Discourse, 3 October 1841, as Published in Times and Seasons
JS, Discourse, , IL, 3 Oct. 1841. Version published in “Minutes of a Conference of the Church,” Times and Seasons, 15 Oct. 1841, 2:577–578. For more complete source information, see the source note for Letter to Isaac Galland, 22 Mar. 1839.
President Joseph Smith, by request of some of the , gave instructions on the doctrine of for the Dead; which was listened to with intense interest by the large assembly. The speaker presented “Baptism for the Dead” as the only way that men can appear as saviors on mount Zion. The proclamation of the first principles of the gospel was a means of salvatien to men individually, and it was the truth, not men that saved them; but men, by actively engaging in rites of salvation substitutionally, became instrumental in bringing multitudes of their kin into the kingdom of God. He explained a difference between an angel and a ministering spirit; the one a resurrected or translated body, with its spirit, ministering to embodied spirits—the other a disembodied spirit, visiting and ministering to disembodied spirits. Jesus Christ became a minestering spirit, while his body laying in the sepulchre, to the spirits in prison; to fulfil an important part of his mission, without which he could not have perfected his work or entered into his rest. After his resurrection, he appeared as an angel to his disciples &c. Translated bodies cannot enter into rest until they have undergone a change equivalent to death. Translated bodies are designed for future missions. The angel that appeared to John on the Isle of Patmos was a translated or resurrected body.— Jesus Christ went in body, after his resurrection, to minister to translated and resurrected bodies. There has been a chain of authority and power from Adam down to the present time. The only way to obtain truth and wisdom, is not to ask it from books, but to go to God in prayer and obtain divine teaching. It is no more incredible that God should save the dead, than that he should raise the dead. There is never a time when the spirit is too old to approach God. All are within the reach of pardoning mercy, who have not committed the unpardonable sin, which hath no forgiveness, neither in this world, nor in the world to come. There is a way to release the spirit of the dead; that is, by the power and authority of the Priest[h]ood—by binding and loosing on earth [p. 577]
For more information on baptism for the dead, see Minutes and Discourse, 3–5 Oct. 1840; and Revelation, 19 Jan. 1841 [D&C 124:29–32]. The most recent issue of the Times and Seasons contained a poem on baptism for the dead that treated similarly the doctrinal tenets JS spoke about here. (J. H. Johnson, “Baptism for the Dead,” Times and Seasons, 1 Oct. 1841, 2:555; see also Vilate Murray Kimball, Nauvoo, IL, to Heber C. Kimball, London, England, 11 Oct. 1840, photocopy, Vilate Murray Kimball, Letters, CHL; and Phebe Carter Woodruff, Lee Co., Iowa Territory, to Wilford Woodruff, Manchester, England, 6–19 Oct. 1840, Wilford Woodruff Collection, CHL; “Joseph Smith Documents from February through November 1841.”
Times and Seasons. Commerce/Nauvoo, IL. Nov. 1839–Feb. 1846.