DOCTRINE & COVENANTS - LESSON 2
JOSEPH SMITH-HISTORY 1:1-26
- Introductory Comments.
- Pioneer journal entry.
- From the writings of Jonathan Crosby.
- Brother Crosby writes about crossing Iowa: "During our first
day's travel we came to a bad slue crossing in the road, and we got stuck
fast so that we were compelled to unload in order to get out, but even
then our team was not able to pull the empty wagon out. But just then,
a large, fine yoke of oxen came along the road behind us overtaking us,
unattended by any person, and which we considered very providential aid.
So I hitched them on the wagon with my own team, and pulled out easily.
I then turned the strange oxen loose again, loaded in the things we had
taken out, and traveled on. We looked upon that aid and help as being directly
from our Heavenly Father." (Writings of Early Latter-day Saints,
Utah State Historical Society)
- The Need For A Restoration.
- Ask someone for a brief summary of the Great Apostasy.
- A brief history of Christianity.
- As we know, apostasy commenced in the days of the apostles.
- Paul: "For I know this, that after my departing shall grievous
wolves enter in among you, not sparing the flock. "Also of your own
selves shall men arise, speaking pervers things, to draw away disciples
after them." (Acts 20:29-30)
- Paul also said that: "the mystery of iniquity doth already work".
(2 Thessalonians 2:7)
- After the departure of the apostles, spiritual gifts ceased to exist
in the church.
- Revelation & heavenly communication came to an end.
- Joseph Fielding Smith: "This condition also led to the universal
belief, which the world holds even now, that the canon of scripture is
full and there is to be no more scripture, notwithstanding the Lord has
revealed through his servants that revelation is to continue."
(Essentials In Church History, p8)
- There were changes in church government and the offices of the church.
- In the 4th Century, the church as it had evolved, became the state
religion of the Roman Empire under Emperor Constantine.
- As the years marched on the simple principles of the Christian faith
were embellished almost beyond recognition with pomp & mystic rites
borrowed from pagan worship.
- Doctrines of the gospel were changed:
- The doctrine of the Godhead became one of mystery.
- The ordinance of baptism was changed to sprinkling.
- Infant baptism was instituted.
- Changes in the administration of the sacrament were instituted.
- Those entering the ministry were forbidden to marry.
- The Protestant Revolution.
- As time marched on there were many who recognized that the church had
fallen from that taught by the scriptures and instituted by Jesus Christ
and the apostles.
- Martin Luther was the foremost of those reformers.
- Another reformer, John Wesley, one of the founders of Methodism said
- "It does not appear that these extraordinary gifts of the Holy
Spirit were common in the Church for more than two or three centuries....
From this time they almost totally ceased.... The Christians had no more
of the spirit of Christ than the other heathens." (John Wesley's
Works, Vol. VII)
- Another time he stated that he waited for the Lord to send new apostles.
- Joseph Fielding Smith: "It was necessary, therefore, that one
should be chosen and clothed with power from the Father to re-establish
the Church of Jesus Christ on the earth. In choosing a representative to
stand at the head of this 'great and marvelous work about to come forth
unto the children of men,' the Lord did not select one who was versed in
the learning and traditions of the world."
- Introduction To Joseph Smith's Account.
- An incredible/remarkable story - from this small, humble beginning
grows a story of epic proportions.
- The translation & coming forth of ancient scripture unknown to
the modern world.
- The restoration of priesthood powers and keys from the beginning of
- A gathering that begins with the mission of one man and has now grown
into an army of 50,000 missionaries.
- A people are driven from city to city, state to state, before finding
a permanent home.
- This people becomes part of the making of America by blazing trails,
settling the mountain valleys of the West, participating in the Mexican-American
War, and being part of the discovery of gold in California.
- This people continue their impact on the West, America, and the world
because of the kind of people that are being developed through their faith
in the Restored Gospel.
- In the U.S. News & World Report article (referenced in the previous
lesson) it was stated that "Mormonism stands on the threshold of
becoming the first major faith to appear on Earth since the prophet Muhammed
rode out of the desert." (U.S. News & World Report, Sep. 28,
- The whole story has yet to be told.
- The Family.
- We see in the background of Joseph's ancestors traits and attitudes
that were so important in the development of the Prophet.
- John Lathrop:
- An early ancestor on his mother's line, the Macks.
- A minister in the Church of England in the early 17th century.
- He came to not approve of the ritual of government of the Church &
- He allied himself with the "Independents" and met secretly
with them in London for 8 years.
- The bishop of London discovered their meeting place and sent officers
who arrested Lathrop and 42 followers.
- They were fettered and confined in an old prison. After 2 years all
were released except Lathrop.
- Lathrop was released from prison for a short time and allowed to visit
his dying wife. After her death he was returned to prison.
- His children became destitute orphans and when the bishop heard this
he finally released Lathrop from prison.
- Shortly after his release from prison, Lathrop took his children to
- Here in America he became a noted leader in church affairs.
- John Howland:
- A 5th great-great grandfather on the Mack line.
- One of 7 of Joseph progenitors that sailed on the Mayflower.
- While crossing the Atlantic, John narrowly escaped death during a violent
- He survived that and the early trials in Plymouth to become "a
profitable member, both in Church and Commonwealth."
- Solomon Mack:
- The Prophet's grandfather.
- He fought in the French and Indian War evidently having many narrow
- He, along with two of his sons, enlisted for service during the Revolution.
- Jason Mack, Solomon's son & Lucy's brother, became a Seeker.
- Believed by prayer & faith he could attain the gifts of the gospel
enjoyed by the ancient apostles.
- Believed that at some future time God would manifest his power, as
done anciently, in signs & wonders.
- Continued as a preacher the remainder of his life.
- Asael Smith.
- The Prophet's grandfather on his father's side.
- A pewholder in the Congregational Church in Topsfield, MA and Tunbridge,
- Participated with two of his sons in the formulation of a Universalist
society at Tunbridge.
- Due to having been burnt as a child, the cords on one side of his neck
shrank, causing his head to tilt slightly.
- Asael did not agree with the religious views of many of his neighbors.
They often said that his religious ideas were as distorted as his neck.
- Asael once prophesied the following: "It has been borne in
upon my soul that one of my descendants will promulgate a work to revolutionize
the world of religious faith."
- Lucy Mack:
- The Prophet's mother.
- She was one concerned with religion.
- Luck Mack Smith wrote: "In the midst of this anxiety of mind,
I determined to obtain that which I had heard spoken so much of from the
pulpit--a change of heart. "To accomplish this I spent much of my
time reading the Bible and praying, but notwithstanding my great anxiety
to experience a change of heart, another matter would always interpose
in all my meditations--if I remain a member of no church, all religious
people will say I am of the world, and if I join some one of the different
denominations, all the rest will say I am in error. No church will admit
I am right except the one with which I am associated. This makes them witnesses
against each other, and how can I decide in such a case as this, seeing
they are all unlike the Church of Christ, as it existed in former days."
(HJS, pg 31)
- Joseph Smith, Sr.
- The Prophet's father.
- Lucy wrote that in 1811, in Tunbridge, Vermont, that "my husband's
mind became much excited upon the subject of religion; yet he would not
subscribe to any particular system of faith, but contended for the ancient
order, as established by our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ and His Apostles."
(HJS, pg. 46)
- Lucy wrote that about this time her husband had a dream or vision and
then said: "From this forward, my husband seemed more confirmed
than ever in the opinion that there was no order or class of religionists
that knew any more concerning the Kingdom of God than those of the world,
or such as made no profession of religion whatever." (HJS, pg
- Historical notes about this period:
- There were several periods of religious excitement following the establishment
of the republic. The Smiths were part of this period.
- There was a new wave of revivalism that followed the War of 1812 and
subsided somewhat after 1820.
- It was with this background and into this setting we find Joseph Smith
being molded as a young boy.
- Joseph Smith's Own Story.
- Joseph Smith's Own Story (Joseph Smith - History).
- Consider the eloquent language of this "uneducated" man.
- READ JSH 1-4. Introduction & family background.
- READ JSH 5-10. Period of great religious excitement.
- HOW DO THESE CONDITIONS SHOW THAT THERE HAD BEEN AN APOSTASY FROM THE
GOSPEL AS TAUGHT BY JESUS?
- READ JSH 11-14. Joseph reads from James.
- WHAT PROCESS DID JOSEPH FOLLOW IN HIS SEARCH FOR THE TRUTH?
- His mind was active.
- He read and pondered the scriptures.
- Elder L. Tom Perry: "The scriptures that are never read will
never help us."
- He prayed in simple faith.
- The First Vision.
- If time, play Pillar of Light from Music of The Work and the Glory.
- READ JSH 15-20. Joseph's vision.
- AN IMPORTANT EVENT - A VISION ALMOST WITHOUT PARALLEL IN SCRIPTURAL
HISTORY. WHAT OTHER EVENTS COMPARE?
- Voice of the Father at the Lord's baptism.
- Voice of the Father at the Mt of Transfiguration.
- When Stephen was toned he looked up into heaven and "saw the glory
of God and Jesus standing on the right hand of God."
- WHAT TRUTHS WERE LEARNED FROM THIS FIRST VISION?
- God lives.
- The personality of God.
- The heavens are not closed and God answers prayers.
- None of the churches then on earth were correct.
- Notice Joseph's question: "I asked the Personages who stood
above me in the light, which of all the sects was right (for at this time
it had never entered into my heart that all were wrong)--and which I should
- It did not occur to Joseph that none of the churches were correct.
This thought seemed to have not crossed his mind. What a revelation!
- The great power of the adversary.
- "It seems as though the adversary was aware, at a very early
period of my life, that I was destined to prove a disturber and an annoyer
of his kingdom; else why should the powers of darkness combine against
me? Why the opposition and persecution that arose against me, almost in
- Unlike us, the adversary, Lucifer, did not have the veil pulled over
his memory. He know who Joseph Smith was. He knew the work that would be
his. The battle had begun. This is a battle, a war, that we will see surface
time after time in our studies for the next year.
- AS WE CONSIDER SATAN'S ATTEMPT TO DESTROY JOSEPH, WHAT CAN WE LEARN
ABOUT HOW TO DEAL WITH DISCOURAGEMENT, ADVERSITY, AND FEAR?
- Encounter with the adversary by Heber C. Kimball and others opening
the British mission.
- Years later Heber asked the Prophet what this vision had meant and
if anything was wrong with him to have such a manifestation.
- Joseph responded: "No, Brother Heber, at that time you were
nigh unto the Lord; there was only a veil between you and Him, but you
could not see Him. When I heard of it, it gave me great joy, for I then
knew that the work of God had taken root in that land. It was this that
caused the devil to make a struggle to kill you."
- The Prophet continued: "The nearer a person approaches the Lord,
a greater power will be manifested by the adversary to prevent the accomplishment
of His purposes."
- CONSIDER THE SENSITIVITY OF JOSEPH'S MOTHER WHEN HE RETURNS HOME AFTER
- Elder Neal A. Maxwell: "We should be grateful...for model families
in the past, such as that of Joseph Smith sr., who, along with his wife,
Luck Mack Smith, gave a boy prophet love, leadership, example, and support.
Suppose, after walking back from that theophany at Palmyra, young Joseph
Smith had encountered task-oriented ("Get the chores done!"),
nonlistening parents? Or a jealous older brother? With all else he had
to meet in the way of ridicule and persecution, could that lad have done
his special work without the love and courage of a family that quietly,
uncomplainingly agreed to share in his work and in his fate?"
(That My Family Should Partake, p2)
- READ JSH 21-26. Observations on the vision.
- HAVE YOU EVER BEEN PERSECUTED FOR YOUR TESTIMONY?
- HOW CAN WE BE SENSITIVE TO NONMEMBERS WHO TAKE OFFENSE AT THE STATEMENT
THAT "ALL THEIR CREEDS WERE AN ABOMINATION" WITHOUT COMPROMISING
THE CHURCH'S POSITION AS "THE ONLY TRUE AND LIVING CHURCH UPON THE
FACE OF THE WHOLE EARTH"?
- James E. Talmage: "When we say that the Lord is not pleased
with those churches, we do not mean that he is not pleased with the members
thereof.... ...the Church as such may be wholly corrupt because of the
false claims that are being made for it, and yet there may be people who
are doing their best."
- President Benson: "This message constitutes the heart and the
foundation of the Church. If Joseph Smith's testimony of seeing God the
Father and His Son, Jesus Christ, is not true, then Mormonism represents
a false system of belief. But if this vision was reality--and there are
thousands who attest that it is by the verifying witness of God's Holy
Spirit--then the Church of Jesus Christ was and is restored on earth again."
- Next Week.
- Lesson 3: D&C 2, Joseph Smith--History 1:27-54.