“Remember Faith:” Joseph Smith Sr.
February 1829, notwithstanding the snow and cold, Father Joseph Smith Sr., now in his 58th year, arrived in Harmony, Pennsylvania in company with his son, Samuel, to visit his other son, Joseph Smith Jr. and his wife Emma. The work of translating the Book of Mormon was in process, but progressing slowly. In the course of that visit, Father Smith humbly “desired to know what the Lord had for him to do.” Joseph, the Seer, inquired of the Lord and this significant revelation followed,
“Now behold, a marvelous work is about to come forth among the children of men. Therefore, O ye that embark in the service of God, see that ye serve him with all your heart, might, mind, and strength, that ye may stand blameless before God at the last day. Therefore, if ye have desires to serve God ye are called to the work….”
And it continues on. It is Doctrine and Covenants 4. We have no record of Father Smith’s immediate reaction to that revelation. However, some months later, after the Book of Mormon was published, a Quaker man came to his home and announced that he had purchased a note or a debt against Father Smith, and now he was here to collect. When Father Smith asked him why he had bought a debt which was not his own, the Quaker refused to answer. Father Smith offered him six dollars promising that the rest would follow if the man would wait. The man’s response is telling,
“No,” he said, “I will not wait one hour; and if [you do] not pay me immediately, [you] shall go forthwith to the jail, unless, (and he ran to the fire place and made violent gestures with his hands towards the fire), [you] will burn up them Books of Mormon. But, if [you] will burn them up, then I will forgive [you] the whole debt.”
To this Father Smith answered decidedly, “That I shall not do.”
“Then,” answered the Quaker, “[you] shall go to the jail.”
At this point, Lucy Mack Smith offered her gold beads that constituted the remainder of the debt, but the man refused them. He called a waiting constable who arrested Father Smith and took him to jail.
Along the way, Father Smith captors made him this offer. “The men by whom I was taken,” he said, “commenced using every possible argument to induce me to renounce the Book of Mormon; saying how much better it would be for you to deny that silly thing, than to be disgraced, and imprisoned, when you might, not only escape, but also have the note back; as well as the money you have paid on it.”
Father Smith refused the offer, was locked in a cell with a murderer, and kept in prison for the next 30 days. While a prisoner he kept the faith, preached the restored Gospel and upon his release, baptized two into the Church.
In that revelation first given to Father Smith in 1829, two qualities are mentioned twice as qualifying one for the work of God. Notwithstanding his weaknesses they seem to characterize the remainder of the days of Joseph Smith Sr. They are faith and charity.
Sources: Joseph Smith Papers, Documents Volume 1
This story can be heard on various radio stations on the Sounds of Sunday program.