How Brother Joseph Forgave Others

Just this morning, I came across this story about forgiveness from the book Remembering Joseph: Personal Recollections of Those Who Knew the Prophet Joseph Smith. The story came from a manuscript entitled the “LaFayette C. Lee Notebook.” Jesse W. Crosby (1820–1895) was a close neighbor and friend of the Prophet in Nauvoo. He crossed the plains in 1847 and is buried in Panguitch, Utah.

“Bro. [Jesse W.] Crosby told us he went one day with a sister to the Prophet. She had a charge to make against one of the brethren for scandal. When her complaint had been heard the Prophet asked her if she was quite sure that what the brother had said of her was utterly untrue. She was quite sure that it was.

“He then told her to think no more about it for it could not harm her. If untrue it could not live for nothing but the truth will survive. Still she felt she should have some redress.

“Then he offered her his method for dealing with such cases for himself. When an enemy had told a scandalous story about him, which had often been done, before he rendered judgment he paused and let his mind run back to the time and place of setting of the story to see if he had not by some unguarded word or act laid the block on which the story was built. If he found he had done so, he said that then in his heart he forgave his enemy, and felt thankful that he had received warning of a weakness that he had not known he possessed.

“Then he said to the sister that he would have her to do the same: search her memory thoroughly and see if she had not herself all unconsciously laid the foundation for the scandal that annoyed her. Brother Crosby said the sister thought deeply for a few moments and then confessed that she believed that she had.

“Then the Prophet told her that in her heart she could forgive that brother who had risked his own good name and her friendship to give her this clearer view of herself. The sister, Brother Crosby said, thanked her advisor and went away in peace.” (Mark L. McConkie, Remembering Joseph: Personal Recollections of Those Who Knew the Prophet Joseph Smith [Salt Lake City: Deseret Book, 2003] 94–95).

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