Francis W. Kirkham
A New Witness... I & II
(Independence, Zions, 1942 & 1951)
[ 309 ]
Sidney Rigdon had been an associate preacher and founder of the Church of Christ with Alexander Campbell. He merely asserted Rigdon, affected by a mental instability, was deceived into believing in the divine origin of the book. (See his editorial in the appendix, page 412.)
The Painesville Telegraph reprints in its issues of February 22, 1831, and March 29, 1831, two of the above six articles by Obediah Dogberry. This paper also on March 8, 1831, copies the articles by Alexander Campbell entitled Delusions. Eber D. Howe was editor of this paper. One may well ask, why did he not at this time disagree with these writers by asserting what he did in 1834 in his book Mormonism Unveiled that the Book of Mormon was the work of Sidney Rigdon and Solomon Spaulding.
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Sidney Rigdon, later to be accused as the "prime mover of the whole Mormon scheme" because he alone had the theological ability to write the Book of Mormon, was then residing at Kirtland, only nine miles away. If he were the prime deceiver who had connived with Joseph Smith to lead honest though deluded followers, into believing a book to be of divine origin, but which was in reality written by them for the sole purpose of fraud and deception, why did not Obediah Dogberry and Alexander Campbell who knew intimately the lives of Joseph Smith and Sidney Rigdon so well make the accusation at the time and at the place of the printing of the book? (See article in appendix, page 422.)
The answer must be, they had no evidence that anyone assisted Joseph Smith. To them he alone was the sole author and proprietor. As indicated above, Alexander Campbell changed his original explanation of the origin of the Book of Mormon to another one. The proof of this statement is the editorials he wrote in his own paper. Compare his article written in 1831 quoted above with his statements in 1835 and 1839 and 1843 which follow:
"Editorial by Alexander Campbell, 1835, Concerning
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Howe: Painesville, Ohio. Printed and published by the author, 1834.
"We feel authorized to say from the perusal which we have bestowed upon this work, that the title-page is no false flag or deceitful label but that it is as honest a face as is generally to be met before a preface in any of the publications of the present day. Great labor, and care, and solicitude have been bestowed by its author upon the question of the 'Golden Bible,' and the facts involved in the history of this most impudent and atheistical affair.
"No man, not already duped, who has the half of five grains of common sense, can read this narrative of Mormonism without being converted to the belief that Joseph Smith and his colleagues in the plot are a band of the most unprincipled deceivers that ever disgraced any age or nation, and that his followers are a set of superlative fanatics. This book furnishes demonstration not to be questioned of two singular problems in the history of man -- First: That fanaticism is a mental distemper, more incurable than the leprosy, and, Second: That the more glaring and shameless the absurdity, the more determined and irreclaimable its dupes.
"Perhaps we were too sanguine when we thought that the fable was so barefaced that it could not stand upon its legs or palms in the face of day and the American people; but it appears that there are some great knaves, some as great simpletons, and some as dark spots in the United States as in any land on earth; and therefore it is necessary that this book of facts and good arguments should be thrown in the way of this deceived and deceiving band of imposters. I wish it could pioneer the way of the Mormons, for if once the delusion is tasted, there is little or no hope. The waters
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of Lethe in their fabled powers of stupefaction, were not half so efficient as the infatuation of Mormonism. The humane part of the community are, and I doubt not will feel themselves indebted to Mr. Howe for the labor and expense incurred by him in the detection of fraud -- Millennial Harbinger, Vol. VI, p. 44."
Second Editorial by Alexander Campbell Concerning
Beginning in September, 1842, Alexander Campbell reprints extracts in the Millennial Harbinger (new
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series, volume 7 -- page 418) from a pamphlet printed in New York in 1842 entitled Mormonism Exposed. He publishes a total of seven articles, completing the series m August, 1843. The editorial comment which he makes at this time definitely gives his opinion regarding Joseph Smith and the origin of the Book of Mormon. He states in this editorial that he is well acquainted with the early history of Mormonism and that he has carefully marked its progress. The articles which he reprints in his magazine quotes Mormonism Unveiled by Eber D. Howe and announce that this explanation by Howe in 1834, concerning the origin of the Book of Mormon is correct.
Thus Alexander Campbell in 1843, or twelve years after he prints his first explanation of the origin of the Book of Mormon, definitely repudiates this explanation as incorrect. In 1831 he declared that Joseph Smith was the sole author of the Book of Mormon. Now, in 1843, he accepts the declaration of Eber D. Howe, that Sidney Rigdon assisted Joseph Smith in its publication for purposes of fraud and deception and used for additional help a manuscript by Solomon Spaulding.
Following is the editorial which was written by Alexander Campbell and published in the Millennial Harbinger, Bethany, Virginia, New Series, Vol. VII, page 267 [sic, p. 351], 1839 [sic, 1843].
"REMARKS ON THE MORMON EXPOSE""I have now paid my share of attention to the meanest, vilest, and most infamous humbug ever promulgated in any age, language, or country under these broad and high heavens. It is a sacramental seal of the Devilism of the nineteenth century -- an impersonation of Bible
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ignorance, infidel impudence, and heaven-defying impiety. I have printed in sequence the whole expose of its revealed abominations. I have been asked to do this by my brethren in Great Britian as well as by those in America, and I have done it faithfully for the common benefit of the whole community.
"I am acquainted with the early history of Mormonism perhaps as fully as any one of its historians. I have marked its progress, and I opine, upon all its promises, that it would be more difficult to exaggerate its enormous wickedness than any other species of delusion, fraud, or fiction ever palmed upon the world. It is much more execrable than the Koran, though because of the light of the age it has not room to plant itself in the earth; and yet it is such an indication of the ignorance and gullability of all masses of religionists, that it is humiliating and mortifying in the superlative degree, to notice its headway in this country and in other places, though its votaries are scarcely more than a tithe of what its lying oracles would have the community to believe. Meanwhile, we must refer all future inquiries to the documents already spread upon our pages, from which, if they cannot learn its monstrous impiety, they could not be taught by any human tongue.
"(Signed) A. C."
The following sworn statement by a sister of Joseph Smith is evidence that Sidney Rigdon did not come to Palmyra nor was he known to the Smith family until after the Book of Mormon was published.
It was printed in the Saints Herald, Vol. 28, page 169 -- 1881.
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TESTIMONY OF KATHERINE SALISBURY"State of Illinois:
"I, Katherine Salisbury, being duly sworn, depose and say, that I am a resident of the State of Illinois, and have been for forty years last past; that I will be sixty-eight years of age, July 28th, 1881.
"That I am the daughter of Joseph Smith, Senior, and sister to Joseph Smith, Jr., the translator of the Book of Mormon. That at the time the said book was published, I was seventeen years of age; that at the time of the publication of said book, my brother, Joseph Smith, Jr., lived in the family of my father, in the town of Manchester, Ontario County, New York, and that he had, all of his life to this time made his home with the family.
"That at the time, and for years prior thereto, I lived in and was a member of such family, and personally knowing to the things transacted in said family, and those who visited at my father's house, and the friends of the family, and the friends and acquaintances of my brother, Joseph Smith, Jr., who visited at or came to my brother's house.
"That prior to the latter part of the year A. D. 1830, there was no person who visited with, or was an acquaintance of, or called upon the said family, or any member thereof to my knowledge, by the name of Sidney Rigdon; nor was such person known to the family, or any member thereof, to my knowledge, until the last part of the year A. D. 1830, or the first part of the year 1831, and some time after the organization of the Church
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of Jesus Christ, by Joseph Smith, Jr., and several months after the publication of the Book of Mormon.
"That I remember the time when Sidney Rigdon came to my father's place, and that it was after the removal of my father from Waterloo, N.Y., to Kirtland, Ohio. That this was in the year 1831, and some months after the publication of the Book of Mormon, and fully one year after the Church was organized, as befor stated herein.
"That I made this statement, not on account of fear, favor, or hope of reward of any kind; but simply that the truth may be known with reference to said matter, and that the foregoing statements made by me are true, as I verily believe.
"Sworn to before me, and subscribed in my presence, by the said Katherine Salisbury, this 15th day of April, A. D. 1881.
"J. H. Jenks, Notary Public."
HISTORY OF THE LIFE OF SIDNEY RIGDONDuring the century since 1834, Sidney Rigdon has been accused by anti-Mormon writers of conniving with Joseph Smith in the production of the Book of Mormon for the purpose of fraud and deception. Nearly all writers who give a human origin to the book declare that Joseph Smith had the assistance of a person learned in Christian doctrines.
To them, Sidney Rigdon seemed to be that person. He was the only one available in any way for such an accusation who possessed the requisite theological training. During his entire life he declared that the Book of Mormon was presented to him for the first time in November, 1830, by Parley P. Pratt at
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his home at Mendon, Ohio, near Kirtland. Also that he saw Joseph Smith for the first time in his life at Palmyra in December, 1830. While he disagreed with Church leaders after the death of Joseph Smith, at no time did he deny the divine origin of the Book of Mormon or the truth of the glorious visions which he had received in company with the Prophet.
As early as 1843, before the martyrdom of Joseph Smith, a history of his life was published in the Times and Seasons, at Nauvoo, Illinois. It gives an account of his life down to the time of his baptism in November, 1830. Shortly after this event, he went to Palmyra, New York, to confer with Joseph Smith whom he then met for the first time in his life.
Excerpts from the history of his life as published in the Times and Seasons follow:
LIFE OF SIDNEY RIGDON
"Sidney S. Rigdon was born in Saint Clair township, Allegheny County, State of Pennsylvania, on the 19th of February, A. D. 1793, and was the youngest son of William and Nancy Rigdon....
"Nothing very remarkable took place in the youthful
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days of Elder, suffice it to say, that he continued at home with his parents, following the occupation of a farmer until he was seventeen years of age, when his father died; after which event, he continued on the same farm with his mother, until he was twenty-six years of age. In his twenty-fifth year, he connected himself with a society which in that county was called Regular Baptists. The Church he united with, was at that time under the charge of the Reverend David Phillips, a clergyman from Wales. The year following, he left the farm and went to reside with the Reverend Andrew Clark, a minister of the same order. During his continuance with him, he received a license to preach in that society, and commenced from that time to preach, and returned to farming occupations no more. This was March, 1819.
"In the month of May of the same year, he left the State of Pennsylvania and went to Trumball County, State of Ohio, and took up his residence at the house of Adamson Bentley, a preacher of the same faith. This was in July of same year....
"After his marriage in 1816, he continued to preach in that district or county until November, 1821, when he was requested by the First Baptist Church of the city of Pittsburgh, to take the pastoral charge of said Church, which invitation he accepted, and in February, A. D. 1822, he left Warren, Trumball County and removed to that city and entered immediately upon his pastoral duties, and continued to preach to that Church with considerable success....
"After mature deliberation, deep reflection, and solemn prayer to his Heavenly Father, the resolve was made, and the important step was taken; and in the month of August, A. D. 1824, after laboring among the
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people two years and six months, he made known his determination, to withdraw from the church, as he could no longer uphold the doctrines taught and maintained by it....
"There was at the time of his separation from that Church, (the Baptist) a gentleman of the name of Alexander Campbell, who was formerly from Ireland, and who had since obtained considerable notoriety in the religious world, who was then a member of the same association, and who afterwards separated from it. There was also another gentleman, by the name of Walter Scott, a Scotchman by birth, who was a member of the Scandinavian Church, in that city, and who separated from the same about that time....
"Having now retired from the ministry, and having no way by which to sustain his family, besides his own industry, he was necessitated to find other employment in order to provide for his maintenance, and for this purpose he engaged in the humble capacity of a journeyman tanner, in that city, and followed his new employment, without murmuring for two years--during which time he both saw and experienced, that, by resigning his pastoral vocations in that city, and engaging in the humble occupation of tanning, he had lost many who once professed the greatest friendship, and who manifested the greatest love for his society....
"After laboring for two years as a tanner, he removed to Bainbridge, Geauga County, Ohio, where it was known that he had been a preacher, and had gained considerable distinction as a public speaker, and the people soliciting him to preach, he complied with their request. From this time forward, he devoted himself to the work of the ministry, confining himself to no creed, but held up the Bible as the rule of faith, and advocating
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those doctrines which had been the subject of his, and Mr. Campbell's investigations, viz.: Repentance and baptism, for the remission of sins.
"He continued to labor in that vicinity one year, and during the time, his former success attended his labors. Large numbers invariably attended his meetings. While he labored in that neighborhood, he was instrumental in building up a large and respectable Church, in the town of Mantua, Portage County, Ohio. The doctrines which he advanced being new, public attention was awakened, and a great excitement pervaded throughout the whole section of the country, and frequently the congregations which he addressed, were so large that it was impossible to make himself audible to all....
"After laboring in that neighborhood one year, he received a very pressing invitation to remove to the town of Mentor, in the same country, about thirty miles from Bainbridge, and within a few miles from Lake Erie, which he sometimes afterwards complied with. The persons by whom he was more particularly requested to move to that place, were the remnants of a Baptist Church, which was nearly broken up, the members of which had become attached to the doctrines promulgated by Elder Rigdon....
"His fame as an orator and deep reasoner in the scriptures continued to spread far and wide, and he soon gained a popularity and an elevation which has fallen to the lot of but few, consequently thousands flocked to hear his eloquent discourses....
"He now was a welcome visitor wherever he traveled -- his society was courted by the learned, intelligent, and the highest encomiums were bestowed upon him for his biblical lore, and his eloquence.
"The work of the ministry engaged all his time and
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attention, he felt deeply for the salvation of his fellow men, and for the attainment of which, he labored with unceasing diligence.
"During the state of unexampled success, the prospect of wealth and affluence was fairly open before him; but he looked upon it with indifference, and made everything subservient to the promotion of correct principles: and having food and raiment, he learned therewith to be content. As a proof of this, his family were in no better circumstances, and made no greater appearance in the world, than when he labored at the occupation of tanning. His family consisted of his wife and six children, and lived in a small, unfinished frame house, hardly capable of making a family comfortable; which affords a clear proof that his affections were not set upon things of a worldly nature, or secular aggrandizement.
"After he had labored in that vicinity some time, and having received but little pecuniary aid, the members of the Church which he had built up, held a meeting to take his circumstances into consideration, and provide for his wants, and place him in a situation suitable to the high and important office which he sustained in the church. They resolved upon erecting him a suitable residence, where he could make his family comfortable, and accommodate his numerous friends, who visited him. A committee was appointed to make a purchase of land, and to erect such buildings as were necessary. The committee soon made a purchase of a farm in a beautiful situation in that township, made contracts for erecting a suitable dwelling house, stable, barns, etc., and soon made a commencement on the house, and had a quantity of building materials on the spot. He being held in the highest respect by that people, they entered
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the work with pleasure, and seemed to vie with each other in their labors of love, believing it a duty to make their beloved pastor and his family comfortable. His prospects, with regard to temporal things, were now brighter than they ever had been; and he felt happy in the midst of a people who had every disposition to promote his welfare.
"Under these pleasing circumstances, and enjoying this full tide of prosperity, he hardly thought that, for his attachment to truth, would soon see the propsect blasted, and himself and family reduced to a more humble situation than before.
"At this time, it being in the fall of A.D. 1830, Elders Parley P. Pratt, Ziba Peterson, Oliver Cowdery, and Peter Whitmer, called at that town, on their way to the western boundary of the State of Missouri, testifying to the truth of the 'Book of Mormon,' and that the Lord had raised up a Prophet, and restored the Priesthood. Previous to this, Elder Parley Pratt had been a preacher in the same church with Elder Rigdon, and resided in the town of Amherst, Lorain County, in that state, and had been sent into the State of New York, on a mission where he became acquainted with the circumstances of the coming forth of the Book of Mormon, and was introduced to Joseph Smith, Junior, and others of the church of Latter Day Saints. After listening to the testimony of the 'witnesses,' and reading the 'Book of Mormon,' he became convinced that it was of God, and that the principles which they taught, were the principles of truth. He was then baptized, and shortly after was ordained an elder, and began to preach, and from that time became a strenuous advocate of the truth.
"Believing there were many in the Church with
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whom he (Parley P. Pratt) had formerly united, who were honest seekers after truth, induced him, while on his journey to the west, to call upon his friends, and make known the great things which the Lord had brought to pass. The first house at which they called was Elder Rigdon's; and after the usual salutation, presented him with the Book of Mormon -- stating it was a revelation from God. This being the first time he had ever heard or seen the Book of Mormon, he felt very much prejudiced at the assertion; and replied that, 'he had one Bible which he believed was a revelation from God, and with which he pretended to have some acquaintance; but with respect to the book they had presented him, he must say that he had considerable doubt.' Upon which they expressed a desire to investigate the subject, and argue the matter; but he replied, 'No, young gentlemen, you must not argue with me on the subject; but I will read your book, and see what claim it has upon faith, and will endeavor to ascertain whether it be a revelation from God or not.' After some conversation on the subject, they expressed a desire to lay the subject before the people, and requested the privilege of preaching in Elder Rigdon's church, to which he readily consented. The appointment was accordingly published, and a large and respectable congregation assembled.
"Oliver Cowdery and Parley P. Pratt severally addressed the meeting. At the conclusion, Elder Rigdon arose and stated to the congregation that the information they had that evening received was of an extraordinary character, and certainly demanded their most serious consideration; and as the apostle advised his brethren 'to prove all things, and hold fast that which is good,' so he would exhort his brethren to do likewise, and give the matter a careful investigation; and not turn against it,
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without being fully convinced of its being an imposition, lest they should, possibly resist the truth.
"This was, indeed, generous on the part of Elder Rigdon, and gave evidence of his entire freedom from any sectarian bias; but allowing his mind full scope to range, untrammeled, through the scriptures, embracing every principle of truth, and rejecting error, under whatever guise it should appear. He was perfectly willing to allow his members the same privilege. Having received great light on the scriptures, he felt desirous to receive more, from whatever quarter it should come. This was his prevailing characteristic; and if any sentiment was advanced by any one, that was new, or tended to throw light on the scriptures, or the dealings of God with the children of men, it was always gladly received, and treasured upon his mind. After the meeting broke up, the brethren returned home with Elder Rigdon, and conversed upon the important things which they had proclaimed. He informed them that he should read the Book of Mormon, give it a full investigation, and then would frankly tell them his mind and feelings on the subject -- told them they were welcome to abide at his house until he had opportunity of reading it.
"About two miles from Elder Rigdon's, at the town of Kirtland, were a number of the members of his church, who lived together, and had all things common--from which circumstances had arisen the idea that this was the case with the Church of Jesus Christ -- to which place they immediately repaired, and proclaimed the gospel to them, with some considerable success; for their testimony was received by many of the people, and seventeen came forward in obedience to the gospel.
"While thus engaged, they visited Elder Rigdon occasionally, and found him very earnestly engaged in reading
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the 'Book of Mormon,' -- praying to the Lord for direction, and meditating on the things he had heard and read; and after a fortnight from the time the book was put in his hands, he was fully convinced of the truth of the work, by a revelation from Jesus Christ, which was made known to him in a remarkable manner, so that he could exclaim 'flesh and blood hath not revealed it unto me, but my father which is in heaven.'
"Being now fully satisfied in his own mind of the truth of the work, and the necessity of obedience thereto, he informed his wife of the same, and was happy to find that she was not only diligently investigating the subject, but was believing with all her heart, and was desirous of obeying the truth, which, undoubtedly, was a great satisfaction to his mind.
"The consequence of obeying the truth, and embracing a system of religion, so unpopular as that of the Church of Jesus Christ, presented itself in the strongest possible light.
"At present, the honors and applause of the world were showered down upon him, his wants were abundantly supplied, and were anticipated. He was respected by the entire community, and his name was a tower of strength. His council was sought for, respected and esteemed. -- But if he should unite with the Church of Christ, his prospects of wealth and influence would vanish; his family dependent upon him for support, must necessarily share his humiliation and poverty. He was aware that his character and his reputation must suffer in the estimation of the community.
"Aware of all these things, there must have been feelings of no ordinary kind agitate his bosom at that particular crisis; but yet they did not deter him from the path of duty. He had formerly made a sacrifice for
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truth and conscience sake, and had been sustained; consequently, he felt great confidence in the Lord, believing that if he pursued the path of duty, no good thing would be withheld from him.
"Although he felt great confidence in the Lord, yet he felt it a trial of some magnitude when he avowed his determination to his beloved companion, who had before shared in his poverty, and who had cheerfully struggled through it without murmuring or repining. -- He informed her of what the consequences would undoubtedly be respecting their wordly circumstances if they obeyed the gospel; and then said: 'My dear, you have once followed me into poverty, are you again willing to do the same?' She then said: 'I have weighed the matter, I have contemplated on the circumstances in which we may be placed; I have counted the cost, and I am perfectly satisfied to follow you; it is my desire to do the will of God, come life or come death.'
"Accordingly, they were both baptized into the Church of Jesus Christ; and together with those who had been previously admitted to baptism, made a branch, in this section of Ohio, of about twenty members, whom the brethren, bound for the borders of the Lamanites, after adding to their number, one of their converts, Dr. Frederic G. Williams, bid an affectionate farewell and went on their way rejoicing."
Another very important statement regarding any part that Sidney Rigdon may have had in the writing of the Book of Mormon is in a manuscript history filed in the historian's office, Salt Lake City, Life of Sidney Rigdon, by his son, John W. Rigdon, P. 188-195, the following appears: (See Comprehensive History of the Church, p. 234-235, also History of the Church, p. 122-123.)
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"I concluded I would make an investigation for my own satisfaction and find out, if I could, if he had all these years been deceiving his family and the world, by telling that which was not true, and I was in earnest about it. If Sidney Rigdon, my father, had thrown his life away by telling a falsehood and bringing sorrow and disgrace upon his family, I wanted to know it and was determined to find out the facts, no matter what the consequences might be. I reached home in the fall of 1865, found my father in good health and (he) was very much pleased to see me. As he had not heard anything from me for some time, he was afraid that I had been killed by the Indians. Shortly after I had arrived home, I went to my father's room; he was there and alone, and now was the time for me to commence my inquiries in regard to the origin of the Book of Mormon, and as to the truth of the Mormon religion. I told him what I had seen at Salt Lake City, and I said to him that what I had seen at Salt Lake had not impressed me very favorably toward the Mormon Church, and as to the origin of the Book of Mormon I had some doubts.
"You have been charged with writing that book and giving it to Joseph Smith to introduce to the world. You have always told me one story; that you never saw the book until it was presented to you by Parley P. Pratt and Oliver Cowdery; and all you ever knew of the origin of that book was what they told you and what Joseph Smith and the witnesses who claimed to have seen the plates had told you. Is this true? If so, all right; if it is not, you owe it to me and to your family to tell it. You are an old man, and you will soon pass away, and I wish to know if Joseph Smith, in your intimacy with him for fourteen years, has not said something to you that led you to believe he obtained that book
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in some other way than what he had told you. Give me all you know about it, that I may know the truth.'
"My father, after I had finished saying what I have repeated above, looked at me a moment, raised his hand above his head and slowly said, with tears glistening in his eyes: 'My son, I can swear before high heaven that what I have told you about the origin of that book is true. Your mother and sister, Mrs. Athalia Robinson, were present when that book was handed to me in Mentor, Ohio, and all I ever knew about the origin of that Book was what Parley P. Pratt, Oliver Cowdery, Joseph Smith and the witnesses who claimed they saw the plates have told me, and in all of my intimacy with Joseph Smith he never told me but one story, and that was that he found it engraved on gold plates in a hill near Palmyra, New York, and that an angel had appeared to him and directed him where to find it; and I have never, to you or to anyone else, told but the one story, and that I now repeat to you.' I believed him, and now believe he told me the truth. He also said to me after that that Mormonism was true; that Joseph Smith was a prophet, and this world would find it out some day.
"After my father's death, my mother, who survived him several years was in the enjoyment of good health up to the time of her last sickness, she being eighty-six years old. A short time before her death I had a conversation with her about the origin of the Book of Mormon and wanted to know what she remembered about its being presented to my father. She said to me in that conversation that what my father had told me was true, about the book being presented to him, for she was present at the time and knew that was the first time he ever saw it, and that the stories told about my father writing the Book of Mormon were not true. This she said to
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me in her old age and when the shadows of the grave were gathering around her; and I believed her."
In a book published by B. Winchester in 1840 in Philadelphia entitled The Origin of the Spaulding Story, a copy of a letter is printed which was written by Parley P. Pratt in answer to a pamphlet entitled Mormonism Exposed by L. R. Sunderland. This letter gives the time and the circumstances under which Sidney Rigdon saw the Book of Mormon for the first time. There could be no mistake in the facts related in this letter for the reason that hundreds of men and women were witnesses and knew for themselves that Parley P. Pratt told the truth.
"About A. D. 1827, Messrs. A. Campbell, W. Scott, and S. Rigdon, with some others, residing in Virginia, Ohio, &c., came off from the Baptist, and established a new order under the name of Reformed Baptist, or Disciples. And they were termed by their enemies, Campbellites, Rigdonites, &c.; this reformation as to its doctrine, consisted principally of the baptism of repentance, for the remission of sins, &c. And Mr. Rigdon in particular held to a literal fulfillment, and application of the written word, and by this means he was an instrument to turn many from the false notions of sectarianism, to an understanding of the prophecies touching the great restoration of Israel, and the mighty revelations of the last days. Many hundred disciples were gathered by his ministry, throughout the lake county of Ohio, and many other preachers stood in connection with him in these principles. I was then pursuing agricultural life, and mostly occupied in converting the wilderness into a fruitful field. But being a member of the Baptist Church, and a lover of truth, I became acquainted with Mr. Rigdon, and a believer in and a teacher of the same doctrine.
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"After proclaiming those principles in my own neighborhood, and the adjoining country, I at length took a journey to the state of New York, partly on a visit to Columbia County, N.Y., my native place, and partly for the purpose of ministering the word. This journey was undertaken in August, 1830; and I had no sooner reached Ontario County, New York, than I came in contact with the Book of Mormon, which had then been published six months, and had gathered about fifty disciples, which were all who then constituted the Church of Latter-day Saints. I was greatly prejudiced against the Book, but remembering the caution of Paul, 'Prove all things, hold fast that which is good,' I sat down to read it, and after carefully comparing it with other Scriptures, and praying to God, He gave me the knowledge of its truth, by the power of the Holy Ghost, and what was I that I could withstand God. I accordingly obeyed the ordinances, and was commissioned by revelation, and the laying on of hands, to preach the fulness of the gospel.
"Then, after finishing my visit to Columbia County, I returned to the brethren in Ontario County, where, for the first time, I saw Mr. Joseph Smith, Jr., who had just returned from Pennsylvania to his father's house in Manchester. About the 15th of October, 1830, I took my journey in company with Elders O. Cowdery and Peter Whitmer, to Ohio. We called on Elder S. Rigdon, and then for the first time his eyes beheld the Book of Mormon, I, myself, had the happiness to present it to him in person. He was much surprised, and it was with much persuasion and argument that he was prevailed on to read it, and after he had read it, he had a great struggle of mind before he fully believed and embraced it; and when finally convinced of its truth, he
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called together a large congregation of his friends, neighbours, and brethren, and then addressed them very affectionately for nearly two hours, during most of which time both himself and nearly all the congregation were melted into tears. He asked forgiveness of everybody who might have had occasion to be offended with any part of his former life; he forgave all who had persecuted or injured him in any manner, and the next morning himself and wife were baptized by Elder O. Cowdery.
"I was present; it was a solemn scene: most of the people were greatly affected; they came out of the water overwhelmed in tears. Many others were baptized by us in that vicinity, both before and after his baptism, insomuch that during the fall of 1830 and the following winter and spring, the number of disciples were increased to about one thousand; the Holy Ghost was mightily poured out, and the word of God grew and multiplied, and many priests were obedient to the faith. Early in 1831, Mr. Rigdon having been ordained under our hands, 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.
"The Spaulding story never was dreamed of until several years afterwards, when it appeared in Mormonism Unveiled -- a base forgery, by D. P. Hurlburt, and others of a similar character, who had tried to account for the Book of Mormon in some other way than the truth. In the West, whole neighborhoods embraced Mormonism after this fable of the Spaulding story had been circulated among them: indeed, we never conceived it worthy of an answer, until it was converted, by the ignorant and impudent religious editors of this city, into
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something said to be positively certain, and not to be disputed. Now, I testify that the forgers of the Spaulding lie (concerning Sidney Rigdon and others) are of the same description as those who forged the lie against the disciples of old, accusing them of stealing the body of Jesus, &c. And those who love this lie are no better.
"I mean the editors of the New York Evangelist, the Zion's Watchman, and all others who are equally guilty, including all who read and believe such a thing. And except they repent they will have their part with drunkards, whoremongers, sorcerers, thieves, murderers, etc., for being guilty of loving or making a lie; and in that day when the secrets of all hearts shall be made manifest, then shall they know, that these things and many others were base falsehoods, put in circulation by the devil and his servants; and that the Book of Mormon is a record of eternal truth, which speaks from the dust, as a voice from the dead, bearing record of the gospel of a crucified, and risen Redeemer, reproving the sins of the world, and warning them of things which must shortly come to pass; therefore, repent, all ye ends of the earth, and be baptized for remission of sins, and you shall receive the gifts of the Holy Ghost; and signs shall follow those that believe; and this gospel of the kingdom shall first be preached among all nations, and then shall the Son of Man come. "Amen."
The following letter written by Elder O. Hyde, to George G. Adams, minister of the gospel, Bedford, England, and published in Plain Facts in 1841, by Benjamin Winchester, gives the personal knowledge of an associate and student of Sidney Rigdon regarding his personal character and any possible deception by him concerning the writing of the Book of Mormon.
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"London, June 7, 1841.
"Dear Brother Adams:
"I have; just arrived in this place from Bedford, and hasten, with all possible speed to redeem the promise I made you before I left this morning.
"As you were advised and directed by the Conference in Bedford to republish an edition of a certain tract written by Benjamin Winchester, of America, in reply to the gross and impious falsehood published by our enemies, saying that the Book of Mormon was manufactured by Sidney Rigdon out of the writings of one Solomon Spaulding: this tale has been published in America, and circulated throughout that vast republic; but it has been met by the defenders of the cause of truth, and refuted to the shame, confusion, and disgrace of all those who were concerned in giving it publicity: and it is only necessary to give publicity to the documents in our possession to paralyze and blast forever the influence and character of that falsehood in this country, which bears such a striking resemblance to that which was circulated about the Saviour, 'that his disciples came by night and stole him away while we slept.' In fact, the two are brothers. They were born of the same parents. The devil begat them; and very pious priests brought them forth.
"At the time our enemies say that Mr. Rigdon was engaged in fabricating the Book of Mormon, I was a student under him. He was then a minister in the Christian Baptist Church in America, and I was calculating to engage in the same calling, being a member of the same church. I was intimately acquainted with him, and his family, for a number of years; and a good part of that time I was a boarder in his family, particularly in 1829.
"If Mr. Rigdon had been engaged in a work of that
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kind, I am certain that he would have, either directly or indirectly, given me a hint of it. But such an intimation he never gave me in any shape or manner.
"I am confident that Mr. Rigdon never had access to the manuscript of Mr. Spaulding: but even allowing that he might (which my own thoughts will not allow for a moment) have seen the manuscript, he lacked the disposition to make the use of it which his enemies accuse him of; for all people know, who know anything about Mr. Rigdon, and are willing to confess the truth, that he would conscientiously stand as far from such a base forgery, 'as Lot stood from Sodom in its evil day.' Mr. Rigdon never writes a romance upon any subject; but if he had been in possession of the same conscience-seared, heaven-daring hardihood that the very pious Mr. Spaulding was, he might possibly have reduced sacred and eternal things to a romance to get gain, as Mr. Spaulding did, his own friends being witnesses.
"Forgery, deception, and romance formed no part of the principles which Mr. Rigdon taught me during the time that I was under his tuition; and I must say, that I should not have been more surprised if they had accused the Lord Bishop of London of the same things which they charge against Mr. Rigdon.
"While the said Mr. Hurlburt was a member in our Church, and an Elder also, it fell to my lot to travel with him to preach the gospel; and it was at my instance that a charge was preferred against him before the Council of the Church for an attempt at seduction and crime. He was expelled; and from personal knowledge I am prepared to say, that Mr. Winchester and Mr. Rigdon have told the truth concerning him, and the character which he sustains.
"In the spring of 1832, I preached in New Salem,
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Ohio; the place where Reverend Mr. Spaulding resided at the time he wrote his romance, though he was not residing there at the time I preached there. I raised up a branch of the Church in that place, and baptized many of Mr. Spaulding's old neighbours; but they never intimated to me that there was any similarity between the Book of Mormon, and Mr. Spaulding's romance: neither did I hear such an intimation from any quarter, until the immoral Hurlburt, a long time after, in connection with some very pious ministers, such, perhaps as Mr. Storrs and Mr. Austin brought forth the idea. I then went to these neighbours of Mr. Spaulding, and enquired of them if they knew anything about his writing a romance; and if so, whether the romance was anything like the Book of Mormon. They said that Mr. Spaulding wrote a book, and that they frequently heard him read the manuscript; but that any one should say that it was like the Book of Mormon was most surprising, and must be the last pitiful resort the devil had.
"One man testified that Mr. Joseph Smith repeated the contents of the Book of Mormon by looking at a white stone, and a scribe wrote them down, and this in Harmony, Susquehanna County, Pennsylvania. Another testifies that Mr. Rigdon formed it out of Spaulding's romance in Pittsburgh or in Ohio, some two or three hundred miles from where Mr. Smith is said to have done it. 'So their witness agrees not together.' 'Confusion among the Babel repairers.'
"I now close this letter with a warning to all whom it may concern, in the name of Jesus Christ, my Master, that whoever has published the Spaulding falsehood, either from the press or from the pulpit, that they repent of their sin, and correct their error through the same medium which they have committed it, lest their garments
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be found spotted with the blood of souls when God shall judge the secrets of all hearts by that Man whom He hath ordained.
I have the honor to subscribe myself,
Your brother in Christ Jesus, Amen.
In this chapter, original sources have been quoted to show that Sidney Rigdon saw Joseph Smith and was acquainted with the contents of the Book of Mormon for the first time about eight months after its publication. He, therefore, had no part in its writing. To the knowledge of the writer, after careful study of all the printed material available, there exists no evidence to prove that Sidney Rigdon had any part in the production of the Book of Mormon. What he declared all his life and was known to hundreds of witnesses must be accepted as the facts. Notwithstanding this positive evidence on the one hand and the entire lack of historical facts on the other, some anti-Mormon writers still repeat as true this human origin for the Book of Mormon, namely that Sidney Rigdon assisted Joseph Smith or alone wrote the religious parts of the Book of Mormon and that together they copied the historical parts from the Solomon Spaulding manuscript.
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Until his death, in 1877, except on rare occasions, Brigham Young was called the ignorant deluded follower
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of a false prophet. He was a traitor to his country for he was building an empire of disloyal followers in the western desert. He was responsible for the massacre of one hundred Missouri emigrants on their way to California. He enticed by false promises, ignorant and innocent people to come to Utah.
With the growth and development of Western America, and especially after the building of the Union Pacific Railroad, the attitude toward the members of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints began to change. More and more they were honestly represented by travelers in books and in magazines. Utah, in 1896, became a state with equal rights and privileges, and Latter-day Saints no longer found it necessary to work against a common local enemy. Utah political parties were abandoned. All Utahns became either Democrats or Republicans. A new day had come for Utah and the Latter-day Saints.
The missionary service of the Church was greatly extended. Latter-day Saint young men and women attended universities of other states. Visitors to Utah increased. Utah newspapers sponsored by non-Mormons changed from criticism to praise. Business relations between the people of the state were promoted on a friendly and mutual basis. With these economic and social changes came a changing situation regarding the explanation of the Book of Mormon.
In 1902, only six years after statehood, W. A. Linn wrote The Story of the Mormons, a very complete history of the Mormon people from his point of view. This author accepts the Rigdon-Spaulding theory of the origin of the Book of Mormon. He denied the possibility of divine aid and argues that existing religious, economic, and social conditions, at the time of the writing of the
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manuscript of the Book of Mormon explain its contents. I. W. Riley wrote The Founder of Mormonism (1902). He explained the Book of Mormon by a psychological analysis of Joseph Smith, who reflected the influence of his environment. Joseph Smith was subject to epileptic fits.
Later, in 1931, Harry M. Beardsley, in his book, Joseph Smith and His Mormon Empire, asserted that Joseph Smith, a paranoiac, wrote the Book of Mormon. He claims the literature of the time is the source of the contents of the Book of Mormon. These writers reject the long held Rigdon-Spaulding theory of the origin of the Book of Mormon.
Another book, Revelation in Mormonism, appeared in 1932 by J. Arbaugh, published at the University of Chicago. In common with other writers, he denies the possibility of divine aid in the writing of the Book of Mormon. He disagrees with Riley and Beardsley and describes the various parts of the Book of Mormon written by Rigdon and Joseph Smith, and those taken from the Spaulding manuscript. He critizes the psychological explanation of the Book of Mormon advocated by Beardsley and Riley by stating that the authors have assumed certain personality traits in Joseph Smith to explain the contents of the Book of Mormon.
A late anti-Mormon writer, 1945, Faun M. Brodie, asserts in No Man Knows My History that Joseph Smith received no help from Sidney Rigdon or Solomon Spaulding in producing the contents of the Book of Mormon. Rather, he possessed a peculiar personality. He was a "myth maker of prodigious talents." The Book of Mormon is a fable. This author analyzes the conditions necessary for the writings of the Book of Mormon and the organization of the Church and assumes that
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Joseph Smith decided upon and prepared himself for these events as they transpired.
A very recent book, 1948, and probably the latest real attempt to explain the Book of Mormon by "a person selected for a careful investigation," presents "the only real problem of Mormonism." (Chapter XI "Who and What are the Mormons" in New Forms of the Old Faith, James Black D. D. Edinburgh, Scotland.)
Reverend Black writes, "How could Joseph Smith, an ill educated man, invent such an elaborate system of rules and ideas, etc. etc., and how could he have expounded them in a style of writing foreign to his ordinary speech and range of culture." "The charge of his enemies, that the whole system is merely a clever invention and fraud, does not touch the problem." He concludes that Joseph Smith possessed a "dissociated personality." Thus Joseph Smith is first a money digger, then an ignoramous, then a deluded fanatic, then a vile deceiver, a fraud, then an epileptic, a paranoiac, then a myth maker of prodigous talents. Finally he is not an ignoramous, he is not a deceiver, rather a person with a disassociated personality.
It now appears that the Rigdon-Spaulding theory of the origin of the Book of Mormon may be abandoned. The personality of Joseph Smith, his learning, his environment, will be assumed and described by writers to meet the requirements of his ability to produce the book and to organize the Church. Historical facts that must be accepted in the actual writing and printing of the Book of Mormon will be interpreted by the coming writers to meet their various theses explaining the contents of the Book of Mormon. These writers will disagree concerning important assumed facts but they will all deny the possibility of divine aid in the translation of an ancient
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record "To convince the Jew and the Gentile that Jesus is the Christ."
There exists no longer a widely and universally accepted explanation of the Book of Mormon.
CHANGING WORLD CONDITIONS
Through the centuries that have followed, the Master's teachings have been acknowledged the greatest force for good that has been revealed to men. If our Heavenly Eternal Father has now restored in its plainness, the Gospel plan of Life, and if man may act for Him today as once Jesus gave the power to his disciples in Palestine, and if in His own wisdom and in His own way an ancient
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record containing the fulness of His gospel has been translated by the power of God as evidence of these eternal truths, surely, all men, everywhere, will become more and more interested to know for themselves if the Book of Mormon is that "New Witness for Christ in America."
The investigator will look for evidence in the lives of those who have believed and obeyed the revealed Gospel plan. Today, Brigham Young is extolled as a great leader in American life. His statue has recently been placed in Statuary Hall among other great men of the nation. However during his life, except for the few who believed in him, he was maligned. Were Brigham Young living today, he would deny his individual greatness and declare that the achievement accomplished during his life time by Latter-day Saint Pioneers came by their faith and testimony in the Living God, in the restoration of the Priesthood and the Gospel of Jesus Christ.
Educators, writers, leaders, and thinking men and women everywhere are now more and more willing and eager to investigate the claim that the Book of Mormon is a "New Witness for Christ." Here is a book dictated by one person to another over a relatively short period of time. It was not revised and corrected for the reason the person responsible for its contents declared he was translating by the gift and power of God. He was not writing a book. It is not a history, or a compilation. It is a translated record of many writers who wrote over a period of over one-thousand years. Thus, this record reflects consistently the actual conditions existing at the time and places it describes. It must be recognized as a translated record of Hebraic origin. The prophesies and religious teachings of the book must supplement the writings of the Master as recorded by His disciples in Palestine. The travels, buildings, and civilization of the
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people described in the book must be in keeping with the discoveries of the archaeology of the country it describes. Religious teachings of the book given by Jesus shortly after His resurrection will be beyond the thinking and teachings of the Christian churches at the time of its publication. If the book is manmade, there will be mistakes on every page. If divine, scholars and investigators will find by earnest study the evidence required.
In a distracted and confused world seeking the way for peace and happiness, the Book of Mormon and its assured divine origin becomes the most challenging book since the writings of the New Testament. It is now published in twenty-seven different languages. More than five thousand two-years and more volunteer missionaries are presenting it to a sympathetic world. A million believers throughout the world organized in branches, wards, and stakes, directed by called and selected leaders, are giving their time, and their volunteer services for their own progress and to help bring to others the glorious blessings of the Gospel.
In the Book of Mormon is written a promise by the last writer that can only be fulfilled by God our Eternal Father. (Moroni 10.) Tens of thousands of investigators testify, that as they have read the Book with sincere faith and with a prayer to God in keeping with that promise that He has, by His spirit, convinced them that the Book of Mormon is divine. They testify that the power of God has been made manifest again. The Gospel plan of peace and happiness has been restored, men may know today that Christ lives, and that men may have peace and joy in this life and eternal progress in the world to come.
The Restored Church is now known for its achievements. The members of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, are conceded a happy, intelligent
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people with high moral standards. They now receive praise and commendation for their accomplishments. All the condemnation once heaped upon the Prophet Joseph Smith will be removed. The books he gave the world by revelation from God, will now be explained, in terms of his peculiar mental personality, the religious situation and environment in which he lived, and the possible help he obtained from his followers.
He will no longer be called a deluded fanatic or a vile deceiver. The Church founded by Joseph Smith will be permitted to take its place with other Christian Churches to meet a universally recognized need to build faith in God, in the brotherhood of men and in immortality and eternal life.
The new attitude will open the way for a better understanding of the Latter-day Saints and the Restored Church. But the question remains. Did Joseph Smith, by the gift and power of God, translate an ancient divine record to convince "All men that Jesus is the Christ." Has God in His mercy restored His priesthood and may men everywhere receive and be motivated by the power of the Holy Ghost as was experienced by the ancient believers on the day of Pentecost? For more than a century this has been the vital question, presented to all people everywhere. This question will not, it cannot, change.
All anti-Mormon writers will continue to deny divine power in the "coming forth" of the Book of Mormon. In the changing explanations of the Book of Mormon that will continue to appear and in the growing confusion of many writers for the years ahead, historical facts will be interpreted differently to meet the varying theses presented. Joseph Smith, his acts, and his personality will have different interpretations, but all of them will deny divine power. These writers will consider their
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conclusions endorsed by the modern trend of many Christians who ardently adhere to belief in Christ as the greatest teacher of men. They admit the power of prayer and assert man may know by a gift beyond human analysis that to accept Christ and obey His teachings brings joy and satisfaction, and the best in human living. But they doubt or deny the reality of the virgin birth, the actual resurrection of Christ, and the power of the Priesthood. Many modern critics of the Book of Mormon will agree with this analysis of Christ and his teaching, and because of the lack of faith in the objective reality of the spiritual events in the birth, miracles, death and resurrection of Christ, they will also assert that the claim of modern revelation by Joseph Smith and especially the translation by him of a five hundred page book by the power of God is entirely beyond human experience and cannot be objectively true.
(Pages 238-328 not transcribed.)
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(Pages 330-390 not transcribed.)
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and when Christ left Jerusalem he came to this nation; and, finding them much more perfect and harmonious in their religious views than the Jews were at Jerusalem, he was more particular in giving them instructions as to baptism, and said they must go down into the water, and be put under the water, and come up out of the water. But, after this, they became corrupt and wicked; enmity and discord prevailed among them, to such an extent, that they could no longer dwell together; hence they divided up into tribes, were scattered over the face of the earth, and their descendants are the American Indians.
At this point, the interview came to an end; and my friend and myself returned home, fully convinced that we had smelt a large mice.
(Original paper at New York City Public Library.)
Modern writers more and more agree that no historical facts are available to prove that Sidney Rigdon met Joseph Smith before the Book of Mormon was published. In other words, the Spaulding-Rigdon theory of the origin of the Book of Mormon must be abandoned. It is now generally agreed that Joseph Smith is the author of the Book of Mormon. It's contents, therefore, must be explained by his ability and capacity to write the book. It's origin, must be explained by his learning and the environmental influences of his early life if the book is man-made.
A number of writers assert that the contents of the Book of Mormon regarding the Hebrew people which it describes may be traced to Joseph Smith's knowledge of the View of the Hebrews, a book written in 1823, by Ethan Smith. A study of the contents of this book shows that the author copied largely from an earlier book written by Elias Boudinot, Star in the West, printed in 1816. Both Mr. Boudinot and Mr. Smith also copied from an earlier publication by James Adair, printed in 1775, entitled, The History of the American Indians.
The table of contents of these three books and additional
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introductory and explanatory material which follows indicates that the Book of Mormon differs so widely in content and purpose that the knowledge of these books could have had little, if any, influence on the material published in the Book of Mormon.
The writers of the three books present facts from the customs, traditions, beliefs, and ways of living of the Indians, and conclude they are the Lost Ten Tribes of the House of Israel. The Book of Mormon describes three migrations to America; one, the Jaredites from the Tower of Babel, two from Jerusalem. It is a sacred history of prophecy and revelations. It describes peoples, travels, cities, topography of the country, and includes the visit and teachings of the resurrected Christ shortly after His crucifixion in Jerusalem. Finally, it tells of a sacred record written and compiled and hidden unto the Lord to come forth and to be translated by divine power to convince the Jew and the Gentile that Jesus is the Christ.
Such a book had no part of its origin or contents in the above described three books which present observed facts from living Indians that prove their Israelite origin.
In addition, there is no evidence that Joseph Smith or his scribes had any knowledge of the book written by Ethan Smith.
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[ 418 ]
The first quotations are from a rare book by John Corrill who was convinced of the divine origin of the Book of Mormon in 1831. For nearly eight years he labored for the upbuilding of the Church and suffered the severe persecutions in Missouri. Then his courage failed. Returning to his home and friends in Illinois, he was honored in being elected a member of the Illinois Legislature. When the writer first read this book at the University of Chicago, he wondered: Will John Corrill, once a counselor to Bishop Partridge, deny the divine origin of the Book of Mormon? Will he claim evidence of fraud or deceit in the life of the Prophet Joseph Smith? Like many who left the association of the Church in the dark days of Missouri, Corrill continued to say, "The book came forth as declared by the Prophet Joseph Smith." There is no evidence to the contrary.
It is of the greatest historical significance to publish in full the editorials written by Alexander Campbell, founder of the Church of Christ, in his paper The Millennial Harbinger. These prove that at first he knew, "that Joseph Smith, a very ignorant person, was the sole author of the book." After nine years he changes and agrees with the widow of Solomon Spaulding that the Book of Mormon originated in the "Manuscript Found." Joseph
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Smith, he knew, did not have the ability to write the book.
Pomeroy Tucker, of Palmyra, helped set the type for the Book of Mormon. He was personally acquainted with Joseph Smith and the witnesses of the Book of Mormon. Surely he agreed with the first explanation of the origin of the Book of Mormon printed at Palmyra. "It was the result of delusion and fanaticism, written by ignorant Joe Smith of this Village. It will soon pass into oblivion." In 1867, he wrote a book in which he said the origin of the Book of Mormon was through Sydney Rigdon and Solomon Spaulding.
Major J. G. Gilbert of Palmyra, another person who helped set the type and helped print the Book of Mormon, is quoted in a published interview at Detroit, Michigan, in 1877 that, "It is now pretty well established that the Book of Mormon was written in 1812 by the Rev. Solomon Spaulding of Ohio as a popular romance."
(Mr. Spaulding was not a Presbyterian or a Congregational minister. He was not a graduate of Dartmouth College. He did not accept Jesus as the Christ. He believed only in the ethical teachings of the Bible.)
A. Metcalf, who writes why he became a Mormon and why he changed and became an infidel, claims he quotes correctly Martin Harris in an interview in 1884 at his home in Smithfield, Utah. It is only necessary for the reader to know that at this time Martin Harris solemnly declared before scores of persons that the writings of the Prophet Joseph Smith were true and correct, and that he saw in broad daylight Moroni, the immortal messenger, and the plates of the Book of Mormon. He was not deceived. It was not a delusion. It was an objective reality.
The relatively few anti-Mormon writers quoted had opportunity to know the facts about the Latter-day Saints.
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Their writings reveal the prejudice of the time. Without considering the fact that a great Church has been organized, and thousands of converts declare the divine origin of the Book of Mormon, they repeat the only available contrary explanation. The book is not divine; it is the product of Rigdon and Spaulding. Joseph Smith, the witnesses and others who participated in the writing and printing of the book, are base deceivers.
It is very important that both the explanation of the origin of the Book of Mormon accepted by Rev. Daniel Sylvester Tuttle in 1906 and the article he wrote regarding the origin of Mormonism in the Religious Encyclopedia be published at the same time and place. In the book written in 1906, he accepts the Rigdon-Spaulding theory of the origin of the Book of Mormon.
His claimed quoted record of a trial of Joseph Smith in 1826 contains a claimed confession by Joseph Smith that he used a seer-stone to deceive people by declaring he could find hidden treasures. It is now claimed that this confession reveals that his activities when 21 years of age were based upon deceit and myticism which finally resulted in his finding the "gold plates" and his ability to write a translation by which he became a prophet, "a mythmaker of prodigious talents," who wrote a fable that is today "the energizing force in the lives of a million believers."
A newspaper article concerning the same event is reprinted for comparison and study.
The growing claimed use by Joseph Smith of the contents of the book by Ethan Smith, "View of the Hebrews" published in 1823, is answered by the printing of the introduction to the book, its table of contents and two earlier similar books used by the author. This information
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is very important to the earnest student of the Book of Mormon.
The reprinted newspaper articles in 1831-1841 serve careful consideration. Here is important evidence of the result of presenting the Gospel message.
Can it be true that God in His mercy has revealed again, in its fullness, the way to peace, joy, and eternal progress?
These early newspaper articles are definite proof that such a message was declared, that many accepted it as true and that the Book of Mormon is evidence that the power of God has again been made manifest to all men.
Joel Tiffany in Tiffany's Monthly magazine in 1859 asserts he is personally acquainted with Martin Harris with whom he reports a long claimed interview.
Fayette Lapham in The Historical Magazine reports an interview with the father of Joseph Smith.
Today, we ask the question, Is it possible that people once believed such absurd statements regarding the leader of the Church now tested by a century and a quarter of growth?
Surely the life long activities of Martin Harris and the Prophet's father are a sufficient answer to such claimed statements.
The testimony of William Smith reveals the knowledge of the family and others that the writings of Joseph Smith describing his first vision and the coming forth of the Book of Mormon are true and were accepted by those who had the ability to know all the facts.