Early Mormon Ezra Finds Out It Was All A Delusion
Delusion – by Ezra Booth
[Ezra Booth was an early convert to Mormonism. In 1831, as a Methodist clergyman, he witnessed what he believed to be a healing at the hands of Joseph Smith and fully embraced this new religion. In a revelation Joseph claimed to receive in June of 1831 Ezra was instructed to journey to Independence, Missouri (Zion) in the company of several other leading Church members. When he returned in September he wrote the following testimony in response to a letter he had received from Reverend Ira Eddy. This and his eight additional epistles were published originally in the Ohio Star and later in Mormonism Unvailed by E. D. Howe. Ezra Booth is credited as being the first apostate to publish against the Church.]
I have arrived at my home on the first of the present month, having finished my tour to the west; since which time the scenes and events in the history of my life, for the last few months, have passed in review before my mind.
You are not, it is probable, ignorant of the designs of my most singular and romantic undertaking: sufficient to say, it was for the purpose of exploring the promised land–laying the foundation of the city of Zion, and placing the corner stone of the temple of God. A journey of one thousand miles to the west, has taught me far more abundantly, than I should have probably learned from any other source.
It has taught me quite beyond my knowledge, the imbecility of human nature, and especially my own weakness. It has unfolded in its proper character, a delusion to which I had fallen a victim, and taught me the humiliating truth, that I was exerting the powers of both my mind and body, and sacrificing my time and property, to build up a system of delusion, almost unparalleled in the annals of the world.
If God be a God of consistency and wisdom I now know Mormonism to be a delusion; and this knowledge is built upon the testimony of my senses. In proclaiming it, I am aware I proclaim my own misfortune–but in doing it, I remove a burden from my mind, and discharge a duty as humbling to myself, as it may be profitable to others. You had heard the story of my wanderings, and “was induced to believe that I had been visited with a species of mental derangement,” and therefore, you “had given me up, as one among those friends of early association, who in the lapse of time, would be as though they had not existed.” You had concluded that the magic charm of delusion and falsehood, had so wrapped its sable mantle around me, as to exclude the light of truth and secure me a devoted slave. But thanks be to God! the spell is dissipated, and the “captive exile hasteneth that he may be loosed, and not die in the pit.”
When I embraced Mormonism, I conscientiously believed it to be of God. The impressions of my mind were deep and powerful, and my feelings were excited to a degree to which I had been a stranger. Like a ghost, it haunted me by night and by day, until I was mysteriously hurried, as it were, by a kind of necessity, into the vortex of delusion.–At times I was much elated; but generally, things in prospect were the greatest stimulants to action.
On our arrival in the western part of Missouri, the place of our destination, we discovered that prophecy and vision had failed, or rather had proved false.–This fact was so notorious, and the evidence so clear, that no one could mistake it–so much so, that Mr. Rigdon himself said, that “Joseph’s vision was a bad thing.” This was glossed over, apparently, to the satisfaction of most persons present; but not fully to my own. It excited a suspicion that some things were not right, and prepared my mind for the investigation of a variety of circumstances, which occurred during my residence there, and indeed, to review the whole subject, from its commencement to that time.
My opportunities for a thorough investigation, were far greater than they could have been, had I remained at home; and therefore, I do not regret that I made the journey, though I sincerely regret the cause of it. Since my return, I have had several interviews with Messrs. Smith, Rigdon and Cowdery, and the various shifts and turns, to which they resorted in order to obviate objectors and difficulties, produced in my mind additional evidence, that there was nothing else than a deeply laid plan of craft and deception.
The relation in which Smith stands to the church, is that of a Prophet, Seer, Revealer, and Translator; and when he speaks by the Spirit, or says he knows a thing by the communication of the Spirit, it is received as coming directly from the mouth of the Lord. When he says he knows a thing to be so, thus it must stand without controversy. A question is agitated between two Elders of the church–whether or not a bucket of water will become heavier by putting a living fish in it. Much is said by each of the disputants; when at length, Smith decides in the negative, by saying–“I know by the spirit, that it will be no heavier.” Any person who chooses, may easily ascertain by actual experiment, whether the Prophet was influenced in this decision by a true or false spirit.
It is not my design, at this time, to enter into particulars relative to the evidence upon which my renunciation of Mormonism is founded. This evidence is derived from various sources, and is clear and full, and the conviction which it produces, at least on my mind, is irresistible. You are not aware of the nature of this deception, and the spirit that uniformly attends it; nor can you ever know it, unless you yield to its influence, and by experience learn what it is to fall under its power: “from which my earnest prayer is, that you may ever, ever escape.”
There probably never was a plan better suited to lead the sinner and the conscientious, when in an unguarded hour they listen to its fatal insinuations. The plan is so ingeniously contrived, having for its aim one principal point, viz: the establishment of a society in Missouri, over which the contrivers of this delusive system, are to possess unlimited and despotic sway.
To accomplish this, the Elders of the church, by commandment given in Missouri, and of which I was both an eye and an ear witness, are to go forth to preach Mormonism to every creature; and now, said Mr. Rigdon–“The Lord has set us our stint; no matter how soon we perform it–for when this is done, he will make his second appearance.”
I do sincerely, and I trust in deep humility, return unfeigned gratitude to the God of infinite mercy, who, in condescension to my weakness, by a peculiar train of providences, brought me to the light, enabled me to see the hidden things of darkness, and delivered me from the snare of the fowler, and from the contagious pestilence which threatened my entire destruction. The scenes of the past few months, are so different from all others in my life, that they are in truth to me “as a dream when one awaketh.” Had my fall affected only myself, my reflections would be far less painful than they now are. But to know–that whatever influence I may have possessed, has been exerted to draw others into a delusion, from which they may not soon be extricated, is to me a source of sorrow and deep regret.
They are at this moment the object of my greatest anxiety and commiseration. I crave their forgiveness, and assure them, that they will ever have an interest in my addresses to the throne of grace. It shall be my endeavor to undo, as far as possible, what I have done in this case, and also to prevent the spread of a delusion, pernicious in its influence, and destructive in its consequences to the body and the soul–to the present and eternal interests of all men.
I am, through restoring mercy and grace, as in former years, though unworthily, yet affectionately yours in Christ,