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In Joseph’s journal entry account of the Vision, dated November 1835, he writes,
I retired to the grove and bowed down before the Lord, under a realizing sense that he had said (if the Bible be true), “Ask, and you shall receive; knock, and it shall be opened; seek, and you shall find. . .”
Information was what I most desired at this time, and with a fixed determination to obtain it, I called upon the Lord for the first time in the place above stated.
Then Joseph adds illuminating details not present in the previous account:
Or in other words, I made a fruitless attempt to pray; my tongue seemed to be swollen in my mouth, so that I could not utter. I heard a noise behind me, like some person walking towards me. I strove to pray but could not. The noise of walking seemed to draw nearer. I sprang up on my feet and looked around but saw no person or thing that was calculated to produce the noise of walking. (Joseph’s Journal, November 1835, 9–11)
Might this simple ploy of the adversary have frightened or discouraged other seekers? Did Joseph begin to discover here how deep and determined his faith actually was?
I kneeled again. My mouth was opened and my tongue liberated, and I called on the Lord in mighty prayer. A pillar of fire appeared above my head. It presently rested down upon me and filled me with joy unspeakable.
Herein the Father not only introduced Jesus Christ, but He also testified that he is, indeed, the Son of the Living God. When He said, “This is my beloved Son, hear him,” He was establishing the role of the Savior, which was further explained to Joseph later on: “Jesus Christ is the heir of this Kingdom—the Only Begotten of the Father according to the flesh, and holds the keys over all this world” (Teachings of the Prophet Joseph Smith, sel. Joseph Fielding Smith [Salt Lake City: Deseret Book, 1976], 323).
Here, too, Joseph mentions the joy unspeakable that flooded through him. He, Joseph, was personally known by this glorious Personage, who called him by name and said, “Thy sins are forgiven thee.” Only God can forgive sin, and the young man now stood innocent and pure before his maker, prepared to open his heart to the messages that were being offered him.
Information was the word Joseph used in his request, but what he was being given was pure knowledge.
In verse 20 of the 1838 account, Joseph says there were many things given him that could not be recorded at the time. He here adds that he “saw many angels in this vision.” Prophets? Heads of dispensations?
Susa Young Gates, daughter of Brigham Young, stated and maintained that, if Father and Son were in the grove, then so was our Heavenly Mother. No one at the time corrected her, nor said her nay.
So whether or not Joseph Smith saw Heavenly Mother or not, we know for certain that two vital things happened:
Two: We know of a surety that God the Father and Jesus Christ the Son appeared together to establish beyond doubt their reality. God can be, and is, in communication with his children, and we are, in truth, sons and daughters of Deity.The following was an excerpt from the book Joseph Smith: Journey of the Prophet written by Susan Evans McCloud, author of the hymn Lord I Would Follow Thee.