One of the original twelve apostles called under Joseph Smith, Jr. was Elder Parley P. Pratt. I have always felt an affinity to this man because of the strength and power of the words he has written.
A particular story I recall was when Parley was staying at a hotel on one of his many journeys. A man, particularly . There was silence for a moment and then he heard, “Lord, poor Parley is worn out. Good night.”
I still giggle every time I think of that story.
One of the most articulate apostles of that day, the Lord chose well in Parley P. Pratt. He read the Book of Mormon in a single night and determined that it was true and set out to find the church. Elder Pratt joined the church in October of 1830, baptized by Oliver Cowdrey. From that day forward he was a valiant and steadfast missionary for the Lord.
The words he wrote in a letter, while in Richmond Jail, are forever imprinted in my memory,
Letter from Richmond Jail
“In one of those tedious nights we had lain as if in sleep, till the hour of midnight has passed, and our ears and hearts had been pained, while we had listened for hours to the obscene jests, the horrid oaths, the dreadful blasphemies, and filthy language of our guards, Col. Price at their head, as they recounted to each other their deeds of rapine, murder, robbery, etc., which they had committed among the “Mormons,” while at Far West, and vicinity. They even boasted of defiling by force, wives, daughters, and virgins, and of shooting or dashing out the brains of men, women, and children.
“I had listened till I became so disgusted, shocked, horrified, and so filled with the spirit of indignant justice, that I could scarcely refrain from rising upon my feet and rebuking the guards, but had said nothing to Joseph, or any one else, although I lay next to him and knew he was awake.
On a sudden he arose to his feet, and spoke in a voice of thunder, or as the roaring lion, uttering, as near as I can recollect, the following words:
“SILENCE—Ye fiends of the infernal pit. 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 MINUTE.”
“He ceased to speak. He stood erect in terrible majesty. Chained, and without a weapon,–calm, unruffled and dignified as an angel, he looked down upon the quailing guards, whose weapons were lowed or dropped to the ground; whose knees smote together, and who, shrinking into a corner, or crouching at his feet, begged his pardon, and remained quiet till a change of guards.
“I have seen the ministers of justice, clothed in magisterial robes, and criminals arraigned before them, while life was suspended upon a breath, in the courts of England; I have witnessed a Congress in solemn session to give laws to nations;
I have tried to conceive of kings, of royal courts, of thrones, and crowns; and of emperors assembled to decide the fate of kingdoms, but dignity and majesty have I seen but once, as it stood in chains at midnight, in a dungeon, in an obscure village of Missouri.” — [Deseret News, Nov. 12, 1853] [Journal History of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, Nov. 7, 1853, 1]
A more vibrant, powerful image of the prophet has yet to be painted in my mind. For these were men of God, not given to salacious or unbecoming behavior, listening to evil men cackle about their foul deeds committed upon the innocent.
Parley P. Pratt lived out his life in service of Jesus Christ and His church. He never faltered, he never failed. A strong speaker at general conferences, his words inspired the Saints to action. Elder Pratt lived during the early days of the church. He suffered the atrocities, the unjust imprisonments, driven from state to state and finally out of country, just as every other Latter-day Saint at the time.
He carved, along with the rest of the Saints, Salt Lake City out of the desert, building a haven for the Saints deep within the valleys of the Rocky Mountains and a temple unto the Lord.
He served countless missions without complaint converting many who later became leaders of the church, including President John Taylor, the third president of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, Mary Fielding who married Hyrum Smith and whose son President Joseph F. Smith and grandson, Joseph Fielding Smith, were called to be prophets as well.
On May 14, 1857 Elder Pratt “fell a noble martyr for the cause of truth which he had advocated with such untiring perseverance for nearly twenty seven years. His last great and magnanimous act, in trying to rescue helpless innocence from the fury of her savage persecutors, will be handed down to unborn generations, as an imperishable monument to his praise; while his wicked brutal murderers, and all that gave countenance to the diabolical deed shall gnaw their tongues for pain, and perish, and be forgotten. Millennial Star – 1857