Tuesday, August 26, 2014

Jedediah M Grant Saved By A Vision

Jedediah Morgan Grant was born in New York in 1816. He joined the Church in 1833. As a young man of 18 years, he marched with "Zion's Camp" to Missouri. That experience was a very formative one in his life. Years later, speaking in Salt Lake City, he described an experience during the march:

"In the year 1834, when Zion's camp was moving from Kirtland to Missouri, one day I left the camp and went out to hunt in the woods of Ohio, and strayed away from the camp some 10 or 11 miles.
The camp kept moving on all the time, and I entirely lost the track, and having no compass, I knew not towards what point I should travel. I kept traveling on till the after part of the day; I then concluded I would pray, but I could not get any impression where the camp was. However, I soon after received an impression from the Spirit, the same Spirit we had in Kirtland, and the same Spirit we enjoy in this place; and immediately after receiving the impression, I looked before me, and there was the camp moving on in regular order. I could see it just as clear as I did in the morning; there were the people, the wagons and horses, all in their places as I left them in the fore part of the day, and I supposed they were not more than 80 rods off. But after turning away for a moment, I again looked in the same direction, but all was gone. Still the Spirit told me to travel on in the same direction I had seen the camp; I did so, and after traveling some 8 or 10 miles, came up with them, and when they first came in sight, they looked just as I saw them in the vision." (_JD_ 3:10-11, May 30, 1855)

In the years following Zion's Camp, Elder Grant served several missions and suffered persecution with the Saints. He became well known for his speaking ability; stories of his preaching a sermon from a blank text and of disarming an opponent by pointing out who was at the head of the Church are well known (see CH Story 14). He crossed to Utah in 1847 and later helped direct other companies on that journey. He was the first mayor of Salt Lake City in 1851, and then was ordained an apostle and became a counselor to Brigham Young in 1854. He had a son named Heber J., who later followed in his father's steps and eventually became president of the Church. However, a week after Heber was born in November 1856, Jedediah died an untimely death at 40 years old, having given great service to the kingdom.

After telling the story of his experience during Zion's Camp, Elder Grant observed:

"Again, whenever I have had anything that was great or important to accomplish, I have been impressed with my own weakness and inability to perform the task imposed upon me, and that of myself I was as nothing, only as I trusted in God, and under these circumstances I was certain to speak by the power and influence of the Holy Ghost. When I have trusted in books, or in my own acquirements that I had gleaned from reading the productions of different authors, (for I used to be fond of reading the works of Brown, Abercrombie, Locke, Watts, and other metaphysical writers,) I was sure to be foiled in my attempt, for all would leave me. But whenever I have trusted in the Lord, and relied upon Him for strength, it has come out right." (_JD_ 3:11)

(Compiled and written by David Kenison)

Lyman O. Littlefield's Testimony of Joseph Smith's Calling

Lyman O. Littlefield was born in New York in November 1819, and after moving to Michigan, joined the Church with his parents in his youth. Along with his father and older brother, he accompanied the march of Zion's Camp to Missouri when he was only 13 years old. He recorded the following impression of that journey:

"The journey was extremely toilsome for all, and the physical suffering, coupled with the knowledge of the persecutions endured by our brethren whom we were traveling to succor, caused me to lapse one day into a state of melancholy. As the camp was making ready to depart I sat tired and brooding by the roadside. The Prophet [Joseph Smith] was the busiest man of the camp; and yet when he saw me, he turned from the great press of other duties to say a word of comfort to a child. Placing his hand upon my head, he said, 'Is there no place for you, my boy? If not, we must make one.' This circumstance made an impression upon my mind which long lapse of time and cares of riper years have not effaced." (George Q. Cannon, _Life of Joseph Smith the Prophet_, pp. 343-4.)

As Elder Cannon wrote, Joseph's "deeds and words of thoughtfulness were a constantly flowing stream."

Later in life, Lyman Littlefield added this testimony of Joseph:
"The Spirit of the Lord had previously testified to me, in the state of Michigan, that Joseph Smith was a Prophet of God, and when I beheld him at Salt River, where Zion's Camp was resting near Brother Burget's house, the spirit of truth furnished me with an additional evidence of his divine mission. I bear my testimony that he was a Prophet of God." (Lyman Littlefield "Recollections," _JI_ (1892) 27:65.)

Lyman went on to live a long and faithful life, passing away in September 1893 at age 73.

(Compiled and written by David Kenison)

Joseph Smith Saved From a Child's Prayer

At a time when Joseph Smith was guarded day and night by his brethren from mob violence, that he might perform his necessary business labors and get the necessary night's rest and that his life should be safe; he was in a log house at night. Several brethren were with him and were making arrangements as to who should stand guard that night.

Joseph was listening to the prayer of a little boy in the room adjoining. The boy prayed for the prophet, that he might be secure and safe from his enemies, the mob, that night.

When the boy had done praying, Joseph turned to his brethren and told them all to go to bed and all sleep and rest themselves that night, for God had heard and would answer that boy's prayer. They all went to bed and slept safely until morning undisturbed.

(Max Parkin, _Conflict at Kirtland_, p. 206)

Heber C. Kimball's Trial with Evil Before Baptism of Hundreds

Heber C. Kimball's biography contains this great story about missionary work in England:

Saturday evening, says Heber C. Kimball, it was agreed that I should go forward and baptize, the next morning, in the River Ribble, which runs through Preston [England].

By this time the adversary of souls began to rage, and he felt determined to destroy us before we had fully established the kingdom of God in that land [England], and the next morning I witnessed a scene of satanic power and influence which I shall never forget.

Sunday, July 30th, about daybreak, Elder Isaac Russell (who had been appointed to preach on the obelisk in Preston Square, that day) who slept with Elder Richards in Wilfred Street, came up to the third story, where Elder Hyde and myself were sleeping, and called out, "Brother Kimball, I want you should get up and pray for me that I may be delivered from the evil spirits that are tormenting me to such a degree that I feel I cannot live long, unless I obtain relief."

I had been sleeping on the back of the bed. I immediately arose, slipped off at the foot of the bed, and passed around to where he was. Elder Hyde threw his feet out, and sat up in the bed, and we laid hands on him, I being mouth, and prayed that the Lord would have mercy on him and rebuked the devil.

While thus engaged, I was struck with great force by some invisible power and fell senseless on the floor. The first thing I recollected was being supported by Elders Hyde and Richards, who were praying for me, Elder Richards having followed Russell up to my room. Elders Hyde and Richards then assisted me to get on the bed, but my agony was so great I could not endure it, and I arose, bowed my knees and prayed. I then arose and sat upon the bed, when a vision was opened to our minds, and we could distinctly see the evil spirits, who foamed and gnashed their teeth at us. We gazed upon them about an hour and a half (byu Willard's watch). We were not looking towards the window, but towards the wall. Space appeared before us, and we saw the devils coming in legions, with their leaders, who came within a few feet of us. They came towards us like armies rushing to battle. They appeared to be men of full stature, possessing every form and feature of men in the flesh, who were angry and desperate; and I shall never forget the vindictive malignity depicted on their countenances as they looked me in the eye; and any attempt to paint the scene which then presented itself, or portray their malice and enmity, would be vain. I perspired exceedingly, my clothes becoming as wet as if I had been taken out of the river. I felt excessive pain, and was in the greatest distress for some time. I cannot even look back on the scene without feelings of horror; yet by it I learned the power of the adversary, his enmity against the servants of God, and got some understanding of the invisible world. We distinctly heard those spirits talk and express their wrath and hellish designs against us. However, the Lord delivered us from them, and blessed us exceedingly that day.

Elder Hyde's supplemental description of that fearful scene is as follows, taken from a letter addressed to President Kimball:
Every circumstance that occurred at that scene of devils is just as fresh in my recollection at this moment as it was at the moment of its occurrence, and will ever remain so. After you were overcome by them and had fallen, their awful rush upon me with knives, threats, imprecations, and hellish grins, amply convinced me that they were no friends of mine. While you were apparently senseless and lifeless on the floor and upon the bed (after we had laid you there), I stood between you and the devils and fought them and contended with them face to face, until they began to diminish in number and to retreat from the room. The last imp that left turned round to me as he was going out and said, as if to apologize, and appease my determined opposition to them, "I never said anything against you!" I replied to him thus: "It matters not to me whether you have or have not; you are a liar from the beginning! In the name of Jesus Christ, depart!" He immediately left, and the room was clear. That closed the scene of devils for that time.

Years later, narrating the experience of that awful morning to the Prophet Joseph, Heber asked him what it all meant, and whether there was anything wrong with him that he should have such a manifestation.

"No, Brother Heber," he replied, "at that time you were nigh unto the Lord; there was only a veil between you and him, but you could not see him. When I heard of it, it gave me great joy, for I then knew that the word of God had taken root in that land. It was this that caused the devil to make a struggle to kill you."

Joseph then related some of his own experiences, in many contests he had had with the evil one, and said: "The nearer a person approaches the Lord, the greater power will be manifested by the adversary to prevent the accomplishment of His purposes."

(Orson F. Whitney, _Life of Heber C. Kimball_, pp. 143-6)

(Compiled and written by David Kenison, Orem, Utah, dkenison@xmission.com)

Heber C. Kimball's Call to England in 1837

At this crisis in the affairs of the Church, the Lord revealed to Joseph Smith that "something new" must be done for its salvation. The good ship Zion, storm-tossed and tempest-driven, her sails rent, her timbers sprung, a portion of her officers and crew in open mutiny, was drifting with fearful rapidity toward the rocks and breakers of destruction.

Joseph was denounced as a "fallen prophet" by men who had been his immediate friends and confidential advisers, and the divinity of his mission was being doubted by many who had received through him a testimony of the truth, the gift of the Holy Ghost, a knowledge of God and Christ, whom to know is life eternal.

"No quorum in the Church," says he, "was entirely exempt from the influence of those false spirits who were striving against me for the mastery. Even some of the Twelve were so far lost to their high and responsible calling, as to begin to take sides, secretly, with the enemy."

"On Sunday, the 4th day of June, 1837," says Heber C. Kimball, "the Prophet Joseph came to me, while I was seated in front of the stand, above the sacrament table, on the Melchizedek side of the Temple, in Kirtland, and whispering to me, said, 'Brother Heber, the Spirit of the Lord has whispered to me: "Let my servant Heber go to England and proclaim my Gospel, and open the door of salvation to that nation."'"

The thought was overpowering. He had been surprised at his call to the apostleship. Now he was overwhelmed. Like Jeremiah he staggered under the weight of his own weakness, exclaiming in self-humiliation: "O, Lord, I am a man of stammering tongue, and altogether unfit for such a work; how can I go to preach in that land, which is so famed throughout Christendom for learning, knowledge and piety; the nursery of religion; and to a people whose intelligence is proverbial!

"Feeling my weakness to go upon such an errand, I asked the Prophet if Brother Brigham might go with me. He replied that he wanted Brother Brigham to stay with him, for he had something else for him to do. The idea of such a mission was almost more than I could bear up under. I was almost ready to sink under the burden which was placed upon me.

"However, all these considerations did not deter me from the path of duty; the moment I understood the will of my Heavenly Father, I felt a determination to go at all hazards, believing that He would support me by His almighty power, and endow me with every qualification that I needed; and although my family was dear to me, and I should have to leave them almost destitute, I felt that the cause of truth, the gospel of Christ, outweighed every other consideration.

"At this time many faltered in their faith; even some of the Twelve were in rebellion against the Prophet of God. John F. Boynton said to me, 'If you are such a fool as to go at the call of the fallen prophet, Joseph Smith, I will not help you a dime, and if you are cast on Van Dieman's land, I will not make an effort to help you.' Lyman E. Johnson said he did not want me to go on my mission, but if I was determined to go, he would help me all he could; he took his cloak from off his back and put it on mine; which was the first cloak I ever had.

"Brothers Sidney Rigdon, Joseph Smith, Sr., Brigham Young, Newell K. Whitney and others said, 'Go and do as the Prophet has told you and you shall prosper and be blessed with power to do a glorious work.' Hyrum, seeing the condition of the Church, when he talked about my mission, wept like a little child; he was continually blessing and encouraging me, and pouring out his soul in prophecies upon my head; he said, 'Go, and you shall prosper as not many have prospered.'"
Elder Orson Hyde, who had had some disagreement with the authorities and was thought to be disaffected, gave a noble proof of his integrity by asking forgiveness of the brethren, and requesting the privilege of accompanying Apostle Kimball on his mission to England. He was accordingly set apart, with Elder Kimball and Priest Joseph Fielding, for that purpose.

Says Heber: "The Presidency laid their hands on me and set me apart to preside over the mission, and conferred great blessings upon my head; said that God would make me mighty in that nation in winning souls unto Him; angels should accompany me and bear me up, that my feet should never slip; that I should be mightily blessed a prove a source of salvation to thousands, not only in England but America.

"After being called on this mission, I daily went into the east room of the attic story of the temple and poured out my soul unto the Lord, asking His protection and power to fulfill honorably the mission appointed me by His servants. A short time previous to starting, I was laid prostrate on my bed with a stitch in my back, which suddenly seized me while chopping and drawing wood for my family. I could not stir a limb without crying out from the severeness of the pain. Joseph, hearing of it, came to see me, bringing Oliver Cowdery and Bishop Partridge with him; they prayed for and blessed me, Joseph being mouth, beseeching God to raise me up; he then took me by the right hand and said, 'Brother Heber, I take you by the right hand in the name of Jesus Christ of Nazareth, and by virtue of the Holy Priesthood vested in me I command you in the name of Jesus Christ to arise, and be thou made whole.' I arose from my bed, put on my clothes, and started with them and went up to the temple, and felt no more of the pain afterwards."

Though amazed and overwhelmed at his call to this duty, the voice of the Spirit in his own heart had long since told him that he would some day be required to perform just such a work. As with all men of destiny, the mountain of his mission loomed before him dimly in the distance, casting its shadow athwart his soul, and there were times when, worn and wearied with life's common cares, he sought within that shade shelter and repose from the noontide's heat and toil....

The day of departure came; Tuesday, January 13, 1837 [nine days after the call]. The solemn scene of Heber's parting with his family cannot be more tenderly or graphically told than in the words of Elder Robert B. Thompson, who thus describes it:
"The day appointed for the departure of the Elders to England having arrived, I stepped into the house of Brother Kimball to ascertain when he would start, as I expected to accompany him two or three hundred miles, intending to spend my labors in Canada that season.

"The door being partly open, I entered and felt struck with the sight which presented itself to my view. I would have retired, thinking I was intruding, but I felt riveted to the spot. The father was pouring out his soul to 'That God who rules on high, Who all the earth surveys: That rides upon the stormy sky, And calms the roaring seas, 'that He would grant unto him a prosperous voyage across the mighty ocean, and make him useful wherever his lot should be cast, and that He who 'careth for the sparrows, and feedeth the young ravens when they cry' would supply the wants of his wife and little ones in his absence. He then, like the patriarchs, and by virtue of his office, laid his hands upon their heads individually, leaving a father's blessing upon them, and commending them to the care and protection of God, while he should be engaged preaching the gospel in foreign lands. While thus engaged his voice was almost lost in the sobs of those around, who tried in vain to suppress them.

The idea of being separated from their protector and father for so long a time was indeed painful. He proceeded, but his heart was too much affected to do so regularly. His emotions were great, and he was obliged to stop at intervals, while the big tears rolled down his cheeks, an index to the feelings which reigned in his bosom. My heart was not stout enough to refrain; in spite of myself I wept, and mingled my tears with theirs. At the same time I felt thankful that I had the privilege of contemplating such a scene. I realized that nothing could induce that a man tear himself from so affectionate a family group, from his partner and children who were so dear to him -- but a sense of duty and love to God and attachment to His cause."

In order to realize the situation so touchingly described, it must be remembered that in those early days, ere the age of steamships and railways had fairly arrived, a mission to Europe, comparatively easy now, seemed almost like a voyage to another world.

(Orson F. Whitney, _Life of Heber C. Kimball_, pp. 103-109)