Category:First Vision/S. Dilworth Young

S. Dilworth Young's comments on the First Vision

Parent page: First Vision

S. Dilworth Young (1957): "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"

S. Dilworth Young:

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. [1]


  1. S. Dilworth Young, Improvement Era, June 1957, 436. off-site

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