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Mormonism Unvailed
Introduction
1. Smith & Harris
2. Golden Bible
3. Book of Mormon
4. 1Nephi - 2Nephi
5. a. 2Nephi
    b. Jacob - Mosiah
6. Book of Alma
7. Remainder of Book
8. Rigdon Converted
9. In Kirtland
10. In Missouri
11. Spiritual Gifts
12. Missouri Problems
13. Mormon War I
14. Mormon War II
15. 1831 Ezra Booth Letters
16. Mormon Revelations
17.Hurlbut Affidavits,   Isaac Hale
18.  Anthon Affair
19.  Authorship of Solomon Spalding

 

 

 
 

CHAPTER XV.

Ezra Booth letters


The following letters were written by Ezra Booth, a Methodist Clergyman, and
addressed to a presiding Elder. He was an early convert to Mormonism, and
renounced it as soon as he was fully convinced of its nature and design. -- He
gives a clear and compregensive view of the whole imposition, in a plain and
unvarnished style, and will doubtless carry conviction to every rational mind, that
the whole is a base fabrication. They were originally published in the Ohio Star;
but their limited circulation has induced us to place them in this work.
LETTER I.
NELSON, Portage Co. Sept. 1831.
Rev. Ira Eddy ---
Dea r Sir: I received yours of the 2d inst. and heartily thank you for
the favor. It revives afresh in my recollection the scenes of past
years, upon the remembrance of which, I dwell with a mixture of
pleasurable and painful sensations. I arrived at my home on the 1sr
of the present month, having finished my tour to the west; since
which time the scenes and events in the history of my life, for the
last few months, have passed in review before my mind.
You are not, it is probable, ignorant of the designs of my most
singular and romantic undertaking: sufficient to say, it was for the
purpose of exploring the promised land -- laying the foundation of
the city of Zion, and placing the corner stone of the temple of
God. A journey of one thousand miles to the west, has taught me
far more abundantly, than I should have probably learned from any
other
176b
source. It has taught me quite beyond my knowledge, the
imbecility of human nature, and especially my own weakness. It
has unfolded in its proper character, a delusion to which I had
fallen a victim, and taught me the humiliating truth, that I was
exerting the powers of both my mind and body, and sacrificing my
time and property, to build up a system of delusion, almost
unparalleled in the annals of the world.
If God be a God of consistency and wisdom I now know Mormonism
to be a delusion; and this knowledge is built upon the testimony of
my senses. In proclaiming it, I am aware I proclaim my own
misfortune -- but in doing it, I remove a burden from my mind, and
discharge a duty as humbling to myself, as it may be profitable to
others. You had heard the story of my wanderings, and "was
induced to believe that I had been visited with a species of mental
derangement," and therefore, you "had given me up, as one
among those friends of early association, who in the lapse of time,
would be as though they had not existed." You had concluded that
the magic charm of delusion and falsehood, had so wrapped its
sable mantle around me, as to exclude the light of truth and
secure me a devoted slave. But thanks be to God! the spell is
dissipated, and the "captive exile hasteneth that he may be
loosed, and not die in the pit." When I embraced Mormonism, I
conscientiously believed it to be of God. The impressions of my
mind were deep and powerful, and my feelings were excited to a
degree to which I had been a stranger. Like a ghost, it haunted me
by night and by day, until I was mysteriously hurried, as it were,
by a kind of necessity, into the vortex of delusion. -- At times I
was much elated; but generally, things in prospect were the
greatest stimulants to action. On our arrival in the western part of
the State of Missouri
177
the place of our destination, we discovered that prophecy and
vision had failed, or rather had proved false. -- The fact was so
notorious, and the evidence so clear, that no one could mistake it
-- so much so, that Mr. Rigdon himself said that "Joseph's vision
was a bad thing." This was glossed over, apparently, to the
satisfaction of most persons present; but not fully to my own. It
excited a suspicion that some things were not right, and prepared
my mind for the investigation of a variety of circumstances, which
occurred during my residence there, and indeed, to review the
whole subject, from its commencement to that time. My
opportunities for a thorough investigation, were far greater than
they could have been, had I remained at home; and therefore, I do
not regret that I made the journey, though I sincerely regret the
cause of it. Since my return, I have had several interviews with
Messrs. Smith, Rigdon and Cowdery, and the various shifts and
turns, to which they resorted in order to obviate objectors and
difficulties, produced in my mind additional evidence, that there
was nothing else than a deeply laid plan of craft and deception.
The relation in which Smith stands to the church, is that of a
Prophet, Seer, Revealer, and Translator; and when he speaks by
the Spirit, or says he knows a thing by the communication of the
Spirit, it is received as coming directly from the mouth of the Lord.
When he says he knows a thing to be so, thus it must stand
without controversy. A question is agitated between two Elders of
the church -- whether or not a bucket of water will become
heavier by putting a living fish in it. Much is said by each of the
disputants; when at length, Smith decides in the negative, by
saying -- "I know by the spirit, that it will be no heavier." Any
person who chooses, may easily ascertain by actual experiment,
whether the Prophet was influenced in this decision by a true or
false spirit.
178
It is not my design, at this time, to enter into particulars relative
to the evidence upon which my renunciation of Mormonism is
founded. This evidence is derived from various sources, and is
clear and full, and the conviction which it produces, at least on my
mind, is irresistible. You are not aware of the nature of this
deception, and the spirit that uniformly attends it; nor can you
e ver know it, unless you yield to its influence, and by experience
learn what it is to fall under its power: "from which my earnest
prayer is, that you may ever, ever escape." There probably never
was a plan better suited to lead the sinner and the conscientious,
when in an unguarded hour they listen to its fatal insinuations. The
plan is so ingeniously contrived, having for its aim one principal
point, viz: the establishment of a society in Mis souri, over which
the contrivers of this delusive system, are to possess unlimited and
despotic sway. To accomplish this, the Elders of the church, by
commandment given in Missouri, and of which I was both an eye
and an ear witness, are to go forth to preach Mormonism to every
creature; and now, said Mr. Rigdon --"The Lord has set us our
stint; no matter how soon we perform it -- for when this is done,
he will make his second appearance." I do sincerely, and I trust in
deep humility, return unfeigned gratitude to the God of infinite
mercy, who, in condescension to my weakness, by a peculiar train
of providences, brought me to the light, enabled me to see the
hidden things of darkness, and delivered me from the snare of the
fowler, and from the contagious pestilence which threatened my
entire destruction. The scenes of the past few months, are so
different from all others in my life, that they are in truth to me "as
a dream when one awaketh." Had my fall affected only myself, my
reflections would be far less painful than they now are. But to
know -- that whatever influence
179
I may have possessed, has been exerted to draw others into a
delusion, from which they may not soon be extricated, is to me a
source of sorrow and deep regret. They are at this moment the
object of my greatest anxiety and commiseration. I crave their
forgiveness, and assure them, that they will ever have an interest
in my addresses to the throne of grace. It shall be my endeavor to
undo, as far as possible, what I have done in this case, and also
to prevent the spread of a delusion, pernicious in its influence, and
destructive in its consequences to the body and the soul -- to the
present and eternal interests of all men. I am, through restoring
mercy and grace, as in former years, though unworthily, yet
affectionately yours in Christ, EZRA BOOTH.
LETTER II.
Were there none but myself interested in the exposition of
Mormonism, I can assure you my time would be otherwise
employed than in writing upon a subject which has heretofore been
to me one of deep interest, and at times has occasioned a painful
anxiety of mind. I could wish, if possible, to bury it in oblivion; and
to remember it no more forever. But as this is a thing which cannot
be accomplished in a moment, for the sake of others, who may be
exposed to the delusion, from which, through the mercy of God, I
have been recovered, and others who are at present involved in
it: and also in compliance with your request, I will, as far as I have
ability, unfold a system of darkness, fraught with glaring absurdity,
and deceptive as falsehood itself. This system, to some, carries
the face of plausibility, and appears under an imposing form. It
claims the Bible for its patron and proffers the restoration of the
apostolic church, with all the gifts and graces with which the
primitive saints
180
were endowed. It is called the fullness of the gospel of both Jew
and Gentile: and is the test by which every man's faith is to be
tried. Judgments are denounced against the sinners of this
generation; or in other words, all who reject the Book of Mormon,
are threatened with eternal damnation. Great promises are made
to such as embrace it, signs and wonders are to attend them,
such as healing the sick, the blind made to see, the lame to walk,
&c,; and they are to receive an everlasting inheritance in "the land
of Missouri," where the Savior will make his second appearance; at
which place the foundation of the temple of God, and the City of
Zion, have been laid, and are soon to be built. It is also to be a
city of Refuge, and a safe asylum when the storms of vengeance
shall pour upon the earth, and those who reject the Book of
Mormon, shall be swept off as with the besom of destruction. Then
shall the riches of the Gentiles be consecrated to the Mormonites;
they shall have lands and cattle in abundance, and shall possess
the gold and silver, and all the treasures of their enemies. The
Mormonite preachers go forth proclaiming repentance and baptism
for the remission of sins, and the laying on of hands for the
reception of the Holy Ghost. The form of baptism is similar to other
orders; only it is prefaced with -- "having authority given me of
Jesus Christ;" also, the laying on of hands -- "In the name of Jesus
Christ, receive ye the Holy Ghost." Many of them have been
ordained to the High Priesthood, or the order of Melchisedec; and
profess to be endowed with the same power as the ancient
apostles were. But they have been hitherto unsuccessful in finding
the lame, the halt, and the blind, who had faith sufficient to
become the subjects of their miracles: and it is now concluded
that this work must be postponed until they get to Missouri; for
the Lord will not show those signs
181
to this wicked and adulterous generation. In the commandment
given to the churches in the State of New York, to remove to the
State of Ohio, they were assured that these miracles should be
wrought in the State of Ohio; but now they must be deferred until
they are settled in Missouri. As the Mormonite church depends
principally upon the commandments, and as most of them are
concealed from the world, it will be necessary to make some
statement respecting them. These commandments come from
Smith, at such times and on such occasions as he feels disposed
to speak, and Rigdon or Cowdery to write them. Their exact
number I have never taken pains to ascertain. I have the "27th
commandment to Emma my daughter in Zion;" and should
presume there are betwixt fifty and a hundred. -- They received
the addition of five or six while in Missouri; and these are
considered a miracle in themselves, sufficient to convince any
rational mind. But none but the strong in faith are permitted to
witness their origin. I had an opportunity of seeing this wonderful
exhibition of the wisdom and power of God, at three different
times; and I must say, that it bore striking marks of human
weakness and wickedness. They are received in the church as
divinely inspired, and the name of the Lord is substituted for that
of Smith. They are called "The Commandments of the Lord," They
are considered "The mysteries of the Kingdom;" and to divulge
them to the world, is the same as casting pearls before swine.
When they and the Scriptures are at variance, the Scriptures are
wrongly translated; and Smith, though totally ignorant of the
original, being a translator or an alterator, can easily harmonize
them. Every thing in the church is done by commandment: and yet
it is said to be done by the voice of the church. For instance,
Smith gets a commandment that he shall be the "head of the
church," or that he "shall rule the Conference," or that the Church
182
shall build him an elegant house, and give him 1000 dollars. For this
the members of the church must vote, or they will be cast off for
revelling against the commandments of the Lord. In addition to the
Book of Mormon, and the commandments, there are revelations
which are not written. -- In this department, though Smith is the
principal, yet there are others who profess to receive revelations;
but after all, Smith is to decide whether they come from the Lord
or the devil. Some have been so unfortunate as to have their
revelations palmed off upon the latter. These revelations entirely
supercede the Bible, and in fact, the Bible is declared too defective
to be trusted, in its present form; and it is designed that it shall
undergo a thorough alteration, or as they say, translation. This
work is now in operation. The Gospel of St. Matthew has already
received the purifying touch, and is prepared for the use of the
church. It was intended to have kept this work a profound secret,
and strict commandments were given for that purpose; and even
the salvation of the church was said to depend upon it. The secret
is divulged, but the penalty is not as yet inflicted. -- Their
revelations are said to be an addition to the Bible. -- But instead
of being an addition, they destroy its use; for everything which
need be known, whether present, past or future, they can learn
from Smith, for he has declared to the church, that he "knows all
things that will take place from this time to the end of the world."
If then, placing the Bible under circumstances which render it
entirely useless, is infidelity, Mormonism is infidelity. Joseph Smith,
Jun., Sidney Rigdon, Oliver Cowdery and Martin Harris, may be
considered as the principals in this work; and let Martin Harris tell
the story, and he is the most conspicuous of the four. -- He
informed me, that he went to the place where Joseph resided, and
Joseph had given it up, on account of the opposition of his wife
and
183
others; but he told Joseph. "I have not come down here for
nothing, and we will go on with it." Martin Harris is what may be
called a great talker, and extravagant boaster; so much so, that
he renders himself disagreeable to many of his society. The money
he has expended, and the great things he has done, form a
considerable topic of his conversation; he understands all
prophecies, and knows every thing by the spirit, and he can
silence almost any opposer by talking faster, and louder than he
can: or by telling him, "I know every thing and you know nothing:
I am a wise man and you are a fool;" and in this respect he
stands a fair sample of many others in the church. Yours
affectionately, E. BOOTH.
LETTER III.
Mormonism has in part changed its character, and assumed a
different dress, from that under which it made its first appearance
on the Western Reserve. Many extraordinary circumstances which
then existed, have vanished out of sight; and the Mormonites
desire, not only to forget them, but wish them blotted out of the
memory of others. Those wonders which they wish to have
forgotten, stand as the principal foundation of the faith of several
hundred of the members of their church. With the wonders of
Mormonism, or some of them, I design to occupy your attention in
this letter; and I wish you to observe here, and hereafter
remember, that the evidence by which all my statements are
supported, is derived from my own experience and observation, or
from testimony of persons who still adhere to Mormonism; and I
hold myself responsible to any tribunal, whether on earth or in
heaven, for the truth of what I write, or at least for an intention
to write the truth, and nothing but the truth. "Being carried away
by the spirit" and "I know it to be
184
so by the spirit," are well known phrases, and in common use in
the Mormonite church. We will first notice the gift of tongues,
exercised by some when carried away in the spirit. These persons
were apparently lost to all surrounding circumstances, and wrapt
up in the contemplation of things, and in communion with persons
not present. -- They articulated sounds, which but few persons
professed to understand; and those few declared them to be the
Indian language. A merchant, who had formerly been a member of
the Methodist society, observed, he had formerly traded with the
Indians, and he knew it to be their dialect. Being myself present on
one of these occasions, a person proffered his services as my
interpreter, and translated these sounds to me which were
unintelligible, into English language. One individual could read any
chapter of the Old or New Testament, in several different
languages. This was known to be the case by a person who
professed to understand those languages. In the midst of this
delirium they would, at times, fancy themselves addressing a
congregation of their red brethren; mounted on a stump, or the
fence, or from some elevated situation, would harangue their
assembly until they had convinced or converted them. They would
then lead them into the water, and baptize them, and pronounce
their sins forgiven. In this exercise, some of them actually went
into the water; and in the water, performed the ceremony used in
baptizing. These actors assumed the visage of the savage, and so
nearly imitated him, not only in language, but in gestures and
actions, that it seemed the soul and body were completely
metamorphosed into the Indian. No doubt was then entertained
but that was an extraordinary work of the Lord, designed to
prepare those young men for the Indian mission; and many who are
still leaders of the church, could say, "we know by the spirit that
it is the work of the Lord." And now
185
they can say, "they know it is the work of the devil." Most of
those who were the principal actors, have since apostatized, and
the work is unanimously discarded by the church. The limits which
my want of time to write, as well as your want of patience to read
compel me to prescribe for myself, will allow me only to touch on
some of the most prominent parts of this newly invented and
heterogeneous system. A new method of obtaining authority to
preach the Gospel was introduced into the church. One declared
he had received a commission, directly from Heaven, written upon
parchment. Another, that it was written upon the palm of his hand,
and upon the lid of his Bible, &c. Three witnesses, and they were
formerly considered persons of veracity, testified they saw the
parchment, or something like it, when put into the hands of the
candidate. These commissions, when transcribed upon a piece of
paper, were read to the church, and the persons who had received
them, were ordained to the Elder's office, and sent out into the
world to preach. But this also sunk into discredit, and experienced
the fate of the former. Visions also, were in high credit, and
sounded abroad as an infallible testimony in favor of Mormonism.
The visionary, at times, imagined he saw the city of New
Jerusalem, unlocked its gate, and entered within the walls; passed
through its various apartments, and then returned, locked the
gate, and put the key into his pocket. When this tour was finished,
he would entertain admiring friends, with a detailed description of
the Heavenly City. The condition of the ten tribes of Israel since
their captivity, unto the present time, has excited considerable
anxiety, and given rise to much speculation among the learned. But
after all the researches which have been made, the place of their
residence has never been satisfactorily ascertained.
186
But these visionaries have discovered their place of residence to
be contigious to the north pole; separated from the rest of the
world by impassable mountains of ice and snow. In this
sequestered residence, they enjoy the society of Elijah the
Prophet, and John the Revelator, and perhaps the three
immortalized Nephites -- By and by, the mountains of ice and snow
are to give way, and open a passage for the return of these tribes,
to the land of Palestine. About this time the ministration of angels
was supposed to be frequent in the church. The heavenly visitants
made their appearance to certain individuals: they seldom made
any communication, but presented themselves as spectacles to be
gazed upon, with silent admiration. Smith is the only one at
present, to my knowledge, who pretends to hold converse with the
inhabitants of the celestial world. It seems, from his statements,
that he can have access to them when and where he pleases. He
does not pretend that he sees them with his natural, but with his
spiritual, eyes; and he says he can see them as well with his eyes
shut, as with them open. So also in the translating. The subject
stands before his eyes in print, but it matters not whether his eyes
are open or shut; he can see as well one way as the other. You
have probably read the testimony of the three witnesses appended
to the Book of Mormon. These witnesses testify that an angel
appeared to them, and presented them the golden plates, and the
voice of God declared it to be a divine record. To this they
frequently testify, in the presence of large congregations. When
in Missouri, I had an opportunity to examine a commandment given
to these witnesses, previous to their seeing the plates. They were
informed that they should see and hear these things by faith, and
then they should testify to the world, as though
187
they had seen and heard, as I see a man, and hear his voice: but
after all, it amounts simply to this -- that by faith or imagination,
they saw the plates and the angel, and by faith or imagination
they heard the voice of the Lord. Smith describes an angel as
having the appearance of a "tall, slim, well-built, handsome man,
with a bright pillar upon his head." The devil once, he says,
appeared to him in the same form, excepting upon his head he had
a "black pillar," and by this mark he was able to distinguish him
from the former. It passes for a current fact in the Mormon church,
that there are immense treasures in the earth, especially in those
places in the state of New-York from whence many of the
Mormons emigrated last spring : and when they become sufficiently
purified, these treasures are to be poured into the lap of their
church; to use their own language, they are to be the richest
people in the world. These treasures were discovered several years
since, by means of the dark glass, the same with which Smith says
he translated the most of the Book of Mormon. Several of those
persons, together with Smith, who were unsuccessfully engaged
in digging and searching for these treasures, now reside in this
county, and from themselves I received this information. EZRA
BOOTH
LETTER IV.
From the time that Mormonism first made its appearance upon the
stage, until the grand tour of the Missouri, an expectation
universally pervaded the church, that the time was not far distant,
when the deaf, the dumb, the maimed, the blind, &c. would
become the subjects of the miraculous power of God, so that
every defect in their systems would be entirely removed. This
expectation originated from, and was grounded upon
188
a variety of premises, included in a number of commandments, or
verbal revelations from Smith, or, as he is styled "the head of the
church." As the 4th of June last was appointed for the sessions of
the conference, it was ascertained, that that was the time
specified, when the great and mighty work was to be commenced,
and such was the confidence of some, that knowledge superceded
their faith, and they did not hesitate to declare themselves
perfectly assured that the work of miracles would commence at
the ensuing conference. With such strong assurances, and with
the most elevated expectations, the conference assembled at the
time appointed. To give, if possible, energy to expectation, Smith,
the day before the conference, professing to be filled with the
spirit of prophecy, declared, that "not three days should pass
away, before some should see their Savior, face to face." Soon
after the session commenced, Smith arose to harangue the
conference. He reminded those present of the prophecy, which he
said "was given by the spirit yesterday." He wished them not to
be overcome with surprise, when that event ushered in. He
continued, until by long speaking, himself and some others became
much excited. He then laid his hands on the head of Elder Wight,
who had participated largely in the warm feeling of his leader, and
ordained him to the High Priesthood. He was set apart for the
service of the Indians, and was ordained to the gift of tongues,
healing the sick, casting out devils, and discerning spirits; and in
like manner he ordained several others; and then called upon Wight
to take the floor. Wight arose, and presented a pale countenance,
a fierce look, with arms extended, and his hands cramped back,
the whole system agitated, and a very unpleasant object to look
upon. He exhibited himself as an instance of the great power of
God, and called upon those around him "if you want to see a sign,
look at me." He then
189
stepped upon a bench, and declared with a loud voice, he saw the
Savior: and thereby, for the time being, rescued Smith's prophecy
from merited contempt. -- It, however, procured Wight the
authority to ordain the rest. So said the spirit, and so said Smith.
The spirit in Smith selected those to be ordained, and the spirit in
Wight ordained them. But the spirit in Wight proved an erring
dictator; so much so, that some of the candidates felt the weight
of hands thrice, before the work was rightly done. Another Elder,
who had been ordained to the same office as Wight, at the bidding
of Smith, stepped upon the floor. Then ensued a scene, of which
you can form no adequate conception; and which, I would forbear
relating, did not the truth require it. The Elder moved upon the
floor, his legs inclining to a bend; one shoulder elevated above the
other, upon which the head seemed disposed to recline, his arms
partly extended; his hands partly clenched; his mouth partly open,
and contracted in the shape of an italic O; his eyes assumed a wild
ferocious cast, and his whole appearance presented a frightful
object to the view of the beholder. -- "Speak, Brother Harve y" said
Smith. But Harvey intimated by signs, that his power of articulation
was in a state of suspense, and that he was unable to speak.
Some conjectured that Harvey was possessed of the devil, but
Smith said, "the Lord binds in order to set at liberty." After
different opinions had been given, and there had been much
confusion, Smith learnt by the spirit, that Harvey was under a
diabolical influence, and that Satan had bound him; and he
commanded the unclean spirit to come out of him. It now became
clearly manifest, that "the man of sin was revealed," for the
express purpose that the elders should become acquainted with
the devices of Satan; and after that they would possess
knowledge sufficient to manage him. This, Smith declared to be a
miracle, and his success in
190
this case, encouraged him to work other and different miracles.
Taking the hand of one of the Elders in his own, a hand which by
accident had been rendered defective, he said, "Brother Murdock,
I command you in the name of Jesus Christ to straighten your
hand;" in the mean while endeavoring to accomplish the work by
using his own hand to open the hand of the other. The effort
proved unsuccessful; but he again articulated the same
commandment, in a more authoritative and louder tone of voice;
and while uttering with his tongue, his hands were at work; but
after all the exertion of his power, both natural and supernatural,
the deficient hand returned to its former position, where it still
remains. But ill success in this case, did not discourage him from
undertaking another. One of the Elders who was decrepit in one of
his legs, was set upon the floor, and commanded, in the name of
Jesus Christ to walk. He walked a step or two, his faith failed, and
he was again compelled to have recourse to his former assistant,
and he has had occasion to use it ever since. A dead body. which
had been retained above ground two or three days, under the
expectation that the dead would be raised, was insensible to the
voice of those who commanded it to awake into life, and is
destined to sleep in the grave till the last trump shall sound, and
the power of God easily accomplishes the work, which frustrated
the attempts, and bid defiance to the puny efforts of the
Mormonite.** That an attempt was made to raise the child, is
denied, of course, as every other attempt has been, after the
entire failure was obvious to all. The parents of the deceased
child, however, state, that they were prevented from procuring
medical aid for the child, by the representations of the elders, that
there was no danger -- that it would certainly be restored. The
father had no other idea but that the child was to be raised;
neither did his faith fail him till preparations were made for its
interment. He then awoke from his dream of delusion, and dissolved
his connection with the impostors.
191
Under these discouraging circumstances, the horizon of Mormonism
gathered darkness, and a storm seemed to hang impending over
the church. The gloom of disappointed expe ctation, overspread the
countenances of many, while they labored to investigate the
cause of this failure. To add. if possible, to their mortification, a
larger assembly collected on the Sabbath, in order to hear
preaching. In the midst of the meeting the congregation was
dismissed by Rigdon, and the people sent to their homes. He was
directed to do this, he said, by the spirit. But it was generally
believed, that he was directed solely by fear; and that he had
mistaken the spirit of cowardice, for the spirit of the Lord. Several
of the Elders said they "felt the spirit to preach" to the
congregation: and Rigdon felt the spirit to send the people home:
such was the unity which then prevailed among them. You will
doubtless say, can it be possible that the minds of men, and men
who possess the appearance of honesty, can be so strangely
infatuated, as still to adhere to a system, after it had occasioned
so much agitation, and so much disappointment. One reason which
can be assigned for this, is, the adherents are generally inclined to
consider the system so perfect, as to admit of no suspicion; and
the confusion and disappointment, are attributed to some other
cause. Another, and principal reason is, delus ion always effects
the mind with a species of delirium, and this delirium arises in a
degree proportionate to the magnitude of the delusion. These men,
upon other subjects, will converse like other men; but when their
favorite system is brought into view, its inconsistencies and
contradictions are resolved into inexplicable mystery; and this will
not only apply to the delusions now under consideration, but in my
view, to every delusion, from the highest to the lowest; and it
matters
192
not whether it carries the stamp of popularity or its opposite.
Yours affectionately, EZRA BOOTH
LETTER V.
In my last letter I gave you a faint representation of the events
which transpired and the circumstances which attended the
meeting of the Mormonite Conference. Though many stumbled, yet
none irrecoverably fell. Another grand object was presented, and
the attention was somewhat diverted from these scenes of
disappointment, through which we had recently passed. The tour
to the Missouri, revived the sinking expectations, and gave new
energy to faith and hope. In that distant region, anticipation was
to be realized in full, and the objects of faith and hope, were to
become the objects of knowledge and fruition. A commandment
was received, and Elders were directed to take their journey for
the "promised land." They were commanded to go two by two, with
the exception of Rigdon, Smith, Harris, and Partridge; and it was
designed that these should find an easier method of transporting
themselves, than to travel that distance on foot. They were
careful to make suitable provision for themselves, both in money
and other articles, that while on their journey, they might carry
the appearance of gentlemen filling some important station in life;
while many, who were destined to travel on foot, with packs on
their backs, were so fixed with the ardor of enthusiasm, that they
supposed they could travel to Missouri with but little or no money.
These carried the appearance, and were justly entitled to the
character of beggars, for when the little money they took with
them was expended, they subsisted by begging, until they arrived
at their journey's end. Being myself one of the number selected to
perform the journey by land, and not being much accustomed to
travel
193
on foot, I hesitated for a while; but believing it to be the will of
God, I resolved on an unreserved surrender of myself to the work,
and on the 15th of June, in company with one appointed to travel
with me, took up my line of march for Missouri. I do not design to
trouble you with a relation of the particulars, but will observe, that
after I left the north part of the State of Ohio, I made a speedy
and prosperous journey to Missouri. I preached twice in Ohio,
thrice in Indiana, once in Illinois, and once in Missouri. We were
commanded to preach by the spirit, and my impressions were, that
farther to the westward, I should enjoy more of the spirit's
influence; and though I traveled one thousand miles to the west,
my anticipations in this respect, were never realized. I seldom
proclaimed Mormonism with that liberty which I enjoyed in my
public exercises, while a member of the Methodist Episcopal
Church. I supposed that at some future time, the spirit would
endow me to preach with an unusual degree of liberty. That period
has never arrived, and I am persuaded it never will, and I now
sincerely desire the spirit of truth to direct my pen, while I
endeavor to expose the errors and absurdities of the system I then
advocated. When we arrived at the place to which our mission
destined us, we perceived to our mortification, that
disappointment, instead of being confined to the State of Ohio,
had journeyed thither before us. We would gladly have avoided
here an interview with this, our old companion; but this was
impossible, she met us, and stared us in the face which way
soever we turned, nor was it possible to look her out of
countenance, or put the blush upon her pallid features, or expel
her from our society. Some were for making the best of her they
could; but for myself, I resolved that she should be expelled, or at
any rate, that her visits should be less frequent, or I would
abandon the habituation entirely.
194
When we commenced our journey for Missouri, we expected an
"effectual door" would be opened, to proclaim the new system of
faith, in that region; and that those who were ordained to the gift
of tongues, would have an opportunity to display their supernatural
talent, in communicating to the Indians, in their own dialect. Some
who were ordained to this office, absolutely knew that through this
medium, they should gain access to the natives; and I will venture
to say, I know, that their success will be similar to that of their
predecessor, Oliver Cowdery, who stated that he was endowed
with the same fore knowledge. But the event has proved his
presumption false. For more than two weeks, while I remaine d
there, the disposition of the Elders appeared to be averse to
preaching, either to the white or the red people, and indeed
adverse circumstances prevented it. We expected to assemble
together in conference according to the commandment, and the
Lord would signally display his power, for the confirmation of our
faith; but we commenced our journey home before most of the
Elders arrived. It is true, a conference was held, but it was
considered so unimportant, that myself and another man were
permitted to be absent, for the purpose of procuring the means of
conveyance down the river. We expected to find a large church,
which Smith said, was revealed to him in a vision, Oliver had raised
up there. This large church was found to consist of four females.
We expected to witness the exercise if those miraculous gifts, to
which some were ordained while in the State of Ohio. But the same
difficulty, the same want of faith among the people, which
counteracted them here, prevailed there; consequently no miracles
could be wrought. We expected to see the foundation of the City
and temple laid; and this we were permitted to see, and it was in
fact a curiosity,
195
but not worth going to Missouri to see. The honor of consecrating
the land, &c. was conferred on Rigdon. -- The commandment reads
thus: "let my servant Sidney consecrate and dedicate the land,
and the spot for the Temple" -- again, "Behold I give unto my
servant Sidney a commandment, that he shall write a description
of the land of Zion, and a statement of the will of God, as it shall
be made known to him by the spirit, and a subscription to be
presented to the Churches, to obtain money to purchase lands,
for the inheritance of the children of God; for behold the Lord
willeth that his Disciples, and the children of men, should open
their hearts, to purchase the whole region of country, lest they
receive none inheritance, save it be by the shedding of blood."
The childish exultation of the Mormonite leaders, while they echoed
and reechoed, the Lord has given us this whole region of country;
"this whole region of country is ours;" when it was manifest,
agreeable to the commandment, that the gift was only obtained,
by purchasing it at a dear rate with money, and that, in order to
save themselves the trouble of "the shedding of blood," would,
under other circumstances, have been truly diverting. But when
viewing it as an instance of a deep laid scheme, and the cunning
artifice of crafty impostors, designed to allure the credulous and
the unsuspecting, into a state of unqualified vassalage, it presents
a melancholy picture of the depravity of the human heart, while
destitute of those virtues, inculcated in the Gospel by the blessed
Redeemer.
It was conjectured by the inhabitants of Jackson county, that the
Mormonites, as a body are wealthy, and many of them entertain
fears, that next December, when the list of land is exposed for
sale, they will out-bid others, and establish themselves as the
most powerful body in the county. -- But they may dismiss their
fears in this respect; for the
196
Mormonites as a body, are comparatively poor, and destined so to
remain, until they pursue a different course as it relates to
economy and industry, from what they have hitherto pursued.
There were ten families, which came by water, landed there the
day on which I arrived; and all the land which the Bishop said they
had means to purchase, was less than thirty acres to the family;
and thirty acres in that country, is little enough for wood and
timber land; as fifteen acres upon an average here, are worth
thirty there. Neither need they fear that the Mormonites, were
they so disposed, will obtain the possession of their lands "by
shedding of blood," until the spirit selects more courageous leaders
than Smith or Rigdon. Yours affectionately, EZRA BOOTH
LETTER VI.
It is well know[n] that the ostensible design of the Mormonites in
settling in the western part of Missouri, is to convert the Indians
to the faith of Mormonism. In this, the leaders appear to have in
view, as a mode, the Jesuits of the 16th century, who established
themselves in South America, by gaining an entire ascendancy
over the hearts and consciences of the natives, and thereby
became their masters. As Independence is the place of general
rendezvous and head quarters of the Mormonites, it may not be
amiss to notice it. It is a new town, containing a court house built
of brick, two or three merchant's stores, and 15 or 20 dwelling
houses, built mostly of logs hewed on both sides; and is situated
on a handsome rise of ground, about three miles south of [the]
Missouri river, and about 12 miles east of the dividing line between
the United States and the Indian Reserve, and is the county seat
of Jackson county. In this place it is designed to establish the
Lord's printing press, of which Wm. W. Phelps and O. Cowdery are
to have the management;
197
and also, the Lord's store-house, committed in charge to S.
Gilbert. By the means of these two grand engines, they expect to
make the wicked feel the weight of their tremendous power. West
of the line lies the territory, selected by the government of the
United States, for the future residence of the Indians; to which
place, a number of tribes have recently moved. The question is
frequently asked, do the Indians seem disposed to receive
Mormonism; or have any of them yet embraced it? To which
question I have heard some of the leaders reply, "O yes," when
the truth is, not an individual had embraced it when I left that
place. Nor is there any prospect they will embrace it. It is true,
that some of the Indians appear to listen with a degree of
attention, while the Mormonite teacher pretends to disclose to
them the secrets of their origins, the history of their ancestors,
and that the great Spirit designs, in this generation, to restore
them to the possession of their lands, now occupied by the
whites; and the Indians shall go forth among the white people, "as
a lion among the beasts of the forests, and as a young lion among
the flocks of sheep, who, if he goeth through, both treadest down
and teareth to pieces, and no man can deliver. Thy hand shall be
lifted up against thy adversaries, (the whites) and all their
enemies (the whites) shall be cut off." Here you have a fair
specimen of the method adopted in the Book of Mormon, and
preached by the Mormonite teachers, for the purpose of enlisting
the feelings, and in gratiating themselves with the Indians; and
should success attend their endeavors, and the minds of the
Indians become inflamed with the enthusiastic spirit which
Mormonism inspires, they may be inclined to try the experiment,
whether "by shedding of blood," they can expel the white
inhabitants, or reduce them to a state of servitude; and by this
means, regain the possession of the lands occupied by their
forefathers.
198
The laying of the foundation of Zion was attended with
considerable parade, and an ostentatious display of talents, both
by Rigdon and Cowdery. The place being designated as the site
where the city was to commence, on the day appointed we
repaired to the spot, not only as spectators, but each one to act
the part assigned him in the great work of laying the foundation of
the "glorious city of New Jerusalem." Rigdon consecrated the
ground, by an address, in the first place, to the God whom the
Mormons profess to worship; and then making some remarks
respecting the extraordinary purpose for which we were
assembled, prepared the way for administering the oath of
allegiance to those who were to receive their "everlasting
inheritance" in that city. He laid them under the most solemn
obligations to constantly obey all the commandments of Smith. He
enjoined it upon them to express a great degree of gratitude for
the free donation, and then, as the Lord's Vicegerent, he
gratuitously bestowed upon them that for which they had paid an
exorbitant price in money. These preliminaries being ended, a shrub
oak, about ten inches in diameter at the butt, the best that could
be obtained near at hand, was prostrated, trimmed, and cut off at
a suitable length; and twelve men, answering to the twe lve
apostles, by means of handspikes, conveyed it to the place.
Cowdery craved the privilege of laying the corner-stone. He
selected a small rough stone, the best he could find, carried it in
one hand to the spot, removed the surface of the earth to prepare
a place for its reception, and then displayed his oratorical power,
in delivering an address, suited to the important occasion. The
stone being placed, one end of the shrub oak stick was laid upon
it; and there was laid down the first stone and stick, which are to
form an essential part of the splendid city of Zion. The next day
the ground for the temple was consecrated,
199
and Smith claimed the honour of laying the corner-stone himself.
Should the inhabitants of Independence feel a desire to visit this
place, destined at some future time to become celebrated, they
will have only to walk one half of a mile out of the town, to a rise
of ground, a short distance south of the road. They will be able to
ascertain the spot by the means of a. sapling, distinguished from
the others by the bark being broken off on the north and on the
east side. On the south side of the sapling will be found the letter
T., which stands for temple; and on the east side Zom! for Zomas;
which Smith says is the original word for Zion. Near the foot of the
sapling they will find a small stone covered over with bushes,
which were cut for that purpose. This is the corner-stone for the
temple. They can there have the privilege of beholding the mighty
work, accomplished by about thirty men, who left their homes,
traveled one thousand miles, most of them on foot, and expended
more than $1000 in cash. Having completed the work, or rather
finding but little business for us to accomplish in Missouri, most of
us became anxious to return home. And none appeared to be more
so than Rigdon and Smith, whose plans for future subsistence were
considerably frustrated. They expected to find a country
abounding with the necessaries and comforts of life. But the
prospect appeared somewhat gloomy, and will probably remain so
for some years to come. That they were disappointed, is evident
from the change which appeared in their calculations. Before they
went to Missouri, their language was "we shall winter in Ohio but
one winter more;" and when in Missouri, "it will be many years
before we come here, for the Lord has a great work for us to do
in Ohio," and the great work is, to make a thorough alteration of
the Bible, and invent new revelations, and these are to be sent to
Missouri, in order to be printed.
200
This coming to save the expense of postage, is parallel with their
other calculations. But no matter for that, it will save them the
difficulties and hardships incident to the settling of a new country;
and also the dangers to which they would be exposed, in case the
Indians should commence hostilities upon the whites; and
moreover, they have an easy method to supply themselves with
cash at any time when occasion requires. The authority of a
commandment will easily untie the purse strings of those whose
consciences are under their control; and they find it much easier,
and better suited to their dispositions, to write commandments,
than to gain a livelihood by the sweat of the brow: and indeed,
Smith has commanded himself not to labor, and by his mandate,
has enjoined it upon the church to support him. The Bishop, when
we were in Missouri, intimated that he and others were too much
inclined to indolence. -- He replied, "I am commanded not to
labor." Yours affectionately, EZRA BOOTH
LETTER VII.
The following, with but a little variation, is the copy of a letter to
the Bishop of the Mormonite church, who by commandment, has
received his station, and now resides in Missouri. His business is to
superintend the secular concerns of the church. He holds a deed
to the lands, and the members receive a writing from him,
signifying that they are to possess the land as their own, so long
as they are obeisant to Smith's commandments. The Bishop is, in
reality, the Vicegerent of Smith, and those in coalition with him;
and holds his office during their will and pleasure. I think him to be
an honest man as yet, but there is a point beyond which he
cannot go, unless he prostrates his honor in the dust, and
prostitutes his conscience to the vilest of purposes. He has
frequently staggered
201
and been ready to fall. The conference last year, gave him a
tremendous shock, from which with difficulty he recovered. The
law of the church enjoins, that no debt with the world shall be
contracted. But a thousand acres of land in the town of Thompson
could be purchased for one half its value, and he was commanded
to secure it; and in order to do it, he was under the necessity to
contract a debt to the world. He hesitated, but the command was
repeated, "you must secure the land." He was one of the number
who was ordained to the gift of discerning spirits; and in a
commandment, a pattern was given by which the good spirit might
be distinguished from the bad, which rendered the gift of
supernatural discernment useless; for the division was to be made
from external appearances, and not from any thing discovered
internally. He saw the impropriety, and it shook his faith. I am
suspicious the time is not far distant, when by commandment, this
office will be bestowed upon a more trusty and confidential person;
perhaps Smith's brother or father, or some one who has been
disciplined in the State of New York. Then it will become his
business to make over the whole property, by deed of
conveyance, to the person appointed by the commandment to
supercede him. The Mormonites will tell you, that business of this
nature is done by the voice of the church. It is like this: a
sovereign issues his decrees, and then says to his subjects, hold
up your right hands, in favor of my decree being carried into
effect. Should any refuse, they are sure to be hung for rebellion.
September 20, 1831.
Mr. Partridge: Sir -- From a sense of duty, I take up my pen, to
communicate to you the present impressions of my mind, which
originated from facts, which occurred during my stay there, and
while returning home. I arrived safely at my home,
202
on the 1st instant, after having passed through a variety of
scenes, some of which, I design to disclose to you in this letter.
You will probably be surprised, when you learn, that I am no longer
a member of the Mormonite church. -- The circumstance s which
led to this are numerous, and of such a character, that I should
have been compelled to sacrifice every principle of honesty, or
cease to support a system, which I conceive to be grossly
inconsistent, and in opposition to the best interests of human
society. The first thing that materially affected my mind, so as to
weaken my confidence, was the falsehood of Joseph's vision. You
know perfectly well, that Joseph had, or said he had, a vision, or
revelation, in which it was made known to him by the spirit, that
Oliver had raised up a large church in Missouri. This was so
confidently believed, previous to our leaving Ohio, that while
calculating the number of the church, several hundred were added,
supposed to be in Missouri. The great church was found to consist
of three or four families. The night we took lodgings in the school
house, and the morning which succeeded it, presented
circumstances which I had not anticipated. When you intimated to
Joseph that the land which he and Oliver had selected, was inferior
in point of quality to other lands adjoining, had you seen the same
spirit manifested in me, which you saw in him, would you not have
concluded me to be under the influence of violent passions,
bordering on madness, rather than the meek and gentle spirit
which the Gospel inculcates? When you complained that he had
abused you, you observed to him, "I wish you not to tell us any
more, that you know these by the spirit when you do not; you
told us, that Oliver had raised up a large church here, and there
is no such thing;" he replied, "I see it, and it will be so." This
appeared to me, to be a shift, better suited to an impostor, than
to a true Prophet of the Lord.
203
And from that time I resolved to weigh every circumstance; and I
can assure you that no one that has a bearing on the subject,
escaped my notice. But the spirit considered your insolence to
Joseph too intolerable to be passed over unnoticed. Hence the
commandment: "If he repent not of his sins, which is unbelief and
blindness of heart, let him take heed lest he fall. Behold his
mission is given unto him, and it shall not be given again." -- You
are to be careful, to submit to all the abuse which Joseph sees fit
to pour upon you; and to swallow, passively, all the spurious
visions, and false prophecies, that he in his clemency thinks proper
to bestow upon you, lest you fall from your Bishoprick, never to
regain it. These men under whose influence you act, were entire
strangers to you until you embraced this new system of faith.
Now, permit me to inquire, have you not frequently observed in
Joseph, a want of that sobriety, prudence and stability, which are
some of the most prominent traits in the christian character? Have
you not often discovered in him, a spirit of lightness and levity, a
temper easily irritated, and an habitual proneness to jesting and
joking? Have you not often proven to your satisfaction that he
says he knows things to be so by the spirit, when they are not so?
You most certainly have. Have you not reason to believe, or at
least to suspect, that the revelations which come from him, are
something short of infallible, and instead of being the production
of divine wisdom, emanate from his own weak mind? Some suppose
his weakness, nay, his wickedness, can form no reasonable
objection to his revelations; and "were he to get another man's
wife, and seek to kill her husband, it could be no reason why we
should not believe revelations through him, for David did the
same." So Sidney asserted, and many others concurred with him
in sentiment. The commandment we received to purchase, or make
a water
204
craft, directed us to proceed down the river in it as far as St.
Louis, and from thence, with the exception of Joseph and his two
scribes, we were to proceed on our journey home two by two. The
means of conveyance being procured, we embarked for St. Louis,
but unpropitious events rolled on, superceded the commandment,
frustrated our plans, and we had separated before we had
accomplished one half of the voya ge. The cause which produced
this disastrous result, was a spirit of animosity and discord, which
made its appearance on board, the morning after we left
Independence. The conduct of the Elders became very displeasing
to Oliver, who, in the greatness of his power, uttered this
malediction: "as the Lord God liveth, if you do not behave better,
some accident will befall you." The manner in which this was
handed out, evinced it to be the ebullition of a spirit, similar to
that which influenced Joseph in the school-house. No accident,
however, befell them, until Joseph, in the afternoon of the third
day, assumed the direction of affairs on board that canoe, which,
with other matters of difference, together with Oliver's curse,
increased the irritation of the crew, who, in time of danger,
refused to exert their physical powers, in consequence of which
they ran foul of a sawyer, and were in danger of upsetting. This
was sufficient to flutter the timid spirit of the Prophet and his
scribe, who had accompanied him on board of that canoe, and like
the sea-tossed mariner, when threatened with a watery grave,
they unanimously desired to set their feet once more upon
something more firm than a liquid surface; therefore, by the
persuasion of Joseph, we landed before sunset, to pass the night
upon the bank of the river. Preparations were made to spend the
night as comfortably as existing circumstances would admit, and
then an attempt was made to effect a reconciliation between the
contending parties. The business
205
of settlement elicited much conversation, and excited considerable
feeling on both sides. Oliver's denunciation was brought into view;
his conduct and equipage were compared to "a fop of a
sportsman;" he and Joseph were represented as highly imperious,
and quite dictatorial; and Joseph and Sidney were reprimanded for
their excessive cowardice. Joseph seemed inclined to arm himself,
according to his usual custom, in case of opposition, with the
judgments of God, for the purpose of pouring them, like a thunder
bolt, upon the rebellious elders; but one or two retorted, "None of
your threats;" which completely disarmed him, and he reserved his
judgments for a more suitable occasion. Finding myself but little
interested in the settlement, believing the principles of discord too
deeply rooted to be easily eradicated, I laid myself down upon the
ground, and in silence contemplated awhile the events of the
evening, as they passed before me. These are the men to whom
the Lord has intrusted the mysteries, and the keys of his kingdom;
whom he has authorized to bind or loose on earth, and their
decision shall be ratified in Heaven. These are the men sent forth,
to promulgate a new revelation, and to usher in a new dispensation
-- at whose presence the "Heavens are to shake, the hills
tremble, the mountains quake, and the earth open and swallow up
their enemies." -- These are the leaders of the church, and the
only church on earth the Lord beholds with approbation. Surely, I
never witnessed so much confusion and discord, among the Elders
of any other church; nevertheless they are all doomed to be a
perpetual curse; except they receive the doctrines and precepts
which Mormonism [allocates], and place themselves under the
tuition of men, more ignorant and unholy than themselves. In the
midst of meditations like these, I sunk into the arms of sleep, but
was awakened at a late hour, to witness and consent to a
reconciliation
206
between the parties. The next morning Joseph manifested an
aversion to risk his person any more upon the rough and angry
current of the Missouri, and, in fact, upon any other river; and he
again had recourse to his usual method of freeing himself from the
embarrassments of a former commandment, by obtaining another
in opposition to it. A new commandment was issued, in which a
great curse was pronounced against the waters: navigating them
was to be attended with extreme danger; and all the saints, in
general, were prohibited in journeying upon them, to the promised
land. From this circumstance, the Missouri river was named the
river of Destruction. It was decreed that we should proceed on our
journey by land, and preach by the way as we passed along.
Joseph, Sidney, and Oliver were to press their way forward with all
possible speed, and to preach only in Cincinnati; and there they
were to lift up their voices, and proclaim against the whole of that
wicked city. The method by which Joseph and Co. designed to
proceed home, it was discovered, would be very expensive. "The
Lord don't care how much money it takes to get us home," said
Sidney. Not satisfied with the money they received from the
bishop, they used their best endeavours to exact money from
others, who had but little, compared with what they had; telling
them, in substance "You can beg your passage on foot, but as we
are to travel in the stage we must have money."
You will find, sir, that the expense of these three men was one
hundred dollars more than three of our company expended, while
on our journey home; and, for the sake of truth and honesty, let
these men never again open their mouths, to insult the common
sense of mankind, by contending for equality, and the community
of goods in society, until there is a thorough alteration in their
method of proceeding. It seems, however, they had drained their
pockets, when they arrived at Cincinnati,
207
for there they were under the necessity of pawning their trunk, in
order to continue their journey home. Here they violated the
commandment, by not preaching; and when an inquiry was made
respecting the cause of that neglect, at one time they said they
could get no house to preach in; at another time they stated that
they could have had the court-house, had they stayed a day or
two longer, but the Lord made it known to them that they should
go on; and other similar excuses, involving like contradictions. Thus
they turn and twist the commandments to suit their whims, and
they violate them when they please with perfect impunity. They
can any time obtain a commandment suited to their desires, and
as their desire s fluctuate and become reversed, they get a new
one to supercede the other, and hence the contradictions which
abound in this species of revelation. The next day after, we were
cast upon the shore, and had commenced our journey by land,
myself and three others went on board of a canoe, and
recommenced our voyage down the river. From this time a
constant gale of prosperity wafted us forward, and not an event
transpired, but what tended to our advancement, until we arrived
at our much desired homes. At St. Louis, we took passage in a
steam-boat, and came to Wellsville; and from thence in the stage
home. We travelled afloat eight hundred miles further than the
three who took their passage in the stage, and arrived at our
homes but a few days later. -- It is true, we violated the
commandment by not preaching by the way, and so did they by
not preaching at Cincinnati. But it seems that none of us
considered the commandment worthy of much notice. In this
voyage upon the waters, we demonstrated that the great dangers
existed only in imagination, and the commandment to be the
offspring of a pusillanimous spirit. -- The spirit also revealed to
Joseph, that "on the steamboats,
208
plots were already laid for our destruction." This too we proved to
be false. While descending the Missouri river, Peter and Frederick,
two of my company, divulged a secret respecting Oliver, which
placed his conduct on a parallel with Ziba's; for which Ziba was
deprived of his Elder and Apostleship: "Let that which was
bestowed upon Ziba be taken from him, and let him stand as a
member in the church, and let him labor with his own hands with
the brethren." And thus by commandment, poor Ziba, one of the
twelve Apostles, is thrust down; while Oliver the scribe, also an
Apostle, who had been guilty of similar conduct, is set on high, to
prepare work for the press; and no commandment touches him,
only to exalt him higher. -- These two persons stated, that had
they known previous to their journey to Missouri, what they then
knew, they never should have accompanied Oliver thither, Sidney,
since his return has written a description of Zion. But it differs
essent ially from that which you wrote; so much so, that either
yours or his must be false. Knowing him to be constitutionally
inclined to exaggerate, and suspecting that this habit would be as
likely to preponderate in his written as in his oral communications,
you cautioned him against it. "What I write will be written by the
most infallible inspiration of the holy spirit," said he with an air of
contempt. You must be careful, sir, or it will again sound in your
ears, "if he repent not" for giving a false description of the land of
Zion, let him take heed lest he fall from his office. This, Sidney
said, was one reason why you was not permitted to return to the
State of Ohio. The want of time and paper warn me to bring this
letter to a close. And now permit me to entreat you, to candidly
view the whole matter, from the commencement unto the present
time. Look at it with your eyes, and no longer suffer these
strangers to blind your eyes, and daub you over with
209
their untempared mortar. Think how often you have been stumbled
by these discordant revelations, false visions, and lying prophecies.
Put into practice the resolutions you expressed to me the morning
after the collision in the school house, that you would go home,
and attend to your own business. Transfer the lands you hold in
your hands, to the persons whose money paid for it. Place yourself
from under the influence of the men who have deceived you; burst
asunder the bands of delusion; fly for your life, fly from the
habitations haunted by impostors; and having done this, you most
surely will be glad and rejoice, and prove to your own satisfaction,
as I have done, the falsity of Joseph's prophetic declaration, "if
you turn against us you will enjoy no more satisfaction in the
world." E. B.
Some things are intimated in the foregoing letter, which more
properly belongs to Cowdery's mission to the Indians; and when I
come to notice that mission, those things will probably be more
fully exhibited. It is also indirectly stated, that Rigdon has acquired
the habit of exaggeration. The truth of this statement, I presume,
will be doubted but by few, who have been long acquainted with
him. Most of his communications carry the appearance of high and
false coloring; and I am persuaded, that truth by this embellishing
touch, often degenerates into fiction, I have heard him several
different times, give a representation of the interview between
himse lf, and to use his own phraseology, "the far-famed Alexander
Campbell." This manís wonted shrewdness and presence of mind
forsook him when in the presence of this gigantic Mormonite; so
much so, that "he was quite confused and silly." I will give tou a
specimen of the language, with which Rigdon said he assailed him:
"You have lied, Alexander. Alexander you have lied. If you do not
receive the Book of Mormon, you will be damned." With such like
arguments
210
he brow-beat his antagonist, until he had silenced and set him
down, like the pusillanimous cur, at the feet of his chastising
master. "You are a liar, you are a child of the Devil, you are an
enemy to all righteousness, and the spirit of the Devil is in you,"
and the like is dealt out profusely against an obstinate opponent,
and especially, one whom they are pleased to nickname apostate.
I regret the necessity I am under of making such statements, and
could wish there had been no occasion for them. But truth compels
me to it, and the good of society demands it. -- Yours, &c. EZRA
BOOTH
LETTER VIII.
The origin of the aborigines of this country, and the history before
the introduction of the eastern literature into the western
hemisphere, has afforded a subject for much speculation, and deep
research among the learned; and has occasioned considerable
curiosity, among various classes of people. But the subject still
remains an impenetrable obscurity; and will so remain, unless He
who has the power to speak. "let there be light," and the light shall
break forth out of obscurity. But as this is a subject better
calculated to gratify the speculative inquirer, then to purify the
heart, by rectifying wrong principles in the mind, or to increase
that kind of knowledge intimately connected with, and essential to
practical improvements either in civil or religious society, we may
reasonably doubt, whether the great Jehovah will soon, if ever,
condescend to clear away the darkness, by giving a revelation,
merely to gratify the desires of persons, who delight to wander in
the region of conjecture and speculation. But he has already done
it, cries the Mormonite herald. The Book of Mormon, which I hold
in my hand, is a divine revelation, and the very thing we need, to
burst the cloud and remove the darkness, which
211
has long surrounded the mysteries and degraded aborigines. We
now know that the natives who inhabit the forests of America, are
a "branch of the House of Israel;" and by means of this blessed
book, they are soon, even in this generation, to be restored to the
knowledge, and the true worship of the God of Israel. -- Among
them is to be built, the "glorious city of the New Jerusalem." In
the midst of which is to stand, the splendid and magnificent
temple, dedicated to the Most High God, and "Oliver being called
and commanded of the Lord God, to go forth among the
Lamanites, to proclaim glad tidings of great joy unto them, by
presenting unto them, the fullness of the gospel of the only
begotten son of God," &c. The grand enterprise of introducing this
new dispensation, or the fullness of the Gospel, among the Indian
tribes, who have recently received the appellation of Lamanites,
was committed in charge to Oliver Cowdery, a young man of high
fame among the Mormonites. His credentials, and the credentials
of the three others associated with him in the mission, will be
found in the following revelations, which I transcribe for your
perusal, and also for some future remarks, which I design to offer.
A REVELATION UNTO OLIVER, GIVEN SEPTEMBER, 1830.
Behold I say unto you, Oliver, that it shall be given unto thee, that
thou shalt be heard by the church, in all things whatsoever thou
shalt teach them by the comforter, concerning the revelations and
commandments which I have given. But, verily, verily I say unto
you, no one shall be appointed to receive commandments and
revelations in this church, excepting my servant Joseph, for he
receiveth them even as Moses, and thou shalt be obedient unto
the things which I shall give unto him, even as Aaron, to declare
faithfully the commandments and the revelations, with power and
authority
212
unto the church. And if thou art led at any time by the comforter
to speak or teach, or at all times by the way of commandment
unto the church, thou mayest do it; but thou shalt not write by
way of commandment but by wisdom: and thou shalt not command
him who is at thy head, and at the head of the church; for I have
given him the keys of the mysteries of the revelations which are
sealed, until I shall appoint unto him another in his stead -- and
now, behold I say unto you, that you shall go unto the Lamanites
and preach my gospel unto them; and thou shalt have revelations
but write them not by way of commandment. -- And now I say
unto you, that it is not revealed, and no man knoweth where the
city shall be built, but it shall be given hereafter. Behold I say unto
you, that it shall be among the Lamanites. Thou shalt not leave
this place until after the conference, and my servant Joseph shall
be appointe d to rule the conference, by the voice of it; and what
he saith unto thee that thou shalt tell. And again, thou shalt take
thy brother Hiram between him and thee alone, and tell him that
the things which he hath written from that stone are not of me,
and that Satan hath deceived him, for behold these things have
not been appointed unto him, neither shall any thing be appointed
unto any in this church, contrary to the church covenant, for all
things must be done in order and by commandment, by the prayer
of faith, and thou shalt settle all these things before thou shalt
take thy journey among the Lamanites; and it shall be given from
the time, that thou shalt go, until the time that thou shalt return,
what thou shalt do; and thou must open thy mouth at all times
declaring my gospel with the sound of rejoicing. -- Amen.
Manchester, Oct. 17, 1830.
I, Oliver, being commanded of the Lord God to go forth unto the
Lamanites to proclaim glad tidings of great joy
213
unto them by presenting unto them the fullness of the gospel, of
the only begotten son of God; and also to rear up a pillar as a
witness where the temple of God shall be built, in the glorious New
Jerusalem; and having certain brothers with me, who are called of
God to assist me, whose names are Parley, Peter, and Ziba, do
therefore most solemnly covenant with God, that I will walk humbly
before him, and do this business, and this glorious work according
as he shall direct me by the Holy Ghost; ever praying for mine and
their prosperity, and deliverance from bonds, and from
imprisonment, and whatsoever may befall us, with all patience and
faith. -- Amen. OLIVER COWDERY
We, the undersigned, being called and commanded of the Lord
God, to accompany our brother Oliver Cowdery to go to the
Lamanites and to assist in the above mentioned glorious work and
business. We do therefore, most solemnly covenant before God,
that we will assist him faithfully in this thing, by giving heed unto
all his words and advice, which is, or shall be given him by the
spirit of truth, ever praying with all prayer and supplication, for our
and his prosperity, and our deliverance from bonds, and
imprisonments, and whatsoever may come upon us, with all
patience and faith. -- Amen.
Signed in presence of
JOSEPH SMITH, Jun.
DAVID WHITMER.P. P. PRATT,
ZIBA PETERSON,
PETER WHITMER.
In the preceding revelation, the principal thing which claims your
attention, is the mission to the Indians; for with that mission many
circumstances are connected, which clearly evince, that it
originated from human imbecility, and diabolical depravity. -- There
are also some other things the meaning of which you will not be
likely to apprehend, without some explanation. In this, as well as
several of the commandments, it is clearly and explicitly stated,
that
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the right of delivering written commandments, and revelations,
belong exclusively to Smith, and no other person can interfere,
without being guilty of sacrilege. In this office he is to stand, until
another is appointed in his place , and no other can be appointed
in his stead, unless he falls through transgression; and in such a
case, he himself is authorized to appoint his successor. But how is
he to be detected, should he become guilty of transgression. The
commandment makes provision for this. His guilt will become
manifest by his inability to utter more revelations, and should he
presume "to get another man's wife," and commit adultery; and
"by the shedding of blood, seek to kill her husband," if he retain
the use of his tongue, so as to be able to utter his jargon, he can
continue as long as he pleases in the bed of adultery, and wrap
himself with garments stained with blood, shed by his own hands,
and still retain the spotless innocence of the holiest among
mortals; and must be continued in the office of revelator, and head
of the church. Some others, and especially Cowdery, have
earnestly desired to relieve Smith of some part of his burden.
Cowdery's desires for this work were so keen and excessive, as, to
use his own language, "it was unto me a burning fire shut up in
my bones, and I was weary with forebearing, and I could forbear
no longer;" and he did in fact, issue some productions, which he
s aid bore the divine impress; but Smith fixed upon them the stamp
of devilish. But it seems, in order to compromise the matter, that
Cowdery was permitted to "speak or to teach, at all times, by way
of commandment unto the church; but not to write them by way
of commandment:" thus Cowdery is authorized to give verbal
commandments to the church by the inspiration of the spirit,
which, if he afterwards writes, ceases to be inspiration; therefore,
a commandment delivered orally, may be divinely inspired; but the
same
215
communicated, written verbatim, so far loses its former character,
that it degenerates into a prediction of an infernal stamp. Here is
the mystery, for aught I know, peculiar to Mormonism; and none
but Mormonites, I presume, will attempt to unravel it. But it finds
its parallel in the following: Smith asures his followers, that what
he speaks by the spirit, and is written, is infallible in operation. but
if it is not written, he may sometimes be mistaken. -- He tells them
that the right to deliver written revelations, belongs exclusively to
himself, and no other person shall interfer in the business; and if
he transgresses he will graciously condescend to appoint another
in his stead, and the only proof produced for the support of such
assertions, is barely his word, upon which they implicitly rely, and
because entirely resigned to place their person and property under
his control, and even risk the salvation of their souls upon his
say-so. Such glaring duplicity on the one hand, and unaccountable
credulity on the other, seldom have a parallel in the annals of men.
Never was there a despot more jealous of his prerogative than
Smith; and never was a fortress guarded with more vigilance and
ardor against every invading foe, than he guards these. Smith
apprehended a rival in the department of written inspiration, from
another quarter, and hence Cowdery was commissioned to
commence an attack and suppress the enemy, before he had
acquired sufficient stability and strength so as to become
formidable. "Thou shalt take thy brother Hiram, between him and
thee alone, and tell him that the things he hath written from that
stone, &c." Hiram Page, one of the eight witnesses, and also one
of the "money diggers," found a smooth stone, upon which there
appeared to be a writing, which when transcribed upon paper,
disappeared from the stone, and another impression appeared in it
place. This when copied, vanished,
216
and so it continued, alternately appearing and disappearing; in the
meanwhile, he continued to write, until he had written over
considerable paper. It bore striking marks of a Mormonite
revelation, and was received as an authentic document by most
of the Mormonites, till Smith, by his superior sagacity, discovered
it to be a Satanic fraud. A female professing to be a prophetess,
made her appearance in Kirtland, and so ingratiated herself into the
esteem and favor of some of the Elders, that they received her, as
a person commissioned to act a conspicuous part in Mormonizing
the world. Rigdon, and some others, gave her the right hand of
fellowship, and literally saluted her with what they called the kiss
of charity. But Smith, viewing her as an encroachment upon his
sacred premises, declared her an impostor, and she returned to the
place from whence she came. Her visit, however, made a deep
impression on the minds of many, and the barbed arrow which she
left in the hearts of some, is not yet eradicated. Yours
affectionately, EZRA BOOTH
LETTER IX.
In this letter the mission to the Indians will be brought into view,
and with it are connected circumstances and facts, sufficient, one
would suppose, to convince every honest and unprejudiced
Mormonite, of the fallacy and deception of Mormonism. But a
Mormonite of the highest grade is invulnerable by facts the most
notorious, and evidence as glaring as the noon-day sun; for they
affirm, they know by the spirit that Mormonism is what it pretends
to be, and should Smith acknowledge it to be a fabrication, they
would not believe him. This forms the highest climax in Mormonism,
and but few have attained it. After Cowdery and his three
associates had left the State of New York,
217
while bending their course to the west, he was directed by the
spirit to Kirtland, for the special purpose of enlisting Rigdon in the
Mormonite cause. I have since learned that the spirit which
directed in this enterprise, was no other than Pratt, who had
previously become acquainted with Rigdon and had been
proselyted by him into what is called the Campbellite faith. This
new system appears to have been particularly suited to Rigdon's
taste, and calculated to make an impression on his mind. But
before he could fully embrace it, he must "receive a testimony
from God." In order to do this he labored as he was directed by his
Preceptor, almost incessantly and earnestly in praying, till at
length his mind was wrapped up in a vision; and to use his own
language, "to my astonishment I saw the different orders of
professing Christians passing before my eyes, with their hearts
exposed to view, and they were as corrupt as corruption itself.
That society to which I belonged also passed before my eyes, and
to my astonishment it was as corrupt as the others. Last of all
that little man who bro't me the Book of Mormon, passed before
my eyes with his heart open, and it was as pure as an angel; and
this was a testimony from God; that the Book of Mormon was a
Divine Revelation." Rigdon is one who has ascended to the summit
of Mormonism; and this vision stands as the foundation of his
knowledge. He frequently affirms, that these things are not a
matter of faith with him, but of absolute knowledge. He has been
favored with many remarkable and extraordinary visions, in some
of which he saw Kirtland, with the surrounding country
consecrated as the promised land, and the churches in the state
of New York expected to receive their everllasting inheritance in
the state of Ohio, and this expectation was grounded on Rigdon's
vision while in the state of New York. These visions are considered
by the church as entitled to no credit and laid aside as mere
rubbish.
218
As it relates to the purity of the heart of "that little man," if a
pure and pleasant fountain can send forth corrupt and bitter
streams, then may the heart of that man be pure, who enters into
a matrimonial contract with a young lady, and obtains the consent
of her parents; but as soon as his back is turned upon her, he
violates his engagements, and prostitutes his honor by becoming
the gallant of another, and resolved in his heart, and expresses
resolutions to marry her. But as the practice of a man will ever
stand as a general criterion by which the principles of the heart
are to be tested, we say that the heart of such a man is the
reverse of purity, From Kirtland, Cowdery & Co. were directed by
the spirit to Sandusky, where they contemplated opening their
mission and proselyting the Indians residing at that place. But
neither Cowdery, nor the spirit which directed him was able to
open the way to, or make any impression upon their minds. Being
frustrated in this, his first attempt to convert the natives, he
turned his attention and course to the Missouri, and when near the
eastern line of that state, he halted for several days, for the
purpose of obtaining, by inquiry, information respecting the Indians
still further west. It appears that he was fearful that his infallible
guide, (the spirit,) was incapable to direct him, while proceeding
further to the west; consequently, he applied to men more capable
of giving instruction than the spirit, by which he was influenced.
When he arrived at the western line of Missouri, he passed into the
Indian territory, where he remained but a short time, before he
was notified by the U. S. Agent, that he must either re-cross the
line, or be compelled to take up his residence in the garrison, forty
miles up the Arkansas river. As there was no other alternative, the
former seemed to him the most expedient; and he never possessed
courage sufficient to pass the line, or visit the residence of
219
the Indians since. Thus you behold a man, "called and commanded
of the Lord God, to go forth unto the Lamanites," and establish his
church among them; but no sooner is he set down in the field of
his mission, and surrounded by his anticipated converts, than he
is driven by a comparative nothing, from the fields, and obliged to
relinquish his contemplated harvest. -- This is the person
commissioned by the Lord to proceed to the western wilds, and as
he himself stated, "to the place where the foot of a white man
never trod," to rear up a pillar for a witness, where the temple of
God shall be built, in the glorious New Jerusa lem. But alas! he was
arrested by man in his course, and by the breath of man the
mighty undertaking was blown into the air, and Cowdery was
thrown back among the Gentiles, to wait for the spirit to devise
some new plans in the place of those which had been frustrated.
But as the city and temple must be built, as every avenue leading
to the Indians was closed against the Mormonites, it was thought
that they should be built among the Gentiles, which is in direct
opposition to the original plan -- as foreign from the design of the
spirit, expressed in several commandments, as it would have been
had the Directors, who were appointed to build the court-house in
Ravenna, built it in Trumbull county, foreign from the design of
those who intrusted them with the business. Though their plans
had hitherto failed, they were unwilling to abandon the Indian
enterprise; and in a commandment it was stated, that Cowdery
and others should receive a written recommendation, signed by the
Elders, for the purpose of presenting it to the Indian agent, in
order to obtain permission to visit the Indians in their settlements.
-- The recommendation was written according to the
commandment, and frequent opportunities occurred in which it
might have been presented to the agent, but it never was
220
presented, and of course was useless; he was censured by some
for not presenting it, but I suppose the spirit directed him not to
do it. Another method has been invented, in order to remove
obstacles which hitherto had proved insurmountable. "The Lord's
store-house," is to be furnished with goods suited to the Indian
trade, and persons are to obtain license from the government to
dispose of them to the Indians in their own territory; at the same
time they are to disseminate the principles of Mormonism among
them. From this smuggling method of preaching to the Indians,
they anticipate a favorable result. In addition to this, and to
co-operate with it, it has been made known by revelation, that it
will be pleasing to the Lord, should they form a matrimonial alliance
with the natives; and by this means the Elders, who comply with
the thing so pleasing to the Lord, and for which the Lord has
promised to bless those who do it abundantly, gain a residence in
the Indian territory, independent of the agent. It has been made
known to one, who has left his wife in the State of New York, that
he is entirely free from his wife, and he is at pleasure to take him
a wife from among the Lamanites. It was easily perceived that this
permission was perfectly suited to his desires. I have frequently
heard him state that the Lord had made it known to him, that he
is as free from his wife as from any other woman; and the only
crime I have ever heard alleged against her is, she is violently
opposed to Mormonism. But be fore this contemplated marriage can
be carried into effect, he must return to the State of New York
and settle his business, for fear, should he return after that affair
had taken place, the civil authority would apprehend him as a
criminal. It is with pleasure I close this exposition, having in part
accomplished what I intended when I commenced it. The
employment has been an unpleasant one to me, and from
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the first, I should gladly have avoided it, could I have done it, and
maintained a conscience void of offence, towards God and man. --
But should an individual by this exposition, be extricated or
prevented from falling into the delusion, which has been the
subject of consideration, I shall be amply compensated, for the
painful task which I have performed. Yours affectionately, EZRA
BOOTH.
INDEX: Statements, Affidavits, and Quoted Persons in Section 5
Capron, Joseph
Chase, Parley
Chase, Willard
Ford, Richard H.
Harris, Abigail
Harris, Lucy
Ingersoll, Peter
Nichols, Roswell
Stafford, Barton
Stafford, David
Stafford, Joshua
Stafford, William
Stodard, G. W.
Residents (Manchester, 11)
Residents (Palmyra, 51)
Hale, Alva
Hale, Isaac
Lewis, Levi
Lewis, Nathaniel C.
Lewis, Sophia
M'Kune, Hezekiah
M'Kune, Joshua
Copley, Lemon Phelps, Wm. W. Anthon, Charles
Cunningham, Artemas
Howard, Nahum (Nathan)
Lake, Henry
Miller, John N.
Smith, Oliver
Spalding, John
Spalding, Martha
Wright, Aaron
Davison, Matilda Spalding
Patterson, Robert, Sr.