Artikkelit > Mormonin kirja

Prof. Anthonin 2. todistus 1841

New York, April 3, 1841.

Rev. and Dear Sir: I have often heard that the "Mormons" claimed me for an auxiliary, but as no one until the present time has even requested from me a statement in writing, I have not deemed it worth while to say anything publicly on the subject. What I do know of the sect relates to some of the early movements; and as the facts may amuse you, while they will furnish a satisfactory answer to the charge of my being a Mormon proselyte, I proceed to lay them before you in detail.

Many years ago,--the precise date I do not now recollect,--a plain-looking countryman called upon me with a letter from Dr. Samuel L. Mitchell, requesting me to examine, and give my opinion upon a certain paper, marked with various characters, which the doctor confessed he could not decipher, and which the bearer of the note was very anxious to have explained. A very brief examination of the paper, convinced me that it was a mere hoax, and a very clumsy one too. The characters were arranged in columns, like the Chinese mode of writing, and presented the most singular medley that I ever beheld. Greek, Hebrew and all sorts of letters, more or less distorted, either through unskilfulness or from actual design, were intermingled with sundry delineations of half moons, stars, and other natural objects, and the whole ended in a rude representation of the Mexican zodiac. The conclusion was irresistible, that some cunning fellow had prepared the paper in question for the purpose of imposing upon the countryman who brought it, and I told the man so without any hesitation. He then proceeded to give me the history of the whole affair, which convinced me that he had fallen into the hands of some sharper, while it left me in great astonishment at his simplicity. On my telling the bearer of the paper that an attempt had been made to impose on him and defraud him of his property, he requested me to give him my opinion in writing about the paper which he had shown to me. I did so without hesitation, partly for the man's sake, and partly to let the individual "behind the curtain" see that his trick was discovered. The import of what I wrote was, as far as I can now recollect, simply this, that the marks in the paper appeared to be merely an imitation of various alphabetical characters, and had, in my opinion, no meaning at all connected with them. The countryman then took his leave, with many thanks, and with the express declaration that he would in no shape part with his farm, or embark in the speculation of printing the golden book.
    The matter rested here for a considerable time, until one day, when I had ceased entirely to think of the countryman and his paper, he paid me a second visit. He now brought with him a duodecimo volume, which he said was a translation into English of the "Golden Bible." He also stated, that notwithstanding his original determination, he had been induced evidently to sell his farm, and apply the money to the publication of the book, and received the golden plates as a security for payment. He begged my acceptance of the volume, assuring me that it would be found extremely interesting, and that it was already "making great noise" in the upper part of the state. Suspecting now, that some serious trick was on foot, and that my plain-looking visitor might be in fact a very cunning fellow, I declined his present, and merely contented myself with a slight examination of the volume while he stood by. The more I declined receiving it, however, the more urgent the man became in offering the book, until at last I told him plainly that if he left the volume, as he said he intended to do, I should most assuredly throw it after him as he departed. I then asked him how he could be so foolish as to sell his farm and engage in this affair; and requested him to tell me if the plates were really of gold. In answer to this latter inquiry, he said, that he had not seen the plates himself, which were carefully locked up in a trunk, but that he had the trunk in his possession. I advised him by all means to open the trunk and examine its contents, and if the plates proved to be of gold, which I did not believe at all, to sell them immediately. His reply was, that. if he opened the trunk, the "curse of Heaven would descend upon him and his children. However," added he, "I will agree to open it, provided you take the 'curse of Heaven' upon yourself, for having advised me to the step." I told him I was perfectly willing to do so, and begged him to hasten home and examine the trunk, for he would find that he had been cheated. He promised to do as I recommended, and left me, taking his book with him. I have never seen him since.
    Such is a plain statement of all I know respecting the "Mormons." My impression now is, that the plain-looking countryman was none other than the Prophet Smith himself, who assumed an appearance of great simplicity in Order to entrap me, if possible, into some recommendation of his book. That the Prophet aided me, by his inspiration, in interpreting the volume, is only one of the many amusing falsehoods which the "Mormonites" utter, relative to my participation in their doctrines. Of these doctrines I know nothing whatever, nor have I ever heard a single discourse from any of their preachers, although I have often felt a strong curiosity to become an auditor, since my friends tell me that they frequently name me in their sermons, and even go so far as to say that I am alluded to in the prophecies of scripture!
    If what I have here written shall prove of any service in opening the eyes of some of their deluded followers to the real designs of those who profess to be the apostles of "Mormonism," it will afford me satisfaction equalled, I have no doubt, only by that which yourself will feel on this subject.

I remain, very respectfully and truly,
Your friend,
Rev. Dr. T. W. Coit, New Rochelle, N. Y.

In the latter he states that he refused to give his opinion in writing on the characters submitted to him; but in his letter to Rev. Coit he says that he gave a written opinion to Harris without hesitation, and to the effect that the marks on the paper appeared to be merely an imitation of various alphabetical characters that had no meaning at all connected with them. According to Martin Harris' statement he gave him a certificate to the effect that the characters submitted were genuine, and that the translation accompanying them was correct; but upon hearing that the existence of the Nephite plates was made known to Joseph Smith by a heavenly messenger, he requested the return of the paper he had given Martin Harris, and he destroyed it, saying that the visitation of angels had ceased, etc., etc. I shall leave it for the anti-"Mormon" friends of Mr. Anthon to reconcile the contradiction that occurs in his statements, merely remarking that since the doctor in one letter declares that he refused to give Martin Harris a written opinion on the characters; and in the other that he gave him a written opinion, increases very much one's faith in Martin Harris' statement as against that of Professor Anthon's upon this point; namely, that the Professor gave Harris a written statement, but afterwards recalled and destroyed it. The reader should observe also that in his letter to Rev. Coit, written in 1841, the Professor says that no one until that time had ever requested from him a statement in writing on the subject of his connection with the Book of Mormon. Yet as a matter of fact E. D. Howe had addressed him a letter on the subject, asking him for a statement, in 1834, to which request the professor responded, telling substantially the same story as in this letter to Rev. Coit, excepting as to the written opinion furnished to Harris. (Roberts)

Wesley P. Walters on selittänyt tämän niin, että Howe ei ollut kertonut Anthonille aikovansa julkaista hänen kirjeensä, minkä vuoksi Anthon sitä pyysi 1834. Siksi hän v. 1841 sanoo, ettei kukaan ole pyytänyt lausuntoa häneltä julkaistavaksi ennen sitä.

Lähde: B. H. Roberts, New Witnesses for God, Vol.2, Ch.5, pp.77-80


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