What was Parley P. Pratt referring to when he wrote these words to his brother, Orson Pratt?
a. Life in the Salt Lake Valley
b. Joining the true Church
c. Reading the Book of Mormon
d. Listening to the words of Joseph Smith
(D) Josiah Stoal
Testimony of Mr. Stoal to Receiving the Plates from the Prophet: These discrepancies in details under all the circumstances are not to be wondered at, and can readily be accounted for by the intelligent reader. Some of the events mentioned by Lucy Smith as having happened on one day may have belonged to other days. Lucy’s written account was given from memory eighteen years after the events took place, and a slight error of this kind would be quite natural; or Mr. Stoal’s statement that it was in the “morning” that the Prophet brought home the record may have been an error—he dictated his statement from memory, sixteen years after the event occurred. And now as to the second matter, the absence of the elder Smith and the two friends, Knight and Stoal, when the young Prophet arrived home, (according to Lucy Smith’s account); and the presence of Stoal and his taking the plates from the exhausted Prophet when he arrived, the other two being absent, or one of them may have been absent. In any event the two or the one absent was sent for to make up the party to go in search of the assailants of Joseph. The details are not more variant that would reasonably be expected, and the variation in details, under the circumstances, by no means weaken the narrative nor discredit the witnesses.
As the statement of Mr. Stoal has been seldom referred to in connection with the coming forth of the Book of Mormon, I think it important that the part of it mentioned in this note should be given. It appears that this early friend of the Prophet had such faith in the mission of Joseph that he was baptized, but did not remove from New York when the church was commanded to go to Ohio. Sixteen years afterwards, however, when the church was settled in Nauvoo, and the Prophet was at the height of his fame and glory, Mr. Stoal, then in his declining years and failing health, induced a Mrs. Martha Campbell, at whose home he was living, to write for him—and partly as he dictated—to the Prophet, asking if he would receive him in the church and allow him to renew his covenants, and expressing his intention to remove to Nauvoo in the spring. This letter was written December 19, 1843. And now the passage on the point of his receiving from Joseph the plates:
“He [Mr. Stoal] says he has never staggered at the foundation of the work, for he knew too much concerning it. If I understood him right he was the first person that took the plates out of your hands the morning you brought them in, and he observed, ‘Blessed is he that sees and believeth, and more blessed is he that believeth without seeing;’ and he says he has seen and believes. He seems anxious to get there [i.e. Nauvoo] to ‘renew his covenant with the Lord’.”
B. H. Roberts, A Comprehensive History of the Church (Brigham Young University Press: Provo, Utah, 1965), Vol. 1, 97-98.