I was born of goodly parents who spared no pains in instructing me in the Christian religion. Father was obliged to labor hard for the support of a large family. It required the exertions of all that were able to render any assistance. There was in the place where we lived an unusual excitement on the subject of religion. Brothers and sisters, let me make this perfectly clear. Before the world was, God determined which of you would be saved and which would not. I often asked myself, What is to be done? Who of all these parties is right? God has not determined the final fate of his children. That doctrine places responsibility on God and excuses man. It cannot be reconciled with the doctrine of free will. How do I know who's right? It cannot be understood by the finite mind, Joseph. Faith is the gift to believe. You must pray for faith, and God will manifest His will. I was one day reading the Epistle of James. "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."

Never did any passage of scripture come with more power to the heart of man than this did at this time to mine. At length, I came to the conclusion that I must either remain in darkness and confusion, or else I must do as James directs--that is, ask of God.

It was on the morning of a beautiful, clear day, early in the spring of 1820. After I had retired to a place where I had previously designed to go and finding myself alone, I kneeled down and began to offer up the desires of my heart to God.

I had scarcely begun to do so, when I was seized upon by some power which entirely overcame me, and had such an astonishing power over me as to bind my tongue so that I could not speak. [INTENSE MUSIC PLAYING]

Just at this moment of great alarm, I saw a pillar of light exactly over my head, above the brightness of the sun, which descended gradually until it fell upon me. When the light rested upon me I saw two Personages, whose brightness and glory defy all description, standing above me in the air.

One of them spake unto me, calling me by name and said, pointing to the other--

This is my Beloved Son. Hear Him! [SOFT MUSIC PLAYING]

Joseph Smith's First Vision

Depiction of Joseph Smith's First Vision.

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