Criticism of Mormonism/Websites/MormonThink/The First Vision/Source quotes without commentary

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Resources.png    MormonThink web page "The First Vision" content without commentary

This page simply displays all of the source quotes and citations used on the critical web page in the order that they appear. There are no "Critic's comment," "Apologetic response," or "Our Thoughts" sections. We make no attempt to explain, summarize or draw conclusions from these quotes. We will provide additional context by including additional text from these quotes when necessary. We also attempt to add sources and links to the full original text, rather than links to other websites which simply quote the text.

Source quotes

Critical website's source quote
was not given general circulation in the 1830's. .... the general membership of the Church knew little, if anything, about it.

Critical website's source(s)


  1. James B. Allen, Dialogue: A Journal of Mormon Thought, Autumn 1966, p.33

  • Context:

To summarize what has been said so far, it is apparent that the story of Joseph Smith's first vision was not given general circulation in the 1830's. Neither Mormon nor non-Mormon publications made reference to it, and it is evident that the general membership of the Church knew little if anything, about it.

  • Source text: James B. Allen, Dialogue: A Journal of Mormon Thought, Autumn 1966, p.33 off-site

Critical website's source quote
none of the available contemporary writings about Joseph Smith in the 1830's, none of the publications of the Church in that decade, and no contemporary journal or correspondence yet discovered mentions the story of the first vision

Critical website's source(s)


  1. James B. Allen, Dialogue: A Journal of Mormon Thought, Autumn 1966, p.33

  • Context:

The fact that none of the available contemporary writings about Joseph Smith in the 1830's, none of the publications of the Church in that decade, and no contemporary journal or correspondence yet discovered mentions the story of the first vision is convincing evidence that at best it received only limited circulation in those early days.

  • Source text: James B. Allen, Dialogue: A Journal of Mormon Thought, Autumn 1966, p.33 off-site

Critical website's source quote
"As far as Mormon literature is concerned, there was apparently no reference to Joseph Smith's first vision in any published material in the 1830's. Joseph Smith's history, which was begun in 1838, was not published until it ran serially in the Times and Seasons in 1842. The famous "Wentworth Letter," which contained a much less detailed account of the vision, appeared March 1, 1842, in the same periodical. Introductory material to the Book of Mormon, as well as publicity about it, told of Joseph Smith's obtaining the gold plates and of angelic visitations, but nothing was printed that remotely suggested earlier visitations."



"In 1833 the Church published the Book of Commandments, forerunner to the present Doctrine and Covenants, and again no reference was made to Joseph's first vision, although several references were made to the Book of Mormon and the circumstances of its origin."

"The first regular periodical to be published by the Church was The Evening and Morning Star, but its pages reveal no effort to tell the story of the first vision to its readers. Nor do the pages of the Latter-day Saints Messenger and Advocate, printed in Kirtland, Ohio, from October, 1834, to September, 1836. In this newspaper Oliver Cowdery, who was second only to Joseph Smith in the early organization of the Church, published a series of letters dealing with the origin of the Church. These letters were written with the approval of Joseph Smith, but they contained no mention of any vision prior to those connected with the Book of Mormon."

"In 1835 the Doctrine and Covenants was printed at Kirtland, Ohio, and its preface declared that it contained "the leading items of religion which we have professed to believe." Included in the book were the "Lectures on Faith," a series of seven lectures which had been prepared for the School of the Prophets in Kirtland in 1834-35. It is interesting to note that, in demonstrating the doctrine that the Godhead consists of two separate personages, no mention was made of Joseph Smith having seen them, nor was any reference made to the first vision in any part of the publication."

"The first important missionary pamphlet of the Church was the Voice of Warning, published in 1837 by Parley P. Pratt. The book contains long sections on items important to missionaries of the 1830's, such as fulfillment of prophecy, the Book of Mormon, external evidence of the book's authenticity, the resurrection, and the nature of revelation, but nothing, again, on the first vision."

"The Times and Seasons began publication in 1839, but, as indicated above, the story of the vision was not told in its pages until 1842. From all this it would appear that the general church membership did not receive information about the first vision until the 1840's and that the story certainly did not hold the prominent place in Mormon thought that it does today.

Critical website's source(s)


  1. Dialogue, Vol.1, No.3, p.31 - p.32

  • For some reason, the text in green above is out of sequence. We provide context for that section:

The first important missionary pamphlet of the Church was the Voice of Warning, published in 1837 by Parley P. Pratt. The book contains long sections on items important to missionaries of the 1830's, such as fulfillment of prophecy, the Book of Mormon, external evidence of the book's authenticity, the resurrection, and the nature of revelation, but nothing, again, on the first vision. It seems evident that, at least in the 1830's, it was not considered necessary for prospective converts to Mormonism to know the story. It is assumed, of course, that if they believed in the authenticity of the Book of Mormon, as well as the other claims of Joseph Smith to divine authority and revelation, the story of the first vision would not have been difficult for them to believe once they heard it.

  • Source text: James B. Allen, Dialogue: A Journal of Mormon Thought, Autumn 1966, p.33 off-site
  • We provide one additional paragraph from Allen's essay:

In spite of the foregoing discussion, there is some interesting evidence to suggest the possibility that the story of Joseph Smith's first vision was known, probably on a limited basis, during the formative decade of church history. One of the most significant documents of that period yet discovered was brought to light in 1965 by Paul R. Cheesman, a graduate student at Brigham Young University. This is a handwritten manuscript apparently composed about 1833 and either written or dictated by Joseph Smith. It contains an account of the early experiences of the Mormon prophet and includes the story of the first vision. While the story varies in some details from the version presently accepted, enough is there to indicate that at least as early as 1833 Joseph Smith contemplated writing and perhaps publishing it.

  • Source text: James B. Allen, Dialogue: A Journal of Mormon Thought, Autumn 1966, p.35 off-site

Critical website's source quote
Some one may say, 'If this work of the last days be true, why did not the Saviour 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.

Critical website's source(s)


  1. Apostle Orson Hyde, General Conference Address, Journal of Discourses, Vol. 6, p.335.

  • Context:

When we take a more extensive view of the subject, we find that the grand harvest is reserved until the last—until the winding up scene; for it is said, "The harvest is the end of the world, and the reapers are the angels," by whose agency this reaping dispensation was committed to the children of men. Some one may say, "If this work of the last days be true, why did not the Saviour 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.

Critical website's source quote
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.

Critical website's source(s)


  1. Journal of Discourses 2:170-171

  • Context:

[T]he Lord sent forth His angel to reveal the truths of heaven as in times past, even as in ancient days. This should have been hailed as the greatest blessing which could have been bestowed upon any nation, kindred, tongue, or people. It should have been received with hearts of gratitude and gladness, praise and thanksgiving. But as it was in the days of our Savior, so was it in the advent of this new dispensation. It was not in accordance with the notions, traditions, and pre-conceived ideas of the American people. 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 knowlege 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.

Critical website's source quote
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,... The angel taught Joseph Smith those principles which are necessary for the salvation of the world;... He told him the Gospel was not among men, and that there was not a true organization of His kingdom in the world,... This man to whom the angel appeared obeyed the Gospel;...

Critical website's source(s)


  1. Wilford Woodruff, Journal of Discourses, Vol.2, pp.196-197

  • Context:

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;

Critical website's source quote
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.

Critical website's source(s)


  1. Heber C. Kimball, Journal of Discourses, vol.6, p.29

  • Context:

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: he sent Moroni and told him there was a record, and says he, "That record is matter that pertains to the. Lamanites, and it tells when their fathers came out of Jerusalem, and how they came, and all about it; and, says he, "If you will do as I tell you, I will confer a gift upon you." Well, he conferred it upon him, because Joseph said he would do as he told him. "I want you to go to work and take the Urim and Thummim, and translate this book, and have it published, that this nation may read it." Do you not see, by Joseph receiving the gift that was conferred upon him, you and I have that record?

Well, when this took place, Peter came along to him and gave power and authority, and, says he, "You go and baptise Oliver Cowdery, and then ordain him a Priest." He did it, and do you not see his works were in exercise? Then Oliver, having authority, baptised Joseph and ordained him a Priest. Do you not see the works, how they manifest themselves?

Well, then Peter comes along. Why did not God come? He sent Peter, do you not see? 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.

Peter comes along with James and John and ordains Joseph to be an Apostle, and then Joseph ordains Oliver, and David Whitmer, and Martin Harris; and then they were ordered to select twelve more and ordain them. It was done. Do you not see works were manifest? They received the truth, and thus you and I are here to-day; and if it had not been for the practice, you and I would not have been here, would we?

Critical website's source quote
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.

Critical website's source(s)


  1. John Taylor, Journal of Discourses, Vol. 10, p.127

  • Context:

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.

  • Source text: John Taylor, Journal of Discourses 10:127.
  • Additional John Taylor quotes that are not mentioned in the MormonThink article as of Dec. 3, 2012:
    • 25 February 1879: "God Himself, accompanied by the Savior, appeared to Joseph...." John Taylor letter to A. K. Thurber at Richfield, Utah (25 February 1879).
    • 28 November 1879: "He came himself, accompanied by his Son Jesus, to the Prophet Joseph Smith. He didn't send anybody but came himself, and introducing his Son, said: "This is my beloved Son, hear him." John Taylor, Journal of Discourses 21:116.
    • 7 December 1879: "...the Lord revealed himself to him together with his Son Jesus, and, pointing to the latter, said: "This is my beloved Son, hear him." John Taylor, Journal of Discourses 21:161.
    • 4 January 1880: "...the Lord appeared unto Joseph Smith, both the Father and the Son, the Father pointing to the Son said "this is my beloved Son in whom I am well pleased, hear ye him." John Taylor, Journal of Discourses 21:65.
    • 27 June 1881: "And hence when the heavens were opened and the Father and Son appeared and revealed unto Joseph the principles of the Gospel..."; John Taylor, Journal of Discourses 22:218.
    • 28 August 1881: "...the Father and the Son appeared to the youth Joseph Smith to introduce the great work of the latter days."; John Taylor, Journal of Discourses 22:299.
    • 20 October 1881: "In the commencement of the work, the Father and the Son appeared to Joseph Smith. And when they appeared to him, the Father, pointing to the Son, said, "This is my beloved Son, hear him."; John Taylor, Journal of Discourses 26:106-107.
    • 1882: John Taylor, Mediation and Atonement (Salt Lake City, Utah: Deseret News Company, 1882; Photo lithographic reprint, Salt Lake City, 1964), 138; 5 March 1882: "After the Lord had spoken to Joseph Smith, and Jesus had manifested himself to him..." John Taylor, Journal of Discourses 23:32.
    • 29 May 1882: "God the Father, and God the Son, both appeared to him; and the Father, pointing, said, this is my beloved Son, in whom I am well pleased, hear ye him." John Taylor, Millennial Star 44 no. 22 (29 May 1882), 337–338;
    • 23 November 1882: "It is true that God appeared to Joseph Smith, and that His Son Jesus did;" John Taylor, Journal of Discourses 23:323.
    • 18 May 1884: "When our Heavenly Father appeared unto Joseph Smith, the Prophet, He pointed to the Savior who was with him, (and who, it is said, is the brightness of the Father's glory and the express image of His person) and said: "This is my beloved Son, hear Him." John Taylor, Journal of Discourses 25:177-178.
    • 1892: "God revealed Himself, as also the Lord Jesus Christ, unto His servant the Prophet Joseph Smith, when the Father pointed to the Son and said: ‘This is my beloved Son, in whom I am well pleased, hear ye Him.’" John Taylor, cited in B. H. Roberts, Life of John Taylor (1989; 1st published 1892), 394.

Critical website's source quote
When Joseph Smith was about fourteen or fifteen years old,...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,...

Critical website's source(s)


  1. George A. Smith, Journal of Discourses, Vol.12, pp.333-334

  • Context:

When Joseph Smith was about fourteen or fifteen years old, living in the Western part of the State of New York, there was a revival of religion, and the different sects in that portion of the State—principally Presbyterians, Methodists and Baptists—preached the necessity of belief in the Lord Jesus Christ, and repentance in order to be saved, declaring that unless men and women did this, and obtained what they termed, "a hope for the future," they would be cast into a lake of fire and brimstone, and there remain for ever. I have heard men spend hours in endeavoring to explain how long this hell would last. It was frequently illustrated in this manner, "Suppose a bird could carry a drop of water from this planet to another, and be gone a year on the journey, and continue this until every drop of water, on the earth was carried away, and then should take a particle of sand and go to another planet and be gone a thousand years, and carry one article of sand at a time until every particle of matter of which this globe is composed was carried away, that then this eternal punishment would have just commenced, and that the torture and pain there inflicted were so great that no mortal could conceive anything about it." The general effort in their preaching was to scare men into the road to heaven by such descriptions of eternal punishment. When eloquent men deliver such discourses they produce, especially upon ignorant people, more or less agitation, and when this is pretty general it is called a revival of religion. But when the excitement subsides and the converts have obtained what is termed "a hope," then the sects who may have united in bringing about such results begin to scramble to secure the converts. It was so at the time to which I have referred in western New York. The Baptists wanted their share, and the Methodists and Presbyterians theirs; and the scramble ended in a very unpleasant and un-Christian state of feeling.

Joseph Smith had attended these meetings, and when this result was reached he saw clearly that something was wrong. 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. His father was not a member of any church, but was a man of exemplary life. His mother and bro. Hyrum were members of the Presbyterian church. Joseph communicated what he had seen to his father, who believed his testimony, and told him to observe the instructions that had been given him.

These visits led, in a short time, to the bringing forth of the record known as the Book of Mormon, which contained the fullness of the Gospel as it had been preached by the Savior and his apostles to the inhabitants of this land; also a history of the falling away of the people who dwelt on this continent and the dealings of God with them.

Critical website's source quote
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, of his first inquiries was, 'Which of the denominations of Christians in the vicinity was right?'

Critical website's source(s)


  1. George A. Smith, Journal of Discourses, Vol. 13, p.77-78 June 20, 1869

  • Context:

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." [James, 1st chap., 5th verse.] 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, and in 1830 he published to the world the translation of the book now known as the "Book of Mormon,"

Critical website's source quote
there is not a true church on Earth, No, not one

Critical website's source(s)


  1. Joseph Smith's mother, First draft of Lucy Smith's History, p. 46, LDS Church archives

  • Context:

This After we ceased conversation he went to bed <and was pondering in his mind which of the churches were the true one> and but he had not laid there long till <he saw> a bright <light> entered the room where he lay he looked up and saw an angel of the Lord stood <standing> by him. The angel spoke[:] I perceive that you are enquiring in your mind which is the true church[.] there is not a true church on Earth[,] No not one[,] Nor <and> has not been since Peter took the Keys <of the Melchesidec priesthood after the order of God> into the Kingdom of Heaven[.] The churches that are now upon the Earth are all man made churches. Joseph there is a record for you and you must get it one day get it There is a record for you and Joseph when you have learned to keep the commandments of God but you cannot get it untill [until] you learn to keep the commandments of God[.] <For it is not to get gain> But is is to bring forth that light and intelligence which has been long lost in the Earth[.] Now Joseph beware <or> when you go to get the plates your mind will be filled with darkness and all maner [manner] of evil will rush into your mind To keep <prevent> you from keeping the commandments of God <that you may not succe[e]d in doing his work> and you must tell your father of this for he will believe every word you say[.] the record is on a side hill on the Hill of cumorah 3 miles from this place...

  • Source text: "Lucy Smith History, 1845," in Early Mormon Documents (ed. Dan Vogel), 1:289-290.

Critical website's source quote
I saw two spirits, which I knew at the first sight. But if I had the tongue of an Angel I could not describe their glory, for they brought the joys of heaven with them. One was God, my Maker, almost in bodily shape like a man. His face was, as it were a flame of Fire, and his body, as it had been a Pillar and a cloud. In looking steadfastly to discern features, I could see none, but a small glimpse would appear in some other place. Below him stood Jesus Christ my Redeemer, in perfect shape like a man---His face was not ablaze, but had the countenance of fire, being bright and shining. His Father's will appeared to be his! All was condescension, peace, and love.

Critical website's source(s)


  1. Norris Stearns, 1815

Critical website's source quote
That voice suited Joseph perfectly, and he adopted it as his own with immense success in his simple narrative of innocence overtaken by divinity

Critical website's source(s)


  1. Richard L. Bushman

Critical website's source quote
"... I went into the woods ... a light appeared from heaven.... My mind seemed to rise in that light to the throne of God and the Lamb.... The Lamb once slain appeared to my understanding, and while viewing him, I felt such love to him as I never felt to any thing earthly.... It is not possible for me to tell how long I remained in that situation ...

Critical website's source(s)


  1. Elias Smith, 1816

  • Note: The text on the critical web site (including ellipses) is copied from the Tanner's Changing World of Mormonism p. 159.
  • Context:

(p. 53) I went into the woods one morning after a stick of timber; after taking it on my shoulder to bring it to the house, as I walked along a large log that lay above the snow, my foot slipped and I fell partly under the log, the timber fell one end on the log and the other on the snow, and held me, so that I found it difficult at first to rise from the situation I was then in. While in this situation, a light appeared to shine from heaven, not only into my head, but into my heart. This was something strange to me, and what I had never experienced before. My mind seemed to rise in that light to the throne of God and the Lamb, and while thus gloriously led, what appeared to my understanding was expressed in Rev. xiv 1. "And I looked, and lo, a lamb stood on the mount Sion, and with him an hundred (pl 54) forty and four thousand, having his Father's name written in their foreheads."

The Lamb once slain appeared to my understanding, and while viewing him, I felt such love to him as I never felt to any thing earthly. My mind was calm and at peace with God through the Lamb of God, that taketh away the sin of the world. The view of the Lamb on mount Sion gave me joy unspeakable and full of glory. It is not possible for me to tell how long I remained in that situation, as every earthly thing was gone to me for some time. After admiring the glory of the Lamb for some time, I began to think of the situation my body was in, and rose up to return home.

  • Source text: The Life, Conversion, Preaching, Travels, and Sufferings of Elias Smith, Portsmouth, N.H., 1816, pp. 53-54 off-site (Google Books)

Critical website's source quote
Enthusiasm flourishes.... This man was regenerated when asleep, by a vision of the night. That man heard a voice in the woods, saying, 'Thy sins be forgiven thee.' A third saw his Savior descending to the tops of the trees at noon day

Critical website's source(s)


  1. Alexander Campbell, The Christian Baptist, Vol. 1, March 1, 1824, pp.148-49

  • Context:

Enthusiasm flourishes, blooms under the popular systems. This man was regenerated when asleep, by a vision of the night. That man heard a voice in the woods, saying, "Your sins be forgiven you." A third saw his Saviour descending to the tops of the trees at noon day. A thousand form a band, and sit up all night to take heaven by surprise. Ten thousand are waiting in anxiety for a power from on high to descend upon their souls; they frequent meetings for the purpose of obtaining this power—Another class, removed so far south, by special illumination, have discovered that there is no hell.

  • Source text: Alexander Campbell, The Christian Baptist, 1:50 off-site

Critical website's source quote
It seemed as if my mind ... was struck motionless, as well as into nothing, before the awful and glorious majesty of the Great Jehovah. He then spake ... He also told me, that every denomination of professing christians had become extremely corrupt....

Critical website's source(s)


  1. Asa Wild, 1823, Wayne Sentinel, October 22, 1823

  • Context:

Revelation, having in the first place presented me with a very glorious Vision, in which I saw the same things:

In the first place I observe that my mind had been brought into the most profound stillness, and awe; realizing in a remarkable manner the majesty, greatness and glory, of that Being before whom all nations are as the drop of the bucket. It seemed as if my mind, though active in its very nature, had lost all its activity, and was struck motionless, as well as into nothing, before the awful and glorious majesty of the Great Jehovah. He then spake to the following ourport; and in such a manner as I could not describe if I should attempt. -- He told me that the Millennium state of the world is about to take place; that in seven years literally, there would scarce a sinner be found on earth; that the earth itself, as well as the souls and bodies of its inhabitants, should be redeemed, as before the fall, and become as the garden of Eden. He told me that all of the most dreadful and terrible judgments spoken in the blessed scriptures were to be executed within that time, that more than two thirds of the inhabitants of the world would be destroyed by these judgments; some of which are the following -- wars, massacres, famine, pestilence, earthquakes, civil, political and ecclesiastical commotions; and above all, various and dreadful judgments executed immediately by God, through the instrumentality of the Ministers of the Millennial dispensation which is to exceed in glory every other dispensation; a short description of which may be seen in the last chapter of Isaiah, and in other places. He also told me, that every denomination of professing christians had become extremely corrupt; many of which had never had any true faith at all; but are guided only by depraved reason, refusing the teaching of the spirit [illegible lines]... which alone can teach us the true meaning [illegible lines]... He told me further, that he had raised up, and was now raising up, that class of persons signified by the angel mentioned by the Revelator XIV. 6, 7, which flew in the midst of heaven;

  • Source text: "Remarkable Vision and Revelation: as seen and received by Asa Wild, of Amsterdam, (N. Y.)," Wayne Sentinel, October 22, 1823. off-site

Critical website's source quote
Dissatisfied with the religions he had tried, Chamberlin prayed for further guidance, and in 1816, according to his account, "the Lord revealed to me in a vision of the night an angel," whom Chamberlin asked about the right way. The angel told him that the churches were corrupt and that God would soon raise up an apostolic church. Chamberlin printed up an account of his visions and was still distributing them and looking for the apostolic church when he stopped in Palmyra.

Critical website's source(s)


  1. Solomon Chamberlain, 1816 An Account by LDS Historian Richard Bushman, quoted in Meridian Magazine

  • Note: The phrase "the Lord revealed to me in a vision of the night an angel" does not appear in Chamberlain's autobiography.
  • Context:

About the year 1814 or 1815, the Reformed Methodists broke off from the Episcopal Methodists. I was in hope that they were right. [This last sentence was crossed out in the original manuscript.] I found them to be more right than the Episcopal, and joined them. About this time the Lord showed me in a vision, that there were no people on the earth that were right, and that faith was gone from the earth, excepting a few and that all churches were corrupt. I further saw in vision, that he would soon raise up a church, that would be after the Apostolic Order, that there would be in it the same powers, and gifts that were in the days of Christ, and that I should live to see the day, and that there would a book come forth, like unto the Bible and the people would [be] guided by it, as well as the Bible. This was in the year of 1816. I then believed in gifts and miracles as the Latter-day Saints do, for which I was much persecuted and called deluded. This vision I received from an angel or spirit from the eternal world that told me these things.

  • Source text: Autobiography of Solomon Chamberlain off-site

Critical website's source quote
OBITUARY.

DIED on the 7th of May last, James G. Marsh, second son of Thomas B. Marsh, aged 14 years, 11 months and seven days. From early infancy he manifested a love and reverence towards his Heavenly Father, while his parents diligently taught him the first principles of the gospel of Jesus Christ. And having a thirst for knowledge and a love of good principles, he eagerly embraced the gospel, and was baptized into the Church of Jesus Christ of latter day saints, early in the spring of 1832, being between eight and nine years of age. His great love of knowledge led him to take hold of every opportunity to read the most useful books, and as he was a lover of the gospel, he made himself well acquainted with the sacred writings, and even at this early age, he had become well skilled in profane as well as sacred history.

It seems that the Lord had respect unto this lover of righteousness, for when he was but about nine years of age, he had a remarkable vision, in which he talked with the Father and many of the ancient prophets face to face, and beheld the Son of God coming in his glory.

Critical website's source(s)


  1. James G. Marsh obituary, Elder's Journal Vol.1, No.3, p.48

  • Context:

OBITUARY. DIED on the 7th of May last, James G. Marsh, second son of Thomas B. Marsh, aged 14 years, 11 months and seven days. From early infancy he manifested a love and reverence towards his heavenly Father, while his parents diligently taught him the first principles of the gospel of Jesus Christ. And having a thirst for knowledge and a love of good principles, he eagerly embraced the gospel, and was baptized into the Church of Jesus Christ of latter day saints, early in the spring of 1832, being between eight and nine years of age. His great love of knowledge led him to take hold of every opportunity to read the most useful books, and as he was a lover of the gospel, he made himself well acquainted with the sacred writings, and even at this early age, he had become well skilled in profane as well as sacred history.

It seems that the Lord had respect unto this lover of righteousness, for when he was but about nine years of age, he had a remarkable vision, in which he talked with the Father and many of the ancient prophets face to face, and beheld the Son of God coming in his glory.


He said that the Lord showed him his own name written in the book of life in the mansions of Celestial glory, and he saw his own mansion there. And the Lord informed him that the righteous did not die, but fell asleep to rise again in the resurrection of the just, although the world call it death; and to show him that there is no bitterness in the death of the righteous, he was permitted to see in the vision, the departure of a young sister in the church who was the daughter of br. Hezekiah Peck, who was then living a neighbor to him, but she died shortly after he had the vision. And he said that he saw angels conduct her spirit to the celestial paradise. He saw bloody wars among all people accompanied with earthquakes, pestilences and famines. And he saw all the cities of the nations crumble and fall to rise no more.

He saw the church of Christ make ready to ascend on high and when they were ready, Zion from above hove in sight, accompanied by the Lord and all the holy prophets. The church on beholding them, arose triumphantly and met them in the expanse above. These are a few of the things which he related of his vision to his parents, suffice it to say, he saw the beginning and end of all things, and he never after appeared to be afraid of death. During his illness, which lasted but four days, he constantly manifested a desire to depart and be with the Lord. At one time he said, "If it is the will of God to take me, I do not wish to stay." On seeing his parents exceedingly anxious to save him, he said, "I do not wish to live only for the sake of my father and mother." At another time, he said he would not turn his hand over to live, and besought his parents to let him pray the Lord to take him. He prayed much, and wanted all the Elders to pray with him, as often as they came in. A few minutes before he died, a number of boys who had been his playmates came in to see him; he seemed glad to see them and said to them, "Good evening, boys, I shall never see you again in time, so farewell, be good boys and serve the Lord." When his father saw that, he prayed the Lord to take him, he said, "My son, are you confident that if you die now your spirit will rest in the celestial paradise?" he answered, "yes, sir." "Then," said his father, "my son, go in peace and expect to come forth at the resurrection of the just where you and I will again strike hands." He again answered, "Yes, sir, I will," and immediately he fell asleep without a struggle or a groan. Thus ends the life of this dear youth,

Critical website's source quote
21. "Some few days after I had this vision, I happened to be in company with one of the Methodist preachers, who was very active in the before mentioned religious excitement; and, conversing with him on the subject of religion, I took occasion to give him an account of the vision which I had had. I was greatly surprised at his behavior; he treated my communication not only lightly, but with great contempt, saying it was all of the devil, that there were no such things as visions or revelations in these days; that all such things had ceased with the apostles, and that there would never be any more of them.



22. "I soon found, however, that my telling the story had excited a great deal of prejudice against me among professors of religion, and was the cause of great persecution, which continued to increase; and though I was an obscure boy, only between fourteen and fifteen years of age, and my circumstances in life such as to make a boy of no consequence in the world, yet men of high standing would take notice sufficient to excite the public mind against me, and create a bitter persecution; and this was common among all the sects-all united to persecute me.

23. "It caused me serious reflection then, and often has since, how very strange it was that an obscure boy, of a little over fourteen years of age, and one, too, who was doomed to the necessity of obtaining a scanty maintenance by his daily labor, should be thought a character of sufficient importance to attract the attention of the great ones of the most popular sects of the day, and in a manner to create in them a spirit of the most bitter persecution and reviling. But strange or not, so it was, and it was often the cause of great sorrow to myself."

Critical website's source(s)


  1. Joseph Smith

Critical website's source quote
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.

Critical website's source(s)


  1. Joseph's 1832 account

  • Note: This text is not from Joseph's 1832 account.
  • Context:

My object in going to inquire 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.

  • Source text: Joseph Smith History 18.

Critical website's source quote
I cannot remember the time when I have not heard the story, concerning the coming of the Father and the Son to the Prophet Joseph Smith.



I am concerned however with one item which has recently been called to my attention on this matter. There appears to be going about our communities some writing to the effect that the Prophet Joseph Smith evolved his doctrine from what might have been a vision, in which he is supposed to have said that he saw an angel, instead of the Father and the Son. According to this theory, by the time he was inspired to write the occurrence in 1838, he had come to the conclusion that there were two beings.

This rather shocked me. I can see no reason why the Prophet, with his brilliant mind, would have failed to remember in sharp relief every detail of that eventful day. I can remember quite vividly that in 1915 I had a mere dream, and while the dream was prophetic in nature, it was not startling. It has been long since fulfilled, but I can remember every detail of it as sharply and clearly as though it had happened yesterday. How them could any man conceive that the Prophet, receiving such a vision as he received, would not remember it and would fail to write it clearly, distinctly, and accurately?

Critical website's source(s)


  1. S. Dilworth Young, Improvement Era, June 1957, p 436

  • Context:

I cannot remember the time when I have not heard the story, quoted by Brother Bennion, concerning the coming of the Father and the Son to the Prophet Joseph Smith. I am convinced as I grow older and become proportionately wiser that if boys and girls in our Church could keep that story uppermost in their hearts, believing it, having a testimony of it, much of the ills of our youth which President Richards so graphically portrayed this morning would not be.

I am concerned however with one item which has recently been called to my attention on this matter. There appears to be going about our communities some writing to the effect that the Prophet Joseph Smith evolved his doctrine from what might have been a vision, in which he is supposed to have said that he saw an angel, instead of the Father and Son. According to this theory, by the time he was inspired to write the occurrence in 1838, he had come to the conclusion that there were two Beings.

This rather shocked me. I can see no reason why the Prophet, with his brilliant mind, would have failed to remember in sharp relief every detail of that eventful day. I can remember quite vividly that in 1915 I had a mere dream, and while the dream was prophetic in its nature, it was not startling. It has been long since fulfilled, but I can remember every detail of it as sharply and clearly as though it had happened yesterday. How then could any man conceive that the Prophet, receiving such a vision as he received, would not remember it and would fail to write it clearly, distinctly, and accurately?


It seems to me, too, that had he evolved such a thing, his enemies would have used it against him. In 1838 there was a crisis in the Church. Men were falling away. It was at that time that Oliver Cowdery became disaffected. If any man in this Church had ever heard that story of the first vision, Oliver Cowdery must have heard it. Yet his reasons for disaffection were never given as an evolution of the first vision. Other men of that time did not use it as their excuse. In 1844 when the final conspiracy was concocted to murder Joseph Smith, the reasons given by those men were not discrepancies in his story of the first vision, but rather other matters far removed from it.

When Joseph wrote the story in 1838, men and women who had known him ever since he had started this work took the story in their stride, that is, it was common enough knowledge from the beginning that no one took an exception to it. Everybody knew it; everybody had heard it; not exactly in the words in which he wrote it—I believe no man will speak extemporaneously in the same manner that he will write something—but essentially the same, and when the Saints read it, it merely confirmed what they had heard over and over again.

  • Source text: S. Dilworth Young, Improvement Era, June 1957, 436. off-site

Critical website's source quote
In 1822 and 1823, the people in our neighborhood were very much stirred up with regard to religious matters by the preaching of a Mr. [George] Lane, an elder of the Methodist Church.....The consequences [of this growing religious revival] was that my mother, my brothers Hyrum and Samuel, older than I, joined the Presbyterian Church. Joseph, then being about seventeen years of age [1823], had become seriously inclined, although not 'brought out', as the phrase was, began to reflect and inquire, which of all these sects was right.....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 knowledge. While engaging in prayer a light appeared in the heavens, and descended until it rested upon the trees where he was.....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 unto him; that his sins were forgiven, etc.....he.....told us.....that the angel had also given him a sort account of the inhabitants who formerly resided upon this continent, a full history of whom he said was engraved on some plates which were hidden, and which the angel promised to show him.....

Critical website's source(s)


  1. William Smith

  • Context:

In 1822 and 1823, the people in our neighborhood were very much stirred up with regard to religious matters by the preaching of a Mr. [George] Lane, an elder of the Methodist Church, and celebrated throughout the country as a "great revival preacher."

My mother, who was a very pious woman and much interested in the welfare of her children, both here and hereafter, made use of every means which her parental love could suggest, to get us engaged in seeking for our souls' salvation, or (as the term then was) "in getting religion." She prevailed on us to attend the meetings, and almost the whole family became interested in the matter, and seekers after truth. I attended the mettings with the rest, but being quite young and inconsiderate, did not take so much interest in the matter as the older ones did. This extraordinary excitement prevailed not only in our neighborhood but throughout the whole country. Great numbers were converted. It extended from teh Mehtodists to the Baptist, from them to the Presbyterians; and so on until finally, almost all the sects became engaged in it; and it became quite the fashion to "get religion." My mother continued her importunities and exertions to interest us in the importance of seeking fo rthe salvation of our immortal souls, until almost all of the family became either converted or seriously inclined.

After the excitement had subsided, in a measure, each sect began to beat up for volunteers; each one saying, "We are right," "Come and join us," "Walk with us and we will do you good," etc.The consequence was that my mother, my brothers Hyrum and Samuel, older than I, joined the Presbyterian Church. Joseph, then being about seventeen years of age, had become seriously inclined, although not "brought out", as the phrase was, began to reflect and inquire, which of all these sects was right.Each one said that it was right; which he knew could not be the case; and the question then was which one of the whole taught the true gospel of Jesus Christ, and made known the plan of salvation. If he went to one he was told they were right, and all others were wrong. If to another, the same was heard from them. Each professed to be the true church. This did not satisfy him, as he was aware that there would be but one way of entering into the Kingdom of Heaven, and that there was but one "straight and narrow path," etc. 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 knowledge. While engaging 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 unto him; that his sins were forgiven, etc. A more elaborate and accurate description of his vision, however, will be found in his own history.

The next day I was at work in the field together with Joseph and my eldest brother Alvin. Joseph looked pale and unwell, so that Alvin told him if he was sick he need not work; he then went and sat down by the fence, when the angel again appeared to him, and told him to call his father's house together and communicate to them the visions he had received, which he had not yet told to any one; and promised him that if he would do so, they would believe it. He accordingly asked us to come to the house, as he had something to tell us. After we were all gathered, he arose and told us how the angel appeared to him; what he had told him as written above; and that the angel had also given him a short account of the inhabitants who formerly resided upon this continent, a full history of whom he said was engraved on some plates which were hidden, and which the angel promised to show him.

  • Source text: "William Smith, On Mormonism, 1883," in Early Mormon Documents (ed. Dan Vogel) 1:494-5.

Critical website's source quote
One evening we were sitting till quite late conversing upon the subject of the diversity of churches that had risen up in the world and the many thousand opinions in existence as to the truth contained in scripture......After we ceased conversation he [Joseph] went to bed and was pondering in his mind which of the churches were the true way but he had not laid there long till he saw a bright light enter the room where he lay. He looked up and saw an angel of the Lord standing by him. The angel spoke, I perceive that you are enquiring in your mind which is the true church. There is not a true church on earth.

Critical website's source(s)


  1. Lucy Mack Smith

  • Context:

This After we ceased conversation he went to bed <and was pondering in his mind which of the churches were the true one> and but he had not laid there long till <he saw> a bright <light> entered the room where he lay he looked up and saw an angel of the Lord stood <standing> by him. The angel spoke[:] I perceive that you are enquiring in your mind which is the true church[.] there is not a true church on Earth[,] No not one[,] Nor <and> has not been since Peter took the Keys <of the Melchesidec priesthood after the order of God> into the Kingdom of Heaven[.] The churches that are now upon the Earth are all man made churches. Joseph there is a record for you and you must get it one day get it There is a record for you and Joseph when you have learned to keep the commandments of God but you cannot get it untill [until] you learn to keep the commandments of God[.] <For it is not to get gain> But is is to bring forth that light and intelligence which has been long lost in the Earth[.] Now Joseph beware <or> when you go to get the plates your mind will be filled with darkness and all maner [manner] of evil will rush into your mind To keep <prevent> you from keeping the commandments of God <that you may not succe[e]d in doing his work> and you must tell your father of this for he will believe every word you say[.] the record is on a side hill on the Hill of cumorah 3 miles from this place...

  • Source text: "Lucy Smith History, 1845," in Early Mormon Documents (ed. Dan Vogel), 1:289-290.

Critical website's source quote
There was in the place where we lived an unusual excitement on the subject of religions. It commenced with the Methodist, but soon became general among all the sects in that region of the country... . great multitudes united themselves to the different religious parties, which created no small stir ... Some were contending for the Methodist faith, some for the Presbyterian, and some for the Baptist

Critical website's source(s)


  1. Joseph Smith

Critical website's source quote
the first pillar of our faith

Critical website's source(s)


  1. Howard W. Hunter, The Ensign, September 1994, p. 54

  • Context:

As I have contemplated the foundation laid by the early Saints, I have reviewed with reverence the sacrifice and devotion which they showed for the cause of truth. The pillars of their faith are still resident with us as a people today. We, like the early Saints, believe and testify, as the first pillar of our faith, that the Prophet Joseph Smith did indeed see the Father and the Son in the grove of trees in the spring of 1820. Said he, “I had actually seen a light, and in the midst of that light I saw two Personages, and they did in reality speak to me” (JS—H 1:25). To those who questioned his experience, Joseph wrote, “Why persecute me for telling the truth? I have actually seen a vision; and … why does the world think to make me deny what I have actually seen? For I had seen a vision; I knew it, and I knew that God knew it, and I could not deny it”

  • Source text: Howard W. Hunter, "The Pillars of Our Faith," Ensign (September 1994) off-site

Critical website's source quote
bedrock theology to the Church

Critical website's source(s)


  1. Ezra Taft Benson, Teachings of Ezra Taft Benson, p. 101

Critical website's source quote
we all wept with one accord our irretrievable loss and it seemed as though we could not be comforted because he was not. About that time there was a great revival in religion and the whole neighborhood was very much aroused to the subject and we among the rest flocked to the meeting house to see if their [sic] was a word of comfort for us that might relieve our overcharged feelings

Critical website's source(s)


  1. Lucy Mack Smith

Critical website's source quote
the all important information, if a Supreme being did exist, to have an assurance that he was accepted of him.

Critical website's source(s)


  1. LDS periodical Messenger and Advocate, Kirtland, Ohio, Feb. 1835

  • Context:

But if others were not benefited, our brother was urged forward and strengthened in the determination to know for himself of the certainty and reality of pure and holy religion.—And it is only necessary for me to say, that while this excitement continued, he continued to call upon the Lord in secret for a full manifestation of divine approbation, and for, to him, the all important information, if a Supreme being did exist, to have an assurance that he was accepted of him. This, most assuredly, was correct—it was right. The Lord has said, long since, and his word remains steadfast, that for him who knocks it shall be opened, & whosoever will, may come and partake of the waters of life freely.

Critical website's source quote
It is well-known that the truth or falsity of a story lies mainly in the details. There are some details connected with the vision given to Joseph Smith the Prophet, which may appear to many as insignificant, and by many members of the Church are overlooked, yet they are of vital and of overwhelming importance.

Critical website's source(s)


  1. Joseph Fielding Smith, Answers to Gospel Questions, vol III ch 14, page 56.