The following is an excerpt from the Church's new groundbreaking history, Saints: The Standard of Truth. Read it for free through the Gospel Library app and at saints.lds.org or buy a hard copy to own at Deseret Book.
The Sunday after the church was organized, Oliver preached to the Whitmer family and their friends in Fayette. Many of them had supported the Book of Mormon translation but had not yet joined the church. After Oliver finished speaking, six people asked him to baptize them in a nearby lake.1
As more people joined the new church, the immensity of the Lord’s commission to take the gospel to the world weighed on Joseph. He had published the Book of Mormon and organized the Lord’s church, but the book was selling poorly and those who sought baptism were mostly his friends and relatives. And Joseph still had much to learn about heaven and earth. . . .
The First Miracle in the Church
After the baptisms in Fayette, Joseph began the hundred-mile trip back to his farm in Harmony. As busy as he was with the new church, he had to plant his fields soon if he wanted a successful fall harvest. His payments to Emma’s father on the farm were already late, and if his crops failed, he would have to find another way to pay off his debt.
On his way home, Joseph stopped at Joseph and Polly Knight’s farm in Colesville, New York. The Knights had long supported him, but they still had not joined the church. Joseph Knight in particular wanted to read the Book of Mormon before he embraced the new faith.4
Joseph stayed a few days in Colesville, preaching to the Knights and their friends. Newel Knight, one of Joseph and Polly’s sons, often talked with the prophet about the gospel. One day, Joseph invited him to pray at a meeting, but Newel said he would rather pray alone in the woods.
The next morning, Newel went to the woods and tried to pray. An uneasy feeling came over him, and it grew worse as he started for home. By the time he reached his house, the feeling was so oppressive that he begged his wife, Sally, to get the prophet.
Joseph hurried to Newel’s side and found family members and neighbors watching fearfully as the young man’s face, arms, and legs contorted wildly. When Newel saw Joseph, he cried, “Cast the devil out!”
Joseph had never tried to rebuke the devil or heal someone before, but he knew Jesus had promised His disciples the power to do so. Acting quickly, he caught Newel by the hand. “In the name of Jesus Christ,” he said, “depart from him.”
As soon as Joseph spoke, the contortions stopped. Newel slumped to the floor, exhausted but unharmed, muttering that he had seen the devil leave his body.
The Knights and their neighbors were astonished by what Joseph had done. Helping them carry Newel to a bed, Joseph told them it was the first miracle performed in the church.
“It was done by God,” he testified, “and by the power of godliness.”5 . . .
In late June 1830, Emma traveled with Joseph and Oliver to Colesville. Word of Joseph’s miracle that spring had spread throughout the area, and now the Knights and several other families wanted to join the church.
Lead image from lds.org
The Standard of Truth is the first book in Saints, a new, four-volume narrative history of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. Fast-paced and meticulously researched, Saints recounts true stories of Latter-day Saints across the globe and answers the Lord's call to write history "for the good of the church, and for the rising generations" (Doctrine and Covenants 69:0).