Joseph Smith III on Revelation

This article was published in The Saints Herald 53:393, and is an address given in Independence, Missouri on April 18th, 1906.

In conversation with a reporter this morning, who was questioning me in regard to revelation – now I could not explain to him all the peculiarities of revelation in my own experience. But he remarked to me that it was a singular thing; he had been among the people, and says, “Your people here are all a strong, healthy, clean people. There is no evidence here of that kind of disease that we suppose usually goes with trances such as catalepsy and the like.” He looked at me and asked my age, and I told him. He said I did not look like a man that could be overcome in that kind of way.

I never was taken in a trance, but the influence of revelation upon me has always been to quicken, to make vivid and clear. And my understanding of revelation as we have it, is that every man stands before God upon his individual responsibility, and his individuality never will be taken from him unless he himself consents to it. And if he does, he opens the avenues of his soul for the incoming of a spirit that will ruin him.

I would like to repeat that so you will understand it. The inspiration of the gospel of the Son of God, and the inspiration of his Spirit quickens, revivifies, and puts a man nearer to the influences of life, nearer to his Maker and the Savior than any other period or periods of his existence. And every man standing before God and receiving of this inspiration, whether it is in the stand or wherever it may come, or what occasion, his increased vitality and vigor for life spiritually is before God and his identity, his individuality, will never, never be taken from him unless he willingly opens the gate to the incoming of other spirits. And if he does that he does it for his ruin.

Now, to make a part of this plain to you, you may have noted – some of us have read it – an effort made by the scientific men to account for Mormonism upon the hypothesis that the Smith family were a family of cataleptics. In other words they were subject to cataleptic fits. I am seventy-four years nearly, and I ever had a cataleptic fit, or any fit (unless I was angry) in my life, and I do not know one of the family that ever had.

That is what science has undertaken to do for us. But the plain common-sense facts of the principle of light and instruction, and the fervor of God’s Spirit given to earnest men, honest men who are engaged in an honest avocation of spreading the gospel of peace among mankind, secures them against such a thing as that. …

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