Three Things You Did NOT Know About The Restoration
The Restoration was ushered in by the First Vision in the Spring of 1820. But God started preparing the world long before 1820 for the Gospel to be restored. Here are three things you did NOT know about the Restoration.
1st. That The Founder Of The First Baptist Church In America Prepared The Way For The Restoration.
Roger Williams, The Father of Religious Freedom and Founder of the First Baptist Church in America.
Roger Williams did more to pave the way for the Restoration than almost any other man who preceded Joseph Smith. I will not give a full history of Roger Williams; I will, however, summarize parts of Roger Williams’s life that are important in regards to the Restoration.
Roger Williams was born in London England 1603. While growing up he became extremely religious, he followed the Puritans to Massachusetts in 1631. Because of his outspoken religious views, he gained a massive following, but also upset the Puritan leadership.
In October 1635 he was convicted of sedition and heresy and banished for his religious views. He and his followers left Massachusetts in exile in the spring of 1636. They crossed over the Seekonk River and founded a new city and colony, naming it Providence Rhode Island. Roger Williams ensured that Rhode Island would be different than Massachusetts. In Rhode Island, there would be Religious Freedom, a freedom unknown by any colonist at the time.
In Rhode Island, every man would have the freedom of practicing his own religion. They would be free from any state-sponsored religion or persecution. The idea was radical; every other colony had an unholy union of church and state. Which union caused persecution and exile or execution of all those who were not in strict compliance with the church leaders. Rhode Island became a beacon of religious liberty.
Over 100 years after his death, the framers of the United States Constitution borrowed upon the writings of Roger Williams. They included Freedom of Religion as our 1st Right in the Bill of Rights. The framers knew this would eventually lead to a restoration of truth. Thomas Jefferson wrote.
“If the freedom of religion, guaranteed to us by law in theory, can ever rise in practice under the overbearing inquisition of public opinion, truth will prevail over fanaticism, and the genuine doctrines of Jesus, so long perverted by His pseudo-priests, will again be restored to their original purity. This reformation will advance with the other improvements of the human mind, but too late for me to witness it.”
~Thomas Jefferson November 4, 1820 (He died in 1826, 4 years before the Church was restored)
Not only is Roger Williams the Father of our First Amendment, he is also credited with founding the First Baptist Church in America. But Roger Williams soon left the Baptist Church, he then taught the following.
“The apostasy… hath so far corrupted all, that there can be no recovery out of that apostasy until Christ shall send forth new apostles to plant churches anew.”
When Roger Williams realized there had been an apostasy he left the Baptist Church and sought for a restoration of Priesthood Authority, and told his followers.
“There is no regularly constituted church of Christ on earth, nor any person qualified to administer any church ordinances; nor can there be until new apostles are sent by the Great Head of the Church for whose coming I am seeking.”
He died in 1683. He was still waiting for the Restoration.
Without Roger Williams, there would be no freedom of religion. Without religious freedom, Joseph Smith never could’ve restored the Church on April 6th, 1830.
PS Cool fact, his 10th Great Grandson is Elder Jeffery R. Holland.
2nd. How God Moved A Mountain To Move The Smith Family.
Mt Tambora by Jialiang Gao
Joseph Smith Sr. married Lucy Mack in Tunbridge Vermont on January 24, 1796. In 1802 the Smiths were scammed out of over $3,000 worth of ginseng root by a local Vermonter, the smith family lost their farm and were penniless. Over the next 10 years, they moved half a dozen times. In 1814 the Smith family had moved to Norwich Vermont, the first two years they suffered crop failures, they could not afford another one.
Half a world away in the East Indies, in what has been the largest volcanic eruption in recorded history Mt Tambora literally blew up. The ash from this eruption circled the global and caused 1816 to be known as “the year without summer.” With three hard freezes during the summer of 1816, the Smith family experienced what would be their final crop failure in Vermont.
Joseph Smith Sr. hearing of fertile lands west of Vermont in New York went to upstate New York to look for land. He bought land in Palmyra and sent for his family in Vermont. The Smiths moved to Palmyra New York later that year.
3rd. The Role Of Maple Trees In The First Vision And Priesthood Restoration.
A grove of maple trees is commonly called a “Sugar Bush”
Maple trees are unique in New England. Maple sap is extremely high in sugar and during the winter and spring a maple tree can be “tapped” and up 20 gallons of this sap can be collected without permanent harm to the tree.
The Native Americans taught the pilgrims how to tap maple trees and then boil the sap into syrup. Ever since then the Maple Tree and Maple Syrup has become a symbol of New England.
What does this have to do with the Restoration? Everything. Living in Vermont the Smith family had learned the value of Maple trees. When Joseph Smith Sr. was looking for land in New York he doubtlessly looked for land with maple trees. He found that perfect plot of land in Palmyra; it had good soil for crops and contained a “sugar bush” or grove of 1,500 maple trees!
The Smith family moved to Palmyra in 1816. When they arrived they worked hard on clearing their land of trees for lumber and so they could plant their crops. Joseph Smith Sr. did not clear the sugar bush on the west side of his property; the Smith family tapped these maple trees to collect the sap.
The Smith Family instead of boiling the sap into syrup decided to turn it into sugar, something far more difficult but also more profitable. Of their endeavor, everyone was involved and they succeed in producing more than 1,000 lbs of maple sugar annually. Because of their success in making maple sugar, the Smith family stayed in Palmyra.
Because their land had maple trees, there was a grove that in the spring of 1820 a young Joseph was able to enter into and offer a kneeling prayer that was answered by the First Vision.
“Joseph Smith’s First Vision”
The Smith family tradition of maple tapping did not end in Palmyra. When Joseph Smith Jr. moved to Harmony Pennsylvania, Joseph located a nearby grove of maple trees. It was in this sugar bush that he often would retreat to pray. On may 15th 1829 he and Oliver went to this sugar bush and knelt in prayer and John the Baptist appeared to them restoring the Priesthood.
I learned this when I visited the Priesthood Restoration Site right after it was dedicated. I had always thought the Priesthood was restored on the banks of the river. While I was there I saw a sign at the front of a path stating that this path led to Joseph’s sugar bush. As I went down the path I found a sign declaring the area for the Priesthood Restoration. Here are some pictures I took.