I think it is funny that we know not to speak against the prophet (and rightly so) but have no problem speaking all manner of filth against Joseph Smith these days now that Richard Bushman’s book “Rough Stone Rolling” has become mainstream within the church.
Here are a couple of times where a prophet addressed claims that have been laid at the feet of the Joseph Smith or at the feet of our members.
The remark that was made this morning is a true one, although the matter referred to is small, apparently, but it is a fact, there was not enough confidence in the people to satisfy them that the Prophet knew how to handle money, or what to do with it; they did not believe he knew how to manage temporal affairs. This lack of confidence brought poverty and distress upon the whole people.
When men came into our midst, who shut up the bowels of their compassion, and held their money with an iron fist, they were held in communion with us, our faith was exercised for them, we mingled with them, and gave them fellowship for a time, yet one man, with his covetousness, tied up the whole people. In many instances, men were cut off for their covetousness, and because they had not confidence in the Prophet, and held their substance when means were wanted to carry on the work of God, to send the Gospel to distant lands, to sustain the poor, build houses, and accomplish that which was necessary to be done. While this means was withheld, it brought the whole Church under condemnation, for this reason all had to suffer.
This was in the days of the Prophet Joseph. Have the people reformed since then? Perhaps a few of them hard; and again, perhaps a great many of them have not. Many have not had an opportunity to reform, as there is a considerable portion of this community who have not had an acquaintance with the Prophet; they never associated with him, they have not had an opportunity of sustaining his hands. Again, there is a certain portion of the people who were associated with him. What would the people do now, if they by their voice could call him hack to their midst? Would they be willing to lay their substance at his feet? I very much doubt it. He was poor, harassed, distressed, afflicted, and tormented with law suits upon law suits, persecution upon persecution, and thus it cost thousands and hundreds of thousands of dollars to keep him alive, which a few had to sustain. Is this affliction upon them now? It is not. The scene is reversed. And as the people once thought, that many by one man could be made poor, they now believe, by one man many will be made rich. At the present day I do not know where the opportunity is to prove the people.
There are individuals here, and members of the Church, that when they come up to this land, are very careful to leave their substance behind them. And if they have money to lend, they are very careful to lend it to persons who do not belong to the Church. There are such present to-day. They are fearful and unbelieving. They did not believe in the days of Joseph that he could tell them the truth. But if you asked them if they believed Joseph was a Prophet, and if God sent him to build up the kingdom, “O yes,” would be their reply; and yet they had not confidence to ask him what they should do with the thousands in their possession. These are a few facts in the life and experience of the Prophet Joseph.
How is it now? Have the people confidence? They say they have. Are they willing to take counsel? They say they are. As it was observed here this morning, when we wish anything done, the [p.76] people are ready and willing to raise their hands to accede to the propositions made by their leaders. Do you remember what I told you a few sabbaths ago—this whole people are willing to receive counsel, but who of them are willing to carry it out to the very letter? The future will prove that. It is not proven by sitting on your seats and simply raising your hands, as a token, a covenant, a witness to God and angels that you are ready to take counsel, and also carry it out.
For men of principle, and seemingly of good sense, to believe the Prophet Joseph, who was inspired to build up the kingdom of God temporally as well as spiritually, did not know as much about a picayune as about God’s spiritual kingdom, about a farm as about the New Jerusalem, is folly in the extreme, it is nonsense in the superlative degree. Those who entertain such ideas ought to have their heads well combed, and subjected to a lively course of friction, that peradventure a little common sense might dawn upon their confused ideas.
Consult your own judgments in such matters. Do you think that God would set a man to lead his people, who does not know as much about a picayune or a farm, as about God’s spiritual kingdom, or the New Jerusalem? Shame on those who would entertain such ideas, for they debase and corrupt the hearts of the community who imbibe them. According to the sentiments of some of the Latter-day Saints, the Lord must have become wonderfully high minded in the last days; I should think he has become too proud according to their belief, to notice farms and merchandise, and other little affairs and transactions that pass around us. He used to notice the very hairs of our heads that fell and the sparrows; He took care or the ravens, and watched over the children of Israel, and supplied all their temporal wants; but we say now, He does not condescend to such small matters, having given us an understanding, and we know what to do. Are not these the feelings of the people? I could refer to some little things by way of example, but it would hit somebody rather too publicly.
Let me ask that brother, if you have not thought in your heart, you would not go to brother Brigham for counsel, for fear he would counsel you to go to some place you do not want to go? Still you say, “I believe this is the kingdom of God, and I do not want to come in contact with brother Brigham, I do not wish to meet him, for fear he should come in contact with my calculations, and what I have decided upon in my mind.” I could put my hand upon some of you who entertain such thoughts.