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John Corrill, A Brief History of the Church of Christ of Latter Day Saints, 1839

John Corrill, A Brief History of the Church of Christ of Latter Day Saints, 1839

Thus I reasoned, and became satisfied that it was just as consistent to look for prophets in this age as in any other. As to the person of Joseph Smith, jun’r., might as well be a prophet as any one else, but it was said of him that he was a money hunter, and a bad man before he was called to be a prophet. So it was said of Moses, that he murdered a man, hid him in the sand, and ran away from justice, and while in this state God called him to be a prophet.—(Exod. ii. 11–25 & xii. 1–18.) As to the gift of prophecy and revelation, it is well known to every man who is acquainted with his Bible, that God always endowed his prophets with the gift of prophecy, and through them revealed his will. As, however, God never called a servant without having something for him to do, the question was what did he want with Smith? What great work had he to perform? This leads me to my second proposition.

Chapter 3

CHAPTER III.
 
Book of Mormon, the production of Smith—Witnesses—Bible, the production of many generations.
 
The Book of Mormon and its origin.
This was the first production of Smith after his call to the prophetic office. As to the origin of the Book, I made very diligent inquiry, and from all I could learn, I became satisfied that Smith was the author, and I never have been able to trace it to any other source. As to its being a Revelation from God, eleven persons besides Smith bore positive testimony of its truth.5

Eleven men signed two separate statements published with the Book of Mormon, attesting to its authenticity: Oliver Cowdery, David Whitmer, and Martin Harris signed the first; Christian Whitmer, Jacob Whitmer, Peter Whitmer Jr., John Whitmer, Hiram Page, Joseph Smith Sr., Hyrum Smith, and Samuel Smith signed the second. (“Testimony of Three Witnesses” and “Testimony of Eight Witnesses,” in Book of Mormon, 1830 ed., [589]–[590].)  


After getting acquainted with them, I was unable to impeach their testimony, and consequently thought that it was as consistent to give credit to them as to credit the writings of the New Testament, when I had never seen the authors nor the original copy. As the Bible, (although we see it bound in one volume) was made up of many detached parts of Revelation given from time to time, as God saw proper, through the space of four thousand years, for the special benefit of those to whom it was given, I thought it was no more than reasonable that we should also receive additional Revelation for our special benefit; for this was according to his promise, to give line upon line, precept upon precept here a little and there a little.—(Isa. xxviii. 9, 10.)

Chapter 4

CHAPTER IV.
 
Account of the Golden Plates, and the finding of them—Smith chastened by an Angel—his wickedness—Plates obtained and translated—the Language—Martin Harris

18 May 1783–10 July 1875. Farmer. Born at Easton, Albany Co., New York. Son of Nathan Harris and Rhoda Lapham. Moved with parents to area of Swift’s landing (later in Palmyra), Ontario Co., New York, 1793. Married first his first cousin Lucy Harris, 27 Mar...

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—Characters shown—Urim and Thummim—Translation published—Plates shown to witnesses—Church organized—Reflections—Scriptures not complete—Word of God sealed and hid—Ezekiel’s two Records.
 
The singularity of the hiding up, preservation, and coming forth of the Book. [p. 11]
Thus I reasoned, and became satisfied that it was just as consistent  to look for prophets in this age as in any other. As to the person of  Joseph Smith, jun’r., might as well be a prophet as any one else, but  it was said of him that he was a money hunter, and a bad man before  he was called to be a prophet. So it was said of Moses, that he mur dered a man, hid him in the sand, and ran away from justice, and while  in this state God called him to be a prophet.—(Exod. ii. 11–25 & xii.  1–18.) As to the gift of prophecy and revelation, it is well known to  every man who is acquainted with his Bible, that God always endow ed his prophets with the gift of prophecy, and through them revealed  his will. As, however, God never called a servant without having  something for him to do, the question was what did he want with  Smith? What great work had he to perform? This leads me to my  second proposition.

Chapter 3

CHAPTER III.
 
Book of Mormon, the production of Smith—Witnesses—Bible, the production of  many generations.
 
The Book of Mormon and its origin.
This was the first production of Smith after his call to the prophetic  office. As to the origin of the Book, I made very diligent inquiry, and  from all I could learn, I became satisfied that Smith was the author,  and I never have been able to trace it to any other source. As to its  being a Revelation from God, eleven persons besides Smith bore posi tive testimony of its truth.5

Eleven men signed two separate statements published with the Book of Mormon, attesting to its authenticity: Oliver Cowdery, David Whitmer, and Martin Harris signed the first; Christian Whitmer, Jacob Whitmer, Peter Whitmer Jr., John Whitmer, Hiram Page, Joseph Smith Sr., Hyrum Smith, and Samuel Smith signed the second. (“Testimony of Three Witnesses” and “Testimony of Eight Witnesses,” in Book of Mormon, 1830 ed., [589]–[590].)  


After getting acquainted with them, I was  unable to impeach their testimony, and consequently thought that it  was as consistent to give credit to them as to credit the writings of  the New Testament, when I had never seen the authors nor the ori ginal copy. As the Bible, (although we see it bound in one volume)  was made up of many detached parts of Revelation given from time  to time, as God saw proper, through the space of four thousand years,  for the special benefit of those to whom it was given, I thought it was  no more than reasonable that we should also receive additional Revela tion for our special benefit; for this was according to his promise, to  give line upon line, precept upon precept here a little and there a little. —(Isa. xxviii. 9, 10.)

Chapter 4

CHAPTER IV.
 
Account of the Golden Plates, and the finding of them—Smith chastened by an  Angel—his wickedness—Plates obtained and translated—the Language—Martin  Harris

18 May 1783–10 July 1875. Farmer. Born at Easton, Albany Co., New York. Son of Nathan Harris and Rhoda Lapham. Moved with parents to area of Swift’s landing (later in Palmyra), Ontario Co., New York, 1793. Married first his first cousin Lucy Harris, 27 Mar...

View Full Bio
—Characters shown—Urim and Thummim—Translation published—Plates  shown to witnesses—Church organized—Reflections—Scriptures not complete— Word of God sealed and hid—Ezekiel’s two Records.
 
The singularity of the hiding up, preservation, and coming forth of  the Book. [p. 11]
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John Corrill

17 Sept. 1794–26 Sept. 1842. Surveyor, politician, author. Born at Worcester Co., Massachusetts. Married Margaret Lyndiff, ca. 1830. Lived at Harpersfield, Ashtabula Co., Ohio, 1830. Baptized into LDS church, 10 Jan. 1831, at Kirtland, Geauga Co., Ohio. Ordained...

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, A Brief History of the Church of Christ of Latter Day Saints, (Commonly Called Mormons;) Including an Account of Their Doctrine and Discipline; with the Reasons of the Author for Leaving the Church, St. Louis, MO: “Printed for the Author,” 1839; two preliminary leaves, 7–50 pp.; includes typeset signature marks. The copy used for transcription is held at CHL; includes handwritten underscoring, notes, and other marks, as well as archival stamps.
This booklet was printed in octavo format on three sheets cut and folded into seven gatherings. The interior gatherings were made from half sheets folded into four leaves, and the initial and final gatherings were made from quarter sheets folded into two leaves, making a total of twenty-four leaves in the booklet. The text block measures 8½ x 5½ x ⅛ inches (22 x 14 x 0.3 cm). Examination of the copies at CHL and BYU, as well as images of a third copy,1

John Corrill, A Brief History of the Church of Christ of Latter-day Saints, microfilm (New Haven, CT: Research Publications, 1967).  


indicate that the booklet was originally side stitched. The binding of the copy at CHL has been altered.2

Needle holes along the center folds suggest that the CHL copy of the booklet was once bound with other similar-size works. The first page of the booklet bears the faded and now faint pencil notation “No 2.” on the upper right corner, a possible indication of the booklet’s arrangement in a collection of tracts. The first page of the booklet also bears a handwritten “20” in ink below the title. A photocopy made in 1971 or earlier shows that the CHL copy was not intact at that time. The copy at CHL is currently sewn through a new set of holes in the center folds. (Corrill, Brief History, photocopy, ca. 1971, CHL.)  


It appears to have been in church custody since at least the early 1880s.3

A circa 1881–1884 inventory of printed works at the Church Historian’s Office includes Corrill’s booklet. The copy held at CHL bears the extremely faded inscription “Historian’s Office” and includes purple Historian’s Office stamps, which were in use as early as the late nineteenth century. A circa 1971 photocopy shows a “Historian’s Office Library” adhesive label (since removed) on page 2 of the CHL copy. These archival records and marks indicate continuous church custody since the early 1880s. (“Church Works, Periodicals, and Pamphlets, Alphabetically Arranged,” 22, Historian’s Office, Catalogs and Inventories, 1846–1904, CHL; Corrill, Brief History, photocopy, ca. 1971, CHL.)  


Facts