Gifts Of Tongues And Miracles

In January, 1833, Smith announced a revival of the "gift of

tongues," and instituted the ceremony of washing the feet.* Under

the new system, Smith or Rigdon, during a meeting, would call on

some brother, or sister, saying, "Father A., if you will rise in

the name of Jesus Christ you can speak in tongues." The rule

which persons thus called on were to follow was thus explained,

"Arise upon your feet, speak or make some sound, continue to make

sounds of some kind, and the Lord will make a language of it." It

was not necessary that the words should be understood by the

congregation; some other Mormon would undertake their

interpretation. Much ridicule was incurred by the church because

of this kind of revelation. Gunnison relates that when a woman

"speaking in tongues" pronounced "meliar, meli, melee," it was at

once translated by a young wag, "my leg, my thigh, my knee," and,

when he was called before the Council charged with irreverence,

he persisted in his translation, but got off with an

admonition.** At a meeting in Nauvoo in later years a doubting

convert delivered an address in real Choctaw, whereupon a woman

jumped up and offered as a translation an account of the glories

of the new Temple.

* This ceremony has fallen into disuse in Utah.

** "The Mormons." p. 74.

At the conference of June 4, 1831, Smith ordained Elder Wright to

the high priesthood for service among the Indians, with the gift

of tongues, healing the sick, etc. Wright at once declared that

he saw the Saviour. At one of the sessions at Kirtland at this

time, as described by an eye-witness, Smith announced that the

day would come when no man would be permitted to preach unless he

had seen the Lord face to face. Then, addressing Rigdon, he

asked, "Sidney, have you seen the Lord?" The obedient Sidney made

reply, "I saw the image of a man pass before my face, whose locks

were white, and whose countenance was exceedingly fair, even

surpassing all beauty that I ever beheld." Smith at once rebuked

him by telling him that he would have seen more but for his


Almost simultaneously with Smith's first announcement of his

prophetic powers, while working his "peek-stone" in Pennsylvania

and New York, he, as we have seen, claimed ability to perform

miracles, and he announced that he had cast out a devil at

Colesville in 1830.* The performance of miracles became an

essential part of the church work at Kirtland, and had a great

effect on the superstitious converts. The elders, who in the

early days labored in England, laid great stress on their

miraculous power, and there were some amusing exposures of their

pretences. The Millennial Star printed a long list of successful

miracles dating from 1839 to 1850, including the deaf made to

hear, the blind to see, dislocated bones put in place, leprosy

and cholera cured, and fevers rebuked. Smith, Rigdon, and Cowdery

took a leading part in this work at Kirtland.** To a man nearly

dead with consumption Rigdon gave assurance that he would recover

"as sure as there is a God in heaven." The man's death soon

followed. When a child, whose parents had been persuaded to trust

its case to Mormon prayers instead of calling a physician,***

died, Smith and Rigdon promised that it would rise from the dead,

and they went through certain ceremonies to accomplish that


* For particulars of this miracle, see Millennial Star, Vol. XIV,

pp. 28, 32.

** While Smith was in Washington in 1840, pressing on the federal

authorities the claims of the Mormons for redress for their

losses in Missouri, he preached on the church doctrines. A member

of Congress who heard him sent a synopsis of the discourse to his

wife, and Smith printed this entire in his autobiography

(Millennial Star, Vol. XVII, p. 583). Here is one passage: "He

[Smith] performed no miracles. He did not pretend to possess any

such power." This is an illustration of the facility with which

Smith could lie, when to do so would serve his purpose.

*** The Saints were early believers in faith cure. Smith, in a

sermon preached in 1841, urged them "to trust in God when sick,

and live by faith and not by medicine or poison" (Millennial

Star, Vol. XVIII, p. 663). A coroner's jury, in an inquest over a

victim of this faith in London, England, cautioned the sect

against continuing this method of curing (Times and Seasons,

1842, p. 813).

**** For further illustrations of miracle working, in Ohio, see

Kennedy's "Early Days of Mormonism," Chap. V.

The lengths to which Smith dared go in his pretensions are well

illustrated in an incident of these days. Among the curiosities

of a travelling showman who passed through Kirtland were some

Egyptian mummies. As the golden plates from which the Mormon

Bible was translated were written in "reformed Egyptian," the

translator of those plates was interested in all things coming

from Egypt, and at his suggestion the mummies were purchased by

and for the church. On them were found some papyri which Joseph,

with the assistance of Phelps and Cowdery, set about

"translating." Their success was great, and Smith was able to

announce: "We found that one of these rolls contained the

writings of Abraham, another the writings of Joseph.* Truly we

could see that the Lord is beginning to reveal the abundance of

truth." That there might be no question about the accuracy of

Smith's translation, he exhibited a certificate signed by the

proprietor of the show, saying that he had exhibited the

"hieroglyphic characters" to the most learned men in many cities,

"and from all the information that I could ever learn or meet

with, I find that of Joseph Smith, Jr., to correspond in the most

minute matters." * When the papyri were shown to Josiah Quincy

and Charles Francis Adams, on the occasion of their visit to

Nauvoo in 1844, Joseph Smith, pointing out the inscriptions,

said: "That is the handwriting of Abraham, the Father of the

Faithful. This is the autograph of Moses, and these lines were

written by his brother Aaron. Here we have the earliest account

of the creation, from which Moses composed the first Book of

Genesis."--"Figures of the Past," p. 386.

Smith's autobiography contains this memorandum: "October 1, 1835.

This afternoon I labored on the Egyptian alphabet in company with

Brother O. Cowdery and W. W. Phelps, and during the research the

principals of astronomy, as understood by Father Abraham and the

Ancients, unfolded to our understanding. "When he was in the

height of his power in Nauvoo, Smith printed in the Times and

Seasons a reproduction of these hieroglyphics accompanied by this

alleged translation, of what he called "the Book of Abraham," and

they were also printed in the Millennial Star.* The translation

was a meaningless jumble of words after this fashion:--

* See Vol. XIX, p. 100, etc., from which the accompanying

facsimile is taken.

"In the land of the Chaldeans, at the residence of my father, I,

Abraham, saw that it was needful for me to obtain another place

of residence, and finding there was greater happiness and peace

and rest for me, I sought for the blessings of the Fathers, and

the right whereunto I should be ordained to administer the same,

having been myself a follower of righteousness, desiring to be

one also who possessed great knowledge, and to possess greater

knowledge, and to be a greater follower of righteousness."

Remy submitted a reproduction of these hieroglyphics to Theodule

Deveria, of the Museum of the Louvre, in Paris, who found, of

course, that Smith's purported translation was wholly fraudulent.

For instance, his Abraham fastened on an altar was a

representation of Osiris coming to life on his funeral couch, his

officiating priest was the god Anubis, and what Smith represents

to indicate an angel of the Lord is "the soul of Osiris, under

the form of a hawk."* Smith's whole career offered no more brazen

illustration of his impostures than this.

* See "A Journey to Great Salt Lake City", by Jules Remy (1861),

Note XVII.

A visitor to the Kirtland Temple some years later paid Joseph's

father half a dollar in order to see the Egyptian curios, which

were kept in the attic of that structure.

A well-authenticated anecdote, giving another illustration of

Smith's professed knowledge of the Egyptian language is told by

the Rev. Henry Caswall, M.A., who, after holding the

Professorship of Divinity in Kemper College, in Missouri, became

vicar of a church in England. Mr. Caswall, on the occasion of a

visit to Nauvoo in 1842, having heard of Smith's Egyptian lore,

took with him an ancient Greek manuscript of the Psalter, on

parchment, with which to test the prophet's scholarship. The

belief of Smith's followers in his powers was shown by their

eagerness to have him see this manuscript, and their persistence

in urging Mr. Caswall to wait a day for Smith's return from

Carthage that he might submit it to the prophet. Mr. Caswall the

next day handed the manuscript to Smith and asked him to explain

its contents. After a brief examination, Smith explained: "It

ain't Greek at all, except perhaps a few words. What ain't Greek

is Egyptian, and what ain't Egyptian is Greek. This book is very

valuable. It is a dictionary of Egyptian hieroglyphics. These

figures (pointing to the capitals] is Egyptian hieroglyphics

written in the reformed Egyptian. These characters are like the

letters that were engraved on the golden plates."*

* "The City of the Mormons," p. 36 (1842).

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