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Gospel Doctrine Lesson 39: How We Taught This Topic in the Past

By: Ardis E. Parshall - August 23, 2009

Lesson 39: “The Hearts of the Children Shall Turn to Their Fathers”

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1932: Lesson Book for The Ordained Teachers

Lesson 48: The Hearts of the Fathers

An interesting incident in the life of Bishop Joseph Warburton and his daughter, Mrs. Emma M.W. Powell, is told by Joseph H. Smith, a Recorder in the Salt Lake Temple. the story is also preserved in the Salt Lake Temple Historical Record:

Brother Joseph Warburton and his daughter were doing sealings in the Salt Lake Temple on Dec. 1, 1898. After having completed their labors in the sealing room, they walked up to President John R. winder and expressed their appreciation for his having performed these sealings for them.

After they had gone into the next room the daughter turned to her father and asked, “Did you see those three couples in the sealing room with us?”

His answer was, “No, I did not.”

She then said:

“There were three couples in the room. They were dressed in temple clothing, and the room was illumined by a supernatural light. As we knelt at the altar, and the names were called of the people for whom we were being sealed, each couple in turn knelt by our side. As the ordinance was performed they showed by the expression on their faces how pleased they were. When we walked up to thank President Winder, they came up also, and after we had completed our expressions of thanks to him they disappeared.”

Brother Warburton asked her if she could describe the people she saw. She replied she could do it very well, and she described each couple in turn. her father then said, “The first couple are my great-grandparents; the second couple my grandparents; and the third couple are my great uncle and aunt.” He had known them all in life, and from his daughter’s description recognized them as the very persons for whom the sealings had been performed that day.

Some further experiences selected from the Historical Record of the Salt Lake Temple are now given:

On Oct. 26, 1896, in the sealing room, while assisting in the ordinance of sealing children to their parents, Sister Amanda H. Wilcox saw the dead father of those children standing by the altar, and he intimated to her that he and his wife, the mother of the children, had not yet been sealed. Sister Wilcox then informed President Winder, who was officiating, and the ceremony was deferred until inquiry was made, when it was found that what the spirit man had told her was correct. The sealing of the mother to this man was then duly attended to, and the children were afterward sealed to their parents.

Elder Wilford Woodruff, jr., in a morning meeting in the Temple Annex, told the congregation that, after he had gone through the Veil one day, the dead man for whom he had taken endowments appeared to him and thanked him therefor.

In the Terrestrial Room, on July 20th, 1893, a sister saw the personages of a spiritual prayer circle assembled above the brethren and sisters who were then being conducted in the prayer circle service of the temple, and heard their voices repeating the words of the prayer that was then being uttered. A sister, who was with her, heard the spirit voices also, but she did not see the personages in the spirit circle.

On March 15th, 1894, Sister Amanda H. Wilcox, while in the morning meeting in the Temple Annex, saw a white curtain covering the windows on the stand, and a spirit personage came through an opening in the curtain and stood in front of the stand, affectionately gazing at the audience. Another manly spirit, glorious in appearance, held back the fold of the curtain and a number of women spirits entered and came to the front. The two men and all the women were dressed in beautiful white clothing. Sister Lenna Savage was then about to sing a solo and one of those women stood alongside of her, and joined with her in the singing. sister Wilcox said, “I understood that it was the dead mother of the girl who was singing.” When the song was finished, all of those spirit personages retired, except the man who had first entered. Sister Wilcox stated that she had frequently seen that same man, always dressed in white, in attendance in the annex, standing by the Recorders, and has seen him also in other rooms in the Temple.

Patriarch Joseph Keddington, of the Tenth Ward, Salt Lake City, was with his mother in the Logan Temple, October, 1889, engaged in performing ordinances in behalf of their dead kindred. Joseph’s mother then received a revelation to the effect that the names of her dead grandfather and grandmother were John and Elizabeth Hutchinson. Elder Keddington states that, while he was engaged in receiving endowments for his dead uncle, John Barnes, he heard a voice saying, “your cousin, John William Tuckersfield, wants his work done1″ This cousin had been killed by the falling of a platform on which he was working as a bricklayer. Before this fatal accident the gospel had been preached to him, by Joseph Keddington’s uncle and the cousin had expressed a desire to hear more of that glorious message.

Another incident which happened some years ago was related to Elder J. Hatton Carpenter, Recorder of the Manti Temple, by an elderly lady whom he called Mrs. E. He writes:

“Previous to this time she had been a little, shall I say, skeptical of the acceptance by the dead of the ordinances she performed int heir behalf; but after this event all doubt was removed, and she has done a great work for her dead since that time. Although at that time it appeared very difficult for her to obtain any records of her kindred, the records have come along.

“She told me that one morning when working in the Temple, she saw with astonishment the form of the person for whom she was officiating standing before her, apparently exhibiting great anxiety and urging Mrs. E. to perform those sacred ordinances for her as quickly as possible. When Mrs. E. left the room the vision vanished, but the sight of the person was indelibly impressed upon her for the rest of that day, and for long after, and influenced her greatly to renewed activity in her vicarious labors.”

The same writer continues: “A certain brother and his wife whom we will call Mr. F. were acting as proxies at the altar for some six or seven couples who were being sealed as husband and wife and who were living in England some 250 or more years ago.

“Mr. F. told me that when he had reached the second couple he did not seem to notice his wife or much of the ceremony and words that the one said who was performing the sealing, for his spiritual eyes were opened, and he gazed into a room about the size of the one he was in, and saw some twelve or thirteen couples standing there dressed in their Temple clothes. This number corresponded to the number to be sealed that day, as there was another list of six couples to be sealed after Mr. F. was finished. Mr. F. told me he had never seen anything so wonderful, or felt so enraptured in his life, as when the sealing ordinance of the second couple was ended, and he saw them embrace one another, and witnessed the heavenly joy and happiness that their countenances exhibited. Yet when we think of husbands and wives being separated for 200 or 300 years form each other, we are unable to describe the joy they would have in the thought that form now on time nor eternity cannot separate them. During the ceremony Mrs. F. had to endeavor to bring Mr. F. to a sense of what he was doing, as she could see that he was not acting naturally, but she did not know the cause at the time, but when Mr. F. came once again to his natural senses, he found himself in tears, the manifestation he had witnessed had impressed him so, and he never can forget it.” (Utah Genealogical Magazine, vol. 11, p. 119.)

Review Questions

1. Relate the testimony given the daughter of bishop Warburton that their sealings were accepted.

2. What was the appearance of the spirits?

3. Who were they?

4. Why was the spirit father permitted to appear to Sister Wilcox in the sealing room?

5. Give any testimonies you may have heard similar to that related by Wilford Woodruff, Jr.

6. Why should we always be clean and pure in mind and body when we enter the Temple?

7. Is it possible that heavenly beings are always in attendance there?

8. Why are we not permitted at all times to see spirits who may be around us?

9. Give any instances you know of records being made known by spiritual beings.

10. What likeness is there between the experiences in the sealing room of President Duce in the Alberta Temple (see previous lesson), Bishop Warburton in the Salt Lake Temple, and Mr. F. in the Manti Temple?

1933: Gospel Doctrine

Lesson 9: Lest the Earth Be Smitten with a Curse

1. A Matter of Foremost Importance. It is scarcely a matter of chance that the first recorded statement of the angel Moroni to Joseph Smith should deal with the necessity of avoiding an earth-wide wasting in the latter days. Indeed the enunciation of this message on the occasion of his first visit, together with its repetition on each of the three succeeding ones, is indicative of the degree of its importance.

2. Under date of September 21, 1823, the Prophet relates that after retiring for the night, he importuned the Lord for the forgiveness of his imperfections and for a manifestation of the will of the Lord toward him, confident, as he states, that his prayer would be heard. While thus engaged a light appeared in his room, exceeding the brightness of noon-day, within which was a heavenly personage, standing in the air. The Prophet’s description of the angel is highly noteworthy. it follows:

3. “He had on a loose robe of most exquisite whiteness. it was a whiteness beyond anything earthly I had ever seen or do I believe that any earthly thing could be made to appear so exceedingly white and brilliant. His hands were naked, and his arms also, a little above the wrists; so also were his feet naked, as were his legs, a little above the ankles. His head and neck were also bare. I could discover that he had no other clothing on but his robe, as it was open, so that I could see into his bosom. Not only was his robe exceedingly white, but his whole person was glorious beyond description, and his countenance truly like lightning.” (history of the Church, Vol. 1, p. 11.) It is marvelous to contemplate such a scene enacted in the garret of a log house, far removed from the busy centers of the world.

4. The Prophet Malachi Quoted. After telling of the Nephite records which were deposited in a hill near by and of their worth to humanity, Moroni quoted from the prophecies of Malachi as follows:

“For behold, the day cometh that shall burn as an oven, and all the proud, yea, all they that do wickedly shall burn as stubble; for they that come shall burn them, saith the Lord of hosts, that I shall leave them neither root nor branch.

“Behold, I will reveal unto you the Priesthood, by the hand of Elijah the Prophet, before the coming of the great and dreadful day of the Lord.

“And he shall plant in the hearts of the children the promises made to the fathers, and the hearts of the children shall turn to their fathers. if this were not so, the whole earth would be utterly wasted at his coming.’ (Ibid. Vol. 1, p. 12.)

5. To what extent the Prophet understood the full significance of this message is unknown, and yet he records no surprise when it was repeated to him in essentially the same form some seven years later. On the latter occasion, while on his way to obtain some wine for use in the sacrament, the Prophet was met by a heavenly messenger who informed him that the time was near at hand when the Savior would drink the fruit of the vine with him here upon the earth, also with “Elijah, unto whom I have committed the keys of the power of turning the hearts of the fathers to the children, and the hearts of the children to the fathers, that the whole earth may not be smitten with a curse.” (Doctrine and Covenants 27:9.)

6. The Prophecy Fulfilled. Nearly six years later, immediately after the Kirtland temple had been completed and dedicated, the prophet Elijah, in fulfillment of the foregoing prophecies, appeared to Joseph and said: “Behold, the time has fully come, which was spoken of by the mouth of Malachi – testifying that he (Elijah) should be sent, before the great and dreadful day of the Lord come – to turn the hearts of the fathers to the children, and the children to the fathers, lest the whole earth be smitten with a curse – Therefore, the keys of this dispensation are committed into your hands.” (Ibid. 110:14-16.)

7. Limited Sectarian Accomplishments. In the light of modern revelation, it is not difficult to understand why the earth would have been smitten with a curse if Elijah had not committed his authority to modern Israel. the Plan of Salvation is intended by its maker to reach every child of God, whereas sectarianism, even in its broadest sense, has reached a comparative few. Moreover, sectarian teachings either consign those who have not professed faith in Christ to a condition of irretrievable and endless punishment or express uncertainty concerning their future state. The seriousness of the situation warrants a more extended statement.

8. Although the Gospel, at least in part, had been preached by Adam and other of the ancients, yet at the beginning of Christ’s ministry it had largely disappeared from the earth. The Savior’s message was accepted by a few and he was slain by those who should have been his friends. After his death, his appointed disciples valiantly carried the message forward, but they too, like the Master, were persecuted and put to death by those who should have befriended them. A little later (4th Cent. A.D.) Christianity became the state religion and therein lost much o f its original meaning and efficacy. Still later (9th Cent. A.D.) the church was disrupted into two major parts, one with headquarters in Constantinople and the other in Rome. Finally, in the 16th century a revolt against the practices at Rome resulted in Protestantism, with its numerous organizations and conflicting doctrines.

9. Approximately one-third or 700,000,000 of the two billion people now living upon the earth are classified as Christian, the other two-thirds, as pagans, etc. Of the seven hundred million Christians, slightly more than one-half are Roman Catholics, and one-fourth Eastern or Greek Catholics. the remaining one-fourth are distributed among the various Protestant denominations. One matter upon which Christians are agreed is that Christ’s is the only name by which man can be saved.

10. Comparatively Few Reached. Now, on the assumption that all Christians, irrespective of their sectarian designations, are saved through the grace of God, it is evident that even so two-thirds of the human family are not thus provided for. The consensus of opinion among sectarians themselves would greatly increase this number, for Christian sects are by no means agreed that all of those who profess Christ will be saved, irrespective of the church to which they belong. Indeed no unanimity of opinion exists. The Methodists, on the one hand, entertain the belief that it is not necessary to join any church in order to e saved. The Greek Catholics, on the other, maintain that membership in their church alone is essential to salvation. Opinions concerning this matter are almost as numerous as the churches expressing them.

11. Add to this the fact, with which everyone will agree, that not all of those whose names appear upon the records of any particular denomination are worthy of salvation; do this, I say, and the number reached by Christian faith is still further reduced. Moreover, sectarianism has never claimed that Christianity will reach the countless throngs who lived during the centuries which preceded the advent of the Savior. When all of these factors, and others that might be mentioned, are taken into consideration, the comparative number of people saved by Christianity, according to the estimates of present-day sectarianism, diminishes almost to the vanishing point.

12. A sordid Picture. Perhaps the most disquieting feature of this entire picture is the sordid interpretation which many sectarians place upon it. According to their estimate of God’s word, only those who profess faith in Christ can be saved; all others suffer the torment of the damned. By some, the fate of little children, unconfessed before death, is believed to be but little better. Thus according to the average sectarian’s interpretation of his own theology, only a comparatively small part of God’s children are reached by the grace of Christ; the great masses are consigned to a state of indescribable torment form which, ages without end, none can escape.

13. The Critic’s Viewpoint. to the critic and unbeliever this condition is everything except representative of the judgment of a just and merciful God. Rather it is the product of atrocious cruelty. No human being with the faintest semblance of parental love would conjure such a condition for his offspring. Much less would a benevolent, all-loving God so punish even the most disobedient of his children, to say nothing of those who had not been given opportunity to heed his counsel. The concept is a reproach to the intelligence of mankind and little less than blasphemy in the sight of God, – the product of uninspired brains, the dementia of spiritual death. Little wonder that creeds accepting views such as these should bring forth the statement from God that they had all gone astray and constituted an abomination in his sight!

14. Ashamed and embarrassed by the orgy of such a commitment, numerous minor factions in Christianity have latterly attempted to placate the situation by disclaiming any information concerning the state of those who have died without a knowledge of God’s word. But even if such an avowal were made by every sectarian organization in Christendom, the fact would not be removed that present-day religion provides for the salvation of only an extremely small fraction of God’s children. the statement is also frequently made that in the absence of law judgment will not be rendered. This too is merely begging the question, for it is plainly evident that if the commandments of God call for obedience on the part of one of his children, all others, whether or not they heard the Gospel while upon the earth, must eventually obey. Otherwise the commandments of God would resolve themselves into Fraternal pronouncements, not based upon actual necessity. The truth is self-evident that if obedience to law is requisite to salvation for one person, it is similarly requisite for all others. And let it be noted that sectarianism of today, even in its most favorably accepted form, makes no provision for the salvation of more than a very small part of God’s children.

15. A Modern Contribution. this inadequacy is frequently expressed by sectarians in the hope that God will provide for those who have not heard his word. And this is precisely the crux of our present lesson. God has provided, otherwise the whole earth would be under a curse at his coming. (See Doctrine and Covenants, 128:18.) In the latter days, through the instrumentality of Joseph smith the Prophet, provision has been made whereby every child of God whether living or dead will be provided with opportunity of accepting the Gospel of the Son of Man. The necessary initiatory ordinances are being performed vicariously by the living for those who have passed to the great beyond. Already extensive missionary work has been done among departed spirits, that they might be ready to receive the gospel when opportunity arose. “For, for this cause,” says Peter of old, “was the gospel preached also to them that area dead, that the might be judged according to men in the flesh, but live according to God in the spirit.” (I peter 4:6.)

16. the Prophet’s Greatness. If for no other reason, Joseph smith is thus established as the greatest benefactor that the children of God have ever known, save only Christ the Master; for through him as an intermediary, the effects of the Gospel have been extended to every child of God, whether living or dead, born or yet to appear. Moreover, every individual is to be given judgment in strict conformity with deserts. Such a conception of God’s fairness is as far above the limited and distorted vision of sectarianism as the heavens are above the earth. Without such, the earth would be smitten with a curse at Christ’s coming.

1933: Gospel Doctrine

Lesson 10: Glad Tidings for the Dead

1. The coming of Elijah. Under date of Sunday, April 3, 1836, one week after the dediation of the Kirtloand temple, Joseph made the following record: “In the afternoon, I assisted the other Presidents in distributing the Lord’s Supper to the church, receiving it form the Twelve, whose privilege it was to officiate at the sacred desk this day. After having performed this service to my brethren, I retired to the pulpit, the veils being dropped, and bowed myself, with Oliver Cowdery, in solemn and silent prayer. After rising from prayer, the following vision was opened to both of us.”

2. Then after telling of a glorious vision in which Jehovah, Moses, and Elias successively appeared before them, the Prophet records further: “After this vision closed, another great and glorious vision burst upon us; for Elijah the Prophet, who was taken to heaven without tasting death, stood before us, and said: Behold, the time has fully come, which was spoken of by the mouth of Malachi – testifying that he, Elijah, should be sent, before the great and dreadful day of the Lord come – to turn the hearts of the fathers to the children, and the children to the fathers, lest the whole earth be smitten with a curse. therefore, the keys of this dispensation are committed into your hands.” (History of the Church, Vol. 2, pp. 435, 436, also Doctrine and Covenants 110:13-16.)

,strong>3. Purpose of Elijah’s Mission. It is evident that for some time thereafter not all of Joseph’s associates understood the full purpose of Elijah’s visit or the power that his commission bestowed, for as late as March 10, 1844, less than three months before his martyrdom, Joseph made the following explanation in a sermon at Nauvoo:

“The spirit, power, and calling of Elijah is, that ye have power to hold the key of the revelation, ordinances, oracles, powers and endowments of the fullness of the Melchizedek Priesthood and of the Kingdom of God on the earth; and to receive, obtain, and perform all the ordinances belonging to the Kingdom of god, even unto the turning of the hearts of the fathers unto the children, and the hearts of the children unto the fathers, even those who are in heaven.”

“This is the spirit of Elijah, that we redeem our dead, and connect ourselves with our fathers which are in heaven, and seal up our dead to come forth in the first resurrection; and here we want the power of Elijah to seal those who dwell on earth to those who dwell in heaven. This is the power of Elijah and the keys of the Kingdom of Jehovah.” (History of the Church, Vol. 6, pp. 251, 252.)

4. On an earlier occasion the Prophet had said:

“Elijah was the last prophet that held the keys of the Priesthood, and who will, before the last dispensation, restore the authority and deliver the keys of the Priesthood, in order that all the ordinances may be attended to in righteousness. 8 * * Why send Elijah? Because he holds the keys of the authority to administer in all the ordinances of the Priesthood; and without the authority is given, the ordinances could not be administered in righteousness.” (Ibid. Vol. 4, p. 211.)

5. It is evident form the foregoing that Elijah was not sent exclusively because of the power that he possessed to unite the living with the dead, but also because of the general sealing power with which he was vested. Vicarious work for the dead, however, constituted an important part of his mission.

6. A Mutually Important Matter. the fundamental and illimitable importance of the redemption of the dead is plainly set forth in the following words: for their salvation is necessary and essential to our salvation, as Paul says concerning the fathers – that they without us cannot be made perfect –neither can we without our dead be made perfect.’ (Doctrine and Covenants, 128:15.)

7. The above statement, although extremely brief, is unusually simple and comprehensive. It emphasizes the brotherhood of man and defines the interdependence of its members. It expands the influence of salvation to include every child of God and it fixes the responsibility of the living to their departed ancestors. It is a welcome clarion call to the almost countless hosts of God’s children who have died without a knowledge of his word.

8. Early events. The extent to which the Prophet early comprehended the significance of vicarious work for the dead is not known. The doctrine was likely unfolded to his mind as most other matters were, that is, “line upon line and precept upon precept,” although the entire plan was present with God from the beginning.

9. The first recorded reference to the existence of temples in the latter days is contained in Section 36 of the doctrine and covenants, verse eight, and reads as follows: “I am Jesus Christ, the Son of God; wherefore, gird up your loins and I will suddenly come to my temple.” the revelation containing this statement was given in December, 1830, some eight months after the organization of the Church. Another somewhat similar reference to the Lord’s temple was made in February of the following year. (See Doctrine and covenants 42:36.)

10. The Temple Site at Independence. In the early summer of 1831, the Prophet and a small party of his brethren went from Kirtland, Ohio, to Independence, Missouri. The latter part of the journey, from St. Louis to Independence, a distance of some two hundred fifty miles was traveled on foot. Impressed by the wildness of the country and the need of the people for God’s word, the brethren were caused to exclaim: “When will the wilderness blossom as the rose? When will Zion be built up in her glory, and where will Thy temple stand, unto which all nations will come in the last days?” In the Lord’s answer that followed is this statement: “Behold, the place which is now called Independence is the center place; and a spot for the temple is lying westward, upon a lot which is not far from the court-houses.” (Ibid. 57:3.)

11. A few days later, August 3, 1831, the Prophet and half a dozen of his brethren met at the site designated in the revelation and dedicated it for the great temple of the latter days. The construction of a temple at this chosen place is yet delayed.

12. The Temple at Kirtland. As early as December of 1832, the saints were commanded to establish a house unto the Lord at Kirtland, Ohio, but for some reason they did not quickly respond, perhaps because their ambitions were directed principally toward the “center place” in Missouri. (Ibid. 88:119-120.) In the following year, June 1, 1833, the Lord reproved them for this delay, and again commanded the building of a house unto his name, stating that if they were diligent in their efforts they would be successful. The Lord then gave a brief description of the proposed building and the purposes for which it should be used. (Ibid. 95:3-17.)

13. Although extensive preparations had already been made to comply with the Lord’s former command, yet this revelation stimulated the saints to immediate activity. June 5, 1833, ground was broken for the Kirtland temple, and from this date to the time of its dedication, March 27, 1836, work was prosecuted with the greatest possible facility and dispatch, even though it cost a supreme sacrifice on the part of a poverty-laden people.

14. The dedication of the Kirtland temple was a most eventful and impressive occasion. Concerning a meeting of the officers which was held in the evening of the same day, the Prophet writes: “Brother George a. ~Smit arose and began to prophesy, when a noise was heard like the sound of a rushing mighty wind, which filled the temple, and all he congregation simultaneously arose, being moved upon by an invisible power; many began to speak in tongues and prophesy; others saw glorious visions; and I beheld the Temple was filled with angels which fact I declared to the congregation. the people of the neighborhood came running together (hearing an unusual sound within, and seeing a bright light like a pillar of fire resting upon the Temple), and were astonished at what was taking place. this continued until the meeting closed at eleven P.M.” (History of the Church, Vol. 2, p. 428.)

15. Spiritual manifestations experienced in this building were of the most transcendent type, including the appearance of several ancient prophets and even the Savior himself. The completion and use of the temple however seemed to increase the hostility of the people of the neighborhood, and after enjoying it for scarcely two years, the saints were forced to abandon it into the hands of their persecutors. The building is still standing and serves as an assembly hall for a people who know but little concerning the fundamental purposes for which the building was constructed.

16. The Temple Site at Far West. Undaunted by their experience at Kirtland, the saints resolutely determined to build another temple at Far West, Missouri. Favorable action was taken on this matter at a council meeting of the authorities, August 5, 1837. In a revelation (Section 115, which read) received April 26, 1838, directions were given concerning the time and manner of beginning the work, etc. Part of the instructions were strictly complied with; the corner stones were laid July 4, 1838, agreeable with the commandment, but the building was not carried forward to its completion, as evidently intended by the revelation. Instead, the saints were soon forced to leave the state and seek shelter elsewhere.

17. Apropos to this matter, Elder James E. Talmage has written:

“The Latter-day Saints regard long delay in the erection of temples on the dedicated sites in Missouri as largely the result of their own defection, neglect, and disobedience to the word of the Lord, in consequence of which their enemies were permitted to prevail. * * * Thus, through their own transgressions the Saints were hindered in the work required at their hands, and the harvest of blessings predicated upon this specific labor, has not yet ripened.” (the House of the Lord, Talmage, pp. 125, 126.)

18. The Nauvoo Temple. Still undaunted by their past experiences, almost immediately after arriving in Illinois, the Saints selected the most beautiful and commanding site in their newly established city of Nauvoo and duly set it aside as the temple grounds. October 3, 1840, the Prophet spoke of the necessity of building a “House of the Lord” at Nauvoo. A committee was appointed and preliminary work thereafter went forward.

19. January 19, 1841, the Lord gave a revelation (Section 124, which read) in which, among many other things, he pointed out that not a place existed upon the earth to which he could come and reveal his ordinances or within which baptisms for the dead could be rightfully performed. On the 6th day of April, 1841, the cornerstones of the temple were laid with impressive ceremony. (See history of the Church, Vol. 4, pp. 326-331.) thereafter with but few interruptions the work of construction went steadily forward.

20. November 8, 1841. the baptismal font was ready for dedication, the ceremony being performed by the Prophet. For some time theretofore baptisms for the dead had been performed in the Mississippi river, but thereafter in the temple, as designed by the Lord. (For a description of the baptismal font, see History of the church, Vol.,4, pp. 446, 447.) Thus, for more than four years before the temple was fully completed, ordinance0work was in progress within it.

21. The Prophet, however, was not permitted to witness the completion of the temple, for on the 27th of June, 1844, he and his brother Hyrum were slain. The saints, although temporarily stupefied by the cruel loss of their leaders, carried the work steadily forward. In 1845, the building was so near completion that large assemblies were held within it. During the latter part of 1845 and the early months of 1846, many of the saints received their blessings and endowments in the temple, even though the exodus of the people from Nauvoo was well in progress.

22. The temple was publicly dedicated May 1, 1846, in the presence of about three hundred persons. By September of the same year the temple was in the hands of mobs. Meanwhile the saints who had toiled and sacrificed to build it were making their way slowly westward toward a new refuge in the rocky Mountains. At the close of two years, the temple fell prey to an act of incendiarism, and two years still later, May 27, 1850, its blackened walls were demolished by a passing tornado.

23. Finally Triumphant. Even while the Pioneers were enroute to the West, the matter of building another temple was continually discussed. On the 28th of July, 1847, only four days after the saints entered Salt Lake Valley, and while they were still camped beside their hard-worn wagons, their leader stepped forward and prophetically designated the site for another temple. Since that time seven beautiful temples have been completed and dedicated to the Lord. The saints are thronging to these places in ever-increasing numbers; at some of the temples it is necessary to continue the work far into the night. Already ordinances have been performed for many millions of those who have passed to the great beyond.

24. The fortitude and determination exhibited by the latter-day Saints in bringing this matter to its present state of development must be a source of glad tidings to the endless throngs of God’s children who have been anxiously looking on from the other world.

1942: “Out of the Books”: Genealogical Training Class

Lesson 3: The Chain of Sealing

Problem: Why is it so important that families be connected by the bonds of sealing for eternity?

Why should a wife be sealed to her husband for time and eternity? Why should children be sealed to their parents? Why should this chain of generations connected by the bonds of sealing be linked up just as far back as possible – eventually clear back to Father Adam? Why is our temple work woefully incomplete if we do baptisms and endowments only for our dead, but leave the sealings undone? Finally, why are we neglecting our duty to our progenitors if we devote our time to laboring in the temples for the kindred of our neighbors or friends, or of Saints in the missions, but wholly neglect to trace our own ancestral lines and link them up in one great family by the ordinance of sealing?

Answers to these vital questions will be found in the following instructions.

1 .Why We Do Temple Work. All the ordinances of the gospel are to prepare us to enter the celestial kingdom. By keeping all the commandments and receiving all the ordinances, and enduring in faith unto the end of life, we qualify ourselves to enter into the highest heaven or degree of that kingdom. The ordinances specifically required are baptism, confirmation, ordination to the Priesthood, the Priesthood endowment, the sealing of a wife to a husband and the sealing of children to parents. It is not possible for any individual to obtain a fulness of exaltation alone. The unit in the highest division of the celestial kingdom is the family.

,strong>2. In Order to Obtain the Highest.

”In the celestial glory there are three the highest, a man must enter into this Order of the Priesthood (meaning the new and everlasting covenant of marriage); and if he does not, he cannot obtain it. He may enter into the other, but that is the end of his kingdom; he cannot have an increase.” (Doc. and Cov. 131:1-4.)

“For all who will have a blessing at my hands, shall abide the law which was appointed for that blessing, and the conditions thereof, as were instituted from before the foundation of the world; and as pertaining to the new and everlasting covenant, it was instituted for the fulness of my glory; and he that receiveth a fulness thereof, must and shall abide the law.”

Of individuals who fail to enter into the marriage covenant as ordained by the Lord it is said:

“Therefore, when they are out of the world, they neither marry, nor are given in marriage; but are appointed angels in heaven, which angels are ministering servants, to minister for those who are worthy of a far more, and an exceeding, and an eternal weight of glory; for these angels did not abide my law, therefore they cannot be enlarged, but remain separately and singly, without exaltation, in their saved condition, to all eternity, and from henceforth are not Gods, but are angels of God, for ever and ever.” (Doc. and Cov., 132:5-6, 16-17.)

3. The Way to Exaltation. Said President Joseph F. Smith:

“God has shown us the way and given us the means by which we may consummate and fill our mission upon this earth and perfect our destiny; for we are destined to become like God; and unless we do become like him we will never be permitted to dwell with him. When we become like him you will find that we will be presented before him in the form in which we were created, male and female. The woman will not go there alone, and the man will not go there alone, and claim exaltation. They may attain a degree of salvation alone, but when they are exalted they will be exalted according to the law of the celestial kingdom. They cannot be exalted in any other way, neither the living nor the dead. It is well for us to learn something about why we build temples, and why we administer in them for the dead as well as for the living. We do this that we may become like unto him, and dwell with him eternally; that we may become sons of God, heirs of God, and joint heirs with Jesus Christ.”

4. No Perfection for the Fathers and Children Without Each Other. That this perfect exaltation is not obtainable even by isolated family groups unconnected with the families of their forefathers is emphasized by President Young.

“We have a work to do just as important in its sphere as the Saviour’s work was in its sphere. Our fathers cannot be made perfect without us; we cannot be made perfect without them. they have done their work and now sleep. We are now called upon to do ours; which is to be the greatest work man ever performed upon the earth. * * * There must be this chain in the holy Priesthood; it must be welded together from the latest generation that lives on the earth back to Father Adam.” (Discourses, p. 623.)

5. The Patriarchal Order of Celestial Government. The reason why children cannot be perfect without their fathers is evident when we realize that when this earth becomes a celestial kingdom, the order of government here will be patriarchal, and all the inhabitants will be organized as one vast family.

“The order of God’s government, both in time and in eternity, is patriarchal; that is, it is a fatherly government. Each father who is raised from the dead and made a partaker of the celestial glory in its fulness, will hold lawful jurisdiction over his own children, and over all the families which sprang from them to all generations, for ever and ever. We talk of children becoming of ‘age,’ as it is called; and we consider when they are ‘of age’ they are free from the authority of their father. But no such rule is known in the celestial law and organization, either here or hereafter. By that law a son is subject to his father for ever and ever, worlds without end.” (Parley P. Pratt.)

The patriarchal order of government was established in the days of Adam, and the fathers in the first generations exercised both spiritual and temporal jurisdiction over their own families. This parental authority was exercised in love and justice and righteousness, for it was a Priesthood authority, “inseparably connected with the powers of heaven.” When the earth is again prepared to receive it, this same perfect system of government will be reestablished.

“The patriarchal order,” taught President Smith, “is of divine origin, and will continue throughout time and eternity. there is, then, a particular reason why men, women and children should understand this order and this authority in the households of the people of God, and seek to make it what God intended it to be, a qualification and preparation for the highest exaltation of his children.” (Gospel Doctrine, p. 359.)

6. Organization of the Celestial Family. God the Father will preside over all as the Ruler of the Universe, and next to him will reign Jesus Christ, by right of birth as the first born and through worthiness. Under the Savior, Adam will preside over the whole great family of the redeemed, as a king and a priest forever over his posterity – the human race. this venerable patriarch will hold lawful jurisdiction over Abel, Seth, Enoch, Noah, Abraham, etc., who will reverence and obey him as their father and sovereign. Each of his children who has attained to fatherhood and a fulness of celestial glory will in like manner preside eternally over his family of earth-born children, and over all the posterity born of them throughout all succeeding generations. Each one will obey his father and be obeyed by his descendants in the great celestial family. All will be conducted in the utmost order and harmony.

“Thus the gradation will descend in regular degrees from the throne of the ancient of Days with his innumerable subjects, down to the least and last saint of the last days, who may be counted worthy of a throne and sceptre, although his kingdom may only consist of a wife and child. Such is the order and organization of the celestial family, and such the nature of the thrones, principalities, and powers, which are the reward of diligence.” (Parley P. Pratt.)

7. Sealing Up the Chain of Family Groups. When all temple work is completed each faithful person will have joined to him by the sealing ordinances every one of his faithful descendants to the end of time. He, in turn, will be connected by sealing with his fathers in the order of their generations clear back to Adam in a perfect chain of Patriarchal Priesthood, united in indissoluble links welded by the Holy Priesthood in the temples.

1949: Doctrine and Covenants Studies, by Bryant S. Hinckley

Chapter 2: PREDICTED ADVENT OF ELIJAH THE PROPHET (Section 2)

“Behold, I will reveal unto you the Priesthood, by the hand of Elijah the prophet, before the coming of the great and dreadful day of the Lord. And he shall plant in the hearts of the children the promises made to the fathers, and the hearts of the children shall turn to their fathers. If it were not so, the whole earth would be utterly wasted at his coming.” (D & C 2:1-3.)

This is a very brief but significant revelation, in point of time the first one given, recorded in the Doctrine and Covenants. It will be considered under the following topics.

1. Circumstances under which it was given.

2. Who was Elijah?

3. The great and dreadful day.

4. Work for the dead foreshadowed.

5. If it were not so, the whole earth would be wasted.

Circumstances Under Which It Was Given

This revelation is a part of the message which Moroni, one of the great historians in the Book of Mormon, delivered to the Prophet on the twenty-first of September, 1823, in his father’s house at Manchester, New York. In the evening of that day after he had retired, Joseph engaged in prayer, asking forgiveness for his past sins and imperfections and for some manifestation of divine approval. While he thus prayed, the room gradually became light until it was lighter than at noon; and in the light appeared a personage standing at the bedside. His robe was described as being exceedingly white and his person glorious beyond description. At first Joseph was afraid, but presently all fear left him. The heavenly visitor called him by name and introduced himself as a messenger sent from the presence of God, whose name was Moroni. He then delivered his message – God had a work for him, Joseph, to do. If he would do it, his name would be spoken of among all nations for good and evil. The nature of the work was then explained. An ancient record had been deposited in a secret place containing an account of the former inhabitants of the American continents including the fulness of the gospel as it was preached to them. These records were to be obtained and translated.

Moroni quoted from Malachi, the last of the Old Testament prophets, for the work about to begin was to be the fulfilment of ancient prophecies. Among the words quoted were these: “For behold the day cometh that shall burn as an oven, and all the proud, yea, and all that do wickedly shall burn as stubble; for they that come shall burn them, saith the Lord of hosts, that it shall leave them neither root nor branch.” And again he quoted the 5th verse, thus: “Behold, I will reveal unto you the Priesthood, by the hand of Elijah the prophet, before the coming of the great and dreadful day of the Lord.” He also quoted the next verse differently: “And he shall plant in the hearts of the children the promises made to the fathers, and the hearts of the children shall turn to their fathers. If it were not so, the whole earth would be utterly wasted at his coming.” These are the words of the revelation we are considering. They are Moroni’s interpretation of Malachi’s prophecy.

When the angel made his second appearance to Joseph, he related the same things which he had said to him in his first visit and informed him of great judgments which were coming upon the earth, with great desolations by famine, sword and pestilence; and that these grievous judgments would come on the earth in this generation but not until the priesthood had been revealed by the hand of Elijah the prophet.

Elijah

The story of this great character Elijah is told in I Kings 2:17, `18, 19, 21; II Kings, Chapters 1 and 2. Students of the Bible regard him as the grandest and most romantic character that Israel ever produced. A tall, gaunt figure clothed in sheepskin and with unshaven hair appeared suddenly to the apostate King Ahab to do battle for Jehovah. Elijah sealed the heavens so that no rain descended for three years. Through him the widow’s supply of oil and meal was miraculously increased. He restored her son to life, called fire down from heaven to consume the sacrifice and the altar, triumphed over Baal’s prophets who were slain, and at last ascended to heaven in a chariot of fire.

He appeared to Joseph Smith and Oliver Cowdery in the Kirtland Temple April 3, 1836, in fulfilment of the prophecy of Malachi. Upon this occasion he conferred upon them the sealing power, the power to seal on earth and it would be sealed in heaven, and the keys of turning the hearts of the children to their fathers and the fathers to the children. “The reason Elijah is known as ‘the prophet’ … is because he not only magnified his priesthood, but because of the magnitude of the authority placed upon him.” He was the one who was to restore the keys of the priesthood, and the restoration of these keys was to save the world from utter ruin. “He held the keys of sealing power. This authority gave him power to close the heavens that it did not rain except by his command. He had authority to call down fire from heaven and destroy the false priests of Baal. … Moreover, Elijah was clothed with the fullness of priesthood and by this authority all things done in the name of the Lord are made valid. Without it, nothing would be complete. It is the power by which a man and a woman are united for time and for all eternity in the temple. By this authority parents have claim upon their children who are born under the everlasting covenant. The family through the power of this sealing, is made perpetual, that is to say, it will continue beyond the grave. It is by this authority that generation is linked to generation in one grand whole, from the days of Adam to the end of time, composed of all those who are entitled, through their faithfulness, to exaltation in the celestial kingdom of God.” (W P, p. 159.)

The Prophet Joseph Smith has this to say about the Prophet Elijah: “What is this office and work of Elijah? It is one of the greatest and most important subjects that God has revealed. He should send Elijah to seal the children to the fathers, and the fathers to the children. Now was this merely confined to the living, to settle difficulty with families on earth? By no means. It was a far greater work. Elijah! what would you do if you were here? Would you confine your work to the living alone? No; I would refer you to the scriptures, where the subject is manifest: that is, without us they could not be made perfect, nor we without them; the fathers without the children, nor the children without the fathers. I wish you to understand this subject, for it is important; and if you will receive it, this is the spirit of Elijah, that we redeem our dead, and connect ourselves with our fathers which are in heaven, and seal up our dead to come forth in the first resurrection; and here we want the power of Elijah to seal those who dwell on earth to those who dwell in heaven. This is the power of Elijah and the keys of the kingdom of Jehovah.” (DHC, Vol. VI, pp. 251, 252.)

You will note that the coming of Elijah and the restoration of his priesthood were to precede the great and dreadful day of the Lord, in which frequent reference is made in the Doctrine and Covenants: “For I am no respecter of persons, and will that all men shall know that the day speedily cometh; the hour is not yet, but is nigh at hand, when peace shall be taken from the earth, and the devil shall have power over his own dominion.” (D & C 1:35.) “And behold, and lo, I come quickly to judgment, to convince all of their ungodly deeds which they have committed against me, as it is written of me in the volume of the book.” (D & C 99:5.) “Prepare ye, prepare ye for that which is to come, for the Lord is nigh; And the anger of the Lord is kindled, and his sword is bathed in heaven, and it shall fall upon the inhabitants of the earth.” (D & C 1:12, 13.) “Verily, I say unto you, this generation, in which these things shall be shown forth, shall not pass away until all I have told you shall be fulfilled.” (PGP, Joseph Smith, 1:34.)

“Shall we slumber on in utter oblivion or indifference to all that the Lord has given us as warning? I say unto you, ‘Watch, therefore; for ye know not what hour your Lord doth come. But know this, that if the good man of the house had known in what watch the thief would come, he would have watched, and would not have suffered his house to be broken up. Therefore, be ye also ready; for in such an hour as ye think not the Son of Man cometh.” (WP, p. 286.)

In our day, death, desolation and destruction have swept many countries. Millions of people are hopeless and are confronted with starvation. More bloodshed, desolation and famine will stalk in foreign lands. All of this clearly indicates the fulfilment of the prophecies made by the Lord.

Work for the Dead at This Early Date Was Foreshadowed

Quoting from Articles of Faith by Apostle James E. Talmage, pages 151, 152: “One of the great principles underlying the doctrine of salvation for the dead is that of the mutual dependence of the fathers and the children, of ancestors and posterity. As the Prophet Joseph Smith taught the Saints, but for the establishment of a connecting link between the departed fathers and the living children the earth would be smitten with a curse. The divine plan provides that neither the children nor the fathers can alone be made perfect; and the necessary union is effected through baptism and associated ordinances administered by the living in behalf of the dead. The manner in which the hearts of the children and those of the fathers are turned toward one another is made plain through these scriptures. As the children learn that without their progenitors they cannot attain perfection, their hearts will be opened, their faith will be strengthened, and good works will be attempted for the redemption of their dead; and the departed, learning from the ministers of the gospel laboring among them that they depend upon their children as vicarious saviors, will seek to sustain their mortal representatives with faith and prayer for the perfecting of those labors of love. …”

The labor for the dead is two fold; all ordinance work must be performed here. They belong to the earth and must be performed here, but that would be incomplete if it were not supplemented by the missionary labor in the world beyond where the “tidings of the gospel are carried to the departed spirits, who thus learn of the work done in their behalf on earth. What glorious possibilities concerning the purposes of God are thus presented to our view. How the mercy of God is magnified by these evidences of his love. How often do we behold friends and loved ones whom we count among earth’s fairest and best, stricken down by the shafts of death, seemingly in spite of the power of faith and the administrations of the priesthood of God! Yet who of us can tell but that the spirits so called away are needed in the labor of redemption beyond, preaching perhaps the gospel to the spirits of their forefathers, while others of the same family are officiating in a similar behalf on earth?”

The result of the labors done here by proper representatives acting as proxies for the dead cannot be told. It is not supposed that the departed are in any way compelled to accept the ordinances; however, they are not in the least hindered in the exercise of their free agency, but the work done for them on earth will be of avail whenever they are ready to accept it. The mission of the prophet was to plant in the hearts of the children the love for their parents. If it were not so, unless the family is united, unless the strife and discord prevailing as a result of the apostasy cease, the whole earth would be laid waste when the day of the Lord comes. And unless every soul, living and dead, were given the opportunity to hear the gospel and to accept it or reject it, then the great plan for redemption of the children of our Father would be wasted. This work for the dead is one of the most glorious and appealing doctrines ever preached upon the earth. It reveals the majesty and mercy of God and opens the way for the salvation of the unnumbered dead who have died in blameless ignorance of the gospel. There is no other work that will make the transition (the change we call death) from this world to the next so easy, tranquil and natural as the work in the temple for our departed kindred. The work already accomplished by our people in this field is colossal. the Lord in his own time and way will make it possible to leave every one of his children blameless through this vicarious work for the dead.

1950: The Principles and Practice of Genealogy, by Joseph Sudweeks
Course of Study for the Sunday Schools

Lesson 34-35: Temple Ordinances

Reference was made in Chapter V, under requirements for the living and the dead, to ordinances performed only in Latter-day Saint temples; and the statement was made that further discussion would be found in the chapter bearing the above title. In chapter VI “The Sealing Power” was discussed in connection with the mission of Elijah the Prophet. Our obligation to redeem our progenitors was considered in chapter VII; and section C of that chapter is entitled “Vicarious Work for the Dead” (which means temple ordinances). This chapter will treat in more detail temple ordinances.

The ordinances performed in our temples for the dead are six in number; they are carried out in the following order: (1) baptism for the dead, (2) conferring the Holy Ghost (confirmation), (3) ordination to the Melchizedek Priesthood (for males only), (4) endowment, (5) sealing of husband and wife, and (6)( sealing of children to parents. These were listed in the previous chapter and the statement was made that these are the only ordinances performed for the dead and, as such, are carried out only in temples. These ceremonies are more or less “secret” to those who have not taken part in them or have not witnessed them. A more appropriate word than “secret” to describe them, however, is “sacred.” They are not discussed to any extent outside of a temple in order that they may remain sacred. This situation gives them a certain charm or desirability to those who do not know of their exact nature and encourages the desire to participate in temple service.

Records are required of those (deceased or living) for whom the ordinances are carried out. The information identifies the persons and makes possible a record of ordinances performed. Each temple keeps a complete record of all ordinances performed therein.

Besides having a record of its own ordinances, the Salt Lake Temple Archives contain also a record of ordinances performed in the Nauvoo Temple, in the Mississippi river, and in the Endowment House in Salt Lake City. As previously explained, most of the data are also in records kept by the Genealogical society. Under certain circumstances, visitors are permitted to witness baptisms, sealings, and marriages. Only those who have been baptized may witness baptisms for the dead; and, of women over eighteen years of age, or men over twenty-one only those who have had endowments may witness sealings or marriages for the living or the dead.

All ordinances performed for the worthy dead may be accepted or rejected by the spirits of these dead. since part of them had their choice in life as to whether they would accept the same ordinances, they may still feel the same way and may reject any work done for them and in their behalf. The higher ordinances (those that may be carried out following baptism and confirmation) will not be performed for all who died without accepting them in this life, certainly not for any who may have forfeited further opportunity.

1. Baptism for the dead. Any person who has been baptized is eligible (if worthy) to act as proxy in the same ordinance for one who is dead – male for male and female for female. A deceased person who had attained the age of eight years (the age of accountability for a living person) is eligible to receive this ordinance. Most of these ordinances are performed upon young people in the “teen” ages in the capacity of proxies. Adults, however, by special arrangement, may a ct in this capacity.

The words of the Apostle Paul were previously quoted as evidence that this ordinance was known and practiced among the early Christian Saints. “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?” There is further evidence that the ordinance was practiced. baptism is necessary for entrance into the celestial kingdom of God. [Teachings of Joseph Smith the Prophet, p. 12.] This applies as well to those who died without this ordinance as to those who accepted it in earth life. The scriptures make no distinction between the requirements for those in mortality and those who are in post-mortal existence.

History furnishes further evidence.

One type of evidence relates to the interpretation of the passage found in I Corinthians 15:29. Some authorities, in their unwillingness to accept the passage as proof that the ordinance was known in the New Testament Church, try to force a private interpretation upon it. As to the correct interpretation, consider the following quotations:

It would seem from I Corinthians 15:29 that Paul recognized the practice of vicarious baptism for the dead. It is impossible that … [the passage is quoted here] … this passage can refer to anything except vicarious baptism. [Hasting, Encyclopedia of Religion and Ethics, article, “baptism.”]

… The benefits of the baptism being supposed to be conveyed to the dead by the baptism of his substitute, the proceeding would be stultified if the dead could never rise to claim these benefits. this, the only justifiable rendering, is adopted by Ambrose, and by Anselm, Erasmus, Grotius, and others; and recently by Billroth, Ruckert, Meyer, De Witte, and others. [Alvord, Greek Testament, note on I Corinthians 15:29.]

The other type of evidence supports the belief that the ordinance was actually carried out in new Testament times.

Consider these quotations:

At an early period there crept into the African church a strange practice of baptizing the dead, and to prevent its spread among the people, the third council of Carthage issued a solemn warning against it. … another absurd practice prevailing among some of the ancient heretics was a kind of vicarious baptism which was that when anyone died without baptism, another was baptized instead of him. Chrysostom says that this was practiced among the Marchionites. … [James Gardner, Faiths of the World, article, “baptism.”]

Epiphanius, a writer of the fourth century, in speaking of the marchionites, a sect of Christians to which he was opposed, says: “In this country – I mean Asia – and even in Galatia, their school flourished eminently; and a traditional fact has reached us concerning them, that when any of them had died without baptism, they used to baptize others in their name, lest in the resurrection they should suffer punishment as unbaptized.” [Brigham H. Roberts, The Gospel, quoting from Epiphanius, Heresies, XXIII:7.]

The theory and practice of baptism for the dead are mentioned frequently in the writings of the early Christians, which strikingly substantiate the viewpoint of Latter-day Saints. These sources have for the most part only recently been brought to light. Studies of Dr. Hugh Nibley of the division of Religion of Brigham Young University show that these early writers mention the ordinance frequently ane explicitly. the loss of the practice of baptism for the dead can be clearly traced as time passed.

The evidence is strong that this vicarious ordinance was approved, well-known, and carried out in the apostolic age. [Brigham H. Roberts, The gospel and Outlines of Ecclesiastical History quotes other authorities.] for many other references, the reader is referred to a bibliography on “Baptism for the Dead” by Ariel L. Crowley, in Temples of the Most High, p. 320-321.

2, 3. Confirmation and ordination. Confirmation, or conferring the Holy Ghost, or baptism of the Holy Ghost, always follows baptism. The one who acts as proxy in baptism continues to ct as proxy for the same person in this ordinance. One who is eligible for baptism by proxy is also eligible for confirmation in the same way. Before the higher ordinances (i.e., higher than the two just described) are carried out, it is necessary that the melchizedek Priesthood be held by the male candidate, whether living or dead. Males are (if living), therefore, ordained or (if deceased) the proxy is so ordained, to the office of elder before endowments are received. Holding this office in the priesthood requires one older and more mature than most of the persons whoa re baptized for the dead. For this reason, only males who have previously received the office of elder are eligible to receive endowments for themselves or for others.

4. Endowment. The next ordinance in order is known ask the endowment. this word is defined by Webster as “that which is bestowed or settled on a person or institution; a gift of nature.” As used in the Mormon Church it is defined as “a course of instruction concerning present and past dispensations and their associated ordinances, given in the temples only.”

In work for deceased persons, the one who acts as proxy in receiving the office of an elder represents the same dead person in receiving the endowment. Dead persons who attained the age of eight years are eligible for both baptism and endowment. Living persons receive this ordinance when they attain a degree of maturity and have a desire for that opportunity. this is often put before a temple marriage or before going out into the mission field. One must, of course, be judged worthy to receive a recommend in order to qualify.

The following description is quoted:

The temple endowment, as administered in modern temples, comprises instructions relating to the significance and sequence of past dispensations, and the importance of the present as the greatest and grandest era in human history. … The temples erected by the latter-day Saints provide for the giving of these instructions in separate rooms, each devoted to a particular part of the course; and by this provision it is possible to have several classes under instruction at one time.

The ordinance of the endowment embodies certain obligations on the part of the individual, such as covenant and promise to observe the law of strict virtue and chastity, to be charitable, benevolent, tolerant and pure; to devote both talent and material means to the spread of truth and the uplifting of the race; to maintain devotion to the cause of truth and to seek in every way to contribute to the great preparation that the earth may be made ready to receive her King – the Lord Jesus Christ. With the taking of each covenant and the assuming of each obligation a promised blessing is pronounced, contingent upon the faithful observance of the conditions.

No jot, iota, or tittle of the temple rites is otherwise than uplifting and sanctifying. In every detail the endowment ceremony contributes to covenants of morality of life, consecration of person to high ideals, devotion to truth, patriotism to nation, and allegiance to God. The blessings of the House of the Lord are restricted to no privileged class; every member of the Church may have admission to the temple with the right to participate in the ordinances thereof, if he comes duly accredited as of worthy life and conduct. [James E. Talmage, The House of the Lord, pp. 99-101.]

Teaching function of the endowment.

This ceremony has been defined as a course of instruction. A student of the theory and the art of temple work has recognized in these rites four distinct parts; ”preparatory ordinances; the giving of instructions by lectures and representations; covenants; and, finally, tests of knowledge.” In explanation he says further:

The candidate for the temple service is prepared for the work to be done. Once prepared, he is instructed in the things that he should know. when instructed, he covenants to use the imparted knowledge; and at once the new knowledge, which of itself is dead, leaps into living life. At last tests are given him, whereby those who are entitled to know may determine whether the man has properly learned the lesson. [John A. Widtsoe, “Purpose of the Endowment,’ Utah Genealogical and Historical Magazine, Vol. 24 (1933), p. 132.]

Concerning the teaching value of the endowment rites, the same author explains as follows:

The wonderful pedagogy of the temple service, especially appealing to me as a professional teacher, carries with it evidence of the truth of temple work. We goto the temple to be informed and directed, to be built up and to be blessed. How is all this accomplished? First, by the spoken word, through lectures and conversations, just as we do in the classroom, except with more elaborate care; then by the appeal to the eye by representations by living, moving beings; and by pictorial representations in the wonderfully decorated rooms (as one may see in Dr. Talmage’s book). Meanwhile the recipients themselves, the candidates for blessings, engage actively in the temple service as they move from room to room with the progress of the course of instruction. Altogether our temple worship follows a most excellent pedagogical system. [Ibid., p. 132.]

5, 6. Sealings. The last of the series of temple ordinances, and the crowning achievement in temple service, is the sealing ceremony. The other ordinances, as here described, are carried out in the order named; they lead up to and culminate in the sealings. As previously explained, the sealing of husband and wife, as latter-day Saints regard it, is a marriage for eternity. A couple may have been married previously by civil ceremony; if so, we regard the previous ceremony as a covenant that terminates with death. Usually civil ceremonies make clear the temporary nature of the covenant. For a couple previously married, this temple ceremony is regarded as a sealing only. For a couple not previously married, it is a legal and lawful marriage in addition to a binding for eternity. “A temple marriage is one in which the parties enter into marriage relationship for the first time.”

The sealing of children follows the sealing of husband and wife. Just as such a union of parents gives each to the other forever, the sealing of children gives them to their parents and the parents to them forever. Children born to parents that were previously sealed to each other require no sealing as they were “born in the covenant:” made by their parents. Living children born to parents before such a union of the parents must appear personally in the temple to be united to their parents. Any dead children may be represented by proxy and united to their parents after the parents are sealed.

Two prominent L.D.S. women give the following descriptions of the temple marriage ceremony:

The Temple marriage ceremony is dignified, impressive, and comprehensive. In connection with it, a vow to chastity is taken which is a glorious consecration, and a powerful influence in preserving the high single standard of morality for which the Church has always stood and which generally has resulted in good morals and in happy marriages. [Louise Y. robison, “Marriage for Eternity,” Improvement Era, Vol. 39 (1936), p. 215.]

As to the marriage ordinance, no marriage ceremony performed anywhere on the face of the earth could possibly be more chaste, sacred, or beautiful than that solemnized in Latter-day Saint temples. The bride and bridegroom appear in spotless white, emblematic of purity. With bodies clean and hearts devout, they seek a sealing and a blessing which shall last throughout eternity. [Ruth May Fox, “Youth and Temples,” ibid., p. 226.]

The ideal marriage.

Following is a short description of a temple marriage of a couple who have looked forward to just such a consummation of their love. They have consider the seriousness of the step they are about to take and have been impressed with the desirability of a marriage for eternity.

The ideal for which they have lived is just before them. Their hearts are filled with joy supreme as they await admission tot he Lord’s House. As they enter, they softly close the door upon a realm of selfish haste and quietly open their hearts to instilling peace and calm reverence. They are His guests. he bids them welcome to the sanctuary of a righteous course made perfect by his acceptance. Unfolded to them is the drama of complete companionship.

Kneeling before the sacred altar they solemnly listen to their marriage vows. the phrase, “You shall be married for time and eternity” rings again and again in their ears. The groom thinks, “Never can anything take Lynette from my side. Together we shall walk humbly and righteously the straight and narrow path to the Kingdom of Heaven.”

Lynette reflects, “We, and our children, shall belong to each other forever.”

They go forth again bearing more firmly, more humbly, the light of truth, remembering that they have been, and yet again will wish to be, His guests. The fulfillment of dreams is the Ideal marriage. [Carol brown, “The Ideal marriage,” Utah Genealogical and Historical Magazine, Vol. 27 (1936), p. 152.]

Of all the temple ordinances, this is probably the most beautiful and the most impressive. the phrase “for time and for all eternity” is especially striking. Many who were married in this way, though it may be many years ago, seem still to hear these words resounding in their ears. One would expect such a marriage to be happier, more successful, and more comforting to each than any other type of union. When death takes either partner, the other regards the separation as only for a few years at most and looks forward with assurance and comfort to a reunion with the mate and to any children born to them. Children, resulting from such a union, are regarded as precious possessions and are treated as such.

In 1842, endowments for the living were given (first in Nauvoo) above Joseph Smith’s store to a limited number of Saints. They were given in the Nauvoo Temple from December 10, 1845 to February 7, 1846. Living endowments were permitted in the Endowment House after may 5, 1855.

Immediately after the revelation concerning baptism for the dead, in August, 1840, the Saints began this ordinance in behalf of their deceased relatives. These were first performed in the Mississippi river until such time as a regularly dedicated font was available. [“Jane Neyman was baptized for her son Cyrus Livingston Neyman, Sunday, September 12, 1840, by Harvey Olmstead, in the Mississippi River, at Nauvoo. Vienna Jaques rode into the water to hear the ceremony performed.” (From record book in the Salt Lake Temple Archives, note on inside of first leaf of book.)]

Sealings of living couples and a small number of sealings of children to parents were performed in Nauvoo from 1841 to 1846. Sealings of couples, when either the husband or wife was dead, were also permitted in Nauvoo. Sealings of children to parents were not authorized from 1846 until 1877, when the St. George Temple was dedicated. Sealings of both living and dead couples were granted in the Endowment House until 1877. All ordinances have been performed in each Temple since the date of its dedication as follows:

St. George – April 6, 1877.
Logan – May 17, 1884.
Manti – May 21, 1888.
Salt Lake City – April 6, 1893.
Hawaiian – November 27, 1919.
Canadian – August 26, 1923.
Arizona – October 23, 1927.
Idaho Falls – September 23, 1945.

The Kirtland temple was dedicated March 27, 1836; in it various keys of the Priesthood were received and preparatory ordinances only were given; complete ordinances as now administered were never given there. [“Endowments for the Dead Performed after 1877,” Genealogy Department, Church Section, Deseret News, march 15, 1947, p. 5. Valuable references to original sources will be found in Temples of the Most High pp. 232-235; and in an article by John A. Widtsoe, “The Beginnings of Modern Temple Work,” Improvement Era, Vol. 30 919287), pp. 1073-1079.)



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