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: 304The records were, it is held, in the reformed Egyptian tongue, and Smith translated them through the inspiration of the angel, and one Oliver Cowdrey wrote down the translation as reported by the God-possessed Joseph. This translation was published in 1830, and its divine origin was attested by a dozen persons—all relatives and friends of Smith. Only these have ever pretended to see the original plates, which have already become traditional. The plates have been frequently called for by skeptics, but all in vain. Naturally, warm controversy arose concerning the authenticity of the Book of Mormon, and disbelievers have asserted that they have indubitable evidence that it is, with the exception of various unlettered interpolations, principally borrowed from a queer, rhapsodical romance written by an eccentric ex-clergyman named Solomon Spalding.
Smith and his disciples were ridiculed and socially persecuted; but they seemed to be ardently earnest, and continued to preach their creed, which was to the effect that the millennium was at hand; that our aboriginals were to be converted, and that the New Jerusalem—the last residence and home of the saints—was to be near the centre of this continent. The Vermont prophet, later on, was repeatedly mobbed, even shot at. His narrow escapes were construed as interpositions of divine providence, but he displayed perfect coolness and intrepidity through all his trials. The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints was first established in the spring of 1830 at Manchester, N. Y.; but it awoke such fierce opposition, particularly from the orthodox, many of them preachers, that Smith and his associates deemed it prudent to move farther west. They established themselves at Kirtland, O., and won there many converts. Hostility to them still continued, and grew so fierce that the body transferred itself to Missouri, and next to Illinois, settling in the latter state near the village of Commerce, which was renamed Nauvoo.
The Governor and Legislature of Illinois favored the Mormons, but the anti-Mormons made war on them in every way, and the custom of "sealing wives," which is yet mysterious to the Gentiles, caused serious outbreaks, and resulted in the incarceration of the prophet and his brother Hiram at Carthage. Fearing that the two might be released by the authorities, a band of ruffians broke into the jail, in the summer of 1844, and murdered them in cold blood. This was most fortunate for the memory of Smith and for his doctrines. It placed him in the light of a holy martyr, and lent to them a dignity and vitality they had never before enjoyed.