Already on this channel are a number of videos involving Joseph Smith, both answering critics and providing evidences of the restoration, this video is a potpourri of a number of additional interesting tidbits, from amazing quotes, stories, and journal entries of those who knew or interacted with him, which all provide further evidence of his key role in the restoration.
So in this video, I’m going to talk about Joseph Smith, some of my favorite quotes from him, firsthand experiences people have had with him from journal entries that we have, just some exciting, lesser-known stories as well. So I’ve done a lot of videos on Joseph Smith for different things, but this one, that’s going to be my focus is really in general about Joseph himself. Also, I wanted to remember to tell people about the website that I set up with the same name as this YouTube channel: latterdaysaintsqa.com. So for Q and A and you can get all the transcripts of the videos there. So I’m trying to get them all over there and so this’ll be there within a few weeks. So just be aware of that. Okay, first of all when we talk about Joseph, I do want to just kind of share, there’s a phenomenal lecture series.
Many have probably listened to it over the years, it’s been around for a few decades,Truman Madsen down at BYU, an eight lecture series. You can get it on YouTube now, I’m going to put it in the links down below on the program here. But I love that. It’s wonderful, but I also love the very realistic Richard Bushman, Rough Stone Rolling. This is one of my favorite books. In fact, my wife was telling me the other day, we were at dinner and she was just saying it’s also one of her very favorite books. It shows really the human side of Joseph and how comforting that is for any member of the Church in a lot of ways. So this is a cultural biography of the founder of the church and it really goes in depth on the culture that Joseph Smith lived in. And I’ve done a number of videos that would be correlated with that there in answering critics videos, if you will, with different topics on Joseph.
This is going to be a bit more on the Truman Madsen side in the sense of really celebrating many amazing things there, but note that if there’s a healthy tension that I think it’s good to be looking at all these things and get a realistic picture of who Joseph was. And I think it’s worth celebrating in a lot of ways, and it’s even more miraculous when you hear the things I’m going to talk about in this video when you understand that Joseph, he was just just a regular person as well, but he was called of God and did amazing things way beyond his capacity. So let’s start out with some of my favorite quotes. I have pulled together about two dozen really quick short sayings, nothing from this that we would have in the canonized scriptures, but if you look here, so I’m just going rip through them.
“One of the grand fundamental principles of Mormonism is to receive truth, let it come from whence it may.” “It is my meditation all the day and more than my meat and drink to know how I shall make the saints of God comprehend the visions that roll like an overflowing surge before my mind.” “I could explain a hundred fold more than I ever have of the glories of the kingdoms manifested to me in the vision, were I permitted, and were the people prepared to receive them.” That was after the great vision of the degrees of glory section 76 that he had with Sydney Rigdon. “I have tried for a number of years to get the minds of the saints prepared to receive the things of God, but we frequently see some of them after suffering all they have for the work of God will fly to pieces like glass as soon as anything comes that is contrary to their traditions.” “Could you gaze into heaven five minutes, you would know more than you would by reading all that was ever written on the subject.”
Okay. And actually on these next couple of slides, I’m just going to read a couple of the quotes here. So on this one, I’m going to read the bottom two, but you can pause it if you want to see the other ones that I’ve selected here. “Never be discouraged. If I were sunk in the lowest pits of Nova Scotia, with the Rocky mountains piled on me, I would hang on, exercise faith, and keep up good courage, and I would come out on top.” He says, “Although I do wrong, I do not the wrongs I’m charged with doing; the wrongs that I do is through the frailty of human nature, like other men. No man lives without fault.”
Okay on this page, I’ll read the top three. “We don’t ask people to throw away any good that they’ve got, we only ask them to come and get more. What if all the world should embrace this gospel? They would then see eye to eye, and the blessings of God would be poured out upon the people, which is the desire of my whole soul.” “All your losses will be made up to you in the resurrection, provided you continue faithful. By the vision of the Almighty I have seen it.” Then, “I have made this my rule, when God commands, do it.” Okay this next slide, let’s read the second one and the fourth one. Second one, “The devil flatters us that we are very righteous, while we are feeding on the faults of others. If you would have God have mercy on you, have mercy on one another.” “I am like a huge, rough stone rolling down from a high mountain; and the only polishing I get is when some corner gets rubbed off by coming in contact with something else, striking with accelerated force against religious bigotry … Thus I will become a smooth and polished shaft in the quiver of the Almighty.”
By the way, I didn’t say this, but one of the things I love about that quote in this book is I feel like I’m a rough stone rolling so I just love that symbolism through our lives. Okay. This next one, I’m just going to read the one in the middle. “One of the absolute marks that apostasy had occurred is the evidence of the contraction of men’s feelings– that they are really praying for each other’s damnation.” The bottom one is the standard of truth that we all kind of almost have memorized, I think many of us, if you served a mission, but no unhallowed hand can stop the work from progressing. “What was the object of gathering the people of God in any age of the world? The main object was to build unto the Lord a house whereby He could reveal unto His people the ordinances of His house and the glories of His kingdom, and teach the people the way of salvation; for there are certain ordinances and principles that, when they are taught and practiced, must be done in a place or house built for that purpose.”
“The Church is not fully organized in its proper order, and cannot be, until the temple is completed, where places will be provided for the administration and the ordinances of the priesthood.” “A man filled with the love of God is not content with blessing his family alone, but ranges through the whole world, anxious to bless the whole human race.” And last, “If you will stay with the majority of the Twelve Apostles, and the records of the Church, you will never be led astray.” And think about there were seven of the Twelve, and that’s the majority, that were there when there was the showdown between Brigham Young and Sydney Rigdon in the succession crises, and the seven went with Brigham. And so that was a key, he said the key that would never rust, so powerful wisdom.
Okay, so now let’s talk about some other aspects of Joseph Smith’s life. One of them was being in court all the time, legal trials throughout his life. It was just crazy. There was a great essay that was written, it’s on the fairmormon.org website, Legal Trials of the Prophet Joseph: Joseph Smith’s Life in Court by Joseph Bentley. And I pulled four quick bullet points out of that I thought were interesting. He said, “From my years of research and work on the Joseph Smith Papers Project, I have gained a deeper appreciation of Joseph’s achievements, despite intense and unrelenting adversity. Among his other tribulations was the fact that his ministry was shadowed by many persistent legal prosecutions.”
“Anyone who has been through even one lawsuit knows how all consuming it can be. It can demand your time, assets, body, and mind. So far we’ve found over 200 total suits involving Joseph Smith, whether as a defendant, plaintiff, witness or judge. (Yes, as mayor of Nauvoo, he was also a Justice of the Peace and Chief Magistrate of the Nauvoo Municipal Court.) That makes an average of about 14 cases per year. As best we can tell, he endured an average of one lawsuit per month during most of his ministry.”
Brigham Young said that he had to defend himself in 48 criminal cases, including many personally involving Brigham, but that Joseph was never convicted in any of them. We believe that this count of criminal cases against him is quite accurate.” There was one kind of strange conviction, probably doesn’t count but of casting the devil out of Newell Knight in New York,. But anyways, he says, “We’ll focus mainly on some criminal charges that took his liberty, his assets, and ultimately his life. Knowing that not once was he found legally guilty of any charges against him has strengthened my own faith and regard for Joseph Smith, the man and the prophet. This is a unique way to tell the history of the Church through lawsuits and court records.”
“From the time of his first vision, Joseph said he got used to swimming in deep water. This was also true of his experience with the law. The Lord told him at the start of his ministry, ‘Be patient in thine afflictions for thou shalt have many, but endure them, for lo I am with thee, even until the end of thy days.'”
Okay. Now, how about Joseph’s children? This had to have been gut-wrenching. Take a look at this slide. So his first child died on the day Alvin was born. This was right during the time of the lost 116 pages, just a torturous time of Joseph’s life. Then he lost his next two children as well, that were twins there in 1831. Then his next child, they adopted two twins, the Murdock twins, and Joseph Smith Murdock, they lost him due to exposure on the night of the mobbing that happened there down in Hiram, Ohio. I’ll talk about that here in a minute. And then as you go down, he lost two other kids: Don Carlos Smith aged 14 months in 1841 and then a male child that was stillborn in 1842. So 6 deaths out of 11, 4 of his first 5. I mean, that’s very gut-wrenching.
Also, I have wondered at times if Joseph knew some of the things that he was experiencing and the significance of them. I’ve done this with certain other videos. The Messiah Ben Joseph is one of my favorite videos that I did, but all those things that were going on, did Joseph have a clue about his role in some of these things? These had been traditions for thousands of years on some of these things, that Elijah was to appear on the top of a mountain, which was considered a temple, and Moses with him towards the end of the days to help usher in the Messiah Ben David, that would be the Messiah. And then how about September 22, 1827 when Joseph receives the plates, did he know that that was Rosh Hashanah, the Jewish high holy day, and they blew the trumpet or the Ram’s horn to signal three things: the future gathering of Israel, the rebuilding of the temple, and the coming of the Messiah, the Messiah Ben David. And he was the restorer prior to that.
So that was the significance of that day. But again, if he did know that stuff, he didn’t talk about it at all, he didn’t say anything. And how about when Elijah came? In the Eternal Marriage video, if you go watch that, there is a piece in there that just blew my mind when I was researching it, and it’s on the Church website, you can actually get it.
The guy John Pratt wrote this article, on this calendar realignment, this Jewish calendar realignment interval that that day matched up the close, it completed a calendar realignment interval back 1800 and something years back to the time of Christ’s death, roughly. And it won’t happen again for 3000 years. And that day was also the second day of Passover and it was considered the first fruits. That’s what it’s called, that second day, and it was Easter Sunday. So think about the symbolism of Elijah and the work for the dead coming on this day. And that the only time where that second day of Passover and Easter fell up together in that entire century, the 19th century, was April 3rd of 1836. Just again, but Joseph says nothing about this. These are things we were looking at and putting this stuff together now saying, whoa, some stunning stuff.
Anyway, just some little tidbits. I wonder sometimes about these fascinating things. Okay, now I did want to do a little bit about some of my favorite pieces from the lecture series that Truman Madsen did. Absolutely fascinating series and I just pulled out a couple of my top half dozen or so there. So if you look on this first page, he says, “Section 93 of the Doctrine and Covenants, I leave out any others, though they may too have their place, just select that one, Section 93 is in my considered judgment, and I read a little on the philosophers of the world, superior in content to Plato’s Timaeus; if Plato was the great philosopher of the western world, and that has been said often through many generations, why Alfred Whitehead most recently said that Plato was the only philosopher of the western world and everything else since has been footnotes; if that is true, and I’m not sure if it is, but if it is, I say to you then, Joseph Smith was a profounder man than Plato, but he had the added advantage of the Holy Ghost.” Which he needed since he only had a third grade education, right, or equivalent.
So speaking about Robert B. Thompson, “‘Robert’, Joseph said, ‘you have been so faithful and relentless in this work, you need to relax, go out, have a spree, relax.’ But Thompson was a sober man and said, ‘I can’t do it.’ Joseph said, ‘You must do it, or if you don’t do it, you will die.'” One of the sorrows of Joseph’s life is that Robert B. Thompson had a premature death. He [Joseph] learned to relax and occasionally chided for it, commented any man that has a bow and has it constantly strung tight, will soon loose the spring in his bow. The bow must be unstrung.”
Okay, now a few comparisons. Alexander Donovan, not a latter-day saint, said that Mormon men generally were a cut above others he knew during that period. J.W. Woods, the prophet’s last attorney, not a latter-day saint, observes that you could see the strength of Joseph Smith in his manner and dignity. You could see by his face alone that he was not a bad man. Daniel H Wells, trained in law and justice, after hearing Joseph speak on the spirit world and teaching earthly proxy work as a universal solution for all mankind said, ‘I don’t know what else can be said about that man. His mind is the most just I have ever encountered.’ We have from Brigham Young a comment on how Joseph was different than Hyrum, that Joseph, more than his brother, was susceptible to the continuing impressions and revelations of God. That is, he did not become so rigidly bound to what had been given that he was unsusceptible to what yet had to be given.”
“He was stretched to do thing,s that by his own reckoning, he was not fully equipped to do, at all to do, just in the temporal sense. There’s a promise– D&C 24, it says ‘In temporal labors, thou shalt not have strength, for this is not thy calling’, and yet …”, Truman says, ” … he was commanded to introduce utopian and not just dreams, but actual executions, utopian schemes in economics– the law of consecration; in politics–the council of 50; in social thought– plan for communities and their very city design and blockage, with the temple at the center. He was among other things, a city planner, and educationally– the school of the prophets, the University of Nauvoo, and the instructions that are outlined in sections 88 and 109 involving processes for the expansion of the knowledge and power and skill of his faithful band. How could a man be stretched to that? It’s one thing to be a spiritual advisor and to bring forth inspiration, but to take a band, a melting pot group of converts from all over the world and introduce instantly plans for the temporal welfare … ‘the burden upon me …’, he said once, ‘ … is very great.'” I just love that.
Okay, a couple more to finish up. “John A. Widtsoe estimates that the building of the Kirtland Temple, if you were to use the measuring rod of the widow’s mite, that is if you estimate costs in terms of what the saints actually had, this building, the Kirtland temple, cost more per capita than any religious building in American history. It was, in that sense, an unprecedented sacrifice.” Now, “William Law he had first cried at the prophet’s announcement of the principle of plural marriage and with his arms around his neck plead that he not teach it. For said he, ‘If you won’t, if only you won’t, this will become the greatest christian church of the century, but if you do, the consequences will be terrible.'” Interesting reply. “The prophet in tears replied ‘What you say may be true Brother William, but I have no choice, I must teach it. I have been commanded, and the Lord has told me the keys will be turned against me if I do not.’ How early did he know the plural marriage would be restored? At least as early the 1832, we are now into 1842; he has now introduced it. Over that, William Law became bitter, then ironically was excommunicated for adultery.”
And I will say on this topic, I did a video, a polygamy series, three parts, the beginning, the ending and the afterlife. And the beginning, please watch it because this is something that I think a lot of people even I think faithful members of the Church at times, they struggle with Joseph and polygamy because it hurts our senses, right? And it’s hard to understand, but it was practiced in the Bible. We have to acknowledge that God has commanded it before Joseph.
If you watch the video, you’ll also see testimonies of the witness of women who were asked to practice this. They received their own divine manifestation of the principle, which is, I think, extremely powerful and independent and also Emma. Now Joseph, he wasn’t told how to do it. I’ve often said, “how would you do this?” It went against everything. You saw what William Law just said, when everything in their culture, how would you do it? And he struggled, he said that angel appeared to him the third time with a drawn sword, right, three times. So he obviously demurred on doing this or maybe even the right way. And anyway, so it’s a great video. I attack all the critics points that are made about it there, but we wrestle with it. But I do think that I thought this was interesting, what he said to William Law there.
Now back to this, so Truman’s last piece here about the destruction of the press that led to the martyrdom in a sense. So William Law started up the Nauvoo Expositor with several other apostates and they were going after Joseph and the leaders. So this is interesting. He says, “Some students of law today would argue that they were perfectly within the law of their time, that there was precedence for it, and that the way they did it was indeed legal. But both friends and enemies of the prophet have assumed that that act, whether illegal or not, was the most unwise and inflammatory act of his life and culminated in his death.”
George Laub records that because there was murmuring among the saints when that was done, Joseph called a meeting, inviting them and then said, in effect, ‘The Lord showed me at daylight’, meaning this isn’t just something he conjured up in the dreams of the night, ‘what would happen if that press were not destroyed and that the blood of the saints would be shed, and to prevent that, we did what we did.'” And ironically, Joseph’s own blood was shed because of that, but preserved the saints there in Nauvoo. I’ve got a quote I’m going to share about something there as he left Nauvoo to go to Carthage. It’s sobering with that aspect.
Okay, now I want to finish the video with a bunch of different little quick experiences people had and I pulled together … so this is a book, I’ve got dozens of books on Joseph Smith, but this is one that’s really fascinating in a sense of what it does. They Knew the Prophet: Personal Accounts From Over 100 People Who Knew Joseph Smith. So these are journal entries, diaries of things and interactions with the prophet that really kind of stand out. And then I went through and combed through, tried to get a variety of things, men and women, younger, older, leaders, non-leaders, even a few non-members in there, writing different types of experiences and comments, time periods and lesser known stories. So let’s jump into them.
So first of all, I will say one of the very first videos I did was on the miracles that happened in Joseph’s early life and I just want to mention, one of the most fascinating ones was the assassination attempt on Joseph two months before the First Vision, before anything happened, an assassination to him. So go back and watch that one of those very first videos. But he was a target from the very beginning, even before the First Vision. Satan doesn’t have a veil over his mind there on who Joseph was. So this first one, just quick, I’m just going to read the underlined part. This is from Martha Cox, she talked about this Mrs. Palmer, whose dad hired Joseph and really wanted him because when he was working, these wild boys in the neighborhood, they would really work when Joseph was there. It says, “When Joseph Smith worked with them, the work went steadily forward and he got the full worth of the wages he paid.” So I love that.
Okay, Newel Knight, so this is interesting, very beginning of the Church after some of the first baptisms, confirmation, it says, “A meeting to confirm those who had been baptized … had arrived and our friends had nearly all collected together, when to our great surprise and sorrow, the constable came and arrested Brother Joseph Smith Jr. on a warrant, charging him with being a disorderly person, and of setting the country in an uproar by preaching the Book of Mormon. The constable was determined to save Joseph from them [the mob], as he found him to be a different person to what he had been represented. They had not proceeded far from the house when the wagon in which Joseph and the constable were riding was surrounded by the mob, who seemed only to await some signal for the constable. But to their great discomfiture, he gave the horses the whip and was soon out of their reach.” So interesting little story.
Okay. The tarring and feathering that happened when Joseph was … If you remember Hyrum, just 30 miles below Kirtland or so, he was at the John Johnson farm there and so Luke Johnson tells a story of what had happened in his father’s home. A few little known details, we know about the tarring and feathering, but there were a couple things here that were pretty crazy. So he says, “In the fall of 1831, while Joseph was yet at my father’s place, a mob of 40 or 50 came to his house. A few entered his room in the middle of the night, and Carnot Mason dragged Joseph out of bed by the hair of his head. He was then seized by as many as could get hold of him and taken about 40 rods from the house, stretched on a board and tantalized the most insulting and brutal manner.”
“They tore off the few nightclothes that he had on, for the purpose of emasculating him”, so they were going to castrate him, “and had Dr. Dennison there to perform the operation. But when the doctor saw the prophet stripped and stretched on the plank, his heart failed him, and he refused to operate. The mob then scratched his body all over saying, “D you, this is the way the Holy Ghost falls upon you. In attempting to force open his jaws and pour a vial of some obnoxious drug into his mouth, they broke one of his front teeth. The mob became divided and did not succeed, but poured tar over him and then stuck feathers on him”, that’s the part we typically tell, “then they went to wash up.” It says, “At this place, a vial was dropped, the contents of which ran out and killed the grass.”
So Joseph, had that poison gone down, wouldn’t have made it. And poor Sidney Rigdon, they dragged him and if you know, his head was bouncing on the ground, and many scholars have looked back and saw that as maybe a turning point where Sydney may have really had some brain damage that happened from that. And if you remember he really cracked in Liberty Jail.
Okay. So Jesse Crosby tells of how Joseph dealt with slander. He says, “I went one day to the prophet with a sister. She had a charge to make against one of the brethren for scandal. When her complaint had been heard, the prophet asked her if she was quite sure that what the brother had said of her was utterly untrue? She was quite sure that it was. He then told her to think no more about it, for it could not harm her. If untrue, it could not live, but the truth will survive. Still, she felt that she should have some redress. Then he offered her his method of dealing with such cases for himself. When an enemy had told a scandalous story about him, which had often been done, before he rendered judgment, he paused and let his mind run back to the time and place and setting in the story to see if he had not by some unguarded word or act, laid the block on which the story was built. If he found that he had done so, he said that in his heart, he then forgave his enemy and felt thankful that he had received warning of a weakness that he had not known he possessed.”
Okay, and then this is so tender. This is Daniel Tyler. He talks about during the Kirtland crisis. If you go to the video I did on the Kirtland Safety Society, in the midst of that tremendous apostasy, a third of the church leaders apostatized, an eighth of the Church. It was just a brutal time. His own brother, William, was faltering. And so this was an experience in the midst of this. Daniel Tyler says, “At the time William Smith and others rebelled against the prophet at Kirtland, I attended a meeting where Joseph presided. Entering a little before the meeting opened and gazing upon the man of God, I perceived sadness in his countenance and tears trickling down his cheeks. A few moments later, a hymn was sung and he opened the meeting by prayer. Instead of facing the audience, however, he turned his back and bowed upon his knees facing the wall. This, I suppose, was done to hide his sorrow and tears.”
“I had heard men and women pray … from the most ignorant, both as to letters and intellect, to the most learned and eloquent, but never until then had I heard a man address his Maker as though he was present listening, as a kind father would listen to the sorrows of a dutiful child. Joseph was at that time unlearned, but that prayer, which was to a considerable extent in behalf of those who accused him of having gone astray and fallen into sin, was that the Lord would forgive them and open their eyes that they might see alright. That prayer, I say to my humble mind, partook of the learning and eloquence of heaven. There was no ostentation, no raising of the voice as by enthusiasm, and a plain conversational tone as a man would address a present friend. It appeared to me as though in case the veil were taken away, I could see the Lord standing, facing his humblest of all servants I had ever seen. It was the crowning of all the prayers I ever heard.” I thought that was really kind of cool.
Okay. Short little clip on Joseph, an example of Joseph’s charity. Andrew Workman says, “Several men were sitting on a fence. Joseph came out and spoke to us all. A man came and said that a poor brother who lived out some distance from town had had his house burned down the night before. Nearly all the men said that they felt sorry for the man. Joseph put his hand in his pocket, took out $5 and said, ‘I feel sorry for this brother to the amount of $5. How much do you all feel sorry?'” Okay. William Walker talking to Joseph’s kindness and mercy. He said, “On one occasion when he was the mayor of the city of Nauvoo, it became his duty to fine a Negro for violating the city ordinance with regard to selling liquor. The Negro pleaded for mercy, saying that his object in doing so was to raise money to send for his family. The mayor would not shrink from his duty and he fined him $75, but told him that if he would not be guilty of doing so again, he would make him a present of a horse to assist him, which he accepted.”
Now this is amazing and I’ve talked about lots of miracles and visions and lots of the other videos. Here’s just one, you could include this. In fact, there was one great video I did called How Could They Have All Lied, all these different people that had these miraculous experiences and things, not just Joseph, outside of Joseph, that was the point of the video. One of the early ones I did. But here is Zebedee Coltrin sees this amazing experience of seeing Adam and Eve with Joseph and Oliver. So Joseph, he says, “lay down on the ground on his back and stretched out his arms, and we laid on them. The heavens gradually opened, and we saw a golden throne on a circular foundation, and on the throne sat a man and a woman having white hair and clothed in white garments. Their heads were white as snow, and their faces shone with immortal youth. They were the two most beautiful and perfect specimens of mankind I ever saw. Joseph said, ‘They are our first parents, Adam and Eve.'”
Okay. Here’s the time Joseph rebukes the devil, casts the devil out. Helen Mar Whitney, she said, “We had struggles with evil spirits at Winter Quarters, which were something similar to what the prophet experienced in Far West Missouri. He said the devil contended with him face to face, after he had afflicted his little child, claiming he had the best right to a house which Joseph had purchased, it having been previously occupied by some wicked people. But the prophet rebuked the devil in the name of the Lord and he had to leave the house.”
Okay, now I did a whole video on prophecies, on Joseph’s prophecies. And I did one even specifically on the Civil War because it was such a specific prophecy. It was so amazing. Even a Philadelphia newspaper acknowledges that, do we have a prophet in our midst? And even in that there was a bridge into the world wars as there was this bridge into saying that the wars would move to Germany as a headquarter, you think about World War I and World War II. That’s part of the interesting little aspect of that Civil War video. But here’s a quick one on prophecy, a couple of quick ones there to just add.
So Jane Richards says, “As prophe,t he seemed to understand and was able to foretell the future with a marked degree of accuracy and nearly as much readiness as the original individual could relate to happenings of the past. As seer and revelator, he was fearless and outspoken, yet humble, never considering that he was more than the mouthpiece through whom God spoke. As the leader of his people, he was ever active and progressive, but always modest and considerate of them and their trying circumstances.”
These are two quick prophecies, just little ones here. So Joseph Taylor Sr. says, “In February, 1841, my brother was in jail in the hands of the Missourians, about 200 miles from my home, and my dear widowed mother was very much concerned about his safety. I rode up to them, and the prophet inquired about mother’s welfare. I told him that mother was very sad and downhearted about the safety of her son and she had requested me to come and ask him as a man of God whether my brother would ever return home. He bent his head for a moment as if in prayer or deep reflection. Then, with a beautiful beaming countenance full of smiles, he looked up and told me to go and tell mother that her son would return in safety inside of a week. True to the word of the prophet, he got home in six days after this occurrence. This was a great comfort to mother, for her son had been absent about six months.”
And then another kind of fun one, Mary Westover, small little immediate prophecy fulfilled. “The most striking thing I remember”, she wrote, “was a prophecy Joseph Smith made, which I saw fulfilled immediately. I was at the funeral services of King Follett in the Nauvoo Grove. A heavy thunderstorm arose. The people became frightened and started to go home, but the prophet arose and told the multitude that if they would remain still and pray in their hearts, the storm would not molest them in their services. They did as they were bidden, and the storm divided over the grove. I will remember how it was storming on all sides of the grove, yet it was calm around us as if there was no sign of a storm so nearby. I thought as I sat there that the Lord was speaking through Joseph.” And if you think about the King Follett discourse is the deepest doctrine that Joseph ever taught at that moment. So it was pretty powerful.
Okay now for some, which is what it was like to hear the prophet teach. The first three of these are from prophets. I’ll just read a couple of snippets. Brigham Young, he says, “When I saw Joseph Smith, he took heaven figuratively speaking and brought it down to earth, and he took the earth, brought it up and opened up in plainness and simplicity the things of God. The excellency of the glory of the character of Brother Joseph Smith was that he could reduce heavenly things to the understanding of the finite.” He says, “Who can say aught against Joseph Smith? I do not think that a man lives on the earth that knew him any better than I did, and I am bold to say that, Jesus Christ excepted, no better man ever lived or does live upon the earth. I feel like shouting hallelujah all the time when I think that I ever knew Joseph Smith the prophet.”
And then John Taylor he talks about Joseph’s intelligence unmatched there and his interactions with people from the spirit world. In fact, Truman Madsen called them a spiritual amphibian, like one foot in the spirit world, one foot out. One time he told Hyrum that he looked the most like Seth than anyone else he’s ever seen. Adam’s son, Seth. And then one time he told a man, he said, “I haven’t seen your father since he’s passed away.” So anyway, just kind of some fun stuff. I didn’t read that slide. You can pause and read if you like.
Lorenzo Snow. So he talks about his experience hearing Joseph as he was investigating the Church. So he said, ” … as he proceeded, he became very strong and powerful and seemed to affect the whole audience with a feeling that he was honest and sincere. It certainly influenced me in this way, and it made impressions upon me that remain until the present day. As I looked upon him and listened, I thought to myself that a man bearing such a wonderful testimony as he did, and having such a countenance as he possessed, could hardly be a false prophet. I heard the prophet discourse upon the grandest of subjects. At times he was filled with the Holy Ghost, speaking as with the voice of an archangel and filled with the power of God. His whole person shown, and his face was lightened until it appeared as the whiteness of the driven snow. Finally, I was convinced of the truth sufficiently to want to be baptized.”
Let’s get a few last couple of quick ones here. Emmeline Wells, listening to Joseph was surreal. “He was beyond my comprehension. The power of God rested upon him to such a degree that on many occasions he seemed transfigured.” You hear that from a number of people, very interesting. Wandle Mace just talks about him opening up the scriptures. That was just crazy. He would just go and it was just stunning to him. And you can pause if you want to read that, but it’s really fascinating. He just said he would be stumbling over something and then Joseph would just open it up and just really make sense after Joseph would teach something.
Parley P. Pratt. So you can read this, kind of a longer quote, but I did like this one right in the middle that he says, “his benevolence unbounded as the ocean, his intelligence universal, and his language abounding in original eloquence peculiar to himself– not polished, not studied, not smoothed and softened by education and refined by art. Oh, how majestic it was.” Okay, Sariah Workman so she talked about it in her as a youth. She says, “What I remember best is that I always felt a divine influence whenever I was in his presence. The Holy Ghost testified to me then, though I was only 12 years of age at the time of his martyrdom, and that testimony has still remained with me, that he is a prophet of the true and living God.”
And then two quick ones of people that lived in the home, for a period. So this was a boarder for nine months, John Bernhisel. He says he had abundant opportunity to contemplate his character and observe his conduct. “I have concluded to give you a few my impressions of him. He is a man of calm judgment, enlarged views, and is eminently distinguished by his love of justice. He is kind and obliging, generous and benevolent, sociable and cheerful, and is possessed of a mind of a contemplative and reflective character. He’s honest, frank, fearless, and independent and as free from dissension as any now found. But it is the gentle charities of domestic life, as the tender and affectionate husband and parent, the warm and sympathizing friend, that the prominent traits of his character are revealed. And his heart is felt to be keenly alive to the kindest and softest emotions of which human nature is susceptible.”
And then Eliza Snow also in the home, taught his family school had ample opportunity to mark his daily walk and conversation as a prophet of God. And she talks about just how he was, very forgiving, and so I’ll let you pause and read that if you want to read what she said, but I thought it was beautiful and powerful there as well. And then one last here about Joseph loved the little children, Louisa Littlefield, she said, “A prominent trait of Joseph Smith’s character, which was perhaps more marked in his early career than was the case after public cares and responsibilities multiplied, was his natural fondness for children. In Kirtland, when wagon loads of grown people came in from the country to meeting, Joseph would make his way to as many of the wagons as he could and cordially shake the hand of each person. Every child and young babe in the company were especially noticed by him and tenderly taken by the hand with his kind words and blessings. He loved innocence and purity, and he seemed to find it in the greatest perfection with the prattling child.”
Okay. Now a couple of interesting experiences I wanted to share of Joseph’s character in very stressful situations. So Zion’s Camp, George A. Smith said, “The prophet Joseph took a full share of the fatigues of the journey, in addition to the care of providing for the camp and presiding over it. He walked most of the time and had a full share of blistered, bloody, and sore feet, which was the natural result of walking 25 to 40 miles a day in the hot season of the year. But during the entire trip, he never uttered a murmur or complained, while most of the men in the camp complained to him of sore toes, blistered feet, long drives, scanty supply of provisions, poor quality of bread, bad corn. Joseph had to bear with us and tutor us like children.”
And then this is not so crazy. John Taylor says this experience in Far West, you may have heard this story, but think of it, I did check my calculator out because I wanted to see what the math was here. He says, “I’m reminded of a circumstance that occurred in Missouri, which shows the kind of feeling that Joseph Smith possessed. At Far West, a mob had come against us, placing themselves in position to give us battle, and there were not more than about 200 of us in this place. He then led us out to the prairie, facing the mob, and place us in position, and the first thing we knew, a flag of truce was seen coming towards us. The person bearing it said that some of their friends were among our people, for their safety they felt anxious.”
“The mob wished these parties to come out, as they were going to destroy every man, woman, and child in that place. Joseph Smith sent word back by this messenger. Said he, ‘Tell your general to withdraw his troops or I will send them to hell.’ I thought that that was a pretty bold stand to take because we only had about 200 people compared to their 3,500, but they thought we were more numerous than we really were. It may be that our numbers were magnified in their eyes, but they took hint and left. So take your calculator out. It was 17 to 1. That’s the math there, crazy.
Okay. Now we know of the rebuking of the guards in Richmond Jail. It’s just so majestic. I know we have the story so well, so I almost didn’t put it in. But it’s just the guards are there, they’re talking about the rape, the murder, the robberies that were happening in Far West and them even participating in it. And then Joseph stands up and you know the sentence, “Silence ye fiends of the infernal pit. In the name of Jesus Christ I rebuke you and command you to be still. I will not live another minute and hear such language, see such talk, or you or I die this instant.” Then it says, “He ceased to speak, he stood erect in terrible majesty, chained and without a weapon, calm, unruffled, and dignified as an angel, he looked upon the quailing guards, whose weapons were lowered or dropped to the ground, whose knees smote together, and who shrinking into a corner or crouching at his feet, begged his pardon and remained quiet until a change of the guards.” And then you know how Parley describes this, Parley P. Pratt, he says but about all the dignity and he says, “Dignity and majesty have I seen but once as it stood in chains at midnight in a dungeon, in an obscure village in Missouri.” I just love that.
Okay, last couple of ones here as we go to the end of his life. So Joseph, it’s interesting, if you go to the prophecies video, it looked like he knew about when his time was going to be up. He had about a five year advance warning there, and it’s interesting, he borrows this book of martyrs. So Edward Stevenson says, “During the prophet’s visit, he came to our house. While looking over our copy of a large English book of martyrs, he expressed sympathy for the Christian martyrs and a hope for their salvation. He asked to borrow the book, promising to return it when he should meet us again in Missouri. On returning it he says, ‘I have, by the aid of the Urim and Thummin’, which could be the seer stone as kind of the synonym for that in these days, ‘seen those martyrs. They were honest, devoted followers of Christ according to the light they possessed. They will be saved.'”
“The prophet also looked over the large Bible and remarked that much of the Apocrypha was true, but it required the spirit of God to select the truth out of those writings. Finally, in speaking of the latter-day work, he said, ‘There are thousands of good people in England and those old countries who are waiting for the fullness of the gospel, and it will not be long before they will flock to Zion, for Ephraim for dwells largely in those parts.'”
And I have the one massive nugget, this is totally off topic, but if you want an amazing book that once you start reading, it’s a page turner, Whence Came They?: Israel, Britain and the Restoration. Absolutely phenomenal, fascinating, lots of legends, traditions, written documents over 4500 years of maybe the Hebrews, Israelites, founding the British area. So anyway, it’s kind of interesting, like I said, a lot of speculation in that, but it’s always interesting, and it certainly fits with just that quote there from Joseph. But also that book of martyrs. You wonder if Joseph … he did say that he would seal his testimony with his blood, so I think he knew he would be a martyr.
Okay. So Benjamin F. Johnson, two quick ones on how Joseph was absolutely exhausted towards the end of his life. Benjamin Johnson says, “With a deep-drawn breath, as a sigh of weariness, he sank down heavily in his chair”, this is Joseph, and said ‘Oh, I am so tired, so tired that I often feel to long for my day of rest. For what has there been in this life but tribulation for me? From a boy, I have been persecuted by my enemies, and now even my friends are beginning to join with them, to hate and persecute me. Why should I not wish for my time of rest?'”
“His words and tone thrilled and shocked me, and like an arrow, pierced my hopes that he would long remain with us. I said as with a heart full of tears, ‘Oh Joseph, what could we as a people do without you, and what would become of the great latter-day work if you should leave us?’ He was touched by my emotions and in reply he said, ‘Benjamin, I would not be far from you, and if on the other side of the veil, I would still be working with you and with a power greatly increased to roll on this kingdom.'”
Okay, and then Mary Elizabeth Rollins Lightener quoting Joseph near the end, she said, “I heard Joseph say, ‘I have rolled this kingdom off of my shoulders onto the shoulders of the Twelve and they can carry out the word and build up His kingdom.” Said he, ‘I am tired, I have been mobbed, I have suffered so much. Some of the brethren think they can carry this work out better than I can, far better. I have to seal my testimony to this generation with my blood. I have to do it, for this work will never progress until I’m gone. For the testimony is of no force until the testator is dead. People little know who I am when they talk about me and they never will know until they see me weighted in the balance in the kingdom of God. Then they will know who I am and see me as I am. I dare not tell them, and they do not know me.’ These words were spoken with such power that they penetrated the heart of every soul that believed in him.”
And then Charles Lambert heard Joseph’s last sermon. I thought this was so touching what he said that the person behind him who was not a member. He says, “I was present when the prophet preached his last sermon from a frame building, put up to the square and a place floored over for him to stand on. It was powerful. There was a tall man standing behind me sobbing and crying. When I turned around to look at him, he said he would never fight against the Mormons, no, never. He was a stranger to me.” Fascinating.
And then finally, Dan Jones, this is right before Joseph went off to Carthage. He said, “‘My friends, I love you. I love the city of Nauvoo too well to save my life at your expense. If I go not to them, they will come and act out the horrid Missouri scenes in Nauvoo. I may prevent it. I fear not death. My work is well nigh done. Keep the faith and I will die for Nauvoo.’ With some 30 or 40 others who chose to follow Joseph and Hyrum ascended the hill. When near the sacred spot, the temple, the prophet paused. He looked with admiration first on that, then on the city and remarked, ‘This is the loveliest place and the best people under the heavens. Little do they know the trials that await them.'”
That was very prophetic. If you think about what then came to the saints over the coming years as they were driven west. So it was not the last prophecy Joseph made, that was in Carthage to Dan Wells, and that was in the prophecies video that I did, so I know that was probably a little long, but boy, what an exciting and thrilling thing to think of Joseph Smith, the prophet, prophet of the restoration. What is our witness? We have a tangible witness of Joseph as the prophet, and it’s the Book of Mormon. Hope you enjoyed the video and watch the Book of Mormon: Match It video as one of the great witnesses on the Book of Mormon. Subscribe for more. Thanks.
There are dozens that could be listed… these are just those I referred to in the video:
Rough Stone Rolling by Richard Bushman
They Knew The Prophet, Personal Accounts From Over 100 People Who Knew Joseph Smith by Hyrum and Helen Andrus,
Whence Came They? Israel, Britain, and The Restoration by Vaughn Hansen
Truman Madsen Lecture Series on Joseph Smith from BYU SpeechesYouTube channel:
Lecture 1: The First Vision and Its Aftermath https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ea2v8…
Lecture 2: Joseph’s Personality & Character: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=bVXkB…
Lecture 3: Joseph Smith and Spiritual Gifts: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Gz5Gz…
Lecture 4: Joseph Smith and Trials: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=juLZC…
Lecture 5: Joseph Smith & The Kirtland Temple https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=NmPJi…
Lecture 6: Joseph Smith as Teacher, Speaker, and Counselor https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=qzG7t…
Lecture 7: Doctrinal Development & the Nauvoo Era https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Wcmej…
Lecture 8: The Last Months & Martyrdom: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=7S9JF…
Fairmormon Article by Joseph Bentley: Legal Trials of the Prophet, Joseph Smith’s Life in Court: https://www.fairmormon.org/conference…
Children of Joseph Smith: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Childre…
Latter-day Saints’ Q&A is a video series not produced by The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, but by me, an ordinary member of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, an independent voice, with a passion for studying Church history and defending the faith. In this series, I provide evidences for the restoration, and address tough questions posed by critics of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, offering faithful answers based on accurate research and historical references which will be posted at the end of each video.