History, 1838–1856, volume A-1 [23 December 1805–30 August 1834]

History, 1838–1856, volume A-1 [23 December 1805–30 August 1834]

multitudes united themselves to the different religious parties, which created no small stir  and division among the people, Some Crying, “Lo here” and some Lo there. Some were  contending for the Methodist faith, Some for the Presbyterian, and some for the Baptist;  for notwithstanding the great love which the converts to these different faiths expressed at th[e]  time of their conversion, and the great Zeal manifested by the respective Clergy who wer[e]  active in getting up and promoting this extraordinary scene of religious feeling in order to  have every body converted as they were pleased to call it, let them join what sect they please[d]  Yet when the Converts began to file off some to one party and some to another, it was see[n]  that the seemingly good feelings of both the Priests and the Converts were mere pretenc[e]  more pretended than real, for a scene of great confusion and bad feeling ensued;  Priest contending against priest, and convert against convert so that all their good  feelings one for another (if they ever had any) were entirely lost in a strife of words  and a contest about opinions.


I was at this time in my fifteenth year. My Fathers family was <were> proselyted  to the Presbyterian faith and four of them joined that Church, Namely, My Mother  Lucy, My Brothers Hyrum, Samuel Harrison, and my Sister Soph[r]onia.
During this time of great excitement my mind was called up to serious reflection  and great uneasiness, but though my feelings were deep and often pungent, still I  kept myself aloof from all these parties though I attended their several meetings <as often> as  occasion would permit. But in process of time my mind became somewhat partial  to the Methodist sect, and I felt some desire to be united with them, but so great was the  confusion and strife amongst the different denominations that it was impossible for a person  young as I was and so unacquainted with men and things to come to any certain con clusion who was right and who was wrong. My mind at different times was greatly  excited for the cry and tumult were so great and incessant. The Presbyterians were most  decided against the Baptists and Methodists, and used all their powers of either reason  or sophistry to prove their errors, or at least to make the people think they were in error.  On the other hand the Baptists and Methodists in their turn were equally Zealous in  endeavoring to establish their own tenets and disprove all others.
In the midst of this war of words, and tumult of opinions, I often said to myself, what  is to be done? Who of all these parties are right? Or are they all wrong together? and  if any one of them be right which is it? And how shall I know it?
While I was laboring under the extreme difficulties caused by the contests of these parties  of religionists, I was one day reading the Epistle of James, First Chapter and fifth verse  which reads, “If any of you lack wisdom, let him ask of God, that giveth to all men  liberally and upbraideth not, and it shall be given him.[”] Never did any passage  of scripture come with more power to the heart of man that this did at this time to  mine. It seemed to enter with great force into every feeling of my heart. I reflected  on it again and again, knowing that if any person needed wisdom from God, I did,  for how to act I did not know and unless I could get more wisdom than I then had  would never know, for the teachers of religion of the different sects understood the same [p. 2]
JS, History, 1838–1856, vol. A-1, created 11 June 1839–24 Aug. 1843; handwriting of James Mulholland, Robert B. Thompson, William W. Phelps, and Willard Richards; 553 pages, plus 16 pages of addenda; CHL. This is the first volume of a six-volume manuscript history of the church. This first volume covers the period from 23 December 1805 to 30 August 1834; the remaining five volumes, labeled B-1 through F-1, continue through 8 August 1844.