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Prince’s Research Excerpts: Temples & Mormonism – 1878

Below you will find Prince’s research excerpts titled, “Temples, 1878.” You can view other years here.

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TEMPLES, 1878.

1878:    6 Feb.:  Eternal punishment.

“On the 16th of February, 1832, Joseph Smith and Sidney Rigdon were divinely favored with a remarkable vision.  It was opened to their view while engaged in a revision of the Scriptures, at Hiram, Portage County, Ohio.  It will be found in full in the Doctrine and Covenants, new edition, page 244.

The doctrines developed in that heavenly communication were entirely new to the people of the period, but have since been preached by the Elders of this Church in both hemispheres, and have helped to produce a great change in the popular sentiment regarding the future state of man.

During the past few weeks both England and the United States have been stirred to an unwonted degree on the subject of eternal punishment.  Nearly every paper published in this country has had something to say upon the subject, while the most popular preachers have considered it necessary to define their position in relation to it, and the leading journals have devoted whole pages to these utterances, one Chicago paper giving nineteen columns to the discussion of the points involved.

Those theologians who have departed from the orthodox views of hell and everlasting punishment have done so to meet the changing opinions of the people; and these are due in a great degree to the light shed upon the world in the above mentioned vision and widely disseminated by the missionaries of this Church.  But the preachers who have created the present excitement, while opposing the old-fashioned theories have nothing definite to offer in their place.  They are trying to demolish some errors but are not able to substitute the definite truth.  They deny but do not affirm except in the way of negation.  Thus they unsettle the public mind, and with their hearers they are involved in the fogs of doubt and are groping in the mists of uncertainty.

There are three positions taken by those who are agitating these questions.  One is that all people will be finally saved and taken to heaven.  Another is that the wicked will be annihilated.  And the other is that a few will be saved ‘out of the rubbish of nature,’ and all the rest will be cast into a literal hell of personal suffering, too horrible to describe and which will never be mitigated or brought to an end.

They are all wrong.  No one will deny that God must be just and also merciful.  If he is just there must be penalties for the transgression of the law.  But as there are different degrees of guilt, there must be different degrees of punishment, also a difference in its periods.  If a man should sin for a hundred years, the penalty of never ceasing torments for everlasting ages would be too immense to correspond with the guilt.  It would also paralyze mercy.  If God is merciful, when the sinner has suffered sufficiently to satisfy justice, He must extend the arm of mercy and give the chastened culprit a change to reform and obey the laws he formerly rejected.  The violator of one law only is not as great a sinner as he who greaks many, and the ignorant transgressor cannot justly be punished equally with the enlightened villain who knows the Master’s will and does it not.  God being eternal His punishment prepared for transgressors must be eternal; but, like the prisons of earth which remain though the prisoners enter and depart, according to their various sentences based upon their degrees of crime, so God’s punishment continues for ever, but the damned receive it ‘according to their works,’ and the penalty is in proportion to the guilt both in its nature and extent.  Stern justice will always claim its own, but will not be permitted to rob sweet mercy.  There is, therefore, a hell, and condemnation will come upon the wicked, who will be turned into hell with all the nations that forget God.  But the gospel can be preached to the dead as well as to the living, and none but those who wilfully reject the plan of salvation after clearly understanding it will be finally lost without redemption and suffer the second death.  But it would not be just to give the same heaven and glory to the punished penitent as to the faithful servant and disciple, neither to reward alike the slothful and the diligent, therefore the first named position is untenable.

Annihilation, or the entire destruction of those who have not believed in Christ, is in as direct opposition to justice as it is to reason and scripture.  Those who hold to this doctrine teach that the soul and body die together.  That in the resurrection all are made alive again, but only the believers continue to live; the others–by far the great majority, are punished for their sins and then blotted out of existence.  The notion of the God of love re-organizing millions of beings, re-creating them, for the sole purpose of torturing and then destroying them, is too horribly absurd as well as utterly antiscriptural for belief, except to minds warped by the influence of self constituted expounders of fanciful theology.  The spirits in prison, to whom Christ preached while His body slept in the sepulchre; the souls under the altar, waiting for the redemption of the body; the rich man in Tartarus and the poor man in Paradise; the hosts of the departed, to come forth in the first or wait until the subsequent resurrections; and the dead, small and great, who are to stand before God and be judged according to their works; all proclaim the falsity of the annihilators’ doctrine and give us a little light as to the realities of the future life.

And the horrible teachings of the old orthodox creeds, now fading from the faith of most thinking people, but which many grim priests still cling to as the chief means of frightening souls into their repulsive ‘religions,’ have nothing to recommend them to the consideration of the reflecting.  The implacable, wrathful Deity of their creation, who according to their view, keeps the vast majority of his own children ignorant of a Redeemer, and then consigns them to everlasting damnation for not believing in Him, who can find no better use for countless millions of immortal souls than putting them to tortures enough to make a fiend relent, is the very antipode of the Father of the race who ‘sent His only begotten Son into the world, not to condemn the world, but that the world through Him might be saved.’

Modern theologians are in a maze on the question of punishment and perdition.  Yet they preach more on this than on the subject of heaven and salvation.  But like their prototypes, the Pharisees of old, they will not come to Him that they may have light.  He has revealed the plan for the redemption of man and depicted the future condition of the teeming myriads of earth, in such plainness that all may understand.  And we direct the attention of those who wish to know, without doubt, what provision God has made for heathen and Christian, Jew and Gentile, the honorable skeptic and the villainous believer, to the vision referred to above.  By this the mystery of ages is dispelled, the clouds which man-made creeds have formed are rolled away, and the clear light of the celestial world makes plain the eternal purposes of Jehovah, just, merciful and sublime, and worthy of the Almighty Being who gems the firmament with shining worlds and peoples them with his own sons and daughters, guiding, governing, punishing the rewarding them for their own progress and experience, and for His glory, which is reflected and brightened by their happiness and exaltation.”  (Editorial, “The Great Theological Controversy,” DN 27(1):6, 6 Feb., 1878)

7 Feb.:  SL Temple to be finished by 1883.

“A Bishops’ Meeting was held at the Council House, commencing at 6:30 p.m. . . .

[Bishop Edward Hunter said he] was pleased at the advanced state of the Temple in this city.  He believed in five years it would be completed, and he would stay that time with us he thought.”  (JH 7 Feb., 1878)

10 Feb.:  How to ask for blessings.

“It was a long time after the Prophet Joseph Smith had received the keys of the kingdom of God, and after Hyrum and others had received many blessings, that the Lord gave Joseph a revelation, to show him and others how they could ask for and receive certain blessings.  We read in the revelations of St. John, that the Saints are to receive a white stone, ‘and in the stone a new name, which no man knoweth save him that receiveth it.’  Joseph tells us that this new name is a key-word, which can only be obtained through the endowments.  This is one of the keys and blessings that will be bestowed upon the Saints in these last days, for which we should be very thankful.”  (Charles C. Rich, JD 19:250, 10 Feb., 1878)

10 Feb.:  Why not do proxy ordinances in meetinghouse?

“Some might ask, Why not baptize for the dead, and give endowments in this meeting house?  Just simply because the Lord has not so ordered it.  The way and manner in which these ordinances have to be performed have been determined in the eternal world, and unless you comply with the requirements and obey the law, you cannot obtain the keys, and without the keys you cannot pass by the angels and the Gods in the eternal worlds.”  (Charles C. Rich, 10 Feb., 1878; JD 19:253)

6 Apr.:  The Lord received his endowments a long time ago.

“And I wish all Israel to understand that when we impart of our substance to build Temples that we do not do it to benefit the Lord at all, he had his endowments a long time before we were born, and also passed through his probation. We are his children, he wishes to exalt us back to his presence, and he knows very well we are obliged to walk in the same path and receive the same ordinances in order to inherit the same glory that surrounds him.”  (Wilford Woodruff, 6 Apr., 1878; JD 19:299)

15 May:  Tithing certificate required for Nauvoo Temple.

“After this law [tithing] was given unto us we were driven from Missouri, and we built a Temple at Nauvoo.  And when that Temple was so far completed that a baptismal font could be established in the basement, and the Latter-day Saintsaints began to have access to the same, the Prophet Joseph instructed the brethren in charge, to the effect that none should be allowed to participate in the privileges of the House of God excepting those who shall produce a certificate from the General Church Recorder, certifying to the fact that they had paid up their tithing.  How many of these old Saints have yet preserved among their old papers certificates of this character, issued by Brother Wm. Clayton.  And should any have had access to the privileges of the House of the Lord either on behalf of themselves or their dead, without having complied with this law, thus securing unto themselves, in a legal and proper way, the right of the Temple, they would be like thieves and robbers that enter not into the sheepfold by the door, but climb up some other way.  And the time will come when such persons will be treated as thieves and robbers–bound hand and foot and cast out again.”  (Erastus Snow, 15 May, 1878; JD 19:337)

15 May:  We cooperate with the Priesthood behind the veil.

“Why do we build temples?  Is it to appear liberal towards these institutions, in the eyes of our brethren?  It should not be.  But it should be because we believe it to be a duty devolving upon us, and because, as Elders in Israel, the Lord expects us to do it, because it is a part of the plan of salvation ordained of God for the living and the dead; and because it is expected to carry out his purposes in regard to the world in which we live, and that we should operate and cooperate with the Priesthood behind the veil, in all sincerity and honesty before God in all that we do to this end, for as one of old said, in contemplating these things, ‘Hell and destruction is without a covering before thee,’ and how much more so are the hearts of the children of men.”  (John Taylor, 15 May, 1878; JD 19:338)

1 Jul.:  Baptism for the dead – JI article.

“Heretofore we have said but little about the dea.  Not because they are of less importance than the living, but because our duties to ourselves when once understood include our duties to the dead.  On this subject the whole world, outside of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, are in darkness, although the ancient as well as modern scriptures are very plain.

The porphet Isaiah, in the 61st chapter and 1st verse, among other things, said of the mission of Christ, one portion of His labors would be ‘to proclaim liberty to the captives, and the opening of the prison to them that are bound.’

To find the fulfillment of this prediction we must, of course, go to the New Testament, which gives His biography.  Neither of the four writers of His life and travels tell us of His visiting a single prison to proclaim liberty to a single captive.  But on the other hand they all tell us that He was Himself captivated, held a prisoner and put to death.  But Peter, the presiding Apostle, unravels the mystery.  In the 3rd chapter of his first epistle, commencing with the eighteenth verse, he says: ‘For Christ also hath once suffered for sins, the just for the unjust, that he might bring us to God, being put to death in the flesh, but quickened by the spirit: by which also he went and preached unto the spirits in prison; which sometime were disobedient, when once the longsuffering 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 theory of some portion of the Christian world is that all who die in their sins must go to purgatory–a lake of fire and brimstone, to remain throughout all eternity.  Peter tells us that those wicked antediluvians, after being shut up in prison a few hundred years to atone for their rebellion, have another chance offered them.  He also tells us, in the 4th chapter and sixth verse of his first epistle, that the reason the gospel was preached to the dead was that they might be judged according to men in the flesh.  Men in the flesh hear the gospel when it is on the earth, and the judgment wherewith they are judged is, if they receive and obey it they shall be saved, and if they reject it they shall be damned.  So, then, the dead shall have the same chance.  Our good fathers and mothers, grandfathers, grandmothers, uncles, aunts, and, in fact, all who have died without the gospel shall have the same chance as those who heard it in the flesh, that they may be judged the same as those who have their agency to receive or reject it, just as they please.  But, says one, Jesus said they must be baptized as well as believe if they would be saved.  Yes, and He said again, ‘Except a man be born of water and of the Spirit, he cannot enter into the kingdom of God.’

A man means any man.  Now, if no man can enter God’s kingdom without baptism, how can the dead who receive the gospel be saved, as they cannot be baptized?  Paul answers this question by asking another.  In the first Corinthians, 15th chapter, 29th and 30th verses, he says: ‘Else what shall they do which are baptized for the dead, if the dead rise not at all?  why are they then baptized for the dead?  And why stand we in jeopardy every hour?’

This solves the mystery.  Those who were not baptized because they did not hear the gospel, in fact all who have not committed the unpardonable sin, may at some period of God’s mercy have the work done by proxy, and receive their resurrected bodies.

Baptism is of itself a sacrament, and reminds us that as Jesus died for us, and was buried and resurrected, so, also, shall we, through Him, come forth out of our graves, in like manner as we come out of the water.  It is then an emblem, not only of His, but our own resurrection, through Him.”

(Daniel Tyler, “Baptism for the Dead,” JI 8(13):154-155, 1 Jul., 1878)

25 Jul.:  Requirements for recommend/priesthood.

“A Bishops’ Meeting was held in the Council House at 7 p.m. . . .

Bishop E. D. Woolley endorsed the sentiments of Brother Taylor and also referred to the habit of many of applying for recommends who had never done the first thing towards building up Zion, either in tithing or in offerings, and he could not conscientiously give one under such circumstances, neither did he consider it honest in any bishop to do so.

Bishop E. Hunter approved of the sentiments of Bishop Woolley.  He that did the will of the Lord was entitled to the blessings.

Counselor J. E. Taylor said in regard to the remarks of Bishop Woolley, that in a private conversation with Prest. B. Young, a short time before his death, he said the time had now come to throw proper safe guards around the Melchisedec priesthood and not permit those to receive it whose habits in life were such as would tarnish rather than honor it.”  (JH 25 Jul., 1878)

22 Sep.:  Covenant in Nauvoo Temple to facilitate Exodus.

“We met in the [Nauvoo] Temple of the Lord, and there, with uplifted hands before God, we entered into a covenant that we would help one another out with our means, as we had done in the State of Missouri; and as we were coming to this country we would not rest until there should not be a Latter-day Saint there who desired to come to this land.  Did we fulfill that?  We did; we carried it out to the very letter; we fulfilled our covenants and sent our teams back year after year, until there was not one left in that country that desired to come to Zion.”  (John Taylor, 22 Sep., 1878; JD 20:55-56)

27 Sep.:  Parts in the Endowment House.

“[McAllister was visiting Salt Lake City, from St. George] . . . at the Endowment House.  at the request of Prest Woodruff [I] took the part of Eloheim & Bro James G Bleak the part of Peter.”  (J. D. T. McAllister diary, 27 Sep., 1878; Huntington Library)

1 Oct.:  A Temple Hymn.

“We want to see the temple

With towers rising high,

Its spires majestic pointing

Unto the clear blue sky;

A house where Saints may gather, 

And richest blessings gain,

Where Jesus, our Redeemer, 

A dwelling may obtain.

We want to meet the Savior,

And see Him face to face,

When He shall come in glory

Unto that holy place;

If we are true and faithful 

We’ll hear our Savior’s voice,

Receive a Father’s blessing,

And in His love rejoice.”

(George Manwaring, “A Temple Hymn,” JI 8(19):228, 1 Oct., 1878)

6 Nov.:  Secrecy in secret orders and temple ordinances.

“The District Attorney is extremely anxious to drag into open court all the ceremonies and rites performed in the Endowment House.  He has made his boast that the day will come when everything that is done in that sanctuary shall be told in open court.

We do not think any public official will aid in the cause of law or justice by such idle boasting, or in attempting to do anything which does not come within the lines of his duty.  The ordinances administered in that House are sacred and secret.  Those who officiate in or receive them have just as much right to preserve secrecy in relation to them, as the Masons or any other secret order have to keep, for the lodge room alone, the exercises observed therein.  The Masonic Order is but a relic of the sacred and secret ceremonial of the Israelitish Temple, lacking the divine spirit which gave it life and heavenly significance.  And the devotee of ‘Mormonism’ is equally entitled to the protection of courts, when pressed to reveal that portion of his religion which is designed only for the initiated, as any Mason who might become the victim of an over-zealous legal examiner anxious to squeeze out the secrets of the craft.

We have nothing to say against the full performance of official duty.  An officer who is sworn to prosecute criminals is worthy of the severest censure if he neglects to proceed against violators of the law.  But neither the interests of society nor the letter or spirit of national or local statutes require an officer to assume the role of a Spanish inquisitor, an angry braggart or a bitter partizan.  The representative of the law may be severely just, rigidly technical, and anxiously zealous, and be still a gentleman, courteous if exacting, dignified if determined, and polite, especially to ladies, if necessarily critical and pertinacious.

The ‘Mormon’ Church will survive even if every ordinance and covenant of the Endowment House were published to the world.  There is nothing evil in them, or that would reflect discredit upon the initiators or the initiated.  But those ceremonies belong alone to those who receive them just like the rites of any other Order, and those who attempt to make them public, no matter how much they may come to dissent from the views which originally led them to receive the ordinances, can but be the objects of general contempt, as are those who having been Masons, Odd Fellows, Old Friends, or members of any other similar society, turn round and try to expose the secrets which they have vowed to keep sacred.  Several apostates have attempted this ignoble work, and have published their professed expositions to the world.  They have all gone into dishonor or oblivion, and their contradictory statements have no more force and effect than a puff of wind.

We have heard just such boasts before.  Utah has been afflicted with partizan officials in shoals.  Where are they?  Nobody knows, nobody cares.  They have passed out of sight, and are only remembered, if at all, with despising.  But that which they swore to destroy still moves forward unaffected, except to be benefitted by their puny efforts, agitation keeping it prominently before the world.  So it will be in the future.  Let those who disagree with ‘Mormonism,’ oppose it if they so desire, but do it in an honorable way; and let those whose duty it is to act under the law, keep within the bounds of the law, or every step they take beyond will only be a sure advance towards their own discomfiture and ultimate overthrow.  The past teems with proofs of this; the future will be but history repeated.”  (Editorial, “Secret Orders and Boasting Officials,” DN 27(40):632, 6 Nov., 1878)

7 Nov.:  Sealings in Historian’s Office.

“Marriage of young people particularly have been resumed in the Historian’s Office on account of the Endowment House having been closed for the present.”  (JH 7 Nov., 1878)

Dec.:  Interview with Wm. Smith concerning endowment.

“In the foregoing [account of the Kirtland “endowment”–MS 15:739] we have seen the true order, the true pattern, of the endowment given of God (and also the divine pattern of marriage).  There were no secrecies in the endowment, no penal oaths and covenants, no secret grips, no secret passwords, no grotesque and mawkish robings, no bewildering scenic exhibitions, no theatrical twaddle, and no promises to follow ‘file leaders,’ or to blindly obey the dictates of the priesthood; but all was open, plain, pure, devotional, enlightening, elevating, sanctifying, joyful, and spiritual; while the sweet peace of God, and the power of his Holy Spirit manifest in tongues, interpretations, prophecy, visions, healings and other marvelous things, testified that the endowment was genuine and of heavenly origin.

This endowment was given under the direction of Joseph the Martyr, and there are hundreds of living witnesses who testify to the plain, orderly, and humble manner of preparing for it, and to the loving, peaceful, and Holy Spirit which pervaded all hearts who faithfully received it, and of the mighty power of God which attended it, which was displayed to, and experienced by many hundreds, and probably by all whose hearts were right in the sight of God.

How basely contemptible do those endowments appear which have been palmed upon the confiding Saints since that time!  At Voree, Wisconsin, in the winter of 1846-7, a large body of Saints, led away from Christ by J. J. Strang, J. C. Bennett, and others, were promised a great ‘endowment’ from God; and when some were initiated, they found it a system of oaths, covenants, grips, passwords, and pompous declamation, ending with a phosphorus illumination!  Such is the testimony of living witnesses who passed through it.

At Nauvoo, about the same time, two years after the death of Joseph and Hyrum, a somewhat similar ‘endowment’ is said to have been given, excepting the phosphorus illumination.  Many living witnesses testify that it consisted in washings, anointings, robings, scenic displays, theatrical declamation, penal oaths and covenants, promises to yield unquestioning obedience to their ‘file leaders,’ with a covenant to avenge the blood of Joseph and Hyrum upon this generation.

This is anti-Christian and utterly opposed to the letter and spirit of Christianity as taught in the New Testament, Book of Mormon, and Doctrine and Covenants, those books which teach the true faith and doctrine of the true Latter Day Saints and by which they are finally to be judged.

The covenant to avenge the blood of Joseph and Hyrum has been gotten up, evidently, since the assassination of those men!  And if this part has, is it not possible, and very likely, that the whole scheme has; especially when we remember the altogether different endowment given under the administration of Joseph the Seer at Kirtland.

The endowment at Kirtland being of God, the others mentioned certainly are not.  There is no more likeness between the former and the latter, than between good and evil, or light and darkness.

That Joseph the Seer was not the author of the endowment given either at Voree, Nauvoo, or in Utah, may be further seen by the following questions by the writer in July last, and their answers by W. B. Smith, the only surviving brother of the Seer, and one of the Quorum of the Twelve at his death.

Ques.–Did Joseph the Seer teach or give an endowment at Nauvoo, or elsewhere, the same or similar to that given by the Brighamites?

Ans.–My answer is, he did not.

Q.–Did Joseph the Seer teach or sanction, in Church affairs, the giving of secret oaths, covenants, signs, grips, passwords, etc.

A.–My answer is, he did not.

Q.–Did Joseph the Seer teach that the Twelve, or any one of them, should lead the church after his death?

A.–My answer is, he did not.

Q.–Did Joseph the Seer teach that the priesthood was superior to the law of the Church and the revealed word of God?

A.–My answer is, he did not.

Joseph’s teaching always was that the law was the supreme rule of the Church, and that all other powers were in subjection to the law and the books.

Q.–Did Joseph the Seer teach that polygamy was essential to salvation and a fullness of glory?

A.–My answer is, Joseph taught no polygamy–not to my knowledge.

Q.–Did Joseph the Seer teach that, by the will of God, the Saints would be gathered to the Rocky mountains?

A.–My answer is, he did not.  For at the last General Conference held in Nauvoo, in the spring of 1844, Joseph’s teaching was the the next great work to be accomplished after the completion of the Temple, would be to divide the United States into districts, {in which to build up the Church}, charging the ministry with special care to this work.

This testimony, it is seen, is a direct denial of the claims made for the Brighamite endowment, and matters connected with it, and is given by one who should know of what he testifies to.

In conclusion we may say that all persons with whom the writer, has conversed who passed through the endowment at Kirtland, in 1836, Bro. George Morey, the temple-keeper; Ebenezer Robinson (editor Times and Seasons) and wife; John E. Page, one of the Twelve at the time of Joseph’s death; Ebenezer Page; William B. Smith, the Seer’s brother; and others,–all join in testifying to the plain and significant ceremonies that were connected with the endowment; to the purity of heart and life essential to receive it; and to the wonderful and glorious manifestations of the Spirit and power of God that attended all such as were prepared and faithful before the Lord.

Reader, have you been ensnared, and bewildered, and bound, by spurious endowments?  Turn from them!  Turn to Christ, as revealed in the gospel; and He will deliver you and save you!  ‘Fear ye not the fear of man, neither be ye afraid of his revilings.'”  (W. W. Blair, “Endowments,” The Saints’ Advocate 1:60-61, Dec., 1878)

15 Dec.:  To save all the worthy who have ever lived.

“When we build our temples we feel a pleasure in administering in them, not only for ourselves but for our fathers and mothers and those of our progenitors who have died without the Gospel and then to help to save all that have been worthy of salvation that have ever lived upon the earth.”  (John Taylor, 15 Dec., 1878; JD 20:227)

18 Dec.:  Taking deceased single women as wives.

“Esther M. attended to the ordinances of salvation for a lady-friend of hers who died about Feb. 1854 in Detroit Mich. named Lucinda Shoals.  She Being unmarried it was thot best to have her sealed to me–in our family.  Which was done by Pres. McAllister on the 18th. Dec. 78.  I had also accepted of two other young women, of my accquaintances, who had died without being married.”  (John Pulsipher diary, 18 Dec., 1878; LC Collection)