DC 122 Historical Background
See Historical Background section for D&C 121. Like 121 & 123, section 122 is part of an epistle written by the Prophet and his fellow prisoners to the saints. Hence, the historical background for all three sections is the same. However, certain events, from the time of the Prophet's arrest in Far West to his incarceration in Liberty, apply particularly well to these nine heart-wrenching verses. We return to the horrible Halloween scene of Far West, Missouri, 1838.
Parley P. Pratt
October 31, 1838.-In the afternoon we were informed that the Governor had ordered this force against us, with orders to exterminate or drive every "Mormon" from the State. As soon as these facts were ascertained we determined not to resist anything in the shape of authority, however abused. We had now nothing to do but to submit to be massacred, driven, robbed or plundered, at the option of our persecutors.
Colonel George M. Hinkle, who was at that time the highest officer of the militia assembled for the defence of Far West, waited on Messrs. J. Smith, S. Rigdon, Hyrum Smith, L. Wight, George Robinson and myself, with a request from General Lucas that we would repair to his camp, with the assurance that as soon as peaceable arrangements could be entered into we should be released. We had no confidence in the word of a murderer and robber, but there was no alternative but to put ourselves into the hands of such monsters, or to have the city attacked, and men, women and children massacred. We, therefore, commended ourselves to the Lord, and voluntarily surrendered as sheep into the hands of wolves. As we approached the camp of the enemy General Lucas rode out to meet us with a guard of several hundred men.
The haughty general rode up, and, without speaking to us, instantly ordered his guard to surround us. They did so very abruptly, and we were marched into camp surrounded by thousands of savage looking beings, many of whom were dressed and painted like Indian warriors. These all set up a constant yell, like so many bloodhounds let loose upon their prey, as if they had achieved one of the most miraculous victories that ever graced the annals of the world. If the vision of the infernal regions could suddenly open to the mind, with thousands of malicious fiends, all clamoring, exulting, deriding, blaspheming, mocking, railing, raging and foaming like a troubled sea, then could some idea be formed of the hell which we had entered.
In camp we were placed under a strong guard, and were without shelter during the night, lying on the ground in the open air, in the midst of a great rain. The guards during the whole night kept up a constant tirade of mockery, and the most obscene blackguardism and abuse. They blasphemed God; mocked Jesus Christ; swore the most dreadful oaths; taunted brother Joseph and others; demanded miracles; wanted signs, such as: "Come, Mr. Smith, show us an angel." "Give us one of your revelations." "Show us a miracle." "Come, there is one of your brethren here in camp whom we took prisoner yesterday in his own house, and knocked his brains out with his own rifle, which we found hanging over his fireplace; he lays speechless and dying; speak the word and heal him, and then we will all believe." "Or, if you are Apostles or men of God, deliver yourselves, and then we will be Mormons." Next would be a volley of oaths and blasphemies; then a tumultuous tirade of lewd boastings of having defiled virgins and wives by force, etc., much of which I dare not write; and, indeed, language would fail me to attempt more than a faint description. Thus passed this dreadful night, and before morning several other captives were added to our number, among whom was brother Amasa Lyman.
We were informed that the general officers held a secret council during most of the night, which was dignified by the name of court martial; in which, without a hearing, or, without even being brought before it, we were all sentenced to be shot. The day and hour was also appointed for the execution of this sentence, viz: next morning at 8 o'clock, in the public square at Far West. (Autobiography of Parley P. Pratt, 186-187)
Without lawyers for a defense, without trial, without jury, the Brethren were sentenced to be shot the morning of Nov. 1, 1838. The unlawful sentenced was passed upon the following Mormon leaders: Joseph Smith, Sidney Rigdon, Hyrum Smith, Lyman Wight, George Robinson, and Parley P. Pratt. B.H. Roberts recorded, "The prisoners somehow heard of the order, and kneeled in prayer, and prayed fervently that it might not be executed. And it was not." (History of the Church, 3:191, footnote)
"General Lucas, at about midnight, issued the following order to General Doniphan, in whose keeping the hostages were:
'Sir:--You will take Joseph Smith and the other prisoners into the public square of Far West, and shoot them at 9 o'clock to-morrow morning.
Samuel D. Lucas
"But General Doniphan, in great and righteous indignation, promptly returned the following reply to his superior:
'It is cold-blooded murder. I will not obey your order. My brigade shall march for Liberty tomorrow morning, at 8 o'clock; and if you execute these men, I will hold you responsible before an earthly tribunal, so help me God.'" (History of the Church, 3:190-191, footnote)
The courage of General Doniphan in disobeying this murderous order saved the lives of the Brethren. However, the other generals still planned to kill the men. General Clark, only 5 days later, told the saints, "As for your leaders, do not once think-do not imagine for a moment-do not let it enter your mind that they will be delivered, or that you will see their faces again, for their fate is fixed-their die is cast-their doom is sealed." (History of the Church, 3:203).
November 1... The mob (called Governor's troops) then marched into town, and under pretense of searching for arms, tore up floors, upset haystacks, plundered the most valuable effects they could lay their hands on, wantonly wasted and destroyed a great amount of property, compelled the brethren at the point of bayonet to sign deeds of trust to pay the expenses of the mob, even while the place was desecrated by the chastity of women being violated. (History of the Church, 3:192)
Parley P. Pratt
Houses were rifled, women ravished, and goods taken as they pleased. The whole troop, together with their horses, lived on the grain and provisions. While cattle were shot down for mere sport, and sometimes men, women and children fared no better. On the third morning after our imprisonment we were placed in a wagon, in order for removal. Many of the more desperate then crowded around, cocked their rifles, and singling us out presented them to our breasts, and swore they would blow us through. Some guns were snapped, but missed fire, and the rest were in a small degree restrained by the officers, and we still lived.
We were now marched to Far West, under the conduct of the whole army; and while they halted in the public square, we were permitted to go with a guard for a change of linen and to take final leave of our families, in order to depart as prisoners to Jackson County, a distance of sixty miles.
This was the most trying scene of all. I went to my house, being guarded by two or three soldiers; the cold rain was pouring down without, and on entering my little cottage, there lay my wife sick of a fever, with which she had been for some time confined. At her breast was our son Nathan, an infant of three months, and by her side a little girl of five years. On the foot of the same bed lay a woman in travail, who had been driven from her house in the night, and had taken momentary shelter in my hut of ten feet square-my larger house having been torn down. I stepped to the bed; my wife burst into tears; I spoke a few words of comfort, telling her to try to live for my sake and the children's; and expressing a hope that we should meet again though years might separate us. She promised to try to live. I then embraced and kissed the little babes and departed.
Till now I had refrained from weeping; but, to be forced from so helpless a family, who were destitute of provisions and fuel, and deprived almost of shelter in a bleak prairie, with none to assist them, exposed to a lawless banditti who were utter strangers to humanity, and this at the approach of winter, was more than nature could well endure.
I went to Gen. Moses Wilson in tears, and stated the circumstances of my sick, heart-broken and destitute family in terms which would have moved any heart that had a latent spark of humanity yet remaining. But I was only answered with an exultant laugh, and a taunt of reproach by this hardened murderer.
As I returned from my house towards the troops in the square, I halted with the guard at the door of Hyrum Smith, and heard the sobs and groans of his wife, at his parting words. She was then near confinement; and needed more than ever the comfort and consolation of a husband's presence. As we returned to the wagon we saw S. Rigdon taking leave of his wife and daughters, who stood at a little distance, in tears of anguish indescribable. In the wagon sat Joseph Smith, while his aged father and venerable mother came up overwhelmed with tears, and took each of the prisoners by the hand with a silence of grief too great for utterance.
In the meantime, hundreds of the brethren crowded around us, anxious to take a parting look, or a silent shake of the hand; for feelings were too intense to allow of speech. In the midst of these scenes orders were given, and we moved slowly away, under the conduct of Gen. Wilson and his whole brigade. (Autobiography of Parley P. Pratt, 189-190)
Lucy Mack Smith
At the time when Joseph went into the enemy's camp, Mr. Smith and myself stood in the door of the house in which we were then living, and could distinctly hear their horrid yellings. Not knowing the cause, we supposed they were murdering him. Soon after the screaming commenced, five or six guns were discharged. At this Mr. Smith, folding his arms tight over his breast and grasping his sides, cried, groaning with mental agony, "Oh, my God! my God! they have murdered my son and I must die, for I cannot live without him!"
I was unable to answer him. In all our other troubles I had been able to speak a word of consolation to him, but now I could do nothing but mingle my cries and groans with his. Still, the shrieking and screaming continued. No tongue can ever express the sound that was conveyed to our ears nor the sensations that were produced in our hearts. It was like the screeching of a hundred owls mingled with the howling of an army of bloodhounds and the screaming of a thousand panthers all famishing for the prey which was being torn piecemeal among them.
...When our sons were to be taken away, a messenger came and told us that if we ever were to see our sons alive again, we would have to go immediately to them, as they were in the wagon to be driven to Independence and would be gone in a few minutes. My husband was then too ill to be able to go, but Lucy and I started alone, for we were the only well ones of the family.
When we came within about four hundred yards of the wagon, we could go no farther because they were surrounded by men. "I am the mother of the Prophet," I cried, "and is there not a gentleman here who will assist me through this crowd to that wagon that I may take a last look at my children and speak to them once more before they die?" One individual volunteered to make a pathway through the army, and we went on through the midst of swords, muskets, pistols, and bayonets, threatened with death at every step, until at last we arrived at the wagon. The man who accompanied me spoke to Hyrum, who was sitting in the front, and told him his mother was there and wished him to reach his hand to her. He did so, but I was not permitted to see him, for the cover of the wagon was made of very heavy cloth and tied closely down in front and nailed fast at the sides.
We merely shook hands with him and the other prisoners who sat in the forepart of the wagon, before several of the men in the mob exclaimed, "Drive over them," calling to us to get out of the way, swearing at us and threatening us in the most dreadful manner.
Our friend then conducted us to the hinder part of the wagon where Joseph was, and said, "Mr. Smith, your mother and sister are here and wish to shake hands with you." Joseph crowded his hand through between the wagon and cover where it was nailed down to the end board. We caught hold of his hand, but he did not speak to us. I could not bear to leave him without hearing his voice. "Oh, Joseph," said I. "Do speak to your poor mother once more. I cannot go until I hear you speak."
"God bless you, Mother," he sobbed out. Then a cry was raised and the wagon dashed off, tearing my son from us just as Lucy was pressing his hand to her lips to bestow upon it a sister's last kiss-for we knew that they were sentenced to be shot.
We succeeded in getting to the house again... For some time nothing was heard in the house but sighs and groans, as we thought we had seen Joseph and Hyrum for the last time. But in the midst of my grief, I found consolation that surpassed all earthly comfort. I was filled with the Spirit of God and received the following by the gift of prophecy: "Let your heart be comforted concerning your children, for they shall not harm a hair of their heads, and before four years, Joseph shall speak before the judges and great men of the land and his voice shall be heard in their councils. And in five years from this time he will have power over all his enemies." (History of Joseph Smith, Revised and Enhanced, edited by Scot Facer Proctor and Maurine Jensen Proctor [Salt Lake City: Bookcraft, 1996], chapter 49)
The prisoners were thus torn from friends and family, under threat of death, and marched under General Lucas from Far West to Independence. General Lucas and his men wanted to show off their prey to the people of Independence, while General Clark wanted the prisoners taken to Richmond so he could shoot them himself. The Brethren were first paraded before the crowd in Independence, then taken to Richmond, arriving November 9, 1838. Upon arriving in Richmond, they were placed in a makeshift prison being confined there until transferred to Liberty Jail the end of the month.
While in Richmond we were under the charge of Colonel Price from Chariton county, who allowed all manner of abuses to be heaped upon us. During this time my afflictions were great, and our situation was truly painful. (History of the Church, 3:208)
Parley P. Pratt
These guards were composed generally of the most noisy, foulmouthed, vulgar, disgraceful rabble that ever defiled the earth... In one of those tedious nights we had lain as if in sleep till the hour of midnight had passed, and our ears and hearts had been pained, while we had listened for hours to the obscene jests, the horrid oaths, the dreadful blasphemies and filthy language of our guards, Colonel Price at their head, as they recounted to each other their deeds of rapine, murder, robbery, etc., which they had committed among the "Mormons" while at Far West and vicinity. They even boasted of defiling by force wives, daughters and virgins, and of shooting or dashing out the brains of men, women and children.
I had listened till I became so disgusted, shocked, horrified, and so filled with the spirit of indignant justice that I could scarcely refrain from rising upon my feet and rebuking the guards; but had said nothing to Joseph, or any one else, although I lay next to him and knew he was awake. On a sudden he arose to his feet, and spoke in a voice of thunder, or as the roaring lion, uttering, as near as I can recollect, the following words:
"SILENCE, ye fiends of the infernal pit. In the name of Jesus Christ I rebuke you, and command you to be still; I will not live another minute and bear such language. Cease such talk, or you or I die THIS INSTANT!"
He ceased to speak. He stood erect in terrible majesty. Chained, and without a weapon; calm, unruffled and dignified as an angel, he looked upon the quailing guards, whose weapons were lowered or dropped to the ground; whose knees smote together, and who, shrinking into a corner, or crouching at his feet, begged his pardon, and remained quiet till a change of guards.
I have seen the ministers of justice, clothed in magisterial robes, and criminals arraigned before them, while life was suspended on a breath, in the Courts of England; I have witnessed a Congress in solemn session to give laws to nations; I have tried to conceive of kings, of royal courts, of thrones and crowns; and of emperors assembled to decide the fate of kingdoms; but dignity and majesty have I seen but once, as it stood in chains, at midnight, in a dungeon in an obscure village of Missouri. (Autobiography of Parley P. Pratt, 210-211)
DC 122:1 the ends of the earth shall inquire after thy name
We sometimes forget how grand and sweeping are the writings of the Prophet Joseph Smith. Nothing in the secular world could have predicted how the world would wonder and study the life and times of Joseph Smith. This phrase, "the ends of the earth shall inquire after thy name," is really a reiteration of the promise of Moroni some 16 years earlier, "[Moroni] said unto me... that my name should be had for good and evil among all nations, kindreds, and tongues... among all people." (JS-Hist. 1:33) How unlikely these prophecies must have seemed at the time!
"A few months back, I was visiting with a foreign scholar of religion who had a related question for me. It was this: 'To what do you attribute the remarkable growth of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints?' Many people have been asking this question for a few years now. The bicentennial of the Prophet's birth (December 2005), now just weeks away, has given many scholars an opportunity to ask these and similar questions in very formal settings: at symposia hosted by the Library of Congress in Washington, D.C., by the New South Wales Parliament in Sydney, Australia, and by the National University of Taiwan in Taipei. When Joseph Smith was just a boy of 17, he said, an angel appeared to him and declared 'that [his] name should be had for good and evil among all nations, kindreds, and tongues, or that it should be both good and evil spoken of among all people.' This year in particular has seen that prediction born out. Secular scholars and Christians, Hindus, Muslims, and presumed atheists, in many nations and in many tongues, speak good of Joseph's name. In Sydney, Dr. Kazi Islam, a Muslim and Chairman of the Department of World Religions, University of Dhaka, Bangladesh, explained that he introduced Mormonism as a compulsory part of the Masters Degree in his Department 'because of [his] profound love and respect for the ideals' of that tradition Joseph Smith founded. Dr. Jason Lase, a Director General in the Indonesian Department of Religious Affairs, affirmed his belief that Joseph Smith was 'a modern religious genius,' who created what he called 'one of the most stable and well organized religious organizations' he has ever known. A few months later, Arun Joshi, a Hindu journalist from India, gave a remarkable talk at the Taipei conference, in which he related the experience of the First Vision to the conflicts in Kashmir and the Middle East, concluding, 'the message of Joseph Smith is more relevant... today than ever before.'
"These are surely exciting developments, and it can be heady stuff for members of a previously marginalized religion of modest size to find their faith and founder the subject of symposia, celebration, and scholarly interest. Some have even predicted a new world religion will emerge out of these accelerating developments. 'How do you account for this growth'?" (Terryl L. Givens, "Lighting out of Heaven: Joseph Smith and the Forging of Community," 1-2)
Gordon B. Hinckley
My brethren and sisters, I have witnessed the fulfillment of these marvelous promises. In the temples in Europe I have seen the people of Finland, Sweden, and Norway, of Denmark, Belgium, and Holland, of Germany, Austria, France, and England and even from South Africa-pure in heart, noble, virtuous men and women of those lands seeking blessings under the authority which came through the Prophet Joseph Smith. In New Zealand I have seen the people of that land, of Australia, Tasmania, Samoa, Tonga, Rarotonga, Fiji, and Tahiti, with the smile of truth upon their faces as they sought blessings in the house of the Lord, each in his own tongue testifying of this great latter-day work.
I marvel at, and am grateful, for the breadth of the kingdom, its spread over the world, and I know that the end is not yet-that this stone which was cut out of the mountain without hands (D&C 65:2), as the prophet foretold, shall roll forth and fill the earth, touching the hearts and lives of the virtuous and the wise and the pure in heart, wherever it is taught-for it is the kingdom of our God. (Conference Report, October 1958, pp. 12-14)
DC 122:3 thy people shall never be turned against thee by the testimony of traitors
Is not all manner of evil of every description spoken of us falsely, yea, we say unto you falsely. We have been misrepresented and misunderstood, and belied, and the purity and integrity and uprightness of our hearts have not been known... for some, by a long face and sanctimonious prayers, and very pious sermons, had power to lead the minds of the ignorant and unwary, and thereby obtain such influence that when we approached their iniquities the devil gained great advantage-would bring great trouble and sorrow upon our heads; and, in fine, we have waded through an ocean of tribulation and mean abuse. (History of the Church, 3:231-232)
The Prophet was most distraught by the traitorous actions of Colonel Hinckle, who betrayed the Brethren into the hands of the mob at Far West. He was distraught by the apostasy of Thomas B. Marsh, which included false communications to the Missourians regarding the Prophet's presumed motives to rule the world as a modern Mohammed. He was betrayed by the actions of Dr. Avard, a willful and ambitious man, who established a secret society, the Danites, ostensibly condoned by the First Presidency, which was in reality nothing more than a "Mormon" secret combination whose violent actions fuelled the mob. In another epistle from Liberty, the Prophet specifically mentions these men and others, including W. W. Phelps, John Whitmer, David Whitmer, Oliver Cowdery, and Martin Harris, declaring, their traitorous hearts "are full of corruption." (History of the Church, 3:232)
In the Missouri of 1838, repudiating any association or connection with the Mormons was an act of self-preservation. Thus, some of the weakest saints turned their allegiance from the Prophet. Many more saints, to their credit, could not be turned by persecution or the testimony of traitors. In December, 1838, Brigham Young (now the senior apostle after the recent death of David W. Patten and more recent apostasy of Thomas B. Marsh) called for a reorganization of the high council of Far West. Each of the Brethren reaffirmed their faith in the Prophet. The testimony of Solomon Hancock, John Badger, and Samuel Bent are representative.
"Solomon Hancock says he is a firm believer in the Book of Mormon and Doctrine and Covenants, and that Brother Joseph is not a fallen prophet, but will yet be exalted and become very high.
"John Badger says his confidence in the work is the same as ever, and his faith, if possible, is stronger than ever...
"Samuel Bent says that his faith is as it ever was, and that he feels to praise God in prisons and in dungeons, and in all circumstances." (History of the Church, 3:225)
Joseph Fielding Smith
The Latter-day Saints who were acquainted with the Prophet personally, with very few exceptions, remained loyally true to him. There were some traitors in Nauvoo. One of the Prophet's counselors became his bitter enemy and sought his life. One other failed to give him loyal support. Others who had been his friends joined hands with the enemies of the Church and sought to bring him to his death, but the great majority of the people remained loyal and true.
The influence of traitors caused him great trouble and cast him "into bars and walls" and to his death, yet his voice speaks through his works and is more terrible and disconcerting to his enemies than the roaring of the fierce lion, and even in his death he was not forsaken by the Lord. His people remained true and the Lord has blessed them.
Few men have been called on to suffer more than did Joseph Smith. His entire life was spent in the midst of persecution by the hands of his enemies. No doubt he wondered many times why this had to be. In this revelation the Lord tells him, he was to remember that even though he was called to pass through tribulation, the perils among false brethren, robbers, or in peril by land or sea, or if the very jaws of hell should open against him, he should remember that all these things were to give him experience and would prove to be for his good. (Church History and Modern Revelation, 4 vols. [Salt Lake City: The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, 1946-1949], 3: 202)
DC 122:6 My Father, my father, why can't you stay with us? O, my father, what are the men going to do with you?
Before our departure [from Far West] we... were suffered to see our families, being attended all the while by a strong guard. I found my wife and children in tears, who feared we had been shot by those who had sworn to take our lives, and that they would see me no more. When I entered my house, they clung to my garments, their eyes streaming with tears, while mingled emotions of joy and sorrow were manifested in their countenances. I requested to have a private interview with them a few minutes, but this privilege was denied me by the guard. I was then obliged to take my departure. Who can realize the feelings which I experienced at that time, to be thus torn from my companion, and leave her surrounded with monsters in the shape of men, and my children, too, not knowing how their wants would be supplied; while I was to be taken far from them in order that my enemies might destroy me when they thought proper to do so. My partner wept, my children clung to me, until they were thrust from me by the swords of the guards. I felt overwhelmed while I witnessed the scene, and could only recommend them to the care of that God whose kindness had followed me to the present time, and who alone could protect them, and deliver me from the hands of my enemies. (History of the Church, 3:193)
Lucy Mack Smith
To describe this scene is impossible. You have read something of how they were rushed from their wives and children amid their sobs and screams. Little Joseph clung to his father and exclaimed, "Oh, my Father. Why can you not stay with us?" They answered his question by pushing the child from his father with their swords, but there is a day when that question will be repeated, "Why did you tear the servant of God from his family and from his home and treat him thus cruelly?" If any of you who did this deed are living, let me warn you to prepare yourselves to answer that question before the bar of God, for I testify to you in the name of Jesus, you will have it to do. (History of Joseph Smith, Revised and Enhanced, edited by Scot Facer Proctor and Maurine Jensen Proctor [Salt Lake City: Bookcraft, 1996], chapter 49)
DC 122:5-7 if thou shouldst be cast into the pit, or into the hands of murderers, and the sentence of death passed upon thee
The Lord's answer to the persecuted Prophet includes a long list of possible persecutions. The language may sound hypothetical but they were all very real experiences for the suffering Brethren. The Prophet, at one time or another, was faced with each one of these daunting perils.
- If thou art called to pass through tribulation-the tribulation began as soon as the Prophet shared his First Vision experience and did not end until his untimely death in Carthage
- If thou art in perils among false brethren-Both in Liberty Jail and in Carthage Jail, the pseudo-legal proceedings were prompted in part by the testimony of apostates
- If thou art in perils among robbers-Since his arrest in Far West, the Prophet was guarded by mob members who openly bragged of pillaging the saints' property (History of the Church, 3:213)
- If thou art in perils by land or by sea- "After leaving Independence, Missouri, on 9 August 1831, the Prophet and his party traveled down the Missouri River to Fort Osage, where they spent the first night. Two days later (11 August) an accident occurred: The canoe in which the Prophet and Sidney Rigdon were riding ran into a tree lodged and bobbing in the river. The canoe was upset, and the occupants almost drowned." (Lyndon W. Cook, The Revelations of the Prophet Joseph Smith: A Historical and Biographical Commentary of the Doctrine and Covenants [Salt Lake City: Deseret Book Co., 1985], 96 - 97.)
- If thou art accused with all manner of false accusations-General Clark reported to Governor Boggs, "The most of the prisoners here I consider guilty of treason... They have committed treason, murder, arson, burglary, robbery, larceny, and perjury." (History of the Church, 3:207)
- If thine enemies fall upon thee-Hiram, Ohio, March 24, 1832-the Prophet was torn from his home by a mob intent on poisoning, tarring, and feathering him, "I found myself going out of the door, in the hands of about a dozen men; some of whose hands were in my hair, and some had hold of my shirt, drawers and limbs... I made a desperate struggle." (History of the Church, 1:261)
- If they tear thee from the society of thy father and mother-The Prophet's mother and sister Lucy made the briefest of farewells to Joseph as he was carted off to prison. "Then a cry was raised, and the wagon dashed off, tearing him from us just as Lucy pressed his hand to her lips, to bestow upon it a sisters last kiss-for he was then sentenced to be shot." (History of the Prophet Joseph Smith by his Mother, 250)
- If with a drawn sword thine enemies tear thee from the bosom of thy wife, and of thine offspring-Under arrest, the Prophet returned to his Far West home for a change of clothes where he was thrust from his family by the sword, "My partner wept, my children clung to me, until they were thrust from me by the swords of the guards. I felt overwhelmed while I witnessed the scene." (History of the Church, 3:19)
- If... thine enemies prowl around thee like wolves for the blood of the lamb-After being arrested at Far West, the Brethren "were marched into camp surrounded by thousands of savage looking beings, many of whom were dressed and painted like Indian warriors. These all set up a constant yell, like so many bloodhounds let loose upon their prey, as if they had achieved one of the most miraculous victories that ever graced the annals of the world." (Autobiography of P.P. Pratt, 186-187)
- If thou shouldst be cast into the pit-Liberty Jail: "In the middle of that floor was a trapdoor through which prisoners were then lowered into the lower floor or dungeon. The outside walls of the prison were of rough-hewn limestone two feet thick, with inside walls of 12-inch oak logs... In the dungeon the floor-to-ceiling height was barely six feet, and inasmuch as some of the men, including the Prophet Joseph, were over six feet tall, this meant that when standing they were constantly in a stooped position, and when lying it was mostly upon the rough, bare stones of the prison floor covered here and there by a bit of loose, dirty straw or an occasional dirty straw mat." (Jeffrey R. Holland, "Lessons from Liberty Jail," Speeches, Sep. 7, 2008)
- If thou shouldst be cast... into the hands of murderers and the sentence of death passed upon thee-Far West, Oct. 31, 1838-General Clark sent the order to have the Brethren shot the next day. General Doniphan's refusal to obey this order weakened the resolve of the would-be murderers.
- If the heavens gather blackness, and all the elements combine to hedge up the way-Near Palmyra, Spring 1820-I was seized upon by some power which entirely overcame me... Thick darkness gathered around me, and it seemed to me for a time as if I were doomed to sudden destruction. (JS-Hist. 1:15)
- If the very jaws of hell shall gape open the mouth wide after thee-Far West, Oct. 31, 1838-"if the vision of the infernal regions could suddenly open to the mind, with thousands of malicious fiends, all clamoring, exulting, deriding, blaspheming, mocking, railing, raging and foaming like a troubled sea, then could some idea be formed of the hell which we had entered." (Autobiography of P.P. Pratt, 187)
Dear brethren, do not think that our hearts faint, as though some strange thing had happened unto us, for we have seen and been assured of all these things beforehand, and have an assurance of a better hope than that of our persecutors. Therefore God hath made broad our shoulders for the burden. We glory in our tribulation, because we know that God is with us, that He is our friend, and that He will save our souls. We do not care for them that can kill the body; they cannot harm our souls. We ask no favors at the hands of mobs, nor of the world, nor of the devil, nor of his emissaries the dissenters, and those who love, and make, and swear falsehoods, to take away our lives. We have never dissembled, nor will we for the sake of our lives.
[For] we know that we have been endeavoring with all our mind, might, and strength, to do the will of God, and all things whatsoever He has commanded us. (History of the Church, 3:227)
DC 122:7 all these things shall give thee experience
"A new idea was born among the Church membership, 'All these things shall give thee experience and shall be for thy good.'
"The Saints learned to face whatever life might bring, be it grief or pain, joy or sorrow, with light hearts, knowing that in the wisdom of the Almighty recompense would be provided.
"Brigham Young voiced the philosophy in these words:
'Well, do you think that persecution has done us good? Yes, I sit and laugh, and rejoice exceedingly when I see persecution. I care no more about it than I do about the whistling of the north wind, the croaking of the crane that flies over my head, or the crackling of the thorns under the pot. The Lord has all things in his hands; therefore, let it come for it will give me experience.'" (William E. Berrett, Teachings of the Doctrine and Covenants [Salt Lake City: Deseret Book Co., 1956], 210)
Ezra Taft Benson
It is not on the pinnacle of success and ease where men and women grow most. It is often down in the valley of heartache and disappointment and reverses where men and women grow into strong characters. (Dallin H. Oaks, "Adversity," Ensign, July 1998, 9)
Spencer W. Kimball
Being human, we would expel from our lives physical pain and mental anguish and assure ourselves of continual ease and comfort, but if we were to close the doors upon sorrow and distress, we might be excluding our greatest friends and benefactors. Suffering can make saints of people as they learn patience, long-suffering, and self-mastery. (Faith Precedes the Miracle, Salt Lake City: Deseret Book Co., 1972, p. 98.)
Let any people enjoy peace and quietness, unmolested, undisturbed,-never be persecuted for their religion, and they are very likely to neglect their duty, to become cold and indifferent, and lose their faith. (Journal of Discourses, 7:42)
DC 122:7 all these things... shall be for thy good
"I am trying to be less concerned with why I have adversity, and more concerned with what I'm going to do about it, how I can learn from it, and how I can become more Christlike as a result of it. The way I react-whether I rationalize or overcome, whether I give up or endure, whether I become bitter or compassionate-is my choice. And that choice will help determine how close I'll come to the Savior's way of living." (Steve Dunn Hanson, "What to Do with Adversity," Ensign, Feb. 1981, 55)
Glenn L. Pace
"For thy good"? What possible good could come from that experience? B. H. Roberts gave an insight about the possible good that could come from such an experience when he described Joseph's reaction to a similar experience in 1842:
"What is most pleasing to record of this period of enforced seclusion while avoiding his enemies, is the development of that tenderness of soul manifested in his reflections upon the friends who had stood by him from the commencement of his public career: ... No act of kindness seems to go unmentioned. No risk run for him is not appreciated. Indeed he gathers much benefit from those trials, since their effect upon his nature seems to be a softening rather than a hardening influence; and the trials of life are always beneficial where they do not harden and brutalize men's souls; and every day under his trials the Prophet seems to have grown more tender-hearted, more universal in his sympathies; his moments of spiritual exaltation are superb. No one can read them and doubt that the inspiration of God was giving this man's spirit understanding." (Joseph Smith, History of the Church... 5:XXVIII.) ("Crying with the Saints," Ensign, Sept. 1988, 71)
I do not desire trials. I do not desire affliction. I would pray to God to "lead me not in temptation, and deliver me from evil; for thine is the kingdom, the power, and the glory." But if the earthquake bellows, the lightnings flash, the thunders roll, and the powers of darkness are let loose, and the spirit of evil is permitted to rage, and an evil influence is brought to bear on the Saints, and my life with theirs is put to the test, let it come, for we are the Saints of the most High God, and all is well, all is peace, all is right, and will be, both in time and in eternity.
... I used to think, if I were the Lord, I would not suffer people to be tried as they are. But I have changed my mind on that subject. Now I think I would, if I were the Lord, because it purges out the meanness and corruption that stick around the Saints, like flies around molasses. (The Gospel Kingdom: Selections from the Writings and Discourses of John Taylor, selected, arranged, and edited, with an introduction by G. Homer Durham [Salt Lake City: Improvement Era, 1941], 333)
Harold B. Lee
Rarely, if ever, is there a truly great soul except he has been tried and tested through tears, and adversity-seemingly pruned by the hand of a master gardener. By applying the knife and the pruning hook the branch is shaped and fashioned to God's omnipotent design, in order that its full fruitage may be realized.
Every one of you must endure trials, and hardships, heartaches and discouragements. When in sorrow and in despair if you will remember, you will be comforted if you learn this lesson: "For whom the Lord loveth he chasteneth, and scourgeth every son whom he receiveth" (Hebrews 12:6)-and again: "My son, despise not the chastening of the Lord; neither be weary of his correction: for whom the Lord loveth he correcteth; even as a father the son in whom he delighteth" (Proverbs 3:11-12).
Sometimes we need chastening. It's an interesting thing that sometimes it takes calamity to drive us together. It's a terrifying thing to think that that's necessary, but the Lord said through one of His prophets that sometimes we have to have the chastening hand of the Almighty before we will wake up and humble ourselves to do the thing that He has asked us to do. (The Teachings of Harold B. Lee, edited by Clyde J. Williams [Salt Lake City: Bookcraft, 1996], 191)
It is not important to know the trials we may be required to go through in this mortal life. What is essential is our attitude in facing these trials and the lessons and experiences that we learn from them. These will help to refine our understanding and increase our spirituality. (Ensign, Nov. 1989, 30)
Neal A. Maxwell
If certain mortal experiences were cut short, it would be like pulling up a flower to see how the roots are doing. ("Endure It Well," Ensign, May 1990, 33)
DC 122:8 the Son of Man hath descended below them all
"I was sitting in my seminary class in Garland, Utah, only half-listening to my teacher discuss the trials that Joseph Smith and the early Saints had endured... It had been a particularly bad day, and I was feeling sorry for myself... In the midst of my depression, something I heard in class seemed to reach out to me. Brother Anderson was telling about a time Joseph Smith and some of his friends were locked up once again for crimes they hadn't committed. In desperation, Joseph pleaded with the Lord for deliverance, asking him why they were being allowed to suffer when they had been so faithful. Then Brother Anderson read to us Doctrine and Covenants 122:7-8, the Lord's answer to the Prophet Joseph Smith:
"And if thou shouldst be cast into the pit, or into the hands of murderers, and the sentence of death passed upon thee; if thou be cast into the deep; if the billowing surge conspire against thee; if fierce winds become thine enemy; if the heavens gather blackness, and all the elements combine to hedge up the way; and above all, if the very jaws of hell shall gape open the mouth wide after thee, know thou, my son, that all these things shall give thee experience, and shall be for thy good.
"The Son of Man hath descended below them all. Art thou greater than he?"
"He emphasized every word in the last sentence, and the room was completely silent as we pondered those words. I felt like I had been hit over the head with a sledge hammer.
"'Wow,' I muttered.
"Brother Anderson looked at me and smiled. 'Yeah, wow,' he said. Who was I to complain? What right did I have to tell the Lord that my life wasn't fair? How could I have been so ungrateful?
"I have never forgotten that day or the way I felt. That scripture seems to be constantly in the back of my mind, and as soon as I want to ask, 'Why me, Lord?' I hear Brother Anderson's deep, smooth voice saying quietly and slowly, 'The Son of Man hath descended below them all. Art thou greater than he?'" (Jennifer Clark, "Art Thou Greater?" New Era, Feb. 1989, 12)
Neal A. Maxwell
One of the most powerful and searching questions ever asked of all of us in our sufferings hangs in time and space before us: "The Son of Man hath descended below them all. Art thou greater than he?" (D&C 122:8.) Jesus plumbed the depths and scaled the heights in order to comprehend all things. (See D&C 88:6.) Jesus, therefore, is not only a fully atoning but He is also a fully comprehending Savior! ("Endure It Well," Ensign, May 1990, 35)
Alma illuminated the condescension of the Son of God in these famous words, "he shall go forth, suffering pains and afflictions and temptations of every kind... he will take upon him death... that his bowels may be filled with mercy, according to the flesh, that he may know according to the flesh how to succor his people according to their infirmities." (Alma 7:11-12)
"Elder Neal A. Maxwell gave this insight into the relationship between the Atonement and the Savior's succoring powers: 'His empathy and capacity to succor us-in our own sickness, temptations, or sins-were demonstrated and perfected in the process of the great atonement.' He also said, 'The marvelous atonement brought about not only immortality but also the final perfection of Jesus' empathetic and helping capacity.'"
"...No mortal can cry out, 'he does not understand my plight for my trials are unique.' There is nothing outside the scope of the Savior's experience. As Elder Maxwell observed, 'None of us can tell Christ anything about depression.' As a result of his mortal experience, culminating in the Atonement, the Savior knows understands, and feels every human condition, every human woe, and every human loss. He can comfort as no other. He can lift burdens as no other. He can listen as no other." (Tad Callister, Infinite Atonement, pp. 207-9)
The Lord has said concerning Jesus, that he descended below all things that he might rise above all things, and comprehend all things. No man descended lower than the Savior of the world. Born in a stable, cradled in a manger, he traveled from there to the cross through suffering, mingled with blood, to a throne of grace; and in all his life there was nothing of an earthly nature that seemed to be worth possessing. His whole life was passed in poverty, suffering, pain, affliction, labor, prayer, mourning and sorrow, until he gave up the ghost on the cross. Still he was God's firstborn son and the Redeemer of the world. The question might be asked why the Lord suffered his Son to come here and to live and die as he did. When we get into the spirit world, and the veil is withdrawn, we shall then perhaps understand the whys and wherefores of all these things. In the dispensations and providences of God to man it seems that we are born to suffer pain, affliction, sorrows and trials; this is what God has decreed that the human family shall pass through; and if we make a right use of this probation, the experience it brings will eventually prove a great blessing to us, and when we receive immortality and eternal life, exaltation, kingdoms, thrones, principalities and powers with all the blessings of the fulness of the Gospel of Christ, we shall understand and comprehend why we were called to pass through a continual warfare during the few years we spent in the flesh. (Journal of Discourses, 18:33)
DC 122:9 Therefore, hold on thy way
Stand fast, ye Saints of God, hold on a little while longer, and the storm of life will be past, and you will be rewarded by that God whose servants you are, and who will duly appreciate all your toils and afflictions for Christ's sake and the Gospel's. (Teachings of the Prophet Joseph Smith, p. 185)
DC 122:9 for their bounds are set... Thy days are known and thy years shall not be numbered less
Joseph truly said, "No power can take away my life, until my work is done." All the powers of earth and hell could not take his life, until he had completed the work the Father gave him to do; until that was done, he had to live. (Journal of Discourses, 4:285)
(October 1843)-I defy all the world to destroy the work of God; and I prophesy they never will have power to kill me till my work is accomplished, and I am ready to die. (Teachings of the Prophet Joseph Smith, 328)
DC 122:9 fear not what man can do, for God shall be with you forever and ever
God Almighty is my shield; and what can man do if God is my friend? I shall not be sacrificed until my time comes; then I shall be offered freely... I thank god for preserving me from my enemies; I have no enemies but for the truth's sake. I have no desire but to do all men good. I feel to pray for all men. (Teachings of the Prophet Joseph Smith, 274-275)
I do not regard my own life. I am ready to be offered a sacrifice for this people; for what can our enemies do? Only kill the body, and their power is then at an end. Stand firm, my friends; never flinch. Do not seek to save your lives, for he that is afraid to die for the truth, will lose eternal life. Hold out to the end, and we shall be resurrected and become like Gods, and reign in celestial kingdoms, principalities, and eternal dominions, while this cursed mob will sink to hell. (History of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, 6: 503.)