the book from 1830 till the latest, and even in all those issued by the Salt Lake Mormons, or the Utah church as we call it, the practice of polygamy is called a "crime," and denounced as being "abominable" in the sight of God, and is forbidden by him, in such express terms as these: "Therefore no man among you shall have save it be one wife, and concubines he shall have none," and as a reason why the practice of polygamy is forbidden, the Lord is represented as a being who "delighteth in the chastity of woman." Yet in her attempt to expose Joseph Smith and the Mormon Bible, Miss Dickenson says, Smith had now become a prophet, and he proceeded forthwith to add his peculiar tenets in regard to marriage etc., to the original manuscript. Now it is evident that she has never read the book, for in none of the numerous editions of the work has any other sacraments appeared than that just referred to; and I truly wish that we as a church could find one half as strong a declaration against polygamy in the Bible as is found in the Book of Mormon. And our friends who undertake to measure swords, theologically, with the Utah church, would find a much easier task in endeavoring to overthrow that institution, had they such positive denunciations of the evil from the mouth of the Lord in the Bible as the Book of Mormon contains. And if Joseph Smith did truly copy Spaulding's Romance and added "his peculiar tenets in regard to marriage to the original manuscript" of Spaulding, credit must be given for teaching that polygamy is a crime, and the practice of it abominable in the sight of the Lord. And I challenge any human being on earth to produce a copy of that book issued by authority of the "Mormon Church," not excepting the polygamous portion found in Utah, which teaches any other than the Monogamic system of marriage. In no writings of Joseph Smith that can be proven to be genuine, has there ever been found any teachings favoring polygamy, but much that condemns it, and
teachings which if lived up to by those who pretend to believe in his prophetic character would forever prevent its practice. Among the first things that were added in the shape of revelations to that which is found in the Book of Mormon, is a commandment purporting to be given by inspiration through Joseph Smith, in February 1831, (the Book of Mormon being issued early in 1830), which reads: "thou shalt love thy wife with all thy heart, and shall cleave unto her and none else;" and later, as a part of the marriage ceremony which to this day is used in the church, the parties to be married are requested to say, "yes" to this question, "Do you mutually agree to be each others companion, husband and wife, and to observe the legal rights belonging to this condition; that is, keeping yourselves for each other and from all others during your natural lives?" Can polygamy therefore, possibly obtain among a people who recognize the Book of Mormon and these commandments and church articles as authoritative and binding? and are not those who practice contrary to them apostates from the faith and practice of the church as prevailed in the days of Joseph Smith? And in this light must Utah Mormons be considered. But now to a consideration of the relation of the Book of Mormon to the Spaulding romance. Two ways are presented by which Joseph Smith might have got possession of the Spaulding story, or a copy of it. One was while Smith was a teamster on the farm of Mr. Sabine. Howbeit we are now informed and have been for fifty years that Smith was "too lazy to work." Miss Dickenson says, "Smith could easily have possessed himself of the manuscript if he had fancied it suitable to his purposes, for it is understood that he was a servant on the farm, or a teamster for Mr. Sabine, in whose house the package of manuscript lay exposed in an unlocked trunk for years." Now, Smith must have been engaged in contemplating and preparing for this fraud of his at a very early age, and we must give him more credit for skill and brains than he has heretofore been supposed to have possessed; for, if we turn to Mrs. McKinistry's "sworn" testimony, presented in this very letter of Miss Dickenson's, we learn that the manuscript in question was in Mr. Sabine's care from
551816 to 1820. Her father died in 1816, at Amity, Washington county, Pa., when her mother and herself went to Onondago Valley, N. Y., to live with an uncle of hers, named William A. Sabine. "In 1820 she married Mr. Davison of Hartwicks, a village near Cooperstown, N. Y., and sent for the things she had left at Onondago Valley, and I remember that the old trunk with its contents, reached her in safety," says McKinstry, Solomon Spaulding's daughter. Now, the period was from 1816 to 1820 that Smith could get the manuscript at Sabine's, and, as Smith was born in December, 1805, he could have been but eleven to fifteen years old from 1816 to 1820; and that Smith worked for Mr. Sabine at all has been positively denied, and no proof offered that he did, except the word of Miss Dickenson, and she only says "it is understood" that he was on the farm. But as a proof that Smith did not possess himself of the manuscript, admitting that he was there, Mrs. McKinstry affirms, in "a sworn statement," that she saw and handled it often while at Sabine's, saying, "I had it in my hands many times;" and again she says, "the trunk with its contents" reached her mother in safety at Hartwicks in 1820. She again affirms that the manuscript in question was delivered to a man named Hurlbut, by Jerome Clark of Hartwicks, in 1834, by order of her mother; so it was in possession of the family, and they knew of its whereabouts up till 1834. And it is somewhat strange that some of the many enemies of Smith and the Mormons did not secure the manuscript and publish it during the four years that elapsed since the Book of Mormon was published, which was early in 1830, for the report had been circulated far and wide during that period that it was one and the same thing, or, "the same with slight alterations," as Mrs. McKinstry states; for its publication after its genuineness had been established, would have shown to every body who would take the trouble to compare them, whether the "Mormon Bible" was a plagiarism on the Spaulding novel or not. Yes; and it would have been done, if it was honestly believed by those interested in "uprooting Mormonism" that they were identical. But we are told by Mrs. McKinstry that that step was taken afterward, or in 1834, when Hurlbut came and
got the "manuscript found." Well, why did he not publish it, or the parties who sent him after it? We have the answer in the following statement made by Rev. Robert Patterson, of Pittsburg, Pa., last February, in the Pittsburgh Leader, Speaking of Mr. Hurlbut, he says: "I paid him a visit at his home in Gibsonville, Sandusky county, Ohio, in August, 1879, and interviewed him in reference to his connection with the Spaulding manuscript. He said that he did receive the manuscript from the widow of Spaulding in 1834, which manuscript he gave to E. D. Howe, of Painesville, O., but declares his entire ignorance of the contents of that manuscript. He says this was the only Spaulding manuscript he ever had in his possession. Mr. Howe states that this manuscript was not the one known as the "manuscript found," but was on "an entirely different subject." Mr. Howe has said still more recently that it was not the original manuscript, or that called the "manuscript found," but related to some Indian wars that occurred on the borders of the Great Lakes, and he says he does not "believe that Hurlbut ever had the original." Now, it must be apparent to every candid mind that, as Howe had sent Hurlbut for the original manuscript, in order to publish it, that its similarity to the Book of Mormon might be clearly shown, he would have gladly printed it -- if he had received the original, and had found it to be Spaulding's story, followed "with almost servile closeness" by Smith, in his Mormon Bible. It is, therefore evident that if he did receive the original, (which he affirms that he did not), he found that it did not agree with the Book of Mormon, and hence would not publish it; or, else the Spaulding party never gave Hurlbut the original; and the public should demand that the "old trunk" be searched, and if the original "manuscript found" be not found; that the party who last had it in charge, be required to give a truthful account of their disposition of it. If that manuscript which Mrs. McKinstry says was written on the outside with the words "manuscript found" was not found in the trunk when Clark searched for it, to give to Hurlbut, is it not altogether probable that he would have informed Mrs. Davison, Widow Spaulding of that fact? and would not inquiries have been
57instituted and efforts made to find what had become of it? The statement of Mr. Howe removes all the edge from the report stated by Miss Dickenson that Hurlbut had sold the original, or the "manuscript found," to the Mormons for three hundred dollars. No, no; the Spaulding family must in honor produce the original, or give a clear and satisfactory statement to the public, had it become lost, and if they can connect Joseph Smith with its removal from their custody, let it be in some better shape than that he could have got it, or could have copied it, at any place, or at any time. We demand evidence that he ever saw it, much less handled it, copied it, or stole it. And we demand the proof that Spaulding's Romance and the Book of Mormon are the same thing, in the only possible way that it can be furnished, viz. the production of the original romance; this alone will satisfy a candid, thinking public. It is not because we think that the original can not be found that we make this demand -- for we truly do not know but what it may be lying snugly in that "old trunk;" but we want to know, and we ought to know as a people, whether we have had palmed off on us a plagiarism on the Spaulding Romance, instead of as claimed, an authentic and divinely translated history of the aborigines, the mound builders, of this country. If this Book of Mormon is a fraud, we want to know it, but we want positive evidence, and not inferences only. Mrs. McKinstry says: "While we have no personal knowledge that the Mormon Bible was taken from the "manuscript found;" there are many evidences to us that it was, and that Hurlbut and others at the time thought so," Now if Mrs. McKinstry had ever read her father's manuscript, and had read the Book of Mormon, she could have very readily settled that question. Mr. Sabine, who Mrs. McKinstry says had "undoubtedly read the manuscript," ought to be able to swear to the "servile closeness" of the following by the Book of Mormon of the former. He has never told the public that he ever saw the document, nor does Mrs. McKinstry say that she ever saw him read it, or heard him say that he had. Mrs. McKinstry did not read it while it was there at Sabine's, or, from 1816 to 1820, for she says, "I did not read it." She had no chance
to read it from 1812 to 1816, for it was in Pittsburgh, we have been told most of that time. She was only six years old, or not quite that, in 1812, and then she says her father read it to his friends; and now what does she remember? This, and this only, that four names she recollects that are in the Book of Mormon she heard way back seventy years ago, when in her sixth year, and strange as it may appear, every neighbor who says he heard Spaulding read his romance, remembers the names Mormon, Moroni, Lamenite, Nephi; these four and no more, out of some sixty names or more in the book. As to Rigdon's connection with the case, Rev. Robert Patterson already referred to, and son of the Patterson in whose printing office the manuscript was said to have been for some time, says: "There is no direct proof that Mr. Rigdon made a copy of the work, as it is claimed he did." Rigdon was a preacher in the Disciple Church at Kirtland, Ohio, and in the October of 1830, was converted to Mormonism by Parley P. Pratt, and had never seen Joseph Smith, at that time; and the Book of Mormon was published six months before he had seen it in any shape. For fifty years parties have tried to connect Smith and Rigdon in the work of getting up the Book of Mormon, and have utterly failed. It is a fact that is well known around Kirtland that Rigdon was converted to the Mormon faith at the time and place just named, and that he enjoyed the confidence and esteem of the people in a very large measure for years prior to his connection with the "deluded Mormons." I could say much more, and would like to examine other statements made by Miss Dickenson, but, as I before said, the producing of the original by the Spaulding family, and a fair and honest comparison of the two, as a faithful publication of the manuscript would allow everybody to make, would settle the case forever. And if that can not be done, because the papers are destroyed or lost, then we demand some better evidence than that yet offered, which is simply that Smith or Rigdon could have copied or stolen the original romance. Let us have the proof that they did. Respectfully, yours for the truth,
T. W. SMITH.Chicago, Illinois, Sep. 15, 1881.
In Latter-Day Saints Herald.
Ells, Josiah b March 4, 1806 Lewis, Essex Co, England bap Oct 1, 1838 d Oct 15, 1885 Wheeling, W Va Dec 1838 ordained elder April 1845 selected apostle and member of council of 73 in the Rigdon organization 1860 associated with Reorganization April 1865 ordained apostle From Inez Smith Davis Story of the Church Chapter 52 "Welding the Fragments"
As the news spread, by missionaries, by word of mouth, by letter from old friend to old
friend, and by the pages of the Herald, that Young Joseph had come to the church, members
flocked to the standard from everywhere. In the beginning of the year 1860, not knowing
the events that were transpiring in the West, a group of old-time Saints in Pittsburgh,
Pennsylvania, began holding meetings to "converse upon the past" and interchange
ideas about what might happen in the future. They had renounced all other leaders; some of
them had been without contact with any branch of the church since 1845, when they went
east with Sidney Rigdon. Some of the most prominent of these were Josiah Ells, Richard
Savery, James McDowell, Joseph Parsons, and Matthew Smith.
Josiah Ells was the man, whom, with John Cairns, Joseph Smith had chosen from among all the strong debaters of the church to meet the great preacher, Reverend Dr. David Nelson of Quincy. He was a man of independent thought and action, for only men of this rare type were able to withstand the adverse currents that had lately swept over the wreckage of their one-time faith.
Ells was with the group who accompanied the Prophet part way to Carthage before he was assassinated, and who, with Samuel Bennett, was sent by William Marks to bring John Taylor, who had been fearfully wounded, home from Carthage after the tragedy. They made the trip at midnight, risking their lives to do so, and found the Carthage people reluctant to let Taylor go, as they believed their city would be sacked and destroyed once he was gone.
After the breakup at Nauvoo, Ells went to Pittsburgh with Sidney Rigdon and was chosen one of his counselors, but was never active in that movement, and when the meetings began to be held in 1860, he had stood alone for many years. These meetings had not continued long before W. W. Blair came to Pittsburgh, found this remnant, and told them a reorganization of the scattered fragments had been effected and that Joseph, the eldest son of the Seer, had been chosen President. Shortly before, speaking in one of the prayer meetings held by these old-time Saints, Josiah Ells had testified by the Spirit that before long they would hear something "respecting the kingdom." Therefore Ells and his wife were ready to accept the message when it came. He appointed a meeting, but no one came except himself, his wife, and one other. Undaunted, he kept on meeting, while one by one the old friends ventured out until at length the nucleus of the Pittsburgh Branch was formed. Ells became one of the early Apostles of the Reorganization.
A Fine Small American Percussion Pocket Revolver Made By Josiah Ells of Pittsburgh, Penn. Made between 1857 and 1859.
Contributor to the early RLDS publication: "The Restorer," published in Wales between 1864-1870.
Visions of Joseph Smith the seer: discoveries of ancient American records and religions; with the statements of Dr. Lederer (converted Jew) and others. 1879 Visions of Joseph Smith -- American antiquities [signed Josiah Ells] -