Joseph Smith Manual Lesson 43: “‘He Was a Prophet of God’: Contemporaries of Joseph Smith Testify of His Prophetic Mission”

This is, I think, a nice little lesson. Scattered as it is among so many different people, however, it is difficult to trace in it any real unified intention. And of course none of it comes from the Prophet Joseph Smith. As a result, I will do little more in my notes here than draw on little bits and pieces of the many things said about Joseph Smith that seem to me striking in one way or another, writing up comments here and there.

The “Testimonies of Joseph Smith” section of the lesson opens with Brigham’s quite famous “I feel like shouting hallelujah all the time when I think that I ever knew Joseph Smith!” (p. 495). And I think that is a fantastic place to begin. Besides the obvious enthusiasm Brigham manifests, and besides the clear recognition in the statement that Joseph was a prophet of prophets, I like the way in which what Brigham says shows the pure saturation of Joseph’s influence. That is, having known Joseph Smith was not, for Brigham, something that just buoyed him up in difficult times; nor was it something that he could reflect on in nostalgic hours when things were quiet. Knowing Joseph Smith was something that led his soul to rejoice in every instant, constantly. What Joseph brought to light affects absolutely everything in us all the time—or it ought to. In this regard, I think it is not only rhetoric or even pragmatic necessity that leads Brigham to say, at the end of the same paragraph that “we have power to continue the work that Joseph commenced.” I take it that Brigham means to suggest that our work must be fully consecrated, as Joseph’s work fully informs us.

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