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 197

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.

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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.

The Testimony of Phoebe W. Carter Woodruff

Phoebe W. Carter Woodruff, 1807-1885

Autobiography in Edward W. Tullidge, The Women of Mormondom, New York, 1877 pp. 399-400, 411- 414.

SELECTIONS FROM THE WRITINGS OF PHOEBE W. CARTER WOODRUFF

[Phoebe W. Carter was born in Scarboro, in the state of Maine, March 8th, 1807. Her father was of English descent, connecting with America at about the close of the seventeenth century. Her mother, Sarah Fabyan, was of the same place, and three generations from England. . . . In the year 1834 she embraced the gospel, and, about a year after, left her parents and kindred and journeyed to Kirtland, a distance of one thousand miles–a lone maid, sustained only by a lofty faith and trust in Israel’s God.]

My friends marveled at my course, as did I, but something within impelled me on. My mother’s grief at my leaving home was almost more than I could bear; and had it not been for the spirit within I should have faltered at the last. My mother told me she would rather see me buried than going thus alone out into the heartless world. “Phoebe,” she said, impressively, “will you come back to me if you find Mormonism false?” I answered, “yes, mother; I will, thrice.” These were my words, and she knew I would keep my promise. My answer relieved her trouble; but it cost us all much sorrow to part. When the time came for my departure I dared not trust myself to say farewell; so I wrote my good-byes to each, and leaving them on my table, ran downstairs and jumped into the carriage. Thus I left the beloved home of my childhood to link my life with the saints of God.

When I arrived in Kirtland I became acquainted with the Prophet, Joseph Smith, and received more evidence of his divine mission. There in Kirtland I formed the acquaintance of Elder Wilford Woodruff, to whom I was married in 1836. With him I went to the “islands of the sea,” and to England, on missions.

Of Joseph, my testimony is that he was one of the greatest prophets the Lord ever called; that he lived for the redemption of mankind, and died a martyr for the truth. The love of the Saints for him will never die.

It was after the martyrdom of Joseph that I accompanied my husband to England, in 1845. On our return the advance companies of the Saints had just left Nauvoo under President Young and others of the twelve. We followed immediately and journeyed to Winter Quarters.

The next year Wilford went with the pioneers to the mountains, while the care of the family devolved on me. After his return, and the reorganization of the First Presidency, I accompanied my husband on his mission to the Eastern States. In 1850 we arrived in the valley, and since that time Salt Lake City has been my home.

Of my husband I can truly say, I have found him a worthy man, with scarcely his equal on earth. He has built up a branch wherever he has labored. He has been faithful to God and his family every day of his life. My respect for him has increased with our years, and my desire for an eternal union with him will be the last wish of my mortal life. . . .

The Grand Destiny of Man by Lorenzo Snow

Only five feet six inches tall, and weighing barely 130 pounds at the time he became President of the Church, Lorenzo Snow was the last of the General Authorities to have been personally acquainted with the Prophet Joseph Smith. In a November 1900 discourse delivered in the Salt Lake Tabernacle, President Snow told the Saints that he had often visited the Prophet Joseph and his family, dined at his table, had private interviews with him, and knew that he was an honorable, moral man who was greatly respected. He feelingly declared that “the Lord has shown me most clearly and completely that he was a Prophet of God.” 1

One of Lorenzo Snow’s great contributions was his elucidation of the doctrine that man might one day become like God. As President of the Church he gave a discourse entitled “The Grand Destiny of Man.” He related how as a young man he had been inspired by one of the Prophet Joseph Smith’s sermons about the manifestations of God and Jesus Christ to him. Two and one-half years later, after a patriarchal blessing meeting, Joseph Smith, Sr., had promised Lorenzo that he could become as great as God himself. Two and one-half years after that, while Lorenzo listened to an explanation of the scriptures, the Lord inspired him to compose this couplet: “As man now is, God once was; As God now is, man may be.” President Snow stated, “Nothing was ever revealed more distinctly than that was to me.” 3 Shortly before Joseph Smith’s death, Lorenzo heard him teach the same doctrine. Thereafter Elder Snow made this doctrine one of the subjects of his own discourses.

3. “The Grand Destiny of Man,” Millennial Star, 22 Aug. 1901, p. 547; see also “The Grand Destiny of Man,” 15 Aug. 1901, pp. 541–42; LeRoi C. Snow, “Devotion to a Divine Inspiration,” Improvement Era, June 1919, p. 656.

Heber J. Grant Called by Revelation

Following a pattern set by the Prophet Joseph Smith, President Taylor often wrote and published the inspiration given to him. One such revelation was dictated on 13 October 1882, just a few days after general conference. For two years the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles had only ten members, and the vacancies had weighed heavily on the prophet’s mind. The revelation called George Teasdale and Heber J. Grant to the apostleship and physician Seymour B. Young to the First Council of the Seventy. It also called for increasing missionary work among various Indian tribes and for an increase in righteousness among priesthood bearers and all the Saints. 22

An experience of Elder Heber J. Grant a few months later gives some background to this revelation. Heber reported that for the first few months of his apostleship he felt that he was not qualified to be a special witness of the Savior. While traveling on the Navajo reservation in northern Arizona in February 1883, helping establish the Church among the Indians, Elder Grant told his companions he wanted some time by himself and took a different route to their destination. He later recounted what happened as he rode:

“I seemed to see, and I seemed to hear, what to me is one of the most real things in all my life, I seemed to see a Council in heaven. I seemed to hear the words that were spoken. . . . The First Presidency and the Council of the Twelve Apostles had not been able to agree on two men to fill the vacancies in the Quorum of the Twelve. . . . In this Council the Savior was present, my father [Jedediah M. Grant] was there, and the Prophet Joseph Smith was there. They discussed the question that a mistake had been made in not filling those two vacancies and that in all probability it would be another six months before the Quorum would be completed, and they discussed as to whom they wanted to occupy those positions, and decided that the way to remedy the mistake that had been made in not filling these vacancies was to send a revelation. It was given to me that the Prophet Joseph Smith and my father mentioned me and requested that I be called to that position. I sat there and wept for joy. . . .

“. . . From that day I have never been bothered, night or day, with the idea that I was not worthy to stand as an Apostle.” 23 In Conference Report, Apr. 1941, pp. 4–5.