God Is with His People
By Alexander Hale Smith
|Alexander, the son of Joseph and Emma and the younger brother of Joseph Smith III, spent his adult life in the ministry of the Reorganized Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints as a faithful minister—serving as an apostle, a member of the First Presidency, and the presiding patriarch.|
In the spring of 1863 ... I attended the first conference of the Church that I ever met with. During the time of my being there Brother Blair came to me and asked me if I wished to be ordained to the office of elder. I told him, no, I did not so wish, but that I had received the testimony of the Spirit that this [(the office of Teacher in which he was functioning at the time)] was to be my calling. I told him that I had been instructed of God that "No man taketh this honor unto himself," etc. He asked me if I was willing to accept should I receive a satisfactory testimony in regard to the calling. I replied that I was willing to do anything God required at my hands, using the judgment he had given me. He said if I would ask the Lord on the matter it would be told me and I would be satisfied. Before going to rest that night I made it a subject of prayer. I wanted to do God's will but I wanted him to manifest to me, not in my own way, but in his own way, that I was indeed his servant. I felt that if the Lord would do this I would go in the line of my duty and leave the result in his hands. After retiring to rest, while thinking the matter over, I was conscious of a joy no one can express, no one can comprehend, only as they have felt this joy. I seemed finally to be shown standing on the hillside—the hill was conical, that is, highest in the middle like a mound—a multitude of people just as far as I could see. My attention was called to the top of the hill and I saw there a raised platform upon which appeared to be a rest for books like a preacher's stand. My attention was so fixed to it that I noticed the material and that it was constructed very strong, and I wondered why they should build such a platform and make it so strong. There appeared to be two preachers on it. There were three books lying on the preacher's stand like that (holding up a book). These two personages on the stand had been talking to the multitude. While looking down they turned from the speaker's stand and came towards me. The multitude around the stand seemed to open, giving them sufficient room to pass down side by side, and as they passed down the pathway they were in conversation with each other. I was impressed with a desire to get close to the stand, and began to make my way through the multitude until I met them. They shook hands with me, called me by name and one of them said, "Alexander, you go up and take your place: we are going away and will be gone for a season, but will come again." I recognized them—my father and Uncle Hyrum. It was my father's voice that told me to take my place. I realized my surroundings. I was bathed in tears. No man could express the thrilling joy of God's Spirit, save he has felt it under similar circumstances.
I met Brother Blair the next day. He took me by the hand and said, "You have your witness." Then when he proposed that I should be ordained to the office of elder I did not refuse. There are other instances of my life I might speak of, but I speak of this one as a guide in all my ministerial labor.
I remember one more circumstance that I will relate. While traveling in southern California, in one period of my ministry, my surroundings were such that I was cast down in spirit, discouraged, worn and tired. I felt very much like giving up and going home. Retiring to rest I presented myself before the Lord. I asked him for some encouragement. During the night I received by the influence of the Spirit the following:
I saw a city as upon a hill. I saw to the eastward of the city a rolling prairie country. The city appeared to have walls—surrounded by walls. I was so curious as to note the material of which the walls were built. They seemed to be built of a soft gray marble.
I came to the east side of the city and seemed to be standing on the top of the wall, and from me descended a flight of broad steps, and to the right of the steps was the main entrance to the city, towards the east. On gazing toward the east I beheld a band of people approaching. They seemed to be led by one that was riding a horse and as they approached the city they came singing.
I stood watching them until they came near to the gate, and as they approached it the one that was leader alighted from his horse, and instead of going through the gate, came up the broad flight of steps and approached me. I recognized him and I cried out, "My father! O my father!" He took me in his arms and embraced me. He said, "Be cheered, be comforted; the time is near when your position will be changed; let your heart be comforted."
I awoke, was filled with the Spirit, and weeping, I went to sleep and the city was presented to me again. In the center of the city there seemed to be a large building as a temple. It fronted to the east. On the front there seemed to be three openings or large arches supported by carved pilasters, and a flight of beautiful steps leading up to a platform at the entrance of the building.
The material of this building seemed to have a marble polish, bright and beautiful beyond conception. I stood at the head of the flight of steps and could look into the building, and could see what appeared to be scribes making records upon large books, as I was given to understand. I was placed at the head of the stairs to examine the credentials of those that should pass into the building. Numbers came up the steps—numbers that I knew passed into the building and their names were placed on record. Others passed on to other places and a record would be made.
While standing here I could hear the tread of the inhabitants of the city as they went to and fro in the avocations of life, and I heard music, and I say again, no tongue can express the joy and the intense feeling that pervaded my whole being, and for days that feeling rested with me. I was comforted; I was made to rejoice; I was glad.
Much more might be said in this connection, but this is sufficient now. I am glad and rejoice in this work. I am glad I am with you. I am glad that with you I can feel this warm feeling of the Spirit of God nerving us to move on in this great work. Now today this great platform is before me, and all these noble men are taking their stations in the front, standing shoulder to shoulder.
God is with his people. He will speak to them and be their God. Pray for me that I may fulfill the important calling unto which God has called me.
This is my desire in Jesus' name, Amen. (Journal of History 6:398–401; italics added)
About Alexander Smith
Alexander Hale Smith, fifth son of Joseph and Emma Hale Smith, was born June 2, 1838, at Far West, Missouri, in the family's home which stood approximately a block southwest of the Temple site. Emma and Joseph had fled from a mob at Kirtland and arrived at Far West on March 14, 1838, only two and one-half months before Alexander's birth. When Alexander was eight months old, his mother fled with him and her three other children by wagon from Far West to Quincy, Illinois, in the dead of winter. Upon reaching the frozen Mississippi, it was feared that the ice was not strong enough to hold the wagon loaded with household goods, the team of horses pulling it, the driver, and Emma and her four children. Emma wanted to take no chances, so she alighted from the wagon—and keeping a safe distance from it, walked over the ice carrying Alexander and two-year-old Frederick in her arms; with Joseph III, who was six and Julia, age seven, clinging to her skirt.
Alexander's first birthday was celebrated at Nauvoo in the Homestead, and he had just passed his sixth birthday when his father was martyred at Carthage. He grew up in Nauvoo, where he was known for his expert marksmanship and success as a hunter, and his ability to maneuver boats through the treacherous rapids of the Mississippi River.
When Joseph Smith III and his mother, Emma, planned to attend the April 1860 Church Conference at Amboy, Illinois, they asked Captain James S. Gifford to row them across the Mississippi to Montrose, Iowa, where they would leave by train for Plano. When the time came for their departure, Captain Gifford looked at the rising wind and waves, the angry white-caps and ominous sky, and declared that he would row them across on one condition. He said he would go if Alexander, and none other, would go to assist him. Alexander agreed and helped row the skiff safely through the raging storm and across the turbulent river.
According to Alexander's daughter, Vida E. Smith, Alexander was, "The first child in the little family to inherit the father's blue eyes and ruddy complexion. And those old time Saints who had known his father, the Martyr, and afterwards knew and heard Alexander, testified he inherited a striking resemblance to his father in voice, gesture, and manner of presentation in the pulpit" (Journal of History 4:4–5).
He was a devoted husband, father, Saint, and minister, who was blessed with the gift of dreams, visions, and prophecy. He served for over forty years in the ministry of the Church as a teacher, elder, apostle, member of the First Presidency, and presiding patriarch of the Church (Vision 27, p. 3).