“Were It Not for These Things Which Have Been Kept and Preserved”

Ed J. Pinegar, Richard J. Allen

To the modern reader with ready access to the scriptures of God, it is difficult to fathom the enormous value that these ancient prophets placed on having access to the word of God and making that priceless word available to the people so that they might attain joy and eternal blessings. Without the word of God, the ancient Mulekites, whose descendants Mosiah I discovered at Zarahemla, had “denied the being of their Creator” (Omni 1:17). Without the word of God, the Lamanites had lost their spiritual anchor and pursued a lifestyle of limited perspective and self-serving aggression. Josiah, king of Judah from 640 b.c. to 610 b.c., and therefore an older contemporary of Lehi, is overjoyed when, during the renovation of the temple, the high priest Hilkiah discovers a book of the law, originating from the time of Moses (see 2 Kings 22:8f; 2 Chronicles 34:15f). Says Josiah: “Go ye, enquire of the LORD for me, and for the people, and for all Judah, concerning the words of this book that is found: for great is the wrath of the LORD that is kindled against us, because our fathers have not hearkened unto the words of this book, to do according unto all that which is written concerning us” (2 Kings 22:13). The king reads the long-lost book before the people and causes them to covenant to live by its teachings (see 2 Kings 23:3). President Spencer W. Kimball has declared: “I feel strongly that we must all of us return to the scriptures just as King Josiah did and let them work mightily within us, impelling us to an unwavering determination to serve the Lord. Josiah had the law of Moses only. In our scriptures we have the gospel of Jesus Christ in its fulness; and if a taste is sweet, in fulness there is joy” (“How Rare a Possession—the Scriptures!” Ensign, Sept. 1976, 2).

Influence of Darkness Against the Lord’s Servant, Joseph Smith

The coming forth of the Book of Mormon was countered with insidious hatred by enemies of the word of God. Satan and his minions spared no effort in attempting to thwart the emergence of this witness of Jesus Christ, as the following narrative from Lucy Mack Smith, mother of the prophet, attests:

The plates were secreted about three miles from home, in the following manner: Finding an old birch log much decayed, excepting the bark, which was in a measure sound, [Joseph] took his pocket knife and cut the bark with some care, then turned it back and made a hole of sufficient size to receive the plates, and, laying them in the cavity thus formed, he replaced the bark; after which he laid across the log, in several places, some old stuff that happened to lay near, in order to conceal as much as possible the place in which they were deposited.
Joseph, on coming to them, took them from their secret place, and, wrapping them in his linen frock, placed them under his arm and started for home.
After proceeding a short distance, he thought it would be more safe to leave the road and go through the woods. Traveling some distance after he left the road, he came to a large windfall, and as he was jumping over a log, a man sprang up from behind it and gave him a heavy blow with a gun. Joseph turned around and knocked him down, then ran at the top of his speed. About half a mile farther he was attacked again in the same manner as before; he knocked this man down in like manner as the former and ran on again; and before he reached home he was assaulted the third time. In striking the last one, he dislocated his thumb, which, however, he did not notice until he came within sight of the house, when he threw himself down in the corner of the fence in order to recover his breath. As soon as he was able, he arose and came to the house. He was still altogether speechless from fright and the fatigue of running.
After resting a few moments, he desired me to send Carlos for my husband, Mr. Knight, and his friend Stoal, and have them go immediately and see if they could find the men who had been pursuing him. And after Carlos had done this, he wished to have him sent to Hyrum’s, to tell him to bring the chest.
I did as I was requested, and when Carlos arrived at Hyrum’s, he found him at tea with two of his wife’s sisters. Just as Hyrum was raising a cup to his mouth, Carlos touched his shoulder. Without waiting to hear one word from the child, he dropped the cup, sprang from the table, caught the chest, turned it upside down, and emptying its contents on the floor, left the house instantly with the chest on his shoulder.
The young ladies were greatly astonished at his singular behavior and declared to his wife—who was then confined to her bed, her eldest daughter, Lovina, being but four days old—that he was certainly crazy.
His wife laughed heartily and replied, “Oh, not in the least; he has just thought of something which he has neglected; and it is just like him to fly off on a tangent when he thinks of anything in that way.”
When the chest came, Joseph locked up the Record, then threw himself upon the bed and after resting a little, so that he could converse freely, he arose and went into the kitchen, where he related his recent adventure to his father, Mr. Knight, and Mr. Stoal, besides many others who had by this time collected, with the view of hearing something in regard to the strange circumstance which had taken place. He showed them his thumb, saying, “I must stop talking, father, and get you to put my thumb in place, for it is very painful.”
I will here mention that my husband, Mr. Knight, and Mr. Stoal went in pursuit of those villains who had attempted Joseph’s life, but were not able to find them (History of Joseph Smith, ed. Preston Nibley [Salt Lake City: Bookcraft, 1958], 107–9).

Commentaries and Insights on the Book of Mormon, Vol. 1