Joseph Smith     It is no small thing, in the blaze of this nineteenth century, to give to men a new revelation, found a new religion, establish new forms of worship, to build a city, with new laws, institutions, and orders of architecture, to establish ecclesiastic, civil and military jurisdiction, found colleges, send out missionaries, and make proselytes in two hemispheres: yet all this has been done by Joseph Smith, and that against every sort of opposition, ridicule and persecution. – The New York Sun – September 1843

     Joseph Smith is undoubtedly one of the greatest characters of the age. He indicates as much talent, originality, and moral courage as Mahomet, Odin, or any of the great spirits that have hitherto produced the revolutions of past ages. In the present infidel, irreligious, material, ideal, geological, animal-magnetic age of the world, some such singular prophet as Joseph Smith is required to preserve the principle of faith, and to plant some new germs of civilization that may come to maturity in a thousand years. While modern philosophy, which believes in nothing but what you can touch, is overspreading the Atlantic States, Joseph Smith is creating a spiritual system, combined also with morals and industry, that may change the destiny of the race. Joseph believes himself divinely inspired and a worker of miracles. He cures the sick of diseases – so it is said… Joseph Smith is a mighty man of God – possessing large stores of human nature, great shrewdness, and as he has taken the management of the Mormon newspaper organ, the “Times and Seasons” into his hand, we look for many revelations, and some curious ones too, pretty soon. We certainly want some such prophet to start up, take a big hold of the public mind and stop the torrent of materialism that is hurrying the world into infidelity, immorality, licentiousness, and crime. Professor Lyell, Richard Adams Locke, Dr. Brisband, Master Emmerson, Prophet Brownson, Horace Greely, and all the materialists of the age, ought to take a leaf of common sense out of Joseph’s book. - The New York Herald April 3, 1842

Other people could point to scripture. Or they could point to their interpretation of scripture. Or they could point to their particular creeds or confessions of faith. Joseph said: “I spoke with God. God spoke with me in the woods.” That’s power and authority, and it spoke to a lot of Americans very powerfully in the early nineteenth century. – Dr. Richard Hughes, Pepperdine University

     This is the key to understanding Joseph Smith and to understanding Mormonism, I am convinced: It is the literalness, the experiencing the same things that are described in the scriptures. Mormonism takes the scriptures and brings them into life. Literally recapitulates the scriptures. Now, if you get that understanding of Joseph Smith’s understanding of what was going on, then you begin to see that this could not have been just somebody making it up as he went along. – Dr. Jan Shipps, Indiana University

     I heard the Prophet discourse upon the grandest of subjects. At times he was filled with the Holy Ghost, speaking as with the voice of an archangel and filled with the power of God, his whole person shone and his face was lightened until it appeared as the whiteness of the driven snow. . . . Finally my prayers were answered and I was convinced of the truth sufficiently to want to be baptized to get a knowledge for myself of the testimony that Joseph Smith had seen God. – Lorenzo Snow

     In 1834 Joseph Smith the Prophet preached with such power as had not there ever before been witnessed in this nineteenth century. The brother of the Prophet, Hyrum, also the father of them, Joseph senior, were with him. Let me as a living witness speak of the moving, stirring sensation created in this town [i.e., Pontiac] and surrounding country of the then Territory of Michigan. The Church was only in its infancy then, and much less evil spoken of; less opposition was met and fewer lies were in circulation respecting the Saints. Infidelity was scarcely thought or spoken of, and skepticism very rare in that period. Consequently there were more who were willing to listen, reflect upon and digest the new doctrines, and eventually to obey it. – Edward Stevenson

     I first saw Joseph Smith at Pontiac, Michigan, in 1834, when he visited the Pontiac Branch. The meetings were crowded. The Prophet stood at a table for a pulpit. Before he got through, he was in the midst of the congregation with uplifted hand. His countenance seemed to assume a heavenly whiteness. He testified with great power concerning the visit of the Father and the Son, and the conversation he had with them. Never before did I feel such power… Remembering Joseph, (pdf pg 1529)

     Twelve days after the Prophet escaped from Missouri, a General Conference of the Church was held at Quincy, Illinois. His soul was filled with emotion, and it seemed as though he could not utter his feelings, only with a flood of tears. He looked calm, however, and a halo of brightness hovered about him. He was of a tender heart, as well as of a stern and firm disposition when occasion required it. I have known the Prophet to weep with tender affection, and have seen him with his sword drawn, as a military officer, when he was mighty as well as powerful. Remembering Joseph, (pdf pg 1531)

     The Smith family was driven from New York, and a small church had been organized. Oliver Cowdery, Peter Whitmer, and Ziba Peterson were members. Well, I being anxious, though young, to learn about the plates [the Gold Plates of the Book of Mormon] from those who knew all about it, my mother and I went up to the Smith family the next night after they came to Kirtland. As I went in, there were two or three others present. They were all there, from the old gentleman and his wife to all the sons and daughters. As we stood there talking to them, Joseph and Martin Harris came in. Joseph looked around very solemnly. It was the first time some of them had ever seen him. Said he, “There are enough here to hold a little meeting.” They got a board and put it across two chairs to make seats. Martin Harris sat on a little box at Joseph’s feet. They sang and prayed. Joseph got up and began to speak to us. As he began to speak very solemnly and very earnestly, all at once his countenance changed and he stood mute. Those who looked at him that day said there was a search light within him, over every part of his body. I never saw anything like it on the earth. I could not take my eyes off him; he got so white that anyone who saw him would have thought he was transparent. I remember I thought I could almost see the cheek bones through the flesh. I have been through many changes since but that is photographed on my brain. I shall remember it and see in my mind’s eye as long as I remain upon the earth…  I never took my eye off his countenance. Then he knelt down and prayed. I have never heard anything like it before or since. I felt that he was talking to the Lord and that power rested down upon the congregation. Every soul felt it. The spirit rested upon us in every fiber of our bodies, and we received a sermon from the lips of the representative of God. – Mary E. Lightner