Come Follow Me w/ Casey Paul Griffiths (Doctrine and Covenants 2; JS-H 1:27–65, Jan 11–17) – powered by Happy Scribe
If people knew you during your teenage years, would they say you were a lot different from how you turned out to be like as an adult? Well, the same is kind of true for Joseph Smith. After the first vision, Joseph Smith has a period of time where he knows he’s called of God but hasn’t received any further instructions. And in his eighteen thirty eight history, he recorded that between the ages of 14 and 17, he mingled with all kinds of society and he frequently fell into many foolish errors and displayed the weakness of youth and the foibles of human nature.
I was guilty of levity and associated with jovial company, etc., not consistent with that character, which ought to be maintained by one who has called of God as I had been. He also continues. This would not be strange to anyone who recollects my youth and is acquainted with my native cheery temperament. Now, part of that might have just been the Joseph Smith was a goofy kid that had fun, that enjoyed himself and wasn’t that different from other teenagers.
And part of it is understood by helping us know a little bit more about the cultural environment that Joseph Smith lived in. Joseph Smith grew up in the community that believe God could interact with individuals through miraculous means and objects. For instance, in the eighteen twenty five Wayne Sentinel, the newspaper produced in Palmira, Joseph Smith’s hometown. It was reported that buried treasure had been found, quote, by the help of a mineral which becomes transparent when placed in a hat and the light excluded by the face of him who looks into it?
People and Joseph Smith world believed in seer stones, believed in divining rods, and didn’t see this kind of folk magic as opposed to Christianity, but in favor of it. Although accounts vary, it also appears that Joseph Smith found a seer stone while digging a well, perhaps on the Chase Farm in 1822 when he was 16 years old. Now, in the last couple of years this year, Stone has garnered a lot of attention because in twenty fifteen the church published a photograph of this year Stone as part of the Joseph Smith Papers Project.
But don’t get the idea that we didn’t know about the Seer stone before then. We’ve known about the Seer stone almost since the time Joseph Smith used it in his youth and as part of the Book of Mormon translation. In fact, in the comprehensive history of the church, which was written in the early 20th century BC, Roberts included an extensive description of the Cedar Stone, calling it a chocolate colored, somewhat egg shaped stone, which the prophet found while digging a well in company with his brother, Hiram Elder.
Roberts further wrote It possessed the qualities of Yarraman thumb since by the means described above, as well as by means of interpreters found from the Nephi records, Joseph was able to translate the characters which are engraved upon the plates. Now, it might seem strange to you to talk about seer stones, but the question we need to ask ourselves was, was it strange to Joseph? Was this peculiar or was it something that was part of the world that he grew up in?
Researchers have actually gone back to this period and found evidence that there were several people in palmier that had seer stones and that they were used for everything from seeking buried treasure to finding water sources to dig wells. Joseph Smith, during his teenage years was seen as a person that had prophetic gifts and was employed by certain people in order to use these gifts. Joseph Smith mother Lucy McSmith remembered that before their house was completed, a man by the name of Josiah Stone came from Chenango County, New York, to get Joseph to assist him in digging for a silver mine.
He came for Joseph from having heard that he was in possession of certain means by which he could discern things which could not be seen by the natural light. Lucy continues that Joseph endeavoured to divert him from this vain project, but he was inflexible and offered high wages to, as such, would dig for him and was still very anxious to have Joseph work for him. Consequently, the old gentleman and several others were picked up in the neighborhood and commenced digging after laboring about a month without success.
Joseph prevailed on his employer to cease its operations. It was from these circumstances, namely having worked for a month at digging a silver mine, that the very prevalent story arose of his having been a money digger. That was Joseph Smith open about this part of his life. Yes, in eighteen thirty eight, when he did a question and answer session in the Elders Journal, he was asked directly. Was not Joseph Smith the money digger? Joseph Smith replied, Yes, but it never was a very profitable job for him, as he only got fourteen dollars a month for it.
Now there are other records that indicate that this happened during Joseph Smith’s period of time. For instance, some of Josiah Stulz investors took him to court when he wasn’t able to discover the silver mine. And even though they never discovered the silver mine, Josiah Stall became one of Joseph Smith most staunch supporters and believe that Joseph Smith possessed prophetic gifts from records we have of the court case. When Josiah Stoll was asked if Joseph Smith had a serious tone that he could use, Josiah still replied, Do I believe it?
No, it’s not a matter of belief. I positively know it to be true. Joseph Smith in records in the court, said that when he used the Seer stone time, place and distance were annihilated and that all the intervening obstacles were removed. And he possessed one of the attributes of deity, an all seeing eye. Now, around this same time, Joseph Smith has a second spiritual experience when he’s 17 years old and staying in a cabin with his family, Joseph Smith goes to bed one night when an angel appears to him.
The Angel Moroni Moroni instructs. Joseph Smith quotes several scriptures to him and tells him that he’s going. To engage in a work that will make sure that his name is known for good and evil among all peoples places and countries, Moroni quotes several scriptures to him. But most importantly, he quotes Malikai four or five and six, but make some important changes to the way the text reads. For instance, instead of behold, I will send you Elijah the Prophet before the coming great, dreadful day, Lord Moroni said.
I will reveal unto you the priesthood by the hand of Elijah the Prophet, before the coming of the great and dreadful day of the Lord. Moroni also said that Elijah Wood, playing in the hearts of the children, the promises made to the fathers, and that the hearts of the children would turn to the fathers, he adds. If it were not so, the whole earth would be utterly wasted at his coming. Elijah wasn’t just coming at a random place and time, but was coming to reveal the priesthood and that he was coming specifically to plan in the hearts of the children promises made to the fathers to fulfil the purpose of the Earth.
This passage was so different that it warranted inclusion in the doctrine covenants as a separate section. This wasn’t the only scripture that Moroni quoted to Joseph Smith. According to other accounts Moroni quoted from Deuteronomy. He quoted from the Psalms. He quoted from the Book of Isaiah several passages from Jeremiah and even passages from First Corinthians, Chapter one. During this period of time, Moroni recruited Joseph Smith to receive the plates but did not give them to them. At that moment, Joseph Smith said himself that when he went to the Hill, he initially tried to obtain the plates but was stopped.
He wrote, I straightway made three successive unsuccessful attempts to get them. I cried until the Lord in agony of my soul. Why can I not obtain them? Behold, the angel appeared on to me again and said in me, you have not kept the commandments of the Lord. For now. I had been tempted of the adversary and stopped the plates to obtain riches, and kept not the commandment that I should have a nice and go to the glory of God.
Therefore, I was chasing. Over the next few years, Joseph Smith went to the Hill once a year where he received intelligence and instruction from the angel. Well, in 1826, the year before Joseph Smith receives the plates, he’s gone for a few hours and when he gets home, his father sees him, runs up and says, Joseph, why have you stayed so late? Has anything happened to you? We’ve been in distress about you for three hours.
According to Joseph Smith’s mother, Joseph recovered himself a little bit and then turned to his father and said, Father, I’ve just had the severest chastisement I’ve ever experienced in my life. Joseph’s father became hasty and indignant, but Joseph broke into a smile and said it was the angel of the Lord. He says, I’ve been negligent that the time is now come when the records should be brought forth, and then I must be up and doing. And then I must set myself about the things which God has commanded me to do.
The very next year, Joseph Smith goes to the Hill, accompanied by his now wife, Emma Smith. Emma waits at the bottom of the hill while Joseph obtains the plates, and then he takes the plates and stashes them in the woods so they won’t be taken by anybody else. Now, Joseph later writes a little bit modestly in his history that no sooner was it known that I had the plates than the most strenuous exertions were used to get them from me.
Joseph Smith had to use both the Seer Stone and the Nephi interpreters to know where the plates were and to keep them safe because people came out of the woodwork trying to find him and trying to find the plates and trying to take them from him so that they could use them for their own personal gain. So during his teenage years, Joseph Smith grew from being a goofy kid who didn’t quite know how to use his gifts to being a prophet who was called, have gone to bring forth and exercise his power to translate a sacred record.
During this time, Joseph Smith was instructed by an angel of God. And today we have the words and writings of that angel and numerous other prophets to instruct and tutor us and help us become the people that the Lord wants each of us to become.