Brigham Young’s Testimony of the Prophet Joseph Smith
Brigham Young was present, along with Wilford Woodruff and others, when the Prophet Joseph Smith said:
“Brethren, I have been very much edified and instructed in your testimonies here tonight, but I want to say to you before the Lord, that you know no more concerning the destinies of this Church and kingdom than a babe upon its mother’s lap. You don’t comprehend it.” . . . He said, “It is only a little handful of priesthood you see here tonight, but this Church will fill North and South America—it will fill the world.” . . . “It will fill the Rocky Mountains. There will be tens of thousands of Latter-day Saints who will be gathered in the Rocky Mountains. . . . This people will go into the Rocky Mountains; they will there build temples to the Most High.” [Joseph Smith, quoted by Wilford Woodruff, CR, April 1898, 57; punctuation and spelling modernized]
In the marvelous experience of Brigham Young in February of 1847, when the Prophet Joseph appeared to him in a dream or vision, Brigham pleaded to be reunited with him. Brigham Young asked him if he had a message for the Brethren. The Prophet Joseph Smith said:
Tell the people to be humble and faithful, and be sure to keep the spirit of the Lord and it will lead them right. Be careful and not turn away the small still voice; it will teach you what to do and where to go; it will yield the fruits of the kingdom. Tell the brethren to keep their hearts open to conviction, so that when the Holy Ghost comes to them, their hearts will be ready to receive it.
The Prophet further directed Brigham Young as follows:
They can tell the Spirit of the Lord from all other spirits; it will whisper peace and joy to their souls; it will take malice, hatred, strife and all evil from their hearts; and their whole desire will be to do good, bring forth righteousness and build up the kingdom of God. [23 February 1847, Manuscript History of Brigham Young: 1846–1847, ed. Elden J. Watson (Salt Lake City: Elden Jay Watson, 1971), 529]
Brigham Young said:
“I know that Joseph Smith was called of God, and this I know by the revelations of Jesus Christ to me, and by the testimony of the Holy Ghost. Had I not so learned this truth, I should never have been what is called a “Mormon,” neither should I have been here to-day.” (DNW, 22 Oct. 1862, 2).
“The question was asked a great many times of Joseph Smith, by gentlemen who came to see him and his people, ‘How is it that you can control your people so easily? It appears that they do nothing but what you say; how is it that you can govern them so easily?’ Said he, ‘I do not govern them at all. The Lord has revealed certain principles from the heavens by which we are to live in these latter days. The time is drawing near when the Lord is going to gather out his people from the wicked, and he is going to cut short his work in righteousness, and the principles which he has revealed I have taught to the people and they are trying to live according to them, and they control themselves.
“‘Gentlemen, this is the great secret now in controlling this people. It is thought that I control them, but it is not so. It is as much as I can do to control myself and to keep myself straight and teach the people the principles by which they should live.'” (Discourses of Brigham Young, 470)
The Prophet Joseph Smith sealed his testimony with his blood.
“Many of the Prophets have sealed their testimony with their blood, that their testament might go forth with force and not return void. As in ancient days, so in modern days. When Joseph Smith sealed his testimony with his blood, his testament from that moment was in force to all the world; and woe to those who fight against it.” (Discourses of Brigham Young, 467).
When Joseph Smith went to Carthage he said, “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 towards God, and towards all men. I shall die innocent, and it shall be said of me—He was murdered in cold blood” (Doctrine and Covenants 135:4).
“Who delivered Joseph Smith from the hands of his enemies to the day of his death? It was God; though he was brought to the brink of death time and time again, and, to all human appearance, could not be delivered, and there was no probability of his being saved. When he was in jail in Missouri, and no person expected that he would ever escape from their hands, I had the faith of Abraham, and told the brethren, ‘As the Lord God liveth, he shall come out of their hands.’ Though he had prophesied that he would not live to be forty years of age, yet we all cherished hopes that that would be a false prophecy, and we should keep him forever with us; we thought our faith would outreach it, but we were mistaken—he at last fell a martyr to his religion. I said, ‘It is all right; now the testimony is in full force; he has sealed it with his blood’” (Discourses of Brigham Young, 469–70).
“His office is not taken from him, he has only gone to labor in another department of the operations of the Almighty. He is still an Apostle, still a Prophet, and is doing the work of an Apostle and Prophet; he has gone one step beyond us and gained a victory that you and I have not gained” (Discourses of Brigham Young, 468).
I too add my testimony that Joseph Smith was and is a prophet of the living God. No man would endure what he did if he were not who he claimed to be.
Joseph Smith said, “However, it was nevertheless a fact that I had beheld a vision. I have thought since, that I felt much like Paul, when he made his defense before King Agrippa, (Acts 26:13-24) and related the account of the vision he had when he saw a light, and heard a voice; but still there were but few who believed him; some said he was dishonest, others said he was mad; and he was ridiculed and reviled. But all this did not destroy the reality of his vision. He had seen a vision, he knew he had, and all the persecution under heaven could not make it otherwise; and though they should persecute him unto death, yet he knew, and would know to his latest breath, that he had both seen a light and heard a voice speaking unto him, and all the world could not make him think or believe otherwise.
“So it was with me. I had actually seen a light, and in the midst of that light I saw two Personages; and they did in reality speak to me; and though I was hated and persecuted for saying that I had seen a vision, yet it was true; and while they were persecuting me, reviling me, and speaking all manner of evil against me falsely for so saying, I was led to say in my heart: Why persecute me for telling the truth? I have actually seen a vision; and who am I that I can withstand God, or why does the world think to make me deny what I have actually seen? For I had seen a vision; I knew it, and I knew that God knew it, and I could not deny it, neither dared I do it; at least I knew that by so doing I would offend God, and come under condemnation.” Joseph Smith History 1:24-25.