Mormonism The summer of 1830, following the organization of the Church, brought further persecution and trials, particularly for the Smith family. Joseph Smith, Sr., father of the Prophet, was one of his most loyal defenders. On one occasion that fall, he was at home with his wife Lucy, and had been “rather ill.” A number of neighbors came to call, mostly critical of the reputation of the Smith family. One “Quaker gentleman” came with a note for a fourteen-dollar debt owed him by Joseph Sr., demanding payment, though he apparently was not in great need of the money. Father Smith offered to pay the man six dollars, which was all he had, and arrange to get the rest as soon as possible.
According to Lucy, the Quaker man responded, “No, I will not wait one hour; and if thou dost not pay me immediately, thou shalt go forthwith to the jail, unless (running to the fireplace and making violent gestures with his hands towards the fire) thou wilt burn up those Books of Mormon; but if thou wilt burn them up, then I will forgive thee the whole debt.” Mr. Smith emphatically declined the offer to free himself of the debt by destroying the books. Instead, Lucy offered the creditor a gold bead necklace, which he also refused. Lucy bore a testimony in reply: “Now, here, sir,” I replied, “just look at yourself as you are. Because God has raised up my son to bring forth a book, which was written for the salvation of the souls of men, for the salvation of your soul as well as mine, you have come here to distress me by taking my husband to jail; and you think, by this, that you will compel us to deny the work of God and destroy a book which was translated by the gift and power of God. But, sir, we shall not burn the Book of Mormon, nor deny the inspiration of the Almighty.” A constable was waiting outside the door, and though he was quite sick, the father of the Prophet was ordered into a wagon to be taken to jail.
To add insult to injury, while Joseph waited in the hot sun, “faint and sick,” the constable came back to the house and ate the food Lucy had prepared for her weakened husband. They then departed for Canadaigua, a nearby city, leaving Lucy alone with a small daughter, as all her sons were absent on business or missions. Joseph was verbally abused the whole way, told that if he would only deny his testimony of the Book of Mormon, he would be freed and have the debt excused. He made no reply. When they arrived at Canadaigua he was confined in a dungeon with a convicted murderer. Joseph said later, “I shuddered when I first heard these heavy doors creaking upon their hinges; but then I thought to myself, I was not the first man who had been imprisoned for the truth’s sake; and when I should meet Paul in the Paradise of God, I could tell him that I, too, had been in bonds for the Gospel which he had preached.
And this has been my only consolation.” He was confined for four days with only a bowl of weak broth to eat before his son Samuel returned to plead for his release. He was forced to remain in the city for a month working at a coopering shop to repay the debt. During that month, he took time off to preach on Sundays, and baptized two persons at the end of his term. (See Lucy Mack Smith, History of Joseph Smith , pp. 179-186) ————————————————– ————— Copyright 1998, David Kenison and LDS-Gems, Distributed on the Internet via the LDS-Gems listserver; for more information, see: http://www.xmission.com/~dkenison/lds/ch hist/ ALL PROPHETS KNEW, TESTIFIED OF HIM – Vivian M. Adams is a gospel doctrine teacher in the Monument Park 16th Ward, Salt Lake Monument Park Stake.
– This is the first in a series of articles, to be published weekly through July 2, marking the 150th anniversary of the martyrdom of the Prophet Joseph Smith and his brother, Hyrum. The two were killed by a mob at Carthage Jail in Carthage, Ill., on June 27, 1844. By Vivian M. Adams When I was a child my father, Bruce R. McConkie, directed that our Sunday School and sacrament meeting talks center on the restoration of the gospel through the Prophet Joseph Smith.
I remember well how many times he recited to us the words: “Joseph Smith, the Prophet and Seer of the Lord, has done more, save Jesus only, for the salvation of men in this world, than any other man that ever lived in it.” (D&C 135:3.) When we visited our mother’s father, Joseph Fielding Smith, he would on occasion show us a gold pocket watch which had belonged to the Prophet and which had come to him by way of his father, Joseph F. Smith, who was the son of Hyrum. Grandfather had a beautiful chair that had belonged to Hyrum, the Prophet’s older brother. The frame was exquisitely carved, and it was upholstered in a deep red velvet. The Prophet owned a companion chair which is now in the bedroom of the Mansion House in Nauvoo, Ill. We thought sitting in Hyrum’s chair to be a great honor. These tangible things created a link for us with the reality of the Prophet’s life. Of greater impact than the artifacts, however, was the deep and abiding testimony that flowed from my father and my grandfather; my mother, Amelia Smith McConkie; and those who surrounded us in our youth.
It was their testimony as it is now ours, that Joseph Smith was sent into the world to head the greatest of all gospel dispensations, a work which he began in his youth, and to which members of the Church are by covenant committed to uphold and sustain. The Prophet Joseph was foreordained in premortal councils specifically to lay the foundations of the great latter-day work, to build temples, and to provide ordinances for the redemption of the dead. (D&C 138:53.) He was among the noble and great, chosen to be rulers in the Church of God. It was in premortal existence that he first received lessons concerning his work and was prepared to come forth and labor “for the salvation of the souls of men.” (D&C 138: 53-56.) My father taught that Joseph was one of a select group who stood “in intelligence and power and might next to the Lord Jehovah.”1 T So vital was his mission that all prophets knew and testified of it. (Acts 3: 19-21.) With the exception of Christ and His atoning sacrifice, there is no subject receiving more prophetic attention than that of the restoration Joseph was to head.
Isaiah’s profuse utterances concerning this latter-day work have earned him a title as a prophet of the restoration. (See Isa. 11; 29; and 2 Ne. 27.) Moses was told that Joseph would be “like unto thee.” (Moses 1:41.) Joseph in ancient Egypt declared that Joseph Smith should come through his loins, that “his name shall be called after me, and that it shall be after the name of his father. And he shall be like unto me.” (2 Ne.
3: 15.) This child of promise was born to humble circumstances on a farm belonging to his grandfather, Solomon Mack, in Sharon, Windsor County, Vt. His mother wrote of his birth, “We had a son, whom we called Joseph, after the name of his father; he was born December 23, 1805.”2 Her simple words were the echo of prophecy and reveal the spiritual sensitivity of the Prophet’s parents. The Lord had, in fact, been watching over the Prophet’s progenitors for many generations. Brigham Young taught, “The Lord had his eye upon him, and upon his father, and upon his fathers, and upon their progenitors . .
. to Adam.”3 When the Restoration occurred, the Prophet’s family were generally ready to receive the gospel and support him in his call. The Prophet’s parents, Joseph Smith Sr. and Lucy Mack Smith, were of Pilgrim-Puritan stock. Their ancestors were patriots to the bone, many having fought for American independence.
The Prophet’s grandfather, Asael Smith, supposed the newly framed Constitution of the United States to be “the stone cut out of the mountain without hands,” and directed his children to hold it as a precious jewel.4 Though deeply religious, the Prophet’s ancestors did not particularly conform to the conventional religious systems of New England. Many of the Prophet’s ancestors believed there had been a universal apostasy which required a universal restoration. Grandfather Asael “had a habit of reading and writing about gospel themes – the Restoration in particular.”5 He predicted “there would be a prophet raised up in his family” who would do a work that would “revolutionize the world.” (History of Church, hereafter HC) 2:443; Journal of Discourses 5:102.) The Prophet’s father, Joseph Smith Sr., was tall and vigorous, cheerful by nature, and filled with integrity – an acknowledged Smith trait. The Prophet wrote that his father “stood six feet and two inches high, was very straight and remarkably well proportioned. His ordinary weight was about 200 pounds, and he was very strong and active.
In his younger days he was famed as a wrestler, and, Jacob-like, he never wrestled with but one man whom he could not throw.” (HC 4:191.) On another occasion the Prophet said his father possessed a holy and virtuous mind and that he “never did a mean act, that might be said to be ungenerous in his life.”6 The Prophet’s Mother, Lucy Mack, was small in stature, not five feet tall, judging by the clothing she wore. She was “possessed of a high sense of duty,” a woman of action who “sometimes took weighty matters into her own hands and carried them through to successful completion.”7 The Prophet declared his mother to be “filled with benevolence and philanthropy.” (Teachings, p. 38.) Lucy had little of this world’s substance, yet her home was open to all in need. A grandson noted “there never was a more earnest and social body than Mother Smith.”8 As with his father, the Prophet’s mother was fore-chosen by the Lord. During her Nauvoo years Lucy Mack Smith reported a vision in which she was told, “Thou art a mother in Israel.
Thy spirit arose and said in eternity, that it would take a body to be a mother to theT Prophet who should be raised up to save the last dispensation.”9 Spiritual matters were of first concern to Joseph Sr. and Lucy Mack Smith. “I was born . . .
of goodly parents,” the Prophet wrote, “who spared no pains to instructing me in theT Christian religion.”10 The family met morning and evening for prayer, hymns, and scripture reading. At times Joseph Sr. taught his nine children “in his own home school and used the Bible as a text.11 My father’s religious habits were strictly pious and moral,” Joseph’s younger brother, William, reported.12 His mother, he said, “made use of every means which her parental love could suggest, to get us engaged in seeking for our soul’s salvation.”13 “Father used to carry his spectacles in his vest pocket,” William recalled, “and when us boys saw him feel for his specs we knew that was a signal to get ready for prayer.”14 Neither Joseph Sr. nor Lucy believed in the religious sects of the day. Lucy wrote that her husband “contended for the ancient order as established by our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ and His Apostles.”15 William noted that Father Smith had “faith in the universal restoration doctrine.16 Lucy’s views paralleled her husband’s, yet she wished to do what she could with what she had and what she knew.
She desired baptism because the scriptures taught it. She urged Church attendance. Joseph Sr., skeptical of clergy and doctrine, remained aloof. A significant stress developed in the Smith household on the approach to conventional religion. In 1811, the Prophet’s father had the first of seven dreams apparently received by way of preparation for the restoration to come.
In each, he seemed on the verge of salvation but it was just beyond his reach. Joseph Sr. shared these experiences with Lucy, and possibly others in the family were aware of these visions. All were aware of his feelings. The early family training and the family dilemma left an indelible print.
“There never was a family that were so obedient as mine,” Lucy said.17 Young Joseph had learned the principle of prayer and believed implicitly in the word of God. His mother described Joseph as quiet and well disposed, given to meditation and study. He indicated that on occasion he took his books to study in the woods.19 Joseph also began to ponder the questions of salvation and authority. Father and Mother Smith having provided the rudiments, the Lord now brought Joseph to Palmyra, the revivals, and the Sacred Grove. The Smith family came to Palmyra, Ontario County, N.Y., in the 10th year of Joseph’s age.
They arrived, Lucy said, “with a small portion of our affects, and barely two cents in cash.”20 As the family prospered they moved to Manchester in the same county. Sometime during the second year in Manchester, the surrounding country erupted in religious excitement. Competing camp meetings “caused no small stir and division amongst the people.” “Great multitudes,” the Prophet later wrote, united with one sect or another. (JS-History 1:3-5.) Joseph attended these meetings and yearned “to feel and shout like the others but could feel nothing.”21 The revivals provided only a war of words and a tumult of opinion which “exceedingly distressed” young Joseph’s mind. He was uneasy, his feelings “deep and often poignant.” (JS-History 1:8.) “I felt to mourn for my own sins,” he wrote, “and for the sins of the world.” His anxiety took him to the scriptures, “believing as I was taught, that they contained the word of God.”22 Words from James struck Joseph with great force: “If any of you lack wisdom,” Joseph read, “let him ask of God, which giveth to all men liberally, and upbraideth not; and it shall be given him.” (James 1:5.) Joseph determined to do as James directed.
On a spring morning in 1820, he chose a place in the woods where his father had a clearing and where he had left his ax in a stump when he had quit work.23 There he knelt and offered up the desires of his heart to God. “Then followed the most glorious vision of which we have record in the entire history of God’s dealings with men – the personal appearance of the Father and the Son, and the consequent ushering in of the greatest of all dispensations, the dispensation of the Fulness of Times. The long-awaited mission and ministry of that prophet who was to do more, `save Jesus only, for the salvation of men in this world, than any other man that ever lived in it’ had commenced.” An obscure boy in his 15th year walked from the grove knowing more about God than any man living. Joseph’s mind was “satisfied” with respect to religion; he was filled, he sai …