Observer and Telegraph reporter mentions the Three Witnesses and reports on LDS missionary activity in Ohio.

Nov 18, 1830
Observer and Telegraph

A. S., "The Golden Bible, or, Campbellism Improved," Observer and Telegraph (Hudson, Ohio) (November 18, 1830)

Observer and Telegraph
Observer and Telegraph, Sidney Rigdon, Martin Harris, David Whitmer, Joseph Smith, Jr., Oliver Cowdery
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We should be slow to believe that any set of men would accept to play off upon the community, so barefaced a deception as that which our correspondent speaks; and equally slow to believe, that any could be found so credulous as to be duped and led astray by it,—did we not know, that men are the same depraved beings that ever they were; did we not know, that it is a crime which Heaven has laid to the charge of our fallen race, that they "seek out many inventions" -that "they go astray as soon as they be born speaking lies." While unruly passion sways the empire of the heart, and guilt draws its film over the moral vision, and a cloud of ignorance darkens the intellect, it would be strange if men should go straight forward in the narrow path. It would be strange if, in their bewilderment, they did not listen to the cry, "lo here, and lo there." So it has been in all ages of the world-and so it will continue to be, until the minds of men are enlightened, and their hearts warmed by the rays of the Sun of Righteousness. Since commencing this article, we have received information, which goes to corroborate the statements made in the communication of our correspondent, and also furnishes several additional particulars. The Elder referred to, is the famous Campbellite leader, who has made so much noise on the Reserve for a few months past. He has finally concluded to receive the new Revelation, and has actually been baptized, (now for the third time.) "The common stock family" mentioned in the communication, is a club of Campbellites, who have all things common. It is said that they hold their meetings till late at night, and afterwards retire to the river, and baptize by the score. They profess to have the power of working miracles. Having given out that they would perform a miraculous cure upon a person who was sick, an assembly collected to witness the experiment, when lo, there was a want of faith, and until this difficulty could be removed, the miracles must remain unwrought;—the old lady continues sick to this day. They are now on their way to the Western Indians, for whose benefit the new Revelation was especially designed. The Indians, as fast as they are converted are to become white men. This is one of the absurdities which have been broached, and we see in it the finger of an overruling Providence. The sagacious Indian, when he sees, that in spite of their incantations, he is an Indian still, will not suffer himself to be any further befooled.

THE GOLDEN BIBLE, or, Campbel/ism Improved.

Mr. Isham.-For several days past, four individuals, said to have formerly resided in the State of New-York, have appeared in the northern part of Geauga County, assuming the appellation of Disciples, Prophets, and Angels. Some among us, however, are led to believe that they are nothing more than men, and impostors. They are preaching and teaching a species of Religion we are not all prepared to embrace; for we are convinced it does not accord with our old-fashioned Bible.

These men have brought with them copies of a Book, known in this region by the name of the "Golden Bible," or, as it is learned on its title-page, "The Book of Mormon." They solemnly affirm, that its contents were given by Divine inspiration; was written by prophets of the Most High from a period of 600 years before, to that of some hundred years after our blessed Saviour's advent; was deposited by Divine command below the surface of the ground, in or near the township of Palmyra, Ontario Co. N. Y.; that an Angel appeared to a certain Joseph Smith residing in that place, who, they say, was a poor, ignorant, illiterate man, and made no pretensions to religion of any kind;-[ original text illegible] ... of this sacred deposit, and directed him forthwith to dig up and bring to light this precious record and prophecy. They affirm that the said Smith obeyed the heavenly messenger, when lo! a new Revelation-the Golden Bible was discovered!

According to the narrative given by one of these disciples-Oliver Cowdery-at their late exhibition in Kirtland, this pretended Revelation was written on golden plates, or something resembling golden plates, of the thickness of tin-7 inches in length, 6 inches in breadth, and a pile about 6 inches deep. None among the most learned in the United States could read, and interpret the hand-writing, (save one, and he could decipher but a few lines correctly,) excepting this ignoramus, Joseph Smith, Jr. To him, they say, was given the spirit of interpretation; but he was ignorant of the art of writing, he employed this Oliver Cowdery and others to write, while he read, interpreted, and translated this mighty Revelation.

It appears from the testimony of these men, that while this process was going on, some of their mischievous, meddlesome neighbors, having a miserly disposition, stole some of their plates of gold before they gave them sufficient time to translate them, and as they have not yet been recovered, they fear a part of this great Revelation will be lost to our race. There were other plates among them, they say, which contained secrets which are not yet to be revealed. These escaped from them by some mysterious dispensation of Providence, they know not how, or in what region they are secreted, but as they are to be forthcoming at the proper time, to some future generation, they appear to manifest no particular uneasiness with regard to them.

To convince the world that this record and prophecy is a Divine Revelation, three men, Oliver Cowdery, David Whitmer and Martin Harris, have subscribed their names to an article in this "Book of Mormon; solemnly declaring that they saw an Angel come down from heaven, who showed them those plates, and made known to them it was given by inspiration, and "they know of a surety it is true," &c. &c.

This new Revelation, they say is especially designed for the benefit, or rather for the christianizing of the Aborigines of America; who, as they affirm, are a part of the tribe of Manasseh, and whose ancestors landed on the coast of Chili 600 years before the coming of Christ, and from them descended all the Indians of America.

You are, perhaps, by this time ready to say, Surely this great hue and cry about a book of this character, in unworthy of public notice; none possessed of the holy Scriptures, will be found so weak as to be led to embrace this delusion. But sir, could you but see the multitude that follow those pretended Disciples, and know the number they have baptized each night, (many of whom 'tis said have now been immersed for the third time;) were you to be informed, that a certain Elder hesitated in deciding whether to reject or receive the new Revelation, and that the "social Union," or as it is more familiarly called in its vicinity, the "common stock family," have gone into the water again in token of embracing it; and consider that their great object in bending their way to the West is to convert the Indians to the new faith, among many of whose tribes Christian Missionaries are faithfully, and through the blessing of God, successfully laboring,-I say in view of this-in view of the worth of souls, liable to be deluded and lost, will you not as a Herald of the Cross of Christ, raise the note of alarm, in your widely circulating paper?

I take the liberty of sending you a Chapter in the new Bible. Though it be called a new Revelation, you will perceive, whoever the author may have been, that it is the same that is held forth by a certain denomination which has sprung up in our day. It is maintained that this is not a new Gospel, but that it explains the New Testament. Yours, &c. A. S.

[Excerpt from 2 Nephi]

BHR Staff Commentary

Transcription from Larry E. Morris, A Documentary History of the Book of Mormon (New York, NY: Oxford University Press, 2019), 384–386

Citations in Mormonr Qnas
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