-- 1834: 9 December
[Patriarchal Blessings] Samuel and Mary Smith. (Given by Joseph Smith, Sen.)
[From Smith, Ruby K., Mary Bailey, Salt Lake City, Deseret Book Co., 1954, pp. 41-43.]
"Samuel and Mary awaited the day when Father Smith was to give them their patriarchal blessings.
...Samuel, my son, thou art loved of the Lord; thy faithfulness and truth have come up before Him with acceptance, and thy name is recorded on high. Thou hast been faithful in all thy days, and ministered comfort to thy father's family. . . . Thou shalt see the heavens open; in visions and dreams shall thy mind be matured. ... (1)
Smith Family Blessing Meeting.
"Patriarchal Blessings pronounced by Joseph Smith, senior, a Patriarch, and President of the high priesthood in the church of the Latter Day Saints, organized on the 6th of April, in the year of our Lord one thousand, eight hundred and thirty, upon his children, assembled at the house of his son Joseph, on the 9th day of December, 1834, at a feast prepared for that purpose.
My children, I am now old, and my head is white: I have seen many years, compared to these enjoyed by many: I am now in my sixty third year, and my frame is feeble because of the many trials and fateagues which I have endured in this life. I have not attained to the age of my fathers, neither do I now know as I shall, but I desire, and for a long time have, to bless my children before I go hence. It is a source of grief to me that I have not been more fruitful to the Lord in days which are passed than I have: I have not always set that example before my family that I ought: I have not been diligent in teaching them the commandments of the Lord, but have rather manifested a light and trifling mind: But in all this I have never denied the Lord. Notwithstanding all this my folly, which has been a cause of grief to my family, the Lord has often visited me in visions and in dreams, and has brought me, with my family, through many afflictions, and I this day thank his holy name.
-- During February 1835
[Wilford Woodruff] I dreamed the night before, that we were required to walk in a straight, narrow path; and while following the path, it led to the door of a house, which was placed in a high wall that we could not get around. As I opened the door to go through, I saw the room was filled with large serpents. I entered, and they all coiled up to jump at me; as they made a spring to bite me, they all fell dead at my feet, turned black, swelled up, burst open, took fire, and were consumed before my eyes. (2)
-- Nov 9, 1835
[Joseph Smith Diary] While setting in my house, between the hours of ten and 11 this morning, a man came in and introduced himself to me, calling /himself/ by the name of Joshua the Jewish minister. His appearance was some thing singular, having a beard about 3 inches in length which is quite grey. Also his hair is long and considerably silvered with age. I should think he is about 50 or 55 years old, tall and strait, slender built, of thin visage, blue eyes, and fair complexion. He wears a sea green frock coat and pantaloons of the same [color], black fur hat with narrow brim, and while speaking [he] frequently shuts his eyes with a scowl on his countinance.
I made some enquiry after his name but received no definite answer. We soon commenced talking upon the subject of religion and, after I had made some remarks concerning the Bible, I commenced giving him a relation of the circumstances connected with the coming forth of the Book of Mormon, as follows:
Being wrought up in my mind respecting the subject of religion and looking at the different systems taught the children of men, I knew not who was right or who was wrong. I considered it of the first importance that ! should be right in matters that involve eternal consequ[e]nces.
Being thus perplexed in mind I retired to the silent grove and bow[e]d down before the Lord, under a realising sense that he had said (if the Bible be true), "Ask and you shall receive, knock and it shall be opened. Seek and you shall find." Again, "If any man lack wisdom, let him ask of God, who giveth to all men libarally and upbraideth not."
Information was what I most desired at this time and with a fixed determination to obtain it, I called upon the Lord for the first time in the place above stated. Or in other words, I made a fruitless attempt to p[r]ay. My toung [tongue] seemed to be swol[l]en in my mouth, so that I could not utter. I heard a noise behind me like some person walking towards me. I strove again to pray but could not. The noise of walking seemed to draw nearer. I sprung up on my feet and looked around, but saw no person or thing that was calculated to produce the noise of walking. I kneeled again. My mouth was open and my toung [tongue] liberated and I called on the Lord in mighty prayer.
A pillar of fire appeared above my head. It presently rested down upon my head /me/ and filled me with Joy unspeakable. A personage appear[eld in the midst of this pillar of flame which was spread all around and yet nothing consumed. Another personage soon appear[e]d like unto the first. He said unto me, "Thy sins are forgiven thee." He testifyed unto me that Jesus Christ is the Son of God. /I saw many angels in this vision/ I was about 14 years old when I received this first communication.
When I was about 17 years old, I saw another vision of angels in the night season, after I had retired to bed. I had not been a sleep but was meditating upon my past life and experience. I was verry con[s]cious that I had not kept the commandments. I repented h[e]artily for all my sins and transgression and humbled myself before Him /whose eyes are over all things/. All at once the room was il[l]uminated above the brightness of the sun. An angel appeared before me. His hands and feet were naked, pure and white. He stood between the floors of the room, clothed with purity inexpressible. He said unto me, "I am a messenger sent from God. Be faithful and keep his commandments in all things."
He told me of a sacred record which was written on plates of gold. I saw in the vision the place where they were deposited. He said the Indians were the literal descendants of Abraham. He explained many of the prophesies to me. One I will mention which is in Malachi 4th chapt[er]: "Behold the day of the Lord cometh" &c. Also that the Urim and Thum[m]im was hid up with the record and that God would give me power to translate it with the assistance of this instrument. He then gradually vanished out of my sight, or the vision closed.
While meditating on what I had seen, the angel appeared to me again and related the same things and much more. Also the third time bearing the same tidings and departed.
During the time I was in this vision I did not realize any thing else around me except what was shown me in this communication. After the vision had all passed, I found that it was nearly daylight. The family soon arose, I got up also.
On that day while in the field at work with my Father he asked me if I was sick. I replyed I had but little strength. He told me to go to the house. I started and went part way and was finally deprived of my strength and fell, but how long I remained I do not know.
The Angel came to me again and commanded me to go and tell my Father what I had seen and heard. I did so. He wept and told me that it was a vision from God [and] to attend to it. I went and found the place where the plates were according to the direction of the Angel. Also saw them and the angel as before. The powers of darkness strove hard against me. I called upon God. The Angel told me that the reason why I could not obtain the plates at this time was because I was under transgression, but to come again in one year from that time. I did so, but did not obtain them. Also the third and the fourth year, at which time I obtained them and translated them into the English language by the gift and power of God. [I] have been preaching it ever since.
While I was relating this brief history of the establishment of the Church of Christ in these last days, Joshua seemed to be highly entertained. After I had got through, I observed that the hour of worship and time to dine had now ar[r]ived and invited him to tarry which he concented to.
After dinner the conversation was resumed and Joshua proce[e]ded to make some remarks on the prophesies as follows. He observed that he was aware that I could bear stronger meat than many others. Therefore he should open his mind the more freely.
[Joshua said,] "Daniel has told us that he is to stand in his proper lot, in the latter days according to his vision. He had a right to shut it up and also to open it again after many days, or in the latter times. Daniel's image whose head was gold and body, armes, legs, and feet was composed of the different materials described in his vision represents different governments.
"The golden head was /to represent/ Nebuchadnaz[z]er King of Babylon. The other parts, other kings and forms of government which I shall not now mention in detail, but confine my remarks more particularly to the feet of the Image. The policy of the wicked spirit is to separate what God had joined togather and unite what He has separated, which he has succe[e]ded in doing to admiration. In the present state of society, which is like unto Iron and clay, there is confusion in all things, both Political and religious. And notwithstanding all the efforts that are made to bring about a union, society remains disunited and all attempts to /unite her/ are as fruitless as to attemp[t] to unite Iron and Clay.
"The feet of the Image is the government of these United States. Other Nations and Kingdoms are looking up to her for an example of union, fre[e]dom and equal rights and therefore worship her like as Daniel saw in the vision, although they are begin[n]ing to loose confidence in her, seeing the broils and discord that distract her political and religious horizon. This Image is characteristic of all governments and institutions or most of them as they begin with a head of gold and terminate in the contemp[t]ible feet of Iron and clay making a splendid appearance at first proposing to do much more than the[y] can perform and finally end in degradation and sink in infamy. We should not only start to com[e] out of Babylon, but leav[e] it entirely lest we are overthrown in her ruins. We should keep improving and reforming. Twenty-four hours for improvement now is worth as much as a year a hundred years ago.
"The spirit of the Fathers that was cut down, or those that were under the altar, are now rising. This is the first resur[r]ection. The Elder that falls first will rise last. We should not form any opinion only for the present and leave the result of futurity with God. I have risen up out of obscurity, but was looked up to when but a youth in temporal things. It is not necessary that God should give us all things at first or in his first commission to us, but in his second. John saw the angel deliver the gospel in the last days which would not be necessary if it was already in the world. This expression would be inconsistent. The small lights that God has given is sufficient to lead us out of Babylon. When we get out we shall have the greater light."
I told Jo[s]hua that I did not understand him concerning the resur[r]ection and wish[e]d him to be more explanitory on the subject. He replied that he did not feel impressed by the spirit to unfold it further at present, but perhaps he might at some other time.
I then withdr[e]w to do some business with another gentleman that called to see me.
He [Joshua] informed my Scribe that he was born in Washington County, Town of Cambridge, New York. He says that all the railroads, canals and other improvements are performed by spirits of the resur[r]ection. The silence spoken of by John the Revelator which is to be in heaven for the space of half an hour is between 1830 and 1851, during which time the judgments of God will be poured out. After that time there will be peace.
Curiosity to see a man that was reputed to be a Jew caused many to call during the day and more particularly at evening. Suspicions were entertained that said Joshua was the noted [Robert] Mat[t]hias of New York, spoken so much of in public prints on account of the trials he underwent in that place before a court of justice for murder, manslaughter, contempt of court, whip[p]ing his Daughter, &c. For the two last crimes he was imprisoned and came out about 4 months since. After some equivocating he confessed that he was real[l]y Mat[t]hias.
After supper, I proposed that he should deliver a lecture to us. He did so sitting in his chair. He commenced by saying "God said, 'Let there be light and there was light,'" which he dwelt upon through his discource. He made some verry ex[c]el[l]ent remarks but his mind was evidently filled with darkness.
After he dismissed his meeting and the congregation disperced, he conversed freely upon the circumstances that transpired in New York. His name is Robert Mat[t]hias. He say[s] that Joshua is his priestly name. During all this time I did not contradict his sentiments wishing to draw out all that I could concerning his faith. (3)
1 - Selected LDS Patriarchal Blessings, New Mormon Studies CD ROM, Signature Book, 2009
2 - Wilford Woodruff Dreams and Visions, Saints Without Halos, Scott Kenny (http://saintswithouthalos.com/n/dreams_ww.phtml)
3 - Faulring, Scott (ed.), An American Prophet's Record: The Diaries and Journals of Joseph Smith: Joseph Smith Diary, 1835-36
Mormon Timeline: Dreams