The First Vision


From Joseph Smith’s Own Account
This is My Beloved Son. Hear Him! (JS—H 1:17.)

There was in the place where [my family] lived an unusual excitement on the subject of religion. … Some were contending for the Methodist faith, some for the Presbyterian, and some for the Baptist. …

I was at this time in my fifteenth year. …

I often said to myself: … If any one of them be right, which is it, and how shall I know it? …

I was one day reading the Epistle of James, first chapter and fifth verse, which reads: If any of you lack wisdom, let him ask of God, that giveth to all men liberally, and upbraideth not; and it shall be given him.

Never did any passage of scripture come with more power to the heart of man than this did at this time to mine. …

I came to the conclusion that I must either remain in darkness and confusion, or else I must do as James directs, that is, ask of God. …

I retired to the woods to make the attempt. It was on the morning of a beautiful, clear day, early in the spring of eighteen hundred and twenty. It was the first time in my life that I had … made the attempt to pray vocally. …

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. … Thick darkness gathered around me. …

At the very moment when I was ready to sink into despair and abandon myself to destruction … , 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 the air. One of them spake unto me, calling me by name and said, pointing to the other—This is My Beloved Son. Hear Him!

My object in going to inquire of the Lord was to know which of all the sects was right. … No sooner, therefore, did I get possession of myself … than I asked the Personages who stood above me in the light, which of all the sects was right. …

I was answered that I must join none of them, for they were all wrong. …

Many other things did [the Personage] say unto me, which I cannot write at this time. When I came to myself again, I found myself lying on my back, looking up into heaven. …

I had actually seen a light, and in the midst of that light I saw two Personages, and they did in reality speak to me; and though I was hated and persecuted for saying that I had seen a vision, yet it was true; … I knew it, and I knew that God knew it, and I could not deny it.

(JS—H 1:5, 7, 10–20, 25)

[illustration] Illustrated by Paul Mann