Sunday, November 15th 2009: [Lesson:] The Martyrdom: The Prophet Seals His Testimony with His Blood   Leave a comment

“Chapter 46: The Martyrdom: The Prophet Seals His Testimony with His Blood,”  
Teachings of Presidents of the Church: Joseph Smith, (2007),529–40
He lived great, and he died great in the eyes of God and his people.

From the Life of Joseph Smith

The winter and spring of 1843–44 was a time of great tension inNauvoo, as Joseph Smith’s enemies increased their efforts to destroyhim and the Church. Knowing his mortal ministry would soon come to aclose, the Prophet met frequently with members of the Quorum of theTwelve Apostles to instruct them and to give them the priesthood keysnecessary to govern the Church. These preparations culminated in ameeting with the Apostles and a few other close associates in March1844. In this extraordinary council, the Prophet charged the Twelve togovern the Church after his death, explaining that he had conferredupon them all the ordinances, authority, and keys necessary to do so.“I roll the burden and responsibility of leading this church off frommy shoulders on to yours,” he declared. “Now, round up your shouldersand stand under it like men; for the Lord is going to let me restawhile.”1
On June 10, 1844, Joseph Smith, who was the mayor of Nauvoo, and the Nauvoo city council ordered the destruction of the Nauvoo Expositor and the press on which it was printed. The Nauvoo Expositorwas an anti-Mormon newspaper that slandered the Prophet and otherSaints and called for the repeal of the Nauvoo Charter. City officialsfeared that this publication would lead to mob action. As a result ofthe action by the mayor and city council, Illinois authorities broughtan unfounded charge of riot against the Prophet, his brother Hyrum, andother Nauvoo city officials. The governor of Illinois, Thomas Ford,ordered the men to stand trial in Carthage, Illinois, the county seat,and promised them protection. Joseph knew that if he went to Carthage,his life would be in great danger from the mobs who were threateninghim.

Believing that the mobs wanted only them, Joseph and Hyrum decidedto leave for the West to preserve their lives. On June 23, they crossedthe Mississippi River, but later that day, brethren from Nauvoo foundthe Prophet and told him that troops would invade the city if he didnot surrender to the authorities in Carthage. This the Prophet agreedto do, hoping to appease both government officials and the mobs. OnJune 24, Joseph and Hyrum Smith bade farewell to their families androde with other Nauvoo city officials toward Carthage, voluntarilysurrendering themselves to county officials in Carthage the next day.After the brothers had been released on bail for the initial charge,they were falsely charged with treason against the state of Illinois,arrested, and imprisoned in Carthage Jail to await a hearing. EldersJohn Taylor and Willard Richards, the only members of the Twelve whowere not then serving missions, voluntarily joined them.

On the afternoon of June 27, 1844, the little group of brethren satsilent and disconsolate in the jail. One of the men asked Elder Taylor,who had a rich tenor voice, to sing to them. Soon his voice was raised:“A poor wayfaring Man of grief hath often crossed me on my way, whosued so humbly for relief that I could never answer nay.”2Elder Taylor recollected that the hymn “was very much in accordancewith our feelings at the time for our spirits were all depressed, dulland gloomy.”3
Shortly after five o’clock in the afternoon, a large group ofattackers stormed the jail, firing their guns at the men inside. Withina few minutes, the foul deed was done. Hyrum Smith was shot first anddied almost immediately. Elder Richards miraculously received only asuperficial wound; and Elder Taylor, though severely wounded, survivedand later became the third President of the Church. The Prophet Josephran to the window and was fatally shot. The Prophet of the Restorationand his brother Hyrum had sealed their testimonies with their blood.

Teachings of Joseph Smith

God protected Joseph Smith until his earthly mission was complete.

In August 1842, Joseph Smith said: “My feelings at the presenttime are that, inasmuch as the Lord Almighty has preserved me untiltoday, He will continue to preserve me, by the united faith and prayersof the Saints, until I have fully accomplished my mission in this life,and so firmly established the dispensation of the fullness of thepriesthood in the last days, that all the powers of earth and hell cannever prevail against it.”4
In October 1843, the Prophet said: “I defy all the world todestroy the work of God; and I prophesy they never will have power tokill me till my work is accomplished, and I am ready to die.”5
In May 1844, the Prophet said: “God will always protect me until my mission is fulfilled.”6
In June 1844, the Prophet said: “I do not regard my own life.I am ready to be offered a sacrifice for this people; for what can ourenemies 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.”7
Early on June 27, 1844, in Carthage Jail, Joseph Smith wrote in a hasty letter to Emma Smith:“I am very much resigned to my lot, knowing I am justified and havedone the best that could be done. Give my love to the children and allmy friends … ; and as for treason, I know that I have not committedany, and they cannot prove one appearance of anything of the kind, soyou need not have any fears that any harm can happen to us on thatscore. May God bless you all. Amen.”8

Before his death, Joseph Smith conferred upon the Twelve Apostlesevery priesthood key and power that the Lord had sealed upon him.

Wilford Woodruff, the fourth President of the Church, recalled:“[Joseph Smith] spent the last winter of his life, some three or fourmonths, with the quorum of the Twelve teaching them. It was not merelya few hours ministering to them the ordinances of the gospel; but hespent day after day, week after week and month after month, teachingthem and a few others the things of the kingdom of God.”9
Wilford Woodruff said about Joseph Smith’s meeting with the Apostles in March 1844:“I remember the last speech that [Joseph Smith] ever gave us before hisdeath. … He stood upon his feet some three hours. The room was filledas with consuming fire, his face was as clear as amber, and he wasclothed upon by the power of God. He laid before us our duty. He laidbefore us the fullness of this great work of God; and in his remarks tous he said: ‘I have had sealed upon my head every key, every power,every principle of life and salvation that God has ever given to anyman who ever lived upon the face of the earth. And these principles andthis Priesthood and power belong to this great and last dispensationwhich the God of Heaven has set His hand to establish in the earth.Now,’ said he, addressing the Twelve, ‘I have sealed upon your headsevery key, every power, and every principle which the Lord has sealedupon my head.’ And continuing, he said, ‘I have lived so long—up to thepresent time—I have been in the midst of this people and in the greatwork and labor of redemption. I have desired to live to see this Templebuilt. But I shall never live to see it completed; but you will—youwill.’ …

“After addressing us in this manner he said: ‘I tell you, the burdenof this kingdom now rests upon your shoulders; you have got to bear itoff in all the world, and if you don’t do it you will be damned.’ ”10
Members of the Quorum of the Twelve recorded: “We, the[Twelve], … were present at a council in the latter part of the monthof March last [1844], held in the City of Nauvoo. …

“In this council, Joseph Smith seemed somewhat depressed in spirit,and took the liberty to open his heart to us … : ‘Brethren, the Lordbids me hasten the work in which we are engaged. … Some important sceneis near to take place. It may be that my enemies will kill me. And incase they should, and the keys and power which rest on me not beimparted to you, they will be lost from the earth. But if I can onlysucceed in placing them upon your heads, then let me fall a victim tomurderous hands if God will suffer it, and I can go with all pleasureand satisfaction, knowing that my work is done, and the foundation laidon which the kingdom of God is to be reared in this dispensation of thefulness of times.

“ ‘Upon the shoulders of the Twelve must the responsibility ofleading this church henceforth rest until you shall appoint others tosucceed you. Your enemies cannot kill you all at once, and should anyof you be killed, you can lay your hands upon others and fill up yourquorum. Thus can this power and these keys be perpetuated in theearth.’ …

“Never shall we forget his feelings or his words on this occasion.After he had thus spoken, he continued to walk the floor, saying:‘Since I have rolled the burden off from my shoulders, I feel as lightas a cork. I feel that I am free. I thank my God for thisdeliverance.’ ”11
Parley P. Pratt, a member of the Quorum of the Twelve, wrote:“This great and good man was led, before his death, to call the Twelvetogether, from time to time, and to instruct them in all thingspertaining to the kingdom, ordinances, and government of God. He oftenobserved that he was laying the foundation, but it would remain for theTwelve to complete the building. Said he, ‘I know not why; but for somereason I am constrained to hasten my preparations, and to confer uponthe Twelve all the ordinances, keys, covenants, endowments, and sealingordinances of the priesthood, and so set before them a pattern in allthings pertaining to the sanctuary [the temple] and the endowmenttherein.’

“Having done this, he rejoiced exceedingly; for, said he, the Lordis about to lay the burden on your shoulders and let me rest awhile;and if they kill me, continued he, the kingdom of God will roll on, asI have now finished the work which was laid upon me, by committing toyou all things for the building up of the kingdom according to theheavenly vision, and the pattern shown me from heaven.”12
Brigham Young, the second President of the Church, taught:“Joseph conferred upon our heads all the keys and powers belonging tothe Apostleship which he himself held before he was taken away, and noman or set of men can get between Joseph and the Twelve in this worldor in the world to come. How often has Joseph said to the Twelve, ‘Ihave laid the foundation and you must build thereon, for upon yourshoulders the kingdom rests.’ ”13

The Prophet Joseph Smith and his brother Hyrum lived great and died great for their testimonies of the gospel.

As recorded in Doctrine and Covenants 135:1–6, John Taylor, while serving as a member of the Quorum of the Twelve, wrote:“To seal the testimony of this book and the Book of Mormon, we announcethe martyrdom of Joseph Smith the Prophet, and Hyrum Smith thePatriarch. They were shot in Carthage jail, on the 27th of June, 1844,about five o’clock p.m., by an armed mob—painted black—of from 150 to200 persons. Hyrum was shot first and fell calmly, exclaiming: I am a dead man! Joseph leaped from the window, and was shot dead in the attempt, exclaiming: O Lord my God! They were both shot after they were dead, in a brutal manner, and both received four balls.

“John Taylor and Willard Richards, two of the Twelve, were the onlypersons in the room at the time; the former was wounded in a savagemanner with four balls, but has since recovered; the latter, throughthe providence of God, escaped, without even a hole in his robe.

“Joseph Smith, the Prophet and Seer of the Lord, has done more, saveJesus only, for the salvation of men in this world, than any other manthat ever lived in it. In the short space of twenty years, he hasbrought forth the Book of Mormon, which he translated by the gift andpower of God, and has been the means of publishing it on twocontinents; has sent the fulness of the everlasting gospel, which itcontained, to the four quarters of the earth; has brought forth therevelations and commandments which compose this book of Doctrine andCovenants, and many other wise documents and instructions for thebenefit of the children of men; gathered many thousands of theLatter-day Saints, founded a great city, and left a fame and name thatcannot be slain. He lived great, and he died great in the eyes of Godand 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 hisbrother Hyrum. In life they were not divided, and in death they werenot separated!

“When Joseph went to Carthage to deliver himself up to the pretendedrequirements of the law, two or three days previous to hisassassination, he said: ‘I am going like a lamb to the slaughter; but Iam calm as a summer’s morning; I have a conscience void of offensetowards God, and towards all men. I shall die innocent, and it shallyet be said of me—he was murdered in cold blood.’—The same morning,after Hyrum had made ready to go—shall it be said to the slaughter?yes, for so it was—he read the following paragraph, near the close ofthe twelfth chapter of Ether, in the Book of Mormon, and turned downthe leaf upon it:
And it came to pass that I prayed unto the Lord that he wouldgive unto the Gentiles grace, that they might have charity. And it cameto pass that the Lord said unto me: If they have not charity itmattereth not unto thee, thou hast been faithful; wherefore thygarments shall be made clean. And because thou hast seen thy weakness,thou shalt be made strong, even unto the sitting down in the placewhich I have prepared in the mansions of my Father. And now I … bidfarewell unto the Gentiles; yea, and also unto my brethren whom I love,until we shall meet before the judgment-seat of Christ, where all menshall know that my garments are not spotted with your blood. [Ether 12:36–38.] The testators are now dead, and their testament is in force.

“Hyrum Smith was forty-four years old in February, 1844, and JosephSmith was thirty-eight in December, 1843; and henceforward their nameswill be classed among the martyrs of religion; and the reader in everynation will be reminded that the Book of Mormon, and this book ofDoctrine and Covenants of the church, cost the best blood of thenineteenth century to bring them forth for the salvation of a ruinedworld; and that if the fire can scathe a green tree for the glory ofGod, how easy it will burn up the dry trees to purify the vineyard ofcorruption. They lived for glory; they died for glory; and glory istheir eternal reward. From age to age shall their names go down toposterity as gems for the sanctified.”14

Joseph Smith fulfilled his earthly mission and sealed his testimony with his blood.

Brigham Young declared: “Though the enemy had power to killour prophet, that is, kill his body, did he not accomplish all that wasin his heart to accomplish in his day? He did, to my certain knowledge.”15
Brigham Young also taught: “Who delivered Joseph Smith fromthe hands of his enemies to the day of his death? It was God; though hewas brought to the brink of death time and time again, so that to allhuman appearance there could be no prospect of his being saved. When hewas in jail in Missouri, and no person expected that he would everescape from their hands, I had the faith of Abraham, and told theBrethren as the Lord God lived, he shall come out of their hands.Though he had prophesied that he would not live to be 40 years of age,yet we all cherished hopes that that would be a false prophecy, and weshould keep him forever with us. We thought our faith would outreachit, but we were mistaken—he at last fell a martyr to his religion. Isaid it is all right; now the testimony is in full force; he has sealedit with his blood.”16
Wilford Woodruff testified: “I used to have peculiar feelingsabout his death and the way in which his life was taken. I felt that if… Joseph could have had his desire, he would have pioneered the way tothe Rocky Mountains. But since then I have been fully reconciled to thefact that it was according to the programme, that it was required ofhim, as the head of this dispensation, that he should seal histestimony with his blood, and go hence to the spirit world, holding thekeys of this dispensation, to open up the mission that is now beingperformed by way of preaching the Gospel to the ‘spirits in prison.’ ”17
Joseph F. Smith, the sixth President of the Church, taught:“What does the martyrdom [of Joseph and Hyrum Smith] teach us? Thegreat lesson that ‘where a testament is, there must also of necessitybe the death of the testator’ (Heb. 9:16)to make it of force. Moreover, that the blood of martyrs is indeed theseed of the Church. The Lord permitted the sacrifice that the testimonyof those virtuous and righteous men should stand as a witness against aperverse and unrighteous world. Then, again, they were examples of thewonderful love of which the Redeemer speaks: ‘Greater love hath no manthan this, that a man lay down his life for his friends.’ (John 15:13.)This wonderful love they manifested to the Saints and to the world; forboth realized and expressed their conviction, before starting on thejourney to Carthage, that they were going to their death. … Theircourage, their faith, their love for the people were without bounds,and they gave all that they had for their people. Such devotion andlove left no doubt in the minds of those who enjoyed the companionshipof the Holy Spirit that these good men and true, were indeed theauthorized servants of the Lord.

“This martyrdom has always been an inspiration to the people of theLord. It has helped them in their individual trials; has given themcourage to pursue a course in righteousness and to know and to live thetruth, and must ever be held in sacred memory by the Latter-day Saintswho have learned the great truths that God revealed through Hisservant, Joseph Smith.”18
George Albert Smith, the eighth President of the Church, declared:“Joseph Smith performed his mission; and when the time came that he wasface to face with death, he said, ‘I am going like a lamb to theslaughter, but I am calm as a summer morning. I have a conscience voidof offense toward God and toward all men. If they take my life, I shalldie an innocent man, and my blood shall cry from the ground forvengeance, and it shall yet be said of me, “He was murdered in coldblood.” ‘ [See D&C 135:4.]

He was not afraid to stand before the pleasing bar of our Father inheaven and answer for the deeds done in the body. He was not afraid tomeet the charge that had been made against him, that he was deceivingthe people and dealing unjustly with them. He was not afraid of theresult of his life’s mission, and of the final triumph of the workwhich he knew was of divine origin, and for which he gave his life.”19
Gordon B. Hinckley, the fifteenth President of the Church, testified:“So certain was [Joseph Smith] of the cause he led, so sure of hisdivinely given calling, that he placed them above the value of his ownlife. With prescient knowledge of his forthcoming death, he surrenderedhimself to those who would deliver him defenseless into the hands of amob. He sealed his testimony with his life’s blood.”20


Related Scriptures: Hebrews 9:16–17; D&C 5:21–22; 98:13–14; 112:30–33; 136:37–40


1. Quoted in declaration of the Twelve Apostles (undated draft),reporting Mar. 1844 meeting; in Brigham Young, Office Files 1832–78,Church Archives, The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, SaltLake City, Utah.

2. “A Poor Wayfaring Man of Grief,” Hymns, no. 29.

3. John Taylor, quoted in History of the Church, 7:101;from John Taylor, “The Martyrdom of Joseph Smith,” in Historian’sOffice, History of the Church ca. 1840s–1880, p. 47, Church Archives.

4. History of the Church, 5:139–40; from a discourse givenby Joseph Smith on Aug. 31, 1842, in Nauvoo, Illinois; reported byEliza R. Snow; see also appendix, page 562, item 3.

5. History of the Church, 6:58; from a discourse given byJoseph Smith on Oct. 15, 1843, in Nauvoo, Illinois; reported by WillardRichards; see also appendix, page 562, item 3.

6. History of the Church, 6:365; from a discourse given by Joseph Smith on May 12, 1844, in Nauvoo, Illinois; reported by Thomas Bullock.

7. History of the Church, 6:500; from a discourse given by Joseph Smith on June 18, 1844, in Nauvoo, Illinois. The compilers of History of the Church.combined verbal reports by several eyewitnesses into a single account of the discourse.

8. Letter from Joseph Smith to Emma Smith, June 27, 1844, CarthageJail, Carthage, Illinois; Community of Christ Archives, Independence,Missouri; copy in Church Archives.

9. Wilford Woodruff, Deseret News: Semi-Weekly, Dec. 21, 1869, p. 2.

10. Wilford Woodruff, Deseret Semi-Weekly News, Mar. 15, 1892, p. 2; punctuation modernized.

11. Declaration of the Twelve Apostles (undated draft), reportingMar. 1844 meeting; in Brigham Young, Office Files 1832–78, ChurchArchives.

12. Parley P. Pratt, “Proclamation to The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints,” Millennial Star, Mar. 1845, p. 151.

13. Brigham Young, quoted in History of the Church, 7:230; paragraph divisions altered; from a discourse given by Brigham Young on Aug. 7, 1844, in Nauvoo, Illinois.

15. Brigham Young, Deseret News, Apr. 30, 1853, p. 46; italics deleted.

16. Brigham Young, discourse given on Aug. 1, 1852, in Salt LakeCity, Utah; in Historian’s Office, Reports of Speeches ca. 1845–85,Church Archives.

17. Wilford Woodruff, Deseret News, Mar. 28, 1883, p. 146.

18. Joseph F. Smith, “The Martyrdom,” Juvenile Instructor, June 1916, p. 381; punctuation modernized; paragraph divisions altered.

19. George Albert Smith, in Conference Report, Apr. 1904, p. 64; spelling modernized.

20. Gordon B. Hinckley, in Conference Report, Oct. 1981, pp. 6–7; or Ensign, Nov. 1981, p. 7.

Plainview Texas Branch; Lubbock Stake Announcements;

Sunday, November 15th, 2009: Welfare


Posted November 13, 2009 by rexfordgbeardsleyjr in Uncategorized

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