[Transcriber's note: Minor typos in text corrected and footnotes moved to end of text.]
A Young Folks' History
CHURCH OF JESUS CHRIST OF LATTER-DAY SAINTS
By NEPHI ANDERSON
"We have heard with our ears, O God, our fathers have told us, what Work thou didst in their days, in the time of old"—Psalm xliv:1.
Published by the DESERET SUNDAY SCHOOL UNION Salt Lake City. Utah 1916
_Copyright, 1889, By Nephi Anderson
Copyright, 1916, By Joseph F. Smith, For the Deseret Sunday School Union_.
To Parents and Teachers.
Studying the history of our country creates patriotism and engenders loyalty. For the same reason, a study of the history of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints will implant in our boys and girls a love for its heroes, a loyalty to its principles, and an appreciation of its achievements. By a knowledge of the history of the Church, our young people will prize more highly that heritage given them of God and preserved for them by the sweat and blood of their fathers.
The teacher using this little book will understand that it is not exhaustive, but rather suggestive. The teacher should be in possession of much more history than is given here. He should fill in much of the undercurrent of heroism, faith, and devotion exhibited by the characters of the history, very little of which can be given in the text. The importance of this larger knowledge on the part of the teacher will be understood by an examination of the review and questions at the end of each chapter. The aim in these questions is not only to review the facts of the lesson, but by suggestions and reference to bring out more fully deductions and principles.
It is believed that by combining the topical and the question methods the best results may be obtained. The topics are to be assigned certain pupils for treatment. Questions should not be limited to those in the book. The teacher should find many more to ask.
Special attention is called to the maps. Have pupils locate each important place. Quite a number of dates are found in the text. It is not intended that the pupils should memorize them all. Most of them should be used merely in fixing the relative time between events. It is suggested that the pupils be encouraged to refer to the Church works and other books mentioned in the text.
For further preparation the teacher is referred to "The History of the Church," "Cannon's Life of Joseph Smith," "Whitney's History of Utah." The "Faith Promoting Series," Evan's "Hundred Years of Mormonism," etc., will give much interesting and valuable information.
To Parents and Teachers
CHAPTER I. A Parable
CHAPTER II. The First Vision
CHAPTER III. The Angel Moroni
CHAPTER IV. The Sacred Plates
CHAPTER V. The Book of Mormon
CHAPTER VI. The Three Witnesses
CHAPTER VII. The Priesthood Restored
CHAPTER VIII. Organization of the Church
CHAPTER IX. Persecution of Joseph
CHAPTER X. The Mission to the Indians
CHAPTER XI. Removal to Ohio
CHAPTER XII. The Land of Zion
CHAPTER XIII. Persecution in Jackson County
CHAPTER XIV. Expulsion from Jackson County
CHAPTER XV. Zion's Camp
CHAPTER XVI. The Church at Kirtland
CHAPTER XVII. The Twelve Apostles—The Seventies—Kirtland Temple
CHAPTER XVIII. The Mission to England
CHAPTER XIX. Far West
CHAPTER XX. Haun's Mill Massacre
CHAPTER XXI. Driven from Missouri
CHAPTER XXII. In Missouri Prisons
CHAPTER XXIII. Nauvoo
CHAPTER XXIV. The Martyrdom
CHAPTER XXV. Expulsion from Illinois
CHAPTER XXVI. The Battle of Nauvoo
CHAPTER XXVII. Westward
CHAPTER XXVIII. The Mormon Battalion
CHAPTER XXIX. The Pioneers
CHAPTER XXX. Great Salt Lake City
CHAPTER XXXI. Growth of Utah and the Church
CHAPTER XXXII. The "Utah War"
CHAPTER XXXIII. The "Utah War" (Concluded)
CHAPTER XXXIV. Prosperity
CHAPTER XXXV. The "Crusade"
CHAPTER XXXVI. The Presidency of Wilford Woodruff
CHAPTER XXXVII. Temple Building
CHAPTER XXXVIII. The Presidency of Lorenzo Snow
CHAPTER XXXIX. The Presidency of Joseph F. Smith
First Presidencies of the Church List of Twelve Apostles
MAPS. Fayette and Kirtland Missouri and Illinois Routes of Mormon Battalion and Pioneers
ILLUSTRATIONS. Joseph Smith, the Prophet Hyrum Smith the Patriarch Brigham Young The Hill Cumorah The Three Witnesses Sidney Rigdon President Brigham Young The Kirtland Temple President Heber C. Kimball Haun's Mill The Nauvoo House The Nauvoo Mansion Carthage Jail A Pioneer Train Salt Lake Valley in 1847 The Old Fort Salt Lake Tabernacle (Interior) Salt Lake Tabernacle (Exterior) President John Taylor President Wilford Woodruff The Pioneer Monument Salt Lake Temple and Grounds President Lorenzo Snow The First Presidency, 1916 Joseph Smith Monument and Memorial Cottage Church Office Building
A YOUNG FOLKS' HISTORY
OF THE CHURCH OF JESUS CHRIST OF LATTER-DAY SAINTS.
Once upon a time the owner of a very large garden planted therein a tree, the fruit of which was very precious and of great value to all who ate of it. For a time, the tree grew and bore much good fruit. But the owner of the garden had an enemy who went about secretly sowing seeds of weeds and all manner of briers and brush, that they might spread all over the garden and kill out the good tree which the master had planted. The enemy also persuaded many of the workmen in the garden to neglect the good tree, and let the briers and weeds grow up around it and so prevent its growth. Thus in time the once precious fruit of the good tree became wild and scrubby, no better than the enemy's trees which grew around it.
Years passed, and the master, grieving that the precious fruit should have become so worthless, determined to plant the good tree once more in the garden. He did not try to clear away a spot for it amid the old, overgrown parts of the land, but he called upon certain workers to go to a distant part of the garden where nothing had been planted for a long time, and there prepare the ground for the planting of the tree.
These workers were faithful to their master and did as they were told. Very few of the enemy's noxious weeds were growing in the new soil, so it was not such hard work to clear the ground and prepare a place for the master to plant his tree.
To be better protected against the enemy, the master told his workmen to build a high, strong wall about that part of the garden. This was all done; and then one beautiful spring day the owner came with his servants. They had with them the precious tree taken from some other garden where it had grown without hindrance from weeds. The tree was planted and put in charge of other servants to tend it. The warm sun shone on it, the rains came from heaven to water it, and the tree took firm root and grew.
Now all the boys and girls who read this book will understand that the little story I have just told is what is called a Parable, meant to make plainer some facts and truths. I can not tell you all about that tree here, how it grew and bore fruit, and how many people came and ate of its delicious fruit, notwithstanding the enemy came again and tried to check its growth. I say, I cannot tell it to you in the form of a parable, but will tell it as it actually happened. You may, if you like, imagine in your own minds the rest of the parable, but the real story you will find more interesting than any made-up tale can be.
First, let me explain to you the meaning of the parable.
The garden means the earth, and the owner is the Lord, who came to the earth about nineteen hundred years ago to die for the sins of the world. He also planted the good tree, that is, He brought the gospel and taught it to his followers. The enemy is the evil one, the devil, who stirred up men to work against the gospel and to kill those who obeyed it. He also mixed his lies with Christ's truths, until in time the pure gospel was not to be found on the earth.
This was the condition of the world for hundreds of years. Then the Lord wished to restore the true gospel and again establish his Church on the earth. He therefore chose a place where all would have the right to believe the truth and be protected in that liberty. The Lord, therefore, moved upon Columbus to discover this land of America.
The servants spoken of, whom the Lord sent to prepare the land for the planting, were all those great and good men whom you have read about in your American history: Washington, Jefferson, Franklin, and many others. You will remember how these men loved right and liberty, and how they worked so hard for it; and in reading the history of these men we can plainly see that the Lord was with them and helped them. These men built the high wall, which means that they made just laws that would protect the people and let them worship God in any way they thought right.
Thus was the way prepared for the gospel to be restored again to the earth; and the Lord himself came from heaven, also his servants Moroni, Peter, James, and John to bring the glad tidings to all who live on the earth.
Then the Lord called some more servants to preach the gospel to the world and build up his Church. The first and greatest of these servants is known by the name of Joseph Smith, the Prophet. How the Lord called him to this great work and delivered to him the gospel will be told you in the next chapter.
Topics.—1. The Parable. 2. Explanation.
Questions and Review.—1. Name some of Christ's first disciples. 2: Tell how some of them were killed. 3. How long was the world without the gospel? 4. Tell how Columbus discovered America. 5. Who were the Pilgrims? 6. What was the Revolutionary war about? 7. What is the Constitution of the United States? 8. Find out what it says about religious liberty. 9. Why is America the "Land of liberty?"
THE FIRST VISION.
At the time when Thomas Jefferson was president of the United States, there was born among the Green Mountains of Vermont a boy who was to become the great prophet of the last days. The hills and valleys of Vermont look beautiful in the summer, but at the time here spoken of they were no doubt covered with snow, for it was the 23rd of December, 1805, in the town of Sharon, Windsor county, that Joseph Smith first saw the light of the world.
Joseph was named after his father, whose name was Joseph. His mother's maiden name was Lucy Mack. Joseph had five brothers and three sisters whose names were Alvin, Hyrum, (then Joseph), Samuel, William, Don Carlos, Sophronia, Catherine and Lucy; so you see that there was a large family for the father and mother to take care of. Joseph's parents were poor and had to work hard for a living, so when the boys were old enough they had to help on the farm; this they willingly, did. For this reason Joseph did not go to school much, but he learned to read, to write fairly well, and to work some examples in arithmetic. Though Joseph did not get much of an education at school, yet he was a great student; and then God became his teacher, so that before he died, as you will see, he became one of the most learned men in the world.
When Joseph was ten years old they all moved from Vermont to Palmyra, in the western part of the state of New York. Four years later they moved again to the small town of Manchester, in Ontario, now Wayne County, New York.
While the family was living at Manchester there arose a great religious excitement all through the country. The different religious sects held many meetings and tried to get people to join them. Joseph was now in his fifteenth year and he also became interested, as his parents had always taught him to believe in God and the Bible. Joseph thought he would like to join the true church of Christ, but what troubled him was to know which of all these sects was the true church. He could see that all of them could not be true, as God surely would not have a great many churches, one striving against the other; also, no doubt, he had read in the Bible that there was but "one Lord, one faith, one baptism," etc., which the Lord accepted. Joseph went first to one meeting, then to another. His mother and some of his brothers and sisters had joined the Presbyterians, but Joseph could not make up his mind what to do.
But there is a way by which anyone may find out which is the true church and therefore which to join, and every boy and girl that reads this book should remember it. It is this: Ask God. Joseph did not know this until one day while reading in his Testament he came to the fifth verse in the first chapter of James, which reads as follows:
"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."
This was just the thing. God had surely led him to read that verse. Joseph certainly lacked wisdom, and here was a way to find out what he wanted to know about the sects. The Lord would tell him. All he had to do was to ask. How simple it was!
On a beautiful morning in the spring of the year 1820, Joseph decided to ask the Lord for wisdom. He went out into a grove near his father's house, and after looking around to make sure that he was alone, he kneeled down on the grass under the trees and began to pray. No sooner had he begun than some awful power which he could not see took hold of him and made it nearly impossible for him to speak. It soon became dark around the boy, and Joseph thought the unseen power would kill him; but he struggled hard and tried to pray to God for help.
Just at that moment Joseph saw a great light coming down from above, and then the evil power left him. The light was brighter than the sun, and as it came down and touched the tops of the trees, Joseph wondered why it did not burn them. Then it shone all around him, and in the light, standing in the air above him, he saw two persons who looked like men, only they were shining with a glory that can not be described. One of them, pointing to the other, said to the boy:
"Joseph, this is my Beloved Son; hear him."
Joseph then asked which of all the religions was right, and great was his surprise when he was told that none was right; that they all had gone astray from the truth; and that he must join none of them. Joseph was told many other things, among which was that some day the true gospel would be made known to him. Then they left him alone in the woods.
What a wonderful thing! God the Father and his Son Jesus Christ had actually come to Joseph. He had seen them and they had spoken to him. That same Jesus of whom he had read in his Bible had come from heaven and his Father had come with him to introduce him to the boy praying in the woods!
This was the first vision and the beginning of the gospel in our day; and by thinking carefully about this vision, we may see that it teaches us many things. First, that God has a body like unto man's. Second, that the Father and the Son are two persons, not one, as many in the world believe. Third, that the many religions which man has made are not accepted by God. Fourth, that God has not ceased to give revelations to men on the earth.
Topics.—1. Joseph's Boyhood. 2. The Vision. 3. What may be learned from the vision.
Questions and Review.—1. When and where was Joseph Smith born? 2. To what places did Joseph move? 3. What led Joseph to ask God for wisdom? 4. Repeat James I:5. 5. Why can not all the sects in the world be right? 6. Did the Father and the Son come to Joseph solely because of this prayer? 7. Why did the evil one try to destroy Joseph? 8. What may we learn from this vision?
THE ANGEL MORONI.
When Joseph told of his vision to some of his friends he was surprised to find that they did not believe him, but made fun of what he said. The strangest thing to the boy was that the preachers of religion, instead of being glad at such glorious news, told him it was from the devil, and that God did not give any more revelations from heaven. All such things had ceased with the apostles of old, they said. Another strange thing was that these preachers began to tell untruths about him, and seemed to hate him for what he told. Still Joseph would not deny his story. "I have actually seen a vision," he said again and again. "I know it, and I know that God knows it, and I dare not deny it."
So three years went by.
On the evening of September 21, 1823, after Joseph had retired to his room, he prayed earnestly that the Lord would forgive him his sins and show him if he was yet accepted of him. While he was yet praying a very bright light came into the room, and immediately a person stood in the air by his bedside. As this person was an angel—a being who had died and had been resurrected with an immortal body—it is interesting to know how he looked.
Joseph describes him as a man having on a robe whiter than anything he had ever seen. His hands were naked, and his arms also, a little above the wrists. His feet were also bare a little above the ankles. His head and neck were also bare. Not only was his robe very white but his whole person shone with great glory. The room was very light, but not so bright as close around the angel's person.
The angel called Joseph by name, and said that he was a messenger sent from God to him, and that his name was Moroni. He told Joseph that God had a work for him to do, and because of this work, good and evil would be spoken about his name in all nations. The angel then told him of a record written on gold plates which were hidden in a hill not far away. This record was a history of the peoples who had lived on this continent, of whom the Indians were a part. With the plates was an instrument called the Urim and Thummim, which God had prepared for the translating of the records. After a time these things would be given to Joseph, but he must take great care of them and show them to no one except those to whom the Lord would direct. Then Moroni showed Joseph, by a vision, the place, where the plates were hidden.
After giving much other instruction, the light in the room began to gather in towards the person of the angel, leaving the room again in darkness, except just around the heavenly visitor, who soon disappeared in a shining path into heaven.
Three times that same night Moroni visited Joseph and told him nearly the same things over again. About the plates Joseph was further told that he would be tempted to get them for the purpose of getting rich, as the plates were of great value; but he must not yield to that spirit as they were sacred, and he must have no other purpose in view than to do the will of God and build up his kingdom; otherwise he would not get them. At the close of the third visit it was morning, and then Joseph knew that he had been talking with the angel nearly all the night.
That morning Joseph went as usual with his father to work in the field, but he was so weak that he could do but little. His father, seeing this, told him to go home.
On the way, as he was climbing over a fence, Joseph fell helpless to the ground. After that the first thing he knew was that some one was calling him by name. Looking up he again saw the angel Moroni, who once more told him all that he had related the night before. He then told Joseph to go back to the field and tell his father of the vision and the commandments which he had received.
Joseph obeyed at once, and went back and told all he had seen and heard. His father believed all he said, and told Joseph to obey the angel, as the teachings and commandments were surely from the Lord.
Topics.—1. Beginning of persecution. 2. Visit of the angel Moroni. 3. What Moroni told Joseph.
Questions and Review.—1. What did people say of Joseph's first vision? 2. Why did people persecute a young boy like Joseph? 3. Name the date of Moroni's visit. 4. What is an angel? (See Doc. and Cov. Sec. 129, also Key to Theology, Chap. 12.) 5. Describe the Angel Moroni. 6. Why did the angel repeat so often his instructions to Joseph? 7. How old was Joseph at this time?
THE SACRED PLATES.
About two miles south of Joseph's home, in Manchester, is a large hill, the highest in that part of the country. To this place Joseph went on the morning after the angel's visit, as this was the spot he had seen in his vision. On the west side of this hill, not far from the top, Joseph found a large, rounded stone, nearly covered with earth. Prying this up, he found it to be the lid of a stone box which was buried in the earth. Raising the lid, he looked in, and there indeed were the sacred treasures about which the angel had told him. As he stood looking at them in wonder, the angel Moroni came to his side, and Joseph was taught many things about the future. He was shown in a vision the glory of the good and the darkness of the evil.
Joseph was about to take the plates from the box, when the angel forbade him, telling him the time had not yet arrived, but that he should come to the hill in one year from that date when the angel would meet him. This he must do for four years, at the end of which time, if Joseph was faithful, the plates would be given to him to translate and publish to the world.
True to the angel's instructions, Joseph went to the hill Cumorah on the 22nd day of September of each year, at which time Moroni appeared to him and gave him many teachings about the word of God.
During all this time Joseph had to labor hard on the farm, sometimes hiring out to work for others. In October, 1825, he worked for a man by the name of Josiah Stoal, who took Joseph to the State of Pennsylvania, and set him with other men, digging for a silver mine which he thought he could find. After working at it for some time, Joseph persuaded his employer to give it up. It was from this incident that Joseph's enemies sometimes called him a "money digger."
While working for Mr. Stoal, Joseph boarded for some time with the family of Isaac Hale. Here he met Emma Hale who became his wife, they being married in the year 1827.
The four years were now passed. On the 22nd of September, 1827, Joseph went on his fifth visit to the sacred hill, and on that day the angel Moroni delivered to him the plates and the Urim and Thummim. He was told to take good care of them as evil men would try to take them from him; but if he, Joseph, would do all he could to preserve them, the Lord would come to his assistance when it would be needed.
The records which Joseph received consisted of a great many gold plates nearly as thick as common tin. They were about seven by eight inches in size, and were bound together by three rings running through holes, in the edges of the plates. This made the plates like a book, so that they might be turned as the leaves of a book are turned. On each side of every plate were engraved beautiful letters, in a language which Joseph could not read. The book was about six inches thick. A part of it was sealed, and Joseph was told not to open it, as the time had not yet come for that part to be made known to the world.
The Urim and Thummim consisted of two transparent stones, clear as crystal, set in two rims of a bow. It was used in ancient times by the seers, and through it they received revelations of things past and future. You may read about this instrument in the Bible, in Exodus, 28: 30; and Ezra 2: 63.
As soon as it was known that Joseph had the plates, many evil-minded persons tried to get them from him, and he had to hide them in different places to keep them safe. Mobs began to surround his house, men tried to catch him on the roads or in the fields, and he was even shot at a number of times. Joseph now saw how timely the angel's warning was.
Living thus in constant fear, Joseph could not do anything towards translating the records; so he moved, with his wife, to her old home in Pennsylvania. While on the way an officer overtook him and searched his wagon for the plates, but could not find them. They were there, however, safely hidden in a barrel of beans.
Arriving in Harmony, where his father-in-law lived, Joseph began to translate some of the writings on the plates. As Joseph was a slow writer he did not make much progress, and so he asked the Lord to send someone to help him. In answer to this request a man by the name of Martin Harris came to him from Palmyra, New York. Now the work went better. Martin wrote while Joseph translated.
They had translated one hundred and sixteen written pages, when Martin asked Joseph to let him take the writings and show them to some of his friends. Joseph asked the Lord about it, and the answer was that he must not; but Martin kept on teasing Joseph till at last the Lord permitted him to show them to certain persons. But Martin showed them to others, and the writings were lost. The Lord was displeased at this, and told Joseph not to translate the same over again, but to write from another part of the plates which told about the same events. However, the Urim and Thummim was taken from Joseph for a short time, and when he received it again, his wife Emma wrote a little for him.
Now the Lord sent another helper to Joseph. He was a young school teacher, named Oliver Cowdery, and these two men worked hard at the translation. You will remember that Joseph was poor, and it seemed they would have to stop translating and find other work whereby to earn means to live. They were now also again annoyed by evil men and mobs.
In the midst of this trouble the Lord sent aid again. A man named Joseph Knight came to them with provisions, and soon after Joseph was visited by a young man named David Whitmer, who came to invite them to his father's house in Fayette, Seneca county, New York. This invitation was gladly accepted, and Joseph and Oliver went back with him.
At the Whitmers' they lived and labored in peace until the work was completed. David, John, and Peter, sons of Peter Whitmer, Sen., helped all they could, and soon the book was ready to be printed. Martin Harris also helped Joseph in getting out the work. The first edition of five thousand copies was printed in Palmyra, in 1830. Since then the book has been printed in many languages and read by many thousands of people. It is called THE BOOK OF MORMON. The next chapter will tell you why it is so called, and a little of what it contains.
Topics.—1. Joseph's visits to Cumorah. 2. Joseph in Pennsylvania. 3. Description of the plates and Urim and Thummim. 4. The translation.
Questions and Review.—1. Where is the hill Cumorah? 2. What did Joseph find there? 3. Why did not Joseph carry away the plates the first time? 4. How many visits did he make to Cumorah? 5. Where did Joseph go to work? 6. Whom did he marry? 7. When did Joseph get the plates? 8. Describe the plates. 9. What was the Urim and Thummim? 10. Who first helped Joseph to translate? 11. Who was Oliver Cowdery? 12. What help did the Whitmers give Joseph? 13. When was the Book of Mormon published?
THE BOOK OF MORMON.
You will all be interested in knowing what was written on the plates which the prophet Joseph Smith received from the angel Moroni, so in this chapter I will tell you very briefly. Some time you will want to read the whole book, which of course is the better way.
You have read in your histories and geographies that ruins of great cities have been found in many places in America, showing that at one time there were people here more civilized than the Indians. The writings on these plates told the history of these peoples.
Six hundred years before Christ was born, there lived in the city of Jerusalem a prophet by the name of Lehi. He had at that time four sons, Laman, Lemuel, Sam, and Nephi. The Lord told Lehi that because of the wickedness of the city, it would soon be destroyed, and if he wished to be saved he must take his family and travel into the wilderness. This Lehi did. They went south-eastward until they got to the sea where they built a ship in which to cross to a promised land. While camping in the wilderness Lehi sent his sons back to Jerusalem to get some records of their forefathers, and it was through the faithfulness of Nephi that this was done.
After many days of sailing, they at last landed on the west coast of South America in what is now called Chili.
The two older boys, Laman and Lemuel were often disobedient to their father, and many times they brought trouble to the little company. They also treated their younger brother, Nephi, badly because he would not agree with them but tried to do as his father told him.
When Lehi died, Nephi was chosen their leader, but soon Laman and Lemuel became dissatisfied and again began making trouble. The Lord then told Nephi to take all who would listen to him and leave the other brothers and those who upheld them in their evil deeds.
In this way there became two peoples in the land. Those who went with Nephi were called Nephites, and those who remained with Laman became Lamanites. The Nephites built houses, planted fields, and lived as civilized people, and the Lord often revealed his will to them through prophets and holy men. The Lamanites became lazy, lived in tents in the forests, and killed wild animals for their food. Their skins also became dark.
The greater part of the Book of Mormon is about these two peoples, their wars with each other, etc. The Nephites ought to have remained a good people, because the Lord blessed them so much: yet they often did wrong. The Lord would prosper them until they became rich; then they would become proud and at last wicked. Then the Lord would allow the Lamanites to come upon them, and there would be bloody wars. So the story goes for hundreds of years.
Both nations became very large and occupied the greater part of North and South America.
At times the Lord would raise up prophets who would preach to the wicked. Usually these teachers were Nephites, but sometimes they were Lamanites. Sometimes great numbers of Lamanites were converted to the Lord, and when they once accepted the truth, they did not fall away so easily as their Nephite brethren. At one time two thousand young men whose parents were converted Lamanites did valiant service for their country and their religion. There isn't room to tell you about the story here; but you may read about it in the Book of Mormon, beginning with the 53rd chapter of Alma.
When Nephi separated from his brethren, he went north and settled in a place they called the Land of Nephi; but after a time the Lamanites again annoyed them so much that the Lord told Mosiah, who was their leader then to take the more faithful part of the people and again go northward. This they did, and found a city called Zarahemla which had been built by a people who had also come from Jerusalem at the time that city was destroyed. The Nephites joined with the people of Zarahemla, and for a long time this city was the capital of the Nephite people.
In time the Lamanites occupied all of South America except a small part in the north, on which the Nephites lived. The Nephites' land also extended far up into North America.
A little over six hundred years after Lehi landed on this continent, Jesus appeared unto some of the righteous. Before this, however, there had been a great storm all over the land, and many of the wicked had been destroyed. Jesus had been crucified at Jerusalem, had risen from the dead, and now he came to the Nephites with his resurrected body. He taught them the same gospel that he had taught in Palestine and chose twelve disciples to preach and build up his church. For nearly two hundred years the people all belonged to the Church of Christ, and peace was over all the land. Then they became wicked again. The Lamanites kept driving the Nephites further north, until they reached what is now the United States. Around a hill in the western part of the State of New York, then called Cumorah, what was left of the Nephites gathered for the last struggle. The Lamanites met them, and there was a great battle in which all but a very few of the Nephites were killed. Thus ended the Nephite nation, not quite four hundred years after Christ, and the Lamanites or Indians have lived here ever since.
During all this time the Lord had some good men keep a record of what happened among the people. In those days they did not write on paper, so these histories were recorded on plates of metal. These plates were handed from one man to another, until about the time of the last great battle, a prophet by the name of Mormon had all the records. He wrote a short account from them called an abridgment. What he took from each man's record he called after the writer's name, as the Book of Alma, Book of Helaman, etc., which we might call names of chapters in Mormon's book. Mormon gave all his writings to his son Moroni, who wrote a little more on the plates. Moroni also made a short account of another people who had lived in America before the Nephites. They were called the Jaredites. Their history is told in the Book of Ether.
After Moroni had seen his people destroyed he hid all the records in the hill Cumorah.
Topics.—1. What history and geography prove regarding the Book of Mormon. 2. The Lamanites. 3. The Nephites. 4. Mormon. 5. Moroni.
Questions and Review.—1. Who was Lehi? 2. Name his sons. (Jacob and Joseph were born after he left Jerusalem.) 3. Tell about Laman and Lemuel. 4. What kind of boy was Nephi? 5. Why did they leave Jerusalem? 6. Why did Lehi want the records of his forefathers? 7. Who were the Lamanites? 8. Describe them. 9. Tell about the Nephites. 10. In what land did these people live? 11. Why were the Nephites destroyed? 12. What is the Book of Mormon? 13. Who wrote it? 14. Who had charge of the plates? 15. Where were they hidden? 16. Who translated them into the English language?
THE THREE WITNESSES.
All who read this book ought to turn to one of the first pages of the Book of Moromon and read a paragraph signed by three men whose names are Oliver Cowdery, David Whitmer, and Martin Harris. You will notice in that paragraph that these men bear a most solemn witness that the book is true; that an angel of God came to them with the plates and laid them before their eyes; and that they were translated by the gift and power of God.
The three names signed to this testimony are so important that I wish to tell you something about these men. You have learned a little about them already, but here is a good place to tell you something more about their lives.
Martin Harris was a farmer who became acquainted with Joseph about the time he received the plates. You will remember that Martin visited Joseph in Pennsylvania and did some writing for him. Martin Harris was the man who took some of the writings copied from the plates, with their translation, to the city of New York, and showed them to a learned man named Professor Anthon. The professor seemed pleased with what was shown him, and gave Martin a certificate that the writings were true characters. He also offered to assist in translating the plates, but when Martin told him that an angel had given Joseph the plates, and that part of the book was sealed, he took back the certificate and tore it up, saying "I can not read a sealed book."
If you wish to read something in the Bible that will remind you of this incident you may find it in Isaiah, 29th chapter, beginning at the 10th verse.
Oliver Cowdery became acquainted with Joseph's family, while he boarded with them one winter when he was teaching school. Hearing of Joseph in Pennsylvania and the work he was there doing, Oliver prayed to the Lord for light regarding the matter. Receiving a testimony that it was true, Oliver went to visit Joseph, and there, as we have seen, he wrote for him.
David Whitmer was a friend of Oliver's, and the latter told David many things regarding Joseph. While he was in Pennsylvania, Oliver wrote to David telling him to come down and see them. David came, found everything as had been told him, and took the two young men back to his father's home.
While translating the plates, Joseph came to the passage where it says that there should be three witnesses to these things. (Book of Mormon, II Nephi 11:3; also 27:12.) On learning this Oliver, David, and Martin asked Joseph to enquire of the Lord if they might be these witnesses. Joseph did so, and their request was granted. They, with Joseph then went out into the woods and prayed so earnestly that an angel came and showed them the sacred treasure exactly as they have testified.
For some years these three men continued to take a prominent part in the affairs of the Church as you will see in future chapters.
In April, 1838, Oliver Cowdery was cut off from the Church for a number of things that a Latter-day Saint should not do. He became a lawyer, and went to Michigan. For ten years he remained away from the Church; but during all that time he never once denied his testimony that the Book of Mormon is true. Often men tried to have him deny it, but he stood firm to that truth.
At a meeting held in Kanesville, Iowa, October 21, 1848, Oliver Cowdery spoke and bore a strong testimony to the truth of the Book of Mormon and the work of God. Shortly after he asked to be baptized into the Church again. He did not ask for position or honor, he wanted simply to be a member of the Church. His wish was granted and he was baptized.
While on his way to Utah, Oliver stopped at Richmond, Missouri, to visit his friends, the Whitmers. While here he died. David Whitmer said of the event:
"Oliver died the happiest man I ever saw. After shaking hands with the family, and kissing his wife and daughter, he said, 'Now I lay me down for the last time; I am going to my Savior;' and he died immediately with a smile on his face."
Martin Harris also left the Church. He was rejected at Kirtland, in 1837, and remained away from the Church for over thirty years; but all this time he testified to the truth of the Book of Mormon. In 1870, through the labors of Elder Edward Stevenson, Martin Harris came to Utah and was again baptized into the Church of Christ. For five years he continued to tell of the truth of the work of God in the meetings of the Saints in Utah. He died July 10th, 1875, at Clarkston, Cache county, Utah. On the afternoon of his death, he sat propped up in his bed with a Book of Mormon in his hand bearing his testimony to its truth to those around him.
David Whitmer, after being with the Saints until 1838, apostatized in Missouri. He moved to Richmond, Ray county, and lived there to the day of his death, January 25, 1888. He never rejoined the Church; but he always bore a strong testimony that the Book of Mormon is true. On his death bed he said to those around him:
"I want to say to you all that the Bible and the record of the Nephites (Book of Mormon) are true, so that you can say that you heard me bear my testimony on my death-bed. God bless you all. My trust is in Christ forever, worlds without end. Amen."
The world can not deny these three men's testimony. Though they left the Church and in their darkness they opposed the prophet of the Lord, yet never did they deny what the angel had shown them. On the same page that the testimony of the three witnesses is recorded, you will also find the names of eight others who testify to having seen the plates from which the Book of Mormon was translated.
Topics.—1. The testimony of the three witnesses. 2. Martin Harris. 3. Oliver Cowdery. 4. David Whitmer. 5. The eight witnesses.
Questions and Review.—1. Where is the testimony of the three witnesses found? 2. What does that testimony say? 3. What other testimony is found in the Book of Mormon? 4. How did the three get their testimony? 5. Tell of Martin Harris. 6. Of Oliver Cowdery. 7. Of David Whitmer. 8. Name some things that make their testimony strong. 9. Name the eight witnesses.
THE PRIESTHOOD RESTORED.
When Joseph and Oliver were engaged in translating the Book of Mormon they came to a passage which told of baptism in water for the remission of sins. This was not quite plain to them. They knew, of course, something of the many kinds of baptism practiced by the various sects of the day, but if the religions on the earth at that time were not accepted of the Lord as Joseph had been told, none of the ministers would have a right to baptize; besides, the passage in the Book of Mormon said that baptism was for the remission of sins. The preachers did not teach it this way, though they could read that it was taught in the same manner by the apostles in Christ's time. (Acts 2:38.)
This right or authority to do things in the name of the Lord is called Priesthood. The apostles and prophets of old had it, but where were they to look for this power now?
So Joseph and Oliver on the 15th day of May, 1829, went into the woods to ask the Lord about it. Their prayer was answered by an angel who told them that his name was John, called John the Baptist, who had baptized Jesus in the river Jordan. He said he had come to restore a portion of the holy Priesthood, even that part which would give them power to baptize for the remission of sins, but not to lay on hands for the gift of the Holy Ghost. He promised them that if they were faithful this other power would be given them later.
The angel then laid his hands on their heads and ordained them to the Aaronic Priesthood. He told Joseph to baptize Oliver, after which Oliver was to baptize Joseph. Then Joseph was to ordain Oliver and Oliver to do the same to Joseph. All this they gladly did, and immediately they were filled with great joy.
Thus was the power to baptize for the remission of sins again given to the earth. Think what a great event it was! None in all the world had this power, save two unknown young men in the woods of Pennsylvania. Great things often have small beginnings. Now there are thousands who have this blessed power, and no doubt the elder that baptized each of you can trace his ordination which gave him the authority to do so back to Joseph or Oliver and from them to John the baptist.
Sometime in June, 1829, the promise which John made to the young men was fulfilled. The ancient apostles Peter, James, and John, who held the keys of this higher power came to Joseph and Oliver and ordained them to the Melchizedek Priesthood. This gave them the power to lay on hands for the gift of the Holy Ghost, and also to go forth and administer in the ordinances of the gospel.
Topics.—1. Priesthood. 2. Visit of John the Baptist. 3. Visit of Peter, James, and John.
Questions and Review.—1. What led Joseph and Oliver to ask the Lord about baptism? 2. What is baptism for? 3. How is it performed? 4. How did Joseph and Oliver get the authority to baptize? 5. Who was John the Baptist? 6. What is Priesthood? 7. Name the two grades of Priesthood. 8. Who baptized you? 9. How did he get the authority to baptize? 10. Who were Peter, James, and John? 11. What did they do? 12. Give the date of John's visit.
ORGANIZATION OF THE CHURCH.
By this time many people came to Joseph, some out of curiosity, some to be taught of the wonderful truths which he had received, and some, I am sorry to say, came to do him harm. As Joseph and Oliver now had power to baptize, a number of those who believed were baptized by them.
The time had now come to organize the Church and the Lord revealed to Joseph that it should be done on the 6th day of April, 1830. Accordingly on that day six men who had been baptized met at the house of Peter Whitmer, Sen., at Fayette, Seneca county, state of New York. Their names were Joseph Smith, Oliver Cowdery, Hyrum Smith, Peter Whitmer, Jr., Samuel H. Smith, and David Whitmer.
Joseph tells us what was done at this meeting as follows:
"Having opened the meeting by solemn prayer to our Heavenly Father, we proceeded to call on our brethren to know whether they accepted us as their teachers in the things of the kingdom of God and whether they were satisfied that we should proceed and be organized as a Church according to the commandments we had received. To this they all consented. I then laid my hands upon Oliver Cowdery and ordained him an elder of the Church of Jesus Christ; after which he ordained me also to the office of an elder of said Church. We then took bread, blessed it, and broke it with them; also wine, blessed it, and drank it with them. We then laid our hands on each member of the Church present, that they might receive the gift of the Holy Ghost and be confirmed members of the Church of Christ. The Holy Ghost was poured out upon us to a very great degree—some prophesied, whilst we all praised the Lord and rejoiced exceedingly."
Thus was the true Church of Christ again on the earth. During the hundreds of years when the world had lain in darkness, not a man could have been found who had the authority to confirm a member of the church; but now there was a beginning, a very small beginning it is true, but the promise is that it will grow and increase until it shall fill the whole earth.
The first public meeting after the Church was organized was held five days later at the same place. At this meeting Oliver Cowdery preached the first public discourse. He explained the principles of the gospel, and quite a number believed and were baptized.
Shortly after this time Joseph went to a town called Colesville, in Broome county, N.Y., not far from Pennsylvania to visit his friend Joseph Knight who had aided him when he was at work on the Book of Mormon. Joseph held a number of meetings in this place and made some friends. Among those who attended these meetings was Newel Knight, son of Joseph Knight. This young man had many talks with Joseph about the gospel, but still he kept putting off doing his duty in being baptized. Because of this the evil one got power over him and treated him so badly that the prophet was sent for. When Joseph arrived he found his friend Newel acting strangely. His face and body twisted in an awful manner and at last he was actually caught up from the floor and tossed about. Many of the neighbors now came in, but they could do nothing to help the suffering man.
When Joseph managed to get hold of Newel's hand, he became still and spoke to Joseph, asking him to cast the devil from him.
"If you know that I can, it shall be done," replied Joseph, whereupon he commanded the evil one in the name of Jesus Christ to depart. Newel became all right again at once, and was greatly blessed by the Spirit of God. The people present wondered greatly at what they had seen, and many of them afterwards joined the Church.
This was the first miracle performed in the Church. Jesus had said to his apostles in his day: "He that believeth and is baptized shall be saved. * * * And these signs shall follow them that believe: in my name shall they cast out devils," etc. Thus we see the same signs following the believer in our day the same as in the days of the first apostles.
On the first of June, 1830, the first conference, of the Church was held in Fayette. There were about thirty members present besides many others who came to hear. The Spirit of God was greatly enjoyed at this meeting. Many prophesied, while others had beautiful visions of the heavens opened to their eyes.
Topics.—1. Organization of the Church. 2. First meeting, sermon and conference. 3. First miracle.
Questions and Review.—1. When and where was the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints organized? 2. Name the first six members. 3. What was done at that meeting? 4. How many members are there in the Church today? 5. How did you become a member of the Church? 6. Describe the first miracle. 7. How was the evil one cast out in former days? (See Acts 16: 16, 18.) 8. What proof was given that Joseph and his brethren were true believers. (See Mark 16: 16, 17.) 9. When was the first conference of the Church held?
PERSECUTION OF JOSEPH.
By this time you will see that when the Lord set his hand to begin the great latter-day work, the evil one was also present, trying to hinder its progress. At the very beginning there were only Joseph and a few friends to work against, but now the Church was fast becoming established in the land, and if it were to be stopped some strong effort would have to be made. So the evil one inspired men to gather in large crowds or mobs to annoy and do harm to the members of the Church and their friends.
Shortly after the conference mentioned in the last chapter, Joseph and a number of other elders went to Colesville to hold meetings and baptize some believers. The brethren built a dam in a creek on Saturday where they were to baptize on Sunday, but during the night a mob tore the dam away. However, meeting was held on Sunday, and early on Monday morning the dam was repaired and the baptisms were attended to; but before they were through, the mob gathered and followed the Saints to their homes, making all kinds of threats. That evening as they were going to hold a meeting, a constable arrested Joseph Smith on the charge of making disorder, setting the country in an uproar by preaching the Book of Mormon, etc.
The constable was a good man, and told Joseph that the mob was going to try to take him and perhaps kill him; but he would protect Joseph. In driving to another town where the court was to be held, the mob lay in waiting by the road, but the constable whipped up his horse and they got away.
The next day when Joseph was called to be tried, there was a large crowd and much excitement as many wished to see and hear the young prophet. The trial commenced and many persons who knew Joseph were called to tell something about him. Among the number was Mr. Stoal, for whom Joseph had worked.
"Did not the prisoner, Joseph Smith, have a horse of you?" was asked of Mr. Stoal.
"Yes, sir," was the answer.
"Did not he go to you and tell you that an angel had appeared unto him and told him to get the horse from you?"
"No; he told me no such story."
"Well, how had he the horse of you?"
"He bought him of me as another man would do?"
"Have you had your pay?"
"That is not your business."
The same question was asked again.
"I hold his note for the price of the horse," replied Mr. Stoal, "which I consider as good as the pay, for I am well acquainted with Joseph Smith, Jr., and know him to be an honest man, and if he wishes, I am ready to let him have another horse on the same terms."
Many other witnesses were called, but the above is a fair sample of the questions and the answers received. Nothing wrong was proved against Joseph and he was discharged.
But no sooner was Joseph released than another constable appeared and arrested him again. This officer mistreated Joseph shamefully. He would give him nothing to eat, and he allowed a crowd of men to spit upon him and otherwise abuse him.
The next day Joseph was tried again, this time at Colesville. His friends again gathered around to protect him while his enemies tried harder than ever to have him convicted of some crime. Many witnesses were called who told untrue stories of Joseph, but when they were questioned they contradicted each other so that everybody, including the court, could see they were not telling the truth.
Newel Knight was called as a witness.
"Did the prisoner, Joseph Smith, Jr., cast the devil out of you?" asked the lawyer who was against Joseph.
"No, sir," was the reply.
"Why, have you not had the devil cast out of you?"
"And had not Joe Smith some hand in its being done"
"And did he not cast him out of you?"
"No, sir; it was done by the power of God, and Joseph Smith was the instrument in the hands of God to do it. He commanded him out of me in the name of Jesus Christ."
The lawyer could make nothing out of him or the others who were called to tell of some supposed wrong Joseph had done. Nothing could be found against him that would send him to prison, and I suppose the judge thought that even casting the devil out of a man was not such a great crime. So Joseph was once more released and a free man.
But of course the mob was not satisfied, so they laid a plan to capture Joseph and tar and feather him; but now the constable who had treated him so badly, saw by the trial that he was innocent, and came to Joseph and asked his forgiveness. He told the prophet of the mob's intentions and helped Joseph to get safely away home.
So the Lord was with his servants and helped them out of the hands of those who would harm them. The Lord was also kind to the Saints and gave the Church many revelations which you may find in the book called "Doctrine and Covenants," which contains the revelations given to the Church through Joseph the Prophet.
Topics.—1. Persecution of the Saints. 2. The arrests and trials of Joseph. 3. The Doctrine and Covenants.
Questions and Review.—1. What did Jesus say about persecution? (See St. Matthew 5:10, 12.) 2. Where is Colesville? 3. What was Joseph's errand in Colesville? 4. What did the mob do? 5. For what was Joseph arrested? 6. Tell about his first trial. 7. Who testified at the second trial? 8. After his discharge what did the mob intend to do to Joseph? 9. Who helped him to escape? 10. What is the Doctrine and Covenants?
THE MISSION TO THE INDIANS.
In the month of September, 1830, a young man came to the house of Joseph Smith, at Fayette, and asked to see the prophet. As Joseph was absent, he was referred to his brother Hyrum who explained to him what he wanted to know about the Book of Mormon, the revelations of the Lord to his brother, and the establishing of the Church. The young man was a preacher of the sect called Campbellites, and his name was Parley P. Pratt. On his journey from his home in Ohio to New York he had obtained a copy of the Book of Mormon, had read it, and had been deeply impressed with its beautiful truths. Wishing to know more about this new revelation of God, he had sought out Joseph.
Parley P. Pratt joined the Church and soon became one of its leading men, working with Joseph and his brethren with great energy. He became one of the Twelve Apostles, traveled in many parts of the earth preaching the gospel, wrote many fine books, and at last was killed by a wicked man in the state of Arkansas.
Some day you will want to read a full account of this great man's history as he wrote it himself, but here I will give you but a few of these interesting events, because they have much to do with the Church at this point of our history.
You will remember that the Book of Mormon tells about the early history of the Indians. In this book it is predicted that some day the gospel should be preached to them, and the record of their forefathers should also be brought to their knowledge. At the second conference of the Church held in Fayette, September 1st, Oliver Cowdery, Parley P. Pratt, Ziba Peterson and Peter Whitmer, Jr., were called to go on a mission to the Indians. They were to go into the wilderness through the western states and into the Indian Territory, preaching by the way whenever a chance afforded.
It was late in October when these four elders started on this the first important mission of the Church. They preached to some Indians near the city of Buffalo, presented them with the Book of Mormon, and proceeded on their journey into the state of Ohio. In the northeastern part of this state is the town of Kirtland where Elder Pratt had some friends. They stopped here for some time and preached the gospel to the people. Great interest was aroused, many believed and were baptized. Among these was Elder Pratt's former teacher, Sidney Rigdon, who also became one of the Church's leading men. Others who joined the Church at this time were Edward Partridge who became the first bishop in the Church, Newel K. Whitney who became the second, Lyman Wight who became an apostle, and many others. In a few weeks the missionaries had raised up a large branch of the Church at Kirtland.
Having done this good work, the elders went on their way westward. One evening they were stopping at the house of one Simeon Carter not far from Brother Pratt's old home. They were just about to read to him from the Book of Mormon when an officer entered and arrested Elder Pratt. The elders left their book with Mr. Carter and went with the officer to a sort of court, where Brother Pratt was ordered to pay a large sum of money or go to prison. The prisoner paid no attention to these demands, which made his persecutors very angry. It was now about midnight, but the elders took it quietly and sang a hymn or two. Then Elder Pratt said that if the witnesses who had told false things about them and the judge who had abused and insulted them, would repent of their evil words and acts and would all kneel down together he would pray that God might forgive them.
"My big bull-dog pray for me!" said the judge.
"The devil help us!" cried another.
Next morning as Elder Pratt and the man placed to guard him were walking in the road, the elder asked the officer if he was good at a race.
"No!" was the reply, "but my big dog is. I have trained him and he will take any man down at my bidding."
"Well," continued Bro. Pratt, "you have given me a chance to preach and have given me lodging and breakfast. I thank you for your kindness, but I must be going. Good-day, sir."
With that Elder Pratt left the man and his dog, and had got quite a distance before the officer had recovered from his surprise. Then he came running after him, clapping his hands and shouting to his dog.
"Stu—boy, stu—boy, take him Watch, lay hold of him! Down with him!" At the same time pointing in the direction of the fleeing elder. Just as the fierce animal was about to overtake him, Elder Pratt began clapping his hands and shouting like the officer, pointing into the woods just ahead. The dog bounded past him and was soon lost to sight in the forest, while the missionary got safely away.
Mr. Carter read the Book of Mormon the elders had left. He believed, went fifty miles to Kirtland, was baptized, returned home, began to preach, and soon there was a branch of sixty members in that place.
In western Ohio the missionaries found another tribe of Indians with whom they stayed a few days. They then went to Cincinnati and from that city to the mouth of the Ohio river by boat. It was now very cold, and the river was so blocked with ice that the boat could go no farther. The missionaries therefore walked the rest of the distance to St. Louis and from there across the state of Missouri to its western boundary.
The snow was deep, there were no beaten roads, the houses were few and far between, and the wind blew fierce and cold. For days they had nothing to eat but corn bread and frozen pork; but at last they reached the town of Independence, in Jackson county, Missouri, which was then near to the Indian country.
The elders now took up their labors among the Indians. They were kindly received, and the chief called a council which Oliver Cowdery addressed. The Book of Mormon was presented to them and explained, and they became very much interested. The sectarian preachers heard about this and complained to the Indian agent, who ordered the elders off the Indian lands. So after but a few days of preaching the elders had to leave. They went back to Jackson county and preached to the white settlers, some of whom believed the word of God and were added to the Church. Four of the elders remained at Independence, while Bro. Pratt was sent back to Kirtland to report their labors.
Topics.—1. Parley P. Pratt. 2. The first mission to the Indians. 3. At Kirtland. 4. Journey to Independence and preaching to Indians.
Questions and Review.—1. Who was Parley P. Pratt? 2. Name some of the books he wrote. 3. Give a brief sketch of his life. 4. Name those who went on the first mission for the Church. 5. What was the special object of this mission? 6. About how far is it from Fayette to Independence, Mo.? 7. Where is Kirtland? 8. What leading men were converted there? 9. How did Bro. Pratt escape from the officer? 10. How did people travel in those days? 11. Why were the missionaries forbidden to preach among the Indians?
REMOVAL TO OHIO.
The scriptures often speak of a time in the latter days when the people of God shall be gathered together to build up the Lord's kingdom and prepare for his second coming. The gospel should be preached to all the world, and those who would believe should go out from Babylon, or the wicked world, and came together with the people of the Lord. Every elder who has been on a mission will tell you that as soon as persons accept the gospel, a desire comes to them to gather with the main body of the Saints. Thus the Lord puts the spirit of gathering into the hearts of the believers, and his purposes are fulfilled.
The Lord told the prophet Joseph that the time for this gathering had come, and that the central gathering place for the Saints on this land was somewhere in the West, though at first the exact location was not told him.
In December, 1830, the word of the Lord came to Joseph that the Saints should gather to Ohio. This was westward and in the proper direction. The western missionaries had raised up large branches in Ohio, so it was not like going into a new place. The Church was growing steadily, and many revelations were given to the Saints. We might say the Lord was assigning lessons for us, which we have not yet learned very well.
Preparations were made for this removal by holding the third conference of the Church at Fayette and setting its affairs in order.
One day, about the 1st of February, 1831, a sleigh containing two men and two women, drove through the streets of Kirtland, Ohio, and stopped at the door of Gilbert and Whitney's store. One of the men alighted, and springing up the steps, walked into the store where one of the owners was standing.
"Newel K. Whitney, thou art the man!" exclaimed the visitor, extending his hand as to an old friend.
"You have the advantage of me," replied the storekeeper, "I could not call you by name as you have me."
"I am Joseph, the prophet," said the stranger, smiling. "You've prayed me here; now what do you want of me?"
Mr. Whitney, you will remember, had joined the Church sometime before, and of course he was delighted to see the prophet. Joseph and his wife, Emma, stayed at Brother Whitney's house for some time. Shortly after this, Newel K. Whitney was called to be bishop at Kirtland, and later he became the second presiding bishop of the Church.
Early next spring, 1831, the Saints from New York began to come to Ohio, buying land in and around the town of Kirtland.
Before leaving Fayette, Joseph had been visited by a young man who had walked two hundred miles to see him and have the prophet tell him what his duty was. This young man was Orson Pratt, brother of Parley P. Pratt. Joseph received a revelation in which Orson was called to preach the gospel to the world; and this duty Orson Pratt did all his life.
Elder Pratt became one of the Twelve Apostles. He went on a great many missions in this country and to Europe, during which time he crossed the ocean sixteen times. He became one of the most learned men in the Church, and wrote many books on gospel subjects. Read the title, or first page of the Book of Mormon and the book of Doctrine and Covenants and see what they say of Orson Pratt. Elder Pratt was one of the pioneers, he and Erastus Snow being the first two men of that company to enter Salt Lake Valley.
Another man who came to see Joseph while yet at Fayette was Sidney Rigdon, a former Campbellite preacher whom Parley P. Pratt had baptized at Kirtland. Elder Rigdon also became a prominent man in the Church, being first counselor to President Joseph Smith during the life time of the prophet. He took an active part in all the affairs of the Church up to within a few months of the prophet's death. He was greatly disappointed because he was not chosen to succeed Joseph as the leader of the Church, and soon after apostatized. He died outside the Church.
Thomas B. Marsh was the name of a man who came to Kirtland with the Church. He became a leader among the Saints and was president of the first quorum of Twelve Apostles. Elder Marsh did much missionary work and suffered with the Saints in their persecution; but in 1838 he became dissatisfied and did some wicked things against his brethren. He was therefore cut off from the Church. Nineteen years after he came back and was baptized again. He came to Utah and lived at Ogden, where he died, a poor, broken-down man.
Topics.—1. The gathering. 2. The move to Ohio. 3. Orson Pratt. 4. Sidney Rigdon. 5. Thomas B. Marsh.
Questions and Review.—1. What is meant by the gathering? 2. Quote some scriptural passage on the gathering. 3. Where was the first gathering place? 4. Locate Kirtland. 5. Tell about Joseph's first visit to Kirtland. 6. Who was Newel K. Whitney? 7. When did most of the Saints move to Kirtland? 8. Tell what you can about Orson Pratt? 9. Name some of his books. 10. What high position did Sidney Rigdon hold? 11. Why did he leave the Church? 12. Tell about Thomas B. Marsh.
THE LAND OF ZION.
The Book of Mormon (13th chapter of Ether) tells us that this land of America is a "choice land above all other lands;" and the Lord has said that the people who lived here must serve him or in time be destroyed. This you will remember was proved so often in the history of the Nephites.
Strictly speaking, the whole of America is the land of Zion, but the Lord revealed to Joseph that there should be a "center place," where a great city should be build which should be called the city of Zion, or the New Jerusalem. This city will be the capital or in the center of a large district of country full of people who serve the Lord. A grand temple will be built in the central city, and the glory of the Lord will rest upon it by day and by night. Then shall there be peace in the earth for a thousand years, and the Saints will be busy working to save all the people who live or have ever lived on the earth. Jesus with his angels will no doubt visit the earth from time to time to look after his work at this glorious period.
Now all this was to have a beginning, one of these small beginnings we have spoken about.
June 7th, 1831, the Prophet Joseph received a revelation instructing him and twenty-eight other elders to go on missions. They were to travel two and two by different routes through the Western states, preaching the gospel and building up the Church on the way. They were to meet in the state of Missouri about a thousand miles from Kirtland and there hold a conference. At this time, if they were faithful, the Lord would reveal to them the location of the central place and the spot where the temple should sometime stand.
The brethren went on their missions as they had been instructed, and Joseph and his party arrived at Independence, Missouri, about the middle of July, 1831. Oliver Cowdery and the other brethren who had been sent on the mission to the Indians, you will recollect, stopped at Independence. They were very glad to meet Joseph and his companions again.
Shortly after the prophet's arrival, the Lord made known the exact spot for the city of Zion. It is where the town of Independence is located, in Jackson County, Missouri, and the site for the temple was pointed out as lying westward on a lot not far from the court house.
Some of the Saints now moved to Jackson county, the first to arrive being what was called the Colesville Branch of the Church. These Saints had come from Colesville, State of New York, having stopped but a short time near Kirtland.
The first step towards the founding of Zion was taken on the 2nd day of August, 1831. On that day twelve men, of which Joseph was one, carried and placed the first log for the first house. This was in Kaw township, twelve miles west of Independence, where the Colesville branch was locating. Sidney Rigdon then dedicated the land. The next day eight of the brethren went to the temple lot, and Joseph dedicated that sacred spot.
Shortly after, Joseph with some of the other brethren went to Kirtland.
The Saints were now instructed to buy land in the region around that they might possess it for an inheritance. At that time Missouri was not thickly settled. There was much government land which could be bought for one dollar and twenty-five cents per acre. Sidney Gilbert was appointed an agent to receive money and purchase land, and Bishop Edward Partridge was chosen to divide the land among the Saints. The rich were told to divide with the poor that all might have land.
The Saints were especially warned that they must keep all the commandments which the Lord gave to them or they would not be allowed to remain and build up Zion at that time, but they first would have to go through much tribulation, and be "scourged from city to city." You will see presently how this prediction was fulfilled.
The first winter the Saints were not very comfortably housed, as they had arrived too late to raise crops or build good houses. The next spring, however, many Saints arrived, and they soon had growing fields and gardens. The Prophet visited them again early in the spring, held meetings, and greatly encouraged the Saints. In June, 1832, the first paper published by the Latter-day Saints was begun at Independence. It was called The Evening and Morning Star, and was the only paper in that part of the country.
Thus the Saints prospered; but a time of persecution, long and fierce, was before them.
Topics.—1. The center place of Zion. 2. Gathering to Missouri.
Questions and Review.—1. Where is the land of Zion? 2. What is said in the Book of Mormon about this land? 3. Where is Jackson county? 4. What place is now nearly the center of the United States? 5. What river flows by Jackson county? 6. Where will the New Jerusalem be built? 7. What kind of city will it be? 8. When, where, and how was the foundation of Zion laid? 9. Where is the temple lot? 10. Who dedicated it? 11. What was the Colesville Branch? 12. How were the Saints to obtain the land of Zion? 13. What were the duties of Sidney Gilbert and Edward Partridge? 14. When did Joseph visit Jackson county the second time?
PERSECUTION IN JACKSON COUNTY.
A great many of the old settlers of Jackson county, meaning those who were there before the Saints, were of a shiftless, ignorant class from the Southern States. They made but little improvement in their homes, being content to live in small, log huts, many of them without windows or board floors. They all believed it right to have negro slaves. They were also eager to hold public office.
At that time there were also many persons in western Missouri who had fled from the east on account of crimes which they had committed. Being near the boundary line of the United States, these persons would need only to cross the line into Mexico to be safe if an officer should come after them.
You will readily see by this what kind of neighbors the new settlers had. Of course the Saints could not join with these wicked people in their horse racing, Sabbath breaking, idleness, drunkenness, and other things which the Missourians took delight in. Most of the Saints were from the Eastern and Northern States and did not believe in slavery. They worked hard, and as the land produced good crops, they were soon prospering, while their idle neighbors remained in poverty.
All this naturally led the Missourians to hate the "Mormons," and as early as the spring of 1832 they began to molest them by throwing stones into their houses, etc. That same fall mobs began to come against the Saints, burning some of their hay and shooting into their houses.
In April, 1833, the mobbers held a meeting at Independence to discuss plans whereby they could rid the county of the "Mormons." However, the meeting broke up in a row. July 20th, they held another meeting which was more successful. An address was read to the people wherein the Saints were falsely accused of all manner of wrong doings. It also set forth that no more "Mormons" must settle in Jackson county; that the "Mormons" already there should be given a reasonable time to sell their property and then remove; that the printing of their paper must cease; that the stores of the Saints must close up their business as soon as possible; and that the leading brethren should use their influence to have the Saints comply with these requests. The meeting agreed to all this and a committee was appointed to wait on the leaders of the Saints to see what they would do about it. When the committee called, the brethren asked for time to consider the matter, but fifteen minutes only were given them. Nothing could be done in that short time, so the committee went back to the meeting and reported.
The mob then broke loose, yelling like a band of wild Indians. They went to the house and printing office of W.W. Phelps, forced Mrs. Phelps and the children, one of whom was sick, out of the house and threw the furniture out in the street. They then destroyed the printing press and tore the office down. Then they went through the town hunting for the leading brethren. They caught Bishop Edward Partridge and Charles Allen, dragged them to the public square, stripped most of their clothes off, and then smeared tar all over their bodies. This ended that day's work, and the frightened women and children who had fled to the woods came back to their homes.
The third day after this a mob of five hundred men came into Independence. They were armed with guns, knives, and whips, and they swore they would kill or whip all who would not agree to leave. The leading brethren, seeing that it was no longer of any use to plead or resist, made an agreement with the mob that they with their families would leave the county by the first of January, and that they would use their influence in trying to induce the rest of the Saints to leave, one-half by January 1st, the rest by April 1st, 1834. They were also to use all the means they could to prevent more of the Saints from settling in the county. The mob for their part agreed not to persecute the Saints while this was being done.
The mob, however, did not keep this promise, but daily broke into houses and abused the inmates.
The Saints now appealed to the highest officer of the state, Governor Dunklin, for protection. He told them that the laws were able to protect everybody in their rights, and advised the Saints to have those arrested who threatened them, and have them tried in court for their misdeeds.
This, seemingly, was very good advice, and would have worked all right under other circumstances; but when it is remembered that the very officers—the constable who would have to do the arresting, the judge who would try the cases, and in fact all concerned—were men who were themselves leaders of the mob, you will see how useless such a course would be. However, the Saints engaged four lawyers to protect them in the courts.
This made the mobbers more angry than ever, and they made preparation for further action against the Saints.
"We will rid Jackson county of the "Mormons"," they said, "peaceably if we can, forcibly if we must. If they will not go without, we will whip and kill the men; we will destroy the children, and abuse their women."
The Saints now resolved to defend themselves, and the men gathered in small bodies, armed with guns.
On the night of October 31, 1833, a mob marched to the Whitmer settlement of the Saints where they whipped several of the brethren to death, drove the women and children into the woods, and tore the roofs from about a dozen houses.
The next night an attack was made upon the Saints living at Independence. A party of brethren went to the aid of the Saints, and found a mob tearing down the store of Gilbert, Whitney & Co. The mobbers fled, but the brethren captured one of them in the act of throwing brick-bats through the window. They brought him to a justice of the peace to have papers made out for the mobber's arrest. The justice would not do it, so the man was released. Three days after, this same mobber had the brethren arrested. It was no trouble for him to get papers from the same justice. As one of the brethren remarked at the time, "Although we could not obtain a warrant against him for breaking open the store, he had gotten one for us for catching him at it!"
Topics.—1. The character of the early Missourians. 2. Mobbers' meetings in Independence. 3. Work of the mob.
Questions and Review.—1. From what sections did most of the early settlers of Missouri come? 2. From what section did the Saints come? 3. What difference of opinion existed between the people of the north and the people of the south? 4. Why did the Missourians hate the "Mormons?" 5. Why did many outlaws come to Missouri? 6. What did the mobbers want the Saints to promise? 7. What advice did Governor Dunklin give? 8. Why did the law not protect the Saints? 9. How was Bishop Partridge abused? 10. Tell about the arrest of the four brethren.
EXPULSION FROM JACKSON COUNTY.
In this small history, an account of all that happened in Missouri during those cruel times can not be given; but enough can be told to show you what the Saints had to endure in the early days of the Church. If you will but think of the sufferings the boys and girls must have gone through when the mobs tore the roofs from their houses, drove them out on the prairies to go hungry and cold, and killed or whipped their fathers, you may then appreciate God's blessings to you who live in peace and comfort.
The persecutions, which began in earnest October 31st, 1833, continued day after day. On November 2nd a mob attacked a settlement on Big Blue River. They unroofed one house and were beating a brother by the name of Bennett, who was sick in bed, when a party of brethren came to the rescue. There was some firing of guns between them, and a mobber was wounded in the leg.
On November 4th as a band of mobbers started out to make a raid on the Saints, word was sent to the brethren, and thirty of them soon gathered to withstand the mob. A battle ensued in which two of the mobbers were killed. One of the brethren was so badly wounded that he died the next day. Brother Philo Dibble was shot and severely wounded, but he was administered to and soon got well.
The whole country was now aroused. Word was sent broadcast that the "Mormons" had got the Indians to help them, and that they had taken the town of Independence.
Next morning people flocked into the town and there was great excitement.
And now we must name one of the most cruel and wicked men of that time, Lilburn W. Boggs. He was lieutenant-governor, which is next to the governor, the highest officer in the state. Boggs permitted the mob to organize themselves into a militia and thereby become regular soldiers of the state. The mob leaders seeing that the Saints had decided to protect themselves and fight if necessary, raised this militia so that if the Saints opposed them that they could be classed as law breakers.
The branches of the Church west of Independence having heard that the mob was going to kill some of the brethren in that town, raised about one hundred men to go to their rescue. While on the way they heard that there was no immediate danger, and that the militia had been called out. At this they were going back to their homes; but just then the militia came up, led by Colonel Pitcher. He demanded that the "Mormons" give up their arms, but they would not unless the mob, or militia as it was called, would do the same. This Colonel Pitcher agreed to have done, and then the brethren gave up their arms, consisting of fifty-nine guns and one pistol.
No sooner was this done than the most awful scene took place. The mob did not give up a gun, but bands of them roamed over the country searching for the Saints. Houses were torn down and burned, men were tied up and whipped, women and children were driven out into the fields and forests. Many of the county's leading men took part in these crimes, and even ministers, preachers of the gospel as they called themselves, were seen leading mobs from place to place.
The cold winter was now coming on, it being the month of November. At one place a company of one hundred and ninety—all being women and children excepting three old men—was driven thirty miles across a burnt prairie, the ground being coated with sleet. Their trail could be easily followed by the blood which flowed from their feet.
You will see by the map that Clay county lies north of Jackson, just across the Missouri river. As the Saints were driven from their homes, most of them made their way to Clay county whose people received them kindly. Soon the shores of the river were lined with men, women and children, goods, boxes, wagons, etc; The ferrymen were kept busy taking them over the river. At night the place had a strange appearance. Hundreds of people could be seen in every direction; some in tents and some in the open air around the fires. The rain descended in torrents. Husbands were asking for their wives and wives for their husbands, parents for children and children for parents. Some had managed to escape with a little provisions; many had lost all their goods.
There were at this time about twelve hundred Saints in Jackson county, so it took many days for them all to get away. Some of the poorest of the Saints who could not get away at first were driven out during the cold storms of that winter.
Early next spring when nearly all the Saints had left, the mob set fire to the deserted homes. One of the brethren reported that two hundred and three dwellings and one grist mill were destroyed.
Topics.—1. Contrast between present conditions and past. 2. Mobbing continued. 3. Saints driven from Jackson county.
Questions and Review.—1. What experiences did the Latter-day Saint boys and girls of Jackson county pass through? (Read the story, "Grandmother's Rocking Chair," in the Contributor, Vol. 11, page 242.) 2. What happened in November, 1833? 3. What is the state militia? 4. Why was the Jackson county militia raised? 5. What happened after the brethren had given up their arms? 6. Tell about the scene on the banks of the Missouri river. 7. Where is Clay county? 8. What happened in the spring of 1834?
In the spring of 1834 Parley P. Pratt and Lyman Wight were sent as messengers from the Saints in Clay county to Kirtland to tell the Prophet what had happened and to ask for further advice. Joseph, you may be sure, was very grieved to hear about the sufferings of the Saints, and he enquired of the Lord what should be done. In answer, a revelation was given instructing Joseph to gather the young and middle aged men of the Church and organize them into a company which was to march to Missouri to bring aid to the Saints and to assist them to again get possession of their homes. Five hundred men were to be obtained, but one hundred would do if no more could be raised.
Accordingly, Joseph and seven other brethren went two and two through the various branches in the east asking for means and volunteers for this mission.
New Portage, a village about sixty miles south-west from Kirtland was selected as a gathering place, and from this point on the 8th of May, 1834, one hundred and fifty men started for Missouri. They were organized in regular army order, having officers to see that everything on the march was done properly. Joseph was the leader.
The distance from Kirtland to Missouri is one thousand miles. That long journey was not an easy one. The wagons were heavily loaded, and as the roads were poor there was very little riding. Often the men would have to help drag the loads over the bad places. Every Sunday the camp rested and held meetings. Sometimes the people, suspecting they were "Mormons" would annoy them, so that guards had to be placed around the camp. People were also curious to know what this strange company of men was and where it was going. Spies followed the company for many miles. There were some boys in camp, and the inquisitive people thought it an easy matter to find out everything from the boys.