-- During 1833
On the opening of the year 1833, the "gift of tongues" again made its appearance at head-quarters, and from thence extended to all their branches in different parts. Whether the languages now introduced, differed materially from those practiced two or three years previous, (and pronounced to be of the Devil,) we have not been informed. It appears that this last device, was all that was then lacking to make the system perfect. They had long before professed to be fully endowed with the power of healing all manner of diseases, discerning spirits, and casting out devils. But a succession of failures had rendered them rather stale, and given distrust to many of the faithful. A new expedient was therefore indispensably necessary, in order to revive the drooping spirits of the deluded, and at the same time, insure a new crop of converts. The scheme proved eminently successful. Hundreds were soon convinced of the truth of the whole, by hearing of and seeing the manner in which the "tongues" were performed, although the trick would seem more susceptible of discovery than any previous one. This gift was not confined to the Elders and high priests, who, in other respects, were supposed to have a superabundant share of "the spirit"; but nearly all the proselytes, both old and young, could show their faith by speaking with "tongues." And it would appear, from all the facts which we have been able to gather upon this subject, that if this gift were not supernaturally bestowed, it required but a few moments instruction from a priest, to render his pupil expert in various dead languages, which could never be understood by man or beast, except a supernatural power was at the instant given to some one present to interpret it. -- They sometimes professed to believe that these "tongues" were the same which were "confounded" at the building of Babel.
Some curious particulars are related respecting these blasphemous practices, by a Mr. Higby, who was eight months an Elder in the Mormon church, and which he published in a small pamphlet. He says that shortly after he joined them, a Mormon Elder said to him, "you must go to work in the vineyard of the Lord as a preacher of the Gospel. I have viewed your heart by the spirit of discernment; I see what is in your heart, and what the will of the Lord is, concerning you all," Mr. Higby says that he was soon after ordained an Elder in the said church, and commissioned to preach and baptize, ordain Elders, confirm the churches, heal the sick, in short, that he was ordained to all the gifts of the church, which were the same as given to the apostles of old. He continues -- "about the 10th of April following, R. Cahoon and D. Patton came again to the place -- a meeting was called, and previous to the meeting, they said that some one would speak with tongues before they left the place. Accordingly he set himself to work at that meeting to verify his prophecy. During the meeting he said, 'Father H. if you will rise in the name of Jesus Christ, you can speak in Tongues.' He arose immediately, hesitated, and said, 'my faith fails me --I have not faith enough.' -- Said Patton, 'you have -- speak in the name of Jesus Christ -- make some sound as you list, without further thought, and God will make it a language.' The old gentleman, after considerable urging, spoke and made some sounds, which were pronounced to be a correct tongue. Several others spoke in a similar manner, and among them was myself. I spoke as I listed, not knowing what I said, yet it was declared to be a tongue. The sound of the words used by some, in speaking in tongues, was a medium between talking and singing -- and all, as I am now convinced, a mere gibberish, spoken at random and without thought.
"We had another meeting shortly after, at which there were present several others, besides those of the church . -- Cahoon spoke in unknown tongues, as he pretended, going on at considerable length, which Patton interpreted nearly as follows: that the judgment of God should follow the men of this generation; that their tongues should be stayed that they should not utter; and their flesh should fall from off their bones; their eyes pine away in their sockets; and it shall come to pass that the beasts of the forest and the fowls of the air shall devour them, nearly as it is written in the prophets. He then asked me to speak, which I did, and he interpreted as he though proper.
"The next time those men came among us, they gave us a rule for speaking in unknown tongues, and also for interpreting what was spoken by others. This rule, they said, was perfect -- that as long as we followed it we could not err. And so I believe; it was a perfect rule to lead men astray. The rule, as given by Cahoon, is this: rise upon your feet and look and lean on Christ; speak or make some sound; continue to make sounds of some kind, and the Lord will make a correct tongue or language of it. The interpretation was to be given in the same way." Upon this, Mr. H. justly remarks: -- "Men of sense may smile at this recital; and those who scoff at all religion and know nothing of those feelings of the human heart which the devotional man enjoys, in converse with his Maker, will doubtless ridicule what they consider the weakness of folly; but the man of religious feeling will know how to pity, rather than upbraid, that zeal without knowledge, which leads a man to fancy that he has found the ladder of Jacob, and that he sees the angel of the Lord ascending and descending before his eyes; while the Christian philosopher, who has read the history of mankind, will find abundant apology for that man, who, by a constant and over anxious exercise of mind, is led at length to fancy himself on the banks of the Ulai with Daniel, or on the Isle of Patmos with St. John." The would frequently sing in this gibberish forming a tune as they proceeded. The same song they said, would be sung when the lost tribes appeared in Zion, in Missouri.
Another seceder from this delusion, relates that he was present on a certain occasion, in an upper room in Kirtland, where were assembled from fifteen to twenty Elders and High Priests. After sundry exhortation by the priests, the prophet himself arose, and with much earnestness, warned his followers to be zealous and faithful in their duties, saying, "It is our privilege to see God face to face -- yes, (says he) I will prophecy unto you in the name of the Lord, that the day will come when no man will be permitted to preach unless he has seen the Lord -- people will ask each teacher, 'have you seen the face of the Lord,' and if he say nay, they will say, away with this fellow, for we have a man to teach us that has seen the face of the Lord,'" After a short pause, he added, "the Lord is willing we should see his glory to-day, and all that will exercise faith, shall see the Lord of Glory." They then concluded to spend the day in fasting and prayer. Each one kept his seat with his eyes closed, and his body inclined forward. Soon after Joseph says, "Sidney (Rigdon,) have you seen the Lord?" He answered, "I saw the image of a man pass before my face, whose locks were white, and whose countenance was exceedingly fair, even surpassing all beauty that I ever beheld." Then Joseph replied, "I knew you had seen a vision but would have seen more were it not for unbelief." Sidney confessed his faith was weak that morning. Hiram Smith said he had seen nearly the same as Sidney, which was pronounced by Joseph to be the Redeemer of the world. Upon this, R. Cahoon fell upon his knees, holding his hands in an erect position. In fifteen or twenty minutes he arose and declared he had seen the temple of Zion, filled with disciples, while the top was covered with the glory of the Lord, in the form of a cloud. Another one then placed himself in the same position, but saw no vision, his faith being weak. Joseph next arose, and passing round the room laying his hand upon each one, and spoke as follows, as near as the narrator can recollect: --
"Ak man oh son oh man ah ne commene en holle goste en haben en glai hosanne hosanne en holle goste en esac milkea jeremiah, exekiel, Nephi, Lehi, St. John," &c. &c. After administering the sacrament, several of the brethren were called upon to arise and speak in tongues. Several of them performed with considerable applause. Our informant says he was at length called upon to speak or sing, "in tongues," at his own option -- preferring the latter mode, he sung, to the tune of Bruce's Address, a combination of sounds, which astonished all present.
This gibberish for several months was practiced almost daily, while they were about their common avocations, as well as when they assembled for worship. But we will not dwell upon this part of our history. A particular recital of such scenes of fanaticism, gives too much pain to the intelligent mind, and excites a contempt for our species.
We would here, barely ask the subjects of this delusion, and all others who may become so, whether it be possible, that the great and intelligent Ruler of the Universe, can be thus miraculously engaged in bestowing all sorts of language upon a few people merely for their own amusement? -- languages that can neither benefit themselves, or any one else, because no one can understand them. For the full introduction of the Gospel, the gift of tongues was wisely confered upon the Apostles & some others who were engaged in its first promulgation. But for what purpose? was it a mere pastime to them, by means of which they could divert each other, while assembled in their private rooms, without knowing the import of any thing they said? If such were the facts, then these modern tongues may be genuine -- But no -- they were for a wiser and more noble purpose -- a purpose every way worthy of that exalted Being. The gospel was to be proclaimed and published to "every creature," to perhaps a hundred different nations, all speaking a distinct tongue -- and to be preached, too, by a small number of men, who had been taught only a single language. Whenever they spoke in a language not their own, it was most clearly understood, by themselves and others, who had assembled from various nations, without the intervention of sooth-sayers, or one pretending to have the "spirit of interpretation." Will any one presume to compare the wisdom of God in those manifestations, with what has been related by Smith and his followers? Yes -- a distorted imagination can discover infinitely more power and glory in the unintelligible jargon of Mormonism.
If what has been exhibited here, are truly languages, they must be such as are spoken and understood by human beings somewhere: otherwise the names of "tongues" or languages will not attach to them. But they are a mere gibberish. If these people had the "gift of tongues," as they impudently assert, how much more consistent with rationality, and worthy of the Deity, would it appear for them to show it forth and test its true character, before an audience of French or Spanish, or some of the numerous Indian tribes in our country, all speaking different tongues, and to whom they profess to be more especially sent? No -- such an attempt would explode the whole system of folly and delusion. It would seem that they would much rather be talking their nonsense to each other, and declaring it to the world as an extraordinary manifestation of the power of God. (1)
Great manifestations of power were witnessed in the Kirtland Temple; it used oftentimes to seem as though it was illuminated, and many and powerful were the manifestations to those who were humble and participated in the ordinances bestowed upon the faithful Saints in that house. The first patriarchal blessing meeting over which Joseph Smith, Sen., presided was one of the most striking and noticeable features of that particular period of time. In this meeting I received the gift of singing inspirationally, and the first Song of Zion ever given in the pure language was sung by me then, and interpreted by Parley P. Pratt, and written down; of which I have preserved the original copy. It describes the manner in which the ancient patriarchs blessed their families, and gives some account of "Adam-ondi-Ahman."
In ancient days there lived a man,
Amidst a pleasant garden,
Where lovely flowers immortal bloom'd,
And shed around a rich perfume;
Behold, his name was Adam.
One of the nobles of the Earth,
Had mighty power in blessing;
Received the Priesthood, and went forth
And blessed his seed, and gave the earth
Blessings for their possession.
He sealed them for eternal life,
And all their generations,
Who should obey the Gospel plan.
Down to the latest years of man-
A multitude of nations.
Isaac and Jacob, they in turn
Had power to bless their children;
Hence, Jacob by his faith did learn,
And gave directions for his bones
To be conveyed to Canaan.
By the same spirit, Joseph gave
A great and mighty blessing
To Ephraim, and Manasseh too,
Whereby their seed were carried through
Long travels, though distressing.
By that same faith they built a ship,
And crossed the mighty ocean,
Obtain'd the choicest land of Earth
Foretold the great Messiah's birth,
And all the great commotion.
The Holy Priesthood long remain'd
In all its power and glory,
Until the Priests of God were slain,
Their records hid from wicked men
Within the hill Cumorah.
Their remnants sank in sorrow down,
Became a loathsome people,
To misery and sorrow doom'd,
Their pleasant fields o'erspread with gloom,
Ruled by a Gentile nation.
But now the Priesthood is restored,
And we partake its blessings;
Our parents and our children dear
With Joseph's remnants have a share
To latest generations.
As Adam blest his family
So shall our aged father bless
His seed who dwell in righteousness
Upon the land of Zion.
The Prophet Joseph promised me that I should never lose this gift if I would be wise in using it; and his words have been verified. (2)
1 - Mormonism Unvailed (available November 28, 1834)
2 - Elizabeth Ann Whitney, "A Leaf From an Autobiography" Woman's Exponent 7 (1878): 83
LDS History Chronology: Speaking in Tongues
Mormon History Timeline: the gift of Tongues