Category:First Vision/George A. Smith

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George A. Smith's references to the First Vision

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George A. Smith (1868): "revealed to Joseph by the ministration of angels, the true condition of the religious world"

George A. Smith:

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. [1]

Smith (1869): "He...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?'"

George A. Smith:

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". [2]

George A. Smith (1855): "he beheld two glorious Beings wrapped in a brilliant and glorious light"

In 1855 Brigham Young was asked to prepare an article for publication in an eastern newspaper on the rise of the Church. He turned the assignment over to George A. Smith, who was Church Historian; Elder Smith wrote the article. Although it was not published in the anticipated work, it was published in the Church newspaper:

Joseph Smith, jun., was born in Sharon, Windsor county, Vermont, 23d December, 1805; moved with his father to Ontario county, New York, and in the year 1819 settled in Manchester; he was by occupation a farmer, and his advantages of education were limited. At the age of 15 he began to reflect seriously on the necessity of being prepared for a future state of existence. He went among the different denominations that existed in that state and his mind became perplexed with the clashing and contention which existed among those who professed the name of Christ.

Disgusted with the confusion which his researches disclosed, and encouraged by the promise of Saint James: "If any of you lack wisdom, let him ask of God who giveth unto all men liberally and upbraideth not, and it shall be given him," he retired to a grove, and in earnest prayer besought the Lord to reveal the way of salvation; and while thus engaged he beheld two glorious Beings wrapped in a brilliant and glorious light, who informed him that all the religious sects of the present age had departed from the ancient gospel of Jesus Christ and his apostles, with gifts and priesthood, which should be made known to him in due season: many glorious things were shown to him in this vision.[3]

George A. Smith (1864): "When the Lord appeared to Joseph Smith...two personages, whose brightness and glory defy all description"

George A. Smith:

When the Lord appeared to Joseph Smith and manifested unto him a knowledge pertaining to the coming forth of the Book of Mormon and the work of the last days, Satan came also with his power and tempted Joseph. It is written in the book of Job, "Now there was a day when the sons of God came to present themselves before the Lord, and Satan came also among them." In the very commencement of this Work, the Prophet Joseph Smith was called upon to contend face to face with the powers of darkness by spiritual manifestations, and open visions, as well as with men in the flesh, stirred up by the same spirit of the adversary to edge up his way and destroy him from the earth, and annihilate the work which he was about to commence. He thus describes the incident:

‘In the spring of 1820, after I had retired into the place where I had previously designed to go, having looked around me, and finding myself alone, I kneeled down and began to offer up the desires of my heart to God. I had scarcely done so, when immediately I was seized upon by some power, which entirely overcame me, and had such astonishing influence over me as to bind my tongue so that I could not speak. Thick darkness gathered around me, and it seemed to me for a time as if I were doomed to sudden destruction. But—exerting all my powers to call upon God to deliver me out of the power of this enemy which had seized upon me, and at the very moment when I was ready to sink into despair and abandon myself to destruction, not to an imaginary ruin, but to the power of some actual being from the unseen world, who had such a marvellous power as I had never before felt in any being—just at this moment of great alarm, I saw a pillar of light exactly over my head, above the brightness of the sun, which descended gradually until it fell upon me. It no sooner appeared than I found myself delivered from the enemy which held me bound. When the light rested upon me I saw two personages, whose brightness and glory defy all description, standing above me in air. One of them spake unto me, calling me by name, and said, pointing to the other—‘This is my beloved son, hear him.’’ [4]


  1. George A. Smith, (15 November 1868) Journal of Discourses 12:333-334..
  2. George A. Smith, (20 June 1869) Journal of Discourses 13:77-78.
  3. Deseret News 5. 26 (September 5, 1855). This was later reprinted in the Deseret News August 6, 1862, and Millennial Star 27.5 (February 4, 1865): 65-6.
  4. George A. Smith, (November 15, 1864) Journal of Discourses 11:1-2.