The conditions were perfect for inducing deep, dark despair; four-plus months of incarceration; scant and poor food; primitive and dirty accommodation; virtually unrelieved gloom. Yet from Liberty Jail, the "prison-temple," there emanated revelations so sublime as to constitute a towering witness to Joseph Smith's prophetic calling and powers.
The thick prison walls confined only the Prophet's body, Elder Maxwell observes, while his mind and spirit soared to commune with heaven. Betrayed and unjustly imprisoned, he here met perhaps his greatest earthly test — to see large-scale suffering among his people, to bear cruel injustices with patience, fortitude, and Christian meekness, as enjoined by scriptures revealed through him. Here he pondered and consolidated in mind and heart the great Restoration doctrines for which he had already been the conduit. Here he wrote to the Church inspired words of transcendent sweetness and power, many of them profoundly revelatory and laden with unique insights.
In his uniquely creative style the author opens up to the reader the spiritual and doctrinal gains arising from this period of reflection and revelation. The result is a major contribution to a developing understanding of the Prophet Joseph and his work, particularly of principles that exercised his mind during that trying period—such as priesthood, revelation, premortal existence, foreordination, the mortal experience, and the necessity of adversity in one's spiritual development. In terms of eternity, the Prophet's trials were "but for a small moment," but as this book stimulatingly portrays, the principles, doctrines, and insights we learn from his experience are timeless.
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