Context and Introduction
Received on January 21st, 1836
In the months leading up to the dedication of the Kirtland Temple, the church engaged in a period of spiritual preparation. This involved various rituals such as washings, anointings, and ordinations. During this time there was a remarkable and powerful pentecostal outpouring of the Holy Spirit.
To understand the significance of one of the extraordinary experience that Joseph Smith Jr. had during this time it’s essential to go back to November 19th, 1823, when Joseph’s brother, Alvin, passed away. This loss deeply affected the Smith family. What troubled them even more was the fact that Alvin had not been baptized at the time of his death, let alone baptized into the Restoration, leading to concerns that he might be condemned to hell, despite his otherwise righteous life. The vision recounted here provides insight into God’s mercy regarding the afterlife by expanding upon the revelation now found in Doctrine and Covenants 76.
Many others who participated in these ceremonies had similarly life-changing encounters with the Holy Spirit.
It’s worth noting that although this vision was never officially canonized in the Reorganization, throughout our history it has gained a sort of pseudo-canonical status due to its profound insights into the afterlife.
This is a faithful synthesis of the several accounts which are extant. This document has been organized into verses and sub-verses, with only minor grammatical changes and addition of names of those referenced. Please read the original documents here to compare:
A. At about 3 o’clock p.m. I dismissed the School of the Prophets and the Presidency and retired to the attic of the printing office, where we attended to the ordinance of washing our bodies in pure water. We also perfumed our bodies and our heads in the name of the Lord.
B. At early candlelight I met with the Presidency, at the west school room in the Temple to attend to the ordinance of anointing our heads with holy oil.
C. Also, the High councils of Kirtland and Zion met in the two adjoining rooms and waited in prayer while we attended to the ordinance.
A. I took the oil in my left hand, father Smith being seated before me and the rest of the presidency encircled him roundabout.
B. We then stretched our right hands to heaven and blessed the oil and consecrated it in the name of Jesus Christ
C. We then laid our hands on our aged father Smith, and invoked the blessings of heaven.
D. I then anointed his head with the consecrated oil and sealed many blessings upon him.
E. The presidency then, in turn, laid their hands upon his head, beginning at the eldest, until they had all laid their hands on him, and pronounced such blessings upon his head as the Lord put into their hearts.
F. All blessed him to be our patriarch, to anoint our heads, and attend to all duties that pertain to that office.
A. The Presidency then took the seat in their turn, according to their age, beginning at the eldest, and received their anointing and blessing under the hand of father Smith.
A. I then took the seat, and father anointed my head, and sealed upon me, the blessings of Moses, to lead Israel in the latter days, even as Moses led him in days of old, also the blessings of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob.
B. All of the Presidency laid their hands upon me and pronounced upon my head many prophecies, and blessings, many of which I shall not notice at this time, but as Paul said, so say I: let us come to visions and revelations!
A. The heavens were opened upon us and I beheld the Celestial Kingdom of God and the glory thereof; whether in the body or out I cannot tell.
B. I saw the transcendent beauty of the gate, through which the heirs of that Kingdom will enter, which was like unto circling flames of fire;
C. I also saw the blazing throne of God whereon was seated the Father and the Son;
D. I saw the beautiful streets of that kingdom, which had the appearance of being paved with gold;
E. I saw father Adam, Abraham, Michael, my father and mother, and my brother Alvin Smith who has long since slept.
F. I marveled at how it was that he had obtained an inheritance in that Kingdom, seeing that he had departed this life before the Lord had set His hand to gather Israel the second time and had not been baptized for the remission of sins.
G. Thus came the voice of the Lord unto me saying “All who have died without a knowledge of this gospel who would have received it if they had been permitted to tarry shall be heirs of the Celestial Kingdom of God. Also, all that shall die henceforth without a knowledge of it who would have received it with all their hearts shall be heirs of that Kingdom, for I the Lord will judge all men according to their works according to the desires of their hearts”.
H. I also beheld that all children who die before they arrive to the years of accountability are saved in the Celestial Kingdom of Heaven.
A. I saw the Twelve Apostles of the Lamb, who are now upon the earth and who hold the keys of this last ministry, in foreign lands standing together in a circle much fatigued, with their clothes tattered, feet swollen, and their eyes cast downward.
B. Jesus stood in their midst, but they did not behold him. The Saviour looked upon them and wept.
C. I also beheld Elder William E. McLellin in the south, standing upon a hill surrounded with a vast multitude, preaching to them, and a lame man standing before him, supported by his crutches. He threw them down at his word and leaped as a hart by the mighty power of God.
D. Also, Elder Brigham Young standing in a strange land in the far southwest. He was in a desert place upon a rock in the midst of about a dozen men of color, who appeared hostile. He was preaching to them in their own tongue, and the angel of God was standing above his head with a drawn sword in his hand protecting him, but he did not see it
E. I finally saw the Twelve in the Celestial Kingdom of God.
A. I also beheld the redemption of Zion, and many things which the tongue of man cannot describe in full.
B. Many of my brethren who received this ordinance with me saw glorious visions also; angels ministered unto them, as well as myself, and the power of the Highest rested upon us.
C. The house was filled with the glory of God, and we shouted “Hosanna to God and the Lamb!”
A. My scribe, Warren Farr Parrish, also received his anointing with us and saw in a vision the armies of heaven protecting the Saints in their return to Zion and many things which I saw.
B. The Bishop of Kirtland, Newell Kimball Whitney, with his counselors, and the Bishop of Zion, Edward Partridge, with his counselors, were present with us, and received their anointing under the hands of father Smith were confirmed by the Presidency, and the glories of heaven was unfolded to them also.
C. We then invited the counselors of Kirtland and Zion into our room, and President Hyrum Smith anointed the head of John Smith, the president of the counselors in Kirtland, and President David Whitmer the head of Simeon Carter, the president of the counselors of Zion.
D. The president of each quorum then anointed the heads of his colleagues, each in his turn beginning, at the eldest.
E. The vision of heaven was opened to these also; some of them saw the face of the Saviour and others were ministered unto by holy angels.
F. The spirit of prophecy and revelation was poured out in mighty power, and loud “Hosanna”s and “Glory to God in the highest!” saluted the heavens, for we all communed with the heavenly hosts.
G. I saw in my vision all of the Presidency in the Celestial Kingdom of God and many others who were present.
Our meeting was opened by singing and prayer offered up by the head of each quorum, and closed by singing and I invoked the benediction of heaven with uplifted hands, and we retired between one and two o’clock in the morning.