JOEL - Joseph Smith was often accused of having connections with the occult, but never confessed having any interest in it at all.
There is some evidence that Joseph's father was involved in treasure hunting, a common activity among poor New England farmers who hoped through the use of magic to discover buried money. Treasure-seekers wanted to employ him and his son to help with their searches. The Smiths had purchased a 100-acre farm in Manchester, New York, soon after their arrival from Vermont in 1816, but lost it in 1825 when they were unable to make the final yearly payment of $100. In an effort to raise the money they went to work for, a man named Josiah Stowell, who hired Joseph and his father in 1825 to dig for a supposed Spanish treasure near Harmony, Pennsylvania. The effort came to nothing, and the Smiths returned home, but the neighbors continued to think of the Smiths as a treasure-seeking company and they accused the Smiths of using the occult to carry out their treasure seeking activities. Later, after having no success, the Smiths gradually separated themselves from the money-digging activities of their neighbors to concentrate on the religious mission described by the angel Moroni.
Critics of the Smith family have used this incident as evidence of their interest in money digging and the occult. While the practice of seeking buried treasure was common at that time in the Northeast and Joseph, Sr., may have participated in searching for it, his digging for Stowell was really a desperate attempt to earn money to meet a mortgage payment. After they lost their farm, the Smiths again became tenant farmers.
Joseph Smith himself had found a stone, called a seer stone, which reportedly enabled him to find lost objects and was also possibly used to aid in the translation of the Book of Mormon along with the Urim and Thummim. Joseph's use of this stone was perhaps another reason why he was accused of occultic practices by his critics.
President Joseph Fielding Smith, with reference to the seer stone and the Urim and Thummim, has written: "We have been taught since the days of the Prophet that the Urim and Thummim were returned with the plates to the angel. We have no record of the Prophet having the Urim and Thummim after the organization of the Church. The statement has been made that the Urim and Thummim was on the altar in the Manti Temple when that building was dedicated. The Urim and Thummim so spoken of, however, was the seer stone which was in the possession of the Prophet Joseph Smith in early days. This seer stone is now in the possession of the Church." (Doctrines of Salvation, vol. 3, p. 225.)
The Doctrine and Covenants mentions that all who come in to the Celestial kingdom will receive a "white stone", perhaps similar in purpose to the one Joseph Smith had.
10. Then the white stone mentioned in Revelation 2:17, will become a Urim and Thummim to each individual who receives one, whereby things pertaining to a higher order of kingdoms will be made known;
11. And a white stone is given to each of those who come into the celestial kingdom, whereon is a new name written, which no man knoweth save he that receiveth it. The new name is the key word.
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