Section 12


Joseph Smith

About the same time (May 1829) an old gentleman came to visit us of whose name I wish to make honorable mention—Mr. Joseph Knight, Sen., of Colesville, Broome county, New York, who, having heard of the manner in which we were occupying our time, very kindly and considerately brought us a quantity of provisions, in order that we might not be interrupted in the work of translation by the want of such necessaries of life; and I would just mention here, as in duty bound, that he several times brought us supplies, a distance of at least thirty miles, which enabled us to continue the work when otherwise we must have relinquished it for a season. (History of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, 7 vols., introduction and notes by B. H. Roberts [Salt Lake City: The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, 1932-1951], 1: 47 - 48.)

Alvin R. Dyer

This account indicates the circumstances of humility under which the Book of Mormon was brought forth. The Prophet and these men had nothing of the world's goods, yet they were pursuing a cause that was to bring to the world a record of the ancient inhabitants of North and South America, which without doubt is a new witness of Christ, and of the divine work of God our Eternal and Heavenly Father in bringing to pass the immortality and eternal life of man. 

I bear testimony that the truth has been restored, that man may seek for and find in the restoration the power that can lift him into the light of spiritual understanding and conviction. (Conference Report, April 1967, Third Day—Morning Meeting 110.) 

Historical Background: Joseph Knight, Sr. and Joseph Smith, Jr.

“After the Smiths, the Joseph and Polly Knight family may be the second family of the Restoration. The Knights knew Joseph Smith and accepted his claims before Oliver Cowdery, Martin Harris, or David Whitmer knew him. The Knights also stood by Joseph Smith more steadfastly than did the Three and the Eight Witnesses and even some of the Smiths. They became a special type of witness, a family witness of Joseph Smith’s prophetic work.

“Joseph Smith’s friendship with the Knights began when he was twenty years old. In late 1826, Joseph Smith became a hired hand for Joseph Knight, Sr., and others in the Colesville, New York, area—115 miles southeast of Palmyra by dirt road. Young Joseph did farm work and probably helped at the Knights’ sawmill. He had experienced the First Vision six years before and had been meeting with Moroni for three years.

“While helping the Knights, he bunked with Joseph Knight, Jr., who wrote that in November 1826 Joseph Smith ‘made known to us that he had seen a vision, that a personage had appeared to him, and told him where there was a gold book of ancient date buried, and that if he would follow the direction of the Angel, he could get it. We were told this in secret.’

“Another son, Newel Knight, wrote that Joseph Smith visited them often and that they ‘were very deeply impressed with the truthfulness of his statements concerning the Plates of the Book of Mormon which had been shown him by an Angel of the Lord.’

“Joseph Smith was then courting Emma Hale, a romance Father Knight assisted: ‘I paid him the money and I furnished him with a horse and cutter [sled] to go and see his girl.’ Joseph and Emma married shortly after that, on 18 January 1827, and moved to the Smith home near Palmyra.

“When the time came for Joseph Smith to obtain the plates, Father Knight traveled to the Smith home, where the Prophet used his wagon to retrieve the plates. Late that night, after Joseph Smith had returned from his mission, he said to Brother Knight, ‘It is ten times better than I expected.’ According to Father Knight, the Prophet described the plates, though he ‘seemed to think more of the glasses or urim and thummim than he did of the plates. `For` says he, `I can see any thing. They are marvelous.` ‘

“By early 1828, Joseph and Emma had moved to Emma’s father’s property, about thirty miles from the Knights. Joseph Smith found it impossible to both earn a living and translate the plates. The Smiths asked Father Knight for help. Although the Knights were ‘not in easy circumstances,’ Joseph Knight, Sr., gave the young man some goods: ‘some few things out of the store, a pair of shoes, and three dollars.’ A few days later, Father Knight visited the couple and gave them some money to buy paper for the translation. Joseph Knight, Jr., recalled that, prior to Oliver Cowdery’s arrival, ‘Father and I often went to see him and carry him something to live upon.’

“Mrs. Knight was not yet a believer, so in March 1828 her husband took her by sled to visit the Smiths. He wrote, ‘Joseph talked with us about his translating and some revelations he had received. And from that time my wife began to believe.’

“In early [1829], when Oliver Cowdery became Joseph Smith’s scribe, the two visited Father Knight, seeking provisions. Father Knight paid for and delivered a barrel of mackerel, about ten bushels of grain and six of potatoes, a pound of tea, and some lined paper for writing. The two rejoiced at the food and paper, and ‘then they went to work, and had provisions enough to last till the translation was done.’

“Years later, Joseph Smith praised Father Knight for these items: they ‘enabled us to continue the work when otherwise we must have relinquished it for a season.’ Joseph Knight, Sr., helped the world receive the Book of Mormon sooner. If the Prophet had had to work full-time to support his family, the translation might have taken years to complete.” (William G. Hartley, “The Knight Family: Ever Faithful to the Prophet,” Ensign, Jan. 1989, 43–45)

DC 12:1 A great and marvelous work

Have you noticed how many times this phrase is repeated? “A great and marvelous work is about to come forth among the children of men”—the verse has been repeated in sections 6, 11, 12, and 14. If Joseph Smith were a fraud, he would have to be crazy to make such grandiose claims a year before the church was organized. Why would he claim that his work was to become a great thing if he were not a prophet of God? Given the circumstances, it was an inconceivable prophecy! But indeed, this declaration came not from Joseph but from the Lord. Not surprisingly then, every day since 1829, the work has become greater and more marvelous in the eyes of those who believe.

DC 12:6 keep my commandments, and seek to bring forth and establish the cause of Zion 

John A. Widstoe

The question as to individual responsibility for the welfare of the Church was asked in the early days of members of the Church. Several of the men who labored with the Prophet Joseph Smith came to him in those early days and said: “What shall we do?” They might have said: “What shall we do to be saved?” The Lord in every instance gave an answer. We have a series of short revelations in the Doctrine and Covenants, which are the answers to that question. I find in every one a significant statement, worded almost identically in all of these revelations, to Hyrum Smith, David Whitmer, Oliver Cowdery, and others of less fame in the Church: “Keep my commandments, and seek to bring forth and establish the cause of Zion.” [Sec. 6:6; 11:6; 14:6.] That is our business, the business of the Latter-day Saints.

From one point of view, it is selfish enough, perhaps, to keep the commandments that I may be blessed, but it is something even greater to keep the commandments that Zion may be established. As the foundation of his great cause, the Lord gave the law of sacrifice. [Moses 5:5-8.] Unless we give of ourselves we cannot build Zion, or anything else worthy of the great cause that the Lord has given us. The law of sacrifice, from the day of Adam to the present day, in one form or another, is the basic principle of life among the communities of Saints. [Sec. 64:23; 97:8; 101:35-40; 117:12-14.]

So we need, in this Church and Kingdom, for our own and the world's welfare, a group of men and women in their individual lives who shall be as a light to the nations, and rally standards for the world to follow. [Sec. 45:9; 115:4-5.] Such a people must be different from the world as it now is. There is no opportunity for Latter-day Saints to say we shall be as the world is, unless the world has the same aim that we have. We are here to build Zion to Almighty God, for the blessing of all the world. In that aim we are unique and different from all other peoples. We must respect that obligation, and not be afraid of it. We cannot walk as other men, or talk as other men, or do as other men, for we have a different destiny, obligation, and responsibility placed upon us, and we must fit ourselves for that great destiny and obligation. (Roy W. Doxey, comp., Latter-day Prophets and the Doctrine and Covenants [Salt Lake City: Deseret Book Co., 1978], 1: 122.)

DC 12:8 no one can assist in this work except he shall be humble and full of love

Ezra Taft Benson

A word about humility. I think of what the Lord has said to us: “And no one can assist in this work unless he shall be humble and full of love” (D&C 12:8). I hope we carry that spirit of humility and love with us. It is so easy to love the Latter-day Saints. I think of Brother LeGrand Richards. When he would return home and see his wife, who was left at home alone, he would say, “Oh, the Saints are so wonderful.” And she would usually reply, “Yes, and they really spoil you.” Well, we all love the Saints and it is easy to love them and to let them know of our love and our appreciation. Humility, of course, is not a sign of weakness. Humility does not mean timidity. A person can be humble, powerful, and courageous. The Prophet Joseph is a good example. Humility is an acknowledged recognition of our dependence on a higher power. In this work, we will never be successful unless we have that spirit of humility.” (The Teachings of Ezra Taft Benson [Salt Lake City: Bookcraft, 1988], 369 - 370.)

DC 12:8 be humble and full of love, having faith, hope, and charity

George Teasdale

The Lord has said with regard to the work of the ministry, and the establishment of His Kingdom on the earth that, “No one can assist in this work, except he shall be humble and full of love, having faith, hope and charity, being temperate in all things, whatsoever shall be entrusted to his care.” How is it possible for us to be put in possession of these inestimable virtues unless we desire them with all our hearts! And how can we obtain them but by earnest prayer to Him from whence all these priceless blessings flow? From what other source can we obtain them? (Journal of Discourses, 26 vols. [London: Latter-day Saints' Book Depot, 1854-1886], 26: 54.)

DC 12:8 being temperate in all things 

“What a tall order for parents. There are and will always be times in the home when things get hectic and tempers rage. The parents are the foundation of home life and, therefore, need to remain in control of themselves in order to help the children resolve differences. In the scripture previously quoted, there are several things mentioned that may help us to think about our purpose. If we are humble and full of love, we will have a better chance of being in control of our tempers.—Chris Wiggins, Tucson, Ariz.” (LDS Church News, 1997, 09/06/97)

Russell M. Nelson

Temperance suggests sobriety and self-restraint in action. It reminds one of covenants made…Repeatedly, scriptures teach that we be “temperate in all things.” (1 Cor. 9:25; Alma 7:23; Alma 38:10; D&C 12:8). Temperance can protect each of us from the aftermath of excess. (“These … Were Our Examples,” Ensign, Nov. 1991, 60)