Unknown Sermons of Joseph Smith

I’ve bemoaned the lack of sources for Joseph Smith’s sermons here. Part of the problem is the tantalizing tidbits we get from various places. One debated issue is the timing of the visit of Peter, James and John to pass on authority to Joseph Smith and Oliver Cowdery. Not solving that here (although I think it was probably in 1829). But the literalness of this particular event and the idea that Joseph preached about the experience is the issue I want to bring up.

During the Utah period of Mormonism, one Nathan Baldwin, early member from Kirtland offered his reminiscent account of an apparently pre-1835 address of Joseph’s. His motivation is nearly as interesting, and reflects some opinions being hashed out in the “Reorganization.” Enjoy.

Nathan Baldwin’s Testimony

6 Responses to Unknown Sermons of Joseph Smith

  1. ricke says:

    From my superficial acquaintance with the discourses of Joseph, I have the impression that he did not come into his own as a speaker until Nauvoo. His earlier sermons seem to rely more on the Bible for authority, but in Nauvoo, he appears to speak as “one with authority.” Perhaps the general members felt the same and only started to record his sermons when they felt there was content that they were otherwise unfamiliar with. Is that your impression?

  2. WVS says:

    There is some evidence at least that JS could wax eloquent prior to Nauvoo. We get remarks that suggest he occasionally delivered stunning addresses. But it’s difficult to say much about them! In the case of Baldwin, it almost certainly had items of deep interest. How many others like it are out there? I’ve found a few. But I think it’s at least partly the case that our impressions (and I share your idea) that JS only came into his own in Nauvoo is somewhat driven by our lack of information about what was said prior to that.

    • ricke says:

      If Joseph hadn’t hired secretaries and Wilford Woodruff hadn’t voluntarily kept such detailed notes, how many of Joseph’s sermons would have been recorded even in Nauvoo? I wonder if it was just uncommon for people of those times, as generally unprepared as they were by training or with materials, to keep notes of sermons or anything like that.

      • WVS says:

        No doubt. But folks like Cowdery(s), Phelps, Parrish and others are on the hot seat though. Do you never answer email?

  3. Anthony E. Larson says:

    You appear to be a historian with some knowledge of Joseph Smith’s speeches and encounters with early church members. If so, I have a question. What can you tell me of an account he had with Homer Brown in the Nauvoo era? As I have it, it was recorded by one of Brown’s descendants, a patriarch living in Salt Lake City some years later. Also, it appears that Elder Hugh B. Brown was one of his descendants. What can you tell me about the authenticity of this anecdotal account? Your help in this regard would be greatly appreciated.

    • WVS says:

      Anthony, I’m guessing you are referring to the sort of urban legend about JS staying at Benjamin Brown’s home one night and explaining to Brown and his wife that the lost tribes of Israel are living on a dislodged piece of the earth, somewhere in distant space. As far as I know, there is no contemporary report that would support the incident. The surviving report itself is impossible to evaluate. It’s possible that JS put out the dueling planets idea, I don’t know. Sorry for the late response. I’ve been away from any computers.

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