(Part twenty of a series compiled by Dennis B. Horne)
As the concluding item of this series on the First Vision, I have sifted through most of the preceding nineteen pieces and selected brief quotations—nuggets of pure testimony—from those holding the holy Apostleship (including the keys of the Kingdom as received in direct line from the Prophet Joseph Smith, who got them from Peter, James, and John, and other ancient prophets), declaring their incontrovertible spiritual witness of the reality of Joseph Smith’s First Vision. In these testimonies, we find no doubt, just perfect knowledge:
“I am grateful that early in my life I was blessed with a simple faith that Joseph Smith was a prophet of God, that he saw God the Father and His Son, Jesus Christ, in a vision. He translated the Book of Mormon by the gift and power of God. That testimony has been confirmed to me over and over again.
“As one of the least among you, but in my calling as one of the Apostles of Jesus Christ, I testify that He truly lives, that He is the Messiah. I do have a personal witness of Jesus Christ, the Savior and Redeemer of all mankind. I received this knowledge by the unspeakable peace and power of the Spirit of God.”
“God has revealed to me by the power of the Holy Ghost that there has been a glorious and wondrous Restoration in our day. I am a witness of that fact. I can assert it with absolute certainty.” (See also here)
“Joseph Smith saw the Father and the Son. These things I know and of them I testify”
“I am grateful beyond any measure of expression I have that in my soul there rests the absolute, certain conviction that Jesus is the Lord. I know that as well as I know anything in this world. In that same sense—with unshaken certainty and absolute, pure, revealed knowledge—I know that Joseph Smith, Junior, who headed this dispensation, was the Lord’s prophet for our day and our time; and that, as he certified, he saw in the spring of 1820 the Father and the Son; and that, as he certified, the revelations and the truths that fell from his lips are the voice and mind and will and purposes of the Lord for me and for all men in our day.”
“I testify to you, and I testify to all men, that God has made known to me that he lives, and I know it as well as I know that I live. He has given me a testimony that Jesus of Nazareth was his literal Son in the flesh, and that he is our Savior, and our Redeemer.
“And he has given to me testimony that Joseph Smith truly knelt in prayer and in answer received the glorious visitation in which he talked face to face with the Father and the Son.”
“Yes, as I have formerly said in this pulpit, in answer to his humble prayer, Joseph Smith received, so far as the records indicate. the most glorious vision ever given to man in mortality. For, looking up in the pillar of light enveloping him, he both saw and heard the Father and the Son, two highly glorious Personages, in the very image in which we are created. This is a fact; this is the truth, the world to the contrary notwithstanding. In great humility and extreme thankfulness we accept of these things and testify most sincerely of their reality. . . .
“It is by the power of the Holy Ghost that great multitudes of Church members testify that they really know that God lives. And I am one of that number.”
“I have read and believed his testimony of his great first vision in which he conversed with the Father and the Son. I have pondered the wonder of that as I have stood in the grove where he prayed, and in that environment, by the power of the Spirit, I have received a witness that it happened as he said it happened.”
“Something happened within me as I heard those men of faith sing. There came into my boyish heart a knowledge, placed there by the Holy Spirit, that Joseph Smith was indeed a prophet of the Almighty. In the many years that have since passed, years in which I have read much of his words and works, that knowledge has grown stronger and ever more certain.”
“As we met in that and other homes and halls in Nauvoo, it was as if the figures of the past were with us—Joseph and Hyrum, Brigham Young, Heber C. Kimball, John Taylor, Wilford Woodruff, the brothers Pratt—Orson and Parley—and a host of others. . . .”
Gordon B. Hinckley:
“There came a strong and certain reaffirmation of my conviction that God our Eternal Father lives and that Jesus is the Christ, the Savior and the Redeemer of the world, that the Father and the Son in very deed appeared to the boy Joseph Smith in the grove. . . . I knew with renewed certitude that the Book of Mormon is exactly what Joseph said it is . . .”
“I believe, without reservation, in the reality of the vision he described.”
“I have read and believed his testimony of his great first vision in which he conversed with the Father and the Son. I have pondered the wonder of that as I have stood in the grove where he prayed, and in that environment, by the power of the Spirit, I have received a witness that it happened as he said it happened.
“I have read the Book of Mormon, which he translated by the gift and power of God. By the power of the Holy Ghost I have received a testimony and a witness of the divine origin of this sacred record. Joseph Smith did not write it of his own capacity.”
“I went to the Sacred Grove early in the morning of a spring Sabbath day. It had been raining in the night. Little drops of water glistened on the tiny new leaves. We prayed together in that quiet and hallowed place, and there came into my heart at that time a conviction that what the Prophet described actually happened in 1820 here amidst the trees.”
“I have stood among the trees where Joseph knelt as a boy, and heard the whisperings of the Spirit that it happened as he said it happened.”
“This is God’s holy work. This is His Church and kingdom. The vision that occurred in the Sacred Grove was just as Joseph said it was. We are building a new temple overlooking this hallowed ground to further testify to the reality of this most sacred event. As I recently stood in the snow to determine where this new temple will stand, there came into my heart a true understanding of the importance of what happened in the Sacred Grove. The Book of Mormon is true.”
“Now, in conclusion, I hope that all of you will remember that on this Sabbath day you heard me bear my witness that this is God’s holy work. The vision given the Prophet Joseph in the grove of Palmyra was not an imaginary thing. It was real. It occurred in the broad light of day. Both the Father and the Son spoke to the boy. He saw Them standing in the air above him. He heard Their voices. He gave heed to Their instruction.”
“I know that the Prophet Joseph Smith was a prophet of God. I know he saw God, the Eternal Father, and his Son, Jesus Christ, as he says he did. I was not there, but I have read his account many, many, many times. From his account I get in my mind a mental picture, but I did not get my knowledge that he had the vision from that source. I received it from the whisperings of the Holy Spirit, and I have had those whisperings in my mind the same as Enos had when he said, ‘. . . the voice of the Lord came into my mind’” (Enos 1:10).
“I have been blessed, as the years have passed, with unusual experiences with people, places, and personal events of an intimate, spiritual nature, and, through the power of the Holy Ghost, I have received an ever-deepening witness and knowledge of this heaven-directed restoration of the Lord’s plan of salvation. The events related by Joseph Smith of the Restoration are true. . . .
“The knowledge is mine that God did reveal himself unto Joseph—his witness of this final dispensation.”
“And so, on this day, I bring you not an argument or a doubt, but a witness of heaven-sent revelations that this is the church of Jesus Christ, restored to the earth in these latter days; that God our Heavenly Father lives and that he loves each of us—his children; that Jesus is the Christ, the son of the living God, our Savior.
“The heavenly event related by young Joseph, . . . after he came out of a grove of trees—which we appropriately refer to as the ‘Sacred Grove’—is true. I bear this witness and testimony to you. Joseph Smith was directed, after scripture study and prayer, to pray for guidance; and he did see and communicate with God the Father and his son Jesus Christ.”
(For similar text, with little variation in testimony of the first vision, see here.)
“Since no one was with Joseph when this great vision took place in the wooded grove near Palmyra, a testimony concerning its reality can come only by believing the truthfulness of Joseph Smith’s own account or by the witness of the Holy Ghost, or both. I have such a conviction. It is a sure conviction that lies deep in my soul. As a special witness of the same Christ who appeared with the Father and instructed the boy Joseph Smith, I bear witness of the truthfulness of the magnificent First Vision near Palmyra.”
“I want to say to all those who are listening at this particular time that I have a testimony that Joseph Smith was a Prophet of God, and is, for his work has not ceased, for a righteous man's work does not cease: Joseph Smith was a righteous man when he died; I know that he was called, appointed by our Father in heaven; that he received revelation and guidance from the Son of God that would be of benefit and a blessing to all men if they would receive it.
“Now in what I have to say I wish to direct my remarks to those who are not members of the Church, if there are any such listening. I want them to know that I believe this sincerely and absolutely. That is my faith. I think I can say safely it is my knowledge, by the gift of God, that Joseph Smith in the year 1820 did see the Father and the Son; that the Father introduced his Son; that the Son spoke to him, asked him what he wanted to know, and gave him counsel; told him what to do, with the promise that eventually other light would come and the fulness of the gospel, which was not then upon the face of the earth, would be restored.
“This is either true or false. To me it cannot be false. To you who sit here looking at me it cannot be false. It is just as true as it is that the sun shines. You know it, and I know it. . . .”
“I have a perfect knowledge of the divine mission of the Prophet Joseph Smith. There is no doubt in my mind that the Lord raised him up and gave him revelation, commandment, opened the heavens to him, and called upon him to stand at the head of this glorious dispensation. I am just as satisfied in my mind that in his youth when he went out to pray he beheld the actual presence, stood in the actual presence, of God the Father and his son, Jesus Christ; in my mind there is no doubt; I know this to be true.”
J. Reuben Clark:
“The vision of Joseph, when he saw the Father and the Son, was real, just as all these we have named were real. It was not the vagary or hallucination of a disease-preyed mind. Joseph saw, even as Moses saw,—the one no less certainly than the other. The Spirit hath borne its witness to me of this, and I so declare, . . .”
Heber J. Grant:
“And I bear witness to you, here today that we have the truth, that God has spoken again, that every gift, every grace, every power, and every endowment that came through the Holy Priesthood of the living God in the days of the Savior, are enjoyed today. God lives, Jesus is the Christ, Joseph Smith was a prophet of the true and the living God. ‘Mormonism,’ so called, is in very deed the gospel of the Lord Jesus Christ. God has given me a witness of these things. I know them and I bear that witness to you, in all humility, and I do it in the name of the Lord Jesus Christ.”
Melvin J. Ballard:
“I know, as well as I know that I live and look into your faces, that Jesus Christ lives, and he is the Redeemer of the world, that he arose from the dead with a tangible body, and still has that real body which Thomas touched when he thrust his hands into his side and felt the wound of the spear, and also the prints of the nails in his hands. I know by the witness and the revelations of God to me that Thomas told the truth. I know that Joseph Smith told the truth, for mine eyes have seen. For in the visions of the Lord to my soul, I have seen Christ's face, I have heard his voice. I know that he lives, that he is the Redeemer of the world. . . .”
George F. Richards:
“There is another evidence which is more convincing to me, even than all these, and that is the witness of the Spirit of God that comes through the Holy Ghost, bearing testimony to my soul. I am convinced in every fiber of my being that Joseph Smith was indeed a divinely inspired prophet of God, and that his story of the vision is true, and I bear this testimony to you today in the name of Jesus Christ.”