I stumbled across this bit from Alexander Neibaur’s diary:
May 24, 1844 Called at Brother J. S. [Joseph Smith’s]. Met Mr. Bonnie. Brother Joseph [Smith] told us the first call he had a revival meeting. His mother, brother and sisters got religion. He wanted to get religion too; he wanted to feel and shout like the rest but could feel nothing. [He] opened his Bible of the first passage that struck him was [James 1:5.], “If any man lack wisdom, let him ask of God, who giveth to all men liberally and upbraideth not.” [He] went into the woods to pray, kneels himself down, his tongue was closed, cleaving to his roof, could utter not a word, but felt easier after awhile. [He] saw a fire toward heaven, came near and nearer. [He] saw a personage in the fire, light complexion, blue eyes, a piece of white cloth drawn over his shoulders, his right arm bare. After a while another person came to the side of the first. Mr. [Joseph] Smith then asked, “Must I join the Methodist Church?” “No, they are not my people. [They] have gone astray; there is none that doeth good, not one, but this is my Beloved Son, harken ye him.” The fire drew nigher, rested upon the tree, enveloped him. Comforted, I endeavored to arise but felt uncommon feeble. [I] got into the house and told the Methodist priest [who] said this was not an age for God to reveal himself in vision. Revelation has ceased with the New Testament.
[p.15]Told about Wm. [William] Law—wished to be married to his wife for eternity. Mr. [Joseph] Smith would inquire of the Lord, answered no because Law was a adulterous person. Mrs. Law wanted to know why she could not be married to Mr. Law. Mr. [Joseph Smith] S. said [he] would not wound her feelings by telling her. Some days after, Mr. [Joseph] Smith going toward his office. Mrs. Law stood in the door, beckoned to him the once did not know whether she beckoned to him, went across to inquire. Yes, please to walk in, no one but herself in the house, she drawing her arms around him, if you won’t seal me to my husband seal myself unto you, he said, stand away and pushing her gently aside giving her a denial and going out. When Mr. [William] Law came home he inquired who had been in his absence, she said no one but Br. Joseph, he then demanded what had passed. Mrs. L. [Law] then told Joseph wanted her to married to him—
Some interesting things (at least to me):
- He reports “feel[ing] nothing” when attending a revival, which apparently spurred his interest in finding the truth for himself.
- The details about the First Vision are fascinating: the two personages appear one at a time (he describes briefly what one is wearing and the eye color), and the pillar of fire continues drawing near until it envelops him, at which point he is comforted. He identifies the preacher with whom he shared the vision as Methodist.
- The section on the Laws is fascinating. According to Joseph, William Law is an adulterer, and Jane Law is the person who wants to marry Joseph, but he rejects her. The implication appears to be that William Law apostatized and became an enemy to the church because he was jealous that his wife wanted Joseph Smith. Of course, this is not how the Laws and others reported the interaction between Joseph Smith and Jane Law.