DC 127 Historical Background
From the summer of 1841 to the summer of 1842, the Church solidified its presence in Nauvoo. Immigrants from England arrived by the hundreds, the Relief Society was organized, and construction efforts on the temple and Nauvoo House intensified. However, Malaria continued to claim its victims and untimely deaths were eerily common.
- Don Carlos Smith, the Prophet's 25 year-old brother, died August 7, 1841
- Don Carlos Smith, the Prophet's 14 month-old son, died August 15, 1841
- Oliver Granger, the Prophet's agent for financial affairs in Kirtland, died August 25, 1841
- Hyrum Smith, Jr., the Prophet's 7 year-old nephew, died September 25, 1841
Other than burying loved ones, being hounded by creditors, and slandered by apostates, the Prophet enjoyed a relatively peaceful time. More and more, he pushed the kingdom onto the shoulders of the Twelve Apostles. Temple ordinances were just being revealed and Baptism for the Dead was first on the Prophet's list. Funerals were common and provided ample opportunity to preach the gospel. Sunday services took place in what could be called Nauvoo's "sacred grove," located near the temple site, a shaded, makeshift amphitheater used for meetings and even general conferences accommodating upwards of 8,000 souls. (History of the Church, 5:56)
Persecution was never far from the Prophet, and this time, trouble came after an assassination attempt on Missouri Governor, Lilburn Boggs.
"In his home, on the rainy evening of May 6, 1842, Boggs was shot by an unknown party who fired at him through a window as he read a newspaper in his study. Boggs was hit by large buckshot in four places: two balls were lodged in his skull, another lodged in his neck, and a fourth entered his throat, whereupon Boggs swallowed it. Boggs was severely injured. Several doctors-Boggs' brother among them-pronounced Boggs as good as dead; at least one newspaper ran an obituary. To everyone's great surprise, Boggs not only survived, but gradually improved.
"Meanwhile, the crime was investigated. Sheriff J.H. Reynolds discovered a revolver at the scene, still loaded with buckshot. He surmised that the suspect had fired upon Boggs and lost his firearm in the dark rainy night when the weapon recoiled due to its unusually large shot. The gun had been stolen from a local shopkeeper, who identified 'that hired man of Ward's' as the most likely culprit. Reynolds determined that the man in question was Orrin Porter Rockwell, a close associate of the Mormon prophet Joseph Smith, Jr." (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Lilburn_Boggs)
[August 8, 1842] This forenoon I was arrested by the deputy sheriff of Adams county, and two assistants, on a warrant issued by [Illinois] Governor Carlin, founded on a requisition from Governor Reynolds of Missouri, upon the affidavit of ex-Governor Boggs, complaining of the said Smith as "being an accessory before the fact, to an assault with intent to kill made by one Orrin P. Rockwell on Lilburn W. Boggs," on the night of the sixth of May, A.D. 1842. Brother Rockwell was arrested at the same time... (History of the Church, 5:86)
By now, the Prophet had become very well versed in legal matters. Previous experience ensured him that his innocence was irrelevant in Missouri. He knew that the extradition procedure was illegal (History of the Church, 5:101) and used that to keep out of the hands of the Missourians. The Nauvoo municipal court denied the legality of the sheriff's papers and secured the release of Joseph and Orrin Porter Rockwell the same day. The arresting sheriff headed off to Governor Carlin for instructions, leaving Joseph free, but the Prophet knew he would be back. "I have come fully to the conclusion... that I never would suffer myself to go into the hands of the Missourians alive, and to go into the hands of the officers of this state (Illinois) is nothing more or less that to go into the hands of the Missourians." (History of the Church, 5:93) This left the Prophet little choice but to go into hiding.
There were plenty of places to hide in and around Nauvoo. From August 11 to August 22, the Prophet stayed at his uncle's place across the river in Zarahemla and at the Wiggam's farm just north of Nauvoo, among other places. Rumors had circulated that a militia was organizing to come to Nauvoo and search the entire city. By the end of the month, he had returned home but stayed out of the public eye and was always on the alert. The prophet came out of hiding briefly to address the saints.
[Monday, August 29, 1842] Near the close of Hyrum's remarks, I went upon the stand. I was rejoiced to look upon the Saints once more, whom I have not seen for about three weeks. They also were rejoiced to see me, and we all rejoiced together. My sudden appearance on the stand, under the circumstances which surrounded us, caused great animation and cheerfulness in the assembly. Some had supposed that I had gone to Washington, and some that I had gone to Europe, while some thought I was in the city; but whatever difference of opinion had prevailed on this point, we were now all filled with thanksgiving and rejoicing.
When Hyrum had done speaking, I arose and congratulated the brethren and sisters on the victory I had once more gained over the Missourians. I had told them formerly about fighting the Missourians, and about fighting alone. I had not fought them with the sword, or by carnal weapons; I had done it by stratagem, by outwitting them; and there had been no lives lost, and there would be no lives lost, if they would hearken to my counsel.
Up to this day God had given me wisdom to save the people who took counsel. None had ever been killed who abode by my counsel. At Hauns' Mill the brethren went contrary to my counsel; if they had not, their lives would have been spared... We don't want or mean to fight with the sword of the flesh, but we will fight with the broad sword of the Spirit. (History of the Church, 5:137-139)
[September 3, 1842] A letter was received from Brother Hollister to the effect that the Missourians were again on the move, and that two requisitions were issued, one on the governor of this state, and the other on the governor of Iowa. Their movements were represented as being very secret and resolute. Soon after 12 o'clock, Pitman, the deputy sheriff, and two other men came into the [Prophet's] house. It appears that they had come up the riverside, and hitched their horses below the Nauvoo House, and then proceeded on foot undiscovered, until they got into the house. When they arrived, President Joseph Smith was in another apartment of the house, eating dinner with his family. John Boynton happened to be the first person discovered by the sheriffs, and they began to ask him where Mr. Smith was. He answered that he saw him early in the morning; but did not say that he had seen him since.
While this conversation was going on, President Joseph Smith passed out of the back door, and through the corn in his garden to Brother Newel K. Whitney's. He went up stairs undiscovered. Meantime Sister Emma went and conversed with the sheriffs. Pitman said he wanted to search the house for Mr. Smith. In answer to a question by Sister Emma, he said he had no warrant authorizing him to search, but insisted upon searching the house. She did not refuse, and accordingly they searched through, but to no effect...
These men audaciously, impudently and altogether illegally searched the house of President Joseph Smith even without any warrant or authority whatever. Being satisfied that he was not in the house, they departed. They appeared to be well armed, and no doubt intended to take him either dead or alive; which we afterwards heard they had said they would do; but the Almighty again delivered His servant from their bloodthirsty grasp...
President Smith, accompanied by Brother Erastus Derby, left Brother Whitney's about nine o'clock, and went to Brother Edward Hunter's, where he was welcomed, and made comfortable by the family, and where he can be kept safe from the hands of his enemies. (History of the Church, 5:145-146)
Footnote on Orrin Porter Rockwell
"[Missouri Sheriff J.H. Reynolds] eventually caught Orrin Porter Rockwell and held him for almost a year while he awaited trial. Reynolds, among other avid Mormon enemies, could not produce any evidence that Rockwell was involved in any way and was acquitted of all charges concerning Boggs. There was a mutual hatred among many Missourians for Boggs due to some of his unethical decisions and a motive to assassinate Boggs could have been held by many different classes of people among Missouri whom Boggs had affected negatively.
"Some Mormons saw the assassination attempt positively: An anonymous contributor to The Wasp, a pro-Mormon newspaper in Nauvoo, Illinois, wrote on May 28 that 'Boggs is undoubtedly killed according to report; but who did the noble deed remains to be found out.' Rockwell denied involvement in oblique terms, stating that he had 'done nothing criminal'. Also at about this time, John C. Bennett, a disaffected Mormon, reported that Smith had offered a cash reward to anyone who would assassinate Boggs, and that Smith had admitted to him that Rockwell had done the deed. He went on to say that Rockwell had made a veiled threat against Bennett's life if he publicized the story. Joseph Smith vehemently denied Bennett's account, speculating that Boggs-no longer governor, but campaigning for state senate-was attacked by an election opponent. Mormon writer Monte B. McLaws, in the Missouri Historical Review, supported Smith, averring that while there was no clear finger pointing to anyone, Governor Boggs was running for election against several violent men, all capable of the deed, and that there was no particular reason to suspect Rockwell of the crime. This opinion was not shared by Rockwell's most noted biographer, Harold Schindler. Whatever the case, the following year Rockwell was arrested, tried, and acquitted of the attempted murder (Bushman, p. 468), although most of Boggs' contemporaries remained convinced of his guilt." (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Lilburn_Boggs)
There is a numerous host of faithful souls, whose names I could wish to record in the Book of the Law of the Lord... there is one man I would mention, namely Orrin Porter Rockwell, who is now a fellow-wanderer with myself, an exile from his home, because of the murderous deeds, and infernal, fiendish dispositions of the indefatigable and unrelenting hand of the Missourians. He is an innocent and a noble boy. May God Almighty deliver him from the hands of his pursuers. He was an innocent and a noble child and my soul loves him. Let this be recorded for ever and ever. Let the blessings of salvation and honor be his portion. (History of the Church, 5:125)
DC 127:1 the Lord has revealed unto me that my enemies... were again in the pursuit of me
Daniel H. Wells
[The elders] have frequently, when any great movement has been about to be made against us, known the designs of the enemies of this people; a knowledge of what they purposed doing has come as by a shock of electricity, and thus by the inspiration of the good Spirit they have known the intentions of those that concoct in secret against the welfare of the people of God; and, by the same Spirit of revelation have the Elders abroad known of any great and important movement at home. Through this same influence at home, here in Zion, has the President seen and known, even as he has understood a book that was open before him, what were the intentions of our enemies, and he has often told us their most secret combinations and devices; and the very extent of their hearts has been revealed to him, and, at the same time, their power of accomplishing what they have designed has been shown to him, and to what extent they could carry out their plans. He has always seemed to be forewarned, to enable him, I suppose, to take measures to thwart their unholy plans and wicked devices; and have they not been thwarted? (Journal of Discourses, 9:353-354)
DC 127:1 I have thought it expedient and wisdom in me to leave the place for a short season
"I have thought it expedient and wisdom in me to leave the place for a short season, for my own safety and the safety of this people. . . . When I learn that the storm is fully blown over, then I will return to you again."--Section 127, present edition.
This was all that was made public in regard to the Prophet's hiding place, few ever knew where it was, but it was at my father's home on the Henderson River.
My first acquaintance with the Prophet Joseph Smith began in this way. It was on my nineteenth birthday, he appeared at my father's house in the woods, accompanied by my brother, John Taylor, [afterward President John Taylor] S. Roundy, and J. D. Parker, about the middle of the night, September 2, 1842. How they ever found their way in the darkness is a mystery, for I, who was very familiar with the country, could not have come by so circuitous a route even in the daylight.
Late in the night the Prophet had gone to my brother John's house in Nauvoo and said to him: "I want you to go with me to your father's."
My brother said: "But I can't go, Brother Joseph; I am sick in bed!"
The Prophet replied: "I'll come in and help you dress, and you'll find no inconvenience from going out."
So Brother John got up, dressed and started out with him, and by the time they reached our home, none of us could tell that he had been the least sick.
The four stayed at our house a few days and then the Prophet sent the other three back to Nauvoo to see if anything was going wrong at that place. In a few days they returned. During their absence the Prophet and I spent most of our time during the day in the woods, near our house on the Henderson bottom, walking around, shooting squirrels sometimes, or doing anything we could to amuse ourselves. I was the Prophet's only companion in these tramps through the woods, and I have often thought it strange, that though there were many people in that part of the country we never met anyone when we were out.
During the stay of Brother Joseph at my father's, Brother William Clayton came to see him, and reported the revelations which the Prophet had at this time, and they were some of the grandest that ever were given to him. Section 106, old edition; section 128 present edition. Every word of this divine revelation is full of doctrine and a completeness of the Holy Spirit. And it is such a perfect expression of the glad tidings of joy that the everlasting gospel brings; verse 23:
"Let the mountains shout for joy, and all ye valleys cry aloud; and all ye seas and dry lands tell the wonders of your Eternal King! And ye rivers, and brooks, and rills, flow down with gladness. Let the woods and all the trees of the field praise the Lord; and ye solid rocks weep for joy! And let the sun, moon, and the morning stars sing together, and let all the sons of God shout for joy! And let the eternal creations declare his name forever and ever! And again I say, how glorious is the voice we hear from heaven, proclaiming in our ears, glory, and salvation, and honor, and immortality, and eternal life; kingdoms, principalities, and powers!"
I do not remember exactly how long the Prophet remained at our home, but it seems to me it was about two weeks, but in this short period, owing to the nature of the circumstances surrounding us, I had more real close association with him than I would have had in a lifetime under different conditions. It is impossible for me to express my feelings in regard to this period of my life. I have never known the same joy and satisfaction in the companionship of any other person, man or woman, that I felt with him, the man who had conversed with the Almighty. He was always the most companionable and lovable of men--cheerful and jovial! Sometimes on our return home in the evening after we had been tramping around in the woods, he would call out:
"Here, mother, come David and Jonathan."
Much has been said of his geniality and personal magnetism. I was a witness of this--people, old or young, loved him and trusted him instinctively.
I said to him once: "Brother Joseph, don't you get frightened when all those hounding wolves are after you?"
And he answered: "No, I am not afraid; the Lord said he would protect me, and I have full confidence in His word."
I knew the danger, and whatever happened to him would happen to me, but I felt no more fear than I now feel. There was something superior to thoughts of personal safety. Life or death was a matter of indifference to me while I was the companion of the Lord's anointed!
He said to me often: "I'll never forsake you, William," and I knew he wouldn't.
...The events in this period of my life are as bright and fresh in my memory as if they had happened but yesterday; and my devotion to the Prophet was akin to that felt by all who came under his influence. My whole being is a testimony! There is not a fiber of my whole system but what declares, Joseph Smith was a Prophet of the living God! As I know that I live, I know that my testimony is true. (Writings of Early Latter-day Saints, 547)
DC 127:2 deep water is what I am wont to swim in... and I feel, like Paul, to glory in tribulation
"It is difficult to say for certain how many times Joseph was arrested or had lawsuits leveled against him. Brigham Young reported that Joseph was subjected to forty-six lawsuits. Some of these were simply harassments, the equivalent of claiming that he was a disturber of the peace...
"Joseph ever remembered the word of the Lord in the Liberty jail concerning trials: 'The Son of Man hath descended below them all. Art thou greater than he?' (D&C 122:8.)
"Still, life became a burden when at every turn was one more subpoena, one more arrest, one more skirmish with the law. Even the mobs who formed against Joseph and the Saints often did so claiming that the law was on their side." (Scot Facer Proctor, Witness of the Light: A Photographic Journey in the Footsteps of the American Prophet Joseph Smith, edited by Maurine Jensen Proctor [Salt Lake City: Deseret Book Co., 1991], 189)
"The personal spiritual qualities seen in both Paul and Joseph Smith are impressively similar. Both men trusted deeply in God... To cite only one of numerous examples, in 1832 [Joseph] wrote to [Emma] of a delay in returning home, mentioning his heartfelt prayers to God for forgiveness and blessings, and speaking of God as his friend and comfort: 'I have given my life into his hands. I am prepared to go at his call. I desire to be with Christ. I count not my life dear to me, only to do his will.'
"Sacrifices for the work characterize the missions of both men. When the Corinthians doubted the Resurrection, Paul simply asked them why he would live a life of discomfort, risking his life every hour for something not true. On one occasion, he listed some of the adversity he had suffered in his ministry:
Of the Jews five times received I forty stripes save one.
Thrice was I beaten with rods, once was I stoned, thrice I suffered shipwreck, a night and a day I have been in the deep;
In journeyings often, in perils of waters, in perils of robbers, in perils by mine own countrymen, in perils by the heathen, in perils in the city, in perils in the wilderness, in perils in the sea, in perils among false brethren;
In weariness and painfulness, in watchings often, in hunger and thirst, in fastings often, in cold and nakedness.
Beside those things that are without, that which cometh upon me daily, the care of all the churches. (2 Cor. 11:24-28.)
"Joseph Smith also proved his sincerity by sacrifice. Writing to the Church during unfair arrest attempts that kept him in hiding in and out of Nauvoo for months, he also looked back: "The envy and wrath of man have been my common lot all the days of my life ... and I feel, like Paul, to glory in tribulation." (D&C 127:2.) Indeed, although the Prophet didn't summarize all his trials, any historian could easily take Paul's format and adapt it to Joseph Smith's life, as Joseph himself did in Liberty Jail in alluding to his lifetime burdens. (See D&C 122:5)
"For instance, a number of times professing Christians leveled guns at him with the threat of death. Once he was beaten, tarred and feathered, and left unconscious. Twice he was endangered by stagecoach runaways when on the Lord's business. He took back roads and waded through swamps to escape his enemies. He endured years of inconvenient travel on land for the kingdom, as well as risking many steamboat journeys on waterways. He faced years of unjust legal harassment, which made his own home unsafe, and he was imprisoned for a long winter in a filthy jail on unverified charges. Through all, he maintained the responsibility of leading the Church, worrying, praying, and planning for the welfare of his family and his fellow Saints.
"Why did Paul and Joseph Smith do these things? Because they positively knew the truth of the gospel, the Resurrection, and the Judgment. Joseph explained that his lifelong persecutions for telling his visions made him feel 'much like Paul. ... [T]here were but few who believed him; some said he was dishonest, others said he was mad; and he was ridiculed and reviled. But all this did not destroy the reality of his vision. He had seen a vision, he knew he had, and all the persecution under heaven could not make it otherwise ... though they should persecute him unto death ... So it was with me.' (JS-H 1:24-25)" (Richard Lloyd Anderson, "Parallel Prophets: Paul and Joseph Smith," Ensign, Apr. 1985, 16-17)
Carlos E. Asay
I assure you that the waters in which we are wont to swim are but little puddles when compared with the deep rivers of opposition in which the Prophet Joseph and others swam. ("Opposition to the Work of God," Ensign, Nov. 1981, 69)
DC 127:4 Let the work of my temple... be continued on and not cease
Howard W. Hunter
The objective of family history work is to make the blessings of the temple available to all people, both living and dead. As we attend the temple and perform work for the dead, we accomplish a deep sense of alliance with God and a better understanding of his plan for the salvation of the human race. We learn to love our neighbors as ourselves. Truly there is no work equal to that done in the temple.
In addition to the blessings we receive from doing work for the dead, we receive personal blessings as we attend the temple. Commenting on how our lives are blessed by temple attendance Elder John A. Widtsoe stated:
"Temple work ... gives a wonderful opportunity for keeping alive our spiritual knowledge and strength. ... The mighty perspective of eternity is unraveled before us in the holy temples; we see time from its infinite beginning to its endless end; and the drama of eternal life is unfolded before us. Then I see more clearly my place amidst the things of the universe, my place among the purposes of God; I am better able to place myself where I belong, and I am better able to value and to weigh, to separate and to organize the common, ordinary duties of my life so that the little things shall not oppress me or take away my vision of the greater things that God has given us" (in Conference Report, Apr. 1922, pp. 97-98).
My beloved brothers and sisters, may we be valiant in hastening our family history and temple work. The Lord said, "Let the work of my temple, and all the works which I have appointed unto you, be continued on and not cease; and let your diligence, and your perseverance, and patience, and your works be redoubled, and you shall in nowise lose your reward, saith the Lord of Hosts" (D&C 127:4). ("We Have a Work to Do," Ensign, Mar. 1995, 65)
DC 127:6 When any of you are baptized for your dead, let there be a recorder
"Of tremendous importance are the truths here emphasized by the Prophet: there must be a recorder to hear with his ears and see with his eyes and record truly what took place at the baptisms for the dead. Records so made should be kept in order in the archives of the temple, and held in remembrance from generation to generation. Only correct records are worthy of that distinction." (Archibald F. Bennett, Saviors on Mount Zion [Salt Lake City: The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, 1950], 169.)
Joseph Fielding Smith
The Lord has always impressed upon his people the necessity of keeping records. In Adam's day, we are informed by Moses, the Lord commanded that records be kept. We read in the Pearl of Great Price that a Book of Remembrance was kept in the language of Adam and that his children were taught to read and write, having a language which was pure and undefiled...
Now coming down to our day, we have some of the words of the Lord given to us, recording our duty in relation to record keeping. The very day the Church was organized the Lord gave a revelation in which he said: "Behold, there shall be a record kept among you; and in it thou shalt be called a seer [referring to Joseph Smith], a translator, a prophet, an apostle of Jesus Christ an elder of the church through the will of God the Father and the grace of your Lord Jesus Christ." From the very beginning, the first day of the organization of the Church, this commandment was given...
There are a great many duties in regard to keeping records and one is the duty of the clerk or historian to make accurate records, recording not only events that take place, but the biographies of the people, their faith, their works, and their diligence in keeping the commandments of the Lord, and these things we are doing in this Church.
We have a very good system of keeping records in the Church, and it is because of the commandments which have been given us by the Lord. (Doctrines of Salvation, 3 vols., edited by Bruce R. McConkie [Salt Lake City: Bookcraft, 1954-1956], 2: 202-203)
DC 127:7 whatsoever you bind on earth, may be bound in heaven
A. Theodore Tuttle
It is essential to obtain the sealing power of the holy priesthood so that whatsoever an authorized officiator shall bind on earth shall be bound in heaven and whatsoever he shall loose on earth shall be loosed in heaven. (See D&C 127:7.) For in the sacred ordinances and through this sacred power come glory and honor and eternal life. (See D&C 128:11-12.)
It is by this power that husband and wife are sealed in a never-ending bond of marriage. It is by this power that a welding link is forged between children and parents. This is the holy power that is exercised in the temple. It is the power that validates all ordinances in the Church. This is the consummate authority in the kingdom of God.
Without the authority and use of that power, in all ages of the world, none of our Heavenly Father's children can enter His presence or ever become like Him! And if this were not so, the whole purpose of existence would be useless. That is why the Lord said "." (D&C 2:3.)
Almost the last words of the Lord to the Prophet, so far as we can tell, also pertained to temple work. The Lord commanded the Prophet to build a temple in Nauvoo. The Saints set about to do it.
Prior to its completion, the Lord revealed His sacred ordinances, "." (D&C 124:41.) The order of performing baptism for the dead was revealed. Also the Lord required that witnesses verify the performance of ordinances, "." (D&C 127:7.)
Finally, the members of the Twelve Apostles were endowed and the sealing authority conveyed to them, thereafter never to be lost. They could now carry on the of the gospel. These crucial things the Lord revealed to the Prophet Joseph only months before his martyrdom. ("The First and the Last Words," Ensign, May 1982, 65)
George Q. Cannon
It is by the exercise of this power in our midst that we are preserved. God has given it unto us. It is true He has placed this authority and power, it may be said, in earthen vessels. He has chosen weak men, fallible men, men who are subject to all the failings and weaknesses of human nature. But, nevertheless, it is the authority of God. It is the authority by which He has built up His Church in all ages. It is the authority, the only authority upon the earth that can act in His name. (Journal of Discourses, 26:248-249)
DC 127:9 let all the records be had in order... to be held in remembrance from generation to generation
Spencer W. Kimball
The Lord said to the Prophet Joseph Smith, "And again, let all the records be had in order, that they may be put in the archives of my holy temple" (D&C 127:9).
You should continue on in this important work of recording the things you do, the things you say, the things you think, to be in accordance with the instructions of the Lord. Your story should be written now while it is fresh and while the true details are available.
Your private journal should record the way you face up to challenges that beset you. Do not suppose life changes so much that your experiences will not be interesting to your posterity. Experiences of work, relations with people, and an awareness of the rightness and wrongness of actions will always be relevant. Your journal, like most others, will tell of problems as old as the world and how you dealt with them.
Your journal should contain your true self rather than a picture of you when you are "made up" for a public performance. There is a temptation to paint one's virtues in rich color and whitewash the vices, but there is also the opposite pitfall of accentuating the negative. Personally I have little respect for anyone who delves into the ugly phases of the life he is portraying, whether it be his own or another's. The truth should be told, but we should not emphasize the negative. Even a long life full of inspiring experiences can be brought to the dust by one ugly story. Why dwell on that one ugly truth about someone whose life has been largely circumspect?
Your journal is your autobiography, so it should be kept carefully. You are unique, and there may be incidents in your experience that are more noble and praiseworthy in their way than those recorded in any other life.
What could you do better for your children and your children's children than to record the story of your life, your triumphs over adversity, your recovery after a fall, your progress when all seemed black, your rejoicing when you had finally achieved? Some of what you write may be humdrum dates and places, but there will also be rich passages that will be quoted by your posterity. ("President Kimball Speaks Out on Personal Journals," Ensign, Dec. 1980, 61)
DC 127:10 I will say to all the saints, that I desired, with exceedingly great desire, to have addressed them from the stand
James E. Faust
Before the Nauvoo Temple was completed in 1846 the Saints would meet outside, often near the temple, to hear Joseph and the other Church leaders speak. Sometimes thousands attended those meetings.
As George A. Smith observed in his humorous way, "In the days of the Prophet Joseph ... Mormonism flourished best out of doors." This was because "we failed to erect a building big enough to hold the Saints previous to the death of the Prophet."
Occasionally bad weather would interrupt those outdoor services, and both the speakers and congregation were uncomfortable. President Joseph F. Smith, who remembered well the discomfort of those outdoor meetings held near the temple in Nauvoo, said:
"My first recollection of a place of worship was in Nauvoo. It was in a little grove of trees near the site of the temple. In company with my mother I listened here to such men as Brigham Young, Heber C. Kimball, Orson Hyde, Parley P. Pratt, Orson Pratt, the Prophet Joseph and the Patriarch Hyrum. I remember quite well attending one meeting in this grove, that a wagon had been drawn up in front of the audience and the Prophet Joseph stood in the box speaking, when it began to rain. Some one or two persons got up and held umbrellas over him, to shield him from the wet. Many of the people had no umbrellas, and it was very annoying and disagreeable to sit there, but I remember very well, though but a little boy, that there was no one went away from the ground while he spoke." ("Salt Lake Tabernacle Rededication," Ensign, May 2007, 39-40)
DC 127:10 the subject of baptism for the dead
The prophet had already elaborated the principle of baptism for the dead on April 15, 1842, in the Times and Seasons (see below). The beauty of the doctrine, the logic and clarity of its presentation, and the manifestation of divine justice herein have not faded with time. However, the principle, in all its grand glory and mercy, had not yet settled into the hearts of the saints. The Prophet's Nauvoo sermons were beloved by the saints and he knew that it was his responsibility to instruct the saints properly until they understood. His sermon would surely have reiterated the principles published in the Times and Seasons:
The great designs of God in relation to the salvation of the human family, are very little understood by the professedly wise and intelligent generation in which we live... The Mussulman (Muslim) condemns the heathen, the Jew, and the Christian, and the whole world of mankind that reject his Koran, as infidels, and consigns the whole of them to perdition. The Jew believes that the whole world that rejects his faith and are not circumcised, are Gentile dogs, all will be damned. The heathen is equally as tenacious about his principles, and the Christian consigns all to perdition who cannot bow to his creed, and submit to his ipse dixit (notion that "I have said it, therefore it is true.")
But while one portion of the human race is judging and condemning the other without mercy, the Great Parent of the universe looks upon the whole of the human family with a fatherly care and paternal regard; He views them as His offspring, and without any of those contracted feelings that influence the children of men, [He] causes "His sun to rise on the evil and on the good, and sendeth rain on the just and on the unjust." He holds the reins of judgment in His hands; He is a wise Lawgiver, and will judge all men, not according to the narrow, contracted notions of men, but, "according to the deeds done in the body whether they be good or evil," or whether these deeds were done in England, America, Spain, Turkey, or India. He will judge them, "not according to what they have not, but according to what they have," those who have lived without law, will be judged without law, and those who have a law, will be judged by that law. We need not doubt the wisdom and intelligence of the Great Jehovah; He will award judgment or mercy to all nations according to their several deserts...
The situation of the Christian nations after death, is... that the destiny of man is irretrievably fixed at his death, and that he is made either eternally happy, or eternally miserable; that if a man dies without a knowledge of God, he must be eternally damned, without any mitigation of his punishment, alleviation of his pain, or the most latent hope of a deliverance while endless ages shall roll along. However orthodox this principle may be, we shall find that it is at variance with the testimony of Holy Writ... Peter... says, that "He went and preached unto the spirits in prison, which sometimes were disobedient, when once the long suffering of God waited in the days of Noah," (1 Pet. 3:19-20). Here then we have an account of our Savior preaching to the spirits in prison, to spirits that had been imprisoned from the days of Noah; and what did He preach to them? That they were to stay there? Certainly not! Let His own declaration testify. "He hath sent me to heal the broken hearted, to preach deliverance to the captives, and recovering of sight to the blind, to set at liberty them that are bruised." (Luke 4:18.) (Isaiah has it-"To bring out the prisoners from the prison, and them that sit in darkness from the prison house." Isaiah 42:7) It is very evident from this that He not only went to preach to them, but to deliver, or bring them out of the prison house...
The idea that some men form of the justice, judgment, and mercy of God, is too foolish for an intelligent man to think of: for instance, it is common for many of our orthodox preachers to suppose that if a man is not what they call converted, if he dies in that state he must remain eternally in hell without any hope. Infinite years in torment must he spend, and never, never, never have an end; and yet this eternal misery is made frequently to rest upon the merest casualty... [For example] Two men, who have been equally wicked, who have neglected religion, are both of them taken sick at the same time; one of them has the good fortune to be visited by a praying man, and he gets converted a few minutes before he dies; the other sends for three different praying men, a tailor, a shoemaker, and a tinman; the tinman has a handle to solder to a can, the tailor has a buttonhole to work on some coat that he needed in a hurry, and the shoemaker has a patch to put on somebody's boot; they none of them can go in time, the man dies, and goes to hell: one of these is exalted to Abraham's bosom, he sits down in the presence of God and enjoys eternal, uninterrupted happiness, while the other, equally as good as he, sinks to eternal damnation, irretrievable misery and hopeless despair, because a man had a boot to mend, the button-hole of a coat to work, or a handle to solder on to a saucepan.
The plans of Jehovah are not so unjust... [nor] so incompatible with common sense... We are frequently asked the question, what has become of our fathers? Will they all be damned for not obeying the Gospel, when they never heard it? Certainly not. But they will possess the same privilege that we here enjoy, through the medium of the everlasting priesthood, which not only administers on earth, but also in heaven, and the wise dispensations of the great Jehovah; hence those characters referred to by Isaiah will be visited by the Priesthood, and come out of their prison upon the same principle as those who were disobedient in the days of Noah were visited by our Savior [who possessed the everlasting Melchisedek Priesthood] and had the Gospel preached to them, by Him in prison; and in order that they might fulfill all the requisitions of God, living friends were baptized for their dead friends, and thus fulfilled the requirement of God, which says, "Except a man be born of water and of the Spirit, he cannot enter into the kingdom of God," they were baptized of course, not for themselves, but for their dead...
And now as the great purposes of God are hastening to their accomplishment... and we are commanded to be baptized for our dead, thus fulfilling the words of Obadiah, when speaking of the glory of the latter-day: "And saviors shall come upon Mount Zion to judge the remnant of Esau, and the kingdom shall be the Lord's." A view of these things reconciles the Scriptures of truth, justifies the ways of God to man, places the human family upon an equal footing, and harmonizes with every principle of righteousness, justice and truth. We will conclude with the words of Peter: "For the time past of our life may suffice us to have wrought the will of the Gentiles." "For, for this cause was the Gospel preached also to them that are dead, that they might be judged according to men in the flesh, but live according to God in the spirit." (Editorial from the Times and Seasons, History of the Church, 4:595-599)
DC 127:10 I will write the word of the Lord from time to time on that subject, and send it to you
The fulfillment of this promise is found in Doctrine and Covenants 128.
As I stated to you in my letter before I left my place, that I would write to you from time to time and give you information in relation to many subjects, I now resume the subject of the baptism for the dead, as that subject seems to occupy my mind, and press itself upon my feelings the strongest, since I have been pursued by my enemies. (D&C 128:1)
DC 127:11 the prince of this world cometh, but he hath nothing in me
The scriptural reference here is John 14:30. The "prince of this world" is Satan. The reference, whether used by the Savior the week before his crucifixion or by the Prophet shortly before his martyrdom, means trouble is coming, that Satan's forces are on the move, but they have no power over me.