Currently among Latter-day Saints, there is a great contention about how we should view Joseph Smith. An increasing number are voicing their feelings that the Prophet should be taken off of the pedestal to which he has been placed by early Church members and leaders who knew him best. The Joseph Smith Foundation and LDS Answers oppose the current trends and we have put together this list of statements by Latter-day prophets who testified of the Prophet’s greatness.
Doctrine and Covenants
Joseph Smith, the Prophet and Seer of the Lord, has done more, save Jesus only, for the salvation of men in this world, than any other man that ever lived in it. . . .[He] left a fame and name that cannot be slain. He lived great, and he died great in the eyes of God and his people; and like most of the Lord’s anointed in ancient times, has sealed his mission and his works with his own blood; and so has his brother Hyrum. In life they were not divided, and in death they were not separated!
. . . the Book of Mormon, and this book of Doctrine and Covenants of the church, cost the best blood of the nineteenth century to bring them forth for the salvation of a ruined world; and that if the fire can scathe a green tree for the glory of God, how easy it will burn up the dry trees to purify the vineyard of corruption. They lived for glory; they died for glory; and glory is their eternal reward. From age to age shall their names go down to posterity as gems for the sanctified.1
All those that rise up against me will surely feel the weight of their iniquity upon their own heads. Those that speak evil of me and the Saints are ignorant or abominable characters, and full of iniquity. All the fuss, and all the stir, and all the charges got up against me are like the jack-a-lantern, which cannot be found. Although I do wrong, I do not the wrongs that I am charged with doing; the wrong that I do is through the frailty of human nature like other men. No man lives without fault. Do you think that even Jesus, if he were here would be without fault in your eyes? His enemies said all manner of evil against him— they all watched for iniquity in him.2
Would to God, brethren, I could tell you who I am! Would to God I could tell you what I know! But you would call it blasphemy, and there are men upon this stand who would want to take my life.3
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-man. When I am called by the trump of the archangel and weighed in the balance, you will all know me then. I add no more. God bless you all.4
No one need suppose me guilty of any great or malignant sins. A disposition to commit such was never in my nature.”5
“They say I am a fallen Prophet, but I am more in favor with my God this day than ever before in my life. They little know who I am, and I dare not tell. They will not know who I am until they see me at the bar of God.” . . . I [Mary Elizabeth Rollins] said, “Brother Joseph, how do you know
I [Mary Elizabeth Rollins] said, “Brother Joseph, how do you know you yourself will be saved?” He replied, “
He replied, “I know I will. I have the oath of God on it and God cannot lie.” He
He said “John the Revelator was caught up to the third heaven, but I know one who was caught up to the seventh heaven and saw and heard things not lawful for me to utter.”6
People little know who I am when they talk to me, and they never will know until they see me weighed in the balance in the Kingdom of God. Then they will know who I am, and see me as I am. I dare not tell them and they do not know me.“7
Paul saw the third heavens, and I more.8
There are some things in my own bosom that must remain there. If Paul could say I Knew a man who ascended to the third heaven & saw things unlawful for man to utter, I more.9
Paul ascended into the third heavens, and he could understand the three principal rounds of Jacob’s ladder — the telestial, the terrestrial, and the celestial glories or kingdoms, where
Paul saw and heard things which were not lawful for him to utter. I could explain a hundred fold more than I ever have of the glories of the kingdoms manifested to me in the vision, were I permitted, and were the people prepared to receive them.
The Lord deals with this people as a tender parent with a child, communicating light and intelligence and the knowledge of his ways as they can bear it.10
Brigham Young remembered the Prophet Joseph Smith saying, “If I revealed all that has been made known to me, scarcely a man on this stand would stay with me” and “The Prophet said to me [Brigham Young] about sixteen years ago [at Kirtland], ‘If I was to show the Latter-day Saints all the revelations that the Lord has shown unto me, there is scarce a man that would stay with me, they could not bear it'”11
There were prophets before, but Joseph has the spirit and power of all the prophets.12
Who can justly say aught against Joseph Smith? I was as well acquainted with him, as any man. I do not believe that his father and mother knew him any better than I did. I do not think that a man lives on the earth that knew him any better than I did; and I am bold to say that, Jesus Christ excepted, no better man ever lived or does live upon this earth. I am his witness. He was persecuted for the same reason that any other righteous person has been or is persecuted at the present day.13
I feel like shouting hallelujah, all the time, when I think that I ever knew Joseph Smith, the Prophet whom the Lord raised up and ordained, and to whom He gave keys and power to build up the kingdom of God on earth and sustain it. These keys are committed to this people, and we have power to continue the work that Joseph commenced, until everything is prepared for the coming of the Son of Man. This is the business of the Latter-day Saints, and it is all the business we have on hand.14
The secret feeling of my heart was that I would be willing to crawl around the earth on my hands and knees, to see such a man as was Peter, Jeremiah, Moses, or any man that could tell me anything about God and heaven . . . until I saw Joseph Smith.15
Well, now, examine the character of the Savior, and examine the characters of those who have written the Old and New Testaments; and then compare them with the character of Joseph Smith, the founder of this work . . . and you will find that his character stands as fair as that of any man’s mentioned in the Bible. We can find no person who presents a better character to the world when the facts are known. 16
It was decreed in the councils of eternity, long before the foundations of the earth were laid, that Joseph Smith should be the man in the last dispensation of this world to bring forth the word of God to this people and receive the fulness of the keys and power of the priesthood of the Son of God. The Lord has had his eyes upon him and upon his father, and upon his father’s father, and upon their progenitors clear back to Abraham, and from Abraham to the flood, and from the flood to Enoch, and from Enoch to Adam. He has watched that family and that blood as it has circulated from the foundation to the birth of that man. Joseph Smith was foreordained in eternity to preside over this last dispensation.17
Joseph Smith holds the keys of this last dispensation, and is now engaged behind the veil in the great work of the last days. . . . no man or woman in this dispensation will ever enter into the celestial kingdom of God without the consent of Joseph Smith.
From the day that the Priesthood was taken from the earth to the winding-up scene of all things, every man and woman must have the certificate of Joseph Smith, junior, as a passport to their entrance into the mansion where God and Christ are—I with you and you with me. I cannot go there without his consent. He holds the keys of that kingdom for the last dispensation—the keys to rule in the spirit world; and he rules there triumphantly, for he gained full power and a glorious victory over the power of Satan while he was yet in the flesh, and was a martyr to his religion and to the name of Christ, which gives him a most perfect victory in the spirit world. He reigns there as supreme a being in his sphere, capacity, and calling, as God does in heaven. Many will exclaim—“Oh, that is very disagreeable! It is preposterous! We cannot bear the thought!” But it is true.
I will now tell you something that ought to comfort every man and woman on the face of the earth. Joseph Smith, junior, will again be on this earth dictating plans and calling forth his brethren to be baptized for the very characters who wish this was not so, in order to bring them into a kingdom to enjoy, perhaps, the presence of angels or the spirits of good men, if they cannot endure the presence of the Father and the Son; and he will never cease his operations, under the directions of the Son of God, until the last ones of the children of men are saved that can be, from Adam till now.
Should not this thought comfort all people? They will, by-and-by, be a thousand times more thankful for such a man as Joseph Smith, junior, than it is possible for them to be for any earthly good whatever. It is his mission to see that all the children of men in this last dispensation are saved, that can be, through the redemption. You will be thankful, everyone of you, that Joseph Smith, junior, was ordained to this great calling before the worlds were.18
. . . no matter how odious his name may be to the inhabitants of the earth. I will defy any nation to hate a man more than the Jews hated the name of Jesus Christ—when he lived in the flesh. I honor and revere the name of Joseph Smith. I delight to hear it; I love it. I love his doctrine. . . . Should I be hated and my name cast out as evil because I love the truth? Yes, or the words of Jesus could not be fulfilled, for he said, “Ye shall be hated of all men for my name’s sake.”19
In 1833 I moved to Ohio where I became acquainted with Joseph Smith, Jr., and remained familiarly acquainted with him in private councils, and in his public walk and acts until the day of his death, and I can truly say, that I invariably found him to be all that any people could require a true prophet to be, and that a better man could not be, though he had his weaknesses; and what man has ever lived upon this earth who had none?20
Who was Joseph Smith? The Book of Mormon tells us he was of the seed of Joseph that was sold into Egypt, and hence he was selected as Abraham was to fulfil a work upon the earth. God chose this young man. He was ignorant of letters as the world has it, but the most profoundly learned and intelligent man that I ever met in my life, and I have traveled hundreds of thousands of miles, been on different continents and mingled among all classes and creeds of people, yet I have never met a man so intelligent as he was. And where did he get his intelligence from? Not from books; not from the logic or science or philosophy of the day, but he obtained it through the revelation of God made known to him through the medium of the everlasting gospel.21
O Give Me Back My Prophet Dear
O give me back my Prophet dear,
And Patriarch, O give them back;
The Saints of latter days to cheer,
And lead them in the gospel track.
But ah! they’re gone from my embrace,
From earthly scenes their spirits fled;
Those two, the best of Adam’s race,
Now lie entombed among the dead.
Ye men of wisdom tell me why,
When guilt nor crime in them were found,
Why now their blood doth loudly cry,
From prison walls, and Carthage ground
Your tongues are mute, but pray attend,
The secret I will now relate,
Why those whom God to earth did lend,
Have met the suffering martyr’s fate.
It is because they strove to gain,
Beyond the grave a heaven of bliss;
Because they made the gospel plain,
And led the Saints in righteousness.
It is because God called them forth,
And led them by his own right hand
Christ’s coming to proclaim on earth,
And gather Israel to their land.
It is because the priests of Baal
Were desperate their craft to save;
And when they saw it doomed to fail,
They sent the Prophets to the grave.
Like scenes the ancient Prophets saw,
Like these, the ancient Prophets fell;
And till the resurrection dawn,
Prophet and Patriarch-Fare thee well.
The Seer, the Seer, Joseph the Seer!
The Seer, the Seer, Joseph the Seer!
I’ll sing of the Prophet ever dear;
His equal now cannot be found,
By searching the wide world around.
With Gods he soured in the realms of day,
And men he taught the heavenly way.
The earthly Seer! the heavenly Seer!
I love to dwell on his memory dear;
The chosen of God and the friend of man,
He brought the Priesthood back again;
He gazed on the past, and the present too,
And opened the heavenly world to view.
Of noble seed, of heavenly birth,
He came to bless the sons of earth;
With keys by the Almighty given,
He opened the full rich stores of heaven;
O’er the world that was wrapt in sable night,
Like the sun, he spread his golden light;
Then, then how happy the meeting!
Joy, joy each bosom will fill!
With Joseph and Hyrum then greeting,
On Zion’s thrice sanctified hill;
Yes, yes, on Zion’s thrice sanctified hill.
There is not so great a man as Joseph standing in this generation. … His mind, like Enoch’s, expands as eternity, and only God can comprehend his soul.”22
It has been my faith and belief from the time that I was made acquainted with the Gospel that no greater prophet than Joseph Smith ever lived on the face of the earth save Jesus Christ. He was raised up to stand at the head of this great dispensation—the greatest of all dispensations God has ever given to man. He remarked on several occasions when conversing with his brethren: “Brethren you do not know me, you do not know who I am.”
As I remarked at our priesthood meeting on Friday evening, I have heard him in my early days while conversing with the brethren, say (at the same time smiting himself upon the breast), “I would to God that I could unbosom my feelings in the house of my friends.” Joseph Smith was ordained before he came here, the same as Jeremiah was. Said the Lord unto him, “Before you were begotten I knew you” etc.23
I look upon Joseph Smith as the greatest prophet that ever breathed the breath of life, excepting Jesus Christ. Father Adam, as I have said, stands at the head; but Joseph Smith was reserved to lay the foundation of this great kingdom and dispensation of salvation to the whole human family in these last days, to build up Zion, to establish God’s Kingdom, and to prepare it for the coming of the Son of Man.24
My soul has been much edified … in hearing Joseph the Seer. … Truly God is with him and is making him mighty in wisdom and knowledge and I am convinced for myself that none of the prophets, seers or revelators of the earth have ever accomplished a greater work than will be accomplished in the last days through the mercy of God by Joseph the Seer.25
I have felt to rejoice exceedingly in what I saw of Brother Joseph, for in his public and private career he carried with him the Spirit of the Almighty, and he manifested a greatness of soul which I had never seen in any other man.26
Joseph Smith, the Prophet, with whom I was intimately acquainted for years, as well as I was with my brother, I know him to have been a man of integrity, a man devoted to the interests of humanity and to the requirements of God all the days in which he was permitted to live. There never was a man that possessed a higher degree of integrity and more devotedness to the interest of mankind than the Prophet Joseph Smith.27
I knew him to be a man of God, full of the spirit of his calling—a man whose integrity could not be disputed, and who was honest in all his endeavors. No one that was as intimately acquainted with him as I was could find any fault with him, so far as his moral character was concerned. … I bear testimony of the good character of Brother Joseph Smith, of his honesty, his fidelity, his faithfulness, his generosity, and benevolence, as a man and as a servant of God.28
. . . as to his being a man of truth and honor I, nor any one else that knew him, have any reason to question for a moment.29
Joseph F. Smith
Brother Woodruff, in the course of his remarks, made the assertion that Joseph Smith was the greatest prophet that has ever lived, of whom we have any knowledge, save and except Jesus Christ himself. The world would say that he was an impostor; and the Lord said that his name should be had for good and for evil among all the nations of the earth; and this much, at least, so far as his name has become known, has been fulfilled. . . .
The work in which Joseph Smith was engaged was not confined to this life alone, but it pertains as well to the life to come, and to the life that has been. . . . Joseph Smith is held in reverence, his name is honored; tens of thousands of people thank God in their hearts, and from the depths of their souls, for the knowledge the Lord has restored to the earth through him, and therefore they speak well of him and bear testimony of his worth.30
I should like to see introduced among the Latter-day Saints…the practice of celebrating or commemorating the birthday of the Prophet Joseph Smith. . . . he was the only man that I have any record of, or that I have ever read of in any history, that God Himself, in connection with His son Jesus Christ, deigned to visit in person and commune with in this world while he was a youth. . . . And while he could play with children and amuse himself at simple, innocent games among men, he also communed with the Father and the Son and spoke with angels, and they visited him, and conferred blessings and gifts and keys of power upon him that were never before bestowed upon any human being other than the Son of God himself.31
Heber J. Grant
In many places I have met people who have studied our faith. Some of them would say: “I could accept everything that you people teach were it not for this man Joseph Smith. If you would only eliminate him!”
The day can never come when we will do that. As well might we undertake to leave out Jesus Christ, the Son of the living God.32
The whole foundation of this Church rests firmly upon the inspiration of the living God through Joseph Smith the Prophet.33
When we stop to think of the marvelous work that the Prophet Joseph did, sometimes I wonder how any man of intelligence can look into the life of that man, can know of his imprisonment, of the drivings, of the persecutions, of the tarring and feathering, of the sentence of death having been passed upon him, and then read the wonderful things that we have in the Doctrine and Covenants, without failing to acknowledge the inspiration of the Lord in his accomplishments.34
I know that God chose His prophet Joseph Smith and gave him instructions and authority to establish this work, and that the power and the influence of Joseph Smith are now being felt as the angel [Moroni] promised. His name is known for good or evil all over the world [see Joseph Smith—History 1:33], but for evil only by those who malign him. Those who know him, those who know his teachings, know his life was pure and that his teachings were in very deed God’s law.35
George Albert Smith
Much has been said in this conference about the Prophet Joseph Smith. There isn’t much that I could say, except that which is good. Many of the benefits and blessings that have come to me have come through that man who gave his life for the gospel of Jesus Christ. There have been some who have belittled him, but I would like to say that those who have done so will be forgotten and their remains will go back to mother earth, if they have not already gone, and the odor of their infamy will never die, while the glory and honor and majesty and courage and fidelity manifested by the Prophet Joseph Smith will attach to his name forever. So we have no apologies to make.36
David O. McKay
As with the Master, so with the prophet, his instructions came not through man-made channels but direct from God, the source of all intelligence. He says: “I am a rough stone. The sound of the hammer and chisel were never heard on me until the Lord took me in hand. I desire the learning and wisdom of heaven alone.” (History of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. Salt Lake City, UT. 5:423. Web.)
Great men have the ability to see clearly into the heart of things. They discern truth. They think independently. They act nobly. They influence strong men to follow them. Small men sneer at them, ridicule them, persecute them, but the critics die and are forgotten, and the great man lives on forever.
Some of Joseph Smith’s contemporaries sneered at him; others admired him; his followers revered him. …
No one unbiased in his judgment can study the life of this religious leader without being impressed with the fact that he possessed in a rich degree the qualities of true greatness, the source of which is found in a desire to know God’s will, and in a determination, when it is found, to follow it.37
Throughout all ages truth has been first perceived by a few heroic leaders who, in defense of it, frequently sacrificed their lives. To the clear perception and the courage of these intrepid leaders of men is due the progress of mankind. At some time or other, they have had to make a choice whether to deny, modify, or defend truth—a choice between personal ease and preferment, or ostracism, punishment, or even death. . . . It took courage for Joseph Smith to testify to an unbelieving and bitter world the truth that God and his Beloved Son had appeared in vision to him.38
The best blood of this country was shed in innocence. [The Prophet Joseph] knew he was innocent. He knew his rights. So did his brother Hyrum, John Taylor and Willard Richards who were there with him. But because of lies, black and damnable, the Prophet Joseph and his brother Hyrum were martyred.
… In the midst of it all what was the Prophet’s attitude? A calm, Christ-like attitude. Said he, when he was going to Carthage that evening:
“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 all men. If they take my life I shall die an innocent man, and it will yet be said of me, he was murdered in cold blood.” [See D&C 135:4.]
The lives of the Prophet, of his brother, Hyrum, the patriarch, and of hundreds of thousands of others who accepted the truth of [the First Vision] bear evidence that the plan of salvation, as it is purported Jesus Christ revealed it, most assuredly leads toward Christlike character. So real was the revelation to the Prophet and his brother, Hyrum, that they unflinchingly sealed their testimony with their blood.39
Joseph Fielding Smith
NO SALVATION WITHOUT ACCEPTING JOSEPH SMITH. If Joseph Smith was verily a prophet, and if he told the truth when he said that he stood in the presence of angels sent from the Lord, and obtained keys of authority, and the commandment to organize the Church of Jesus Christ once again on the earth, then this knowledge is of the most vital importance to the entire world. No man can reject that testimony without incurring the most dreadful consequences, for he cannot enter the kingdom of god. It is, therefore the duty of every man to investigate that he may weigh this matter carefully and know the truth.40
Harold B. Lee
From the depths of my soul, I … know that Joseph Smith was a prophet of the living God. I know that he lived and died to bring to this generation the means by which salvation could be gained. I know that he sits in a high place and holds the keys of this last dispensation. I know that for those who follow him and listen to his teachings and accept him as a true prophet of God and his revelations and teachings as the word of God, the gates of hell will not prevail against them. [See D&C 21:4–6.]41
A prophet does not become a spiritual leader by studying books about religion, nor does he become one by attending a theological seminary. … One becomes a prophet or a religious leader by actual spiritual contacts. The true spiritual expert thus gets his diploma directly from God.42
“Joseph Smith, the Prophet and Seer of the Lord, has done more, save Jesus only, for the salvation of men in this world, than any other man that ever lived” (D&C 135:3).
Now, some may think that to be an exaggerated statement, but [it is not] when we think of what He gave to us through this marvelous young man who, in a short space of two years, brought forth the great volume of scripture which was a second witness to the mission of the Lord, the Book of Mormon.43
Brigham Young in his day was invited into a group of some of those who were trying to argue against that principle of unity. After he learned that they were trying to “depose” as they said, the Prophet Joseph Smith, he stood before them and said something like this: “You cannot destroy the appointment of a prophet of God, but you can cut the thread which binds you to a prophet of God and sink yourselves to hell.”
It was that kind of fearlessness which was manifest in him that made him the peerless leader he was to become. It is that same kind of courage, though not always popular, but the kind that has been demanded of every man whom our Father would honor with high places of leadership.
I heard President Smith, and you heard him, four years ago from this stand, after there had been some scurrilous articles written about the Prophet Joseph Smith. He said this, and to me it was the ringing voice of a prophet speaking.
Many have belittled Joseph Smith, but those who have will be forgotten in the remains of Mother Earth, and the odor of that infamy will ever be with them; but honor, majesty, and fidelity to God exemplified by Joseph Smith and attached to his name will never die.44
Spencer W. Kimball
On another occasion, President Kimball described feelings he had when viewing a portrait of the Prophet Joseph Smith found in a room of the Salt Lake Temple: “I look over on the front wall, and there is Joseph Smith, and I think what a great, great prophet Joseph Smith was. He was no common man. … I think of all of his persecutions and the suffering that he went through. I think of all the revelations that came from heaven to him which he gave to us. And then I gain new strength again.”45
In our own dispensation came [such a] grand experience. The need was imperative; an apostasy had covered the earth and gross darkness the people, and the minds of men were clouded and light had been obscured in darkness [see Isaiah 60:2]. The time had come. Religious liberty would protect the seed until it could germinate and grow. And the individual was prepared in the person of a youth, clean and open minded, who had such implicit faith in the response of God that the heavens could not remain as iron and the earth as brass as they had been for many centuries [see Leviticus 26:19].
This budding prophet had no preconceived false notions and beliefs. He was not steeped in the traditions and legends and superstitions and fables of the centuries. He had nothing to unlearn. He prayed for knowledge and direction. The powers of darkness preceded the light. When he knelt in solitude in the silent forest, his earnest prayer brought on a battle royal that threatened his destruction. For centuries, Lucifer with unlimited dominion had fettered men’s minds and could ill-afford to lose his satanic hold. This threatened his unlimited dominion. . . . The heavens which had been closed in large measure for many centuries were now opened. The voices that had been still and subdued and unheard through many centuries now began to speak.46
Modern scribes and Pharisees have published libelous books and articles by the hundreds, imprisoned him some forty-odd times, tarred and feathered him, shot at him, and did everything in their power to destroy him. In spite of their every effort to take his life, he survived through more than a score of years of bitter and violent persecution to fill his mission, until his hour should come. Twenty-four years of hell he suffered, but also twenty-four years of ecstasy he enjoyed in converse with God and other immortals! His mission was accomplished—heaven and earth were linked again; . . . The shots rang out! And freely flowed the blood of martyrs, for Hyrum, his older brother, had chosen to remain with him. This precious blood soaked into the earth, sealing an undying and unanswerable testimony which continued to ring in minds and hearts.47
Ezra Taft Benson
I testify to you that Joseph Smith was and is a prophet of God, one of the truly great prophets of all time, a man of destiny, a man of character, a man of courage, a man of deep spirituality, a God-like prophet of the Lord, a truly noble and great one of all time.48
Joseph Smith was a prophet of the Living God, one of the greatest prophets that has ever lived upon the earth. He was the instrument in God’s hand in ushering in a great gospel dispensation, the greatest ever, and the last of all in preparation for the second coming of the Master.49
Joseph Smith has done more for the salvation of men in this world than any man who ever lived in it, except the Master.50
I know that Joseph Smith, although slain as a martyr to the truth, still lives and that as head of this dispensation—the greatest of all gospel dispensations—he will continue so to stand throughout the eternities to come.51
The message of Joseph Smith—the message of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, the message of Mormonism—is the most important message in this world. And Joseph Smith the Prophet, who lives today, continues to have an important part in its direction here on earth.52
To get a vision of the magnitude of the Prophet’s earthly mission we must view it in the light of eternity. He was among “the noble and great ones” whom Abraham described as follows:
“Now the Lord had shown unto me, Abraham, the intelligences that were organized before the world was; and among all these there were many of the noble and great ones;
“And God saw these souls that they were good, and he stood in the midst of them, and he said: These I will make my rulers; for he stood among those that were spirits, and he saw that they were good; and he said unto me: Abraham, thou art one of them; thou wast chosen before thou wast born.” (Abraham 3:22–23.)
So it was with Joseph Smith. He too was there. He too sat in council with the noble and great ones. Occupying a prominent place of honor and distinction, he unquestionably helped in the planning and execution of the great work of the Lord to “bring to pass the immortality and eternal life of man,” the salvation of all our Father’s children [see Moses 1:39].
His mission had had, and was to have, impact on all who had come to earth, all who then dwelt on earth, and the millions yet unborn. . . . The greatest activity in this world or in the world to come is directly related to the work and mission of Joseph Smith—man of destiny, prophet of God. . . . The Prophet Joseph Smith was not only “one of the noble and great ones,” but he gave and continues to give attention to important matters here on the earth even today from the realms above.53
Howard W. Hunter
As we sang “We Thank Thee, O God, for a Prophet” . . . I thought of the Prophet Joseph Smith. How grateful we are for his life and his mission. Joseph Smith was a man committed to his Heavenly Father’s work. He loved his fellowmen, and he spent his life in serving them. Joseph Smith was the instrument through which the Lord restored the fulness of the everlasting gospel. He was the Prophet of the Restoration.
Joseph Smith’s greatness consists in one thing—the truthfulness of his declaration that he saw the Father and the Son and that he responded to the reality of that divine revelation. He was directed to reestablish the true and living church, restored in these modern times as it existed in the day of the Savior’s own mortal ministry. The Prophet Joseph Smith was fearless in pursuing this divine mission. On one occasion he said: “I understand my mission and business. 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” (History of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. Salt Lake City, UT. 5:259. Web.)54
The responsibility I feel for the work the Prophet Joseph inaugurated fills me with a determination to do all I can in the time and season allotted to me. Surely Joseph was faithful and true to his time and season! … I bear solemn testimony of the Prophet Joseph Smith as the Lord’s anointed servant in these the latter days. To his testimony of the divinity and reality of Jesus Christ I add my own.55
Gordon B. Hinckley
Though Joseph’s life was taken at an early age, his testimony of the Eternal God and the risen Lord lives on with luster and eloquence. I look to him. I love him. I seek to follow him. I read his words, and they become the standards to be observed in guiding this great Church as it moves forward in fulfilling its eternal destiny. To slightly paraphrase the words of our wonderful hymn:
Great is his glory and endless his priesthood.
Ever and ever the keys he will hold.
Faithful and true, he has entered God’s kingdom,
Crowned in the midst of the prophets of old.
Such is my solemn and sacred witness to you, my brethren and sisters.56
Thomas S. Monson
Joseph Smith’s last great act here upon the earth was one of selflessness. He crossed the room, most likely “thinking that it would save the lives of his brethren in the room if he could get out, . . . and sprang into the window when two balls pierced him from the door, and one entered his right breast from without.” He gave his life; Willard Richards and John Taylor were spared. “Greater love hath no man than this, that a man lay down his life for his friends.” The Prophet Joseph Smith taught us love—by example.57
- Doctrine and Covenants 135:3,6
- Snow, Eliza R.. Relief Society minutes. Aug. 31, 1842, History, 1838–1856, volume D-1, 1 August 1842–1 July 1843, Page 2 addenda, http://www.josephsmithpapers.org/paper-summary/history-1838-1856-volume-d-1-1-august-1842-1-july-1843/283
- Whitney, Orson F. Life of Heber C. Kimball: An Apostle, the Father and Founder of the British Mission. Salt Lake City: Kimball Family, 1888. 322.
- Smith, Joseph, and B. H. Roberts. History of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. Salt Lake City, UT: Published for the Church, 1970. 6:317. Web.
- Joseph Smith—History 1:28
- Rollins Lightner, Mary Elizabeth. Autobiography of Mary E. Lightner (1818-1913). Web. Also Carter, Kate B. Our Pioneer Heritage. Salt Lake City: Daughters of Utah Pioneers, 1958. 5:307.
- Rollins Lightner, Mary Elizabeth. Address to Brigham Young University. April 14, 1905. Typescript, L. Tom Perry Special Collections, Harold B. Lee Library, Brigham Young University, Provo, Utah.
- Ehat, Andrew F., and Lyndon W. Cook. The Words of Joseph Smith: The Contemporary Accounts of the Nauvoo Discourses of the Prophet Joseph. Provo, UT: Religious Studies Center, Brigham Young U, 1980. 17 May 1843, Wednesday Morning, Ramus, Illinois, William Clayton Diary. 202.
- Smith, Joseph, and Willard Richards. Joseph Smith Diary. Howard and Martha Coray Notebook, 21 May 1843 Sunday Morning Temple Stand.
- Smith, Joseph, and B. H. Roberts. History of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. Salt Lake City, UT: Published for the Church, 1970. 5:402. Web.
- Millennial Star 1 Sept. 1851, 13th ed.: 257.
- Smith, George A., and Elias Smith. History of the Prophet Joseph Smith. 1902. 346.
- Young, Brigham. Journal of Discourses. Vol. 9. Salt Lake City: Deseret Book, 1974. 332. Print.
- Young, Brigham. Journal of Discourses. Vol. 3. Salt Lake City: Deseret Book, October 6, 1855. 51. Print.
- Young, Brigham. Deseret News 13 Feb. 1861: 393. Print.
- Young, Brigham. Journal of Discourses. Vol. 14. Salt Lake City: Deseret Book, October 6, 1855. 203. Print.
- Young, Brigham. Journal of Discourses. Vol. 7. Salt Lake City: Deseret Book, October 6, 1855. 289. Print.
- Young, Brigham. Journal of Discourses. Vol. 7. Salt Lake City: Deseret Book, October 6, 1855. 289. Print.
- Young, Brigham. Journal of Discourses. Vol. 13. Salt Lake City: Deseret Book, October 6, 1855. 216. Print.
- Young, Brigham. Letter to David P. Smith. 1 June 1853. Brigham Young Papers, Church Historical Dept. Archives.
- Taylor, John. Journal of Discourses. Vol. 21. Salt Lake City: Deseret Book, October 6, 1855. 163. Print.
- Journal History of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. 9 Apr. 1837. Church Archives
- Woodruff, Wilford. Journal of Discourses. Vol. 21. Salt Lake City: Deseret Book, October 6, 1855. 317. Print.
- Woodruff, Wilford. The Deseret Weekly, vol. 38, 23 Mar. 1889, p. 389., books.google.com/books?id=vKsUAAAAYAAJ&pg=PA389.
- Woodruff, Wilford. Wilford Woodruff Diary. Church Hist. Dept. Archives. 19 Feb. 1842.
- Wilford Woodruff, Deseret News, Jan. 20, 1858, p. 363; capitalization modernized.
- Snow, Lorenzo. Conference Report, Apr. 1898. 64.
- Millennial Star. June 27, 1895. 402.
- Snow, Lorenzo. Journal of Discourses. Vol. 23. Salt Lake City: Deseret Book. 154. Print.
- Smith, Joseph F. 1838-1918. Gospel Doctrine. Deseret Book, 1946. 480-81. Print.
- Stuy, Brian H. Collected Discourses: Delivered by President Wilford Woodruff, His Two Counselors, the Twelve Apostles, and Others. Vol. 5. Burbank, CA: B.H.S. Pub., 1988. 29. Print.
- Grant, Heber J. Gospel Standards. Salt Lake City, UT: Deseret Sunday School Union Board, 1942. 3. Print.
- Grant, Heber J. Gospel Standards. Salt Lake City, UT: Deseret Sunday School Union Board, 1942. 83. Print.
- Grant, Heber J. Gospel Standards. Salt Lake City, UT: Deseret Sunday School Union Board, 1942. 15. Print.
- Grant, Heber J. Conference Report. Apr. 1943. 7-8.
- Smith, George Albert. Conference Report. Apr. 1946. 181-186
- McKay, David O. Pathways to Happiness. Salt Lake City, UT: Bookcraft, 1957. 284-85. Print.
- McKay, David O. Treasures of Life. Salt Lake City: Deseret Book, 1962. 376-77. Print.
- McKay, David O. Treasures of Life. Salt Lake City: Deseret Book, 1962. 226-27. Print.
- Smith, Joseph Fielding., and Bruce R. McConkie. Doctrines of Salvation. Vol. 1. Salt Lake City, UT: Brookcraft, 1954. 189-90. Print.
- Lee, Harold B. The Teachings of Harold B. Lee: Eleventh President of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. Salt Lake City, UT: Bookcraft, 1996. 371. Print.
- Lee, Harold B. The Teachings of Harold B. Lee: Eleventh President of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. Salt Lake City, UT: Bookcraft, 1996. 531.
- Lee, Harold B. The Teachings of Harold B. Lee: Eleventh President of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. Salt Lake City, UT: Bookcraft, 1996. 372. Print.
- April Conference 1946. Lee, Harold B. Conference Report. April 1950. 96-102
- Kimball, Spencer W. Conference Report. Guatemala City Guatemala Area Conference. 1977. 22.
- Kimball, Spencer W., and Edward L. Kimball. The Teachings of Spencer W. Kimball. Salt Lake City, UT: Deseret Book, 1982. 429.
- Kimball, Spencer W., and Edward L. Kimball. The Teachings of Spencer W. Kimball. Salt Lake City, UT: Deseret Book, 1982. 179-80.
- Benson, Ezra Taft. God, Family, Country: Our Three Great Loyalties. Salt Lake City: Deseret Book, 1974. 37.
- Benson, Ezra Taft. Conference Report. Apr. 1961. 114.
- Benson, Ezra Taft. The Teachings of Ezra Taft Benson. Salt Lake City, UT: Bookcraft, 1988. 132. Print.
- Benson, Ezra T. “A Message to the World.” Ensign. 34.
- Benson, Ezra Taft. God, Family, Country: Our Three Great Loyalties. Salt Lake City: Deseret Book, 1974. 40-41.
- Benson, Ezra Taft. God, Family, Country: Our Three Great Loyalties. Salt Lake City: Deseret Book, 1974. 30-31.
- Hunter, Howard W. “Come to the God of All Truth.” Ensign. Sept. 1994. 72.
- Hunter, Howard W. “The Temple of Nauvoo.” Ensign. September 1994. 63-4.
- Hinckley, Gordon B. First Presidency Christmas Devotional, 7 December 2003, Church History Library, The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, Salt Lake City, Utah.
- Monson, Thomas S. “The Prophet Joseph Smith: Teacher by Example.” Ensign. November 2005. 69. Web.