Mormons in Missouri - 1833
Missouri Intelligencer – April 13, 1833
perused a pretty long and probably true account of this singular people, and
their location in Mount Zion, contained in a letter published in the Christian
Watchman from B. Pixley, and dated Independence, Jackson county, Mo. Oct. 12th,
1832, the very seat of the New Jerusalem. His account of their situation and
prospects is not very flattering. About 4 or 500 Mormons, men, women, and
children, have collected at Zion. -- Their possessions are small compared with
their numbers, being only about four sections of land. Twenty acres is the
portion assigned for each family to improve, but they are to hold no property,
should they leave the community. Mt. Zion is not elevated, and the settlement
resembles "new beginnings" generally in the west. They are represented as
already suffering for the necessities of life, and by [squalid] poverty
preparing for the reception of their expected Saviour. Their creed appears to
have undergone but little change. Originally members of almost every sect, they
now cordially unite in destesting all, save Mormons. They all pretend to the
gift of miracles, of tongues, of healing the sick, visions, &c. though, like all
other modern miracles, often TOLD,
but never SEEN.
Their Prophet, Smith, is now busy in restoring the present Bible to its
primitive purity, and in adding some lost books of great importance. A new
Revelation is also forthcoming. Elder [Rigdon], pretty well known in this
vicinity as an arch apostate, is now the first, best, and greatest preacher in
Mount Zion. The Mormons still profess to talk with angels, visit the third
heaven, and converse with Christ face to face. Their form of baptism is changed
to "I, John the Messenger, baptize thee," &c. The gift of imparting the Holy
Ghost is yet professed.
They pretend to have discovered where the Ark of the Covenant, Aaron's rod, the pot of Manna, &c., &c. now remain hid. At no distant period, they expect Christ will re-appear to live and reign on the earth a thousand years.
Such are the present Mormons, and such is their New Jerusalem. We believe their society numbers something more than one hundred souls in this county, many of whom intend removing to Mt. Zion in the spring. With Mormonism and its history, in this county, we are not strangers. It was was introduced by a few illiterate disciples of Joseph Smith, in the summer of 1831, a time when religious excitements were the order of the day. A sort of revival enthusiasm pervaded many neighborhoods, and wherever Mormonism obtained a footing, it spread like wild-fire. Scores were awakened, converted, baptized, and endowed with the Holy Spirit in a few hours at a single meeting, in the midst of shoutings, wailings, falings, [contortions], trances, visions, speaking in unknown tongues, and prophesyings, that require the pen of a Trollope to describe. The timid were frightened, the credulous believed, and we were frequently eye witnesses to scenes of strange & unnatural conduct of Mormons professedly under the influence of the Spirit, that staggered the disbelief of the most stable and incredulous. But the storm passed -- a calm followed -- reason triumphed -- and Mormonism waned.
As a curiosity, we have carefully examined the Golden Bible, and pronounce it not even "a cunningly devised fable," Every page bears the impress of its human authorship. Though free from vulgar obscenities, it is an absurd collection of dull, stupid and foolishly improbable stories, which no person, unless under the influence of powerfully excited feelings can mistake for truth and inspiration. -- With its authors, the Book of Mormon cannot survive this generation. The next will remember it, only to smile at the credulity of the present.
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