All men have heard of the Mormon Bible, but few except the "elect" have seen it, or, at least, taken the trouble to read it. I brought away a copy from Salt Lake. The book is a curiosity to me, it is such a pretentious affair, and yet so "slow," so sleepy; such an insipid mess of inspiration. It is chloroform in print. If Joseph Smith composed this book, the act was a miracle--keeping awake while he did it was, at any rate. If he, according to tradition, merely translated it from certain ancient and mysteriously-engraved plates of copper, which he declares he found under a stone, in an out-of-the-way locality, the work of translating was equally a miracle, for the same reason.
The book seems to be merely a prosy detail of imaginary history, with the Old Testament for a model; followed by a tedious plagiarism of the New Testament. The author labored to give his words and phrases the quaint, old-fashioned sound and structure of our King James's translation of the Scriptures; and the result is a mongrel--half modern glibness, and half ancient simplicity and gravity. The latter is awkward and constrained; the former natural, but grotesque by the contrast. Whenever he found his speech growing too modern--which was about every sentence or two--he ladled in a few such Scriptural phrases as "exceeding sore," "and it came to pass," etc., and made things satisfactory again. "And it came to pass" was his pet. If he had left that out, his Bible would have been only a pamphlet.
The title-page reads as follows:
THE BOOK OF MORMON: AN ACCOUNT WRITTEN BY THE HAND OF MORMON, UPON PLATES TAKEN FROM THE PLATES OF NEPHI.
Wherefore it is an abridgment of the record of the people of Nephi, and also of the Lamanites; written to the Lamanites, who are a remnant of the House of Israel; and also to Jew and Gentile; written by way of commandment, and also by the spirit of prophecy and of revelation. Written and sealed up, and hid up unto the Lord, that they might not be destroyed; to come forth by the gift and power of God unto the interpretation thereof; sealed by the hand of Moroni, and hid up unto the Lord, to come forth in due time by the way of Gentile; the interpretation thereof by the gift of God. An abridgment taken from the Book of Ether also; which is a record of the people of Jared; who were scattered at the time the Lord confounded the language of the people when they were building a tower to get to Heaven.
"Hid up" is good. And so is "wherefore"--though why "wherefore"? Any other word would have answered as well--though--in truth it would not have sounded so Scriptural.
THE TESTIMONY OF THREE WITNESSES.
Be it known unto all nations, kindreds, tongues, and people unto
whom this work shall come, that we, through the grace of God the
Father, and our Lord Jesus Christ, have seen the plates which
contain this record, which is a record of the people of Nephi, and
also of the Lamanites, their brethren, and also of the people of
Jared, who came from the tower of which hath been spoken; and we
also know that they have been translated by the gift and power of
God, for His voice hath declared it unto us; wherefore we know of a
surety that the work is true. And we also testify that we have seen
the engravings which are upon the plates; and they have been shown
unto us by the power of God, and not of man. And we declare with
words of soberness, that an angel of God came down from heaven, and
he brought and laid before our eyes, that we beheld and saw the
plates, and the engravings thereon; and we know that it is by the
grace of God the Father, and our Lord Jesus Christ, that we beheld
and bear record that these things are true; and it is marvellous in
our eyes; nevertheless the voice of the Lord commanded us that we
should bear record of it; wherefore, to be obedient unto the
commandments of God, we bear testimony of these things. And we know
that if we are faithful in Christ, we shall rid our garments of the
blood of all men, and be found spotless before the judgment-seat of
Christ, and shall dwell with Him eternally in the heavens. And the
honor be to the Father, and to the Son, and to the Holy Ghost, which
is one God. Amen.