Swedenborg and the Book of Mormon
(Roy, Utah: self-published 1999)
Special Annotated Digital Edition
Dale R. Broadhurst's Introduction to:
BOOK OF MORMON
(Updated for on-line presentation, 2009)
In 1999 Vernal Holley of Roy, Utah, issued a limited edition of Swedenborg and the Book of Mormon The front cover of his booklet says that it is:  "A monograph dealing with the writings of Emanuel Swedenborg, compared with the Book of Mormon." Actually, Mr. Holley's study was primarily limited to his examination of three Swedenborgian sources: (1) an English language compendium of four of Swedenborg's 1763 books, entitled Four Doctrines, (2) another Swedenborg compilation, called Angelic Wisdom about Divine Providence, which was published in an English edition in 1790, and, (3) Sig Synnestvedt's 1970 biography and compilation of extracts, The Essential Swedenborg. By confining his study to this limited set of sources, Mr. Holley obviously was not able to consult the greator portion of Swedenborg's translated writings, nor secondary texts, such as the 1799 British periodical, The Aurora, and the American New Jerusalem Magazine, (which the Swedenborgian church in the United states began publishing at about the same time that the Book of Mormon was first being dictated and transcribed).
Holley's booklet is of interest to Book of Mormon investigators because it provides a unique examination of how certain Swedenborgian theological percepts are echoed within the text of the Book of Mormon. Although his presentation of the material he examined may be controversial, Mr. Holley's study provides a unique introduction to the possible influence of Swedenborgian ideas upon the nineteenth century writer(s) of the Mormon book.
Although Mr. Holley speculated that Solomon Spalding might have contributed to the contents of the Book of Mormon, he made no mention of the often-asserted editorial additions supposedly provided by Elder Sidney Rigdon. Holley was aware of William H. Whitsitt's chapter on Swedenborgiana in his 1891 unpublished biography of Sidney Rigdon, but chose to avoid discussing it, in the interest of keeping his booklet short and limited in its subject matter.
Mr. Holley's booklet is here reproduced, with three added appendices, as an annotated, authorized e-text for web-publication via The Sidney Rigdon Home Page's "Mormon Classics" on-line Library. This reformatted and slightly revised version of Holley's work was first placed on the world-wide web in 2009, with permission granted by its author and copyright holder. Vernal Holley passed away in 2000, leaving numerous notes and unfinished writings dealing with Book of Mormon sources, etc. Information from that unpublished material will be inserted as notes into the current e-text at a later date.
( Entire contents copyright © 1999 and 2009 by Vernal Holley, heirs and assigns. )
Swedenborg and the Book of Mormon
[ 04 ]
SWEDENBORG AND THE BOOK OF MORMONThe Book of Mormon is revered as the word of God by the members of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints (Mormons). They believe the book contains an abridged history of the progenitors of the American Indians. They also believe the history was originally inscribed on metal plates that were buried for safekeeping by the last historian of that race who centuries later, as an angel, gave the ancient record to Joseph Smith Jr. for translation. In 1830, Smith published the Book of Mormon in Palmyra, New York, and founded The Church of Christ, known today as The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints with headquarters in Salt Lake City, Utah
It is interesting to know that doctrines thought by many to be unique to the Book of Mormon were in fact being taught in the United States for fifty years prior to the publishing of the Book of Mormon in 1830.
The purpose of this monograph is to disclose the similarities between the religious writings of the Swedish visionary Emanuel Swedenborg, 1688-1772, and the writings attributed to Joseph Smith Jr., 1805-1844.
WHO WAS EMANUEL SWEDENBORG?"Visitors to the cathedral of Uppsala, Sweden, where renowned citizens are interred, may see an impressive red granite sarcophagus on which the name Emanuel Swedenborg appears. The sarcophagus contains the remains of one of Sweden's most accomplished sons. As recently as 1910, when belated recognition was extended to this distinguished intellect, Gustav V, King of Sweden, led in paying him national tribute. Resting in public view has been reserved for kings, archbishops, generals, and prominent intellectuals. Only a score of Swedes have earned this distinction.
Who was Emanuel Swedenborg? What historical position did he hold to warrant such honor and attention? What were his major contributions? The great majority of cathedral visitors will doubtless have no idea of the answers to these questions. The flow of persons through the church will include the educated who may possibly remember Swedenborg's scientific and philosophic contributions to eighteenth century European thought. A scattered few of Swedenborg's followers will look with awe upon the sarcophagus as the final resting place the man they consider to have been a new prophet of God on earth...
[ 05 ]
In June of 1699 intellectual stimulation at home led logically to an early enrollment at Uppsala University. Young Emanuel showed high intellectual promise.... Subsequent studies and travels enabled Swedenborg to acquire a knowledge of English, Dutch, French, Italian, in addition to his native Swedish and the scriptural languages....
His later studies included cosmology, mathematics, anatomy, physiology, politics, economics, metallurgy, mineralogy, geology, mining engineering, and chemistry." (Life of Emanuel Swedenborg, pp. 1-5).
SWEDENBORG CHURCHES IN AMERICAThe Swedenborg Foundation in Bryn Athyn, Pennsylvania, has provided me with historical information regarding the beginnings of their organization in America. The following brief summary will be helpful for the reader to know.
The fist Swedenborg "New Church Society" was founded in 1797 in Steubenville, Ohio, by William Grant. In 1784, James Glenn, a self-appointed apostle of the new religion and filled with missionary fervor, published the following advertisement in the Pennsylvania Gazette of June 2, 1784:
"FOR THE SENTIMENTALIST"
"A discourse on the extraordinary SCIENCE of Celestial and Terrestrial Connections and Correspondences, recently revived by the late honorable and learned Emanuel Swedenborg, will be delivered by Mr. James Glen, a humble pupil and Follower of the said Swedenborg's, at 8 o'clock on the evening of Saturday the 5th of June 1784, at Bell's Book-Store, near St. Paul's Church, on Third St. Philadelphia.''
Some of those who attended became important leaders in the new religion. Glen delivered another lecture, and then departed for Boston. He also toured briefly through parts of Pennsylvania, Virginia, and Kentucky. Glen would have been surprised to know that there were Swedish settlers in Pennsylvania who had been members of the congregation presided over by Swedenborg's father in Sweden. Had he visited the Old Swedes Church in Wilmington, Delaware, Glen would have found there pastoral letters from Bishop Swedenborg.
[ 06 ]
It was "Johnny Appleseed" who spread the Swedenborg literature, free of charge, to the early settlers in Ohio, and, by other direct means, contributed greatly to the planting of the New Church in the district west of the Allegheny Mountains. Born Jonathan Chapman, in Boston, he devoted forty years of his life to distributing fruit tree seedlings to the new settlers from the Ohio River to the Great Lakes, and westward from the Alleghenies to Indiana. What is not well known about him is that he carried Swedenborg's books with him and left copies with the settlers as he traveled about. He had been converted to the New Church by John Young, a lawyer and presiding Judge of Western Pennsylvania. It was Judge Young who kept Johnny Appleseed supplied with Swedenborg's books to be distributed among the settlers. Johnny was said to be "the picturesque sower of two-fold seed."
American Swedenborgian, John Chapman (from an old print)
After the departure of James Glen from Philadelphia, a box of Swedenborg's books translated into English were sent from London by Robert Hindmarsh. These books were sold at auction and soon a reading circle of enthusiastic converts were meeting regularly at the home of Francis Bailey, one of Glen's converts. This reading group became the center from which the new religion spread far and wide, southward into Maryland, Delaware, and Virginia, and westward beyond the Alleghenies. Bailey was in the printing business and used his expertise in publishing and distributing Swedenborg's teachings.
By 1817, the followers of Swedenborg's religious doctrines had founded congregations in Boston, Philadelphia, Baltimore, Abringdon and Wheeling, W. Va., Cincinatti and Lebonon, Ohio, Madison, Ind., and Charleston, S.C.
There were also Swedenborg congregations in Greensburg, Pennsylvania, and Steubenville. Ohio, both less than forty miles from Pittsburg and Amity, Pennsylvania, where Solomon Spalding (or "Spaulding") lived between 1812 and 1816. Spalding was believed by friends and relatives to have been the author of the historical parts of the Book of Mormon which was published in 1830. Since he had been a minister in earlier years, he would have been interested in reading the Swedenborg booklets being distributed by the enthusiastic Swedenborg converts.
SWEDENBORG'S RELIGIOUS LIFE
"From birth, young Swedenborg experienced a family atmosphere characterized by reverence and even religious fervor. [His siblings], for the most part, were given scriptural names to remind them of their duty to God and church. The
[ 07 ]
name Emanuel means 'God with us' and Swedenborg's early years suited this theme. The family often discussed religious questions at dinner and other gatherings, and the young boy had opportunities to exchange ideas on faith and life with many clergymen....' I was constantly engaged in thought upon God, salvation, and the spiritual sufferings of men....' Swedenborg became thoroughly versed in the Bible." (Synnestvedt, Life of Emanuel Swedenborg, pp. 3,4).
Visionary Illustration by William Blake (influenced by Swedenborg)
Then in April of 1745 he underwent a penetrating experience. In London, while dining alone at an inn where he often went, Swedenborg noted that the room seemed to grow dark. He then saw a vision, and an apparition spoke to him. When the room cleared again Swedenborg went home to his apartment, considerably stirred by his experience.
[ 08 ]
Sometime 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... some were contending for the Methodist faith, some for 'the Presbyterian, and some for the Baptist... my father's family was proselyted to the Presbyterian faith, and four of them joined that church... (Pearl of Great Price, Joseph Smith 2 v. 5-7).
Smith's family often discussed religious questions:
We continued to get together every evening... all seated in a circle, father, mother, sons, and daughters, and giving the most profound attention... (Lucy Mack Smith, Joseph Smith the Prophet and His Progenitors p. 84).
Joseph Smith, Jr.'s "First Vision" (from an early print)
Smith said he experienced his visions during a two year period:
...while in the attitude of calling upon the Lord (in the 16th year of my age) a pillar of light above the brightness of the sun at noon day came down from above and rested upon me... and I saw the Lord and he spake unto me.... when I was seventeen years of age, I called again upon the Lord and he shewed unto me a heavenly vision, for behold an angel of the Lord came and stood before me and it was by night and he said the Lord had forgiven me of my sins... and thus he appeared to me three times in one night and once on the next day.... (Dean Jessee, The Personal Writings of Joseph Smith, pp. 6,7)
THE SIMILARITIESSwedenborg came to believe that God had called him to bring a new revelation to the world. Smith also believed that Godhad called him to bring a new-revelation to the world -- the Book of Mormon. Swedenborg noted that "the room seemed to grow dark. He then saw a vision, and an apparition spoke to him." Joseph Smith's account of his fist vision says "Thick darkness gathered around me, and it seemed to me for a time as if I were doomed to sudden destruction" (Smith 2, v. 15).
In both accounts, a one-year period elapsed between the two visitations. And in both, the first vision occurred in the day time, and the second vision occurred at night. In Swedenborg's account, the purpose of the divine visit was to inform him of the need of a human person to serve as the means by which God
[ 09 ]
would further reveal Himself to man. In the Smith account, the purpose of the divine visit was to inform Smith that "God had a work for [him] to do." (Smith 2, v. 33)
Like Swedenborg, Smith felt reluctant about revealing to others that he had seen a vision: "And as I leaned up to the fireplace mother inquired what the matter was. I replied, 'never mind all is well -- I am well enough off.'" (Smith 2, v. 20)
Although Swedenborg "kept silent" about his visitation, he did record his visionary experiences and emotions in his "Journal of Dreams." Smith recorded his visions in his personal writings. (Jessee, p. 4)
Synnestvedt tells us that "Swedenborg spent the two years following his 'call' in further close study of the Bible. He wrote some 3,000 folio pages of commentary... and, in effect, made a new translation of many of the books of both the Old and New Testaments." Swedenborg never published his Bible Commentary.
It was said of Smith that he "corrected, revised, altered, added to, and deleted from the King James Version of the Bible.... This 'inspired version' of the ancient scriptures was never published by the Prophet." (McConkie, Mormon Doctrine 1985, p. 351)
Swedenborg "perfected his knowledge of Hebrew and Greek in order to study the Bible in its original texts." Smith's 1835 diary says that he studied Greek (Jessee, p. 117). The History of the Church says Smith studied Hebrew (vol. 2, p. 318).
The above quotations from Swedenborg and Smith are so similar that one is led to believe that Swedenborg's writings must have been available to, and used by, the author of the Joseph Smith story. If so, the doctrinal writings of Swedenborg should be examined in search of any similarities between his work and the doctrinal writings found in the Book of Mormon.
"THE FOUR DOCTRINES"August Strindberg made the following comments, among others, in his review of Swedenborg's Four Doctrines:
"At age fifty-seven, Emanuel Swedenborg, frequently called 'The Aristotle of the North,' gave up a distinguished and productive career as a natural scientist and, with Hebrew, Greek, and Latin Bibles as his only texts, dedicated the remainder of his
[ 10 ]
life, until his death at eighty-four, to the profound study of the Word of God. The reviewer of the Pulput Digest described his concepts as 'startlingly modern':
"The Four Doctrines is logical, readable, and eminently practical. The reader will find astonishingly unique insights which will provide a better understanding of the true life of religion."
In the introduction of the "Four Doctrines" the Swedenborg foundation had this to say about the book:
The justification for reprinting a book written over two hundred years ago is that its contents continue to be significant and relevant in the twentieth century.
SIMILARITIES BETWEEN THE
[ 11 ]
Other identical Bible verses are also found in both works. These include 36 verses from Matthew, 7 from Mark, 17 from Luke, 23 from John, 1 from Galations, 1 from Hebrews, and 11 from Revelation. From the Old Testament, we find 2 from Genesis, 2 from Exodus, 2 from Deuteronomy, 2 from Joel, 8 from Ezekiel, 5 from Psalms, and 3 from Jeremiah. But the most significant is the use of the same 55 verses from Isaiah by both authors.
On pages 4 to 12 of his dissertation, Swedenborg quotes passages from the Old Testament concerning the Lord's advent. He begins with selected verses from Isaiah and ends with those from Malachi. He quotes only part of the third chapter of Malachi and also only part of the fourth chapter.
Swedenborg continues his dialogue, quoting the fifth verse from the same chapter: "Behold, I send you Elijah the prophet before the coming of the great and terrible day of Jehovah."
The writer of Smith's history, apparently still following Swedenborg, has the angel Moroni quote this same passage, and, like Swedenborg, does not follow the King James Version: "Behold, I will reveal unto you the priesthood, by the hand of Elijah the prophet, before the coming of the dreadful day of the Lord." (Joseph Smith 2,v. 38)
Swedenborg quotes from the second chapter of Joel, verses 29 and 31: "Upon the servants, and upon the handmaids in those days will I pour out my spirit.... The sun shall be turned into darkness. and the moon into blood before the great and terrible day of Jehovah is come."(Four Doctrines, p. 9)
The writer of Smith's history has the angel Moroni quote these same passages from Joel: "He [Moroni] also quoted the second chapter of Joel, from the twenty-eighth verse to the last... he also quoted many other passages of scripture and offered many other explanations which cannot be mentioned here." (Joseph Smith 2, v. 41)
Swedenborg, paraphrasing from the eleventh chapter of Isaiah
[ 12 ]
writes: "And it shall come to pass in that day that the root of Jessee, which standeth for an ensign to the people, shall the nations seek, and his rest shall be glory. Chiefly in that day shall the Lord seek again the remnant of his people." (Four Doctrines, p. 5)
The writer of Smith's history, simply writes: "In addition to these verses [Moroni] quoted the eleventh chapter of Isaiah, saying that it was about to be fulfilled." (Joseph Smith 2, v. 40)
COPYING BIBLICAL VERSES FROM SWEDENBORGSwedenborg quoted hundreds of verses from both the Old and New Testaments. The first indication that the Book of Mormon author is copying Biblical verses from Swedenborg's work is in 3 Nephi 11:27, it reads:
"...and I am in the Father and the Father in me, and the Father and I are one."
Swedenborg's rendition of this verse is nearly the same as in the Book of Mormon:
The Lord is in the Father, and the Father in him, and that He and the Father are one." (Four Doctrines p. 2)
But the New Testament reads differently from both Swedenborg and the Book of Mormon:
"I and my Father are one." (John 10:30. Then 8 verses later: "...the Father is in me and I in him" (John 10:38)
Swedenborg has combined John's verse 30 with verse 38, and the Book of Mormon author seems to have followed Swedenborg, even with the use of the word "and" between the two segments.
PARAPHRASING SWEDENBORGAlong with the hundreds of identical Bible verses quoted by both Swedenborg and the Book of Mormon author, it appears that the Book of Mormon author also copied or paraphrased verses from Swedenborg's own works.
[ 13 ]
Swedenborg writes, "The Lord came into the world in the fullness of times... and unless He had then come into the world and revealed Himself, mankind would have perished in eternal death." (Four Doctrines, p. 3 )
The Book of Mormon says, "And the Messiah cometh in the fullness of times that He may redeem the children of men from the fall... [from] captivity." (2 Ne. 2:26, 27)
The phrase, "fullness of times," used here in the same way by both authors, appears twice in the Bible -- Gal. 4:4 and Eph. 1:10. But it has different meaning in the Bible than it does as used by Swedenborg and the Book of Mormon writer.
Swedenborg paraphrases verses from Malachi 3:2, 17, and then says the following: "In these passages... is meant the advent of the Lord... a time of darkness, of thick darkness of gloom, of no light, of laying waste, of the end of iniquity, of destruction -- is meant the advent of the Lord...." (Four Doctrines, p. 12)
The Book of Mormon, telling of the second advent, reads: "...there was thick darkness upon the face of the land... insomuch that the inhabitants could feel the vapor of darkness... and there could be no light because of the darkness... and the great destruction which had come upon them...." (3 Ne. 8:20, 21, 23).
Again, in these verses, the Book of Mormon author appears to be borrowing heavily from Swedenborg. The New Testament does not speak of darkness, thick darkness, destruction, and no light at the Lordk advent. But these concepts are found in both Swedenborg and in the Book of Mormon.
Swedenborg writes, "...the Lord was sent by the Father to make an atonement for the human race, and this was effected by his fulfilling the law...." (Four Doctrines, p. 37)
The Book of Mormon says, "Behold, He offereth himself a sacrifice for sin. to answer the ends of the law...." (2 Ne. 2:7)
Bible verses regarding sacrifice for sin do not say anything about "fulfilling the law" or "to answer the ends of the law" as we see in both Swedenborg and the Book of Mormon.
Swedenborg writes, "By baptism is meant spiritual washing, which is a washing from sins... repentance and remission of sins." (Four Doctrines, p. 39)
The Book of Mormon says, "...come and be baptized unto
[ 14 ]
repentance, that ye may be washed from your sins...." (Alma 7:14)
The New Testament doesn't tell of being "washed from your sins" in connection with repentance. The Book of Mormon again seems to be following Swedenborg.
Swedenborg says, "This is why Jehovah who is the Lord from eternity is sometimes called..."creator"... "Jesus," "Christ"..."Son of God".... (Four Doctrines, p. 95)
The Book of Mormon reads, "...the Lord... who... is from all eternity... shall be called Jesus Christ the Son of God... the creator of all things ...." (Mos. 3:5, 8)
The term "Lord from eternity" is not in the Bible, yet it is in Swedenborg's work and in the Book of Mormon.
Swedenborg writes, "The men of the Most Ancient Church were of a genius so heavenly that they spoke with angels of heaven ...." (Four Doctrines, p. 134)
The Book of Mormon says, "Yea, after having been such highly favored people of the Lord ... having been visited by the Spirit of God: having conversed with angels...." (Alma 9:20,21)
Swedenborg writes, "Jesus Christ, who suffered for our salvation ascended into heaven, and sitteth on the right hand of the Father Almighty, whence he will come to judge the quick and the dead: and then they that have done good will enter into life eternal...." (Four Doctrines, p. 221)
The Book of Mormon says, "...may Christ lift thee up, and may his sufferings and death... and the hope of his glory and eternal life, rest in your minds.... And may the grace of God the Father... and our Lord Jesus Christ, who sitteth on the right hand of his power... the eternal judge of both the quick and the dead...." (Moro. 9:25, 10:34)
In these verses, Swedenborg paraphrases from different parts of the New Testament (or from the Apostles' Creed). And the Book of Mormon author paraphrases Swedenborg's work.
Swedenborg quotes the exortation which is read to the congregations in England before they approach the sacrament of the supper (Four Doctrines, p. 222).
[ 15 ]
The Book of Mormon says, "The manner of the leaders and priests administering the flesh and blood of Christ unto the church.... We know the manner to be true." The sacrament prayer follows at this point. (Moro. ch. 4, 5)
Swedenborg writes, "...the proprium of man is evil from his birth, this is the reason why from inborn inclinations he loves evils and is drawn into them. This is why he desires to have revenge, and to commit fraud, defamation and adultery. And unless he takes thought that such things are sins, and on that account resists them, he does them whenever an opportunity offers... everyone goes through this struggle... those who do evils enter hell, and those who do goods enter heaven."(Four Doctrines, p. 274)
The Book of Mormon says, "But woe, woe unto him that knoweth that he rebelleth against God! For the natural man is an enemy to God, and has been since the fall of Adam, and will be forever, unless he putteth off the natural man... none shall be found blameless before God... [man] shall be judged, every man according to his works, whether they be good, or whether they be evil."(Mos. 3:12, 19, 24)
Swedenborg writes, "...charity is love... As charity is love... no love to the Lord is possible except in charity... it is evident that saving faith... is impossible to all except those who are in charity." (Four Doctrines, pp. 293-295)
The Book of Mormon Reads, "...all men should have charity, which charity is love" (2 Ne. 26:30). "And now I know this love that thou hast had is charity; wherefore, except men shall have charity they cannot inherit that place... in the mansions of thy Father" Ether 12:34).
Nowhere in the Holy Scriptures does it say that charity is love. The Book of Mormon again seems to be following Swedenborg's doctrine.
"The full title of the book, Angelic Wisdom About Divine Providence, implies that its author (Emanuel Swedenborg), in an other-world experience, had at hand the knowledge which men and women in heaven have of God's care.
[ 16 ]
women in heaven who have obviously enjoyed it? The laws of divine providence, hitherto hidden with angels in their wisdom, are to be revealed now." (William F. Wunsch, translator)
The following quotations are from Swedenborg's "Divine Providence" and the "Book of Mormon," showing the similarities in the two works.
Divine Providence, page 18: "Men of evil... after death, after becoming spirits, raise themselves aloft and even enter heaven at times and feign themselves angels of light. But when they are deprived of truth and are cast out, they fall down to hell."
Book of Mormon, 2 Nephi 9:8, 9, 16: "...our spirits must become subject to that angel who fell from the presence of the eternal God, and became the devil, to rise no more. Our spirits must have become like unto him, and we become devils, angels to a devil... who transformeth himself nigh unto an angel of light... and... shall go away into everlasting fire...."
Swedenborg's words are an extension of the 2nd Corinthians verse "For Satan himself is transformed into an angel of light," except that the Corinthians verse applies to living "false prophets and deceitful workers." The verses from Swedenborg and the Book of Mormon are both speaking of men of evil after death. The Book of Mormon again follows Swedenborg's interpretation.
Divine Providence, page 36: "Christendom knows that God is infinite and eternal. The doctrine of the Trinity which is named for Athanasius says that God the Father is infinite, eternal.... and that nevertheless there are not three who are infinite, eternal... but One. As God is infinite and eternal, only what is infinite and eternal can be predicted of Him. What infinite and eternal are, finite man cannot comprehend...."
Book of Mormon, Alma 34:10, 14: "For it is expedient that there should be a great and last sacrifice; but it must be an infinite and eternal sacrifice ... and that great and last sacrifice will be the Son of God, yea, infinite and eternal."
The term "infinite and eternal" is not found in the Holy Scriptures. It was apparently coined by Athanasius 360 A.D. and would have been available to anyone possessing Swedenborg's works.
Divine Providence, page 64: "No one can enter the Kingdom of God unless he has been born anew for the reason that by
[ 17 ]
heredity from his parents he is born into evils of every kind, with the capacity of becoming spiritual through removal of the evils; unless he becomes spiritual then he cannot enter heaven. To become spiritual from being natural is to be born again...."
Book of Mormon, 2 Nephi 2:21: "...for he showed unto all men that they were lost because of the transgression of their parents...." Mosiah 27:25, 26: "...all mankind... must be born again; yea, born of God, changed from their carnal state to a state of righteousness... unless they do this, they can in no wise inherit the Kingdom of God."
The Bible doesn't give as complete a discourse on being born again as is presented by Swedenborg and the Book of Mormon in these verses.
Divine Providence, page 69: "The Lord is omnipotent and wills the salvation of all."
Book of Mormon, Mosiah 3:17: "...salvation can come to the children of men, only in and through the... Lord omnipotent."
The New Testament doesn't speak of the "Lord Omnipotent" willing the salvation of all.
Divine Providence, page 79: "But the adult who has not come to true liberty and rationality in the world can never do so after death, for the state of his life remains to eternity what it was in the world."
Book of Mormon, Alma 34:33: "...for after the day of this life which is given us to prepare for eternity... if we do not improve our time... then cometh the night of darkness wherein there can be no labor performed."
Again, these Book of Mormon lines have the same meaning as the Swedenborg lines.
Divine Providence, page 91: "Before coming to the Holy Communion a person should examine himself, see and confess his sins, and do penitence, desisting from his sins and rejecting them.... These words are read out by the priest in a deep voice to all who are about to observe the Holy Supper, and are listened to by them in full acknowledgment that they are true."
Book of Mormon, Moroni 4:1, 6:7: "The manner of the elders and priests administering the flesh and blood of Christ unto the
[ 18 ]
church; and they administer it according to the commandment of Christ; wherefore we know the manner to be true... and they were strict to observe that there should be no iniquity among them."
Divine Providence, page 101: "...man should shun evils as sins and look to the Lord... affections of good and truth are implanted in place of lusts of evil... and heavenly love in place of infernal love; prudence is implanted in place of cunning, wise thinking in place of malevolent. So a man is born again and becomes a new man."
Book of Mormon, Mosiah 27:24-26: "For, he said, I have repented of my sins... behold I am born of the spirit... marvel not that all mankind... must be born again: yea, born of God, changed from their carnal and fallen state, to a state of righteousness, being redeemed of God... and thus they become new creatures."
(The Claim) Divine Providence, pages 106-108: "Plain it is... that a faith induced by miracles is not faith, but persuasion.... For a miracle infuses belief in an external and not an internal way, thus from the world and not from heaven... no miracles are done today. Miracles were done among the Jews and Israelites because they were altogether external men.... But miracles ceased after the Lord manifested himself...."
(The Rebuttal) Book of Mormon, Mormon 9:7-19: "I speak unto you who deny the revelations of God, and say that they are done away... he that denieth these things knoweth not the gospel of Christ: yea he hath not read the scriptures: if so, he does not understand them.... Behold, I will show you a God of miracles... O all ye that have imagined up unto yourselves a God that can do no miracles... God has not ceased to be a God of miracles. I say unto you He changeth not: if so He would cease to be God: and He ceaseth not to be God, and is a God of miracles."
Divine Providence, pages 159, 160: "Any other evil... would be like poison shut in and not driven out, which would spread quickly and consume all parts to death...."
Book of Mormon, Mosiah 7:29, 30: "I will not succor my people in the day of their transgression.... If my people shall sow filthiness... the effect thereof is poison."
Divine Providence, page 160: "...for them to enter hell, they unite with devils there, and not only deny God then, but also blaspheme Him."
[ 19 ]
Book of Mormon, Jacob 7:9: "I, Sharem, declare unto you that this is blaspheme... and I said unto him: deniest thou the Christ... and he said: if there should be a Christ I would not deny him; but I know that there is no Christ...."
Divine Providence, page 192: "...anyone can know when distinction and wealth are blessings or curses, namely, that they are blessings with those who do not set their hearts on them... one does not set the heart on them when he loves uses and not himself in them."
Book of Mormon, Alma 7:6: "...I trust that ye have not set your hearts upon riches and the vain things of the world."
Divine Providence, page 198: "It is by divine providence that man puts off his natural and temporal through death and puts on the spiritual and eternal."
Book of Mormon, Mosiah 3:19: "For the natural man is an enemy to God... unless he yields to the enticings of the holy spirit, and putteth off the natural man and becometh a saint...."
Divine Providence, page 205: "...their inward nature has become diabolical... they are... devils who effect to be angels of light... and cast into outer darkness."
Book of Mormon, 2 Nephi 9:9: "And our spirits must have become like unto him, and we become devils, angels to a devil... nigh unto an angel of light...."; Alma 40:13: "...the spirit of the devil did enter into them... and these shall be cast out into outer darkness...."
Divine Providence, page 230: "When he sees such numbers of wicked in the world and so many of their impieties... and sees them go unpunished by God...."
Book of Mormon, Helaman 7:5, 6: "...letting the wicked go unpunished.... Now this great iniquity had come upon the Nephites...."
Divine Providence, page 231: "All Christendom has acknowledged three Gods, not knowing that God is one in essence and in person and that He is the Lord."
Book of Mormon, 3 Nephi 11:27: "...the Father and the Son and the Holy Ghost are one; and I am in the Father, and the Father in me, and the Father and I are one."
[ 20 ]
Divine Providence, page 234: "The people were so severely punished and... smitten by the pestilence ... on account of themselves...."
Book of Mormon, Mosiah 12:17: "And they shall be smitten with a great pestilence... and all this I do because of their iniquities...."
Divine Providence, page 235: "...for the church established by the Israelitish and Jewish nation (at Jerusalem) was a representative church: all of its judgments and statutes were...."
Book of Mormon, 1 Nephi 17:22: "The people who were in the land of Jerusalem were a righteous people: for they kept the statutes and judgments of the Lord...."
Divine Providence, pages 235; 236: "...the full devastation of the church (at Jerusalem) was represented by the destruction of the temple and carrying off of Israel and the captivity of Judah in Babylon."
Book of Mormon, 1 Nephi 1:13: "Yea, and many other things did my father read concerning Jerusalem -- that it should be destroyed... and many should be carried away captive into Babylon."
Divine Providence, page 245: "...the evil man is more crafty and cunning... than a good man, and... takes pleasure in killing and plundering those he knows to be the enemy."
Book of Mormon, Mosiah 9:10, 10:17: "Now it was the cunning craftiness of King Laman... to stir up his people... therefore there began to be wars and contentions in the land... that they should murder them and... rob and plunder them...."
Divine Providence, page 245: "...all human beings can be saved if only they live according to the precepts of the Decalog which forbid committing murder, adultery, theft, and false witness ...."
Book of Mormon, Mosiah 12:33, 13:21-23: "I know that if ye
[ 21 ]
keep the commandments of God ye shall be saved.... Thou shalt not kill, thou shalt not commit adultery Thou shalt not steal, thou shalt not bear false witness...."
Divine Providence, page 261: "...after all these centuries the Jews... do not confess the Lord... but they steadfastly persist in denying him...."
Book of Mormon, 4 Nephi 1:26,29: "And they began to... deny the true church of Christ.... And again, there was another church which denied the Christ."
Divine Providence, page 275: "This is the state of innocence in which Adam and his wife Eve were...."
Book of Mormon, 2 Nephi 2:23: "...they (Adam and Eve) would have remained in a state of innocence...."
The words "state of innocence" are not used in the Bible. The Book of Mormon writer is following Swedenborg's writings.
Adam and Eve in the Garden (from an engraving by Dore)
Divine Providence, pages 284, 285: "In accord with their belief they are clothed at first in white garments, for white garments signify a state purified from evils."
Book of Mormon, Alma 13:11,12: "...and their garments were washed white [and] having their garments made white... they could not look upon sin save it were with abhorrence...."
Divine Providence, page 285: "It is an error of the age to believe that the state of man's life can be changed in a moment so that from wicked he can become good, and consequently can be led from hell and transported to heaven.... Many think it is done instantly, too, and... can be done in the last hour of one's life... and that he can be saved by direct mercy.... Man cannot become good in a moment from being wicked...."
Book of Mormon, Alma 34:32-34: "For behold, this life is the time for men to prepare to meet God.... I beseech of you that ye do not procrastinate the day of your repentance until the end: for after this day of life... if we do not improve our time... then
[ 22 ]
cometh the night of darkness wherein there can be no labor performed. Ye cannot say when ye are brought to that awful crisis, that I will repent, that I will return to my God.... For that same spirit which doth possess your bodies at the time that ye go out of this life, that same spirit will have power to possess your body in that eternal world."
Divine Providence, page 306: "One who has entered more interiorly and deeply into infernal societies becomes like one bound by chains."
Book of Mormon, Alma 12:6 "...this was a snare of the adversary... that he might encircle you about with his chains. That he might chain you down to everlasting destruction...."
Divine Providence, page 363: "Every religion declines and comes to an end through the inversion of Gods image in man. It is known that the human being was created in the image and after the likeness of God."
Book of Mormon, Mosiah 7:27: "Christ... would take upon him the image of man... or in other words, he said that man was created after the image of God."
Divine Providence, page 365: "It is also provided by the Lord that all are saved who die as infants...."
Book of Mormon, Mosiah 3:18: "And the infant perisheth not that dieth in his infancy... none shall be found blameless before God, except it be little children...."
Divine Providence, page 370: "Moreover, the Lord is known to everyone... for He is God of heaven and earth."
Book of Mormon, Mosiah 3:8: "...and he shall be called Jesus Christ... the Father of heaven and earth...."
Again, these verses are unique to Swedenborg and the Book of Mormon.
Divine Providence, pages 373-374: Swedenborg presents a lengthy allegory on the tame and wild olive tree as found in Isaiah and Romans.
[ 23 ]
Book of Mormon Jacob ch. 5,6: The Book of Mormon presents an even more lengthy allegory on the tame and wild olive tree.
"They have become free forever, knowing good from evil, to act for themselves... wherefore, men are free... to choose liberty and eternal life or to choose captivity and death...." (2 Ne. 2:26,27)
"The common soldier... if he looks to the Lord... abominated the wrongful effusion of blood.... When he hears the sound of the drum calling him to desist from the slaughter, his fury ceases, he looks upon his captives after victory as neighbors... before the battle he rakes his mind to the Lord..." (E.S. p. 60)
"...the Nephites... cried with one voice to their Lord and God.... Now Moroni commanded his men that they should stop shedding their blood... we do not desire to be men of blood... we do not desire to slay you.... The Lord is with us.... "(Alma 43:49-54, 44:13)
"All a good man has thought and done, from infancy even to the last of his life, remains. In like manner all the evil is inscribed on his book of Life...." (E. S. p. 95)
"The names of the wicked shall not be mingled with the names of my people: for the names of the righteous shall be written in the book of life" (Alma 5:57).
"Man is born into the evils of the love of self and of the
[ 24 ]
world... such make men blind, and incline him to deny that there is a divine, that there is a heaven and hell, and of a life after death... without the word, no one would possess spiritual intelligence which consists of having knowledge of God...." (E.S. p. 100).
"...deniest thou the Christ who should come? And he said: If there should be a Christ, I would not deny him; but I know that there is no Christ, neither has been, nor ever will be.... And he spoke of hell and of eternity" (Jacob 7:9)
"True marriage love is not possible between one husband and several wives, for its spiritual origin, which is the formation of one mind out of two, is thus destroyed... Maniage with more than one is like an understanding divided among several wives.... Genuine marriage cannot possibly exist between a husband and several wives" (E.S. pp. 71-74)
"Wherefore, my brethren, hear me, and harken to the word of the Lord: for there shall not be any man among you have save it be one wife...." (Jac. 2:27)
"It is believed in the world that a man is able to know... without revelation many things that belong to religion... such make man blind, and incline him to deny that there is a divine... without revelation... all these things would have been utterly unknown...." (E.S. pp. 100,101)
"Yea, woe unto him who shall deny the revelations of the Lord, and shall say that the Lord no longer worketh by revelation...." (3 Ne. 29:6)
"Man's spirit... is in its entire form a man. Man after death is just as much a man as he was in the world.... This I can assert, for I have talked, after their decease, with almost all with whom I had been acquainted in the life of the body" (E.S. p. 106)
"For I spake unto him [the spirit] as a man speaketh, for I beheld that he was in the form of a man... and he spake unto me as a man speaketh to another. (1 Ne. 11:11)
[ 25 ]
This "spiritual fluid" doctrine, as taught by Swedenborg, was also written about by Orson Pratt, one of Joseph Smith's early converts. In his "The Seer", published in 1853, Pratt writes:
...Celestial vegetables, when digested form a celestial fluid which gives immortality and eternal life to the organization in which it flows.... Spiritual beings beget children composed of the fluid which circulates in their veins, which is spiritual. (The Seer, p. 37)Parley Pratt, brother of Orson, explains the "spiritual fluid" doctrine in more detail:
Jesus Christ, a little babe like all the rest of us have been, grew to a man, was filled with a divine substance or fluid.... It is... an absolute impossibility for God the Father, or Jesus Christ, to be everywhere present. The omnipresence of God must therefore be understood in some other way than of his bodily or personal presence. This leads to the investigation of that substance called the Holy Spirit....Orson Pratt had this to say about Swedenborg:
We do not pretend that a perfect doctrine is an infallible evidence in favor of the divine authority of the one who
[ 26 ]
teaches it... Swedenborg, Irving and many others, taught doctrines in some respects true, and in other respects false... now if Mr. Smith [Joseph Smith] had professed that he had got his book as Swedenborg got his...that is, if he had professed to obtain this book to usher in the last dispensation in any other way than "out of the ground" we should have reason to suppose him a deceiver like Swedenborg and thousands of others, (Orson Pratt's Works on the Doctrines of the Gospel, pp. 5, 15; see also LDS Millennial Star, X:18, Sept. 15, 1848)From the above quote, we see that Parley Pratt had a knowledge of Swedenborg's unique "spiritual fluid" doctrine at least as early as 1854, and that his brother, Orson, was also familiar with Swedenborg's works.
However, this does not in any way point to either of the Pratt brothers as being the author of the Book of Mormon, since they had no association with Joseph Smith until after the Book of Mormon was published. It only indicates that Swedenborg's writings were widely known in America in the early nineteenth century, particularly among members of the clergy.
WHO WROTE THE BOOK OF MORMON?There are no witnesses to the boyhood years of Joseph Smith, Jr., who tell of his being engaged in writing the Book of Mormon. A work of 588 pages of history and religious doctrine would have taken considerable time and effort to accomplish. It seems unlikely that Smith could have written such a work in secret; by his own admission, Smith lamented his inability to convey his ideas in writing. Dean Jessee, B.Y.U. historian, wrote the following:
He [Smith] wrote that because indigent circumstances required the exertions of his entire family to sustain themselves, he had been deprived of the benefit of an education, being instructed merely in 'reading writing and the ground rules of arithmetic,' which constituted his 'whole literary requirements.'
[ 27 ]
'almost total darkness of pen and ink,' and the 'crooked broken scattered and imperfect language.' (Dean Jessee, The Personal Writings of Joseph Smith, Preface)In July 1832, Joseph Smith began writing his personal history, but discontinued the task in November the same year. He began a second record in the form of a diary, but left most of the writing to his scribes. The historical record shows that Smith struggled with his writing endeavors, even shrinkihg from the responsibility of writing his own history.
Nineteenth Century Silhouettes of Solomon Spalding and Joseph Smith
Soon after the Book of Mormon was published, Joseph Smith was accused of having used an unpublished manuscript written by the former Congregational evangelist, Solomon Spalding of Conneaut, Ohio, as the text for his "new revelation." Rumors in northeastern Ohio and northwestern Pennsylvania had it that friends and relatives of Spalding in that area had noticed a resemblance between the Book of Mormon and the Spalding manuscript. (Deseret Evening News, Jan. 16, 1878)
ALTERING THE TEXT OF THE BOOK OF MORMON
As we search for truth in the midst of lies, here is one thing we can KNOW with absolute certainty. The Book of Mormon repeatedly and consistently teaches a doctrine known as oneness. Oneness is the only Christological school of thought which logically combines the deity of Yahshua (Jesus), with the well established monotheism of the Hebrew scriptures. Very simply put, oneness is the doctrine which teaches that Yahweh, the one and only god of Israel, manifested himself in a physical body. This is not trinitarianism.
[ 28 ]
throughout the Book of Mormon, and this would require that Joseph had a good understanding of that school of thought known as oneness. If this is what happened, then why did he not follow through and teach this same doctrine in the early Mormon Church?
On page nine of this study, it was shown that both Swedenborg and the Book of Mormon author taught this "oneness doctrine."
Inasmuch as we have just reviewed the excellent article, published by the "Truth Seekers" on the oneness doctrine, it may be informative to review again the Swedenborg / Book of Mormon oneness doctrine.
The New Testament reads: "I and the Father are one"
[ 29 ]
(John 10:30). And at John 10:38: "the Father is in me, and I in Him."
Swedenborg combines John's verse 30 with verse 38 and reverses the order of the verses making them read: "The Lord is in the Father, and the Father in him, and that he and the Father are one." (Four Doctrines, p. 2).
When the Book of Mormon author wrote these verses he appears to be following Swedenborg. He also combines the two verses from John's gospel, and like Swedenborg, reverses the order of the verses, making them read: "...and I am in the Father and the Father in me, and the Father and I are one" (3 Ne. 11:27).
WORDPRINT STUDYThe 1992 edition of my Book of Mormon Authorship includes a wordprint comparison of possible authors, The results show that Solomon Spalding was most likely the author of the Book of Mormon.
The following table represents the results of my personal study of the wordprints of four nineteenth-century writers compared with selected wordprints taken from the Book of Mormon. Only words thought to be unconscious words of the authors were used in the study: the, of, to, be, it, for, but, this and is.
Average number of times each selected word was used [per 1000 words of text] in the Book of Mormon compared with that of four nineteenth-century writers [Smith, Rigdon, Cowdery and Spalding].
[ 30 ]
A total of 116,000 words were used in the study: 54,000 from the Book of Mormon and 62,000 from the four nineteenth-century writers.
The 8.1 average wordprint variance between Smith's wordprint and the combined Book of Mormon wordprint shows that Smith was the least likely of the four nineteenth-century writers tested to have been the author of the Book of Mormon. (For a complete account of my "wordprint study" see my Book of Mormon Authorship: A Closer Look, 1992, p. 50)
A study of Joseph Smith's vocabulary, in his personal writings, reveals that he used 313 words that are not found in the Book of Mormon text, indication again that Smith was not the author.
CONCLUSIONThe focus of this study has been to show that the writings of Emanuel Swedenborg, 1688-1772, may have been used by the Book of Mormon author in preparing the religious parts of the Book.
It was shown that it is likely that the Book of Mormon author used as many as 110 of the 175 Bible verses quoted by Swedenborg in his "The Four Doctrines." Bible verses from Swedenborg's other prolific writings may also have been used in the composition of the Book of Mormon.
It was also noted that the 1838 account of Smith's fist vision story was almost identical to Swedenborg's vision story, that Joseph Smith's writing ability was inadequate for Smith to have been the author of the Book of Mormon, and that Spalding's wordprint shows him to have been the more likely author of the book, not Joseph Smith.
It is quite possible that the former Congregational evangelist, Solomon Spalding, had contact with Swedenborg ministers in the Pittsburgh area between 1812 and 1816. Printed material received from them may have been the major source for some of the religious parts of Spalding's manuscript, which critics later claimed was the basis for the Book of Mormon.
[ 31 ]
Walked among them, at a distance,
Now and then calling the angels
By their secret names. He would see
That which earthly eyes do not see:
The fierce geometry, the crystal
Labyrinth of God and the sordid
Millings of infernal delights.
He knew that glory and Hell too
Are in your soul, with all their myths;
He knew like the Greek, that the days
Of time are eternity's mirrors.
In dry Latin he went on listing
The unconditional Last Things.
[ 32 ]
Deseret Evening News, Jan. 16, 1878.
Jessee, Dean, The Personal Writings of Joseph Smith.
History of the Church, vol. 2.
McConkie, Bruce, Mormon Doctrine.
Pearl of Cheat Price.
Pratt, Orson, The Doctrines of the Gospel.
Pratt, Orson, The Seer.
Pratt, Parley, The Key to Theology.
Smith, Lucy Mack, Joseph Smith the Prophet and his Progenitors.
Smith, Joseph, 2, History of Joseph Smith the Prophet.
Synnestvedt, Sig, The Essential Swedenborg.
Synnestvedt Life of Emanuel Swedenborg.
Swedenborg, Emanuel, Divine Providence.
Swedenborg, Emanuel, The Four Doctrines.
The Book of Mormon, 1830.
The Book of Mormon, 1837.
The Book of Mormon, 1950.
Sample Article from an Early
Published in London during the year 1799
Excerpt from Vol. I. No. 1 (May 1799)
"On the Abyssinian Church, and
Concerning the Book of Enoch"
(pages 17 - 23)
Respecting the opinions of these two parties concerning the incarnation, Mr. Bruoe observes, "Some have imagined that the difference between these two bodies arises from a dispute about the two natures in Chrfst. But this is from misinformation; for were a dispute to arise about the two natures in Christ, each party would declare the other an heretic; but at present, a few equivocal words, used to define the mode and moment of our Saviour's incarnation, though neither opinion is thought heretical; have the effect to make these two sects enemies all their lives."
18                                           THE AURORA.
Mr. Bruce no where mentions these opinions concerning the incarnation; but only observes, in a note, (vol. ii. p. 586) "There can be no doubt both these opinions are absolute heresy, in the most liberal sense of the word, as expressly denying our Saviour's consubstantiality."
What the disagreement is between these two sects, relative to the mode of the incarnation, or what their respective opinions are on this subject, Mr. Bruce having no where intimated them, we are left in the dark to judge, but in regard to their respective creeds on the different natures in Christ, this publication of them seems to be important to the New Church, as shewing that the ground of genuine truth still remains in the Abyssinian church, and that their present deviation therefrom consists, not like that of the European churches, in a total rejection of genuine truth, but rather in the separation of it into two questions, and maintaining one side only of it to be truth; when, by uniting the sense of both, the real doctrine of the church on the assumption of the humanity, would be manifest. As for example: -- The first humanity the Lord put on or assumed was from Mary; consequently He was first united to a body perfectly human, consubstantial with our's; and by this union was born the Messiah, or God with us in the flesh. This first human nature, taken from the mother, He progressively, during His manifestation on earth, put off, or rejected out of Himself, so as no longer to be the son of Mary; and as the Lord thus rejected His first, maternal human nature, He progressively put on a divine human nature, which is now called the Divine Humanity, and which being infinite as his godhead, and from Himself, cannot be said to be consubstantial with our nature, or derived from the mother; but of that substance called by
THE AURORA.                                          19
the sect of Abba Eustathins Bakery; which must mean a substance superior to that of the mother, or of our's, consequently a divine substance. Hence it should appear, that the two opinions united, accord with the truth, viz. that Jesus Christ is one God of the Father alone, perfect God and perfect man, first united to a body perfectly human and consubstantial with our's, and by that union was born the Messiah; but that during his abode on earth, he progressively put off this first, maternal humanity, and progressively put on his divine humanity from Himself; which being of a precious or divine substance, may be called Bakery; as not being consubstantial with our's, or derived from the mother; but consubstantial with the Father or his own divine nature, as derived from Himself; so that by this latter union he became perfect God and perfect man, agreeable to the words of Paul, "In Jesus Christ dwelleth all the fullness of the Godhead bodily." In farther elucidation of this doctrine, it may be remarked, that in proportion as the Lord was in the first; or maternal humanity, he was in states of temptation, which he then admitted, combating for the salvation of mankind, and expelling the maternal humanity; which were his states of exinanition; and in proportion as he was in his divine humanity, he was in states of putting on, impletion and of glorification, or one with the Father; and when he became fully glorified, which was at his ascension, he had fully rejected all he had received from Mary; which latter humanity he chose to assume for the purpose of accomplishing, and in which he did accomplish, the work of redemption.
20                                           THE AURORA.
Mr. Bruce, speaking of the book of Enoch, or the prophecies of Enoth, mentioned by Jude, observes as follows: "Concerning the book of Enoch, it is a gnostic book, containing the age of the Enims, Anakims, and Egregores, supposed descendants of the sons of God; when they fell in love with the daughters of men, and had sons who were giants. These giants do not seem to have been so charitable to the sons and daughters of men as their fathers had been. For first, they began to eat up all the beasts of the earth; then they fell upon the birds and fishes, and eat them also; their hunger not being yet satisfied, they eat all the corn, all men's labor, all the trees and bushes; and not content yet, they fell to eating the men themselves. The men (like our modern sailors with the savages) were not afraid of dying, but very much of being eaten after death. At length they cry to God against the wrongs the giants had done them, and God sends a flood, which drowns both them and the giants."
In the Abyssinian Canon, Mr. Bruce says, the book of Enoch stands immediately before the book of Job, from which circumstance, taken together with it's contents, we may infer it to be one of the books written in the declension of the most ancient church, and preserved for the use of the ancient church; agreeable to what Emanuel Swedenborg says in the Arcana Coelestia, n: 464. "The church called Enoch, is described as framing doctrine from what was revealed to, and perceived by, the most antient church; which doctrine, although it was of no use at that time, was yet preserved for the use of posterityl and this is signified by these words, that Enoch was not, because God took him. See also Arc. Coel. n: 518 to 532.
THE AURORA.                                          21
This book, however, though written by some in the church called Enoch, I take it, is not a book of doctrines, such as are understood at this day; but a book of Enunciation, or Prophecies, concerning the fall of the most antient church; which through perceptions, was revealed to some, who thereupon reduced them to an historical form by correspondences, to serve as a warning for the future state of mankind; in which light it may hereafter be made use of, as well as in confirmation of the spiritual sense of the word.
The Enims, Anakims, and Egregores, were a race similar to the Nephilims * mentioned in Gen. vi. 4, who were in direful persuasions of the false, and, through a persuasion of their own height and preheminence, made light of all things holy and true; and who infused falsities into evil lusts; such must inevitably have occasioned the successive destruction of all things in the church, as mentioned in the summary given by Mr. Bruce. First the affections of good, the knowledges of truth, and the scientific perceptions derived from outward images, dependent thereon; for all outward objects served at that time for such scientific ground; whence the perceptive knowledges arose, which, as it were, became the intuitive vessels receptive of the affections; -- such were the beasts, birds and fishes. Then they devoured the corn, and men's labor in the field, or all preceptions relative to the doctrine of the church and worship, or social life at that time (not repeated rites and ceremonies, for such succedanii, or forms, were not then expedient to fix the mind, and which commenced only when men began to neglect the worship of God in spirit and truth). Then the trees and bushes, (of the forest,) all such preceptions
Editor's note: The word should be Nephilim. which is a plural and requires no "s" as a suffix. The reference to the mythological Nephilim in a discussion of the Ethiopian Book of Enoch is doubly interesting, in that a homonym of that word was also linked to the the Enoch lore in medieval times. Rev. Daniel Guilford Wait's 1823 Jewish, Classical, and Oriental Antiquities, states on page 277: "The Book of Ibn-Nephi has the following verse: "And God appointed him [Enoch] a prophet, and caused to descend to him thirty books; and he inherited the books of Seth, and the Ark of Adam, and he lived by dint of his own labor, and was a tailor. The same statement was published in the London Gentleman's Magazine for August, 1830, prefaced with the remark, "In Wait's 'Oriental Antiquities' (page 277), there is a curious statement from Ibn-nephi, not as possessing any great authority, but to show that a confirmed idea must have existed in the east that Enoch was was acquainted with the use of letters." In Arabic the name "ibn-nephi" has the meaning of "son of Nephi." Ibn Nephi must have possessed a special interest in ancient literacy, as well as biblical patriarchs. In the article "The Origin of Writing." on page 387 of Vol. I of the 1890 Chicago magazine, The National Stenographer, can be found this note: "The tradition of Enoch recurs again and again in classical history... Ibn Nephi writes, 'But Adris [Enoch], who is Hermes (peace be unto him!) was the first after Seth who wrote with a pen, and Adris was deeply imbued with piety and religion from his youth upwards... And God appointed him to be a prophet and delivered to him thirty books. He inherited also the books which Seth composed and the Tebet [ark] of Adam, and he lived by dint of his own labor and was a tailor... precious things of religion and wisdom to the prophet Enoch...'" The same Enoch lore can be found in Wm. Ouseley's Oriental Collections, for the second quarter of 1797, in the article "Arabian and Persian traditions of the origin of writing," by "Philologus," where Ibn-Nephi is quoted, as mentioning that Enoch transmitted to his descendants the use of letters, together with the books of Enas, and of his father Seth, the son of Adam.
22                                           THE AURORA.
as served for defence and protection, such as then existed with young people and the external, in whom the interior degrees of the human mind were not yet opened. Finally, they devoured the men themselves; that is, destroyed every thing truly human in themselves, and I conceive, became even personally monsters, especially as to the looks of their faces, which must have been hideous, as manifesting the forms of their perverted affections. For the men at that day, acting immediately under the influence of their wills, the simulations, or concealment of their affections, which prevails at this day from the exercise of the understanding, was then unknown.
Concerning the church, and the book called Enoch, or Chanoch, the following passages occur in the Apocalypsis Explicata, n: 670, and 728.
N: 670, "When the most ancient church, which was before the flood, came to its end, then the representatives of coelestial things, which were among the most antient people, were collected together by those who were called Enoch, and preserved for the use of the new church after the flood; which church was called a representative church, because its laws and statutes, and in general its worship, consisted of representatives, or of such things in the natural world, as corresponded with spiritual things in the spiritual world; with these the case was the same; namely, that they were separated from the wicked, by being taken up into heaven, and thus protected, and this even until the old church came to its end, and when the new church was to be established; this is described by the following words in Genesis; and Enoch walked with God, and was no more, because God took him, v. 24.
THE AURORA.                                          23
That That such things are meant in the spiritual sense by Enoch, by his walking before God, and by his being taken up by God, may be seen in the Arc. Coel. n: 518 to 523, where those words are explained."
N: 723 "In like manner, as it is here said of the foetus begotten of the woman, that it was caught up to God, it is also said of Enoch, the son of Jared, but in these words, Enoch walked with God, and was no more, because God took him, Gen. v. 24. Who are here meant by this Enoch, and what was signified, hath been made known to me from heaven, namely, that they who were from the men of the most ancient church, collected together the representatives and correspondences of natural things with spiritual things; for the men of the most ancient church were in that spiritual understanding and preception of all things which they saw with their eyes, and thence from objects in the world they discerned the spiritual things which corresponded with the objects; and because the Lord foresaw, that the spiritual preception would perish among their posterity, and with that perception the knowledge also of correspondences, whereby the human race had conjunction with heaven; therefore the lord provided, that some, who lived among the most ancient people, should collect together the correspondences, and digest them into a book. These were the persons meant by Enoch (Chanoch), and that the book which is signified. That book, because it was to serve the future churches, which were to be established "by the Lord after the flood, for science, and for knowledge of spiritual things in natural things, was preserved by the Lord for their use, and also protected, lest the last posterity of the most ancient church, which was
24                                           THE AURORA.
evil, should injure that book: this, therefore, is what in the spiritual sense is signified by Enoch being no more, because God took him."
"Swedenborgiana" from Wm. H. Whitsitt's
Unpublished Sidney Rigdon Biography
Sidney Rigdon, The Real
Founder of Mormonism
Written between 1886 and 1891
Excerpts from various chapters, wherein
the probable influence of Swedenborg
upon the theology of Sidney Rigdon
& early Mormonism is discussed
|William Heth Whitsitt (1841-1911)|
The names of Elder Sidney Rigdon and the European seer, Emanuel Swedenborg, are rarely found with any sort of linkage in the literature of Mormonism. Rigdon himself appears to have never offered any remarks on whether or not he agreed with Swedenborg's claims to divine revelation and assertions of spiritual truth. Among Rigdon's disciples, only Parley P. Pratt is known to have written anything on the subject, and that came late in his religious career, long after he had parted ways with Elder Rigdon.
On the other hand, the names of Joseph Smith, Jr. and Emanuel Swedenborg are now and then to be found on the same page of 19th and 20th century writings on "religious pretenders" or "religious hoaxes." Where such old writers make casual mention of these two self-proclaimed seers, it is obvious that they expected their readers to possess at least some minimal knowledge of Smith and Swedenborg. Since Sidney Rigdon's fame never reached the same heights that Smith's reputation achieved, it is not surprising that few of the old writers took the trouble to introduce him as a visionary in some ways comparable to Emanuel Swedenborg. One small exception to this general pattern can be read in the Sept., 1842 issue of the Christian Review, where a writer discusses "Swedenborgism." He says:
The most plausible pretender to divine revelations that has appeared in modern times, and the one who has drawn after him the greatest number of respectable followers, Is Emanuel Swedenborg.... He professes to be a teacher sent from God, and to deliver a vast amount of new and most important truth, gathered from the hidden senses of Scripture, and from the world of spirits....Given such a paucity of references linking Sidney Rigdon wuth Emanuel Swedenborg, it is not surprising that William H. Whitsitt, the author of an unpublished 19th century Rigdon biography, was able to provide no published citations in support of his own theory -- that Sidney Rigdon was influenced by Swedenborg's writings and that Rigdon inserted Swedenborgian tenets into the Book of Mormon and early Mormon theology.
I. W. Riley's Impact on Mormon History
Whitsitt's readers are thus left with the firm impression that his theory of a Swedenborgian religious influence upon Sidney Rigdon originated with Dr. Whitsitt himself, and was not something he derived from any previous investigators of Mormon. In fact, some later writers have attempted to steer their readers away from the idea of any Swedenborgian predispositions in early Mormonism. I. Woodbridge Riley offers these conclusions:
Smith's achievements as prophet, seer, and revelator have been explained on the basis of auto-hypnosis and hypnotic suggestion. The use of such terms is of course proleptic. A difficult problem now arises: What historic connection, if any, was there between the founder of Mormonism and those movements of his day which formed the antecedents of hypnotism?" Did he borrow from Swedenborgianism, Animal Magnetism, Spiritualism and other pseudo-scientific cults which swept over the country? To anticipate, -- the answer is negative. At the founding of the church, these movements were as yet below the horizon of the prophet, while his most mature theories were simple in the extreme. The Founder of Mormonism, (1903) pp. 231-232, emphasis added.Thus Mr. Riley, along with many subsequent writers on Mormonism, disposes of the idea of that religion's origins being in any way dependent upon the theology of Emanuel Swedenborg. At the same time, Riley managed to shift attention away from Sidney Rigdon as the probable Book of Mormon author, and on to Joseph Smith, Jr., whom Riley characterizes as a self-deluded, visionary epileptic. The idea never appears to have occurred to Riley, that Sidney Rigdon might instead have been just that sort of a self-deluded, visionary epileptic. At any rate, it was Riley who managed to have his book published, and not Whitsitt. It was Riley who championed the theory of a Joseph Smith authorship for the book, and thus Whitsitt's contrary explanation was never widely publicized.
Writing in a Sept. 20, 1902 number of the New York Times Saturday Review of Books, John White Chadwick crticized Riley for his departure from William A. Linn's published conclusions regarding Mormon Origins: "Here is occasion for regret; Mr. Linn's book was so important and made so much of some things for which Mr. Riley does not greatly care. A principal case is that of Sidney Rigdon's part in the production of the Mormon Bible... we are assured that he [Smith] had no entangling alliances with Swedenborg..."
The "Three Degrees of Glory"
After the appearance of Riley's book, in 1902, more than a quarter century passed before a few curious investigators began to speculate that a certain episode in Mormon history might have had some Swedenborgian undertones. The event in question was the Feb. 16, 1832 joint vision reportedly experienced by Joseph Smith and Sidney Rigdon at Hiram, Ohio, as reported in the Evening and Morning Star for July of 1832. According to Smith's biographer, Fawn M. Brodie, Joseph was reading Paul's words in the Bible, saying "There is one glory of the sun, and another glory of the moon, and another glory of the stars... [in] the resurrection of the dead," and was much affected by the message he found there. Brodie says (p. 117), "Upon reading these lines, he said, there came to him and Rigdon a vision of the resurrection in which they saw three great kingdoms, to which all men would be assigned at the Judgment Day." Although both the method and the message of this event have strong parallels with Swedenborg's visions and theology, Brodie did not make the plausible connection. On a later page in her book she attributed such degrees of heavenly progression to the influence of the Rev. Thomas Dick -- which was not an unlikely conclusion, given the fact that Sidney Rigdon himself quoted directly from Rev. Dick in the 1836 pages of the Kirtland Messenger and Advocate.
Although Brodie missed seeing a Swedenborg connection (she relied much on Riley for her views), later writers noticed this unmistakeable parallel with Swedenborgian religion. See J. B. Haws' 2008 paper, "Joseph Smith, Emanuel Swedenborg, and Section 76..." (on-line at the BYU Religious Studies Center web-site) for the relevant bibliography.
William H. Whitsitt was perhaps the first writer to document the Swedenborgian elements in the 1832 joint vision of the "three degrees of glory;" but that was not his starting point in detailing the philosophical dependence of Sidney Rigdon upon the Scandinavian seer. That dependence was something Whirsitt evidently noticed early in his study of Mormonism, and which he dated to a period well before the 1832 vision at Hiram. Here is how Whitsitt described his work, in a Feb. 16, 1886 letter to James H. Fairchild of Oberlin College, at a time when the text of his Rigdon biography was not yet finalized:
My dear Sir,
In his Rigdon biography William H. Whitsitt attributes several Mormon teachings to the influence of Swedenborg. These include some tenets regarding polygamy; the precept of three heavenly levels; the idea of a spiritual creation preceding a physical creation; the eternal nature of matter; anthropomorphic heavenly beings; and certain elements of polytheism (or, in the case of developed Mormonism, monolatry). Whitsitt evidently did not consider the possibility that some of this theology, or religious practice, was already written into the text of the Book of Mormon, at the time (spring of 1830) that he theorizes Rigdon was first struck with "a serious fit of Swedenborgianism." An alternative theory (advocated by Vernal Holley) is that Rigdon somehow came to possess some Solomon Spalding writings, the contents of which were infused with Swedenborgian ideas. If Mr. Holley is indeed correct in this theory, then perhaps even the Swedenborgian themes Whitsitt discovered in Smith and Rigdon's "new translation" of the KJV Bible might be traceable back to Swedenborg's influence upon Spalding.
Extensive excerpts from Whitsitt's Rigdon biography are reproduced below. However, in order to place these remarks into their proper context, the entire Whitsitt text should be consulted and studied.
( 402 )
( 458a )
...For the rest, the views of Sidney regarding the last things do not present any points worthy of special remark. The world shall be burned up with fire (Jacob 6:3). There is to be a resurrection of the righteous and the wicked alike, both brought to pass by the power of Christ (2 Nephi 2:8, 9:22). The spirit and the body will be restored to each other at the resurrection (2 Nephi 9:12-13). There will be an eternal separation of the good from the bad (1 Nephi 15:33- 34). A great... "judgment day" is appointed where every man shall be judged according to his works (Mosiah 9:24 cf. Alma 11:44). The interval between death and the judgment is to be passed by the righteous in paradise and by the wicked in perdition (Alma 40:11-15). The blessedness of the good will be as extended in duration on one hand as the destruction of the wicked on the other (1 Nephi 13:7, 3 Nephi 26:5): in both instances the period will be eternal. There is not a trace in the Book of Mormon of the later teaching regarding the "buffeting of Satan for a thousand years." The volume in every part strenuously contradicts every idea of that sort and against all comers holds to the eternity of penal torments, as opposed to the restoration of all the finally (unpenitents).
The eternal torment of the wicked is regularly represented in the light of an actual lake of fire and brimstone (Jacob 6:10; 2 Nephi 9:19-26; cf. also 28:23 and 3 Nephi 27:7). It therefore comports ill with Mr. Rigdon's reputation and standing as a literalist that he should sometimes show the white feather at this point and place the question in doubt as to whether this was real fire or not (Mosiah 2:38, 3:25-27; Alma 12:17 and Mormon 9:5). The modified form of Restorationism which is implied in the three heavens: celestial, terrestrial and telestial, is not found anywhere in the Book of Mormon, which always and without decision enforces the opposite doctrine. This (secondary) view was not brought forward until the 16th of February 1832 (D&C, Sec. 76), when Sidney had found time to cultivate a considerable degree of acquaintance with the tenets of Immanuel Swedenborg.
( 588 )
... But Sidney was moved by something more than a desire to walk closely in the footsteps of Mr. Campbell. It is conceived that sometime during the spring of the year 1830 a serious fit of Swedenborgianism had befallen him. Possibly this may have been derived from some wandering preacher of that faith, or it may have come from a stray copy of "The True Christian Religion," or of the Treatise upon "Heaven and Hell." The Book of Mormon would be now too far advanced in the process of printing to admit of a third redaction for the purpose of inserting this Swedenborgian "new light," but it was very desirable that some place might be found where it would be suitable to display its brilliancy.
( 589 )
A translation of the entire volume of the scriptures would serve the double end of placing him on a favorable footing with Mr. Campbell among the Disciples, and of supplying a convenient opportunity to give decent airing to his recently acquired ideas. If Mr. Smith had been in a situation to accomplish it he would have gone forward with the task of translating the Bible in the absence of Rigdon, but he did not feel any way equal to that business. In letters from Ohio, it is likely that the valued discoveries were duly explained to him, but as his wits had been too thick to catch a firm hold upon the "ancient gospel," even though it was set down in plain characters before his eyes, he felt sure that an effort to exhibit Sidney's recent fancies by means of a translation of the Book of Genesis would prove a failure. Nevertheless he was bold enough to insert one of the new crotchets in a revelation that was produced at the second Conference on the first of September 1830. With covert, but sufficiently apparent reference to the proposed version, he there says: "But remember that all my judgments are not given unto men: and as the words have gone forth out of my mouth, even so shall they be fulfilled, that the first shall be last, and that the last shall be first in all things whatsoever I have created by the word of my power, which is the power of my spirit; for by the power of my spirit
( 590 )
created I them; yea all things both spiritual and temporal: firstly spiritual --secondly temporal, which is the beginning of my work; and again, firstly, temporal -- and secondly spiritual, which is the last of my work" (D.&C., 29, 30-32).
These words must have been wholly obscure to the persons who first received them; they were not explained till the translation of the first and second chapter of Genesis were completed several months later in December 1830. Mr. Rigdon's arrival in December was the signal for laying hand to the task which had been planned by divine revelation during the preceding June...
( 595 )
No emendations of consequence are given in the first chapter of the Book of Genesis; it is only when he reached the Jehovistic narrative at Genesis 2, 4, that the theological skill of Sidney displays itself. Moses speaks there of the creation of "every plant of the field before it was in the earth, and every herb of the field before it grew." The explanation he was able to propose of this statement was considered by Mr. Rigdon to be a marvel of insight and inspiration. He adds: "For I the Lord created all things of which I have spoken, Spiritually, before they were naturally upon the face of the earth" (Genesis 2, 5). In other language Sidney conceived that there was first a spiritual world and secondly a natural world, just as Joseph had remarked in a revelation given at the second Conference (D.&C., 29, 31). It was therefore assumed that every word spoken regarding the
( 596 )
process of creation in Genesis 1, 1-2. 4, related to the formation of the spiritual world which was in existence before the natural world. To carry out this idea to more definite proportions Sidney further added: "And I the Lord God created all the children of men, and not yet a man to till the ground, for in heaven created I them, and there was not yet flesh upon the earth, neither in the water, neither in the air" (Genesis 2, 6).
Nay he is so positive and persistent in this vagary that notwithstanding the distinct notice that is given of the previous existence of various animals in the first chapter of Genesis, he affirms that Adam was "the first flesh upon the earth, the first man also" (Genesis 2, 8). The intention of this proclamation is to declare that man was the first of the multitudinous aforesaid spiritual substances to be clothed upon with a material covering. To avoid leaving space for a misunderstanding he further specifies: "Nevertheless, all things were before created, but spiritually were they created, according to my word" (Genesis 2, 9).
The subject is further mentioned in connection with the history of Enoch, who in his time was honored with permission to "behold the spirits which God had created" (Genesis 6, 38). These spirits had not yet been supplied with a natural body, but their spiritual form was in the same shape as the human body they were destined to receive. The spirits of all the men who ever have been or ever will be in the world were created at the beginning; they must pass the time in the world of spirits until the period when by the operation
( 597 )
of the process of generation, bodies or "tabernacles" shall be provided wherein they may find a habitation among men. One of the high boasts of Sidney's new theology was to the effect that God "made the world, and men before they were in the flesh" (Genesis 6, 52).
The distinction between the spiritual and the natural estate was of much consequence to Mr. Rigdon. He was not content to draw the line at the human race; animals of the lower grades were just as fortunate as man in that regard, as likewise trees and vegetables. The natural was in each and every case provided with a spiritual counterpart. The good fortune of the vegetable kingdom is set forth at Gen. 2, 11: "And out of the ground, made I the Lord God to grow every tree naturally, that is pleasant to the sight of man, and man could behold it." The intention of the writer is to declare that the spiritual counterpart of every tree was created at the beginning; only at this juncture was its natural counterpart, which was a material substance, was permitted to grow out of the ground.
Nay the tree of the field was even more highly favored: "it also became a living soul; for it was spiritual in the day that I created it; for it remaineth in the sphere in which I the Lord created it; yea, even all things which I prepared for the use of man" (Gen. 2, 11). Nothing whatever that was "prepared for the use of man" is without a spiritual to answer to its material substance.
It is not singular that a high position should be assigned to the beasts of the field: "They were also living souls,
( 598 )
for I God breathed into them the breath of life" (Gen. 2, 26).
The spiritual substance in every instance was supposed to correspond to the shape of the material substance, and it is presumed that wherever it was provided the object to which it was joined in case it had life was endowed with the advantages of a "living soul." Sidney exclaims: "Behold all things have their likeness; and all things are created and made to bear record of me; both things which are temporal and things which are spiritual" (Gen. 6, 66).
The distinction between the natural and the spiritual world in the sense above inculcated is a prominent feature of the tenets of Emanuel Swedenborg. In explaining the doctrine of "correspondences" that author affirms: "That there is in everything an internal and an external, and that the external depends on the internal, as the body on the soul is evident from every single thing in the world, when rightly viewed. With man this is manifest; his whole body is from the mind, and thence, in everything that proceeds from man there is an internal and an external; in every action of man there is the will of the mind, and in every expression there is the understanding of the mind; in like manner in each of the senses.
"In every bird and beast, yea in every insect and worm, there is an internal and an external; and also in every tree plant and twig; yea in every stone and particle of dust... The internal of the
( 599 )
small dust of the ground from which its external is inclined, is its tendency to make seeds vegetate; it exhales from its little bosom something which insinuates itself into the inmost parts of the seed, and produces this; and that internal follows its vegetation even to the new seed" (True Christian Religion, n. 785).
It was with reference to these "correspondences" that Sidney is believed to have claimed that "all things have their likeness" (Gen. 6, 66). The internal is by Swedenborg designated as the spiritual, but he is careful to guard against the supposition that the spiritual has no body. On the contrary it has a substantial but not a material body: "the substantial is the primitive of the material" (True Christian Religion, n. 79). Such is the similarity of the natural to the spiritual that persons are liable at death to pass a more or less extended period of time in the spiritual world without being aware that they have suffered a change.
Respecting the form of the substantial or spiritual element of man, Swedenborg taught that "the soul is a human form, from which nothing at all can be taken away, and to which nothing at all can be added...In a word, the soul is the man himself, because it is the inmost man; wherefore its form is fully and perfectly the human form" (True Christian Religion, n. 697). Sidney seems to hold that the same is true regarding the spiritual likeness of trees and beasts. He was also unable to perceive how anything might possess this spiritual counterpart
( 600 )
without having a soul; therefore he does not scruple to attribute to trees and beasts the high distinction of a living soul. It was of little concern to him whether Swedenborg had gone to that extreme or not; to his thinking that was a logical result of Swedenborg's tenets, and he was never in the custom of shunning what he esteemed to be logical results.
Swedenborg teaches that "natural things were created that they might clothe spiritual things, as the skin clothes the bodies of men and animals, and the rind and bark clothe the trunks and branches of trees" (True Christian Religion, n. 78). Mr. Rigdon was captivated by that notion, and brings it forward in the suggestion cited above to the effect that God "caused every tree to grow, naturally," for the purpose of clothing the spiritual tree which had been formed by divine wisdom at the beginning of the creation. He was very strenuously assured that the tree "was spiritual in the day that God created it, and that it remaineth in the [spiritual] sphere in which God created it" (Gen. 2, 11), even after the period when it might be clothed with a material form.
By consequence of his conception of the meaning of the first chapter of Genesis, Mr. Rigdon felt constrained to hold that all spiritual substances were created in the beginning, before any natural things were formed to clothe them. In this regard he was likely sensible of adding an improvement that he had added to the system of Swedenborg. As intimated above, it is a dear point of Mormonism
( 601 )
that "all things were before created, but spiritually were they created" (Gen. 2, 9). One of the main considerations upon which polygamy was supported is that men by the aid of many wives may prepare numerous habitations for the multitudes of spirits that were created in the beginning, but have never yet enjoyed the benefits of walking forth among men (D.&C., 132, 63. Compare also 49, 17).
The first undeniable profession of anthropomorphism on the part of Mr. Rigdon may be found in this translation at Gen. 6, 9. The exact words are: "In the day that God created man (in the likeness of God made he him) in the image of his own body, male and female, created he them." From the circumstance that Swedenborg also very decidedly inclines towards that form of thought it has been considered reasonable to suppose that the impulse in that direction may have been derived from him. He remarks: "Unless an idea be formed of God, that he is the first substance and form, and of his form that it is the very human, the mind of man would readily imbibe idle fancies, like spectres, concerning God himself, the origin of man, and the creation of the world" (True Christian Religion, n. 20). In another place he adds: "There can be no conjunction with an invisible God" (as above, n. 786).
It is freely allowed that there are numerous sources whence the tendency towards this opinion might be conveyed, but as the earliest notice of it occurs in a document where Mr. Rigdon
( 602 )
was evidently taking counsel with Swedenborg upon other points, there can be no valid objection to the supposition that Swedenborg has the honor of supplying the feature of anthropomorphism to the Mormon system.
Sidney is also suspected of being indebted to Swedenborg for certain views that were promulgated during the New York visit concerning the future state. In the revelation of the 2d of January 1831, in which Joseph gave himself to the double task of persuading his eastern followers to gather at Kirtland, and the Kirtlanders in their turn to be content with such a highly inconvenient consummation the prophet says: "And I hold forth and deign to give unto you greater riches, even a land of promise, a land flowing with milk and honey, upon which there shall be no curse when the Lord cometh; and I will give it unto you for the land of your inheritance, if you seek it with all your hearts: and this shall be my covenant with you, ye shall have it for the land of your inheritance, and for the inheritance of your children forever, while the earth shall stand, and ye shall possess it again in eternity, no more to pass away" (D.&C., 38, 18-20).
Special attention is desired to the circumstance that the Mormons were promised that they should possess their lands again in eternity, which is believed to have been in some sort a corruption of the teachings of Swedenborg touching the future state. He affirms indeed that spaces and times are in the spiritual world, otherwise the whole
( 603 )
of it "might be drawn through the eye of a needle or concentrated upon the point of a single hair" (True Christian Religion, n. 29). It was, therefore, in his estimation something more than a mere state. Further, Swedenborg reprobated the opinion that the Lord at his coming will destroy the visible heaven and the habitable earth (as above, n. 789), and affirmed that man is equally a man after death, although he does not then appear to the eyes of the material body (as above, n. 793).
With these expressions Sidney might well have connected the innumerable assertions of Swedenborg to the effect that "man lives a man after death, just as he did before in the world; that he sees, hears, speaks as before in the world; that he is clothed and adorned as before in the world; that he hungers and thirsts, eats and drinks as before in the world; that he enjoys conjugal delights as before in the world; that he sleeps as before in the world... in a word that there are all things and everything that there is in the earth" (as above, n. 693). By consequence he did not consider that it was too much for Joseph to promise the Kirtlanders an eternal title to their real estate, and to give covert intimations that all who might go thither to found a home would enjoy the same advantages. Indeed it has been shown how Sidney went even farther than Joseph and assured his brethren that the promised land to which the prophet made allusion, extended from Kirtland to the Pacific Ocean (Howe, p. 111).
( 604 )
Great uses were made of the discovery that the promised land existed in the west and was designed to be a place of eternal inheritance. For the purpose of inducing the Mormons of New York to remove thither they were promised upon their arrival the benefits of a theocracy (D.&C., 38, 22); of a divine law under which its affairs should be administered (33, 32), and assured that there they would be a righteous people. In this connection Joseph perpetrated another absurd mistake, which however his claim to divine revelation rendered it inconvenient to correct. The New York Mormons were likewise assured that in "the Ohio" they should be "endowed with power from on high" (D.&C., 38, 32). His intention was to cite the words of Jesus where he bade his disciples to "tarry in Jerusalem until they should be endued with power from on high" (Luke 24, 49). Mr. Smith had never recognized the difference between the words "endued" and "endowed"; it was therefore perfectly natural for him to effect an unlawful exchange of the two. This blunder runs all through the course of Mormon history. The so-called "Endowment House" is one of the prominent buildings at Salt Lake City.
Over against these blessings the prophet also places the dangers of continuing in New York, as an additional incitement towards a speedy removal of the faithful. He enjoined upon the missionaries whom he shortly after sent forth from Kirtland to represent that point to
( 605 )
their converts: "And let him that goeth to the east teach them that shall be converted to flee to the west, and this in consequence of that which is coming on the earth, and of secret combinations" (D.&C., 42, 64). The Masonic crusade had scarcely yet spent its force in New York, and Joseph warns his people to escape for their lives from a commonwealth that was vexed by "secret combinations" of that complexion. It was not admissible to form a settled church in New York, because of the impending disaster; all of the members of the "church of Christ" in that portion of the earth must make it their earliest care to "gather" at the west. In the west, on the other hand, it was in order to build up churches which should not be required immediately to "gather" with the saints (D.&C., 45, 64).
Howe declares (p. 116), that the believers were "privately told that the state of New York would most probably be sunk, unless the people thereof believed in the pretensions of Smith." Joseph never for a moment had any fears of this color; the story was set afloat to procure the speedy removal of his adherents to the west where they would be more nearly under his observation, and more directly subject to his pecuniary levies.
The notion of Swedenborg concerning the occupations of the future world appears to have made a profound impression upon the mind of Mr. Smith. Especially his circumstance that man was represented there as being in the enjoyment of conjugal delights just as in this world, was an opinion that
( 606 )
tickled his fancy. He dwelt upon it until the year 1843, until he had occasion to send forth his famous revelation regarding plurality of wives. There he stipulated that these parties whose marital union should chance to be "sealed" by the authority of the "church of Christ" would retain that connection in heaven. They were declared to be "married for eternity," while such as had been joined together by any other authority were only married for time, and could not expect to enjoy each others' society in the better land. He further indicated by way of improving the conception of Swedenborg, that married couples in heaven would continue to produce children, just as they had done her on earth (D.&C., 132, 19)....
( 677 )
...The custom did not prevail in the church of reducing visions to writing. They were often received and freely described, but they were seldom brought to paper. On the 16th of February, however Sidney and Joseph were favored with "A vision" of so much consequence that it was duly set down and promoted to a position among the revelations of the prophet (D.&C., Sect. 76). This "Vision" was devoted to a further development of the Swedenborgian features of Mormonism. While his hand was in that business, Joseph gave his attention to the Book of Revelation. Emanuel Swedenborg was in the custom
( 678 )
of supplying "Arcana" regarding various topics of interest to his thoughts, but this Latin title was somewhat above the simplicity of Joseph, and he summarily translated Swedenborg's word into "Keys." Between the 1st and 20th of March 1832, he supplied a collection of these "Keys" for the advantage of students of John's Revelation (D.&C., Sect. 77). A considerable selection of Swedenborgian peculiarities may also be inspected among those "Keys....
( 696 )
Swedenborg had given himself the labor to compose a work in which he revealed the "Arcana" of the Book of Revelation. It has been intimated already that Joseph was not equal to this Latin word; in his language it was rendered by the English word "Keys." During the Hiram period he concluded to supply for his own use
( 697 )
a "Key to John's Revelation" (D.&C., Sect. 77). In this is nothing of special interest from a doctrinal point of sight beyond the fact that he there reproduces the conceit which had been borrowed from Swedenborg in the translation of the second chapter of the Book of Genesis regarding the spiritual element existing in the animals of the lower orders of creation. For example, he inquires:
"2 Question -- What are we to understand by the four beasts, spoken of in the same verse?"
"Answer -- They are figurative expressions, used by the Revelator John, in describing heaven, the Paradise of God, the happiness of man, and of beasts, and of creeping things, and of fowls of the air; that which is spiritual, being in the likeness of that which is temporal; and that which is temporal being in the likeness of that which is spiritual; the spirit of man in the likeness of his person, as also the spirit of the beast, and every other creature which God has created."
The reader who desires to consult a fuller discussion of these ideas and their origin is referred to the Third Chapter of the present Book, where the topic of Swedenborgiana is handled...
( 701 )
But the two visionaries [Smith & Rigdon] at Hiram town were not content with the changes they had wrought in hell; they immediately took in hand the project of tinkering with the heavens also. Here they had direct recourse to Swedenborg. The "Swedish seer" had provided for three separate heavens; Joseph and Sidney now did the same (D.&C., 76, 96-9). Swedenborg invented for his highest or in most heaven the title of "Divine celestial"; his second heaven was known as the "Divine spiritual"; his third or lowest heaven as the "Divine natural heaven" (Heaven and Hell, n. 31).
( 702 )
The Mormon leaders imitated this nomenclature as closely as they dared. Their highest heaven was christened the "celestial heaven" in exact accordance with the example of Swedenborg; the middle heaven which Swedenborg had named "the Spiritual heaven," they denominated "the terrestrial heaven"; the lowest heaven designated by Swedenborg as "the natural heaven," they christened "the telestial heaven." This last word was especially coined for the occasion, with the design of obtaining a word that should be worthy to keep company with "celestial" and "terrestrial."
It was easier to organize and to give names to these three heavens than it was found to be to stipulate what classes of person should be assigned to the one and the other of them. This latter was an enterprise of considerable delicacy; it was not performed without a certain degree of confusion.
As would be naturally expected the Mormons immediately took exclusive possession of the first or "celestial" heaven (D.&C., 76, 50-70).
To a place in the second or "terrestrial" heaven were assigned children who die in infancy and the heathen world who according to the oft repeated assurances of the Book of Mormon would be saved because they had died without any knowledge of Christ or of God's law (D.&C., 76, 72). Here also the spirits in prison to whom Christ preached when he descended into the place of departed spirits will find a resting place (D.&C., 76, 73). The sectarian world also, who although honorable men of the earth had been blinded by the craftiness of others, would
( 703 )
also come to the "terrestrial" heaven (D.&C., 76, 75-80). In view of the intense opposition that was experienced by the Mormons at the hands of the "sects" this was a distinguished concession to the members of the "sects." But the blessing of a place in the "terrestrial" heaven is not an indisputable benefit of the "sectarian world"; in another part of the same revelation these are also assigned a place in the "telestial" or lowest heaven, by which means a degree of confusion is introduced into the subject (D.&C., 76, 99-101). It would be well worth the labor of that portion of the community who oppose the Mormons to investigate the point with a degree of minuteness as to which of these two heavens would be their real future home. In as much as the Mormons are to have exclusive possession of the first heaven, it would be a pleasant favor to the Gentiles to be certified that they were to follow hard after them, and not to be degraded to the lowest heaven.
Liars, sorcerers, adulterers and whoremongers would also come to the telestial heaven (D.&C., 76, 103). It seems however to be expected they should reach that goal by way of the wrath of God on earth and of the vengeance of penal fires, whence in the due time of the Lord they should be delivered (D.&C., 76, 104-107). Those who denied the Spirit, were also expected to come to the "telestial" heaven by the same warm route (D.&C., 76, 82-85).
It was in the progress of this revelation that the doctrine of a plurality of Gods was for the first time mooted....
( 1275 )
It was there shown that according to Mormon theology, spirits have existed from the beginning, which expression seems to signify the same as from eternal cycles. These spirits have the same shape as the body which in any given instance they may chance to occupy. Swedenborg had been careful to speak of them as a "spiritual substance," but that conception was altogether too nice for Mr. Rigdon; it was inconceivable to his mind that there could be any other than a material substance (D.&C., 131, 7-8). Consequently the Mormons reached the conclusion that spirits are material substances and hence that matter is eternal (D.&C., 93, 33). Whoever desires more closely to consider the form in which Swedenborgianism impressed itself upon the mind of Mr. Smith, will find other themes of reflection in the first 62 verses of Section 88 of the Book of Doctrine and Covenants, where his materialism again budded forth.
( 1276 )
process of their own are believed likewise to have derived from the Swedenborgians, would also supply them with arguments in favor of the eternity of matter, or at any rate of that portion of matter which existed in the body of Deity. By reason of the care with which the notion was cultivated it began to be recognized as early as the year 1839 that materialism was one of the standing features of Mormonism. John Corrill in his "History of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints," which was published in that year, declares how "they believe that matter is eternal" (Kidder, p. 226). Parley P. Pratt appeared in the year 1840 with a "Treatise on the Regeneration and Eternal Duration of Matter" (Stenhouse, p. 744). Here were delivered at length a set of views which already had been briefly produced in Mr. Pratt's "Voice of Warning," pp. 153-4, a work which was first given to the public in the year 1837.
Materialism being now pretty widely acknowledged, Mr. Smith felt that it would be proper for him to contribute what he could to help it forward. That enterprise was undertaken in the Book of Abraham, a small treatise which he began to publish in the Times and Seasons newspaper on the 1st of March 1842 (Kidder, p. 334). A portion of this performance is devoted to the business of strengthening the bonds of priestcraft among the Mormons (Pearl of Great Price, pp. 33-8); another section (pp. 38-40) is given to explain the process by which a day with the Lord is equal to a thousand years of common time, while the last division is improved to confirm the views of the faithful in regard to materialism (pp. 41-45)....
( 1281 )
The fancies of Swedenborg, from the outset, took a firm hold upon the mind of Mr. Smith. The notion of the northern seer to the effect that things in heaven are but a continuation of things on earth was particularly dear to Joseph. He liked to hear about the "administrations, offices, employments, tradings, studies in all departments of learning, and wonderful pieces of workmanship" (True Christian Religion, n. 694) that were asserted to be in heaven: "how man walks, runs and sits, as in the former world; lies down, sleeps and wakes up, as in the former world; eats and drinks, as in the former world; enjoys conjugal delight, as in the former world; in a word, he is a man as to all and every particular. Whence it is manifest that death is not an extinction, but a continuation of life, and that it is only a transition" (True Christian Religion, n. 792).
That suggestion of a continuation easily lent itself to be improved for hierarchical and theocratical purposes. The style in which Joseph employed it for those purposes is characteristic
( 1282 )
of his general method. He invented what he was pleased to designate as a "law of the new and everlasting covenant," which provided that,
All covenants, contracts, bonds, obligations, oaths, vows, performances, connections, associations, or expectations that are not made and entered into, and sealed by the Holy Spirit of promise of him who is anointed, both as well for time and for all eternity, and that too most holy by revelation and commandment through the medium of mine anointed, whom I have appointed on the earth to hold this power (and I have appointed unto my servant Joseph to hold this power in the last days, and there is never but one on the earth at a time, on whom this power and the keys of this Priesthood are conferred), are of no efficacy, virtue or force, in and after the resurrection of the dead; for all contracts that are not made unto this end have an end when men are dead" (D.&C., 132, 7).Here was an improvement upon his conceits that had not been comtemplated by Swedenborg; Joseph and his impudent Theocracy took a preemption of every department of the business of continuation in the next world. Nothing could be more amusing than the prophet's arrogance. His blows were particularly aimed at his old enemy the civil commonwealth. Not content with what he said above he adds:
"Everything that is in the world, whether it be ordained of men, by thrones or principalities or powers or things of name, whatsoever they may be, that are not by me, or by my word, saith the Lord, shall be thrown down and shall not remain after men are dead...
( 1286 )
Touching that issue it may be allowed to state that there is antecedent probability that Mr. Smith is the author of it. He was a polygamist, and he was in the custom of writing revelations. He had previously obtained an unwritten revelation relating to this topic (Bennett, p. 238).
The 12th of July 1843, the date at which Joseph is said to have produced this revelation fits to a nicety the conditions in which he then found himself; it would be difficult if not impossible to explain the subsequent occurrences of his history without some such transaction as this revelation.
The historical notes found in the body of the revelation are such as could not have been invented so admirably by another hand. Joseph and Emma were on the point of separating from each other on account of the "strange women" whom he had received (v. 52);
( 1287 )
he had set apart for her uses a portion of his property, which by command of the Lord he had been instructed to offer to her (V. 51); it was doubtful whether Emma Smith would abide the "strange women" even after the revelation of the Lord was produced to her (vv. 54-5). She is said to have burnt the original of this revelation that was written in the character of William Clayton, when Hyrum Smith had carelessly committed it to her keeping, and it was only preserved by reason of the fact that Newel K. Whitney had previously taken a copy of it (Remy and Brenchley, vol. 2, p. 119).
Those who are familiar with the English style of Joseph will recognize it without question in this performance; in the department of English expression Joseph's peculiarities were very marked and they all appear to perfection here.
Nobody in the ranks of the Mormon fold at that period except Sidney Rigdon was sufficiently a master of Swedenborgian theology to have introduced and adapted the Swedenborgian sentiments that are made use of in this revelation. But Sidney Rigdon was a violent adversary of polygamy; hence it is clear that none but Joseph could have produced the document.
The denial which Emma Smith is alleged to have made in the month of February 1879 (Tullidge, pp. 791-2) is of no consequence; it will not avail in the slightest degree in the face of contemporary facts that are set down in the revelation (132, 51-7). These facts must always condemn anything that she might have said to the contrary; they are a part of the original sources, while it is
( 1288 )
capable of proof in other particulars that her memory was totally untrustworthy.
The argument which Joseph has here composed in favor of polygamy is of the vulgar literalistic sort. Polygamy was represented to be a law of God that was imposed by divine revelation upon Abraham (132, 28-9); it was a direct divine command which the Patriarch was as much under obligation to observe as the command to sacrifice his son Isaac (vv. 35-6). It was likewise a usage sanctified and confirmed by the example of Jacob, David, Solomon and other unexceptionable characters. The ambition of Mr. Campbell was excited to "restore the ancient order of things," but Joseph went beyond him in that regard, for he seems to claim a direct divine appointment to "restore all things" (v. 40). Furthermore, Joseph claims that he was of the seed of Abraham, and therefore was subject in an especial sense to the law that was imposed upon Abraham (v. 31). In the title page of the Book of Mormon he had been solicitous to represent himself as a Gentile by whose agency that work had been brought forth.
A second argument employed by Joseph in favor of polygamy is based upon his interpretation of the tenets of Swedenborg. The northern seer was fond of representing that there were many different societies in heaven. As a specimen of his sentiments the following citation may be presented from the True Christian Religion, n. 32:
( 1289 )
The infinity of God appeared still more evident to me from the angelic heaven, and also from hell, seeing that they are both of the orderly devices and subdivided into innumerable societies or congregations, according to all the varieties of the love of good and evil, and that every one obtains a place according to his love."Joseph was enraptured with that conceit; he handles it with special unction at Section 88, 36-40 of the Book of Doctrine and Covenants. In his version, however, a society or congregation became a "kingdom," and the conception of innumerable kingdoms was applied in his own fashion at this place. The family which a man possesses on earth will be his "kingdom" in heaven. Without a family he will possess neither throne nor kingdom in the upper world, but will pass for nothing better than an angel; he can never hope to become one of the Gods...
Part 2. Enoch the Prophet
Part 3. The Enoch Figure
Part 4. The Book of Enoch as a Theodicy
Part 5. A Strange Thing in the Land: The Return of the Book of Enoch (1)
Part 6. A Strange Thing in the Land: The Return of the Book of Enoch (2)
"Enoch" (In Joseph Smith Translation: "Book of Moses")
"Enoch" (In JST: second source)
Vernal Holley (1924-2000)
The late Vernal Holley was a former member of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints and a lifetime resident of Weber County, Utah. Born in 1924, he was the fifth of seven children in an active Mormon family with a rich pioneer heritage. His great-grandparents immigrated to America from England, following their mid-19th century conversion to Mormonism. He is presently living as a retired contractor in Roy, Utah
For over twenty-five years of his adult life, Mr. Holley served in various mid-level LDS leadership positions. His appointments included three successive stake missions, President of a Stake Mission, Senior President of the 54th Quorum of Seventies, and many other possitions of responsibility within the LDS Church.
After 1980 Mr. Holley devoted uncounted hours in researching and reporting on the Solomon Spalding Authorship of the Book of Mormon. During the course of his in-depth investigation of obscure and unpublished documents relating to this old question in Mormon History, Mr. Holley came to believe that many previous investigators and writers had misunderstood and, perhaps, even purposely misrepresented vital facts relating to the Spalding Theory. Following this realization he initiated a long-term study of the 1830 Book of Mormon text, carefully comparing its story, setting, theological concerns, writing style, and phraseology with that of the Spalding manuscript kept at Oberlin College.
At an early stage of this investigation he became convinced that the Book of Mormon story was neither historical truth nor divinely inspired. After coming to view "the keystone" of the LDS faith as a fictional account, more related to 19th century literature than to the writings of ancient American tribes, Mr. Holley disassociated himself religiously from the LDS Church. Although he retained a certain respect for the accomplishments of that organization, he ceased to support its teachings on religious matters. Mr. Holley did not consider his writings to be "anti-Mormon;" and he looked forward to the day when members of the various churches originating from the efforts of Joseph Smith, jr. will better comprehend the true origin of their scriptures and practices.
In the last months of his life as circumstances permited, Mr. Holley refined his manuscript writings on historical, religious, and textual subjects. Most of these he issued as privately published, limited-circulation booklets before his death in 2000. Many of his writings on sources which may have influenced Spalding and Book of Mormon texts remain unpublished. Among these are his studies of Spalding's use of Josephus' "Works," Virgil's "Aenied," Livy's "History of Rome," MacPherson's "Poems of Ossian," Bruce's writings on Enoch and Ethiopian Jews, the teachings of Thomas and Alexander Campbell, etc.