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Sermon delivered at Nauvoo, Ill. in front of Robert D. Foster's hotel on January 21, 1844
Sources: Wilford Woodruff journal and Joseph Smith diary (Willard Richards)
Woodruff JournalSmith Diary
A large assembly of Saints met at the Temple and herd an interesting discourse delivered by President Joseph Smith. The following is a synopsis of his discourse upon the occasion

¶ When I Consider the surrounding Circumstances in which I am placed this day, standing in the open air with week lungs & somewhat out of health I feel that I must have prayers & faith of my brethren that God may strengthen me & pour out his special blessings upon me if you get much from me this day.

Revelation - Coming of Elijah

Their are many people assembled here to day & throughout this City & from various parts of the world who say that they have received to a certainty a portion of knowledge from God by revelation in the way that he has ordained & pointed out I shall take the broad ground then that if we have or Can receive a portion of knowledge from God by immediate revelation by the same source we can receive all knowledge. What shall I talk about today I know what Br Cahoon wants me to speak about, he wants me to speak about the Comeing of Elijah in the last days I Can see it in his eye, I will speak upon that subject then, The Bible says "I will send you Elijah before the great & dredful day of the Lord Come that he shall turn the hearts of the fathers to the Children & the hearts of the Children to their fathers lest I Come & smite the whole earth with a Curse," Now the word turn here should be translated (bind or seal) 1

Object of Elijah's Mission

But what is the object of this important mission or how is it to be fulfilled, The keys are to be delivered the spirit of Elijah is to Come, The gospel to be esstablished the saints of God gatherd Zion built up, & the Saints to Come up as Saviors on mount Zion but how are they to become Saviors on Mount Zion by building their temples erecting their Baptismal fonts & going forth & receiving all the ordinances, Baptisms, Confirmations, washings, anointings ordinations & sealing powers upon our heads in behalf of all our Progenitors who are dead & redeem them that they may Come forth in the first resurrection & be exalted to thrones of glory with us, & here in is the chain that binds the hearts of the fathers to the Children, & the Children to the Fathers which fulfills the mission of Elijah &

Time is Short

I would to God that this temple was now done that we might go into it & go to work & improve our time & make use of the seals while they are on earth & the Saints have none to much time to save & redeem their dead, & gather together their living relatives that they may be saved also, before the earth will be smitten & the Consumption decreed falls upon the world & I would advise all the Saints to go to with their might & gather together all their living relatives to this place that they may be sealed & saved that they may be prepared against the day that the destroying angel goes forth &

Haste Needed - Devil Takes Advantage of the Foolish

if the whole Church should go to with all their might to save their dead seal their posterity & gather their living friends & spend none of their time in behalf of the world they would hardly get through before night would Come when no man Could work & my ownly trouble at the present time is concerning ourselves that the Saints will be divided & broken up & scattered before we get our Salvation Secure for thei is so many fools in the world for the devil to operate upon it gives him the advantage often times,

All Ordinances Needed

The question is frequently asked Can we not be saved without going through with all thes ordinances &c I would answer No not the fullness of Salvation, Jesus said their was many mansions in his fathers house & he would go & prepare a place for them. House here named should have been translated (Kingdom) & any person who is exalted to the highest mansion has to abide a Celestial law & the whole law to,

Hard to Introduce New Doctrine

But their has been a great difficulty in getting anything into the heads of this generation it has been like splitting hemlock knots with a Corn doger for a wedge & a pumpkin for a beetle, Even the Saints are slow to understand I have tried for a number of years to get the minds of the Saints prepared to receive the things of God, but we frequently see some of them after suffering all they have for the work of God will fly to pieces like glass as soon as any thing Comes that is Contrary to their traditions, they Cannot stand the fire at all, How many will be able to abide a Celestial law & go through & receive their exhaltation I am unable to say but many are Called & few are Chosen. 2
Preached in front of Dr Fosters Mammoth Hotel to several thousand people. -although the weather was somewhat unpleasant,, on sealing the hearts of the fathers to the children & the heart of the children to the fathers,


1. Once again, Joseph discusses the Elijah doctrine, but while he makes clear the necessity of the coming of Elijah, he places a somewhat spiritualized interpretation on the passage rather than announce the experience from Kirtland. There seems to be no evidence that he ever mentioned the experience, either in public or private. However the subject was a continuing thread through his teachings in Nauvoo, see for example:
5Oct40, 8Aug39(1), 13Aug43, 10Mar44, 7Apr44, 27Aug43, 3Oct41 and the topically related 12May44.

The ancient Christians may have understood the Malachi passage literally as evidenced by Tertullian:

"Behold, I will send you Elijah" . . . [he] is to come again, not after quitting life (in the way of dying), but after his translation (or removal without dying); not for the purpose of being restored to the body, from which he had not departed, but for the purpose of revisiting the world from which he was translated; not by way of resuming a life which he had laid aside, but of fulfilling prophecy,-- really and truly the same man, both in respect of his name and designation, as well as of his unchanged humanity.

2. The inertia which Joseph complains about here had numerous manifestations, both individually and institutionally. For example, during the 1834 School of the Elders, Sydney Rigdon produced a series of lectures (the Lectures on Faith) intended to give some structure to the curriculum for that year. They were entirely Bible-based, ignoring the revelations and the Book of Mormon. The rhetoric is Campbellite preaching which might have come from Rigdon's Mentor Church pulpit. The revelation publication committee (in which Rigdon and Cowdery played major roles) liked it enough that they proposed it for the 1835 D&C. It, along with Cowdery's attempt to placate rising criticsm of the Mormon marriage and political practice resulted in further additions beyond the revelations. Modern church members find it difficult to understand and believe that Joseph was not in complete and final control of that sort of thing. But the egalitarian nature of church leadership at that time is evident both from the public and private LDS literature of the day. Examples abound, witness the Kirtland Egyptian papers where scribes freely speculated on the meaning of Joseph's translation of the Book of Abraham - early economonic experiments where much of the on the ground decision making occured independently of Joseph Smith - the Hiram Page incident - the Partridge/Rigdon controversy, etc., etc. Joseph would have to go through several more cycles of leadership before he and his comrades completely understood his position. The Twelve Apostles turned out to be the key. The constitution of the quorum would move toward men who regarded Joseph as their superior, not their equal in spiritual matters and government. But Joseph was aware of the nature of institutional inertia. He made no move to retract the contributions of Rigdon and Cowdery from the D&C. The consequences of doing so would have been negative both externally and internally. It took nearly a hundred years to shed most of the baggage and even now defenders of it can still be found. Joseph had learned hard lessons over the previous fourteen years; his brief remarks here are literally the tip of the iceberg. Cp. 6Apr37 [For the lectures on faith issue, see Noel B. Reynolds, "The case study for Sidney Rigdon as author of the lectures on faith," Journal of Mormon History, 31 no. 3 (2005) 1-41; for similar items see Royal Skousen, Farms Reviews of Books, 17/2 (2005), 456ff.] Perhaps the most extreme example of this phenomena does not involve Joseph Smith at all. For details, see David John Beurger, "The Adam-God Doctrine," Dialogue, A Journal of Mormon Thought, 15/1 (1982):14-58. For general principles regarding organizational inertia that may be applicable here see, Hedberg, B. L. T. (1981). How organizations learn and unlearn. In P. C. Nystrom and W. H. Starbuck (Eds.). Handbook of Organizational Design: Vol. 1. Adapting Organizations to Their Environments. New York: Oxford University Press, 3-27; Argyris, C. & Schon, D. A. (1978). Organizational Learning: A Theory of Action Perspective. Addison-Wesley: Reading, MA; Argyris, C. & Schon, D. A. (1996). Organizational Learning: Vol. 2: Theory, Methods and Practice. Addison-Wesley: Reading, MA; March, J. G. & Olsen, J. P. (1975). The uncertainty of the past: Organizational learning under ambiguity. European Journal of Political Research 3, 147-158; D. Kelly, T.L. Amburgey (1991), "Organizational inertia and momentum: A dynamic model of strategic change", Academy of Management Journal, Vol. 34 pp.591 - 612; D.J. Tucker, J.V. Singh, A.G. Meinhard (1991), "Founding characteristics, imprinting, and organizational change", in J.V. Singh (Eds),Sage, Newbury Park, CA, pp.182 - 200.

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