Friday, April 14, 2017

Moroni and America

Oliver Cowdery spent some time in his letters discussing Moroni and his mission. I've previously explained the reasons why I titled my book on geography Moroni's America. Here's another reminder of what Orson Hyde said about Moroni on July 4, 1854. This is in the Journal of Discourses, here.

After discussing the American Revolution, Elder Hyde related Moroni's involvement with the country. Notice the part I emphasized in bold below.

In those early and perilous times, our men were few, and our resources limited. Poverty was among the most potent enemies we had to encounter; yet our arms were successful; and it may not be amiss to ask here, by whose power victory so often perched on our banner? It was by the agency of that same angel of God that appeared unto Joseph Smith, and revealed to him the history of the early inhabitants of this country, whose mounds, bones, and remains of towns, cities, and fortifications speak from the dust in the ears of the living with the voice of undeniable truth. This same angel presides over the destinies of America, and feels a lively interest in all our doings. He was in the camp of Washington; and, by an invisible hand, led on our fathers to conquest and victory; and all this to open and prepare the way for the Church and kingdom of God to be established on the western hemisphere, for the redemption of Israel and the salvation of the world.

This same angel was with Columbus, and gave him deep impressions, by dreams and by visions, respecting this New World. Trammeled by poverty and by an unpopular cause, yet his persevering and unyielding heart would not allow an obstacle in his way too great for him to overcome; and the angel of God helped him—was with him on the stormy deep, calmed the troubled elements, and guided his frail vessel to the desired haven. Under the guardianship of this same angel, or Prince of America, have the United States grown, increased, and flourished, like the sturdy oak by the rivers of water.

To what point have the American arms been directed since the Declaration of our National Independence, and proven unsuccessful? Not one!

The peculiar respect that high Heaven has for this country, on account of the promises made to the fathers, and on account of its being the land where the mustard seed of truth was planted and destined to grow in the last days, accounts for all this good fortune to our beloved America.

Monday, April 3, 2017

Joseph Smith endorsed Oliver Cowdery's letters

From time to time I still hear objections to Letter VII based on the idea that Oliver wrote them by himself and Joseph didn't endorse them. These objections are from Mesoamerican advocates, of course.
Here's how the conversation typically goes.
Me - "Oliver said Joseph helped him write the letters."
Meso - "Oliver did say that, but we don't know how much Joseph assisted."
Me - "Joseph had his scribes copy the letters into his own history."
Meso - "Yes, but he wrote another history later, in 1838. If he approved of Oliver's letters, he could have just used those."
Me - "First, Joseph did rely on those letters. Second, he didn't need to repeat the detail Oliver had written, such as when Joseph said Moroni quoted other scriptures he couldn't relate at that time. Third, Joseph's history covered topics in addition to what Oliver covered."
Meso - "But still, Joseph never expressly endorsed Oliver's letters."
Me - "He expressly gave Benjamin Winchester permission to reprint them in the Gospel Reflector."

Today I'm posting an additional detail from my book, The Editors: Joseph, William, and Don Carlos Smith, which will be released (finally) this week. I've never seen anyone write about this before and I think it's significant.

In the last issue of the first volume of the Times and Seasons (October 1840), Don Carlos announced he was going to expand the paper by publishing it twice a month. (You can see this issue at this link:

Here is his reason:

"We should be pleased to publish our paper weekly, as we have an abundance of matter for the instruction of the saints, as President Joseph Smith jr. is furnishing us with essays on the glorious subject of the priesthood, also giving us extracts of the new translation to lay before our readers, of the second volume,-but our circumstances will not permit us to publish oftener than twice a month."

In the next issue, Don Carlos began the Times and Seasons with "Extract from the Prophecy of Enoch." That fulfills the promise of "extracts of the new translation."

But what about "essays on the glorious subject of the priesthood" that were promised?

Don Carlos does publish an essay "on the restoration of the Priesthood," presumably also "furnished" by President Joseph Smith, Jr. But what is this essay?

It is Letter I of Oliver's series of letters.

You can see it here:

When you go to that page, search for "Priesthood" and you'll see the term appears only in Oliver's letter.

Don Carlos proceeded to publish all of Oliver's letters in the following months, including Letter VII. In fact, the next issue of the Times and Seasons, November 15, 1840, starts off with Letter II. And again, this letter contains the only mention of the Priesthood in an article in that issue.

So here again, we have direct evidence that Joseph Smith formally and fully endorsed Oliver's letters.