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The Law of Adoption (Wilford Woodruff, George Q. Cannon)

By: Ardis E. Parshall - August 11, 2010

The Law of Adoption

Discourses Delivered at the General Conference of the Church, in the Tabernacle, Salt Lake City, Utah,
Sunday, April 18, 1894

President Wilford Woodruff

I feel thankful for the privilege of meeting with so many of the Latter-day Saints this morning. In order to present my position before the Saints I wish to say that I have been a member of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints over sixty years, a member of the quorum of the Apostles fifty-five years, and the President of the Church for a short time. During all these years, and in all my travels, I have never seen a moment when I have had the power to preach the Gospel of Jesus Christ or to administer in any of the ordinances of the House of the Lord, acceptable to God or to myself, only by the assistance of the Holy Ghost; and I do not know of any other man that could ever do this. Even the Son of God, in referring to His work, said: “I do nothing of myself, but as my Father hath taught me, I speak these things.” So it has been with all the prophets and patriarchs in every age of the world; they have had to be assisted by the power of God. I occupy that position today before this assembly. Therefore, as the Lord commanded us not to speak only as we are moved upon by the Holy Ghost, I desire that, and in order to obtain it I want the prayers and faith of the Latter-day Saints.

I have some things resting upon me that I wish to present before the Latter-day Saints, and in order to do this I will call upon President George Q. Cannon to read from the Book of Doctrine and Covenants concerning the subject which I wish to speak upon. (President Cannon read from Sec. 128 of Doc. and Cov. Resuming, President Woodruff said;)

Thus you have before you the subject which is resting upon us, and which we wish to present to the Latter-day Saints. Let me say that age has very little to do with revelation. In an early age of the world, old Father Adam, three years previous to his death – he being nearly one thousand years of age – called to- [146] gether his posterity in the valley of Adam-ondi-Ahman, and he stood upon his feet for hours, clothed with the power of God and the revelations of heaven, and blessed his posterity, some seven of whom, each representing a generation, were High Priests. Among them were Enoch and Methuselah, both great men of their day and generation. He prophesied upon them what should transpire with their posterity unto the end of time. His old age did not have any effect whatever upon the revelations of God to him. Joseph Smith, when fourteen years of age, while calling upon God in the wilderness, had the heavens opened unto him. Both the Father and Son presented themselves unto him in the clouds of heaven, and the Father said, “This is my beloved Son; hear him.” The age of man is very short indeed in this day to what it was in ancient days. Men anciently lived to a very great age. When four or five hundred years old they took wives, begat children, and raised up posterity. Today our age is limited to something like three score years and ten.

I wish to say to the Latter-day Saints that we live in a very important generation. We are blessed with power and authority, holding the Holy Priesthood by the commandment of God, to stand upon the earth and redeem both the living and the dead. If we did not do it, we should be damned and cut off from the earth, and the God of Israel would raise up a people who would do it. The Lord would not permit me to occupy this position one day of my life, unless I was susceptible to the Holy Spirit and to the revelations of God. It is too late in the day for this Church to stand without revelation. Not only the President of the Church should possess this gift and give it unto the people, but his counselors and the Apostles and all men that bear the Holy Priesthood, if they magnify their calling, although they may not be called to give revelations to lead and direct the Church. The spirit of revelation belongs to the Priesthood.

But to come to the subject before us. Perhaps it may be said by the inquiring of the objecting mind, What have you to say about redeeming the dead, or about baptism for the dead, or the work of the Temples of our God, that is not already revealed? I will say this: When the Prophet Joseph had this revelation from heaven, what did he do? There are witnesses here of what he did. He never stopped till he got the fulness of the word of God to him concerning the baptism for the dead. But before doing so he went into the Mississippi river, and so did I, as well as others, and we each baptized a hundred for the dead, without a man to record a single act that we performed. Why did we do it? Because of the feeling of joy we had, to think that we in the flesh could stand and redeem our dead. We did not wait to know what the result of this would be, or what the whole of it should be. Finally the [147] Lord told the Prophet: “When any of you are baptized for your dead, let there be a recorder, and let him be eye witness of your baptisms; let him hear with his ears, that he may testify of a truth, saith the Lord; that in all your recordings it may be recorded in heaven; what soever you bind on earth may be bound in heaven; whatsoever you loose on earth, may be loosed in heaven.” That was the beginning of this work.

Joseph Smith, instead of living to be nearly a thousand years of age, as Adam did, lived to be about thirty-eight years of age. He brought forth the record of the stick of Joseph in the hands of Ephraim – the history of the ancient inhabitants of this continent. By the power of God he translated that, and it has been published in many languages. Besides this, he organized the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints upon the foundation of apostles and prophets, Christ Jesus being the chief corner stone. Men were ordained to the Priesthood and sent forth, from the various occupations of life, to carry this gospel to the world. God informed Joseph Smith that he was called to prune the vineyard once more for the last time before the coming of the Son of Mann. Since that, thousands of Elders of Israel have been sent into the world to preach the Gospel. Joseph Smith did all this during the fifteen years he held the Priesthood. Let any man read the revelations in the Book of Doctrine and Covenants, which were given through him during the little time he spent here in the flesh. It is one of the greatest records that any man ever gave to the human family. Not only this, but he organized the endowments and did a great deal of other work. Who could expect him, during the short time he lived in the flesh, to do more than he did? I received my endowment from under his hands. He brought forth all these ordinances that have been given unto the Latter-day Saints. In fact, it is a marvel and a wonder that he performed as much as he did.

I want to say, as the President of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, that we should now go on and progress. We have not got through revelation. We have not got through the work of God. But at this period we want to go on and fulfil this commandment of God given through Malachi – that the Lord should send Elijah the prophet, “and he shall turn the heart of the fathers to the children, and the heart of the children to their fathers lest I come and smite the earth with a curse.” Ye sons of men, I say unto you, in the name of Israel’s God, those very principles that God has revealed are what have stayed the judgment of the Almighty on the earth. Were it not for these principles, you and I would not be here today. We have had prophets and apostles. President Young who followed President Joseph Smith, led us here. He organized these Temples and carried out [148] the purposes of his calling and office. He laid the foundation of this great Temple on this block, as well as others in the mountains of Israel. What for? That we might carry out these principles of redemption for the dead. He accomplished all that God required at his hands. But he did not receive all the revelations that belong to this work; neither did President Taylor, nor has Wilford Woodruff. There will be no end to this work until it is perfected.

I want to lay before you what there is for us to do at the present time; and in doing this I desire particularly the attention of President Lorenzo Snow, of the Salt Lake Temple; President M.W. Merrill, of the Logan Temple; President J.D.T. McAllister of the Manti Temple, and President D.H. Cannon, of the St. George Temple, and those associated with them. You have acted up to all the light and knowledge that you have had; but you have now something more to do than you have done. We have not fully carried out those principles in fulfillment of the revelations of God to us, in sealing the hearts of the fathers to the children and the children to the fathers. I have not felt satisfied, neither did President Taylor, neither has any man since the Prophet Joseph who has attended to the ordinance of adoption in the temples of our God. W have felt that there was more to be revealed upon the subject than we had received. Revelations were given to us in the St. George Temple, which President Young presented to the Church of God. Changes were made there, and we still have more changes to make, in order to satisfy our Heavenly Father, satisfy our dead and ourselves. I will tell you what some of them are. I have prayed over this matter, and my brethren have. We have felt as President Taylor said, that we have got to have more revelation concerning sealing under the law of adoption. Well, what are these changes? One of them is the principle of adoption * * *

Now, what are the feelings of Israel? They have felt that they wanted to be adopted to somebody. President Young was not satisfied in his mind with regard to the extent of this matter; President Taylor was not. When I went before the Lord to know who I should be adopted to (we were then being adopted to prophets and apostles,) the Spirit of God said to me, “Have you not a father, who begot you?” “Yes, I have.” “Then why not honor him? Why not be adopted to him?” “Yes,” says I, “that is right.” I was adopted to my father, and should have had my father sealed to his father, and so on back; and the duty that I want every man who presides over a Temple to see performed from this day henceforth and forever, unless the Lord Almighty commands otherwise, is, let every man be adopted to his father. When a man receives the endowment, adopt him to his father; [149] not to Wilford Woodruff, nor to any other man outside the lineage of his fathers. That is the will of God to this people. I want all men who preside over these temples in these mountains of Israel to bear this in mind. What business have I to take away the rights of the lineage of any man? What right has any man to do this? No; I say let every man be adopted to his father; and then you will do exactly what God said when he declared He would send Elijah the prophet in the last days. Elijah the prophet appeared unto Joseph Smith and told him the day had come when this principle must be carried out. Joseph Smith did not live long enough to enter any further upon these things. His soul was wound up with this work before he was martyred for the word of God and testimony of Jesus Christ. He told us that there must be a welding link of all dispensations and of the work of God from one generation to another. This was upon his mind more than most any other subject that was given to him. In my prayers the Lord revealed to me, that it was my duty to say to all Israel to carry this principle out, and in fulfillment of that revelation I lay it before this people. I say to all men who are laboring in these temples, carry out this principle, and then we will make one step in advance of what we have had before. Myself and counselors conversed upon this and were agreed upon it, and afterwards we laid it before all the Apostles who were here (two were absent – Brothers Thatcher and Lund, the latter being in England,) and the Lord revealed to every one of these men – and they would bear testimony of it if they were to speak – that that was the word of the Lord to them. I never met with anything in my life in this Church that there was more unity upon than there was upon that principle. They all feel right about it, and that it is our duty. That is one principle that should be carried out from this time henceforth. “But,” says one, “suppose we come along to a man who perhaps is a murderer.” Well, if he is a murderer, drop him out and connect with the next man beyond him. But the Spirit of God will be with us in this matter. We want the Latter-day Saints from this time to trace their genealogies as far as they can, and to be sealed to their fathers and mothers. Have children sealed to their parents, and run this chain through as far as you can get it. * * * This is the will of the Lord to his people, and I think when you come to reflect upon it you will find it to be true.

Another principle connected with this subject I want to talk about. A man has married a woman, and they have a family of children. The man lays down in death without ever hearing the Gospel. The wife afterwards hears the Gospel and embraces it. She comes to the temple and she wants to be sealed to her husband, who was a good man. The feeling has been to deny this [150] and to say, “No, he is not in the Church, and you cannot be sealed to your husband.” Many a woman’s heart has ached because of this, and as a servant of God I have broken that chain a good while ago. I have laid before every woman this principle and let her have her choice. Why deprive a woman of being sealed to her husband because he never heard the Gospel? What do any of us know with regard to him? Will he not hear the Gospel and embrace it in the spirit world? Look at Joseph Smith. Not one of Joseph Smith’s fathers or brothers or sisters were in the covenant when he received the keys of the kingdom of God and translated the Book of Mormon. They afterwards received it. Every brother and sister that he had, and his father and his fathers’ brothers, except Uncle Jesse Smith, embraced the Gospel. Now, suppose that any of these had died before they had the opportunity of entering into the covenant with the Lord through the Gospel, as his brother Alvin did; they would have been in the same position as Alvin, concerning whom the Lord, when Joseph saw him in the celestial kingdom, said: “All who have died without a knowledge of this Gospel, who would have received it if they had been permitted to tarry, shall be heirs of the celestial kingdom of God; also all that shall die henceforth without a knowledge of it, who would have received it with all their hearts, shall be heirs of that kingdom, for I, the Lord, will judge all men according to their works, according to the desire of their hearts.”

So it will be with your fathers. There will be very few, if any, who will not accept the Gospel. Jesus, while His body lay in the tomb, went and preached to the spirits in prison, who were destroyed in the days of Noah. After so long an imprisonment, in torment, they doubtless gladly embraced the Gospel, and if so they will be saved in the kingdom of God. The fathers of this people will embrace the Gospel. It is my duty to honor my father who begot me in the flesh. It is your duty to do the same. When you do this, the Spirit of God will be with you. And we shall continue this work, the Lord adding light to that which we have already received. I have had friends adopted to me. We all have, more or less. But I have had peculiar feelings about it, especially lately. There are men in this congregation who wish to be adopted to me. I say to them, if they can hear me, Go and be adopted to your fathers, and save your fathers, and stand at the head of your father’s house, as saviors upon Mount Zion and God will bless you in this. This is what I want to say, and what I want carried out in our temples.

The Almighty is with this people. We shall have all the revelations that we will need, if we will do our duty and obey the commandments of God. When any of us get so that we cannot [151] receive these revelations, the Lord will take us out of the way and put someone in our places who can. I am here today, on borrowed time, I may say. I would have been in the spirit world today, mingling with the spirits in the presence of God, had it not been for the cry of this people for my life when I lay at the gates of death a year ago. I have been preserved by the power of God. How long I shall live I do not know. It does not make any difference to me. But while I do live I want to do my duty. I want the Latter-day Saints to do their duty. Here is the Holy Priesthood in these mountains. Their responsibility is great and mighty. The eyes of God and all the holy prophets are watching us. This is the great dispensation that has been spoken of ever since the world began. W are gathered together in these mountains of Israel by the power and commandment of God. We are doing the work of God. This is not our home, as far as mortality is concerned. We shall soon pass away. But while here let us fill our mission. I want to say to brother L. Snow, Brother M.W. Merrill, Brother J.D.T. McAllister and Brother D.H. Cannon, and all associated with you, carry these things before the Lord and see for yourselves. If you are not satisfied with this order of things, go and ask the Lord about it, and the Holy Ghost will reveal to you the truth of these principles.

This is all I ought to say at this time, perhaps upon this subject. I am glad to meet with you. I have had a great anxiety over this matter. I have had a great desire that I might live to deliver these principles to the Latter-day Saints, for they are true. They are one step forward in the work of the ministry and in the work of the endowment in these temples of our God. * * * A man may say, “I am an Apostle, or I am a High Priest, or I am an Elder in Israel, and if I am adopted to my father, will it take any honor from me.” I would say not. If Joseph Smith was sealed to his father, with whom many of you were acquainted, what effect will that have upon his exaltation and glory? None at all. Joseph Smith will hold the keys of this dispensation to the endless ages of eternity. It is the greatest dispensation God ever gave to man, and he was ordained before the world was to stand in the flesh and organize this work. He was martyred for the word of God and testimony of Jesus, and when he comes in clouds of heaven he will wear a martyr’s crown. Those of you who stand here – I do not care whether you are apostles or what you are – by honoring your father you will not take any honor from your heads; you will hold the keys of the salvation of your father’s house, as Joseph Smith does. You will lose nothing by honoring your fathers and redeeming your dead. It is a glorious work.

When I returned from England in 1841 and heard Joseph [152] Smith give this revelation, that we had power to redeem our dead, one of the first things I thought was, “I have a mother in the spirit world.” My father was in the flesh. I baptized and ordained him and brought him up to Zion, where he is buried. But I never saw my mother to know her. She died when I was an infant. I had power to seal my mother to my father. Was that not a satisfaction? It was to me. I have gone to work with the assistance of my friends and redeemed my father’s and my mother’s house. When I went to inquire of the Lord how I could redeem my dead, while I was in St. George, not having any of my family there, the Lord told me to call upon the Saints in St. George and let them officiate for me in that temple, and it should be acceptable unto Him. Brother McAllister and the brethren and sisters there have assisted me in this work, and I felt to bless them with every feeling of my heart. This is a revelation to us. We can help one another in these matters, if we have not relatives sufficient to carry this on, and it will be acceptable unto the Lord.

Brethren and sisters, lay these things to heart. Let us go on with our records, fill them up righteously before the Lord, and carry out this principle, and the blessings of God will attend us, and those who are redeemed will bless us in days to come. I pray God that as a people our eyes may be opened to see, our ears to hear, and our hearts to understand the great and mighty work that rests upon our shoulders, and that the God of heaven requires at our hand. Great and glorious are these principles which God has revealed to us concerning the redemption of our dead. I tell you when the prophets and apostles go to preach to those who are shut up in prison, and who have not received the Gospel, thousands of them will there embrace the Gospel. They know more in that world than they do here. I pray God that as a people we may have power to magnify our calling in this great and mighty dispensation while we dwell in the flesh that when our work is done we may be satisfied with this life and this work. This is my prayer and the desire of my heart, in the name of Jesus Christ. Amen.

President George Q. Cannon

I am sure that every Latter-day Saint who has heard the announcement made by President Woodruff, will feel thankful in his heart for that which the Lord has made manifest through him. The subject of adoption is one that has engaged the attention of the Saints, to a greater or less extent, for some time. It was revealed by the Prophet Joseph that there is a principle of adoption [by] which one generation will be sealed to and connected with another, and in his words which have been read he fore- [153] shadows the welding together, by this principle of adoption, of the various dispensations. In a revelation that the Lord gave through him, He said:

“And, again, verily I say unto you, if a man marry a wife, and make a covenant with her for time and for all eternity, if that covenant is not by me, or by my word, which is my law, and is not sealed by the Holy Spirit of promise, through him whom I have sealed by the Holy Spirit of promise, through him whom I have anointed and appointed unto this power – then it is not valid, neither of force when they are out of the world, because they are not joined by me, saith the Lord, neither by my word; when they are out of the world, it cannot be received there, because the angels and the Gods are appointed hee, by whom they cannot pass; they cannot, therefore, inherit my glory, for my house is a house of order, saith the Lord God.”

On this account, marriages of the children of men are only binding as between themselves while the covenant lasts. Our fathers made their covenants with our mothers for time, and when time ended of course the covenant and the union ended also. Now the Holy Spirit revealed that this being the case, every man and woman, and every child born as the offspring of these unions would stand separately, unless a new bond were formed. Without this should be done, there would be no binding link to unite woman to man and children to parents; for all the obligations and all the covenants had terminated; and, therefore, members of families would each stand separately, without any connection of a binding character between themselves. Of course, there was what we call the bond of blood existing; (there is no blood, however, in resurrected beings) or, in other words, there was the bond that arose through kindred. That would remain. The Lord has taught us, however, that this is not all that is required,; that there must be an authority exercised by which parents should be bound together, and then their children bound to them. We have been taught also that through the revelation of the Priesthood and its bestowal upon men, and the exercise of that Priesthood in sealing wives to husband, the children begotten in these marriages are born, as we phrase it, in the covenant, that is, they are recognized by the Lord as legitimate children of the covenant, He having recognized the marriage of their parents, having given the authority to man on the earth to bind on earth, and that bond should be sealed in heaven. In this way the Latter-day Saints are being bound together in the new and ever-lasting covenant, wives being sealed to their husbands, and children, the offspring of these marriages, being born in the covenant, under the blessing and the recognition by the Almighty of the bond that exists between their parents. Thus you see that there is a new order of things growing up among us. It is not necessary, where parents are [154] thus sealed together by the authority of the Holy Priesthood for time and eternity, that their children should be adopted or sealed to them. They are legitimate heirs of the Priesthood and of the blessings of the new and everlasting covenant. But not so with those who have been born outside this covenant. There has to be some ordinance performed in order to make them legitimate; and that ordinance the Prophet Joseph revealed, was the ordinance of adoption; that is, that word covers the ordinance or law, although we do not use the word adoption when we seal children to parents; we call that sealing. But to illustrate the principle and explain the law, the word “adoption” is used. You will find it frequently in the scriptures, and it has become a subject among us that has been very much thought about; and every man and woman, who has wished to do all that is required of them in order to obtain all the blessings that can be had through obedience to the commands of God, has desired to understand something about this principle of adoption.,

We are told in the words that were read in our hearing that one dispensation must be linked to another, or, in other words, that the dispensations given to the children of men must be united; that we must all be united to our father Adam; that there must be a bond of union between us and our great parent; and that that will be done through the ordinance of adoption where children are not born in the covenant.

Hence it is that it falls to our duty to trace up our lineage; and, as has been beautifully explained this morning by President Woodruff, it is our duty to be sealed to our parents, that our lineage may be preserved; that we may preserve our families in direct descent, and trace them back, ascending lineally until we reach, if it be possible, our ancestors who held the everlasting Priesthood, and who were either born in the covenant or who were sealed to their parents under the law of adoption when the Priesthood was upon the earth. This has to be done by this generation and their successors. It is the labor devolving upon as people to perform this. The Prophet Joseph revealed this, but he died before it was fully explained.

When President Young died, the St. George temple was the only one finished, and it had barely been dedicated when he passed away. There is not a doubt in my mind that, had he lived, his mind would have been directed to this great subject, and he would have inquired of the Lord to know that which was right; for in the minds of many there has been a feeling of doubt in regard to this principle of adoption as it was being practiced among us. I well remember myself in my boyhood days that which President Woodruff has referred to – the spirit that was manifested by many at the dedication of the temple in Nauvoo when the ordinances were [155] administered there. Some men thought to build up kingdoms for themselves; they appeared to think that by inducing men and women to be adopted into their families they were adding to their own glory. From that day until the present, I have never thought of this subject of adoption without having a certain amount of fear concerning it.

There is nothing in the Gospel of Jesus Christ that leads to disunion. There is no true principle of the Gospel that will separate this people and divide them. And this revelation that God has given to His servant, the President of our Church, removes all danger which seemed to threaten us through an imperfect understanding of the manner in which the law of adoption should be carried out.

To illustrate this point, let me suppose that the First Presidency of this Church were to seek to build up families for themselves from among this people, each one seeking to have men and women sealed to him in order that he might have a large following; and suppose each of the Twelve Apostles was to do the same; and suppose the High Priests and the brethren officiating in the temples were to do the same, what would be the result? You can see at once that in a little time we would be divided into tribes and clans, each man having his own following and each following looking to the man to whom they had been adopted for counsel and for guidance, and in this way the governing authority of the Holy Priesthood in our midst would be divided and lessened. Who can not understand the danger there would be under such a condition of affairs? But how to alleviate it, how to remove it so that it should no longer exist! God has removed it by making it plain that it is the duty of every man to be sealed to his father, where his father is not a man that has proved entirely unworthy. And when such a case arises – which will be very seldom – we have the man in our midst who has the keys of the Priesthood and unto whom this question can be submitted for him to decide what should be done.

My brethren and sisters, I have this belief concerning us: that it was arranged before we came here how we should come, and through what lineage we should come. We were not born of the seed of Ham; we were not born of some questionable race; but, as the Lord has taught us in the eighty-sixth section of the Book of Doctrine and Covenants, our priesthood has been hid with God. That section says:

“Therefore, thus saith the Lord unto you, with whom the Priesthood hath continued through the lineage of your fathers,

“For ye are lawful heirs, according to the flesh, and have been hid from the world with Christ in God;

“Therefore, your life and the Priesthood hath remained and must needs remain through you and your lineage, until the res- [156] toration of all things spoken by the mouths of all the holy prophets since the world began.”

I am convinced that it was predestined before I was born that I should come through my father as I am that I stand here. And if God chose to give Wilford Woodruff’s father the honor of begetting him, and it was so arranged before they were born, who shall step in and deprive him of the honor which God gave to him, and give it to somebody else? Reflect upon it and you will see that it would lead to endless confusion if this were done. We would be broken up in families and in our lineage, and there would be no distinction, consequently it would result in great confusion. Paul says, “that in the dispensation of the fulness of time he might gather together in one all things in Christ, both which are in heaven, and which are on earth; even in him; in whom also we have obtained an inheritance, being predestined according to the purpose of him who worketh all things after the counsel of his own will.” I believe we were predestined to come here. I believe that it was arranged that we should com here as we have done. No doubt when we trace our ancestors back, we will find that they trod in muddy places. We shall find that there was wickedness among them. There can be little doubt about this, because they were human beings; they were exposed to temptation and to sin. Nevertheless, that was the arrangement; and when we meet with cases about which there will be question, we can then inquire of the Lord concerning them, and whether it would be right to continue the sealing of the children to them, and through them to somebody else or whether there shall be a break in the link; for we shall all be linked together as a chain. One generation will be linked to another by the power and authority of the Holy Priesthood until we get back to the time when the Priesthood was upon the earth, and when the authority to administer these ordinances was among men in former times.

Another thing that what we have heard today will effect. There has been a disposition manifested among our people, to some extent, for some men and women to gather up all the names of families, whether they were related ornot, and perform ordinances for them. I am a believer in this when it does not interfere with the rights of heirship. We should do all we can for those for whom we have friendship, or to whom we are attached in any way, and who have no living representatives that we know of in the Church. But you can see the advantage of pursuing now the course that is pointed out by the world of God to us. It will make everyone careful to obtain the connection, and to get the names properly of the sons and of the daughters of men, to have them sealed to their parents. It will draw the line fairly. It will define the lineage clearly. “But,” says one, “that may take a [157] long time.” Well, we have got a thousand years to do it in. We need not be in such a hurry as to craete4 confusion. The Lord will give us time enough to do it all; and when we have gone as far as appears possible, He will give to us opportunities that, at the present time, we are ignorant of; and we will find that everything will be made plain, and each man will trace his genealogy clear back, and we will know our connection, and what to do in relation to these matters, for the Lord will reveal it to us.

My brethren and sisters, suppose that each of us should seek some great man in the Church to be sealed to. For instance we would like to be sealed to the President of the Church, because it would be a great honor to be adopted to him, and we think, “well, that man is much better than my father. I would rather be adopted to him than to be sealed to my father. I do not think very much of my father or my mother.” Now, I think, when we feel that way, that we are to a certain extent, despising our origin. On the contrary, we should seek to preserve it, and honor those who have given us birth.

It always has seemed to me, in reflecting upon this, that the Prophet Joseph honored his father who begat him; yet Joseph was the man chosen by the Almighty to stand at the head of the entire people of this dispensation. We all have to look to him. Every Apostle, and every great man in the Church, must of necessity turn his eyes toward the Prophet of God, whom He chose to lay the foundation of this work. You don’t find anything in Joseph life nor in his history, as it is recorded, that would give the least idea that he thought himself of so superior a nature that he could not honor his father and mother. In fact, I remember well the Prophet, in speaking about the sepulchre that he had prepared near the temple block, describing the joy that he would have in rising from the dead and striking hands with his father and with his kindred and how delighted he wold be to come up in the resurrection and grasp them by the hand. That spirit attended him in all his allusions to his kindred, to his father and mother especially. There is no doubt in my mind that the Prophet Joseph would be sealed to his father. He will honor his father and mother. We will be sealed to them, and they and their lineage will doubtless be connected with him by the sealing ordinance as the head of this dispensation. They will have to be connected within him by some link or bond that will be created, if it does not already exist, as we all will be connected with him because he is the head of the dispensation. But as a son he will be honored by his ancestry and all who come within range and under the jurisdiction of this dispensation. * * * There need be no jealousy, then. There need be none to say, “Well, I am sealed or adopted [158] to a greater man than you. I am adopted to Joseph, or to Brigham, or to John Taylor, or to Wilford Woodruff, or to this man or the other man.” There will be no need to pride and plume ourselves on the fact that we are adopted by these various men, and thus divide the people asunder in their feelings, creating to a certain extent a feeling of rivalry which does not belong to the Gospel of the Son of God. Every man that reflects upon it can see that this revelation which God has given through His servant, Wilford Woodruff, removes that danger out of our pathway and prepares us to go forward and honor our kindred and do everything we can for their salvation, concentrating our feelings upon our ancestors, and not upon somebody else’s ancestors. In thus honoring our parents we also observe that ancient law which was given by God to the children of Israel, and which has such a great blessing attached to it:

“Honor thy father and thy mother, that thy days may be long upon the land which the Lord thy God giveth thee.”

Why should a man come to one of the Apostles and be sealed to him and then trace his genealogy through him and his ancestors, and neglect his own? There have been some cases of adoption, I suppose, where the parties have not felt clear in their minds concerning this. This light, however, that we now have clears it all up and makes it plain; and we can see and understand it.

God bless you, in the name of Jesus Christ. Amen.

The Utah Genealogical and Historical Magazine, October, 1922, p. 145-152.


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