S A I N T S: “SEVEN YEARS OF NEGLIGENCE”
“One day, Joseph went to town on an errand. Expecting him back for dinner [6:00], his parents were alarmed when he did not return. They waited for [three] hours, unable to sleep.* At last Joseph opened the door and threw himself into a chair, exhausted.
“Why are you so late?” his father asked [it was 9:00].
“I have had the severest chastisement that I ever had in my life,” Joseph said.
“Who has been taking you to task?” demanded his father.
“It was the angel of the Lord,” Joseph replied. “He says I have been negligent.” The day of his next meeting with Moroni was coming soon. “I must be up and doing,” he said. “I must set myself about the things which God has commanded me to do.”
Saints: The Standard of Truth 1815-1846 – Volume 1 (Salt Lake City, UT: The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, January 2018), 36.
*The record makes no reference to them ‘losing sleep’ over this. It was, after all, only 9:00 pm. Why does the church feel the need to add items to their history that never happened?
These paragraphs come from Lucy Mack Smith’s history. Her account happened many years after the fact, and shortly after Joseph Smith was killed. As was previously mentioned, it is likely embellished, as the aged are prone to do. In fact, as this tale begins, she wanders off into a lengthy story of Joseph being ‘shot at’ when he was fourteen years old. A tale which has (later) strikethroughs from beginning to end. Then, it seems that she remembered she wasn’t supposed to be discussing his youth, but a circumstance that happened years later.
She continues (after the strikethroughs):
“It is true he was now a man grown and capable of using suficient [sic] judgment to keep out of common difficulties.”
Lucy Mack Smith History 1844-1845 – Book 5 (Salt Lake City, UT: The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, 1845), 5.
The timing of this statement seems as if she was being jarred back into later years after a brief detour; making one wonder about the accuracy due to a lack of cohesiveness.
Additionally, one must wonder as to “why” Joseph can’t ever seem to get anything right. He’s always being chastised or making self-admissions about his lack of seriousness or integrity. How many visits from God the Father, Jesus Christ, and heavenly messengers (good and evil) would it take for the average person to understand the seriousness of the moment? Speaking for myself, my life and everything I do would change completely at the very first encounter.
Why was Joseph so disobedient? After all, Joseph’s timeline (if correct) puts us about seven years removed from the “First Vision.” What reason, at this late hour of the game, could there possibly be for a newlywed 22-year old man, with his heavenly background, to say, “I must set myself about the things which God has commanded me to do.”(?)
Could it be perhaps, that the entire thing was a ruse from the beginning?
RE-rewrite: I offer none for this section. I’m convinced the text speaks for itself in implicating Joseph Smith, Jr. as a liar. If I was to venture a guess as to “why” he was out late, exhausted, “pale as ashes” (as his mother wrote), I’d say it had very little to do with an angel, and everything to do with his sordid personality.