Part 19 (April–May 1830)

  1. Amongst those who attended our meetings regularly was Newel Knight, son to Joseph Knight. He and I had now many and serious conversations on the important subject of man’s eternal salvation. We had got into the habit of praying much at our meetings and Newel had said that he would try and take up his cross and pray vocally during meeting, but when we again met together he rather excused himself. I tried to prevail upon him, making use of the figure: Supposing that he should get into a mud hole, would he not try and help himself out? And that we were willing now to help him out of the mud hole. He replied that provided he had got into a mud hole through carelessness, he would rather wait and get out himself than have others to help him, and so he would wait until he should get into the woods by himself and there he would pray.
  2. Accordingly, he deferred praying until next morning when he retired into the woods, where (according to his own account afterward) he made several attempts to pray, but could scarcely do so, feeling that he had not done his duty, but that he should have prayed in the presence of others. He began to feel uneasy and continued to feel worse both in mind and body until, upon reaching his own house, his appearance was such as to alarm his wife very much. He requested her to go and bring me to him.
  3. I went and found him suffering very much in his mind, and his body acted upon in a very strange manner. His visage and limbs distorted and twisted in every shape and appearance possible to imagine, and finally he was caught up off the floor of the apartment and tossed about most fearfully. His situation was soon made known to his neighbors and relatives, and in a short time as many as eight or nine grown persons had got together to witness the scene. After he had thus suffered for a time I succeeded in getting hold of him by the hand, when almost immediately he spoke to me and with great earnestness requested of me that I should cast the Devil out of him, saying that he knew he was in him and that he also knew that I could cast him out. I replied, If you know that I can, it shall be done. And then almost unconsciously I rebuked the Devil and commanded him in the name of Jesus Christ to depart from him, when immediately Newel spoke out and said that he saw the Devil leave him and vanish from his sight. This was the first miracle which was done in this church, or by any member of it, and it was done not by man nor by the power of man, but it was done by God and by the power of godliness. Therefore, let the honor and the praise, the dominion and the glory be ascribed to the Father, Son, and holy spirit for ever and ever, Amen.
  4. The scene was now entirely changed, for as soon as the Devil had departed from our friend, his countenance became natural, his distortions of body ceased, and almost immediately the spirit of the Lord descended upon him and the visions of eternity were opened to his view. He afterward related his experience as follows:
  5. I now began to feel a most pleasing sensation resting upon me, and immediately the visions of Heaven were opened to my view. I felt myself attracted upward and remained for some time enwrapped in contemplation, insomuch that I knew not what was going on in the room. By and by I felt some weight pressing upon my shoulder and the side of my head, which served to recall me to a sense of my situation, and I found that the spirit of the Lord had actually caught me up off the floor and that my shoulder and head were pressing against the beams.
  6. All this was witnessed by many, to their great astonishment and satisfaction when they saw the Devil thus cast out, and the power of God and his holy spirit thus made manifest. So soon as consciousness returned, his bodily weakness was such that we were obliged to lay him upon his bed and wait upon him for some time. As may be expected, such a scene as this contributed much to make believers of those who witnessed it, and finally the greater part of them became members of the church.
  7. Soon after this occurrence I returned to Fayette, Seneca County. The Book of Mormon (the stick of Joseph in the hands of Ephraim) had now been published for some time, and as the ancient Prophet had predicted of it, It was accounted as a strange thing. No small stir was created by its appearance. Great opposition and much persecution followed the believers of its authenticity, but it had now come to pass that truth had sprung out of the earth and righteousness had looked down from Heaven, so we feared not our opponents, knowing that we had both truth and righteousness on our side, that we had both the Father and the Son, because we had the doctrines of Christ and abided in them, and therefore we continued to preach and to give information to all who were willing to hear.
  8. During the last week in May, the above mentioned Newel Knight came to visit us at Fayette and was baptized by David Whitmer.