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Philo Dibble-Account of "The Vision"


I saw Joseph Smith the Prophet when he first came to Kirtland. There was a branch of the Church raised up in Kirtland before he came, and at the time he arrived a variety of false spirits were manifested, such as caused jumping, shouting, falling down, etc. Joseph said, as soon as he came, "God has sent me here, and the devil must leave here, or I will."

Those delusive spirits were not seen nor heard any more at that time.

On invitation of Father Johnson, of Hiram, Ohio, Joseph removed his family to his home, to translate the New Testament.

At this time Sidney Rigdon was left to preside at Kirtland and frequently preached to us. Upon one occasion he said the keys of the kingdom were taken from us. On hearing this, many of his hearers wept, and when some one undertook to dismiss the meeting by prayer he said praying would do them no good, and the meeting broke up in confusion.

Brother Hyrum came to my house the next morning and told me all about it, and said it was false, and that the keys of the kingdom were still with us. He wanted my carriage and horses to go to the town of Hiram and bring Joseph. The word went abroad among the people immediately that Sidney was going to expose "Mormonism."

Joseph came up to Kirtland a few days afterwards and held a meeting in a large barn. Nearly all the inhabitants of Kirtland turned out to hear him. The barn was filled with people, and others, unable to get inside, stood around the door as far as they could hear.

Joseph arose in our midst and spoke in mighty power, saying: "I can contend with wicked men and devils—yes, with angels. No power can pluck those keys from me, except the power that gave them to me; that was Peter, James and John. But for what Sidney has done, the devil shall handle him as one man handles another."

Thomas B. Marsh's wife went from the meeting and told Sidney what Joseph had said, and he replied: "Is it possible that I have been so deceived? But if Joseph says so, it is so."

About three weeks after this, Sidney was lying on his bed alone. An unseen power lifted him from his bed, threw him across the room, and tossed him from one side of the room to the other. The noise being heard in the adjoining room, his family went in to see what was the matter, and found him going from one side of the room to the other, from the effects of which Sidney was laid up for five or six weeks. Thus was Joseph's prediction in regard to him verified.

The vision of the three degrees of glory which is recorded in the Doctrine and Covenants was given at the house of "Father Johnson," in Hiram, Ohio, and during the time that Joseph and Sidney were in the Spirit and saw the heavens open there were other men in the room, perhaps twelve, among whom I was one during a part of the time—probably two-thirds of the time. I saw the glory and felt the power, but did not see the vision.

Joseph wore black clothes, but at this time seemed to be dressed in an element of glorious white, and his face shone as if it were transparent, but I did not see the same glory attending Sidney.

The events and conversation, while they were seeing what is written (and many things were seen and related that are not written) I will relate as minutely as is necessary.

Joseph would, at intervals, say: "What do I see?" as one might say while looking out the window and beholding what all in the room could not see. Then he would relate what he had seen or what he was looking at.

Then Sidney replied, "I see the same."

Presently Sidney would say, "What do I see?" and would repeat what he had seen or was seeing.

And Joseph would reply, "I see the same."

This manner of conversation was repeated at short intervals to the end of the vision, and during the whole time not a word was spoken by any other person. Not a sound or motion was made by anyone but Joseph and Sidney, and it seemed to me that they never moved a joint or limb during the time I was there, which I think was over an hour, and to the end of the vision.

Joseph sat firmly and calmly all the time in the midst of a magnificant glory, but Sidney sat limp and pale, apparently as limber as a rag, observing which, Joseph remarked, smilingly. "Sidney is not used to it as I am."

I was with Joseph the morning after he was tarred and feathered by a mob in the town of Hiram, Ohio. After he had washed and dressed in clean clothes, I heard him say to Sidney Rigdon, who was also tarred and feathered, "Now, Sidney, we are ready to go on that mission."

He had reference to a command of God to go to Jackson County, Missouri, and which they had deferred to comply with until they should have accomplished some work which they had planned, but never did accomplish.

On one occasion Joseph was preaching in Kirtland, some time in the fall of 1833. Quite a number of persons were present who did not belong to the church. One man, more bitter and optical than others, made note with pencil and paper of a prophecy uttered on that occasion, wherein Joseph said, "Forty days shall not pass, and the stars shall fall from heaven."

Such an event would certainly be very unusual and improbable to the natural man, and the skeptic wrote the words as a sure evidence to prove Joseph to be a false prophet.

On the thirty-ninth day after the utterance of that prophecy, a man and brother in the Church by the name of Joseph Hancock, and another brother, were out hunting game and got lost. They wandered about until night, when they found themselves at the house of this unbeliever, who exultingly produced this note of Joseph Smith's prophecy and asked Brother Hancock what he thought of his prophet now that thirty-nine days had passed and the prophecy was not fulfilled.

The matter weighed upon the mind of Brother Hancock, who watched that night, and it proved to be the historical one, known in all the world as "the night of the falling of the stars."

He stayed that night at the house of the skeptical unbeliever, as it was too far from home to return by night. In the midst of the falling of the stars, he went to the door of his host and called him out to witness what he had thought impossible and the most improbable thing that could happen, especially as that was the last night in which Joseph Smith could be saved from the condemnation of being "a false prophet."

The whole heavens were lit up with the falling meteors, and the countenance of the new spectator was plainly seen and closely watched by Brother Hancock, who said that he turned pale as death and spoke not a word.

I was in Clay County, Missouri, when Zion's camp came up. I met them on Fishing River. There the power of the Lord was manifested by His sending a thunder storm, which raised Fishing River ten feet higher than it was ever known to rise before. I saw the cloud coming up in the west when I was ten miles from Fishing River in the middle of the afternoon. As it moved on eastwardly at increased in size and in blackness, and when it got over the camp it stopped. In the night, the rain and hail poured down in torrents, and the lightning flashed from the cloud continuously for three hours.

Just before night, two men came into camp and asked where Mr. Smith was. Joseph said, "I am the man." They then advised him to disband his camp, "for," said they, "the mobs are gathering, and there won't be one of you left tomorrow morning!"

Joseph smiled, and said, "I guess not."

Seeing that Joseph did not believe what they came to tell him, they went off vexed.

We learned afterwards that the hail was so heavy on the mob that they were forced to seek shelter, and the leader of them swore he would never go against the "Mormons" again.

While at Far West, Missouri, an election was held to elect an assessor. Isaac Higbee, myself and a Missourian were the candidates. The brethren held a caucus meeting and advised one of us to withdraw our name lest the Missourian might gain the election, and proposed that Higbee and I cast lots for it. Two tickets were put into a hat for us to draw from. There was a large crowd gathered around and Joseph Smith was among them. He said, "I am going to prophesy that Philo will get it."

Sure enough I drew it.

While celebrating the 4th of July, in 1838, at Far West, there came up a thunder shower, and the lightning struck our liberty pole and shivered it to pieces. Joseph walked around on the splinters and said: "As the pole was splintered, so shall the nations of the earth be!"

When the trouble with the mob commenced, Colonel G. W. Robinson took about one-half of the force to Adam-ondi-Ahman to defend that place. Joseph, Hyrum and Sidney also went with them, leaving me in command at Far West. The detachment returned in about four days.

A few days afterwards Joseph Smith and I took a walk out upon the prairie, and in the course of our conversation I suggested that he send for General Atchison to defend him in the suit then brought against him, as he was in command of the third division of the militia of the State of Missouri, and was a lawyer and a friend to law. Joseph made no reply, but turned back immediately to Far West, and a man was selected with the best horse to be found, to go to Liberty for General Atchison.

The next day General Atchison came to Far West with a hundred men and camped a little north of the town.

On consulting with Joseph Smith, Atchison told him that he did not want any one to go with them to his trial, which was to take place midway between Far West and Adam-ondi-Ahman. Joseph at first hesitated about agreeing to this, but Atchison reassured him by saying: "My life for yours!"

When they arrived at the place of trial quite a number of the mob had gathered, and on seeing Joseph they commenced to curse and swear. Atchison, however, checked them by saying: "Hold on, boys, if you fire the first gun there will not be one of you left!"

Joseph was cleared and came away unmolested. Soon afterwards the governor, thinking Atchison was too friendly towards the Saints, took his command from him and placed General Clark in command of the militia.

When Joseph first came to Nauvoo, then called Commerce, a Mr. White, living there, proffered to sell him his farm for twenty-five hundred dollars, five hundred dollars of the amount to be paid down, and the balance one year from that time. Joseph and the brethren were talking about this offer when some of them said: "We can't buy it, for we lack the money."

Joseph took out his purse, and emptying out its contents, offered a half dollar to one of the brethren, which he declined accepting, but Joseph urged him to take it, and then gave each of the other brethren a similar amount, which left him without any. Addressing the brethren he then said: "Now you all have money, and I have none; but the time will come when I will have money and you will have none!"

He then said to Bishop Knight, "You go back and buy the farm!"

The bargain was closed and the obligations drawn up, but how the money was going to be raised neither Brother Knight nor the other brethren could see.

The next morning Joseph and several of the brethren went down to Mr. White's to sign the agreement and make the first payment on the land. A table was brought out with the papers upon it, and Joseph signed them, moved back from the table and sat with his head down, as if in thought for a moment. Just then a man drove up in a carriage and asked if Mr. Smith was there. Joseph hearing it, got up and went to the door. The man said, "Good morning, Mr. Smith; I am on a speculation today. I want to buy some land, and thought I would come and see you."

Joseph then pointed around where his land lay, but the man said: "I can't go with you today to see the land. Do you want any money this morning?"

Joseph replied that he would like some, and when the stranger asked how much, he told him, "Five hundred dollars."

The man walked into the house with Joseph, emptied a small sack of gold on the table, and counted out that amount. He then handed to Joseph another hundred dollars, saying: "Mr. Smith, I make you a present of this!"

After this transpired, Joseph laughed at the brethren and said: "You trusted in money; but I trusted in God. Now I have money and you have none."

In Nauvoo, I rented a house on the river bank. While there in business, I saw in vision my grave before me for two weeks; it mattered not whether my eyes were open or shut, it was there, and I saw no way of escape. One day Brother Joseph came and took dinner with us, and as we arose from the table I walked out upon the porch and sat down on a bench. Joseph and my wife followed me, and he came before me and said: "Philo, you must get away from here or you will die, as sure as God ever spoke by my mouth!"

He then turned to my wife and said: "And you will hardly escape by the skin of your teeth!"

I immediately stepped into Joseph's carriage and rode with him to the south part of town and rented another place, after which I settled up my business as fast as I could, and made arrangements to remove. Many hearing of Joseph's prediction about me said if they had been in my place they would have remained where I was and tested the truth of it. But I assured them if they had been in my place they would have done just as I did.

After I had settled my business and removed my family, we were one day at Joseph's house when he said to my wife: "You didn't believe what I told Philo the other day! Now, I will tell you what the Lord told me. He told me to go and tell Philo to come away from there, and if he obeyed he should live; if not, he should die; and I didn't want to see you a widow so soon again. If Philo had remained there fourteen days longer, he would have been a corpse."

The Juvenile Instructor, XXVII, (January 1, 1892), pp. 22-23; (May 15, 1892), pp. 303-304; (June 1, 1892), p. 345; Early Scenes in Church History (Faith Promoting Series, volume 8) (Salt Lake City, 1882), pp. 79-96.