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The First Vision


External Link
Visitors Centers & Historic Sites of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints
Pictures of the sacred grove, traditional location of the first vision

   And I, being fifteen years of age, and being somewhat of a sober mind, therfore I was visited of the Lord, and tasted, and knew of the goodness of Jesus. And I did endeavor to preach unto this people, but my mouth was shut, and I were forbidden that I should preach unto them: for behold they had wilfully rebelled against their God, and the beloved disciples were taken away out of the land, because of their iniquity. But I did remain among them, but I were forbidden that I should preach unto them, because of the hardness of their hearts; and because of the hardness of their hearts, the land was cursed for their sake.
External Link
The Joseph Smith Papers, The Book of Mormon, 1830, pgs 519-520
1829 Parallel Account in the Book of Mormon
Joseph Smith Jr.
1829
   And I, being fifteen years of age, and being somewhat of a sober mind, therfore I was visited of the Lord, and tasted, and knew of the goodness of Jesus. And I did endeavor to preach unto this people, but my mouth was shut, and I were forbidden that I should preach unto them: for behold they had wilfully rebelled against their God, and the beloved disciples were taken away out of the land, because of their iniquity. But I did remain among them, but I were forbidden that I should preach unto them, because of the hardness of their hearts; and because of the hardness of their hearts, the land was cursed for their sake.
(Note:  This account was written from the perspective of Mormon, an ancient prophet born circa 310 AD, compiler of the records of the Book of Mormon.)

   At about the age of twelve years my mind become seriously imprest with regard to the all importent concerns of for the wellfare of my immortal Soul which led me to searching the scriptures believeing as I was taught, that they contained the word of God thus applying myself to them and my intimate acquaintance with those of different denominations led me to marvel excedingly for I discovered that they did not of adorn their profession by a holy walk and Godly conversation agreeable to what I found contained in that sacred depository this was a grief to my Soul thus from the age of twelve years to fifteen I pondered many things in my heart concerning the sittuation of the world of mankind the contentions and divions the wickeness and abominations and the darkness which pervaded the minds of mankind my mind become excedingly distressed for I become convicted of my sins and by searching the scriptures I found that mankind did not come unto the Lord but that they had apostatised from the true and liveing faith and there was no society or denomination that built upon the gospel of Jesus Christ as recorded in the new testament and I felt to mourn for my own sins and for the sins of the world for I learned in the scriptures that God was the same yesterday to day and forever that he was no respecter to persons for he was God for I looked upon the sun the glorious luminary of the earth and also the moon rolling in their magesty through the heavens and also the stars shining in their courses and the earth also upon which I stood and the beast of the field and the fowls of heaven and the fish of the waters and also man walking forth upon the face of the earth in magesty and in the strength of beauty whose power and intiligence in governing the things which are so exceding great and marvilous even in the likeness of him who created them and when I considered upon these things my heart exclaimed well hath the wise man said it is a fool that saith in his heart there is no God my heart exclaimed all all these bear testimony and bespeak an omnipotant and omnipreasant power a being who makith Laws and decreeeth and bindeth all things in their bounds who filleth Eternity who was and is and will be from all Eternity to Eternity and when I, considered all these things and that that being seeketh such to worship him as worship him in spirit and in truth therefore I cried unto the Lord for mercy for there was none else to whom I could go and to obtain mercy and the Lord heard my cry in the wilderness and while in the attitude of calling upon the Lord in the 16th year of my age a piller of fire light above the brightness of the sun at noon day come down from above and rested upon me and I was filled with the spirit of god and the Lord opened the heavens upon me and I saw the Lord and he spake unto me saying Joseph my son thy sins are forgiven thee. go thy way walk in my statutes and keep my commandments behold I am the Lord of glory I was crucifyed for the world that all those who believe on my name may have Eternal life behold the world lieth in Sin at this time and none doeth good no not one they have turned asside from the gospel and keep not my commandments they draw near to me with their lips while their hearts are far from me and mine anger is kindling against the inhabitants of the earth to visit them acording to thir ungodliness and to bring to pass that which hath been spoken by the mouth of the prophets and Apstles behold and lo I come quickly as it was written of me in the cloud clothed in the glory of my Father
External Link
The Joseph Smith Papers, History, circa Summer 1832, pgs 1-3
1832 handwritten account
Joseph Smith Jr.
1832
   At about the age of twelve years my mind become seriously imprest with regard to the all importent concerns of for the wellfare of my immortal Soul which led me to searching the scriptures believeing as I was taught, that they contained the word of God thus applying myself to them and my intimate acquaintance with those of different denominations led me to marvel excedingly for I discovered that they did not of adorn their profession by a holy walk and Godly conversation agreeable to what I found contained in that sacred depository this was a grief to my Soul thus from the age of twelve years to fifteen I pondered many things in my heart concerning the sittuation of the world of mankind the contentions and divions the wickeness and abominations and the darkness which pervaded the minds of mankind my mind become excedingly distressed for I become convicted of my sins and by searching the scriptures I found that mankind did not come unto the Lord but that they had apostatised from the true and liveing faith and there was no society or denomination that built upon the gospel of Jesus Christ as recorded in the new testament and I felt to mourn for my own sins and for the sins of the world for I learned in the scriptures that God was the same yesterday to day and forever that he was no respecter to persons for he was God for I looked upon the sun the glorious luminary of the earth and also the moon rolling in their magesty through the heavens and also the stars shining in their courses and the earth also upon which I stood and the beast of the field and the fowls of heaven and the fish of the waters and also man walking forth upon the face of the earth in magesty and in the strength of beauty whose power and intiligence in governing the things which are so exceding great and marvilous even in the likeness of him who created them and when I considered upon these things my heart exclaimed well hath the wise man said it is a fool that saith in his heart there is no God my heart exclaimed all all these bear testimony and bespeak an omnipotant and omnipreasant power a being who makith Laws and decreeeth and bindeth all things in their bounds who filleth Eternity who was and is and will be from all Eternity to Eternity and when I, considered all these things and that that being seeketh such to worship him as worship him in spirit and in truth therefore I cried unto the Lord for mercy for there was none else to whom I could go and to obtain mercy and the Lord heard my cry in the wilderness and while in the attitude of calling upon the Lord in the 16th year of my age a piller of fire light above the brightness of the sun at noon day come down from above and rested upon me and I was filled with the spirit of god and the Lord opened the heavens upon me and I saw the Lord and he spake unto me saying Joseph my son thy sins are forgiven thee. go thy way walk in my statutes and keep my commandments behold I am the Lord of glory I was crucifyed for the world that all those who believe on my name may have Eternal life behold the world lieth in Sin at this time and none doeth good no not one they have turned asside from the gospel and keep not my commandments they draw near to me with their lips while their hearts are far from me and mine anger is kindling against the inhabitants of the earth to visit them acording to thir ungodliness and to bring to pass that which hath been spoken by the mouth of the prophets and Apstles behold and lo I come quickly as it was written of me in the cloud clothed in the glory of my Father

   we soon commenced talking upon the subject of religion and after I had made some remarks concerning the bible I commenced giving him a relation of the circumstances connected with the coming forth of the book of Mormon, 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 and I considered it of the first importance that I should be right, in matters that involve eternal consequ[e]nces; being thus perplexed in mind I retired to the silent grove and bow[e]d down before the Lord, under a realising sense that he had said (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 libarally and upbradeth not; information was what I most desired at this time, and with a fixed determination to obtain it, I called upon the Lord for the first time, in the place above stated or in other words I made a fruitless attempt to p[r]ay, my toung seemed to be swolen in my mouth, so that I could not utter, I heard a noise behind me like some person walking towards me, I strove again to pray, but could not, the noise of walking seemed to draw nearer, I sprung up on my feet, and and looked around, but saw no person or thing that was calculated to produce the noise of walking, I kneeled again my mouth was opened and my toung liberated, and I called on the Lord in mighty prayer, a pillar of fire appeared above my head, it presently rested down upon me head, and filled me with Joy unspeakable, a personage appeard in the midst of this pillar of flame which was spread all around, and yet nothing consumed, another personage soon appeard like unto the first, he said unto me thy sins are forgiven thee, he testified unto me that Jesus Christ is the Son of God; and I saw many angels in this vision I was about 14 years old when I received this first communication;
External Link
The Joseph Smith Papers, Journal, 1835–1836, pgs 24-25
1835 Diary Account
Joseph Smith Jr.
9 Nov, 1835
   we soon commenced talking upon the subject of religion and after I had made some remarks concerning the bible I commenced giving him a relation of the circumstances connected with the coming forth of the book of Mormon, 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 and I considered it of the first importance that I should be right, in matters that involve eternal consequ[e]nces; being thus perplexed in mind I retired to the silent grove and bow[e]d down before the Lord, under a realising sense that he had said (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 libarally and upbradeth not; information was what I most desired at this time, and with a fixed determination to obtain it, I called upon the Lord for the first time, in the place above stated or in other words I made a fruitless attempt to p[r]ay, my toung seemed to be swolen in my mouth, so that I could not utter, I heard a noise behind me like some person walking towards me, I strove again to pray, but could not, the noise of walking seemed to draw nearer, I sprung up on my feet, and and looked around, but saw no person or thing that was calculated to produce the noise of walking, I kneeled again my mouth was opened and my toung liberated, and I called on the Lord in mighty prayer, a pillar of fire appeared above my head, it presently rested down upon me head, and filled me with Joy unspeakable, a personage appeard in the midst of this pillar of flame which was spread all around, and yet nothing consumed, another personage soon appeard like unto the first, he said unto me thy sins are forgiven thee, he testified unto me that Jesus Christ is the Son of God; and I saw many angels in this vision I was about 14 years old when I received this first communication;

   A Gentleman called this after noon by the name of Erastus Holmes of Newbury Clemon Co. Ohio, he called to make enquiry about the establishment of the Church of the latter-day Saints and to be instructed  more perfectly in our doctrine &c I commenced and gave him a brief relation of my experience while in my juvenile years, say from 6, years old up to the time I received the first visitation of Angels which was when I was about 14, years old and also the the visitations that I received afterward, concerning the book of Mormon, and a short account of the rise and progress of the church, up to this, date
External Link
The Joseph Smith Papers, Journal, 1835–1836, pgs 37-38
1835 Second Diary Account
Joseph Smith Jr.
14 Nov, 1835
   A Gentleman called this after noon by the name of Erastus Holmes of Newbury Clemon Co. Ohio, he called to make enquiry about the establishment of the Church of the latter-day Saints and to be instructed more perfectly in our doctrine &c I commenced and gave him a brief relation of my experience while in my juvenile years, say from 6, years old up to the time I received the first visitation of Angels which was when I was about 14, years old and also the the visitations that I received afterward, concerning the book of Mormon, and a short account of the rise and progress of the church, up to this, date

   While I was laboring under the extreme difficulties caused by the contests of these parties of religionists, I was one day reading the Epistle of James, First Chapter and fifth verse, which reads, If any of you lack wisdom, let him ask of God, that giveth to all men liberally and upbraideth not, and it shall be given him. Never did any passage of scripture come with more power to the heart of man that this did at this time to  mine. It seemed to enter with great force into every feeling of my heart. I reflected on it again and again, knowing that if any person needed wisdom from God, I did, for how to act I did not know and unless I could get more wisdom than I then had would never know, for the teachers of religion of the different sects understood the same passage of Scripture so differently as to destroy all confidence in settling the question by an appeal to the Bible. At length I came to the conclusion that I must either remain in darkness and confusion or else I must do as James directs, that is, Ask of God. I at last came to the determination to ask of God, concluding that if he gave wisdom to them that lacked wisdom, and would give liberally and not upbraid, I might venture. So in accordance with this my determination to ask of God, I retired to the woods to make the attempt. It was on the morning of a beautiful clear day early in the spring of Eightteen hundred and twenty. It was the first time in my life that I had made such an attempt, for amidst all my anxieties I had never as yet made the attempt to pray vocally.<br>
   After I had retired into the place where I had previously designed to go, having looked around me and finding myself alone, I kneeled down and began to offer up the desires of my heart to God, I had scarcely done so, when immediately I was siezed upon by some power which entirely overcame me and had such astonishing influence over me as to bind my tongue so that I could not speak. Thick darkness gathered around me and it seemed to me for a time as if I were doomed to sudden destruction. But exerting all my powers to call upon God to de liver me out of the power of this enemy which had siezed upon me, and at the very moment when I was ready to sink into despair and abandon myself to destruction, not to an im aginary ruin but to the power of some actual being from the unseen world who had such a marvelous power as I had never before felt in any being. Just at this moment of great alarm I saw a pillar of light exactly over my head above the brightness of the sun, which descended gracefully gradually untill it fell upon me. It no sooner appeared than I found myself delivered from the enemy which held me bound. When the light rested upon me I saw  two personages (whose brightness and glory defy all description) standing above me in the air.  One of them spake unto me calling me by name and said (pointing to the other) “This is my beloved Son, Hear him.”<br>
   My object in going to enquire of the Lord was to know which of all the sects was right, that I might know which to join. No sooner therefore did I get possession of myself so as to be able to speak, than I asked the personages who stood above me in the light, which of all the sects was right, (for at this time it had never entered into my heart that all were wrong) and which I should join. I was answered that I must join none of them, for they were all wrong, and the Personage who addressed me said that all their Creeds were an abomination in his sight, that those professors were all corrupt, that “they draw near to me to with their lips but their hearts are far from me, They teach for doctrines the commandments of men, having a form of Godliness but they deny the power thereof.” He again forbade me to join with any of them and many other things did he say unto me which I cannot write at this time. When I came to myself again I found myself lying on my back looking up into Heaven.
External Link
The Joseph Smith Papers, History, 1838–1856, volume A-1 [23 December 1805–30 August 1834], pgs 2-3
1838 canonized account
Joseph Smith Jr.
1838
   While I was laboring under the extreme difficulties caused by the contests of these parties of religionists, I was one day reading the Epistle of James, First Chapter and fifth verse, which reads, "If any of you lack wisdom, let him ask of God, that giveth to all men liberally and upbraideth not, and it shall be given him. Never did any passage of scripture come with more power to the heart of man that this did at this time to mine. It seemed to enter with great force into every feeling of my heart. I reflected on it again and again, knowing that if any person needed wisdom from God, I did, for how to act I did not know and unless I could get more wisdom than I then had would never know, for the teachers of religion of the different sects understood the same passage of Scripture so differently as to destroy all confidence in settling the question by an appeal to the Bible. At length I came to the conclusion that I must either remain in darkness and confusion or else I must do as James directs, that is, Ask of God. I at last came to the determination to ask of God, concluding that if he gave wisdom to them that lacked wisdom, and would give liberally and not upbraid, I might venture. So in accordance with this my determination to ask of God, I retired to the woods to make the attempt. It was on the morning of a beautiful clear day early in the spring of Eightteen hundred and twenty. It was the first time in my life that I had made such an attempt, for amidst all my anxieties I had never as yet made the attempt to pray vocally.
   After I had retired into the place where I had previously designed to go, having looked around me and finding myself alone, I kneeled down and began to offer up the desires of my heart to God, I had scarcely done so, when immediately I was siezed upon by some power which entirely overcame me and had such astonishing influence over me as to bind my tongue so that I could not speak. Thick darkness gathered around me and it seemed to me for a time as if I were doomed to sudden destruction. But exerting all my powers to call upon God to de liver me out of the power of this enemy which had siezed upon me, and at the very moment when I was ready to sink into despair and abandon myself to destruction, not to an im aginary ruin but to the power of some actual being from the unseen world who had such a marvelous power as I had never before felt in any being. Just at this moment of great alarm I saw a pillar of light exactly over my head above the brightness of the sun, which descended gracefully gradually untill it fell upon me. It no sooner appeared than I found myself delivered from the enemy which held me bound. When the light rested upon me I saw two personages (whose brightness and glory defy all description) standing above me in the air. One of them spake unto me calling me by name and said (pointing to the other) “This is my beloved Son, Hear him.”
   My object in going to enquire of the Lord was to know which of all the sects was right, that I might know which to join. No sooner therefore did I get possession of myself so as to be able to speak, than I asked the personages who stood above me in the light, which of all the sects was right, (for at this time it had never entered into my heart that all were wrong) and which I should join. I was answered that I must join none of them, for they were all wrong, and the Personage who addressed me said that all their Creeds were an abomination in his sight, that those professors were all corrupt, that “they draw near to me to with their lips but their hearts are far from me, They teach for doctrines the commandments of men, having a form of Godliness but they deny the power thereof.” He again forbade me to join with any of them and many other things did he say unto me which I cannot write at this time. When I came to myself again I found myself lying on my back looking up into Heaven.

   When somewhere about fourteen or fifteen years old... He, therefore, retired to a secret place, in a grove, but a short distance from his father's house, and knelt down, and began to call upon the Lord.  At first, he was severely tempted by the powers of darkness, which endeavoured to overcome him; but he continued to seek for deliverance, until darkness gave way from his mind; and he was enabled to pray, in fervency of the spirit, and in faith.  And, while thus pouring out his soul, anxiously desiring an answer from God, he, at length, saw a very bright and glorious light in the heavens above; which, at first, seemed to be at a considerable distance.  He continued praying, while the light appeared to be gradually descending towards him; and, as it drew nearer, it increased in brightness, and magnitude, so that, by the time that it reached the tops of the trees, the whole wilderness, for some distance around, was illuminated in a most glorious and brilliant manner.  He expected to have seen the leaves and boughs of the trees consumed, as soon as the light came in contact with them; but, perceiving that it did not produce that effect, he was encouraged with the hopes of being able to endure its presence.  It continued descending, slowly, until it rested upon the earth, and he was enveloped in the midst of it.  When it first came upon him, it produced a peculiar sensation throughout his whole system; and, immediately, his mind was caught away, from the natural objects with which he was surrounded; and he was enwrapped in a heavenly vision, and saw two glorious personages, who exactly resembled each other in their features or likeness.  He was informed upon the subjects, which had for some time previously agitated his mind, viz.-that all the religious denominations were believing in incorrect doctrines; and, consequently, that none of them was acknowledged of God, as his church and kingdom.  And he was expressly commanded, to go not after them; and he received a promise that the true doctrine-thefulness of the gospel, should, at some future time, be made known to him; after which, the vision withdrew, leaving his mind in a state of calmness and peace, indescribable.
Full Source
External Link
A[n] interesting account of several remarkable visions, and of the late discovery of ancient American records, pgs 3&5
1840 Orson Pratt version
Orson Pratt
1840
   When somewhere about fourteen or fifteen years old... He, therefore, retired to a secret place, in a grove, but a short distance from his father's house, and knelt down, and began to call upon the Lord. At first, he was severely tempted by the powers of darkness, which endeavoured to overcome him; but he continued to seek for deliverance, until darkness gave way from his mind; and he was enabled to pray, in fervency of the spirit, and in faith. And, while thus pouring out his soul, anxiously desiring an answer from God, he, at length, saw a very bright and glorious light in the heavens above; which, at first, seemed to be at a considerable distance. He continued praying, while the light appeared to be gradually descending towards him; and, as it drew nearer, it increased in brightness, and magnitude, so that, by the time that it reached the tops of the trees, the whole wilderness, for some distance around, was illuminated in a most glorious and brilliant manner. He expected to have seen the leaves and boughs of the trees consumed, as soon as the light came in contact with them; but, perceiving that it did not produce that effect, he was encouraged with the hopes of being able to endure its presence. It continued descending, slowly, until it rested upon the earth, and he was enveloped in the midst of it. When it first came upon him, it produced a peculiar sensation throughout his whole system; and, immediately, his mind was caught away, from the natural objects with which he was surrounded; and he was enwrapped in a heavenly vision, and saw two glorious personages, who exactly resembled each other in their features or likeness. He was informed upon the subjects, which had for some time previously agitated his mind, viz.-that all the religious denominations were believing in incorrect doctrines; and, consequently, that none of them was acknowledged of God, as his church and kingdom. And he was expressly commanded, to go not after them; and he received a promise that the true doctrine-thefulness of the gospel, should, at some future time, be made known to him; after which, the vision withdrew, leaving his mind in a state of calmness and peace, indescribable.

(English Translation)<br>
   When he had reached his fifteenth year, he began to think seriously about the importance of preparing for a future [existence]; but it was very difficult for him to decide how he should go about such an important undertaking. He recognized clearly that it would be impossible for him to walk the proper path without being acquainted with it beforehand; and to base his hopes for eternal life on chance or blind uncertainty would have been more than he had ever been inclined to do.<br>
   He discovered the world of religion working under a flood of errors which by virtue of their contradictory opinions and principles laid the foundation for the rise of such different sects and denominations whose feelings toward each other all too often were poisoned by hate, contention, resentment and anger. He felt that there was only one truth and that those who understood it correctly, all understood it in the same way. Nature had endowed him with a keen critical intellect and so he looked through the lens of reason and common sense and with pity and contempt upon those systems of religion, which were so opposed to each other and yet were all obviously based on the scriptures.<br>
   After he had sufficiently convinced himself to his own satisfaction that darkness covered the earth and gross darkness [covered] the nations, the hope of ever finding a sect or denomination that was in possession of unadulterated truth left him.<br>
   Consequently he began in an attitude of faith his own investigation of the word of God [feeling that it was] the best way to arrive at a knowledge of the truth. He had not proceeded very far in this laudable endeavor when his eyes fell upon the following verse of St. James [1:5]: If any of you lack wisdom, let him ask of God, that giveth to all men liberally, and upbraideth not; and it shall be given him. He considered this scripture an authorization for him to solemnly call upon his creator to present his needs before him with the certain expectation of some success. And so he began to pour out to the Lord with fervent determination the earnest desires of his soul. On one occasion, he went to a small grove of trees near his father's home and knelt down before God in solemn prayer. The adversary then made several strenuous efforts to cool his ardent soul. He filled his mind with doubts and brought to mind all manner of inappropriate images to prevent him from obtaining the object of his endeavors; but the overflowing mercy of God came to buoy him up and gave new impetus to his failing strength. However, the dark cloud soon parted and light and peace filled his frightened heart. Once again he called upon the Lord with faith and fervency of spirit.<br>
   At this sacred moment, the natural world around him was excluded from his view, so that he would be open to the presentation of heavenly and spiritual things. Two glorious heavenly personages stood before him, resembling each other exactly in features and stature. They told him that his prayers had been answered and that the Lord had decided to grant him a special blessing. He was also told that he should not join any of the religious sects or denominations, because all of them erred in doctrine and none was recognized by God as his church and kingdom. He was further commanded, to wait patiently until some future time, when the true doctrine of Christ and the complete truth of the gospel would be revealed to him. The vision closed and peace and calm filled his mind.
External Link
The Joseph Smith Papers, Orson Hyde, Ein Ruf aus der Wüste (A Cry out of the Wilderness), 1842, pgs 14-16
1842 Orson Hyde Version (German)
Orson Hyde
1842
(English Translation)
   When he had reached his fifteenth year, he began to think seriously about the importance of preparing for a future [existence]; but it was very difficult for him to decide how he should go about such an important undertaking. He recognized clearly that it would be impossible for him to walk the proper path without being acquainted with it beforehand; and to base his hopes for eternal life on chance or blind uncertainty would have been more than he had ever been inclined to do.
   He discovered the world of religion working under a flood of errors which by virtue of their contradictory opinions and principles laid the foundation for the rise of such different sects and denominations whose feelings toward each other all too often were poisoned by hate, contention, resentment and anger. He felt that there was only one truth and that those who understood it correctly, all understood it in the same way. Nature had endowed him with a keen critical intellect and so he looked through the lens of reason and common sense and with pity and contempt upon those systems of religion, which were so opposed to each other and yet were all obviously based on the scriptures.
   After he had sufficiently convinced himself to his own satisfaction that darkness covered the earth and gross darkness [covered] the nations, the hope of ever finding a sect or denomination that was in possession of unadulterated truth left him.
   Consequently he began in an attitude of faith his own investigation of the word of God [feeling that it was] the best way to arrive at a knowledge of the truth. He had not proceeded very far in this laudable endeavor when his eyes fell upon the following verse of St. James [1:5]: "If any of you lack wisdom, let him ask of God, that giveth to all men liberally, and upbraideth not; and it shall be given him." He considered this scripture an authorization for him to solemnly call upon his creator to present his needs before him with the certain expectation of some success. And so he began to pour out to the Lord with fervent determination the earnest desires of his soul. On one occasion, he went to a small grove of trees near his father's home and knelt down before God in solemn prayer. The adversary then made several strenuous efforts to cool his ardent soul. He filled his mind with doubts and brought to mind all manner of inappropriate images to prevent him from obtaining the object of his endeavors; but the overflowing mercy of God came to buoy him up and gave new impetus to his failing strength. However, the dark cloud soon parted and light and peace filled his frightened heart. Once again he called upon the Lord with faith and fervency of spirit.
   At this sacred moment, the natural world around him was excluded from his view, so that he would be open to the presentation of heavenly and spiritual things. Two glorious heavenly personages stood before him, resembling each other exactly in features and stature. They told him that his prayers had been answered and that the Lord had decided to grant him a special blessing. He was also told that he should not join any of the religious sects or denominations, because all of them erred in doctrine and none was recognized by God as his church and kingdom. He was further commanded, to wait patiently until some future time, when the true doctrine of Christ and the complete truth of the gospel would be revealed to him. The vision closed and peace and calm filled his mind.
(Note:  Orson Hyde reported that this book had been completed in a letter dated June 15, 1841, which can be read here/)

   When about fourteen years of age I began to reflect upon the importance of being prepared for a future state, and upon enquiring the plan of salvation I found that there was a great clash in religious sentiment; if I went to one society they referred me to one plan, and another to another; each one pointing to his own particular creed as the summum bonum of perfection: considering that all could not be right, and that God could not be the author of so much confusion I determined to investigate the subject more fully, believing that if God had a church it would not be split up into factions, and that if he taught one society to worship one way, and administer in one set of ordinances, he would not teach another principles which were diametrically opposed. Believing the word of God I had confidence in the declaration of James; If any man lack wisdom let him ask of God who giveth to all men liberally and upbraideth not and it shall be given him, I retired to a secret place in a grove and began to call upon the Lord, while fervently engaged in supplication my mind was taken away from the objects with which I was surrounded, and I was enwrapped in a heavenly vision and saw two glorious personages who exactly resembled each other in features, and likeness, surrounded with a brilliant light which eclipsed the sun at noon-day. They told me that all religious denominations were believing in incorrect doctrines, and that none of them was acknowledged of God as his church and kingdom. And I was expressly commanded to go not after them, at the same time receiving a promise that the fulness of the gospel should at some future time be made known unto me.
External Link
The Joseph Smith Papers, “Church History,” 1 March 1842, pgs 1-2
1842 Wentworth Letter
Joseph Smith Jr.
1 Mar, 1842
   When about fourteen years of age I began to reflect upon the importance of being prepared for a future state, and upon enquiring the plan of salvation I found that there was a great clash in religious sentiment; if I went to one society they referred me to one plan, and another to another; each one pointing to his own particular creed as the summum bonum of perfection: considering that all could not be right, and that God could not be the author of so much confusion I determined to investigate the subject more fully, believing that if God had a church it would not be split up into factions, and that if he taught one society to worship one way, and administer in one set of ordinances, he would not teach another principles which were diametrically opposed. Believing the word of God I had confidence in the declaration of James; "If any man lack wisdom let him ask of God who giveth to all men liberally and upbraideth not and it shall be given him," I retired to a secret place in a grove and began to call upon the Lord, while fervently engaged in supplication my mind was taken away from the objects with which I was surrounded, and I was enwrapped in a heavenly vision and saw two glorious personages who exactly resembled each other in features, and likeness, surrounded with a brilliant light which eclipsed the sun at noon-day. They told me that all religious denominations were believing in incorrect doctrines, and that none of them was acknowledged of God as his church and kingdom. And I was expressly commanded to "go not after them," at the same time receiving a promise that the fulness of the gospel should at some future time be made known unto me.

   Pres. J. Smith bore testimony to the same - saying that when he was a youth he began to think about these these things but could not find out which of all the sects were right - he went into the grove & enquired of the Lord which of all the sects were right - he received for answer that none of them were right, that they were all wrong, & that the Everlasting covena[n]t was broken. he said he understoood the fulness of the Gospel from beginning to end - & could Teach it & also the order of the priesthood in all its ramifications. Earth & hell had opposed him & tryed to destroy him - but they had not done it & they never would
External Link
The Joseph Smith Papers, Levi Richards, Journal, 11 June 1843, extract, pg 2
1843 Levi Richards Journal
Levi Richards
11 Jun, 1843
   Pres. J. Smith bore testimony to the same - saying that when he was a youth he began to think about these these things but could not find out which of all the sects were right - he went into the grove & enquired of the Lord which of all the sects were right - he received for answer that none of them were right, that they were all wrong, & that the Everlasting covena[n]t was broken. he said he understoood the fulness of the Gospel from beginning to end - & could Teach it & also the order of the priesthood in all its ramifications. Earth & hell had opposed him & tryed to destroy him - but they had not done it & they never would

   The Lord does reveal himself to me. I know it. He revealed himself first to me when I was about fourteen years old, a mere boy. I will tell you about it. There was a reformation among the different religious denominations in the neighborhood where I lived, and I became serious and was desirous to know what Church to join.<br>
   While thinking of this matter, I opened the Testament promiscuously on these words, in James, Ask of the Lord who giveth to all men liberally and upbraideth not. I just determined I'd ask him. I immediately went out into the woods where my father had a clearing, and went to the stump where I had stuck my axe when I had quit work, and I kneeled down, and prayed, saying, O Lord, what Church shall I join? Directly I saw a light, and then a glorious personage in the light, and then another personage, and first personage said to the second, Behold my beloved Son, hear him. -I then addressed this second person, saying, O Lord, what Church shall I join? He replied, don't join any of them, they are all corrupt. The vision then vanished and when I came to myself, I was sprawling on my back; and it was some time before my strength returned.
External Link
The New York Spectator, September 23, 1843
1843 Interview with David Nye White
Joseph Smith Jr.
Aug 29, 1843
   The Lord does reveal himself to me. I know it. He revealed himself first to me when I was about fourteen years old, a mere boy. I will tell you about it. There was a reformation among the different religious denominations in the neighborhood where I lived, and I became serious and was desirous to know what Church to join.
   While thinking of this matter, I opened the Testament promiscuously on these words, in James, Ask of the Lord who giveth to all men liberally and upbraideth not. I just determined I'd ask him. I immediately went out into the woods where my father had a clearing, and went to the stump where I had stuck my axe when I had quit work, and I kneeled down, and prayed, saying, O Lord, what Church shall I join? Directly I saw a light, and then a glorious personage in the light, and then another personage, and first personage said to the second, Behold my beloved Son, hear him. -I then addressed this second person, saying, O Lord, what Church shall I join? He replied, "don't join any of them, they are all corrupt." The vision then vanished and when I came to myself, I was sprawling on my back; and it was some time before my strength returned.

   opened his Bible & the first Passage that struck him was if any man lack wisdom let him ask of God who giveth to all men liberally & ubraideth not went into the Wood to pray kneels himself down his tongue was closet cleavet to his roof could utter not a word, felt easier after a while-saw a fire toward heaven came near & nearer saw a personage in the fire light complexsion blue eyes a piece of white cloth drawn over his shoulders his right arm bear after a while a other person came to the side of the first Mr. Smith then asked must I join the Methodist Church-No-they are not my People, They have gone astray there is non that doeth good no not one, but this is my Beloved son harken ye him, the fire drew nigher Rested upon the tree enveloped him comforted Indeavoured to arise and felt Uncomen feeble-got into the house
External Link
The Joseph Smith Papers, Alexander Neibaur, Journal, 24 May 1844, extract, pgs 1-2
Alexander Neibaur Diary
Alexander Neibaur
May 24, 1844
   opened his Bible & the first Passage that struck him was if any man lack wisdom let him ask of God who giveth to all men liberally & ubraideth not went into the Wood to pray kneels himself down his tongue was closet cleavet to his roof could utter not a word, felt easier after a while-saw a fire toward heaven came near & nearer saw a personage in the fire light complexsion blue eyes a piece of white cloth drawn over his shoulders his right arm bear after a while a other person came to the side of the first Mr. Smith then asked must I join the Methodist Church-No-they are not my People, They have gone astray there is non that doeth good no not one, but this is my Beloved son harken ye him, the fire drew nigher Rested upon the tree enveloped him comforted Indeavoured to arise and felt Uncomen feeble-got into the house

   He commenced reading his Bible, but his education was very limited; he could Just read; and scarce write his name; believing what he read; until he came to the following passage, If any lack Wisdom, let him ask of God, and it shall be given him James 1.5, This was Joy to his soul, it was peace to his troubled spirit he saw that it was his privelege to ask God, and according to his faith receive; accordingly he retired to a secret grove, not far from his Fathrs house; and there day after day, did this youth pour out his soul to God to know which of the sects was right, and had the true doctrine that he might obey the same, and become a member of the Church.<br>
   one day while praying a glorious light encircled him, his mind was caught away, from the things of the World, and he was immediately wrapt in a Heavenly Vision, He saw two angelic beings, whose countenances were glorious beyond expression, stand before him, they declared themselves to be angels, sent from the courts of glory, to communicate to him, that his sins were forgiven; that his prayers were heard, and he was told not to go after any of the Sects, for the whole World, said they, are believing in incorrect doctrines: that the authority of the Priesthood had long since been taken from the earth, and they informed him if he was faithful, the true plan of salvation should be revealed to him hereafter.  After which they disappeared leaving his mind in peace and tranquility.
External Link
Autobiography and Journal of William I. Appleby, 1848, Church History Library, pgs 30-31
William Appleby Recollection
William I. Appleby
1848
   He commenced reading his Bible, but his education was very limited; he could Just read; and scarce write his name; believing what he read; until he came to the following passage, "If any lack Wisdom, let him ask of God, and it shall be given him" James 1.5, This was Joy to his soul, it was peace to his troubled spirit he saw that it was his privelege to ask God, and according to his faith receive; accordingly he retired to a secret grove, not far from his Fathrs house; and there day after day, did this youth pour out his soul to God to know which of the sects was right, and had the true doctrine that he might obey the same, and become a member of the Church."
   one day while praying a glorious light encircled him, his mind was caught away, from the things of the World, and he was immediately wrapt in a Heavenly Vision, He saw two angelic beings, whose countenances were glorious beyond expression, stand before him, they declared themselves to be angels, sent from the courts of glory, to communicate to him, that his sins were forgiven; that his prayers were heard, and he was told not to go after any of the Sects, for the whole World, said they, are believing in incorrect doctrines: that the authority of the Priesthood had long since been taken from the earth, and they informed him if he was faithful, the true plan of salvation should be revealed to him hereafter." After which they disappeared leaving his mind in peace and tranquility.
(Note:  This quote comes from William Appleby's "Autobiography and Journal," in which he reminisced on hearing Orson Pratt speak about Joseph Smith in 1839, prior to Appleby being baptized in 1840.)

   When about 15 years of age, being seriously impressed with the necessity of seeking the Lord and preparing for a future state, his mind became much perplexed through difficulties thrown in the path of his researches by the multitude of religious sects and parties with which he was surrounded.  Each system claimed its right and power to give belief and hope, but none to communicate knowledge of its divine Authority.  In comparing them one with another there seemed too much confusion, the same also appeared in looking at each separately: - turning therefore from these clashing systems, and having been encouraged, and inspired with the following passage in St. James If any of you lack wisdom let him ask of God; he retired to a grove, a little distance from his father's, and in fervent prayer besought the Lord to communicate with him, and reveal the way of salvation.  While thus engaged a light brilliant and glorious appeared in the heavens gradually descending towards him till he was enveloped in its power, and wrapped in celestial vision; when he beheld two glorious beings similar in dress and appearance who informed him that the religious sects had all departed from the ancient doctrine of the apostles, and that the Gospel, with its gifts and blessings should be made known to him at a future period.  Many important things were manifested in this vision which the brevity of this work will not admit our noticing.
Full Source
External Link
The Voice of Joseph, pg 3
1850 Lorenzo Snow version
Lorenzo Snow
1850
   When about 15 years of age, being seriously impressed with the necessity of seeking the Lord and preparing for a future state, his mind became much perplexed through difficulties thrown in the path of his researches by the multitude of religious sects and parties with which he was surrounded. Each system claimed its right and power to give belief and hope, but none to communicate knowledge of its divine Authority. In comparing them one with another there seemed too much confusion, the same also appeared in looking at each separately: - turning therefore from these clashing systems, and having been encouraged, and inspired with the following passage in St. James "If any of you lack wisdom let him ask of God;" he retired to a grove, a little distance from his father's, and in fervent prayer besought the Lord to communicate with him, and reveal the way of salvation. While thus engaged a light brilliant and glorious appeared in the heavens gradually descending towards him till he was enveloped in its power, and wrapped in celestial vision; when he beheld two glorious beings similar in dress and appearance who informed him that the religious sects had all departed from the ancient doctrine of the apostles, and that the Gospel, with its gifts and blessings should be made known to him at a future period. Many important things were manifested in this vision which the brevity of this work will not admit our noticing.

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Milo Andrews [Andrus], 1853 July 17, Sunday morning meeting in the Tabernacle. Reported by George D. Watt.
1853 Milo Andrus Recollection
Milo Andrus
17 Jul, 1853
   I was a boy first 19 years of age when I heard the testimony of that man Joseph Smith that angel came and that [glory?] and trees seemed to be consumed in blaze and he was there entrusted with this information that darkness covered the earth that the great mass of Christian world universally wrong their creeds all upon uncertain foundation now as young as you are I call upon you from this obscurity go forth and build up my kingdom on the earth
(Note:  Milo Andrus turned 19 on March 6, 1833. This account is from a transcription of a discourse given by Andrus on July 17, 1853 in the Tabernacle. The transcription was made by LaJean Purcell Carruth on October 3, 2012. An image of part of the original discourse can be found here. However, the portion of the original containing this quote is not present.)

   Someone may say, “If this work of the last days be true, why did not the Savior come himself to communicate this intelligence to the world?” Because to the angels was committed the power of reaping the earth, and it was committed to none else. And after the mighty champions that hold the keys of this dispensation came and brought the intelligence that the time of harvest was now—that the time of the end was drawing nigh—when this proclamation was made, and the announcement saluted the ears of the children of men, what was to be done next? Behold, the gathering of the Saints begins.
External Link
Journal of Discourses, Vol 6, pg 335
1854 Orson Hyde
Orson Hyde
6 Apr, 1854
   Someone may say, “If this work of the last days be true, why did not the Savior come himself to communicate this intelligence to the world?” Because to the angels was committed the power of reaping the earth, and it was committed to none else. And after the mighty champions that hold the keys of this dispensation came and brought the intelligence that the time of harvest was now—that the time of the end was drawing nigh—when this proclamation was made, and the announcement saluted the ears of the children of men, what was to be done next? Behold, the gathering of the Saints begins.

   It was in this goverment, formed by men inspired of God... that the Lord sent forth His angel to reveal the truths of heaven as in times past, even as in ancient days...<br>
   The messenger did not come to an eminent divine of any of the so-called orthodoxy, he did not adopt their interpretation of the Holy Scriptures.  The Lord did not come with the armies of heaven, in power and great glory, nor send His messengers panoplied with aught else than the truth of heaven, to communicate to the meek, the lowly, the youth of humble origin, the sincere enquirer after the knowledge of God.  But He did send His angel to this same obscure person, Joseph Smith jun., who afterwards became a Prophet, Seer, and Revelator, and informed him that he should not join any of the religious sects of the day, for they were all wrong; that they were following the precepts of men instead of the Lord Jesus; that He had a work for him to perform, inasmuch as he should prove faithful before Him.
External Link
Journal of Discourses, Vol 2, pgs 170-171
1855 account by Brigham Young
Brigham Young
18 Feb, 1855
   It was in this goverment, formed by men inspired of God... that the Lord sent forth His angel to reveal the truths of heaven as in times past, even as in ancient days...
   The messenger did not come to an eminent divine of any of the so-called orthodoxy, he did not adopt their interpretation of the Holy Scriptures. The Lord did not come with the armies of heaven, in power and great glory, nor send His messengers panoplied with aught else than the truth of heaven, to communicate to the meek, the lowly, the youth of humble origin, the sincere enquirer after the knowledge of God. But He did send His angel to this same obscure person, Joseph Smith jun., who afterwards became a Prophet, Seer, and Revelator, and informed him that he should not join any of the religious sects of the day, for they were all wrong; that they were following the precepts of men instead of the Lord Jesus; that He had a work for him to perform, inasmuch as he should prove faithful before Him.

   That same organization and Gospel that Christ died for, and the Apostles spilled their blood to vindicate, is again established in this generation.  How did it come?  By the ministering of an holy angel from God, out of heaven, who held converse with man, and revealed unto him the darkness that enveloped the world, and unfolded unto him the gross darkness that surrounded the nations, those scenes that should take place in this generation, and would follow each other in quick succession, even unto the coming of the Messiah.  The angel taught Joseph Smith those principles which are necessary for the salvation of the world; and the Lord gave him commandments, and sealed upon him the Priesthood, and gave him power to administer the ordinances of the house of the Lord.  He told him the Gospel was not among men, and that there was not a true organization of His kingdom in the world, that the people had turned away from His true order, changed the ordinances, and broken the everlasting covenant, and inherited lies and things wherein their was no profit.  He told him the time had come to lay the foundation for the establishment of the Kingdom of God among men for the last time, preparatory to the winding up scene.  Joseph was strengthened by the Spirit and power of God, and was enabled to listen to the teachings of the angel.  He told him he should be made an instrument in the hands of the Lord, if he kept His commandments, in doing a good work upon the earth, that his name should be held in honor by the honest in heart, and in dishonor throughout the nations by the wicked.  He told him he should be an instrument in laying the foundation of a work that should gather tens of thousands of the children of men, in the generation in which he lived, from every nation under heaven, who should hear the sound of it through his instrumentality.  He told him the nations were wrapt in wickedness and abomination, and that the judgments of God were ready to be poured out upon them in their fulness; that the angels were holding the vials of His wrath in readiness; but the decree is, that they shall not be poured out until the nations are warned, that they may be left without an excuse.<br>
   This man to whom the angel appeared obeyed the Gospel; he received it in meekness and humility, and bowed down before the Lord and worshipped Him, and did the best he could in his illiterate state; he was as it were but a mere plow-boy.
External Link
Journal of Discourses, Vol 2, pg 196
1855 account by Wilford Woodruff
Wilford Woodruff
25 Feb, 1855
   That same organization and Gospel that Christ died for, and the Apostles spilled their blood to vindicate, is again established in this generation. How did it come? By the ministering of an holy angel from God, out of heaven, who held converse with man, and revealed unto him the darkness that enveloped the world, and unfolded unto him the gross darkness that surrounded the nations, those scenes that should take place in this generation, and would follow each other in quick succession, even unto the coming of the Messiah. The angel taught Joseph Smith those principles which are necessary for the salvation of the world; and the Lord gave him commandments, and sealed upon him the Priesthood, and gave him power to administer the ordinances of the house of the Lord. He told him the Gospel was not among men, and that there was not a true organization of His kingdom in the world, that the people had turned away from His true order, changed the ordinances, and broken the everlasting covenant, and inherited lies and things wherein their was no profit. He told him the time had come to lay the foundation for the establishment of the Kingdom of God among men for the last time, preparatory to the winding up scene. Joseph was strengthened by the Spirit and power of God, and was enabled to listen to the teachings of the angel. He told him he should be made an instrument in the hands of the Lord, if he kept His commandments, in doing a good work upon the earth, that his name should be held in honor by the honest in heart, and in dishonor throughout the nations by the wicked. He told him he should be an instrument in laying the foundation of a work that should gather tens of thousands of the children of men, in the generation in which he lived, from every nation under heaven, who should hear the sound of it through his instrumentality. He told him the nations were wrapt in wickedness and abomination, and that the judgments of God were ready to be poured out upon them in their fulness; that the angels were holding the vials of His wrath in readiness; but the decree is, that they shall not be poured out until the nations are warned, that they may be left without an excuse.
   This man to whom the angel appeared obeyed the Gospel; he received it in meekness and humility, and bowed down before the Lord and worshipped Him, and did the best he could in his illiterate state; he was as it were but a mere plow-boy.

   Do you suppose that God in person called upon Joseph Smith, our Prophet?  God called upon him; but God did not come himself and call, but he sent Peter to do it.  Do you not see?  He sent Peter and sent Moroni to Joseph, and told him that he had got the plates.  Did God come himself?  No...<br>
   Why did he not come along?  Because he has agents to attend to his business, and he sits upon his throne and is established at head-quarters, and tells this man, Go and do this; and it is behind the vail just as it is here.  You have got to learn that.
External Link
Journal of Discourses, Vol 6, pg 29
1857 Heber C. Kimball
Heber C. Kimball
8 Nov, 1857
   Do you suppose that God in person called upon Joseph Smith, our Prophet? God called upon him; but God did not come himself and call, but he sent Peter to do it. Do you not see? He sent Peter and sent Moroni to Joseph, and told him that he had got the plates. Did God come himself? No...
   Why did he not come along? Because he has agents to attend to his business, and he sits upon his throne and is established at head-quarters, and tells this man, "Go and do this;" and it is behind the vail just as it is here. You have got to learn that.

   How did this state of things called Mormonism originate? We read that an angel came down and revealed himself to Joseph Smith and manifested unto him in vision the true position of the world in a religious point of view. He was surrounded with light and glory while the heavenly messenger communicated these things unto him, after a series of visitations and communications from the Apostle Peter and others who held the authority of the holy Priesthood, not only on the earth formerly but in the heavens afterwards.
External Link
Journal of Discourses, Vol 10, pg 127
1863 version by John Taylor
John Taylor
1 Mar, 1863
   How did this state of things called Mormonism originate? We read that an angel came down and revealed himself to Joseph Smith and manifested unto him in vision the true position of the world in a religious point of view. He was surrounded with light and glory while the heavenly messenger communicated these things unto him, after a series of visitations and communications from the Apostle Peter and others who held the authority of the holy Priesthood, not only on the earth formerly but in the heavens afterwards.

   When Joseph Smith was about fourteen or fifteen years old... He had read the Bible and had found that passage in James which says, If any of you lack wisdom let him ask of God that giveth to all men liberally and upbraideth not, and taking this literally, he went humbly before the Lord and inquired of Him, and the Lord answered his prayer, and revealed to Joseph, by the ministration of angels, the true condition of the religious world.  When the holy angel appeared, Joseph inquired which of all these denominations was right and which he should join, and was told they were all wrong, - they had all gone astray, transgressed the laws, changed the ordinances and broken the everlasting covenant, and that the Lord was about to restore the priesthood and establish His Church, which would be the only true and living Church on the face of the whole earth.<br>
   Joseph, feeling that to make known such a vision would be to subject himself to the ridicule of all around him, knew not what to do.  But the vision was repeated several times, and in these repetitions he was instructed to communicate that which he had seen to his father...<br>
   These visits led, in a short time, to the bringing forth of the record known as the Book of Mormon...
External Link
Journal of Discourses, Vol 12, pg 333
1863 version by George A. Smith
George A. Smith
15 Nov, 1863
   When Joseph Smith was about fourteen or fifteen years old... He had read the Bible and had found that passage in James which says, "If any of you lack wisdom let him ask of God that giveth to all men liberally and upbraideth not," and taking this literally, he went humbly before the Lord and inquired of Him, and the Lord answered his prayer, and revealed to Joseph, by the ministration of angels, the true condition of the religious world. When the holy angel appeared, Joseph inquired which of all these denominations was right and which he should join, and was told they were all wrong, - they had all gone astray, transgressed the laws, changed the ordinances and broken the everlasting covenant, and that the Lord was about to restore the priesthood and establish His Church, which would be the only true and living Church on the face of the whole earth.
   Joseph, feeling that to make known such a vision would be to subject himself to the ridicule of all around him, knew not what to do. But the vision was repeated several times, and in these repetitions he was instructed to communicate that which he had seen to his father...
   These visits led, in a short time, to the bringing forth of the record known as the Book of Mormon...

   Said he, Lord, teach me, that I may know for myself, who among these are right.  And what was the answer?  They are all out of the way; they have gone astray, and there is none that doeth good, no not one.  When he found out that none were right, he began to inquire of the Lord what was right, and he learned for himself.  Was he aware of what was going to be done?  By no means.  He did not know what the Lord was going to do with him, although He had informed him that the Christian churches were all wrong, because they had not the Holy Priesthood, and had strayed from the holy commandments of the Lord, precisely as the children of Israel did.
External Link
Journal of Discourses, Vol 12, pg 67
1867 account by Brigham Young
Brigham Young
23 Jun, 1867
   Said he, "Lord, teach me, that I may know for myself, who among these are right." And what was the answer? "They are all out of the way; they have gone astray, and there is none that doeth good, no not one." When he found out that none were right, he began to inquire of the Lord what was right, and he learned for himself. Was he aware of what was going to be done? By no means. He did not know what the Lord was going to do with him, although He had informed him that the Christian churches were all wrong, because they had not the Holy Priesthood, and had strayed from the holy commandments of the Lord, precisely as the children of Israel did.

   When Joseph Smith was about 15 years old there was, in the western part of the State of New York, a considerable excitement upon the subject of religion...<br>
   Of the family of Joseph Smith, his mother, his brothers Hyrum and Samuel, and sister Sophronia, became members of the Presbyterian Church. Joseph reflected much upon the subject of religion, and was astonished at the ill-feeling that seemed to have grown out of the division of the spoils, if we may so use the term, at the close of the reformation. He spent much time in prayer and reflection and in seeking the Lord. He was led to pray upon the subject in consequence of the declaration of the Apostle James: “If any of you lack wisdom, let him ask of God, that giveth to all men liberally, and upbraideth not.”<br>
   He sought the Lord by day and by night, and was enlightened by the vision of an holy angel. When this personage appeared to him, one of his first inquiries was, “Which of the denominations of Christians in the vicinity was right?” He was told they had all gone astray, they had wandered into darkness, and that God was about to restore the Gospel in its simplicity and purity to the earth; he was, consequently, directed not to join any one of them, but to be humble and seek the Lord with all his heart, and that from time to time he should be taught and instructed in relation to the right way to serve the Lord.<br>
   These visions continued from time to time...
External Link
Journal of Discourses, Vol 13, pgs 77-78
1869 version by George A. Smith
George A. Smith
20 Jun, 1869
   When Joseph Smith was about 15 years old there was, in the western part of the State of New York, a considerable excitement upon the subject of religion...
   Of the family of Joseph Smith, his mother, his brothers Hyrum and Samuel, and sister Sophronia, became members of the Presbyterian Church. Joseph reflected much upon the subject of religion, and was astonished at the ill-feeling that seemed to have grown out of the division of the spoils, if we may so use the term, at the close of the reformation. He spent much time in prayer and reflection and in seeking the Lord. He was led to pray upon the subject in consequence of the declaration of the Apostle James: “If any of you lack wisdom, let him ask of God, that giveth to all men liberally, and upbraideth not.”
   He sought the Lord by day and by night, and was enlightened by the vision of an holy angel. When this personage appeared to him, one of his first inquiries was, “Which of the denominations of Christians in the vicinity was right?” He was told they had all gone astray, they had wandered into darkness, and that God was about to restore the Gospel in its simplicity and purity to the earth; he was, consequently, directed not to join any one of them, but to be humble and seek the Lord with all his heart, and that from time to time he should be taught and instructed in relation to the right way to serve the Lord.
   These visions continued from time to time...

   Do we believe that the Lord sent his messengers to Joseph Smith, and commanded him to refrain from joining any Christian church, and to refrain from the wickedness he saw in the churches, and finally delivered to him a message informing him that the Lord was about to establish his kingdom on the earth, and led him on step by step until he gave him the revelation concerning the plates?  Yes, this is all correct.
External Link
Journal of Discourses, Vol 18, pg 239
1874 statement by Brigham Young
Brigham Young
23 Jun, 1874
   Do we believe that the Lord sent his messengers to Joseph Smith, and commanded him to refrain from joining any Christian church, and to refrain from the wickedness he saw in the churches, and finally delivered to him a message informing him that the Lord was about to establish his kingdom on the earth, and led him on step by step until he gave him the revelation concerning the plates? Yes, this is all correct.

   None of them was right, just as it was when the Prophet Joseph asked the angel which of the sects was right that he might join it. The answer was that none of them are right. What, none of them? No. We will not stop to argue that question; the angel merely told him to join none of them that none of them were right.
External Link
Journal of Discourses, Vol 20, pg 167
1879 John Taylor Reference
John Taylor
Mar 2, 1879
   None of them was right, just as it was when the Prophet Joseph asked the angel which of the sects was right that he might join it. The answer was that none of them are right. What, none of them? No. We will not stop to argue that question; the angel merely told him to join none of them that none of them were right.

   God prior to this time, had given revelation to this youth, on many occasions.  The first one that he gave to him was in the spring of 1820, before Joseph Smith was of the age of fifteen.  Then a wonderful revelation was given to him, the first one he ever received.  In a great and glorious open vision, in answer to his prayers, there was the manifestation of two of the great personages in the heavens - not angels, not messengers, but two persons that hold the keys of authority over all the creations of the universe.  Who were they?  God the Eternal Father and his Son Jesus Christ, through whom God the Father made the worlds!  These glorious personages descended from heaven; two personages whose countenances outshone the sun at noonday; two personages clothed with a pillar of light round about them, descended, stood before this lad, and revealed themselves to him.
External Link
Journal of Discourses, Vol 21, pg 308
Orson Pratt on the two personages
Orson Pratt
19 Sep, 1880
   God prior to this time, had given revelation to this youth, on many occasions. The first one that he gave to him was in the spring of 1820, before Joseph Smith was of the age of fifteen. Then a wonderful revelation was given to him, the first one he ever received. In a great and glorious open vision, in answer to his prayers, there was the manifestation of two of the great personages in the heavens - not angels, not messengers, but two persons that hold the keys of authority over all the creations of the universe. Who were they? God the Eternal Father and his Son Jesus Christ, through whom God the Father made the worlds! These glorious personages descended from heaven; two personages whose countenances outshone the sun at noonday; two personages clothed with a pillar of light round about them, descended, stood before this lad, and revealed themselves to him.

   In 1822 and 1823, the people in our neighborhood were very much stirred up with regard to religious matters...<br>
   All this however was beneficial to him, as it urged him forward, and strengthened him in the determination to know for himself of the certainty and reality of pure and holy religion. He continued in secret to call upon the Lord for a full manifestation of his will, the assurance that he was accepted of him, and that he might have an understanding of the path of obedience.<br>
   At length he determined to call upon the Lord until he should get a manifestation from him. He accordingly went out into the woods and falling upon his knees called for a long time upon the Lord for wisdom and knowledge. While engaged in prayer a light appeared in the heavens, and descended until it rested upon the trees where he was. It appeared like fire. But to his great astonishment, did not burn the trees. An angel then appeared to him and conversed with him upon many things. He told him that none of the sects were right; but that if he was faithful in keeping the commandments he should receive, the true way should be made known to him; that his sins were forgiven, etc. A more elaborate and accurate description of his vision, however, will be found in his own history.
Full Source
External Link
William Smith on Mormonism, pgs 6 & 8
1883 William Smith account
William Smith
1883
   In 1822 and 1823, the people in our neighborhood were very much stirred up with regard to religious matters...
   All this however was beneficial to him, as it urged him forward, and strengthened him in the determination to know for himself of the certainty and reality of pure and holy religion. He continued in secret to call upon the Lord for a full manifestation of his will, the assurance that he was accepted of him, and that he might have an understanding of the path of obedience.
   At length he determined to call upon the Lord until he should get a manifestation from him. He accordingly went out into the woods and falling upon his knees called for a long time upon the Lord for wisdom and knowledge. While engaged in prayer a light appeared in the heavens, and descended until it rested upon the trees where he was. It appeared like fire. But to his great astonishment, did not burn the trees. An angel then appeared to him and conversed with him upon many things. He told him that none of the sects were right; but that if he was faithful in keeping the commandments he should receive, the true way should be made known to him; that his sins were forgiven, etc. A more elaborate and accurate description of his vision, however, will be found in his own history.

   And here let me say, that it was at the suggestion of the Rev. M____, that my brother asked of God. He said, Ask of God, It was the Church of Christ he was seeking for, what all should seek, God promised to give knowledge to all who lacked, if they would ask. Accordingly he went and bowed in prayer to God. While he was engaged in prayer, he saw a pillar of fire descending. Saw it reach the top of the trees, He was overcome, became unconscious, did not know how long he remained in this condition, but when he came to himself, the great light was about him, and he was told by the personage whom he saw descend with the light, not to join any of the churches. That he should be instrumental in the hands of God in establishing the true church of Christ. That was the record hidden in the hill Cumorah which contained the fulness of the gospel. You should remember Joseph was but about eighteen years old at this time, too young to be a deceiver.
Full Source
External Link
The Old Soldier's Testimony, The Saints' Herald, Vol 31, No 40
William Smith Sermon in 1884
William Smith
8 Jun, 1884
   And here let me say, that it was at the suggestion of the Rev. M____, that my brother asked of God. He said, "Ask of God," It was the Church of Christ he was seeking for, what all should seek, God promised to give knowledge to all who lacked, if they would ask. Accordingly he went and bowed in prayer to God. While he was engaged in prayer, he saw a pillar of fire descending. Saw it reach the top of the trees, He was overcome, became unconscious, did not know how long he remained in this condition, but when he came to himself, the great light was about him, and he was told by the personage whom he saw descend with the light, not to join any of the churches. That he should be instrumental in the hands of God in establishing the true church of Christ. That was the record hidden in the hill Cumorah which contained the fulness of the gospel. You should remember Joseph was but about eighteen years old at this time, too young to be a deceiver.

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External Link
Kansas City Times, April 11, 1895
Katherine Smith Salisbury 1895 Talk
Katherine Smith Salisbury
11 Apr, 1895
   I stand before you a remnant of the family that brought forth the sacred record, to bear my testimony.
   I can remember the time that this work commenced, that my brother had the vision, that he saw the angel and talked with him. After he had his first vision he lay on his bed one night studying what he had seen.
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