Friday, November 20, 2015

Sharing the Civil War Revelation

Which non-member did Joseph Smith share his prophecy of the Civil War with a few days after he received the revelation on December 25, 1832?
A)                 Colonel Thomas Kane
B)                 John Wentworth
C)                 N. C. Saxton
D)                 Alexander Doniphan

Yesterday’s answer:
(D) Martin would arouse the most terrible divine displeasure
John Clark, a minister in the Palmyra area, wrote the following:
It was early in the autumn of 1827 that Martin Harris called at my house in Palmyra, one morning about sunrise. His whole appearance indicted more than usual excitement, and he had scarcely passed the threshold of my dwelling, before he inquired whether he could see me alone, remarking that he had a matter to communicate that he wished to be strictly confidential. Previous to this, I had but very slight acquaintance with Mr. Harris. He had occasionally attended divine service in our church. I had heard him spoken of as a farmer in comfortable circumstances, residing in the country a short distance from the village, and distinguished by certain peculiarities of character. He had been, if I mistake not, at one period, a member of the Methodist Church, and subsequently had identified himself with the Universalists. At this time, however, in his religious views he seemed to be floating upon the sea of uncertainty. He had evidently quite an extensive knowledge of the scriptures, and possessed a manifest disputatious turn of mind. As I subsequently learned, Mr. Harris had always been a firm believer in dreams, and visions, and supernatural appearances, such as apparitions and ghosts, and therefore was a fit subject for such men as Smith and his colleagues to operate upon.
On the occasion just referred to, I invited him to accompany me to my study, where, after having closed the door, he began to draw a package out of his pocket with great and manifest caution. Suddenly, however, he stopped, and wished to know if there was any possibility of our being interrupted or overheard? When answered in the negative, he proceeded to remark, that he reposed great confidence in me as a minister of Jesus Christ, and that what he had now to communicate he wished me to regard as strictly confidential. He said he verily believed that an important epoch had arrived — that a great flood of light was about to burst upon the world, and that the scene of divine manifestation was to be immediately around us.
In explanation of what he meant, he then proceeded to remark that a Golden Bible had recently been dug from the earth, where it had been deposited for thousands of years, and that this would be found to contain such disclosures as would settle all religious controversies and speedily bring on the glorious millennium. That this mysterious book, which no human eye of the present generation has yet seen, was in the possession of Joseph Smith, Jr., ordinarily known in the neighborhood under the more familiar designation of Jo Smith; that there had been a revelation made to him by which he had discovered this sacred deposit, and two transparent stones, through which, as a sort of spectacles, he could read the Bible, although the box or ark that contained it, had not yet book [been?] opened; and that by looking through those mysterious stones he had transcribed from one of the leaves of this book, the characters which Harris had so carefully wrapped in the package which he was drawing from his pocket.
The whole thing appeared to me so ludicrous and puerile, that I could not refrain from telling Mr. Harris, that I believed it a mere hoax got up to practice upon his credulity, or an artifice to extort from him money; for I had already, in the course of the conversation, learned that he had advanced some twenty-five dollars to Jo Smith as a sort of premium for sharing with him in the glories and profits of this new revelation. For at this time, his mind seemed to be quite as intent upon the pecuniary advantage that would arise from the possession of the plates of solid gold of which this book was composed, as upon the spiritual light it would diffuse over the world. My intimations to him, in reference to the possible imposition that was being practiced upon him, however, were indignantly repelled. He then went on to relate the particulars in regard to the discovery and possession of this marvelous book. As far as I can now recollect, the following was an outline of the narrative which he then communicated to me, and subsequently to scores of people in the village, from some of whom in my late visit to Palmyra, I have been able to recall several particulars that had quite glided from my memory.
Before I proceed to Martin’s narrative, however, I would remark in passing, that Jo Smith, who has since been the chief prophet of the Mormons, and was one of the most prominent ostensible actors in the first scenes of this drama, belonged to a very shiftless family near Palmyra. They lived a sort of vagrant life, and were principally known as money-diggers. Jo from a boy appeared dull and utterly destitute of genius; but his father claimed for him a sort of second sight, a power to look into the depths of the earth, and discover where its precious treasures were hid. Consequently long before the idea of a Golden Bible entered their minds, in their excursions for money-digging, which I believe usually occurred in the night, that they might conceal from others the knowledge of the place, where they struck their treasures, Jo used to be usually their guide, putting into a hat a peculiar stone he had through which he looked to decide where they should begin to dig.
According to Martin Harris, it was after one of these night excursions, that Jo, while he lay upon his bed, had a remarkable dream. An angel of God seemed to approach him, clad in celestial splendor. This divine messenger assured him that he, Joseph Smith, was chosen of the Lord to be a prophet of the Most High God, and to bring to light hidden things, that would prove of unspeakable benefit to the world. He then disclosed to him the existence of this Golden Bible, and the place where it was deposited — but at the same time told him that he must follow implicitly the divine direction, or he would draw down upon him the wrath of heaven. This book, which was contained in a chest, or ark, and which consisted of metallic plates covered with characters embossed in gold, he must not presume to look into, under three years . . .
After his marriage and return from Pennsylvania, he became so awfully impressed with the high destiny that awaited him, that he communicated the secret to his father and family. The money-digging propensity of the old man operated so powerfully, that he insisted upon it that they should go and dig and see if the chest was there — not with any view to remove it till the appointed time, but merely to satisfy themselves. Accordingly they went forth in the stillness of the night with their spades and mattocks to the spot where slumbered this sacred deposit. They had proceeded but a little while in the work of excavation, before the mysterious chest appeared; but lo! Instantly it moved and glided along out of their sight. Directed, however, by the clairvoyance of Jo, they again penetrated to the spot where it stood, and succeeded in gaining a partial view of its dimensions. But while they were pressing forward to gaze at it, the thunder of the Almighty shook the spot, and made the earth to tremble — a sheet of vivid lightning swept along over the side of the hill, and burnt terribly around the place where the excavation was going on, and again with a rumbling noise, the chest moved off out of their sight. They were all terrified and fled towards their home. Jo took his course silently along by himself.
On his way homeward, being alone and in the woods, the angel of the Lord met him, clad in terror and wrath. He spoke in a voice of thunder: forked lightening shot through the trees, and ran along upon the ground. The terror which the appearance of the divine messenger awakened, instantly struck Smith to the earth, and he felt his whole frame convulsed with agony, as though he were stamped upon by the iron hoofs of death himself. In language most terrific did the angel upbraid him for his disobedience, and then disappeared. Smith went home trembling and full of terror. Soon, however, his mind became more composed. Another divine communication was made to him, authorizing him to go along by himself and bring the chest and deposit it secretly under the hearth of his dwelling, but by no means to attempt to look into it. The reason assigned by the angel for this removal, was that some report in relation to the place where this sacred book was deposited had gone forth, and there was danger of its being disturbed. According to Harris, Smith now scrupulously followed the divine directions. He was already in possession of the two transparent stones laid up with the Golden Bible, by looking through which he was enabled to read the golden letters on the plates in the box. How he obtained these spectacles without opening the chest, Harris could not tell. But still he had them; and by means of them he could read all the book contained. The book itself was not to be disclosed until Smith’s child had reached a certain age. Then it might be published to the world. In the interim, Smith was to prepare the way for the conversion of the world to a new system of faith, by transcribing the characters from the plates and giving translations of the same.
This was the substance of Martin Harris’ communication to me upon our first interview. He then carefully unfolded a slip of paper, which contained three or four lines of characters, as unlike letters of hieroglyphics of any sort, as well could be produced were one to shut up his eyes and play off the most antic movements with his pen upon paper. The only thing that bore the slightest resemblance to the letter of any language that I had ever seen, was two uprights marked joined by a horizontal line, that might have been taken for the Hebrew character. My ignorance of the characters in which the pretended ancient record was written, was to Martin Harris new proof that Smith’s whole account of the divine revelation made to him was entirely to be relied on. . . .
[Journey to New York] He [Martin Harris] was so much in earnest on this subject, that he immediately started off with some of the manuscripts that Smith furnished him on a journey to New York and Washington to consult some learned men to ascertain the nature of the language in which this record was engraven. After his return he came to see me again, and told me that, among others, he had consulted Professor Anthon, who thought the characters in which the book was written very remarkable, but he could not decide exactly what language they belonged to. Martin had now become a perfect believer. He said he had no more doubt of Smith’s commission, than of the divine commission of the apostles. The very fact that Smith was an obscure and illiterate man, showed that he must be acting under divine impulses: - “God had chosen the foolish things of the world to confound the wise, and the weak things to confound the mighty; and base things of the world, and things which are despised — yea, and things that are not to bring to naught — things that are — that no flesh should glory in his presence:” that he was willing to “take of the spoiling of his goods” to sustain Smith in carrying on this work of the Lord; and that he was determined that the book should be published, though it consumed all his worldly substance.
It was in vain I endeavored to expostulate. I was an unbeliever, and could not see afar off. As for him he must follow the light which the Lord had given him . . . The way that Smith made his transcripts and translations for Harris was the following. Although in the same room, a thick curtain or blanket was suspended between them, and Smith concealed behind the blanket, pretended to look through his spectacles, or transparent stones, and would then write down or repeat what he saw, which, when repeated aloud, was written down by Harris, who sat on the other side of the suspended blanket. Harris was told that it would arouse the most terrible divine displeasure, if he should attempt to draw near the sacred chest, or look at Smith while engaged in the work of deciphering the mysterious characters. This was Harris’ own account of the matter to me. What other measures they afterwards took to transcribe or translate from these metallic plates, I cannot say, as I very soon after this removed to another field or labor where I heard no more of this matter till I learned the Book of Mormon was about to be published . . . This book, which professed to be a translation of the Golden Bible brought to light by Joseph Smith, was published in 1830—to accomplish which Martin Harris actually mortgaged his farm.
John A. Clark, Gleanings by the Way (1842), pp. 222-31; http//www.boap.org/

Additional interesting information:
"Golden Bible." -- The Palmyra. Freeman Says, the greatest piece of superstition that has ever come within our knowledge, now occupies the attention of a few individuals of this quarter. It is generally known and spoke of as the "Golden Bible." Its proselytes give the following account of it: In the fall of 1827, a person by the name of Joseph Smith of Manchester, Ontario County, reported that he had been visited in a dream by the spirit of the Mighty, and informed that in a certain hill in that town, was deposited this Golden Bible, containing an ancient record of a divine nature and origin. After having been thence thus visited, as he states he proceeded to the spot and after having proceeded to the spot and after having penetrated "mother earth a short distance, the Bible was found together with a huge pair of spectacles! He had directed, however, not to let any mortal being examine them, under no less penalty than instant death! They were therefore nicely wrapped up and excluded from the vulgar gaze of poor wicked mortals!" It was said that the leaves of the Bible were plates of gold about eight inches long, six wide and one eighth of an inch thick, on which were engraved characters or hieroglyphics by placing the spectacles in a hat, and looking into, Smith could (he said so at least) interpret the characters.
An account of this discovery was soon circulated. The subject was almost invariably treated as it should have been with contempt. A few however believed the "Golden" story, among whom was Martin Harris, an honest and industrious farmer of the town of Palmyra. So blindly enthusiastic was Harris, that he took some of the characters interpreted by Smith, and went in search of some one; besides the interpreter, who was learned enough to English them; but to all whom he applied (among the number was Professor Mitchell, of New York,) happened not to be possessed of sufficient knowledge to give satisfaction! Harris returned, and set Smith to work at interpreting the Bible. He has at length performed the task, and the work is soon to be put to press in Palmyra. Its language and doctrines are said to be far superior to the book of life!
"Golden Bible," Painesville Telegraph, 1831, p. 3.

I then asked Mr. Harris if he ever lost 3,000 dollars by the publishing of the Book of Mormon. Mr. Harris said, “I never lost one cent. Mr. Smith,” he said, “paid me all that I advanced, and more too.” As much as to say he received a portion of the profits accruing from the sale of the book.

D. B. Dille, “Additional Testimony of Martin Harris,” Millennial Star 21 (August 1859):545-46.

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