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Sermon delivered at Nauvoo, Ill., on Sunday May 16, 1841

Sources: Times and Seasons 2 (1 June 1841): 429-430 and Extracts from William Clayton's Private Book
Times and Seasons Clayton Record
The indications of the morning promised a beautiful day. At 10 o'clock A.M. a large concourse of the saints assembled on the meeting ground and were addressed by Pres. Joseph Smith, who spoke at considerable length.
Remarks by Joseph, May 16th, 1841.
Man Free to Choose - Devil Cannot Compel

He commenced his observations by remarking that the kindness of our Heavenly Father, called for our heartfelt gratitude. He then observed that satan was generally blamed for the evils which we did, but if he was the cause of all our wickedness, men could not be condemned. The devil cannot compel mankind to evil, all was voluntary.--

Resisting God Leads to Temptation - God Will not Compel

Those who resist the spirit of God, are liable to be led into temptation, and then the association of heaven is withdrawn from those who refuse to be made partakers of such great glory--God would not exert any compulsory means and the Devil could not; and such ideas as were entertained by many were absurd.

God - Man - Devil Independent

¶ There are three independent principles--the spirit of God, the spirit of man, and the spirit of the devil. 1

Man Can Resist Devil

All men have power to resist the devil. They who have tabernacles have power over those who have not.

All Subject to Vanity but Christ

The creature was made subject to vanity, not willingly, but Christ subjected the same in hope--we are all subject to vanity while we travel through the crooked paths, and difficulties which surround us. Where is the man that is free from vanity? None ever were perfect but Jesus, and why was he perfect? because he was the son of God, and had the fullness of the Spirit, and greater power than any man.--But, notwithstanding our vanity, we look forward with hope, (because "we are subjected in hope,") to the time of our deliverance.

First Principles - Faith, Repentance, Baptism, Gift of Holy Ghost, Resurrection, Judgement

¶ He then made some observations on the first principles of the gospel, observing that many of the saints who had come from different States and Nations, had only a very superficial knowledge of these principles, not having heard them fully investigated. He then briefly stated the principles of faith, repentance, and baptism for the remission of sins, which were believed by some of the religious societies of the day, but the doctrine of laying on of hands for the gift of the holy ghost, was discarded by them.

¶ The speaker then referred them to the 6th chap. of Heb. 1. and 2. verses, "not laying again the foundation of repentance from dead works &c., but of the doctrines of baptism, laying on of hands, the resurrection and eternal judgment &c." The doctrine of eternal judgment was perfectly understood by the apostle, is evident from several passages of scripture. Peter preached repentance and baptism for the remission of sins to the Jews, who had been led to acts of violence and blood, by their leaders, but to the Rulers he said, "I would that through ignorance ye did it, as did also those ye ruled."--Repent, therefore, and be converted that your sins may be blotted out, when the times of refreshing (redemption), shall come from the presence of the Lord, for he shall send Jesus Christ, who before was preached unto you &c." The time of redemption here had reference to the time, when Christ should come; then and not till then would their sins be blotted out.

Eternal Judgement

The doctrine of eternal judgment Acts 2-41 Peter preached repent and be baptized in the name of Jesus Christ for the remission of sins, &c but in Acts 3-19 he says "Repent and be converted that you sins may be blotted out when the time of redemption shall come and he shall send Jesus," &c. Remission of sins by baptism was not to be preached to murderers.

Murder not Forgiven in this Life

Why? Because they were murderers, and no murderer hath eternal life. Even David, must wait for those times of refreshing, before he can come forth and his sins be blotted out; for Peter speaking of him says, "David hath not yet ascended into Heaven, for his sepulchre is with us to this day:" his remains were then in the tomb. Now we read that many bodies of the saints arose, at Christ's resurrection, probably all the saints, but it seems that David did not. Why? because he had been a murderer.

¶ If the ministers of religion had a proper understanding of the doctrine of eternal judgment,2 they would not be found attending the man who had forfeited his life to the injured laws of his country by shedding innocent blood; for such characters cannot be forgiven, until they have paid the last farthing. The prayers of all the ministers in the world could never close the gates of hell against a Murderer.

Doctrine of Election - Temporal and Spiritual

¶ The speaker then spoke on the subject of election, and read the 9th chap. in Romans, from which it was evident that the election there spoken of was pertaining to the flesh, and had reference to the seed of Abraham, according to the promise God made to Abraham, saying, "In thee and in thy seed all, the families of the earth shall be blessed." To them belonged the adoption, and the covenants &c. Paul said, when he saw their unbelief I wish myself accursed-- according to the flesh--not according to the spirit.

¶ Why did God say to Pharaoh, "for this cause have I raised thee up?" Because Pharaoh was a fit instrument--a wicked man, and had committed acts of cruelty of the most atrocious nature.


All the priests in christendom might pray for a murderer on the scaffold forever, but could not avail so much as a gnat towards their forgiveness. There is no forgiveness for murderers. They will have to wait until the time of redemption shall come and that in hell. Peter had the keys of eternal judgment and he saw David in hell and knew for what reason, and that David would have to remain there until the resurrection at the coming of Christ.

Priesthood Restored to Make Saviors on Mt. Zion

¶ The election of the promised seed still continues, and in the last days, they shall have the priesthood restored unto them, and they shall be the "Saviors on mount Zion" the "ministers of our God," if it were not for the remnant which was left, then might we be as Sodom and as Gomorrah.

¶ The whole of the chapter had reference to the priesthood and the house of Israel; and unconditional election of individuals to eternal life was not taught by the apostles.

¶ God did elect or predestinate, that all those who would be saved, should be saved in Christ Jesus, and through obedience to the gospel; but he passes over no man's sins, but visits them with correction, and if his children will not repent of their sins, he will discard them.

¶ This is but a very imperfect sketch of a very interesting discourse, which occupied more than two hours in delivery, and was listened to with marked attention by the vast assembly present.

Election (Abr. 2)

Romans 9--all election that can be found in the scripture is according to the flesh and pertaining to the priesthood.


1. The statement is not new with Joseph Smith. Compare Oliver Cowdery's September 19, 1835 remarks:

. . . President O. Cowdery arose and said that the others (presidents Rigdon & Phelps) had requested him to speak and they would say nothing as it was getting late and the case was already plain before the court. He showed that a man might be highly excited, and yet within have the Spirit of God or of Satan, but it came by his own spirit or judgement, therefore, some things may be of God, others of man & others from the adversary. [Kirtland Council Minute Book]
Compare Doctrine and Covenants 46:7.

2. See 27Jun39 and notes there, also notes at 7Apr44.

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