101 Reasons Why I Believe Joseph Smith Was A Prophet
...he commenced quoting the prophecies of the Old Testament. He first quoted part of the third chapter of Malachi; and he quoted also the fourth or last chapter of the same prophecy, though with a little variation from the way it reads in our Bibles. Instead of quoting the first verse as it reads in our books, he quoted it thus: For behold, the day cometh that shall burn as an oven, and all the proud, yea, and all that do wickedly shall burn as stubble; for they that come shall burn them, saith the Lord of Hosts, that it shall leave them neither root nor branch. And again, he quoted the fifth verse thus: Behold, I will reveal unto you the Priesthood, by the hand of Elijah the prophet, before the coming of the great and dreadful day of the Lord. He also quoted the next verse differently: And he shall plant in the hearts of the children the promises made to the fathers, and the hearts of the children shall turn to their fathers. If it were not so, the whole earth would be utterly wasted at his coming. (1)
I have a little information here that I think is important, and this coming of Elijah is one of the vital things in the history of this world. It is vital to me and to you and to every other soul upon the face of the earth. Before the days of the coming of Elijah in 1836, there was no endeavor of any import to search the records of the dead. What was done, here and there, was usually where some estate was involved. The people were not turning their hearts to their dead fathers. They were not searching the records. They were not compiling them. There were no organizations or societies on the face of the earth, as far as I can learn, gathering records of the dead, before the year 1836. In 1837, however, one year later, Great Britain passed laws providing for and compelling the preservation of records of the dead. In the year 1844, the New England Historical and Genealogical Society was organized in Boston, and I think this was the first organization of the kind in the world. In 1869, the New York Genealogical and Biographical Society in the city of New York was organized. Then followed rapidly other societies up and down the Atlantic coast of the United States, from Maine to Georgia. Then these organizations began to spread inland, and this spirit took hold of the people in other parts. I have visited some of these societies in various parts of the United States, and they have extended now from the east to the Pacific Ocean. In Great Britain, genealogical societies have been organized in practically every county in that land and in Scotland. These records have been kept and filed also in other countries in Europe, the countries from which the Latter-day Saints have come. The spirit has taken hold of the people, not only in the Church, but also of many who are not of the Church, and they, too, are searching the records, and compiling them, of the dead.(4)
Now here is something which I think is interesting. In 1935, Mr. T. B. Thompson published A Catalogue of British Family Histories. It included the titles and years of publication of some two thousand seventy-one families and was supposed to be a complete list of all such published records up to that date. Here are his figures from the date of the invention of printing:
From 1450 to 1600, were published 2 family histories.
From 1600 to 1700, were published 18 family histories.
From 1700 to 1800, were published 72 family histories.
From 1800 to 1836, when Elijah came, were published 100 family histories.
From 1837 to 1935, were published 1,879 family histories.(5)
[Addendum 5 May 2014]
Last evening I read a talk by Elder David B. Haight given in General Conference in October 1990, in which he made some points similar to those above. For the record, he said that several truths attested to the coming of Elijah. They are:
First, no one else has claimed that the prophecy regarding Elijah’s coming in the last days has been fulfilled.
Second, the testimony of Joseph Smith and Oliver Cowdery stands unassailable–they could not turn the hearts of the children to the fathers except by the power sent by God.
Third, neither did they have the power to persuade millions of people to turn their attention to their deceased fathers. Remarkable indeed is the fact that organized efforts to gather genealogical information began after Elijah came in 1836. In America, the New England Historical and Genealogical Society was organized in 1844, and the New York Genealogical and Biographical Society in 1869, for the purpose of gathering genealogy. What is known as the “Spirit of Elijah” has influenced nonmembers as well as members of the Church in this viatal activity. The microfilming of thousands of records is continuing on a large scale throughout the world.(7)
6. I will leave the many statements which Joseph Smith made about the purpose and importance of Elijah’s return and the doctrine they contain for another blog, but collectively they also add to the evidence presented here.
7. David B. Haight, “Temples and the Work Therein.” Ensign 20 (November 1990): 60.