Authentic Joseph Smith (No. 9)
Part of the Joseph Smith, Jr. Series
All blue quotes by Joseph Smith (unless otherwise noted).
Valentine’s Day is a day of love, and Joseph Smith just gave me the perfect valentine…strong peace in my heart.
You see, my warring heart needed to reflect on his incredible insights today.
People are people…right? Sometimes I get “peopled out.” I felt that yesterday – an absolute overload of disappointment in people’s behavior and words.
This morning is surrounded with the sweet joy of repentance, resolve and relief from thinking and acting with more grace.
It’s a burden to carry around the misdeeds and trespasses of others and deliver their just desserts, or to mull over the more clever, pushback things you will say to them “next time” – even if it’s just in private thoughts.
Love and calm are the only answer – as well as civility and kindness in the moment. It doesn’t mean you have to hang out with difficult people or pretend they are nice when they are not. Love, civility and kindness allow you to not carry their residue with you after the fact. They also keep well-being and peace in your heart and thought space.
Don’t pick up their enmity and reciprocate. Could you learn lessons for next time? Sure! Could you figure out who is toxic and acknowledge that to your awareness? Sure!
Be your awesome self in all situations, otherwise you lose something precious.
Joseph Final Days
Joseph’s love and calm were remarkable. As he left for Carthage to turn himself in – to his pending doom, he passed by Emma and his children:
“You are coming back,” Emma said through tears.
Joseph mounted his horse and set off with Hyrum and the other men for Carthage. “I am going like a lamb to the slaughter,” he told them, “but I am calm as a summer’s morning. I have a conscience void of offense towards God and towards all men.”
The riders climbed the hill to the temple as the sun rose, casting golden light over the building’s unfinished walls. Joseph stopped his horse and looked out over the city. “This is the loveliest place and the best people under the heavens,” he said. “Little do they know the trials that await them.” (Saints, vol 1, chap 44)
That calm and resolve comes from a heart full of love.
Just a couple of months before his assassination – Joseph knew that multiple groups and various individuals were seeking and plotting to murder him. When referencing them and the danger to his life, he said:
“I have [intended] my remarks to all—to all rich & poor bond & free great & small I have no enmity [against] any man. I love you all—I am their best friend & if persons miss their mark it is their own fault—if I reprove a man & he hate me he is a fool—for I love all men especially these my brethren & sisters…
“I never did harm any man since I have been born in the world—my voice is always for peace—I cannot lie down until my work is finished—I never think evil nor think anything to the harm of my fellow man—& when I am called at the trump & weighed in the balance you will know me then —I add no more God bless you. Amen” (Diary of Thomas Bullock, April 1844)
Who is Thomas Bullock? See Thomas Bullock, end of article.
At other times, when speaking of those who hated and persecuted him, he said he did not wish revenge, because we never know when someone might repent.
Those are the markings of a broad and deep soul – filled with the love of God.
Timely Joseph Smith Quotes About Love
“It is a time-honored adage that love begets love. Let us pour forth love—show forth our kindness unto all mankind, and the Lord will reward us with everlasting increase; cast our bread upon the waters and we shall receive it after many days, increased to a hundredfold.” Joseph Smith, History of the Church, 5:517
“A soft answer turns away wrath,” says the wise man, and it will be greatly to the credit of the Latter-day Saints to show the love of God by now kindly treating those who may have, in an unconscious moment, done them wrong. For truly said Jesus, “Pray for thine enemies.” Humanity towards all; reason and refinement, to enforce virtue, and good for evil, are so eminently designed to cure more disorders of society than an appeal to arms or even argument untempered with friendship. . . .
Our motto, then, is peace with all. If we have joy in the love of God, let us try to give a reason of that joy, which all the world cannot gainsay or resist. Times and Seasons, 15 Feb. 1844, 4:442, 443)
As mayor of Nauvoo, Joseph was called upon to render judgment on Anthony, a black man, who had not only been selling liquor in violation of the law, but had been doing it on the Sabbath. Anthony implored Joseph for leniency, stating that he needed money to buy the freedom of his child held as a slave in a southern state. Joseph said, “I am sorry, Anthony, but the law must be observed, and we will have to impose a fine.” The next day Joseph gave Anthony a fine horse to purchase the freedom of the child (Mary Frost Adams in Young Women’s Journal, 17:538).
It was said of Joseph that, “He did not like to pass a child, however small, without speaking to it” (Juvenile Instructor, 27:109). There are stories of Joseph picking flowers for children, or drying their tears, or wiping mud from their shoes. Thus, Joseph humbly followed his Savior’s lead in loving and blessing little children.
Joseph’s largeness of soul is legendary. “It is a duty which every Saint ought to render to his brethren freely-to always love them, and ever succor them. To be justified before God we must love one another” (Teachings of the Prophet Joseph h. p. 76).
The Prophet was not averse to introspection, even when prompted by scurrilous tales. Many stories about Joseph, twisted or blatantly false, circulated constantly. Yet the Prophet said,
When I have heard of a story about me, I sit down and think about it and pray about it, and I ask myself the question, “Did I say something or was there something about my manner to give some basis for that story to start?” And . . . often if I think about it long enough I realize I have done something to give that basis. And there wells up in me a forgiveness of the person who has told that story, and a resolve that I will never do that thing again (Quoted in Hyrum L. and Helen Mae Andrus).
Thank you, Joseph Smith for your legacy. As President Nelson says, “you are my prophet.” (April 2020)
Thomas Bullock was a remarkable man in Church history. We don’t often hear his name, so here is a little history:
Within days, the last remnant of destitute Mormons would flee across the Mississippi River. During the retreat, a band of about thirty mobocrats confronted a sickly Thomas Bullock. The captain of the band pointed his sword at Bullock’s throat. Four others directed their bayonets at his chest. The leader then threatened, “If you are not off from here in twenty minutes, my orders are to shoot you.” Bullock snapped back, “Shoot away, for you will only send me to heaven a few hours quicker.” The captain then countered, “If you will renounce Mormonism you may stay here, and we will protect you.” To this, the courageous Bullock declared, “I am a Mormon, and if I live, I shall follow the Twelve.” The captain then ended the confrontation with one final warning, “If you are not gone when I return in half an hour, my orders are to kill you and every Mormon in the place.” Soon thereafter, Thomas and his impoverished family complied with the merciless order, making their way across the Mississippi River to safety in Iowa.
Thomas exhibited his faithfulness to Church leadership was to magnify his talent as a professional clerk. Throughout his life, he served as clerk, secretary, scribe, recorder, or proofreader for Joseph Smith, Brigham Young, Willard Richards, the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles, the Church Historian’s Office, the Nauvoo City Council, the Nauvoo Masonic Lodge, Church general conferences, the Nauvoo poor camp, the vanguard pioneer company, the Utah Territorial House of Representatives, Salt Lake County, Brigham Young’s exploration parties, the Council of Fifty, the Deseret News, the Perpetual Emigrating Fund Company, the Nauvoo Legion of Utah, and the First Presidency. (Religious Studies Center, BYU)