Joseph Smith III’s First Vision


The following is from The History of the Reorganized Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints, Independence, Missouri: Herald Publishing House, 1952, volume 3 pages 254–255. Changes to the original in italics.

1 ¶ It was during the summer of 1853 and fall that I had the first serious impressions concerning my connection with the work of my father.

2 That spring, if my memory is correct, there was a large emigration to Utah; a part of which was camped at Keokuk, twelve miles below Nauvoo, on the Iowa side of the Mississippi River.

3 A delegation of them visited Nauvoo, and with one of them, whose name if I learned it, I do not now remember, I had a long conversation respecting Mormonism.

4 I had talked with many upon the matter; but had never taken the subject into very earnest consideration.

5  ¶ This person urged that I was possibly doing a great wrong in allowing the years to pass by unimproved.

6 I stated to him that I was ready to do any work that might fall to my lot, or that I might be called to do.

7 I had no fellowship with the leadership in the Salt Lake Church and could not then give my sanction to things there; my prejudices were against them.

8  ¶ In the summer and fall several things occurred that served to bring the question up;

9 My sickness brought me near to death; my coming of age, and my choice of a profession were all coincident events;

10 And during my recovery I had opportunity for reflection, as for weeks I could do no work.

11 One day, after my return to health was assured, I had lain down to rest in my room;

12 The window was open to the south and the fresh breeze swept in through the trees and half closed blinds, I had slept and woke refreshed;

13 My mind recurred to the question of my future life and what its work should be.

14 I had been and was still reading law under the care of a lawyer named William McLennan, and it was partially decided that I should continue that study.

15  ¶ While weighing my desires and capabilities for this work, the question came up: Will I ever have anything to do with Mormonism?

16 If so, how and what will it be?

17 I was impressed that there was truth in the work my father had done.

18 I believed the gospel so far as I comprehended it.

19 Was I to have no part in that work as left by him?

20  ¶ While engaged in this contemplation and perplexed by these recurring questions, the room suddenly expanded and passed away.

21 I saw stretched out before me towns, cities, busy marts, courthouses, courts, and assemblies of men, all busy and all marked by those characteristics that are found in the world, where men win place and renown.

22 This stayed before my vision till I had noted clearly that choice of preferment here was offered to him who would enter in,

23 But who did so must go into the busy whirl and be submerged by its din, bustle, and confusion.

24  ¶ In the subtle transition of a dream I was gazing over a wide expanse of country in a prairie land;

25 No mountains were to be seen, but far as the eye could reach, hill and dale, hamlet and village, farm and farmhouse, pleasant cot and homelike place,

26 Everywhere betokening thrift, industry, and the pursuits of a happy peace were open to the view.

27  ¶ I remarked to him standing by me, but whose presence I had not before noticed, “This must be the country of a happy people.”

28 To this he replied, “Which would you prefer, life, success, and renown among the busy scenes that you first saw, or a place among these people, without honors or renown?”

29 “Think of it well, for the choice will be offered to you sooner or late, and you must be prepared to decide.”

30 “Your decision once made you cannot recall it, and must abide the result.”

31  ¶ No time was given me for a reply, for as suddenly as it had come, so suddenly was it gone, and I found myself sitting upright on the side of the bed where I had been lying,

32 The rays of the declining sun shining athwart the western hills and over the shimmering river, making the afternoon all glorious with their splendor, shone into my room instinct with life and motion, filling me with gladness that I should live.

33 From that hour, at leisure, at work or play, I kept before me what had been presented, and was at length prepared to answer when the opportunity for the choice should be given.

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