175 years ago Joseph and Hyrum were taken from our midst. This day is always a solemn one for me. I love those men who communed with Jehovah. They left behind them their wives and young children. They died willingly and offered themselves up as a sacrifice, I believe, for us. I am always moved to tears by their mother Lucy’s account of what must have been the most painful moment of her life:
“After the corpses 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 and saw my murdered sons extended both at once before my eyes and heard the sobs and groans of my family and the cries of ‘Father! Husband! Brothers!’ from the lips of their wives, children, brothers, and sisters, 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.'”
Joseph only 38 and Hyrum 44 went as lambs to the slaughter. I think it is accurate to say they died for the Church. Joseph’s last words are haunting as he looked upon members and friends who had betrayed him: Oh Lord my God… Had he been able to finish his sentence it might have continued to say … Is there no help for the widow’s son?
The Masonic call of distress recognized undoubtedly by brother Masons he saw before him, perhaps a part of the mob, from whom he sought mercy.
The more I study, the more I’m becoming sympathetic to Emma’s version of the facts regarding the charges leveled against Joseph and Hyrum over polygamy. I think they were innocent of those whoredoms that were conveniently blamed on Joseph after his death.
Emma was true to Joseph and said after his death: “If there is no Joseph there is no church.” Is it possible she was right? Did losing Joseph and Hyrum equate to our collective condemnation being fulfilled? D&C 84 makes it clear in 1831 that we as a church were placed under condemnation. Section 124 states clearly that if we did not build the Nauvoo Temple in the space of time granted, we would be rejected as a Church. Maybe Emma was right. Maybe the fact we took the words and works of Joseph so lightly led to him being taken from us.
Emma, who we are told by the Lord was an elect lady, was not so revered by Brigham Young and his followers.
In the October session of General Conference 1866, Brigham Young made these comments:
…”To my certain knowledge, Emma Smith is one of the damnedest liars I know of on this earth; yet there is no good thing I would refuse to do for her, if she would only be a righteous woman; but she will continue in her wickedness. Not six months before the death of Joseph, he called his wife Emma into a secret council, and there he told her the truth, and called upon her to deny it if she could. He told her that the judgments of God would come upon her forthwith if she did not repent. He told her of the time she undertook to poison him, and he told her that she was a child of hell, and literally the most wicked woman on this earth, that there was not one more wicked than she. He told here where she got the poison, and how she put it in a cup of coffee; said he ‘You got that poison from so and so, and I drank it, but you could not kill me.’ When it entered his stomach he went to the door and threw it off. he spoke to her in that council in a very severe manner, and she never said one word in reply. I have witnesses of this scene all around, who can testify that I am now telling the truth. Twice she undertook to kill him.”
I do not believe Brigham Young and find his account inconsistent with all that was ever recorded by Emma or Joseph or their family about their relationship. I find his account as ridiculous as the one charging Emma with the attempted murder of Eliza Snow, who was said to be pregnant with Joseph’s child. She allegedly miscarried and yet was teaching school the next day after being pushed down the steps by Emma.
It’s perhaps more interesting to contemplate why Brigham might feel so threatened by Emma as to slander her so openly. Did he fear her? Did he fear Joseph’s son coming to take his position in the church? After all, Brigham had campaigned to be president with the promise that he would only be the church’s caretaker until Joseph III was old enough to take his rightful position as the Church’s leader.
I’ve said it before, I stand with Emma and the Smith family. I will not speak ill of Joseph, for I know he is anointed. I do not speak ill of Emma out of admiration and respect for all she suffered and did and I believe she was a woman of great valor.
I was curious today to get an email from LDSLiving promoting a book profiting on the deaths of Joseph and Hyrum. It’s not a new book, in fact the entire story was a republication of an ad pushing this book two years ago. The pitch has the flavor of something you might find on the cover of a popular magazine. “6 Things You Didn’t Know About the Plot to Murder Joseph Smith.”
“For more great insights like these, check out Mark Goodmansen’s book Conspiracy at Carthage: The Plot to Murder Joseph Smith, available at Deseret Book stores or deseretbook.com. For more information, check out markgoodmansen.com.”
I decided to see what might be on the Church’s official website about the importance of today. I was actually quite stunned when I saw that there was nothing. Not even a mention of the Martyrdom of Mormonism’s founder on the 175th anniversary of their passing. I find this truly sad.
I did notice an article about Presisent Nelson’s birthday celebration coming up in September however.
“Guest artists for President Russell M. Nelson’s 95th birthday celebration, scheduled for early September, have been announced. Latter-day Saint performing artists Jenny Oaks Baker & Family Four, GENTRI, The Bonner Family, Nathan Pacheco and Donny Osmond will join The Tabernacle Choir and Orchestra at Temple Square for the evening celebration on Friday, September 6, 2019.”
“The gala celebrating the influence of the Savior in the life of President Nelson and his lifelong service in The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints begins at 8:00 p.m. mountain daylight time in the Conference Center in Salt Lake City. The performance will be broadcast live on ChurchofJesusChrist.org and The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints Facebook page and YouTube channel. Additional channels and broadcast and rebroadcast times are pending.”
Sad on so many levels. And what a truly unfortunate oversight by the Church.