1831

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John Murdock's Conversion Story

 

About two weeks after, my wife’s brother, Thomas Clapp, came to see us being armed with many passages of scriptures to convince me of the late discovered truth; for he was among the late converts, at Mentor. I sat and heard this story, and found him to be precisely in the same tract with myself, and understood the scriptures I did; which was the doctrine of the new sect, known by the Campbellites. It caused me to rejoice believing that I had at last found a people that believed the scriptures and many times after retiring to my bed, my mind would be exercised to that degree, that it would not be satisfied till I would get up, light my candle, and read my Bible an hour or two, and then I would go to my bed and sleep sweetly.

I, finding the people called the Campbellites, so well agreeing with my feelings, and they professed to be in search of truth as I was, therefore I united with them. I think it was in the year A.D. 1827. Elder Sidney Rigdon was one of the leaders in this part of the country; and I believe that he, with many others were honestly seeking for truth, for awhile; but when the truth came, because it did not come as they wanted, they rejected it. I continued a member with them, about 3 years, I think; but at length finding their principal leader, Alex [Alexander] Campbell, with many others, denying the gift and power of the Holy Ghost, I began to think of looking [for] me a new home. I had firmly became [become] convinced that all the sects were out of the way; so much so that I asked Brother B. Covey, supposing all the different churches to be out of the way, as we believe they are, and we find the ancient manner of building up the Church according to the scriptures, as we believe we have (for by reading we found the ancient manner of building up the Church was by baptizing for the remission of sins and laying on hands for the gift of the Holy Ghost.) Where is the man to commence the work of baptizing? or where shall he get his authority? Can he go to those who are out of the way and obtain authority? I told him no. If they are out of the way as we believe; they have lost all authority, and I said to him, the only way the authority can be obtained is, the Lord must either send an angel to baptize the first man, or he must give a special command to someone to baptize another.

About one month after this interview with Brother Covey, word came to me that four men had arrived at Kirtland from the state of New York, who were preaching, baptizing, and building up the church after the ancient order; it was one Sunday morning as I was going to attend an appointment to preach, that I was informed on this; I was also told that Elder Rigdon, with many others of the Campbellite Church, were baptized by them. I replied to my informer that it was an insinuation of the devil but I was immediately checked in my feelings, and I made no more harsh expressions respecting them. I attended my appointment and got along with my meeting as easy as I could and went home, and went to reading my Bible and frequently heard of the new preachers until Thursday the same week. I went to see for myself, a distance of about twenty miles. I heard the sayings of many people by the way, some for the new preachers, and some against, but I observed the Spirit that stimulated those for, and those against. I met Squire Waldo, who was a Campbellite [who?] was bitterly opposed. He tried to have me take another road, and not go to Kirtland, but I told him I was of age, and the case was an important one, of life, and death, existing between me and my God, and I must act for myself, for no one can act for me. I rode about three miles further and met another man of the same order, I had about the same kind of discourse with him and passed on.

And arrived at father Isaac Morley's about dark, and was soon introduced to those four men from New York, and presented with the Book of Mormon; I now said within myself, I have items placed before me that will prove to me whether it be of God or not viz: four men professing to be servants of the most high God, authorized to preach the gospel, and practice the ordinances thereof, and build up the Church after the ancient order; and having a book professing to have come forth by the power of God, containing the fullness of the gospel; I said if it be so their walk will agree with their profession, and the Holy Ghost will attend their ministration of the ordinances, and the Book of Mormon will contain the same plan of salvation as the Bible. I was sensible that such a work must come forth, but the question with me was, are these men that are to commence the work. I did not ask a sign of them by working a miracle, by healing a sick man, by raising a dead man, or, by casting out a devil; only I desired to know whether the Spirit would attend their ministration if the Book of Mormon was not true, neither if they were not sent forth by God. Accordingly, that night was held the first confirmation meeting that was held in Ohio. And I said within myself it is a good time for me. For thought I, this night must prove it to be true, or false; I did not find out respecting the meeting till about ten o'clock at night. And at that time they had all left but three men; and I found they wanted to go to the meeting, and did not want those in, that had not been baptized. I said to them go, for if you wish to be alone, I do not blame you. The case is one of importance. They went and I stayed alone, and read the Book of Mormon........

I read till it was late and went into Father Morley's chamber to bed and had not been long in bed, before they returned, and some half dozen or more came into the same house, and as soon as they came into the house, although I was in bed up [in the] chamber, the spirit of the Lord rested on me, witnessing to me of the truth of the work. I could no longer rest in bed but got up and went down and found Elder Rigdon among the number, and he said to me I might go back to bed, for he would not talk to me that night, but I sat in a chair and conversed with them, and I found they appeared very tender in their feelings and I retired to bed again. I could not help secretly rejoicing on the occasion. The next morning I conversed with about half a dozen men separately who had been confirmed in the meetinghouse the night before. I found their testimony agreed on the subject that there was a manifestation of the spirit attended the ministration of the ordinance of laying on hands, and I found the items placed before me, that I before noticed, all testified that it was of God.

About ten o'clock that morning, being November 5th, 1830, I told the servants of the Lord that I was ready to walk with them into the water of baptism. Accordingly, Elder P. [Parley] P. Pratt baptized me in the Chagrin River and the spirit of the Lord sensibly attended the ministration, and I came out of the water rejoicing and singing praises to God, and the Lamb. An impression sensibly rested on my mind that cannot, by me, be forgotten. It appeared to me that notwithstanding all the profession of religion that I had previously made and all that I had done, that by my act of now being baptized I had just escaped a horrible pit of destruction. This was the third time I had been immersed, but I never before felt the authority of the ordinance, but I felt it this time and felt as though my sins were forgiven. I continued with the brethren till Sunday at which time they preached in Mayfield and baptized a number, and on Sunday evening they confirmed about thirty. I was one of the number. Elder Oliver Cowdery was administrator. I was also ordained an elder; and it was truly a time of the outpouring of the spirit. I know the spirit rested on me as it never did before and others said they saw the Lord and had visions.