Joseph Smith's First Vision/Brigham Young

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Brigham Young and Joseph Smith's First Vision

Summary: It is claimed either that Brigham never taught about the First Vision, or that he taught that the Lord did not appear to Joseph. Both claims are false.

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Question: What is Brigham Young claimed to have said that leads one to doubt that he denied the First Vision?

Brigham stated that "The Lord did not come with the armies of heaven..."

It is claimed that President Brigham Young taught in an 1855 sermon that the Lord did not appear to Joseph Smith and forbid him from joining any of the religious denominations of his day, and that it was an "angel" who delivered this message instead. [1]

Note that the same critics also claim that Brigham Young never spoke about the First Vision at all:

An edited version of the 1855 sermon text—as it is presented by Church critics—reads as follows:

"The Lord did not come with the armies of heaven...But He did send His angel to...Joseph Smith Jun[ior]...and informed him that he should not join any of the religious sects of the day."[2]

Brigham actually said "The Lord did not come with the armies of heaven...with aught else than the truth of heaven..."

A complete quotation of the relevant 1855 sermon text reads as follows (bolded words indicate anti-Mormon usage):

"the 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 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."

Brigham actually used several phrases from Joseph's published First Vision account in this sermon

The portion of the second paragraph that critics focus on in their argumentation contains distinct themes found in the official, previously-published history of Joseph Smith. It is, therefore, necessary to exvaluate President's Young's remarks in that light. Consider the following comparison of texts -

  • BRIGHAM YOUNG (1855 sermon): "informed him that he should not join any of the religious sects of the day, for they were all wrong."
  • JOSEPH SMITH (1842 published First Vision text): "I was answered that I must join none of them, for they were all wrong."
  • BRIGHAM YOUNG (1855 sermon): "they were following the precepts of men."
  • JOSEPH SMITH (1842 published First Vision text): "they teach for doctrine the commandments of men."
  • BRIGHAM YOUNG (1855 sermon): "instead of the Lord Jesus."
  • JOSEPH SMITH (1842 published First Vision text): "they draw near to me with their lips, but their hearts are far from me" [Jesus Christ speaking].

Since President Young was obviously drawing his ideas from the official, published First Vision text it is reasonable to propose that he was referring to a completely different event after the comma that follows the word "Revelator" . . . while still referring to the "He" at the beginning of the sentence. Hence, "He" (the Lord) send His angel (Moroni) to Joseph Smith but "He" also—ON A DIFFERENT OCCASION—told Joseph Smith not to join any of the churches.

It should be noted that this sermon was not primarily about the foundational events of Mormonism, but about the United States government and its treatment of the Saints. President Young's remarks on foundational events were incidental, not central, to his message. It should also be pointed out that President Young did not personally deliver this sermon, but had Thomas Bullock read it to the audience which had assembled in the Salt Lake City tabernacle. Bullock served as a scribe on the Joseph Smith history project between 1845 and 1856. It is likely, therefore, that when Bullock delivered President Young's sermon in 1855 he was aware of the First Vision accounts found within the previously-published Joseph Smith history.

The First Vision story had been published nine times before Brigham gave this sermon

It should also be remembered that long before President Brigham Young's 1855 sermon was delivered in Salt Lake City his subordinates in the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles had published the First Vision story on nine different occasions: (Orson Pratt - 1840, 1850, 1851); (Orson Hyde - 1842); (John E. Page - 1844); (John Taylor - 1850); (Lorenzo Snow - 1850); (Franklin D. Richards - 1851, 1852). It is doubtful that President Young would have remained ignorant of these publications and their content. In fact, it is known that Elder Lorenzo Snow wrote to President Young on 1 November 1850 and mentioned explicitly that his publication contained accounts of "visions of Joseph" - including the First Vision story.[3]

The charge that President Brigham Young said an angel inaugurated the last dispensation instead of Deity cannot be supported. Evidence suggests that President Young's 1855 sermon is closely paraphrasing distinct First Vision story elements that were publicly available to all of the Saints in 1842.


Juncker (1994): "Unknown to many, the early church fathers often referred to Jesus as an Angel....in antiquity the word 'angel' meant 'messenger.'"

Günther Juncker (at the time of this writing), Master of Divinity candidate at Trinity Evangelical Divinity School:

Unknown to many, the early church fathers often referred to Jesus as an Angel. And they gave him this appellation long before the (alleged) distortions of Constantine, the Controversies, the Councils, and the Creeds.... the word Angel has a prima facie claim to being a primitive, if not an apostolic, Christological title. Before pronouncing judgement on the Fathers, men who were often quite close to first-century apostles and eyewitnesses, we may recall that in antiquity the word "angel" had a broader semantic range than at present. When we think of angels, we immediately think of super-human, bodiless spirits, all of whom were created and some of whom fell with Satan in his rebellion. But in antiquity the word “angel” meant “messenger.” It was primarily a functional (as opposed to an ontological) description and, thus, could refer to messengers who were human, angelic, or divine (the best known of the latter being Hermes, “the messenger god”). Likewise in Scripture, in both the OT and the NT, the term angel refers to human as well as to angelic messengers.[4]


Question: Is there anything wrong with early Church leaders using the term "angel" to refer to Jesus Christ?

The word translated "messenger" is the Hebrew mal'ak which can also be translated as "an angel"

What about the term "angel"? Is there anything wrong with Brigham Young or others using that term to refer to Jesus Christ? Malachi spoke of the Lord as the "messenger of the covenant whom ye delight in." (Mal.3:1) The word translated "messenger" is the Hebrew mal'ak which can also be translated as "an angel."[5] The Septugint of Isaiah 9:6, traditionally thought by Christians to refer to Christ speaks of the "messenger of great counsel." This term for Jesus was frequently used by early Christians. Eusebius stated that Christ "was the first and only begotten of God; the commander-in-chief of the spiritual and immortal host of heaven; the angel of mighty counsel; the agent of the ineffable purpose of the Father." [6] The Martyrdom and Ascension of Isaiah (an apocryphal work, thought to have been written before the fourth century states that when Christ descended to earth he "made himself like the angels of the air, that he was like one of them." [7] The Epistula Apostolorum (another important early Christian work, thought to have been written by 2nd Century Christians quotes the resurrected Jesus as saying,"I became like an angel to the angels...I myself was a servant for myself, and in the form of the image of an angel; so will I do after I have gone to my Father." [8] At least the use of the term "angel" in Christianity does not seem unknown.

Joseph Smith said that after his resurrection, Jesus Christ "appeared as an angel to His disciples."

How did Joseph Smith understand the term "angel"? One revelation calls Jesus Christ "the messenger of salvation" (D&C 93:8) Another states,"For in the Beginning was the Word, even the Son, who is made flesh, and sent unto us by the will of the Father." (JST John 1:16). The Father sends Jesus because he is the angel of salvation. Joseph Smith himself taught that angels of God are resurrected beings who have bodies of flesh and bone. [9] "Jesus Christ became a ministering spirit (while his body was lying in the supulchre) to the spirits in prison...After His resurrection He appeared as an angel to His disciples." [10] In Mormon theology the term "angel" has a unique doctrinal significance.

Since Joseph Smith frequently taught this doctrine, is it any wonder that those who knew him best (Brigham Young, Orson Pratt, Heber C. Kimball, George A. Smith, etc.), would frequently refer to the Lord's visit to Joseph Smith as the visit of an angel (i.e. a resurrected personage of flesh and bone)?


Question: Did Brigham Young confirm or expound on Joseph Smith’s first vision?

Milton V. Backman, “I Have a Question: Did Brigham Young confirm or expound on Joseph Smith’s first vision?,” Ensign, Apr. 1992, 59:

President Young’s conviction of the divine calling of Joseph Smith included an unwavering acceptance of Joseph’s testimony regarding the First Vision. In 1842, Joseph Smith published two accounts of his 1820 theophany in the Times and Seasons—one he had written and included earlier in the Wentworth Letter, and the other a more extended history that appeared in serial form. This latter account (the account which appears in the current edition of the Pearl of Great Price) was reprinted in the Deseret News, the Millennial Star, and the first editions of the Pearl of Great Price during the presidency of Brigham Young. That President Young was well acquainted with this history is evident by the fact that he periodically cited the work in his sermons and writings.[11] —(Click here to continue)


Question: When and how often did Brigham Young refer to elements of Joseph Smith's First Vision in his discourses?

It cannot be denied that Brigham Young was aware of the official version of the First Vision as published by Joseph Smith in Nauvoo, Illinois

It has been claimed that "Brigham Young never once mentioned the First Vision of God the Father and his Son in his 30 years of preaching as President of the Church." Note that the same critics also claim that Brigham Young taught only that an angel came: a strange claim to make while insisting that Brigham never spoke of the First Vision at all.

It cannot be denied that Brigham Young was aware of the official version of the First Vision as published by Joseph Smith in Nauvoo, Illinois. And it is almost beyond comprehension to believe that President Young was not aware of numerous First Vision story recitals (both in print and over the pulpit) by high Church authorities such as Orson Pratt, Lorenzo Snow, John E. Page, George Q. Cannon, Orson Hyde, John Taylor, Franklin D. Richards, and George A. Smith.

First Vision elements and other revelatory claims for Joseph in Brigham Young's addresses

  • JS called at fourteen[12]
  • JS called as a youth[13]
  • Revival or Reformation[14]
  • All churches wrong; Don’t join any church[15]
  • Two personages[16]
  • Moroni and Book of Mormon[17]
  • Priesthood restored[18]

Chronological mentions of First Vision and other visitations by Brigham Young

This charge is not historically accurate. It can be plainly seen in the information provided below that Brigham Young was aware of the First Vision story during his tenure as President of the Church and not only shared it with non-Mormons in written form but also spoke to the Saints about it over the pulpit.

1832

  • Brigham Young September 1832, declared that he “received the sure testimony, by the spirit of prophecy, that he [Joseph Smith] was all that any man could believe him to be, as a true Prophet.”[19]

1835–36

  • Around 9 August 1835 Joseph Young (Brigham Young’s brother) was serving as a missionary with Burr Riggs and they were teaching the First Vision story.[20] In the Summer of 1836 Joseph Young and Brigham Young were serving together as missionaries.[21]

1838

  • Brigham Young, 22 December 1838:
I left Kirtland in consequence of the fury of the mob … who threatened to destroy me because I would proclaim, publicly and privately, that I knew, by the power of the Holy Ghost, that Joseph Smith was a Prophet of the Most High God.[22]

1841

  • “On the 4th June I started for home, in company with Elders Young and Taylor.—Elder O. Pratt remained in New York to republish the book he had printed in Edinburgh, Scotland, giving a history of the coming forth of the Book of Mormon, and of which he intended to publish 5,000 copies…. [78] Elder Orson Pratt arrived here this week…”[23]

1845

  • Brigham Young, June 25, 1845: we received the priesthood from God through Joseph Smith…. The Twelve Apostles who received the priesthood from Joseph[24]

1847

  • Brigham Young, D&C 136:37 (January 14, 1847): … Joseph Smith, whom I did call upon by mine angels, my ministering servants, and by mine own voice out of the heavens, to bring forth my work.[25]
  • Brigham Young, January 17, 1847: Dr. Richards read ‘The Word and Will of the Lord’ [D&C 136:] and all present voted unanimously to receive it. I addressed the assembly showing that the Church had been led by revelation just as much since the death of Joseph Smith as before, and that he was as great and good a man, and as great a Prophet as ever lived upon the earth, Jesus excepted. Joseph received his apostleship from Peter and his brethren[26]
  • Brigham Young
When Brother Joseph received the priesthood he did not receive all at once but he was a prophet, seer and revelator before he received the fullness of the priesthood and keys of the kingdom. He first received the Aaronic Priesthood and was ordained under the hands of John the Baptist. He then had not power to lay on hands to confirm the church but afterwards he received the Patriarchal or Melchizedek Priesthood from under the hands of Peter, James and John, who were of the Twelve apostles and were the presidency when the other apostles were absent.[27]

1848

  • Brigham Young wrote, late December 1848: “Elder Orson Pratt published a series of pamphlets on the first principles, viz., Divine Authority, or the Question, Was Joseph Smith Sent of God…. Kingdom of God parts 1 & 2…. Also reprinted his pamphlet entitled Remarkable Visions 16 pages… All of which were published in Liverpool, England”....[28]

1850

  • Brigham Young, June 23, 1850, Bowery: “[sin and darkness] makes it necessary for the Lord to speak from the heavens, send his angels to converse with men, and cause his servants to testify of the things of God”[29]
  • On 1 November 1850 Lorenzo Snow wrote a letter to Brigham Young and informed him that he had produced a tract called The Voice of Joseph which included information on “visions of Joseph Smith.” This tract talks about the Prophet’s First Vision experience. [30]

1853

  • Brigham Young 19 June 1853:
All persons who are acquainted with this kingdom, who knew Joseph Smith from his boyhood, from the time the Lord revealed to him where the plates containing the matter in the Book of Mormon were deposited, from the time the first revelation was given to him, and as far back as he was known, in anywise whatever, as a person professing to have received a visitation from heaven—all must know that as much priestcraft as was then within the circle of the knowledge of Joseph Smith, jun., he had to bear on his back, and to lift from time to time. On the other hand, as his name spread abroad, and the principles of the Gospel began to be more extensively taught, in the same proportion he had more to bear. The Lord began to raise him up, and endow him with wisdom and power that astonished both his friends and his foes.[31]
  • Brigham Young 24 July 1853:
the Book of Mormon is true, that Joseph Smith was a true Prophet of the Lord, that an angel from heaven administered to him, that the Latter-day Saints have got the true Gospel, that John the Baptist came to Joseph Smith and committed to him the keys of the Aaronic Priesthood; and that Peter, James, and John also came to him, and gave him the keys of the Melchisedek Priesthood....[32]

1854

  • The Lucy Mack Smith autobiography called Biographical Sketches became available in Utah. Since Brigham Young protested vigorously against some of this book’s content he was more than likely aware of the 1838 Church history First Vision material printed within it. [33]
  • Brigham Young, March 31, 1854:
“….After the administration of baptism, we believe in laying hands upon the candidate for his confirmation as a member of the Church, and for his reception of the Holy Ghost; and we believe that these, and all other ordinances pertaining to salvation, should be administered by persons actually clothed with the priesthood, as again restored to the earth through the ministration of angels to the Prophet JOSEPH SMITH…. Trusting that this reply, though brief, will be satisfactory on the points of your inquiry” I remain, respectfully, your obedient servant, BRIGHAM YOUNG, [34]

1855

  • Brigham Young, (Feb 18, 1855):
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 [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. No sooner was this made known, and published abroad, and people began to listen and obey the heavenly summons, than opposition began to rage, and the people, even in this favored land, began to persecute their neighbors and friends for entertaining religious opinions differing from their own.[35]
  • [NOTE: compare the above with this by George Q. Cannon in 1889:
“But you may ask, ‘How shall I know concerning this? Shall I expect the Lord Himself to come, or His Son Jesus, or send a holy angel to me?’ In reply, we say, No; do not look for such things. This is not the Lord’s way of dealing with His children. It is true, the Father and the Son and angels visited the Prophet Joseph. This was necessary. He was a chosen instrument to accomplish a great work, and to do this he was visited in this manner, so that through him knowledge that had long been lost might be restored”[36] (308b)

1857

On 13 August 1857 Brigham Young, Heber C. Kimball, Daniel H. Wells, John Taylor, Willard Richards, and Wilford Woodruff placed several publications in the southeast cornerstone of the Salt Lake Temple that contained First Vision accounts. They were:
  • The Pearl of Great Price
  • Lorenzo Snow, The Voice of Joseph
  • Orson Pratt, (various tracts)
  • Franklin D. Richards, Compendium
  • John Jaques, Catechism for Children
  • Millennial Star, vol. 14 supplement
  • Millennial Star, vol. 3[37]

1858

  • On 20 January 1858 apostles Wilford Woodruff and George A. Smith appended a statement to the published Church history stating that “since the death of the Prophet Joseph, the history has been carefully revised under the strict inspection of President Brigham Young, and approved of by him.” This history contains the 1838 First Vision account.[38]

1859

  • In the Tabernacle in Salt Lake City on 1 September 1859 Brigham Young referred to Joseph Smith’s published 1838 First Vision account. He asked, “[H]ave I yet lived to the state of perfection that I can commune in person with the Father and the Son at my will and pleasure? No . . . . [three sentences later] Joseph Smith in his youth had revelations from God. He saw and understood for himself. Are you acquainted with his life? You can read the history of it. I was acquainted with him during many years. He had heavenly visions; angels administered to him. The vision of his mind was opened to see and understand heavenly things. He revealed the will of the Lord to the people, and yet but few were really acquainted with brother Joseph.” [39]

1860

  • Brigham Young 3 June 1860
The Lord has led this people from the beginning. From the day that Joseph obtained the plates, and previous to that time, the Lord dictated him. He directed him day by day and hour by hour.[40]

1861

  • In the Tabernacle in Salt Lake City on 3 March 1861 Brigham Young said: “The Lord chose Joseph Smith, called upon him at fourteen years of age, gave him visions, and led him along, guided and directed him in his obscurity until he brought forth the plates and translated them, and Martin Harris was prevailed upon to sustain the printing of the Book of Mormon. All this was done in the depths of poverty, obscurity, and weakness."[41]
  • Brigham Young 6 April 1861:
The Book of Mormon was translated near where we [BY and HCK] then resided, as we might say, in our own neighbourhood. It was translated about as far from where brother Kimball then lived as it is from here to Little Cottonwood; and where Joseph first discovered the plates was about as far from where I then lived as it is from here to Provo. Here we would have considered the discoverer of those plates and the translator of the Book of Mormon as [p.2] one of our neighbours. We are in the habit here of travelling more frequently and further than we were there. From the time that Joseph had his first revelation, in the neighbourhood where brother Kimball and I then lived, appears but a few days. Since then this people have passed through, experienced, and learned a great deal.[42]
  • Brigham Young, April 7, 1861:
We are not able to print a book for want of paper. Now we are prepared to go to work and make our own paper. As I have remarked, we have most excellent machinery; we also have good paper-makers; and what hinders our making the best of paper, and all the paper we want to use? Then we can print, in book form, the History of Joseph Smith, and do it in a respectable manner. Then we can print the Church History for ourselves and for the world, and every book we need.[43]

1864

  • On 1 September 1864 Brigham Young signed and dated a copy of the Pearl of Great Price and donated it to Harvard university. This volume contains Joseph Smith’s 1838 First Vision account.[44]
  • Brigham Young 4 June 1864:
The Lord had not spoken to the inhabitants of this earth for a long time, until He spoke to Joseph Smith, committed to him the plates on which the Book of Mormon was engraved, and gave him a Urim and Thummim to translate a portion of them, and told him to print the Book of Mormon, which he did, and sent it to the world, according to the word of the Lord….. it was first organized on the 6th of April, 1830. This was a slow business, but at last he organized the Church, for the Lord had revealed to him the Aaronic priesthood upon which the Church was first organized; after that he received the Melchisedec priesthood, when the Church was more fully organized, and a few more believed, and then a few more and a few more.[45]
  • Brigham Young 13 November 1864
The first act that Joseph Smith was called to do by the angel of God, was, to get the plates from the hill Cumorah, and then translate them, and he got Martin Harris and Oliver Cowdery to write for him. He would read the plates, by the aid of the Urim and Thummim, and they would write.[46]

1866

  • Brigham Young 17 June 1866:
He called upon his servant Joseph Smith, jun., when he was but a boy, to lay the foundation of his kingdom for the last time. Why did he call upon Joseph Smith to do it? because he was disposed to do it. Was Joseph Smith the only person on earth who could have done this work? No doubt there were many others who, under the direction of the Lord, could have done that work; but the Lord selected the one that pleased him, and that is sufficient. [47]

1867

  • Brigham Young, June 23rd, 1867
When the Lord called upon Joseph he was but a boy--a child, only about fourteen years of age. He was not filled with traditions; his mind was not made up to this, that, or the other. I very well recollect the reformation which took place in the country among the various denominations of Christians--the Baptists, Methodists, Presbyterians, and others--when Joseph was a boy. Joseph's mother, one of his brothers, and one, if not two, of his sisters were members of the Presbyterian Church, and on this account the Presbyterians hung to the family with great tenacity. And in the midst of these revivals among the religious bodies, the invitation, "Come and join our church," was often extended to Joseph, but more particularly from the Presbyterians. Joseph was naturally inclined to be religious, and being young, and surrounded with this excitement, no wonder that he became seriously impressed with the necessity of serving the Lord. But as the cry on every hand was, "Lo, here is Christ," and "Lo, there!" 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. …[70] When the Lord called upon His servant Joseph, after leading him along for years until he got the plates, from a portion of which the Book of Mormon was translated…. The Lord sent John to ordain Joseph to the Aaronic Priesthood, and when he commenced to baptize people he sent a greater power—Peter; James, and John, who ordained him to the apostleship, which is the highest office pertaining to the Kingdom of God that any man can possess on the face of the earth, for it holds the keys of the Kingdom of Heaven....[48]

1868

  • President B. Young 6 October 1868:
Orson Pratt spoke: some seven years before the Lord entrusted them [the plates] to his care…. The Lord revealed himself to this youth when he was between fourteen and fifteen years of age....[49]

1870

  • Brigham Young, Tabernacle, SLC, July 17, 1870:
Is there any harm in believing in the Lord Jesus Christ? I frequently ask the question for my own satisfaction. Is there a doctrine taught in this book (the Bible), that would ruin or injure man, woman or child on the face of the earth? Not one. Is there a doctrine taught by Jesus and his disciples that would not do good to the people morally, physically, socially, religiously or politically? Not one. Did Joseph Smith ever teach a doctrine that would not elevate the soul, feelings, heart and affections of every individual who would embrace it? Not one. Did he ever teach a doctrine that would lead those who embraced it down to wretchedness, woe and misery, that would give them pain for ease, darkness for light, error for truth? No; but just the reverse. He proffered life and salvation--light for darkness and truth for error. He proffered all that was in the Gospel of the Son of God, and proclaimed that very Gospel that John saw the angel flying through the midst of heaven to restore. That angel delivered the keys of this apostleship and ministry to Joseph Smith and his brethren”....[50]

1871

  • Brigham Young, General Conference, April 8, 1871:
Did Joseph Smith ever arrogate to himself this right? Never, never, never; and if God had not sent a messenger to ordain him to the Aaronic Priesthood and then other messengers to ordain him to the Apostleship, and told him to build up his kingdom on the earth, it would have remained in chaos to this day.[51]

1872

  • John Taylor, May 26, 1872 Tabernacle, Ogden Tabernacle[52]

1873

  • Brigham Young 18 May 1873:
When Joseph Smith first learned [p.42] from God the principle of baptism for the remission of sins, he undoubtedly thought that he had learned something great and wonderful; so, also, when he received his ordination to the Aaronic Priesthood under the hands of John the Baptist. But he did not fly off at a tangent, and think he had it all, but was willing and anxious to be taught further. After receiving this authority, he baptized his friends. When he organized the Church, he received the higher Priesthood, after the order of Melchisedec, which gave him authority not only to baptize for the remission of sins, but to confirm by the laying on of hands for the reception of the Holy Ghost. The Aaronic Priesthood holds power to baptize, but not to lay on hands to confer the Holy Ghost. When Joseph Smith received this higher power, he did not throw away the first, but received additions to it. He learned of and administered the Sacrament, then went to preaching a year or two, and received the High Priesthood, which he imparted to others, and then obtained other communications and powers, until he received the full pattern and authority to build up the kingdom of God, preparatory to the coming of the Son of Man, which also he imparted to others.[53]
  • Brigham Young June 29, 1873 Logan Bowery
From the time that Joseph obtained a knowledge of the plates in the hill Cumorah he received little by little, a little at a time. When he first obtained a knowledge of these plates I apprehend that he knew nothing, in comparison, of their contents and the design of the Lord in bringing them forth. But he was instructed little by little until he received the Aaronic priesthood, then the privilege of baptism for the remission of sins, then the Melchizedek Priesthood, then organizing a church, &c.,[54]
  • Brigham Young, 10 August 1873, SLC Tabernacle:
The condition of the nations of the earth, politically, socially and religiously, was next dwelt upon, and, in concluding, President Young bore a powerful testimony to the gospel of Christ as revealed in this age of the [564] world, through Joseph Smith, the prophet.[55]

1874

  • President Young’s Address; Railroad Celebration.—Opening of the U.S.R.R. to Provo [read by David McKenzie]
JOSEPH SMITH. It is true that the angel, commissioned to restore, in this our day, the fullness of the everlasting Gospel, found Joseph but a youth and comparatively unlearned, he having had but limited opportunities for education in the then wilds of Western New York; but, from that date, until so foully massacred with his brother Hyrum in Carthage, Hancock County, Illinois, on the 27th June, 1844, in the 39th year of his age, he assiduously applied himself to studying the English, German, Hebrew and other languages, and gaining all information of worth from every available source, especially through revelation from Heaven, the fountain of all light and knowledge. (5)[56]
  • Brigham Young 21 June 1874:
We have passed from one thing to another, and I may say from one degree of knowledge to another. When Joseph first received the knowledge of the plates that were in the hill Cumorah, he did not then receive the keys of the Aaronic Priesthood, he merely received the knowledge that the plates were there, and that the Lord would bring them forth, and that they contained the history of the aborigines of this country. He received the knowledge that they were once in possession of the Gospel, and from that time he went on, step by step, until he obtained the plates, and the Urim and Thummim, and had power to translate them.[p.240] This did not make him an Apostle, it did not give to him the keys of the kingdom, nor make him an Elder in Israel. He was a Prophet, and had the spirit of prophecy, and had received all this before the Lord ordained him….. He received the Aaronic Priesthood, and then he received the keys of the Melchisedek Priesthood, and organized the Church. He first received the power to baptise, and still did not know that he was to receive any more until the Lord told him there was more for him. Then he received the keys of the Melchisedek Priesthood, and had power to confirm after he had baptized, which he had not before. He would have stood precisely as John the Baptist stood, had not the Lord sent his other messengers, Peter, James and John, to ordain Joseph to the Melchisedek Priesthood. …[57]

1876

  • Orson Pratt, October 8, 1876, General Conference:
“He spoke of some who had attained to a perfect knowledge. Joseph Smith, when a youth of fourteen years of age, had a knowledge of the existence of God the Father, Jesus Christ his Son, and holy angels, for he not only saw them with his eyes, but heard their voice” [BY spoke morning and twice in the afternoon sessions.][58]
  • Brigham Young: Sunday afternoon 17 September 1876 SLC Tabernacle:
“Brother Cannon speaks of Christians. We are Christians professedly, according to our religion. People have gathered to themselves certain ideas, and laid them down as systems, calling them religion, all professing to believe and obey the Scriptures. Their religious are peculiar to themselves—our religion is peculiar to God, to angels, and to the righteous of time and eternity. Why are we persecuted because of our religion? Why was Joseph Smith persecuted? Why was he hunted from neighborhood to neighborhood, from city to city, and from State to State, and at last suffered death? Because he received revelations from the Father, from the Son, and was ministered to by holy angels, and published to the world the direct will of the Lord concerning his children on the earth. Again, why was he persecuted? Because he revealed to all mankind a religion so plain and so easily understood, consistent with the Bible, and so true. It is now as it was in the days of the Savior; let people believe and practise these simple, Godlike traits, and it will be as it was in the old world, they will say, if this man be let alone he will come and take away our peace and nation....[59]
  • Brigham Young 21 May 1877 Logan:
[144] The priesthood which Peter, James and John held while in the flesh was the highest ever bestowed upon the children of men, and it was conferred upon Joseph and Oliver, and without it they never could have built up the Kingdom. … The Lord sent his messengers, Peter, James and John, to ordain him to the highest authority that could be given…..[60]

1877

  • Brigham Young died August 29, 1877.


Brigham Young (1861): "The Lord chose Joseph Smith, called upon him at fourteen years of age, gave him visions"

Brigham Young:

The Lord chose Joseph Smith, called upon him at fourteen years of age, gave him visions, and led him along, guided and directed him in his obscurity until he brought forth the plates and translated them, and Martin Harris was prevailed upon to sustain the printing of the Book of Mormon. All this was done in the depths of poverty, obscurity, and weakness. [61]


Brigham Young (1855): "The Lord did not come with the armies of heaven...But He did send His angel to this same obscure person, Joseph Smith jun"

According to this statement made by Brigham Young, "the Lord" sent "His angel" to Joseph Smith, and the Lord, through this angel told him not to join any of the religious sects of the day and that they were all wrong. In this context the term "Lord" would seem to refer to God the Father of Jesus Christ. That the term "Lord" is a perfectly acceptable title for the Father is seen in Acts 3:19-21. Brigham Young:

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.[62]


Brigham Young (1867): "the Lord called upon Joseph he was but a boy—a child, only about fourteen years of age"

Brigham Young:

When the Lord called upon Joseph he was but a boy—a child, only about fourteen years of age. He was not filled with traditions; his mind was not made up to this, that, or the other. I very well recollect the reformation which took place in the country among the various denominations of Christians—the Baptists, Methodists, Presbyterians, and others—when Joseph was a boy. Joseph's mother, one of his brothers, and one, if not two, of his sisters were members of the Presbyterian Church, and on this account the Presbyterians hung to the family with great tenacity. And in the midst of these revivals among the religious bodies, the invitation, "Come and join our church," was often extended to Joseph, but more particularly from the Presbyterians. Joseph was naturally inclined to be religious, and being young, and surrounded with this excitement, no wonder that he became seriously impressed with the necessity of serving the Lord. But as the cry on every hand was, "Lo, here, is Christ," and "Lo, there!" 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. [63]

Notes

  1. Jerald and Sandra Tanner, The Changing World of Mormonism (Moody Press, 1979), 164.( Index of claims ); Christian Research and Counsel, “Documented History of Joseph Smith’s First Vision,” full-color pamphlet, 10 pages. [There is a notation within this pamphlet indicating that research and portions of text were garnered from Utah Lighthouse Ministry]; Watchman Fellowship, The Watchman Expositor (Page 3)
  2. Brigham Young, Journal of Discourses 2:171.
  3. Eliza R. Snow, Biography and Family Record of Lorenzo Snow (Salt Lake City: Deseret News Press, 1884),127–128.
  4. Günther Juncker, “Christ As Angel: The Reclamation Of A Primitive Title,” Trinity Journal 15:2 (Fall 1994):221–250.
  5. James Strong, A Concise Dictionary of the Words In The Hebrew Bible With Their Renderings In the Authorized English Version (Nashville: Abingdon, 1890), 66.
  6. The History of the Church Book I:2 (3), in Eusebius: The History of the Church From Christ to Constantine, G.A. Williamson Translator (Penguine Books, 1986), 33-4.
  7. Martyrdom And Ascension of Isaiah 10:30-31, in James H. Charlesworth, The Old Testament Pseudepigrapha 2 Vols. (Garden City, New York: Doubleday & Company, 1985), 2:174.
  8. Epistula Apostulorum 14, in Edgar Hennecke and Wilhelm Schneemelcher, New Testament Apocrypha 2 Vols. (Philadelphia: Westminster Press, 1963), 1:199.
  9. Teachings of the Prophet Joseph Smith 162. "An angel has flesh and bones; we see not their glory." If Jesus comes as an angel he "will adapt himself to the language and capacity" of the individual.
  10. Teachings of the Prophet Joseph Smith 191. See also D&C 129.
  11. Ensign (April 1992).
  12. JD 8:353-4. (3 March 1861). wiki; JD 12:67-8. (June 23rd, 1867). wiki
  13. JD 2:171. (Feb 18, 1855). wiki; JD 7:243. (September 1, 1859). wiki; JD 11:253. (17 June 1866). wiki
  14. JD 12:67-8. (June 23rd, 1867). wiki
  15. JD 2:171. (Feb 18, 1855). wiki; JD 12:67-8. (June 23rd, 1867). wiki
  16. JD 18:231. (17 September 1876). wiki
  17. JD 1:185-19. (14 March 1860). wiki JD 8:15-6. (3 June 1860). wiki JD 8:66. (3 March 1861). wikiJD 8:353-4. (6 April 1861). wiki JD 9:1. (4 June 1864). wiki JD 10:303. (13 November 1864). wiki JD 10:363-365. (June 23rd, 1867). wiki JD 12:67-8. .wiki; Deseret News Weekly 22 (June 29, 1873):388, in Eldon Watson (editor), Brigham Young Addresses (1982), 6:79. (21 June 1874); JD 18:239-40. .wiki
  18. Manuscript History of Brigham Young (June 25, 1845); Manuscript History of Brigham Young (June 17, 1847); Wilford Woodruff, Wilford Woodruff’s Journal, 9 vols., ed., Scott G. Kenny (Salt Lake City: Signature Books, 1985) (journal entry dated 15 August 1847). ISBN 0941214133.; JD 1:7. (April 6, 1853). wiki [=Millennial Star 15 (24 July 1853), 489, 491.]; JD 1:233-245. (April 6, 1853). wiki; Letter to Freeport, Ill., Bulletin, 1 June 1854, reprinted in New York Times June 7, 1854; (4 June 1864) JD 10:303. (June 18, 1865). wiki; JD 11:126. (June 23, 1867). wiki; JD 12:67-8. (July 17, 1870). wiki; JD 13:216. (April 8, 1871). wiki; Deseret News 20/10 (April 12, 1871): 112; JD 14:95. (18 May 1873). wiki; JD 16:42. .wiki; Deseret News Weekly 22 (29 June 1873):388, in Eldon Watson (editor), Brigham Young Addresses (1982), 6:79. (21 June 1874); JD 18:239-40. (21 May 1877). wiki Deseret News Weekly 26:274-275; Eldon Watson (editor), Brigham Young Addresses (1982), 6:142.
  19. Manuscript History of Brigham Young, ed. Elden Jay Watson (Salt Lake City, 1968), 4 [Leland Nelson, 4]
  20. See Young Women's Journal 18 no. 12 (December 1907), 537–539.; Samuel W. Richards, Journal Book 2 of Travels To Nauvoo, BYU Special Collections, Writings of Early Latter-day Saints, 26; Andrew Jenson, Latter-Day Saint Biographical Encyclopedia: A Compilation of Biographical Sketches of Prominent Men and Women in the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints, 4 vols., (Salt Lake City, A. Jenson History Co., 1901; reprinted Salt Lake City, Utah : Greg Kofford Books, 2003), 1:187.
  21. Andrew Jenson, Latter-Day Saint Biographical Encyclopedia: A Compilation of Biographical Sketches of Prominent Men and Women in the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints, 4 vols., (Salt Lake City, A. Jenson History Co., 1901; reprinted Salt Lake City, Utah : Greg Kofford Books, 2003), 1:115.
  22. Manuscript History of Brigham Young, ed. Elden Jay Watson (Salt Lake City, 1968), p pp. 23-24 [Leland Nelson, 13].
  23. Heber C. Kimball, letter to Millennial Star editor, Nauvoo, July 15, 1841: Millennial Star 2 (15 July 1841), 77-78. This must refer to Remarkable Visions (Orson Pratt's account of Joseph's first vision and other revelations); nothing else had published by him yet.
  24. Manuscript History of Brigham Young, ed. Leland Nelson, 94
  25. Manuscript History of Brigham Young, William Harwell, 14; Millennial Star 14 no. 10 (1 May 1852), 151.
  26. Manuscript History of Brigham Young, 16.
  27. Wilford Woodruff, Wilford Woodruff’s Journal, 9 vols., ed., Scott G. Kenny (Salt Lake City: Signature Books, 1985), [citation needed]:319-320 (journal entry dated 15 August 1847). ISBN 0941214133.
  28. Manuscript History of Brigham Young. 1847-1850, edited by William S. Harwell (Salt Lake City, Utah: Collier’s Publishing Co., 1997): 139
  29. Deseret News 1/3 (29 June 1850) [following sermon by Reverend G.B. Day]
  30. Lorenzo Snow, The Italian Mission (London: W. Aubrey, 1851), 13; also in Eliza R. Snow, Biography and Family Record of Lorenzo Snow (Salt Lake City: Deseret News Press, 1884),127–128.
  31. JD 1:185-191. (19 June 1853). wiki
  32. JD 1: (24 July 1853). wiki
  33. Lucy Mack Smith, Biographical Sketches of Joseph Smith the Prophet, and His Progenitors for Many Generations (Liverpool, S.W. Richards, 1853), 75.; Lucy Mack Smith, History of Joseph Smith by His Mother: Revised and Enhanced, edited by Scot Facer Proctor and Maurine Jensen Proctor, (Salt Lake City, Utah: Bookcraft, 1996), editor's introduction. ISBN 1570082677.
  34. Letter to MR. HENRY A. MCAFEE, Freeport, Stephenson Co., Ill; letter to editor of the Freeport, Illinois Bulletin June 1, 1854. Reprinted New York Times (7 June 1854), 3.
  35. JD 2:171. (18 Feb 1855). wiki
  36. George Q. Cannon, editorial, “The Testimony of the Gospel,” Juvenile Instructor 24 (1 July 1889): 308-9.
  37. Brigham Young Journal, 13 August 1857, LDS Church Archives, Salt Lake City, Utah; Wilford Woodruff, Wilford Woodruff’s Journal, 9 vols., ed., Scott G. Kenny (Salt Lake City: Signature Books, 1985), 5:76-77. ISBN 0941214133.
  38. Deseret News, 7/46 (20 January 1858): 363.
  39. Brigham Young, Journal of Discourses 7:243-244, (emphasis added).
  40. JD 8:66. (3 June 1860). wiki
  41. Brigham Young, Journal of Discourses 8:354.
  42. JD 9:1-2. (6 April 1861). wiki
  43. Deseret News 11/13 (29 May 1861): 97-8; Reprinted in JD 9:31-40. (7 April 1961). wiki
  44. Rodney Turner, "Franklin D. Richards and the Pearl of Great Price," in Donald Q. Cannon, ed., Regional Studies in Latter-day Saint History: British Isles (Provo, UT: BYU Department of Church History and Doctrine, 1990), 184.
  45. JD 10:303. (4 June 1864). wiki
  46. JD 10:363-365. (13 November 164). wiki
  47. JD 11:253. (17 June 1866). wiki
  48. Brigham Young, (23 June 1867) Journal of Discourses 12:67,70-70.
  49. SLC Tabernacle, General Conference, 6 1/2 p.m.; Deseret News Weekly 17:282; Eldon Watson (editor), Brigham Young Addresses (1982), 5:133.
  50. Deseret News Weekly 19 (August 3, 1870): 303-308; also in JD 13:216. .wiki
  51. Deseret News 20/10 (April 12, 1871): 112; JD 14:95. (8 April 1871). wiki
  52. Deseret News 21 (September 25, 1872): 504-5; synopsis in Millennial Star 34/27 (July 2, 1872): 419-20; JD 15:169-70. (26 May 1872). wiki
  53. JD 16:42. (18 May 1873). wiki
  54. Deseret News Weekly 22:388; Eldon Watson (editor), Brigham Young Addresses (1982), 6:79.
  55. Deseret News Weekly 22:441; Millennial Star 35 no. 36 (9 September 1873), 563-4.; Eldon Watson (editor), Brigham Young Addresses (1982), 6:82.
  56. Millennial Star 36 no. 1 (Tuesday, 6 January 1874): 1-7). [From Salt Lake Herald]: 2-6.
  57. JD 18:239-40. (21 June 1874). wiki
  58. Deseret News 25 (October 11, 1876): 585; Millennial Star 38 no. 46 (13 November 1876), 721.
  59. Deseret News Weekly 25 (11 October 1876): 582; JD 18:231. (17 Setpember 1876). wiki
  60. Eldon Watson (editor), Brigham Young Addresses (1982), 6:142.; Deseret News Weekly 26:274-275.
  61. Brigham Young, (3 March 1861) Journal of Discourses 8:354..
  62. Brigham Young, (18 February 1855) Journal of Discourses 2:171.
  63. Brigham Young, (23 June 1867) Journal of Discourses 12:67..