The Prophet Joseph Smith (D&C 76:22-24; D&C 135:3; Joseph Smith—History 1:25)
Joseph Smith, the Prophet and Seer of the Lord, has done more, save Jesus only, for the salvation of men in this world, than any other man that ever lived in it. (D&C 135:3)
Joseph Smith was a man of integrity. He was persecuted for saying what he knew to be true. Even though he was arrested and jailed many times, tarred and feathered, and tormented in other ways, Joseph never denied his testimony:
"I had actually seen a light, and in the midst of that light I saw two Personages, and they did in reality speak to me; and though I was hated and persecuted for saying that I had seen a vision, yet it was true; and while they were persecuting me, reviling me, and speaking all manner of evil against me falsely for so saying, I was led to say in my heart: Why persecute me for telling the truth? I have actually seen a vision; and who am I that I can withstand God, or why does the world think to make me deny what I have actually seen? For I had seen a vision; I knew it, and I knew that God knew it, and I could not deny it, neither dared I do it; at least I knew that by so doing I would offend God, and come under condemnation" (Joseph Smith—History 1:25).
In February 18-32 the Prophet Joseph Smith and Elder Sidney Rigdon recorded:
"And now, after the many testimonies which have been given of him, this is the testimony, last of all, which we give of him: That he lives!
"For we saw him, even on the right hand of God; and we heard the voice bearing record that he is the Only Begotten of the Father—
"That by him, and through him, and of him, the worlds are and were created, and the inhabitants thereof are begotten sons and daughters unto God" (D&C 76:22-24).
Joseph Smith's martyrdom on 27 June 18-44 in Carthage, Illinois, sealed his testimony (D&C 135:3). The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints has its foundation in that testimony and in the revelations Joseph Smith received, the sacred truths he taught, and the authority of God's priesthood restored through him.
From the time of Joseph Smith's vision of the Father and the Son in 18-20, the Prophet had a strong testimony of Heavenly Father and Jesus Christ. Joseph was persecuted throughout his life because of the truths he revealed and taught. But he never denied his testimony and always taught what he knew to be the truth. In 18-44 Joseph was killed in Carthage Jail. The men who shot Joseph hoped that killing him would put an end to the Church and Joseph's teachings. Instead it made Joseph's testimony even stronger for the members of the Church because he "sealed his mission and his works with his own blood" (D&C 135:3).
Artist, Alvin Gittins
Joseph Smith Seeks Wisdom in the Bible (Joseph Smith—History 1:3, 5-15)
Never did any passage of scripture come with more power to the heart of man than this did at this time to mine. It seemed to enter with great force into every feeling of my heart. I reflected on it again and again. (Joseph Smith—History 1:12)
Young Joseph Smith moved with his family from Vermont to Palmyra, New York, when he was about 10 years old. When he was 13, the family settled on a farm near Palmyra. Shortly after the Smiths moved there, Joseph said, the people in the area became very excited about religion. Preachers from several churches were trying to win converts. The Smith family was caught up in the excitement, for they were a sincere, God-fearing family.
Joseph, then 14 years old, worried a great deal about which church to join. He carefully tried to find the truth. He visited the different church meetings and studied the Bible, reading often from its pages. One day when he was reading in the book of James in the New Testament he noticed especially the fifth verse in chapter one: "If any of you lack wisdom, let him ask of God, that giveth to all men liberally, and upbraideth not; and it shall be given him." (Joseph Smith—History 1:7-11)
Joseph pondered the words of this scripture, "knowing that if any person needed wisdom from God, [he] did" (Joseph Smith—History 1:12).
Finally Joseph decided to ask God which church to join. He went to a grove of trees and knelt in prayer. The Father and Son appeared to him, and the Savior told him that the true Church of Jesus Christ was not on the earth and had to be restored. As time went on, Joseph received authority and instructions to restore the true Church of Jesus Christ to the earth.
Young Joseph Smith worried about which church was right. He carefully studied the Bible as he searched for truth. One day he read in the book of James that a person who wants to know the truth should ask God, who will help those who ask Him. Joseph felt great power in the words of this scripture and thought about them again and again. He decided he would ask God which church to join. He went to a grove of trees and prayed. In answer to Joseph's prayer, the Father and the Son appeared to him. The Savior told him to join none of the churches because none of them was the true Church. Later, Joseph received authority and instructions to restore the true Church of Jesus Christ.
Artist, Dale Kilbourn
The First Vision (Joseph Smith—History 1:14-20)
When the light rested upon me I saw two Personages, whose brightness and glory defy all description, standing above me in the air. One of them spake unto me, calling me by name and said, pointing to the other—This is My Beloved Son. Hear Him! (Joseph Smith—History 1:17)
On a beautiful spring morning in 18-20, Joseph Smith went into the woods near his home to pray. He did not know which church to join and decided to ask Heavenly Father. Joseph looked around to make sure he was alone, then knelt and began to pray. He was immediately overcome by some evil power. Thick darkness surrounded him, and he could not speak. Joseph thought he was going to be destroyed, but using all the energy he had, he asked God to deliver him from this unseen enemy. Just as Joseph was about to give up, he saw a pillar of light over his head, and he was released from the evil force that had held him. The light came down and rested on him, and Joseph saw two personages whose brightness and glory were beyond description. They were standing in the air above Joseph. (Joseph Smith—History 1:14-17) One called Joseph by name, pointed to the other, and said, "This is My Beloved Son. Hear Him!" (Joseph Smith—History 1:17). These personages were Heavenly Father and Jesus Christ.
Joseph asked Heavenly Father and Jesus which church was right and which he should join. Jesus told Joseph that he should not join any of the churches, because they were all wrong. (Joseph Smith—History 1:18-19) He said, "They draw near to me with their lips, but their hearts are far from me" (Joseph Smith—History 1:19).
Jesus again told Joseph not to join any of the churches. He also told him many other things during the vision. After the vision Joseph was lying on his back looking up into heaven. As the bright light left, he found he was too weak to walk. Joseph's strength gradually returned and he went home. (Joseph Smith—History 1:20)
In the spring of 18-20, when Joseph Smith was 14 years old, he went into the woods near his home to ask God which church to join. As Joseph knelt down and began to pray, he was overcome by an evil power that seemed about to destroy him. He used all his strength to ask God for help. Then Joseph saw a pillar of light over his head and was released from the evil power that held him. When the light rested upon Joseph, he saw two personages standing in the air above him. Heavenly Father spoke to Joseph, calling him by name, and introduced His Son, Jesus Christ. When Joseph asked which church to join, Jesus told him not to join any, for they were all wrong. Joseph was told many other things before the vision ended.
Artist, Del Parson
Moroni Appears to Joseph Smith in His Room (Joseph Smith—History 1:27-47)
He called me by name, and said unto me that he was a messenger sent from the presence of God to me, and that his name was Moroni. (Joseph Smith—History 1:33)
After Joseph Smith received his First Vision, he told several people about it. Instead of believing him, most people made fun of him. Still, Joseph knew that he had been called of God. He was a fun-loving boy, however, and sometimes not very serious, so he felt he needed forgiveness. (Joseph Smith—History 1:27-28)
On the night of 21 September 18-23, 17-year-old Joseph went to his bedroom and began to pray for forgiveness (Joseph Smith—History 1:29). As he prayed, a light appeared in his room, and "a personage appeared at [Joseph's] bedside, standing in the air" (Joseph Smith—History 1:30). This personage had on a very white, loose robe (Joseph Smith—History 1:31).
The messenger introduced himself as Moroni. He said God had sent him to tell Joseph of the work God had for him to do. (Joseph Smith—History 1:33)
Moroni told Joseph about a book written on gold plates. This book was about people who had lived on the American continent many years before. Jesus visited these people after He was resurrected and taught them the gospel. Moroni also told Joseph about something called a Urim and Thummim. The Urim and Thummim was with the gold plates, and Joseph was to use it to translate the plates. (Joseph Smith—History 1:34-35)
Moroni quoted Old Testament prophecies about events that would happen. He also quoted from the New Testament. (Joseph Smith—History 1:36-41)
Moroni told Joseph that when he got the plates, he should show them only to those God chose to see them. While Moroni was speaking, Joseph saw in a vision the place where the gold plates were buried. (Joseph Smith—History 1:42) When Moroni finished speaking, he rose toward heaven until he disappeared (Joseph Smith—History 1:43).
As Joseph thought about the things he had just seen and heard, Moroni returned and told Joseph the same things he had told him before. Then Moroni told Joseph of many problems that would come to the earth in the future. When Moroni finished, he went up into heaven again. (Joseph Smith—History 1:44-45)
Joseph was so overwhelmed he could not sleep. Then, to his surprise, Moroni came a third time. Again Moroni repeated what he had told Joseph. He also warned Joseph that Satan would tempt him to use the gold plates to become rich, but that they should only be used to build God's kingdom. (Joseph Smith—History 1:46)
Again Moroni left. As Joseph pondered his unusual experience, he heard a rooster crow. Moroni's visits had taken the entire night. (Joseph Smith—History 1:47)
On the night of 21 September 18-23, 17-year-old Joseph Smith was praying. An angel named Moroni appeared. Moroni told Joseph that God had a work for him and described a book written on gold plates. This book was a record of ancient people who had lived on the American continent, and it contained the fulness of the gospel. Joseph was to translate this record. Moroni quoted some verses from the Bible and gave Joseph instructions. Moroni appeared to Joseph two more times that night, repeating the same message.
Artist, Tom Lovell
Emma Smith (D&C 25)
Hearken unto the voice of the Lord your God, while I speak unto you, Emma Smith, my daughter. (D&C 25:1)
Emma Hale Smith was the wife of Joseph Smith, prophet of the Restoration. She was born 10 July 18-04 to Isaac and Elizabeth Lewis Hale, who were the first permanent settlers in Harmony, Pennsylvania. Emma met Joseph when he boarded at her father's inn while working near Harmony. They were married 18 January 18-27. That fall Joseph received the gold plates and began to translate them as directed by the Lord. Emma served as a scribe during the early part of the translation of the Book of Mormon.
Emma Smith received several significant blessings from the Lord. Section 25 of the Doctrine and Covenants is addressed directly to Emma, and in verse 3 the Lord tells her, "Behold, thy sins are forgiven thee, and thou art an elect lady, whom I have called." The Lord told Emma in her patriarchal blessing that she was blessed because of her faithfulness and truth and that she also would be blessed with her husband. (See Gracia N. Jones, "My Great-Great-Grandmother Emma Hale Smith," Ensign, Aug. 19-92, 32.)
Emma and Joseph had 11 children, two of whom were adopted. Six of these little ones died at birth, in infancy, or early childhood. Emma had much of the responsibility of providing for their children during Joseph's long absences due to imprisonment or duties as the prophet of the Church.
Emma's contributions to the Church, in addition to being an early scribe for the translation of the Book of Mormon, were numerous. In 18-30 she was instructed by the Lord to compile a book of hymns for the Church (D&C 25:11), a task she completed five years later. When the Relief Society was organized in Nauvoo in 18-42, Emma was the first general president. She continually cared for many ill and homeless Saints in addition to her children and Joseph's extended family.
After Joseph's death on 27 June 18-44, the Saints knew they would have to leave Nauvoo, so they began to make plans. In 18-46 they headed west. Emma, a 41-year-old widow with her aged mother-in-law and five children to care for, chose the security of her home in Nauvoo rather than the unknown perils of the frontier and did not accompany the Saints.
A few months before she died, Emma bore her testimony to her sons. She told them she participated in the events of the Restoration, including "the translation of the plates." She had no doubt that the Book of Mormon was "of divine authenticity" and said also that the translation of the Book of Mormon was "a marvel and a wonder" to her. She stated that she knew the gospel was true and that the Church had been established by divine direction. (See Jones, "Emma Hale Smith," Ensign, Aug. 19-92, 36.)
Emma Hale Smith was the wife of the Prophet Joseph Smith. She contributed greatly to the work of the restoration of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. She was a scribe for Joseph during the early days of translating the Book of Mormon, she compiled the first book of hymns for the Church, and she was chosen as the first president of the Relief Society when it was organized in 18-42. She helped Joseph in his work whenever she could, she cared for their children, and she cared for others who were sick and poor. After Joseph was martyred, Emma chose not to travel with the pioneers to the Salt Lake Valley but remained in Nauvoo, where she continued to care for her aged mother-in-law and her five children.
Artist, Lee Greene Richards
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