1820

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1835 Account of the First Vision

 

1835 Journal: In 1835 Joseph Smith related his experience to a visitor to Kirtland, a man named Robert Matthews, who went by the names of Robert Matthias or Joshua the Jewish minister. The account was recorded in Josephs diary by his scribe, Warren Parrish.

Monday Nov. 9th. . . The conversation soon turned upon the subject of Religion, and after [Joseph] had made some remarks concerning the bible, he commenced giving him a relation of the circumstances, connected with the coming forth of the Book of Mormon, which were nearly as follows. Being wrought up in my mind respecting the subject of Religion, and looking at the different systems taught the children of men, I knew not who was right or who was wrong, but considered it of the first importance to me that I should be right, in matters of so much moment, matter[s] involving eternal consequences. Being thus perplexed in mind I retired to the silent grove and there bowed down before the Lord, under a realizing sense (if the bible be true) ask and you shall receive, knock and it shall be opened, seek and you shall find, and again, if any man lack wisdom, let [him ask] of God who giveth to all men liberally & upbraideth not. Information was what I most desired at this time, and with a fixed determination to obtain it, I called on the Lord for the first time in the place above stated, or in other words, I made a fruitless attempt to pray My tongue seemed to be swoolen in my mouth, so that I could not utter, I heard a noise behind me like some one walking towards me: I strove again to pray, but could not; the noise of walking seemed to draw nearer; I sprang upon my feet and looked round, but saw no person, or thing that was calculated to produce the noise of walking. I kneeled again, my mouth was opened and my tongue loosed; I called on the Lord in mighty prayer. A pillar of fire appeared above my head; which presently rested down upon me, and filled me with unspeakable joy. A personage appeared in the midst of this pillar of flame, which was spread all around and yet nothing consumed. Another personage soon appeared like unto the first: he said unto me thy sins are forgiven thee. He testified also unto me that Jesus Christ is the son of God. I saw many angels in this vision. I was about 14 years old when I received this first communication. When I was about 17 years I had another vision of angels; in the night season, after I had retired to bed; I had not been asleep, but was meditating upon my past life and experience. I was well aware I had not kept the commandments, and I repented heartily for all my sins and transgressions, and I humbled myself before him, whose eye surveys all things at a glance. All at once the room was illuminated above the brightness of the sun; an Angel appeared before me; his hands and feet were, naked, pure and white; he stood between the floors of the room, clothed with purity inexpressible. He said unto me I am a Messenger sent from God, be faithful and keep his commandments in all things. He told me also of a sacred record which was written on plates of gold. I saw in the vision the place where they were deposited. He said to me the Indians were the literal de[s]cendants of Abraham. He explained many of the prophecies to me; one of which I will mention, which is in Malachi 4th chapter. Behold, the day of the Lord cometh &c He also informed me that the Urim & Thummim was hid up with the record, and that God would give me power to translate it with the assistance of this instrument; he then gradually vanished out of my sight or the vision closed. While meditating on what I had seen, The Angel appeared to me again, and related the same things and much more, also the third time bearing the same tidings and departed. During the time I was in the vision I did not realize any thing around me, except what was shown to me in this communication. After the vision had all passed, I found that it was nearly daylight; The family soon arose, and got up also. On that day while in the fields at work with my father, he asked me if I was sick, I replied , I had but little strength. He told me to go to the house. I started and went part of the way, and was finally deprived of my strength and fell; but how long I remained I do not know. The Angel came to me again and commanded me to go and tell my father what I had seen & heard. I did so. The old man wept and told me that it was a vision from God, and to attend to it. I went and found the place where the plates were, according to the directions of the Angel, I also saw them and the Angel as before. The powers of darkness strove hard against me. I called on God. The Angel told me, that the reason why I could not obtain the plates at this time, was because I was under transgression, but to come again in one year from that time. I did so but did not obtain them, also the third and the fourth year the last of which time I obtained them, and translated them into the English language by the gift and power of God and have been preaching it ever since.

Dean C. Jessee, ed., Papers of Joseph Smith, vol. 1: 125-28