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Prince’s Research Excerpts: Temples & Mormonism – 1949

Below you will find Prince’s research excerpts titled, “Temples, 1949.” You can view other years here.

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TEMPLES, 1949.

1949:  Feb.:  What is eternal progression?

“Latter-day Saints find great joy in the doctrine that man will retain eternally the power that he possesses on earth.  Forever he may learn.  Forever he may accept or reject any offering.  As he uses these endless gifts of personal existence he will progress, or retrograde.

Brigham Young said, simply but clearly:

Ignorant?  Yes, we are ignorant; but we are on the high road to that eternal knowledge that fills the bosom of the Gods in eternity– . . . This work is a progressive work, this doctrine that is taught the Latter-day Saints in its nature is exalting, increasing, expanding and estending broader and broader until we can know as we are known and see as we are seen.  (DBY, p. 90)

The doctrine of eternal progression was a tremendous addition to Christian belief and thought.  For centuries the churches had promised man eternal existence; but Joseph Smith promised man through the restored gospel possible endless activity and development.  That gave heaven, often conceived as a static psalm-singing place, a new and desirable definition.

Man’s powers, after his earthly journey, may be keener, sharper, than here.  There he may see and understand more clearly.  That is granted.  But, his right to exercise his powers or to choose remains inviolate.  He may ascend or descend.  He may rejoice in or scoff at the offerings of the Lord.  Therefore, the retention of his powers does not necessarily protect him.  Lucifer, high in the councils of heaven, fell to the low estate of Satan.

To insure progress the powers of man must be exercised for the achievement of the great objective of existence.  He must become by every act more and more like the Lord of heaven.  That is the highest hope and highest conception of joy by every thinking person.  In a small degree this is attainable by man, through strict obedience to the laws of the Lord.

They who so employ their time and talents properly, whether here or hereafter, increse in knowledge.  That is the beginning of wisdom.  There is no end to knowledge.  The field of available knowledge is much like the ten digits, from 0 to 9, the combinations of which are infinite in number.  By using or combining simple principles he may likewise multiply knowledge, without limit.

But, as knowledge is gained, whether here or in the infinities, it must be used.  Man must not only learn, but he must apply his learning to a worthy purpose.  The uses to which knowledge may be put are also infinite.  Knowledge unused is dry and tasteless.  Use gives it life and value.  When knowledge is used correctly, properly, righteously, towards the great objective, it enables man to progress.  The law of God ever rises above the desires of man.

This then is eternal progress: To add truth to truth; and to use truth, insistently and persistently for the accomplishment of the Lord’s plan for the perfection of his willing children.  That is how progress is attained.  Brigham Young, using the word improve instead of progress, expressed his view in forceful words:

It is enough for me to know that mankind are made to improve themselves.  All creation, visible and invisible, is the workmanship of our God, the supreme Architect and Ruler of the whole, who organized this world, and created every living thing upon it, to act in its sphere and order.  To this end has he ordained all things to increase and multiply.  The Lord God Almighty has decreed this principle to be the great, governing law of existence, and for that purpose are we formed.  (ibid., p. 95)

Now, such progress can with full propriety be called growth.  Eternal progress is really eternal growth.  To progress forever a man must eternally grow in power to develop the plan of salvation.  Then he moves towards the likeness of the Lord.  That is growth; that is progression.

This doctrine is foreshadowed in sacred writ.  When Jesus was on earth, he declared in simple words, ‘I am the resurrection and the life.’  Here he distinguished clearly between mere existence, good and necessary as it is, and an active existence which leads to progress.  He called the larger and more complete existence life.  Earlier in the world’s history, he said the same to Moses, ‘. . . this is my work and my glory–to bring to pass the immortality and eternal life of man.’  Again he distinguished between eternal existence, a necessary precedent condition, and an activity throughout external existence, which he called life.

In the path of eternal progression there are, of course, degrees of achievement.  Though the powers of every living soul will remain undiminished, they who have won an exaltation in the celestial kingdom alone will have the blessing of increase of their kind.  That is the great blessing vouchsafed to those who learn most, do best, and bend their will to the purposes of the Lord.  (See D&C 132:19-20)

What then is eternal progress?  It is an eternity of active life, increasing in all good things, towards the likeness of the Lord.  It is the highest conceivable form of growth.

It began in past eternities, it is continued by the righteous on earth, and may be the labor of the everlasting hereafter.”  (John A. Widtsoe, “Evidences and Reconciliations:  What is Eternal Progression?” IE 52(2):97, Feb., 1949)

19 Mar.:  Not to call people to temple work.

Bishops and Stake Presidents not to call “as if they were called on a mission” persons to do work in the temples.  “The people should be exhorted and urged to do temple work.”  (First Presidency Circular Letter, 19 Mar., 1949.  In Clark, Messages of the First Presidency 6:282.  Clark’s resume of letter.)

12 Aug.:  Further resistance to new 2nd anointings.

“I attended quarterly meeting of the Twelve where I presided and presented my views respecting the non administration of seconds, which received approval with the request by motion made by Stephen L. Richards taht I present the matter to the Presidency if I could get a hearing, either to them alone or in the Council of the First Presidency & the Twelve.”  (George F. Richards diary, 12 Aug., 1949. Ms/f/600/#4/CHO.)

18 Aug.:  Richards’ position paper on 2nd anointings.

“At the 10:00 A.M. Council meeting of the Presidency and the Twelve I read a paper of 5 or 6 pages deploring the neglect on our part in not administering Second blessings as formerly.  The Paper and other statements made by me in connection therewith were accepted 100%.”  (George F. Richards diary, 18 Aug., 1949. Ms/f/600/#4/CHO.)

“To the Members of the First Presidency and the Quorum of the Twelve:

Dear Brethren:

For a long time I have felt that I would like to express to you the disappointment I feel that we have practically discontinued the administration of Second Anointings in the Church, and to give to you some of the reasons why I feel as I do.

I have not been able to bring myself to feel that the Lord is pleased with us in neglecting such an important and sacred endowment, which He has given us to be administered in His holy temples to worthy members of His Church.

the Second Anointings were given by revelation to the Prophet Joseph Smith to be administered to worthy members of the Church, both the living and the dead; and from the days of the Prophet Joseph to the days of President Heber J. Grant that practice continued. 

[Quotes D&C 124:40-41, 47-48, then continues:]  ‘These things’ I understand to mean and include the Second Anointings, a neglect to administer which in the temples reared for that purpose will be attended by the Lord’s displeasure, and bring upon us cursings instead of blessings, wrath, indignation and judgments. 

‘We calculate to give the Elders of Israel their washings, and anointings, to attend to these last and more impressive ordinances without which we cannot obtain Celestial thrones, so that men may receive their endowments, and be made kings and priests unto the Most High God.’  Joseph Smith’s Teachings, p. 362.

This refers directly to the Second Anointings.  Nowhere else in Church ordinances are men made kings and priests unto the Most High God.

In olden times, kings in Israel were anointed such by the Prophets of God.  Should not those who are to become kings and priests and attain to Godhood be anointed thereto while here on earth?  That is the nature of the work of Second Anointings.

Every man and woman who has received his or her first endowments has received a PROMISE that through faithfulness they would be privileged to receive the Second Anointings.  

‘Brethren and Sisters, if you are true and faithful, the day will come when you will be chosen, called up and anointed kings and queens, priests and priestesses, whereas you are now anointed only to become such.  The realization of these blessings depends upon your faithfulness.’  Endowment Ceremonies, p. 1×2.

Thousands of good and faithful men and women are dying without receiving a fulfillment of that promise made them in connection with the temple ceremonies.

When living members receive their Second blessings, or anointings, they are given a charge that they must not speak of those things to anybody; that only those who are invited by the President of the Church are to receive them, and that none others are supposed to know anything about them.

Formerly, the Stake Presidents made their recommendations for Second Anointings to the President of the Church, and when approved by him the individuals so approved received their invitation from the President of the Church, and on presentation of that recommend to the Temple President of the temple district where the individuals resided, the temple president officiated for them.  The Stake Presidents had SPECIAL recommend books for that purpose.

About 1928 an incident occurred which so incensed the First Presidency that they had all the recommend books brought in to the President’s office, and instructions were given that no recommends of that character should be given by stake presidents thereafter.

The Twelve were authorized to make recommendations; but their recommendations were rarely ever acted upon favorably, so that the administering Seconds almost entirely ceased.  In twelve years, from 1930 to 1942, when these facts were tabulated, but eight such blessings were administered in the Church.  Only EIGHT blessings in twelve years!

The following tabulation of Second Blessings administered in the temples where such blessings were administered will no doubt be of interest to you:

     Temple    Period         Living    Dead      Total

Salt Lake      To 12/10/42    14,847    6,226    21,073

Logan          To 10/13/31     3,139    1,229     4,368

St. George     To 1/13/38      1,885    1,619     3,504

Manti          To 12/12/29     2,407    1,143     3,550

Nauvoo         1 & 2/1846       [406]               406

     Totals                   22,278   10,217    32,901

The incident above mentioned which so exasperated the First Presidency was as follows:  A brother who had received his Second Blessings, while speaking in a priesthood meeting in one of the Idaho stakes, told the brethren that they all should have their Second Blesings.  Of course that was a serious infraction of the charge which he received when he had his Second Anointings; but I have never learned of any serious consequences to follow, except the action on the part of the Authorities, discoutinuing the administering of those blessings in the Church.  

It appears to me that the mistake made by the good brother in Idaho was not so serious as to justify letting those sacred ordinances come into disuse in the Church.  I think now is the time to act; with such modifications as to details as the brethren might feel to make, insuring that these blessings be administered only to those who are worthy to receive them. . . .

If there is condemnation resting upon us for our neglect, the longer we delay action the greater will be our condemnation. . . .

Temples under construction now and in the future should be provided with a room for the administration of these blessings alone, to be known as the Holy of Holies, for if we do not move in the matter before us, some others coming after us will do so for it must be done, and temples should be designed and constructed with that thought in mind.

It is to be hoped that this communication will not be shelved and forgotten without full consideration by this Council.  For several years these matters have given me great mental anxiety and spiritual concern, and but for want of courage I would have sought an opportunity to be heard years ago.  I do not want to leave this sphere of action without VIGOROUSLY protesting our indifference and neglect.

Sincerely and affectionately your brother,

George F. Richards, President, Council of the Twelve.”

(George F. Richards Collection, Ms f 600, Reel #7 [near end of reel], undated.  Bergera collection.)

7 Dec.:  More 2nd anointings given.

“I went to the temple at 11:00 a.m. and assisted by Elder Jos. Fielding Smith, administered Seconds to Preston D. Richards & wife Barbara, and the members of Emigration Stake Presidency and their wives.”  (George F. Richards diary, 7 Dec., 1949. Ms/f/600/#4/CHO.  Bergera collection.)