Literary OTGD #11: Joseph’s Temptation

TheProphet-1845-04-19-p1[I’m sorry that I’m a bit behind in getting these posted. I’m hoping to do one each night for the next 3 nights to get caught up.]

Temptation is a constant. We all struggle with temptation to do that which we should not, and often these temptations involve significant sin or things that could lead to significant sin.

Worse, as Joseph’s story indicates, even when we have acted properly, we can be seen as a sinner or in error, and treated accordingly. Sometimes this is because others are mistaken, and other times it is because those who judge have different values from ours.

The following poem claims that, even though others mistakenly found Joseph guilty, he still won the approval of the Lord.

This is one of the few poems that I’ve included which are Mormon only by virtue of being published in a Mormon publication. Its by the Rev. David Millard, in the 1830s and 1840s one of the leaders of the Christian Connection, a predecessor of the United Church of Christ. Like Mormonism, Connexionalism was a restorationist movement that didn’t believe in creeds. Millard was for a time editor of the Christian Palladium, a New York-based religious newspaper for the Christian Connection, where this poem appeared and from where the Mormon newspaper in New York City, The Prophet, copied it.


Joseph’s Temptation

by Elder D. Millard

Joseph, thou wast made to shine,
When thou spurned seductive pow’r;
Sure thy father’s God was thine,
In temptations fiery hour.


‘Potiphar has raised my state—
‘Can I basely wrong my lord?
‘Act the treacherous part I hate’
Forfeit honor, name and word’


(line illegible in my copy)
‘Gave me favor, led me here;
‘He protects the path I love,
‘While to sin I greatly fear.’


Grace is given—the tempting lure,
With threats that pow’r alone could join,
Could not bend that purpose pure,
Which, fair Hebrew youth, was thine.


Clouds ’tis true, spread darkness, gloom,
While the storm broke on they head!
Sad thy fate—a felon’s doom!
But that doom to glory led!


Ye who know the adverse hour
Adverse clouds your sky deform;
Unseen mercies mingle wrath,
Brightest skies succeed the storm.


Think of Joseph, once disgraced,
Crush’d by falsehood, spurn’d to shame,
See him next in grandeur placed,
Clothed with power, and raised to fame.

The Prophet, 19 April 1845, p. 4
Reprinted from the Christian Palladium


I think Millard manages to liken the story of Joseph to our lives today. After observing that “Sad thy fate—a felon’s doom! / But that doom to glory led!” he points out:

Unseen mercies mingle wrath,
Brightest skies succeed the storm.

Perhaps he should have written “Tender mercies” to fit our Mormon sensibilities today.


1 comment for “Literary OTGD #11: Joseph’s Temptation

  1. March 14, 2014 at 8:16 am

    Goos stuff.

    We all fall prey to temptation. And we all cave from time to time.

    But Christ Jesus did not cave.

    Thanks be to God our Savior is strong enough to overcome the devil…and for us, as well.

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