Imágenes de página

exposure of the forgery. With the legendary story, however, of Mr. Spaulding, either Smith or some other person had intermingled dreary prophecies, and re-arranged the whole. Who did the interpolating part is still uncertain. Smith's own ability is supposed by some to have been incompetent even to this poor task ; while the flagrant blunders,--scientific, historical, chronological, philological, and grammatical, which repeatedly occur, prove the mechanist to have been a bungling ignoramus.* The fact that the additions coincided with the peculiar sentiments advocated at that time by Rigdon, gives colour to the theory that (figuratively speaking) he was behind the blanket assisting Joseph in his “translations,” although not avowedly known to him till the book was printed. As to evidence of the reality of the golden plates, it is a sorry affair. The three original witnesses were Harris, Cowdery, and Whitmer, who testified that " an angel came down from heaven, and brought and laid the plates before their eyes, so that they beheld and saw the plates and the engravings thereon;" but of what value their attestation is will be seen from several facts. When Harris was afterwards pressed whether he saw them with his bodily eyes, just as he saw a pencil-case held up before him, he answered, " I did not see them As I do that pencil-case ; yet I saw them with the eye of faith. I saw them just as distinctly as I see

One of these nods-hut not homeric !-is too amusing to be omitted. Mention is made of the mariner's compass, in this erudite history, as existing 2000 years before its discovery; and this having been alleged to a Mormon elder against the authenticity of Mormon's record, the charge was gravely parried by a reference to Acts xxviii. 13,“We fetched a compass !"—from which passage no doubt the Prophet borrowed his.

anything around, though at the time they were covered over with a cloth.Whitmer described the angel as being “like a man in grey clothes, having his throat cut!” In 1831, Smith avowed himself unable to trust Harris with certain 'moneys ;' and in 1838 he dubs this poor dupe 'a lackey far beneath contempt,'—while Rigdon classes Cowdery and Whitmer with counterfeits, thieves, liars, and blacklegs of the deepest dye, united to deceive, cheat, and defraud the saints.' Admirable witnesses ! Sufficit ad nauseam. On the supernatural sagacity evinced by the translators' every unprejudiced mind will have passed its judgment by the light of Mrs. Harris' experiment, which has been described; and as the fellow to it, a curious incident is related by Mr. Tucker, who was employed in the office where the Book of Mormon was put into common type. “We had heard much said by Martin Harris the man who paid for the printing, and the only one in the concern worth any property,” observes Mr. Tucker, "about the wonderful wisdom of the translators of the mysterious plates, and resolved to test their wisdom. Accordingly after putting one sheet in type, we laid it aside and told Harris it was lost, and there would be a serious deficit in the book in consequence, unless another sheet like the original could be produced. The announcement threw the old gentleman into quite an excitement; but after a few moments reflection, he said he would try to obtain another. After two or three weeks another sheet was produced, but no more like the original than any other sheet of paper would have been, written over by a common school-boy, after having

[ocr errors]


read the manuscripts preceeding and succeeding the last sheet." From this it appears certain that after “translating" from poor Spaulding's manuscript, Smith had burnt the original, lest it should at any future day be adduced against him : but he had not counted upon having a woman and printer's arts arrayed against him.

What does “ Mormon” mean, some may ask? The question was proposed to Joseph, who replied that mon is the Egyptian for good, and “hence with the addition of more, or the contraction mor, we have the word Mormon, which means literally, more good.But the Prophet's Egyptian lore is not to be credited. In 1842 Mr. Caswall visited Nauvoo, and in an interview with Smith, (whom he pictures as a coarse plebeian person in aspect, and exhibiting in his couna tenance a curious mixture of the knave and clown,") handed to him an ancient Greek MS. of the Psalms, which he boldly pronounced to be a dictionary of Egyptian hieroglyphics; and pointing to the capital letters at the commencement of each verse, he said -“Them figures is Egyptian hieroglyphics, and them which follows is the interpretation of the hieroglyphics written in the reformed Egyptian language. Them characters is like the letters that were engraved on the golden plates !"

The Book of Covenants and Revelations, containing the doctrines and church order of the new sect, has gone through several editions, the first in 1833, and the second in 1835. Inconsistencies abound as might be expected, considering how, and from whom, it emanated. Gross discrepancies exist between the first and second editions. During Smith's life the work was confined to his own speculations, or those which received his approval, and is now open to all enlargements which the Ruling Head may see fit to introduce. Like the sea, of which Solomon says, that all the rivers run into it, yet it is not full, this Book which is the Authorised Mormon Bible, will continue to be fed by new revelations so long as there are deceivers and deceived. It will unquestionably be rather inconvenient to have so bulky a spiritual statute book as this may become in time, but this evil may be in part kept in check, by a process of official filtration and selection being used before new revelations pass into it; common ones prompted by sudden and pinching exigencies, being committed to the accidental care of the universal church. Even ten years since “there were many hundred” of these floating revelations Mormon is bound to believe and obey wherever he meets them."

About 1832, the new and amended (!) Version of the (Genuine ) Bible was prepared, and was subsequently publis min small parts. Rigdon was the translator in chief, and in his own conceit mightier at his task than the seventy of Alexandria, who gave the Old Testament a Grecian garb, or the forty-seven venerable men who gave us the fruit of their learning in the present, on the whole, incomparable English version. At Rigdon's Trial in Sep. 1844, one of the Apostles, Amasa Lyman, declared him to have had “as corrupt a spirit as hell, for the last four or five years," a testimony not likely to tempt the sceptical to excessive, confidence in the

new edition of the Holy Scriptures.” It was one

which a

of the most flagitous schemes ever adopted to give party views a sacred sanction; the 'translator' amplifying wherever he thought an opportunity was presented for introducing latter-saint theology. Since Rigdon's exclusion however, the Mormon leaders may prefer disparaging and superseding the Scriptures, to attempting their enlargement, but nothing can obliterate the fact which hangs like a mill stone round the Mormon movement, that this impious effort was made, when Rigdon was high in office, and by the concurrence of Smith himself.

(2.) Its Creed embraces faith in its Bible, as it now is, and subject to future enlargements—in the constitution of the church as laid down by Smith in the ordinances of Baptism for the remission of sins and for the relief of the dead, Laying on of Hands for the gift of the Holy Ghost, the Lord's Supper, Marriage Ordination, &c.; the literal gathering of Israel, and restoration of the ten tribes—the establishment of Zion in America-Christ's personal reign, &c. Their views of the Divine Being however, are very objectionable, indeed, tluly blasphemous; for they represent Him as a material, organized intelligence, possessing both parts and passions, not omnipresent, and undergoing such developement, that when the Trinity have arrived at a certain increase of greatness, men will be equal to what they now are !* The sublime idea of Infinity is scouted as the notion of nonentity. These, and other errors respecting angels, &c., arise from an axiom of Mormon hermeneutics—to take any and every word in the Scriptures in a literal authropomorphic sense. * See Appendix D

« AnteriorContinuar »