20 March 1842 (Sunday Morning). Grove, West Side of Temple

Wilford Woodruff Diary[1]

A large assembly of Saints gather together at an early hour to hear a discours deliverd upon the Subject of Baptism by Joseph the Seer; but as a young child [2] was dead & his corpes presented in the assembly it called for many remarks from The speaker upon death & the resurrection which were in the highest degree interesting & his remarks upon Baptism was truly glorious to the believer in Jesus Christ. The following is a brief synopsis of some of the items presented in the discours.

The Speaker read the 14ch Revelations. And sayes "we have again the warning voice sounded in our midst which shows the uncertainty of human life. And in my leasure moments I have meditated upon the subject, & asked the question Why is it that infants innocent children are taken away from us esspecially those that seem to be most intelligent beings" Answer "This world is a vary wicked world & it is a proverb that the world grows weaker & wiser; but if it is the case the world grows more wicked & corrupt. In the early ages of the world A ritheous man & a man of God & intelligence had a better chance to do good to be received & believed than at the present day. but in these days such a man is much opposed & persecuted by most of the inhabitants of the earth & he has much sorrow to pass through, hence the Lord takes many away even in infancy that they may escape the envy of man. The sorrows & evils of this present world & they were two pure & to lovly to live on Earth, Therefore if rightly considered we have, instead of morning we have reason to rejoice, as they are deliverd from evil & we shall soon have them again, [3] What chance is their for infidelity [4] when we are parting with our friends almost daily none at all The infidel will grasp at evry straw for help untill death stares him in the face & then his infidelity takes its flight for the realities of the eternal world are resting upon him in mighty power & when evry earthly support & prop fail him. He then sensibly feels the eternal truths of the immortality of the soul Also the doctrin of baptizing Children or sprinkling them or they must welter in Hell is a doctrin not true not supported in Holy writ & is not consistant with the Character of God The moment that Children leave this world they are taken to the bosom of Abraham The ownly difference between the old & young dying is one lives longer in heaven & Eternal light & glory than the other & was freed a little sooner from this miserable wicked world Notwithstanding all this glory we for a moment loose sight of it & mourn the loss but we do not mourn as those without hope. [5] (We should take warning & not wait for the deathbed to repent) As we see the infant taken away by death, so may the youth & middle aged as well as the infant suddenly be called into eternity, Let this then proove as a warning to all not to procrastinate repentance or wait till a death bed, [6] for it is the will of God that man should repent & serve him in health & in the strength & power of his mind in order to secure his blessings & not wait untill he is called to die.

"My intention (says the speaker) was to have treated upon the subject of Baptism, But having a case of death before us I thought it proper to refer to that subject. I will now however say a few words upon that subject Baptism as intended God has made certain decreas which are fixed & unalterable for instance God set the sun, the moon, the stars in the heavens, & give them their laws conditions, & bounds which they cannot pass except by his command, they all move in perfect harmony in there sphere & order [7] & are as wonders, lights & signs [8] unto us. The sea also has its bounds which it cannot pass God has set many signs in the earth as well as in heaven [9] for instance the oaks of the forrest the fruit of the tree, the herb of the field all bear a sign that seed hath been planted there, for it is a decree of the Lord that evry tree fruit or herb baring seed should bring forth after its kind & cannot come forth after any other law or principle. [10] upon the same principle do I contend that Baptism is a sign ordained of God for the believer in Christ to take upon himself in order to enter into the Kingdom of God, "for except you are born of the water & the spirit you cannot enter into the Kingdom of God. [11] Saith the Savior as It is a sign of command which God hath set for man to enter into this kingdom of God those who seek to enter in any other way [12] will seek in vain for God will not receive them neither will the angels acknowledge their works as accepted, for they have not taken upon themselves those ordinances & signs which God ordained for man to receive in order to receive a celestial glory, & God has decreed that all that who will not obey his voice shall not escape the damnation of hell, what is the damnation of hell, to go with that society who have not obeyed his commands Baptism is a sign to God, to angels to heaven that we do the will of God & there is no other way beneath the heavens whareby God hath ordained for man to come to God & any other course is in vain. God hath decreed & ordained that man should repent of all his sins & Be Baptized for the remission of his sins then he can come to God in the name of Jesus Christ in faith then we have the promise of the Holy Ghost [13]

What is the sign of the healing of the sick? the laying on of hands, is the sign or way marked out by James [14] & the custom of the ancient saints as ordered by the Lord & we should not obtain the blessing by pursuing any other course except the way which God has markd out. What if we should attempt to get the Holy Ghost through any other means except the sign or way which God hath appointed should we obtain it certainly not all other means would fail The Lord says do so & so & I will bless so & so their is certain key words [15] & signs belonging to the priesthood which must be observed in order to obtain the blessings The sign of Peter was to repent & be baptized for the remission of sins, with the promise of the gift of the Holy Ghost & in no other way is the gift of the Holy Ghost obtained. [16] Their is a difference between the Holy Ghost & the gift of the Holy Ghost. Cornelius received the Holy Ghost before he was Baptized [17] which was the convincing power of God unto him of the truth of the gospel but he could not receive the gift of the Holy Ghost untill after he was Baptized, & had he not taken this sign ordinances upon him the Holy Ghost which convinced him of the truth of God would have left him untill he obeyed those ordinances & received the gift of the Holy Ghost by the laying on of hands according to the order of God he could not have healed the sick or command an evil spirit to come out of a man [18] & it obey him, for the spirit might say to him as he did to the sons of Scava Peter I know & Christ I know but who are ye [19]

It matereth not whether we live long or short after we come to a knowlede of these principles & obey them, I know that all men will be damned if they do not come in the way which God has appointed.

As concerning the resurrection I will merly say that all men will come from the grave as they lie down, whether old or young their will not be added unto their stature one cubit neither taken from it. [20] All being raised by the power of God having the spirit of God in their bodies & not blood [21] Children will be enthroned in the presence of God & the Lamb with bodies of the same stature that were on earth, [22] Having been redeemed by the Blood of the Lamb they will there enjoy a fulness of that light Glory & intelligence which is received in the celestial kingdom of God "blessed are the dead who die in the Lord, for they rest from their labours & their works do follow them["] [23]

The speaker before closing called upon the vast assembly before him to humble themselves in faith before God & in mighty prayer & fasting to call upon his Holy name untill the elements were purified over our heads & the earth sanctified under our feet that the inhabitants of this city may escape the power of the disease pestilence & destroyer that rideth upon the face of the earth & that the holy spirit of God may rest upon this vast multitude

At the close of the meetg President Smith informed the congregation that he should attend to the ordinance of Baptism in the his to river near his house at 2 oclock.

—20 March 1842


[1] See History of the Church, 4:553-57, and Teachings, pp. 196-201. The Wilford Woodruff Diary account is the source for the entries in History of the Church and Teachings. The Prophet originally intended to preach a Sabbath sermon on baptism for the dead, but he altered his plans when an infant corpse (Marian Lyon) was laid before him.

[2] Marian Lyon (1839-42). Daughter of Windsor P. and Sylvia Lyon.

[3] According to a revelation received by Joseph Smith on 21 January 1836, "All children who die before they arrive at the years of accountability are saved in the celestial kingdom of heaven" (D&C 137:10).

[4] Infidelity in the sense of lacking faith that there is a God.

[5] D&C 42:45.

[6] Alma 34:31-35.

[7] Moses 3:9; D&C 88:36-38, 42-45; 93:30; 77:3.

[8] Genesis 1:14-15.

[9] Moses 6:63.

[10] Genesis 1:11-12, 20-21, 24-25.

[11] John 3:5.

[12] John 10:1-6; 2 Nephi 9:41; 31:21.

[13] Regarding the signifying to the angels of man's willingness to obey his covenants, see D&C 63:54; 38:12; 89:21; 132:17-19. Regarding the first principles of the gospel and the promise of the Holy Spirit as signs of entering into the covenants, see Mark 16:16; Acts 2:37-39.

[14] Mark 16:17-18; James 5:14-15.

[15] See 1 May 1842, note 2.

[16] Acts 2:37-40.

[17] Acts 10:44-48 (25-48).

[18] Mark 16:15-18.

[19] Acts 19:15 (13-16). Rather than "Peter I know," it should have been "Paul I know."

[20] Alma 40:21-23.

[21] 1 Corinthians 15:50 (40-56); Job 19:25-27.

[22] This statement and others have led some to believe that Joseph Smith taught that children who die in infancy would never grow after the resurrection. Of all the Prophet's Nauvoo discourses, only in the case of the Wilford Woodruff account of the "King Follett" discourse (7 April 1844) is there an explicit statement that children will "never grow:"& but in context the reference is at best ambiguous of whether he meant they would "never grow" after the resurrection. To be sure, that was what Wilford Woodruff believed Joseph Smith meant at this time. But other sources suggest another view that may reconcile all such references.

William Clayton, a year after this sermon, recorded the Prophet's private teachings to him on this subject. "I asked the Prest.," Clayton records in his journal, 18 May 1843, "w[h]ether children who die in infancy will grow. He answered 'No, we shall receive them precisely in the same state as they died ie no larger. They will have as much intelligence as we shall but shall always remain separate and single.'" Note that he did not say that they would not grow after the resurrection, only they would not be resurrected to a different size as a result of the resurrection. All other accounts similarly exclude the possibility of growth of the body in the grave, but there is no contemporaneous record that unambigously states that he taught that there would be no growth after the resurrection. In fact, the same entry of William Clayton goes on to show that the Prophet taught that for a different class of children that die before accountability they would grow after the resurrection: they "will have full grown bodies made up by the resurrection." Consequently, a contemporaneous source shows that the Prophet did believe in growth after the grave, but he was sufficiently ambiguous that none of his listeners apparently perceived his precise stand on this issue. Perhaps William Clayton's personal knowledge of the Prophet's teachings on this subject is the reason why his account of the Prophet's reference to this subject in the King Follett sermon a year later is so much briefer than other reporter's accounts.&

After the death of the Prophet Joseph Smith, Brigham Young, Wilford Woodruff, Lorin Walker, Agnes Smith, and Joseph and Isabella Horne recalled that Joseph Smith did teach that there would be growth after the resurrection (Wilford Woodruff Diary, 31 January 1861, Church Archives; History of the Church, 4:556-57; Improvement Era 21 [February 1918]: 571-73; and, Wilford Woodruff to Samuel Roskelley, 6 June 1887, microfilm of typed copy from "Family Record Book," Samuel Roskelley Papers, Utah State University Library, Logan, Utah).

Regarding the 1843 teaching to William Clayton that children who die before accountability will "remain separate and single" (viz., without exaltation), one must consider the following facts. Clearly the Prophet's statement (in this sermon) that they would sit on thrones of glory suggests that the doctrine of salvation for the dead must be factored in to see his full view of their eventual status. That is to say, if, after this life and before their resurrection, they did not accept of the exalting ordinances of the gospel, they would remain "separate and single" ("separately and singlely, without exaltation" as in D&C 132:17). It appears clear then that his point was that they would not automatically be assured of exaltation in the Celestial Kingdom, even though they would be assured admittance into the Celestial Kingdom (see Moroni 8:8, 10, 12-15 [4-26]; D&C 137:10; 131:1-4; 132:16-20). This interpretation is strengthened considerably by the fact that two days before recording the statement of the Prophet regarding the status of young children in and after the resurrection, William Clayton records Joseph Smith saying exactly the same thing regarding men and women who are not married for time and eternity during their lives. Clayton records that the Prophet said that they, too, would remain "separate and single" as well. However, the Prophet was at that time performing sealing marriages between a living spouse and a deceased spouse with a proxy acting in behalf of the deceased proving that the Prophet believed that there were conditions by which these persons who died without the opportunity of affording themselves these sealing blessings could avoid the penalty of remaining "separate and single" throughout eternity. Given that this is the case, the principle of proxy ordinance work should also be applied to the otherwise finality of the phrase "separate and single" as it is also tersely applied in Clayton's entry regarding children two days later. In fact, Clayton, in his journal a year after this, after sadly noting the passing of a child who died before the age of accountability, expresses his belief that that child would eventually have the opportunity of being exalted and not merely be "separate and single" throughout eternity. His expression of joy despite the loss of a precious child implicitly suggests that Clayton understood the Prophet's larger perspective that is not otherwise unambigously recorded in any of our church records.

[23] Revelation 14:13.