Project Gutenberg's Joseph Smith the Prophet-Teacher, by B. H. Roberts
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Title: Joseph Smith the Prophet-Teacher A Discourse
Author: B. H. Roberts
Release Date: February 22, 2011 [EBook #35360]
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Produced by the Mormon Texts Project, http://bencrowder.net/books/mtp. Volunteers: Ben Crowder, Meridith Crowder, Tod Robbins.
ELDER B. H. ROBERTS
THE DESERET NEWS
SALT LAKE CITY, UTAH
By B. H. Roberts.
TABLE OF CONTENTS.
I. A GREAT POSSIBILITY.
II. HISTORICAL AMERICANS.
III. WHAT IS A PROPHET?
IV. RELIGIOUS AND PHILOSOPHICAL BELIEFS OF ONE HUNDRED YEARS AGO.
Ideas of Deity.
Of the Universe.
Man and His Salvation.
Of the Significance of Salvation and Damnation.
V. THE PROPHET'S CORRECTION OF SECTARIAN ERRORS.
The Doctrine of Revelation.
The Being and Kind of Being God Is.
Creation, the Law of Substance.
Of Man's Origin.
Election and Reprobation.
VI. THE PROPHET'S PHILOSOPHICAL DOCTRINES.
The Prophet's Definition of Truth.
As to Things—Existences.
The Reign of Law.
Change and Its Tendency.
The Existence of Good and Evil.
The Intelligent Entity.
The Relationship of Intelligences.
Eternity of Relations.
VII. THE PROPHET'S GENERALIZATIONS.
VIII. AN AMERICAN PROPHET.
America the Old World.
The Constitution of the United States Inspired of God.
America Fortified of God Against Other Nations.
TO MY MOTHER, ON THE ANNIVERSARY OF HER EIGHTY-SECOND BIRTHDAY, DECEMBER 18, 1908.
For a long time, my Dear Mother, I have desired to couple remembrance of you with some of my works; and finally have chosen this Discourse upon our great Prophet-Teacher to carry with it that distinction. To all who read this Discourse, then, I desire to say that I love and honor you; and that your love for me has ever been an inspiration to my work.
JOSEPH SMITH THE PROPHET-TEACHER
[Footnote A: This discourse was delivered at the Tabernacle, Salt Lake City, on Sunday, December 22nd, 1907, at a Memorial Service held in honor of the one hundred and second anniversary of the Prophet's birth, 23rd December 1805.]
Tomorrow will be the one hundred and second anniversary of the birth of Joseph Smith, whom most of you here present believe was a Prophet of God. I have been invited to say something about him on this occasion. It is not at all my intention to deal with the incidents of Joseph Smith's eventful life; these are familiar to you. If I could attain the full desire of my heart, I would like to set before you somewhat the value of this man as a teacher of great truths. I desire to speak of him as a Prophet-Teacher, that is, as a Prophet acting in his capacity of Teacher, a Prophet's highest and noblest office.
As an introduction to what I desire to say, I shall read a passage from a book quite famous for its literary merit—it has reached its ninth edition; also it is famous for the character sketches of prominent Americans of the early decades of the nineteenth century. The book, "Figures of the Past," was written by Josiah Quincy of the famous Quincy family of Massachusetts, a graduate of Harvard, 1821; mayor of Boston from 1845 to 1849. Mr. Quincy visited Nauvoo in May, 1844, forty-three days previous to the martyrdom of the Prophet, and though his "Figures of the Past" was not published until 1882, the year of his death, yet his recollections of the Prophet and his impressions of Nauvoo were drawn from his journal, written at the time of that visit, and numerous letters written to his friends about the same period. Mr. Quincy places his pen-portrait of "Joseph Smith at Nauvoo" with similar portraits of such eminent Americans as John Adams, Daniel Webster, John Randolph, Andrew Jackson, and the French soldier and statesman, Lafayette. The passage I am going to read is the opening paragraph of the chapter on "Joseph Smith at Nauvoo."
A GREAT POSSIBILITY.
"It is by no means improbable that some future text-book, for the use of generations yet unborn, will contain a question something like this: What historical American of the nineteenth century has exerted the most powerful influence upon the destinies of his countrymen? And it is by no means impossible that the answer to that interrogatory may be thus written: Joseph Smith, the Mormon Prophet. And the reply, absurd as it doubtless seems to most men now living, may be an obvious commonplace to their descendants. History deals in surprises and paradoxes quite as startling as this. The man who established a religion in this age of free debate, who was and is today accepted by hundreds of thousands as a direct emissary from the Most High—such a rare human being is not to be disposed of by pelting his memory with unsavory epithets."
Reading that passage a few days ago, I asked the question: Is this rather remarkable semi-prediction of Quincy's in the way of fulfillment? Tomorrow will be the one hundred and second anniversary of our Prophet's birth. It is more than one hundred years since he came to earth, and sixty-three years since he departed from it. What evidence is there before the world that would lead any serious-minded person to believe that this prediction I have read in your hearing may find fulfillment? "Certainly," men will begin to say, "enough time has elapsed to develop the character of your Prophet's work; whether he built of wood, hay, stubble, or of gold or precious stones. Is his influence to be merely transient and local or did he really deal with some universal and permanent truths that must remain to influence mankind?"
As introductory to these considerations, let us think about some of these historical Americans whose influence upon their countrymen is to be eclipsed, perhaps, by the "Mormon Prophet." Among our patriots and statesmen will be remembered Patrick Henry, with his doctrine of the inherent right of revolution against intolerable oppression; Jefferson, and his "Declaration of Independence" and the "Statute of Virginia for Religious