Christ-like Character Traits
Setting Church in Order
Joseph came in time to rebuke the evil spirits and set the Church in order. We all felt that he was a man of God, for he spoke with power, as one having authority in very deed. 1
Money in Plenty
When Joseph first came to Nauvoo, then called Commerce, a Mr. White, living there, proffered to sell him his farm for twenty-five hundred dollars, five hundred dollars of the amount to be paid down, and the balance one year from that time. Joseph and the brethren were talking about this offer when some of them said: “We can’t buy it, for we lack the money.”
Joseph took out his purse, and emptying out its contents, offered a half dollar to one of the brethren, which he declined accepting, but Joseph urged him to take it, and then gave each of the other brethren a similar amount, which left him without any. Addressing the brethren he then said: “Now you all have money, and I have none; but the time will come when I will have money and you will have none!”
He then said to Bishop Knight, “You go back and buy the farm!”
The bargain was closed and the obligations drawn up, but how the money was going to be raised neither Brother Knight nor the other brethren could see.
The next morning Joseph and several of the brethren went down to Mr. White’s to sign the agreement and make the first payment on the land. A table was brought out with the papers upon it, and Joseph signed them, moved back from the table and sat with his head down, as if in thought for a moment. Just then a man drove up in a carriage and asked if Mr. Smith was there. Joseph hearing it, got up and went to the door. The man said, “Good morning, Mr. Smith; I am on a speculation today. I want to buy some land, and thought I would come and see you.”
Joseph then pointed around where his land lay, but the man said: “I can’t go with you today to see the land. Do you want any money this morning?”
Joseph replied that he would like some, and when the stranger asked how much, he told him, “Five hundred dollars.”
The man walked into the house with Joseph, emptied a small sack of gold on the table, and counted out that amount. He then handed to Joseph another hundred dollars, saying: “Mr. Smith, I make you a present of this!”
After this transpired, Joseph laughed at the brethren and said: “You trusted in money; but I trusted in God. Now I have money and you have none.” 2
Zion’s Camp, Miracle at Fishing River
I was in Clay County, Missouri, when Zion’s camp came up. I met them on Fishing River. There the power of the Lord was manifested by His sending a thunder storm, which raised Fishing River ten feet higher than it was ever known to rise before. I saw the cloud coming up in the west when I was ten miles from Fishing River in the middle of the afternoon. As it moved on eastwardly at increased in size and in blackness, and when it got over the camp it stopped. In the night, the rain and hail poured down in torrents, and the lightning flashed from the cloud continuously for three hours.
Just before night, two men came into camp and asked where Mr. Smith was. Joseph said, “I am the man.” They then advised him to disband his camp, “for,” said they, “the mobs are gathering, and there won’t be one of you left tomorrow morning!”
Joseph smiled, and said, “I guess not.”
Seeing that Joseph did not believe what they came to tell him, they went off vexed.
We learned afterwards that the hail was so heavy on the mob that they were forced to seek shelter, and the leader of them swore he would never go against the “Mormons” again. 3
Church History in the Fulness of Times Institute Manual
By 18 June, Zion’s Camp arrived within a mile of Richmond, the county seat of Ray County. As the army encamped, the Prophet had a premonition of danger. He went into the woods and prayed for safety, and he was assured that the Lord would protect them. He had the camp roused in the early morning hours, and they left without prayers or breakfast. As they marched through Richmond, a black slave woman agitatedly told Luke Johnson, “There is a company of men lying in wait here, who are calculating to kill you this morning as you pass through.” They met no resistance, although they were able to make only nine miles, being slowed down by broken wagon wheels.
Instead of reaching their intended destination of Liberty, they camped just inside Clay County on a hill between two branches of the Fishing River. When Joseph learned that mobs were preparing to attack, he knelt and prayed again for divine protection. Joseph’s fears were confirmed when five armed Missourians rode into camp, cursing, and swore that the Mormons would “see hell before morning.” They boasted that nearly four hundred men had joined forces from Ray, Lafayette, Clay, and Jackson counties and were then preparing to cross the Missouri River at Williams Ferry and “utterly destroy the Mormons.” Sounds of gunfire were heard, and some of the men wanted to fight, but the Prophet promised that the Lord would protect them. He declared, “Stand still and see the salvation of God.”
A few minutes after the Missourians left, a small black cloud appeared in the clear western sky. It moved eastward, unrolling like a scroll, filling the heavens with darkness. As the first ferry load of mobbers crossed the Missouri River to the south, a sudden squall [storm] made it nearly impossible for the boat to return to pick up another load. The storm was so intense that Zion’s Camp abandoned their tents and found shelter in an old Baptist meetinghouse nearby. When Joseph Smith came in, he exclaimed, “Boys, there is some meaning to this. God is in this storm.” It was impossible for anyone to sleep, so the group sang hymns and rested on the rough benches. One camp member recorded that “during this time the whole canopy of the wide horizen was in one complete blaze with terrifying claps of thunder.”
Elsewhere the beleaguered mobbers sought any refuge they could. The furious storm broke branches from trees and destroyed crops. It soaked and made the mobbers’ ammunition useless, frightened and scattered their horses, and raised the level of the Fishing River [40 feet], preventing them from attacking Zion’s Camp. The Prophet recalled, “It seemed as if the mandate of vengeance had gone forth from the God of battles, to protect His servants from the destruction of their enemies.”
Two days later, on 21 June, Colonel John Sconce and two associates of the Ray County militia rode into Zion’s Camp to learn of the Mormons’ intentions. “I see that there is an Almighty power that protects this people,” Sconce admitted. The Prophet explained that the only purpose of Zion’s Camp was to help their brethren be reinstated on their lands and that their intent was not to injure anyone. He said, “The evil reports circulated about us were false, and got up by our enemies to procure our destruction.” Sconce and his companions were so affected by the stories of the unjust trials and suffering of the Saints that they promised to use their influence to offset feelings against the Mormons. 4
Zion’s Camp – Water Miraculously Provided
Oliver B. Huntington
[In the winter of 1890 Huntington “sat with paper and pencil” and took notes as he listened to Zera Cole give the following account from the march of Zion’s Camp:] One hot day in June , after an unusually long, hard day’s travel, over a rolling prairies, without sufficient water laid in for the men and no water encountered for the teams, they made camp on a prairie, the end of which it was impossible to reach or even see.
After tents were pitched and the teams turned out a strong guard had to be placed to keep the animals. Men were very quietly complaining of the location, the lack of wood, and no water to cook with, even if they had plenty of wood. Some teams were about “give-out” and a thousand other little troubles acted out if not spoken of.
The Prophet sat in his tent door watching and listening to all that could be seen or heard. At last he quietly asked for a spade. There was no noise, no bustle, no show of greatness or power about this man who had seen the Creator of heaven and earth and had received from Him at different times unmeasured power only in keeping with circumstances, and as the spade was handed him he measured the extent of the camp with his eye and in the most convenient place for all he commenced to dig in the earth. There was no rock to split open, as with Moses of old, or he could have done that more easily or quickly. But he quietly dug a well only a few feet deep and then left it.
Presently the water began to come in, and it kept rising in the well until the mules and horses came and drank therefrom, as the water was no near the surface. The Prophet went and sat in the door of his tent and witnessed the joy of all, even of the animals, as they quenched their thirst in this God-given supply. There was no wonder or proclamation over the matter, as Brother Cole stated it, and perhaps not a dozen in the camp witnessed it as he, Brother Cole, witnessed it, and he looked upon it as one of the greatest miracles ever performed by man as an instrument in the hands of the Great Creator. 5
William F. Cahoon
This [Zion’s] camp marched through a population of tens of thousands of people like lambs among wolves, but no man among them opened his mouth to say, “Why do you do so?” On we marched singing our favorite song, “Hark listen to the Trumpeters.”
[As told by William F. and Father Cole]. While traveling across the vast prairie, treeless and waterless, they camped at night after a long and wearisome day’s march. They had been without water since early morning, and men and animals suffered greatly from thirst, for it had been one of the hottest days of June. Joseph sat at his tent looking out upon the scene. All at once he called for a spade. When it was brought, he looked about him and selected a spot, the most convenient in the camp for men and teams to get water. Then he dug a shallow well, and immediately the water came bubbling up into it and filled it, so that the horses and mules could stand and drink from it. While the camp stayed there, the well remained full, despite the fact that about two hundred men and scores of horses and mules were supplied from it.
[This incident was related to Elder O. B. Huntington by William F. Cahoon. It was also told to Elder Huntington by Father Zera Cole while Elder Huntington and Father Cole were working for the dead in the Logan Temple. Zera Cole was with the camp of Zion and when it went to Missouri in 1834, William F.’s brother-in-law, Harvey Stanley, also went with them. The autobiography continues:]
We journeyed, pitching our tents by the way, and arrived in Missouri in the latter part of June. We then numbered two hundred and five. A council was held to determine what steps to take when the word of the Lord came to the Prophet Joseph saying the time had not come to “take the sword in hand to redeem Zion.” 6
Later, Joseph went to Hiram, about thirty miles distant, to organize a branch of the Church. While he was absent from Kirtland, evil spirits molested the inexperienced Saints, and Bishop Partridge could not manage the people.
When the Prophet returned and learned the condition, he called a meeting in a little school house on Isaac Morley’s farm.
Joseph arose and said in a powerful voice, “Let the spirits be made manifest.”
Immediately, some began to sing, some to shout, some to cry, etc. When Joseph rebuked them, all became quiet except two, whom he rebuked separately. 7
Gift of Tongues
That evening (the seventh day the Prophet had been there) the family were all seated around the wide, old-fashioned fireplace in the parlor, listening to the Prophet’s words and full of rejoicing.
“I would be so glad if someone who had been baptized could receive the gift of tongues as the ancient saints did and speak to us,” said Moses Nickerson.
“If one of you will rise up and open your mouth it shall be filled, and you shall speak in tongues,” replied the Prophet.
Everyone then turned, as by a common instinct, to me and said with one voice, “Sister Lydia, rise up.”
And then the great glory of God was manifested to this weak but trusting girl. I was enveloped as with a flame, and, unable longer to retain my seat, I arose and my mouth was filled with the praises of God and His glory. The spirit of tongues was upon me, and I was clothed in a shining light, so bright that all present saw it with great distinctness above the light of the fire and the candles.
While the visitors were preparing for their departure, Joseph paced back and forth in the sitting room, in deep study. Finally he spoke up and said, “I have been pondering on Sister Lydia’s lonely condition, and wondering why it is that she has passed through so much sorrow and affliction and is thus separated from all her relatives. I now understand it. The Lord suffered it even as He allowed Joseph of old to be afflicted, who was sold by his brethren as a slave into a far country, and through that became a savior to his father’s house and country.”
Turning to me, he continued, “Sister Lydia, great are your blessings. The Lord, your Savior, loves you and will overrule all your past sorrows and afflictions for good unto you. You shall yet be a Savior to your father’s house.”
Immediately after that the party set out, and left behind many warm and faithful friends. The good work continued, and numbers came forward and were baptized. 8
Gift of Singing Inspirationally
The first patriarchal blessing meeting over which Joseph Smith, Sen., presided was one of the most striking features of that particular period of time. In this meeting I received the gift of singing inspirationally, and the first song of Zion ever given in the pure language was sung by me then, and interpreted by Parley P. Pratt. It describes the manner in which the ancient patriarchs blessed their families, and gives some account of Adam-ondi-Ahman. The Prophet Joseph promised me that I should never lose this gift if I would be wise in using it; and his words have been verified. 9
Heber C. Kimball Made Whole
While I was in the Kirtland Temple, June 4, 1837, the Prophet Joseph came to me and said, “Brother Heber, the Spirit of the Lord has whispered to me, saying: ‘Let my servant, Heber, go to England and proclaim my gospel, and open the door of salvation to that nation.'”
A short time previous to starting, I was laid prostrate on my bed from a stitch in my back, which suddenly seized me while chopping and drawing wood for my family. I could not stir a limb without calling out from the severeness of the pain.
Joseph, hearing of it, came to see me, bringing Oliver Cowdery and Bishop Partridge with him. They prayed for and blessed me, Joseph being mouth, beseeching God to raise me up. The Prophet then took me by the right hand and said, “Brother Heber, I take you by the right hand in the name of Jesus Christ of Nazareth, and by virtue of the Holy Priesthood vested in me I command you in the name of Jesus Christ to arise, and be thou made whole.”
I arose from my bed, put on my clothes and felt no more of the pain afterwards. 10
Speaking in Tongues
In September, 1832, Brothers Brigham and Joseph Young and myself went to Kirtland, Ohio. We saw Brother Joseph Smith and had a glorious time, during which Brother Brigham spoke in tongues, this being the first time Joseph had heard the gift. The Prophet rose up and testified that it was from God. The gift then fell upon him, and he spoke in tongues himself. 11
Evil Spirit Rebuked
When Lyman Wight was ordained a high priest, Joseph told him he should see the heavens opened, and after he was ordained he stood on his feet and testified that he could see the heavens open and could see Jesus standing at the right hand of God.
Harvey Whitlock was ordained next with the same promise, but afterwards he seemed paralyzed. His mouth was in the shape of an italic “O” and his arm was stretched as if nailed to a cross. Joseph rebuked the power that had seized him, and it left him, and he testified, as Lyman had done, that he saw the heavens open, and Jesus standing on the right hand of the Father. This was the beginning in our day of ordinations to the office of high priest. 12
Speaking in Tongues and Prophesying
At Kirtland, we were called to the School of the Prophets. At one time Joseph was in the translating room, and myself and others were talking about the gift of tongues, when the gift of tongues fell upon me and I spoke under its influence. Joseph came into the room and said, “God bless you Brother Coltrin, that is the Spirit of God.” He told me to continue, and the gift of tongues and of prophesying rested on the greater part of the brethren present, and we continued speaking in tongues and prophesying through that day and the greater part of the night. 13
Gift of Speaking in Tongues
In the Kirtland Temple I have seen the power of God as it was on the day of Pentecost, and cloven tongues of fire have rested on the brethren, and they have spoken in other tongues as the Spirit gave them utterance. I saw the Lord high and lifted up. The angels of God rested upon the Temple and we heard their voices singing heavenly music. 14
Rebuking Evil Spirits
On the 4th of June, 1831, we all met in Kirtland, in a school house built of logs. Here the Elders were seated on slab benches, and the meeting was opened as usual. Joseph Smith began to speak. He said that the kingdom that Christ spoke of, that was like a grain of mustard seed, was now before him, and some should see it put forth its branches, just as the Savior had said. He looked at Lyman Wight and said, “You shall see the Lord and meet him near the corner of the house.” The Prophet laid his hands upon him and blessed him with the visions of heaven.
Joseph Smith then stepped out on the floor and said, “I now see God, and Jesus Christ at his right hand. Let them kill me; I should not feel death as I am now.”
Joseph put his hands upon Harvey Whitlock and ordained him to the office of high priest in the High Priesthood. He turned as black as Lyman was white. His fingers were set like claws. He went around the room and showed his hands and tried to speak. His eyes were in the shape of oval O’s. Hyrum Smith said, “Joseph, that is not of God. . . I will not believe unless you inquire of God and he owns it.”
Joseph bowed his head, and in a short time got up and commanded Satan to leave Harvey, laying his hands upon his head at the same time. At that very instant an old man said to weigh two hundred and fourteen pounds, sitting in the window, turned a complete summersault in the house and came down with his back across a bench, and lay helpless.
Joseph told Lyman to cast Satan out. He did. The man’s name was Leman Copley, formerly a Quaker. The evil spirit left him, and as quick as lightning Harvey Green fell bound and screamed like a panther. Satan was cast out of him, but immediately entered someone else. This continued all day and the greater part of the night.
But to return to the meeting, Joseph said, “Now if you elders have sinned, it will do you no good to preach, if you have not repented. Heman Basset, you sit still. The devil wants to sift you.”
He then ordained Jacob Scott and some others to the High Priesthood. He came to Zebedee Coltrin and myself, and told us that we had another calling as high as any man in the house. [They were made members of the First Council of Seventy in 1835.] I was glad for that, for I was so scared I would not stir without his liberty, for all the world. I knew the things I had seen were not made.
Joseph Smith called Lyman Wight to lay his hands on his head and say what God should tell him to say. He did, and the blessing was so long I cannot write it.
After this we went down to the house and heard Harvey Whitlock say that when Hyrum Smith said it was not of God, he disdained him in his heart, and when the devil was cast out he was convinced it was Satan that was in him, and then he knew it. I also heard Harvey Green say that he could not describe the awful feeling he experienced while in the hands of Satan.
On June the fifth we all assembled on the hill, in a field where there was a large concourse of people collected. The Prophet Joseph said that from that time on the Elders would have large congregations to speak to, and they must soon take their departure into the regions west. 15
The greatest miracle in our favor was when we had got between the two branches of Fishing River, on a high ridge by a log meetinghouse. We had been told that morning by a colored woman who came to the fence where we were walking, that there were three hundred men who were armed and equipped to fall on us that night and cut us off. Men came riding by who cussed and swore that before morning we would all be in hell, for there was an army before and behind, and death was our portion.
Jenkins Salsbury wanted Joseph to let him fight. “No,” said he, “the Lord will give us a bramble to keep off the dogs this night.” In a short time it commenced thundering and the clouds arose. I went into the tent and lay down and knew no more till I found myself one third buried in water. The tent had blown down and all hands were gone. I soon found they had gone to the old church for shelter, where I also went. The lightning flashed and thunder roared one continual sound. The flashes were so connected that one could hardly hear any interval between the flash and the peal of thunder, as if the marshal bands of the whole earth had assembled and were beating the sounds of war. We lay on the benches dripping with water until daylight, when we were called to go and discharge our pieces and load anew, which we did. To our astonishment, two thirds, if not more, went off.
It was a pleasant morning. We got our breakfast and soon learned that the two branches of Fishing River were so high we could not cross over. The branch west had raised upwards of forty feet and all boats were gone. We turned our course northward about three miles and camped near an old acquaintance of some in our camp. Next day we were visited by a committee from the mob. Lyman Wight explained to them the cause of our coming, and others spoke, which appeared to give satisfaction.
After the meeting, those of the community went away, and Joseph said, “Let us help this man right up his corn.” We all went into our friend’s field and straightened up the corn that the storm had laid low. 16
Translating the Book of Mormon
Hugh B. Brown
I believe the Prophet Joseph Smith was a prophet because he did many superhuman things. One was translating the Book of Mormon. Some people will not agree, but I submit to you that the Prophet Joseph Smith in translating the Book of Mormon did a superhuman work. I ask you students to undertake to write a story on the ancient inhabitants of America, to write as he did without any source of material. Include in your story 54 chapters dealing with wars, 21 historical chapters, and 55 chapters on visions and prophecies. And, remember, when you begin to write on visions and prophecies, you must have your record agree meticulously with the Bible. You must write 71 chapters on doctrine and exhortation, and here, too, you must check every statement with the scriptures or you will be proven to be a fraud. You must write 21 chapters on the ministry of Christ, and everything you claim He said and did and every testimony you write in your book about Him must agree absolutely with the New Testament.
I ask you, would you like to undertake such a task? I would suggest to you too that you must employ figures of speech, similes, metaphors, narrations, exposition, description, oratory, epic, lyric, logic, and parables. Undertake that, will you?
I ask you to remember that the man who translated the Book of Mormon was a young man who hadn’t had the opportunity of schooling that you have had, and yet he dictated that book in just a little over two months and made very few, if any, corrections. For over one hundred years some of the best students and scholars of the world have been trying to prove from the Bible that the Book of Mormon is false, but not one of them has been able to prove that anything he wrote was not in strict harmony with the scriptures—with the Bible and with the word of God. 17
Jeffrey R. Holland
[I]f Joseph Smith—or anyone else, for that matter—created the Book of Mormon out of whole cloth, that, to me, is a far greater miracle than the proposition that he translated it from an ancient record by an endowment of divine power.
Has anyone in this audience ever tried to write anything? Have you ever, with your degrees and libraries and computers and research assistants, ever tried to write anything anyone could stand to read?
If you have, my guess is you haven’t succeeded at writing anything anyone would want to read more than once, or to say it changed their lives, or to say they were willing to leave family and fortune and future for it—and then do so.
You thought it was tough to have your dissertation committee grill you for a couple of hours. Try tossing your piece of work to the most hostile and learned of enemies for, say, 164 years (just to pull a number out of the air). Go ahead. Put that terrific master’s thesis of yours out there under a microscope for everyone to kick and gouge and attack for a century or two, and let’s see how marvelous you think your university-produced accomplishment is then. After a little of that, are you still standing by the divinity and immortality of your work? Is anybody still reading it?
In light of all of this, as it applies to the Book of Mormon, which is still changing human lives and still moving moral mountains, and as one who has tried to write a line or two of both poetry and prose and failed miserably, I want to meet the author of this work whoever it is. I want to praise first hand such a remarkably gifted writer.
Furthermore, I’d love to read anything else this elusive figure has ever written. I’d love to talk to the whole research team who must have produced it. If they’ve got anything else they’ve ever put their pen to, I’ll pay any amount of money to get hold of it. This is writing that moves millions so, obviously, it could make millions. Let’s talk contracts. Surely in 164 years there must be someone willing to step forward—you know, the “real” author—to claim credit for such a remarkable document and all that has transpired in its wake. Or at least the descendants of such an author should have come forth by now willing to cashier the whole thing. Where are they?
Well, the simple fact of the matter is no other origin for the Book of Mormon has ever come to light, nor will it, because there is no other. A bad man could not have fabricated such an inspiring book and a good man would not have done so. The real authors died nearly two millennia ago. And Joseph Smith? He is what he said he was, a seer and a revelator, an instrument in the hands of the Almighty translating (but not authoring) that which the Lord said would “hiss forth unto the ends of the earth, . . . a standard unto [his] people” (2 Nephi 29:2). I testify that the Book of Mormon is true, that it is the revealed word of the Lord and the Latter-day standard for his covenant people. It cannot and will not be disproven because it is true. The testators have been dead for 150 years but their testament is still in force. 18
For 179 years this book has been examined and attacked, denied and deconstructed, targeted and torn apart like perhaps no other book in modern religious history—perhaps like no other book in any religious history. And still it stands. Failed theories about its origins have been born and parroted and have died—from Ethan Smith to Solomon Spaulding to deranged paranoid to cunning genius. None of these frankly pathetic answers for this book has ever withstood examination because there is no other answer than the one Joseph gave as its young unlearned translator. In this I stand with my own great-grandfather, who said simply enough, “No wicked man could write such a book as this; and no good man would write it, unless it were true and he were commanded of God to do so” 19.
I testify that one cannot come to full faith in this latter-day work—and thereby find the fullest measure of peace and comfort in these, our times—until he or she embraces the divinity of the Book of Mormon and the Lord Jesus Christ, of whom it testifies. If anyone is foolish enough or misled enough to reject 531 pages of a heretofore unknown text teeming with literary and Semitic complexity without honestly attempting to account for the origin of those pages—especially without accounting for their powerful witness of Jesus Christ and the profound spiritual impact that witness has had on what is now tens of millions of readers—if that is the case, then such a person, elect or otherwise, has been deceived; and if he or she leaves this Church, it must be done by crawling over or under or around the Book of Mormon to make that exit. In that sense the book is what Christ Himself was said to be: “a stone of stumbling, … a rock of offence,” (1 Peter 2:8) a barrier in the path of one who wishes not to believe in this work. 20
Robert K. Dellenbach
My dear brothers and sisters, do we realize the profound miracle that is the translation of the Book of Mormon? A miracle is “an extraordinary event manifesting divine intervention in human affairs” 21. Consistent with that definition, the translation of the Book of Mormon by Joseph Smith is indeed a modern-day miracle.
The Book of Mormon is presently in print in over eighty languages and is now being translated or prepared for publication in many, many more. Consider the Church’s current process of translating the Book of Mormon from English into another language. The Church contracts capable, experienced member translators who are fluent in English as well as their native tongue who possess integrity and high moral character so that the spirit of inspiration will guide their work. Just as in Joseph Smith’s day, the ability to translate holy writ today is a spiritual gift from God.
Unlike Joseph’s day, however, many of our modern translators utilize computers and word processors, lexicons and encyclopedias to help and guide them in their sacred assignment. The modern work is extensive, and each step must be critically analyzed by Church translation experts. Yet, even with the most competent member translators and advanced technology available, the entire process, from beginning to publication, requires approximately four years.
Now contrast the translation of the Book of Mormon by young Joseph Smith. Joseph was raised on a farm in upstate New York and was only twenty-four years of age at the time he completed his translation of this sacred record from reformed Egyptian to English.
He had little financially and was busy supporting his wife and family. Of necessity, he planted and harvested crops, chopped wood, hauled water, and cared for animals.
The conditions under which Joseph translated were less than ideal. His life was threatened and mobs tried to rob him of the plates, requiring him to hide the ancient records and often move them from place to place (see JS—H 1:60). Joseph had no telephone, no dictating equipment, fax, word processor, or copy machine—not even electric light.
Joseph had little formal education, perhaps no more than three years of elementary school. Prior to his translation Joseph had not enrolled in a university. There were no literary magazines or academic periodicals delivered to his doorstep. He never visited South America or the Middle East. He belonged to no professional societies, had performed no extensive research projects, nor did he have learned colleagues with whom to discuss the ancient text of the plates. He may have studied basic reading, writing, and arithmetic and perhaps a little American history. We know he read the Bible in English, but by the standards of the world, Joseph was neither a scholar nor a theologian, much less a professional translator of holy scriptures.
What skills did Joseph possess to aid in his translation? Oliver Cowdery, who was the principal scribe for the Book of Mormon, said of Joseph’s source of translating power that “the Prophet Joseph Smith … translated [the Book of Mormon] by the gift and power of God, by the [assistance or] means of the Urim and Thummim” 22.
Typically a literary work undergoes extensive revisions and editions before a final, finely tuned draft is completed. For example, Abraham Lincoln rewrote his Gettysburg Address five different times, each version varying slightly from the other 23.
In preparing for this conference address, I had the glorious experience of quietly examining several pages of Joseph’s original manuscript of the Book of Mormon, which is safely protected in the Church archive. I was overwhelmed at the purity of the transcription, which had only a very few insignificant corrections, such as a misspelled word. Joseph’s original manuscript is so perfect it could only have come from one source—divine revelation.
On Joseph’s shoulders rested not only the translation of the Book of Mormon but also the restoration and reestablishment of the Church of Jesus Christ. Even as Joseph translated, he received many revelations and visitations from heavenly messengers who gave him additional important assignments, such as the restoration of the priesthood and the revelation on baptism (see JS—H 1:68–75). Joseph’s many responsibilities often interrupted the translation process, sometimes for several months. Yet, once Joseph was free to dedicate his entire effort to translation, the work surged forward and he translated eight to ten pages a day, completing the preponderance of the Book of Mormon translation in approximately sixty-three working days 24.
Oliver, reflecting on this miraculous event, testified, “Day after day I continued, uninterrupted, to write from his mouth, as he translated … the history, or record, called ‘The book of Mormon’ ” 25….
Joseph’s original English translation, except for a few minor grammatical and textual emendations, remains the text that we use today and is the standard for all other language translations of the Book of Mormon throughout the world 26. As Nephi of old prophesied, his “words shall [whisper] forth unto the ends of the earth, for a standard unto [his] people” (2 Ne. 29:2).
Could any one of us today produce such a work? Could a thousand of the world’s best theologians and scholars of ancient languages or antiquities write a similar book of such supernal, transcendent value?
No other person with such limited education and facility as Joseph has single-handedly translated in such a short period of time from ancient writings over five hundred pages of scriptural text. That translation now has seventy-three million books in distribution.
Joseph’s translation of this ancient, sacred scripture has withstood the scrutiny of many skeptics. The Book of Mormon stands as a miraculous work for the world to examine. This divine spark from heaven, over 165 years ago, has ignited a flame that is dawning a new day. No wonder “the Spirit of God like a fire is burning!” (Hymns, 1985, no. 2). All over the world people are seeking the witness of Jesus Christ as found in the Book of Mormon. They come from every nation, kindred, tongue, and people. As was revealed to the Prophet Joseph Smith, “The ends of the earth shall inquire after thy name” (D&C 122:1). And why are they seeking after the name of Joseph Smith? Because the Book of Mormon testifies of the divinity and atonement of the Savior, Jesus Christ. Because Joseph is the prophet of the Restoration.
With deep appreciation for the miracle that transpired through the translation of the Book of Mormon, we sing:
Praise to the man who communed with Jehovah!
Jesus anointed that Prophet and Seer.
Blessed to open the last dispensation. …
Millions shall know “Brother Joseph” again.27
I testify that the translation miracle of the Book of Mormon clearly evidences that Joseph is a prophet of God, called to “lay the foundation of [Christ’s] church, and to bring it forth out of obscurity and out of darkness, the only true and living church upon the face of the whole earth” (D&C 1:30). The Book of Mormon is the “keystone of our religion” and will bring us “nearer to God by abiding by its precepts, than by any other book” 28. May we appreciate this miraculous translation, and may it be our desire to come to know and follow the Savior through his teachings in the Book of Mormon. 29
Devil Out of Newel Knight
During this month of April  I went on a visit to the residence of Mr. Joseph Knight, of Colesville, Broom co. N. Y., with whom and his family I had been previously acquainted, and of whose name I have above mentioned as having been so kind and thoughtful towards us, while translating the Book of Mormon. Mr. Knight and his family were Universalists, but were willing to reason with me upon my religious views, and were as usual friendly and hospitable.
We held several meetings in the neighborhood, we had many friends, and some enemies. Our meetings were well attended, and many began to pray fervently to Almighty God, that he would give them wisdom to understand the truth. Amongst those who attended our meetings regularly, was Newel Knight son to Joseph Knight. He and I had many and serious conversations on the important subject of man’s eternal salvation: we had got into the habit of praying much at our meetings and Newel had said that he would try and take up his cross, and pray vocally during meeting; but when we again met together he rather excused himself; I tried to prevail upon him making use of the figure, supposing that he should get into a mudhole would he not try to help himself out? and that we were willing now to help him out of the mudhole, he replied that provided he had got into a mudhole through carelessness, he would rather wait and get out himself, than have others to help him, and so he would wait until he should get into the woods by himself, and there he would pray.
Accordingly he deferred praying until next morning, when he retired into the woods; where (according to his own account afterwards) he made several attempts to pray but could scarcely do so, feeling that he had not done his duty, but that he should have prayed in the presence of others. He began to feel uneasy, and continued to feel worse both in mind and body, until upon reaching his own house, his appearance was such as to alarm his wife very much. He requested her to go and bring me to him. I went and found him suffering very much in his mind, and his body acted upon in a very strange manner. His visage and limbs distorted and twisted in every shape and appearance possible to imagine; and finally he was caught up off the floor of the apartment and tossed about most fearfully. His situation was soon made known to his neighbors and relatives, and in a short time as many as eight or nine grown persons had got together to witness the scene.
After he had thus suffered for a time, I succeeded in getting hold of him by the hand, when almost immediately he spoke to me, and with great earnestness requested of me, that I should cast the devil out of him, saying that he knew he was in him, and that he also knew that I could cast him out. I replied “if you know that I can it shall be done,” and then almost unconsciously I rebuked the devil; and commanded him in the name of Jesus Christ to depart from him; when immediately Newel spoke out and said that he saw the devil leave him and vanish from his sight.
This was the first miracle which was done in this church or by any member of it, and it was done not by man nor by the power of man, but it was done by God, and by the power of godliness: therefore let the honor and the praise, the dominion and the glory be ascribed to the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit for ever and ever Amen. 30
Rebuking the Devil in Harvey Green and Evil Spirit in Harvey Whitlock
[I] first saw the Prophet Joseph at a prayer meeting at the house of Father Morley. He was then a beardless young man. During the meeting the powers of darkness were made manifest in a remarkable degree, causing some to make horrid noises, and others to throw themselves violently around. One man by the name of Leman Copley, standing at the back side of the house was taken by a supernatural power, and thrown into the window. Then Joseph said to Lyman [Wight] “Go and cast the devil out of Leman.” He did so, and the devil entered into a brother by the name of Harvey Green and threw him upon the floor in convulsions. Then Joseph laid hands upon him and rebuked the spirit from him and from the house, upon which the spirit left him, and went outside among a crowd of men standing near the door and made a swath among them several feet wide, throwing them violently to the ground.
Joseph said this was a fulfillment of the scriptures, where it says that the man of sin should be revealed.31
[When] Lyman Wight was ordained a High Priest [,] Joseph told him he should see the heavens opened, and after he was ordained he stood on his feet and testified that he [Joseph] could see the heavens open and Jesus standing at the right hand of God.
Harvey Whitlock was ordained next with the same promise but after his ordination, when standing on his feet, he seemed paralyzed. His mouth was drawn into the shape of an italic “O,” and his arm was stretched out as if nailed to a cross. Joseph rebuked the power that had seized him, and it left him, when the heavens opened to him and he testified as Lyman had done, that he saw the heavens open and Jesus standing at the right hand of God the Father. This was the beginning in our day of ordinations to the office of a High Priest. 32
Healing of Elsa Johnson’s Arm
Amos S. Hayden (eyewitness non-believer in Joseph Smith)
Ezra Booth, of Mantua, a Methodist preacher of much more than ordinary culture, and with strong natural abilities, in company with his wife, Mr. and Mrs. Johnson, and some other citizens of this place, (Hiram) visited Smith at his home in Kirtland, in 1831. Mrs. Johnson had been afflicted for some time with a lame arm, and was not at the time of the visit able to lift her hand to her head. The party visited Smith partly out of curiosity, and partly to see for themselves what there might be in the new doctrine. During the interview the conversation turned on the subject of supernatural gifts, such as were conferred in the days of the apostles. Some one said, “Here is Mrs. Johnson with a lame arm; has God given any power to men now on earth to cure her?” A few moments later, when the conversation had turned in another direction, Smith arose, and walking across the room, and taking Mrs. Johnson by the hand, said in the most solemn and impressive manner: “Woman, in the name of the Lord Jesus Christ, I command thee to be whole,” and immediately left the room. The company were awe-stricken at the infinite presumption of the man, and the calm assurance with which he spoke. The sudden mental and moral shock—I know not how better to explain the well-attested fact, electrified the rheumatic arm—Mrs. Johnson at once lifted it with ease, and on her return home the next day she was able to do her washing without difficulty or pain. 33
Recollection of Philo Dibble
When Joseph came to Kirtland his fame spread far and wide. There was a woman living in the town of Hiram, forty miles from Kirtland, who had a crooked arm, which she had not been able to use for a long period. She persuaded her husband, whose name was [John] Johnson, to take her to Kirtland to get her arm healed.
I saw them as they passed my house on their way. She [Elsa Johnson] went to Joseph and requested him to heal her. Joseph asked her if she believed the Lord was able to make him an instrument in healing her arm. She said she believed the Lord was able to heal her arm.
Joseph put her off till the next morning, when he met her at Brother [Newel K.] Whitney’s house. There were eight persons present, one a Methodist preacher, and one a doctor. Joseph took her [Elsa Johnson] by the hand, prayed in silence a moment, pronounced her arm whole, in the name of Jesus Christ, and turned and left the room.
The preacher asked her if her arm was whole, and she straightened it out and replied: “It is as good as the other.” The question was then asked if it would remain whole. Joseph hearing this, answered and said: “It is as good as the other, and as liable to accident as the other.”
The doctor who witnessed this miracle came to my house the next morning and related the circumstance to me. He attempted to account for it by his false philosophy, saying that Joseph took her by the hand, and seemed to be in prayer, and pronounced her arm whole in the name of Jesus Christ, which excited her and started perspiration, and that relaxed the cords of her arm. I subsequently rented my farm and devoted all my time to the interest of the Church, holding myself in readiness to take Joseph wherever he wished to go. 34
Healing of Chloe Smith
Parley P. Pratt
About this time [May 1831] a young lady, by the name of Chloe Smith, being a member of the Church, was lying very low with a lingering fever, with a family who occupied one of the houses on the farm of Isaac Morley, in Kirtland. Many of the Church had visited and prayed with her, but all to no effect; she seemed at the point of death, but would not consent to have a physician. This greatly enraged her relatives, who had cast her out because she belonged to the Church, and who, together with many of the people of the neighborhood, were greatly stirred up to anger, saying, “these wicked deceivers will let her lie and die without a physician, because of their superstitions; and if they do, we will prosecute them for so doing.” Now these were daily watching for her last breath, with many threats.
Under these circumstances, President Smith and myself, with several other Elders called to see her. She was so low that no one had been allowed for some days previous to speak above a whisper, and even the door of the log dwelling was muffled with cloths to prevent a noise.
We kneeled down and prayed vocally all around, each in turn; after which President Smith arose, went to the bedside, took her by the hand, and said unto her with a loud voice, “in the name of Jesus Christ arise and walk!” She immediately arose, was dressed by a woman in attendance, when she walked to a chair before the fire, and was seated and joined in singing a hymn. The house was thronged with people in a few moments, and the young lady arose and shook hands with each as they came in; and from that minute she was perfectly restored to health. 35
Healing of Artimus Millet
I was taken sick with cholera and we sent for Joseph Smith sen. and John his brother, who said the sickness was not unto death. And when they administered it did not have the desired effect. I suffered such excruciating pain that my groaning was heard at Joseph Smith Jun. a distance of 250 yards. I was afterwards told that when in agony I called out “Let Joseph Smith Jun. come and lay his hands on me and I shall be healed and I know it,” not knowing what I said. He pressed his way through the crowd for the house was filled with people, and came forward and laying his hands upon my head asked God the Father in the name of Jesus Christ to heal me. The vomiting and purging ceased and I began to ammend from that very moment. 36
Healing Elijah Fordham
While I was living in this cabin in the old barracks, we experienced a day of God’s power with the Prophet Joseph. It was a very sickly time and Joseph had given up his home in Commerce to the sick, and had a tent pitched in his dooryard and was living in that himself. The large number of Saints who had been driven out of Missouri, were flocking into Commerce; but had not homes to go into, and were living in wagons, in tents, and on the ground. Many, therefore, were sick through the exposure they were subjected to. Brother Joseph had waited on the sick, until he was worn out and nearly sick himself.
On the morning of the 22nd of July, 1839, he arose reflecting upon the situation of the Saints of God in their persecutions and afflictions, and he called upon the Lord in prayer, and the power of God rested upon him mightily, and as Jesus healed the sick around Him in His day, so Joseph, the Prophet of God, healed all around on this occasion. He healed all in his house and dooryard, then, in company with Sidney Rigdon and several of the Twelve, he went through among the sick lying on the bank of the river, and he commanded them in a loud voice, in the name of Jesus Christ, to come up and be made whole, and they were all healed. When he healed all that were sick on the east side of the river, they crossed the Mississippi River in a ferryboat to the west side, to Montrose, where we were. The first house they went into was President Brigham Young’s. He was sick on his bed at the time. The Prophet went into his house and healed him, and they all came out together. As they were passing by my door, Brother Joseph said: “Brother Woodruff, follow me.” These were the only words spoken by all the company from the time they left Brother Brigham’s house till they crossed the public square, and entered Brother Fordham’s house. Brother Fordham had been dying for an hour, and we expected each minute would be his last.
I felt the power of God that was overwhelming His Prophet.
When we entered the house, Brother Joseph walked up to Brother Fordham, and took him by the right hand; in his left hand he held his hat.
He saw that Brother Fordham’s eyes were glazed, and that he was speechless and unconscious.
After taking hold of his hand, he looked down into the dying man’s face and said:
“Brother Fordham, do you not know me?” At first he made no reply; but we could all see the effect of the Spirit of God resting upon him.
He again said: “Elijah, do you not know me?”
With a low whisper, Brother Fordham answered, “Yes!”
The Prophet then said, “Have you not faith to be healed?”
The answer, which was a little plainer than before, was: “I am afraid it is too late. If you had come sooner, I think it might have been.”
He had the appearance of a man waking from sleep. It was the sleep of death.
Joseph then said: “Do you believe that Jesus is the Christ?”
“I do, Brother Joseph,” was the response.
Then the Prophet of God spoke with a loud voice, as in the majesty of the Godhead:
“Elijah, I command you, in the name of Jesus of Nazareth, to arise and be made whole!”
The words of the Prophet were not like the words of man, but like the voice of God. It seemed to me that the house shook from its foundation.
Elijah Fordham leaped from his bed like a man raised from the dead. A healthy color came to his face, and life was manifested in every act.
His feet were done up in Indian meal poultices. He kicked them off his feet, scattered the contents, and then called for his clothes and put them on. He asked for a bowl of bread and milk, and ate it; then put on his hat and followed us into the street, to visit others who were sick.
The unbeliever may ask: “Was there not deception in this?”
If there is any deception in the mind of the unbeliever, there was certainly none with Elijah Fordham, the dying man, nor with those who were present with him, for in a few minutes more he would have been in the spirit world, had he not been rescued. Through the blessing of God, he lived up till 1880, in which year he died in Utah, while all who were with him on that occasion, with the exception of one, are in the spirit world. 37
Parley P. Pratt
I accompanied Joseph Smith over the Mississippi in a skiff to visit some friends in Montrose. Here many were lying sick and at the point of death. Among these was my old friend and fellow servant, Elijah Fordham, who had been with me in that extraordinary work in New York City in 1837. He was now in the last stage of a deadly fever. He lay prostrate and nearly speechless, with his feet poulticed; his eyes were sunk in their sockets; his flesh was gone; the paleness of death was upon him; and he was hardly to be distinguished from a corpse. His wife was weeping over him, and preparing clothes for his burial.
Brother Joseph took him by the hand, and in a voice and energy which would seemingly have raised the dead, he cried: “BROTHER FORDHAM, IN THE NAME OF JESUS CHRIST, ARISE AND WALK.” It was a voice which could be heard from house to house and nearly through the neighborhood. It was like the roaring of a lion, or the heavy thunderbolt. Brother Fordham leaped from his dying bed in an instant, shook the poultices and bandages from his feet, put on his clothes so quick that none got a chance to assist him, and taking a cup of tea and a little refreshment, he walked with us from house to house visiting other sick beds, and joining in prayer and ministrations for them, while the people followed us, and with joy and amazement gave glory to God. Several more were called up in a similar manner and were healed.
Brother Joseph, while in the Spirit, rebuked the Elders who would continue to lay hands on the sick from day to day without the power to heal them. Said he: “It is time that such things ended. Let the Elders either obtain the power of God to heal the sick or let them cease to minister the forms without the power.” 38
Healing of Joseph Noble
Our exposure during the previous winter caused a great deal of sickness. I and some of my family were attacked with bilious fever. I think I can safely say that one half of the families of the whole people had more or less sickness, and many died. Two of my children were buried; and I was nigh unto death. So low was I that my wife asked me, in tears, if I was dying.
At this time Brother Elijah Fordham, a next-door neighbor to me, was very sick; indeed they were preparing clothes for his burial. In this trying hour the Holy Ghost was poured out upon the Prophet Joseph Smith, and he, with Brothers Brigham Young, Heber C. Kimball, Parley P. Pratt and others, came to Brother Fordham’s house and commanded him, in the name of Jesus Christ, to arise and walk. He immediately jumped from his dying bed, kicked off the drafts from his feet, and came into my house, following the brethren, and shouting, leaping, and praising God with all his might.
President Smith, while leading the way to my bed, made this remark: “Brother Noble, you have been too long with me to lie here.” As soon as I saw him the tears of joy burst from my eyes. In a moment he was by my bedside, and took me by the hand. Without waiting for the other brethren to get to my bed, he commanded me, in the name of Jesus Christ, to arise and walk. I arose, and while putting on my clothes I fainted. When I regained consciousness I was on the bed, and Joseph was standing close to me.
As soon as my eyes met his he said, “Wherefore didst thou doubt?” and again commanded me to arise.
While he was speaking I felt the healing virtue flowing through every part of my system. I immediately arose and walked, rejoicing and praising the Lord with all my heart, for His blessing resting upon me, by which I was made whole.
Brother Fordham was more active and stronger than I was. He never sat down in my house, but as soon as Brother Joseph had given directions to my wife concerning some nourishment for me, he left with the rest of the brethren. They went and administered to others who were sick, and called them up in a similar manner.
Joseph, at this time, rebuked the Elders for administering the form without the power. Said he, “Let the Elders either obtain the power of God to heal the sick, or let them cease to administer the form without the power.” 39
As soon as we left Brother Fordham’s house, we went into the house of Joseph B. Noble, who was very low and dangerously sick.
When we entered the house, Brother Joseph took him by the hand, and commanded him, in the name of Jesus Christ, to arise and be made whole. He did arise and was immediately healed.
While this was going on, the wicked mob in the place, led by one Kilburn, had become alarmed, and followed us into Brother Noble’s house.
Before they arrived there, Brother Joseph had called upon Brother Fordham to offer prayer.
While he was praying, the mob entered, with all the evil spirits accompanying them.
As soon as they entered, Brother Fordham, who was praying, fainted and sank to the floor.
When Joseph saw the mob in the house, he arose and had the room cleared of both that class of men and their attendant devils. Then Brother Fordham immediately revived and finished his prayer.
This shows what power evil spirits have upon the tabernacles of men. The Saints are only saved from the power of the devil by the power of God.
This case of Brother Noble’s was the last one of healing upon that day. It was the greatest day for the manifestation of the power of God through the gift of healing since the organization of the Church. 40
Joseph Smith Sends His Handkerchief With Wilford Woodruff to Heal Two Children
When we left Brother Noble, the Prophet Joseph went, with those who accompanied him from the other side, to the banks of the river, to return home.
While waiting for the ferryboat, a man of the world, knowing of the miracles which had been performed, came to him and asked him if he would not go and heal two twin children of his, about five months old, who were both lying sick nigh unto death.
They were some two miles from Montrose.
The Prophet said he could not go; but, after pausing some time, he said he would send someone to heal them; and he turned to me [Wilford Woodruff] and said: “You go with the man and heal his children.”
He took a red silk handkerchief out of his pocket and gave it to me, and told me to wipe their faces with the handkerchief when I administered to them, and they should be healed. He also said unto me: “As long as you will keep that handkerchief, it shall remain a league between you and me.”
I went with the man, and did as the Prophet commanded me, and the children were healed.
I have possession of the handkerchief unto this day. 41
Raising William Huntington from the Dead
About the month of August, 1856, William D. Huntington and I went into Hobble Creek Canyon to get a tree or log suitable for making drums. After we had finished our labor and started for home, both of us riding on the log, our conversation naturally turned upon the doctrines of the Church and experiences of the past, when the life and labors of the Prophet Joseph were touched upon. This subject aroused into more than usual earnestness the mind and conversation of my associate.
He said that in Nauvoo he lived in the family of and worked for Joseph Smith at the time the Prophet had such a wonderful time with the sick, when nearly everybody was stricken down and he himself was among the afflicted, and was one of those who were healed by Joseph. He said he had been sick some weeks and kept getting weaker, until he became so helpless that he could not move. Finally he got so low he could not speak, but had perfect consciousness of all that was passing in the room. He saw friends come to the bedside, look at him a moment and commence weeping, then turn away.
He further stated that he presently felt easy, and observing his situation found that he was in the upper part of the room near the ceiling, and could see the body he had occupied lying on the bed, with weeping friends, standing around as he had witnessed in many cases where people had died under his own observation.
About this time he saw Joseph Smith and two other brethren come into the room. Joseph turned to his wife Emma and asked her to get him a dish of clean water. This she did; and the Prophet with the two brethren accompanying him washed their hands and carefully wiped them. Then they stepped to the bed and laid their hands upon the head of his body, which at that time looked loathsome to him, and as the three stretched out their hands to place them upon the head, he by some means became aware that he must go back into that body, and started to do so. The process of getting in he could not remember; but when Joseph said “amen,” he heard and could see and feel with his body. The feeling for a moment was most excruciating, as though his body was pierced in every part with some sharp instruments.
As soon as the brethren had taken their hands from his head he raised up in bed, sitting erect, and in another moment turned his legs off the bed.
At this juncture Joseph asked him if he had not better be careful, for he was very weak. He replied, “I never felt better in my life,” almost immediately adding, “I want my pants.”
His pants were found and given him, which he drew on, Joseph assisting him, although he thought he needed no help. Then he signified his intention to sit in a chair at or near the fireplace. Joseph took hold of his arm to help him along safely, but William declared his ability to walk alone, notwithstanding which, the help continued.
Astonishment had taken the place of weeping throughout the room. Every looker-on was ready to weep for joy; but none were able or felt inclined to talk.
Presently William said he wanted something to eat. Joseph asked him what he would like, and he replied that he wanted a dish of bread and milk.
Emma immediately brought what he called for, as one may easily comprehend, every hand was anxious to supply the wants of a man who, a few moments before was dead, really and truly dead! Brother Huntington ate the bowl of bread and milk with as good a relish as any he ever ate.
In a short time all felt more familiar, and conversation upon the scene that transpired followed. William related his experiences, and the friends theirs.
Joseph listened to the conversation and in his turn remarked that they had just witnessed as great a miracle as Jesus did while on the earth. They had seen the dead brought to life.
At the close of his narrative to me William Huntington remarked:
“Now I have told you the truth, and here I am a live man, sitting by the side of you on this log, and I testify that Joseph Smith was a Prophet of God.” 42
The evening after I arrived in Kirtland several of the brethren came in and talked with Brother Joseph, and asked what they should do, for they had not means to bear their expenses from there to Missouri. Brother Joseph said, “I am going to have some money soon.”
The next morning he received a letter containing a hundred and fifty dollars.
. . .
I have heard the Prophet Joseph pray when the power of God rested upon him, and all who heard him felt it; and I have seen his prayers answered in a marvelous manner, almost immediately. Governor Reynolds, of Missouri, on one occasion employed men to try and kidnap Joseph, and they almost accomplished their designs. Thereafter, the governor continued to harass him with writs, and was determined to destroy Joseph. The Prophet and the Twelve went before God in prayer. Joseph asked the Lord to deliver him from the power of that man. In about forty-eight hours from that time, word reached Joseph that Reynolds had blown his brains out.
There is another instance. A certain man took a stand against Joseph and endeavored to bring persecution on him. Joseph went to God and laid the matter before Him, asking to be delivered out of the hands and power of that wicked man. Joseph knew the voice of the Spirit when it spoke to him. After offering up his prayer, the whispering of the still small voice came to him saying, “Wait with patience.”
The next day that man was taken sick with cholera, and died in a few hours.
While I was living in a cabin in an old barracks at Nauvoo, we experienced a day of God’s power with the Prophet Joseph. It was a very sickly time and Joseph had given up his home to the sick, and was living in a tent pitched in his dooryard. The large number of Saints who had been driven out of Missouri were flocking in, but had no homes and were living in wagons, in tents, and on the ground. Many were sick through the exposure they were subjected to. Brother Joseph had waited on the sick until he was worn out and nearly sick himself.
On the morning of the 22nd of July, 1839, he arose reflecting upon the situation of the Saints of God in their persecutions and afflictions. He called upon the Lord in prayer, and the power of God rested mightily upon him. And as Jesus healed all the sick around Him in His day, so Joseph, the Prophet of God, healed all around on this occasion. He healed all in his house and dooryard, then, in company with Sidney Rigdon and several of the Twelve, he went through among the sick lying on the bank of the river, and he commanded them in a loud voice, in the name of Jesus Christ, to come up and be made whole, and they were all healed.
When he healed all that were sick on the east side of the river; they crossed the Mississippi River to Montrose, where we were. The first house they went into was President Brigham Young’s. He was sick on his bed at the time. The Prophet went into his house and healed him, and they all came out together. As, they were passing by my door, Brother Joseph said, “Brother Woodruff, follow me.”
These were the only words spoken by any of the company from the time they left Brother Brigham’s house till we crossed the public square and entered Brother Elijah Fordham’s house. Brother Fordham had been dying for an hour, and we expected each minute would be his last.
I felt the power of God that was overwhelming His prophet. When we entered the house, Brother Joseph walked up to Brother Fordham and took him by the right hand; in his left hand he held his hat.
He saw that Brother Fordham’s eyes were glazed, and that he was speechless and unconscious.
After taking hold of his hand, the Prophet looked down into the dying man’s face and said, “Brother Fordham, do you not know me?”
At first he made no reply; but we could all see the effect of the Spirit of God resting upon him.
Joseph again said, “Elijah, do you not know me?”
With a low whisper, Brother Fordham answered, “Yes.”
The Prophet then said, “Have you not faith to be healed?”
The answer, which was a little plainer than before, was, “I am afraid it is too late. If you had come sooner, I think I might have been.”
He had the appearance of a man waking from sleep. It was the sleep of death.
Joseph then said, “Do you believe that Jesus is the Christ?”
“I do, Brother Joseph,” was the response.
Then the Prophet of God spoke with a loud voice, as in the majesty of the Godhead, “Elijah, I command you, in the name of Jesus of Nazareth, to arise and be made whole!”
The words of the Prophet were not like the words of man, but like the voice of God. It seemed to me that the house shook from its foundation.
Elijah Fordham leaped from his bed like a man raised from the dead. A healthy color came to his face, and life was manifested in every act. His feet were done up in Indian-meal poultices. He kicked them off his feet, scattered the contents, then called for his clothes and put them on. He asked for a bowl of bread and milk and ate it. Then he put on his hat and followed us into the street to visit others who were sick.
As soon as we left Brother Fordham’s house, we went into the house of Joseph B. Noble, who was very low and dangerously sick. When we entered the house, Brother Joseph took him by the hand, and commanded him, in the name of Jesus Christ, to arise and be made whole. He did arise and was immediately healed.
While this was going on, the wicked mob in the place, led by one Kilburn, had become alarmed, and followed us into Brother Noble’s house. Before they arrived there, Brother Joseph had called upon Brother Fordham to offer prayer. While he was praying, the mob entered, with all the evil spirits accompanying them. As soon as they entered, Brother Fordham, who was praying, fainted and sank to the floor.
When Joseph saw the mob in the house, he arose and had the room cleared of both that class of men and their attendant devils. Then Brother Fordham immediately revived and finished his prayer.
This shows what power evil spirits have upon the tabernacles of men. The Saints are only saved from the devil by the power of God.
This case of Brother Noble’s was the last one of healing upon that day. It was the greatest day for the manifestation of the power of God through the gift of healing since the organization of the Church.
When we left Brother Noble, the Prophet Joseph went with those who accompanied him from the other side of the bank of the river, to return home. While waiting for the ferryboat, a man of the world, knowing of the miracles which had been performed, came to him and asked him if he would not go and heal his twin children, about five months old, who were both lying sick nigh unto death. They were some two miles from Montrose.
The Prophet said he could not go, but after pausing some time, he said he would send some one to heal them. He then turned to me and said, “You go with the man and heal his children.”
He took a red silk handkerchief out of his pocket and gave it to me, and told me to wipe their faces with the handkerchief when I administered to them, and they should be healed. He also said unto me, “As long as you will keep that handkerchief, it shall remain a league between you and me.”
I went with the man, and did as the Prophet commanded me, and the children were healed.
I have possession of the handkerchief unto this day.
It has been my faith and belief from the time that I was made acquainted with the gospel that no greater prophet than Joseph Smith ever lived on the face of the earth, save Jesus Christ. He was raised to stand at the head of this great dispensation—the greatest of all dispensations God has ever given to man. 43
During our imprisonment in Liberty Jail we had many visitors, both friends and enemies. Among the latter, many were angry with Brother Joseph and accused him of killing a son, a brother, or some relative of theirs, at what was called the Crooked River Battle. This looked rather strange to me, that so many should claim a son, or a brother killed there, when they reported only one man killed.
After we had been there some time and had tried every means we could to obtain our liberty by the law, without effect (except Sidney Rigdon who was bailed out), and also having heard from a reliable source that “the Mormon prisoners would have to be condemned or the character of the state would have to go down,” we came to the conclusion that we would try other means to effect it.
Accordingly, on the 7th day of February, 1839, after counseling together on the subject, we concluded to try to go that evening when the jailor came with our supper. But before deciding fully, and to make it more sure, Brother Hyrum asked Brother Joseph to inquire of the Lord as to the propriety of the move.
He did so, and received answer to this effect—that if we were all agreed, we could go clear that evening; and if we would ask, we should have a testimony for ourselves.
I immediately asked, and had no more than asked until I received as clear a testimony as ever I did of anything in my life that it was true. Brother Hyrum Smith and Caleb Baldwin bore testimony to the same. But Lyman Wight said we might go if we chose, but he would not.
After talking with him for some time, he said if we would wait until the next day, he would go with us.
Without thinking we had no promise of success on any other day than the one above stated, we agreed to wait.
When night came, the jailor came alone with our supper, threw the door wide open, put our supper on the table, and went to the back part of the room where a pile of books lay, took up a book and went to reading, leaving us between him and the door, thereby giving us every chance to go if we had been ready. As the next day was agreed upon, we made no attempt to go that evening.
When the next evening came, the case was very different. The jailor brought a double guard with him, and with them six of our brethren, to wit, Erastus Snow, William D. Huntington, Cyrus Daniels, David Holeman, Alanson Ripley and Watson Barlow. I was afterwards informed that they were sent by the Church. The jailor seemed to be badly scared. He had the door locked and everything made secure. It looked like a bad chance to get away, but we were determined to try it. So when the jailor started out, we started too. Brother Hyrum took hold of the door and the rest followed. But before we were able to render him the assistance he needed, the jailor and guard succeeded in closing the door, shutting the brethren in with us, except Cyrus Daniels, who was on the outside.
The scene that followed defies description. I should judge from the number that all the town and many from the country gathered around the jail, and every mode of torture and death that their imagination could fancy was proposed for us. But they were so divided among themselves that they could not carry out any of their plans.
During this time, some of our brethren spoke of our being in great danger; and I confess I felt that we were. But Brother Joseph told them not to fear, that not a hair of their heads should be hurt, and that they would not lose any of their things, even to a bridle, saddle, or blanket; that everything should be restored to them; they had offered their lives for us and the gospel; that it was necessary the Church should offer a sacrifice, and the Lord accepted the offering.
The brethren who had come to visit the prisoners had to undergo a trial, but the excitement was so great that they (the officers) dared not take them out until it abated a little. While they were waiting for their trial, some of the brethren employed lawyers to defend them. Brother Erastus Snow asked Brother Joseph whether he had better employ a lawyer or not. Brother Joseph told him to plead his own case.
“But,” said Brother Snow, “I do not understand law.”
Brother Joseph asked him if he did not understand justice.
He said he thought he did.
“Well,” said Brother Joseph, “go and plead for justice as hard as you can, and quote Blackstone and other authors now and then, and they will take it all for law.”
He did as he was told, and the result was as Joseph had said it would be. When he got through his plea, the lawyers flocked around him and asked him where he had studied law, and said they had never heard a better plea. When the trial was over, Brother Snow was discharged, and all the rest were held to bail, and were allowed to bail each other by Brother Snow going bail with them. They got everything that was taken from them. Nothing was lost, although no two articles were in one place.
Sometime during our stay in Liberty Jail an attempt was made to destroy us by poison, and it was only by much faith and prayer that the effect was overcome.
We never suffered ourselves to go into any important measure without asking Brother Joseph to inquire of the Lord in relation to it. Such was our confidence in him as a prophet that when he said, “Thus saith the Lord,” we were confident it would be as he said. The more we tried it, the more confidence we had, for we never found his word to fail in a single instance.
A short time before we were to go to Daviess County for trial, word came; to us that either General Atchison or Doniphan would raise a military force and go with us to protect us from the wrath of that people. The matter was discussed by the brethren (except Brother Joseph), and they naturally enough concluded it would be best. Although I had nothing to say, I concurred with them in my feelings.
Brother Hyrum asked Brother Joseph what he thought of it. Brother Joseph hung his head a few moments and seemed in a deep study, then raised up and said, “Brother Hyrum, it will not do. We must trust in the Lord. If we take a guard with us we shall be destroyed.”
This was very unexpected to us, but Brother Hyrum remarked, “If you say it in the name of the Lord, we will rely on it.”
Said Brother Joseph, “In the name of the Lord, if we take a guard with us, we will be destroyed, but if we put our trust in the Lord we shall be safe, and no harm shall befall us, and we shall be better treated than we have ever been since we have been prisoners.”
This settled the question, and all seemed satisfied. It was decided that we should have no extra guard, only such as they chose for our safe keeping.
When we arrived at the place where the court was held, I began to think he was mistaken for once, for the people rushed upon us en masse crying, “Kill them: – – – – – – – – them, kill them.”
I could see no chance for escape, unless we could fight our way through. And we had nothing to do it with.
At this, Brother Joseph, at whom all seemed to rush, rose up and said, “We are in your hands; if we are guilty, we refuse not to be punished by the law.”
Hearing these words, two of the most bitter mobocrats in the country—one by the name of William Peniston and the other Kinney, or McKinney—got up on benches and began to speak to the people, saying, “Yes, gentlemen, these men are in our hands; let us not use violence, but let the law have its course. The law will condemn them, and they will be punished by it. We do not want the disgrace of taking the law into our own hands.”
In a very few minutes they were quieted, and they seemed now as friendly as they had a few minutes before been enraged. From that time until we got away they could not put a guard over us who would not become so friendly that they dared not trust him, and the guard was very frequently changed. We were seated at the first table with the judge, lawyers, etc., and had the best the country afforded, with feather beds to sleep on—a privilege we had not before enjoyed in all our imprisonment.
On one occasion while we were there, the above-named William Peniston, partly in joke and partly in earnest, threw out a rather hard insinuation against some of the brethren. This touched Joseph’s feelings and he retorted a good deal in the same way, only with such power that the earth seemed to tremble under his feet: “Your heart is as black as your whiskers,” which were as black as any crow.
He seemed to quake under it and left the room.
The guards, who had become friendly, were alarmed for our safety and exclaimed, “O, Mr. Smith, do not talk so. You will bring trouble upon yourself and companions.”
Brother Joseph replied, “Do not be alarmed; I know what I am about.”
He always took up for the brethren, when their characters were assailed, sooner than for himself, no matter how unpopular it was to speak in their favor. 44
Benjamin F. Johnson
About the middle of October, a letter came to say that my dear mother and young sister were apparently near to death, in Springfield, Illinois, and were anxious for my return. In my anxiety to see my mother again, I procured quinine, which was just becoming known as an antidote for fever, and taking it in large quantities, my fever soon abated. Under its tonic influence, I fancied I had become well, and in great joy and hope hastened preparations to start for the home of my mother and kindred in Springfield. My horse was in the yard ready to mount, but I wished to take leave of the Prophet with the hope of receiving his blessing. I had but one ten-dollar bill left, and I thought that at least I would pay a tithing. So, going to the Prophet, I told him I was ready to leave, and giving him the bill, I said, “As this is all I have left, I want to pay a tithe of it.”
He saw I was weak in body and that my heart was sad, to thinking to cheer and arouse me, when putting the nine dollars in my hand, he playfully knocked my hand upward, scattering the money all over the room.
My heart was full of tears, and my emotion must have vent, so forgetting all but the feeling that we were boy companions playing together, I sprang at and grappled him, so as to teach him a lesson. But the lesson was all to me, for on making the one grand effort to throw him, I found myself in strength no more than a bullrush as compared with him, and as my strength was fictitious and my real recovery but an illusion, I collapsed and fainted in his arms. He placed me in repose, and did all necessary for my restoration and comfort. He then gathered up the scattered money.
After a period of delay, weak, trembling and desolate, yet determined to start, I led my horse to the outer gate. As I was passing through, with the bridle on my arm, his hand detained me. Placing his hands upon my head, he seemed to pour out his soul in blessing me. He told the Lord I had been faithful to care for others, but I was now worn and sick, and that on my journey I would need His care, and he asked that a guardian angel might go with me from that day and stay with me through all my life.
O! how often I have seen through life the footprints of the angel, and knew that his hand had drawn me back from death. 45
George A. Smith
Among the early baptisms in Northern Ohio, was a Methodist minister by the name of Ezra Booth. He was present when the Elders first received the ordination of the High Priesthood. They met together in June, 1831, in a log schoolhouse in Kirtland, a room about eighteen feet by twenty. While they were there, the manifestation of the power of God being on Joseph, he set apart some of the Elders to the High Priesthood. Ezra Booth was bound, and his countenance was distorted, and numbers of the brethren looked at him, and thought it was a wonderful manifestation of the power of God, but to their astonishment, Joseph came forward and rebuked the foul spirit, and commanded it to depart, in consequence of which Booth was relieved, and many of the brethren were greatly tried at such a singular treatment by the prophet of these wonderful manifestations of power. 46
- Mary Elizabeth Rollins Lightner, Diary of Mary Elizabeth Rollins Lightner; Young Woman’s Journal, XVI (December, 1905), pp. 556-557; The Utah Genealogical and Historical Magazine, XVII (July, 1926), pp. 193-195; Remarks of Mary E. Lightner, April 14, 1905, at Brigham Young University; Hyrum L. Andrus and Helen Mae Andrus, comps., They Knew the Prophet [Salt Lake City: Bookcraft, 1974], 22.
- Philo Dibble, The Juvenile Instructor, XXVII, (January 1, 1892), pp. 22-23; (May 15, 1892), pp. 303-304; (June 1, 1892), p. 345; Early Scenes in Church History (Faith Promoting Series, volume 8) (Salt Lake City, 1882), pp. 79-96; Hyrum L. Andrus and Helen Mae Andrus, comps., They Knew the Prophet [Salt Lake City: Bookcraft, 1974], 71.
- Philo Dibble, The Juvenile Instructor, XXVII, (January 1, 1892), pp. 22-23; (May 15, 1892), pp. 303-304; (June 1, 1892), p. 345; Early Scenes in Church History (Faith Promoting Series, volume 8) (Salt Lake City, 1882), pp. 79-96; Hyrum L. Andrus and Helen Mae Andrus, comps., They Knew the Prophet [Salt Lake City: Bookcraft, 1974], 70.
- Church History in the Fulness of Times, p. 148
- Oliver B. Huntington, “An Incident in Zion’s Camp,” Juvenile Instructor 37, no. 1 (1 January 1902): 20-21. See also Oliver B. Huntington, “History of the Life of Oliver B. Huntington, Written by Himself 1878-1990,” typescript copy, BYU Special Collections, Harold B. Lee Library, Provo, Utah, 23, 34; “William Cahoon, Autobiography,” in Stella Shurtleff and Brent Farrington Cahoon, eds. Reynolds Cahoon and His Stalwart Sons (Salt Lake City, Utah: Paragon Press, 1960), 81-82
- “William Cahoon Autobiography,” in Stella Shurtleff and Brent Farrington Cahoon, eds., Reynolds Cahoon and His Stalwart Sons (Salt Lake City, Utah: Paragon Press, 1960), 81- 82; see also Remembering Joseph, p. 128
- Lucy Diantha Morley Allen, Young Woman’s Journal, XVII (December, 1906), pp. 537-538; Hyrum L. Andrus and Helen Mae Andrus, comps., They Knew the Prophet [Salt Lake City: Bookcraft, 1974], 31.
- Lydia Bailey Knight, “Lydia Knight’s History,” pp. 14-23, in Journal History, October 19, 1833, Church Historian’s Library, Salt Lake City, Utah; Hyrum L. Andrus and Helen Mae Andrus, comps., They Knew the Prophet [Salt Lake City: Bookcraft, 1974], 43.
- Elizabeth Ann Whitney, Woman’s Exponent, VII (September 1, 1878), p. 51; (October 1, 1878), p. 71; (November 1, 1878), p. 83; (November 15, 1878), p. 91; (December 15, 1878), p. 105; (February 15, 1879), p. 191; Hyrum L. Andrus and Helen Mae Andrus, comps., They Knew the Prophet [Salt Lake City: Bookcraft, 1974], 39.
- Heber C. Kimball, Woman’s Exponent, IX (August 1, 1880), p. 39; (September 15, 1880), p. 59; (November 1, 1880), p. 82; (November 15, 1880), p. 90; X (May 15, 1881), p. 186; Hyrum L. Andrus and Helen Mae Andrus, comps., They Knew the Prophet [Salt Lake City: Bookcraft, 1974], 37.
- Heber C. Kimball, Woman’s Exponent, IX (August 1, 1880), p. 39; (September 15, 1880), p. 59; (November 1, 1880), p. 82; (November 15, 1880), p. 90; X (May 15, 1881), p. 186; Hyrum L. Andrus and Helen Mae Andrus, comps., They Knew the Prophet [Salt Lake City: Bookcraft, 1974], 35.
- Zebedee Coltrin, Address of Zebedee Coltrin at a meeting of high priests, Spanish Fork, Utah, February 5, 1878, High Priests’ record of Spanish Fork Branch, from April 29, 1866 to December 1, 1898, Church Historian’s Library, Salt Lake City, Utah; Minutes of the Salt Lake City School of the Prophets, October 10-11, 1883, Church Historian’s Library, Salt Lake City, Utah; Hyrum L. Andrus and Helen Mae Andrus, comps., They Knew the Prophet [Salt Lake City: Bookcraft, 1974], 26.
- Zebedee Coltrin, Address of Zebedee Coltrin at a meeting of high priests, Spanish Fork, Utah, February 5, 1878, High Priests’ record of Spanish Fork Branch, from April 29, 1866 to December 1, 1898, Church Historian’s Library, Salt Lake City, Utah; Minutes of the Salt Lake City School of the Prophets, October 10-11, 1883, Church Historian’s Library, Salt Lake City, Utah; Hyrum L. Andrus and Helen Mae Andrus, comps., They Knew the Prophet [Salt Lake City: Bookcraft, 1974], 27.
- Zebedee Coltrin, Address of Zebedee Coltrin at a meeting of high priests, Spanish Fork, Utah, February 5, 1878, High Priests’ record of Spanish Fork Branch, from April 29, 1866 to December 1, 1898, Church Historian’s Library, Salt Lake City, Utah; Minutes of the Salt Lake City School of the Prophets, October 10-11, 1883, Church Historian’s Library, Salt Lake City, Utah; Hyrum L. Andrus and Helen Mae Andrus, comps., They Knew the Prophet [Salt Lake City: Bookcraft, 1974], 28.
- Levi Hancock, “Life story of Levi W. Hancock,” Brigham Young University Library, pp. 47-49, 73-82; Hyrum L. Andrus and Helen Mae Andrus, comps., They Knew the Prophet [Salt Lake City: Bookcraft, 1974], pp. 17-19
- Levi Hancock, “Life story of Levi W. Hancock,” Brigham Young University Library, pp. 47-49, 73-82; Hyrum L. Andrus and Helen Mae Andrus, comps., They Knew the Prophet [Salt Lake City: Bookcraft, 1974], pp. 21-22
- Brigham Young University, 4 October 1955
- Symposium on the Book of Mormon, 9 August 1994, BYU
- George Cannon, quoted in “The Twelve Apostles,” in Andrew Jenson, ed., The Historical Record, 6:175
- Ensign, November 2009, 88–90
- Merriam-Webster’s Collegiate Dictionary, s.v. “miracle”
- “Last Days of Oliver Cowdery,” Deseret News, 13 Apr. 1859, p. 48
- See World Book Encyclopedia, 1992 ed., s.v. “Gettysburg Address”
- See John W. Welch and Tim Rathbone, “The Translation of the Book of Mormon: Basic Historical Information,” Provo, Utah: F.A.R.M.S., 1986, p. 14
- Latter Day Saints’ Messenger and Advocate, Oct. 1834, pp. 14–16
- See Encyclopedia of Mormonism, ed. Daniel H. Ludlow, 4 vols., New York: Macmillan, 1992, s.v. “Book of Mormon manuscripts”
- Hymns, 1985, no. 27
- Teachings of the Prophet Joseph Smith, p. 194
- Ensign, May 1995, 9
- “History of Joseph Smith,” Times and Seasons, vol. 4 (November 1842-November 1843), Vol. 4 No. 1 November 15, 1842, p.13
- “The Papers of Zebedee Coltrin,” in E. Cecil McGavin, The Record of the Spanish Fork Branch (29 April 1866 to 1 December 1898), LDS Church Archives, Salt Lake City, Utah, 250
- “The Papers of Zebedee Coltrin,” in E. Cecil McGavin, The Record of the Spanish Fork Branch (29 April 1866 to 1 December 1898), LDS Church Archives, Salt Lake City, Utah, 250-51
- A Comprehensive History of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, 1:278
- “Philo Dibble Autobiography (1806-c. 1843),” in “Early Scenes in Church History,” Four Faith Promoting Classics (Salt Lake City: Bookcraft, 1968), 79
- Autobiography of Parley P. Pratt, ed. Parley P. Pratt (1980), 79–80
- Journal of Artemus Millet Written by Himself, LDS Church Archives, Salt Lake City, Utah
- Leaves from My Journal, pp. 62-65
- Parley P. Pratt, Autobiography of Parley P. Pratt, 254-255
- Quoted by Joseph Noble, See Juvenile Instructor, 15:112
- Leaves from My Journal, p. 62-65
- Leaves from My Journal, p. 65
- Levi Curtis, “Recollections of the Prophet Joseph Smith,” Juvenile Instructor 27, no. 12)
(15 June 1892): 385-86
- Millennial Star, LIII (October 5, 1891), pp. 627-628; LIV (September 19, 1892), p. 605; Journal of Discourses, VII pp. 100-101; Woodruff, Leaves From My Journal, pp. 62-65.
- History of the Church, III, pp. 256-259
- The journal of Benjamin F. Johnson, Church Historian’s Library, Salt Lake City, Utah; “An Interesting Letter,” from Patriarch Benjamin F. Johnson to George S. Gibbs, 1903; Benjamin F. Johnson file, Church Historian’s Library, Salt Lake City, Utah.
- JOD, 10:4