In my last post I talked about following the spirit of inspiration in writing a bit about the LDS (Mormon) Church’s history in a group who think Mormons cannot be Christians. I wanted to share this story with you today as a part of my testimony. I’ve had to change it a little, to keep from any copyright hassles, but the main theme and spirit of the story remains intact.
Yet again Parley and his friends had been forced to walk several miles along the dusty roads of Ray County, Missouri, surrounded by guards towering on horseback. They arrived at their new prison exhausted, hoping only for sleep. The weary men huddled on the dank floor, their chains hampering any hope of finding comfort in such a place.
Parley shoved his nose into a sleeve, barely able to abide the stink. The vile men had spent hours raucously boasting of various ways they’d like to kill their captors, the leaders of the Mormon Church.
One man, emboldened by copious amounts of drink, stumbled over to the cell bars and spat, as though he were a cobra spewing venom. His words, slurred and ugly, were made to goad those beyond the cell doors.
Parley glanced at Brother Joseph lying next to him. Though his handsome face appeared serene, Parley could see his jaw clench fiercely.
Upset his charges didn’t take the bait their guard squatted down like a toad. His bloodshot eyes narrowing, the man took to harassing brother Joseph in particular.
As Joseph’s eyes closed Parley marveled at his self-control. The guard, frustrated with Joseph’s stoic nature, retreated to his mates. Parley suspected they kept their voices loud enough for the captors to hear each filthy word.
Even now they boasted of every Mormon house they’d set afire, every wife and daughter they’d maliciously defiled, every man and child they’d brutally killed. On and on came their depraved ranting, their words pellets of disgust and despair that fused to Parley’s soul like bits of tar. No matter how hard he scraped – no matter how hard he prayed – he couldn’t get the filth off.
If ever the spirit of God had been eagerly thrust from a room it had surely been done in this place by these men. As time passed the guards worsened, permeating the air with malice.
A sudden clanging of chains brought his attention to Brother Joseph, who stood and faced their captors, eyes blazing with a fierceness never before seen by Parley. Joseph was a tall man, over six feet. At that moment he seemed to fill the room with the vastness of his fury.
His voiced roared in righteous indignation, thoroughly silencing the riotous men.
“Silence! Ye fiend of the infernal pit!,” he cried, his booming voice echoing off the stone walls. “In the name of Jesus Christ I rebuke you, and command you to be still. I will not live another minute and hear such language. Cease such talk, or you or I die this instant!” *
The guards immediately fell to their knees, a few of them cowering in a corner. To Parley’s amazement several immediately asked for forgiveness, unwilling to look at their prisoner.
The darkness that had previously threatened to dominate every crook of his mind was dispelled. After several heart pounding minutes Joseph sat down. For the rest of the night his eyes remained locked on the corner where the cringing men sat, the fire in his eyes never dissipating. The guards spoke not another word until their replacements, curious at the subdued demeanor of their cohorts, arrived.
In years to come Parley would see presidents face to face, watch judges rightfully condemn the wicked, would even imagine what it might be like to sit at the feet of a king.
Yet never in his life would he witness a more brilliant display of dignity and bravery, of boldness and courage, than he did watching a shackled man call the wicked to repent in a little room of an obscure town in Missouri.
*Joseph Smith, History of the Church: III