Mormon History

Campbell Examination of the BOM Part 2 - 1831

The Telegraph - March 15, 1831

Martin Harris, another chief of the Mormon impostors, arrived here last Saturday from the bible quarry in New York. He immediately planted himself in the bar-room of the hotel, where he soon commenced reading and explaining the Mormon hoax, and all the dark passages from Genesis to Revelations. He told all about the gold plates, Angels, Spirits, and Jo Smith. -- He had seen and handled them all, by the power of God! Curiosity soon drew around thirty or forty spectators, and all who presumed to question his blasphemous pretentions, were pronounced infidels. He was very flippant, talking fast and loud, in order that others could not interpose an opinion counter to his. Every idea that he advanced, he knew to be absolutely true, as he said, by the spirit and power of God. In fine, the bystanders had a fair specimen of the Mormon slang, in this display of one of their head men. The meeting was closed, by a request of the landlord that the prophet should remove his quarters, which he did, and declaring, that all who believed the new bible would see Christ within fifteen years, and all who did not would absolutely be destroyed and dam'd.


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


It admits the Old and New Testaments to contain the revelations, institutions and commandments of God to Patriarchs, Jews, and Gentiles, down to the year 1830 -- and always, as such, speaks of them and quotes them. This admission at once blasts its pretensions to credibility. For no man with his eyes open can admit both books to have come from God. Admitting the Bible now received to have come from God, it is impossible that the Book of Mormon came from the same author. For the following reasons: --

I. Smith, its real author, as ignorant and impudent a knave as ever wrote a book, betrays the cloven foot in basing his whole book upon a false fact, or a pretended fact, which makes God a liar. It is this: -- With the Jews, God made a covenant at Mount Sinai, and instituted a priesthood and a high priesthood. The priesthood he gave to the tribe of Levi, and the high priesthood to Aaron and his sons for an everlasting priesthood. He separated Levi, and covenanted to give him this office irrevocably while ever the temple stood, or till the Messiah came. Then, says God "Moses shall appoint Aaron and his sons, and they shall wait on their priest's office, and the stranger, (the person of another family) who cometh nigh, shall be put to death." -- Numbers iii. 10. "And the priests, the sons of Levi, shall come near; for them the Lord thy God hath chosen to minister unto him, and to bless in the name of the Lord, and by their word shall every controversy and every stroke be tried." -- Deut. xxi. 5. Korah, Dathan, and Abiram, with 250 men of renown, rebelled against a part of the institution of the priesthood, and the Lord destroyed them in the presence of the whole congregation. This was to be a memorial that no stranger invade any part of the office of the priesthood. Num. xvi. 40. "Fourteen thousand and seven hundred" of the people were destroyed by a plague for murmuring against this memorial.

In the 18th chapter of Numbers the Levites are again given to Aaron and his sons, and the priesthood confirmed to them with this threat -- "The stranger that cometh nigh shall be put to death." Even Jesus, says Paul, were he on earth, could not be a priest; for he was of a tribe concerning which Moses spake nothing of priesthood. Heb. vii. 13, 14. So irrevocable was the grant of the priesthood to Levi, and of the high priesthood to Aaron, that no man dare approach the altar of God which Moses established. Hence, Jesus himself was excluded from officiating as priest on earth according to the law.

This Joseph Smith overlooked in his impious fraud, and makes his hero Lehi spring from Joseph. And just as soon as his sons return with the roll of his lineage, ascertaining that he was of the tribe of Joseph, he and his sons acceptably "offer sacrifices and burnt offerings to the Lord." p. 15. Also it is repeated, p. 18. Nephi became chief artificer, ship-builder and mariner; was scribe, prophet, priest and king unto his own people, and "consecrated Jacob and Joseph, the sons of his father, priests to God and teachers" -- almost 600 years before the fullness of the times of the Jewish economy was completed. p. 72. Nephi represents himself withal "as under the law of Moses," p. 105. They build a temple in the new world, and in 55 years after they leave Jerusalem, make a new priesthood which God approbates. A high priest is also consecrated and yet they are all the while teaching the law of Moses, and exhorting the people to keep it!!! p. 146. Thus God is represented as instituting, approbating and blessing a new priesthood from the tribe of Joseph, concerning which Moses gave no commandment concerning priesthood. Although God had promised in the law of Moses, that if any man, not of the tribe and family of Levi and Aaron, should approach the office of priest, he would surely die; he is represented by Smith as blessing, approbating, and sustaining another family in this approbated office. The God of Abraham or Joseph Smith must then be a liar!! And who will hesitate to pronounce him an imposter? This lie runs through his records for the first 600 years of his story.

II. This ignorant and impudent liar, in the next place, makes the God of Abraham, Isaac and Jacob, violate his covenants with Israel and Judah, concerning the land of Canaan, by promising a new land to the pious Jew. If a company of reprobate Jews had departed from Jerusalem and the temple, in the days of Zedekiah, and founded a new colony, it would not have been so incongruous. But to represent God as inspiring a devout Jew and a prophet, such as Levi and Nephi are represented by Smith, with a resolution to forsake Jerusalem and God's own house, and to depart from the land which God swore to their fathers so long as they were obedient; and to guide by a miracle and to bless by prodigies a good man in forsaking God's covenant and worship -- is so monstrous an error, that language fails to afford a name for it. It is to make God violate his own covenants, and set at nought his own promises, and to convert his own curses into blessings. Excision from the commonwealth of Israel, and banishment from Jerusalem and the temple, were the greatest curses the law of Moses knew. But Smith makes a good and pious Jew the subject of this curse, and sends him off into the inhospitable wilderness, disinherits him in Canaan, and makes him more happy in forsaking the institutions of Moses, more intelligent in the wilderness, and more prosperous in adversity, than even the Jews in their best days, in the best of lands, and under the best of all governments!!! The imposter was too ignorant of the history of the Jews and the nature of the covenants of promise to have even alluded to them in his book, if he had not supposed that he had the plates of Moses in his own keeping as he had his "molten plates" of Nephi. To separate a family from the nation of Israel, was to accumulate all the curses of the law upon that family, Deut. xxix. 21.

III. He has more of the Jews, living in the new world, than could have been numbered any where else, even in the days of John the Baptist; and has placed them under a new dynasty. The sceptre, with him, has departed from Judah, and a lawgiver from among his descendants, hundreds of years before Shiloh came; and King Benjamin is a wiser and more renowned king than King Solomon. He seems to have gone upon an adage which saith -- "the more marvellous, the more credible the tale," and the less of fact, and the more of fiction, the more intelligible and reasonable the narrative.

IV. He represents the temple worship as continued in his new land of promise contrary to every precept of the law, and so happy are the people of Nephi as never to shed a tear on account of the excision, nor turn an eye towards Jerusalem or God's temple. The pious Jews in their captivity turned their faces to Jerusalem and the holy place, and remembered God's promises concerning the place where he recorded his name. They hung their harps upon the willow trees, and could not sing the songs of Zion in a foreign land; but the Nephites have not a single wish for Jerusalem, for they can, in their wigwam temple, in the wilderness of America, enjoy more of God's presence than the most righteous Jew could enjoy in that house of which David had rather be a door-keeper, than to dwell in the tabernacles of men. And all this too, when God's only house of prayer, according to his covenant with Israel, stood in Jerusalem.

V. Malachi, the last of the Jewish prophets, commanded Israel to regard the law of Moses till the Messiah came. And Moses commanded them to regard him till the Great Prophet came. But Nephi and Smith's prophets institute ordinances and observances for the Jews, subversive of Moses, 500 years before the Great Prophet came.

VI. Passing over a hundred similar errors, we shall next notice his ignorance of the New Testament matters and things. The twelve apostles of the Lamb, are said by Paul to have developed certain secrets which were hid for ages and generations, which Paul says were ordained before the world to their glory -- that they should have the honor of announcing them. But S. makes his pious hero Nephi, 600 years before the Messiah began to preach, disclose these secrets concerning the calling of the Gentiles, and the blessings flowing through the Messiah to Jews and Gentiles, which Paul says were hid for ages and generations --"which in these ages was not made known unto the sons of men, as it is now revealed unto us the holy apostles and prophets, by the Spirit; that the Gentiles should be fellow heirs, and of the same body, and partakers of his promise in Christ by the gospel." Eph. iii. 5, 6. Smith makes Nephi express every truth found in the writings of the apostles concerning the calling and blessing of the Gentiles, and even quotes the 11th chapter of Romans, and many other passages before he had a son grown in the wilderness able to aim an arrow at a deer. Paul says these things were secrets and unknown until his time; but Smith makes Nephi say the same things 600 years before Paul was converted! One of the two is a false prophet. Mormonites, take your choice!

VII. This prophet Smith, through his stone spectacles, wrote on the plates of Nephi, in his Book of Mormon, every error and almost every truth discussed in New York for the last ten years. He decides all the great controversies -- infant baptism, ordination, the trinity, regeneration, repentance, justification, the fall of man, the atonement, transubstantiation, fasting, penance, church government, religious experience, the call of the ministry, the general resurrection, eternal punishment, who may baptize, and even the question of free masonry, republican government; and the rights of man. All these topics are repeatedly alluded to. How much more benevolent and intelligent this American apostle than were the holy twelve, and Paul to assist them!!! He prophesied of all these topics, and of the apostacy, and infallibly decided, by his authority, every question. How easy to prophecy of the past or of the present time!!

VIII. But he is better skilled in the controversies in New York than in the geography or history of Judea. He makes John baptise in the village of Bethabara, (page 22) and says Jesus was born in Jerusalem, p. 240. Great must be the faith of the Mormonites in this new Bible!!! The mariners compass was only known in Europe about 300 years ago; but Nephi knew all about steam boats and the compass 2400 years ago.

IX. He represents the Christian institution as practised among his Israelites before Jesus was born. And his Jews are called Christians while keeping the law of Moses, the holy Sabbath, and worshipping in their temple at their altars and by their high priests. 

But not to honor him by a too minute examination and exposition, I will sum up the whole of the internal evidence which I deem worthy of remark, in the following details:

The book professes to be written at intervals and by different persons during the long period of 1020 years. And yet for uniformity of style, there never was a book more evidently written by one set of fingers, nor more certainly conceived in one cranium since the first book appeared in human language, than this same book -- If I could swear to any man's voice, face or person, assuming different names, I could swear that this book was written by one man. And as Joseph Smith is a very ignorant man and is called the author on the title page, I cannot doubt for a single moment that he is the sole author and proprietor of it. As a specimen of his style the reader will take the following samples -- Page 4th, in his own preface: -- "the plates of which hath been spoken." In the last page, "the plates of which hath been spoken." In the certificate signed by Cowdery and his two witnesses, he has the same idiom, "which came from the tower of which hath been spoken;" page 16, "we are a descendant of Joseph." "The virgin which thou seest is the mother of God." "Behold the Lamb of God, the Eternal Father," p. 25. "Ye are like unto they," "and I saith unto them," p. 44. "We did arrive to the promised land;" p. 49. "Made mention upon the first plate," p. 50.

Nephi 2400 years ago hears the saying of a Pagan who lived 634 years after him -- "The God of nature suffers." p. 51. "The righteous need not fear, for it is they which shall not be confounded," p. 58. Shakespeare was read by Nephi 2200 years before he was born -- "The silent grave from whence no traveller returns," p. 61. "Salvation is free" was then announced. "That Jesus should rise from the dead" was repeatedly declared on this continent in the reign of Nebuchadnezzar. And at the same time it was said, "Messiah cometh in the fulness of time that he might redeem the children of men from the fall." p. 65. "The fall" was frequently spoken of at the Isthmus of Darien 2400 years ago.

"I had no object," says Nephi, in the reign of Zedekiah, "but the everlasting salvation of your souls," 66. "I had spake many things" -- "for a more history part are written upon mine other plates," 69. "Do not anger again because of mine enemies," p. 70. "For it behoveth the Great Creator that he die for all men." "It must needs be an infinite atonement." "This flesh must go to its mother earth." "And this death must deliver up its dead," 79, were common phrases 2300 years ago -- "for the atonement satisfieth the demands upon all those who have not the law given them," 81. The Calvinists were in America before Nephi. "The Lord remembereth all they," 85. "The atonement is infinite for all mankind," p. 104. The Americans knew this on the Columbo 2400 years ago. "His name shall be called Jesus Christ the Son of God." An angel told this to Nephi 545 years before it was told to Mary, 105. "And they shall teach with their learning and deny the Holy Ghost which giveth them utterance;" this prophecy was at that time delivered against us, p. 112. "My words shall hiss forth unto the ends of the earth," 115. "Wherein did the Lamb of God fill all the righteousness in being baptized by water," 118. This question was discussed 2300 years ago. The "baptism by fire and the Holy Ghost" was preached in the days of Cyrus, p. 119. "The only true doctrine of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Ghost which is one God without end. Amen," p. 120. This was decided in the time of Daniel the prophet. "I glory in plainness," says Nephi. -- "Christ will show  you that these are his words in the last day," p. 122.  Too late to prove your mission, Mr. Nephi!

"After that ye have obtained a hope in Christ, ye shall obtain riches if you seek them." So spoke Jacob in the days of Ezekiel the prophet. "They believed in Christ and worshipped the Father in his name," p. 129. This was said by Jacob in the time of Daniel. "Do as ye hath hitherto done," says Mosiah, page 158. These Smithisms are in every page. "And his mother shall be called Mary," p. 160. "The Son of God and Father of heaven and earth," p. 161. "The infant perisheth not, that dieth in his infancy." "For the natural man is an enemy of God and was from the fall of Adam, and will be forever and ever,' p. 161. This was spoken by King Benjamin 124 years before Christ. He was a Yankee, too, for he spoke like Smith, saying, "I who ye call your king." "They saith unto the king," p. 182. This was another Joseph Smith called Mosiah. "They were baptised in the waters of Mormon, and were called the church of Christ," p. 192. This happened 100 years before Christ was born. "Alma, why persecuteth thou the church of God," p. 222. "Ye must be born again; yea, born of God -- changed from their carnal and fallen state to a state of righteousness," 214. This was preached also 100 years before Christ was born. "These things had not ought to be," p. 220.

"I, Alma, being consecrated by my father Alma to be a high priest over the church of God, he having power and authority from God to do these things (p. 232) say unto you, except ye repent ye can in no wise enter into the Kingdom of Heaven." p. 237. "He ordained priests and elders, by laying on his hands, to watch over the church" -- "Not so much as a hair of the head shall be lost in the grave" -- "The holy order of the high priesthood." p. 250. The high priesthood of Alma was about 80 years before Christ. "The Lord poured out his spirit to prepare the minds of the people for the preaching of Alma, preaching repentance." p. 268. Alma was a Yankee of Smith's school, for he says: "The light of everlasting light was lit up in his soul." p. 277.

During the pontificate of Alma, men prayed thus: "If there is a God, and if thou art God wilt thou make thyself known unto me." p. 286. "Alma clapped his hands upon all they which were with him." p. 313. "Instruments in the hand of God" were the preachers of Alma, p. 323. Modest and orthodox men, truly!! "If ye deny the Holy Ghost when it once hath place in you, and ye know that ye deny, behold this is the unpardonable sin." p. 332. So Alma preached. "And now my son, ye are called of God to preach the Gospel." p. 340. "They were high priests over the church." p. 350. "The twenty and second year of the Judges this came to pass," p. 364. "They were valiant for courage," p. 376.

These are as but one drop out of a bucket compared with the amount of Smithisms in this book. It is patched up and cemented with "And it came to pass" -- "I sayeth unto you" -- "Ye saith unto him" -- and all the King James' haths, didsts, and doths, in the lowest imitations of the common version; and is, without exaggeration, the meanest book in the English language; but it is a translation made through stone spectacles, in a dark room, and in the hat of the prophet Smith, from the reformed Egyptian!!! It has not one good sentence in it, save the profanation of those sentences quoted from the Oracles of the Living God. I would as soon compare a bat to the American eagle, a mouse to a mammoth, or the deformities of a spectre to the beauties of Him whom John saw in Patmos, as to contrast it with a single chapter in all the writings of the Jewish or Christian prophets. It is as certainly Smith's fabrication as Satan is the father of lies, or darkness the offspring of night. So much for the internal evidences of the Book of Mormon.

Its external evidences are, first, the testimony of the prophets Cowdery, Whitmer, and Harris; who saw the plates and heard the voice of God; who are disinterested retailers of the books. I would ask them how they knew that it was God's voice which they heard -- but they would tell me to ask God in faith. That is, I must believe it first, and then ask God if it be true!! 'Tis better to take Nephi's proof, which is promised to us in the day of final judgment! They say that spiritual gifts are continued to the end of time among the true believers. They are true believers -- have they wrought any miracles? They have tried, but their faith failed. Can they show any spiritual gift? Yes, they can mutter Indian and traffic in new bibles.

"But Smith is the wonder of the world." So was the Apocalyptic beast! "an ignorant young man." That needs no proof. Gulliver's Travels is a heroic poem in comparison of this book of Smith. "But he cannot write a page." Neither could Mahomet, who gave forth the Alcoran. -- "Smith is an honest looking fellow." So was Simon Magus, the sorcerer. "But he was inspired." So was Judas, by Satan.

Its external evidences are also the subscriptions of four Whitmers, three Smiths, and one Page, the relatives and connexions of Joseph Smith, junior. And these men "handled as many of the brazen or golden leaves as the said Smith translated." So did I. But "Smith has got the plates of which hath been spoken." Let him show them. Their certificate proves nothing, save that Smith wrote it, and they signed it. But Smith gives testimony himself. There is one who says, "If I bear testimony of myself, my testimony ought not to be regarded."

If this prophet and his three prophetic witnesses had aught of speciosity about them or their book, we would have examined it and exposed it in a different manner. I have never felt myself so fully authorized to address mortal man in the style in which Paul addressed Elymas the sorcerer as I feel towards this Atheist Smith. His three witnesses, I am credibly informed, on one of their horse-swapping and prophetic excursions in the Sandusky country, having bartered horses three times for once preaching, represented Walter Scott and myself as employed in translating these plates, and as believers in the book of Mormon. If there was any thing plausible about Smith, I would say to those who believe him to be a prophet, hear the question which Moses put into the mouth of the Jews, and his answer to it -- "And if thou say in thine heart, How shall we know the word which the Lord hath not spoken?" -- Does he answer, "Ask the Lord and he will tell you?" --

Does he say "Wait till the day of judgment and you will know?" Nay, indeed; but - 'When a prophet speaketh in the name of the Lord, if the thing follow not nor come to pass, that is the thing which the Lord hath not spoken; the prophet hath spoken it presumptuously: thou shalt not be afraid of him." Deut. xviii. 8. Smith has failed in every instance to verify one of his own sayings. Again, I would say in the words of the Lord by Isaiah, "Bring forth your strong reasons, saith the King of Jacob: let them bring them forth and show us what shall happen: let them show the former things what they mean, that we may consider them, and know the latter end of them -- show the things which are to come hereafter, that we may know that you are prophets: yea, do good or do evil, that we may be dismayed and behold it together. Behold you are nothing, and your work of naught: an abomination is every one that chooseth you." Is. xli. 21- 23.

Let the children of Mormon ponder well, if yet reason remains with them, the following passage from Isaiah 44; and if they cannot see the analogy between themselves and the sons of ancient imposture, then reason is of as little use to them as it was to those of whom the prophet spoke:

"The carpenters having chosen a piece of wood framed it by rule and glued the parts together, and made it in the form of a man, and with the comeliness of a man, to set it in a house. He cut wood from the forest which the Lord planted -- a pine tree, which the rain had nourished, that it might be fuel for the use of man: and having taken some of it he warmed himself; and with other pieces they made a fire and baked cakes, and of the residue they made gods and worshipped them. -- Did he not burn half of it in the fire, and, with the coals of that half bake cakes: and having roasted meat with it did he not eat and was satisfied; and when warmed say, 'Aha! I am warmed, I have enjoyed the fire?' Yet of the residue he made a carved god, and worshipped it, and prayeth to it, saying, 'Deliver me, for thou art my god.'

"They had not sense to think; for they were so involved in darkness that they could not see with their eyes, nor understand with their hearts: nor did any reason in his mind, nor by his understanding recollect, that he had burned half of it in the fire, and on the coals thereof baked cakes, and had roasted flesh and eaten, and of the residue had made an abomination; so they bow themselves down to it. Know thou that their heart is ashes, and they are led astray and none can deliver his soul. Take a view of it, will you not say, 'There is indeed a lie in my right hand?'

"Remember these things, O Jacob, even thou Israel, for thou art my servant. I have made thee my servant; therefore O Israel do not thou forget me. For, lo! I have made thy transgressions vanish like a cloud -- and thy sins like the murky vapor. Return to me, and I will redeem thee."

                                   A. CAMPBELL.  
Feb. 10, 1831.