A Tribute to Joseph Smith by Every Modern-Day Prophet

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Joseph Smith was born on December 23, 1805. In honor of his birthday, here are some powerful quotes about him from every modern-day prophet from Brigham Young to Thomas S. Monson.

Brigham Young

I honor and revere the name of Joseph Smith. I delight to hear it; I love it. I love his doctrine.

What I have received from the Lord, I have received by Joseph Smith; he was the instrument made use of. If I drop him, I must drop these principles; they have not been revealed, declared, or explained by any other man since the days of the Apostles. If I lay down the Book of Mormon, I shall have to deny that Joseph is a Prophet; and if I lay down the doctrine and cease to preach the gathering of Israel and the building up of Zion, I must lay down the Bible; and, consequently, I might as well go home as undertake to preach without these three items. . . .

Not that Joseph was the Savior, but he was a Prophet. As he said once, when someone asked him, “Are you the Savior?” “No, but I can tell you what I am—I am his brother.” So we can say.

John Taylor

Who was Joseph Smith? The Book of Mormon tells us he was of the seed of Joseph that was sold into Egypt, and hence he was selected as Abraham was to fulfil a work upon the earth. God chose this young man. He was ignorant of letters as the world has it, but the most profoundly learned and intelligent man that I ever met in my life, and I have traveled hundreds of thousands of miles, been on different continents and mingled among all classes and creeds of people, yet I never met a man
so intelligent as he was. And where did he get his intelligence from? Not from books, not from the logic or science or philosophy of the day, but he obtained it through the revelation of God made known to him through the medium of the everlasting gospel.

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Wilford Woodruff

It has been my faith and belief from the time that I was made acquainted with the gospel that no greater prophet than Joseph Smith ever lived on the face of the earth save Jesus Christ. He was raised up to stand at the head of this great dispensation—the greatest of all dispensations God has ever given to man. . . . Joseph Smith was ordained before he came here, the same as Jeremiah was.

Lorenzo Snow

A word or two about Joseph Smith. Perhaps there are very few men now living who were so well acquainted with Joseph Smith the Prophet as I was. I was with him oftentimes. I visited with him in his family, sat at his table, associated with him under various circumstances, and had private interviews with him for counsel. I know that Joseph Smith was a prophet of God; I know that he was an honorable man, a moral man, and that he had the respect of those who were acquainted with him. The Lord has shown me most clearly and completely that he was a prophet of God, and that he held the holy priesthood.

Joseph F. Smith

God lives, and Jesus is the Christ, the Savior of the world. Joseph Smith is a prophet of God—living, not dead; for his name will never perish. . . . He laid the foundations in this dispensation for the restoration of the principles that were taught by the Son of God, who for these principles lived, and taught, and died, and rose from the dead. Therefore I say, as the name of the Son of God shall be held in reverence and honor, and in the faith and love of men, so will the name of Joseph Smith eventually be held among the children of men, gaining prestige, increasing in honor and commanding respect and reverence, until the world shall say that he was a servant and Prophet of God. The Lord God Omnipotent reigneth. Peace on earth, good will to men, is the proclamation that
Joseph the Prophet made, and that is the same as his Master, the Lord Jesus Christ, made to the world.

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Heber J. Grant

I have met hundreds of men who have said: “If it were not for Joseph Smith I could accept your religion.” Any man who does not believe in Joseph Smith as a prophet of the true and the living God has no right to be in this Church. That revelation to Joseph Smith is the foundation stone. If Joseph Smith did not have that interview with God and Jesus Christ, the whole Mormon fabric is a failure and a fraud. It is not worth anything on earth. But God did come, God did introduce His Son; God
did inspire that man to organize the Church of Jesus Christ, and all the opposition in the world is not able to withstand the truth. It is flourishing; it is growing, and it will grow more.

George Albert Smith

Many of the benefits and blessings that have come to me have come through that man [Joseph Smith] who gave his life for the gospel of Jesus Christ. There have been some who have belittled him, but I would like to say that those who have done so will be forgotten and their remains will
go back to mother earth, if they have not already gone, and the odor of their infamy will never die, while the glory and honor and majesty and courage and fidelity manifested by the Prophet Joseph Smith will attach to his name forever.

David O. McKay

The boldness of [Joseph Smith’s] assertions was remarkable. Many of those were in direct opposition to the belief of the orthodoxy of his day. He contradicted doctrines advocated by learned divines—a rash thing for an unlearned youth to do unless he had an assurance that he was right. If he had this assurance, whence did it come? . . .

Other men with noble aspirations, with power and popularity, failed utterly in attempting to establish their ideals. Joseph Smith was favored intellectually by inspiration. Brother Joseph knew he was chosen of Almighty God to establish in this dispensation the Church of Jesus Christ which he, as Paul, declared to be the power of God unto salvation— social salvation, moral salvation, spiritual salvation.

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Joseph Fielding Smith

Mormonism, as it is called, must stand or fall on the story of Joseph Smith. He was either a prophet of God, divinely called, properly appointed and commissioned, or he was one of the biggest frauds this world has ever seen. There is no middle ground. . . .

There is no possibility of his being deceived, and on this issue we are ready to make our stand. I maintain that Joseph Smith was all that he claimed to be. His statements are too positive and his claims too great to admit of deception on his part. No imposter could have accomplished so great and wonderful a work. Had he been such, he would have been detected and exposed, and the plan would have failed and come to naught. . . .

No man, in and of himself, without the aid of the Spirit of God and the direction of revelation, can found a religion, or promulgate a body of doctrine, in all particulars in harmony with revealed truth. If he has not the inspiration of the Lord and the direction of messengers from his presence, he will not comprehend the truth, and therefore such truth as he teaches will be hopelessly mixed with error.

Harold B. Lee

As one of the humblest among us, and from the depths of my soul, I too want to add my humble testimony. I know that Joseph Smith was a prophet of the living God. I know that he lived and died to bring to this generation the means by which salvation could be gained. I know that he sits in a high place and holds the keys of this last dispensation. I know that for those who follow him and listen to his teachings and accept him as a true prophet of God and his revelations and teachings as the word of God, the gates of hell will not prevail against them.

Spencer W. Kimball

Of all the great events of the century, none compared with the first vision of Joseph Smith. . . . Nothing short of this total vision to Joseph could have served the purpose to clear away the mists of the centuries. Merely an impression, a hidden voice, a dream could [not] have dispelled the old vagaries and misconceptions. . . .

The God of all these worlds and the Son of God, the Redeemer, our Savior, in person attended this boy. He saw the living God. He saw the living Christ. Few of all the man-creation had ever glimpsed such a vision. . . . Joseph now belonged to an elite group—the tried and trusted, and true. He was in a select society of persons whom Abraham describes as “noble and great ones” that were “good” and that were to become the Lord’s rulers.

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Ezra Taft Benson

The world has generally revered the ancient dead prophets and rejected the living ones. It was so with Joseph Smith. Truth is often on the scaffold—error on the throne. But time is on the side of truth, for truth is eternal.

The greatest activity in this world or in the world to come is directly related to the work and mission of Joseph Smith—man of destiny, prophet of God. That work is the salvation and eternal life of man. For that great purpose this earth was created, prophets of God are called, heavenly messengers are sent forth, and on sacred and important occasions even God, the Father of us all, condescends to come to earth and to introduce His beloved Son.

Howard W. Hunter

Time vindicates the words and acts of a prophet. The passing of time has turned faith into knowledge. . . . One who accepts the doctrine commonly known or referred to as Mormonism must accept . . . those writings which have been left to us by the Prophet Joseph Smith—a prophet, seer, and revelator.

This is the time of the year [December] when we are reminded of his birth. I am grateful for his teachings, for his revelations, for the heritage he has left us. Through him the gospel was restored to the earth. There is no story in all of history more beautiful than the simple, sweet story of the lad who went into the woods near his home, kneeled in prayer, and received heavenly visitors. . . .

As time went by, this young man, without scholarly achievements and formal education, was educated by the Lord for the things to come. . . .

I am grateful for my membership in the Church. My testimony of its divinity hinges upon the simple story of the lad under the trees kneeling and receiving heavenly visitors. If it is not true, Mormonism falls. If it is true—and I bear witness that it is—it is one of the greatest events in all
history.

Gordon B. Hinckley

It is a constantly recurring mystery to me how some people speak with admiration for the Church and its work, while at the same time disdaining him through whom, as a servant of the Lord, came the framework of all that the Church is, of all that it teaches, and of all that it stands for. They would pluck the fruit from the tree while cutting off the root from which it grows. . . .

Great was the Prophet Joseph Smith’s vision. It encompassed all the peoples of mankind, wherever they live, and all generations who have walked the earth and passed on. How can anyone, past or present, speak against him except out of ignorance? They have not tasted of his words; they have not pondered about him, nor prayed about him. As one who has done these things, I add my own words of testimony that he was and is a prophet of God, raised up as an instrument in the hands of the Almighty to usher in a new and final gospel dispensation.

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Thomas S. Monson

Through Joseph Smith, the gospel—which had been lost through centuries of apostasy—was restored, the priesthood and its keys were received, the doctrines of salvation were revealed, the gospel and temple ordinances—along with the sealing power—were returned and, in 1830, the Church of Jesus Christ was re-established on the earth.

Though reviled and persecuted, the Prophet Joseph never wavered in his testimony of Jesus Christ. His peers watched him lead with dignity and grace, endure hardships, and time and again rise to new challenges until his divine mission was completed. Today that heritage he established still shines for all the world to see. The teachings he translated and his legacy of love for his fellow man continue in the millions of hearts touched by the message he declared so long ago.


How did Joseph Smith do it? How did he, when just a teenager, open the floodgates of revelation on a spring day in 1820? How did he continue to receive, restore, and refine the rich doctrine of the restored gospel until his martyrdom in 1844? And how could a man who delivered such a comprehensive system of doctrine, that laid such a profound theological foundation, be anything other than a prophet of God?

Latter-day Saint doctrine is based on the restoration of a correct understanding of God's "character, perfections, and attributes." In Precept upon Precept, esteemed Latter-day Saint scholar and speaker Robert L. Millet explored how the restoration of one truth led to questions that led to answers and the restoration of more truths—line upon line, precept upon precept.

From the original theophany of the First Vision and its implications for a world steeped in Trinitarian doctrine to the cosmic scope of the King Follett sermon, the Prophet's revelations shook up the entrenched doctrines of nineteenth-century Christianity. And by the time of Joseph's martyrdom, God had through him laid the foundations for a restored church of Jesus Christ that will last until the Millennium.

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