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CHURCH OF THE LATTER-DAY SAINTS.
the plates. He therefore packed up his goods, concealed the plates in a barrel of beans, and proceeded across the country to the northern part of Pennsylvania, near the Susquehannah River, where his father-in-law resided. Here, “ by the gift and power of God, through the means of the Urim and Thummim, he began to translate the record, and, being a poor writer, he employed a scribe to write the translation as it came from his mouth.” In 1830 a large edition of the Book of Mormon was published. It professes to be an abridgment of the records made by the prophet Mormon of the people of the Nephites, and left to his son Moroni to finish. It is regarded by the Latter-day Saints with the same veneration as the New Testament is among Christians.
The Church of the Latter-day Saints was organised on the 6th of April 1830, at Manchester, in Ontario County, New York. Its numbers at first were few, but they rapidly increased, and in 1833 removed to the State of Missouri, and purchased a large tract of land in Jackson County. Here their neighbours tarred and feathered some, killed others, and compelled the whole to remove. They then established themselves in Clay County, in the same State, but on the opposite side of the river. From this place again, in 1835, they removed eastward to the State of Ohio, settled at Kirtland, in Gauga County, about twenty miles from Cleveland, and began to build a temple, upon which sixty-thousand dollars were expended. At Kirtland a bank was incorporated by Joe and his friends, property was bought with. its notes, and settled upon the Saints, after which the bank failed—as many others did about the same time—and Ohio became too hot for the Mormons. Again, therefore, the Prophet, his apostles, and a great body of the Saints, left their home and temple, went westward a second time to the State of Missouri, purchased a large tract of land in Caldwell County, in Missouri, and built the city of the CITY AND' TEMPLE OF NAUVOO. 197 6. Far West.” Here difficulties soon beset them, and in August 1838 became so serious that the military were called in; and the Mormons were finally driven, unjustly,
State of Missouri, and sought protection in the State of Illinois, on the eastern bank of the Mississippi. They were well received in this State, and after wandering for some time—while their leader, Joe Smith, was in jail-they bought a beautiful tract of land in Hancock County, and, in the spring of 1840, began to build the city and temple of Nauvoo. The legislature of Illinois at first passed an act giving great, and, probably, injudicious privileges to this city, which, in 1844, was already the largest in the State, and contained a population of about twenty thousand souls. The temple, too, was of great size and magnificence-being 128 feet long and 77 feet high, and stood on an elevated situation, from which it was visible to a distance of 25 or 30 miles. In the interior was an immense baptismal font, in imitation of the brazen sea of Solomon— a stone reservoir, resting upon the backs of twelve oxen, also cut out of stone, and as large as life.” • But persecution followed them to Illinois, provoked in some degree, no doubt, by their own behaviour, especially in making and carrying into effect city ordinances, which were contrary to the laws of the State. The people of the adjoining townships rose in arms, and were joined by numbers of the old enemies of the Mormons from Missouri. The militia were called oạt; and, to prevent further evils, Joe Smith and one of his brothers, with several other influential Saints, on an assurance of safety and protection from the governor of the State, were induced to surrender themselves for trial in respect of the charges brought against them, and were conducted to prison. Here they were inconsiderately left by the Governor, on the following day, under a
NEW STATE OF UTAH.
guard of seven or eight men. These were overpowered the same afternoon by an armed mob, who killed Joe Smith and his brother, and then made their escape. After this, the Mormons remained a short time longer in the Holy City; but the wound was too deep seated to admit of permanent quiet on either part, and they were at last driven out by force, and compelled to abandon or sacrifice their property. Such as escaped this last persecution, after traversing the boundless prairies, the deserts of the Far West, and the Rocky Mountains, appear at last to have found a resting-place near the Great Salt Lake in Oregon. They are increasing faster since this last catastrophe than ever; and are daily receiving large accessions of new members from Europe, especially from Great Britain. They form the nucleus of the new State of Utah, this year erected into a territory of the United States, and likely, in the next session of Congress, to be elevated to the dignity of an independent State. So rapidly has persecution helped on this offspring of ignorance, and tended to give a permanent establishment, and a bright future, to a system, not simply of pure invention, but of blasphemous impiety, and folly the most insane.
The Book of Mormon, which is the written guide of this new sect, consists of a series of professedly historical books—a desultory and feeble imitation of the Jewish chronicles and prophetical books—in which, for the poetry and warnings of the ancient prophets, are substituted a succession of unconnected rhapsodies and repetitions, such as might form the perorations of ranting addresses by a field preacher, to a very ignorant audience.
The book, in the edition I possess, consists in all of 634 pages, of which the first 580 contain the history of a fictitious personage called Lehi and that of his descendants for the space of a thousand years.
BOOK OF MORMON.
199 This Lehi, a descendant of Joseph the son of Jacob, with his family left Jerusalem in the beginning of the reign of Zedekiah, six hundred years before Christ, and, passing the Red Sea, journeyed eastward for eight years till they reached the shore of a wide sea. There they built a ship, and, embarking, were carried at length to the promised land, where they settled and multiplied. Among the sons of Lehi one was called Laman and another Nephi. The former was wicked, and a disbeliever in the law of Moses and the prophets; the latter, obedient and faithful, and a believer in the coming of Christ. Under the leadership of these two opposing brothers, the rest of the family and their descendants arranged themselves, forming the Lamanites and the Nephites, between whom wars and perpetual hostilities arose. The Lamanites were idle hunters, living in tents, eating raw flesh, and having only a girdle round their loins. The skin of Laman and his followers became black; while that of Nephi and his people, who tilled the land, retained its original whiteness. As with the Jews, the Nephites were successful when they were obedient to the law; and, when they fell away to disobedience and wickedness, the Lamanites had the better, and put many to death. At the end of about four hundred years, a portion of the righteous Nephites under Mosiah, having left their land, travelled far across the wilderness, and discovered the city of Zarahemla, which was peopled by the descendants of a colony of Jews who had wandered from Jerusalem when King Zedekiah was carried away captive to Babylon, twelve years after the emigration of Lehi. But they were heathens, possessed no copy of the law, and had corrupted their language. They received the Nephites warmly, however, learned their language, and gladly accepted the law of Moses.
This occupies 158 pages. The history of the next two hundred years follows this new people, and that of 200 APPEARANCE OF CHRIST IN AMERICA ! occasional converts from the Lamanites—called still by the general name of Nephites in their struggles with the Lamanites, and the alternations of defeat and success which accompany disobedience or the contrary. This occupies several books, and brings us to the 486th page, and the period of the birth of Christ. This event is signified to the people of Zarahemla by a great light, which made the night as light as mid-day. And thirtythree years after there was darkness for three days, and thunderings and earthquakes, and the destruction of cities and people. This was a sign of the crucifixion. Soon after this, Christ himself appears to this people of Zarahemla in America, repeats to them in long addresses the substance of his numerous sayings and discourses, as recorded by the apostles; chooses twelve to go forth and preach and baptize; and then disappears. On occasion of a great baptizing by the apostles, however, he appears again; imparts the Holy Spirit to all, makes long discourses, and disappears. And, finally, to the apostles themselves he appears a third time; and addresses them in ill-assorted extracts and paraphrases of his New Testament sayings.
The account of these visits of our Saviour to the American Nephites, and of his sayings, occupies about 48 pages. For about 400 years, the Christian doctrine and church thus planted among the Nephites had various fortune; increasing at first, and prospering, but, as corruptions came in, encountering adversity. The Lamanites were still their fierce enemies; and as wickedness and corrupt doctrine began to prevail among the Christians, the Lamanites gained more advantages. It would appear, from Joe Smith's descriptions, that he means the war to have begun at the Isthmus of Darien—where the Nephites were settled, and occupied the country to the north, while the Lamanites lived south of the isthmus. From the isthmus the Nephites were gradually driven