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D&C 121. Liberty Jail One of the most trying times in the history of the Church, both in terms of its impact on the Church generally and in the life of.

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Presentation on theme: "D&C 121. Liberty Jail One of the most trying times in the history of the Church, both in terms of its impact on the Church generally and in the life of."— Presentation transcript:

1 D&C 121

2 Liberty Jail One of the most trying times in the history of the Church, both in terms of its impact on the Church generally and in the life of the Prophet Joseph Smith personally, occurred during the winter of 1838–39. The Prophet, who bore the brunt of the persecution in that period, had been imprisoned in the ironically named Liberty Jail. Until his martyrdom five and a half years later, there was no more burdensome time in Joseph’s life than this cruel, illegal, and unjustified incarceration. Liberty Jail, one of the more forbidding structures in that region, was considered escape proof, and it probably was. Surrounded by stone walls four feet thick, the floor-to-ceiling height in the dungeon was barely six feet. Inasmuch as some of the men, including the Prophet Joseph, were over six feet tall, this meant that when standing they were constantly in a stooped position. When they lay down, it was mostly upon the rough, bare stones of the prison floor covered here and there by a bit of loose, dirty straw or an occasional dirty straw mat. The food given to the prisoners was coarse and sometimes contaminated, so filthy that one of them said they “could not eat it until [they] were driven to it by hunger.”1 On as many as four occasions poison was administered to them in their food, making them so violently ill that for days they alternated between vomiting and a kind of delirium, not really caring whether they lived or died.1 In the Prophet Joseph’s letters, he spoke of the jail being a “hell, surrounded with demons … where we are compelled to hear nothing but blasphemous oaths, and witness a scene of blasphemy, and drunkenness and hypocrisy, and debaucheries of every description.”2 “We have … not blankets sufficient to keep us warm; and when we have a fire, we are obliged to have almost a constant smoke,” he said.3 “Our souls have been bowed down”4 and “my nerve trembles from long confinement,” Joseph wrote.5 “Pen, or tongue, or angels,” could not adequately describe “the malice of hell” that he suffered there.6 All of this occurred during what, by some accounts, was considered the coldest winter on record in the state of Missouri.23456

3 Words of Comfort -Review D&C 121:1-25 and D&C 122:1-9 -Which of these verses are most powerful or most important to you? -Perhaps you have had an experience where these verses carried you through times of tribulation.

4 Do Our Enemies Prosper?—D&C 121:15-16 Elder Heber J. Grant said: “Our enemies have never done anything that has injured this work of God, and they never will. I look around, I read, I reflect, and I ask the question, Where are the men of influence, of power and prestige, who have worked against the Latter-day Saints? Where is the reputation, for honor and courage, of the governors of Missouri and Illinois, the judges, and all others who have come here to Utah on special missions against the Latterday Saints? Where are there people to do them honor? They can not be found.... Where are the men who have assailed this work? Where is their influence? They have faded away like dew before the sun. We need have no fears, we Latter-day Saints. God will continue to sustain this work; He will sustain the right. If we are loyal, if we are true, if we are worthy of this Gospel, of which God has given us a testimony, there is no danger that the world can ever injure us. We can never be injured... by any mortals, except ourselves.” (In Conference Report, Apr. 1909, p. 110.)

5 Excerpt from Elder Holland’s “Lessons from Liberty Jail” (Ensign, 9/09, 26-33) It has always been a wonderful testimony to me of the Prophet Joseph’s greatness and the greatness of all of our prophets, including and especially the Savior of the world in His magnificence, that in the midst of such distress and difficulty they could remain calm and patient, charitable and forgiving—that they could even talk that way, let alone live that way. But they could, and they did. They remembered their covenants, they disciplined themselves, and they knew that we must live the gospel at all times, not just when it is convenient and not just when things are going well. Indeed, they knew that the real test of our faith and our Christian discipleship is when things are not going smoothly. That is when we get to see what we’re made of and how strong our commitment to the gospel really is. Surely the classic example of this is that in the most painful hours of the Crucifixion the Savior could say, “Father, forgive them; for they know not what they do” (Luke 23:34). That is a hard thing to ask when we’re hurting or have been offended, are tired or stressed out or suffering innocently. But that is when Christian behavior may matter the most. As Joseph was taught in his prison-temple, even in distress and sorrow we must “let [our] bowels … be full of charity towards all men … ; then [and only then] shall [our] confidence wax strong in the presence of God; and … the Holy Ghost shall be [our] constant companion” (D&C 121:45–46).Luke 23:34D&C 121:45–46 Remaining true to our Christian principles is the only way divine influence can help us. The Spirit has a near impossible task to get through to a heart that is filled with hate or anger or vengeance or self-pity. Those are all antithetical to the Spirit of the Lord. On the other hand, the Spirit finds instant access to a heart striving to be charitable and forgiving, long-suffering, and kind—principles of true discipleship. What a testimony that if we strive to remain faithful, the triumph of a Christian life can never be vanquished, no matter how grim the circumstance might be. How I love the majesty of these elegant, celestial teachings taught, ironically, in such a despicable setting and time.

6 True Priesthood “This then, is true priesthood — to be images of the living God, exhibiting in our characteristics His brightness and His strength; to be girt and endowed with the purity of His nature; to be unsullied in heart and mind; to stand by the strength of redeeming, saving qualities; to bless, and bless again, notwithstanding ingratitude in some — building, sustaining, and protecting all the time; to fight all spirits of division and all principles of death; to help the weak, the down trodden, and the helpless, till helping becomes our natural food, working on the principles that yield nourishment, support, and strength, till our very presence is as the sun, cheering and blessing all. So shall God increase within us, refreshing our own spirits, and watering all around, and the characteristics of the Holy Priesthood will grow out from us like the branches of a fruitful tree that yield, shelter, shield, and fruit. Let a man do this, and he shall be a Priest indeed. His authority shall be like a two-edged sword. It shall be confirmed on him for all eternity; for God shall love him and shall bless him. His heart shall increase in richness, and his mind shall grow in strength. No good thing shall be withheld from him. He shall save and gain influence over the hearts of men. He shall be as God among his own; and they shall feel the attributes that live within him, till their hearts are stolen from them and linked to him forever. So shall he gain dominion, and increase in strength, and be really, truly, and eternally a representative of the Most High.” (Orson Pratt, Millennial Star, 20:641-644)

7 Unrighteous Dominion in the Home “The place to take the true measure of a man is not in the darkest place or in the amen corner, nor the cornfield, but by his own fireside. There he lays aside his mask and you may learn whether he is an imp or an angel, cur or king, hero or humbug. I care not what the world says of him: whether it crowns him boss or pelts him with bad eggs. I care not a copper what his reputation or religion may be: if his babies dread his homecoming and his better half swallows her heart every ti me she has to ask him for a five-dollar bill, he is a fraud of the first water, even though he prays night and morning until he is black in the face and howls hallelujah until he shakes the eternal hills. But if his children rush to the front door to meet him and love’s sunshine illuminates the face of his wife every time she hears his footfall, you can take it for granted that he is pure, for his home is a heaven—and the humbug never gets that near the great white throne of God. He may be a rank atheist and red-flag anarchist, a Mormon and a mugwump; he may buy votes in blocks of five, and bet on the elections; he may deal ‘em from the bottom of the deck and drink beer until he can’t tell a silver dollar from a circular saw, and still be an infinitely better man than the cowardly little humbug who is all suavity in society but makes home a hell, who vents upon the helpless heads of his wife and children an ill nature he would inflict on his fellow men but dares not. I can forgive much in that fellow mortal who would rather makes men swear than women weep; who would rather have the hate of the whole world than the contempt of his wife; who would rather call anger to the eyes of a king than fear to the face of a child” (W.C. Brann, “A Man’s Real Measure”, in Elbert Hubbard’s Scrapbook, NY: Wm. H. Wise and Co., 1923, p. 16).

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