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    Mormonism.ca - Story Of

THE MORMON ORIGIN

A State Of Civil War
After Smith's Death - Rigdon's Last Days
After The War
Attitude Of The Mormons During The Southern Rebellion
Beginning Of Active Hostilities
Blood Atonement
Brigham Young
Brigham Young's Death - His Character
Brigham Young's Despotism
Colonel Kane's Mission
Early Political History
Eastern Visitors To Salt Lake City - Unpunished Murderers
Even More On The History Of Mormonism
Even More On The Religious Puzzle
Facility Of Human Belief
First Announcement Of The Golden Bible
From The Mississippi To The Missouri
From The Rockies To Salt Lake Valley
Fruitless Negotiations With The Jackson County People
Gentile Irruption And Mormon Schism
Gifts Of Tongues And Miracles
Growth Of The Church
History Of Mormonism
How Joseph Smith Became A Money-digger
In Clay Caldwell And Daviess Counties
Introductory Remarks
Last Days At Kirtland
More On Mormonism Social Puzzle
More On The History Of Mormonism
More On The Religious Puzzle
Mormon Treatment Of Federal Officers
Mormonism The Political Puzzle
Nauvoo After The Exodus
Notes On The History Of Mormonism
Organization Of The Church
Preparations For The Long March
Progress Of The Settlement
Public Announcement Of The Doctrine Of Polygamy
Radical Dissensions In The Church - Origin Of The Danites - Tithing
Renewed Trouble For The Mormons - The Burnings
Rivalries Over The Succession
Sidney Rigdon
Smith A Candidate For President Of The United States
Smith's Falling Out With Bennett And Higbee
Smith's First Visits To Missouri Founding The City And The Temple
Smith's Ohio Business Enterprises
Smith's Picture Of Himself As Autocrat
Social Aspects Of Polygamy
Social Conditions In Nauvoo
Some Church-inspired Murders
The Building Up Of The City - Foreign Proselyting
The Camps On The Missouri
The Different Accounts Of The Revelation Of The Bible
The Directions To The Saints About Their Zion
The Evacuation Of Nauvoo - The Last Mormon War
The Everlasting Gospel
The Expulsion From Jackson County The Army Of Zion
The Expulsion Of The Mormons
The Fight Against Polygamy - Statehood
The Final Expulsion From The State
The First Converts At Kirtland
The Following Companies - Last Days On The Missouri
The Foreign Immigration To Utah
The Founding Of Salt Lake City
The Hand-cart Tragedy
The Institution Of Polygamy
The Last Years Of Brigham Young
The Mormon Battalion
The Mormon Bible
The Mormon Purpose
The Mormon War
The Mormonism Of To-day
The Mormons In Politics - Missouri Requisitions For Smith
The Mormons' Beliefs And Doctrines Church Government
The Mountain Meadows Massacre
The Murder Of The Prophet - His Character
The Nauvoo City Government - Temple And Other Buildings
The Peace Commission
The Pioneer Trip Across The Plains
The Political Puzzle
The Political Puzzle Continued
The Reception Of The Mormons
The Reformation
The Religious Puzzle
The Religious Puzzle Notes
The Settlement Of Nauvoo
The Smith Family
The Social And Society Puzzle
The Social Puzzle
The Social Puzzle Notes
The Spaulding Manuscript
The Suppression Of The Expositor
The Territorial Government - Judge Brocchus's Experience
The Witnesses To The Plates
Translation And Publication Of The Bible
Uprising Of The Non-mormons Smith's Arrest
Wild Vagaries Of The Converts


The Story Of The Mormons

A State Of Civil War
After Smith's Death - Rigdon's Last Days
After The War
Attitude Of The Mormons During The Southern Rebellion
Beginning Of Active Hostilities
Blood Atonement
Brigham Young
Brigham Young's Death - His Character
Brigham Young's Despotism
Colonel Kane's Mission
Early Political History
Eastern Visitors To Salt Lake City - Unpunished Murderers
From The Mississippi To The Missouri
From The Rockies To Salt Lake Valley
Fruitless Negotiations With The Jackson County People
Gentile Irruption And Mormon Schism
Gifts Of Tongues And Miracles
Growth Of The Church
In Clay Caldwell And Daviess Counties
Last Days At Kirtland
Mormon Treatment Of Federal Officers
Nauvoo After The Exodus
Preparations For The Long March
Progress Of The Settlement
Public Announcement Of The Doctrine Of Polygamy
Radical Dissensions In The Church - Origin Of The Danites - Tithing
Renewed Trouble For The Mormons - The Burnings
Rivalries Over The Succession
Smith A Candidate For President Of The United States
Smith's Falling Out With Bennett And Higbee
Smith's First Visits To Missouri Founding The City And The Temple
Smith's Ohio Business Enterprises
Smith's Picture Of Himself As Autocrat
Social Aspects Of Polygamy
Social Conditions In Nauvoo
Some Church-inspired Murders
The Building Up Of The City - Foreign Proselyting
The Camps On The Missouri
The Directions To The Saints About Their Zion
The Evacuation Of Nauvoo - The Last Mormon War
The Expulsion From Jackson County The Army Of Zion
The Expulsion Of The Mormons
The Fight Against Polygamy - Statehood
The Final Expulsion From The State
The First Converts At Kirtland
The Following Companies - Last Days On The Missouri
The Foreign Immigration To Utah
The Founding Of Salt Lake City
The Hand-cart Tragedy
The Institution Of Polygamy
The Last Years Of Brigham Young
The Mormon Battalion
The Mormon Purpose
The Mormon War
The Mormonism Of To-day
The Mormons In Politics - Missouri Requisitions For Smith
The Mormons' Beliefs And Doctrines Church Government
The Mountain Meadows Massacre
The Murder Of The Prophet - His Character
The Nauvoo City Government - Temple And Other Buildings
The Peace Commission
The Pioneer Trip Across The Plains
The Reception Of The Mormons
The Reformation
The Settlement Of Nauvoo
The Suppression Of The Expositor
The Territorial Government - Judge Brocchus's Experience
Uprising Of The Non-mormons Smith's Arrest
Wild Vagaries Of The Converts



Organization Of The Church








The director of the steps taken to announce to the world a new
Bible and a new church realized, of course, that there must be
priests, under some name, to receive members and to dispense its
blessing. No person openly connected with Smith in the work of
translation had been a clergyman. Accordingly, on May 15, 1829
(still following the prophet's own account), while Smith and
Cowdery were yet busy with the work of translation, they went
into the woods to ask the Lord for fuller information about the
baptism mentioned in the plates. There a messenger from heaven,
who, it was learned, was John the Baptist, appeared to them in a
cloud of light, "and having laid his hands on us, he ordained us,
saying unto us, 'Upon you, my fellow servants, in the name of
Messiah, I confer the priesthood of Aaron, which holds the keys
of the ministering angels, and of the Gospel of repentance, and
of baptism by immersion for the remission of sins.'" The
messenger also informed them that "the power of laying on of
hands for the gift of the Holy Ghost" would be conferred on them
later, through Peter, James, and John, "who held the keys of the
priesthood of Melchisedec"; but he directed Smith to baptize
Cowdery, and Cowdery then to perform the same office for Smith.
This they did at once, and as soon as Cowdery came out of the
water he "stood up and prophesied many things" (which the prophet
prudently omitted to record). The divine authority thus
conferred, according to Orson Pratt, exceeds that of the bishops
of the Roman church, because it came direct from heaven, and not
through a succession of popes and bishops.*

* Orson Pratt, in his "Questions and Answers on Doctrine" in his
Washington newspaper, the Seer (p. 205), thus defined the Mormon
view of the Roman Catholic church:--

Q."Is the Roman Catholic Church the Church of Christ?" A."No, for
she has no inspired priesthood or officers."

Q."After the Church of Christ fled from earth to heaven what was
left?" A."A set of wicked apostates, murderers and idolaters,"
etc.

Q."Who founded the Roman Catholic Church?" A."The devil, through
the medium of the apostates, who subverted the whole order of God
by denying immediate revelation, and substituting in place
thereof tradition and ancient revelations as a sufficient rule of
faith and practice."


Smith and Cowdery at once began telling of the power conferred
upon them, and giving their relatives and friends an opportunity
to become members of the new church. Smith's brother Samuel was
the first convert won over, Cowdery baptizing him. His brother
Hyrum came next,* and then one J. Knight, Sr., of Colesville, New
York.** Each new convert was made the subject of a "revelation,"
each of which began, "A great and marvelous work is about to come
forth among the children of men." Hyrum Smith, and David and
Peter Whitmer, Jr., were baptized in Seneca Lake in June, and
"from this time forth," says Smith, "many became believers and
were baptized, while we continued to instruct and persuade as
many as applied for information."

* Hyrum wanted to start in to preach at once, and a "revelation"
was necessary to inform him: "You need not suppose you are called
to preach until you are called.... Keep my commandments; hold
your peace" (Sec.11).

** Colesville is the township in Broome County of which
Harpursville is the voting place. Smith organized his converts
there about two miles north of Harpursville.


By April 6, 1830, branches of the new church had been established
at Fayette, Manchester, and Colesville, New York, with some
seventy members in all, it has been stated. Section 20 of the
"Doctrine and Covenants" names April 6, 1830, as the date on
which the church was "regularly organized and established,
agreeable to the laws of our country." This date has been
incorrectly given as that on which the first step was taken to
form a church organization. What was done then was to organize in
a form which, they hoped, would give the church a standing as a
legal body.* The meeting was held at the house of Peter Whitmer.
Smith, who, it was revealed, should be the first elder, ordained
Cowdery, and Cowdery subsequently ordained Smith. The sacrament
was then administered, and the new elders laid their hands on the
others present.

* Whitmer's "Address to Believers in the Book of Mormon."


"The revelation" (Sec. 20) on the form of church government is
dated April, 1830, at least six months before Rigdon's name was
first associated with the scheme by the visit of Cowdery and his
companions to Ohio. If the date is correct, it shows that Rigdon
had forwarded this "revelation" to Smith for promulgation, for
Rigdon was unquestionably the originator of the system of church
government. David Whitmer has explained, "Rigdon would expound
the Old Testament Scriptures of the Bible and Book of Mormon, in
his way, to Joseph, concerning the priesthood, high priests,
etc., and would persuade Brother Joseph to inquire of the Lord
about this doctrine and about that doctrine, and of course a
revelation would always come just as they desired it."*

* Whitmer's "Address to Believers in the Book of Mormon."


The "revelation" now announced defined the duty of elders,
priests, teachers, deacons, and members of the Church of Christ.
An apostle was an elder, and it was his calling to baptize,
ordain, administer the sacrament, confirm, preach, and take the
lead in all meetings. A priest's duty was to preach, baptize,
administer the sacrament, and visit members at their houses.
Teachers and deacons could not baptize, administer the sacrament,
or lay on hands, but were to preach and invite all to join the
church. The elders were directed to meet in conference once in
three months, and there was to be a High Council, or general
conference of the church, by which should be ordained every
President of the high priesthood, bishop, high counsellor, and
high priest.

Smith's leadership had, before this, begun to manifest itself. He
had, in a generous mood, originally intended to share with others
the honor of receiving "revelations," the first of these in the
"Book of Doctrine and Covenants," saying, "I the Lord also gave
commandments to others, that they should proclaim these things to
the world." In the original publication of these "revelations,"
under the title "Book of Commandments," we find such headings as,
"A revelation given to Oliver," "A revelation given to Hyrum,"
etc. These headings are all changed in the modern edition to
read, "Given through Joseph the Seer," etc.

Cowdery was the first of his associates to seek an open share in
the divine work. Smith was so pleased with his new scribe when
they first met at Harmony, Pennsylvania, that he at once received
a "revelation" which incited Cowdery to ask for a division of
power. Cowdery was told (Sec. 6), "And behold, I grant unto you a
gift, if you desire of me, to translate even as my servant
Joseph. "Cowdery's desire manifested itself immediately, and
Joseph almost as quickly became conscious that he had committed
himself too soon. Accordingly, in another "revelation," dated the
same month of April, 1829 (Sec. 8), he attempted to cajole Oliver
by telling him about a "gift of Aaron" which he possessed, and
which was a remarkable gift in itself, adding, "Do not ask for
that which you ought not." But Cowdery naturally clung to his
promised gift, and kept on asking, and he had to be told right
away in still another "revelation" (Sec. 9), that he had not
understood, but that he must not murmur, since his work was to
write for Joseph. If he was in doubt about a subject, he was
advised to "study it out in your mind"; and if it was right, the
Lord promised, "I will cause that your bosom shall burn within
you"; but if it was not right, "you shall have a stupor of
thought, that shall cause you to forget the thing which is
wrong." To assist him until he became accustomed to discriminate
between this burning feeling and this stupor, the Lord told him
very plainly, "It is not expedient that you should translate
now." That all this rankled in Cowdery's heart was shown by his
attempt to revise one of Smith's "revelations," and the support
he gave to Hiram Page's "gazing."

Cowdery continued to annoy the prophet, and Smith decided to get
rid of him. Accordingly in July, 1830, came a "revelation,"
originally announced as given direct to Joseph's wife Emma,
instructing her to act as her husband's scribe, "that I may send
my servant Oliver Cowdery whithersoever I will." This occurred on
a trip the Smiths had made to Harmony. On their return to
Fayette, Smith found Cowdery still persistent, and he accordingly
gave out a "revelation" to him, telling him again that he must
not "write by way of commandment," inasmuch as Smith was at the
head of the church, and directing him to "go unto the Lamanites
(Indians) and preach my Gospel unto them." This was the first
mention of the westward movement of the church which shaped all
its later history.

A "revelation" in June, 1829 (Sec. 18), had directed the
appointment of the twelve apostles, whom Cowdery and David
Whitmer were to select. The organized members now began to
inquire who was their leader, and Smith, in a "revelation" dated
April 6, 1830 (Sec. 21), addressed to himself, announced: "Behold
there shall be a record kept among you, and in it thou shalt be
called a seer, a translator, a prophet, an apostle of Jesus
Christ, an elder of the church through the will of God the
Father, and the grace of your Lord Jesus Christ"; and the church
was directed in these words, "For his word ye shall receive, as
if from mine own mouth, in all patience and faith." Thus was
established an authority which Smith defended until the day of
his death, and before which all who questioned it went down.

Some of the few persons who at this time expressed a willingness
to join the new church showed a repugnance to being baptized at
his hands, and pleaded previous baptism as an excuse for evading
it. But Smith's tyrannical power manifested itself at once, and
he straightway announced a "revelation" (Sec. 22), in which the
Lord declared, "All old covenants have I caused to be done away
in this thing, and this is a new and everlasting covenant, even
that which was from the beginning."

Five days after the formal organization, the first sermon to the
Mormon church was preached in the Whitmer house by Oliver
Cowdery, Smith probably concluding that it would be wiser to
confine himself to the receipt of "revelations" rather than to
essay pulpit oratory too soon. Six additional persons were then
baptized. Soon after this the first Mormon miracle was
performed--the casting out of a devil from a young man named,
Newel Knight.

The first conference of the organized church was held at Fayette,
New York, in June, 1830, with about thirty members present. In
recent "revelations" the prophet had informed his father and his
brothers Hyrum and Samuel that their calling was "to exhortation
and to strengthen the church," so that they were provided for in
the new fold.

The region in New York State where the Smiths had lived and were
well known was not favorable ground for their labors as church
officers, conducting baptisms and administering the sacrament.
When they dammed a small stream in order to secure a pool for an
announced baptism, the dam was destroyed during the night. A
Presbyterian sister-in-law of Knight, from whom a devil had been
cast, announced her conversion to Smith's church, and, when she
would not listen to the persuasions of her pastor, the latter
obtained legal authority from her parents and carried her away by
force. She succeeded, however, in securing the wished-for
baptism. All this stirred up public feeling against Smith, and he
was arrested on a charge of disorderly conduct.

At the trial testimony was offered to show that he had obtained a
horse and a yoke of oxen from his dupes, on the statement that a
"revelation" had informed him that he was to have them, and that
he had behaved improperly toward the daughters of one of these
men. But the parties interested all testified in his favor, and
the prosecution failed. He was immediately rearrested on a
warrant and removed to Colesville, amid the jeers of the people
in attendance. Knight was subpoenaed to tell about the miracle
performed on him, and Smith's old character of a money-digger was
ventilated; but the court found nothing on which to hold him.
Mormon writers have dilated on these "persecutions", but the
outcome of the hearings indicated fair treatment of the accused
by the arbiters of the law, and the indignation shown toward him
and his associates by their neighbors was not greater than the
conduct of such men in assuming priestly rights might evoke in
any similar community.

Smith returned to his home in Pennsylvania after this, and
endeavored to secure the cooperation of his father-in-law in his
church plans, but without avail. It was four years later that Mr.
Hale put on record his opinion of his son-in-law already quoted.
Failing to find other support in Harmony, and perceiving much
public feeling against him, Smith prepared for his return to New
York by receiving a "revelation" (Sec.20) which directed him to
return to the churches organized in that state after he had sold
his crops. "They shall support thee", declared the "revelation";
but if they receive thee not I shall send upon them a cursing
instead of a blessing". For Smith's protection the Lord further
declared: "Whosoever shall lay their hand upon you by violence ye
shall command to be smitten in my name, and behold, I will smite
them according to your words, IN MINE OWN DUE TIME. And whosoever
shall go to law with thee shall be cursed by the law." This
threat, it will be noted, was safeguarded by not requiring
immediate fulfillment.

Smith returned to Fayette in September, and continued church work
thereabouts in company with his brothers and John and David
Whitmer.

Meanwhile Parley P. Pratt had made his visit to Palmyra and
returned to Ohio, and in the early winter Rigdon set out to make
his first open visit to Smith, arriving in December. Martin
Harris, on the ground that Rigdon was a regularly authorized
clergyman, tried to obtain the use of one of the churches of the
town for him, but had to content himself with the third-story
hall of the Young Men's Association. There Rigdon preached a
sermon to a small audience, principally of non-Mormons, annoucing
himself as a "messenger of God". The audience regarded the sermon
as blasphemous, and no further attempt was made to secure this
room for Mormon meetings. Rigdon, however, while in conference
with Smith, preached and baptized the neighborhood, and Smith and
Harris tried their powers as preachers in barns and under a tree
in the open air.

A well-authenticated story of the manner in which one of the
Palmyra Mormons received his call to preach is told by Tucker*
and verified by the principal actor. Among the first baptized in
New York State were Calvin Stoddard and his wife (Smith's sister)
of Macedon. Stoddard told his neighbors of wonderful things he
had seen in the sky, and about his duty to preach. One night,
Steven S. Harding, a young man who was visiting the place, went
with a companion to Stoddard's house, and awakening him with
knocks on the door, proclaimed in measured tones that the angel
of the Lord commanded him to "go forth among the people and
preach the Gospel of Nephi." Then they ran home and went to bed.
Stoddard took the call in all earnestness, and went about the
next day repeating to his neighbors the words of the "celestial
messenger," describing the roaring thunder and the musical sounds
of the angel's wings that accompanied the words. Young Harding,
who participated in this joke, became Governor of Utah in 1862,
and incurred the bitter enmity of Brigham Yound and the church by
denouncing polygamy, and asserting his own civil authority.**

* "Origin, Rise and Progress of Mormonism," pp. 80, 285

**Stoddard and Smith had a quarrel over a lot in Kirtland in
1835, and Smith knocked down his brother-in-law and was indicted
for assault and battery, but was acquitted on the ground of
self-defence.


AS a result of Smith's and Rigdon's conferences came a
"revelation" to them both (Sec. 35), delivered as in the name of
Jesus Christ, defining somewhat Rigdon's position. How nearly it
met his demands cannot be learned, but it certainly granted him
no more authority than Smith was willing to concede. It told him
that he should do great things, conferring the Holy Ghost by the
laying on of hands, as did the apostles of old, and promising to
show miracles, signs, and wonders unto all believers. He was told
that Joseph had received the "keys of the mysteries of those
things that have been sealed," and was directed to "watch over
him that his faith fail not." This "revelation" ordered the
retranslation of the Scriptures.

The most important result of Rigdon's visit to Smith was a
decision to move the church to Ohio. This decision was
promulgated in the form of "revelations" dated December, 1830,
and January, 1831, which set forth (Secs. 37, 38):--

"And that ye might escape the power of the enemy, and be gathered
unto me a righteous people, without spot and blameless:

"Wherefore, for this cause I give unto you the commandment that
ye should go to the Ohio; and there I will give unto you my law;
and there you shall be endowed with power from on high; and from
thence whomsoever I will shall go forth among all nations, and it
shall be told them what they shall do; for I have a great work
laid up in store, for Israel shall be saved.... And they that
have farms that cannot be sold, let them be left or rented as
seemeth them good."

A sufficient reason for the removal was the failure to secure
converts where Smith was known, and the ready acceptance of the
new belief among Rigdon's Ohio people. The Rev. Dr. Clark says,
"You might as well go down in the crater of Vesuvius and attempt
to build an icehouse amid its molten and boiling lava, as to
convince any inhabitant in either of these towns [Palmyra or
Manchester] that Joe Smith's pretensions are not the most gross
and egregious falsehood."*

* "Gleanings by the Way."


The Rev. Jesse Townsend of Palmyra, in a reply to a letter of
inquiry about the Mormons, dated December 24, 1833 (quoted in
full by Tucker), says: "All the Mormons have left this part of
the state, and so palpable is their imposture that nothing is
here said or thought of the subject, except when inquiries from
abroad are occasionally made concerning them. I know of no one
now living in this section of the country that ever gave them
credence."





Next: The Mormons' Beliefs And Doctrines Church Government

Previous: The Mormon Bible



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