Letter to the Church, 7 September 1842 [D&C 128]

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Journeying Sepr. 6th. [7th] 1842
To the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints Sendeth Greeting— As I stated to you in my letter before I left my place that I would write to you from time to time and give you information in relation to many subjects. I now resume the subject of the Baptism for the dead as that subject seems to occupy my mind and press itself upon my feelings the strongest since I have been pursued by my enemies. I wrote a few words of Revelation to you, concerning a Recorder. a I have received <​had​> a few additional feelings <​views​> in relation to this matter which I now Certify. i.e It was declared in my former letter that there should be a Recorder who should be eye-witness, and also to hear with his ears, that he might, make a Record of a truth before the Lord. Now in relation to this matter, it would be very difficult for one Recorder to be present at all times and to do all the business. To obviate this difficulty there can be a Recorder appointed in each ward of the who is well qualified for taking accurate minutes and let him be very particular and precise in making his Record, in taking the whole proceeding certifying in his Record that he saw with his eyes, and heard with his ears, giving the date, and names &c, and the history of the whole transaction, nameing also some three individuals that are present if there be any present who can at any time when called upon certify to the same that in the mouth of two or three witnesses every word may be established. Then let there be a general Recorder to whom these other records can be handed being attended with certificates over their own signatures [p. 1] Certifying that the Record which they have made is true Then the General Church Recorder can enter the Record on the general Church Book with the certificates and all the attending witnesses, with his own statement that he verily believes the above statement and records to be true from his knowledge of the general characters and appointment of those men by the Church. And when this is done on the general Church Book the Record shall be just as Holy and shall answer the ordinance just the same as if he had seen with his eyes and heard with his ears and made a record of the same on the general Book You may think this order of things to be very particular but let me tell you, that they are only to answer the will of God by conforming to the ordinance and preparation that the Lord ordained and prepared before the foundation of the world for the salvation of the dead who should die without a knowledge of the Gospel. And further, I want you to remember that John the Revelator was contemplating this very subject in relation to the dead when he declared as you will find recorded in Revelations Chap 20 v 12 And I saw the dead, small and great, small an stand before God: and the books were opened: and another Book was opened, which is the book of life; and the dead were judged out of those things which were written in the books, according to their works You will discover in this quotation that the books were opened and another book was opened which was the book of life but the dead were judged out of those things which were written in the books according to their works, consequently the books spoken off must be the books which contained [p. 2] the record of their worth works and refers to the records which are kept on the earth. And the book which was the book of life is the record which is kept in heaven; the principal agreeing precisely with the doctrine which is commanded you in the revelation contained in the letters which I wrote you previous to my leaving my place “that in all your recordings it may be recorded in Heaven”. Now the nature of this ordinance consists in the power of the priesthood by the Revelations of Jesus Christ wherein it is granted that whatsoever you bind on earth shall be bound in heaven, and whatsoever you loose on earth shall be loosed in heaven: or in other words, taking a different view of the translation; whatsoever you record on earth shall be recorded in Heaven; and whatsoever you do not record on earth, shall not be recorded in Heaven, for out of the books shall they be <​your dead be​> judged according to their works wither wether they themselves have attended to the ordinances in their own propria persona, or by the means of their own agents according to the ordinance which God has prepared for their salvation from before the foundation of the world, according to the records which they have kept concerning their dead. It may seem to some to be a very bold doctrine that we talk of; a power which records, or binds on earth, and binds in heaven. Nevertheless, in all ages of the world whenever the Lord has given a dispensatin of the priesthood to any man, by actual Revelation or any set of men this power has always been given; hence, whatsoever those men did, in authority in the name of the Lord, and did, it truly, and faithfully, and kept a proper and faithful record of the same, it became a law on earth and in Heaven [p. 3] and could not be annulled according to the decrees of the great Jehovah. This is a faithful saying!, who can hear it? And again for a precedent Matthew chapter 16 verses 18 & 19 And I say also unto thee, That thou art Peter: and upon this rock I will build my Church; and the Gates of Hell shall not prevail against it. And I will give unto thee the keys of the Kingdom of Heaven; and whatsoever thou shalt bind on earth shall be bound in heaven; and whatsoever thou shalt loose on earth shall be loosed in Heaven. Now the great and grand secret of the whole matter and the sum and bonnum of the whole subject that is lying before us consists in obtaining the powers of the Holy priesthood. For him, to whom these keys are given there is no difficulty in obtaining a knowledge of facts in relation to the salvation of the children of men, both as well for the death dead as for the living. Herein is glory, and honor, and immortality and eternal life. The ordinance of Baptism by water, to be immersed therein in order to answer to the likeness of the dead, that one principal might accord with the others. To be immersed in the water and come forth out of the water is in the likeness of the Resurrection of the dead in coming forth out of their graves; hence, this ordinance was instituted to form a relationship with the ordinance of Baptism for the dead, being in likeness of the dead. Consequently the Baptismal Font was instituted as a simile of the grave, and was commanded to be in a place underneath where the living are wont to assemble to shew forth the living and the dead; and that all things may have their likeness, and that they may accord one with another; that which is earthly, conforming to that which is heavenly as Paul hath declared 1 Corinthians Chapter 15 verses 46, 47 & 48 Howbeit that was not first which is spiritual, but that which is natural, and afterward [p. 4] that which is spiritual. The first man is of the earth, earthy: the second man is the Lord from heaven. As is the earthy, such are they also that are earthy: and as is the heavenly, such are they also that are heavenly. And as are the records on the earth in relation to your dead which are truly made out so also are the records in Heaven This therefore is the sealing and binding power, and in one sense of the word the keys of the kingdom which consists in the key of knowledge. And now my dearly and beloved brethren and sisters, let me assure you that there are principals in relation to the dead and the living that cannot be lightly passed over, as pertaining to our salvation; For their salvation is necessary and essential to our salvation see as Paul says concerning the fathers “That they without us can not be made perfect”; Neither can we without our dead be made perfect. And now in relation, to the baptism for the dead I will give you another quotation of Paul 1 Corinthians 15 chap— verses 29 “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.” And again in connexion with this quotation I will give you a quotation from one of the Prophets which had his eye fixid on the restoration of the priesthood the glories to be revealed in the last days, and in an especial <​manner​> this most glorious of all subjects belonging to the everlasting gospel viz the baptism for the dead, for Malachi says last Chapter verses 5th & 6. [“]Behold I will send you Elijah the Prophet before the coming of the great and dreadful day of the Lord: 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 [p. 5] earth with a curse”. I might have rendered a plainer translation to this, but it is sufficiently plain, to suit my purpose as it stands. It is sufficient to know in this case that the earth will be smitten with a curse, unless there is a welding link of some kind or other, between the fathers and the children, upon some subject or other. And behold, what is that subject. It is the baptism for the dead. For we without them cannot be made perfect; neither can they without us be made perfect. Neither can they, or us, be made perfect without those who have died in the gospel also; for it is necessary in the ushering in of the dispensation of the fulness of times; which dispensation is now beginning to usher in that a whole, and compleat, and perfect union, and welding together of dispensations and keys and powers and glories should take place, and be revealed from the days of Adam even to the present time; and not only this, but that those things which never have been revealed from the foundation of the world but have been kept hid from the wise and prudent shall be revealed unto babes and sucklings in this the dispensation of the fulness of times. Now what do we hear in the gospel which we have received? a voice of gladness! a voice of mercy from heaven! & a voice of truth out of the earth, glad tidings for the dead; A voice of gladness for the living and the dead; glad tidings of great joy; How beautiful upon the mountains are the feet of those that bring glad tidings of good things; and that say unto Zion, behold! thy God reigneth as the dews of Carmel so shall the [p. 6] knowledge of God descend upon them. And again, what do we hear? Glad tidings from Cumorah! Moroni, An Angel from heaven, declaring the fulfilment of the prophets— the book to be revealed. A voice of the Lord in the wilderness of , Senneca County, declaring the three witnesses to bear record of the book. A voice The voice of Michael on the banks of the Susquehanna detecting the devil when he appeared as an Angel of light. The voice of Peter, James, and John in the wilderness between <​​> Susquehanna <​County​> and , Broom County; on the Susquehanna river, declaring themselves as possessing the keys of the kingdom, and of the dispensation of the fulness of times. And again, the voice of God in the chamber of old in , Senneca County and at sundry times, and in sundry <​divers​> places, through[ou]t all the travels, and tribulations, of this Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints. And the voice of Michael the Archangel, the voice of Gabriel, and of Raphael, and of divers Angels from Michael or Adam, down to the present time; all declaring each one their dispensation, their rights, their keys, their honors, their majesty & glory, and the power of their priesthood; giving line upon line; precept upon precept; here a little and there a little. Giving us consolation by holding forth that which is to come and confirming our hope.
Brethren, shall we not go on in so great a cause Go forward and not backward. Courage brethren; and on—on to the victory. Let your hearts rejoice [p. 7] and be exceeding glad. Let the earth break forth into singing. Let the dead speak forth anthems of eternal praise to the king Immanuel; who hath ordained before the world was that which would enable us to redeem them out of their prisons; for the prisoner shall go free. Let the mountains shout for joy and all ye valleys cry aloud; and all ye Seas and dry lands tell the wonders of your eternal king. And ye rivers, and brooks, and rills, flow down with gladness. Let the woods, and all the trees of the field praise the Lord; and ye solid rocks, leap weep for joy. And let all creation And let the Sun, Moon and <​the morning​> Stars, strike hands <​sing​> together and let all the sons of God shout for joy. And let the eternal creations declare his name for-ever and ever. And again I say, how glorious is the voice we hear, from heaven proclaiming in our ears, glory, and salvation, and honor, and immortality and eternal life; kingdoms, principalities and powers. Behold, the great day of the Lord is at hand, and who can abide the day of his coming and who can stand when he appeareth for he is like a refiners fire and like fullers soap; and he shall sit as a refiner and purifier of silver, and he shall purify the sons of Levi and purge them as Gold & silver, that they may offer unto the Lord an offering in righteousness Let us therefore, as a church and a people, and as Latter Day saints, offer unto the Lord an offering in righteousness. And let us, present in his Holy Temple when it is finished, a book, containing the Records of our dead, which shall be worthy of all acceptation. [p. 8]
Brethren, I have many things to say to you on the subject; but shall now close for the present and continue on the subject another time
I am as ever your <​humble​> servant and never deviating friend
Joseph Smith [3/4 page blank] [p. 9]
Hancock Co


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    Signature of JS.