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is found to contain the lost chronicles of several kings of Israel,—for the original loss of which, the muse of history has been held responsible until now, and therefore not unto her, but to the finder is to be rendered all the praise for the unseasonable but certain redemption of these biographies. The book purports to derive its authentic name from some ancient character, nowhere else mentioned, and called Mormon,—who, in the patent genealogical tables thereto attached, can be very satisfactorily identified in the absence of anything to the contrary, or as touching the matter at all, as a son of Lot's wife. This veritable book, is, of course, wisely arranged without the aid of either printing or paper, for the discoverer had sufficient sagacity to know, that publishing in this style, was of rather more modern date, than the proposed age of the book would warrant, and that an oversight in this respect, would either have suggested incredulity as to the authenticity of the work, or else have compelled the future believers in it to conclude, that printing was not such a late affair after all, as has been supposed. So, by way of a safe substitution, brass plates, about as thin as the doctrines they have perpetuated, are inserted between a couple of covers of the same material, and curiously carved over with mysterious hieroglyphics, to which the inscriptions of Thebes and Gaza are quite readable literature. By a happy analogy to the movements on a chess-board, these brazen pages can be read by the no less brazen inventor, with equal facility, either forwards or backwards, or by beginning in the middle and reading either or both ways.
In the explanation of its doctrines, he is always particular not to give so marked an interpretation as would at all interfere with the consistency of giving the direct reverse afterwards, in case he should forget the former construction ;-while in his lucid commentaries upon the several passages, which are forbidden to be copied, he is equally careful not to be so explicit, as to preclude contradictory explanations, in case they should be needed. However unfounded the truth of this revelation may appear to the newly initiated upon a first hearing, they soon become reconciled to its verity, from that constant repetition which, in all matters, renders things less incredible than originally they may have seemed.
The adroitness of Smith, in
ringing the doctrines in their ears, upon all convenient occasions, has rendered their faith quite easy, and his liability to mistake less probable. One of the considerable conveniences in facilitating immediate belief among the stupid and incredulous is, that every thing is required to be taken for granted, either as regards its precepts, tenets, illustrations, parables or prophecies. The author regards this as one of the beauties of his system, for the mind can thus be relieved of its doubts at once, and be saved the infliction of those troublesome modes of settling matters, by the a priori and a posteriori methods, so foolishly incorporated by hạirsplitting logicians into the more modern systems of popular ethics. Hence, should an hour's argument be proposed to a believer in the faith, regarding the matter of its inspiration, the question is instantly disposed of, on his part
, by thrusting into the face of the ill-timed proposition, that most accommodating carnal weapon of the anti-belligerent disputant, known in Mormon polemics, as a petitio principii, as to the absolute infallibility of the brazen bible. By that unaccountable accident, the original loss of the book, the faith has been deprived of a powerful argument, which most unquestionably would have contributed to the establishment of its truth, independant of any other, and none seem to regret this deprivation more than its founder and apostle. It is, that the several prophecies recorded in the book, have all been punctiliously fulfilled, not in the spirit, but even to the letter. Had the book not been lucklessly lost, the world would have read its prophetic auguries at the time they were made, and kept an eye upon the coming occurrence, and thus forever have settled with favor the now roughly bandied question of its truth. But the mind can at once be relieved of the mingled doubt and sadness caused by this untoward circumstance, if it will only admit the proposed antiquity of the book, believe its author to be inspired, as well as the work, repose implicit confidence in the correctness of his interpretations regarding the mention of any prophecies, and withal, take for granted, as the time for fulfilment has gone by, that, as a matter of course, the events must all have happened. This plan of compromise between regret and faith has been deemed so reasonable among the Mormons, that no difficulty has been experienced in producing entire satisfaction.
Some short time after this newly-discovered bible was extricated from the soil of a land where it was lost, before the land had been discovered, numbers began to flock slowly to the faith, upon the first promulgation thereof by its vicegerent. A certain number of priests, of a more reduced order than himself, were duly commissioned, at such points as were deemed expedient and safe for the operation. Their tenures of office, however, were only temporary, and so abridged in their power as to deduct but little from the founder's prerogatives; the appeal from all sorts of actual and conceivable grievances being up to him. As a dim promise of bounty was offered to all new converts, in the trapping shape of rations from a prospective fund, the increase of piety was almost alarming in the vicinities where it was supposed the treasuries would be located. As the amount for distribution increased, by a singular coincidence converts did also, and a gratifying symptom of the spread of the cause was noticed in the remarkable fact, that many were impressed with a full conviction of the truth of the doctrines, before they had ever heard what they were. This latter fact was a movement in morals entirely unprecedented, and, to whatever cause it may be referred, could have no possible connection with the suggestions as touching the expected distribution of the funds. However, the distribution was duly made, and as the stock, which was not particularly overgrown, soon gave out, so did the faith and zeal of such as had been wrongly impressed as to the amount of the funds, and after giving due warning, that they had discovered certain errors in the system, which they had vainly attempted to reconcile to their consciences, they returned again to the world.
After this revulsion in morals, the apostle of this new faith discovered, that banking was indispensable to the furtherance of the cause, and forthwith commenced operations in finance at a new town, which a part of his followers had founded, called Kirtland, Ohio. As a specie basis might be troublesome and take up too much room, or be feloniously abstracted, it was deemed most safe, as against fire and robbery, to dispense with it altogether. The amount of bills issued being looked upon as rather an unimportant matter, an almost indefinite quantity was got out, and all kinds of deposits were loudly solicited for the better safety
of their owner. Matters beginning to shape to a crisis, it was found most convenient to suspend, before the creditors of the concern imposed upon it any further, and Smith was advised, by a simultaneous revelation, to travel for the benefit of his failing health and the spiritual good of his scattered people, beyond the jurisdiction of the courts of that State, as fast as possible. His health improved wonderfully after crossing the line, and was quite restored by the time he reached the western boundary of Missouri. Finding none of the tents of his followers pitched in that region, and, under present circumstances, deeming it scarce worth while to return, for several important reasons, he was fortunately visited, it seems, by an angel. The angel told him, that a certain town called Dewitt, in Jackson County, must forthwith be named Mount Zion, and, that before long, “ streets of gold and gates of jasper" would entirely suspersede all its muddy lanes, and chinked huts. He had this revelation duly announced and required all the faithful to direct their course for Mount Zion, Jackson County, Missouri, as fast as horses and wagons could carry them there, and those who refused to go were to be cut off, and that without remedy. To hurry matters, he laid an embargo on all argument about the probability of the truth of the revelation. Each man was to bring a gun and a certain number of rounds of powder and shot, thus, in the very start of the millenium, setting at defiance the declaration, that “ the sword should be beaten into a ploughshare, and the spear into a pruning-hook.” After the arrival of a goodly number of disciples, he commenced his inspired operations by announcing, that, on the coming Sunday, an angel would be seen on the opposite side of the creek from where the initiatory performances were to come off. The anticipation of this sight brought down not only the latter day saints, but all the jews and gentiles in the surrounding region. As soon as they had all arrived, he turned aside from the waiting congregation, to pray, as he said, in secret,—taking especial care to utter certain injunctions, hieroglyphically enforced by sundry terrible gyrations of the finger, that none should leave their seats, or watch his steps over their shoulders, and by way of securing conformity to these very reasonable instructions, hinted the case of Lot's wife in pre
suming to look behind her. As the people all felt a disposition to be preserved,—though not like this scriptural personage, in the capacity of salt,—they obeyed to the letter, and Smith retired to his devotions. In a few minutes, sure enough, some angel or other, of just about his shape and gait, with a white garment on, loomed up from the woods, on the other side of the creek. The sight was vouchsafed to the amazement of their eyes but a minute, and the angel went back to heaven, or somewhere else ; at any rate, wherever it went, it was by way of the woods. Shortly after this vision, he returned from his prayer, much refresed, as he announced, by his devotions, and had only to regret, that his private exercises unfortunately interfered with his desire to see the angel too; however, said he, “ Heaven's will be done." As the business had been accomplished so well, and the faith of many confirmed, it was announced that the meeting would stand adjourned, and the visit of the angel be repeated, on the next Sunday, at the same time and place. The next week was a pretty long one for some, who were away from home, and otherwise detained from the first visitation. At length, Sunday arrived, and so did the people. When the hour was come, Smith retired, as in the former instance, to perform his devotions, with a due notice of the old injunctions, coupled with divers allusions to Lot's wife. Just about the time the angel was approaching the creek, a couple of skeptics in the Mormon faith pitched out a piece of timber in the rear, and, seizing the angelic figure, launched him, head foremost, into the creek, stripped of wings and other celestial appendages, and forbade any landing being made on that side, at the peril of even returning to heaven, or wherever else he belonged. The unexpected result was, that Smith, in proper person, and blubbering like a schoolboy, anchored on a sand-bar, in his prayer clothes, directly in front of his half-converted unbelievers. Since that time angels have been exceedingly scarce in that neighborhood. This affair came well nigh making an end of the Mormon religion, but Smith, shortly after, had another reve. lation, which explained the matter, to the entire satisfaction of many who were hanging around Mount Zion just then, without any particular credit or funds. By way of redeeming his impeached infallibility, the miracle of walking upon