Sunday, December 29, 2013

The First Vision Series - The 1842 Account

I've copied below the text of the 1842 account in order to more easily reference it and apply highlights.

When about fourteen years of age I began to reflect upon the importance of being prepared for a future state, and upon enquiring the plan of salvation I found that there was a great clash in religious sentiment; if I went to one society they referred me to one plan, and another to another; each one pointing to his own particular creed as the summum bonum of perfection: considering that all could not be right, and that God could not be the author of so much confusion I determined to investigate the subject more fully, believing that if God had a church it would not be split up into factions, and that if he taught one society to worship one way, and administer in one set of ordinances, he would not teach another principles which were diametrically opposed. Believing the word of God I had confidence in the declaration of James; “If any man lack wisdom let him ask of God who giveth to all men liberally and upbraideth not and it shall be given him,” I retired to a secret place in a grove and began to call upon the Lord, while fervently engaged in supplication my mind was taken away from the objects with which I was surrounded, and I was enwrapped in a heavenly vision and saw two glorious personages who exactly resembled each other in features, and likeness, surrounded with a brilliant light which eclipsed the sun at noon-day. They told me that all religious denominations were believing in incorrect doctrines, and that none of them was acknowledged of God as his church and kingdom. And I was expressly commanded to “go not after them,” at the same time receiving a promise that the fulness of the gospel should at some future time be made known unto me.

The 1842 account is part of the Wentworth letter.  From the Wentworth letter we get our Articles of Faith as well as a well-known quote about missionary work ("no unhallowed hand can stop the work from progressing ...").  The letter is quite lengthy and gives a "sketch" of the rise of Mormonism.  As such, the account of the First Vision is quite brief and to the point.

- the questioning of "right or wrong" of all the religions
- the seeking in the bible
- James 1:5
- he was 14
- went to a secret place in a grove
- two personages
- the light eclipsed the brightness of the noon-day sun
- the personages tell him all the religions believe in incorrect doctrines

- does not mention his tongue was bound; nor the part about the darkness
- how the two personages appear to him seems different.  In all the previous versions, a pillar of light or fire appears above his head.  In this version, however, he says "my mind was taken away from the objects with which I was surrounded."  When I read this, to me it seems the vision occurred in his mind (like a dream) as opposed to a physical visitation (via a pillar of light / fire).
- in the scriptural account, Joseph does not ask for forgiveness of his sins.  In the previous accounts he does ask for forgiveness.  In this 1842 account, he does not mention he asked for forgiveness.

The Wentworth version from 1842 is brief and to the point.  To me, the purpose of this account was to describe the history of the church at a high-level.  Therefore the account of the First Vision was fairly direct.  Other than the part about how the personages visited him, this account is not too different than our scriptural version.