The Christian Advocate March 9, 1905

Editorial Letter

The Mormons and Mormonism

VIII


Before taking leave of the origin of the Mormon Bible it is interesting to note that a few years previous to the origin of the Spaulding manuscript many were speculating upon the character of the civilization of the mound builders and the origin of those ancient peoples. Josiah Priest, in a book published by him in 1824, entitled Wonders of Nature and Providence, quotes over forty authors, half of whom are Americans, and all of whom prior to 1824 advocated an Israelitish origin of the American Indians. Some of these dated as far back as Clavigaro, a Roman Catholic priest in the seventeenth century. I state this on the authority of Schroeder's book on the Origin of the Book of Mormon Reexamined in its Relation to Spaulding's Manuscript Found.

 

SOME  OF  JOSEPH  SMITH'S  "REVELATIONS"

Oliver Cowdery, through Joseph the Seer, in Harmony, Pa., April, 1829, was rebuked for wishing to do some of the translating himself, and God is represented as saying to him:

4. Behold, the work which you are called to do is to write for my servant Joseph;

5. And, behold, it is because that you did not continue as you commenced, when you began to translate, that I have taken away this privilege from you.

6. Do not murmur, my son, for it is wisdom in me that I have dealt with you after this manner.

7. Behold, you have not understood; you have supposed that I would give it unto you, when you took no thought save it was to ask me.

8. But, behold, I say unto you, that you must study it out in your mind; then you must ask me if it be right, and if it is right I will cause that your bosom shall burn within you; therefore, you shall feel that it is right:

9. But if it be not right you shall have no such feelings, but you shall have a stupor of thought that shall cause you to forget the thing which is wrong; therefore, you cannot write that which is sacred save it be given you from me.

10. Now, if you had known this you could have translated; nevertheless, it is not expedient that you should translate now.

Hyrum Smith wanted to preach, and Joseph the Seer received a revelation:

15. Behold, I command you that you need not suppose that you are called to preach until you are called:

16. Wait a little longer, until you shall have my word, my rock, my church, and my gospel, that you may know of a surety my doctrine.

21. Seek not to declare my word, but first seek to obtain my word, and then shall your tongue be loosed; then, if you desire, you shall have my Spirit and my word, yea, the power of God unto the convincing of men.

22. But now hold your peace, study my word which hath gone forth among the children of men, and also study my word which shall come forth among the children of men, or that which is now translating, yea, until you have obtained all which I shall grant unto the children of men in this generation, and then shall all things be added thereto.

The philosophy of this was that Joseph Smith did not order the people. He simply had a revelation against any man who dis not please him, which put that man before the rest of the saints, not as resisting Smith, but God Almighty!

In this respect Joseph Smith, Jr., and John Alexander Dowie might pass for twin brothers. If Dowie had set out to imitate Smith in the matter of making his will appear to be that of the Almighty, he could not have been more successful than he has been in resembling him.

 

PREPARING FOR THE ORGANIZATION OF THE CHURCH

"As no person openly connected with Smith in the work of translation had been a clergyman." according to Joseph Smith's account, while he and Cowdery were still at the work of translation, May 15, 1829, they went into the woods to ask the Lord for further information about the baptism mentioned in the plates. Joseph Smith in his autobiography avers that John (the Baptist) appeared to them "in a cloud of light, and having laid his hands on us he ordained us." This in the Book of Covenants and Commandments is entitled "Words of the Angel, John, (the Baptist,) spoken to Joseph Smith, Jr., and Oliver Cowdery, as he (the angel) laid his hands upon their heads and ordained them to the Aaronic Priesthood, in Harmony, Susquehanna County, Pa., May 15, 1829." This remarkable ordination ritual I quote from the Book of Covenants and Commandments:

"Upon you my fellow servants, in the name of Messiah, I confer the Priesthood of Aaron, which holds the keys of the ministering of Angels, and of the gospel of repentance, and of baptism by immersion for the remission of sins; and this shall never be taken again from the earth, until the sons of Levi do offer again an offering unto the Lord in Righteousness."

Most of the revelations begin in the same way: "A great and marvelous work is about to come forth unto the children of men."

 

THE  MENTAL  AND  MORAL  CHAINING  OF  MARTIN  HARRIS

In March, 1830, a terrible but very cunning revelation was received through Joseph the Seer for Martin Harris. Some passages are extraordinary:

5. Wherefore, I revoke not the judgments which I shall pass, but woes shall go forth, weeping, wailing and gnashing of teeth, yea, to those who are found on my left hand;

6. Nevertheless, it is not written that there shall be no end to this torment, but it is written endless torment.

7. Again, it is written eternal damnation; wherefore it is more express than other scriptures, that it might work upon the hearts of the children of men, altogether for my name's glory.

8. Wherefore, I will explain unto you this mystery, for it is meet unto you to know even as mine apostles.

9. I speak unto you that are chosen in this thing, even as one, that you may enter into my rest.

10. For, behold, the mystery of godliness, how great is it! For, behold, I am endless, and the punishment which is given from my hand is endless punishment, for Endless is my name: wherefore --

11. Eternal punishment is God's punishment.

12. Endless punishment is God's punishment.

13. Wherefore, I command you to repent, and keep the commandments which you have received by the hand of my servant Joseph Smith, Jun., in my name;

25. And again, I command thee that thou shalt not covet thy neighbor's wife; nor seek thy neighbor's life.

26. And again, I command thee that thou shalt not covet thine own property, but impart it freely to the printing of the Book of Mormon, which contains the truth and the word of God.

34. Impart a portion of thy property, yea, even part of thy lands, and all save the support of thy family.

35. Pay the debt thou hast contracted with the printer. Release thyself from bondage.

A special revelation was received by Smith that the Book of Mormon should not be sold for less than $1.25. (Mrs. Eddy doubled this on Science and Health, and will not allow hers to be sold for less than $2.50). This revelation is to be explained by the fact that by the original agreement Harris was to have the exclusive control of the sale of the book, but it did not sell. The printer demanded pay as the work went on. Then came this revelation, and Harris sold his share of the farm to pay the printer.

 

MAKING  CONVERTS

According to Joseph Smith, John the Baptist informed them that the power of laying on of hands for the gift of the Holy Ghost would be conferred on them later through Peter, James, and John, who held the keys of the priesthood of Melchizedec; at the same time, according to Joseph Smith, he was directed to baptize Cowdery, and Cowdery then performed the same office for Smith. These things were carried out.

The account given by Linn, which is confirmed by the authorities he gives, says that Smith and Cowdery at once began telling people of the power conferred upon them. They gave their relatives and friends an opportunity to become members of the new Church. The first convert was Samuel Smith, the brother of the Prophet, and Cowdery baptized him. The next convert was Hyrum Smith. There was a special revelation to each of these as they were baptized. Hyrum Smith, and David and Peter Whitmer were baptized in Seneca Lake.

By April 6, 1830 branches had been established at Fayette, Manchester, and Colesville, N. Y. It is claimed there were then seventy members in all. On April 6 they adopted a form which would give the Church a standing as a legal body. Smith was the first elder, and irdained Cowdery, and Cowdery subsequently ordained Smith.

The revelation known as Section XX gives an account of the Church. The first thirty-six verses give the general doctrines of repentance and faith, etc. Then comes a description of the duties of elders, priests, teachers, deacons, and members of the Church of Christ. "An apostle is an elder, and it is his calling to baptize, and to ordain other elders, priests, teachers, abd deacons." The elders were to meet in conference once in three months. Presiding elders, traveling bishops, High Counselors, High Priests, and elders are described. To begin with, Joseph Smith did not claim the power that he did afterward.

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