Mormon History

Campbell Examination of the BOM - 1831

The Telegraph - March 8, 1831


From the Palmyra (N. Y.) Reflector -- Printed
abo[u]t two miles from Smith's Bible quarry.

It is well known that Jo Smith never pretended to have any communion with angels, until after a long period after the pretended finding of his book, and that the juggling of himself or father, went no further than the pretended faculty of seeing wonders in a "peep stone," and the occasional interview with the spirit, supposed to have the custody of hidden treasures; and it is also equally well known, that a vagabond fortune-teller by the name of Walters, who then resided in the town of Sodus, and was once committed to the jail of this county for juggling, was the constant companion and bosom friend of these money digging impostors.

There remains but little doubt, in the minds of those at all acquainted with these transactions, that Walters, who was sometimes called the conjurer, and was paid three dollars per day by the money diggers in this neighborhood for his services, first suggested to Smith the idea of finding a book. Walters, the better to carry on his own deception with those ignorant and deluded people who employed him, had procured an old copy of Cicero's orations, in Latin, out of which he read long and loud to his credulous hearers, uttering at the same time an unintelligible jargon, which he would afterwards pretend to interpret, and explain, as a record of the former inhabitants of America, and a particular account of the numerous situations where they had deposited their treasures previous to their final extirpation.

So far did this impostor carry this diabolical farce, that not long previous to the pretended discovery of the 'Book of Mormon,' Walters assembled his nightly band of money diggers in the town of Manchester, at a point designated in his magical book, and drawing a circle around the laborers, with the point of an old rusty sword, and using sundry other incantations, for the purpose of propitiating the spirit, absolutely sacrificed a fowl, Rooster) in the presence of his awe-stricken companions, to the foul spirit, whom ignorance had created, the guardian of hidden wealth; and after digging until daylight, his deluded employers retired to their several habitations, fatigued and disappointed.

The Book of Mormon reviewed, and its Divine
pretensions exposed. -- By A. CAMPBELL.


Every age of the world has produced impostors and delusions. Jannes and Jambres withstood Moses, and were followed by Pharaoh, his court, and clergy. They for some time supported their pretensions, much to the annoyance of the cause of the Israelites and their leader Moses.

To say nothing of the false prophets of the Jewish age, the diviners, soothsayers, magicians, and all the ministry of idols among the Gentiles, by which the nations were so often deceived, the impostors which have appeared since the Christian era would fill volumes of the most lamentable details ever read. The false Messiahs which have afflicted the Jews since the rejection of Jesus of Nazareth, have more than verified all the predictions of the Faithful and True Witness. No less than twenty-four distinguished false Messiahs have disturbed the Jews. Many were deceived, and myriads lost their lives through their impostures. Some peculiar epochs were distinguished for the number and impudence of these impostors. If the people had fixed upon any year as likely to terminate their dispersions, and as the period of their return, that year rarely failed to produce a Messiah. Hence in the twelfth century no less than ten false Messiahs appeared.

The year 1666, was a year of great expectation, and gave birth to one of the most remarkable of the false Christs. "Great multitudes marched from unknown parts, to the remote deserts of Arabia, and they were supposed to be the ten tribes of Israel, who had been dispersed for many ages. It was said that a ship was arrived in the north part of Scotland, with sails and cordage of silk, that the mariners spoke nothing but Hebrew, and on the sails was this motto; 'The Twelve Tribes of Israel.' Then it was said that Sabati Levi appeared at Smyrna and professed to be the Messiah." The Jews gave up their business and attended to him. He obtained one Nathan in Jerusalem to pass for his Elias, or forerunner. Nathan prophecied for him, and the Jews became very penitent, and reformed under the expectation that the Messiah would appear in two years. Some fasted so long that they died -- some endured melted wax to be dropped on their flesh -- some rolled in snow -- many whipped themselves. Superfluities in dress and household were dispensed with; property was sold to large amounts, and immense contributions were made to the poor. Tho' he met with much opposition, his followers increased, and began in large numbers to prophecy and fall into ecstacies. Four hundred men and women prophecied of his growing kingdom, and young infants who could hardly speak, would plainly pronounce 'Sabatai, Messiah, and Son of God.' The people were for a time possessed, and voices were heard from their bowels. Some fell into trances, foamed at the mouth, recounted their future prosperity, their visions of the Lion of Judah, the triumphs of Sabatai."

When he was brought before the magistrates, some affirmed they saw a pillar of fire between him and the cadi or magistrates, and others actually swore that they saw it. This the credible Jews believed; -- those who would not believe him were shunned as excommunicated persons, and all intercourse with them was prohibited.

"The grand seignor, determined to try his faith by stripping him naked and setting him a mark for his archers; but rather than subject himself to this test, he turned Mahometan, to the great confusion of the Jews."

We have been thus particular in giving a view, of the incidents of the life of this impostor, as a specimen of the others; and because of some remarkable analogies between him and the present New York impostor.

Numerous have been the impostors among Christians since the great apostacy began; especially since and at the time of the reformation. Munzer, Stubner and Stork, were conspicuous in the beginning of the 16th century. "These men taught that among Christians, who had the precepts of the Gospel to guide them, and the Spirit of God to direct them, the office of magistry was not only unnecessary, but an unlawful encroachment on their spiritual liberty; that the distinctions occasioned by birth, rank, or wealth, should be abolished; that all Christians should put their possessions into one common stock, and live together in that state of equality which becomes members of the same family; and that polygamy was not incompatible with either the Old or New Testament. They related many visions and revelations which they had from above, but failing to propagate their views by these means, they attempted to propagate them by arms. Many Catholics joined them, and in the various insurrections which they effected, 100,000 souls are said to have been sacrificed."

Since the Millennium and the evils of sectarianism have been the subjects of much speaking and writing, impostures have been numerous. In the memory of the present generation, many delusions have been propagated and received. The Shakers, a sect instituted by Anna Lee, in 1774, have not yet quite dwindled away. This elect lady, as they styled her, was the head of this party, and gave them a new bible. "They assert that she spoke seventy-two languages, & conversed with the dead. Through her all blessings flow to her followers -- she appointed the sacred dance and the fantastic song, and consecrated shivering, swooning and falling down, acts of acceptable devotion. They are for a common stock, and rank marriage among the works of the flesh -- They are plain in their apparel, and assume the aspect of the friars and nuns of Catholic superstition."

The Barkers, Jumpers, and Mutterers of the present age, need not be mentioned here. Nor need we detail the history of Miss Campbell, who, in good old Scotland a year or two since came back from the dead and had the gift of tongues; who was believed in by several ministers of the church of Scotland, and some distinguished members of the Scotch bar. But we shall proceed to notice the most recent and the most impudent delusion which has happened in our time. The people that have received this imposture are called



I have just examined their bible, and will first notice its contents. It is called "The Book of Mormon, an account written by the hand of Mormon, upon plates taken from the plains of Nephi; wherefore it is an abridgement of the Record of the people of Nephi, and also of the Lamanites, written to the Lamanites, which are a remnant of the House of Israel, and also to Jew and Gentile; written by way of commandment, and also by the spirit of prophecy and of Revelation." -- "By Joseph Smith, Junior, Author and Proprietor." -- From plates dug out of the earth, in the township of Manchester, Ontario county, New York. -- "Palmyra, printed by E. B. Grandin, for the Author, 1830." It is a collection of Books said to have been written by different persons during the interval of 1020 years -- the 1st and 2nd Books of Nephi occupy 122 pages; the book of Jacob the brother of Nephi occupies 21; that of Enos 3; that of Jarom 2; that of Omni 4; the Words of Mormon 3; the Book of Mosiah 68; that of Alma 186; that of Helaman 44; that of Nephi the son of Helaman, 66; that of Mormon 20; that of Ether 35; and that of Moro[ni] 14 pages; making in all 588 octavo pages.

This romance -- but this is for it a name too innocent -- begins with the religious adventures of one Lehi, whose wife was Sariah, and their four sons, Laman, Lemuel, Sam, and Nephi. Lehi lived in Jerusalem all his life, up to the first year of Zedekiah, king of Judah; and when the prophets appeared foretelling the utter destruction of Jerusalem, Lehi humbled himself, and after various visions and revelations, started with his sons into the wilderness. Lehi, before his departure, forgot to bring with him the records of his family, and that of the Jews; but Nephi, his younger son, with much pious courage returned, and succeeded in getting upon plates of brass the records of the Jews from the creation down to the first year of Zedekiah, King of Judah -- and also the prophets including many prophecies delivered by Jeremiah.

From the records it appeared that this Lehi was a son of Joseph. He prevailed on one Ishmael and his family to accompany him into the wilderness, whose daughters the sons of Lehi took for wives.

Lehi was a greater prophet than any of the Jewish prophets, and uttered all the events of the Christian era, and developed the records of Matthew, Mark, Luke, and John, 600 years before John the Baptist was born. -- These pilgrims travelled several days journey in some wilderness, "a south, south-east direction, along the borders of the Red Sea." A ball with pointers on it, inscribed with various intelligence, legible at proper times, was the pillar and index in passing through the wilderness for many, very many days. -- By their bow and arrow they lived for eight years, travelling an easterly course from Jerusalem, until they came to a great sea. By divine revelation Nephi constructed a ship, and although opposed by his unbelieving brethren, being greatly assisted by the Holy Spirit, he succeeded in launching her safely, and got all his tribe, with all their stock of seeds, animals, and provisions, safely aboard. They had "a compass" which none but Nephi knew how to manage; but the Lord had promised them a fine land, and after many perils and trials, and a long passage, they safely arrived in the land of promise. -- Nephi made brazen plates soon after his arrival in America, for that was the land of promise to them, and on these plates he marked their peregrinations and adventures, and all the prophecies which God gave to him concerning the future destinies of his people, and the human race.

After his father's death, his brethren rebelled against him. They finally separated in the wilderness, and became the heads of different tribes, often in the lapse of generations making incurations upon each other. The Nephites, like their father, for many generations were good Christians, believers in the doctrines of the Calvinists and Methodists, and practising baptism and other Christian usages hundreds of years before Jesus Christ was born!

Before Nephi died, which was about 55 years from the flight of Lehi from Jerusalem, he had preached to his people every thing which is now preached in the state of New York, and anointed or ordained his brother Jacob priest over his people, called the Nephites. Jacob brought up his son Enos "in the nurture and admonition of the Lord," gave him the plates, and left him successor in office over the people of Nephi. Enos says "there came a voice to me, saying, Enos, thy sins are forgiven thee, and thou shalt be blessed." "And, I sayeth, Lord how it is done? And he sayeth unto me, Because of thy faith in Christ, whom thou hast not heard nor seen." p. 143. Enos died 179 years from the hegira of Lehi; consequently, this happened 421 years before Jesus Christ was born. He was a contemporary with Nehemiah, and may we not say how much wiser and more enlightened were the Nephites in America than the Jews at their return to Jerusalem!

Enos gave the plates to Jarom, his son. In his time "they kept the law of Moses and the Sabbath day holy to the Lord." During the priesthood and reign of Enos, there were many commotions and wars between his people and the Lamanites. -- Then the sharp pointed arrow, the quiver, and the dart were invented. Jarom delivered his plates to his son Omni, and gave up the ghost 238 years from the flight of Lehi. Omni died 376 years from the hegira, and gave the plates to his son Amaron, who, in the year 320, gave them to his brother Chemish; he to his son Abinadom; and he to his son Amaleki; and he having no son, gave them to the just and pious king Benjamin.

King Benjamin had three sons, Mosiah, Helorum, and Helaman, whom he educated in all the learning of his fathers. To Mosiah he delivered up the plates of Nephi, the ball which guided them through the wilderness, and the sword of one Laban, of mighty renown. King Benjamin addressed his people from the new temple which they had erected, for they had, even then, built a temple, synagogues, and a tower, in the new world.

King Benjamin assembled the people to sacrifice according to the law around the new temple; & he enjoined upon them, at the same time, the Christian institutions, and gave them a patriarchal valedictory.

After they had heard him speak, and had offered up their sacrifices, they fell down and prayed in the following words: "O have mercy, and apply the atoning blood of Christ, that we may receive forgiveness of our sins, and our hearts may be purified; for we believe in Jesus Christ the son of God, who created heaven and earth and all things, who shall come down upon the children of men." Then the Spirit of the Lord fell upon them and they were filled with joy, having received a remission of their sins." p. 162.

King Benjamin ordered his people to take upon them the name of Christ, and in these remarkable words, -- "There is no other name given whereby salvation cometh; therefore I would that you should take upon you the name of Christ, all you that have entered into the covenant with God that ye should be obedient unto the end of your lives." p. 166. They all took upon them the name of Christ; and he having ordained them priests and teachers, and appointed his son, Mosiah, to reign in his stead, gave up the Ghost 476 years after Lehi's escape from Jerusalem, and one 124 years before Christ was born, Mosiah gave up the plates of brass and all the things which he had kept" to Alma, the son of Alma, who was appointed "chief judge and high priest," the people willing to have no king, and Mosiah died 569 years from the time Lehi left Jerusalem.

In the 14th year of the judges, and 69 years before the birth of Jesus, they sent out missionary priests who preached thro' all the tribes of the country against all vices; "holding forth the coming of the Son of God, his sufferings, death and resurrection -- and that he should appear unto them after his resurrection: and this the people did hear with great joy and gladness." -- p. 268.

Alma's book reaches down to the end of the 39th year of the judges. These were wonderful years -- many cities were founded, many battles were fought, fortifications reared, letters written, and even in one year a certain Hagoth built an exceeding large ship, and launched it forth into the West Sea. In this embarked many of the Nephites. This same ship builder the next year built other ships -- one was lost with all its passengers and crew. p. 406.

Many prophecies were pronounced -- one that in 400 years after the coming of Christ, the Nephites would lose their religion. During the time of the judges, many were called Christians by name, and "baptism unto repentance" was a common thing. "And it came to pass that they did appoint priests and teachers throughout all the land, and over all the churches." p. 349. "And those who did belong to the church were faithful, yea all those who were true believers in Christ took upon them gladly the name of Christ, or Christians, as they were called, because of their belief in Christ." -- p. 301. "And it came to pass that there were many who died, firmly believing that their souls were redeemed by the Lord Jesus Christ; thus they went out of the world rejoicing." -- p. 353. The word was preached by Helaman, Shiblon, Corianton, Am[m]on, and his brethren, &c. yea and all those, who had been ordained by the holy order of God, being baptized unto repentance, and sent forth to preach unto the people." p. 362. This happened in the 19th year of the judges, 72 years before the birth of Jesus. Before this time synagogues with pulpits were built, "for the Zoramites," a sort of Episcopalians, "gathered themselves together on one day of the week, which day they called the day of the Lord" -- "and they had a place which was high and lifted up, which held but one man, who read prayers every week; and this high place was called rameumptom, which being interpreted, is the Holy Stand." p. 311.

The book of Helaman reaches down to the 90th year of the Judges, and the year preceding that in which the Messiah was born. During the period embraced in Helaman's narrative, many ten thousands were baptized. "And behold the Spirit of God did come down from Heaven, and did enter into their hearts, and they were filled as with fire, and they could speak forth marvellous words." -- p. 421. Masonry was invented about this time; for men began to bind themselves in secret oaths to aid one another in all things, good or evil. p. 424. Powers of loosing and binding in heaven were conferred upon Nephi, the son of Helaman, and all miraculous powers such as the apostles possessed. One Samuel, also foretold that the Christ would be born in five years, and that the night before should be as light as day; and that the day of his death should be a day of darkness like the night. p. 445.

The book of this Nephi commences with the birth of the Messiah, 600 years from the departure of Lehi from Jerusalem. In the midst of the threats of the infidels to slaughter the faithful, the sun set; but lo! the night was clear as mid-day, and from that period they changed their era, and counted time as we do. A star also appeared, but it is not stated how it could be seen in a night as bright as day -- but it was universally seen throughout all the land, to the salvation of the pious from the threats of their enemies.

The terrors of the day of his death are also stated, and in the 34th year from his nativity, after his resurrection, he descended from heaven and visited the people of Nephi. Jesus called upon them to examine his hands and his side, as he did Thomas, though none of them had expressed a doubt. Two thousand five hundred men, women and children, one by one, examined him, and then worshipped him. He commanded Nephi to baptize, and gave him the words which he was to use, viz: "Having authority given me, of Jesus Christ, I baptize you in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Ghost. Amen." He commissioned 11 others, who with Nephi, were his twelve American apostles, and promised himself to baptize their converts "with fire and with the Holy Spirit."

He delivers them the sermon upon the Mount, and some other sayings recorded in Matthew, Mark, Luke, and John. He healed all their diseases, and prayed for their children; but the things spoken were so great and marvellous that they could not be spoken nor written.

He ordained one to administer the supper, who alone had authority to dispense it to the disciples baptized in his name. The only new commandments which were given to the American Christians on his occasional visits which were repeated, were -- "Pray in your families unto the Father, always in my name, that your wives and your children may be blessed." -- "Meet often, and forbid no man from coming unto you when you shall meet together." p. 492.

Nephi was chief among the twelve apostles: he baptized himself, and then baptized the eleven, whose names were Timothy, Jonas, Mathoni and Mathoninah, Kumen, Cumenohi, Jeremiah, Shimnon, Jonas, Zedekiah, and Isaiah. "They were baptized in fire and the Holy Ghost." Not a new word, however, could be written in addition to those found in the New Testament; for although he spoke for several days to these American disciples, none of the new and marvellous sayings could be uttered or written!! He inspected the plates of Nephi, and only found one omission, which was that he failed to mention the resurrection of many saints in America at the time of the tempest and earthquake. He commanded these Nephites to be called Christians.

The book of Nephi the son of Nephi, gives, in four pages, the history of 320 years after Christ. In the 36 year, all the inhabitants of the land were converted. There was a perfect community and no disputations in the land for 170 years. Three of the American apostles were never to die, and were seen 400 years after Christ; but what has become of them no one can tell, except Cowdery, Whitmer and Harris, the three witnesses of the truth of the plates of Nephi, be these three immortal men. Towards the close of the history of Nephi or the record Ammaron, sects and divisions and battles became frequent, and all goodness had almost left the continent in the year 320.

Mormon appears next in the drama, the recording angel of the whole matter, who, by the way, was a mighty general and great Christian, he commanded in one engagement 42,000 men against the Lamanites!!! He was no Quaker! This dreadful battle was fought A. D. 330. The Lamanites took South America for themselves, and gave North America to the Nephites. Mormon was very orthodox, for he preached in these words, A. D. 362: -- "That Jesus was the very Christ and the very God." He must have heard of the Arian controversy by some angel!!

Moroni finishes what Mormon his father, left undone, and continues the history, till A. D. 400. He pleads that no one shall disbelieve his record because of its imperfections!! and declares that none who receive it will condemn it on account of its imperfections, and for not doing so, the same shall know greater things. p. 532. "He that condemneth it shall be in danger of hell fire." He laments the prevalency of free masonry in the times when his book should be dug up out of the earth, and proves that miracles will never cease; because God is the same yesterday, to day, and forever -- consequently must always create suns, moons, and stars, every day!! He exhorted to take heed that none be baptized without telling their experience, nor "partake of the sacrament of Christ unworthily?"!! p. 537.

Moroni, in the conclusion of his book of Mormon, says, if his plates had been larger he would have written in Hebrew; but because of this difficulty he wrote in the "Reformed Egyptian," being handed down and altered to us according to our manner of speech." p. 538. "Condemn me not," says he, "because of mine imperfections; neither my father, because of his imperfections, neither them which have written before him; but rather give thanks unto God that he hath made manifest unto you our imperfections, that you may learn to be more wise than we have been." p. 538. A very necessary advice, indeed!!

Moroni writes the book of Ether, containing an account of the people of Jared, who escaped from the building of the tower of Babel unconfounded in his language. These people of Jared God marched before [in] cloud, and directed them through the wilderness, and instructed them to build barges to cross seas; and finally they built eight barges, air-tight, and were commanded to make a hole in the top to admit air, and one in the bottom to admit water; in them were put 16 windows of molten stone, which when touched by the finger of Jesus, became as transparent as glass, and gave them light under "the mountain waves," and when above the water. He that touched these stones, appeared unto the brother of Jared, and said, "Behold I am Jesus Christ; I am the Father and the Son." Two of these stones were sealed up with the plates and became the spectacles of Joseph Smith, according to a prediction uttered before Abraham was born. It was also foretold in the Book of Ether, written by Moroni, that he that should find the plates should have the privilege of showing the plates unto those who shall assist to bring forth the work; "and unto three shall they be shown by the power of God: wherefore they shall of a surety know that these things are true." p. 548.

And the eight barges, air-tight, made like ducks, after swimming and diving 334 days, arrived on the coasts of the land of promise. The Book of Ether relates the wars and carnage among these people. In the lapse of generations, they counted two millions of mighty men, besides women and children, slain; and finally, they were all killed but one, and he fell to the earth as if he had no life. So ends the book of Ether. p. 573.

The Book of Moroni details the manner of ordaining priests and teachers, the manner of administering ordinances, and the epistles of Mormon to his soon Moroni. Moroni seal up the record A.D. 420, and assures the world that spiritual gifts shall never cease, only through unbelief. And when the plates of Nephi shall be dug out of the earth, he declares that "men should ask God the Eternal Father, in the name of Christ, if these things were not true." -- "If with a sincere heart and real intent, having faith in Christ, such prayers are made, ye shall know the truth of all things." p. 586.

The testimony of Oliver Cowdery, David Whitmer, and Martin Harris, asserting that they saw the plates, is appended. They also testify that they know that they have been translated by the gift and power of God, for his voice has declared it unto them.

Another testimony is appended signed by four Whitmers, one Hiram Page, and three Smiths, affirming that they saw the plates, handled them, and that Smith has got the plates in his possession.

Such is an analysis of the Book of Mormon, the bible of the Mormonites. For noticing of which I would have asked forgiveness from all my readers, had not several hundred persons of different denominations believed in it. On this account alone has it become necessary to notice it, and for the same reason we must examine its pretensions to divine authority; for it purports to be a revelation from God. -- And in the first place, we shall examine its internal evidences.

(To be concluded  next week.)

Note: The article entitled "Joseyism" is actually an excerpt from "Gold Bible, No. 5" -- originally published in the Feb. 28, 1831 issue of Abner Cole's Palmyra Reflector.