A gospel restoration was promised in the last days; after the gospel and Melchisedec Priesthood was overpowered by Rome for 1260 years. “And it was given unto him to make war with the saints, and to overcome them: and power was given him over ALL kindreds, and tongues, and nations.” (Rev. 13:7) Every major minister of the gospel in the Bible, including Jesus and the Apostles, held the Melchisedec Priesthood.
Divine authority and the gospel were lost by the time of the Papacy (570 AD). They were to be lost for 1,260 years. Then, they were to be restored (shortly before the return of Jesus) for a brief period; and the times of the Gentiles were to end. Only a “very small remnant” of this restoration were to survive and be delivered to a refuge shortly before the return of Jesus. Jesus will return, restore all divine authority, gather the House of Israel from the four corners of the earth, they will be recognized by all men as the people of God, and Jesus will stand as their God forever.
“I indeed baptize you with water unto repentance: but he that cometh after me is mightier than I, whose shoes I am not worthy to bear: he shall baptize you with the Holy Ghost, and with fire.” (Matt. 3:11)
“4 And no man taketh this honour unto himself, but he that is called of God, as was Aaron. 5 So also Christ glorified not himself to be made an high priest; but he that said unto him, Thou art my Son, to day have I begotten thee.” (Heb. 5)
“And he ordained twelve, that they should be with him, and that he might send them forth to preach.” (Mark 3:14)
“And when they had ordained them elders in every church, and had prayed with fasting, they commended them to the Lord, on whom they believed.” (Acts 14:23)
“Beginning from the baptism of John, unto that same day that he was taken up from us, must one be ordained to be a witness with us of his resurrection.” (Acts 1:22)
“And the woman [Church of Christ] fled into the wilderness, where she hath a place prepared of God, that they should feed her there a thousand two hundred and threescore days [1,260 years].” (Rev. 12:6)
“And it was given unto him [Satan] to make war with the saints, and to overcome them: and power was given him over all kindreds, and tongues, and nations.” (Rev. 13:7)
“6 And I saw another angel fly in the midst of heaven [after the 1260 years], having the everlasting gospel to preach unto them that dwell on the earth [by the power of the Melchisedec Priesthood], and to every nation, and kindred, and tongue, and people. 7 Saying with a loud voice, Fear God, and give glory to him; for the hour of his judgment is come: and worship him that made heaven, and earth, and the sea, and the fountains of waters.” (Rev. 14)
“24 For I will take you from among the heathen, and gather you out of all countries, and will bring you into your own land… 28 And ye shall dwell in the land that I gave to your fathers; and ye shall be my people, and I will be your God.” (Ezek. 36)
As the priesthood and gospel had been lost by the great apostasy, it was necessary that it be restored by divine proclamation. “And I saw another angel fly in the midst of heaven, having the everlasting gospel to preach unto them that dwell on the earth, and to every nation, and kindred, and tongue, and people.” (Rev. 14:6) Enter Joseph Smith and the restoration. Here is the foundation of Mormon belief. Here is the only claim that God once again spoke to man after the 1,260 years of apostasy, restored a knowledge of God, the priesthood, and the gospel of Christ. If Joseph Smith’s claims were false, the world has never had an opportunity to do otherwise than to lament that terrible condition of apostasy.
Joseph Smith was born on Dec. 23, 1805. His family moved to Palmyra in the state of New York’ when he was about ten years old. At the age of fifteen he became immersed in serious reflection about religion and became greatly concerned about the great religious excitement in the area. While laboring to understand these contentions and unable to learn on his own which of these contenting sects were right, he read the Epistle of James, “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.” (James 1:5)
He finally decided to take the issue to God in prayer. He went to the woods alone to pray. Suddenly a great and dark force came upon him. Exerting all his strength he called upon God to deliver him out of the hands of this enemy. A pillar of light suddenly appeared over his head. “When the light rested upon me I say 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!” (History of the Church, vol. 1)
He asked these personages which of all the religious sects he should join. “I was answered that I must join none of them, for they were all wrong; and the Personage who addressed me said that all their creeds were an abomination in his sight; that those professors were all corrupt; that: ‘they draw near to me with their lips, but their hearts are far from me, they teach for doctrines the commandments of men, having a form of godliness, but they deny the power thereof.”
After he told his experience to the various professors of religion, he was subjected to the most severe persecutions. He wrote, “though I was an obscure boy, only between fourteen and fifteen years of age, and my circumstances in life such as to make a boy of no consequence in the world, yet men of high standing would take notice sufficient to excite the public mind against me, and create a bitter persecution; and this was common among all the sects– all united to persecute me.”
“I have thought since, that I felt much like Paul, when he made his defense before King Agrippa, and related the account of the vision he had when he saw a light, and heard a voice; but still there were but few who believed him; some said he was dishonest, others said he was mad; and he was ridiculed and reviled. But all this did not destroy the reality of his vision. He had seen a vision, he knew he had, and all the persecution under heaven could not make it otherwise; and though they should persecute him unto death, yet he knew, and would know to his latest breath, that he had both seen a light and heard a voice speaking unto him, and all the world could not make him think or believe otherwise.”
Through this farm boy, with only a third grade education, came the hope of hundreds of thousands. On Sep. 22, 1827, Joseph received a set of plates that had been hidden on a nearby hill; together with the Urim and Thummim, and the breastplate. The Urim and Thummim was used in the translation of the Book of Mormon; which was among those plates. Here was a history of a people that inhabited Central and North America from 600 BC until 400 AD. It also included a history of another people that had traveled to the Americas at the time of the confounding of tongues. It was not until Catherwood and Stevens explored Central America and published their work years after the Book of Mormon that anyone realized that the Book of Mormon truly taught of a civilization, culture, and people of that time.
Joseph Smith never claimed that the Book of Mormon was to replace the Bible; but, that it was only the work of another branch of the House of Israel and was a work additional to the Bible. Another testament of Jesus Christ. He later wrote, “We believe in the Bible to be the word of God as far as it is translated correctly; we also believe the Book of Mormon to be the word of God.”
On May 15, 1829, Joseph Smith and Oliver Cowdery claimed to have been ordained to the Aaronic Priesthood under the hands of John the Baptist; under the direction of Peter, James, and John who had been Apostles under Jesus. “He said this Aaronic Priesthood had not the power of laying on hands for the gift of the Holy Ghost, but that this should be conferred on us hereafter; and he commanded us to go and be baptized, and gave us directions that I should baptize Oliver Cowdery, and afterwards that he should baptize me. Accordingly we went and were baptized. I baptized him first, and afterwards he baptized me, after which I laid my hands upon his head and ordained him to the Aaronic Priesthood, and afterwards he laid his hands on me and ordained me to the same Priesthood– for so we were commanded.” (History of Church, vol. 1, p. 39)
“Immediately on our coming up out of the water after we had been baptized, we experienced great and glorious blessings from our Heavenly Father. No sooner had I baptized Oliver Cowdery, than the Holy Ghost fell upon him, and he stood up and prophesied many things which should shortly come to pass. And again, so soon as I had been baptized by him, I also had the spirit of prophecy, when standing up, I prophesied concerning the rise of this church, and many other things connected with the Church, and this generation of the children of men. We were filled with the Holy Ghost, and rejoiced in the God of our salvation.
“Our minds being now enlightened, we began to have the Scriptures laid open to our understandings, and the true meaning and intention of their more mysterious passages revealed unto us in a manner which we never could attain to previously, nor ever before had thought of. In the meantime we were forced to keep secret the circumstances of having received the Priesthood and our having been baptized, owing to a spirit of persecution which had already manifested itself in the neighborhood. We had been threatened with being mobbed from time to time, and this, too, by professors of religion. And their intentions of mobbing us were only counteracted by the influence of my wife’s father’s family (under Divine providence), who had become very friendly to me, and who were opposed to mobs, and were willing that I should be allowed to continue the work of translation without interruption; and therefore offered and promised us protection from all unlawful proceedings as far as in them lay.” (Ibid., p. 40)
This was the first occasion, since the great apostasy, that any man had been baptized and received the Holy Ghost according to the law of God through one holding authority to administer the ordinances of the gospel of Christ. For centuries men had been “sprinkled” as innocent children. Some had even been baptized (immersed) according to the specification of the ordinance; but, those administering that ordinance made no claim of being called of God. Christians had rejected the doctrine of revelation; that God must communicate to man and make His will known concerning the calling of men to the gospel and ordaining men to the priesthood. For centuries they denied the law, “And no man taketh this honour unto himself, but he that is called of God, as was Aaron.” (Heb. 5:4) They had forgotten the admonition of Paul, “3 For the time will come when they will not endure sound doctrine; but after their own lusts shall they heap to themselves teachers, having itching ears; 4 And they shall turn away their ears from the truth, and shall be turned unto fables.” (2 Tim. 4)
The words of Oliver Cowdery are a testimony for all who do not believe that God is either dead, or will no longer speak to man. “These were days never to be forgotten– to sit under the sound of a voice dictated by the inspiration of heaven, awakened the utmost gratitude of this bosom! Day after day I continued, uninterrupted to write from his mouth, as he translated with the Urim and Thummim, or, as the Nephites would have said, ‘Interpreters,’ the history or record called ‘The Book of Mormon.’
“To notice, in even few words, the interesting account given by Mormon and his faithful son, Moroni, of a people once beloved and favored of heaven, would supersede my present design; I shall therefore defer this to a future period, and, as I said in the introduction, pass more directly to some few incidents immediately connected with the rise of this Church, which may be entertaining to some thousands who have stepped forward amid the frowns of bigots and the calumny of hypocrites, and embraced the Gospel of Christ.
“No men, in their sober senses, could translate and write the directions given to the Nephites from the mouth of the Savior, of the precise manner in which men should build up His Church, and especially when corruption had spread an uncertainty over all forms and systems practiced among men, without desiring a privilege of showing the willingness of the heart by being buried in the liquid grave, to answer a ‘good conscience by the resurrection of Jesus Christ.’
“After writing the account given of the Savior’s ministry to the remnant of the seed of Jacob, upon this continent, it was easy to be seen, as the prophet said would be, that darkness covered the earth and gross darkness the minds of the people. On reflecting further it was easy to be seen that amid the great strife and noise concerning religion, none had authority from God to administer the ordinances of the Gospel. For the question might be asked, have men authority to administer in the name of Christ, who deny revelations, when His testimony is no less than the spirit of prophecy, and His religion based, built, and sustained by immediate revelations, in all ages of the world when He has had a people on earth? If these facts were buried, and carefully concealed by men whose craft would have been in danger if once permitted to shine in the faces of men, they were no longer to us; and we only waited for the commandment to be given ‘Arise and be baptized.’
“This was not long desired before it was realized. The Lord, who is rich in mercy, and ever willing to answer the consistent prayer of the humble, after we had called Him in a fervent manner, aside from the abodes of men, condescended to manifest to us His will. On a sudden, as from the midst of eternity, the voice of the Redeemer spake peace to us. While the veil was parted and the angel of God came down clothed with glory, and delivered the anxiously looked for message, and the keys of the Gospel of repentance. What joy! what wonder! what amazement! While the world was racked and distracted– while millions were groping as the blind for the wall, and while all men were resting upon uncertainty, as a general mass, our eyes beheld, our ears heard, as in the ‘blaze of day’; yes, more– above the glitter of the May sunbeam, which then shed its brilliancy over the face of nature! Then his voice, though mild, pierced to the center, and his words, ‘I am thy fellow-servant,’ dispelled every fear. We listened, we gazed, we admired! ‘Twas the voice of an angel, from glory, ’twas a message from the Most High! And as we heard we rejoiced, while His love enkindled upon our souls, and we were wrapped in the vision of the Almighty! Where was room for doubt? Nowhere; uncertainty had fled, doubt had sunk no more to rise, while fiction and deception had fled forever!
“But, dear brother, think, further think for a moment, what joy filled our hearts, and with what surprise we must have bowed, (for who would not have bowed the knee for such a blessing?) when we received under his hand the Holy Priesthood as he said, ‘Upon you my fellow-servants, in the name of Messiah, I confer this Priesthood and this authority, which shall remain upon earth, that the Sons of Levi may yet offer an offering unto the Lord in righteousness!’
“I shall not attempt to paint to you the feelings of this heart, nor the majestic beauty and glory which surrounded us on this occasion; but you will believe me when I say, that earth, nor men, with the eloquence of time, cannot begin to clothe language in as interesting and sublime a manner as this holy personage. No; nor has this earth power to give the joy, to bestow the peace, or comprehend the wisdom which was contained in each sentence as they were delivered by the power of the Holy Spirit! Man may deceive his fellow-men, deception may follow deception, and the children of the wicked one may have power to seduce the foolish and untaught, till naught but fiction feeds the many, and the fruit of falsehood carries in its current the giddy to the grave; but one touch with the finger of his love, yes, one ray of glory from the upper world, or one word from the mouth of the Savior, from the bosom of eternity, strikes it all into insignificance, and blots it forever from the mind. The assurance that we were in the presence of an angel, the certainty that we heard the voice of Jesus, and the truth unsullied as it flowed from a pure personage, dictated by the will of God, is to me past description, and I shall ever look upon this expression of the Savior’s goodness with wonder and thanksgiving while I am permitted to tarry; and in those mansions where perfection dwells and sin never comes, I hope to adore in that day which shall never cease.” (Messenger and Advocate, October 1834, vol. 1, pp. 14-16)
Joseph Smith later claimed to be ordained under the hands of Peter, James, and John as an Apostle of the higher Melchisedec Priesthood– the same as prophets of old. Only by ordination to the office of Lawgiver (first degree Apostle), as Moses, could he give revelations and commandments from God, for His people.
On April 6, 1830, Joseph Smith organized the Church of Christ in the township of Fayette, Seneca County, New York, as unincorporated religious body in accordance with the law of the state of New York and the freedom of religion provision of the U. S. Constitution (1891). When it was later discovered this name conflicted with an earlier organization, the name was changed to the Church of the Latter Day Saints. Later it was again changed to the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints.
Restoration of the Priesthood
By James J. Strang
Book of the Law of the Lord
- The restoration of the Priesthood, of the gospel, and of the Law of God, in the last days, is the subject of numerous prophecies. All the prophecies of the Kingdom of God, to be established in the last days, involve the idea of instituting a Priesthood, with plenary power to make disciples, to administer all the sacraments necessary to their sanctification and perfection, and to take the dominion and administer justice and judgment. (Dan. ii, 44, 45. vii, 13, 14, 18, 22, 27. Mic. iv, 1, 2. Isa. ii, 2, 3. x1ii, 1-4. Jer. xxiii, 5. xxxiii, 15-26. Oba. 21. Matt. vi, 10. Rev. xi, 15. xiv, 6, 7. xviii, 4. xix, 15.)
- Without going over the mass of these, a single one, by John the Revelator, concerning the restoration of the gospel, will be sufficient: “I saw another Angel fly in the midst of heaven, having the everlasting gospel to preach unto them that dwell on the earth, and to every nation, and kindred, and tongue, and people, saying, with a loud voice, I fear God, and give glory to him; for the hour of his judgment is come.”‘ (Rev. xiv, 6, 7.)
- As John was in this vision shown one of the things which should happen thereafter, (Rev. iv, 1,) the grave question arises, why was an Angel to be sent with the gospel to be preached to men that dwell on the earth? For no reason, but that men on the earth were destitute of the gospel. If there was a knowledge of the gospel, and a godly ministry to preach its truths, and administer its sacraments on earth, there could be no occasion for sending an Angel with it.
- And as this Angel was sent with the gospel, to be preached “to every nation, kindred, tongue and people,” it follows that every nation, kindred, tongue and people were destitute of it; otherwise the Angel would not have been sent with the gospel, to be preached to them.
- This text thus stands as a distinct announcement that God would, in the latter days, restore the gospel to the earth, which would then be destitute of it. But the idea has become so prevalent among Protestants that the gospel may have a separate existence without the Priesthood, that it is worthy of passing notice, that simply revealing the doctrine of the gospel would not bring the gospel to men.
- If a book containing the whole doctrine of the gospel were placed in the possession of a Pagan people, and they should read and believe it, they could not be said to possess the gospel. Neither could they become Saints by that fact alone. For God has appointed a door into his Church, by which only can any one enter, to wit, baptism. So that even Jesus himself could not fulfill all righteousness, except by being baptized. (Matt iii, 15. John iii, 5. x, 1, 3.)
- Or, to be more explicit, the gospel does not consist in doctrine only, but also in sacraments, and in the power from God to administer those sacraments. Consequently this Angel seen by John, is sent of God to restore to men on earth the doctrine of the gospel, with the knowledge of its sacraments, and the power or Priesthood to administer those sacraments.
- Let no one imagine for one moment that this Angel is to preach the gospel. Such is not the prophecy. John saw the Angel flying through the midst of heaven, not through the earth or air, but having the gospel to preach to men on earth. The Angel was a Minister of the will and work of God in heaven; not on earth.
- Nor would it be meet or proper to send an Angel actually to preach, but only to commit a dispensation of the gospel to men to preach. Even Christ took not on him the nature of Angels, but the seed of Abraham; made in all things like unto his brethren; that he might be a merciful and faithful High Priest, (Heb. ii, 16, 17,) because thus he could be touched with a feeling of our infirmities, being in all things tempted and tried as we are. (id. iv, 15.)
- The office of the Angel is accomplished in committing a dispensation to the chosen of God, and preparing him for the work, by giving him a proper knowledge of the gospel, and the authority to administer in all the appointments of God. And this work was accomplished in the calling of Joseph Smith, and Oliver Cowdery, and in the Priesthood and revelations committed to them, for the beginning of the ministry.
- As this proposition is fundamental, it deserves to be treated with more than a passing notice. That they did receive a dispensation of the gospel, does not rest merely on their assertion that they received the Priesthood of life under the hand of John the Baptist, and afterwards the Priesthood of an endless life under the hands of Peter, James, and John, (D. & C. 1, 2, 3,) nor on the testimony of the eleven witnesses of the Book of Mormon. Nor does it rest on any similar testimony, or any testimony which the voice of man can possibly impeach.
- They instituted the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints, which, alone, of all the Churches on earth, is possessed of the gospel of the Son of God. How should men bear the gospel without a preacher? and bow shall they preach, except they be sent? (Rom. x, 14, 15.) And no man taketh this honour, but he that is called of God, as was Aaron; (Heb. v, 4;) who was selected by the mouth of a Prophet. He who is not so called, cannot preach the gospel, because “the things of God knoweth no man, but the spirit of God. Now, we have received, not the spirit of the world, but the spirit which is of God; that we might know the things that are freely given to us of God, which things also we speak, not in the words which man’s wisdom teacheth, but which the Holy Spirit teacheth; comparing spiritual things with spiritual. But the natural man receiveth not the things of the spirit of God; for they are foolishness unto him; neither can he know them, because they are spiritually discerned.” (1st Cor. ii, 11-14.)
- As in the Church instituted by them alone, of all the Churches on earth, the doctrine of the gospel as it came from God is preached and believed, the conclusion is inevitable that this alone is the true Church of God. As the Priesthood derived in succession from Joseph Smith and Oliver Cowdery do understand the things of God and proclaim them according to God’s word, unquestionably they are sent of God. That the gospel preached by this Priesthood, and believed in this Church, is that revealed by Jesus Christ, is made apparent in its proper places throughout this Book of the Law, and the arguments and testimonies need not to be repeated here. That no other Churches give heed to it, their creeds and confessions of faith sufficiently show.
- God established two Priesthoods in the Church, consisting of divers Orders and Degrees. None of the sects have such, and none pretend to it, because, not being sent of God, they cannot work by his pattern. They are even ignorant of the distinction between the two Priesthoods, and know not whether to claim their Priesthood as one or the other, or something different from either.
- Jesus Christ, when he sent the Apostles to preach the gospel to all the world, gave promise that certain signs should follow those that believed the word preached. (Mark xvi, 15-18.) As all Christendom avow that those signs do not follow the preaching of their gospel, they are selfcondemned as not preaching and believing the true gospel. As these signs do follow the preaching of the gospel and the belief of it among those whom Joseph Smith and Oliver Cowdery sent in the name of God, it is equally satisfactory evidence that they have received a dispensation of the Priesthood from the Angel whom John saw flying through the midst of heaven.
- The publication of the Book of Mormon is the first epoch in the publick attention to the dispensation of the fulness of times. Aside from literary defects and editorial and mechanical blunders, it is the most extraordinary Book of this productive and progressive age. It traces, for a period of one thousand years, the history of a semicivilized population, extending over half the American continent with such minuteness, that the student in modern geography finds no difficulty in locating their nations and cities, and most of the events in their history.
- Their cities, temples and structures used in religion and war, form the same prominent feature in their history which such works usually do in the history of a people in a low state of civilization, and in some instances are minutely described. Such a work should have commanded the attention of antiquarians and historians in all the world. Prejudice has shut the eyes of the learned to this vast fund of knowledge.
- A few years later the American government sent the distinguished traveler and learned savan, John L. Stevens, as Embassador to Central America, accompanied by the artist, Mr. Catherwood, with permission to inquire into and examine the antiquities and aboriginal monuments of that country. These learned gentlemen, after a sojourn of less than two years, returned and published, as the result of their labours, a minute account of cities, temples, altars, fortresses, kingly palaces and national monuments, of gorgeous grandeur, scattered in vast and rich profusion over all that sunny region; desolated and without inhabitant over which the ancient forest had grown in gigantick majesty, which the prying curiosity of man had not penetrated for countless ages. These cities, these towers, these temples, these palaces, were the same that the Book of Mormon had before mentioned. The same rivers water them, and the same mountains surround them, which the believing student had read of ten years before, in the writings of the Seer of Palmyra.
- Even the pictures painted upon the walls of palaces, temples and dwellings, are a faithful illustration of the history contained in the Book of Mormon, and as plainly record the great events there written out, as the pictures and statuary in the Capitol at Washington do the written history of the United States. The correspondence between the monumental and pictorial history, as discovered by Stevens and Catherwood on the one hand, and the written history as translated by Joseph Smith on the other, was perfect.
- Yet learned men, antiquarians and historians, still close their eyes to its consequence. Concede for once what is claimed by all but the disciples of Joseph Smith, that the Book of Mormon is an imposture, no matter by what means got up, how did its authors discover the secrets of past history, and make their writing correspond with the since discovered monuments? The power to do it is essentially a divine power, quite as much so as that of prophecy.
- This fact alone, sustained as it is by an overwhelming mass of evidence, is enough to vindicate the sacred character of the Book of Mormon, the Apostolick character, and true witness of Joseph Smith and Oliver Cowdery, and to vindicate the Church by them instituted as the institution of heaven, and the new dispensation as a dispensation of life from the Almighty.
- If the Book of Mormon was an imposition, it could scarcely fail to contain modern figures, modern forms of speech, allusions to modern facts and modem discoveries in the arts and sciences, and ten thousand other evidences of its modern origin. So certain was this, that the sincere unbelievers in its divine authority made this the ground of their attack upon it, and based their unbelief on the assumption of the existence of such evidences of a modern origin.
- In searching for such evidence, it was discovered that the Book of Mormon mentions the use of steel several centuries prior to the Christian era, and history was appealed to, to show that the manufacture of steel was a modern art, invented since the Roman Republick. Against this it appears from the Bible that steel was used in the time of King David. (2d Sam. xxii, 35. Ps. xviii, 34.)
- It is now a well known fact, that the art of making steel of an excellent quality is one of the ancient arts of the Hindoos, practiced by them from remote and unknown ages, by a process different from that in use among the western nations. Their art and that of the Hebrews are doubtless the same. It is only the European process which is modern. So this argument falls to the ground.
- An imperfect compass was in use among the nations whose history is written in the Book of Mormon. Such is now proved to have been in use among the Chinese, from the earliest antiquity. The Book of Mormon shows the existence of herds of horses and cattle in America in early periods, whereas the present stocks are supposed to have all originated with the European stocks brought over since the time of Columbus.
- The lama and the buffalo are beasts of burden and draft, which might with propriety be called by those names. The buffalo is as truly an ox as the European bos. And the evidence that the wild horses all sprang from European stocks is anything but satisfactory. Though it is certain that the Mexicans of the time of Cortez, did not use horses, the Mexicans of this time insist that certain breeds of horses now running wild, are of American origin, and were not introduced by Europeans. Their great unlikeness to horses of western Europe, justifies the Mexican opinion.
- Dr. Leidy, of Philadelphia, has proved, in a very interesting work, published by the Smithsonian Institution, that there existed in America in ancient times two species of ox of great size and value, which have disappeared so recently that several specimen of their bones and horn cores are in existence. These were the oxen spoken of in the Book of Mormon, and have become extinct for want of attention. Domesticated for ages, they perished when they lost all attention from man, not being adapted to a wild state in this climate. Thus answers the unbeliever to this cavil.
- The call. of a successor to the Prophet Joseph in exact fulfillment of prophecy, and the continuation of the work of the dispensation in the very order in which be had begun it, though the largest share of the disciples of Joseph went off on another plan, is not one of the least evidences that it was God’s work. And the revelation to the Prophet James, by the divine word of the plates at Voree, is probably the best proved, to this generation, of any miracle since the world began. No man, either Apostate, Christian, or Infidel, has ever attempted to answer the evidence of it, though it was a subject of rather general notice in the newspapers at the time, and has been before the publick for more than ten years.
- Indeed, in more than a quarter of a century, which has elapsed since the restoration of the Priesthood, and the opening of the dispensation, no attempt has been made to meet and answer the evidence that it was of divine authority. Numerous false tales have been put afloat, for the purpose of bringing the institution and the Priesthood into disrepute; none to meet the question of its divine authority on the merits.
Restoration of the Gospel
By Joseph Smith, Jr.
The following account is extracts from the History of the Church, Vol. 1, Chapters 1-5.
“1 Owing to the many reports which have been put in circulation by evil-disposed and designing persons, in relation to the rise and progress of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, all of which have been designed by the authors thereof to militate against its character as a Church and its progress in the world—I have been induced to write this history, to disabuse the public mind, and put all inquirers after truth in possession of the facts, as they have transpired, in relation both to myself and the Church, so far as I have such facts in my possession.
“2 In this history I shall present the various events in relation to this Church, in truth and righteousness, as they have transpired, or as they at present exist, being now the eighth year since the organization of the said Church.
“3 I was born in the year of our Lord one thousand eight hundred and five, on the twenty-third day of December, in the town of Sharon, Windsor county, State of Vermont…My father, Joseph Smith, Sen., left the State of Vermont, and moved to Palmyra, Ontario (now Wayne) county, in the State of New York, when I was in my tenth year, or thereabouts. In about four years after my father’s arrival in Palmyra, he moved with his family into Manchester in the same county of Ontario-
“4 His family consisting of eleven souls, namely, my father, Joseph Smith; my mother, Lucy Smith (whose name, previous to her marriage, was Mack, daughter of Solomon Mack); my brothers, Alvin (who died November 19th, 1823, in the 26th year of his age), Hyrum, myself, Samuel Harrison, William, Don Carlos; and my sisters, Sophronia, Catherine, and Lucy.
“5 Some time in the second year after our removal to Manchester, there was in the place where we lived an unusual excitement on the subject of religion. It commenced with the Methodists, but soon became general among all the sects in that region of country. Indeed, the whole district of country seemed affected by it, and great multitudes united themselves to the different religious parties, which created no small stir and division amongst the people, some crying, ‘Lo, here!’ and others, ‘Lo, there!’ Some were contending for the Methodist faith, some for the Presbyterian, and some for the Baptist.
“6 For, notwithstanding the great love which the converts to these different faiths expressed at the time of their conversion, and the great zeal manifested by the respective clergy, who were active in getting up and promoting this extraordinary scene of religious feeling, in order to have everybody converted, as they were pleased to call it, let them join what sect they pleased; yet when the converts began to file off, some to one party and some to another, it was seen that the seemingly good feelings of both the priests and the converts were more pretended than real; for a scene of great confusion and bad feeling ensued—priest contending against priest, and convert against convert; so that all their good feelings one for another, if they ever had any, were entirely lost in a strife of words and a contest about opinions.
“7 I was at this time in my fifteenth year. My father’s family was proselyted to the Presbyterian faith, and four of them joined that church, namely, my mother, Lucy; my brothers Hyrum and Samuel Harrison; and my sister Sophronia.
“8 During this time of great excitement my mind was called up to serious reflection and great uneasiness; but though my feelings were deep and often poignant, still I kept myself aloof from all these parties, though I attended their several meetings as often as occasion would permit. In process of time my mind became somewhat partial to the Methodist sect, and I felt some desire to be united with them; but so great were the confusion and strife among the different denominations, that it was impossible for a person young as I was, and so unacquainted with men and things, to come to any certain conclusion who was right and who was wrong.
“9 My mind at times was greatly excited, the cry and tumult were so great and incessant. The Presbyterians were most decided against the Baptists and Methodists, and used all the powers of both reason and sophistry to prove their errors, or, at least, to make the people think they were in error. On the other hand, the Baptists and Methodists in their turn were equally zealous in endeavoring to establish their own tenets and disprove all others.
“10 In the midst of this war of words and tumult of opinions, I often said to myself: What is to be done? Who of all these parties are right; or, are they all wrong together? If any one of them be right, which is it, and how shall I know it?
“11 While I was laboring under the extreme difficulties caused by the contests of these parties of religionists, 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.
“12 Never did any passage of scripture come with more power to the heart of man than this did at this time to mine. It seemed to enter with great force into every feeling of my heart. I reflected on it again and again, knowing that if any person needed wisdom from God, I did; for how to act I did not know, and unless I could get more wisdom than I then had, I would never know; for the teachers of religion of the different sects understood the same passages of scripture so differently as to destroy all confidence in settling the question by an appeal to the Bible.
“13 At length 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 at length came to the determination to ‘ask of God,’ concluding that if he gave wisdom to them that lacked wisdom, and would give liberally, and not upbraid, I might venture.
“14 So, in accordance with this, my determination to 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 such an attempt, for amidst all my anxieties I had never as yet made the attempt to pray vocally.
“15 After I had retired to 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 an 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.
“16 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 marvelous 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.
“17 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!
“18 My object in going to inquire of the Lord was to know which of all the sects was right, that I might know which to join. No sooner, therefore, did I get possession of myself, so as to be able to speak, than I asked the Personages who stood above me in the light, which of all the sects was right (for at this time it had never entered into my heart that all were wrong)—and which I should join.
“19 I was answered that I must join none of them, for they were all wrong; and the Personage who addressed me said that all their creeds were an abomination in his sight; that those professors were all corrupt; that: ‘They draw near to me with their lips, but their hearts are far from me, they teach for doctrines the commandments of men, having a form of godliness, but they deny the power thereof.’
“20 He again forbade me to join with any of them; and many other things did he 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. When the light had departed, I had no strength; but soon recovering in some degree, I went home. And as I leaned up to the fireplace, mother inquired what the matter was. I replied, ‘Never mind, all is well—I am well enough off.’ I then said to my mother, ‘I have learned for myself that Presbyterianism is not true.’ It seems as though the adversary was aware, at a very early period of my life, that I was destined to prove a disturber and an annoyer of his kingdom; else why should the powers of darkness combine against me? Why the opposition and persecution that arose against me, almost in my infancy?
“21 Some few days after I had this vision, I happened to be in company with one of the Methodist preachers, who was very active in the before mentioned religious excitement; and, conversing with him on the subject of religion, I took occasion to give him an account of the vision which I had had. I was greatly surprised at his behavior; he treated my communication not only lightly, but with great contempt, saying it was all of the devil, that there were no such things as visions or revelations in these days; that all such things had ceased with the apostles, and that there would never be any more of them.
“22 I soon found, however, that my telling the story had excited a great deal of prejudice against me among professors of religion, and was the cause of great persecution, which continued to increase; and though I was an obscure boy, only between fourteen and fifteen years of age, and my circumstances in life such as to make a boy of no consequence in the world, yet men of high standing would take notice sufficient to excite the public mind against me, and create a bitter persecution; and this was common among all the sects—all united to persecute me.
“23 It caused me serious reflection then, and often has since, how very strange it was that an obscure boy, of a little over fourteen years of age, and one, too, who was doomed to the necessity of obtaining a scanty maintenance by his daily labor, should be thought a character of sufficient importance to attract the attention of the great ones of the most popular sects of the day, and in a manner to create in them a spirit of the most bitter persecution and reviling. But strange or not, so it was, and it was often the cause of great sorrow to myself.
“24 However, it was nevertheless a fact that I had beheld a vision. I have thought since, that I felt much like Paul, when he made his defense before King Agrippa, and related the account of the vision he had when he saw a light, and heard a voice; but still there were but few who believed him; some said he was dishonest, others said he was mad; and he was ridiculed and reviled. But all this did not destroy the reality of his vision. He had seen a vision, he knew he had, and all the persecution under heaven could not make it otherwise; and though they should persecute him unto death, yet he knew, and would know to his latest breath, that he had both seen a light and heard a voice speaking unto him, and all the world could not make him think or believe otherwise.
“25 So it was with me. 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; and while they were persecuting me, reviling me, and speaking all manner of evil against me falsely for so saying, I was led to say in my heart: Why persecute me for telling the truth? I have actually seen a vision; and who am I that I can withstand God, or why does the world think to make me deny what I have actually seen? for I had seen a vision; I knew it, and I knew that God knew it, and I could not deny it, neither dared I do it; at least I knew that by so doing I would offend God, and come under condemnation.
“26 I had now got my mind satisfied so far as the sectarian world was concerned—that it was not my duty to join with any of them, but to continue as I was until further directed. I had found the testimony of James to be true—that a man who lacked wisdom might ask of God, and obtain, and not be upbraided.
“27 I continued to pursue my common vocations in life until the twenty-first of September, one thousand eight hundred and twenty-three, all the time suffering severe persecution at the hands of all classes of men, both religious and irreligious, because I continued to affirm that I had seen a vision.
“28 During the space of time which intervened between the time I had the vision and the year eighteen hundred and twenty-three—having been forbidden to join any of the religious sects of the day, and being of very tender years, and persecuted by those who ought to have been my friends and to have treated me kindly, and if they supposed me to be deluded to have endeavored in a proper and affectionate manner to have reclaimed me—I was left to all kinds of temptations; and, mingling with all kinds of society, I frequently fell into many foolish errors, and displayed the weakness of youth, and the foibles of human nature; which, I am sorry to say, led me into divers temptations, offensive in the sight of God. In making this confession, no one need suppose me guilty of any great or malignant sins. A disposition to commit such was never in my nature. But I was guilty of levity, and sometimes associated with jovial company, etc., not consistent with that character which ought to be maintained by one who was called of God as I had been. But this will not seem very strange to any one who recollects my youth, and is acquainted with my native cheery temperament.
“29 In consequence of these things, I often felt condemned for my weakness and imperfections; when, on the evening of the above-mentioned twenty-first of September, after I had retired to my bed for the night, I betook myself to prayer and supplication to Almighty God for forgiveness of all my sins and follies, and also for a manifestation to me, that I might know of my state and standing before him; for I had full confidence in obtaining a divine manifestation, as I previously had one.
“30 While I was thus in the act of calling upon God, I discovered a light appearing in my room, which continued to increase until the room was lighter than at noonday, when immediately a personage appeared at my bedside, standing in the air, for his feet did not touch the floor.
“31 He had on a loose robe of most exquisite whiteness. It was a whiteness beyond anything earthly I had ever seen; nor do I believe that any earthly thing could be made to appear so exceedingly white and brilliant. His hands were naked, and his arms also, a little above the wrist; so, also, were his feet naked, as were his legs, a little above the ankles. His head and neck were also bare. I could discover that he had no other clothing on but this robe, as it was open, so that I could see into his bosom.
“32 Not only was his robe exceedingly white, but his whole person was glorious beyond description, and his countenance truly like lightning. The room was exceedingly light, but not so very bright as immediately around his person. When I first looked upon him, I was afraid; but the fear soon left me.
“33 He called me by name, and said unto me that he was a messenger sent from the presence of God to me, and that his name was Moroni; that God had a work for me to do; and that my name should be had for good and evil among all nations, kindreds, and tongues, or that it should be both good and evil spoken of among all people.
“34 He said there was a book deposited, written upon gold plates, giving an account of the former inhabitants of this continent, and the source from whence they sprang. He also said that the fulness of the everlasting Gospel was contained in it, as delivered by the Savior to the ancient inhabitants;
“35 Also, that there were two stones in silver bows—and these stones, fastened to a breastplate, constituted what is called the Urim and Thummim—deposited with the plates, and the possession and use of these stones were what constituted ‘seers’ in ancient or former times; and that God had prepared them for the purpose of translating the book.
“36 After telling me these things, he commenced quoting the prophecies of the Old Testament. He first quoted part of the third chapter of Malachi; and he quoted also the fourth or last chapter of the same prophecy, though with a little variation from the way it reads in our Bibles. Instead of quoting the first verse as it reads in our books, he quoted it thus:
“37 For behold, the day cometh that shall burn as an oven, and all the proud, yea, and all that do wickedly shall burn as stubble; for they that come shall burn them, saith the Lord of Hosts, that it shall leave them neither root nor branch.
“38 And again, he quoted the fifth verse thus: Behold, I will reveal unto you the Priesthood, by the hand of Elijah the prophet, before the coming of the great and dreadful day of the Lord.
“39 He also quoted the next verse differently: And he shall plant in the hearts of the children the promises made to the fathers, and the hearts of the children shall turn to their fathers. If it were not so, the whole earth would be utterly wasted at his coming.
“40 In addition to these, he quoted the eleventh chapter of Isaiah, saying that it was about to be fulfilled. He quoted also the third chapter of Acts, twenty-second and twenty-third verses, precisely as they stand in our New Testament. He said that that prophet was Christ; but the day had not yet come when “they who would not hear his voice should be cut off from among the people,” but soon would come.
“41 He also quoted the second chapter of Joel, from the twenty-eighth verse to the last. He also said that this was not yet fulfilled, but was soon to be. And he further stated that the fulness of the Gentiles was soon to come in. He quoted many other passages of scripture, and offered many explanations which cannot be mentioned here.
“42 Again, he told me, that when I got those plates of which he had spoken—for the time that they should be obtained was not yet fulfilled—I should not show them to any person; neither the breastplate with the Urim and Thummim; only to those to whom I should be commanded to show them; if I did I should be destroyed. While he was conversing with me about the plates, the vision was opened to my mind that I could see the place where the plates were deposited, and that so clearly and distinctly that I knew the place again when I visited it.
“43 After this communication, I saw the light in the room begin to gather immediately around the person of him who had been speaking to me, and it continued to do so until the room was again left dark, except just around him; when, instantly I saw, as it were, a conduit open right up into heaven, and he ascended till he entirely disappeared, and the room was left as it had been before this heavenly light had made its appearance.
“44 I lay musing on the singularity of the scene, and marveling greatly at what had been told to me by this extraordinary messenger; when, in the midst of my meditation, I suddenly discovered that my room was again beginning to get lighted, and in an instant, as it were, the same heavenly messenger was again by my bedside.
“45 He commenced, and again related the very same things which he had done at his first visit, without the least variation; which having done, he informed me of great judgments which were coming upon the earth, with great desolations by famine, sword, and pestilence; and that these grievous judgments would come on the earth in this generation. Having related these things, he again ascended as he had done before.
“46 By this time, so deep were the impressions made on my mind, that sleep had fled from my eyes, and I lay overwhelmed in astonishment at what I had both seen and heard. But what was my surprise when again I beheld the same messenger at my bedside, and heard him rehearse or repeat over again to me the same things as before; and added a caution to me, telling me that Satan would try to tempt me (in consequence of the indigent circumstances of my father’s family), to get the plates for the purpose of getting rich. This he forbade me, saying that I must have no other object in view in getting the plates but to glorify God, and must not be influenced by any other motive than that of building his kingdom; otherwise I could not get them.
“47 After this third visit, he again ascended into heaven as before, and I was again left to ponder on the strangeness of what I had just experienced; when almost immediately after the heavenly messenger had ascended from me for the third time, the cock crowed, and I found that day was approaching, so that our interviews must have occupied the whole of that night.
“48 I shortly after arose from my bed, and, as usual, went to the necessary labors of the day; but, in attempting to work as at other times, I found my strength so exhausted as to render me entirely unable. My father, who was laboring along with me, discovered something to be wrong with me, and told me to go home. I started with the intention of going to the house; but, in attempting to cross the fence out of the field where we were, my strength entirely failed me, and I fell helpless on the ground, and for a time was quite unconscious of anything.
“49 The first thing that I can recollect was a voice speaking unto me, calling me by name. I looked up, and beheld the same messenger standing over my head, surrounded by light as before. He then again related unto me all that he had related to me the previous night, and commanded me to go to my father and tell him of the vision and commandments which I had received.
“50 I obeyed; I returned to my father in the field, and rehearsed the whole matter to him. He replied to me that it was of God, and told me to go and do as commanded by the messenger. I left the field, and went to the place where the messenger had told me the plates were deposited; and owing to the distinctness of the vision which I had had concerning it, I knew the place the instant that I arrived there.
“51 Convenient to the village of Manchester, Ontario county, New York, stands a hill of considerable size, and the most elevated of any in the neighborhood. On the west side of this hill, not far from the top, under a stone of considerable size, lay the plates, deposited in a stone box. This stone was thick and rounding in the middle on the upper side, and thinner towards the edges, so that the middle part of it was visible above the ground, but the edge all around was covered with earth.
“52 Having removed the earth, I obtained a lever, which I got fixed under the edge of the stone, and with a little exertion raised it up. I looked in, and there indeed did I behold the plates, the Urim and Thummim, and the breastplate, as stated by the messenger. The box in which they lay was formed by laying stones together in some kind of cement. In the bottom of the box were laid two stones crossways of the box, and on these stones lay the plates and the other things with them.
“53 I made an attempt to take them out, but was forbidden by the messenger, and was again informed that the time for bringing them forth had not yet arrived, neither would it, until four years from that time; but he told me that I should come to that place precisely in one year from that time, and that he would there meet with me, and that I should continue to do so until the time should come for obtaining the plates.
“54 Accordingly, as I had been commanded, I went at the end of each year, and at each time I found the same messenger there, and received instruction and intelligence from him at each of our interviews, respecting what the Lord was going to do, and how and in what manner his kingdom was to be conducted in the last days.
“55 As my father’s worldly circumstances were very limited, we were under the necessity of laboring with our hands, hiring out by day’s work and otherwise, as we could get opportunity. Sometimes we were at home, and sometimes abroad, and by continuous labor were enabled to get a comfortable maintenance.
“56 In the year 1823 my father’s family met with a great affliction by the death of my eldest brother, Alvin. In the month of October, 1825, I hired with an old gentleman by the name of Josiah Stoal, who lived in Chenango county, State of New York. He had heard something of a silver mine having been opened by the Spaniards in Harmony, Susquehanna county, State of Pennsylvania; and had, previous to my hiring to him, been digging, in order, if possible, to discover the mine. After I went to live with him, he took me, with the rest of his hands, to dig for the silver mine, at which I continued to work for nearly a month, without success in our undertaking, and finally I prevailed with the old gentleman to cease digging after it. Hence arose the very prevalent story of my having been a money-digger.
“57 During the time that I was thus employed, I was put to board with a Mr. Isaac Hale, of that place; it was there I first saw my wife (his daughter), Emma Hale. On the 18th of January, 1827, we were married, while I was yet employed in the service of Mr. Stoal.
“58 Owing to my continuing to assert that I had seen a vision, persecution still followed me, and my wife’s father’s family were very much opposed to our being married. I was, therefore, under the necessity of taking her elsewhere; so we went and were married at the house of Squire Tarbill, in South Bainbridge, Chenango county, New York. Immediately after my marriage, I left Mr. Stoal’s, and went to my father’s, and farmed with him that season.
“59 At length the time arrived for obtaining the plates, the Urim and Thummim, and the breastplate. On the twenty-second day of September, one thousand eight hundred and twenty-seven, having gone as usual at the end of another year to the place where they were deposited, the same heavenly messenger delivered them up to me with this charge: that I should be responsible for them; that if I should let them go carelessly, or through any neglect of mine, I should be cut off; but that if I would use all my endeavors to preserve them, until he, the messenger, should call for them, they should be protected.
“60 I soon found out the reason why I had received such strict charges to keep them safe, and why it was that the messenger had said that when I had done what was required at my hand, he would call for them. For no sooner was it known that I had them, than the most strenuous exertions were used to get them from me. Every stratagem that could be invented was resorted to for that purpose. The persecution became more bitter and severe than before, and multitudes were on the alert continually to get them from me if possible. But by the wisdom of God, they remained safe in my hands, until I had accomplished by them what was required at my hand. When, according to arrangements, the messenger called for them, I delivered them up to him; and he has them in his charge until this day, being the second day of May, one thousand eight hundred and thirty-eight.
“61 The excitement, however, still continued, and rumor with her thousand tongues was all the time employed in circulating falsehoods about my father’s family, and about myself. If I were to relate a thousandth part of them, it would fill up volumes. The persecution, however, became so intolerable that I was under the necessity of leaving Manchester, and going with my wife to Susquehanna county, in the State of Pennsylvania. While preparing to start—being very poor, and the persecution so heavy upon us that there was no probability that we would ever be otherwise—in the midst of our afflictions we found a friend in a gentleman by the name of Martin Harris, who came to us and gave me fifty dollars to assist us on our journey. Mr. Harris was a resident of Palmyra township, Wayne county, in the State of New York, and a farmer of respectability.
“62 By this timely aid was I enabled to reach the place of my destination in Pennsylvania; and immediately after my arrival there I commenced copying the characters off the plates. I copied a considerable number of them, and by means of the Urim and Thummim I translated some of them, which I did between the time I arrived at the house of my wife’s father, in the month of December, and the February following.
“63 Sometime in this month of February, the aforementioned Mr. Martin Harris came to our place, got the characters which I had drawn off the plates, and started with them to the city of New York. For what took place relative to him and the characters, I refer to his own account of the circumstances, as he related them to me after his return, which was as follows
“64 ‘I went to the city of New York, and presented the characters which had been translated, with the translation thereof, to Professor Charles Anthon, a gentleman celebrated for his literary attainments. Professor Anthon stated that the translation was correct, more so than any he had before seen translated from the Egyptian. I then showed him those which were not yet translated, and he said that they were Egyptian, Chaldaic, Assyriac, and Arabic; and he said they were true characters. He gave me a certificate, certifying to the people of Palmyra that they were true characters, and that the translation of such of them as had been translated was also correct. I took the certificate and put it into my pocket, and was just leaving the house, when Mr. Anthon called me back, and asked me how the young man found out that there were gold plates in the place where he found them. I answered that an angel of God had revealed it unto him.
“65 ‘He then said to me, ‘Let me see that certificate.’ I accordingly took it out of my pocket and gave it to him, when he took it and tore it to pieces, saying that there was no such thing now as ministering of angels, and that if I would bring the plates to him he would translate them. I informed him that part of the plates were sealed, and that I was forbidden to bring them. He replied, ‘I cannot read a sealed book.’ I left him and went to Dr. Mitchell, who sanctioned what Professor Anthon had said respecting both the characters and the translation.’
“66 On the 5th day of April, 1829, Oliver Cowdery came to my house, until which time I had never seen him. He stated to me that having been teaching school in the neighborhood where my father resided, and my father being one of those who sent to the school, he went to board for a season at his house, and while there the family related to him the circumstances of my having received the plates, and accordingly he had come to make inquiries of me.
“67 Two days after the arrival of Mr. Cowdery (being the 7th of April) I commenced to translate the Book of Mormon, and he began to write for me.
“68 We still continued the work of translation, when, in the ensuing month (May, 1829), we on a certain day went into the woods to pray and inquire of the Lord respecting baptism for the remission of sins, that we found mentioned in the translation of the plates. While we were thus employed, praying and calling upon the Lord, a messenger from heaven descended in a cloud of light, and having laid his hands upon us, he ordained us, saying:
“69 Upon you my fellow servants, in the name of Messiah, I confer the Priesthood of Aaron, which holds the keys of the ministering of angels, and of the gospel of repentance, and of baptism by immersion for the remission of sins; and this shall never be taken again from the earth until the sons of Levi do offer again an offering unto the Lord in righteousness.
“70 He said this Aaronic Priesthood had not the power of laying on hands for the gift of the Holy Ghost, but that this should be conferred on us hereafter; and he commanded us to go and be baptized, and gave us directions that I should baptize Oliver Cowdery, and that afterwards he should baptize me.
“71 Accordingly we went and were baptized. I baptized him first, and afterwards he baptized me—after which I laid my hands upon his head and ordained him to the Aaronic Priesthood, and afterwards he laid his hands on me and ordained me to the same Priesthood—for so we were commanded.*
“72 The messenger who visited us on this occasion and conferred this Priesthood upon us, said that his name was John, the same that is called John the Baptist in the New Testament, and that he acted under the direction of Peter, James and John, who held the keys of the Priesthood of Melchizedek, which Priesthood, he said, would in due time be conferred on us, and that I should be called the first Elder of the Church, and he (Oliver Cowdery) the second. It was on the fifteenth day of May, 1829, that we were ordained under the hand of this messenger, and baptized.
“73 Immediately on our coming up out of the water after we had been baptized, we experienced great and glorious blessings from our Heavenly Father. No sooner had I baptized Oliver Cowdery, than the Holy Ghost fell upon him, and he stood up and prophesied many things which should shortly come to pass. And again, so soon as I had been baptized by him, I also had the spirit of prophecy, when, standing up, I prophesied concerning the rise of this church, and many other things connected with the Church, and this generation of the children of men. We were filled with the Holy Ghost, and rejoiced in the God of our salvation.
“74 Our minds being now enlightened, we began to have the scriptures laid open to our understandings, and the true meaning and intention of their more mysterious passages revealed unto us in a manner which we never could attain to previously, nor ever before had thought of. In the meantime we were forced to keep secret the circumstances of having received the Priesthood and our having been baptized, owing to a spirit of persecution which had already manifested itself in the neighborhood.
“75 We had been threatened with being mobbed, from time to time, and this, too, by professors of religion. And their intentions of mobbing us were only counteracted by the influence of my wife’s father’s family (under Divine providence), who had become very friendly to me, and who were opposed to mobs, and were willing that I should be allowed to continue the work of translation without interruption; and therefore offered and promised us protection from all unlawful proceedings, as far as in them lay.”