Joseph Smith Visited by Book of Mormon and Bible Prophets

Book of Mormon Personalities Known by Joseph Smith

BY ROBERT J. WOODFORD

Moroni revealed the initial information to the Prophet Joseph, but many angels revealed additional things to him before he received the plates. (See Journal of Discourses, 14:140.) Orson Pratt recalled in later years that these angels were Book of Mormon personalities to whom Joseph spoke face to face. (See Journal of Discourses, 13:66.) Elder Pratt also said they came to instruct Joseph concerning the work he was to perform, and that Moroni gave him “much instruction.” 4

Others among Joseph Smith’s close associates add intriguing details. Wilford Woodruff said that Joseph was taught by “angels from heaven, by the voice of God, and by the inspiration and power of the Holy Ghost.” (Journal of Discourses, 16:35.) Orson Spencer wrote how “at his touch the ancient prophets spring into life.” 5

Early chroniclers record other visits of the Savior. For example, Zebedee Coltrin, speaking to the School of the Prophets of the Salt Lake Stake—which included President John Taylor and other general authorities—said that the Savior had appeared during a meeting two or three weeks after the organization of the original School of the Prophets in Kirtland. He passed through the room without speaking, and Joseph Smith identified the holy visitor: “That is Jesus, the Son of God, our elder brother.” 9

Elder John Taylor also identified “Mormon, Moroni, Nephi, and others of the ancient Prophets who formerly lived on this Continent” as visitors. (Journal of Discourses, 17:374.) Speaking at Ephraim, Utah, in 1879, Elder Taylor said the Nephite twelve disciples also came to Joseph.

“The principles which he had, placed him in communication with the Lord, and not only with the Lord, but with the ancient apostles and prophets; such men, for instance, as Abraham, Isaac, Jacob, Noah, Adam, Seth, Enoch, and Jesus and the Father, and the apostles that lived on this continent as well as those who lived on the Asiatic continent. He seemed to be as familiar with these people as we are one with another.” (Journal of Discourses, 21:94.)

In a later talk at the Fourteenth Ward in Salt Lake City, Elder Taylor added:

“The Angel Moroni came to him and revealed to him the Book of Mormon. … And then came Nephi, one of the ancient prophets, that had lived upon this continent, who had an interest in the welfare of the people that he had lived amongst in those days. …

“Again who more likely than Mormon and Nephi, and some of those prophets who had ministered to the people upon this continent, under the influence of the same Gospel, to operate again as its representatives?” (Journal of Discourses, 21:161, 163.)

 

Elder Orson Pratt, in a personal letter to John Christensen of Brigham City, testified:

“The prophet often received visits from Nephi, Moroni, Peter, James, John (the beloved), John (the Baptist), Elijah, Moses, the three Nephites, etc. etc.” 10

Ensign, August 1978

4.Journal of Discourses, 15:185; “Early Church History,” The Historical Record 5 (January 1886): 2.

 

  1.   5.Orson Spencer, Letters Exhibiting the Most Prominent Doctrines of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, sixth ed. (Salt Lake City, George Q. Cannon & Sons, 1891), p. 27.
  2. 9. Minutes of the School of the Prophets, Salt Lake Stake, 3 Oct. 1883, Archives of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, Salt Lake City, p. 59.
    1.   10.Orson Pratt to John Christensen, 11 Mar. 1876, Archives of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, Salt Lake City.

The First Written Account of the First Vision by Orson Pratt

170304_145559_bp05_Va_094_Ed43_1840

He, accordingly, commenced perusing the sacred pages of the Bible, with sincerity, believing the things that he read. His mind soon caught hold of the following passage:–“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 i.5. From this promise he learned, that it was the privilege of all men to ask God for wisdom, with the sure and certain expectation of receiving, liberally; without being upbraided for so doing. This was cheering information to him: tidings that gave him great joy. It was like a light shining forth in a dark place, to guide him to the path in which he should walk. He, now, saw that if he inquired of God, there was, not only, a possibility, but a probability; yea, more, a certainty, that he should obtain a knowledge, which, of all the doctrines, was the doctrine of Christ; and, which, of all the churches, was the church of Christ. He, therefore, retired to a secret place, in a grove, but a short distance from his father’s house, and knelt down, and began to call upon the Lord. At first, he was severely tempted by the powers of darkness, which endeavoured to overcome him; but he continued to seek for deliverance, until darkness gave way from his mind; and he was enabled to pray, in fervency of the spirit, and in faith. And, while thus pouring out his soul, anxiously desiring an answer from God, he, at length, saw a very bright and glorious light in the heavens above; which, at first, seemed to be at a considerable distance. He continued praying, while the light appeared to be gradually descending towards him; and, as it drew nearer, it increased in brightness, and magnitude, so that, by the time that it reached the tops of the trees, the whole wilderness, for some distance around, was illuminated in a most glorious and brilliant manner. He expected to have seen the leaves and boughs of the trees consumed, as soon as the light came in contact with them; but, perceiving that it did not produce that effect, he was encouraged with the hopes of being able to endure its presence. It continued descending, slowly, until it rested upon the earth, and he was enveloped in the midst of it. When it first came upon him, it produced a peculiar sensation throughout his whole system; and, immediately his mind was caught away, from the natural objects with which he was surrounded; and he was enwrapped in a heavenly vision, and saw two glorious personages, who exactly resembled each other in their features or likeness. He was informed, that his sins were forgiven. He was also informed upon the subjects, which had for some time previously agitated his mind, viz.– that all the religious denominations were believing in incorrect doctrines; and, consequently, that none of them was acknowledged of God, as his church and kingdom. And he was expressly commanded, to go not after them; and he received a promise that the true doctrine–the fulness of the gospel, should, at some future time, be made known to him; after which, the vision withdrew, leaving his mind in a state of calmness and peace, indescribable.

INTERESTING  ACCOUNT

OF

SEVERAL  REMARKABLE  VISIONS,

AND  OF

THE  LATE  DISCOVERY

OF

ANCIENT  AMERICAN  RECORDS

GIVING AN ACCOUNT OF THE COMMENCEMENT OF
THE WORK OF THE LORD IN THIS GENERATION

BY  O.  PRATT,
MINISTER OF THE GOSPEL.

“For there is nothing covered,
that shall not be revealed;
and hid, that shall not be known.” —MATT. x. 26.

EDINBURGH:

PRINTED  BY  BALLANTYNE  AND  HUGHES,
MDCCCXL.

A Day of God’s Power With The Prophet Joseph

From the journal of Wilford Woodruff.

 

While I was living in this cabin in the old barracks, we experienced a day of God’s power with the Prophet Joseph.  The large number of saints who had been driven out of Missouri were flocking into Commerce [afterwards named Nauvoo]; many were sick through the exposure they were subjected to.  Brother Joseph had waited on the sick until he was worn out and nearly sick himself.

On the morning of the 22nd of July, 1839, he arose and called upon the Lord in prayer, and the power of God rested upon him mightily – Jospeh the Prophet of God healed all around on this occasion.  He healed all in his house; then, in company with Sidney Rigdon and several of the Twelve he went among the sick and he commanded them in a loud voice, in the name of Jesus Christ, to come up and be made whole, and they were all healed.

When he had healed all that were sick on the east side of the river, they crossed the Mississippi to Montrose. They first went into Brigham Young’s house and healed him.  As they were passing by my door, Brother Joseph said:  “Brother Woodruff, follow me.”  When we entered the house of Brother Fordham, Brother Fordham had been dying for an hour, and we expected each minute to be his last.  Brother Joseph walked up to Brother Fordham, and took him by the right hand.  Brother Fordham’s eyes were glazed and he was speechless and unconscious.  Joseph said, “Brother Fordham, do you not know me?”  He again said, “Elijah, do you not know me?”  With a low whisper, Brother Fordham answered, “Yes!”

The Prophet then said, “Have you not faith to be healed?”  The answer was, “I am afraid it is too late.  If you had come sooner, I think I might have been.”  He had the appearance of a man waking from the sleep of death.  Joseph then said, “Do you believe that Jesus is the Christ?”  “I do, Brother Joseph.” was the response.  The the Prophet of God spoke with a loud voice: “Elijah, I command you, in the name of Jesus of Nazareth, to arise and be made whole!”  The words of the Prophet were not like the words of man, but like the voice of God.  Elijah Fordham leaped from his bed like a man raised from the dead.  A healthy colour came to his face, and life was manifested in every act.  His feet were done up in Indian meal poultices.  He kicked them off his feet, and then called for his clothes and put them on.  He asked for a bowl of bread and milk and ate it; then put on his hat and followed us into the street.  THrough the blessing of God, Elijah Fordham lived up til 1880, in which year he died in Utah.

Wilford Woodruff’s Wife Has a Near-Death Experience

In October 1838, Wilford Woodruff began to lead 53 new Saints from his missionary labors in Maine to Nauvoo, Illinois.  It took them three months traveling in wagons.  Wilford took his wife and only child on this journey.  Early in his travels, he became sick as did his wife, their child, and several others.  In the afternoon of December 1st, it seemed as though his wife, Phoebe, would breathe her last breath.

Wilford cried to the Lord, and prayed that she might not be taken.  After settling her into a house on Sunday 2 December, it looked as though she had just a short time to live.  On the evening of 4 December, her spirit apparently left her body and according to Wilford she was dead.  Wilford recalls that “faith filled my soul” and he administered to her with oil.  He writes:

“I laid my hands upon her, and in the name of Jesus Christ I rebuked the power of death and the destroyer, and commanded the same to depart from her, and the spirit of life to enter her body.  Her spirit returned to her body, and from that hour she was made whole.

“While this operation was going on with me [as my wife related afterwards] her spirit left her body, and she saw it lying on the bed.  She looked at me and upon her babe, and , while gazing upon the scene, two personages came into the room carrying a coffin and told her they had come for her body.  One of these messengers informed her that she could have her choice: she might go to rest in the spirit world, or, on one condition she could have the privilege of returning to her tabernacle and continuing her labors upon the earth.  The condition was, if she felt she could stand by her husband, and with him pass through all the cares, trials, tribulations, and affliction of life which he would be called to pass through for the gospel’s sake unto the end.  When she looked at the situation of her husband and child she said: ‘Yes, I will do it!’

“At the moment that decision was made the power of faith rested upon me, and when I administered unto her, her spirit entered her tabernacle, and she saw the messengers carry the coffin out at the door.”

Phoebe W. Carter Woodruff went with Wilford to the Salt Lake Valley in 1850 and died there in 1885.

Wilford Woodruff, Leaves From My Journal, p. 66-67

Miracles in Canada with Wilford Woodruff

“I felt impressed by the Spirit of God to take a mission to the Fox Islands, situated east of the Maine shore, a country I knew nothing about.  I made my feelings known to the apostles, and they advised me to go.

We crossed Lake Ontario on the steamer Oneida, to Kingston, Upper Canada, and from there also by steamer along the canal to Jone’s Falls, whence we walked to a place called Bastard, Leeds County. [near present-day Smith’s Falls, Ontario]

Here we found a branch of the Church, presided over by John E. Page and James Blakesly.  We accompanied them to their place of meeting, and attended a conference with them at which three hundred members of the Church were represented.

We ordained seven Elders, nine Priests, eleven Teachers and five Deacons.

We spoke to the people several times during this conference, and at its close we were called upon to administer to a woman who was possessed of the devil.  At times she was dumb, and greatly afflicted with the evil spirits that dwelt in her.  She believed in Jesus and in us as His servants, and wished us to administer to her.  Four of us laid our hands upon her head and commanded the devil, in the name of Jesus Christ, to depart out of her.  It was immediately done, and the woman arose with great joy, and gave thanks and praise unto God; for, according to her faith, she was made whole from that hour.

A child, also, that was sick, was healed by the laying on of hands, according to the word of God.

We walked thirty miles to visit another branch of the Saints at Leeds, where we met with John Gordon and John Snyder.  Here we held a meeting and bore our testimony to the people.

A Sister Carns here came to us and requested to have the ordinance for the healing of the sick performed for two of her children who were afflicted.  One was a suckling child, which was lying at the point of death.  I took it in my arms and presented it before the Elders, who laid their hands upon it, and it was made whole immediately, and I handed it back to the mother entirely healed.

We afterwards laid hands upon the other, when it was also healed.  It was done by the power of God, in the name of Jesus Christ, and the parents praised God for His goodness.”

Wilford Woodruff, “Leaves From My Journal” pp. 33-34