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Remarks delivered on November 9, 1835 at Kirtland, Ohio in conversation with a visitor to the Smith household.
Source: Warren Parrish record in Joseph Smith journal, LDS Archives

Joseph Smith Discusses Religion with "Joshua the Jewish Minister" 1

. . . we soon commenced talking upon the subject of religion and after I had made some remarks concerning the bible

Joseph Recounts First Vision

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 differenct 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 consequences; being thus perplexed in mind I retired to the silent grove and bowed down before the Lord, under a relising 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 pray, my toung seemd 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 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, 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 testyfied unto me that Jesus Christ is the Son of God; and I saw many angels in this vision I was about 14 years old when I received this first communication; 2

Angel Reveals the Gold Plates - Indians Descendants of Abraham

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 asleep, but was meditating upon my past life and experience, I was verry conscious that I had not kept the commandments, and I repented hartily for all my sins and transgression, and humbled myself before Him whose eyes are over all things, 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 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 of the prophesies to me, one I will mention which is in Malachi 4 chapt. behold the day of the Lord cometh &c. also that the Urim and Thummim, was hid up with the record, and God whould give me power to translate it, with the assistance of this instrument he then gradually vanished out my sight, or the vision closed, while meditating on what I had seen, the gangel appeard to me again and related the same things and much more, also the third time bearing the same tiding, and departed; during the time I was in this vision I did not realize any thing 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 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 fourth year, a 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.3

1. Joshua the Jewish Minister was Robert Matthias (he later admitted his identity to Joseph after first refusing to reveal it). Matthias (1788-1841) was a native of New York and claimed to be God the Father reincarnated in the body of Matthias, the ancient apostle. He spent time in an insane asylum and was jailed for beating one his children. Stood trial on a charge of murder in April 1835 but was aquitted. Was nearly lynched at Little Rock, Arkansas in 1839. The murder charge was attached to his reputation by the time of his visit to Kirtland as Joseph stated that in entertaining Matthias he may have entertained a murderer.

2. This version of the first vision story agrees in most details with the account that would be recorded several years later in the formal history. Some unusual points are that in the vision Joseph saw many angels and that when he began to pray, he heard footsteps. Also he suggests that a motivating scripture for his prayer may have been Matt. 7:7-11 in addition to James 1:5. For several other accounts of the first vision, see chapter one of the annotated history of Joseph Smith. Another brief account is found in 14Nov35.

3. The account of the initial visits of Moroni given here differs only slightly from the one found in the official history which is both more brief and more expansive than this version. Two details which indicate the date of this account are the use of the terms "Urim and Thummim" for the Nephite seeing stones and "Indians" for the descendants of Book of Mormon peoples. These terms were not used in earlier accounts and indeed probably represent the reasoned conclusions of various Church members rather than any "revelatory" definitions. There is no doubt of course that western native Americans of 1830 were considered to be related to Book of Mormon peoples as the "Lamanite Mission" of the fall of 1830 suggests.

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