Stewart, G. C. “The Book of Mormon.” The Perfectionist (Putney, Vermont) 3, no. 7 (15 May 1843): 28.
Newark, N. J., March 20, 1843.
BR. NOYES: Having lately come in contact with the Mormons, the question has arisen in my mind, How can they be most effectually met, in their Heaven daring career of imposture and folly? The answer to the question has appeared to be this: let the people know the contents of the Book of Mormon before they become entangled with their sophistry, and there will be no danger.
The Book of Mormon is the greatest compound of grammatical blunders, absurdities, impossibilities, contradictions of fact, and contradictions of the Bible, that I have ever seen. It professes to be not only written, but also to be translated, by inspiration. If you ask a Mormon how inspiration could commit so many blunders, he will tell you that the printer and the type were not inspired, and thus lead you if possible to believe that they are only typographical errors.
But each and every edition of the work, although carefully revised by Joseph Smith and others, contains the same blunders; and it is not at all probable that the uninspired type should commit the very same mistakes in every edition. Again; page after page of the Book of Mormon is taken up with quotations: are written correctly,—no mistakes, no grammatical errors occur, while the other parts of the book abound with the most egregious blunders. I will give you a sample by way of illustration, although my limits will not permit me to do more than glance at this part of my subject. The following are some of them:
“They rebelled against I, Nephi and Sam;” “It supposeth me;” “He had somewhat contentions among his own people;” “The more part of them;” “With all your whole soul;” “The whole human family of Adam;” “The enormity of their number;” “The hand of providence hath smiled upon you most pleasingly;” “The battle of the battle;” “And I saw wars and rumors of wars among them; and in wars, and rumors of wars, I saw many generations pass away.”
The last quotation reminds one of the old lady who in a time of war remarked that they only had the wars then, “but wait,” said she, “until the rumors come.” The above quotations are taken from the Golden Bible, as it is sometimes called, and are but a small part of the errors which abound throughout the book. Although the Book of Mormon professes to have been written by various persons, in different ages of the world, yet the same style runs through the whole work, with the exception of the quotations from our Bible. Of course, it will not answer for the Mormons to admit that there are any quotations from the Bible after Isaiah’s day, for that would subvert their whole system. From the modern phrases and ideas that constantly occur, the candid reader is forced to conclude that it is a modern work. One of the writers quotes from the prophet Malachi, 200 years before he prophesied: but I must hasten to introduce you to some of the hidden treasures of this celebrated record of antiquity. On page 63, 3d edition, it reads thus:
“Wherefore, all things must needs be a compound in one; wherefore if it should be one body, it must needs remain as dead, having no life, neither death nor corruption, nor incorruption, happiness nor misery, neither sense nor insensibility.” [Page 65,] “And now, behold, if Adam had not transgressed, he would not have fallen; but he would have remained in the garden of Eden. And all things which were created, must have remained in the same state which they were, after they were created; and they must have remained forever, and had no end. And they would have had no children; wherefore, they would have remained in a state of innocence, having no joy, for, they knew no misery; doing no good, for they knew no sin. [Page 458,] “And it came to pass that there was thick darkness upon all the face of the land, insomuch that the inhabitants thereof who had not fallen, could feel the vapor of darkness; and there could be no light, because of the darkness, neither candles, neither torches; neither could there be fire kindled with their fine and exceeding dry wood, so that there could not be any light at all; and there was not any light seen, neither fire, nor glimmer, neither the sun, nor the moon, nor the stars, for so great were the mists of darkness which were upon the face of the land.”
Permit me to inquire here if it is possible for human beings to exist in an atmosphere where lights and fire cannot burn; and whether this story about the darkness is not a bungling absurdity?
The Book of Mormon pretends to give the history of a race of people who emigrated from the Tower of Babel after the confusion of tongues, and came to this country; after living here for thirty generations, and being divided under two kings named Coriantumr and Shiz; they fought several bloody battles until both parties were entirely destroyed, men, women, and children; both men, women, and children, with the exception of the prophet Ether. The writer remarks that in one war, Coriantumr lost two millions of fighting men, with their wives and children; and that afterward, the kings began to gather all the people, for a final struggle—but I will give you his own language. On page 555, it reads thus:—
“The people who were for Coriantumr, were gathered to the army of Coriantumr; and the people who were for Shiz, were gathered together to the army of Shiz; wherefore they were for the space of four years in gathering together the people, that they might get all who were upon the face of the land, and that they might receive all the strength which it was possible that they could receive. And it came to pass that when they were all gathered together, every one to the army which he would, with their wives, and their children; both men women and children being armed with weapons of war, having shields, and breast-plates, and head-plates, and being clothed after the manner of war, they did march forth one against another to battle; and they fought all that day, and conquered not.”
The writer goes on to say that they fought several days, until they totally annihilated each other. Think of the absurdity of arming their infant children “with weapons of war, shields, breast-plates, and head-plates.” I will give you one more specimen from this wonderful book— one which you will doubtless consider the climax of human ingenuity. On p. 527 it says:
“And it came to pass that the brother of Jared did go to work, and also his brethren, and built barges after the manner which, they had built according to the instructions of the Lord. And they were small, and they were light upon the water, even like unto the lightness of a fowl upon the water; and they were built after a manner that they were exceeding tight, even that they would hold water like unto a dish; and the bottom thereof was tight like unto a dish; and the sides thereof were tight like unto a dish; and the ends thereof were peaked; and the top thereof was tight like unto a dish; and the length thereof was the length of a tree; and the door thereof, when it was shut, was tight like unto a dish. And is came to pass that the brother of Jared cried unto the Lord, saying, O Lord I have performed the work which though hast commanded me, and I have made the barges according as thou hast directed me. And behold, O Lord, in them there is no light, whither we shall steer. And also we shall perish, for in them we cannot breath, save it is the air which is in them; therefore we shall perish. And the Lord said unto the brother of Jared, Behold, thou shalt make a hole in the top thereof, and also in the bottom thereof; and when thou shalt suffer for air, thou shalt unstop the hole thereof, and receive air. And if it so be that the water come in upon thee, behold, ye shall stop the hole thereof, that ye may not perish in the flood. And it came to pass that the brother of Jared did so, according as the Lord had commanded. And he cried again unto the Lord, saying, O Lord, behold I have done even as thou hast commanded me; and I have prepared the vessels for my people, and behold there is no light in them. Behold, O Lord, wilt thou suffer that we shall cross this great water in darkness? And the Lord said unto the brother of Jared, What will ye that I should do that ye may have light in your vessels? For behold, ye cannot have windows, for they will be dashed in pieces; neither shall ye take fire with you, for ye shall not go by the light of fire; for behold, ye shall be as a whale in the midst of the sea; for the mountain waves shall dash upon you. Nevertheless, I will bring you up again out of the depths of the sea; for the winds have gone forth out of my mouth, and also the rains and the floods have I sent forth.”
There are many more absurdities in the book, but my limits will not allow me to give more at this time. The number of barges was eight; and in them they brought to this continent the different animals, fowls of the air, and fishes, that first made their appearance in the western world after the deluge.
Just think of the idea of bringing “fish of the waters” across the mighty deep: again, although these barges were “light upon the water like a fowl,” yet they were much of the time buried in the deep: and although they were driven continually toward the promised land by “furious winds” and “terrible tempests,” yet, it required 344 days to cross the ocean to this country.—You can judge for yourself with what speed they must have traveled. The book of Mormon, (at least, the religious part of it,) was evidently written by an individual who had a particular theory to support: for questions in theology that have long divided the religious world, are fully settled. For example, the mode of baptism is particularly described, infant baptism forbidden, &c. &c. But the length of my letter admonishes me that I must close.
Yours, G. C. STEWART.