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Category:First Vision/William Smith
William Smith's references to the First Vision
Parent page: First Vision
William Smith (1883): "It appeared like fire. But to his great astonishment, did not burn the trees. An angel then appeared to him and conversed with him"
William Smith gave this account of the First Vision and Moroni's visit during an interview in 1883. He confuses some details, placing his brother Joseph's age as 17 years old when he went to the woods to pray.
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.
- "William Smith, On Mormonism, 1883," in Early Mormon Documents (ed. Dan Vogel) 1:494-5.
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