A Young Folks' History of the Church by Nephi Anderson - HTML preview

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Persecution Of Joseph


By this time you will see that when the Lord set his hand to begin the great latter-day work, the evil one was also present, trying to hinder its progress. At the very beginning there were only Joseph and a few friends to work against, but now the Church was fast becoming established in the land, and if it were to be stopped some strong effort would have to be made. So the evil one inspired men to gather in large crowds or mobs to annoy and do harm to the members of the Church and their friends.

Shortly after the conference mentioned in the last chapter, Joseph and a number of other elders went to Colesville to hold meetings and baptize some believers. The brethren built a dam in a creek on Saturday where they were to baptize on Sunday, but during the night a mob tore the dam away. However, meeting was held on Sunday, and early on Monday morning the dam was repaired and the baptisms were attended to; but before they were through, the mob gathered and followed the Saints to their homes, making all kinds of threats. That evening as they were going to hold a meeting, a constable arrested Joseph Smith on the charge of making disorder, setting the country in an uproar by preaching the Book of Mormon, etc.

The constable was a good man, and told Joseph that the mob was going to try to take him and perhaps kill him; but he would protect Joseph. In driving to another town where the court was to be held, the mob lay in waiting by the road, but the constable whipped up his horse and they got away.

The next day when Joseph was called to be tried, there was a large crowd and much excitement as many wished to see and hear the young prophet. The trial commenced and many persons who knew Joseph were called to tell something about him. Among the number was Mr. Stoal, for whom Joseph had worked.

"Did not the prisoner, Joseph Smith, have a horse of you?" was asked of Mr. Stoal.

"Yes, sir," was the answer.

"Did not he go to you and tell you that an angel had appeared unto him and told him to get the horse from you?"

"No; he told me no such story."

"Well, how had he the horse of you?"

"He bought him of me as another man would do?"

"Have you had your pay?"

"That is not your business."

The same question was asked again.

"I hold his note for the price of the horse," replied Mr. Stoal, "which I consider as good as the pay, for I am well acquainted with Joseph Smith, Jr., and know him to be an honest man, and if he wishes, I am ready to let him have another horse on the same terms."Many other witnesses were called, but the above is a fair sample of the questions and the answers received. Nothing wrong was proved against Joseph and he was discharged.

But no sooner was Joseph released than another constable appeared and arrested him again. This officer mistreated Joseph shamefully. He would give him nothing to eat, and he allowed a crowd of men to spit upon him and otherwise abuse him.

The next day Joseph was tried again, this time at Colesville. His friends again gathered around to protect him while his enemies tried harder than ever to have him convicted of some crime. Many witnesses were called who told untrue stories of Joseph, but when they were questioned they contradicted each other so that everybody, including the court, could see they were not telling the truth.

Newel Knight was called as a witness.

"Did the prisoner, Joseph Smith, Jr., cast the devil out of you?" asked the lawyer who was against Joseph.

"No, sir," was the reply.

"Why, have you not had the devil cast out of you?" "Yes, sir."

"And had not Joe Smith some hand in its being done" "Yes, sir."

"And did he not cast him out of you?"

"No, sir; it was done by the power of God, and Joseph Smith was the instrument in the hands of God to do it. He commanded him out of me in the name of Jesus Christ."

The lawyer could make nothing out of him or the others who were called to tell of some supposed wrong Joseph had done. Nothing could be found against him that would send him to prison, and I suppose the judge thought that even casting the devil out of a man was not such a great crime. So Joseph was once more released and a free man.

But of course the mob was not satisfied, so they laid a plan to capture Joseph and tar and feather him; but now the constable who had treated him so badly, saw by the trial that he was innocent, and came to Joseph and asked his forgiveness. He told the prophet of the mob's intentions and helped Joseph to get safely away home.

So the Lord was with his servants and helped them out of the hands of those who would harm them. The Lord was also kind to the Saints and gave the Church many revelations which you may find in the book called "Doctrine and Covenants," which contains the revelations given to the Church through Joseph the Prophet.

Topics.—1. Persecution of the Saints. 2. The arrests and trials of Joseph. 3. The Doctrine and Covenants.

Questions and Review.1. What did Jesus say about persecution? (See St. Matthew 5:10, 12.) 2. Where is Colesville? 3. What was Joseph's errand in Colesville? 4. What did the mob do? 5. For what was Joseph arrested? 6. Tell about his first trial. 7. Who testified at the second trial? 8. After his discharge what did the mob intend to do to Joseph? 9. Who helped him to escape? 10. What is the Doctrine and Covenants?