FairMormon is a non-profit organization dedicated to providing well-documented answers to criticisms of the doctrine, practice, and history of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints.
Primary sources/Joseph Smith, Jr./First Vision accounts/1835
Joseph Smith's 1835 accounts of the First VisionSummary: This account was written by Joseph Smith in his diary. Joseph described his vision to Robert Matthias, also known as "Joshua the Jewish minister". Joseph Smith Diary (1835–1836), original in Joseph Smith Collection, LDS Church Archives, Salt Lake City, Utah. Published in: Dean Jessee, Personal Writings of Joseph Smith.
Jump to Subtopic:
Joseph Smith Diary (1835–1836), original in Joseph Smith Collection, LDS Church Archives, Salt Lake City, Utah. Published in: Dean Jessee, Personal Writings of Joseph Smith. Text is taken from Wikisource. The editor notes that insertions are indicated like and deletions are indicated like
- "Accounts of the First Vision", LDS.org.
- Milton V. Backman, "Joseph Smith's Recitals of the First Vision," Ensign, January 1985.
- Dr. James B. Allen, "Eight Contemporary Accounts of Joseph Smith's First Vision - What Do We Learn from Them?", Improvement Era, April 1970, 4-13.
9 November 1835 • Monday
Sister Whitcher came in and wished to see me, she I granted her request she gave a relation of her griveances which were, unfathomable at present, and if true sore indeed, and I pray my heavenly Father to bring the truth of her case to light, that the reward due to evil doers may be given them, and the afflicted & oppressed may be delivered; while setting in my house between the hours of ten & 11 this morning a man came in, and introduced himself to me, calling by the name of Joshua the Jewish minister [Robert Matthias], his appearance was some thing singular, having a beard about 3 inches in length which is quite grey, also his hair is long and considerably silvered with age I should think he is about 50 or 55 years old, tall and strait slender built of thin visage blue eyes, and fair complexion, he wears a sea green frock coat, & pantaloons of the same, black fur hat with narrow brim, and while speaking frequently shuts his eyes with a scowl on his countinance: I made some enquiry after his name but received no definite answer; we soon commenced talking upon the subject of religion and after I had made some remarks concerning the bible I commenced giving him a relation of the circumstances connected with the coming forth of the book of Mormon, as follows being wrought up in my mind, respecting the subject of religion and looking at the different systems taught the children of men, I knew not who was right or who was wrong and I considered it of the first importance that I should be right, in matters that involve eternal consequ[e]nces; being thus perplexed in mind I retired to the silent grove and bow[e]d down before the Lord, under a realising sense that he had said (if the bible be true) ask and you shall receive knock and it shall be opened seek and you shall find and again, if any man lack wisdom let him ask of God who giveth to all men libarally and upbradeth not; information was what I most desired at this time, and with a fixed determination to obtain it, I called upon the Lord for the first time, in the place above stated or in other words I made a fruitless attempt to p[r]ay, my toung seemed to be swolen in my mouth, so that I could not utter, I heard a noise behind me like some person walking towards me, I strove again to pray, but could not, the noise of walking seemed to draw nearer, I sprung up on my feet, and and looked around, but saw no person or thing that was calculated to produce the noise of walking, I kneeled again my mouth was opened and my toung liberated, and I called on the Lord in mighty prayer, a pillar of fire appeared above my head, it presently rested down upon me head, and filled me with Joy unspeakable, a personage appeard in the midst of this pillar of flame which was spread all around, and yet nothing consumed, another personage soon appeard like unto the first, he said unto me thy sins are forgiven thee, he testified unto me that Jesus Christ is the Son of God; I was about 14 years old when I received this first communication; When I was about 17 years old I saw another vision of angels in the night season after I had retired to bed I had not been a sleep, when but was meditating upon my past life and experience, I was verry concious that I had not kept the commandments, and I repented hartily for all my sins and transgression, and humbled myself before Him , all at once the room was iluminated above the brightness of the sun an angel appeared before me, his hands and feet were naked pure and white, and he stood between the floors of the room, clothed with in purity inexpressible, he said unto me I am a messenger sent from God, be faithful and keep his commandments in all things, he told me of a sacred record which was written on plates of gold, I saw in the vision the place where they were deposited, he said the Indians were the literal descendants of Abraham he explained many things of the prophesies to me, one I will mention which is this in Malachi 4 chapt. behold the day of the Lord cometh &c. also that the Urim and Thumim, was hid up with the record, and that God would give me powre to translate it, with the assistance of this instrument he then gradually vanished out of my sight, or the vision closed, while meditating on what I had seen, the angel appeard to me again and related the same things and much more, also the third time bearing the same tidings, and departed; during the time I was in this vision I did not realize any thing else around me except what was shown me in this communication: after the vision had all passed, I found that it was nearly day-light, the family soon arose, I got up also: on that day while in the field at work with my Father he asked me if I was sick I replyed, I had but little strenght, he told me to go to the house, I started and went part way and was finally deprived deprived of my strength and fell, but how long I remained I do not know; the Angel came to me again and commanded me to go and tell my Father, what I had seen and heard, I did so, he wept and told me that it was a vision from God to attend to it I went and found the place, where the plates were, according to the direction of the Angel, also saw them, and the angel as before; the powers of darkness strove hard against me. I called on God, the Angel told me that the reason why I could not obtain the plates at this time was because I was under transgression, but to come again in one year from that time, I did so, but did not obtain them also the third and the fourth year, at which time I obtained them, and translated them into the english language, by the gift and power of God and have been preaching it ever since.
While I was relating this brief history of the establishment of the Church of Christ in these last days, Joshua seemed to be highly entertained after I had got through I observed that, the hour of worship & time to dine had now arived and invited him to tarry, which he concented to,
After dinner the conversation was resumed and Joshua proceded to make some remarks on the prophesies, as follows:
He observed that he was aware that I could bear stronger meat than many others, therefore he should open his mind the more freely: Daniel has told us that he is to stand in his proper lot, in the latter days according to his vision he had a right to shut it up and also to open it again after many days, or in the latter times; Daniels Image whose head was gold, and body, armes, legs and feet was composed of the different materials described in his vision represents different governments, the golden head was Nebuchadnazer King of Babylon, the other parts other kings & forms of government, which I shall not now mention in detail, but confine my remarks, more particularly to the feet of the Image: The policy of the wicked spirit, is to separate what God has joined togather and unite what He has separated, which he has succeded in doing to admiration, in the present state of society, which is like unto Iron and clay, there is confusion in all things,
both both Political and religious, and notwithstanding all the efforts that are made to bring about a union, society remains disunited, and all attempts to are as fruitless, as to attemp[t] to unite Iron & Clay.
The feet of the Image, is the government of these united States, other Nations & Kingdoms are looking up to her, for an example, of union freedom and equal rights, and therefore worship her, like as Daniel saw in the vision, although they are begining to loose confidence in her, seeing the broils and discord that distract, her political & religious horizon; this Image is characteristic of all governments and institutions or most of them; as they begin with a head of gold and terminate in the contemp[t]ible feet of Iron & clay: making a splendid appearance at first, proposing to do much more than the[y] can perform, and finally end in degradation and sink, in infamy; we should not only start to com[e] out of Babylon but leav[e] it entirely lest we are overthrown in her ruins, we should keep improving and reforming; twenty-four hours for improvement now, is worth as much as a year, a hundred years ago; the spirit of the Fathers that was cut down, or those that were under the altar, are now rising, this is the first resurection the Elder that falls first, will rise last; we should not form any opinion only for the present, and leave the result of futurity with God: I have risen up out of obscurity, but was looked up to when but a youth, in temporal things: It is not necessary that God should give us all things at first or in his first commission to us, but in his second. John saw the angel deliver the gospel in the last days, which would not be necessary if it was already, in the world, this expression would be inconsistent, the small lights that God has given, is sufficient to lead us out of babylon, when we get out we shall have the greater light. I told Jo[s]hua that I did not understand him concerning the resurection and wishd him to be more explanitory on the subject; he replied that he did not feel impressed by the spirit to unfold it further at present, but perhaps he might at some other time. I then withdr[e]w to do some buisness with another gentleman that called to see me. He [Joshua] informed my Scribe that he was born in Washington County Town of Cambridge New York. he says that all the railroads canals and other improvements are performed by spirits of the resurection.
The silence spoken of by John the Revelator which is to be in heaven for the space of half an hour, is between 1830 & 1851, during which time the judgments of God will be poured out after that time there will be peace.
Curiosity to see a man that was reputed to be a Jew, caused many to call during the day and more particularly at evening Suspicions were entertained that said Joshua was the noted [Robert] Mathias of New York, spoken so much of in the public prints on account of the trials he underwent in that place before a court of justice, for murder manslaughter comtempt of court whiping his Daughter &c for the two last crimes he was imprisoned, and came out about 4 months since, after some, equivocating he confessed that he was realy Mathias: after supper I proposed that he should deliver a lecture to us, he did so sitting in his chair; he commenced by saying God said let there be light and there was light, which he dwelt upon through his discource, he made some verry exelent remarks but his mind was evidently filled with darkness, after he dismissed his meeting, and the congregation disperced, he conversed freely upon the circumstances that transpired in New York. His name is Robert Mathias, he say[s] that Joshua, is his priestly name.
During all this time I did not contradict his sentiments, wishing to draw out all that I could concerning his faith; the next morning
14 November 1835 • Saturday
Thus came the word of the Lord unto me saying: verily thus saith the
the Lord unto my servant Joseph concerning my servant Warren [Parrish] behold [p.35] his sins are forgiven him because of his desires to do the works of righteousness therefore in as much as he will continue to hearken unto my voice he shall be blessed with wisdom and with a sound mind even above his fellows, behold it shall come to pass in his day that he shall great things shew forth themselves unto my people, he shall see much of my ancient records, and shall know of hiden things, and shall be endowed with a knowledge of hiden languages, and if he desires and shall seek it at my hand, he shall be privileged with writing much of my word, as a scribe unto me for the benefit of my people, therefore this shall be his calling until I shall order it otherwise in my wisdom and it shall be said of him in a time to come, behold Warren the Lords Scribe, for the Lords Seer whom he hath appointed in Israel: Therefore keep my commandments he shall be lifted up at the last day, even so Amen
A Gentleman called this after noon by the name of Erastus Holmes of Newbury Clemon [Newberry, Clermont] Co. Ohio, he called to make enquiry about the establishment of the church of the latter-day Saints and to be instructed more perfectly in our doctrine &c I commenced and gave him a brief relation of my experience while in my juvenile years, say from 6 years old up to the time I received the first visitation of Angels which was when I was about 14. years old and also the visitations that I received afterward, concerning the book of Mormon, and a short account of the rise and progress of the church, up to this, date he listened verry attentively and seemed highly gratified, and intends to unite with the Church he is a verry candid man indeed and I am much pleased with him.