The winter of 1835–1836 was a time of meetings and instruction in , Ohio, as the prepared for the forthcoming in the and for the divine of power long promised to be received there. On the afternoon of 21 January 1836, JS and the church met in the council room above the to take another step in preparation for the endowment. Following biblical precedent, these church leaders their bodies with water and perfumed themselves with a sweet-smelling wash “preparatory to the with the holy oil.” At sunset the church presidency and several others, including JS’s scribe and the of and Kirtland, met on the third floor of the Kirtland House of the Lord in the “president’s room,” also called the “west school room,” to administer the anointing . The Kirtland and Missouri also came to the House of the Lord, but they “waited in prayer” separately until after the first anointings. According to , the members of the church presidency were “annointed with the same kind of oil and in the man[ner] that were Moses and Aaron, and those who stood before the Lord in ancient days.” The presidency first anointed church ’s head with consecrated oil and gave him a blessing. The patriarch then anointed the church’s presidents in the order of their ages. When Joseph Smith Sr. anointed the head of JS, he “sealed upon [him], the blessings, of Moses, to lead Israel in the latter days.”
After the blessed his son, JS received blessings and prophecies under the hands of “all of the presidency,” after which the “heavens were opened” and JS and others beheld “visions and revelations.” recorded JS’s narrative of those heavenly manifestations, including a description of the and the individuals who would dwell therein, in JS’s journal; that text is featured here. This vision of the celestial kingdom added details to JS’s 1832 vision that depicted the separation of the afterlife into three kingdoms of heavenly glory: celestial, , and .
recorded that a number of others present at the evening meeting also saw visions. JS’s journal notes that “some of them saw the face of the Saviour, and others were ministered unto by holy angels,” and also that “the power of the highest rested upon, us the house was filled with the glory of God, and we shouted Hosanah to God and the Lamb.” The next morning, instead of studying as usual, JS and others “spent the time in rehearsing to each other the glorious scenes that transpired” the evening before.
demurred to record the details of the evening’s events in his journal. “The glorious scene is too great to be described in this book,” he wrote, “therefore, I only say, that the heavens were opened to many, and great and marvelous things were shown.” JS’s journal reports additional visionary experiences that were had during the week following 21 January 1836. Between 21 January and 6 February, JS and other senior church leaders gave instruction and performed washings, anointings, and other blessings as the solemn assembly neared.
The heavens were opened upon us and I beheld the of God, and the glory thereof, whether in the body or out I cannot tell,— I saw the transcendant beauty of the gate thatenters, through which the heirs of that kingdom will enter, which was like unto circling flames of fire, also the blasing throne of God, whereon was seated the Father and the Son,— I saw the beautiful streets of that kingdom, which had the appearance of being paved with gold— I saw father Adam, and Abraham and Michael and my and , my brother that has long since slept, and marvled how it was that he had obtained this an inheritance <in> this <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— Thus said came the voice <of the Lord un>to me saying all who have [p. 136]
In 1832, JS and Sidney Rigdon recorded a vision describing the celestial realm in terms of “the glory of the sun” and outlining requirements to attain that kingdom. (Vision, 16 Feb. 1832 [D&C 76:50–70, 92–96].)
Although Adam and Michael, the archangel, are designated here as separate persons, the previous year JS approved publication of the Doctrine and Covenants, which described them as the same person: “Michael, or Adam, the father of all, the prince of all, the ancient of days.” Likewise, in a 1 January 1834 letter to John Whitmer, Oliver Cowdery wrote that he had “been informed from a proper source that the Angel Michael is no less than our father Adam.” (Doctrine and Covenants 50:2, 1835 ed. [D&C 27:11]; Oliver Cowdery, Kirtland, OH, to John Whitmer, Missouri, 1 Jan. 1834, in Cowdery, Letterbook, 15; see also Richards, “Pocket Companion,” 74–75; and Robert B. Thompson, Sermon Notes, 5 Oct. 1840, JS Collection, CHL.)
Cowdery, Oliver. Letterbook, 1833–1838. Huntington Library, San Marino, CA.
Richards, Willard. “Willard Richards Pocket Companion Written in England,” ca. 1838–1840. Willard Richards, Papers, 1821–1854. CHL. MS 1490, box 2, fd. 6.
Smith, Joseph. Collection, 1827–1846. CHL. MS 155.
Born 11 February 1798, JS’s oldest brother, Alvin, died near Palmyra, New York, on 19 November 1823, probably from a deadly dose of calomel administered by a physician, possibly for a ruptured appendix. In August 1842, JS stated concerning Alvin: “He was the oldest, and the noblest of my fathers family. He was one of the noblest of the sons of men. . . . In him there was no guile. He lived without spot from the time he was a child.” Lucy Mack Smith wrote that Alvin “was a youth of singular goodness of disposition Kind and amiable” so that when he died, “lamentation and Mourning filled the whole neighborhood where we lived.” (JS Family Bible; Tunbridge, VT, Town and Vital Records, 1785–1878, vol. A, p. 130, microfilm 28,990, U.S. and Canada Record Collection, FHL; JS History, 1834–1836, 10; Lucy Mack Smith, Biographical Sketches, 87–89; JS, Journal, 23 Aug. 1842; Lucy Mack Smith, History, 1844–1845, bk. 4, .)
JS Family Bible / Joseph Smith Family Bible, ca. 1831–1866. Private possession. Copy of genealogical information in Joseph Smith Sr. Family Reunions Files, 1972–2003. CHL.
U.S. and Canada Record Collection. FHL.
Smith, Lucy Mack. Biographical Sketches of Joseph Smith the Prophet and His Progenitors for Many Generations. Liverpool: S. W. Richards, 1853.