Burlington Daily Times – July 17, 1930
To the Editor of the Times.
The polite epithets applied, by Mr. Merrill to the evangelical ministries and churches are amusing. We are "puerile," not "enlightened," not "reliable," not even "intelligent," but are in fact guilty of "slanders," and are "fools" who "mock, but shall mourn." Doubtless his pious soul is weeping for us all in secret places. But his last quoted earning shows that the Mormon gospel comes to all non-Mormons with a stern command, "Believe this or be damned." It is the Mormon version of the old evangelism, with its refrain "Turn or burn." That, however, was taken altogether from the Word, and Mormonism teaches much that is additional to the "faith once for all delivered to the saints."
Mr. Merrill grows almost eloquent over the Book of Mormon, and his heat is equal to the July weather. But he does not deny his faith that the Mormon church shall eventually possess the earth and rull all mankind. Just now it rules Utah, and holds the balance of political power in several other states. The zeal and earnestness and self sacrifice of Mormon missionaries are not gainsaid. Their spirit is worthy of a better cause. Yet there is another side to the question. Paul on his missionary tours worked at a trade to eke out his living, and was in part sustained by his brethren left behind him. Mormon missionaries rely upon the hospitality of the people whom they would prejudice against their own churches. They who'd persuade all that unless they accept the new gospel, notwithstanding Paul's warning, "Though we or an angel from heaven preach any other gospel unto you, let him be accursed," they will be damned without remedy....
Our Mormon apologist goes into the field of archaeology. But his facts do not prove the inspiration of the Book of Mormon. That Cortez and Pizarro found an old civilization of a high order in Mexico and South America some hundreds of years before the days of Spaulding and Joe Smith, is known to all well-informed people. No Mormon revelation was needed to assure them of that fact....
As to the Spaulding manuscript our apologist uses the old device of the lawyer who had a bad case. In the absence of evidence, he repeats his former assertions. No amount of evidence that a Spaulding manuscript is in existence, and is found not to be identical with the Book of Mormon in its contents can disprove the positive testimony of sundry witnesses who, having become familar with Spaulding's last work, "The Lost Manuscript Found, or the Lost Tribes of Israel," found that the Book of Mormon contained not only the same names invented by Spaulding, but much of the same historical matter. Absolute identity was never asserted by the Spaulding party, but resemblance in style, and substance strong enough to suggest imitation or plagiarism. Henry Lake, Spaulding's former partner, for instance, procured a copy of the Book of Mormon, and was astounded at the similarity between the book and the work of his old fiends. Nor can this fact be gainsaid that Mormons sent Hurlbut to procure the original "Lost Manuscript Found" from Spaulding's widow. For that wehave his own admission. Such facts are enough to give any man ground for caution in listening to the persuasive eloquence of Mormon proselyters.
As to Sidney Rigdon, well known to have been a visionary and an erratic genius unreliable in his statements, the evidence of his brother, Dr. L. Rigdon, of Hamilton, O. in a letter to the Baptist Witness of March 1, 1875, is sufficient to break the force of his testimony, living or dying. Referring to an accident which Sidney suffered, and which caused confusion of the brain, Dr. Rigdon says, that the injury to his brother's brain "ever afterwards seriously affected his character and in some respects his conduct." Of the wicked we are told, "there are no bands in their death," and that the ruling passion of fanatics and of insane people should be strong in death, is not to be wondered at.
The Mormon accounts of the fate of the alleged golden plates is illuminating and to any thoughtful soul, quite conclusive. The angel Moroni who has been in hiding ever since, took back the plates and hid them away until the time shall come when they are again to be resurrected. To be sure. He was a wise angel -- just such an one as Joe Smith could create in his own imagination. It was wise in Moroni to hide those plates, rather than allow them to be inspected by our great Egyptologists, who would be able to decipher any ancient writings. And as to the witnesses, men testify that they have merely "hefted" a bundle of plates and turned the leaves are not qualified to testify to their genuineness or to the meaning of the inscriptions thereon. I suspect that any audable voice which assured the other three of the correctness of the "Prophet's" translation was not a divine voice. As to one of those witnesses, we know that a voice -- that of Prof. Charles Anthon, of Columbia college -- told him the writing was a humbug and had not meaning at all.... That Harris was after all persuaded to trust Smith but shows the "deceivableness of unrighteousness." "Be no more children, tossed to and fro with every wind of doctrine, etc., Eph. 4:15.
Wm. P. M'Corkle.
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