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I was born in the year of our Lord one thousand eight hundred and five, on the twenty third day of December, in the town of Sharon, Windsor County, State of Vermont My father, Joseph Smith, Sen. In about four years after my father's arrival in Palmyra, he moved with his family into Manchester in the same county of Ontario Some time in the second year after our removal to Manchester, there was in the place where we lived an unusual excitement on the subject of religion. It commenced with the Methodists, but soon became general among all the sects in that region of the country. Indeed, the whole district of the country seemed affected by it, and great multitudes united themselves to the different religious parties, which created no small stir and division amongst the people, some crying, 'Lo, here! In the midst of this war of words and tumult of opinions, I often said to myself: Who of all these parties are right; or are they all wrong together? If any of them be right, which is it and how shall I know it? Joseph said this revival happened in when he was 14 years old. After reading James 1: While praying, Smith said he was first overcome by some power of darkness, then a pillar of light appeared over his head Ibid. When the light rested upon me I saw two personages, whose brightness and glory defy all description, standing above me in the air. One of them spoke unto me, calling me by name and said, pointing to the other — 'This is My Beloved Son. No sooner, therefore did I get possession of myself, so as to be able to speak, than I asked the personages who stood above in the light, which of all the sects was right for at this time it had never entered into my heart that they were all wrong — and which I should join. I was answered that I must join none of them, for they were all wrong; and the Personage who addressed me said that all their creeds were abomination in His sight; that those professors were all corrupt Ibid. Joseph said a few days later he told a Methodist preacher who was involved in the revival about his vision. But, the minister rejected it and said it was of the devil Ibid. I soon found, however, that my telling the story excited a great deal of prejudice against me among professors of religion, and was the cause of great persecution, which continued to increase; and though I was an obscure boy, only between fourteen and fifteen years of age, and my circumstances in life such as to make a boy of no consequence in the world, yet men of high standing would take notice sufficient to excite the public mind against me, and create a bitter persecution; and this was common among all the sects — all united to persecute me Ibid. About three and a half years later on September 21, , Joseph said he was in his room praying and asking God for forgiveness of all his sins and follies when a bright light again appeared. It was the angel Moroni who told him that God had a work for him to do. The angel also told Joseph about a book written on gold plates by the former inhabitants of the American continent which contained "the fulness of the everlasting gospel. Moroni quoted several Bible verses and vanished, only to re-appear two more times that night giving the same message each time Ibid. For four consecutive years on the anniversary of his first visit, Moroni met Joseph at the Hill Cumorah where the gold plates were buried. Martin Harris, one of the three witnesses of the B. Later, in May of while Oliver Cowdery was writing the English translation as Joseph dictated it to him, they went into the woods to pray about baptism for the remission of sins. John the Baptist then appeared in a cloud of light and laid his hands upon them and ordained them with the Priesthood of Aaron. After that, Joseph and Oliver baptized each other and then ordained each other to the Aaronic Priesthood Ibid. The Joseph Smith story in the P. Joseph said that Peter, James, and John also appeared probably between May 15 and June 30 of and conferred the Melchizedek Priesthood on him and Oliver Cowdery, which gave them the power of laying on of hands for the gift of the Holy Ghost. Under Smith's leadership the Church began in New York, moved to Kirtland, Ohio, then to Independence, Missouri, and finally to Nauvoo, which by was the second largest city in Illinois. Joseph was Mayor of Nauvoo and a candidate for President of the United States when some apostate Mormons stirred up sentiment against him through publishing the Nauvoo Expositor newspaper. Nauvoo authorities declared the press a nuisance and had it destroyed. For that, the state had Joseph arrested, but he was freed by the Nauvoo Municipal Court. Later, he was again arrested and charged with treason. He was jailed in Carthage, Illinois, where on June 27, , an angry mob stormed the jail and shot and killed Joseph and his brother Hyrum Ibid. The Church headquarters has been there since These brief highlights of Mormonism's origin come from official LDS records. But, there is historical evidence that conflicts with Smith's claims. Mormonism, as it is called, must stand or fall on the story of Joseph Smith. He was either a prophet of God, divinely called, properly appointed and commissioned, or he was one of the biggest frauds this world has ever seen. There is no middle ground. If Joseph Smith was a deceiver, who willfully attempted to mislead the people, then he should be exposed; his claims should be refuted, and his doctrines shown to be false, for the doctrines of an impostor cannot be made to harmonize in all particulars with divine truth. If his claims and declarations were built upon fraud and deceit, there would appear many errors and contradictions, which would be easy to detect D. Joseph Fielding Smith declared that the story of Joseph Smith is so important that Mormonism "must stand or fall" with it, it needs to be examined carefully. He also said if Joseph Smith's claims were built upon fraud, it would be easy to find errors and contradictions. The following is an examination of Joseph Smith's claims. The Revival and Joseph's First Vision Joseph Smith's story claims that in there was a religious excitement in Palmyra in which "great multitudes united themselves to the different religious parties. If a year-old boy who had no witnesses claimed that God told him the LDS Church was apostate, would Mormons believe his story? Yet, Mormons want the Christian world to believe Smith's story when he had no witnesses! Is there any way to check Smith's story? He did mention specific historical facts that ought to be able to be substantiated by other historical records. For example, he mentioned his age, where he was living, when his brother Alvin died and the churches involved in the Palmyra revival in All of these things are linked to the time of Smith's first vision. Smith said in the P. Thus, Smith's chronology indicates the revival and first vision took place in But, his official story says his vision came in the spring of after the revival Ibid. Since Smith said the revival and first vision happened in during their second year in Manchester, Mormon writers date Smith's move there in Thus, any move to Manchester had to be after April, Joseph's mother, Lucy, said that they contracted to purchase acres of Lot 1 from the Everson estate in Manchester Biographical Sketches of Joseph Smith, p. They show that the heirs of Nicholas Everson owned and paid property taxes on all acres of Lot 1 in July But in the summer of , acres of Lot 1 were taxed to Joseph Smith, Sr. They paid the same amount in That supports the information in the Palmyra road tax records which showed that the Smiths lived in Palmyra at least until April of If the revival happened two years after the Smiths moved to Manchester, it had to have been in or For further information on this subject, see Inventing Mormonism by H. Michael Marquardt and Wesley P. William also said another leader of this revival was Reverend Stockton, a Presbyterian who had previously preached Alvin Smith's funeral indicating Alvin went to hell Deseret News, January 20, Alvin was the brother of William and Joseph. Because of this Joseph Smith, Sr. If the revival was after Alvin's death, it could not have been in since Alvin's tombstone shows that he died on November 19, Until Alvin's death was printed erroneously as November 19, , in the P. Since Joseph Smith, Sr. The Methodist and Presbyterian church records also show that neither Reverend Stockton nor Reverend Lane were assigned to Palmyra until Reverend Lane came in July, , and left in January, , because of health problems. He was visiting Palmyra when he preached Alvin's funeral, but he did not become the pastor there until February 18, Thus, the revival in Palmyra led by both of these men could only have taken place in the latter part of , not ! Smith claimed that in in the Palmyra area "great multitudes united themselves to the different religious parties" including the Methodists, Presbyterians, and Baptists P. But the records kept by those churches in Palmyra show the Presbyterians had revivals in , , and ; the Baptists gained only six by baptism in ; and the Methodist circuit which included Palmyra lost 23 members in , six in and 40 in That is not the picture of a great revival in ! But, those same records show a revival led by Reverend Lane and Reverend Stockton in the fall of By the time it ended in September of , the Presbyterians had increased by 99, the Baptists by 94, and the Methodist circuit by ! The Wayne Sentinel reported the revival in Palmyra, but none in Nor did any newspaper report Smith's vision or the persecution from the churches which he claimed to suffer when he told others about it. If the churches were contending with each other as Smith said P. Since Smith said his "first vision" was "early in the spring" Ibid. But, Smith also said that the angel Moroni visited him on September 21, In the light of the evidence just given, that would make Moroni's visit be Smith's "first vision. Moroni's visit would need to be moved up to at least September, , to be in September after the official first vision. Smith said Moroni told him about the gold plates and visited him for four consecutive years before allowing him to begin translating them P. Four years after September, , would be September, , before Smith could begin to translate the plates. But, the first edition of the B. If Smith did not even get the "gold plates" until September, , how could the B. These facts show that the date of the revival is critical in evaluating the Joseph Smith story. If there was no revival in , the first vision story is very questionable, and Mormon history and scripture are untrustworthy! He was either a prophet of God divinely called, properly appointed and commissioned, or he was one of the biggest frauds this world has ever seen. There is no middle ground" D. Therefore, Mormons should seriously consider the evidence of Joseph Smith's first vision because their eternal destiny will be adversely affected if it is not true. But, if it is true, it has nothing to fear from investigation!
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