Tuesday, November 16, 2010

Ezra Booth Letters - Letter 2

Ezra Booth is a former Methodist preacher who was fooled into believing mormonism. He considered it his duty to exspose this delusion. Booth's nine letters produced a sensation when there were published in the fall of 1831 and were later included in E. B. Howe's Mormonism Unvailed (1834), from which these texts are taken.

(Letter #2)


Were there none but myself interested in the exposition of Mormonism, I can assure you my time would be otherwise employed than in writing upon a subject which has heretofore been to me one of deep interest, and at times has occasioned a painful anxiety of mind. I could wish, if possible, to bury it in oblivion; and to remember it no more forever. But as this is a thing which cannot be accomplished in a moment, for the sake of others, who may be exposed to the delusion, from which, through the mercy of God, I have been recovered, and others who are at present involved in it: and also in compliance with your request, I will, as far as I have ability, unfold a system of darkness, fraught with glaring absurdity, and deceptive as falsehood itself.

This system, to some, carries the face of plausibility, and appears under an imposing form. It claims the Bible for its patron and proffers the restoration of the apostolic church, with all the gifts and graces with which the primitive saints [180] were endowed. It is called the fullness of the gospel of both Jew and Gentile: and is the test by which every man's faith is to be tried. Judgments are denounced against the sinners of this generation; or in other words, all who reject the Book of Mormon, are threatened with eternal damnation. Great promises are made to such as embrace it, signs and wonders are to attend them, such as healing the sick, the blind made to see, the lame to walk, &c.; and they are to receive an everlasting inheritance in "the land of Missouri," where the Savior will make his second appearance; at which place the foundation of the temple of God, and the City of Zion, have been laid, and are soon to be built.

It is also to be a city of Refuge, and a safe asylum when the storms of vengeance shall pour upon the earth, and those who reject the Book of Mormon, shall be swept off as with the besom of destruction. Then shall the riches of the Gentile be consecrated to the Mormonites; they shall have lands and cattle in abundance, and shall possess the gold and silver, and all the treasures of their enemies. The Mormonite preachers go forth proclaiming repentance and baptism for the remission of sins, and the laying on of hands for the reception of the Holy Ghost. The form of baptism is similar to other orders; only it is prefaced with—"having authority given me of Jesus Christ;" also, the laying on of hands—"In the name of Jesus Christ, receive ye the Holy Ghost." Many of them have been ordained to the High Priesthood, or the order of Melchisedec; and profess to be endowed with the same power as the ancient apostles were. But they have been hitherto unsuccessful in finding the lame, the halt, and the blind, who had faith sufficient to become the subjects of their miracles: and it is now concluded that this work must be postponed until they get to Missouri; for the Lord will not show those signs [181] to this wicked and adulterous generation. In the commandment given to the churches in the State of New York, to remove to the State of Ohio, they were assured that these miracles should be wrought in the State of Ohio; but now they must be deferred until they are settled in Missouri.

As the Mormonite church depends principally upon the commandments, and as most of them are concealed from the world, it will be necessary to make some statement respecting them. These commandments come from Smith, at such times and on such occasions as he feels disposed to speak, and Rigdon or Cowdery to write them.
Their exact number I have never taken pains to ascertain. I have the "27th commandment to Emma my daughter in Zion;" and should presume there are betwixt fifty and a hundred.— They received the addition of five or six while in Missouri; and these are considered a miracle in themselves, sufficient to convince any rational mind. But none but the strong in faith are permitted to witness their origin. I had an opportunity of seeing this wonderful exhibition of the wisdom and power of God, at three different times; and I must say, that it bore striking marks of human weakness and wickedness. They are received in the church as divinely inspired, and the name of the Lord is substituted for that of Smith.

They are called "The Commandments of the Lord." They are considered "The mysteries of the Kingdom;" and to divulge them to the world, is the same as casting pearls before swine. When they and the Scriptures are at variance, the Scriptures are wrongly translated; and Smith, though totally ignorant of the original, being a translator or an alterator, can easily harmonize them. Every thing in the church is done by commandment: and yet it is said to be done by the voice of the church. For instance, Smith gets a commandment that he shall be the "head of the church," or that he "shall rule the Conference," or that the Church [182] shall build him an elegant house, and give him 1000 dollars. For this the members of the church must vote, or they will be cast off for rebelling against the commandments of the Lord.

 In addition to the Book of Mormon, and the commandments, there are revelations which are not written.—In this department, though Smith is the principal, yet there are others who profess to receive revelations; but after all, Smith is to decide whether they come from the Lord or the devil. Some have been so unfortunate as to have their revelations palmed off upon the latter.

These revelations entirely supercede the Bible, and in fact, the Bible is declared too defective to be trusted, in its present form; and it is designed that it shall undergo a thorough alteration, or as they say, translation. This work is now in operation. The Gospel of St. Matthew has already received the purifying touch, and is prepared for the use of the church. It was intended to have kept this work a profound secret, and strict commandments were given for that purpose; and even the salvation of the church was said to depend upon it. The secret is divulged, but the penalty is not as yet inflicted.—Their revelations are said to be an addition to the Bible.—But instead of being an addition, they destroy its use; for everything which need be known, whether present, past or future, they can learn from Smith, for he has declared to the church, that he "knows all things that will take place from this time to the end of the world." If then, placing the Bible under circumstances which render it entirely useless, is infidelity, Mormonism is infidelity. Joseph Smith, Jun., Sidney Rigdon, Oliver Cowdery, and Martin Harris, may be considered as the principals in this work; and let Martin Harris tell the story, and he is the most conspicuous of the four.— He informed me, that he went to the place where Joseph resided, and Joseph had given it up, on account of the opposition of his wife and [183] others: but he told Joseph. "I have not come down here for nothing, and we will go on with it." Martin Harris is what may be called a great talker, and an extravagant boaster; so much so, that he renders himself disagreeable to many of his society. The money he has expended, and the great things he has done, form a considerable topic of his conversation; he understands all prophecies, and knows every thing by the spirit, and he can silence almost any opposer by talking faster, and louder than he can: or by telling him, "I know every thing and you know nothing: I am a wise man and you are a fool;" and in this respect, he stands a fair sample of many others in the church. Yours affectionately,E. BOOTH

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