Author Ted Gibbons passed away recently after a long battle with cancer. In honor of his memory and the wonderful insights he shared here on Meridian, we will continue to publish his work periodically.
Cover image: Revelation Given to Joseph Smith at the Organization of the Church, by Judith A. Mehr
Most of you will remember when Sherem asked for a sign. And he got it.
And it came to pass that he said unto me: Show me a sign by this power of the Holy Ghost, in the which ye know so much. And I said unto him: What am I that I should tempt God to show unto thee a sign in the thing which thou knowest to be true? Yet thou wilt deny it, because thou art of the devil. Nevertheless, not my will be done; but if God shall smite thee, let that be a sign unto thee that he has power, both in heaven and in earth; and also, that Christ shall come. And thy will, O Lord, be done, and not mine. And it came to pass that when I, Jacob, had spoken these words, the power of the Lord came upon him, insomuch that he fell to the earth. (Jacob 7:13-15)
A similar thing almost happened when a man came to Joseph Smith asking for a sign to prove the work was true.
When the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints was first founded, you could see persons rise up and ask, “What sign will you show us that we may be made to believe?” I recollect a Campbellite preacher who came to Joseph Smith, I think his name was Hayden. He came in and made himself known to Joseph, and said that he had come a considerable distance to be convinced of the truth.
“Why,” said he, “Mr. Smith, I want to know the truth, and when I am convinced, I will spend all my talents and time in defending and spreading the doctrines of your religion, and I will give you to understand that to convince me is equivalent to convincing all my society, amounting to several hundreds.” Well, Joseph commenced laying before him the coming forth of the work, and the first principles of the Gospel, when Mr. Hayden exclaimed, “O this is not the evidence I want, the evidence that I wish to have is a notable miracle; I want to see some powerful manifestation of the power of God, I want to see a notable miracle performed; and if you perform such a one, then I will believe with all my heart and soul, and will exert all my power and all my extensive influence to convince others; and if you will not perform a miracle of this kind, then I am your worst and bitterest enemy.”
“Well,” said Joseph, “what will you have done? Will you be struck blind, or dumb? Will you be paralyzed, or will you have one hand withered? Take your choice, choose which you please, and in the name of the Lord Jesus Christ it shall be done.” “That is not the kind of miracle I want,” said the preacher. “Then, sir,” replied Joseph, “I can perform none, I am not going to bring any trouble upon any body else, sir, to convince you. (Journal of Discourses, Vol.2, p.326 – p.327, George Albert Smith, June 24, 1855)