Teachings Joseph Smith
Teachings Joseph Smith
Compiled by Joseph Fielding Smith

Teachings of the Prophet Joseph Smith, p. 71
Kindness to Animals Required of Man
The following incidents occurred while Zion's Camp was on the march from Kirtland to Missouri.

          In pitching my tent we found three massasaugas or prairie rattlesnakes, which the brethren were about to kill, but I said, "Let them alone -- don't hurt them! How will the serpent ever lose its venom, while the servants of God possess the same disposition, and continue to make war upon it? Men must become harmless before the brute creation, and when men lose their vicious dispositions and cease to destroy the animal race, the lion and the lamb can dwell together, and the sucking child can play with the serpent in safety." The brethren took the serpents carefully on sticks and carried them across the creek. I exhorted the brethren not to kill a serpent, bird, or an animal of any kind during our journey unless it became necessary in order to preserve ourselves from hunger. (May 26, 1834.)  D.H.C. 2:71.

Teachings of the Prophet Joseph Smith, p. 71/72
Never Trifle with Promises of God

[ In the following section, notice the Prophet's warning that when you know something to be bad for you, you cannot expect the Lord to protect you when you act contrary to that knowledge once you have it!  - tlr ]

          Martin Harris having boasted to the brethren that he could handle snakes with perfect safety, while fooling with a black snake with his bare feet, he received a bite on his left foot. The fact was communicated to me, and I took occasion to reprove him, and exhort the brethren never to trifle with the promises of God. I told them it was presumption for any one to provoke a serpent to bite him, but if a man of God was accidentally bitten by a poisonous serpent, he might have faith, or his brethren might have faith for him, so that the Lord would hear his prayer and he might be healed; but when a man designedly provokes a serpent to bite him, the principle is the same as when a man drinks deadly poison knowing it to be such. In that case no man has any claim on the promises of God to be healed. (June 16, 1834.)  D.H.C. 2:95-96.

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