Christ-like Character Traits
Greatest Prophet Save Jesus ChristHe was a great statesman, philosopher and philanthropist, logician, and last, but not least, the greatest prophet, seer and revelator that ever lived, save Jesus Christ only. 1
Convinced Joseph Smith is ProphetI became perfectly acquainted with the Prophet. I sat at his table frequently, and had many conversations with him. I listened to the teaching of the gospel and received these truths with an open heart. I was exceedingly anxious to know without doubt that Joseph Smith was a true 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 shone, 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, to get a knowledge for myself of the testimony that Joseph Smith had seen God. After my baptism, everything that I had thought about in a religion was changed. Every part of my system became convinced, through the power of the Holy Ghost, that God is my Father, that Jesus Christ is my Elder Brother, and that Joseph Smith is His prophet. 2
Daniel D. McArthurTo me, Joseph Smith seemed to possess more power and force of character than any ordinary man. I would look upon him when he was with hundreds of other men, and he would appear greater than ever. The more I heard his sayings and saw his doings, the more I was convinced that he had of a truth seen God the Father and His Son Jesus Christ, and also the holy angels of God. If I know anything on this earth, I surely know that he was a prophet. 3
A True ProphetIn the Fall of 1832, Brothers Heber C. Kimball, Joseph Young and myself started for Kirtland to see the Prophet Joseph. We went to his father’s house and learned that he was chopping wood. We immediately went to the woods, where we found the Prophet and two or three of his brothers. Here my joy was full at the privilege of shaking the hand of the Prophet of God, and I received the sure testimony, by the spirit of prophecy, that he was all that any man could believe him to be, as a true prophet. He was happy to see us, and made us welcome. 4
Chosen of GodIn the spring of 1834, Brother Joseph Smith came from Kirtland, Ohio, to my father’s New York estate, which he had purchased at Avon, Livingston County. This was the first time I ever beheld a prophet of the Lord, and I can truly say at the first sight that I had a testimony within my bosom that he was a man chosen of God to bring forth a great work in the last days. His society I prized. His conversation was meat and drink to me. The principles that he brought forth and the testimony that he bore of the truth of the Book of Mormon made a lasting impression upon my mind. . . . I, in company with my sisters, had the pleasure of cooking and serving the table and waiting on them, which I considered to be a privilege and a blessing. Brother Joseph and Elder Rigdon held a meeting in Geneva, which was called the Orton neighborhood, in a barn. Elder Rigdon preached, Brother Joseph bore testimony of the truth of the Book of Mormon, and of the work that had come forth in these last days. Never did I hear preaching sound so glorious to me as that did. I realized it was the truth of heaven, for I had a testimony of it myself. Many very interesting interviews we had with them while they were at my father’s house. 5
TestimonyAt this time the spirit of speculation, disaffection and apostasy imbibed by many of the Twelve, and which ran through all the quorums of the Church, prevailed so extensively that it was difficult for any to see clearly the path to pursue. [Apostasy] On a certain occasion several of the Twelve, the witnesses to the Book of Mormon, and others of the Authorities of the Church, held a council in the upper room of the [Kirtland] Temple. The question before them was to ascertain how the Prophet Joseph could be deposed, and David Whitmer appointed President of the Church. Father John Smith, Brother Heber C. Kimball and others were present, who were opposed to such measures. I rose up, and in a plain and forcible manner told them that Joseph was a Prophet, and I knew it, and that they might rail and slander him as much as they pleased, they could not destroy the appointment of the Prophet of God, they could only destroy their own authority, cut the thread that bound them to the Prophet and to God and sink themselves to hell. Many were highly enraged at my decided opposition to their measures, and Jacob Bump (an old pugilist) was so exasperated that he could not be still. Some of the brethren near him put their hands on him, and requested him to be quiet; but he writhed and twisted his arms and body saying, “How can I keep my hands off that man?” I told him if he thought it would give him any relief he might lay them on. This meeting was broken up without the apostates being able to unite on any decided measures of opposition. This was a crisis when earth and hell seemed leagued to overthrow the Prophet and Church of God. The knees of many of the strongest men in the Church faltered. 6
Feel Like Shouting HallelujahWho 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 this earth. I feel like shouting Hallelujah all the time, when I think that I ever knew Joseph Smith, the Prophet. 7
Calvin W. MooreWhen I was a small boy, my impression of Joseph Smith was that he was a great man and a prophet of God. When I grew up and became older, I got a testimony for myself. One time in the Kirtland Temple, at a fast meeting, Charles Hyde got up to talk, and the devil took hold of him and stopped him. Joseph laid his hands on him and rebuked the evil one, and Brother Hyde went on talking. On another occasion, at a Sunday meeting, Joseph was speaking when a large, tall man came into the temple and walked up and down the aisles whittling and whistling. Joseph requested Bishop Knight, who was a smaller man, to put him out, and he took hold of the disturber and put him out just as the Prophet told him to do.8
Wilford WoodruffMy first introduction to the Prophet, in 1834, was rather singular. He had on a very old hat, and was shooting at a mark. He had a pistol in his hand. Said he, “Brother Woodruff, I’ve been out shooting at a mark. I wanted to see if I could hit anything. Have you any objection to it?” “Not at all,” said I. “There is no law against a man shooting at a mark, that I know of.” He invited me to his house. I accepted the invitation, and I watched him pretty closely to learn what I could. He remarked while passing to his house that this was the first hour he had spent in recreation for a long time. Shortly after we arrived at his house, he went into an adjoining room and brought out a wolf-skin, and said, “Brother Woodruff, I want you to help me tan this.” So I pulled off my coat, went to work and helped him, and felt honored in so doing. He was going with the brethren of Zion’s camp, and he wanted this wolf-skin to put upon his wagon seat, as he had no buffalo robe. This was my first acquaintance with the Prophet Joseph. And from that day until the present I never saw a moment when I had any doubt with regard to this work. I have felt to rejoice exceedingly in what I saw of Brother Joseph, for in his public and private career he carried with him the Spirit of the Almighty, and he manifested a greatness of soul which I had never seen in any other man.
I heard the Prophet state, while preaching on a stand erected on the east side of the Temple, that he now saw the time he had long desired to see. “Now I am a free man,” he declared. “There are men now prepared to carry out the work of the kingdom of God here on earth, and it will roll on forever. Thank God I have lived to see this day.”I never saw him so full of power. It thrilled through my whole system. 9
Benjamin F. JohnsonI feel in every degree incompetent to the task of recounting what I have witnessed in the life and character of our great Prophet, who stood in the presence of both the Father and the Son and personally conversed with them both; being often visited by holy angels, while continually receiving by revelation the word of the Lord to His people. And yet he was of like passion with his brethren and associates.10
. . .In 1833, I went to Kirtland, Ohio, where were gathered many converts to the new revelation. Though the Prophet was hardly more than a boy in appearance, I soon learned that he was a man indeed in wisdom and council; and although younger than he, I had great opportunity to scrutinize his life and habits. Such were the social and religious elements of his unselfish nature that those who knew him best loved him most; and to me, who became associated with him personally in his family, who became his confidential friend, his financial agent, his trusted companion and nurse in his sickness—to me, he was the embodiment and perfection of all that I could comprehend in perfect manhood. But as he was the most loved by those who knew him best, so he was the most hated by those who did not and would not know him. For as in the case of the Great Nazarene, who was no one “but the carpenter’s son,” so he was of poor parentage and uneducated, and therefore was despised by the rich and the learned who, with all classes, sought by false witnesses and otherwise to entangle him in lawsuits and to incite mob violence, and for no real cause but that he professed a new revelation from heaven.11
Jesse N. Smith
I first saw the Prophet in Kirtland, though I was then but a child. Afterwards I met him at Nauvoo. The Prophet was incomparably the most God-like man I ever saw. I know that by nature he was incapable of lying and deceitfulness, possessing the greatest kindness and nobility of character. I felt when in his presence that he could read me through and through. I know he was all that he claimed to be.
Sariah A. Workman
The Prophet used to come to the home of my father, Joel H. Johnson, before I can remember. He was a great lover of children and made a great impression upon me from my earliest recollection. But 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 twelve 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.12
Susan E. J. Martineau
The Prophet frequently came to our house and sometimes stayed overnight. He partook of a Christmas dinner at my father’s; and standing at the head of the table, the Prophet carved the turkey. Fearing that his clothing might accidentally be soiled, my step-mother tied a long apron upon him. He laughed and said it was well, for he did not know what might happen to him. My brother Seth and I were in the room, admiring, in our childish way, him whom we thought the greatest man on earth.
When I was but a child, I had a positive testimony that Joseph was a prophet of God, and as I looked at him he seemed to me like a heavenly being. 13
John W. HessIn the autumn of 1838, Joseph the Prophet and others came to my father’s house near the Richmond Landing and stayed there thirteen days. Father was the only Mormon in that part of the country. At that time Joseph was studying Greek and Latin. When he got tired studying, he would go and play with the children in their games about the house, to give himself exercise. Then he would go back to his studies. I was a boy then about fourteen years old. He used to take me up on his knee and caress me as he would a little child. I relate this to show the kindness and simplicity of his nature. I never saw another man like Joseph. There was something heavenly and angelic in his looks that I never witnessed in the countenance of any other person. During his short stay, I became very much attached to him, and learned to love him more dearly than any other person I ever met, my father and mother not excepted. The next time I saw the Prophet was at the Richmond court house, in chains, after the surrender of the city of Far West. I used to walk six miles every day to see him during his stay in the Richmond jail. Although a boy of about fourteen years, I became convinced beyond doubt that he was a prophet of God, and that testimony has never left me. 14
Orange L. Wight
Mother and I made several trips to the Liberty Jail, in Clay County, Missouri. Most of the trips were made with sisters whose husbands were in prison with my father and the Prophet. While in the prison with the Prophet, I got better acquainted with him and could appreciate his divine mission.
Later in Quincy, Illinois, I had further opportunities to become better acquainted with the Prophet Joseph, and had an increase of my faith in his holy mission, being at an age when I could judge and see more perfectly that he was an inspired prophet of God.
In the fall of 1839, we moved to Nauvoo and stopped in the house with the Prophet Joseph for several weeks. 15
Wandle MaceI have both seen and heard him when filled with the Holy Ghost prophesy in the name of the Most High God, and I have lived to see many of those prophesies fulfilled, and some are now being fulfilled, and all will be in the due time of the Lord. I have heard him rebuke the wicked for their misdeeds until they would fear and trembled before him. I have seen him lay hands on the sick, and heard him rebuke disease, and in an instant raise from beds of sickness some who to all human appearance were past recovery, and this by the power of God which was in him. Indeed, he was a prophet of the living God.16
- Daniel Tyler, The Juvenile Instructor, XXVII (February 1, 1892), pp. 93-95; (February 15, 1892), pp. 127-128; (August 15, 1892), pp. 491-492; XXVIII (May 15, 1893), p. 332; Hyrum L. Andrus and Helen Mae Andrus, comps., They Knew the Prophet [Salt Lake City: Bookcraft, 1974], 48.
- Lorenzo Snow, The Improvement Era, XL (February, 1937), pp. 82-84; Hyrum L. Andrus and Helen Mae Andrus, comps., They Knew the Prophet [Salt Lake City: Bookcraft, 1974], 33.
- They Knew the Prophet
- Brigham Young, Millenial Star, XXI (July 11, 1863), p. 439; Journal of Discourses, III, p.51; IV, p. 54; V, p. 332; VIII, p. 206; IX, pp. 89, 332; Hyrum L. Andrus and Helen Mae Andrus, comps., They Knew the Prophet [Salt Lake City: Bookcraft, 1974], 33.
- Mary Noble, Journal of Mary A. Noble, included in the journal of Joseph Bates Noble, Brigham Young University Library, p. 16; Hyrum L. Andrus and Helen Mae Andrus, comps., They Knew the Prophet [Salt Lake City: Bookcraft, 1974], p. 16
- Manuscript History of Brigham Young, 1801-1844
- Brigham Young, Millennial Star, XXI (July 11, 1863), p. 439; Journal of Discourses, III, p. 51; IV, p. 54; V, p. 332; VIII, p. 206; IX, pp. 89, 332; Hyrum L. Andrus and Helen Mae Andrus, comps., They Knew the Prophet [Salt Lake City: Bookcraft, 1974], 35.
- The Juvenile Instructor, XXVII (April 15, 1892), p. 255.
- “They Knew the Prophet” [Salt Lake City: Bookcraft, 1974], pg. 88.)
- “They Knew the Prophet” [Salt Lake City: Bookcraft, 1974], pg. 88.)
- “They Knew the Prophet” [Salt Lake City: Bookcraft, 1974], 89-90
- They Knew the Prophet [Salt Lake City: Bookcraft, 1974], 99
- They Knew the Prophet [Salt Lake City: Bookcraft, 1974], 100.
- The Juvenile Instructor, XXVII, (May 15, 1892), pp. 302-303.
- Letter written by Orange L. Wight to Joseph I. Earl and Harriet M. Earl, Bunkerville, Nevada, May 4, 1903, typewritten copy in the Brigham Young University Library, pp. 3-9.
- Journal of Wandle Mace, Brigham Young University Library