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gained him, he runs imminent danger of being no fitter for 'heaven than his perverters. Would that their zeal "provoked very many" who have the ancient and only salvation to proclaim, “knowing nothing among men save Jesus Christ and Him crucified.' Our intention is not to chronicle every step and stage of this imposture from its origination, to its present American settlements among the Rocky Mountains, and foreign propogation in all quarters of the earth ; but, with such aid as is supplied us by miscellaneous authorized' publications, and also by an excellent historical compilation lately issued, and another and earlier production, whose titles are copied in a different place, * we shall aim to present our readers with some clear and simple etchings of this notorious heresy. Before, however, passing on, we may observe that our bookshops are still destitute of a masterpiece treating Mormonism with sufficient historical and critical amplitude, impartiality, and ability. We have a title to offer to any talented scribe, who would like by the same effort to expose a system of falsehood, and to secure a niche in the temple of fame. " Mormonism : its History and Polity, Theological and Social,” would be a plain and comprehensive title, under which an expert and brilliant pen might make itself renowned. What we have to say will best be distributed, for the sake of convenient perusal and easier referencee, into a series of separate paragraphs. * See Appendix A
† The ill-favoured idea which has become attached to the term "heresy" is not radical but acquired. Anciently a heresy (airesis) denoted a sect, or a body of doctrine, which might be good, bad, or mongrel. Mormonism may, therefore, be styled a heresy in the old and general sense, but looking to its principles and characteristics the serious enquirer will be disposed to apply to it the emphatic adjective which Peter uses in his 2nd. Epistle, ii 1.
THE REPUTED FOUNDER OF
I. THE CAREER AND CHARACTER OF JOSEPH SMITH,
THE SYSTEM, first solicits our attention.
This pseudo-prophet was born Dec. 23, 1805, at Sharon, in Windsor county, Vermont, where his father had a farm. Neither of his parents was educated or religious, and in Joseph's tenth year, they, with nine other children, six sons and three daughters, made one of those long emigrations not uncommon in the United States, removing into the western part of New York, where they resided eleven years, first at Palmyra, and afterwards at the village of Manchester. Growing up here, he followed his father's occupation, never gaining much skill in reading, writing, or arithmetic.
In 1821, when he was fifteen years of age, a “ revival” began in Manchester, under which his mother, three brothers, and one sister, joined the Presbyterian church; but Joseph remained unattached to any body of christians, professing his inability to decide which was right and which was wrong. Up to this time, and it is said beyond it, the reputation of himself and his family connections was exceedingly low, all notoriously spending much time “ in digging for money which they pretended had been hidden during the revolutionary war !"* One of his zealous partizans, Mr. Orson Pratt, who
once stationed at Liverpool, and is one of the “ twelve apostles of the church of Joseph Smith,”+ claims for his leader the honour of enjoying
See Appendix B † Mr. Pratt is now on a mission at Washington U. S., and has commenced a monthly paper called “THE SEER". He also announ
at this period a supernatural manifestation of resplendent light, and of “ two glorious personages” who announced the forgiveness of his sins and promised a more copious revelation at another season. But Mr. Pratt confesses that "being young, he was again entangled in the vanities of the world”-a discreet confession,-since during 1823, 4 he was following his money-digging trade with the pretence that a curious stone, (found in 1822 by a person named Chase, from whom Smith obtained it), enabled him to discover where treasures had been hid! The mode of divination used by the adept was to put the stone into his hat, and then to do the same with his face, At this childish game of “I can see what you can't,” Joseph Smith continued for some years -being hired in the meantime, in company with his father and others (Sep. 1823) to dig for a silver mine at Harmony on the borders of Pennsylvania and New York. According to Mr. Pratt, Smith was honoured with another “manifestation" in the evening of Sep. 21, 1823, consisting of a gorgeous illumination, and the appearance of " a personage," who revealed many strange things, among which were these, that the American Indians were a remnant of Israel, and that certain records composed by their inspired writers, and which had been long concealed, were now to be divulged, preparatory to Messiah's second coming. The vision was twice ces the early publication of a work entitled “Celestial Marriage, or the Peopling of Worlds." Mr. Pratt holds the nominal office of a Professor in Deseret University; and at the Special Conference in August 1852, was raised to the presidency of the 'Church' in the United States, and British Provinces of North America. Should he survive Young, the present prophet, he will certainly become first man, if ability is chiefly considered in the election,
renewed, and a third time in the morning, when the angel, correcting a previous oversight, “ instructed him to go immediately and view the secret records :" this he did, and having dug out and opened the strong stone box in which they were encased, its contents lay before him. But, “ behold! the angel who had previously visited him” again made himself visible and placed his interdict upon their present acquisition. So it is to be inferred that they were restored to their hill-side sepulchre, and Smith, (in obedience to the angel's summons to prayer and faithfulness,) relapsed to his digging and divining tricks.
While at Harmony, he lodged in the house of a hunter named Hale, a respectable person, who testifies to Smith's being at the head of the money-diggers, whose cupidity he encouraged until his stone or “looking-glass,” as he facetiously termed it, ceased to act, and in 1825 the gang was broken up. Smith returned to Manchester, but having fallen in love with the daughter of his late landlord, he adopted a series of deceptions which ended in his elopement and clandestine marriage with the young lady, and in his procuring their conveyance to Manchester at the expense of a credulous Dutchman, whom he deluded with the tale of a cave in which was a bar of gold as thick as his leg, and about three or four feet long." During this time Mr. Pratt requires us to believe that Mr. Smith was " frequently receiving instruction from the mouth of the heavenly messenger ;" and on the morning of Sep. 22, 1827, the records were delivered into his hands a month after he bad re-visited Mr. Hale to gain his wife's
property, telling the old gentleman he had abandoned "glass-looking," and was expecting to work hard for a living. But a curious story here intervenes ; for a person named Ingersol has deposed on oath that Smith acquainted him that after his return to Manchester, he passed off upon his family a quantity of fine white sand wrapped in his frock, as the “Golden Bible." Putting his records (sand bag) into a pillow-case, and this into a wooden box, he allowed all persons to handle it, but not to inspect them. At this time a patron and tool sprang up in the person of Martin Harris, a religious weathercock, and a man of strong passions, to whom Smith presented a scroll covered over with uncouth strokes, “the whole ending in a rude representation of the Mexican zodiac"; which he vouched as a transcript of part of the “golden plates.” On this assurance, Harris advanced fifty dollars, and at Smith's request made a journey to the city of New York, where he submitted the mystical paper to Professor Anthon, who says
he“ soon came to the conclusion that it was all a trick-perhaps a hoax."* This suspicion
* The Mormons exult greatly over the fact that some years after this transaction, several glyphs (engraved tablets) were discovered in Mexico, similar in design to the figures on the scroll presented to Professor Anthon. But the inference they deduce in favour of the "golden plates” is more positively insisted on than logically conclusive. The size of the "curious stone" found by Chase is not stated-may it not have been such a glyph ? Or in his vagrant diggings it is not impossible that Smith may have discovered an antiquity of the kind; and one or other of these suppositions is rendered the more probable as the Mormons have themselves published an account of the disinterment at Kinderhook, in 1843, of six plates of brass covered with ancient characters. Á wood-cut of one of these is given in the Illustrated History of Mormonism (p. 279), and nearly resembles the scrawl supplied to Harris by Smith as described by the learned professor of Columbia College. If this be granted, we see Smith's shrewdness in advising Harris to take it to New York and shew it to some learned man whose favourable opinion, it was expected, would blind Harris completely to the forgery.