Joseph Smith: A Self-Evaluation

The Church course of study for 2021 is the Doctrine Covenants, Church History, and the Life and Teachings of the Prophet Joseph Smith.

Joseph Smith was far from perfect. He was the first to recognize and confess his flaws and mistakes. In fact, in 1828, he publicly announced that the Lord had severely rebuked him for transgressing the commandments, succumbing to peer pressure, and fearing men more than God. (See: D&C 3) That public admission says a lot about his candor, integrity, and character.

His prophetic calling
            Every man who has a calling to minister to the inhabitants of the world was ordained to that very purpose in the Grand Council of heaven before the world was.  I suppose that I was ordained to this very office in that Grand Council.  It is the testimony that I want that I am God’s servant, and this people His people. (DHC 6:364)

His trials and struggles
            I am like a huge, rough stone rolling down from a high mountain; and the only polishing I get is when some corner gets rubbed off by coming in contact with something else, striking with accelerated force against religious bigotry, priestcraft, lawyer-craft, doctor-craft, lying editors, suborned judges and jurors, and the authority of perjured executives, backed by mobs, blasphemers, licentious and corrupt men and women–all hell knocking off a corner here and a corner there.  Thus I will become a smooth and polished shaft in the quiver of the Almighty, who will give me dominion over all and every one of them, when their refuge of lies shall fail, and their hiding place shall be destroyed, while these smooth-polished stones with which I come in contact become marred (DHC 5:401)

His work and his witness
            You don’t know me; you never knew my heart.  No man knows my history.  I cannot tell it: I shall never undertake it.  I don’t blame any one for not believing my history.  If I had not experienced what I have, I would not have believed it myself.  I never did harm any man since I was born in the world.  My voice is always for peace.
            I cannot lie down until all my work is finished.  I never think any evil, nor do anything to the harm of my fellow-men.  When I am called by the trump of the archangel and weighed in the balance, you will all know me then. (DHC VI, 317)

His weaknesses
            I told them I was but a man, and they must not expect me to be perfect; if they expected perfection from me, I should expect it from them; but if they would bear with my infirmities and the infirmities of the brethren, I would likewise bear with their infirmities. (DHC 5:181)

His frustration teaching the Saints
            I have tried for a number of years to get the minds of the Saints prepared to receive the things of God; but we frequently see some of them, after suffering all they have for the work of God, will fly to pieces like glass as soon as anything comes that is contrary to their traditions; they cannot stand the fire at all.  How many will be able to abide a celestial law, and go through the receive their exaltation.  I am unable to say, as many are called but few are chosen. (DHC 6: 183-185)
            It is my meditation all the day, and more than my meat and drink, to know how I shall make the Saints of God comprehend the visions that roll like an overflowing surge before my mind. (DHC 5:362)

His love of truth
            When things that are of the greatest importance are passed over by weak-minded men without even a thought, I want to see truth in all its bearings and hug it to my bosom. (DHC 6:477)

His personal motto:
            I made this my rule: When the Lord commands, do it. (DHC 2:170)

Turning to the Lord for comfort  
            Dear Wife…I have visited a grove which is just back of the town almost every day where I can be secluded from the eyes of any mortal and there give vent to all the feelings of my heart in meditation and prayer.  I have called to mind all the past moments of my life and am left to morn and shed tears of sorrow for my folly in suffering the adversary of my soul to have so much power over me as he has had in times past.  But God is merciful and has forgiven my sins and I rejoice that he sendeth forth the Comforter unto as many as believe and humbleth themselves before him…I will try to be contented with my lot knowing that God is my friend.  In him shall I find comfort.  I have given my life into his hands. I am prepared to go at his call… ( Letter to Emma, June 6, 1832, Donna Hill, “Joseph Smith: The First Mormon,” p. 11)

His impending death
            I am going like a lamb to the slaughter, but I am calm as a summer’s morning.  I have a conscience void of offense toward God, and toward all men.  If they take my life I shall die an innocent man, and my blood shall cry from the ground for vengeance, and it shall be said of me “He was murdered in cold blood!” (DHC 6:555)

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