21 January 1844 (Sunday).

21 January 1844 (Sunday). Front of Robert D. Fosters Hotel, Near Temple. [1]

Wilford Woodruff Diary

A large assembly of Saints met at the Temple and herd an interesting discours deliverd by President Joseph Smith. The following is a synopsis of his discourse upon the occasion

When I Consider the surrounding Circumstances in which I am placed this day, standing in the open air with week lungs & somwhat out of health I feel that I must have prayers & faith of my brethren that God may strengthen me & pour out his special blessings upon me if you get much from me this day. Their are many people assembled here to day & throughout this City & from various parts of the world who say that they have received to a certainty a portion of knowledge from God by revelation in the way that he has ordained & pointed out I shall take the broad ground then that if we have or Can receive a portion of knowledge from God by immediate revelation by the same source we can receive all knowledge. What shall I talk about today I know what Br Cahoon [2] wants me to speak about, he wants me to speak about the Comeing of Elijah in the last days I Can see it in his eye, I will speak upon that subject then, The Bible says "I will send you Elijah before the great & dredful day of the Lord Come that he shall turn the hearts of the fathers to the Children & the hearts of the Children to their fathers lest I Come & smite the whole earth with a Curse," [3] Now the word turn here should be translated (bind or seal) [4] But what is the object of this important mission or how is it to be fulfilled, The keys are to be deliverd [5] the spirit of Elijah is to Come, The gospel to be esstablished the Saints of God gatherd Zion built up, & the Saints [6] to Come up as Saviors on mount Zion [7] but how are they to become Saviors on Mount Zion by building thair temples erecting their Baptismal fonts & going forth & receiving all the ordinances, Baptisms, Confirmations, washings anointings ordinations & sealing powers [8] upon our heads in behalf of all [9] our Progenitors who are dead & redeem them that they may Come forth in the first resurrection & be exhalted to thrones of glory with us, & here in is the chain that binds the hearts of the fathers to the Children, & the Children to the Fathers which fulfills the mission of Elijah & I would to God that this temple was now done that we might go into it & go to work & improve our time & make use of the seals [10] while they are on earth & the Saints have none to much time to save & redeem their dead, & gather together their living relatives that they may be saved also, before the earth will be smitten & the Consumption decreed falls upon the world [11] & I would advise all the Saints to go to with their might & gather together all their living relatives to this place that they may be sealed & saved that they may be prepared against the day that the destroying angel goes forth & if the whole Church should go to with all their might to save their dead seal their posterity & gather their living friends & spend none of their time in behalf of the world they would hardly get through before night would Come when no man Could work [12] & my ownly trouble at the present time is concerning ourselves that the Saints will be divided & broken up & scattered before we get our Salvation [13] Secure for thei[r] is so many fools in the world for the devil to operate upon it gives him the advantage often times, The question is frequently asked Can we not be saved without going through with all thes ordinances &c [14] I would answer No not the fulness of Salvation, Jesus said their was many mansions in his fathers house & he would go & prepare a place for them. [15] House here named should have been translated (Kingdom) [16] & any person who is exhalted to the highest mansion has to abide a Celestial law & the whole law to[o], [17] But their has been a great difficulty in getting anything into the heads of this generation it has been like splitting hemlock knots with a Corn doger for a wedge & a pumpkin for a beetle, [18] Even the Saints are slow to understand I have tried for a number of years to get the minds of the Saints prepared to receive the things of God, but we frequently see some of them after suffering all they have for the work of God will fly to peaces like glass as soon as any thing Comes that is Contrary to their traditions, [19] they Cannot stand the fire at all, How many will be able to abide a Celestial law & go through & receive their exhaltation I am unable to say but many are Called & few are Chosen. [20]

Joseph Smith Diary, by Willard Richards

Preached in front of Dr Foster Mammoth Hotel to several thousand people.—although the weather was somewhat unpleasant. on sealing the hearts of the fathers to the children & the heart of the children to the fathers.

—21 January 1844

Notes

[1] See History of the Church, 6:183-85, and Teachings, pp. 329-31. The original source for the reports in History of the Church and Teachings is the Wilford Woodruff Diary except for the introduction which comes from the Joseph Smith Diary.

[2] Reynolds Cahoon.

[3] Malachi 4:5-6.

[4] Malachi 4:5-6*; D&C 128:17-18.

[5] This refers to the appearance of Elijah in the Kirtland Temple on 3 April 1836. See D&C 110:13-16.

[6] The Saints, meaning both males and females, could serve as "Saviors on Mount Zion."

[7] Obadiah 21.

[8] All ordinances of the temple that are done for the living, including marriage for time and eternity and the fulness of the priesthood, can also be done for the dead (see James E. Talmage, The House of the Lord [Salt Lake City: Deseret Book Company, 1968], pp. 163 and 211, and B. H. Roberts, A Comprehensive History of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints—Century 1 6 vols. [Provo, Utah: Brigham Young University Press, 1965] 6:495).

[9] It is uncertain whether the Prophet was announcing a change of practice that ordinance work would be done for the Saints' progenitors further back than those individuals for whom they "believed would have accepted the Gospel" (which was at most four generations). In this regard Melvin J. Ballard, a member of the Council of the Twelve (commenting on the policy announced by the Prophet on 19 October 1840 [Teachings p. 179]), said:

That limitation given to Latter-day Saints at that time was, baptism for their dead whom they believed would have received the Gospel. That is all. And no others. Now since we are not prepared to pass judgment on our dead ancestors whom we did not know, the church has gone further and has permitted members of the church to do the work for all their immediate ancestors except they are murderers. There can be no work done for those who have committed murder. We are to do the work for our dead, whether we know they will receive it or not (The Three Degrees of Glory—A Discourse by Melvin J. Ballard [Salt Lake City: Deseret Book Company, n.d.], p. 20).

[10] That is, the power of Elijah and Elias.

[11] Isaiah 10:22-23. See also D&C 87:6.

[12] John 9:4.

[13] The Prophet feared that the Saints would be scattered again before they could obtain their temple blessings at the central place. Matthew 23:37-38 (34-39).

[14] See 11 June 1843, note 25.

[15] John 14:2.

[16] John 14:2*.

[17] See 11 June 1843, note 25.

[18] Using more current terminology, this sentence translates: "It has been like splitting the knots of hemlock trees using a piece of corn bread for a wedge and a pumpkin for the sledge hammer."

[19] See 5 October 1840, note 24; 3 October 1841, note 19; and, 27 August 1843, note 5

[20] Matthew 22:14 (1-14). See also D&C 121:34 (34-40).