So three years went by.
On the evening of September 21, 1823, after Joseph had retired to his room, he prayed earnestly that the Lord would forgive him his sins and show him if he was yet accepted of him. While he was yet praying a very bright light came into the room, and immediately a person stood in the air by his bedside. As this person was an angel—a being who had died and had been resurrected with an immortal body—it is interesting to know how he looked.
Joseph describes him as a man having on a robe whiter than anything he had ever seen. His hands were naked, and his arms also, a little above the wrists. His feet were also bare a little above the ankles. His head and neck were also bare. Not only was his robe very white but his whole person shone with great glory. The room was very light, but not so bright as close around the angel’s person.
The angel called Joseph by name, and said that he was a messenger sent from God to him, and that his name was Moroni. He told Joseph that God had a work for him to do, and because of this work, good and evil would be spoken about his name in all nations. The angel then told him of a record written on gold plates which were hidden in a hill not far away. This record was a history of the peoples who had lived on this continent, of whom the Indians were a part. With the plates was an instrument called the Urim and Thummim, which God had prepared for the translating of the records. After a time these things would be given to Joseph, but he must take great care of them and show them to no one except those to whom the Lord would direct. Then Moroni showed Joseph, by a vision, the place, where the plates were hidden.
After giving much other instruction, the light in the room began to gather in towards the person of the angel, leaving the room again in darkness, except just around the heavenly visitor, who soon disappeared in a shining path into heaven.
Three times that same night Moroni visited Joseph and told him nearly the same things over again. About the plates Joseph was further told that he would be tempted to get them for the purpose of getting rich, as the plates were of great value; but he must not yield to that spirit as they were sacred, and he must have no other purpose in view than to do the will of God and build up his kingdom; otherwise he would not get them. At the close of the third visit it was morning, and then Joseph knew that he had been talking with the angel nearly all the night.
That morning Joseph went as usual with his father to work in the field, but he was so weak that he could do but little. His father, seeing this, told him to go home.
On the way, as he was climbing over a fence, Joseph fell helpless to the ground. After that the first thing he knew was that some one was calling him by name. Looking up he again saw the angel Moroni, who once more told him all that he had related the night before. He then told Joseph to go back to the field and tell his father of the vision and the commandments which he had received.