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Joseph Smith's Story

Joseph Smith Jr.'s Early
Encounter with Divinity

Between July 20 and November 27, 1832, an initial history of Joseph's life and the history of the church was written down by Joseph Smith, Jr. and several scribes.  The following portion was written by Joesph Smith Jr. in his own handwriting.  It includes the first written account of what has come to be called the "Grove Experience." Original spellings and usages have been maintained.  Joseph's limitations in writing and spelling will be clear to the reader.  Brackets [] indicate editorial clarifications that are not in the manuscript.  Angle brackets <> indicate textual insertions that are in the manuscript.    For ease of reading, the text is broken into paragraphs that do not occur in the original manuscript.

"I was born in the town of Charon in the <State> of Vermont, North America, on the twenty third day of December AD 1805, of goodly Parents who spared no pains to instructing me in <the> Christian religion

at the age of about ten years my Father Joseph Smith Seignior moved to Palmyra Ontario County in the State of New York and being in indigent circumstances were obliged to labour hard for the support of a large Family having nine chilldren

and as it required the exertions of all that were able to render any assistance for the support of the Family therefore we were deprived of the bennifit of an education

suffice it to say I was merely instructid in reading and writing and the ground <rules> of Arithmetic which constituted my whole literary acquirements.

 At about the age of twelve years my mind became seriously imprest with regard to the all importent concerns for the wellfare of my immortal Soul which led me to searching the scriptures believing as I was taught, that they contained the word of God

thus applying myself to them and my intimate acquaintance with those of different denominations led me to marvel excedingly for I discovered that <they did not> of adorn their profession by a holy walk and Godly conversation agreeable to what I found contained in that sacred depository  this was a grief to my Soul

thus from the age of twelve years to fifteen I pondered many things in my heart concerning the situation of the world of mankind the contentions and div[is]ions the wicke[d]ness and abominations and the darkness which pervaded the minds of mankind

my mind become excedingly distressed for I became convicted of my sins, and by searching the scriptures I found that <mankind> did not come unto the Lord but that they had apostatised from the true and liveing faith  and there was no society or denomination that built upon the gospel of Jesus Christ as recorded in the New Testament

and I felt to mourn for my own sins and for the sins of the world for I learned in the scriptures that God was the same yesterday to day and forever  that he was no respecter to persons for he was God

for I looked upon the sun the glorious luminary of the earth and also the moon rolling in their majesty through the heavens and also the stars shining in their courses and the earth also upon which I stood and the beast of the field and the fowls of heaven and the fish of the waters and also man walking forth upon the face of the earth in magesty and in the strength of beauty whose power and inteligence in governing the things which are so exceding great and marvilous even in the likeness of him who created <them>

and when I considered upon these things my heart exclaimed well hath the wise man said <it is a> fool <that> saith in his heart there is no God

my heart exclaimed all these bear testimony and bespeak an omnipotant and omnipreasant power a being who makith laws and decreeeth and bindeth all things in their bounds who filleth Eternity who was and is and will be from all Eternity to Eternity

and when I considered all these things and that <that> being seeketh such to worship him as worship him in spirit and in truth therefore I cried unto the Lord for mercy for there was none else to whom I could go and obtain mercy and the Lord heard my cry in the wilderness and while in <the> attitude of calling upon the Lord <in the 16th year of my age> a piller of light above the brightness of the sun at noon day come down from above and rested upon me and I was filled with the spirit of god

 and the <Lord> opened the heavens upon me and I saw the Lord and he spake unto me saying Joseph <my son> thy sins are forgiven thee.  go thy <way> walk in my statures and keep my commandments

behold I am the Lord of glory I was crucifyed for the world that all those who believe on my name may have Eternal life

<behold> the world lieth in sin at this time and none doeth good no not one   they have turned asside from the gospel and keep not <my> commandments

they draw near to me with their lips while their hearts are far from me and mine anger is kindling against the inhabitants of the earth to visit them according to th[e]ir ungodliness and to bring to pass that which <hath> been spoken by the mouth of the prophets and Ap[o]stles  behold and lo I come quickly as it [is] written of me in the cloud <clothed> in the glory of my Father

and my soul was filled with love and for many days I could rejoice with great Joy and the Lord was with me, but [I] could find none that would believe the hevnly vision   nevertheless I pondered these things in my heart"

Quoted from The Personal Writings of Joseph Smith ,  compiled and edited by Dean C. Jessee, pages 4-6.

May 19, 2001

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