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THE CENTENNIAL OF PARLEY P. PRATT,
AN APPRECIATION OF HIS LIFE.
BY ANNIE G. LAURITZEN, A GRANDDAUGHTER.
"The morning breaks, the shadows flee,
The dawning of a brighter day
Almost simultaneously with the birth of the great prophet of God in the latter days were born some of the great masterly and noble spirits whom Abraham was shown would be reserved in the heavens until the latter days.
Parley Parker Pratt, third son of Jared and Charity Pratt, was born in Burlington, Otsego County, New York, April 12, 1807, about sixteen months after the birth of the prophet. Being of sturdy New England stock, his father, a man of excellent morals, exerted himself diligently to instil into the minds of his children every principle of integrity, honesty, honor and virtue, and he taught them to venerate their Father in Heaven, Jesus Christ, his prophets and apostles, as well as the scriptures which they had written.
At the early age of seven years he was a devout student of the Holy Scriptures, his mother giving him lessons on the life of Joseph in Egypt. He read of his dreams, servitude, temptation and exaltation, his kindness and affection for his father and brethren all this he says inspired him with love and with the
noblest sentiments ever planted in the bosom of man. "I read of David and Goliath, of Saul and Samuel, of Sampson and the Philistines, all these inspired me with hatred for the deeds of evil doers, and love for good men and their deeds. After this I read of Jesus and his apostles, and O how I loved them, how I longed to fall at the feet of Jesus, to worship him or offer my life for him."
Thus we see that at an extreme early age God was having him prepared by wise and judicious parents for the great field of labor in his future vineyard; thus in virtue's mold was formed and trained the sturdy spirit whom God had fore ordained to a great position and calling in assisting to establish his church and preach his gospel to the nations of the earth.
As this devout and studious boy began to arrive at the age of manhood, he learned by diligent and prayerful study that no religious denomination to be found by him could satisfy his idea of the true Church of God, as it existed in the days of Christ and his disciples. He could find no organization complete, with apostles and prophets, no one divinely commissioned of Heaven who would say to him, "Repent, and be baptized for the remission of sins, and you shall receive the gift of the Holy Ghost," as the ancient apostles would have said to him. Thus far, he had found none who could with divine authority administer salvation to him. So, becoming discouraged with the condition of affairs, he decided to retire from the society of mankind for a season, in order to more fully study the scriptures, and learn of God and his ancient people. Thus was spent in solitude, in a lone forest in the state of New York, the twentieth year of the youth, in a little log cabin erected by his own strong arm; and thus was God preparing the heart and mind of this noble youth who was destined to become one of the greatest apostles and theological writers the world has ever known. Next spring he married, and with his young bride started west, journeying as the whisperings of the Spirit of God directed him, but where and for what purpose he had no definite idea. Arriving at Rochester, he informed his wife that he must stop awhile in this region, for so the Spirit prompted him. It was at this place that he visited an old Baptist deacon, by the name of Hamblin, who began to tell him of the discovery of a book-a strange book-a very strange book. And it was at the home of this man
that his eyes first beheld the Book of Mormon. He says, "As I read, the Spirit of the Lord was upon me, and I knew and comprehended that the book was true, as plainly and manifestly as a man comprehends and knows that he exists. My joy was now full, as it were, and I rejoiced sufficiently to more than pay me for all the sorrows, sacrifices and toils of my life. I soon determined to see the young man who had been the instrument in its discovery and translation."
He accordingly visited Palmyra where he found Hyrum Smith, his brother Joseph being absent, who cordially invited him to his home where they spent most of the night in conversing on the gospel. Eagerly he listened to the brother of the prophet as he unfolded to him the discovery of the Book of Mormon, its translation, the rise of the Church of Latter-day Saints, and the commission of his brother Joseph, and others, by revelation, and the ministering of angels by which the apostleship and divine authority had again been restored to earth. On leaving this worthy man and his family, he was presented with a copy of the Book of Mormon which he continued to read on his journey. He says: "And to my great joy, I found that Jesus Christ in his glorified and resurrected body had visited the remnant of Joseph on the American continent soon after his resurrection and ascension into heaven, and that through his personal ministry his gospel was revealed and written in countries and among nations entirely unknown to the Jewish apostles." Commenting farther, he exclaims, "Surely, thought I, Jesus had other sheep, and here were a portion of them; surely the angels sang with the spirit and with the understanding, when they declared, 'we bring you glad tidings of great joy which shall be to all people.""
Thus we see how full of appreciation, of deep thought ard wonderful understanding, he was; so young a man, yet so full of inspiration and of the Holy Spirit! He was as a pure stream of living water running on, and on, and on, increasing ever in its mighty flow. His voice was soon to be uplifted in defense of God's own truth, even as a voice of warning to the nations of the earth. Soon after this, he returned to Brother Hyrum and requested baptism at his hands, and there he met for the first time the man whom he had long sought as the one duly commissioned of Heaven,
the prophet Joseph, whom he learned to love and to honor with a reverence which amounted to admiration, and ripened into everlasting love and friendship. He was baptized by Oliver Cowdery in Seneca lake, about September 1, 1830.
On February 21, 1835, he was ordained one of the original twelve apostles of the Lamb of God, in this dispensation. And thus he was among the chosen few who were the minute men of the Church, and who were ever ready to spend their time, their means, and even their lives, to assist in the establishment of his righteous kingdom, and to spread the gospel at home and abroad.
And so it was that he, in company with the prophet Joseph, the patriarch Hyrum, and two other leading men of the Church, were torn from their afflicted and suffering families, and after passing through a mock trial for purporting to believe in the second chapter of Daniel, wherein it says that in the last days the God of heaven shall set up his kingdom never more to be thrown down, these five men were sentenced to be shot for confessing a belief in the word of God. But the God of heaven, who had set up his kingdom and ordained his chosen ones by his own hand, sustained those noble men in their hours of affliction, testing and trial, and spared their lives until they had accomplished the labors unto which he had foreordained them.
Yet, O what toil, what sorrow, what self-sacrifice, it would cost to establish Zion and to purify her people! Yet, O what joy, what rapture, what delight when angels came and once more talked with men, restoring the priesthood of the Holy One, teaching them of the way leading back into his presence that, through the learning of his righteous way, and by the walking in his chosen path, they might obtain eternal life and exaltation in that glorious world where dwell the eternal Father and the Son.
By diligent study and research for light and knowledge, by becoming a divinely commissioned servant of the Almighty, through listening to the promptings of the Holy Spirit, and by obedience to the laws and ordinances of the gospel, as well as through associating with and obeying the voice of the great latter-day prophet, Parley Parker Pratt became a most wonderful instrument in the hands of God of spreading the glad tidings of salvation at home and abroad, from Canada to South America, from Maine to
California, and to the islands of the sea. Among the first to bring the gospel message to the Lamanites, the aborigines of America, and to the people of Great Britain, he suffered bonds, imprisonment, trial and persecution and shared the privations of the Saints from the early rise of the Church to their time of entrance to the Rocky mountains. But it is not of the preaching of this divinely inspired and eloquent man, nor of his theological and poetic writings, I wish to speak. We have all read the supremely interesting story of his life, written by himself; all are familiar with his Key to Theology, his Voice of Warning, his poems and soul inspiring hymns. Nor is it of his marvelous gift of healing through the power of the holy priesthood which he held; but what I wish to emphasize is the divinely loving, tender and effectionate nature of this mighty man of God; of his great love for the Prophet and his brethren, for his family and his friends, and of the pure ideas of life which he held.
It was on meeting the Prophet, after that memorable imprisonment and mock trial at Richmond, that he pours forth his soul in love and admiration for Joseph: for, indeed, their meeting was more like that of two brothers after a separation of years. As they embraced each other they could not refrain from weeping. They spent several days together, and it was during those sweet and memorable interviews that he learned from Joseph the many true and glorious principles concerning God and the heavenly order of eternity. He says: "It was Joseph Smith who taught me how to prize the endearing relationships of father, mother, husband, wife, brothers, sister, son and daughter. It was from him I learned of marriage for eternity; that the refined sympathies and affections which endeared us to each other emanated from the Fountain of divine, eternal love; the true dignity and destiny of a son of God, clothed with an eternal priesthood, as the patriarch and sovereign of his countless offspring; that the highest dignity of a woman is to stand as a queen and priestess to her husband, and to reign for ever and ever as queen mother of her numerous and still increasing offspring. I had loved before, but I knew not why, but now I loved with a pureness and intensity of elevated, exalted feel. ing which would lift my soul from the transitory things of this groveling sphere, and expand it as the ocean. I felt that God was