Discourse, 9 April 1842, as Reported by Wilford Woodruff
JS, Discourse, , Hancock Co., IL, 9 [Apr. 1842]. Featured version copied [ca. 9 Apr. 1842] in Wilford Woodruff, Journal, vol. 4, 1 Jan. 1841–31 Dec. 1842, pp. –; handwriting of ; Wilford Woodruff, Journals and Papers, 1828–1898, CHL. For more complete source information, see the source note for Discourse, 7 Nov. 1841, as Reported by Wilford Woodruff.
On Saturday, 9 April 1842, JS delivered a discourse at the funeral of member . The son of and Rosannah Robinson Marks, twenty-four-year-old Ephraim died of an undisclosed cause two days earlier. On Saturday morning, mourners assembled at the home of William Marks in , Illinois, and made their way in a procession to a of trees near the for funeral and burial services. In his sermon JS reflected on the untimely death of Ephraim Marks, as well as on the difficulty of losing his own brothers and in their youth. JS also considered his own mortality, telling those gathered at the service that he, too, was “liable to die as other men” although his life had been spared on previous occasions so that he could “accomplish such & such things.”
, who was in the audience, may have taken notes on the discourse when JS delivered this sermon or shortly thereafter. He later recorded portions of the discourse in his journal. That version is featured here. Woodruff’s text appears to be the earliest surviving version of the 9 April sermon, and it was later copied into JS’s 1838–1856 history.
Joseph Smith spoke upon the occasion with much feelings & interest among his remarks he said it is a vary solomn & awful time I never felt more solomn it calles to mind the death of my oldest who died in & my Youngest Brother who died in It has been hard for me to live on earth & see those young men upon whome we have leaned upon as a support & comfort taken from us in the midst of their youth, yes it has been hard to be reconciled to these things I have sometimes felt that I should have felt more reconciled to have been called myself if it could have been the will of God, yet I know we ought to be still & know it is of God & be reconciled all is right it will be but a short time before we shall all in like manner be called, It may be the case with me as well as you Some has supposed that Br Joseph could not die but this is a mistake it is true their has been times when I have had the promise of my life to accomplish such & such things, but having accomplish[ed] those things I have not at present any lease of my life & am as liable to die as other men [p. ]
Alvin Smith died in Palmyra, New York, on 19 November 1823 at the age of twenty-five. (Morgan, Cemetery Records, Palmyra, Wayne, New York, 2; Joseph Smith Sr., “To the Public,” Wayne Sentinel [Palmyra, NY], 29 Sept. 1824, .)
Morgan, Sara, comp. Cemetery Records, Palmyra, Wayne, New York. Salt Lake City: Genealogical Society, 1945. Copy at FHL.
Wayne Sentinel. Palmyra, NY. 1823–1852, 1860–1861.
In a sermon delivered to the Female Relief Society of Nauvoo three weeks later, JS again candidly expressed sentiments about his own mortality. On a few prior occasions, JS suggested that his life was preserved so that he could accomplish the Lord’s work on earth. In November 1835, for example, JS told the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles, “I supposed I had established this church on a permanent foundation when I went to the Missourie and indeed I did so, for if I had been taken away it would have been enough, but I yet live, and therefore God requires more at my hands.” (Discourse, 28 Apr. 1842; JS, Journal, 12 Nov. 1835.)