Alexander Campbell’s review of the Book of Mormon
An analysis of the book of Mormon with an examination of its internal and external evidences, and a refutation of its pretenses to divine authority
by Alexander Campbell
from the Millennial Harbinger
a monthly periodical published by him in Bethany, Virginia
February 7th, 1831
EVERY age of the world has produced imposters and delusions. Jannes and Jambres withstood Moses, and were followed by Pharaoh, his court, and clergy. They for some time supported their pretensions, much to the annoyance of the cause of the Israelites and their leader Moses.
To say nothing of the false prophets of the Jewish age, the diviners, soothsayers, magicians, and all the ministry of idols among the Gentiles, by which the nations were so often deceived, the imposters which have appeared since the Christian era would fill volumes of the most lamentable details ever read. The false Messiahs which have afflicted the Jews since the rejection of Jesus of Nazareth, have more than verified all the predictions of the Faithful and True Witness. No less than TWENTY-FOUR distinguished false Messiahs have disturbed the Jews. Many were deceived, and myriads lost their lives through their impostures. Some peculiar epochs were distinguished for the number and impudence of these impostors. If the people had fixed upon any year as likely to terminate their dispersions, and as the period of their return, that year rarely failed to produce a Messiah. Hence in the twelfth century no less than TEN false Messiahs appeared.
The year 1666, was a year of great expectation, and gave birth to one of the most remarkable of the false Christs. ‘Great multitudes marched from unknown parts, to the remote deserts of Arabia, and they were supposed to be the ten tribes of Israel, who had been dispersed for many ages. It was said that a ship was arrived in the north part of Scotland, with sails and cordage of silk, that the mariners spoke nothing but Hebrew, and on the sails was this motto; ‘The Twelve Tribes of Israel.’ Then it was said that Sabati Levi appeared at Smyrna and professed to be the Messiah. The Jews gave up their business and attended to him. He obtained one Nathan in Jerusalem to pass for his Elias, or forerunner. Nathan prophesied for him, and the Jews became very penitent, and reformed under the expectation that the Messiah would appear in two years. ‘Some fasted so long that they died – some endured melted wax to be dropped on their flesh – some rolled in snow – many whipped themselves. Superfluities in dress and household were dispensed with; property was sold to large amounts, and immense contributions were made to the poor. Though he met with much opposition, his followers increased, and began in large numbers to prophesy and fall into ecstacies. Four hundred men and women prophesied of his growing kingdom, and young infants who could hardly speak, would plainly pronounce, “SABATI, MESSIAH, and Son of God.” The people were for a time possessed, and voices were heard from their bowels. Some fell into trances, foamed at the mouth, recounted their future prosperity, their visions of the Lion of Judah, the triumphs of SABATI.’
‘When he was brought before the magistrates, some affirmed they saw a pillar of fire between him and the Cadi or Magistrates, and others actually swore that they saw it. This the credible Jews believed; those who would not believe in him, were shunned as excommunicated persons, and all intercourse with them was prohibited. ‘The Grand Seignor, determined to try his faith by stripping him naked and setting him a mark for his archers; but rather than subject himself to this test, he turned Mahometan, to the great confusion of the Jews.’ We have been thus particular in giving a view, of the incidents of the life of this impostor, as a specimen of the others; and because of some remarkable analogies between him and the present New York imposter.
Numerous have been the imposters among christians since the great apostacy began; especially since, and at the time of the Reformation. Munzer, Stubner and Stork, where conspicuous in the beginning of the 16th century.’ These men taught that among christians, who had the precepts of the Gospel to guide them, and the spirit of God to direct them, the office of magistracy was not only unnecessary, but an unlawful encroachment on their spiritual liberty; that the distinctions occasioned by birth, rank, or wealth, should be abolished; that all christians should put their possessions into one common stock, and live together in that state of equality, which becomes members of the same family, and that polygamy was not incompatible with either the Old or New Testament.
They related many visions and revelations which they had from above, but failing to propagate their views by these means, they attempted to propagate them by arms. Many Catholics joined them, and in the various insurrections which they effected, 100,000 souls are said to have been sacrificed.’
Since the Millennium and the evils of sectarianism have been the subjects of much speaking and writing, impostures have been numerous. In the memory of the present generation, many delusions have been propagated and received. The shakers, a sect instituted by Anna Lesse, in 1774, have not yet quite dwindled away. This elect Lady, as they style her, was the head of this party, and gave them a new bible. ‘They assert that she spoke seventy-two languages, and conversed with the dead. Through her all blessings flow to her followers – she appointed the sacred dance and the fantastic song, and consecrated shivering, swooning and falling down, acts of acceptable devotion. They are for a common stock, and rank marriage among the works of the flesh, – they are plain in their apparel, and assume the aspect of the friars and nuns of Catholic superstition.’
The Barkers, Jumpers, and Mutterers of the present age, need not be mentioned here. Nor need we detail the history of Miss Campbell, who in Good Old Scotland a year or two since came back from the dead and had the gift of tongues, who was believed in by several ministers of the Scotch Church. But we shall proceed to notice the most recent and the most impudent delusion which has appeared in our time. The people that have received this imposture are called, THE MORMONITES. I have just examined their bible, and will first notice its contents. It is called the ‘Book of Mormon‘, an account written by the hand of Mormon upon plates taken from the plains of Nephi, wherefore it is an abridgement of the record of the people of Nephi, and also of the Lamanites, written to the Lamanites, which are a remnant of the House of Israel, and also to Jew and Gentile. Written by way of commandment, and also by the spirit of prophecy and of Revelation.’ – ‘By Joseph Smith, Junior, Author and proprieter. From plates dug out of the earth, in the township of Manchester, Ontario, New York. – Palmyra, printed by E.B. Grandin, for the Author, 1830. It is a collection of books said to have been written by different persons during the interval of 1020 years – the 1st and second books of Nephi occupy 122 pages; the Book of Jacob the brother of Nephi occupies 21; that of Enos 3; that of Jarom 2; that of Omin 4; the words of Mormon 3; the book of Mosiah 68; that of Alma 186; that of Helaman 44; that of Nephi the son of Helaman 66; that of Mormon 20; that of Ether 35; and that of Morom 14 pages; making in all 588 octavo pages.
This romance – but this is for it a name too innocent – begins with the religious adventures of one Lehi, whose wife was Sariah, and their four sons, Laman, Lemuel, Sam, and Nephi. Lehi lived in Jerusalem all his life, up to the first year of Zedekiah, King of Judah, and when the prophets appeared foretelling the utter destruction of Jerusalem, Lehi humbled himself, and after various visions and revelations, started with his sons into the wilderness. Lehi, before his departure, forgot to bring with him the records of his family, and that of the Jews; but Nephi, his younger son, with much pious courage returned and succeeded in getting upon plates of brass the records of the Jews from the creation down to the first year of Zedekiah, King of Judah, and also the prophets including many prophecies delivered by Jeremiah.
From the records it appeared that this Lehi was a son of Joseph. He prevailed on one Ishmael and his family to accompany him into the wilderness, whose daughters the sons of Lehi took for wives.
Lehi was a greater prophet than any of the Jewish prophets, and uttered all the events of the christian era, and developed the records of Matthew, Luke, and John, six hundred years before John the baptist was born. – These pilgrims travelled several days journey in some wilderness, ‘a south, south-east direction, along the borders of the Red Sea.’ A ball with pointers on it, inscribed with various intelligence, legible at proper times, was the pillar and index in passing through the wilderness for many, very many days. By their bow and arrow they lived for eight years, travelling an easterly course from Jerusalem, until they came to a great sea. By divine revelation Nephi constructed a ship, and although opposed by his unbelieving brethren, being greatly assisted by the Holy Spirit, he succeeded in launching her safely, and got all his tribe, with all their stock of seeds, animals, and provisions, safely aboard. They had ‘a compass’ which none but Nephi knew how to manage; but the Lord had promised them a fine land, and after many perils and trials, and a long passage, they safely arrived in the land of promise. Nephi made brazen plates soon after his arrival in America, for that was the land of promise to them, and on these plates be marked their peregrinations and adventures, and all the prophecies which God gave to him concerning the future destinies of his people, and the human race.
After his father’s death, his brethren rebelled against him. They finally separated in the wilderness, and became the heads of different tribes, often in the lapse of generations making incurations upon each other. The Nephites, like their father, for many generations were good christians, believers in the doctrines of the Calvinists and Methodists, and preaching baptism and other christian usages hundreds of years before Jesus Christ was born!
Before Nephi died, which was about fifty-five years from the flight of Lehi from Jerusalem, he had preached to his people every thing which is now preached in the state of New York, and anointed or ordained his brother Enos ‘in the nurture and admonition of the Lord,’ gave him the plates, and left him successor in office over the people of Nephi. Enos says ‘there came a voice to me, saying, Enos thy sins are forgiven thee, and thou shalt be blessed. And, I sayeth, Lord how it is done. And he sayeth unto me, Because of thy faith in Christ, whom thou hast not heard nor seen.’ p. 143. Enos died one hundred seventy-nine years from the hegira of Lehi; consequently, this happened four hundred thirty-one years before Jesus Christ was born. He was a contemporary with Nehemiah, and may we not say how much wiser and more enlightened were the Nephites in America than the Jews at their return to Jerusalem!
Enos gave the plates to Jarom, his son. In his time ‘they kept the law of Moses and the sabbath day holy to the Lord.’ During the priesthood and reign of Enos, there were many commotions and wars between his people and the Lamanites. Then the sharp pointed arrow, the quiver, and the dart were invented. Jarom delivered his plates to his son Omni, and gave up the ghost two hundred thirty-eight years from the flight of Lehi. Omni died two hundred seventy-six from the hegira, and gave the plates to his son Amaron, who in the year three hundred and twenty, gave them to his brother Chemish; he, to his son Abinadom; he to his son Amaleki; and he having no son, gave them to the just and pious King Benjamin. King Benjamin had three sons, Mosiah, Helorum, and Helaman, whom he educated in all the learning of his fathers. To Mosiah he delivered up the plates of Nephi, the ball which guided them through the wilderness, and the sword of one Laban, of mighty renown. King Benjamin addressed his people from the new temple which they had erected, for they had, even then, built a temple, synagogues, and a tower, in the New World.
King Benjamin assembled the people to sacrifice according to the law around the new temple; and he enjoined upon them, at the same time, the christian institutions, and gave them a Patriarchal valedictory. After they had heard him speak, and had offered up their sacrifices, they fell down and prayed in the following words: ‘O have mercy, and apply the atoning blood of Christ, that we may receive forgiveness of our sins, and our hearts may be purified; for we believe in Jesus Christ the son of God, who created heaven and earth and all things, who shall come down upon the children of men.’ Then the spirit of the Lord fell upon them and they were filled with joy, having received a remission of their sins.’ p. 162.
King Benjamin ordered his people to take upon them the name of Christ, and in these remarkable words, – ‘There is no other name given whereby salvation cometh; therefore I would that you should take upon you the name of Christ, all you that have entered into the covenant with God that ye should be obedient unto the end of your lives. – page 166. They all took upon them the name of Christ, and he having ordained them priests and teachers, and appointed his son, Mosiah, to reign in his stead, gave up the Ghost 476 years after Lehi’s escape from Jerusalem, and one hundred twenty-four before Christ was born, Mosiah gave up the plates of brass, and all the things which we had kept, to Alma the son of Alma, who was appointed ‘chief judge and high priest,’ the people willing to have no king, and Mosiah died five hundred sixty-nine years from the time Lehi left Jerusalem.
In the 14th year of the Judges, and 69 years before the birth of Jesus, they sent out missionary priests, who preached through all the tribes of the country against all vices, holding ‘forth the coming of the soul of God, his sufferings, death and resurrection, and that he should appear unto them after his resurrection: and this the people did hear with great joy and gladness.’ – p. 268.
Alma’s book reaches down to the end of the 39th year of the Judges. These were wonderful years – many cities were founded, many battles were fought, fortifications reared, letters written, and even in one year a certain Hagoth built an exceeding large ship, and launched it forth into the west sea. in this embarked many of the Nephites. This same ship-builder the next year built other ships, one was lost with all its passengers and crew. – p.406.
Many prophecies were pronounced; one that in 400 years after the coming of Christ, the Nephites would lose their religion. During the time of the Judges, many were called christians by name, and ‘baptism unto repentance’ was a common thing. ‘And it came to pass that they did appoint priests and teachers through all the land, and over all the churches.’ – p.349. ‘And those who did belong to the church were faithful, yea all those who were true believers in Christ took upon them gladly the name of Christ, or christians, as they were called, because of their belief in Christ.’ – Page 301. ‘And it came to pass that there were many who died firmly believing that their souls were redeemed by the Lord Jesus Christ: thus they went out of the world rejoicing.’ – p. 353. The word was preached by Helaman, Shiblon, Corianton, Amnon, and his brethren, &c. yea and all those, who had been ordained by the holy order of God, being baptized unto repentance, and sent forth to preach unto the people.’ Page 623. This happened in the nineteenth year of the Judges, seventy-two years before the birth of Jesus. Before this time synagogues with pulpits were built, ‘for the Zoramites,’ a sort of Episcopalians, ‘gathered themselves together on one day of the week, which day they called the day of the Lord.’ – ‘And they had a place which was high and lifted up, which held but one man, who read prayers, the same prayers every week; and this high place was called Rameumpton, which being interpreted, is the holy stand.’ – p.311. The book of Helaman reacheth down to the ninetieth year of the Judges, and to the year preceding that in which the Messiah was born. During the period embraced in Helaman’s narrative, many ten thousands were baptized. ‘And behold the holy spirit of God did come down from heaven, and did enter into their hearts, and they were filled as with fire, and they could speak forth marvellous words.’ – p. 421.
Masonry was invented about this time; for men began to bind themselves in secret oaths to aid one another in all things, good or evil. – p.424. Powers of loosing and binding in heaven were conferred upon Nephi, the son of Helaman, and all miraculous power, such as the apostles possessed. One Samuel, also foretold that ‘the Christ would be born in five years, and that the night before should be as light as day; and that the day of his death should be a day of darkness like the night.’ – p.445. The book of this Nephi commences with the birth of the Messiah, six hundred years from the departure of Lehi from Jerusalem. In the midst of the threats of the infidels to slaughter the faithful, the sun set; but lo! the night was clear as mid-day, and from that period they changed their era, and counted time as we do. A star also appeared, but it is not stated how it could be seen in a night as bright as day; but it was universally seen throughout all the land, to the salvation of the pious from the threats of their enemies. The terrors of the day of his death are also stated, and in the thirty-fourth year from his nativity, after his resurrection, he descended from heaven and visited the people of Nephi. Jesus called upon them to examine his hands and his sides, as he did Thomas, though none of them had expressed a doubt. Two thousand five hundred men, women and children, one by one, examined him, and then worshipped him. He commanded Nephi to baptize, and gave him the words which he was to use, viz: ‘Having authority given me, of Jesus Christ, I baptize you in the name of the Father and of the Son, and of the Holy Ghost. Amen.’ He commissioned eleven others, who with Nephi, were his twelve American Apostles, and promised himself to baptize their converts ‘with fire and with the Holy Spirit.’
He delivers them the sermon upon the mount, and some other sayings recorded in Matthew, Mark, Luke, and John; He healed all their diseases, and prayed for their children; but the things spoken were so great and marvellous that they could not be spoken nor written.
He ordained one to administer the supper, who alone had authority to dispense it to the disciples baptized in his name. The only new commandments which were given to the American christians on his occasional visits which were repeated, were – ‘Pray in your families unto the Father, always in my name, that your wives and your children may be blessed.’ ‘Meet often, and forbid no man from coming unto you when you shall meet together.’ – p. 492.
Nephi was chief among the twelve apostles: he baptized himself, and then baptized the eleven, whose names were Timothy, Jonas, Mathoni and Mathoninah, Kumen, Kumenonhi, Jeremiah, Shimnon, Jonas, Zedekiah, and Isaiah, They were baptized in fire and the Holy Ghost.’ Not a new word, however, should be written in addition to those found in the New Testament; for although he spake for several days to these American disciples, none of the new and marvellous sayings could be uttered or written! He inspected the plates of Nephi, and only found one omission, which was that he failed to mention the resurrection of many saints in America at the time of the tempest and earthquake. He commanded these Nephites to be called christians.
The book of Nephi the son of Nephi, gives, in four pages, the history of 320 years after Christ. In the thirty-sixth year, all the inhabitants of the land were converted; there was a perfect community and no disputations in the land for one hundred seventy years. Three of the American apostles were never to die, and were seen four hundred years after Christ; but what has become of them no one can tell, except Cowdery, Whitmer and Harris, the three witnesses of the truth of the plates of Nephi, be these three immortal men. Towards the close of the history of Nephi or the record Ammaron, sects and divisions and battles became frequent, and all goodness had almost left the continent in the year three hundred and twenty.
Mormon appears next in the drama, the recording angel of the whole matter, who, by the way, was a mighty general and great christian; he commanded in one engagement forty-two thousand men against the Lamanites!!! He was no Quaker! This dreadful battle was fought A.D. 330. The Lamanites took South America for themselves, and gave North America to the Nephites. Mormon was very orthodox, for he preached in these words, A.D. 362: – ‘That Jesus was the very Christ and the very God.’ He must have heard of the Arian controversy by some angel!!
Moroni finishes what Mormon his father, left undone, and continues the history, till A.D. 400. He pleads that no one shall disbelieve his record because of its imperfections!! and declares that none who receive it will condemn it on account of its imperfections, and for not doing so, the same shall know greater things. p. – 532. ‘He that condemneth it shall be in danger of hell fire.’ He laments the prevalency of free masonry in the times when his book should be dug up out of the earth, and proves that miracles will never cease; because God is the same yesterday, to day, and forever – consequently must always create suns, moons, and stars, every day!! He exhorted to ‘take heed that none be baptized without telling their experience, nor partake of the sacrament of Christ unworthily?!! – p.537. Moroni, in the conclusion of his book of Mormon, says if his plates had been larger we should have written in Hebrew; but because of this difficulty he wrote in the ‘Reformed Egyptian,’ being handed down and altered unto us according to our manner of speech. – p.538. ‘Condemn me not,’ says he, ‘because of mine imperfections; neither my father, because of his imperfections, neither them which have written before him; but rather give thanks unto God that he hath made manifest unto you our imperfections, that you may learn to be more wise than we have been.’ – p.538. A very necessary advice, indeed!!
Moroni writes the book of Ether, containing an account of the people of Jared, who escaped from the building of the tower of Babel unconfounded in his language. These people of Jared, God marched before in a cloud, and directed them through the wilderness, and instructed them to build barges to cross seas; and finally they built eight barges, air tight, and were commanded to make a hole in the top to admit air, and one in the bottom to admit water, and in them were put sixteen windows of molten stone, which when touched by the finger of Jesus, became as transparent as glass, and gave them light under ‘the mountain waves,’ and when above the water. He that touched these stones, appeared unto the brother of Jared, and said, behold I am Jesus Christ, I am the father and the son.’ Two of these stones were sealed up with the plates and became the spectacles of Joseph Smith, according to a prediction uttered before Abraham was born. It was also foretold in the book of Ether, written by Moroni, that he that should find the plates should have the privilege of showing the plates unto those who shall assist to bring forth this work, and unto three shall they be shown by the power of God: wherefore they shall of a surety known that these things are true. – p.548.
And the 8 barges, air-tight, made like ducks, after swimming and diving 334 days, arrived on the coasts of the land of promise. The book of Ether relates the wars and carnage amongst these people. In the lapse of generations, they counted two millions of mighty men, besides women and children, slain; and finally, they were all killed but one, and he fell to the earth as if he had no life. So ends the book of Ether. -p.573.
The book of Moroni details the manner of ordaining priests and teachers, the manner of administering ordinances, and the epistles of Mormon to his soon Moroni. Moroni seal up the record A.D. 420, and assures the world that spiritual gifts shall never cease, only through unbelief. And when the plates of Nephi should be dug out of the earth, he declares that men should ask God the Eternal Father, in the name of Christ, ‘If these things were not true.’ ‘If with a sincere heart and real intent, having faith in Christ, such prayers are made, ye shall know the truth of all things.’ -p.586. The testimony of Oliver Cowdery, David Whitmer, and Martin Harris, asserting that they saw the plates, is appended. They also testify that they know that they have been translated by the gift and power of God, for his voice has declared it unto them.
Another testimony is appended signed by four Whitmers, one Hiram Page, and three Smiths, affirming that they saw the plates, handled them, and that Smith has got the plates in his possession.
Such is an analysis of the book of Mormon, the bible of the Mormonites. For noticing of which I would have asked forgiveness from all my readers, had not several hundred persons of different denominations believed in it. On this account alone has it become necessary to notice it, and for the same reason we must examine its pretensions to divine authority; for it purports to be a revelation from God. And in the first place, we shall examine its internal evidences.
It admits the Old and New Testaments to contain the revelations, institutions and commandments of God to Patriarchs, Jews, and Gentiles, down to the year 1830, and always, as such, speaks of them and quotes them. This admission at once blasts its pretensions to credibility. Admitting the bible now received to have come from God, it is impossible that the book of Mormon came from the same author. For the following reasons: –
1. Smith, its real author, as ignorant and impudent a knave as ever wrote a book, betrays the cloven foot in basing his whole book upon a false fact, or a pretended fact, which makes God a liar. It is this: – With the Jews, God made a covenant at Mount Sinai, and instituted a priesthood and a high priesthood. The priesthood he gave to the tribe of Levi, and the high priesthood to Aaron and his sons for an everlasting priesthood. He separated Levi, and covenanted to give him this office irrevocably while ever the temple stood, or till the Messiah came. ‘Then, says God Moses shall appoint Aaron and his sons, and they shall wait on their priest’s office, and the stranger, (the person of another family,) who cometh nigh, shall be put to death.’ Numbers iii.10. ‘And the priests, the sons of Levi, shall come near; for them the Lord thy God hath chosen to minister unto him, and to bless in the name of the Lord, and by their word shall every controversy and every stroke be tried.’ Deut. xxi.5. Korah, Dathan, and Abiram, with 250 men of renown, rebelled against a part of the institution of the priesthood, and the Lord destroyed them in the presence of the whole congregation. This was to be a memorial that no stranger invade any part of the office of the priesthood. Num. xvi.40. Fourteen thousand and seven hundred of the people were destroyed by a plague for murmuring against this memorial.
In the 18th chapter of Numbers the Levites are again given to Aaron and his sons, and the priesthood confirmed to them with this threat – ‘The stranger that cometh night shall be put to death.’ ‘Even Jesus, says Paul, were he on earth, could not be a priest, for he was of a tribe concerning which Moses spake nothing of priesthood.’ Heb. vii.13. So irrevocable was the grant of the priesthood to Levi, and of the high priesthood to Aaron, that no stranger dare approach the altar of God which Moses established. Hence, Jesus himself was excluded from officiating as priest on earth according to the law.
This Joseph Smith overlooked in his impious fraud, and makes his hero Lehi spring from Joseph. And just as soon as his sons return with the roll of his lineage, ascertaining that he was of the tribe of Joseph, he and his sons acceptably ‘offer sacrifices and burnt offerings to the Lord.’ – p.15. Also it is repeated, p. 18 – Nephi became chief artificer, ship-builder and mariner; was scribe, prophet, priest and king unto his own people, and ‘consecrated Jacob and Joseph, the sons of his father, priests to God and teachers – almost six hundred years before the fulness of the times of the Jewish economy was completed. p.72. Nephi represents himself withal as ‘under the law of Moses,’ p. 105. They build a temple in the new world, and in 55 years after they leave Jerusalem, make a new priesthood which God approbates. A high priest is also consecrated, and yet they are all the while ‘teaching the law of Moses, and exhorting the people to keep it! – p.146,209. Thus God is represented as instituting, approbating and blessing a new priesthood from the tribe of Joseph, concerning which Moses gave no commandment concerning priesthood. Although God had promised in the law of Moses, that if any man, not of the tribe and family of Levi and Aaron, should approach the office of priest, he would surely die; he is represented by Smith as blessing, approbating, and sustaining another family in this approbated office. The God of Abraham or Joseph Smith must then be a liar!! And who will hesitate to pronounce him an imposter? This lie runs through his records for the first six hundred years of his story.
2. This ignorant and impudent liar, in the next place, makes the God of Abraham, Isaac and Jacob, violate his covenants with Israel and Judah, concerning the land of Canaan, by promising a new land to the pious Jew.
If a company of reprobate Jews had departed from Jerusalem and the temple, in the days of Zedekiah, and founded a new colony, it would not have been so incongruous. But to represent God as inspiring a devout Jew and a prophet, such as Levi and Nephi are represented by Smith, with a resolution to forsake Jerusalem and God’s own house, and to depart from the land which God swore to their fathers so long as they were obedient; and to guide by a miracle and to bless by prodigies a good man in forsaking God’s covenant and worship – is so monstrous an error, that language fails to afford a name for it. It is to make God violate his own covenants, and set at nought his own promises, and to convert his own curses into blessings. Excision from the commonwealth of Israel, and banishment from Jerusalem and the temple, were the greatest curses the law of Moses knew. But Smith makes a good and pious Jew the subject of this curse, and sends him off into the inhospitable wilderness, disinherits him in Canaan, and makes him more happy in forsaking the institutions of Moses, more intelligent in the wilderness, and more prosperous in adversity, than even the Jews in their best days, in the best of lands, and under the best of all governments!!! The imposter was too ignorant of the history of the Jews and the nature of the covenants of promise, to have even alluded to them in his book, if he had not supposed that he had the plates of Moses in his own keeping, as he had his ‘molten plates’ of Nephi. To separate a family from the nation of Israel, was to accumulate all the curses of the law upon that family. – Deut. xxix.21.
3. He has more of the Jews, living in the new world, than could have been numbered any where else, even in the days of John the Baptist; and has placed them under a new dynasty. The sceptre, with him, has departed from Judah, and a lawgiver from among his descendants, hundreds of years before Shiloh came; and king Benjamin is a wiser and more renowned king than king Solomon. He seems to have gone upon an adage which saith, ‘the more marvellous, the more credible the tale,’ and the less of fact, and the more of fiction, the more intelligible and reasonable the narrative.
4. He represents the temple worship as continued in his new land of promise contrary to every precept of the law, and so happy are the people of Nephi as never to shed a tear on account of the excision, nor turn an eye toward Jerusalem or God’s temple. The pious Jews in their captivity turned their faces to Jerusalem and the holy place, and remembered God’s promises concerning the place where he recorded his name. They hung their harps upon the willow, and could not sing the songs of Zion in a foreign land; but the Nephites have not a single wish for Jerusalem, for they can, in their wigwam temple, in the wilderness of America, enjoy more of God’s presence than the most righteous Jew could enjoy in that house of which David had rather be a doorkeeper, than to dwell in the tabernacles of men. And all this too, when God’s only house of prayer, according to his covenant with Israel, stood in Jerusalem.
5. Malachi, the last of the Jewish prophets, commanded Israel to regard the law of Moses till the Messiah came. And Moses commanded them to regard him till the Great Prophet came. But Nephi and Smith’s prophets institute ordinances and observances for the Jews, subversive of Moses, 500 years before the Great Prophet came.
6. Passing over a hundred similar errors, we shall next notice his ignorance of the New Testament matters and things. The twelve Apostles of the Lamb, are said by Paul, to have developed certain secrets, which were hid for ages and generations, which Paul says were ordained before the world to their glory, that they should have the honor of announcing them. But Smith makes his pious hero Nephi, 600 years before the Messiah began to preach, and disclose these secrets concerning the calling of the Gentiles, and the blessings flowing through the Messiah to Jews and Gentiles, which Paul says were hid for ages and generations, ‘which in these ages was not made known unto the sons of men, as it is now revealed unto us the holy Apostles and prophets, by the spirit; that the Gentiles should be fellow heirs and of the same body and partakers of his promise in Christ by the Gospel.’ Smith makes Nephi express every truth found in the writings of the Apostles concerning the calling and blessing of the Gentiles, and even quotes the 11th chapter of Romans, and many other passages before he had a son grown in the wilderness able to aim an arrow at a deer. Paul says these things were secrets and unknown until his time; but Smith makes Nephi say the same things 600 years before Paul was converted! One of the two is a false prophet. Mormonites, take your choice!
7. This prophet Smith, through his stone spectacles, wrote on the plates of Nephi, in his book of Mormon, every error and almost every truth discussed in N. York for the last ten years. He decides all the great controversies – infant baptism, ordination, the trinity, regeneration, repentance, justification, the fall of man, the atonement, transubstantiation, fasting, penance, church government, religious experience, the call to the ministry, the general resurrection, eternal punishment, who may baptize, and even the question of freemasonry, republican government, and the rights of man. All these topics are repeatedly alluded to. How much more benevolent and intelligent this American Apostle, than were the holy twelve, and Paul to assist them!!! He prophesied of all these topics, and of the apostacy, and infallibly decided, by his authority, every question. How easy to prophecy of the past or of the present time!!
8. But he is better skilled in the controversies in New York than in the geography or history of Judea. He makes John baptise in the village of Bethabara, (page 22) and says Jesus was born in Jerusalem, p. 240. Great must be the faith of the Mormonites in this new Bible!!! The mariners compass was only known in Europe about 300 years ago; but Nephi knew all about steam boats and the compass 2400 years ago.
9. He represents the christian institution as practised among his Israelites before Jesus was born. And his Jews are called christians while keeping the law of Moses, the holy sabbath, and worshipping in their temple at their altars, and by their high priests.
10. But not to honor him by a too minute examination and exposition, I will sum up the whole of the internal evidence which I deem worthy of remark, in the following details: –
The book professes to be written at intervals and by different persons during the long period of 1020 years. And yet for uniformity of style, there never was a book more evidently written by one set of fingers, nor more certainly conceived in one cranium since the first book appeared in human language, than this same book. If I could swear to any man’s voice, face or person, assuming different names, I could swear that this book was written by one man. And as Joseph Smith is a very ignorant man and is called the author on the title page, I cannot doubt for a single moment that he is the sole author and proprietor of it. As a specimen of his style the reader will take the following samples – Page 4th. In his own preface: – ‘The plates of which hath been spoken.’ In the last page, ‘the plates of which hath been spoken.’ In the certificate signed by Cowdery and his two witnesses, he has the same idiom, ‘which came from the tower of which hath been spoken;’ page 16, ‘we are a descendant of Joseph.’ ‘The virgin which thou seest is the mother of God.’ ‘Behold the Lamb of God the Eternal Father,’ p. 25; ‘Ye are like unto they,’ ‘and I saith unto them,’ p.44. ‘We did arrive to the promised land;’ p.49, ‘made mention upon the first plate,’ p.50.
Nephi 2400 years ago hears the saying of a Pagan who lived 634 years after him – ‘The God of nature suffers.’ p.51. ‘The righteous need not fear, for it is they which shall not be confounded.’ p.58. Shakespeare was read by Nephi 2200 years before he was born – ‘The silent grave from whence no traveller returns,’ 61. ‘Your own eternal welfare’ was a phrase then common in America, p.62. ‘Salvation is free’ was then announced. ‘That Jesus should rise from the dead’ was repeatedly declared on this continent in the reign of Nebuchadnezzar. And at the same time it was said, ‘Messiah cometh in the fulness of time that he might redeem the children of men from the fall;’ p.65. ‘The fall’ was frequently spoken of at the Isthmus of Darien 2400 years ago.
I had no object, says Nephi, in the reign of Zedekiah, ‘but the everlasting salvation of your souls.’ 66. ‘I had spake many things,’ ‘for a more history part are written upon mine other plates.’ 69. ‘Do not anger again because of mine enemies,’ p. 70. ‘For it behoveth the Great Creator that he die for all men.’ ‘It must needs be an infinite atonement.’ ‘This flesh must go to its mother earth.’ ‘And this death must deliver up its dead,’ p.70, were common phrases 2300 years ago – ‘for the atonement satisfieth the demands of his justice upon all those who have not the law given them,’ p. 81. The Calvinists were in America before Nephi. ‘The Lord remembereth all they,’ 85. The atonement is infinite for all mankind,’ p.104. The Americans knew this on the Columbo 2400 years ago. ‘His name shall be called Jesus Christ the Son of God.’ An angel told this to Nephi 545 years before it was told to Mary, p.105. ‘And they shall teach with their learning and deny the Holy Ghost which giveth them utterance;’ this prophecy was at that time delivered against us, p.112. ‘My words shall hiss forth unto the ends of the earth,’ p.115. ‘Wherein did the Lamb of God fill all the righteousness in being baptised by water,’ 118. This question was discussed 2300 years ago. ‘The baptism by fire and the Holy Ghost was preached in the days of Cyrus,’ p.119. ‘The only true doctrine of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Ghost which is one God without end. Amen,’ p.120. This was decided in the time of Daniel the Prophet. ‘I glory in plainness,’ says Nephi. ‘Christ will show you that these are his words in the last day,’ p.122. Too late to prove your mission, Mr. Nephi!
‘After that ye have obtained a hope in Christ, ye shall obtain riches if you seek them.’ So spoke Jacob in the days of Ezekial the Prophet. ‘They believed in Christ and worshipped the Father in his name,’ p.129. This was said by Jacob in the time of Daniel. ‘Do as ye hath hitherto done,’ says Mosiah, page 158. These Smithisms are in every page. ‘And his mother shall be called Mary.’ p.160. ‘The Son of God and Father of heaven and earth.’ p.161. ‘The infant perisheth not, that dieth in his infancy.’ ‘For the natural man is an enemy of God and was from the fall of Adam, and will be forever and ever,’ p.161. This was spoken by King Benjamin 124 years before Christ. He was a Yankee, too, for he spoke like Smith, saying, ‘I who ye call your king.’ ‘They saith unto the king,’ p.182. This was another Joseph Smith called Mosiah. ‘They were baptised in the waters of Mormon, and were called the church of Christ,’ p.192. This happened 100 years before Christ was born. ‘Alma, why persecuteth thou the church of God,’ p.222. ‘Ye must be born again; yea, born of God – changed from their carnal and fallen state to a state of righteousness,’ 214. This was preached also 100 years before Christ was born. ‘These things had not ought to be,’ 220.
‘I, Alma, being consecrated by my father Alma to be a high priest over the church of God, he having power and authority from God to do these things (p. 232) say unto you, except ye repent ye can in no wise enter into the Kingdom of Heaven.’ 237. ‘He ordained priests and elders, by laying on his hands, to watch over the church’ – ‘Not so much as a hair of the head shall be lost in the grave’ – ‘The holy order of the high priesthood.’ p.250. The high priesthood of Alma was about 80 years before Christ. ‘The Lord poured out his spirit to prepare the minds of the people for the preaching of Alma, preaching repentance.’ p.268. Alma was a Yankee of Smith’s school, for he saith: ‘The light of everlasting light was lit up in his soul.’ p.47.
During the pontificate of Alma men prayed thus: ‘If there is a God, and if thou art God wilt thou make thyself known unto me.’ p.286. Alma ‘clapped his hands upon all they which were with him.’ p.313. ‘Instruments in the hand of God’ were the preachers of Alma. p.323. Modest and orthodox men, truly! ‘If ye deny the Holy Ghost when it once hath place in you, and ye know that ye deny, behold this is the unpardonable sin.’ p.332. So Alma preached. ‘And now my son, ye are called of God to preach the Gospel.’ p.340. ‘They were high priests over the church.’ p.350. ‘The twenty and second year of the Judges this came to pass.’ p.364. ‘They were valiant for courage.’ p.376.
These are but as one drop out of a bucket compared with the amount of Smithisms in this book. It is patched up and cemented with ‘And it came to pass’ – ‘I sayeth unto you’ – ‘Ye saith unto him’ – and all the King James’ HATHS, DIDS and DOTHS – in the lowest imitation of the common version; and is, without exaggeration, the meanest book in the English language; but it is a translation made through stone spectacles, in a dark room, and in the hat of the prophet Smith from the REFORMED EGYPTIAN!! It has not one good sentence in it, save the profanation of those sentences quoted from the Oracles of the living God. I would as soon compare a bat to the American eagle, a mouse to a mammoth, or the deformities of a spectre to the beauties of Him whom John saw in Patmos, as to contrast it with a single chapter in all the writings of the Jewish or Christian prophets. It is as certainly Smith’s fabrication as Satan is the father of lies, or darkness the offspring of night. So much for the internal evidences of the Book of Mormon.
Its external evidences are, first, the testimony of the prophets Cowdery, Whitmer, and Harris; who saw the plates and heard the voice of God; who are disinterested retailers of the books. I would ask them how they knew that it was God’s voice which they heard – but they would tell me to ask God in faith. THAT IS, I MUST BELIEVE IT FIRST, AND THEN ASK GOD IF IT BE TRUE! ‘Tis better to take Nephi’s proof which is promised to us in the day of final judgment! They say that spiritual gifts are continued to the end of time among the true believers. They are true believers – have they wrought any miracles? They have tried, but their faith failed. Can they show any spiritual gift? Yes, they can mutter Indian and traffic in new Bibles.
‘But Smith is the wonder of the world.’ So was the Apocalyptic beast! ‘an ignorant young man.’ That needs no proof. Gulliver’s travels is a heroic problem in comparison of this book of Smith. ‘But he cannot write a page.’ Neither could Mahomet, who gave forth the Alcoran. ‘Smith is an honest looking fellow.’ So was Simon Magus, the sorcerer. ‘But he was inspired.’ So was Judas, by Satan.
Its external evidences are also the subscriptions of four Whitmers, three Smiths, and one Page, the relatives and connexions of Joseph Smith, junior. And these ‘men handled as many of the brazen or golden leaves as the said Smith translated.’ So did I. But Smith has got the plates of which hath been spoken. Let him show them. Their certificate proves nothing, save that Smith wrote it, and they signed it. But Smith gives testimony himself. There is one who says, ‘If I bear testimony of myself, my testimony ought not to be regarded.’
If this prophet and his three prophetic witnesses had aught of speciosity about them or their book, we would have examined it and exposed it in a different manner. I have never felt myself so fully authorized to address mortal man in the style in which Paul addressed Elymas the sorcerer as I feel towards this Atheist Smith. His three witnesses, I am credibly informed, on one of their horse- swapping and prophetic excursions in the Sandusky country, having bartered horses three times for once preaching, represented Walter Scott and myself as employed in translating these plates, and as believers in the book of Mormon. If there was any thing plausible about Smith, I would say to those who believe him to be a prophet, hear the question which Moses put into the mouth of the Jews, and his answer to it – ‘And if thou say in thine heart, HOW SHALL WE KNOW THE WORD WHICH THE LORD HATH NOT SPOKEN?’ – Does he answer, ‘ASK THE LORD AND HE WILL TELL YOU?’ – Does he say ‘Wait till the day of judgment and you will know?’ Nay, indeed; but – ‘When a prophet speaketh in the name of the Lord, if the thing follow not nor come to pass, that is the thing which the Lord hath not spoken; the prophet hath spoken it presumptuously: THOU SHALT NOT BE AFRAID OF HIM.’ Deut.xviii.8. Smith has failed in every instance to verify one of his own sayings. Again, I would say in the words of the Lord by Isaiah, ‘Bring forth your strong reasons, saith the King of Jacob: let them bring them forth and show us what shall happen: let them show the former things what they mean, that we may consider them, and know the latter end of them – show the things which are to come hereafter, that we may know that you are prophets: yea, do good or do evil, that we may be dismayed and behold it together. Behold you are nothing, and your work of naught: an abomination is every one that chooseth you.’ Is.xli.21- 23.
Let the children of Mormon ponder well, if yet reason remains with them, the following passage from Isaiah 44; and if they cannot see the analogy between themselves and the sons of ancient imposture, then reason is of as little use to them as it was to those of whom the prophet spake –
‘The carpenters having chosen a piece of wood framed it by rule and glued the parts together, and made it in the form of a man, and with the comeliness of a man, to set it in a house. He cut wood from the forest which the Lord planted – a pine tree, which the rain had nourished, that it might be fuel for the use of man: and having taken some of it he warmed himself; and with other pieces they made a fire and baked cakes, and of the residue they made gods and worshipped them. Did he not burn half of it in the fire, and, with the coals of that half bake cakes: and having roasted meat with it did he not eat and was satisfied; and when warmed say, “Aha! I am warmed, I have enjoyed the fire?” Yet of the residue he made a carved god, and worshipped it, and prayeth to it, saying, “Deliver me, for thou art my God.”
‘They had not sense to think; for they were so involved in darkness that they could not see with their eyes, nor understand with their hearts: nor did any reason in his mind, nor by his understanding recollect, that he had burned half of it in the fire, and on the coals thereof baked cakes, and had roasted flesh and eaten, and of the residue had made an abomination; so they bow themselves down to it. Know thou that their heart is ashes, and they are led astray and none can deliver his soul. Take a view of it, will you not say, “There is indeed a lie in my right hand?”
‘Remember these things, O Jacob, even thou Israel, for thou art my servant. I have made thee my servant; therefore O Israel do not thou forget me. For, lo! I have made thy transgressions vanish like a cloud – and thy sins like the murky vapor. Return to me, and I will redeem thee.’
A. CAMPBELL. February 10, 1831.