THE IMAGE OF A PROPHET?
If there arise among you a prophet,
or a dreamer of dreams.
The character of Joseph Smith is said by some to be the main factor in determining his prophetic calling. Their argument runs that if his character was flawed God could not have chosen him as his instrument. Martin quotes an early critic of Joseph Smith.
The following statement was signed by some sixty-two residents of Palmyra, New York, where the Smiths lived for some time. It cannot be impeached by any honest historian - and it certainly has never been disproved by any Mormons as attested by history:
We, the undersigned, have been acquainted with the Smith family for a number of years, while they resided near this place. We have no hesitation in saying that we consider them destitute of that moral character which ought to entitle them to the confidence of any community. They were particularly famous for visionary projects; spent much of their time digging for money which they pretended was hid in the earth, and a large excavation may be seen in the earth not far from their residence where they used to spend their time in digging for hidden treasures. Joseph Smith, Sr., and his son, Joseph, were in particular considered entirely destitute of moral character and addicted to vicious habits.
Some questioned whether a man who displays human weaknesses can be God's prophet. There is no claim in scripture that prophets, men of God, and apostles, have to be perfect. The scriptures affirm the humanity of many such people who held divine commission while displaying human weaknesses. Moses' life was not without its difficult moments, such as his anger which in one celebrated incident resulted in his killing an Egyptian overseer. Some Old Testament prophets have prophecies which have not been fulfilled, yet it would be fatuous to suggest that because of these their ministries were worthless. Joseph Smith freely admitted that he occasionally exercised a tendency to frivolity, whilst detractors say he was evil personified. He was accused of immorality, dishonesty, avarice, occultism, devil-worship and assigned all kinds of social and religious peccadilloes from indolence to outright evil.
In spite of the charges made by Joseph's neighbours, Walter Ralston Martin is wrong when he says that the Palmyra testimony cannot be impeached and that it has never been disproved as we shall see. The earliest accusations against Joseph Smith's character were that he was a fraud and that the Book of Mormon was consummate evidence of that fraud. A newspaper editor who became harshly critical of Joseph Smith wrote:
Time will discover in he Book of Mormon] either something of vast importance to man, or a deep laid plan to deceive many.
If the Book of Mormon is a deception, then Joseph Smith had a hand in it. The question of whether he was a fraud is relevant and fair. For this reason he remains the target of anti-Mormon writers who present an image of Smith's character which, according to their rules, guarantees his disqualification. The characters of Peter, Paul, and Jesus are presented as examples of servants of God whose characters did not provoke their contemporaries to issue abuse and accusation against them. Such comparisons demonstrate gaps in knowledge for it is doubtful if any of the Lord's apostles died in peaceful old age. Most were convicted of some crime and were put to death. Jesus met his end as a common criminal following his conviction of a crime of which he was innocent. Innocence is no safeguard against malicious lies and Jesus and Joseph Smith suffered alike.
One early charge concerned Joseph Smith's involvement with "occult practices... witchcraftism, etc." Its purpose was to create revulsion against the Prophet in the minds of Christians because occultism and witchcraft are abhorrent to Christian. Lies only have to be heard be believed. In some cases it is not necessary even to have them believed. Lies which raise any doubt at all are effective weapons in the armoury of the forces of persecution, and accordingly charges continued to mount against Smith, some of which charges resulted in direct hostile action. At Colesville, Ohio, Smith was tarred and feathered and left for dead by a religious mob. He was also arrested on a charge of "...being a disorderly person and setting the country in an uproar by preaching the Book of Mormon."
On being acquitted of that charge he was re-arrested and taken to another court where he was also acquitted. The charges were initiated by a mob led by a leading Presbyterian. Smith escaped from the enraged mob after his second acquittal with the assistance of the constable who had arrested him, who had become convinced of his good character. So many ministers of religion were active in mob activity against Smith that he had a record kept of their assaults upon him and the Saints. It is sad that Christian ministers continue to be involved in anti-Mormon ministries.
Kirtland, Ohio, witnessed the birth of another form of negative force upon Mormonism; the ex-Mormon anti-Mormon ministry. Such ministries active at this present time have one fundamental difference from the Kirtland movement, which is that in Kirtland apostates sought to sieze control of the Church, whereas modern ex-Mormons seek its destruction. In spite of the difference of objective, their methods are similar.
Disaffected members John F. Boynton, Warren Parrish, Luke and Lyman E. Johnson declared the Book of Mormon to be "sheer nonsense". Parrish went to the extreme agreeing with those who said that
Christ was a despot, Paul a liar and all religion a fudge.
After these men had joined the enemies of the Church they formed a parallel organization, dropped "Saints" from the title, denounced Smith's supporters as heretics and brought lawsuits, threats and molestations against the Church. Nauvoo resident Hepzibah Richards wrote to her brother that, "A dreadful spirit reigns in the breasts of those who are opposed to this Church. They are above the law and beneath whatever is laudable. Their leading object seems to be to get all the property of the Church for little or nothing and to drive the Saints out of this place."
From that time until his death Smith had no respite from external or internal hostility. Apart from his claim to be God's latter-day prophet and the claims made for the Book of Mormon, two other factors were responsible for Smith's unpopularity and led ultimately to his murder.
The first of these was the doctrine that God had sanctioned plural marriage in modern times. This was alarming to the sensibilities of Latter-day Saints, many of whom came from Northern European Protestant backgrounds. Portrayals of polygamous Mormons as debauchees take no account of their revulsion when the doctrine was initially introduced. Their acceptance of the teaching reflects great faith in Smith as a prophet. There was a backlash within the Church that broke it into two hostile factions, troubling the Church profoundly. As plural marriage became widely known it brought increased hostility from outside.
The second factor was the destruction of the press of the "Nauvoo Expositor". Taken out of context the legal abatement of a declared public nuisance by Nauvoo City Council while irritating to some, would soon have been forgotten.
Its context was the mounting hostility against Mormons in general and Smith in particular. The first and only issue of the "Nauvoo Expositor" carried articles maligning Church leaders and their wives, causing widespread outrage To prevent further public disorder the City Council acted positively and decidedly in suppressing the press which the city council had declared a public nuisance.
Subsequent complaints against Joseph Smith, who was mayor of Nauvoo at the time, led to his arrest and imprisonment in Carthage Jail. The jail was stormed by an armed mob who succeeded in murdering him and his brother Hyrum. The killings were the logical consequences of religious intolerance, bigotry, and persecution.
The majority of those who sought Smith's life knew him only by the reputation imputed to him by his enemies, most of whom had never met him in person. Therefore, the reputation they knew was the construction of his enemies; a fabrication created because they did not accept his claims, and hated his Church.
One who claimed to have intimate knowledge of Joseph Smith and his family wrote:
Joseph Smith Jr., afterwards "Jo Smith," was lounging, idle...and possessed of less than ordinary intellect. The author's own recollections of him are distinct ones. He used to come into the village of Palmyra with little jags of wood, from his backwoods home; sometimes patronizing a village grocery store too freely; sometimes finding an odd job to do about the estate of Seymour Scovell; and once a week he would stroll into the office of the old Palmyra Register for his father's paper. How impious, in us young "dare Devils" to once and a while blacken the face of the then meddling inquisitive lounger - but afterwards Prophet, with the old fashioned [ink] balls, when he used to put himself in the way of the working of the old fashioned Ramage press!...
But Joseph had a little ambition; and some very laudable aspirations; the mother's intellect occasionally shone out in him feebly, especially when he used to help us sort out some portentious question of moral or political ethics, in our juvenile debating club, which we moved down to the old red schoolhouse on Durfee street, to get rid of the annoyance of critics that used to drop in on us in the village; and subsequently, after catching a spark of Methodism in the camp meeting, away down in the woods, on the Vienna road, he was a very passable exhorter in evening meetings.
This critical piece contains positive aspects of young Joseph's character which are usually ignored, but which contrast not only sharply but well with the many totally negative reports from observers who were less objective. He is shown as hard working, possessed of above average intelligence who had access to a newspaper in his home, and who made lively contributions to their debates. However the following examples show the normal style of contribution by those who sought to construct powerful negative images of Joseph Smith.
- The age of miracles has again arrived, and if the least reliance can be placed upon the assertions, daily made by the "Gold Bible" apostles (which is somewhat doubtful,) no prophet, since the destruction of Jerusalem by Titus, has performed half so many wonders as have been attributed to the spindle shanked ignoramus JO SMITH. This fellow appears to possess the quintessence of impudence.
- Jo Smith, as a military chieftain, or as a man of NATURAL abilities, can bear no comparison with the author of the Koran, and it is only in their ignorance and impudence that a parallel can be found.
- Jo Smith, Junior...is tall and slender-THIN FAVOURED-having but little expression of countenance other than that of dullness; his mental powers appear to be extremely limited, and from the small opportunity he had had in school, he made little or no proficiency.
- It is passing strange, that in all ages of the world, gross STUPIDITY in an imposter should be considered among the vulgar, irrefragible proof of his divine mission, and the most bungling piece of legerdemain will receive from them all the credit of a well attested miracle.
- 'But Smith is the wonder of the world.' So was the Apocalyptic beast! 'An ignorant young man.' That needs no proof. Gulliver's Travels is a heroic poem in comparison with this book of Smith. 'But he cannot write a page.' Neither could Mahomet, who gave for the Alcoran. 'Smith is an honest looking fellow.' so was Simon Magus, the sorcerer. 'But he was inspired.' So was Judas, by Satan.
- One Joseph Smith, a perfect ignoramus, is to be a great prophet of the Lord, the fabled ghost the angel of his presence, a few of the accomplices the apostles or witnesses of the imposition, and, to fill up the measure of their wickedness and the absurdity of their proceedings, the hidden golden treasure is to be a golden bible and a new revelation...unintelligible; to Smith, the finder, who could not read English.
- Smith...as ignorant and impudent a knave as ever wrote a book, betrays the cloven foot in basing his whole book upon a false fact, or a pretended fact, which makes God a liar.
- We have not only testimony impeaching the moral character of the Smith family, but we show by the witnesses, that they told contradictory stories, from time to time, in relation to their finding the plates, and other circumstances attending it, which go clearly to show that none of them had the fear of God before their eyes, but were moved and instigated by the Devil.
- Manchester, Nov. 3rd, 1833 - We, the undersigned, being personally acquainted with the family of Joseph Smith, Sen.. with whom the celebrated Gold Bible, so called, originated, state: that they were not only a lazy, indolent set of men, but also intemperate; and their word was not to be depended upon; and that we are glad to dispense with their society. -eleven names.
- Palmyra, Dec. 4, 1833. - We, the undersigned, have been acquainted with the Smith family for a number of years, while they resided near this place, and we have no hesitation in saying, that we consider them destitute of that moral character which ought to entitle them to the confidence of any community. They were particularly famous for visionary projects, spent much of their time digging in the earth; and to this day, large excavations may be seen in the earth, not far from their residence,, where they used to spend their time digging for hidden treasures. Joseph Smith, Senior, and his son Joseph, were in particular, considered entirely destitute of moral character, and addicted to vicious habits.- 51 names.
- Harmony, Pa. March 20th, 1834 - I first became acquainted with Joseph Smith, Jr. in November, 1825. He was at that time in the employ of a set of men who were called "money diggers;" and his occupation was that of seeing, or pretending to see by means of a stone placed in his hat, and his hat closed over his face. In this way he pretended to discover minerals and hidden treasure. His appearance at this time, was that of a careless young man-not very well educated, and very saucy and insolent to his father. Smith, and his father, with several other money-diggers boarded at my house, while they were employed in digging for a mine that they supposed had been opened and worked by the Spaniards, many years since.
There can be little doubt that such impressive disapproving testimonies were responsible for the image and reputation of Smith that portrayed him as a dissolute wretch. It is to this image that bogud Doctor and pretended Reverend, Martin looks to convince his readers of the character of Joseph Smith, adding
Much more could be said, all of it drawn from primary sources concerning the character and early light of Joseph Smith, up to and including the time when he supposedly was commissioned by the Lord to "restore" the true Gospel of Christ to Christendom. However I have covered this aspect of the subject thoroughly in my book The Maze Of Mormonism, where supplementary material carefully documented is available if the interested reader wishes to pursue the subject further.
In the light of such imagery it is not surprising that while the faithful who knew Joseph's heart and mind first hand could see the lies for what they were, there were those whose faith and loyalty were inadequate in the face of these onslaughts against the Prophet's character. Some Saints, including members of the Quorum of Twelve Apostles of turned against Joseph, some plotting to kill him. In time his enemies without and within the Church created a climate of fear the countryside around Nauvoo.
The destruction of the Nauvoo Expositor has been described as "the spark" which led to the murder of Joseph and Hyrum. Taken in isolation, the furore over the Expositor would eventually have died down. It might have led to an action to contest the legality of the Nauvoo Council's ruling and the execution of its order. But the fires of hate were fanned high, and subsequent events moved far too quickly for the matter to be left to legal contest.
The Church's Christian enemies insisted that the death of Smith would result in the demise of the Mormon Church. But it did not, although some slight fragmentation of the movement followed the martyrdom. But the majority of Saints remained steadfast in their faith and loyal to the leadership of the Council of Twelve Apostles, under Brigham Young. In 1847 the Saints left Nauvoo en masse. Young and his Council were convinced by continuing hostilities that peace was to be found only in isolation. The trek westward was meant to secure that peace.
Like many a dead heretic whose bones were dug up, burnt and scattered, Joseph Smith's enemies pursued him beyond the grave. Although he has never dropped out of sight as a primary target Smith has provoked fresh offensive against his character in recent times; a response to the spectacular growth of the Church.
The standard critical approach is to focus upon three points.
- His alleged failure as a prophet,
- His alleged criminality, and
- His alleged bad character.
The first of these is not discussed here because the question of whether Joseph Smith was a prophet is largely subjective. Early treatment of Smith was marked by its sarcasm which proved inadequate to the advances Smith and his religion were making. Something incisive and conclusive was needed.
That "something" was provided by former Church member Philastus Hurlburt, who had made an attempt to murder Joseph Smith. He dug around for information of Smith's early life. The materials he gathered are a cardinal part of anti-Mormon publications, proving as durable as the Church itself. Hurlburt allegedly obtained sworn statements from old neighbours of the Smith family which described them in most unflattering terms. These testimonies were published twenty years after Joseph had lived among them and first appeared in Howe's Mormonism Unvailed, which is, as we learned earlier, Hurlburt's work.
The alleged declaration has been reproduced in almost every anti-Mormon work since 1834, enjoying the status of a foundation document of Mormon persecution, and has gone a long way in preparing the ground later claims that Smith had a criminal past.
It is said that if it could be proved that Joseph Smith had a criminal record, it would disqualify him from the ranks of the prophets. Accordingly much of energy has been expended in the search for evidence that he was convicted of a public-order offence in 1826.
It is admitted that evidence exists which suggests he made a court appearance in that year, but its nature is such that it must be regarded as inconclusive, both as to the nature of charge and the outcome of the hearing. The debate continues in the absence of any formal court record. But anti-Mormons deal with his "conviction" and his alleged criminality as if it was an established fact.
Smith had some rather colourful problems, a fact Smith never denied. .
A convicted swindler...his life consisted of a series of swindles perpetrated on his friends and enemies alike.
Linnegan apparently accepts the description of Smith's as a criminal and describes him as
an imposter who had been in trouble with the police.
This statement contains more than an echo of Burrell and Wright's reiteration of Brodie's
he was found guilty of being a 'disorderly person and an imposter.'
Linnegan informs his readers that the evidence of Smith's conviction is available but does not produce it. Fawn M. Brodie has widened the discussion of Smith's character in No Man Knows My History, another document that has acquired the status of a standard work and few are able to resist quoting from it. Brodie, while maintaining that a court record of Joseph's criminal conviction exists. leaves a question-mark hanging over it.
In March 1826...Peter Bridgeman, swore out a warrant for [Smith's] arrest...the court pronounced him guilty, though what sentence was finally passed the record does not say.
If the alleged court record exists recording Joseph's conviction it would state the penalty, but the record to which Brodie refers does not do so.
Referring to another alleged charge in a book wildly thrown together Forrest Brinkerhoff, a Christadelphian Anti-Mormon, claims that Smith was
"found guilty of forging banknotes."
Typically no source is given for this charge, and no reference to it has been found elsewhere. He accuses Smith of a further conviction on a charge of being a "swindler", another charge not found elsewhere.
Only the little peeper, bunco artist, convicted swindler, and adulterer Joseph Smith was able to talk to God face-to-face??? Incredible.
Howe represents Smith as a criminal and denigrates all other aspects of his character.
...having been acquainted with the Smith family for years...we have no hesitation in saying that we consider them destitute of that moral character which ought to entitle them to the confidence of any community. Joseph Smith Sr., and his son, Joseph, were in particular considered entirely destitute of moral character and addicted to vicious habits.
This is from the Hurlburt affidavit previously referred to and has become the spring at which other writers have freely drunk; few resisting the temptation to repeat it. It is difficult, but not impossible, to rebut in spite of its problems because personal reminiscences can have a potent effect in image making.
Thirty years after Howe's book, Pomeroy Tucker's Origin Rise and Progress of Mormonism, asserts that Smith was
...distinctly remembered as a dull-eyed, flaxen-haired, prevaricating boy...his word was received with the least confidence by those who knew him best. He could utter the most palpable exaggeration with the utmost gravity.
Rumble of the Catholic Truth Society in a heavily-flawed pamphlet presses Smith's character even further:
[Joseph Smith was] subject to epileptic fits which he later called trances, and during which he claimed that heavenly visions came to him...future witnesses who had personally known Joseph Smith from ten years of age onwards [said] that he was simply a notorious liar, and had the necessary psychopathic qualities for a visionary.
Linnegan claims that,
Smith had not the character of a deeply spiritual man
Brinkerhoff says he was "charismatic but unschooled".
he was passing through adolescence, that period when...a person is thrown back upon introspection and fancy for much of the time.
Whilst McCormack defines Smith's character as possessing
"an extraordinary fertile imagination."
Estimates of Smith's character have produced theories arguing that he was either:
- or a combination of two or more.
In spite of their inability to agree what Smith's character was they convey an image of a man whom God would not call to be His oracle. The Joseph Smith presented by anti-Mormons does not exist except as the creation of the constructors of the imagery of hatred.
One author whose methodology is remarkable for its imaginative invention is Forrest Brinkerhoff, whose book MORMONISM - An Historical and Scriptural Analysis sounds as if it would offer a reasoned, scholarly approach to its subject, but which is no more than a concoction of others writers' material that is seldom acknowledged, frequently unsourced, and never analysed. His appeals to history and scripture are inadequate, serving only to reveal his deep-rooted presuppositions without displaying respect for his subject.
Attempts to damn Joseph Smith have turned attention to his family who are described as "worthless" to infer that Joseph must also have been "worthless". Brinkerhoff quotes Walter Martin's “Maze of Mormonism” to promote this point of view.
...Judge Woodward went on record in 1870, with a statement to the effect that the elder Smith definitely was a treasure hunter and that "he also became involved with one Jack Downing in counterfeiting money, but turned state's evidence and excaped [sic] penalty".
He also says that Joseph Smith
" ... did not have the advantage of much schooling, and he had rather strange parents, who had more ambition and dreams than they had integrity".
But Brinkerhoff meets himself coming back when, quoting from Joseph Smith, The First Mormon, he offers,
[Lucy Mack Smith] set for her children a vivid example of fortitude, integrity, belief in a God who had a personal interest in His children and who would respond to prayer.
Brinkerhoff has failed to see the contradiction in the passages he has pasted together. He does not explain how a mother who "set for her children a vivid example of fortitude, integrity, [and] belief in a God...", could also have been responsible for his being "less than candid with his associates...not above shading the truth...[a] charlatan [who] devoted his life to error...who went for the easy solutions".
Further evidence of Brinkerhoff's inconsistency is his treatment of the alleged 1826 trial. He quotes from Brodie,
At length the public becoming wearied with the base imposition which he was palming off upon the credulity of the ignorant, for the purpose of sponging his living from their earnings, had him arrested as a disorderly person, tried and condemned before a court of justice. but considering his youth, he then being a minor, and thinking he might reform his conduct, he was designedly allowed to escape.
He thenm goes on to say that,
Smith admitted [his conviction] later when he said, "I was visited by a constable and arrested by him on a warrant, on the charge of being a disorderly person, of setting the country in an uproar by preaching the Book of Mormon, etc.
In coupling these passages together Brinkerhoff displays poor judgement. The Book of Mormon had not been published in 1826, which shows that the two reports are not connected. The reference, one of the few that Brinkerhoff provides, shows the date of the trial to be 1830, which was four years after the trial to which Brodie refers, and contains the evidence that Smith was acquitted on all charges, as well as providing primary contemporary testimony to his blameless conduct and good character.
11th June, 1830. Before the baptizing was entirely finished, the mob began to collect, and shortly after we had retired they amounted to about fifty men. They surrounded the house of Mr. Knight - whither we had retired - raging with anger, and apparently determined to commit violence upon us. Some asked us questions, others threatened us, so that we thought it wisdom to leave and go to the house of Newel Knight. There also they followed us, and it was only by the exercise of great prudence on our part, and reliance in our heavenly Father, that they were kept from laying violent hands upon us; and so long as they chose to stay, we were obliged to answer them various unprofitable questions, and bear with insults and threatenings without number.
We had appointed a meeting for this evening, for the purpose of attending to the confirmation of those who had been the same morning baptized. The time appointed had arrived and our friends had nearly all collected together, when to my surprise, I was visited by a constable, and arrested by him on a warrant, on the charge of being a disorderly person, of setting the country in an uproar by preaching the Book of Mormon, etc. The constable informed me, soon after I had been arrested, that the plan of those who had got out the warrant was to get me into the hands of the mob, who were now lying in ambush for me; but that he was determined to save me from them, as he had found me to be a different sort of person from what I had been represented to him. I soon found that he had told me the truth in this matter, for not far from Mr. Knight's house, the wagon in which we had set out was surrounded by a mob, who seemed only to await some signal from the constable; but to their great disappointment, he gave the horse the whip, and drove me out of their reach.
Whilst driving in great haste one of the wagon wheels came off, which left us once more nearly surrounded by them, as they had come on in close pursuit. However, we managed to replace the wheel and again left them behind us. He drove on to the town of South Bainbridge, Chenango county....
On the day following a court was convened for the purpose of investigating those charges which had been preferred against me. A great excitement prevailed on account of the scandalous falsehoods which had been circulated....
At length the trial commenced amidst a multitude of spectators, who in general evinced a belief that I was guilty of all that had been reported concerning me, and of course were very zealous that I should be punished according to my crimes. Among many witnesses called up against me, was Mr. Josiah Stoal - of whom I have made mention as having worked for him some time - and examined to the following effect:
Did not the prisoner, Joseph Smith, have a horse of you?
Did he not go to you and tell you that an angel had appeared to him and authorized him to get the horse from you?
No, he told me no such story.
Well, how had he the horse of you?
He bought him of me as any other man would.
Have you had your pay?
That is not your business.
The question being again put the witness replied:
I hold his note for the price of the horse, which I consider as good as the pay; for I am well acquainted with Joseph Smith Jun., and know him to be an honest man; and if he wishes, I am ready to let him have another horse on the same terms.
Mr. Jonathan Thompson was next called up and examined:
Has not the prisoner, Joseph Smith Jun., had a yoke of oxen of you?
Did he not obtain them of you by telling that he had a revelation to the effect that he was to have them?
No, he did not mention a word of the kind concerning the oxen; he purchased them the same as any other man would.
After a few such attempts, the court was detained for a time, in order that two young women, daughters of Mr. Stoal, with whom I had at times kept company, might be sent for, in order, if possible, to elicit something from them which might be made a pretext against me. The young ladies arrived, and were severally examined touching my character and conduct in general, but particularly as to my behaviour towards them, both in public and private; when they bore such testimony in my favor as left my enemies without a pretext on their account. Several other attempts were made to prove something against me, and even circumstances which were alleged to have taken place in Broome county, were brought forward, but these my lawyers would not admit of as testimony against me; in consequence of which my persecutors managed to detain the court until they had succeeded in obtaining a warrant from Broome county, which warrant they served upon me at the very moment that I was acquitted by this court....
Next day I was brought before the magistrate's court at Colesville, Broome county, and put upon my trial...my former persecutors were arrayed against me. Many witnesses were again called forward and examined, some of whom swore to the most palpable falsehoods, and like the false witnesses which appeared against me the day previous, they contradicted themselves so plainly that the court would not admit their testimony. Others were called, who showed by their zeal that they were willing enough to prove something against me, but all they could do was to tell something which somebody else had told them.
In this frivolous and vexatious manner did they proceed for a considerable time, when, finally, Mr. Newell Knight was called up and examined by Lawyer Seymour, who had been especially sent for on this occasion. One Lawyer Burch, also, was at his side on the prosecution; but Mr. Seymour appeared to be a more zealous Presbyterian, and appeared very anxious and determined that the people should not be deluded by any one professing the power of godliness, and not "denying the power thereof."
Mr. Knight was sworn, and Mr. Seymour interrogated him as follows:
Did the prisoner, Joseph Smith, Jun., cast the devil out of you?
Why, have you not had the devil cast out of you?
And had not Jo Smith some hand in its being done?
And did not he cast him out of you?
No, sir; it was done by the power of God, and Joseph Smith was the instrument in the hands of God, on the occasion. He commanded him to come out of me in the name of Jesus Christ.
And are you sure it was the devil?
Did you see him after he was cast out of you?
Yes, sir! I saw him.
Pray, what did he look like?
Do you, Mr. Seymour, understand the things of the spirit?
No, I do not pretend to such big things.
Well then, it would be no use to tell you what the devil looked like, for it was a spiritual sight, and spiritually discerned; and of course you would not understand it if I were to tell you of it.
Mr. Seymour now addressed the court, and in a long and violent harangue endeavoured to blacken my character and bring me in guilty of the charges which had been brought against me. Among other things, he brought up the story of my having been a money-digger; and in this manner proceeded, hoping evidently to influence the court and the people against me.
Mr. Davidson and Mr. Reid followed on my behalf. They held forth in true colours the nature of the prosecution, the malignancy of intention, and the apparent disposition to persecute their client, rather than to afford him justice. They took up different arguments which had been brought by the lawyers for the prosecution, and having shown their utter futility and misapplication, then proceeded to scrutinize the evidence which had been adduced, and each, in turn, thanked God that he had been engaged in so good a cause as that of defending a man whose character stood so well the test of such a strict investigation.
Perhaps Brinkerhoff's attitude to Mormonism is understandable for like other hostile critics his religious faith is exercised in another denomination. This appears to make him unable to value any other religious system. And this inability to find value in the belief system of another is at the root of religious persecution. But this does not excuse historical inaccuracy in the course of persecution. The introduction to his book states:
The original research for this book was done as fieldwork for a Master of Anthropology degree from the University of Adelaide, South Australia. It was a study of the methods by which the Mormon Church creates a new 'reality' for their young missionaries. The task was to investigate how a group of young men and women could be sent into 'the field' to preach for and defend an organization that was really undefendable in a traditional Christian context.
His method of studying Mormonism through the eyes of its enemies is even more surprising in the light of his statement that
The study had the full support and cooperation of the Church hierarchy. The First Quorum of Seventies (the mission board) and the Apostle of the Church Mr. Gordon Hinckley, gave this task their full encouragement...The only important condition placed upon the study was that we tell the truth about what we might learn, because they know from bitter experience that they don't always get fair treatment from their 'reviewers'. The Mission President told me that there were over 1,600 violently anti-Mormon books on collection in Salt Lake City.
In spite of his pretensions and opportunities Brinkerhoff has settled for the production of just another anti-Mormon book. His work serves only to sustain the machinery of hatred which is essential to the continuing persecution of Mormons and Mormonism by attacking the character of Joseph Smith. If a complete catalogue was made of all the charges against Joseph Smith it would be impressive. But as we shall see, there is another side of the story.