- Historic Sites
The Farm Boy And The Angel
Of sensitive, mystical Joseph Smith, of a heavenly visitor and a buried scripture, and of the founding of a new religion destined to enlist many followers and carve from the desert a new Zion
October 1962 | Volume 13, Issue 6
This event had prepared Joseph in some measure for the angel’s visit to him in his littlc bedroom under the caves. In his report of this, lie wrote that in i8ys; on the evening of the twenty-first of September as he lay in his bed praying, a light grew about him until his room was brighter than a sunny noonday. Then “a personage” appeared at his side, “standing in the air. for his feet did not touch the door.” He wore a loose robe ‘of most exquisite whiteness and his hands and wrists, feet and ankles, head and neck, were bare. Since the robe was open, Joseph could see that he wore no other clothing—“his whole person was glorious beyond description and his countenance truly like lightning.” He called me by name and said unto me … that his name was Moroni: that God had work for me to do: and that my name should he had for good and evil among all nations, kindreds and tongues … He said there was a book deposited, written upon gold plates, giving an account of (he former inhnhitants of this continent and the source from which they sprang. He also said that the fullness of the everlasting Gospel was contained in it. as delivered by the Saviour to the ancient inhabitants; also that there were two stones in silver bows—and these stones, fastened to n breastplate, constituted what is called the Urim and the Thummim—deposited with the plates: and the possession and use of these stones were what constituted “Seers” in ancient or former times: and that God had prepared them for the purpose of translating the book.
Moroni delivered his message three times that night. On his second appearance the angel added that the plates and the seer stone spectacles must not be shown, except to those persons to whom the Lord commanded they be revealed. “While he was conversing,” wrote Joseph, ”… the vision was opened to my mind that I could see the place where the plates were dc|)osited, and that so clearly and distinctly that I knew the place again when I visited it.” On his third visit Moroni warned the boy that he “must have no object in getting the plates but to glorify God.”
Each time, as the angel messenger departed, Joseph said, he saw, “as it were, a conduit open right up into heaven, and he ascended tint il he had entirely disappeared.” After this had happened for the third time, the Smith rooster crowed, and the boy, weakened by his experience, reali/cd he must get up at once and begin the labor of a new day.
Working with his father that morning Joseph found himself so exhausted that he could not go on. The older man observed “something wrong” and told his son to go back to the house. As lie tried to climb the fence at the edge of the field, he fell helpless to the ground, and again the familiar figure of Moroni, standing above him, bade him go to his father and tell of his vision and of the commandments he had received. When he could rise again Joseph obeyed (he angel, and the senior Joseph Smith told him that the orders ol the messenger must be carried out. This matter, said the father, was of God.
Despite fatigue of mind and body, Joseph plodded up the slope of the ncarhy hill on which the angel had revealed that the golden plates and the magic spectacles lay. As he neared the summit, he was ama/ed that he recogni/ed every detail of (he place from his clairvoyant vision ol the night before. Convenient to the village of Manchester, Ontario County, New York stands a liill of considerable size, and the most elevated of any in the neighborhood. On the west side of this hill, not far from the top, under a stone of considerable sixe, lay the plates deposited in a stone box. I Ins stone was thick and rounding in the middle on the upper side, and thinner towards the edges, so that the middle part of it was visible above the ground, but the edge all round was covered with earth. Having removed the earth, I obtained a lever, which I got fixed under the edge of the stone and with a little exertion raised it up. I looked in. and there indeed I did behold the plates, the Urim and Thummhn, and the breastplate, as stated by the messenger. The box in which they lay was formed by laying stones together in some kind of cement. In the bottom of the box were laid two stones dossways of the box, and on these stones lay the plates and the other things with them.
Eagerly Joseph worked the top rock aside and bent over to lift the discovered treasures. And immediately Moroni, “the messenger sent from the presence of God,” was with him for the fifth time, saying sternly that the moment for removing these things was not yet, “but he (old me I should come (o that place precisely one year from that time and that he would there meet with me, and that I should continue to do so until the time should come for obtaining the plates.”