Brigham Young’s Vision of Joseph Smith

Below is an account of Brigham Young’s vision of Joseph Smith at Winter Quarters in 1847 as recorded by Hosea Stout. Stout records that Brigham Young sought to “know about the law of adoption, and the sealing powers”:

Winter Quarters by Greg Olsen This morning there was to be a private meeting of the high Council at sun rise. About 9 o’clock I went & found only three members present so we staid awhile and come away home

In the afternoon I went to the Council house to a meeting at which Elder Henry G. Sherwood spoke after that I was around as usual At six went to a High Council as usual There was not much done of interest except some remarks of President Young which I will give in short It is in relation to a spell of sickness he had had lately.

He spoke as follows.

“Another subject which I wanted to speak of is this.

On Wednesday morning I was taken ill and it has been asked if I had a vision I was taken so suddenly sick. Just as I was getting out of my bed that I could not go out. I tried to return to the bed again, but could not even get back

As to how I felt, No one can tell how I felt, until he dies and goes through the vail and when he does that he can then tell how I felt

All that I know, is what my wife told me about it since. She said that I said, I had been where Joseph & Hyrum was.

And again that I said, it is hard coming to life again.

But I know that I went to the world of spirits; but what I saw I know not, for the vision went away from me, as a dream which you loose when you awake.

The next day I had a dream.

I dreamed that I saw Joseph sitting in a room, in the South West corner, near a bright window.

He sat in a chair, with his feet, both on the lower round.

I took him by the hand and kissed him on both cheeks, and wanted to know why we could not be together, as we once was.

He said that it was all right, that we should not be together yet.

We must be separated for a season.

I said it was hard to be separated from him.

He said, it was all right and putting his feet down on the floor.

Now all you who know, how he looks, when he used to give council, know all about, how he looked then

I told him that the Latter Day Saints was very anxious to know about the law of adoption, and the sealing powers &c and desired word of council from him.

Joseph said; do you be sure and tell the people one thing.

Do you be sure and tell the brethren that it is all important for them to keep the spirit of the Lord, To keep the quiet spirit of Jesus, and he explained how the spirit of the Lord reflected on the spirit of man and set him to pondering on any subject, and also explained how to know the spirit of the Lord from the spirit of the enemy.

He said the mind of man must be open to receive all spirits, in order to be prepared, to receive the spirit of the Lord; otherwise it might be barred so as not to receive the spirit of the Lord, which always brings peace and makes one happy and takes away every other spirit. When the small still voice speaks always receive it, and if the people will do these things, when they come up to the father, all will be as in the beginning, and every person stand as at the first.

I saw how we were organized before we took tabernacles and every man will be restored to that which he had then, and all will be satisfied. After this I turned away & saw Joseph was in the edge of the light; but where I had to go was as midnight darkness.

He said I must go back, so I went back in the darkness.

I want you all to remember my dream for I it is a vision of God and was revealed through the spirit of Joseph.”1

The Manuscript History of Brigham Young records the following account of this experience:

Joseph stepped toward me, and looking very earnestly, yet pleasantly said, “Tell the people to be humble and faithful, and be sure to keep the spirit of the Lord and it will lead them right. Be careful and not turn away the small voice; it will teach you what to do and where to go; it will yield the fruits of the kingdom. Tell the brethren to keep their hearts open to conviction, so that when the Holy Ghost comes to them, their hearts will be ready to receive it. They can tell the Spirit of the Lord from all other spirits; it will whisper peace and joy to their souls; it will take malice, hatred, strife and all evil from their hearts; and their whole desire will be to do good, bring forth righteousness and build up the kingdom of God. Tell the brethren if they will follow the spirit of the Lord they will go right. Be sure to tell the people to keep the Spirit of the Lord; and if they will, they will find themselves just as they were organized by our Father in Heaven before they came into the world. Our Father in Heaven organized the human family, but they are all disorganized and in great confusion.2


  1. Brooks, Jaunita, ed. On the Mormon Frontier: The Diary of Hosea Stout, 1844 – 1861. Salt Lake City: University of Utah Press, 1982. 237-239.
  2. “Brigham Young’s vision of Joseph Smith”. Manuscript History of Brigham Young. 1847. 56.

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  1. Kevin Christensen’s avatar

    If you look at Brigham’s Young’s teachings on the Spirit World (starting with the chapter on the topic in the Priesthood manual), it seems clear that such teachings derived from his personal experience. I’ve compared it with modern Near Death Experience accounts. Raymond Moody’s The Light Beyond referred to “teachings of LDS leaders” about the spirit world, but if you track down the citations, they turn out to be Brigham Young.

    Kevin Christensen
    Bethel Park, PA

  2. Greg’s avatar

    Thanks Kevin. I haven’t read Raymond Moody’s book, but will check it out. “Personal experience” seems to be key.

  3. J. Stapley’s avatar

    The Journal History is another source for this vision. Sam and I are working on a new history of the Law of Adoption, that will hopefully be published within the year.

  4. Greg’s avatar

    J. Stapley – I haven’t read the Journal History for this particular vision but will need to review it. Please let me know when you publish your history on the Law of Adoption. I would love to read it. Thanks.

  5. Dave Collingridge’s avatar

    Thanks – I really like that story. I find it fascinating that in that visit from Joseph Smith, they talked about something as simple, yet profound, as following the promptings of the Spirit. In such an unusual visit we might have expected something more grandiose and mysterious to have been said, yet it was a simple message.

  6. Greg’s avatar

    Me too Dave. What a message this vision contains!

  7. Brian Marshall’s avatar

    Brigham Young reported Joseph Smith said:

    \He said the mind of man must be open to receive all spirits, in order to be prepared, to receive the spirit of the Lord; otherwise it might be barred so as not to receive the spirit of the Lord\.

    As a priest of the Reorganized Church of Jesus Christ I find this contradicts Jesus actions and teachings dealing with discernment. Jesus was not open to all spirits. When Satan temped Jesus, Jesus rebuked him saying \ get then behind me Satan \…. When the money changers defiled the temple, Jesus whipped them and sent them packing! And demons were cast of people people, who were deceived by the devil, because they had been \ open \ ( to open to other spirits ). Jesus did not say be open to other spirits, but said, to \judge righteous judgement\! Jesus also taught us to, \search all things and prove all things true\!

    Jesus also said’ \straight is the way, and narrow is the gate which leadeth to eternal life\. By contrast Jesus said \broad is the way which leadeth to destruction\.

    Which if you really think about it, was what Brigham Young was saying. Brigham Young was saying that Joseph Smith said, we should be open to every spirit. But nowhere did Christ, much less Joseph Smith teach these precepts.

    I’m surprised anyone would believe Brigham Young after he made the below statement.

    \ I have many a time, in this stand, dared the
    world to produce as mean devils as we can. We can
    beat them at anything. We have the greatest and
    smoothest liars in the world, the cunningest and most
    adroit thieves and any other shade of character you
    can mention. We can pick out Elders in Israel right
    here who can beat the world at gambling; who can
    handle the cards; can cut and shuffle them with the
    smartest rogue on God’s foot stool. I can produce
    Elders here who can shave their smartest shavers,
    and take their money from them . We can beat the
    world at any game.\- Brigham Young; Deseret News,Vol.6,p. 291
    (their church paper) and also Journal of Discourses,
    Vol. 4.P. 77

    As for Joseph Smith? Well simply put, Joseph Smith was lied about in almost every way by the Utah Mormon Church.

  8. Greg’s avatar

    Hi Brian – Concerning the importance of discerning the spirits, John the Apostle taught something very similar:

    Beloved, believe not every spirit, but try the spirits whether they are of God: because many false prophets are gone out into the world. (1 John 4:1)

    Concerning Brigham Young’s quote above, many have pointed out that where there is the most light, there is also the most darkness. Additionally, the parable of the wheat and the tares in Matthew 13 suggests that both must grow (seemingly in the same field or fields) until the time of the harvest. As you might be aware, D&C 87:4-7 sheds additional light on this subject. That both are allowed to grow in the same field suggests there are both wheat and tares within the church.

    Last, although I have an idea to what you might be referring, do you mind clarifying your statement that “Joseph Smith was lied about in almost every way by the Utah Mormon Church”?

  9. Rebecca’s avatar

    I’m not able to access the article “The History of Sealings within Families”. Can you help me with this?

  10. Greg’s avatar

    It appears that S. Faux has blocked uninvited readers from reading the blog. (Update 2-Feb-2013: This post was originally written in response to S. Faux’s post. Since it is no longer publicly viewable, the article has been updated to reflect that change.)

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