9 October 1843 (2) (Monday Afternoon)

Monday, 2 o'clock, P. M.

[1] Conference reassembled, and listened with profound attention, to an impressive discourse from President Joseph Smith, commemorative of the decease of James Adams, Esq., [2] late of this city, and an honorable, worthy, useful, and esteemed member of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints. He spoke of the importance of our understanding the reasons and causes of our exposure to the vicissitudes of life, and of death; and the designs and purposes of God, in our coming into the world, our sufferings here, and our departure hence—that it is but reasonable to suppose that God would reveal something in reference to the matter—the ignorance of the world in reference to their true condition, and relation. Reading the experience of others, or the revelations given to them, can never give us a comprehensive view of our condition and true relation to God. Knowledge of these things, can only be obtained by experience in these things, through the ordinance of God set forth for that purpose. [3] He remarked that the disappointment of hopes and expectations at the resurrection, would be indescribably dreadful. That the organization of the spiritual and heavenly worlds, and of spiritual and heavenly beings, was agreeably to the most perfect order and harmony—that their limits and bounds were fixed irrevocably, and voluntarily subscribed to by themselves—subscribed to upon the earth—hence the importance of embracing and subscribing to principles of eternal truth. He assured the saints that truth in reference to these matters, can, and may be known, through the revelations of God in the way of his ordinances, and in answer to prayer. The Hebrew church "came unto the spirits of just men made perfect, and unto an innumerable company of angels, unto God the Father of all, and to Jesus Christ the Mediator of the New Covenant;" but what they learned, has not been, and could not have been written. [4] What object was gained by this communication with the spirits of the just, &c.? It was the established order of the kingdom of God—the keys of power and knowledge were with them to communicate to the saints—hence the importance of understanding the distinction between the spirits of the just, and angels. Spirits can only be revealed in flaming fire, or glory. Angels have advanced farther—their light and glory being tabernacled, and hence appear in bodily shape. [5]

Concerning brother James Adams, he remarked, that it should appear strange that so good and so great a man was hated. [6] The deceased ought never to have had an enemy. But so it was, wherever light shone, it stirred up darkness. Truth and error, good and evil, cannot be reconciled. Judge Adams had been a most intimate friend. He had anointed him to the Patriarchal power—to receive the keys of knowledge, and power, by revelation to himself. [7] He had had revelations concerning his departure, and had gone to a more important work—of opening up a more effectual door for the dead. The spirits of the just are exalted to a greater and more glorious work—hence they are blessed in departing hence. Enveloped in flaming fire, they are not far from us, and know and understand our thoughts, feelings and motions, and are often pained therewith.

President Smith concluded with exhortations to the church to renew their exertions to forward the work of the Temple, and in walking before the Lord in soberness and righteousness.

Such is a faint outline of the discourse of President Joseph Smith, which was delivered with his usual feeling and pathos; and was listened to with the most profound and eager attention by the multitude, who hung upon his instructions, anxious to learn and pursue the path of eternal life.

Joseph Smith Diary, by Willard Richards

Conference Cutler [8] Cahoon [9] & Hiram [10] spoke on the temple. P. M. Joseph preached funeral Sermon of Gen James Adams—All men know that all men must die.—What is the object of our coming into existence then dying and falling away to be here no more? This is a subject we ought to study more than any other. which we ought to study day and night.—If we have any claim on our heavenly father for any thing it is for knowledge on this important subject—could we read and comprehend all that has been written from the days of Adam on the relations of man to God & angels. and the spirits of just men in a future state. we should know very little about it. Could you gaze in heaven 5 minutes you would know more than you possibly can know by read all that ever was written on the subject. We are one only capable of comprehending that certain things exist. which we may acquire by certain fixed principles—If men would acquired salvation they have got to be subject to certain rules & principles which were fixed by an unalterable decree before the world was, before they leave this world. [11] what did they learn by coming to the spirits of just men made perfect? is it written. No! The spirits of just men are made ministering servants to those who are sealed unto life eternal. & it is through them that the sealing power comes down— The spirit of Patriarch adam now is one of the spirits of the just men made—and if revealed now, must be revealed in fire. and the glory could not be endured—Jesus shewed himself to his disciples and they thought it was his spirit. [12] & they were afraid to approach his spirit. Angels have advanced higher in knowledge & power than spirits

Judge Adams had some enemies, but such a man ought not to have had an enemy. I saw him first at springfield, [13] when on my Way from Mo. to Washington. he sought me out when a stranger. took me to his house. encouraged & cheered me & give me money—when men are prepared. they are better off to go home.—Bro Adams has gone to open up a more effectual door for the dead.—

Flesh and blood cannot go there but flesh and bones quickened by the Spirit of God can [14] If we would be sober, & watch in fasting and prayer, God would turn away sickness from our midst. Hasten the work of the temple. and all the work of the Last Days. Let the elders & saints do away light mindedness and be sober.—

James Burgess Notebook

A great many men suppose there is no difference between a spirit an angel and a spirit of a just man made perfect but Paul makes a distinction in the 12 chap of Hebrews he tells us that the hebrew church had come into the presence of God and Angels and to the spirits of just men made perfect The spirit of a just man made perfect if he made his appearance he would appear or be enveloped in flaming fire and no man in this mortal state could endure it, but an angel could come and appear as an other man for Paul says be careful to entertain an strangers for some have entertained Angels unawares. [15] But to prove spirits view the Saviour after his resurrection when he appeared unto his diciples. they were afraid and thought they had seen a spirit but he convinces them of their mistake by teling them to handle him for says he a spirit has not flesh and bones as ye see me have. [16]

J Smith Prophet.

William Clayton Diary

P.M. at the conference Prest. J. preached Judge Adams funeral sermon. The people were well edified and a very good feeling prevailed throughout.

—9 October 1843 (2)


[1] See History of the Church, 6:50-52, and Teachings, pp. 324-26. The account of this funeral sermon in History of the Church and Teachings is an amalgamation of the reports in Times and Seasons (15 September 1843) and the Joseph Smith Diary. The reports of James Burgess and William Clayton are here published for the first time.

[2] James Adams (1783-1843) was a prominent probate court judge from Springfield, Illinois. He ran unsuccessfully for governor of Illinois in 1834. After joining the Church he won the admiration and love of the Prophet and was one of nine men upon whom the endowment was first bestowed in May 1842.

[3] Regarding the "ordinance of God set forth for the purpose" of revelation, see 5 October 1840, note 19.

[4] In his 27 June 1839 discourse (Richards's Pocket Companion account), Joseph Smith said that when the ancients obtained the blessings of the Second Comforter—"Isaiah, Ezekiel, John upon the Isle of Patmos, St. Paul in the three heavens, and all the Saints who held communion with the general assembly and Church of the Firstborn"—the Lord taught them face to face and gave them a perfect knowledge of the mysteries of the Kingdom of God. While the Prophet stated there were things they received that were unlawful to utter (2 Corinthians 12:4 [1-4]; 3 Nephi 17:17; 19:34 [32-34]; 28:12-14; D&C 76:115), yet there was a general theme revealed to all. that theme pertained to the future destiny of man before and during the earth's millennial state.

See passages referred to in 27 June 1839, note 15. For specific passages in the Book of Mormon confirming the idea of one general revelation for those who attain to these blessings, see 1 Nephi 14:20-28; 2 Nephi 27:6-23; Ether 3:25-27; 4:4-9, 13-16.

[5] See note 4 of the discourse dated "Before 8 August 1839 (3)."

[6] James Adams, a staunch Illinois Democrat was, politically speaking, a very active man. Over the years his activity drew attention and he did not escape the slander that often attends party politics. In 1837, for example, he had a run-in with the young Abraham Lincoln. According to historian Harry E. Pratt, this bitter political feud was one of the "four events in the early career of Abraham Lincoln which he probably wished later could be forgotten" (Harry E. Pratt, "Lincolniana Notes." Journal of the Illinois State Historical Society 48 [1955]:456).

[7] James Adams was one of the nine men to whom the Prophet gave the patriarchal priesthood keys of revelation in May 1842 (see 5 October 1840, note 19).

[8] Alpheus Cutler.

[9] Reynolds Cahoon.

[10] Hyrum Smith.

[11] See text of the discourse dated 2 April 1843 (1), at note 6.

[12] Luke 24:37, 39 (36-39).

[13] This was 4 November 1839 (see History of the Church, 4:20).

[14] 1 Corinthians 15:50.

[15] Hebrews 13:2.

[16] Luke 24:39 (36-39). See 27 June 1839, note 21.