Kappaleita on pilkottu lukemisen helpottamiseksi.
Mr. Editor. Dear Sir:
--Having been for the last four years located in Kirtland, on the
Western Reserve, I have thought proper to make some communication
to the public in relation to the Mormons, a sect of Religious Fanatics,
who are collected in this town. This service I have considered as
due to the cause of humanity, as well as to the cause of truth and
righteousness. What I have to communicate shall be said in the spirit
of candor and christian charity.
Mormonism, it is well known, originated with Joseph Smith in the
town of Manchester, adjoining Palmyra, in the state of New York.
Smith had previously been noted among his acquaintances as a kind
of Juggler, and had been employed in digging after money. He was
believed by the ignorant to possess the power of second sight, by
looking through a certain stone in his possession.
He relates that when he was 17 years of age, while seeking after
the Lord he had a nocturnal vision, and a wonderful display of celestial
glory. An angel descended and warned him that God was about to make
an astonishing revelation to the world, and then directed him to
go to such a place, and after prying up a stone he should find a
number of plates of the color of gold inscribed with hieroglyphics,
and under them a breastplate, and under that a transparent stone
or stones which was the Urim and Thummim mentioned by Moses.
The vision and the command were repeated four times that night
and once on the following day. He went as directed by the angel,
and pried up the stone under which he discovered the plates shining
like gold, and when he saw them his cupidity was excited, and he
hoped to make himself rich by the discovery, although thus highly
favored by the Lord. But for his sordid and unworthy motive, when
he attempted to seize hold of the plates, they eluded his grasp
and vanished, and he was obliged to go home without them. It was
not till four years had elapsed, till he had humbled himself and
prayed and cast away his selfishness that he obtained a new revelation
and went and obtained the plates.
The manner of translation was as wonderful as the discovery. By
putting his finger on one of the characters and imploring divine
aid, then looking through the Urim and Thummim, he would see the
import written in plain English on a screen placed before him. After
delivering this to his emanuensi, he would again proceed in the
same manner and obtain the meaning of the next character, and so
on till he came to a part of the plates which were sealed up, and
there was commanded to desist: and he says he has a promise from
God that in due time he will enable him to translate the remainder.
This is the relation as given by Smith. A man by the name of Harris,
of a visionary turn of mind, assisted in the translation, and afterwards
Oliver Cowdery. By the aid of Harris's property, the book was printed;
and it is affirmed by the people of that neighborhood, that at first
his motives were entirely mercenary,--a mere money speculation.
The book thus produced, is called by them The Book of Mormon; and
is pretended to be of the same Divine Inspiration and authority
as the Bible. The Mormons came in Kirtland about six years ago;
being taught by their leaders that this was one of the stakes of
Zion--the eastern borders of the promised land.
Not long after their arrival in Kirtland, a revelation was obtained
that the seat and center of Zion was in Jackson county, in the western
part of Missouri; and thither a multitude of them repaired, with
Smith at their head. Soon after they were routed and expelled from
the county by the infidels, and many of them returned to Kirtland.
There they have been gathering their converts from various parts
of the United States, until their present number probably amounts
to upwards of one thousand: besides the transient companies of pilgrims
who come here from the east to inquire the way to Zion, and then
pass on to Missouri.
They have built a huge stone temple in this town, fifty feet high,
and 60 by 80 on the ground, at an expense of $40,000. On the front
is this inscription, "The House of the Lord, built by the Latter-day
Saints." The lower story is the place of worship, the middle for
the school of the prophets, and the upper for an academical school;
a distinguished professor of Hebrew is their teacher. He is now
giving his second course, with about one hundred in each class.
While I am exposing these palpable impositions of the apostles
of Mormonism, candor obliges me to say, that many of the common
people are industrious, good neighbors, very sincerely deceived,
and possibly very sincere christians. They seem to delight in the
duty of prayer, and the services of devotion, and their zeal goes
far beyond any thing seen among sober christians. Some are enterprising
and intelligent, conversant with the bible, and fond of reading:
and here, I apprehend, many who have heard of them only by common
report, are mistaken; supposing them all to be ignorant and degraded,
and beneath the notice of all respectable people. The prevalence
of religious delusion is not to be attributed so much to mere ignorance,
as to the structure and prejudices and pernicious habits of the
mind, a predisposition to be captivated with anything that is new
It is furthermore proper to notice that this religious sect have
been slandered, and belied, and persecuted beyond measure. We entirely
disapprove of those violent measures which have been taken with
them in Missouri and some other places; 1st, because it is an outrage
upon inalienable rights--all men justly claiming to be protected
in the enjoyment of life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness;
and 2d, because it is unwise; persecution being the most effectual
way to build up fanatics in error and delusion.
But since there is a certain class in every community who are predisposed
to embrace any wild delusion which chances to meet them, and since
many such have already been deceived and lured away to Kirtland
and to Zion and have been disappointed and distressed, and reduced
to poverty and want; and, moreover, since there are now many converts
abroad who are looking to this place with longing eyes, as to a
land flowing with milk and honey, and expecting, when they find
the means of getting here, to bid farewell to all earthly sorrow,
we think the world have a right to know the state of things among
Many of them live in extreme indigence. They suffer accumulated
evils by crowding a multitude of poor people together, when, by
a wider distribution, they might have better means of supplying
their wants. Some of them are wealthy, and they have purchased 3
or 4000 acres of land in different parts of this town. A grotesque
assemblage of hovels and shanties and small houses have been thrown
up wherever they could find a footing; but very few of all these
cabins would be accounted fit for human habitations.
About the first of May, 1834, a company of armed men from this
place, about 100 in number, by command of Joseph, commenced a crusade
to Missouri, to expel the infidels of Zion, and to reinstate their
brethren into their possessions; at the same time he assured them
by a revelation from heaven, that the expedition would succeed and
the object be attained.
When these gallant knights-errand arrived in Missouri, they were
met by some of the constituted authorities and warned to desist;
and Joseph very prudently had a revelation that the war was at an
end. After spending the hottest part of the season on this long
tedious pilgrimage of 2000 miles, having suffered great hardships,
and numbers having been swept off by the cholera, they returned
in straggling companies to Kirtland.
Those of them who remained here during the campaign, were required
to work one day in each week on the temple; and the poor females
were instructed to part with even the necessaries of life in aid
of the same object. They looked forward to the completion of the
Temple as a Grand Era, when Christ would descend and dwell among
them, and commence his reign on earth. These burdens are severely
felt by the poor people among them, and can only be sustained by
the unconquerable strength of their faith.
Last summer a man came to Kirtland and brought among the Mormons
four Egyptian mummies. The exhibition exactly struck their fancy.
All the Mormons flocked to see the wonderful sight; and Joseph deciphered
some of the hieroglyphics, and made known in writing the name and
character and antiquity of some of the mummies;--this was an additional
proof of his divine inspiration.
The man continued with them a week; and then a command was given
them to purchase the whole, which they did for $2400. The mummies
were soon sent out for exhibition by one of their apostles, but
being unsuccessful, he brought them back to Kirtland, and threw
There is reason to believe, that many who come here with high expectations,
have met with sore disappointment. They expected to find everything
in apostolic order; but instead of this, they have found a whiskey
selling tavern, a pugnacious prophet, and an inhospitable people.
Some poor, families, after long journeys to see this Promised Land,
have met with a cold repulse; have been compelled to sleep out of
doors, and to remain in a community the most unfavorable to get
a livelihood, and under a spiritual hierarchy, who bind heavy burdens
grievous to be borne, but will not touch them with one of their
The Mormons to a man all abhor priests, and priestcraft, and societies,
and the whole system of religious institutions among established
churches; and yet they themselves are the most obsequious and abject
slaves to the spiritual rule of their leaders. All their affairs,
small and great, are directed by special revelation.
By a miserable attempt to ape the language and style of scripture,
they clothe their commands with the authority of heaven; and the
people have nothing to do but to hear and obey. If the prophet demands
their money for the Lord's treasury, he can have it by uttering
a Thus saith the Lord. By these sacrifices, they give what among
selfish men would be called a pretty good proof of sincerity at
least. Thus it happens, that those who complain loudest of priestcraft,
are the most woefully priestridden of all men.
In regard to their religious sentiments, the fundamental principle
of Mormonism is, that God continues to hold intercourse with the
saints on earth by visions and revelations, as freely and familiarly
as he has done in any age of the world. That the true church have
the same power to cast out devils, to speak with new tongues, to
take up serpents, to drink poison unhurt, and to recover the sick
by laying on of hands. They make great use of the declaration of
our Savior in Mark xvi. 17, 18, and strenuously contend that the
promise applies to all that believe in every age.
They contend that the God worshipped by the Presbyterians and all
other sectarians is no better than a wooden god. They believe that
the true God is a material being, composed of body and parts; and
that when the Creator formed Adam in his own image, he made him
about the size and shape of God himself.
They believe in the final restoration of all men except apostate
Mormons. They blaspheme against the Holy Ghost, and can never have
forgiveness, neither in this world, neither in the world to come.
Their avowed object is to restore christianity to its primeval
purity. In the true style of fanaticism they regard themselves as
the exclusive favorites of heaven; and the whole religious world
as natural brute beasts that know nothing. After the example of
our Savior they have recently ordained and commissioned twelve apostles
and seventy elders, to go throughout this heathen country and to
give a final call to repent and be baptized and believe in Mormonism
before the wicked are cut off.
The people of this region are viewed by them as standing in the
place of Chorasm and Bethsaida, and Capernaum, unwilling to believe,
in spite of all the mighty works they have tried to perform. They
are habitually pretending to speak in tongues, and to the working
of miracles, but nobody can have any evidence of these wonders but
those who have Mormon eyes and Mormon ears.
When they first came to Kirtland, Mr. Rigdon joined them, and a
few families followed in his train; but otherwise of the former
inhabitants, scarce a single conversion has happened since. The
fact is that the people are well assured that all their pretentions
to miraculous gifts of every kind, are a sheer imposition. But whenever
any miracle fails, they have a convenient salve at hand to account
for the failure; that is the want of faith: a most impudent and
officious intruder, always ready at hand to nullify all their pious
efforts, and to render them weak and feeble as other men.
Instances frequently occur which may serve as examples of their
power of healing. A young man lying on a bed of sickness, sent after
Smith and his elders to come and heal him. After praying over him,
anointing him with oil in the name of the Lord, he commanded the
disease to depart; pronounced him healed, and ordered him to rise
and walk. Stimulated by the circumstances and by high expectation,
the youth rose up and attempted to walk; but presently becoming
faint, by the help of bystanders he betook himself to the bed again,
and grew worse. They of course imputed his sudden relapse to the
failure of his faith. He then sent for the regular physician, and
by faithful means he recovered.
Another late instance was a young woman lying at the point of death
with the measles. The elders were called to lay hands on her in
like manner; and very soon afterwards she was a corpse.
The prophet has undergone repeated trials before the church, and
has made frequent confessions; and among the faithful, this is accounted
as additional proof of his humility and divine inspiration. They
only class his failings with those recorded of the ancient prophets.
But the faith of many among them has failed, and they have had honesty
enough to confess it. They have opened their eyes--the delusion
has vanished, and they have been astonished at their besotted infatuation.
Frequent depredations have happened among them, and it has sometimes
required the art and assiduity of all their prophets and priests
and elders to keep the whole babel from tumbling down together.
It is difficult to foretell how long it will take this gust of
Fanaticism to spend itself, and die away, and sink to the oblivion
of the 100 others which have gone before it. Situated as we are,
we have need of patience; and we often realize the truth of Solomon,
that "Though you should bray a fool in a mortar with a pestle, yet
will not his folly depart from him."
On the whole, the vice of Mormonism must be accounted one of the
most palpable and wide-spreading delusions which this country has
ever seen; and nothing can equal the zeal of their leaders in its
propagation. The completion of the temple, according to the pattern
shown to Joseph in vision, is a monument of unconquerable zeal.
The imposing splendor of the pulpits, the orders of the Melchizedek
and the Aaronic priesthoods, and the veils which are let down or
drawn by machinery, dividing the place of worship into several apartments,
presents before us a strange compound of Jewish antiquity and Roman
The reproof which the prophet addresses to ancient Israel that
they dwelt in sealed houses while the Temple of God was laid waste,
can never be applied to these Mormons.--Stimulated by strong faith
and zeal, you will see them muster all their forces for miles around
to hear the brethren speak in tongues, and proclaim the wonderful
works of God.
In this view they give to those who call themselves sober christians
a most severe rebuke. If they had half the zeal of these misguided
Mormons, the world would tremble, and the millennial day would speedily
be ushered in.
Yours, in the bonds of the Gospel. Truman Coe.