Daniel Tyler’s Recollections of the Prophet Joseph Smith
My closest friends know of my great love and passion for Church History. Nearly every day I find myself in some conversation or another in which a friend will ask, “Where did you learn that?” At which point I make reference to a book that has been out of print since 1932 or some random old article I have read from somewhere. With that passion at the root of my daily studies, over the past few days I have been sharing some of my favorite little articles from Church publications of long ago. Seeing that I have received positive feedback – although those commenting ON THE BLOG ITSELF seem to be few in number; Hint. Hint! – I think I’ll keep up with posting something old and usually un-found to the general readers of Church History. I hope that you continue to enjoy them as much as I do.
This article comes from The Juvenile Instructor, Vol. 27 No. 3. (As you can see above. Don’t ya just love those cool old magazine covers?!) I share this article today for three main reasons.
- Daniel Tyler is an amazing figure in Church History. An early convert to the Church, he sacrificed personally to help build the Kirtland Temple, and he knew the Prophet Joseph Smith personally up until the time of the prophet’s death. Afterwards, he served in the Mormon Battalion, and did scores of other amazing things to help build the Kingdom. The guy is a Gospel Stud (and that’s not a term I throw around lightly!).
- Brother Tyler shares a vision which his mother had before ever meeting the Prophet Joseph Smith. I love his recounting of this sacred experience in and of itself for two reasons. First, because of the sacred nature of the vision and what we can learn from it in many caveats. And second, because it goes to show that the “spiritual gifts” of the Primitive Church were just as much alive when Dispensation started as they were in the days of Christ Himself, or as much as they are today.
- Near the end of this brief article we can learn the eternal importance of following the prophet. The Haun’s Mill Massacre would have never been a painful stain in our Church History had good Brother Haun simply heeded prophetic admonition.
But I’ll let you read that for yourself.
So without any further delay, I present to you:
RECOLLECTIONS OF THE PROPHET JOSEPH SMITH
ELDER DANIEL TYLER, who now resides at Beaver, Beaver County, Utah, has furnished us with a number of items concerning the Prophet Joseph, — not only incidents in his life, but some of his doctrines and interpretations of scripture, which are valuable to our young readers. Brother Tyler was born in Semproneous, Cayuga County, New York, November 23, 1815. He joined the Church in Springfield, Erie County, Pa., January 16, 1833 At this place he first met the Prophet, who came there to his father’s house. His impression of the Prophet’s character was, as he states, ” That he was a meek, humble, sociable and very affable man, as a citizen, and one of the most intelligent of men, and a great Prophet.” This testimony he also bears concerning him: “My subsequent acquaintance with him more than confirmed my most favorable impressions in every particular. He was a great statesman, philosopher and philanthropist, logician, and last, but not least, the greatest prophet, seer and revelator that ever lived, save Jesus Christ only.”
Following are some of the recollections of the Prophet which Brother Tyler mentions: “A short time prior to his arrival at my father’s house my mother, Elizabeth Comins Tyler, had a remarkable vision. Lest it might be attributed to the evil one, she related it to no person, except my father, Andrews Tyler, until the Prophet arrived, on his way to Canada, I think. She saw a man sitting upon a white cloud, clothed in white from head to foot. He had on a peculiar cap, different from any she had ever seen, with a white robe, underclothing, and moccasins. It was revealed to her that this person was Michael, the Archangel. She was sitting in the house drying peaches when she saw the heavenly vision, but the walls were no bar between her and the angel, who stood in the open space above her.
“The Prophet informed her that she had had a true vision, and it was of the Lord. He had seen the same angel several times. It was Michael, the Archangel, as revealed to her.
“During his short stay he preached at my father’s residence, an humble log cabin. He read the 3rd chapter of John, and explained much of it, making it so plain that a child could not help understanding it, if he paid attention. I recollect distinctly the substance of his remarks on the 3rd verse — ‘Except a man be born again he cannot see the Kingdom of God.’ “The birth here spoken of, the Prophet said, was not the gift of the Holy Ghost, which was promised after baptism, but was a portion of the spirit, which attended the preaching of the gospel by the elders of the Church. The people wondered why they had not previously understood the plain declarations of scripture, as explained by the elders, as they had read them hundreds of times. When they read the Bible it was a new book to them. This was being born again, to see the Kingdom of God. They were not in it, but could see it from the outside, which they could not do until the Spirit of the Lord took the vail from before their eyes. It was a change of heart but not of state ; they were converted, but were yet in their sins. Although Cornelius had seen an holy angel, and on the preaching of Peter the Holy Ghost was poured out upon him and his household, they were only born again to see the Kingdom of God. Had they not been baptized afterwards they would not have been saved (see Acts, 10th chapter). Explaining the 5th verse, he said ‘To be born of water and of the Spirit’ meant to be immersed in water for the remission of sins and receive the gift of the Holy Ghost thereafter. This was given by the laying on of the hands of one having authority given him of God.
“His discourse was, I think, entirely on the first principles of the gospel, and he quoted many passages of scripture, but I do not recollect any other so clearly defined as those I have quoted. I have given his exact language, as near as I can recollect it, after a lapse of over fifty years — nearly sixty years. The joy that filled my juvenile soul no one can realize except those who have had a foretaste of heavenly things. It seemed as though the gates of heaven were opened and a living stream flowed directly to the holy man of God. It also filled the house where we were sitting. To this day, when I think of it, which is quite often, and always when I hear those scriptures referred to, a thrill of joy and of testimony permeates the inmost recesses of my soul.
“About the time the doctrine of re-baptism for members in the Church was first revealed in Nauvoo, Joseph, the great seer and revelator to the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, made some remarks on the subject. On one occasion he read, among other scriptures, Hebrews, 6th chapter, 1st and 2nd verses, as follow:
Therefore, leaving the principles of the doctrine of Christ, let us go on unto perfection ; not laying again the foundation of repentance from dead works, of faith toward God, Of the doctrine of baptisms, and of laying on of hands, and of resurrection of the dead, and eternal judgment.
“The Prophet said the first verse should read:
‘ Therefore, not leaving the first principles of the doctrine of Christ, etc’
This explanation not only made the entire subject of the two verses clear but reconciled them with other scriptures. Notwithstanding Paul is made to say “leaving,” etc., the inference is clear that if the foundation of repentance, baptism and the laying on of hands should be relaid they would have to perform those works over again, as every careful reader of the text must see. This also corroborates a revelation to the Church of Ephesus: ‘Remember, therefore, from whence thou art fallen, and repent and do the first works.’ All latterday Saints know that the first works after repentance are baptism and the laying on of hands for the reception of the Holy Ghost. Here we find a presiding elder of a branch or ward of the Church commanded to perform these works over again, under pain of removal if he failed to obey the divine behest. Many more passages might be quoted to the same effect, but these are sufficient for my purpose. Joseph’s translation not only reconciles the text with itself, but also with other scriptures, as already shown, and as was explained by the Prophet.
“Everyone has probably heard or read of the terrible martyrdom at Haun’s Mill. At this late date some may be led to inquire why did not the Prophet foresee this and avert the terrible calamity. The older Saints, or those of long standing in the Church, understand all of the particulars, but there are our young folks and future generations who, not understanding some unpublished facts, would be liable and almost certain to marvel, as some already do. This is not strange, as the history of the Church shows that the man of God was in Far West, only about twenty miles distant.
“Well, my young brethren and sisters, the following are a few of the facts: Brother Haun owned the mill, a grist mill, which took his name. From two to four days prior to the the massacre the citizens of the little settlement assembled in a mass meeting, and appointed Brother Haun a committee of one to go to the city for advice to know what to do. The whole country was under arms and excitement. The Apostle David W. Patten, with Brothers Gideon Carter and O’Banion, had already sealed their testimony with their blood. Under these circumstances it was quite natural that small settlements should begin to inquire what was best for them to do.
“Brother Haun repaired to the city, and as the Prophet was but a private citizen and minister of the gospel, in the legal sense, he first went to Captain John Killian, of the Caldwell County militia, informed him of his appointment, and inquired what he and his brethren should do.
” ‘Move into the city was the prompt reply.
“Brother H.—’What! and leave the mill?’
“Captain K.—’Yes, and leave the mill.’
“Brother H.—’What! to the mob?’
“Captain K.—’ Yes, to the mob.’
“Brother Haun then left the Captain and went to ‘Brother Joseph,’ as the Prophet was familiarly called. He asked him the same questions, and received the same answers, word for word.
” ‘But,’ responded the selfish mill-owner, ‘Brother Joseph, we think we are strong enough to defend the mill and keep it in our own hands.”
‘”Oh, well,’ replied he, ‘if you think you are strong enough to hold the mill you can do as you think best.’
“What more could he say? His method had always been when his counsel was asked to give it freely and leave parties to receive or reject it. He could not, nor would not if he could, take away people’s agency.
“Brother Haun returned and reported that Brother Joseph’s counsel was for them to stay and protect or hold the mill. The rest the reader knows, or can become acquainted with by reading the published account of the terrible tragedy. The foregoing facts I had from the late Captain Killian in person.”