Mormon History

The Voice of the Lord - 1879

The Salt Lake Daily Tribune September 30, 1879


In concluding a series of pamphlets upon the Book of Mormon, Elder Orson Pratt says:

And I now bear my humble testimony to all the nations of the earth who shall read this series of pamphlets, that the Book of Mormon is a divine revelation, for the voice of the Lord hath declared it unto me.

Exactly what does the Apostle mean? Does he mean to have his words taken literally, definitely and intelligently? Does Apostlr Orson Pratt presume to say that he heard the voice of the Lord declaring to him that the Book of Mormon was a divine revelation? He surely will not dare to say this.

The three witnesses solemnly declare that "We have seen the plates which contain this record (the Book of Mormon) and we also know that they have been transmitted by the gift and power of God, for His voice hath declared it unto us."

The eight witnesses (four Whitmers, a Whitmer brother-in-law, Hiram Page, and three Smiths) testify that Joseph Smith, jr., showed them "the plates of which hath been spoken, which have the appearance of gold; and as many leaves as the said Smith has translated we did handle with our hands, and we saw the engravings thereof," etc. These eight witnesses in their testimony as originally put forth, speak of Joseph Smith, jr., as "author and proprietor of this work." These do not testify that they heard the voice of God declaring to them that the work was true. It is gratifying to find that John Whitmer, Hyrum Smith and Samuel H. Smith testifying to only just so much; namely, that some plates, of some sort, had been shown them by Smith. But what if they were? How could they tell what or how many plates Smith had translated? It is probable that these eight witnesses actually testify to the truth, so far as they were capable of knowing it -- but how about this "voice of the Lord?"

To those who believe that the "voice of the Lord" came through his servant Smith, his say-so upon any matter was sufficient. If He said the Book of Mormon was true, that was the "voice of the Lord" upon the subject. But is this what Apostle Pratt means, and all he means?

A revelation to Joseph, Oliver and David, in Fayette, June, 1829, says:

These words are not of men, nor of man, but of me, wherefore you shall testify that they are of me and not of man; for it is my voice which speaketh them unto you; for they are given by my spirit unto you, and by my power you can read them one to another, and save it were by my power you coukd not have them: wherefore you can testify that you have heard my voice, and know my words."

Elder Orson Pratt is quite capable of expressing himself with precision. He knows whether he has ever heard the voice of the Lord or not. He knows, moreover, whether he believes that he ever heard the voice of the Lord, or not. And there is an excellent opportunity for him and for others to define what they mean when they assert that the voice of the Lord has declared to them that the Book of Mormon is a divine revelation. This is a good subject for the coming Conference. Don't beat around the bush any longer, but come out flat footed and tell what ye know and how ye know it. Possibly the best and the oldest among those who have borne so earnest a testimony of the truth of the Book of Mormon may yet discover that they have been under a hallucination all these years. Could not Orson Pratt just as well, and just as confidently, bear his "humble testimony to the nations" that those Kinderhook plates contained what the prophet said they did? Has Elder Pratt any more to go upon in one case than he has in the other?