Prophet's death fits pattern of martyrdom

Events in Joseph Smith's life follow a pattern of martyrdom that characterized the Savior and other scriptural figures such as Abinadi, Stephen, Paul and Peter, said Elder Spencer W. Kimball of the Council of the Twelve in an April 1946 general conference address.

"The martyrdom of Jesus the Christ is well established - it followed closely the pattern," he said. "His life was the perfect life. His enemies, failing to find any guilt in Him resorted to mobocracy to end His life." . . . The Savior had told His followers of His approaching death. He must die for the sins of the world and to seal His testimony. This He knew. His hour had come. They crucified Him, the Son of God, on Calvary.

"Another day dawns - a new dispensation; the heavens are opened. The Father and the Son bear witness again to earth. Other heavenly visitors restore priceless blessings to men, and another martyr gives his precious life to testify to a faithless, skeptical and unbelieving world that a personal God lives; that Jesus His Son is the Redeemer; and that truth is again restored. The details of the life of Joseph Smith are familiar to us. He announced at once his glorious vision of the Father and the Son and was immediately oppressed and persecuted.

" . . . Joseph Smith did not want to die. He had so much to live for, with his family, his friends, with his interest in the expanding kingdom, and he was still a young man, but though he hoped and prayed that the cup could pass, he knew it was inevitable. He said:

" `I am going like a lamb to the slaughter. But I am as calm as a summer's morning; I have a conscience void of offense toward God and all men. I shall die innocent and it shall yet be said of me - "he was murdered in cold blood." '

" . . .And a slaughter it was! The shots rang out! And freely flowed the blood of martyrs, for Hyrum, his older brother, had chosen to remain with him. This precious blood soaked into the earth, sealing an undying and unanswerable testimony which continued to ring in minds and hearts.

" . . . His work was not lost. His testimony goes steadily forward, on to infinity. As Alma had carried the torch for Abinadi, the apostles for the Savior, now came Brigham Young and the Twelve to continue the work of restoration.

" . . .Men do not give their lives to perpetuate falsehoods. Martyrdom dissipates all question as to the sincerity of the martyr. Personalities do not survive the ages. They rise like a shooting star, shine brilliantly for a moment and disappear from view, but a martyr for a living cause, like the sun - shines on forever."

Subscribe for free and get daily or weekly updates straight to your inbox
The three things you need to know everyday
Highlights from the last week to keep you informed