Personal Online Journal

Wednesday, November 08, 2017

The Sincerity of Joseph Smith

From “A mere impostor . . . would have broken down.”, Dan Peterson, 8 Nov 2017

In June 1851, a journalist connected with London’s Morning Chronicle published a piece entitled “The Mormons.”  He did not accept Joseph Smith’s religious faith, and believed that Mormonism was conceived in fraud.  “At the same time,” though, he wrote of Joseph,
there is much in his later career which seems to prove that he really believed what he asserted—that he imagined himself to be in reality what he pretended—the chosen medium to convey a new gospel to the world—the inspired of heaven, the dreamer of divine dreams, and the companion of angels.  If he were an impostor, deliberately and coolly inventing, and pertinaciously propagating a falsehood, there is this much to be said, that never was an impostor more cruelly punished than he was, from the first moment of his appearance as a prophet to the last.  Joseph Smith, in consequence of his pretensions to be a seer and prophet of God, lived a life of continual misery and persecution.  He endured every kind of hardship, contumely and suffering.  He was derided, assaulted and imprisoned.  His life was one long scene of peril and distress, scarcely brightened by the brief beam of comparative repose which he enjoyed in his own city of Nauvoo.  In the contempt showered upon his head his whole family shared.  Father and mother, and brothers, wife and friends, were alike involved in the ignominy of his pretensions, and the sufferings that resulted.  He lived for fourteen years amid vindictive enemies, who never missed an opportunity to vilify, to harass, and to destroy him; and he died at last an untimely and miserable death, involving in his fate a brother to whom he was tenderly attached.  If anything can tend to encourage the supposition that Joseph Smith was a sincere enthusiast maddened with religious frenzies, as many have been before and will be after him—and that he had strong and invincible faith in his own high pretensions and divine missions, it is the notability that unless supported by such feelings, he would have renounced the unprofitable and ungrateful task, and sought refuge from persecution and misery in private life and honorable industry.
(A journalist connected with London’s Morning Chronicle published a piece entitled “The Mormons.” June 1851. Quoted in Cannon, Life of Joseph Smith the Prophet, 356)

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