After laboring in that part (Memphis, Tennessee) for a length of time, I received a letter from Joseph Smith and Oliver Cowdery, in which they requested me to stay in that country and take charge of the churches that we had built up there. The Prophet promised me many things, and said I should lose no blessings by tarrying in that country and doing as he wished me, and letting the other brethren go and get their endowments. I was then at the house of Brother Abraham O. Smoot’s mother. I received this about sundown. I went into a little room where there was a sofa, to pray alone. I felt full of joy and rejoicings at the promises God had made to me through the Prophet. While I was upon my knees praying, my room was filled with light. I looked and a messenger stood by my side. I arose, and this personage told me he had come to instruct me. He presented before me a panorama. He told me he wanted me to see with my eyes and understand with my mind what was coming to pass in the earth before the coming of the Son of Man. He commenced with what the revelations say about the sun being turned to darkness, the moon to blood, and the stars falling from heaven. Those things were all presented to me one after another, as they will be, I suppose, when they are manifest before the coming of the Son of Man. Then he showed me the resurrection of the dead – what is termed the first and second resurrection. In the first resurrection I saw no graves nor anyone raised from the grave. I saw legions of celestial beings, men and women who had received the Gospel all clothed in white robes. In the form they were presented to me, they had already been raised from the grave. After this he showed me what is termed the second resurrection. Vast fields of graves were before me, and the Spirit of God rested upon the earth like a shower of gentle rain, and when that fell upon the graves they were opened, and an immense host of human beings came forth. They were just as diversified in their dress as we are here, or as they were laid down. This personage taught me with regard to these things. Among other things he showed me, there were seven lions like burning brass placed in the heavens. I asked the messenger what they were for. He said they were representative of the different dispensations of the Gospel of Christ to men, and they would all be seen in the heavens among the signs that would be shown. After this passed by me, he disappeared. Now, if I had been a painter I could have drawn everything that I saw. It made an impression upon me that has never left me from that day to this. The next day we had a meeting in the academy. Brother Smoot and some others went with me; but I was a lost man. I hardly knew where I was, so enveloped was I in that which I had seen.
I refer to this as one of the visitations that was given me in my boyhood, so to speak, in the Gospel. I was a Priest at the time. Of course, there was a motive in this personage visiting me and teaching me these principles. He knew a great deal better than I did what lay before me in life. It was doubtless sent to me for the purpose of strengthening me and giving me encouragement in my labors. — Wilford Woodruff in Lundwall, N.B., ed. 1960, Temples of the Most High, Salt Lake City, UT, pp. 317–18, 321–22; From a discourse delivered by President Wilford Woodruff at the Weber Stake Conference in Ogden, UT, October 19, 1896
More than forty years ago I had a dream, which I am sure was from the Lord. In this dream I was in the presence of my Savior as he stood in mid-air. He spoke no word to me, but my love for him was such that I have not words to explain. I know that no mortal man can love the Lord as I experienced that love for the Savior unless God reveals it unto him. I would have remained in his presence, but there was a power drawing me away from him, and as a result of that dream I had this feeling, that no matter what might be required at my hands, what the gospel might entail unto me, I would do what I should be asked to do, even to the laying down of my life. And so when we read in the scriptures what the Savior said to his disciples: “In my Father’s house are many mansions: . . . I go to prepare a place for you . . . that where I am, there ye may be also” (John 14:2,3), I think that is where I want to be. If only I can be with my Savior and have that same sense of love that I had in that dream, it will be the goal of my existence, the desire of my life. — Elder George F. Richards, Conference Report, October 1946, p. 139
When the time shall come that the Spirit of the living God shall be poured out upon all flesh, in a very few moments of time the Lord could unlock the mysteries and treasures of the earth, so that we could understand not only the geographical surface of the earth, but be able, by the power of vision, to behold every particle of it inside as well as outside, and also the law that governs its elementary portions, nearly all of which is now closed from our mortal vision.
We can only go about so far with our natural sight; but there is a faculty in every man and woman which is now sleeping in a dormant state; and as soon as it is touched by the Spirit of the Lord, we shall be enabled to see a new world of things as it were, mysteries will be opened up, and we will perceive naturally as if they were written, and in this way we shall be able to learn very rapidly indeed. If we want a knowledge of this world or of ourselves, when our spirits were born, or if we desire to know things that took place before the foundations of the world were laid or the nucleus was formed, when the sons of God shouted for joy, if we desired to know these things it would only be necessary for the Spirit of the Lord to touch the vision of our minds and light up our understanding, and we could gaze upon things past for thousands of generations of worlds before the earth was made, and we could see the succession of worlds that have been and were in existence long before this earth was formed; we could see the ordeals through which they had passed, see them brought into existence and passing through their several changes and finally become glorified celestial mansions in the presence of God. By this same Spirit . . . we could look forward into the distant future and behold new worlds formed and redeemed, and not only this, but see and understand the laws by which they were made, and the object and end of all these creations, being touched by the finger of the Almighty and lighted up by the Holy Ghost. — Orson Pratt, Journal of Discourses, December 2, 1877, 19:178
Brigham Young, on June 17, 1877, related the following: “I lived right in the country where the plates were found from which the Book of Mormon was translated, and I know a great many things pertaining to that country. I believe I will take the liberty to tell you of another circumstance that will be as marvelous as anything can be. This is an incident in the life of Oliver Cowdery, that he did not take the liberty of telling such things in meeting as I take.
“I tell these things to you, and I have a motive for doing so. I want to carry them to the ears of my brethren and sisters, and to the children also, that they may grow to an understanding of some things that seem to be entirely hidden from the human family. Oliver Cowdery went with the Prophet Joseph when he deposited these plates. Joseph did not translate all of the plates; there was a portion of them sealed, which you can learn from the Book of Doctrine and Covenants. When Joseph got the plates, the angel instructed him to carry them back to the Hill Cumorah, which he did.
“Oliver says that when Joseph and Oliver went there, the hill opened, and they walked into a cave, in which there was a large and spacious room. He says he did not think, at the time, whether they had the light of the sun or artificial light, but that it was just as light as day. They laid the plates on a table; it was a large table that stood in the room. Under this table there was a pile of plates as much as two feet high, and there were altogether in this room more plates than probably many wagon loads; they were piled up in corners and along the walls.
“The first time they went there the Sword of Laban hung upon the wall; but when they went again it had been taken down and laid upon the table across the gold plates; it was unsheathed, and on it was written these words: ‘This sword will never be sheathed again until the kingdoms of this world become the kingdom of our God and his Christ.’ I tell you this is coming not only from Oliver Cowdery, but others who were familiar with it, and who understood it just as well as we understand coming to this meeting, enjoying the day, and by and by we separate and go away, forgetting most of what is said, but remembering some things. So it is with other circumstances in life. I relate this to you, and I want you to understand it. I take the liberty of referring to those things so they will not be forgotten and lost. Carlos Smith was a young man of as much veracity as any young man we had, and he was a witness to these things. Samuel Smith saw some things, Hyrum saw a good many things, but Joseph was the leader.
“Now, you may think I am unwise in publicly telling these things, thinking perhaps I should preserve them in my own breast; but such is not my mind. I would like the people called Latter-day Saints to understand some little things with regard to the workings and dealings of the Lord with his people here upon the earth. I could relate to you a great many more, all of which are familiar to many of our brethren and sisters.” — Journal of Discourses 19:38
“How does it compare with the vision that Joseph and others had, when they went into a cave in the hill Cumorah, and saw more records than ten men could carry? There were books piled up on tables, book upon book. Those records this people will yet have, if they accept of the Book of Mormon and observe its precepts, and keep the commandments.” — Journal of Discourses 4:105
As I come to you at the closing moments of this conference, I would like to take you back now to just one incident, and I am sorry that I can tell you only a part of it because of the limitations of some things contained therein.
It was just before the dedication of the Los Angeles Temple. We were all preparing for that great occasion. It was something new in my life, when along about three or four o’clock in the morning, I enjoyed an experience that I think was not a dream, but it must have been a vision. It seemed that I was witnessing a great spiritual gathering, where men and women were standing up, two or three at a time, and speaking in tongues. The spirit was so unusual. I seemed to have heard the voice of President David O. McKay say, “If you want to love God, you have to learn to love and serve the people. That is the way you show your love for God.” — President Harold B. Lee, “Stand Ye in Holy Places,” Ensign, July 1973, p. 121
The dedication of the Kirtland Temple in March of 1836 represented the greatest spiritual outpouring in modern Church history. Joseph wrote that, shortly after the dedicatory prayer was offered, “Frederick G. Williams arose and testified that [during the prayer] an angel entered the window and took his seat between Father Smith and himself. David Whitmer also saw angels in the house.”
Later, “Brother George A. Smith arose and began to prophesy, when a noise was heard like the sound of a rushing mighty wind, which filled the Temple, and all the congregation simultaneously arose, being moved upon by an invisible power; many began to speak in tongues and prophesy; . . and I beheld that the Temple was filled with angels. . . . The people of the neighborhood came running together (hearing an unusual sound within, and seeing a bright light like a pillar of fire resting upon the Temple,) and were astonished at what was taking place.”
Of one of the concluding meetings, Joseph wrote, “The Savior made his appearance to some, while angels ministered to others, and it was a Pentecost and an endowment indeed, long to be remembered, for the sound shall go forth from this place into all the world, and occurrences of this day shall be handed down upon the pages of sacred history, to all generations.” (History of the Church, 2:427-3) — Elder Bruce C. Hafen, “When Do the Angels Come?” Ensign, April 1992, p. 12
I ask, is there a reason for men and women being exposed more constantly and more powerfully, to the power of the enemy, by having visions than by not having them? There is and it is simply this – God never bestows upon his people, or upon an individual, superior blessings without a severe trial to prove them, to prove that individual, or that people, to see whether they will keep their covenants with him, and keep in remembrance what he has shown them. Then, the greater the vision, the greater the display of the power of the enemy. — Discourses of Brigham Young. p. 519; 3:205-206
So when individuals are blessed with visions, revelations, and great manifestations, look out, then the Devil is nigh you, and you will be tempted in proportion to the visions, revelations, or manifestations you have received. — Discourses of Brigham Young. p. 338
President Wilford Woodruff gave this report in general conference in 1896:
“Joseph Smith continued visiting myself and others up to a certain time, and then it stopped. The last time I saw him was in heaven. In the night vision I saw him at the door of the temple in heaven. He came to me and spoke to me. He said he could not stop to talk with me because he was in a hurry. The next man I met was Father Smith; he could not talk with me because he was in a hurry. I met half a dozen brethren who had held high positions on earth, and none of them could stop to talk with me because they were in a hurry. I was much astonished. By and by I saw the Prophet again and I got the privilege of asking him a question.
“‘Now,’ said I, ‘I want to know why you are in a hurry? I have been in a hurry all my life; but I expected my hurry would be over when I got into the kingdom of heaven, if I ever did.’
“Joseph said: ‘I will tell you, Brother Woodruff. Every dispensation that has had the priesthood on the earth and has gone into the celestial kingdom has had a certain amount of work to do to prepare to go to the earth with the Savior when he goes to reign on the earth. Each dispensation has had ample time to do this work. We have not. We are the last dispensation, and so much work has to be done, and we need to be in a hurry in order to accomplish it.’
“Of course, that was satisfactory, but it was new doctrine to me” (Discourses of Wilford Woodruff, sel. G. Homer Durham, Salt Lake City: Bookcraft, 1946, pp. 288-89). — Elder Henry B. Eyring, The New Era, July 1993, p. 6