Bible Myths and their Parallels in other Religions Being a Comparison of the Old and New Testament Myths and Miracles with those of the Heathen Nations of Antiquity Considering also their Origin and Meaning
Page: 303Some writers think that there is a connection between this and the Gospel story; that they, in a certain measure, put Jesus in the place of Antigonus, just as they put Herod in the place of Kansa. (See Chapter XVIII.)
[517:1] Canon Farrar thinks that silence on the subject of Jesus and Christianity, was as deliberate as it was dishonest. (See his Life of Christ, vol. i. p. 63.)
[518:1] Many examples might be cited to confirm this view, but the case of Joseph Smith, in our own time and country, will suffice.
The Mormons regard him very much as Christians regard Jesus; as the Mohammedans do Mohammed; or as the Buddhists do Buddha. A coarse sort of religious feeling and fervor appears to have been in Smith's nature. He seems, from all accounts, to have been cracked on theology, as so many zealots have been, and cracked to such an extent that his early acquaintances regarded him as a downright fanatic.
The common view that he was an impostor is not sustained by what is known of him. He was, in all probability, of unbalanced mind, a monomaniac, as most prophets have been; but there is no reason to think that he did not believe in himself, and substantially in what he taught. He has declared that, when he was about fifteen, he began to reflect on the importance of being prepared for a future state. He went from one church to another without finding anything to satisfy the hunger of his soul, consequently, he retired into himself; he sought solitude; he spent hours and days in meditation and prayer, after the true manner of all accredited saints, and was soon repaid by the visits of angels. One of these came to him when he was but eighteen years old, and the house in which he was seemed filled with consuming fire. The presence—he styles it a personage—had a pace like lightning, and proclaimed himself to be an angel of the Lord. He vouchsafed to Smith a vast deal of highly important information of a celestial order. He told him that his (Smith's) prayers had been heard, and his sins forgiven; that the covenant which the Almighty had made with the old Jews was to be fulfilled; that the introductory work for the second coming of Christ was now to begin; that the hour for the preaching of the gospel in its purity to all peoples was at hand, and that Smith was to be an instrument in the hands of God, to further the divine purpose in the new dispensation. The celestial stranger also furnished him with a sketch of the origin, progress, laws and civilization of the American aboriginals, and declared that the blessing of heaven had finally been withdrawn from them. To Smith was communicated the momentous circumstance that certain plates containing an abridgment of the records of the aboriginals and ancient prophets, who had lived on this continent, were hidden in a hill near Palmyra. The prophet was counseled to go there and look at them, and did so. Not being holy enough to possess them as yet, he passed some months in spiritual probation, after which the records were put into his keeping. These had been prepared, it is claimed, by a prophet called Mormon, who had been ordained by God for the purpose, and to conceal them until he should produce them for the benefit of the faithful, and unite them with the Bible for the achievement of his will. They form the celebrated Book of Mormon—whence the name Mormon—and are esteemed by the Latter-Day Saints as of equal authority with the Old and New Testaments, and as an indispensable supplement thereto, because they include God's disclosures to the Mormon world. These precious records were sealed up and deposited A. D. 420 in the place where Smith had viewed them by the direction of the angel.