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Prince’s Research Excerpts: Temples & Mormonism – 1841

Below you will find Prince’s research excerpts titled, “Temples, 1841.” You can view other years here.

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1841:  Baptism for dead introduced last year.

“In the year past the doctrine of the baptism for the dead was first introduced to the church and was almost unanimously received by the whole church, and numbers were baptized in the river for and in behalf of the dead.  Also the rebaptism for the remission of sins was introduced by the example of Presidents Joseph Smith and Rigdon, who were baptized according to the first instructions they received from the Lord in the first start of the church.  Their example was followed by many hundreds, who were rebaptized.  Myself and wife followed the example.”  (“Journal of Ethan Barrows,” Journal of History 15:70, Jan., 1922)

1 Jan.:  Communication to the 12 concerning temple.

“You will observe by the Times and Seasons that we are about building a Temple, for the worship of our God, in this place; preparations are now making; every tenth day is devoted by the brethren for quarrying rock, &c.  We have secured one of the most lovely situations for it, that there is in this region of country; it is expected to be considerably larger than the one in Kirtland, and on a more magnificent scale, and which will undoubtedly attract the attention of the great men of the earth.”  (Joseph Smith to the Twelve in England, T&S 2(5):259-260, 1 Jan., 1841)

15 Jan.:  Announcement of temple construction.

“The Temple of the Lord is in process of erection here, where the Saints will come to worship the God of their fathers, according to the order of His house and the powers of the Holy Priesthood, and will be so constructed as to enable all the functions of the Priesthood to be duly exercised, and where instructions from the Most High will be received, and from this place go forth to distant lands. . . .

In order to erect the Temple of the Lord, great exertions will be required on the part of the Saints, so that they may build a house which shall be accepted by the Almighty, and in which His power and glory shall be manifested.  Therefore let those who can freely make a sacrifice of their time, their talents, and their prosperity, for the prosperity of the kingdom, and for the love they have to the cause of truth, bid adieu to their homes and pleasant places of abode, and unite with us in the great work of the last days, and share in the tribulation, that they may ultimately share in the glory and triumph.”  (Joseph Smith, Sidney Rigdon, Hyrum Smith, HC 4:269-273; also T&S 2(6):274, 277, 15 Jan., 1841)

19 Jan.: Revelation on Nauvoo temple (D&C 124).

And again, verily, verily I say unto you, let all my saints from afar; and send ye swift messengers, yea chosen messengers, and say unto them, come ye with all your gold, and your silver, and your precious stones, and with all your antiquities, that will come may come, and bring the box tree and the fir tree, and the pine tree, together with all the precious trees of the earth, and with iron and with copper, and with brass, and with zink, and with all your precious things of the earth, and build a house to my name, for the Most High to dwell therein; for there is not place found on earth that he may come and restore again that which was lost unto you, or, which he hath taken away, even the fulness of the priesthood; for a baptismal font there is not upon the earth; that they, my saints, may be baptized for those who are dead; for this ordinance belongeth to my house, and cannot be acceptable to me, only in the days of your poverty, wherein ye are not able to build a house unto me.  But I command you, all ye my saints, to build a house unto me, and I grant unto you a sufficient time to build a house unto me; and during this time your baptisms shall be acceptable unto me.  But, behold, at the end of this appointment, your baptisms for your dead shall not be acceptable unto me, and if you do not these things, at the end of the appointment, ye shall be rejected as a church with your dead, saith the Lord your God.–For, verily, I say unto you, that after you have had sufficient time to build a house unto me, wherein the ordinance of baptism for the dead belongeth, and for which the same was instituted from before the foundation of the world, your baptisms for your dead cannot be acceptable unto me, for therein are the Keys of the holy priesthood ordained, that you may receive honor and glory.  And after this time, your baptisms for the dead, by those who are scattered abroad, are not acceptable unto me, saith the Lord; for it is ordained that in Zion and in her Stakes, and in Jerusalem, those places which I have appointed for refuge, shall be the places for your baptisms for your dead.

And again, verily I say unto you, how shall your washings be acceptable unto me, except ye perform them in a house which you have built to my name?  For, for this cause I commanded Moses, that he should build a tabernacle, that they should bear it with them in the wilderness, and to build a house in the land of promise, that those ordinances might be revealed, which had been hid from before the world was; therefore verily I say unto you, that your annointings, and your washings, and your baptisms for the dead, and your solemn assemblies, and your memorials for your sacrifices, by the sons of Levi, and your oracles in your most holy places, wherein you receive conversations, and your statutes, and judgments, for the beginning of the revelations and foundation of Zion, and for the glory, honor, and adornment of all her municiples, are ordained by the ordinance of my holy house, which my people are always commanded to build unto my holy name.

And verily I say unto you, let this house be built unto my name, that I may reveal mine ordinances therein unto my people; for I design to reveal unto my church, things which have been kept hid from before the foundation of the world–things that pertain to the dispensation of the fullness of times; and I will show unto my servant Joseph, all things pertaining to this house, and the priesthood thereof, and the place whereon it shall be built; and ye shall build it on the place where you have contemplated building it, for that is the spot which I have chosen for you to build it.  If ye labor with all your mights, I will consecrate that spot, that it shall be made holy; and if my people will hearken to my voice, and unto the voice of my servants whom I have appointed, to lead my people, behold, verily I say unto you, they shall not be moved out of their place.  But if they will not hearken to my voice, nor unto the voice of those men whom I have appointed, they shall not be blest, because they pollute my holy grounds, and my holy ordinances, and charters, and my holy words, which I give unto them.

And it shall come to pass, that if you build a house unto my name, and do not do the things that I say, I will not perform the oath which I make unto you, neither fulfil the promises which ye expect at my hands, saith the Lord: for instead of blessings, ye, by your own works, bring cursings, wrath, indignation, and judgment upon your own heads by your follies, and by all your abominations, which you practise before me saith the Lord.”  (Revelation to Joseph Smith [D&C 124], 19 Jan., 1841, in T&S 2(15):425-427, 1 Jun., 1841)

“The command was also given–now for the fourth time,–that a temple should be erected.  That at Kirtland had been already sold under the sheriff’s hammer, and was in the hands of the enemy.  The foundation commenced with such flourish of promises and outpouring of prophecies at Zion was weed-grown and forgotten.  A heap of rubbish marked the site at Far West.  A new plea and promise found incorporation in this fourth command–that a dedicated temple should be erected in which might be performed baptism for the dead.  The directions in this case were as minute as in the others, and Smith’s orders were to be followed in in everything:  ‘And I will show unto my servant Joseph all things pertaining unto this house, and the priesthood thereof; and the place whereon it shall be built.'”  (J. H. Kennedy, Early Days of Mormonism, pp. 202-203)

19 Jan.:  D&C 124 did not refer to “true order of prayer.”

“When Mormons prayed in a circle before 1842, they did not offer those prayers as a part of intricate rites as was done anciently and after 1842.

Even the revelation of 19 January 1841, which spoke of William Law’s receiving ‘the keys by which he may ask and receive blessings’ (D&C 124:97), did not refer to the true order of prayer.  Joseph Smith’s remarks to a theological lyceum at Nauvoo, Illinois, in 1841 indicate that the 1841 revelation had reference to the manner in which Deity is named:

The Great God has a Name By w[h]ich he will be Called Which is Ahman–also in asking have Referance to a personage like Adam for God made Adam Just in his own Image Now this [is] a key for you to know how to ask & obtain.  [Quinn adds this footnote:  “Record of William P. McIntire, Church Historical Department.  McIntire’s record has no page numbers and is only sketchily dated.  The first entry is mistakenly dated 8 January 1840, since the second entry is dated ‘Tuesday the 12,’ which was Tuesday, 12 January 1841.  From the latter date until his summary of the April 1841 conference, the meetings are indicated without any designation of date or day of the week.  Apparently the lyceum met weekly, in which case the statement quoted in the text was given on 9 March 1841.”]

Not until 1842 did Joseph Smith gaive instructions and priesthood ordinances that constituted what was known first as ‘the holy order’ and became known later as the ‘endowment.'”  (D. Michael Quinn, “Latter-day Saint Prayer Circles,” BYU Studies 19(1):83, Fall, 1978)

Jan.:  Christ’s visit to spirits in prison.

“Ques. 5th.–What does Peter mean in 1st Peter 3 and 19, and 4, 6?

Ans.–He means that Jesus Christ, after his resurrection visited the spirits in prison, who had been confined in chains of darkness and bondage from the flood until Christ’s coming, and that he preached the gospel unto them that they might be judged according to men in the flesh; but live according to God in the spirit.–Hence you see that the priesthood is without end; and that it ministers salvation in eternity as well as in time.  Here is an illustration of that text which says, that he (Christ) was annointed ‘to preach deliverance to the captive, and the opening of the prison to them that are bound.'”  (“QUESTIONS–By Elder Joseph Fielding, and ANSWERS by the Editor [Parley P. Pratt],” Jan., 1841; in MS 1(10):258, Feb., 1841)

1 Feb.:  Elias Higbee dissertation on temples.

“‘But in the last days it shall come to pass that the mountain of the house of the Lord shall be established in the top of the mountains and it shall be exalted above the hills; and people shall flow unto it.  And many nations shall come and say come and let us go up to the mountain of the Lord and to the house of the God of Jacob; and he will teach us of his ways and we will walk in his paths: for the law shall go forth of Zion and the word of the Lord from Jerusalem.’ –Micah

From the above prophesy of Micah, and also from the 2nd chapter of Isaiah we learn certain things which the inhabitants of the earth in the last days have a right to look for, and confidently expect.  We might reasonably suppose from the words ‘top of the mountain,’ that the prophets had a particular allusion to some part of the earth called high, or good above other lands.  That there was, and is, such a land, not only esteemed as such by men, but also in the mind of the great God himself, we have abundant proof in the Book of Mormon, which describes the land of America as being a choice land above all other lands; then of above all other lands it may very properly be called the highest or top of the lands or mountains.  The fact that this place when established is to be a place of gathering of the people, can admit of no doubt from the words of the prophesy which says, ‘and people shall flow unto it,’ that they may be taught the ways of the Lord.  Then if these high privileges are to be enjoyed by the people who inhabit the earth in the last days, and we (Latter Day Saints) who say, we are living in those days; why are we not in the enjoyment of these privileges, let us enquire, do we believe these things? the answer is we do most assuredly believe them.  Then where is the mountain where the house, and where the people flowing together to learn the ways of the Lord.  The mountains, as we said before, we may consider definitely pointed out in the Book of Mormon.  Not only so but the Lord has actually commenced the work, by raising up a prophet in these days, and through him, has definitely pointed out places of gathering for the people; and also, through this prophet has expressed his will to those who profess his name, that a house should be built for the salvation of his people, and for a place of instruction in all things hwich pertain to the kingdom of God on the earth,–consequently a place to be desired and sought for by the nations of the earth, where the ways of God can be taught; a place where those of many nations will gather to, and expecially all who desire to serve God with singleness of heart: and when gathered, the pure in heart constitute Zion, concerning which we find much said by the ancient prophets, especially, that place which should be called Zion in the last days; and that out of Zion should go forth the law, &c.

But to show more fully the will of God concerning the house which is to be built, we make an extract from the Book of Covenants, page 209, which reads as follows:

‘Verily I say unto you, that it is my will that an

house should be built unto me in the land of Zion, like unto the pattern which I have given you; yea, let it be built speedily by the tithing of my people: behold this is the tithing and the sacrifice which I the Lord require at their hands, that there may be an house built unto me for the salvation of Zion: for a place of thanksgiving for all Saints, and for a place of instruction for all those who are called to the work of the ministry in all their several callings and offices, in theory, in principle, and in doctrine, In all things pertaining to the kingdom of God on the earth.’

Now, I would candidly ask the Saints, and all who desire to do the will of God, will we lay hold with our mights to accomplish this mighty, this glorious work, and show by our works, that we, who enjoy the glorious privilege of living in these latter days, (in which God has begun his work to bring to pass the gathering of his elect,) are worthy of the high privileges which we enjoy, by coming up like men of God and sacrifice, and by our works show that we are such a people as the Lord would have gathered together, as described in the 50th Psalm which says: ‘Gather my Saints together unto me; those that have made a covenant with  me  by sacrifice?’

Among the sacrifices which God requires at this time is the tithing for the building of this house.  Will we now exert ourselves, or will we hoard up our silver and gold and canker our souls, and have to lament in the day of visitation that we loved our money, or our property better than we loved God and his cause, and would not do as did Abraham, give tithes of all we possess, that we might become heirs of the same glory with him?  I ask, how will God look upon a people who would be thus coveteous, after he had made known unto them his will, and told them what sacrifice he required of them?  It was this covetous principle which caused the Savior to exclaim, ‘It is easier for a camel to go through the eye of a needle than for a rich man to enter into the kingdom;’ because if the rich withhold their riches when God requires sacrifice, the will of God is not done by them,, consequently they fall under condemnation, the Spirit is grieved and withdraws, and they are left to themselves to reap the reward of the covetous and idolitors.  But of the Saints I hope better things, that they will count all earthly riches as dross, compared with the eternal riches and glory of God which is to be revealed, and of which we, as a church, may be made the happy partakers by making every sacrifice which God requires, and worship the God which made heaven and earth and sea, and not worship gold and silver, or property, or any thing made with men’s hands.  We owe this sacrifice to God, we also owe this to our fellow men, knowing as we do, that much depends upon the accomplishment of these things, so that they, of all nations may come to the house of the God of Jacob, according to the words of the prophets; that they may be taught in his ways, and walk in his paths.  The brethren abroad must be aware of the poverty of most of the church here, by reason of their being robbed of almost all they possessed in Missouri; therefore much depends upon the brethren abroad for means.

Most of the brethren here, have manifested a disposition worthy of imitation by the remainder in the good cause, by working every tenth day, since the last Conference, by which some materials are made ready for the building: those who live in this place, who have not been able to put in their tenth day, will, I hope, not fail to put in an equivalent against Spring.  Those who live at a distance, who cannot put in work, will, I trust, send in their tithing speedily, so that the work may be accomplished speedily: for when we consider the great things which are depending upon our exertions,–surely we should lose no time; for when the house is finished, the priesthood will be set in order, an acceptable offering can then be offered unto the Lord of Hosts; who does not desire to see, (according to the words of Malachi,) the offering of Judah and Jerusalem be pleasant unto the Lord as in the days of old, and as in former years?  Then can the oracles of God be daily received if necessary for the salvation of the people, by those who are appointed to minister in the holy place.  Then can God be worshipped in the beauty of holiness: then will those who are appointed to minister be as a watchman on a tower, who can warn the church of approaching danger, or dispense unto them, through the priesthood, the words of eternal life.–Then, brethren, with one accord, let us exert ourselves in doing the will of God, that the glory of God may rest down upon us, and we be preserved as a people, and finally overcome the world, and obtain a crown of eternal life in the kingdom of our God, through Jesus Christ our Redeemer, is the prayer of your unworthy brother in the Lord.

Elias Higbee, One of the Building Committee.”

(T&S 2(7):295-296, 1 Feb., 1841)

1 Feb.:  Adoption into the kingdom.


“…and how shall they preach except they be sent!” (of God.) Again, the ordinances and laws of adoption administered by an unqualified administrator, would not legally adopt souls into the kingdom, because the administrator was not duly authorized.”  (Winchester, Benjamin, “Presiding Elder of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints in Philadelphia,” The Gospel Reflector, 1(3):50, 1 Feb 1841)

2 Feb.:  Baptisms for dead.

“Next Meeting–Joseph said the Lord said that we should build our house to his name that we might be Baptized for the Dead–But if we Did it Not we should be Rejected & our Dead with us & this Church should Not be excepted [accepted].”  (Joseph Smith, 2 Feb., 1841.  In Words of JS, pp. 62-63)

15 Feb.:  Isaac Galland to raise funds for Nauvoo Temple.

“This may certify that the bearers of this, President Hyrum Smith and Doctor Isaac Galland, are duly authorized by the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints in this place, to visit the different branches of said Church in the eastern lands, to make exchanges of lands, to sell stock in the Nauvoo Boarding House and obtain subscriptions and donations for building the ‘House of the Lord’ in this place . . .”  (Letter of Commendation, by Joseph Smith, 15 Feb., 1841; JH 15 Feb., 1841)

15 Feb.:  Announcement of cornerstone ceremony.


It will be recollected that the next General Conference of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints will convene, in the City of Nauvoo, on the 6th of April, 1841, on which day the Corner Stone of the TEMPLE OF GOD will be laid, attended with appropriate ceremonies.  There will be a great gathering of the people on that occasion, and many of the most conspicuous persons in our state are expected to be in attendance.”  (T&S 2(3):320, 15 Feb., 1841)

15 Feb.:  Let God take care of the dead; we are not sent to preach to the dead.


“Answer: when God commissions a man, or set of men and sends them with a special message to a people, or nation, and promises to them salvation if they obey; but on the other hand threatens them with damnation if they reject; of course all that reject will be damned.  Christ commanded the apostles to preach the gospel to every creature, and said: “He that believeth not shall be damned.” If any since the days of the apostles have been warned to repent of their sins, and be baptized for the remission of them, and they rejected, they will be damned.  But if God has sent no message of the kind to them, then they did not have it to reject.  We leave every man to judge this letter for himself.  Christ said: “And this is the condemnation, that is come unto the world, and men loved the darkness rather than light, because their deeds were evil,” or in other words they rejected that light.  We are not sent to preach to the dead, but to the living.  Let God take care of the dead.  And there is one thing certain, and that is, God is merciful, and will judge every man according to his works, and those who are dead, who worshiped God according to the best of their knowledge, will be justified upon that principle.”  (Winchester, Benjamin, “Presiding Elder of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints in Philadelphia, The Gospel Reflector, 1(4):75-76, 15 Feb 1841) [Note: No awareness of baptism for the dead yet in Philadelphia.]

1 Apr.:  Announcement of cornerstone ceremony.

“THE TEMPLE.–The magnificent House now being erected to the Lord of Hosts in our city, is in a rapid state of advancement, and will be ready to have its corner stone laid with due solemnity, at our approaching conference.”  (T&S 2(11):369, 1 Apr., 1841)

6 Apr.:  Cornerstone of Nauvoo Temple laid.

“The architects then, by the direction of the First Presidency, lowered the first (S. E. corner) stone to its plaace, and Pres’t. Joseph Smith pronounced the benediction as follows, ‘This principle corner stone, in representation of the First Presidency, is now duly laid in honor of the great God; and may it there remain until the whole fabric is completed; and may the same be accomplished speedily; that the Saints may have a place to worship God, and the Son of Man have where to lay his head.’  Pres’t. Sidney Rigdon then pronounced the following, ‘May the persons employed in the erection of this house be preserved from all harm while engaged in its construction, till the whole is completed; in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Ghost; even so, Amen.’  Adjourned for one hour.

Assembled according to adjournment and proceeded to lay the remaining corner stones, according to previous order.

The second (S. W. corner) stone, by the direction of the Pres’t. of the High Priesthood, with his Council, and Pres’t. Marks, was lowered to its place, when the Pres’t. of the High Priesthood pronounced the following:  ‘The second corner stone, of the Temple now building by the church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints, in honor to the great God, is duly laid, and may the same unanimity, that has been manifested on this occasion, continue, till the whole is completed; that peace may rest upon it to the laying of the top stone thereof, and the turning of the key thereof; that the Saints may participate in the blessings of Israel’s God within its walls, and the glory of God rest upon the same; Amen.’

The third (N. W. corner) stone, superintended by the High Council, as representatives of the Twelve, (they being in Europe) was then lowered to its place, with the benediction of Elias Higbee as follows:  ‘The third corner stone, in representation of the Twelve, is now duly laid; and as they are, in some measure the support of the church, so may this stone be a firm support to the corner, that the whole may be completed as before purposed, and according to the order of the Priesthood.’

The fourth (N. E. corner) stone, superinten[d]ed by the Bishops, was then lowered to its place, and Bishop Whitney pronounced the following, ‘The fourth and last corner stone, expressive of the Lesser Priesthood, is now duly laid; and may the blessings before pronounced, with all others desirable, rest upon the same forever; Amen.

The services were then declared closed, and the military retired to the parade ground and were dismissed with the approbation and thanks of the commanding officers.”  (T&S 2(12):376-377, 15 Apr., 1841)

“If the strict order of the Priesthood were carried out in the building of Temples, the first stone would be laid at the south-east corner, by the First Presidency of the Church.  The south-west corner should be laid next.  The third, or north-west corner next; and the fourth, or north-east corner last.  The first Presidency should lay the south-east corner stone and dictate who are the proper persons to lay the other corner stones.

If a Temple is built at a distance, and the First Presidency are not present, then the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles are the persons to dictate the order for that Temple; and in the absence of the Twelve Apostles, then the Presidency of the Stake will lay the south-east corner stone; the Melchisedec Priesthood laying the corner stones on the east side of the Temple, and the Lesser Priesthood those on the west side.”  (HC 4:331)

“The general conference of the church together with the laying of the corner stones of the Temple of our God, now building in this city, have long been anticipated bya the saints off the Most High, both far and near, with great pleasure, when they should once more behold the foundation of a house laid, in which they might worship the God of their fathers.

It frequently happens, that our anticipations of pleasure and delight, are raised to such a height that even exceeds the enjoyment itself, but we are happy to say, this was not the case with the immense multitude who witnessed the proceedings of the sixth of April, and subsequent days of conference.  The scenes were of such a character, the enjoyment so intense, that left anticipation far behind.

However anxious we are to portray the grandeur and majesty of the celebrations, the union and order which every way prevailed, we are confident, we shall come very far short of doing them justice.

For some days prior to the sixth, the accession of strangers to our city was great, and on the wide spread prairie, which bounds our city, might be seen various kinds of vehicles wending their way from different points of the compass to the city of Nauvoo, while the fer[r]y boats on the Mississippi, were constantly employed in wafting travellers across its rolling and extensive bosom.

Among the citizens, all was bustle and preparation, anxious to accomodate their friends who flocked in from distant parts, and who they expected to share with them the festivity of the day, and the pleasures of the scene.

At length, the long expected morn arrived, and before the king of day had tipped the eastern horizon with his rays, were preparations for the celebration of the day going on.  Shortly after sun rise, the loud peals from the artilery were heard, calling the various companies of the legion to the field, who were appointed to take a conspicuous part in the days proceedings.

The citizens from the vicinity, now began to pour in from all quarters, a contin[u]ous train, for about three hours and continued to swell the vast assembly. . . .

Prest. Rigdon, then ascended the platform, which had been prepared for the purpose, and delivered a suitable ORATION, which was listened to with the most profound attention by the assembly.–From the long affliction and weakness of body we hardly expected the speaker to have made himself heard by the congregation, but he succeeded beyond our most sanguine expectations, and being impressed with the greatnes and solemnities of the occasion, he rose superior to his afflictions and weakness, and for more than an hour occupied the attention of the assembly.

It was an address worthy a man of God, and a messenger of salvation.  We have heard the speaker on other occasions when he has been more eloquent, when there has been more harmony and beauty in the construction of his sentences, and when the refined ear has been more delighted; but never did we hear him pour out such pious effusions; in short it was full to overflowing, of christian feeling and high-toned piety.

He called to review the scenes of tribulation and anguish through which the saints had passed, the barbarous cruelties inflicted upon them for their faith and attachment to the cause of their God, and for the testimony of Jesus, which, they endured with patience, knowing that they had in heaven a more enduring substance, a crown of eternal glory.

In obedience to the commandments of their Heavenly Father, and because that Jesus had again spoken from the heavens, were they engaged in laying the foundation of the Temple that the Most High might have a habitation, and where the saints might assemble to pay their devotions to his holy name.

He rejoiced at the glorious prospect which presented itself of soon completing the edifice, as there were no mobs to hinder them in their labors, consequently their circumstances were very different than before.

After the address, the choir cung a hymn.  Prest. Rigdon then invoked the blessings of Almighty God upon the assembly, and upon those who should labor on the building.

The first presidency superintended the laying of the Chief Corner Stone on the south east corner of the building, which done, Prest. J. Smith, arose and said, that the first corner stone of the Temple of Almighty God was laid, and prayed that the building might soon be completed, that the saints might have an habitation to worship the God of their fathers.

Prest. D. C. Smith and his counselors, of the high priests quorum, then repaired to the south west corner, and laid the corner stone thereof.

The High Council, representing the Twelve laid the north west corner stone.

The Bishops with their counsellors laid the north east corner stone with due solemnities.

The ceremony of laying the corner stones being over, the Legion marched to the parade ground, and formed a hollow square for an address.  Maj. General Bennett addressed the Legion at some length, applauding them for their soldier like appearance, and for the attention which both officers and men had given to the orders.”  (R. B. Thompson, Times and Seasons 2(12):380-382, 15 Apr., 1841)

“Before the Church was comfortably settled, the authorities began to talk on the subject of building a Temple, wherein to administer the ordinances of God’s house.  Several Councils were held and a place selected whereon the Temple was contemplated to be built.  The matter was laid before the Conference on the 6th day of October in the year 1840, and the Church voted to commence the work immediately.  On this day the Conference appointed a committee of three, viz: Alpheus Cutler, Elias Higbee and Reynolds Cahoon to carry the business into operation and oversee the works.  During Conference, President Joseph Smith explained to the Saints the law of Tithing and the plan on which the building was to be conducted.  Several plans or draughts for a Temple were made by several individuals, but the President refused them, except one drafted by William Weeks.

On the twelfth day of the same month {October, 1840} the brethren commenced to open a quarry to dig the stone for the building.  Brother Elisha Averett was the man who struck the first blow on the works.  He has continued on the works from that time till the present, and has proved himself a faithful laborer and a worthy man.

The committee contracted with Daniel H. Wells, Esq., for the land whereon to build the Temple, and in the month of January, on the 19th day of the month, in the year 1841, the Lord, through his servant Joseph, gave a revelation or commandment to build a temple on the spot where they had previously contemplated building it.

In the month of February, 1841, Elder Alpheus Cutler laid out the foundation of the building assisted by Elder Cahoon and others and on the eighteenth day of the month the brethren commenced to dig the cellar.  It being the wish of President Joseph that the corner stones of the Temple should be laid on the 6th of April following, the parts for the foundation for the corners were dug first, and about the first day of March the brethren commenced to lay the cellar wall.  On Feb. 22nd the committee organized the city into wards and called upon the brethren to come on to labor every tenth day.  By this means they were enabled to rush on the work so that by the 6th day of April the walls were sufficiently high at the corners to lay the corner stones, and notwithstanding the extreme poverty of the Church everything moved on and the prospects looked cheering and pleasing.”  (William Clayton journal; JH 6 Apr., 1841)

7 Apr.:  Necessity of Temple.

“Pres. Jos. Smith rose and made some observations in explanation of the same, and likewise of the necessity which existed of building the Temple, that the saiints [sic] might have a suitable place for worshiping the Almighty, and also the building of the Nauvoo Boarding House, that suitable accomodations might be afforded for the strangers who might visit this city.”  (General Conference Minutes, 7 Apr., 1841, T&S 2(12):386, 15 Apr., 1841)

“We would call the attention of the Saints more particularly to the building of the Temple, for on its speedy erection great blessings depend.  The zeal which is manifested by the Saints in this city is, indeed, praiseworthy, and, we hope will be imitated by the Saints in the various stakes and branches of the Church, and that those who cannot contribute labor will bring their gold and their silver, their brass and their iron, with the pine tree, and box tree, to beautify the same.”  (Report of the First Presidency, General Conference, 7 Apr., 1841; HC 4:339)

8 Apr.:  Discourses on Baptism for the dead.

“Pres’t. Rigdon delivered a discourse to the conference on the subject of ‘Baptism for the dead’ which was set forth in a manner new and interesting, and with an eloquence peculiar to the speaker, which was listened to with intense interest by the assembly.

Gen. Bennett made some very appropriate observations in continuation of the subject.

Pres’t Smith likewise followed on the same subject, threw considerable light on the doctrine which had been investigated.”  (General Conference Minutes, 8 Apr., 1841, Times and Seasons 2(15 Apr., 1841):387-388) 

8 Apr.:  Labor on the temple as good as preaching.

“Pres’t. J. Smith made some observations respecting the duty of the several quorums, in sending their members into the vineyard, and also stated, that labor on the Temple would be as acceptable to the Lord as preaching in the world.

Pres’t. Smith then stated that it was necessary that some one should be appointed to collect funds for building the Temple.

On motion resolved that John Murdock, Lyman Whight [sic], William Smith, Henry W. Miller, Amasa Lyman, Leonard Soby, Jahiel Savage, and Zenas H. Gurley, be appointed to travel and collect funds for the same.”  (General Conference Minutes, 8 Apr., 1841, T&S 2(12):388, 15 Apr., 1841)

15 Apr.:  Hope for peace in Nauvoo for Temple.

“But we hope that those scenes of blood and gore will never more occur, but that many, very many such scenes as the present will be witnessed by the saints, and that in the Temple, the foundation of which has been so happily laid, will the saints of the Most High continue to congregate from year to year, in peace and safety.”  (Report of the First Presidency, T&S 2(12):385, 15 Apr., 1841)

1 May:  Lengthy article on millennium, but no mention of work for the dead.

“THE MILLENNIUM. – [Greg’s Note: There are 26 pages in this article, but no mention of missionary or ordinance work for the dead.)” (Winchester, Benjamin, “Presiding Elder of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints in Philadelphia,” The Gospel Reflector, 1(9):246, 1 May 1841)

1 May:  Article on baptism for the dead.

“Why are they then baptized for the dead?–Paul.

A knowledge of the state and condition of the dead has been anxiously desired and sought after, by almost every nation and people in all ages of the world.  This knowledge was once, by revelation, unfolded and understood; but like other truths of divine teaching, through neglect, contempt, and the malicious operations of the prince of darkness was shrouded, and lost, and mankind were left to mourn in dispair over the ashes of their departed friends and associates.  Though Enoch, the seventh from Adam, wrapped in vision, was privileged to look through the vista of succeeding years, and centuries, and eras unnumbered, scan the history of convolving and conflicting empires, rising, rolling forth, dashing, and expiring; though he beheld myriads of intelligences embodying, growing[,] dying, redeemed, restored, and rising; though the end from the begining was thus spread before him, and thousands were permitted to hear him descant upon the mysteries of redemption, delineate the modes and changes of being, and depict the glories of the celestial world; yet how soon did the Almighty look down from heaven and find them ‘all gone out of the way,’–‘the imagination of the thoughts of their hearts only evil continually.’  And because they did not like to retain God in their thoughts, he gave them up to reprobacy of mind, to work out their own destruction greedily.  From time to time, however, he renewed to the just the gospel covenant; established a lineal priesthood of wisdom, intelligence, virtue, and blessing; thus penetrating the gloom of moral darkness, and bespangling the firmament of a benighted world with radiances, which, if heeded would have been sufficient to guide the wayward to ‘the port of peace.’  At length the ‘Sun of righteousness arose, and life and immortality were brought to light.’  Salvation for the living and the dead was proclaimed, ‘through the redemption that is in Christ Jesus,’ faith in him established as a condition, and baptism with water, as a seal and pledge of the latter, and the effusion of the Holy Spirit, as an earnest of the promised and desired inheritance.  No wonder the multitudes ‘gladly received the word, and were baptized;’ when, by simply trusting in the Son of God, and going down into the laver of regeneration, in obedience to his command, they could come forth filled with hope and joy; and by the laying on of the hands of his duly commissioned and authorized servants, receive the fulness of his spirit; to lead them into all truth; to show them things to come; to take of the things of the Father and convey them unto them; to assure them that death was deprived of his sting, and the grave robbed of its victims; and to point them to a state of existence free from woes and ills, and glorious in all its associations and enjoyments.  Such was the gospel.  And as such it was proclaimed, by Christ and his apostles, to the living and to the dead; for we learn from Peter, that Christ went spiritually, ‘and preached

to the spirits in prison; which sometime were disobedient, when once the long-suffering of God waited in the days of Noah, while the ark was a preparing, wherein few (that is eight) souls were saved by water.  The like figure whereunto baptism doth now also save us (not the putting away the filth of the flesh, but the answer of a good conscience towards God,) by the resurrection of Jesus Christ; who is gone into heaven, and is on the right hand of God; angels, and suthorities, and powers, being made subject unto him.’  1. Peter III. 19-22.

Speaking of the wicked Gentiles, he says {iv. 5,6,} ‘who shall give account to Him that is ready to judge the quick and the dead.  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.’–We see by the above, and by other scriptures, what is the gospel method of saving mankind–faith in him, and obedience to his commands by submission to the ordinance of baptism, administered by those duly authorized and commissioned.  How the living, who hear the gospel and have the means of obedience within their reach, stand affected, is plain and not easily misunderstood; ‘He that believeth and is baptized shall be saved, but he that believeth not and is not baptized shall be damned.[‘]

Here we leave the living and inquire for the dead.  How are they affected by the gospel?  We have seen that the gospel has been, and we infer is still, preached to the dead–that is, to disembodied spirits.  St. Peter has informed us why the gospel is preached to the dead; ‘that they might be judged according to men in the flesh.’–Men in the flesh are judged according as they believe and obey the gospel, or disbelieve and reject it.  Inasmuch then as the gospel is preached to the dead, they have a capacity and agency, to believe and in some way obey it, or the contrary.  It is easy to imagine how the departed spirit may be made to  ee, to understand, to comprehend, and to embrace truths which were not manifested to, nor embraced by that spirit while incarnated; but how that spirit could render acceptable obedience, is the subject of our present inquiry.  It has been a general supposition for ages past, that no such acceptable obedience could be rendered, and if such spirit had departed before being visited by the sound of the gospel and without ever having had an opportunity of embracing it, it was irrevocably lost and sealed up th misery indescribable and irremovable.  True, some have had charity to suspend so heavy a judgment, and to recommend them to mercy; while others have endeavored to conjure up some means to bribe justice.  God has been pleased to reveal an answer to our inquiry, and disclose a truth, once well understood and practised upon, but for a long time past wrapped up and lost among the rubbish of error.  It is simply this, that the disembodied spirit shall have the opportunity of embracing by faith, or rejecting the gospel of the Son of God; and that its believing kinsman may step forth in its behalf and be baptized for the remission of sins, and be confirmed for the reception of the holy spirit; and that this service thus rendered shall be acceptable in behalf of the believing spirit; and that such shall be blessed with a part in the first resurrection, and be a partaker and an inheritor of a celestial glory.

St. Paul understood this principle of the gospel, as we learn from his letter to the Corinthians, {I Cor. xv. 22, 25, 26, 29.}  ‘For as in Adam all die EVEN SO in Christ shall all be made alive:–For he must reign, till he hath put all enemies under his feet.–The last enemy, DEATH, shall be destroyed.–Else what shall they do which are baptised for the dead if the dead rise not AT ALL?  why are then then baptised for the dead?’

The above passages of scripture teach us the important and cheering truth, that the departed spirit is in a probationary state and capable of being affected by the proclamation of the gospel.  The idea is perfectly consistent with reason, honorable to the divine character, and in accordance with the desires and wishes of every truly pious and benevolent mind.

Compare it with the horrible views of the partial bigot, who anticipates basking eternally in the beams of the sun of righteousness, in ineffible bliss, while he beholds in full view a father, a mother, a brother, or a sister, or a beloved child, dwelling in eternal burnings, writhing in hopeless anguish and despair, tossed upon the billows of a lake of fire, blowing the flames that consume his inconsumable spirit, cursing his Maker, and being cursed.–Dreadful heaven to any being but a devil!

Compare it with the motley association of the impartial liberalist, who fancies heaven composed of characters as various as those of earth, the pious and the profane, the virtuous and the vicious, the willing and obedient, and the disobedient and rebellious, commingling in one eternal association, some praising the Angel who redeemed them, others ascribing honor to the penitentiaries that sanctified, or the gibbets that saved  them.  Horrible  heaven to any beings but devils!

But we have not so learned of Christ.  He offers pardon, peace, holiness, and eternal life to the quick and the dead–the living on condition of faith and baptism for remission of sins; the departed on the same condition of faith in person, and baptism by a living kinsman in his behalf.  It may be asked, will this baptism by proxy necessarily save the dead?  we answer no: neither will the same necessarily save the living.  But this, with the other requisites will save both the living and the dead, and God will raise them up to glorify him together.

We are not surprised that this doctrine should meet with the bitterest opposition from the sectarian world.  It aims a heavy blow at their malevolent and dictating spirit; meekly submitting the cause of salvation into the hands of him  who is bitter [better?] able to devise and execute the same.  Sectarianism is not its only enemy; the devil no doubt will oppose this doctrine with all his hosts of earth and hell combined; and why?  Because it enters his dark dominions, bursts the prison doors, proclaims liberty to the captive spirits, and sets them free.  Yes, satan and wicked men will rage; but let them rage.  The glorious truth, through the instrumentality of the prophet whom God has raised up in these last days, is proclaimed again in the earth; and though satan with all his sectarian hosts wages war against it, it shall stand unshaken and immovable while their schemes, their creeds, and their works shall fade, vanish away, and be forgotten, or only remembered as a painful dream.”  (Authored by “G. H.”, T&S 2(13):397-399, 1 May, 1841)

22 May:  Baptisms for dead in Kirtland.

“At a general conference of the church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints, held in Kirtland, Ohio, commencing on Saturday, May 22, 1841, Elder Almon Babbitt, being unanimously chosen Chairman . . .

Elder Babbitt delivered a discourse on baptism for the dead, from I Peter 4:6, to a very large audience, setting forth that doctrine as compatible with the mercy of God, and grand council of heaven.

After an hour’s intermission, Elder W. W. Phelps continued the same subject from I Corinthians 15:22, bringing scripture upon scripture to prove the consistency of this doctrine, as among the economy of god and powers of salvation.

Elder Brooks and Adams bore testimony to the truth of what had been advanced as self-evident and self important to let the prisoners go free: after which the sacrament was administered.  Adjourned till 8 o’clock to-morrow. A.M. . . .

During the sittings of the conference, the greatest harmony prevailed.  About 25 baptisms took place, the most of which were for the dead.”  (Times and Seasons 2{1 Jul., 1841}:458-460.  In Cook, Kirtland Elders’ Quorum Record, pp. 57-59)

3 Jun.:  Gentile response to baptisms for dead.

“There are occasionally new doctrines introduced and incorporated with their faith, such as being baptized for the dead.  This is a common custom here.  When a member is satisfied that his father, mother, or brother, or any other friend is in hell, he steps forward and offers himself to the church in baptism for that individual, and when properly baptized, the tormented individual will instantaneously emerge from his misery into perfect happiness.  There are many such follies which the simple-hearted are ready and willing to believe.”  (John Hall letter of 3 Jun., 1841, in Gleanings by the Way, p. 315.  Reprinted in J. H. Kennedy, Early Days of Mormonism, pp. 171-172)

13 Jun.:  Baptisms for the dead.

“4-N-b-33: Original record of baptisms for the dead, June 13, 1841.  Asahel Smith was baptized for his father, mother, and several grandparents.  Betsy Smith was baptized for her father, mother, and three brothers.  Esther Tyler was baptized for her sisters and grandparents.  Justus A. Seeley was baptized for his father, mother, and several relatives.  Luther Fuller, Thomas Corbit, and Hannah Corbit were baptized for their relatives.  Very rare document.  Handwritten.  4 pp.  Filed in inner sanctum.

4-N-b-34: Copy of a record of baptisms for the dead performed at Nauvoo, Illinois.  Some of these are dated June 13, 184(?), and include the baptism of Asahel Smith for his father, Asahel Smith; and his mother, Mary Smith; his brtothers, Samuel Smith and Steven Smith; his grandfather, Samuel Smith; grandmother, Rebecca Smith; great-grandmother, Mary Smith; great-grandfather, Rober Smith; great-great-grandfather, Samuel Smith; and great-great-grandmother, Priscilla Smith.”  (The Wilford C. Wood Collection, Volume I:  An annotated catalog of documentary-type materials in the Wilford C. Wood Collection; by LaMar C. Berrett.  Published by the Wilford C. Wood Foundation, Printed by the Brigham Young University Printing Service, September 1972.)

14 Jul.:  Warsaw Signal response to baptisms for dead.

The Warsaw Signal, Warsaw, Ill., Wednesday, July 14, 1841, vol. 2, no. 10.


We neglected to mention, last week, that a revolutionary soldier was baptised, at Nauvo[o], on the 4th inst., by one of the Elders, for Gen. Washington; another old soldier was baptised at the same time for Gen. Harrison.  The doctrine of the Mormons appears to be, that those who are living must be baptised by one having authority from Joe Smith, or else to go hell, but those who are already dead, may be brought out of interment, by a friend or relation receiving the baptismal rites in their behalf.  The nation may rejoice, therefore, that the illustrious patriots above named, are now taken from the possession of the Prince of darkness, and admitted into the fellowship of the Saints!!!”  (DALE MORGAN – “THE MORMONS AND THE FAR WEST:  A collection of transcripts of newspaper articles on the Mormons, also containing material on the following subjects:  the opening of the West; the fur trade; Indians of the middle and south-western states; the Santa Fe trade, etc.  1809-c.1857.”  Huntington Library)

23 Jun.:  Gentile response to baptisms for dead.

“In a sermon preached by him [Joseph Smith] at Montrose, some time since, on the subject of ‘baptism for the dead,’ he stated the facts as we have stated them–adding that he did not want to hear any more of their ‘whining’ about him–that ‘if they did not like things here, they might go to the devil.'”  (Warsaw Signal 23 Jun., 1841)

1 Jul.:  Progress report on the Temple.


We are happy to say that this building is progressing in a manner which does honor to the citizens of this place.  On visiting it a few days ago we were agreeably surprized to find that the brethren, notwithstanding their poverty, had accomplished so much; and we feel assured if the saints abroad, with their wealth, would make a corresponding effort, that another year would not roll over our heads before the ‘top stone would be brought up, with shouts of grace, grace be unto it.’

The building committee are making every preparation to erect the baptismal vont in the basement story as soon as possible.  The font, is intended to be supported by twelve oxen, several of which are in a state of forwardness, and are certainly good representations of that animal, and do great credit to the mechanics who are engaged in carving the same.  It is intended to overlay them with gold, and when finished will have a very grand appearance indeed.–Most of the labor that is done has been accomplished by the citizens devoting every tenth day gratuitously to that purpose.

While contemplating the foundation which has been so happily begun, we were forcibly reminded of the circumstances, as recorded in holy writ, connected with the building of the ancient Temple at Jerusalem, by the Israelites after they had escaped the perils of the wilderness and had obtained a possession in the land of Canaan.

When the time arrived to commence the same, the people engaged in the work with the greatest delight, and view with each other in their zeal to accomplish a work commanded of Jehovah–so dear to their hearts–and which should tend to shed a still greater lustre on the Jewish nation.  By the wisdom and enterprize of Solomon and his people, the work progressed rapidly; a zeal was manifested by every one who loved the statutes and judgments of the Lord, and who preferred the prosperity of Zion to their own temporal aggrandizement, which was indeed commendable, and which the saints in this age would do well to imitate, and at length was completed, one of the most elegant structures richly adorned with gold and silver and curious workmanship, which for centuries was the pride of that people, and caused thousands from distant nations, to visit it, and enquire after that God who had commanded  its  erection.

The circumstances connected with its dedication wer indeed glorious, and sublime.  What coud be more so?  To see the tens of thousands congregated together–their anticipations more than realized–the order of the house–the cloud of the presence of the Omnipotent Jehovah filling the house–the fire from heaven consuming the sacrifices, so that the priests could not stand to minister–to hear the dedication prayer and the simultaneous amens and hallelujahs, which burst from ten thousand voices, were calculated to make a lasting impression on all present, who would feel themselves amply repaid for all their labor and toil in its erection, and who in after ages, would delight to portray the grandeur of the proceedings to their posterity, and ever keep up a feeling of reverence and attachment to their ‘holy and beautiful house where their fathers worshipped.’

After the Jews had been carried away captive to Babylon, their love and attachment to their beloved city and temple; did not decrease; and when Nehemiah got permission of the King to take his brethren who were in captivity and rebuild the temple of the Lord, we observe the same zeal displayed, and laudable ambition manifested by all the descendants of the promised seed.  No sooner was the sentence uttered, ‘We his servants will arise and build,’ than thousands were ready to engage in the work, the whole Jewish nation was in commotion, they crowded to their beloved city and under the most distressing and unpropitious circumstances, accomplished the object they so much desired, and again dedicated the temple for the worship of the God of their fathers, and enjoyed many great and precious blessings in consequence.

And shall the saints of the last days manifest a supineness and feel less interested for the honor of their God, the glory of the church and the good of mankind than did the Jews of old?–No!  We hope they will take into consideration the glory and rich blessings which will result, when such a building is erected, and that these things with all the important circumstances connected with the same, will have their proper weight on every mind, and arouuse to energy and enterprize every saint of God whether residing in the immediate vicinity, or in more distant parts, and we hope to see the saints who may visit this place, bring ‘their god, and their silver, their brass, and their zink, together with the pine tree and the box tree, to beautify the House of the God of Jacob.’

If the saints interest themselves in this matter, there is no doubt but that the temple will be erected according to the pattern given, and they will be privileged to witness the dedication of the same, and see the glory and presence of the Lord displayed as it was anciently.

The Elders of Israel, who have not yet received their endowment, must indeed look forward to the completion of the building with feelings of no ordinary kind, and inasmuch as they anticipate great blessings, let them make such efforts to facilitate the work as are worthy of them, and which is their duty to do.  Let the venerable sire whose frame is too much emaciated to labor himself, encourage his sons to lay hold with all their mights–Let the aged matron teach her daughter the necessity of contributing her labor or means in some manner to aid in forwarding the work.  Let there be one glorious effort made by all those interested in the building and they will soon have the pleasure of beholding one off the most useful, and splendid edifices that has been erected on this continent–which shall stand from generation to generation as a monument of the faith, enterprize and perseverance of the saints, and in whose sacred aisles and courts shall continue to crowd their posterity after them, who will, with feelings of peculiar satisfaction, have to say, my aged sire assisted in erecting this building to the name of the Lord.  We are personally acquainted with the building committee and feel great confidence in their integrity and ability to do the work assigned them; they have long been known to the church for their faith and attachment to the truth; and are willing to make any sacrifice to accomplish the work.

Let the saints, hold up their hands, emulate the ancient covenant fathers, and blessings, in copious effusions, will be showered down upon them; and great peace will rest upon Israel.”  (T&S 2(17):455-456, 1 Jul., 1841)

1 Jul.:  Kings and Priests:  Non-Mormon reference.

“This is no time to sing lullabies to a slumbering world, the events which are transpiring call loudly on the saints to be diligent and faithful, and seek every opportunity of unfolding the scriptures, raising the standard of truth, that under its banners numbers may be gathered, who shall be prepared to stand firm and unshaken, ‘when the elements shall melt with fervant heat’ and ‘become kings and priests to our God and his Christ.'”  (From Hague’s Historical Discourse, reprinted in T&S 2(17):461, 1 Jul., 1841)  

4 Jul.:  Baptism for dead included rebaptism for proxy.

“Because each living proxy had already been baptized, the ordinance thus provided a rebaptism for the living proxy as well as a first baptism for the deceased, as indicated in a certificate date 4 July 1841:  ‘Catharine Fory renewed her covenant with the Lord, and was baptised in behalf of . . .'”  (D. Michael Quinn, “The Practice of Rebaptism at Nauvoo,” BYU Studies 18(2):229, Winter, 1978; quoting from Records of Baptisms at Nauvoo, CR 342/1; Records of Baptisms for Dead at Nauvoo, LDS Genealogical Society.)

12 Jul.:  Baptisms for dead authorized for Iowa.

“At the urgent solicitations of the brethren at Zarahemla, I had consented, at a previous date, that they might baptize for the dead on the Iowa side of the river.”  (HC 4:382-383)

2 Aug.:  “The Temple of God”:  Eliza R. Snow

“‘Build a house to my name,’ the Eternal has said

To a people, by truth’s holy principles led:

‘Build a house to my name, where by saints may be      blest;

Where my glory and pow’r shall in majesty rest’

When its splendor will gladden the heavenly choir,

And high Gabriel’s own hand shall awaken the lyre.

Oh, ye saints, be admonish’d by Time’s rolling car;

It is rapidly onward!  Hear, ye from a afar!

Come, and bring in your treasures–your wealth from      abroad:

Come, and build up the city and Temple of God:

A stupendous foundation already is laid,

And the work is progressing–withhold not your aid.

When you gather to Zion, come, not ‘looking back’–

Let your hearts not be faint–let your hands not be      slack,

For great honor, and glory, and grace, and renown,

Shall appear on their heads, whom the Savior will      crown;

And the Savior is coming, the prophets declare,

The times are fulfilling–to Zion repair:

Let us ‘watch and be sober’–the period is near

When the Lord in his temple, will surely appear.”

(Eliza R. Snow, T&S 2(19):494, 2 Aug., 1841)

14 Aug.:  Non-Mormon description of Temple.

“The settlement is now said to contain between ten and fifteen thousand inhabitants and the town of Nauvoo is represented as being in a flourishing condition.  A large temple is being erected, which is to contain a baptismal font, supported by twelve oxen, overlaid with gold all of the most costly and magnificent structure.”  (Missouri Whig and General Advertiser 3(2):2, 14 Aug., 1841; Snider Collection)

26 Aug.:  Woodruff baptisms for dead in river.

“The following are the names of the dead that Elder Willford Woodruff was baptized for in Nauvoo in the River in AD 1841.

[14 names listed, of which 6 were female relatives, and one was a non-related male friend.  NOTE THE DATE OF THESE BAPTISMS–WERE THEY AMONG THE FIRST?]  (Wilford Woodruff diary, at the end of the entries of the year 1842)

3 Sep.:  Description of wooden oxen for baptismal font.

“On the way we took a look at the foundation of the temple, which with the help of one-tenth of all their labor, which we are informed is required, is progressing tolerably fast before going to the dinner table we visited the ‘ox shed’.  Here we found that ‘front half’ of twelve oxen as large as life, carved from wood.  Some of them were in such a state of forwardness as to look quite natural.  When finished they are to be gilded and placed within the temple, as a base of a great baptismal Laver according to the mosaic ritual we suppose.”  (Peoria Register and Northwestern Gazetteer, 5(23):2, 3 Sep.[?], 1841; Snider Collection)

3 Sep.:  Baptism for the dead.

“Having heard much about Jo Smith and the Mormons, I felt curious to see what kind of creatures they were, and visited their meetings near Jacobstown, for several days in succession. . . .

From what I could pick up respecting the doctrines of these people, they do not believe in endless damnation; they hold baptism by immersion essential; without which, no man can enter Zion.  Infant baptism is rejected as unnecessary, because young children are supposed incapable of knowing the heniousness of sin, and therefore need no repentance; any living person may assume the name of one deceased, and being baptized in such name, the defunct may be spirited into the realms of the blessed, with a like facility as though he had undergone ablution in a duckpond in propria persona.”  (“Signed by ‘Ariel’ from the Sprit of the Times, 3 Sep., 1841, a letter from Bordentown, New Jersey,” Inez Smith Davis collection, P23 f 69, RLDS Archives)

6 Sep.:  Temperance Mack sealed to eternal life.

“the wisdom of God shall rest upon you notwithstanding your advanced age, and I seal you up unto Eternal Life as a Mother in Israel, to receive a Crown that shall be exalted, that shall glitter in the Morning of the Resurrection like the Stars in the firmament.”  (Patriarchal Blessing of Temperance Mack, given by Hyrum Smith [her nephew], 6 Sep., 1841.  RLDS Archives)

6 Sep.:  “Fullness of the Priesthood” foreshadowed. 

“if it is the desires of your Heart you have only to ask and it shall be fulfilled concerning your children Whilst you are yet a probationer, and I seal upon you by way of promise for the Benefit of your Children a promise of the Holy Priesthood in its fulness, aside from the liniage of thy Daughter or thy Sons that have hearkened to the gospel, and if it is your desire that you should yet experience many Days you have only to ask and it shall be accomplished and your mind shall be fully satisfied.”  (Patriarchal Blessing of Temperance Mack, given by Hyrum Smith [her nephew] 6 Sep., 1841.  RLDS Archives)

15 Sep.:  Progress report on temple construction.

“The building committee of the Temle are making rapid advances towards the completion of that great and desirable object; the baptismal font in its base, will probably be completed in a few weeks.”  (T&S 2(22):543, 15 Sep., 1841)

16 Sep.:  Baptism for dead of opposite sex. 

“I must just tell you that I have been Baptized for my Father and Mother who had not an opportunity of attending to this Ordinance while in the Flesh, thus releasing them from Prison.”  (Temperance Mack to her daughter, Harriet Whittemore, 16 Sep., 1841.  RLDS Archives)

1 Oct.:  Poem on baptisms for the dead.

“Else, what shall they do who are baptized for the dead, if the dead rise not at all?  Why then are they baptized for the dead?

The glorious gospel light has shone

     In this the latter day.

With such intelligence that none

     From truth need turn away.

For ‘mong things which have been sealed,

     And from the world kept hid;

The Lord has to his saints revealed,

     As anciently he did.

And thro’ the Priesthood now restored,

     Has e’en prepar’d the way,

Through which the dead may hear his word,

     And all its truths obey.

As Christ to spirits went to preach,

     Who were in prison [l]aid;

So many saints have gone to teach

     The gospel to the dead.

And we for them can be baptized,

     Yes for our friends most dear!

That they can with the just be rais’d,

     When Gabrials trump they hear.

That they may come with Christ again,

     When he to earth descends;

A thousand years with him to reign,

     And with their earthly friends.

Now, O! ye saints, rejoice to day,

     That you can saviors be,

For all your dead who will obey

     The gospel and be free.

Then let us rise without restraint,

     And act for those we love;

For they are giving their consent,

     And wait for us to move.”

(“Baptism for the Dead,” J. H. Johnson, T&S 2(23):565, 1 Oct. 1841)     

3 Oct.:  Sermon on baptisms for the dead.

“President Joseph Smith, by request of the Twelve Apostles, gave instructions on the doctrine of baptism for the dead, which were listened to with intense interest by the large assembly.  He presented baptism for the dead as the only way that men can appear as saviors on Mount Zion.  [Note: What about other ordinances for the dead?  Had Joseph thought of these yet?]

The proclamation of the first principles of the Gospel was a means of salvation to men individually; and it was the truth, not men, that saved them; but men, by actively engaging in rites of salvation substitutionally became instrumental in bringing multitudes of their kindred into the kingdom of God. . . .

There is a way to release the spirits of the dead; that is by the power and authority of the Priesthood–by binding and loosing on earth.  This doctrine appears glorious, inasmuch as it exhibits the greatness of divine compassion and benevolence in the extent of the plan of human salvation.  

This glorious truth is well calculated to enlarge the understanding, and to sustain the soul under troubles, difficulties and distresses.  For illustration, suppose the case of two men, brothers, equally intelligent, learned, virtuous and lovely, walking in uprightness and in all good conscience, so far as they have been able to discern duty from the muddy stream of tradition, or from the blotted page of the book of nature.  

One dies and is buried, having never heard the gospel of reconciliation; to the other the message of salvation has been sent, he has heard and embraced it, and is made the heir of eternal life.  Shall the one become the partaker of glory and the other be consigned to hopeless perdition?  Is there no chance for his escape?  Sectarianism answers ‘none.’  Such an idea is worse than atheism.  The truth shall break down and dash in pieces all such bigoted Pharisaism; the sects shall be sifted, the honest in heart brought out, and their priests left in the midst of their corruption.

This doctrine presents in a clear light the wisdom and mercy of God in preparing an ordinance for the salvation of the dead, being baptized by proxy, their names recorded in heaven, and they judged according to the deeds done in the body.  This doctrine was the burden of the scriptures.  Those saints who neglect it in behalf of their deceased relatives, do it at the peril of their own salvation.  The dispensation of the fulness of times will bring to light the things that have been revealed in all former dispensations; also other things that have not been before revealed.  He shall send Elijah, the Prophet, etc., and restore all things in Christ.”  (Joseph Smith, 3 Oct., 1841, HC 4:424-426)

“President Joseph Smith, by request of some of the Twelve, gave instructions on the doctrine of Baptism for the Dead; which was listened to with intense interest by the large assembly.  The speaker presented ‘Baptism for the Dead’ as the only way that men can appear as saviors on mount Zion.  The proclamation of the first principles of the gospel was a means of salvation to men individually, and it was the truth, not men that saved them; but men, by actively engaging in rites of salvation substitutionally, became instrumental in bringing multitudes of their kin into the kingdom of God.  He explained a difference between an angel and a ministering spirit; the one a resurrected or translated body, with its spirit, ministering to embodied spirits–the other a disembodied spirit, visiting and ministering to disembodied spirits.  Jesus Christ became a ministering spirit, while his body laying in the sepulchre, to the spirits in prison; to fulfil an important part of his mission, without which he could not have perfected his work or entered into his rest.  After his resurrection, he appeared as an angel to his disciples &c.  Translated bodies cannot enter into rest until they have undergone a change equivalent to death.  Translated bodies are designed for future missions.  the angel that appeared to John on the Isle of Patmos was a translated or resurrected body.–Jesus Christ went in body, after his resurrection, to minister to translated and resurrected bodies.  There has been a chain of authority and power from Adam down to the present time.  The only way to obtain truth and wisdom, is not to ask it from books, but to go to God in prayer and obtain divine teaching.  It is no more incredible that God should save the dead, than that he should raise the dead.  There is never a time when the spirit is too old to approach God.  All are within the reach of pardoning mercy, who have not committed the unpardonable sin, which hath no forgiveness, neither in this world, nor in the world to come.  There is a way to release the spirit of the dead; that is, by the power and authority of the Priesthood–by binding and loosing on earth.

This doctrine appears glorious, inasmuch as it exhibits the greatness of divine compassion and benevolence in the extent of the plan of human salvation.  This glorious truth is well calculated to enlarge the understanding, and to sustain the soul under troubles, difficulties, and distresses.

For illustration the speaker presented, by supposition, the case of two men, brothers, equally intelligent, learned, virtuous and lovely, walking in uprightness and in all good conscience, so far as they had been able to discern duty from the muddy stream of tradition, or from the blotted page of the book of nature.  One dies, and is buried, having never heard the gospel of reconciliation, to the other the message of salvation is sent, he hears and embraces it, and is made the heir of eternal life.  Shall the one become a partaker of glory, and the other be consigned to hopeless perdition?  Is there no chance for his escape?  Sectarianism answers, ‘none! none!! none!!!’  Such an idea is worse than atheism.  The truth shall break down and dash in pieces all such bigoted Pharisaism; the sects shall be sifted, the honest in heart brought out, and their priests left in the midst of their corruption.  The speaker then answered the objections urged against the Latter Day Saints for not admitting the validity of sectarian baptism, and for withholding fellowship from sectarian churches.  It was like putting new wine into old bottles and putting old wine into new bottles.  What, new revelations in the old churches!  New revelations knock out the bottom of their bottomless pit.  New wine into old bottles!–the bottles burst and the wine runs out.  What, Sadducees in the new church!  Old wine in new leathern bottles will leak through the pores and escape; so the Sadducee saints mock at authority, kick out of the traces, and run to the mountains of perdition, leaving the long echo of their braying behind them.

The speaker then contrasted the charity of the sects, in denouncing all who disagree with them in opinion, and in joining in persecuting the saints, with the faith of the saints, who believe that even such may be saved in this world and in the world to come, (murderers and apostates excepted.)

This doctrine, he said, presented in a clear light, the wisdom and mercy of God, in preparing an ordinance for the salvation of the dead, being baptized by proxy, their names recorded in heave, and they judged according to the deeds done in the body.  This doctrine was the burden of the scriptures.  Those saints who neglect it, in behalf of their deceased relatives, do it at the peril of their own salvation.

The dispensation of the fulness of times will bring to light the things that have been revealed in all former dispensations, also other things that have not been before revealed.  He shall send Elijah the prophet &c., and restore all things in Christ.

The speaker then announced, ‘There shall be no more baptisms for the dead, until the ordinance can be attended to in the font of the Lord’s House; and the church shall not hold another general conference, until they can meet in said house.  For thus saith the Lord!'”  (Times and Seasons 2(24):577-578, 15 Oct., 1841)

“It should be borne in mind that the policy regarding baptisms for the dead allowed that ordinance work be done (1) for those who were direct ancestors; (2) for those who were known personally by their descendants; and (3) for those believed to have accepted the gospel in the Spirit World.  Under these criteria, the Saints were required to do ordinance work for at most three or four generations.  Subsequent revelation has added to this responsibility.  Statements of Joseph Smith on these criteria may be found in D&C 137:5-9 and Teachings, p. 179.”  (Ehat and Cook, Words of JS, p. 98)

3 Oct.:  More baptisms for dead to await temple.

“President Joseph Smith then announced:  ‘There shall be no more baptisms for the dead, until the ordinance can be attended to in the Lord’s House; and the Church shall not hold another General Conference, until they can meet in said house.  For this saith the Lord!'”  (HC 4:426) 

“As soon as the font in the temple in Nauvoo was ready, and long before that structure was completed, the Lord, by revelation, prohibited the baptisms for the dead outside of the temple and commanded the Saints to perform this ordinance for their dead in the font in that house.  These baptisms were discontinued October 3, 1841, and the ordinance was resumed November 3, 1841, in the font which was dedicated for that purpose five days later (History of the Church 4:426, 446).”  (Joseph Fielding Smith, “Salvation for the Dead,” IE 20(3):198, Jan., 1917)

“There was a time prior to 1844 that the original church practiced the doctrine of baptism for the dead.  They did it at one time but it did not continue very long.  There was a time when there was a doctrine of that kind taught and practiced.  I think it was somewhere near 1839 to ’41, as near as I can remember, but the teaching and practicing of that doctrine were abandoned because of a revelation which was given specifically mentioning it, that it was not to be resumed until after the building of the temple I think.”  (William Smith testimony in Temple Lot Case, p. 100)

“There was a time between 1842 and 1844 in Nauvoo, Illinois, when baptism for the dead was discontinued; that is, it was suspended for some time; I cannot give you the dates.”  (S. W. Richards testimony in Temple Lot Case, p. 391)

“E[lde]r Marks said When Joseph stopped the Baptism for the dead He stated that He did not believe it would be practiced any more until there was a fountain built in Zion or Jerusalem.”  (Minutes of Council Meeting of the First Presidency and the Quorum of the Twelve, RLDS, 1 May, 1865.  RLDS Archives)

4 Oct.:  Father: endowment; mother/daughter: eternal life.

“Then shall you be a chosen vessel having received the anointing, & the enduements, in the Lords House, then shall your Ministry be prosperous.”  (Patriarchal Blessing of Levi Gribble, by Hyrum Smith, 4 Oct., 1841.  RLDS Archives, P8/F7)

“If you will ask diligently in Faith you shall be blest with many things which your Heart hath desired, & shall be sealed with Eternal Life from this very Hour, for a Comfort to you in tribulation.”  (Patriarchal Blessing of Polly Gribble, wife of Levi Gribble, by Hyrum Smith, 4 Oct., 1841.  RLDS Archives, P8/F9)

“Although you are in your youth [she was 15 years old at the time] I Seal you up unto Eternal Life, because of your Faith in the Gospel . . . Now I Seal these Blessings upon your Head, a Celestial Glory, Even so, Amen.”  (Patriarchal Blessing of Patience Gribble, daughter of Levi and Polly Gribble, by Hyrum Smith, 4 Oct., 1841.  RLDS Archives, P8/F8)

12 Oct.:  Epistle of the Twelve.

“In this city the church has succeeded in securing several extensive plats of land, which have been laid out in city lots, a part of which have been sold, a part has been distributed to the widow and the orphan, and a part remains for sale.  These lots are for the inheritance of the saints, a resting place for the church, a habitation for the God of Jacob; for here he has commanded a house to be built unto his name where he may manifest himself unto his people as in former times, when he caused the ark, the tabernacle and the temple to be reared and the cloud and the fire to rest down thereon; and not that the temple be built only, but that it be completed quickly, and that no more general conference be held, till it shall be held therein; and that the Nauvoo House be finished for the accomodation of the brethren from afar, and the stranger who shall come up hither to inquire after the work of the Lord and worship in his Temple.

Scores of brethren in this city, have offered to board one and two laborers each till the Temple is completed; many have volunteered to labor continually, and the brethren generally are giving one tenth part of their income, according to circumstances; while those sisters, who can do nothing more, are knitting socks and mittens and preparing garments for the laborers, so that they may be made as comfortable as possible during the coming winter.  In view of these things we would invite our brethren for many miles distant around us to send in their teams for drawing stone, lumber, and materials for the buildings; and at the same time load their waggons with all kinds of grain and meat, provision and clothing; and hay and provinder in abundance, that the laborer faint not, and the teams be made strong; also that journeymen, stonecutters &c. come bringing their tools with them, and enlist in the glorious enterprize. . . .

 To those brethren who live so far distant that they cannot send in their loaded teams, and yet desire to assist in building the Lord’s House, we would say, gather yourselves together and bring of your substance, your silver, and gold, and apparel and of your superabundance cast into the treasury of the Lord and see if he will not pour you out a blessing till there is not room enough to receive it. . . .

The journeyings and gatherings, and buildings of the saints are nothing new, and as they are expecting, looking and praying for the completion of the dispensation of the fullness of times, they must also expect that their progress will be onward or they will be of no avail, for what is not of faith is sin, and can you believe that God will hear your prayers, and bring you on your journey, gather you, and build your houses, and you not put forth one hand or make one exertion to help yourselves?  No! therefore inasmuch as the saints believe that father Abraham journeyed to a distant land, and at the command of the Highest, where himself and household, (whose household we are, if we keep the commandments,) might enjoy the fruits of their labors unmolested, and worship the God of heaven according to the dictates of their own conscience and his law.  That his seed afterwards gathered to Canaan, the Land of Promise; that David was commanded to build a house where the Son of Man might have a place to lay his head, and the di[s]ciples be endued with power from on high, and were with one accord in one place; they must also believe that this dispensation comprehends all the great works of all former dispensations; and that the children must gather as did the fathers, must build a house, where they may be endued, and be found together worshipping and doing as their fathers did, when Jehovah spake and the angels of heaven ministered unto them; and if these things are not in this generation then we have not arrived at the dispensation of the fullness of times as we anticipate and our faith and prayers are vain.

Is it possible that we labor in vain, and toil for nought, and that we shall be disappointed at the last?  No! we know assuredly that the set time to favor Zion has come, and her sons and daughters shall rejoice in her glory.  The time has come when the great Jehovah would have a resting place on earth, a habitation for his chosen, where his law shall be revealed, and his servants be endued from on high, to bring together the honest in heart from the four winds; where the saints may enter the Baptismal Font for their dead relations, so that they may be judged according to men in the flesh, and live according to God in the spirit, and come forth in the celestial kingdom; a place, over which the heavenly messengers may watch and trouble the waters as in days of old, so that when the sick are put therein they shall be made whole [Is this the first reference to baptism for the healing of the sick?]; a place where all the ordinances shall be made manifest and the saints shall unite in the songs of Zion, even praise, thanksgiving and hallelujahs to God and the Lamb, that he has wrought out their deliverance, and bound satan fast in chains.”  (“An Epistle of the Twelve, to the brethren scattered abroad on the Continent of America,” 12 Oct., 1841, in T&S 2(24):567-569, 15 Oct., 1841)

17 Oct.:  God has commanded us to build the Temple.

“There is one thing to which we would call the special attention of the saints at this time, and that is, the BUILDING OF THE TEMPLE at Nauvoo.

This being a work commanded of God, the saints in all the world are required to assist in so desirable an object, by contributing liberally of their silver and gold, as far so it is in their power.

The first consideration is: God has commanded it.  The second is, the saints in that country need it, as they now have to meet out of doors.  The third is, great blessings depend on its speedy erection–blessings which equally concern all the children of God, throughout the world.  With these considerations, we hope the officers and members of each conference will be up and doing.  A few individuals in England, have already sent some twenty-eight or thirty pounds, for this purpose, by the two last ships, and we hope the exertion will be more general hereafter.”  (Minutes of the Manchester Conference, 17 Oct., 1841; MS 2(7):105-106, Nov., 1841)

23 Oct.:  Priority of Nauvoo Temple construction.

“President [Brigham] Young, Elders [John] Taylor and [Willard] Richards, then made some very appropriate remarks, showing and proving the absolute necessity of finishing and completing the House of the Lord, now building in Nauvoo; in preference to any thing else that can be done, either by mental or physical exertion, in spreading light, knowledge, and intelligence, among the nations of the earth.

Conference adjourned till tomorrow, 10 o’clock.

In the evening, President [Isaac] Morley met with his counsel, together with President Young, Taylor and Richards, and brethren of the Lyma branch, for the purpose of entering into certain resolutions, necessary in order to become more active in forwarding the work of the house of the Lord.  After much deliberation, it was moved and seconded, that all those who are willing to consecrate one tenth of their time and property, to the building of the Temple at Nauvoo, under the superintendance of Pres. Morley and counsellors, to signify it by the uplifted hands, when the motion was carried unanimous.”  (Minutes of Lyma Conference, 23 Oct., 1841, in T&S 3(1):591, 1 Nov., 1841 [Note that this issue of T&S was incorrectly designated 15 Nov.])

“With Elders Richards and Taylor I attended a 

Conference at Lima; 424 members were represented, including 54 officers.  We taught the brethren on the necessity of finishing and completing the House of the Lord in preference to anything else.  The brethren unanimously voted to devote one-tenth of their time and property to the building of the Temple at Nauvoo, under the superintendence of President Isaac Morley and his counsellors.”  (MHBY 23 Oct., 1841)

24 Oct.:  Encouragement from P.P.P in England.

“Say to the Building Committee, and to the Saints in general, for me; ‘Let not your hands be slack, nor your hearts feeble; but drive the Temple ahead in the name of the Lord God of Israel[‘]; for thus the spirit whispers in my heart; they shall not lack, nor be left in embarrassment.  I would suggest the idea of using lead for the roofs of the Temple and all other permanent buildings;l I think it will be found more durable, more convenient, and cheaper than timber, and will perhaps save whole blocks from being consumed by fire.”  (Parley P. Pratt to Joseph Smith, from Manchester, England, 24 Oct., 1841.  In T&S 3(7):683, 1 Feb., 1842)

1 Nov.:  Kirtland saints to come to Nauvoo to aid Temple.

“All the saints that dwell in that land are commanded to come away, for this is, ‘Thus saith the Lord;’ therefore pay out no monies nor properties for houses, nor lands, in that country, for if you do, you will lose them; for  the time shall come that you shall not possess them in peace; but shall be scourged with a sore scourge; yet your children may possess them; but not until many years shall pass away; and, as to the organization of that branch of the church, it is not according to the spirit and will of God; and as to the designs of the leading members of that branch relative to the printing press, and the ordaining of Elders, and sending out Elders to beg for the poor, are not according to the will of God; and in these things they shall not prosper, for they have neglected the House of the Lord, the Baptismal Font, in this place, wherein their dead may be redeemed, and the key of knowledge that unfolds the dispensation of the fullness of times may be turned, and the mysteries of God be unfolded, upon which their salvation and the salvation of the world, and the redemption of their dead depends, for ‘Thus saith the Lord,’ ‘there shall not be a General Assembly for a general conference assembled together until the House of the Lord shall be finished, and the Baptismal Font, and if we are not diligent the church shall be rejected, and their dead also’ . . .”  (Hyrum Smith to the Church in Kirtland, in T&S 3(1):589, 1 Nov., 1841 [Note that this issue of T&S was incorrectly designated 15 Nov.]; reprinted in Sangamo Journal 10(13):2, 19 Nov., 1841; Snider Collection) 

8 Nov.:  Dedication of baptismal font.

“I attended the dedication of the baptismal font in the Lord’s House; President Smith called upon me to offer the dedicatory prayer.  This is the first font erected for the baptism for the dead in this dispensation.”  (MHBY 8 Nov., 1841)

“At five o’clock p.m., I attended the dedication of the baptismal font in the Lord’s House.  President Brigham Young was spokesman.

The baptismal font is situated in the center of the basement room, under the main hall of the Temple; it is constructed of pine timber, and put together of staves tongued and grooved, oval shaped, sixteen feet long east and west, and twelve feet wide, seven feet high from the foundation, the basin four feet deep, the moulding of the cap and base are formed of beautiful carved work in antique style.  The sides are finished with panel work.  A flight of stairs in the north and south sides lead up and down into the basin, guarded by side railing.

The font stands upon twelve oxen, four on each side, and two at each end, their heads, shoulders, and fore legs projecting out from under the font; they are carved out of pine plank, glued together, and copied after the most beautiful five-year-old steer that could be found in the country, and they are an excellent striking likeness of the original; the horns were formed after the most perfect horn that could be procured.

The oxen and ornamental mouldings of the font were carved by Elder Elijah Fordham, from the city of New York, which occupied eight months of time.  The font was enclosed by a temporary frame building sided up with split oak clapboards, with a roof of the same material, and was so low that the timbers of the first story were laid above it.  The water was supplied from a well thirty feet deep in the east end of the basement.

This font was built for the baptisms for the dead until the Temple shall be finished, when a more durable one will supply its place.”  (HC 4:446-447)

“At 5 o’clock in the evening, the 8th day of November, 1841, the font was dedicated by Joseph Smith the Prophet.  After the dedication Brother Reuben McBride was the first person baptized, under the direction of the President.

Brother Samuel Rolfe, who was seriously afflicted with a felon upon one of his hands, was present.  President Joseph instructed him to wash in the font and told him that the hand would be healed.  The doctors had told him that he could not recover before Spring, and had advised him to have his hand cut.  He dipped his hand in the font, and within a week he was perfectly healed.

After this time baptisms were continued in the font, and many Saints realized great blessings–both spiritually and bodily.”  (William Clayton Journal, in JI 21(4):60, 15 Feb., 1886)

“The following is copied from the private journal of William Clayton:

I will now copy an extract from the revelation of January 19, 1841, concerning building a Baptismal Font:

There is not a place found on earth that he may come and restore again that which was lost unto you, or, which he hath taken away, even the fullness of the Priesthood; for a baptismal font there is not upon the earth; that they, my Saints, may be baptized for those who are dead; for this ordinance belongeth to my house and cannot be acceptable to me, only in the days of your poverty, wherein ye are not able to build a house unto me.  But I command you, all ye my Saints, to build a house unto me; and I grant unto you a sufficient time to build a house unto me, and during this time your baptisms shall be acceptable unto me.

In conformity with the foregoing item of law, in the summer and fall of the year 1841, the brethren entered into measures to build a baptismal font, on the cellar floor of the Temple near the east end.  Brother William Weeks, the architect, drew a draught which was accepted by President Joseph and on the 18th of August of the same year, Brother Weeks commenced to labor on it with his own hands; he labored some days on it and then committed the work to the carpenters.  On the 11th of August, Brother Weeks commenced carving the oxen, twelve in number, on which the font was to stand.  After carving six days he committed this branch to Brother Elijah Fordham, the principal carver, who continued till they were finished, which was in about two months after the commencement.  On the 8th day of November, 1841, the font was dedicated by President Joseph Smith at 5 o’clock in the evening.  After dedication, Brother Reuben McBride was the first person baptized under the direction of the President.  He was baptized by President Brigham Young.  Brother Samuel Rolfe, being present, and being seriously afflicted with a felon on one hand, President Joseph instructed him to wash in the font, and told him he would be healed, although the doctors had told him it would not be well before spring, and advised him to have it cut.  He washed his hands in the font and in one week afterwards his hand was perfectly healed.  After this time, baptisms were continued in the font and many realized great blessings, both spiritually and bodily.  I will here also state that on the 25th of September, 1841, a deposit was made in the southeast corner stone of the temple.”  (JH 8 Nov., 1841)

12 Nov.:  Description of baptismal font.

“If you were here to see the work that has been done on the Temple, you would say that the saints here have been industrious, and contributed liberally for that work.  The greater portion of the work is accomplished on the basement story, in which is situated the Baptismal Font, resting upon the twelve oxen that so much has been said about in the eastern papers.  I went and examined them particularly;–they are ingeniously carved, and strikingly resemble the living original; and the Baptismal Font, I should judge from what is said in the bible, strongly resemb.es the ‘Brazen Sea.’  I will not here attempt to give any further description of the Temple; for it sufficeth to say, that its plan for convenience, surpasses any thing that I ever saw, and well it may; for the Lord has had something to do with it; and I believe that when it is completed; for splendor and magnificence it will outshine any thing west of Philadelphia at all events.”  (Benjamin Winchester to Br. Snow, 12 Nov., 1841, in T&S 3(2):605, 15 Nov., 1841)

15 Nov.:  Necessity of Nauvoo Temple.

“Since our arrival in this place there has been one special and one general conference of the church, and the twelve have been called to tarry at home for a season, and stand in their lot next to the first Presidency and assist in councilling the brethren and in the settling of immigrants, &c., and the first great object before us, and the saints generally, is to help forward the completion of the Temple and the Nauvoo House; buildings which are now in progress according to the revelations, and which must be completed to secure the salvation of the church in the last days; for God requires of his saints to build him a house wherein his servants may be instructed, and endued with power from on high, to prepare them to go forth among the nations, and proclaim the fullness of the gospel for the last time, and bind up the law and seal up the testimony, leaving this generation without excuse, and the earth prepared for the judgments, which will follow.  In this house all the ordinances will be made manifest, and many things will be shown forth, which have been hid from generation to generation.

The set time to favor the stakes of Zion is at hand, & soon the Kings and the Queens, the princes and the nobles, the rich and the honorable of the earth, will come up hither to visit the Temple of our God and to enquire concerning his strange work; and as Kings are to become nursing fathers, and Queens nursing mothers in the habitations of the righteous, it is right to render honor to whom honor is due; & therefore expedient that such, as well as the saints, should have a comfortable house for borading and lodging when they come hither, and it is according to the revelations that such a house should be built.

The foundation of this house, and also of the Temple, are liad and the walls of the basement stories of each nearly completed; and the finishing of the whole is depending on the exertions of the saints.  Every saint on earth is equally interested in these things, and each is under equal obligations to do all in their power to complete the building by their faith and by their prayers; with their thousands and their mites, their gold and their silver, their copper and their zinc, their goods and their labors, until the top stone is laid with shoutings and the place is prepaired to be filled with the glory of the Highest; and if there are those among you, who have more than they need for the gathering, and for assisting the destitute, who desire to gather with them, they cannot make a more acceptable offering unto the Lord, than by appropriating towards the building of his Temple.

He that believeth shall not make haste, but let all the saints who desire to keep the commandments of heaven and work righteousness, come to the place of gathering as soon as circumstances will permit.  It is by united efforts that great things are accomplished, and while the saints are scattered to the four winds, they cannot be united in action, if they are in spirit; they cannot all build at one city, or lift at one stone of the great Temple, tho’ their hearts may all desire the same thing.  We would not press the subject of the gathering upon you, for we know your hearts, and your means; and so far as means fail, let patience have its perfect work in your souls, for in due time you shall be delivered if you faint not.”  (“An Epistle of the Twelve, To the saints scattered abroad in England, Scotland, Ireland, Wales, the Isle of Man and the eastern continent,” 15 Nov., 1841, in T&S 3(2):600-601, 15 Nov., 1841; see also HC 4:449)

21 Nov.:  1st baptisms for dead in font; confirmations.

[Sunday]  “Brothers Hyrum Smith and John Taylor preached.  At 4 p.m., brothers Kimball, Taylor and I baptized about forty persons in the font, for the dead; brothers Richards, Woodruff and George A. Smith confirming.  These were the first baptisms for the dead in the font.”  (MHBY 21 Nov., 1841)

“The Twelve met in council at President Young’s, and at four o’clock, repaired to the baptismal font in the basement of the Temple.  Elders Brigham Young, Heber C. Kimball and John Taylor baptized about forty persons for the dead.  Elder Willard Richards, Wilford Woodruff and George A. Smith confirming.  These were the first baptisms for the dead in the font.”  (HC 4:454)

“I met in Council with the Twelve at Elder B. Youngs.  Then attended the general Assembly near the Temple.  Heard a discours by Elder Taylor followed by President Hyram Smith.  I then met the Twelve at B. Youngs untill 4 o-clock at which time we repaired to the Baptismal Font in the Temple for the purpose of Baptizing for the dead, for the remision of Sins & for healing.  It was truly an interesting seene.  It was the first FONT erected for this glorious purpose in this last dispensation.  It was dedicated By President Joseph Smith & The Twelve for Baptizing for the Dead &c & this was the first time the font had been prepared for the reception of candidates.”  (Wilford Woodruff diary, 21 Nov., 1841)

4 Dec.:  When will the Jackson Co. temple be built?

“When Will The ‘purchased possesion’ be Redeemed and the temple and city commence in Jackson Co. Mo.[?]”  (Parley P. Pratt [England] to Joseph Smith [Nauvoo], 4 Dec., 1841; in BYU Studies 27(1):128, Winter, 1987)

7 Dec.:  Saints could be rejected with their dead.

“I spent most of my time in the store but in the evening I attended meeting & herd a discourse deliverd by Lyman Wight who declaired some most stirling truths concerning the building of the Temple & the Nauvoo House.  If the Saints did not do it they would be rejected as a Church with their dead Saith the Lord.  We should again be driven &c.  He spoke in truth & the spirit of God.”  (Wilford Woodruff diary, 7 Dec., 1843)

13 Dec.:  Epistle of 12 on baptism for the dead.

“The building of the Temple of the Lord, in the city of Nauvoo, is occupying the first place in the exertions and prayers of many of the saints at the present time, knowing as they do, that, if this building is not completed, speedily, ‘we shall be rejected as a church with our dead,’ for the Lord our God hath spoken it; but while many are thus engaged in laboring, and watching and praying for this all important object, there are many, very many more, who do not thus come up to their privilege and their duty in this thing, and in many instances we are confident that their neglect arises from a want of proper understanding of the principles upon which this building is founded, and by which it must be completed.

The children of Israel were commanded to build a house in the land of promise; and so are the saints of the last days, as you will see in the Revelation given to Joseph the Seer, Jan. 19th 1841, wherein those ordinances may be revealed which have been hid for ages, even their anointings and washings and baptisms for the dead; wherein they may meet in solemn assemblies for their memorials, sacrifices, and oracles in their most holy places; and wherein they may receive conversations and statutes, and judgements for the beginning of the revelations and foundations of Zion, and the glory and honor and adornment of all her municiples, through the medium which God hath ordained.

In the same revelation the command is to ‘all the saints from afar,’ as well as those already gathered to this place; to arise with one consent and build the Temple; to prepare a place where the Most High may manifest himself to his people.  No one is excepted who hath ought in his possession, for what have ye that ye have not received? and I will require mine own with usury saith the Lord; so that those who live thousands of miles from this place, come under the same law, and are entitled to the same blessings and privileges as those who have already gathered.  But some may say how can this be, I am not there, therefore I cannot meet in the Temple; cannot be baptized in the Font?  The command of heaven is to you, to all, gather: and when you arrive here, if it is found that you have previously sent up of your gold or your silver, or your substance, the tythings and consecrations which are required of you, for this building, you will find your names, tithings, and consecrations written in the Book of the Law of the Lord, to be kept in the Temple, as a witness in your favor, showing that you are a proprietor in that building, and are entitled to your share of the privileges thereunto belonging.

One of those privileges which is particularly attracting the notice of the saints at the present moment, is baptism for the dead, &c. in the font, which is so far completed as to be dedicated, and several have already attended to this ordinance by which the sick have been made whole, and the prisoner set free; but while we have been called to administer this ordinance, we have been led to enquire into the propriety of baptizing those who have not been obedient, and assisted to build the place for baptism, and it seems to us unreasonable to expect that the Great Jehovah will approbate such an administration; for if the church must be brought under condemnation and rejected with her dead if she fail to build the house, and its appurtenances, why should not individuals of the church, who thus neglect, come under the same condemnation?  And if they are to be rejected they may as well be rejected without baptism as with, for their baptism can be of no avail before God, and the time to baptize them may be appropriated to building the walls of the house, and this is according to the understanding which we have received from him who is our spokesman.

Let it not be supposed that the sick and the destitute are to be denied the blessings of the Lord’s House; God forbid; his eye is ever upon them for good.  He that hath not, and cannot obtain, but saith in his heart if I had, I would give freely, is accepted as freely as he that gives of his abundance.  The Temple is to be built by tything and consecration, and every one is at liberty to consecrate all they find in their hearts so to do; but the tythings required, is one tenth of all any one possesed at the commencement of the building, and one tenth part of all his increase from that time till the completion of the same, whether it be money or whatever he may be blessed with.  Many, in this place, are laboring every tenth day for the house, and this is the tything of their income, for they have nothing else; others would labor the same but they are sick, therefore, excusable, when they get well let them begin; while there are others who appear to think their own business of more importance than the Lord’s: to such we would ask, who gave you your time, health, strength, and put you into business? and will you not begin quickly to return with usury that which you have received?  Our God will not waith always.

We would remind some two or three hundred Elders, who offered to go out on missions, some six months, others one year, and some two years, and had their missions assigned them at the general conference to labor on the Temple, that most of their names and still with us, and we wish them to call and take their names away, and given them up to the building committee.  Brethren you have as great an interest at stake in this thing as we have, but as our Master, even the Master builder of the Temple, whose throne is on high, has seen fit to constitute us stewards in some parts of his household; we feel it important for us to see to it that our Master is not defrauded, and especially by those who have pledged their word, their time, their talents, to his services; and we hope this gentle hint will suffice, that we may not be compelled to publish the names of those referred to.

Probably some may think they could have gon on a mission but cannot labor as they have no means of boarding themselves, but let such remembers that several score of brethren and sisters in this city, offered to the general confer[en]ce, to board one or more laborers on the Temple till the same should be completed, and but few of those, as yet, have had the opportunity of boarding.  To all such we would say you are not forgotten, we have your names, also, and we expect soon to send some one to your table, therefore put your houses in order and never be ready to refuse the first offer of a guest.

Large stores of provisions will be required to complete the work, and now is the time for securing it, while meat is plenty and can be had for one half the value that it can at other seasons of the year, and the weather is cool and suitable for packing.  Let the brethren for two hundred miles around drive their fat cattle and hogs to this place, where they may be preserved, and there will be a supply till another favorable season rolls round, or till the end of the labor.–Now is the time to secure food.  Now is the time that the trustee is ready to receive your droves,–Not the maimed, the lean, the halt, and the blind, and such that you cannot use; it is for the Lord, and he wants no such offering: but if you want his blessing give him the best; give him as good as he has given you.  Beds and bedding, socks, mittens, shoes, clothing of every description, and store goods are needed for the comfort of the laborers this winter; journeymen stonecutters, quarrymen, teams and teamsters for drawing stone, and all kinds of provision for men and beast, are needed in abundance.

There are individuals who have given nothing as yet, either as tythings or consecration, thinking that they shall be able to do a great deal some time hence, if they continue their present income to their own use; but this is a mistaken idea; suppose that all should act upon this principle, no one would do ought at present, consequently the building must cease, and this generation remain without a house, and the church be rejected; then suppose the next generation labor upon the same principle, and the same in all succeeding benerations, the Son of God would never have a place on earth to lay his head.  Let every individual remember that their tythings and consecrations are required from what they have, and not from what they expect to have sometime hence, and are wanted for immediate use.

All money and other property designed for tythings and consecretions to the building of the Temple must hereafter be presented to the trustee in trust, President Joseph Smith, and entered at the Recorder’s office in the book before referred to; and all receipts now holden by individuals, which they have received of the building committee for property delivered to them, must also be forwarded to the Recorder’s office for entry, to secure the appropriation of said property according to the original design.

The Elders every where, will instruct the brethren both in public and in private, in the principles and doctrine set forth in this epistle, so that every individual of the church may have a perfect understanding of his duty and privilege.”  (“Baptism for the Dead, An Epistle of the Twelve to the Saints of the Last Days,” 13 Dec., 1841, in T&S 3(4):625-627, 15 Dec., 1841; also HC 4:472)

19 Dec.:  We must keep the secrets of the Lord.

“The reason we do not have the secrets of the Lord revealed unto us is because we do not keep them but reveal them, we do not keep our own secrets but reveal our difficulties to the world even to our enemies then how would we keep the secrets of the Lord Joseph says I can keep a secret till dooms day.”  (Joseph Smith, 19 Dec., 1841.  Words of JS, p. 81)

28 Dec.:  Joseph Fielding on the Temple.

“I had heard that Nauvoo contained 1200 houses, but I did not expect to find a city spreading itself beyond the reach of the eye from one point, I soon came in sight of the foundation of a large and spacious building, this is the Temple, we passed from street to street till we came near to the bank of the river.  In this Temple built by divine command, I am informed we are to have made known to us the fulness of the priesthood; if we be faithful in keeping the commandments of God, and in anticipation of the mighty works to be performed here; a magnificent building is also rising for the entertainment of kings and nobles who shall hereafter visit this place; when I view these things, in faith believing that the coming of the Lord draweth nigh, my heart swells with gladness, and astonishment, I look back on my former state in the sectarian world, and I can scarcely remember from whence I am, so different is my present condition to that; such a difference is there between light and darkness, between truth and error.  The object of the Baptismal Font is also truly interesting to me, and I have no doubt to all the saints: for some time I had thought much on the subject of the redemption of those who died under the broken covenant, it is plain they could not come forth in the kingdom of God, as they had not been adopted, legally into it, neither could they be while there was no priesthood, they had not been born of water and the spirit, and if they should come into the kingdom without this it would falsify the plain word of Jesus Christ, yet how would those who died martyrs and all those who have lived up to the best light they have had, and would no doubt have rejoiced in the fulness of the gospel had they had it, be denied this privilege?  I thought, perhaps those who receive the priesthood in these last days would baptize them at the coming of the Savior, and this would fulfil the words of the Savior; many shall come from the east and from the west &c., and shall sit down in the kingdom of God,–but the children of the kingdom shall be cast out, as foolish virgins, but a touch of the light of revelation has at once dispelled the darkness and scattered the doubts which once perplexed my mind and I behold the means which God hath devised that his banished ones may be brought back again; every step I take in surveying the plan of heaven, and the wisdom and goodness of God, my heart feels glad, but when I have listened to the teachings of the servants of God under the new covenant and the principle of Baptism for the Dead the feelings of my soul were such as I cannot describe, I contrast it with the narrow, contracted views of part of the Christian world who hold with the election of a few to eternal life, and the reporbation of the rest to eternal damnation, which was the religion of most of my neighbors in my native land, and in short, it forms a wide contrast with all the notions of men on the subject of redemption, the gleams of light seen among the Pagans of various nations, derived by them from some people who had the priesthood, and the fulness of the ordinances of salvation, are far nearer the truth than any thing now in the sectarian churches, but the day has dawned, the day star has risen in our hearts; but when I meditate on these things I am reminded at the same time, of the conflict and war to be sustained on the side of truth, I see that the number of those that endure to the end will be but small, nothing but the principle of truth firmly planted in the soul will enable us to overcome, but the thought of the hidden manna, of receiving the white stone, of sitting with the Savior on his throne, and of eathing of the tree of life which is in the midst of the paradise of God, of being filled with intelligence,with light and truth, enables us to look at the dreadful conflict with firmness and composure of mind, the sting of death is gone, because of the love of God which is shed abroad in our hearts, and having received the holy priesthood there is in our souls a desire to bring others to a joint and equal possession of that felicity which is to be bestowed upon us at that day.”  (Joseph Fielding to Br. Robinson, Nauvoo, 28 Dec., 1841, in T&S 3(5):648-649, 1 Jan., 1842)

28 Dec.:  Sidney Rigdon baptized for BOTH parents.

“I baptized Sidney Rigdon in the font, for and in behalf of his parents; also baptized Reynolds Cahoon and others.”  (HC 4:486)

Summary of Woodruff’s baptisms for dead in river.

“The following are the names of the dead that Elder Willford Woodruff was baptized for in Nauvoo in the River in AD 1841.

[14 names listed, of which 6 were female relatives, and one was a male friend, though not relative.]”  (Wilford Woodruff diary, at end of 1842 entries)