By Kathryn Richards
Abraham Lincoln never wanted to mess with Brigham Young, said Susan Easton Black at the eighth annual Alice Louise Reynolds lecture Wednesday, March 28.
“Few men of the 20th century match the caliber and dogged determination of Brigham Young,” Black said.
She quoted Lincoln saying, “You tell Brigham Young, if he”ll leave me alone, I”ll leave him alone.”
Black, professor of church history and doctrine, recounted experiences of Brigham Young and other early members of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints in her lecture titled “The Saints Joseph Smith Knew and Loved.”
She told of faithful early saints like Lucy Mack Smith, Wilford Woodruff and Parley P. Pratt.
“For me, these saints were my heroes. They had walked and talked with the prophet of the restoration.”
But she also spoke of other early saints who struggled to stay in the church.
Even though these saints had accepted Joseph Smith and the Book of Mormon at some point in their lives, not all stayed true to their baptismal covenants, Black said.
While learning about saints who went astray, Black said she had gotten into a habit of wrongly judging them.
She has come to realize, however, that she cannot fairly judge them. Even though she knows the history and experiences of these members, she does not know their hearts as God does.
Black read well-known scriptures about judging others and said, “When I took these scriptural verses … into my heart, I was surprised by the added feelings of love I felt for … the lives of each early saint.”
Black said learning about the lives of early saints has given her real heroes to look up to.
She said these heroes motivate her to stay on the right path in life.
“When I have seen myself starting to take a wrong turn, then I go, ”No way, I want to meet those people,”” she said.
“The goodness of their lives has impacted me enough that I would like to be worthy just to be able to see them.”
Black”s lecture can be viewed at http://newsnet.byu.edu.