Joseph Smith Tells His Own Story — Part 5

The Aaronic Priesthood
Restored by John the Baptist

Ordination of Joseph Smith and Oliver Cowdery, by Joseph Lewis
Ordination of Joseph Smith and Oliver Cowdery,
By Joseph Lewis

While we were thus employed, praying and calling upon the Lord, a messenger from heaven descended in a cloud of light, and having laid his hands upon us, he ordained us, saying unto us, “Upon you my fellow servants, in the name of Messiah, I confer the priesthood of Aaron, which holds the keys of the ministering of angels, and of the gospel of repentance, and of baptism by immersion for the remission of sins, and this shall never be taken again from the earth until the sons of Levi do offer again an offering unto the Lord in righteousness.”

He said this Aaronic priesthood had not the power of laying on of hands, for the gift of the Holy Ghost, but that this should be conferred on us hereafter; and he commanded us to go and be baptized, and gave us directions that I should baptize Oliver Cowdery, and afterwards that he should baptize me.

Accordingly we went and were baptized, I baptized him first, and afterwards he baptized me; after which I laid my hands upon his head and ordained him to the Aaronic priesthood, and afterwards he laid his hands on me and ordained me to the same priesthood, for so we were commanded.

The messenger who visited us on this occasion, and conferred this priesthood upon us, said that his name was John; the same that is called John the Baptist, in the New Testament; and that he acted under the direction of Peter, James, and John, who held the keys of the priesthood of Melchisedec; which priesthood he said should in due time be conferred on us—and that I should be called the first elder, and he the second. It was on the fifteenth day of May, eighteen hundred and twenty-nine, that we were baptized and ordained under the hand of the messenger.

Immediately upon our coming up out of the water, after we had been baptized, we experienced great and glorious blessings from our heavenly Father. No sooner had I baptized Oliver Cowdery than the Holy Ghost fell upon him, and he stood up and prophesied many things which should shortly come to pass.

And again, as soon as I had been baptized by him, I also had the spirit of prophecy; when standing up, I prophesied concerning the rise of the Church, and many other things connected with the Church and this generation of the children of men. We were filled with the Holy Ghost and rejoiced in the God of our salvation.

The Translation Continues at the
Whitmer Farm Near Fayette, New York

Shortly after commencing to translate, I became acquainted with Mr. Peter Whitmer of Fayette, Seneca County, New York, and also with some of his family. In the beginning of the month of June, his son David Whitmer came to the place where we were residing, and brought with him a two-horse wagon, for the purpose of having us accompany him to his father’s place and there remain until we should finish the work. He proposed that we should have our board free of charge, and the assistance of one of his brothers to write for me, as also his own assistance when convenient.

Having much need of such timely aid in an undertaking so arduous, and being informed that the people of the neighborhood were anxiously awaiting the opportunity to enquire into these things, we accepted the invitation, and accompanied Mr. Whitmer to his father’s house, and there resided until the translation was finished, and the copyright secured. Upon our arrival, we found Mr. Whitmer’s family very anxious concerning the work, and very friendly towards ourselves. They continued so, boarded and lodged us according to proposal, and John Whitmer, in particular, assisted us very much in writing during the remainder of the work.

We found the people of Seneca County in general friendly and disposed to enquire into the truth of these strange matters which now began to be noised abroad: many opened their houses to us in order that we might have an opportunity of meeting with our friends for the purposes of instruction and explanation. We met with many from time to time who were willing to hear us, and wishful to find out the truth as it is in Christ Jesus, and apparently willing to obey the gospel when once fairly convinced and satisfied in their own minds.

In this same month of June, my brother Hyrum Smith, David Whitmer, and Peter Whitmer, Jr., were baptized in Seneca Lake, the two former by myself, the latter by Oliver Cowdery. From this time forth many became believers, and were baptized, whilst we continued to instruct and persuade as many as applied for information.

Navigating Joseph Smith Tells His Own Story

Part 1 — Beginnings
Part 2 — The Vision in the Grove
Part 3 — The Angel Moroni Appears
Part 4 — The Book of Mormon
Part 6 — The Book of Mormon Witnesses
Part 7 — The Organization of the Church