The Book of Mormon.
Autograph Letter of Orson Pratt.
A correspondent who resides in Bingham informs us that, becoming interested in the doctrine embraced in the faith of the Latter-day Saints about seven or eight years ago, he wrote a letter to the late Apostle Orson Pratt, inquiring about the authenticity of the Book of Mormon. He received the following characteristic reply, the letter being autographic, will probably be read with some interest by many of our readers:
Salt Lake City, May 2nd, 1876.
Mr. W.P. Edwards:
Dear Sir.—Your letter of inquiry, concerning the divinity of the Book of Mormon, and of the religion of the Latter-day Saints, reached me this morning. In reply, I can testify to you with all sincerity and truthfulness, that the Book of Mormon is a divine revelation. It was translated by inspiration, through the aid of the Urim and Thummim. It contains the fullness of the everlasting gospel, as taught by the resurrected Savior to the ancient Nephites, (a remnant of the tribe of Joseph) who inhabited this continent. It was brought to light by an angel from heaven, and confirmed unto chosen witnesses in the same manner. Authority to minister gospel ordinances from heaven and conferred on man by the hands of angels. Thus the Latter-day Church of Christ, called the Kingdom of God, was set up on this earth for the last time, that all who will repent and turn unto the Lord, may have the privilege of entering the same, and thus prepare themselves for the great day of His coming.
To believe the truth is one thing; to know the truth is another. We can and ought to believe on good sound, reasonable and substantial testimony. Such faith or belief ought to lead us to good works, to reformation, to obedience to the gospel ordinances; and thus our faith is made perfect by the right kind of works; and the promised blessings are sure to follow; namely: Remission of sins, the baptism of the Holy Ghost, and a knowledge of the truth. To obtain faith or belief in the truth, to certainly a very great blessing; but to obtain a knowledge is a still greater blessing. It is your privilege, and the privilege of all mankind, to eventually arrive at a full knowledge of the truth. But faith precedes knowledge. As obedience follows faith, so knowledge follows obedience. Whatsoever is good is of God; whatsoever is evil is from beneath. All the revealed doctrines in the Book of Mormon are good, and if practiced will injure no one, but will make all who obey them better men and better women. He who obeys its heavenly precepts will receive the Holy Ghost he may know for himself that God is indeed the great Author of this work. The Holy Ghost will manifest the truth of all things which are of God. And blessed are they who receive this heavenly gift, and continue in the light thereof to the end of their days, for such shall be saved.
If you will sincerely and earnestly ask God concerning these important matters, He will greatly enlighten your mind. This shall be a witness to you; when you, through humble prayer, believe in that sacred book and desire to obey the same, you shall have great joy; but when you doubt its divinity, and have a feeling to reject it, you shall have great darkness of mind, and sorrow of heart, and the spirit of prayer will leave you.
Yours in kindness,
Orson Pratt, Sen.
[Deseret News, Nov. 28, 1883]
[transcribed and proofread by David Grow, Sept. 2006]