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Journal of Discourses/18/41
BURIAL SERVICES, AN ANCIENT PRACTICE—GOD, THE GOD OF THE LIVING—KEYS COMMITTED TO JOSEPH SMITH. THE LAST DISPENSATION—JESUS THE GREAT REDEEMER—AN EVERLASTING PRIESTHOOD—THE POWERS OF THE RESURRECTION—SCRIPTURAL, PHILOSOPHICAL, AND CERTAIN-SEALING POWERS ETERNAL
|Prophecies Unfulfilled, etc.||
A FairMormon Analysis of: Journal of Discourses 18: BURIAL SERVICES, AN ANCIENT PRACTICE—GOD, THE GOD OF THE LIVING—KEYS COMMITTED TO JOSEPH SMITH. THE LAST DISPENSATION—JESUS THE GREAT REDEEMER—AN EVERLASTING PRIESTHOOD—THE POWERS OF THE RESURRECTION—SCRIPTURAL, PHILOSOPHICAL, AND CERTAIN-SEALING POWERS ETERNAL, a work by author: John Taylor
|Daniel's Vision, etc.|
41: BURIAL SERVICES, AN ANCIENT PRACTICE—GOD, THE GOD OF THE LIVING—KEYS COMMITTED TO JOSEPH SMITH. THE LAST DISPENSATION—JESUS THE GREAT REDEEMER—AN EVERLASTING PRIESTHOOD—THE POWERS OF THE RESURRECTION—SCRIPTURAL, PHILOSOPHICAL, AND CERTAIN-SEALING POWERS ETERNAL
Summary: A FUNERAL SERMON, PREACHED BY ELDER JOHN TAYLOR, AT THE 7TH WARD MEETING HOUSE, SALT LAKE CITY, ON SUNDAY AFTERNOON, DEC. 31, 1876, OVER THE REMAINS OF ANN TENORA, THE WIFE OF ISAAC WADDELL; AND ALSO OVER THE REMAINS OF GEORGE W., SON OF EDWARD CALLISTER. (Reported by Geo. F. Gibbs.)
After the reading of the 15th chapter of 1st Corinthians, commencing at the 20th verse, by Elder David McKenzie, Elder Taylor said:
It is a sad thing to meet together as we have done on the present occasion, and to find here two of our friends from different families who have been smitten by the hand of the destroyer, thus having to attend to a double funeral ceremony. It seems to be my lot to-day to be mixed up with these matters, for I have just come from attending to one funeral in the 14th Ward; and now I meet again with you to join in praying [paying] our last sad respects to the departed dead. There is something about these things that touches the most sympathetic feelings of human nature. God having planted these things in our bosoms, I presume it is right and proper that they should be exercised and cherished.
In reading the history of some of the ancient men of God, such, for instance, as Jacob, Joseph, Abraham and others, there was great reverence and respect evinced towards them, not only by their friends and relatives, but by strangers. On the death of Jacob there was a very large concourse of people assembled from the land of Egypt, including "The servants of Pharoah, the Elders of his house, and all the Elders of the land of Egypt, and all the house of Joseph and his brethren and his father's house And there went up with him both chariots and horsemen, and it was a very great company, and they mourned with a great and very sore lamentation." The Egyptians joined with the relatives in mourning his death. The same feeling was manifested when Joseph and others died. Then were feelings of sympathy manifested towards the bereaved and also towards the dead. These feelings exist more or less among us. We, like them, have ideas pertaining to the future, that
are pregnant with importance and that are full of interest to every reflective mind.
When Abraham died, Isaac knew that he was a man of God; he had unquestionably heard his father talk over communications he had had with God, and he doubtless knew very well, when he was taken by his father to be offered up as a sacrifice, that it was in obedience to a commandment of God; he knew very well that his father had communications with the Lord and received revelations from him, and that he had distinct and correct ideas also in regard to the future. Jesus, you will remember, in speaking of Abraham, said, "Abraham saw my day and was glad." Abraham had promises made to him pertaining to the land of Palestine, that were not really fulfilled in his time; and Stephen, soon after the Savior of the world died, in talking about Abraham, said that God had promised it to his seed; and yet, says Stephen, the Lord "gave him none inheritance in it; no not so much as to set his foot on; yet he promised that he would give it to him for a possession, and his seed after him, when as yet he had no child." There are men now living among the descendants of Abraham, who expect to see that promise fulfilled, when his descendants will again inherit that land of promise, and when all things spoken of by the mouth of the Prophets will be accomplished. The measuring line will yet go forth again in Jerusalem, and Jerusalem will yet be inhabited on its own place, even in Jerusalem. Abraham will yet realize the fulfillment of the promises made to him and will stand in his proper place and position as their father and the proper representative of his seed in the grand jubilee in this earth, when the purposes of God shall be accomplished pertaining thereunto.
In connection with this it was said on a certain occasion, "I am the God of Abraham, and the God of Isaac, and the God of Jacob? God is not the God of the dead, but of the living." We also find a statement in the Book of Doctrine and Covenants, referring to father Joseph Smith and others, who it is said "sitteth with Abraham at his right hand." Consequently Abraham lives, and not only Abraham, but father Joseph Smith, as well as many others of our brethren with whom we have been acquainted, who have died true and faithful to the cause. From another revelation, pertaining to one of the High Councils that was organized, we learn that God had taken them to himself and that they retained their Priesthood, that it belonged to them, and no man could take it from them, and that they were with the Lord.
In relation to these things there is something very interesting to all right-minded persons who are good and faithful Latter-day Saints. We believe that these men of whom we have spoken, as well as Adam, Seth, Noah, Enoch, Methuselah and all "the Church of the first-born whose names are written in heaven" have their proper position there, as well as the Apostles who lived co[n]temporary with the Savior. Of these worthies it is said that when Jesus shall come they will come with him, clothed with power and glory. In another place we are told that they, the Apostles, will "sit upon twelve thrones, judging the twelve tribes of Israel."
Again, there are other things associated with these matters, all bearing more or less upon the same points. When God selected Joseph Smith to open up the last dispensation, which is called the dispensa-
tion of the fullness of times, the Father and the Son appeared to him, arrayed in glory, and the Father, addressing himself to Joseph, at the same time pointing to the Son, said, "This is my beloved Son, in whom I am well pleased; hear ye him." As there were great and important events to be introduced into the world associated with the interests of humanity, not only with the people that now are, but with all people that have ever lived upon the face of the earth, and as what is termed the dispensation of the fullness of times was about to be ushered in, Moroni, who held the keys of the unfolding of the Book of Mormon, which is a record of the people who lived upon this American continent, came to Joseph Smith and revealed to him certain things pertaining to the peoples who had lived here and the dealings of God with them, and also in regard to events that are to transpire on this continent.
Then comes another personage, whose name is John the Baptist. He ordained the Prophet Joseph to that portion of the Priesthood of which he held the keys, namely, the Aaronic, or lesser Priesthood. Afterwards came Peter, James and John, who held the keys of the Melchizedek Priesthood, and of the dispensation of the fullness of times, they being the last in their day to whom it was committed, and therefore they came to him and revealed to him the principles pertaining to the Gospel, and the events to be fulfilled. Then we read again of Elias or Elijah, who was to act as a restorer, and who committed to him the powers and authority associated with his position. Then Abraham, who had the Gospel, the Priesthood and Patriarchal powers, in his day; and Moses, who stood at the head of the gathering dispensation in his day, and had these powers conferred upon him. We are informed that Noah, who was a Patriarch, and all in the line of the Priesthood, in every generation back to Adam, who was the first man, possessed the same. Why was it that all these people should be associated with all these dispensations, and all could communicate with Joseph Smith? Because he stood at the head of the dispensation of the fullness of times, which comprehends all the various dispensations that have existed upon the earth, and that as the Gods in the eternal worlds and the Priesthood that officiated in time and eternity had declared that it was time for the issuing forth of all these things, they all combined together to impart to him the keys of their several missions, that he might be fully competent, through the intelligence and aid afforded him through these several parties, to introduce the Gospel in all its fullness, namely, the dispensation of the fullness of times, when, says the Apostle Paul, "He might gather all things in Christ, both which are in heaven and which are in earth, even in him." Consequently he stood in that position, and hence his familiarity with all these various dispensations and the men who administered in them. If you were to ask Joseph what sort of a looking man Adam was, he would tell you at once; he would tell you his size and appearance and all about him. You might have asked him what sort of men Peter, James and John were, and he could have told you. Why? Because he had seen them.
We are living in this dispensation, which is pregnant with greater events than any other dispensation that has ever existed on the earth,
because in it is embraced all that ever existed any where among any people of the earth. Hence why we look upon Joseph Smith as so great and important a character in the world's history. I think he was one of the greatest Prophets that ever lived, Jesus himself excepted. Enoch was a great man, a mighty Prophet, he had a great many sacred and heavenly things committed to him. He performed a great work in his day—he walked and talked with God, he preached the Gospel and gathered the people as we do, and then he and his city were caught up to heaven, to return to earth in the latter days. He performed his work and afterwards God took him. How Joseph Smith will compare with him will be better understood when Zion is built up and redeemed, and Enoch's Zion comes down to meet it. They both held important positions and both will stand in their lot as decreed by Jehovah.
Enoch received many revelations and obtained great power from God, and unquestionably the influence of that power was felt by the surrounding peoples. For when certain peoples gathered themselves together against him and his people in a belligerent attitude, Enoch stood forth and prophesied, and the earth shook and trembled, and the people stood afar off and fled from his presence. Of the power he possessed, and the heavenly manifestations he had, we have very little account.
When speaking of these various dispensations, ideas altogether different present themselves to our minds. My mind has been always more or less engaged contemplating the wonderful works of God. Even at an early age, before I became acquainted with the principles of our revealed religion, I frequently used to ask myself, "Who am I? What am I? What am I doing here? What is the object of my earthly being? Where did I come from, and where am I going to?" I have since had the same reflections; but now I have a better method of arriving at conclusions, the Gospel having enlightened me in regard to a great many of these principles. When we entertain and speak of the things of God and his dealings with humanity, we do not deal with things small and insignificant in their character, but with things great and stupendous, things that are worthy the care and supervision of the great God. When the Gods created the earth, they did it for certain purposes. Having organized it according to the eternal purposes of God, they separated the waters from the dry land, so that the land appeared. They next caused light to shine upon it before the sun appeared in the firmament; for God is light, and in him there is no darkness. He is the light of the sun and the power thereof by which it was made; he is also the light of the moon and the power by which it was made; he is the light of the stars and the power by which they were made. He says it is the same light that enlightens the understanding of men. What, have we a mental light and a visual light, all proceeding from the same source? Yes, so says the scripture, and so says science when rightly comprehended. All these things were organized according to the eternal purposes of God in relation to the earth on which we live, and then man was placed upon it; and afterwards the beasts, birds and fishes and seeds of every kind, everything bearing seed after its kind, having power to propagate its own species and perpetuate itself on the earth. I do not wish now to
deal with details, for that would lead us from the subject.
What next? Man is placed upon the earth. For what? The very first command given to him was to be fruitful and multiply, and replenish the earth. Or in other words, "I have put you in possession of certain faculties for a certain purpose. I have prepared the earth for you. I have my spirits living with me in the eternal heavens, and in the proper time it is my will that they shall come forth to inhabit tabernacles." He organizes every thing according to these principles. Then man appears in a certain condition, and there is but a shadow between him and the heavens that nothing but the light of the Gospel can remove; a forgetfulness, as if we were puzzled over an uncertain dream; a curtain is spread over the whole human family, and they are thrown upon the world to struggle along as best they can, having to contend against great powers and unseen influences that exist and whose object is to war against humanity. For Satan had already been struggling in the heavens among the sons of God, from whom he dissented, and thus he became the devil, and they that took sides with him became his angels. We are told they numbered a third of the hosts of heaven, and whilst they fought and struggled with the Gods for the power and supremacy, they were cast out from heaven and they came here, where Satan became the prince and power of the air. What to do? To tempt and try fallen man. They wander up and down the earth for this purpose, thus man is placed in a position to be tried, combatting as he has to do with all manner of influences which seek his overthrow.
While in this condition it was necessary that man should receive additional power and intelligence to enable him to combat successfully these evil influences; hence the Gospel was revealed to him. If after receiving this light and knowledge he should fall a prey to the enemy of his soul, he would become more or less subject to the rule of this evil power, and thus suffer according to the extent of his fall. But if he should contend against these powers and spirits and against every weakness his flesh might be heir to and come off victorious, he is promised celestial glory in the eternal worlds and eventually to become as a God.
What next? We find the powers of darkness beginning to prevail in the hearts of fallen man. For instance, the first two living sons, one of them killed the other and was a murderer. What a prospect; how the devil would laugh, saying, "Since Cain has slain his brother Abel, there is no son remaining but a murderer, so what becomes of your kingdom? But God gave unto Adam another son named Seth, who represented the interests of his father and the interests of God. And in order that they should not be led down to the gates of death, Jesus was provided as a Savior, as a lamb slain from before the foundation of the earth. And hence Job said, "Deliver him from going down to the pit: I have found a ransom." God made this provision in the beginning; he knew that man would fall and would pass through these ordeals, for known to God are all things from the commencement of the world. It is written here in the Book of Doctrine and Covenants, that the planet on which he lives is a great Urim and Thummim, which reveals everything pertaining to this lower world and its inhabitants. And the holy beings who reside there can gaze upon us mortals whenever they please, looking also into the future or the past; hence they know it as it is.
But he provided a Savior, and in the early ages of time they looked forward to the coming of the Messiah, as we now look back to it. Of the multitudes on the continent of Asia who comprehended these things, we have very little knowledge, the accounts of what transpired among them are very meagre. On this continent they spoke very plainly about the Gospel and the coming of the Redeemer, and although very plain are quite limited. Then a great many plain and precious parts have been taken away from these Scriptures.
Do you think the Jews to-day would want to publish things pertaining to Jesus, describing the manner in which he would come? I should think not. In a conversation I once had with Baron Rothschild he asked me if I believed in the Christ? I answered him, "Yes, God has revealed to us that he is the true Messiah, and we believe in him." I further remarked, "Your Prophets have said, 'They shall look upon him whom they have pierced, and they shall mourn for him, as one mourneth for his only son, and shall be in bitterness for him, as one that is in bitterness for his first-born,' 'And one shall say unto him, What are these wounds in thy hands? Then he shall answer, Those with which I was wounded in the house of my friends.'" Do you think the Jewish Rabbies [Rabbis] would refer you to such scripture as that? Said Mr. Rothschild, "Is that in our Bible?" "That is in your Bible, sir."
The Book of Mormon and the Bible refer to many other similar passages referring to the same event, as well as passages referring to the Savior's birth. "Behold," says Isaiah, "a virgin shall conceive, and bear a son, and shall call his name Immanuel." Again the Savior says, "Abraham saw my day and was glad. Ancient people of God, in whose hearts was enkindled the flame of inspiration, looked forward to that memorable event when the Lamb slain from before the foundation of the world would offer himself as a sacrifice, whilst we look back to the same thing. We break bread and eat, and we drink water in the presence of each other every Sabbath day, and we do it in remembrance of the broken body and shed blood of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ; and this we will continue to do until he comes again. When he does come, the Latter-day Saints expect to be among that favored number that will eat and drink with him at his own table in our Father's kingdom. I expect this just as much as I expect to eat my supper tonight.
There is something truly grand in the reflection of the Savior's return to the earth, and man and his fall and redemption. We read of certain men that lived at various times, who, by virtue of the Priesthood they held, identified themselves with the cause of God, and interested themselves in the redemption of the world• The Priesthood they had is everlasting, it administers in time and eternity; and the men who held it live forever, and they continue to operate in their several positions and Priesthoods. Just as the angel who appeared to John on the island of Patmos. The Apostle fell at the feet of this heavenly messenger to worship him. But the angel said unto him, "See thou do it not; I am thy fellow servant, and of thy brethren that have the testimony of Jesus: worship God." And as Moses and Elias who appeared to Jesus and to Peter, James and John on the Mount; and as Moroni, John the Baptist, Peter, James and
John and others appeared to Joseph Smith.
In speaking with the Prophet Joseph once on this subject, he traced it from the first down to the last, until he got to the Ancient of Days. He wished me to write something for him on this subject, but I found it a very difficult thing to do. He had to correct me several times. We are told that the "judgment shall sit and the books be opened." He spoke of the various dispensations and of those holding the keys thereof, and said there would then be a general giving up or accounting for. I wrote that each one holding the keys of the several dispensations would deliver them up to his predecessor, from one to another, until the whole kingdom should be delivered up to the Father, and then God would be "all in all." Said he, "That is not right." I wrote it again, and again he said it was not right. It is very difficult to find language suitable to convey the meaning of spiritual things. The idea was that they should deliver up or give an account of their administrations, in their several dispensations, but that they would all retain their several positions and Priesthood. The Bible and Doctrine and Covenants speaks about certain books which should be opened; and another book would be opened, called the Book of Life, and out of the things written in these books would men be judged at the last day.
To continue. We find Satan getting great power. Enoch there appears, who is commissioned to go forth and preach the Gospel, as we are doing in this our age. He succeeded in converting people, and they gathered together and built up a city, and they were three hundred and sixty-five years in becoming fully established in the truth. By the time we shall have had a little more experience we perhaps shall have become a little more prudent, realizing the position we occupy to the authority of the Priesthood and power of God, and our dependence upon Jehovah, realizing too our own failings and weaknesses, and learning to lean upon God and go forth as his servants in his holy fear, and developing within us those nobler attributes that exalt man to the presence and image of his Creator. This the Gospel will do for us if we will only let it. It will bring us into communication with God, and through it we shall know and understand him and his laws, and the principles of eternal truth.
What next? God had to destroy the world. People then were like the corrupt of our age; they are crumbling to pieces, and they will continue to decay, for the seeds of dissolution are rooted in them, and they in their present condition can no more be united than you can make a rope out of sand—the materials are not cohesive and this nation will go down. Not only our nation but other nations will crumble. Thrones will be cast down and empires will be no more. The whole earth will be shaken and men's hearts will fail them, in consequence of the things that are coming upon the earth. Why? Because of all their sins and iniquities, and further because they reject God in rejecting the Gospel of the Son of God, which is being preached among them, loving darkness rather than light.
Did God punish the people anciently who thus rejected him and his servants? Yes, he cut them off from the face of the earth, and planted another seed. Why? Because it was just and proper and right that he should do so. What, just to destroy a whole people?
Certainly, it was the very best thing that he could do for them. If I were going at it, I do not know that I could do things any better. What, kill so many millions of people? Yes. How do you make this out? If I were one of those spirits—and I expect I was there, and perhaps we had a hand in it for aught I know—if, I say, I were one of those spirits in the eternal world and saw the corruptions of their hearts when the Gospel had been preached to them, and the spirit of God was withdrawn from them, and they left to themselves to indulge their wicked desires and acts, preparing themselves for perdition and teaching their children iniquity, I should have felt like saying, "O Lord, have we got to go to the earth and receive bodies through such corrupt men? Is it right and just that we should endure the evils that they would entail on us in consequence of their sinful acts with which we have had nothing to do?" "No," says the Lord, "I will cut them off and raise up a better seed." He did so, and by doing so he prevented these wicked people from propagating their species. They were all cast into prison, where they remained until the Savior appeared among them, after His crucifixion. He opened their prison doors and preached to them the same Gospel that they had rejected and which the Jews rejected. If these spirits in prison receive the glad tidings of great joy and live accordingly, they will, as we are informed by the Lord in the Book of Doctrine and Covenants inherit a terrestrial glory, because they were found not worthy of propagating their species, they were not worthy to become fathers and mothers of lives.
The Lord then commenced the race again with Noah, but according to the history we have of his family, the Lord had to bear a great deal with them. There was nothing very remarkable about them, they got into trouble often enough, and the prospect even then, judging after the manner of men, was not very flattering for poor humanity.
Since then there has been a continual struggle between the powers of darkness and the power of God for the mastery. In the days of Peleg the Lord divided the earth, hence the eastern and western hemisphere, doubtless thinking by doing so he would have a better opportunity to preserve some of the human family from going down to perdition. But still the devil found ready access to the hearts of the people generally, and many became so corrupt that God had to destroy them. But before allowing his justice to overtake them, he saved unto himself certain good seed and planted it in different parts of his vineyard. He took away the ten tribes. We do not hear anything about them now, but we shall by and by. He brought the Jaredites here, and afterwards the Nephites and Lamanites, and placed others in in other places.
Next comes the dispensation of the fullness of times, when God is to gather together all things in one, for the Gods have decreed, and the ancient Prophets and Apostles have witnessed to it, that in the last days these things shall be accomplished. It is for this purpose the Gospel is restored, and man placed again in communication with God, and hence we have received the Book of Mormon as one of the events which were to transpire in our day, as it is written, "The Jews shall hear the words of the Nephites, and the Nephites shall hear the words of the Jews, and the Nephites and the Jews shall hear the words of the ten tribes." He
will gather his word in one, and will gather his people in one, even all things he will gather together in one, whether they be things that are in heaven or things on the earth; and the powers and priesthood of heaven will unite with the priesthood on the earth for the accomplishment of this purpose. This accounts for our coming to this western land. We have been influenced to gather here for a purpose which is known to God, but hidden from the world. It is said, "I will take you one of a city, and two of a family, and I will bring you to Zion. And I will give you pastors according to mine heart, which shall feed you with knowledge and understanding."
What next? When the people shall have been gathered in fulfillment of this prophecy, judgments will again be visited upon the wicked, as a necessary consequence. Will such visitations really take place? Yes, I know that this part, too, of the Lord's designs will be fulfilled, for God revealed it to me long, long ago. We need not be too anxious for the destruction of the wicked, for it will be indeed terrible when it comes, it will make every feeling man weep for sorrow over the trouble and affliction that will come.
What next? Then we commence to talk about the future, something in which we are all interested, and to which our minds are more immediately drawn on such solemn occasions as this. Says Job, "If a man die, shall he live again? All the days of my appointed time will I wait till my change come." All these people who have lived have died, and live again; they have passed away, forgotten as a dream, or as night at the approach of the opening day. That is so in one sense, according to human ken; yet there is a reality associated with this matter, pregnant with importance to the human family. We have read here some remarks in relation to these matters, and the Gospel unfolds these things to our view. We are told that there is a natural body, and there is a spiritual body. The natural body is sown in corruption, and it is raised in incorruption, etc. We shall all pass away by and by, as these our friends have; they have gone to sleep for a little while, to rise again, and to bear their part among the sons and daughters of God in the eternal worlds, and we shall have to follow and pass through the same ordeal. "It is sown in dishonor, it is raised in glory; it is sown in weakness, it is raised in power; it is sown a natural body, it is raised a spiritual body." We, as Latter-day Saints, comprehend in part these things, as relating to the designs of God pertaining to the human family. We get a glimpse at some of them, but we only see in part, and know in part; this imperfect state of things will remain until that which is perfect shall come, when that which is in part will be done away. But it is our privilege now, through obedience to the principles of the Gospel, to be full of light and life and intelligence, and the power of God, to comprehend correct principles, to walk in the light as he is in the light, and to have fellowship with God the Father, and with his Son Jesus Christ, realizing and knowing that the atoning blood of Christ cleanses from sin, and that we are his sons and daughters, and have a right to the eternal glories that God has prepared for those who love him and keep his commandments.
The Apostle Paul in answer to the question, "How are the dead raised up, and with what body do they come? said, "Thou fool, that
which thou sowest is not quickened except it die. And that which thou sowest, thou sowest not that body that shall be, but bare grain, it may chance of wheat, or some other grain." I remember reading a remark made by Tom Payne. He said, "Thou fool, Paul, that which thou sowest is not quickened except it die not." Both of these perhaps are true. The Savior said, "The maid is not dead, but sleepeth;" also, "He that believeth on me, though he were dead, yet shall he live. And whosoever liveth and believeth in me shall never die." Have these our friends gone to sleep? Yes; but when he who says, "I am the resurrection and the life," shall speak, the bodies we now see lying lifeless and inanimate, will be quickened, bone shall come to its bone, and sinews and flesh will cover them, until the whole being will be resuscitated, and the dead, as has been said, will stand upon their feet, an exceeding great army. So all mankind, the righteous and the unrighteous, shall stand before God, having been quickened in the flesh. "As in Adam all died, so in Christ shall all be made alive."
What, will every body be resurrected? Yes, every living being; "but every man in his own order, Christ the first fruits; afterward they that are Christ's at his coming. Then cometh the end." That is, the Saints shall live and reign with Christ a thousand years. One of the Apostles says, "But the rest of the dead live not again until the thousand years are expired." But all must come forth from the grave, some time or other, in the self-same tabernacles that they possessed while living on the earth. It will be just as Ezekiel has described it—bone will come to its bone, and flesh and sinew will cover the skeleton, and at the Lord's bidding breath will enter the body, and we shall appear, many of us, a marvel to ourselves.
I heard Joseph Smith say, at the time he was making a tomb at Nauvoo, that he expected, when the time came when the grave would be rent asunder, that he would arise and embrace his father and mother, and strike hands with his friends. It was his written request that when he died, some kind friends would see that he was buried near his bosom friends, so that when he and they arose in the morning of the first resurrection, he could embrace them, saying, "My father! my mother," etc.
How consoling it is to those who are called upon to mourn the loss of dear friends in death, to know that we will again be associated with them! How encouraging to all who live according to the revealed principles of truth, perhaps more especially to those whose lives are pretty well spent, who have borne the heat and burden of the day, to know that ere long we shall burst the barriers of the tomb, and come forth living and immortal souls, to enjoy the society of our tried and trusted friends, no more to be afflicted with the seeds of death, and to finish the work the Father has given us to do!
I know that some people of very limited comprehension will say that all the parts of body cannot be brought together, for, say they, the fish probably have eaten them up, or the whole may have been blown to the four winds of heaven, etc. It is true the body, or the organization, may be destroyed in various ways, but it is not true that the particles out of which it was created can be destroyed. They are eternal; they never were created. This is not only a principle associated with our religion, or in other words, with the great science of life, but it is in
accordance with acknowledged science. You may take, for instance, a handful of fine gold, and scatter it in the street among the dust; again, gather together the materials among which you have thrown the gold, and you can separate one from the other so thoroughly, that your handful of gold can be returned to you; yes, every grain of it. You may take particles of silver, iron, copper, lead, etc., and mix them together with any other ingredients, and there are certain principles connected with them by which these different materials can be eliminated, every particle cleaving to that of its own element.
Our text says, "All flesh is not the same flesh: but there is one kind of flesh of men, another of beasts, another of fishes, and another of birds." As the gold and the silver and other minerals can be mixed together and again separated, so the different kinds or particles of flesh may be united, one going into the other through natural processes, but the same God by whose wisdom the laws were made which so govern the mineral bodies, separating them one from another, has also framed and made laws by which the various particles of the different kinds of flesh can be separated, each returning and cleaving to its respective element. The component parts of man can no more become the flesh of beasts or fishes than gold can become silver, lead turn to iron, or copper to gold. Each is separate and distinct from the other.
These things are strictly scriptural, they are strictly scientific and philosophical, and are in accordance with the laws God has revealed to us, and who can refute them?
What about our deceased friends? Our kingdom and Priesthood are organized according to the order God has given us, and we expect, every one of us, to stand in our proper place in the eternal worlds, according to the order of the Priesthood which we represent.
We then come to the sealing power. Here, say, is a man and woman who have been sealed together for time and eternity. Does it mean anything? If it means anything, which it certainly does, it means just what it says. If the husband of this our departed sister continues faithful to the end, maintains his integrity to God, and fights the good fight of faith, he will claim her in eternity, and they twain will be one flesh. This young man, some one will have to act for him over the marriage altar in having some one sealed to him. He and his wife, through their faithfulness, will by and by become the father and mother of lives, and in this way the eternal purposes of God will be consummated, and his work be perpetuated.
The first command of Jehovah was for man to multiply and replenish the earth. Now the command is to build Temples. For what purpose? That they over whom Satan has had power may be administered for, reaching back, back to the beginning of time, that they may be brought forth and inherit the blessings and privileges of the kingdom of God, and that we, ourselves, may be prepared to live and reign with him for ever. Let us continue to live in humility and meekness before God, seeking in faith and good works to get an increased portion of His Holy Spirit, that we may comprehend the laws of God and live according to the principles of eternal truth.
I would say to the friends of the departed dead, be comforted, all is right, all is well, and all will continue to be well with us, if we will only
fear God and keep his commandments. It is far better to die in the fear of God, than to live without God. When I see people die who are prepared, having a claim on eternal life, do I feel sorry? No, I do not. I would a thousand times rather have my children to be laid in the silent tomb, as thousands of our youth are, than I would see them depart from God and his ways. My earnest desire is that I and my children may live to serve God, and that he will take us hence before we should be permitted to violate his commands or forsake his law. Let me live the life of righteousness and may my last days be spent in doing good to my fellow man and honor to my God.
May the Lord bless and sustain these our friends who are called upon to mourn for a short season, and may the Lord bless the Saints in Zion, and his servant Brigham. and those who stand shoulder to shoulder with him, and all good men, now and forever, is my prayer in the name of Jesus, Amen.