Learning from Joseph
About four years after the First Vision, the angel Moroni appeared to young Joseph several times, telling him about the book written on gold plates and preparing him for the work that lay ahead. Lucy Mack Smith tells how her 18-year-old prophet-son shared the wondrous news of the Book of Mormon and the Restoration with the Smith family.
By sunset … , we were all seated, and Joseph commenced telling us the great and glorious things which God had manifested to him. …
He proceeded to relate … particulars concerning the work which he was appointed to do, and we received them joyfully. …
From this time forth, Joseph continued to receive instructions from the Lord, and we continued to get the children together every evening for the purpose of listening while he gave us a relation of the same. I presume our family presented an aspect as singular as any that ever lived upon the face of the earth—all seated in a circle, father, mother, sons and daughters, and giving the most profound attention to a boy, eighteen years of age, who had never read the Bible through in his life: he seemed much less inclined to the perusal of books than any of the rest of our children, but far more given to meditation and deep study.
We were now confirmed in the opinion that God was about to bring to light something upon which we could stay our minds, or that would give us a more perfect knowledge of the plan of salvation and the redemption of the human family. This caused us greatly to rejoice, the sweetest union and happiness pervaded our house, and tranquility reigned in our midst.
During our evening conversations, Joseph would occasionally give us some of the most amusing recitals that could be imagined. He would describe the ancient inhabitants of [the American] continent, their dress, mode of traveling, and the animals upon which they rode; their cities, their buildings, with every particular; their mode of warfare; and also their religious worship. This he would do with as much ease, seemingly, as if he had spent his whole life among them.
A mother’s witness
Writing of the traumatic experience of seeing her murdered sons, Joseph and Hyrum, Lucy Mack Smith bore fervent and powerful witness of Joseph’s prophetic mission.
After the [bodies of Joseph and Hyrum] were washed and dressed in their burial clothes, we were allowed to see them. I had for a long time braced every nerve, roused every energy of my soul and called upon God to strengthen me, but when I entered the room … , it was too much; I sank back, crying to the Lord in the agony of my soul, “My God, my God, why hast thou forsaken this family!” A voice replied, “I have taken them to myself, that they might have rest.”
As I looked upon their peaceful, smiling countenances, I seemed almost to hear them say, “Mother, weep not for us, we have overcome the world by love; we carried to them the gospel, that their souls might be saved; they slew us for our testimony, and thus placed us beyond their power; their ascendancy is for a moment, ours is an eternal triumph.”
This much I will say, that the testimony which I have given is true, and will stand forever; and the same will be my testimony in the day of God Almighty, when I shall meet them, concerning whom I have testified, before angels, and the spirits of the just made perfect, before archangels and seraphims, cherubims and gods; where the brief authority of the unjust man will shrink to nothingness before him who is the Lord of lords, and God of gods; and where the righteousness of the just shall exalt them in the scale, wherein God weigheth the hearts of men.