When, where, and how were you, Joseph Smith, first called? How old were you? and what were you qualifications? I was between fourteen and fifteen years of age. Had you been to college? No. Had you studied in any seminary of learning? No. Did you know how to read? Yes. How to write? Yes. Did you understand much about arithmetic? No. About grammar? No. Did you understand all the branches of education which are generally taught in our common schools? No. But yet you say the Lord called you when you were but fourteen or fifteen years of age? How did he call you? I will give you a brief history as it came from his own mouth. I have often heard him relate it. He was wrought upon by the Spirit of God, and felt the necessity of repenting of his sins and serving God. He retired from his father's house a little way, and bowed himself down in the wilderness, and called upon the name of the Lord. He was inexperienced, and in great anxiety and trouble of mind in regard to what church he should join. He had been solicited by many churches to join with them, and he was in great anxiety to know which was right. He pleaded with the Lord to give him wisdom on the subject; and while he was thus praying, he beheld a vision, and saw a light approaching him from the heavens; and as it came down and rested on the tops of the trees, it became more glorious; and as it surrounded him, his mind was immediately caught away from beholding surrounding objects. In this cloud of light he saw two glorious personages; and one, pointing to the other, said, "Behold my beloved son! hear ye him."
He saw the light gradually approaching him until it rested upon the tops of the trees. He beheld that the leaves of the trees were not consumed by it, although its brightness, apparently, was sufficient, as he at first thought, to consume everything before it. But the trees were not consumed by it, and it continued to descend until it rested upon him and enveloped him in its glorious rays. When he was thus encircled about with this pillar of fire his mind was caught away from every object that surrounded him, and he was filled with the visions of the Almighty, and he saw, in the midst of this glorious pillar of fire, two glorious personages, whose countenances shone with an exceeding great lustre. One of them spoke to him, saying, while pointing in the other, "This is my beloved Son in whom I am well pleased, hear ye him."
By and by an obscure individual, a young man, rose up, and, in the midst of all Christendom, proclaimed the startling news that God had sent an angel to him; that through his faith, prayers, and sincere repentance he had beheld a supernatural vision, that he had seen a pillar of fire descend from Heaven, and saw two glorious personages clothed upon with this pillar of fire, whose countenance shone like the sun at noonday; that he heard one of these personages say, pointing to the other, 'This is my beloved Son, hear ye him.' This occurred before this young man was fifteen years of age; and it was a startling announcement to make in the midst of a generation so completely given up to the traditions of their fathers; and when this was proclaimed by this young, unlettered boy to the priests and the religious societies in the State of New York, they laughed him to scorn. 'What!' said they, "visions and revelations in our day! God speaking to men in our day!" They looked upon him as deluded; they pointed the finger of scorn at him and warned their congregations against him. 'The canon of Scripture is closed up; no more communications are to be expected from Heaven. The ancients saw heavenly visions and personages; they heard the voice of the Lord; they were inspired by the Holy Ghost to receive revelations, but behold no such thing is to be given to man in our day, neither has there been for many generations past.' This was the style of the remarks made by religionists forty years ago. This young man, some four years afterwards, was visited again by a holy angel.
By and by an obscure individual, a young man, rose up, and, in the midst of all Christendom, proclaimed the startling news that God had sent an angel to him;... This young man, some four years afterwards, was visited again by a holy angel.
Edited version of Journal of Discourses 13:65-66 used to show that Pratt claimed that it was an angel rather than the Father and Son that visited Smith. Attributed to Sandra Tanner in a speech given on November 8, 1998 in Salt Lake City.
He saw in this light two glorious personages, one of whom spoke to him, pointing to the other, saying, "This is my beloved Son, hear ye him." This was a glorious vision given to this boy.
[T]he heavens were opened, and two personages clothed in light or fire descended and stood before him. As soon as this light surrounded him, and he was enclosed or enveloped in it, his mind was caught away from earthly objects and things, and he saw these two glorious personages, their countenances shining with exceeding great brilliancy. One of them, while pointing to the other, addressed him in this language, "Behold my beloved son, hear ye him."
Finally the light rested down upon and overwhelmed him in the midst of it, and his mind at the same time seemed to be caught away from surrounding objects, and he saw nothing excepting the light and two glorious personages standing before him in the midst of this light. One of these personages, pointing to the other, said-"Behold my beloved Son, hear ye him."
In the year 1823 the angel first came to him, telling him about the plates, also telling him that he would return one year afterwards, when he would give him further instruction. Why this delay? why not commit to his charge the plates at once? It was because of his want of experience. It is true, he had previously received a heavenly vision some four years before, in which he had seen the face of God, the Father.
God prior to this time, had given revelation to this youth, on many occasions. The first one that he gave to him was in the spring of 1820, before Joseph Smith was of the age of fifteen. Then a wonderful revelation was given to him, the first one he ever received. In a great and glorious open vision, in answer to his prayers, there was the manifestation of two of the great personages in the heavens-not angels, not messengers, but two persons that hold the keys of authority over all the creations of the universe. Who were they? God the Eternal Father and his Son Jesus Christ, through whom God the Father made the worlds!
The Apostles were put to death; they were hunted from nation to nation; they wandered about in sheep skins and goat skins in the dens and caves of the earth, of whom the world was unworthy. Their followers were put to death by hundreds, by thousands, by tens of thousands; and after a while there sprang up a people that pretended to be Christians--followers of the meek and lowly Jesus, having no apostles, no inspired men, no revelation, no ministration of angels, none of the characteristics, except a few forms, of the Christian Church as it existed in the first century of the Christian era. This class of men, calling themselves Christian, uniting with the various forms of the pagan religion, adopting many of their ceremonies and institutions, became very popular, and finally some of the pagans embraced Christianity and were placed, as it were, upon the throne, and what they termed Christianity became very popular indeed.
But by and by the time came when the Christian Church apostatized and turned away, and began to follow after their own wisdom, and the Prophets and Apostles ceased, so far as the affairs of the Christian Church on the earth were concerned. Revelations, and visions, and the various gifts of the spirit were also taken away, according to their unbelief and apostacy; but in the latter days God intends to again raise up a Christian Church upon the earth. Do not be startled, you who think that God will no more have a Church on the earth, for he has promised that he would again have one, and that he would set up his kingdom, and when he does you may look out for a great many Prophets and inspired men; and if you ever see a Church arise, calling itself a Christian Church, and it has not inspired Apostles like those in ancient times, you may know that it is a spurious church, and that it makes pretensions to something that it does not enjoy. If you ever find a church called a Christian Church that has no men to foretell future events, you may know, at once, that it is not a Christian Church. If you find a Christian Church that has not the ancient gifts, for instance the gift of healing, opening the eyes of the blind, unstopping the ears of the deaf, causing the tongue of the dumb to speak and the lame to walk; if you ever find a people calling themselves a Christian Church and they have not these gifts among them, you may know with a perfect knowledge that they do not agree with the pattern given in the New Testament. The Christian Church is always characterized with inspired men, whose revelations are just as sacred as any contained in the Bible; and, if written and published, just as binding upon the human family. The Christian Church will always lay hands upon the sick in the name of Jesus, in order that the sick may be healed. The Christian Church will always have those among its members who have heavenly visions, the ministration of angels, and the various gifts that are promised according to the Gospel.
We planted our crops in the spring, and they came up, and were looking nicely, and we were cheered with the hopes of having a very abundant harvest. But alas! it very soon appeared as if our crops were going to be swallowed up by a vast horde of crickets, that came down from these mountains-crickets very different to what I used to be acquainted with in the State of New York. They were crickets nearly as large as a man's thumb. They came in immense droves, so that men and women with brush could make no headway against them; but we cried unto the Lord in our afflictions, and the Lord heard us, and sent thousands and tens of thousands of a small white bird. I have not seen any of them lately. Many called them gulls, although they were different from the seagulls that live on the Atlantic coast. And what did they do for us? They went to work, and by thousands and tens of thousands, began to devour them up, and still we thought that even they could not prevail against so large and mighty an army. But we noticed, that when they had apparently filled themselves with these crickets, they would go and vomit them up, and again go to work and fill themselves, and so they continued to do, until the land was cleared of crickets, and our crops were saved. There are those who will say that this was one of the natural courses of events, that there was no miracle in it. Let that be as it may, we esteemed it as a blessing from the hand of God; miracle or no miracle, we believe that God had a hand in it, and it does not matter particularly whether strangers believe or not.
Another great change happened nearly two thousand years after the earth was made. It was baptized by water. A great flow of water come, the great deep was broken up, the windows of heaven were opened from on high, and the waters prevailed upon the face of the earth, sweeping away all wickedness and transgression-a similitude of baptism for the remission of sins. God requires the children of men to be baptized. What for? For the remission of sins. So he required our globe to be baptized by a flow of waters, and all of its sins were washed away, not one sin remaining.
The Universalists think they are very charitable. Why? Because they send all to heaven, whether they are good or evil, saints or sinners. Murderers, drunkards, and all classes of society are to dwell together in heaven. And what a heaven it would be!—Methodists contending against Baptists, and Baptists against Methodists, Presbyterians against Quakers, Roman Catholics against Protestants, and Nothingarians against Sectarians, and Sectarians against Nothingarians; and then add to the whole catalogue of contending sects drunkards, blasphemers, whoremongers, murderers, and every species of wicked beings, all jumbled up together. Oh, what a happy place! Brother Kimball says—"And all of them with a revolver and bowie knife at their sides."