Did Emma Hale Smith have a testimony of her own?

Did Emma Hale Smith have a testimony of her own?

Question

Dear Gramps,

Do we have any record of the spiritual experiences that Emma Smith (wife of the prophet Joseph Smith) may have had? Any written record of her own personal testimony of the truth of this work? We know she was true and faithful to Joseph, and mostly supported him. But did she have her own testimony? Seems like she has gotten a bad rap by history because of all the difficulties she had.

Robert 

 

Answer

Robert,

You are absolutely correct.  Emma did seem to get a bad rap in history.  Most of that had to do with the decisions she made to remain in the east instead of following the Saints west.  However, that decision in no way is a reflection of the testimony that she had regarding her husband as a Prophet or in the restoration of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints.

Not a lot is found on the actual testimony of Emma Hale Smith.  I have been able to find a couple of articles that show and reflect the testimony she did have.

Prior to Joseph being taken to Carthage, Emma had requested a blessing from her husband.  Because time and opportunity wasn’t there, Joseph suggested that Emma write out a blessing and he would sign it upon his return.  The words she wrote do show a testimony that God does have a hand in all things and she wanted nothing more than to be able to acknowledge that.

Blessing that Emma wrote for herself

“First of all that I would crave as the richest of heaven’s blessings would be wisdom from my Heavenly Father bestowed daily, so that whatever I might do or say, I could not look back at the close of the day with regret, nor neglect the performance of any act that would bring a blessing. I desire the Spirit of God to know and understand myself, that I desire a fruitful, active mind, that I may be able to comprehend the designs of God, when revealed through his servants without doubting. I desire a spirit of discernment, which is one of the promised blessings of the Holy Ghost.

“I particularly desire wisdom to bring up all the children that are, or may be committed to my charge, in such a manner that they will be useful ornaments in the Kingdom of God, and in a coming day arise up and call me blessed.

“I desire prudence that I may not through ambition abuse my body and cause it to become prematurely old and care-worn, but that I may wear a cheerful countenance, live to perform all the work that I covenanted to perform in the spirit-world and be a blessing to all who may in any wise need aught at my hands.

“I desire with all my heart to honor and respect my husband as my head, ever to live in his confidence and by acting in unison with him retain the place which God has given me by his side, and I ask my Heavenly Father that through humility, I may be enabled to overcome that curse which was pronounced upon the daughters of Eve. I desire to see that I may rejoice with them in the blessings which God has in store for all who are willing to be obedient to his requirements. Finally, I desire that whatever may be my lot through life I may be enabled to acknowledge the hand of God in all things.”

Unfortunately, Joseph was never able to sign that blessing but we can see such strength in  Emma’s words and perhaps a premonition of the things that were going to be coming to pass.

Emma’s testimony of the book of Mormon and the restoration

In the Relief Society Minutes of March 1844 Emma said this:

“If he [Joseph Smith] was a prophet, which he is, … ,”

Later when speaking to Parley P. Pratt in Nauvoo she had this to say:

“I believe he [Joseph] was everything he professed to be.”

In an interview with her sons a few months before she died, Emma did bear her testimony to them:

“My belief is that the Book of Mormon is of divine authenticity. I have not the slightest doubt of it. … Though I was an active participant in the scenes that transpired, and was present during the translation of the plates … and had cognizance of things as they transpired, it is marvelous to me, ‘a marvel and a wonder,’ as much as to anyone else.” Describing her experience, she said: “The plates often lay on the table without any attempt at concealment, wrapped in a small linen tablecloth which I had given him [Joseph] to fold them in. I once felt the plates as they lay on the table, tracing their outline and shape. They seemed to be pliable like thick paper, and would rustle with a metallic sound when the edges were moved by the thumb, as one does sometimes thumb the edges of a book.” She also testified, “I know Mormonism to be the truth; and believe the church to have been established by divine direction.”

Whatever decisions she made after her beloved Joseph died, she never lost her testimony of the church and the divine restoration of it.

Gramps

How can I help my wife to soften her heart?

How can I help my wife to soften her heart?

Question

Gramps,

I married a non-member while I was inactive in the church. Now that I am active again, my wife seems to argue with me when it comes to anything church related. Every time I say my personal prayers, I ask that her heart be softened,   It seems like right after that I get the complete opposite and she finds some reason to fight with me about the church. I fear that at some point she might make me choose between her and the church, and I’m not willing to give up either one. Do you have any advice?

Cam (more…)

How can I regain my testimony and help my family as well?

How can I regain my testimony and help my family as well?

Question

Gramps,

I am an endowed mother of eight who is losing my testimony because I feel my husband has used his Priesthood wrongly and is a hypocrite.  My older children feel depressed about the church too.  Now we find ways to doubt Joseph Smith’s word.  We had counseling but it’s over now and we are so confused.  Can you offer advice?

Atalee (more…)

How we do teach our sons the importance of temple marriage?

How we do teach our sons the importance of temple marriage?

Question

Hi Gramps,

My husband and I have four boys together, 11, 9, 8, 6. We were married in the temple 6 months after returning from our missions. My husband’s brother is the third one to get married outside of the temple. I feel very anxious about the confusion my sons may have about this. Most of my husband’s brothers are returned missionaries and should be getting married in the temple. They themselves say it’s no big deal because the plan is to get sealed later.  Should my husband have a talk with our sons and and discuss what the Lord has said and make it clear what our plans for marriage should be?  Or not say anything? I really don’t want them thinking that this is okay. I don’t want them thinking less of their uncles either. It would be easier if the uncles were not members or not active, then I could explain that they don’t have the same beliefs. Help.

Jackie (more…)

Last Judgement

Last Judgement

Last week in Relief Society our lesson was on the Last Judgement. We learned that those who reject the Gospel in this life,but accept it in the next, will be assigned to the Terrestrial Kingdom. So what does it mean to “reject” the Gospel–I’m sure it’s more than telling the missionaries you aren’t interested. I know a lot of people married to non-members wait the year after their spouse has died, then have the work done and are sealed. So have these people not rejected the Gospel? I asked in class what constituted rejecting the Gospel, but didn’t really get an answer. One person sid it wasn’t for us to judge, just God. Another said you had to have a testimony first, then turn your back on your testonmony. But those anseres did not satisfy me. Can you help?

Sharee (more…)

15 year old hormonal nightmare

15 year old hormonal nightmare

Dear Gramps,

What do I do with our 15 year old boy, who up until 8 weeks ago had a strong testimony? He has always been spiritual. He is a hormonal nightmare now who is fighting for autonomy in his life. He resents us and doesn’t like us right now at all. He says he’s been brainwashed and that the church is crap. This is not about the church, this is about us but he is throwing the Church under the bus. He doesn’t argue about coming to Church but we are not making him going to Youth. Are we doing the right thing? What can we do to get thru this?

Linda (more…)

What is Appropriate When Bearing Your Testimony?

What is Appropriate When Bearing Your Testimony?

Question

Gramps,

What is appropriate content when a person bears his testimony on the first Sunday and at the same time what is inappropriate?

David

 

Answer

You will not find a checklist of things you have to say, nor will you find a checklist of thing you are not allowed to say during your testimony. The simple answer is whatever the Spirit leads you to say.

There are times when discussing your family vacation is probably inappropriate, yet other times when maybe it is very appropriate. If your goal is to bear witness of a truth, and not give a travel log, then it may be appropriate.

However, the brethren have stated that testimonies should be short as opposed to long, and should state what we believe or know to be true as opposed to using the time to teach doctrine or principles.

A typical testimony is specifically centered on topics about the restored Gospel of Jesus Christ. That you know the Church is true, the Book of Mormon, Joseph Smith, or any truth learned from the restoration are typically the accepted topics you want to bear witness of. Also, the most powerful testimonies can be about a Gospel principle that you have gained an increased understanding or witness of recently.

Don’t forget to express your gratitude for the blessings you have, and your love for any one on your mind. Expression of gratitude and love are powerful ways to invite the Spirit.

 

Gramps

How do I explain to my family?

How do I explain to my family?

So I am a convert. I am serving a mission and would like to know how to explain why my family won’t be able to attend the temple with me when i get married? It tears my heart to break the news to my family. My mom will be devastated not being able to see her son get married. If you can help in any way that would be great.

Thanks

Ryan (more…)

How can we justify the writings in the Journal of Discourses?

How can we justify the writings in the Journal of Discourses?

Question

Gramps,

I have been a member for 30 years and still cannot justify the violent writings of Brighan Young nd others in The Journal of Discourses concerning Blood Sacrifice and his all out force of plural marriage on those who were very uncomfortable with it. I understand there is only one unforgivable sin which is blasphemy against the Holy Ghost.  Some of the writings are not the teachings of the Church I go to every Sunday. Would you please explain to me how this is the Gospel?

Cindy

 

Answer

Dear Cindy,

The Journal of Discourses is a very interesting collection of writings from the early history of the church, however there are some important points to remember when reading them.

First of all the issues you bring up, blood atonement and polygamy, are both very complex in nature, as well as in record. Just as when studying any doctrinal matter in the Gospel of Jesus Christ, beginning with sincere prayer is essential. This is something I’ve learned from my own perusal through the volumes.

Second, it needs to be remembered that the Journal of Discourses, while containing the words of prophets and other early leaders in the church, is not considered scripture by the church.

The official written doctrine of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints is found in the Bible, Book of Mormon, Doctrine and Covenants, and Pearl of Great Price. There are many other excellent writings from the early years of the church including Lectures on Faith, and Jesus The Christ a little later on. However, neither of these inspiring volumes are scripture. As such, they have no binding force upon the doctrines or beliefs of the church.

There is a defined process by which the canon of scripture is added upon in the church.

1. It must come from the prophet as a revelation. The revelation in question must be directed to the general membership of the church entirely. This means specific revelations to individuals or units within the church typically are not presented for inclusion in the standard works.

2. It must be presented to the First Presidency for acceptance as true revelation.

3. It must be presented to the Quorum of Twelve Apostles for acceptance as true revelation.

4. It must then be presented to successive general authorities for acceptance as true revelation.

5. It must finally be presented to the general membership of the church for acceptance as true revelation.

This pertains to the Journal of Discourses because none of those writings, as a whole or in part, have been presented as direct revelation to the church at large. This is why it is not binding as authoritative scripture. Another example would be President Gordon B. Hinkley’s book Standing For Something. It is an excellent book, and it contains the words of a then living prophet, yet it is not official scripture.

Third, prophets do not always speak under the direction of the Holy Spirit. This most definitely includes Brigham Young. We need to remember that the prophets of God are still mortal men. They are still free to think and act as they will. As they still posess their agency, they still posess the ability to be wrong, and to make mistakes.

Even Moses took credit for the miracle of the water coming from the rock as he smote it. He was most definitely a prophet, but he was wrong in what he said in an emotional moment.

Jonah actually fled from a call from Jehovah. Surely running from one’s priesthood responsibilities is not part of the Law of Moses, yet Jonah remained authoritative when he did his duty.

Finally, the church is also built upon the doctrine of continuing revelation from Heavenly Father to his prophet this very day. Because of this, successive prophets have authority to clairify, expand upon, or override the words of previous prophets. An example of this is seen in the missionary effort. For the longest time the standard for missionary service was based upon spiritual cleanliness and worthiness. Now the standard has been changed to include physical fitness and good health. This means that many who would have been able to serve before may not be able to do so now.

The Journal of Discourses comes from a different time, from people with a different world view than today. It is not something that can be read and understood quickly.

 

Gramps

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