Alma 40:6-7, LeGrand Baker, the spirit world
6 Now there must needs be a space betwixt the time of death and the time of the resurrection.
7 And now I would inquire what becometh of the souls of men from this time of death to the time appointed for the resurrection?
Latter-day prophets have given us some very explicit answers to Alma’s question.
The attachment contains just a few statements about interpersonal relations and the organization of the Church in the spirit world. They are quotes from Eliza R. Snow, Brigham Young, Heber C. Kimball, Wilford Woodruff, Heber J. Grant, and David O. Mckay
STATEMENTS ABOUT THE POST-EARTH-LIFE SPIRIT WORLD
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ELIZA R. SNOW
Andrew Jensen, LDS Biographical Encyclopedia, 1: 695
After the martyrdom of her husband [Joseph Smith], June 27, 1844, Sister Eliza [Eliza R. Snow] was prostrated with grief, and besought the Lord with all the fervency of her soul to permit her to follow the Prophet at once, and not leave her In so dark and wicked a world. And so set was her mind on the matter, that she did not and could not cease that prayer of her heart until the Prophet came to her and told her that she must not continue to supplicate the Lord In that way, tor her petition was not in accordance with his design concerning her, Joseph told her that his work upon earth was completed as far as the mortal tabernacle was concerned, but her’s was not; the Lord desired her, and so did her husband, to live many years, and assist in carrying on the great Latter-day work which Joseph had been chosen to establish. That she must be of good courage and help to cheer, and lighten the burdens of others. And that she must turn her thoughts away from her own loneliness, and seek to console her people In their bereavement and sorrow.
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(Journal of Discourses, 3: 370)
Go to the time when the Gospel came to the earth in the days of Joseph, take the wicked that have opposed this people and persecuted them to the death, and they are sent to hell. Where are they? They are in the spirit world, and are just as busy as they possibly can be to do every thing they can against the Prophet and the Apostles, against Jesus and his kingdom. They are just as wicked and malicious in their actions against the cause of truth, as they were while on the earth in their fleshly tabernacles.
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President Brigham Young,
(Journal of Discourses, 15: 139.)
I am going to stop my talking by saying that, in the millennium, when the kingdom of God is established on the earth in power, glory and perfection, and the reign of wickedness that has so long prevailed is subdued, the Saints of God will have the privilege of building their temples, and of entering into them, becoming, as it were, pillars in the temples of God, and they will officiate for their dead. Then we will see our friends come up, and perhaps some that we have been acquainted with here. If we ask who will stand at the head of the resurrection in this last dispensation, the answer is—Joseph Smith, Junior, the Prophet of God. He is the man who will be resurrected and receive the keys of the resurrection, and he will seal this authority upon others, and they will hunt up their friends and shall have been officiated for, and bring them up. And we will have revelations to know our forefathers clear back to Father Adam and Mother Eve, and we will enter into the temples of God and officiate for them. Then man will be sealed to man until the chain is made perfect back to Adam, so that there will be a perfect chain of priesthood from Adam to the winding-up scene.
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A Discourse, by President Brigham Young,
(Journal of Discourses, 3: 371.)
But is Joseph glorified? No, he is preaching to the spirits in prison. He will get his resurrection the first of any one in this kingdom, for he was the first that God made choice of to bring forth the work of the last days.
His office is not taken from him, he has only gone to labor in another department of the operations of the Almighty. He is still an Apostle, still a Prophet and is doing the work of an Apostle and Prophet; he has gone one step beyond us and gained a vistory that you and I have not gained, still he has not yet gone into the celestial kingdom, or if he has it has been by a direct command of the Almighty, and that too to return again so soon as the purpose has been accomplished.
No man can enter the celestial kingdom and be crowned with a celestial glory, until he gets his resurrected body; but Joseph and the faithful who have died have gained a victory over the power of the devil, which you and I have not yet gained. So long as we live in these tabernacles, so long we will be subject to the temptations and power of the devil; but when we lay them down, if we have been faithful, we have gained the victory so far; but even then we are not so far advanced at once as to be beyond the neighborhood of evil spirits.
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Preston Nibley, Brigham Young: The Man and His Work, 4th ed.[Salt Lake City: Deseret Book Co., 1960], 533.)
All day Friday, he was in considerable pain, “but endured it cheerfully, and occasionally made humorous remarks when he saw those about him inclined to be troubled.” On Saturday afternoon “inflammation of the bowels” set in. He slept fitfully during the night and frequently moaned in his sleep. When asked if he suffered great pain, he replied, “No, I don’t know that I do.”
During Sunday and Monday he seemed to revive somewhat, “being frequently administered to by some of his brethren,” but on Monday evening he sank into a comatose condition, from which it was difficult to arouse him. At 4 o’clock Tuesday morning, “he sank down in bed apparently lifeless.” Artificial respiration was immediately resorted to, and “hot poultices were placed over the heart to stimulate action.” “For nine consecutive hours artificial respiration was continued. At that time he seemed greatly revived and spoke to those around him, saying he felt better and wished to rest.”
On Wednesday, Aug. 29th, it was apparent to anxious watchers at his bedside that the end was near. His last words, as he gazed fixedly upwards were, “Joseph, Joseph, Joseph,” as though he communed with his beloved Prophet. At one minute past four o’clock in the afternoon, his breathing ceased; his great heart was stilled. The mortal life of one of God’s noblest sons had come to an end.
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HEBER C. KIMBALL
(Journal of Discourses, 4:137
Remarks at the funeral of President Pedediah P. Grant by President Heber C. Kimball
The ideas that brother Brigham has just advanced are congenial with my feelings, perfectly so.
During brother Grant’s brief sick-ness I would not believe, for one moment, that he was going te die, though my feelings would at times incline me to doubt as to his recovery; but I would not give way to them. And now it is only the body that is dead, for his spirit will never die ! It has overcome death and hell, and laid aside its earthly tenement that that may return to its native element, awaiting the morn of the resurrection, when the spirit will receive it in an immortal state, and then have gained the victory over death, hell and the grave.
In regard to the lifeless body that now lies before us, let me tell you that mourning and making a great parade over it, is similar to what it would be for me to lament about a house which the occupants had forsaken. I left a house in Nauvoo, but do you suppose that I fret about it? I do not. And what is the use of gathering the bands together and the troops, and performing lengthy and pompous ceremonies over a tenement the spirit has left? I would not give a picayune for all your parade.
I will not stoop to the principle of death. I could weep, but I will not. There is a spirit in me that rises above that feeling, and it is because Jedediah is not dead.
I went to see him one day last week, and he reached out his hand aud shook hands with me; he could not speak, but he shook hands warmly with me. I felt for him, and wanted to raise him tip, and to have him stay and help whip the devils and bring to pass righteousness. Why? Because he was valiant, and I loved him. He was a great help to us, and you would be, if you were as valiant as he was, which you can be through faithfulness and obedience.
I laid my hands upon him and blessed him, and asked God to strengthen his lungs that he might be easier, and in two or three minutes he raised him-self up and talked for about an hour as busily as he could, telling me what he had seen and what he understood, until I was afraid he would weary himself, when I arose and left him.
He said to me, brother Heber, I have been into the spirit world two nights in succession, and, of all the dreads that ever came across me, the worst was to have to again return to my body, though I had to do it. But 0, says he, the order and government that were there! When in the spirit world, I saw the order of righteous men and women; beheld them organized in their several grades, and there appeared to be no obstruction to my vision; I could see every man and woman in their grade and order. I looked to see whether there was any disorder there, but there was none; neither could I see any death nor any darkness, disorder or confusion. He said that the people he there saw were organized in family capacities; and when he looked at them he saw grade after grade, and all were organized and in perfect harmony. We would on this earth, but I never saw any to compare with those that were there. I saw flowers of numerous kinds, and some with from fifty to a hundred different colored flowers growing upon one stalk.” We have many kinds of flowers on the earth, and I suppose those very articles came from heaven, or they would not be here.
After mentioning the things that he bad seen, he spoke of how much he disliked to return and resume his body, after having seen the beauty and glory of the spirit world, where the righteous spirits are gathered together.
Some may marvel at my speaking about these things, for many profess to believe that we have no spiritual existence. But do you not believe that my spirit was organized before it came to my body here? And do you not think there can be houses and gardens, fruit trees, and every other good thing there? The spirits of those things were made, as well as our spirits, and it follows that they can exist upon the same principle.
After speaking of the gardens and the beauty of every thing there, brother Grant said that he felt extremely sorrowful at having to leave so beautiful a place and come back to earth, for he looked upon his body with loathing, but was obliged to enter it again.
He said that after he came back he could look upon his family and see the spirit that was in them, and the darkness that was in them; and that he conversed with them about the Gospel’, and what they should do, and they replied, ” Well, brother Grant, perhaps it is so, and perhaps it is not,” and said that was the state of this people, to a great extent, for many are full of darkness and will not believe me.
I never had a view of the righteous assembling in the spirit-world, but I have had a view of the hosts of hell, and have seen them as plainly as I see you today. The righteous spirits gather together to prepare and qualify themselves for a future day, and evil spirits have no power over them, though they are constantly striving for the mastery. I have seen evil sprits attempt to overcome those holding the Priesthood. and I know how they act.
I feel well, and I do not feel to condescend to a spirit of mourning. If I do weep, I will weep for my own sins and not for Jedediah. If he could speak he would say, ” Weep not for me, but weep for your own sins.”
Before brother Grant was taken sick, he said that he had unsheathed his sword, and that it never should be sheathed again until the enemies of righteousness were subdued; and he fought the devil up to the last, and used to proclaim that he should not prevail on this earth. I can say that he left us with his sword unsheathed, and be will help Joseph and Hyrum and Willard.
Previous to the late Reformation, I saw brother Willard in a dream. I dreamed that we had a very large kiln filled with articles of ware of various kinds and sizes. Many of them had previously fallen down, being thin, not having strength to remain upright, we had put the good ones into the kiln and put in the fire, and had got them considerably warmed; but, somehow or other, they got cold again, and we thought we would go down to a certain stream and get some dry wood, and burn the earthenware for use. As we were going towards the stream, brother Willard came along and said, “Brethren, I am gathering up better fuel than that — some that will make a bigger fire.” So he is, and Jedediah has gone to help, and the day will come that many of us will go too; and as the Lord Almighty lives, and as my soul lives, we have unsheathed the sword, and we never will sheath it until the enemies of our God are overcome. Jedediah has overcome all his enemies.
Brother Brigham says that he will have hundreds and thousands of boys right here that will help us with a power greatly increased beyond that of their fathers, and I know that it will be so. When boys go back on the Plains to encounter storms and rescue the suffering, as did David P. Kimball, Stephen Taylor, Joseph A. Young, Ephraim Hanks, and many others, it makes me feel well. David took the consecrated oil and went forth, like a man of God. and anointed the sick and afflicted, and commanded them to arise ; and those boys acted valiantly, having been trained up amid the Saints.
Brother Ephraim Hanks has put a feather in his cap, through his noble conduct in aiding our belated immigration, he has unsheathed his Sword upon the side of doing good, and I exhort him not to sheath it again.
I feel encouraged; brother Jedediah has gone to be with Joseph.
Let us be faithful, and listen to the words of brother Brigham and brother Jedediah and those placed to lead us, and what joy I will have. Would I be willing to lay down my body? Yes, if that would sooner accomplish so great an object, and bring this whole people into a position where they could see and understand for themselves.
These are my feelings, brethren and sisters, and may God bless you. To those who delight in uprightness I am all blessings, from the crown of my head to the soles of my feet; but I am heavy on the tracks of sinners, because I know that if they do persist in their course, and if the Quorums do not purify themselves quickly, you will see something that will make you lament; some are nourishing a cankerworm that they will not easily get rid of.
Why do you not all listen to brother Brigham and Jedediah and Heber and many others? They have had the spirit of reformation all the time.
Then wake up ye Saints of Latter Days, and cleanse your platters inside and out, and God Almighty will rescue us from our enemies. He will slay them; He will hurl kings from their thrones and unrighteous rulers from their places of authority, and they will drop faster than you saw the stars drop from heaven, at the time that the Saints were driven out of Jackson county Missouri.
I am talking of what I know, and not of what I merely believe; and may the Spirit of God, the Holy Ghost, the Comforter, rest upon you, my brethren and sisters, and upon our families and every good person. Brother Brigham is my brother, and brother Jedediah is my brother; I loved him, I love those men, God knows I do, better than I ever loved a woman; and I would not give a dime for a man that does not love them better than they love women. A man is a miserable being, if he lets a woman stand between him and his file leaders; he is a fool, and I have no regard for him; he is not fit for the Priesthood.
I want to stir you up to faith, obedience, integrity, and everything that is good. I am preaching to you; not to Jedediah. What remains here of him goes back to mother earth, and let us strive to honor our tabernacles as did brother Grant his.
My body has got to return to dust and I will honor it, then I will take it again. I am as sure of that, as I am that I am standing here before you.
God bless you forever. Amen.
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(Journal of Discourses, 22: 333-34.)
Now, I will refer to a thing that took place with me in Tennessee. I was in Tennessee in the year 1835, and, while at the house of Abraham O. Smoot, I received a letter from brothers Joseph Smith and Oliver Cowdery, requesting me to stay there, and stating that I would lose no blessing by doing so. Of course, I was satisfied. I went into a little room and sat down upon a small sofa. I was all by myself and the room was dark; and while I rejoiced in this letter and the promise made to me, I became wrapped in vision. I was like Paul; I did not know whether I was in the body or out of the body. A personage appeared to me and showed me the great scenes that should take place in the last days. One scene after another passed before me. I saw the sun darkened; I saw the moon become as blood; I saw the stars fall from heaven; I saw seven golden lamps set in the heavens, representing the various dispensations of God to man-a sign that would appear before the coming of Christ. I saw the resurrection of the dead. In the first resurrection those that came forth from their graves seemed to be all dressed alike, but in the second resurrection they were as diverse in their dress as this congregation is before me today, and if I had been an artist I could have painted the whole scene as it was impressed upon my mind, more indelibly fixed than anything I had ever seen with the natural eye. —JD 22:331-333, October 8, 1881.
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(Wilford Woodruff, The Discourses of Wilford Woodruff, edited by G. Homer Durham [Salt Lake City: Bookcraft, 1969], 64.)
And I will here say that every elder of Israel who lays down his life, whether he dies in his bed, or is put to death by the enemies of truth, when he goes into the spirit world his works follow him, and he rests in peace. The priesthood is not taken from him, and he has thousands more to preach to there than he ever had here in the flesh. But it depends upon the living here to erect temples, that the ordinances for the dead may be attended to, for by and by you will meet your progenitors in the spirit world who never heard the sound of the gospel. You who are here in Zion have power to be baptized for and to redeem your dead.—JD 17:250, October 9, 1874.
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Wilford Woodruff, (Journal of Discourses, 22: 334.)
Here is a kingdom of Priests raised up by the power of God to take hold and build up the kingdom of God. The same Priesthood exists on the other side of the vail. Every man who is faithful in his quorum here will join his quorum there. When a man dies and his body is laid in the tomb, he does not lose his position. The Prophet Joseph Smith held the keys of this dispensation on this side of the vail, and he will hold them throughout the countless ages of eternity. He went into the spirit world to unlock the prison doors and to preach the Gospel to the millions of spirits who are in darkness, and every Apostle, every Seventy, every Elder, etc., who has died in the faith as soon as he passes to the other side of the vail, enters into the work of the ministry, and there is a thousand times more to preach there than there is here.
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Wilford Woodruff, Journal of Discourses, 21: 317.)
I reflect a good deal with regard to our position, as was described to us to-day by Brother Pratt. It has been my faith and belief from the time that I was made acquainted with the Gospel that no greater prophet than Joseph Smith ever lived on the face of the earth save Jesus Christ. He was raised up to stand at the head of this great dispensation—the greatest of all dispensations God has ever given to man. He remarked on several occasions when conversing with his brethren: “brethren you do not know me, you do not know who I am.” As I remarked at our priesthood meeting on Friday evening, I have heard him in my early days while conversing with the brethren, say, (at the same time smiting himself upon the breast) “I would to God that I could unbosom my feelings in the house of my friends.” Joseph Smith was ordained before he came here, the same as Jeremiah was. Said the Lord unto him, “Before you were begotten I knew you” etc.
So do I believe with regard to this people, so do I believe with regard to the apostles, the high priests, seventies and the elders of Israel bearing the holy priesthood, I believe they were ordained before they came here; and I believe the God of Israel has raised them up, and has watched over them from their youth, and has carried them through all the scenes of life both seen and unseen, and has prepared them as instruments in his hands to take this kingdom and bear it off. If this be so, what manner of men ought we to be? If anything under the heavens should humble men before the Lord and before one another, it should be the fact that we have been called of God.
I believe the eyes of the heavenly hosts are over this people; I believe they are watching the elders of Israel, the prophets and apostles and men who are called to bear off this kingdom. I believe they watch over us all with great interest.
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Discourse Delivered by President Wilford Woodruff, at the Weber Stake Conference, Ogden, Monday, October 19, 1896. (Brian H. Stuy, ed., Collected Discourses, 5 vols. [Burbank, Calif., and Woodland Hills, Ut.: B.H.S. Publishing, 1987-1992], 5: .)
Now I will give you a little of my experience in this line. Joseph Smith visited me a great deal after his death, and taught me many important principles. The last time he visited me was while I was in a storm at sea. I was going on my last mission to preside in England. My companions were Brother Leonard W. Hardy, Brother Milton Holmes, Brother Dan Jones, and another brother, and my wife and two other women. We had been traveling three days and nights in a heavy gale, and were being driven backwards. Finally I asked my companions to come into the cabin with me, and I told them to pray that the Lord would change the wind. I had no fears of being lost; but I did not like the idea of being driven back to New York, as I wanted to go on my journey. We all offered the same prayer, both men and women; and when we got through we stepped on to the deck and in less than a minute it was as though a man had taken a sword and cut that gale through, and you might have thrown a muslin handkerchief out and it would not have moved it. The night following this Joseph and Hyrum visited me, and the Prophet laid before me a great many things. Among other things, he told me to get the Spirit of God; that all of us needed it. He also told me what the Twelve Apostles would be called to go through on the earth before the coming of the Son of Man, and what the reward of their labors would be; but all that was taken from me, for some reason. Nevertheless I know it was most glorious, although much would be required at our hands.
Joseph Smith continued visiting myself and others up to a certain time, and then it stopped. The last time I saw him was in heaven. In the night vision I saw him at the door of the temple in heaven. He came and spoke to me. He said he could not stop to talk with me because he was in a hurry. The next man I met was Father Smith; he could not talk with me because he was in a hurry. I met half a dozen brethren who had held high positions on earth, and none of them could stop to talk with me because they were in a hurry. I was much astonished. By and by I saw the Prophet again, and I got the privilege to ask him a question. “Now,” said I, “I want to know why you are in a hurry. I have been in a hurry all through my life; but I expected my hurry would be over when I got into the kingdom of heaven, if I ever did.” Joseph said: “I will tell you, Brother Woodruff. Every dispensation that has had the Priesthood on the earth and has gone into the celestial kingdom, has had a certain amount of work to do to prepare to go to the earth with the Savior when He goes to reign on the earth. Each dispensation has had ample time to do this work. We have not. We are the last dispensation, and so much work has to be done, and we need to be in a hurry in order to accomplish it.” Of course, that was satisfactory to me, but it was new doctrine to me.
Brigham Young also visited me after his death. On one occasion he and Brother Heber C. Kimball came in a splendid chariot, with fine white horses, and accompanied me to a conference that I was going to attend. When I got there I asked Brother Brigham if he would take charge of the conference. “No,” said he, “I have done my work here . I have come to see what you are doing and what you are teaching the people.” And he told me what Joseph Smith had taught him in Winter Quarters, to teach the people to get the Spirit of God. He said, “I want you to teach the people to get the Spirit of God. You cannot build up the Kingdom of God without that.”
That is what I want to say to the brethren and sisters here today. Every man and woman in this Church should labor to get that Spirit. We are surrounded by these evil spirits that are at war against God and against everything looking to the building up of the kingdom of God; and we need this Holy Spirit to enable us to overcome these influences. I have had the Holy Ghost in my travels. Every man has that has gone out into the vineyard and labored faithfully for the cause of God. I have referred to the administration of angels to myself. What did these angels do? One of them taught me some things relating to the signs that should precede the coming of the Son of Man. Others came and saved my life. What then? They turned and left me. But how is it with the Holy Ghost? The Holy Ghost does not leave me if I do my duty. It does not leave any man who does his duty. We have known this all the way through. Joseph Smith told Brother John Taylor on one occasion to labor to get the Spirit of God, and to follow its dictation, and it would become a principle of revelation within him. God has blessed me with that, and everything I have done since I have been in this Church has been done upon that principle. The Spirit of God has told me what to do, and I have had to follow that.
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(Wilford Woodruff, The Discourses of Wilford Woodruff, edited by G. Homer Durham [Salt Lake City: Bookcraft, 1969], 291.)
I believe the eyes of the heavenly hosts are over this people; I believe they are watching the elders of Israel, the prophets and apostles and men who are called to bear off this kingdom. I believe they watch over us all with great interest…. I have had many interviews with Brother Joseph until the last fifteen or twenty years of my life; I have not seen him for that length of time. But during my travels in the southern country last winter I had many interviews with President Young, and with Heber C. Kimball, and George A. Smith, and Jedediah M. Grant, and many others who are dead. They attended our conference, they attended our meetings. And on one occasion, I saw Brother Brigham and Brother Heber ride in a carriage ahead of the carriage in which I rode when I was on my way to attend conference; and they were dressed in the most priestly robes. When we arrived at our destination I asked President Young if he would preach to us. He said, “No, I have finished my testimony in the flesh. I shall not talk to this people any more.” “But, said he, “I have come to see you; I have come to watch over you, and to see what the people are doing.” Then, said he, “I want you to teach the people-and I want you to follow this counsel yourself-that they must labor and so live as to obtain the Holy Spirit, for without this you cannot build up the kingdom; without the spirit of God you are in danger of walking in the dark, and in danger of failing to accomplish your calling as apostles and as elders in the church and kingdom of God.” And, said he, “Brother Joseph taught me this principle.”
And I will here say, I have heard him refer to that while he was living. But what I was going to say is this: the thought came to me that Brother Joseph had left the work of watching over this Church and kingdom to others, and that he had gone ahead, and that he had left this work to men who have lived and labored with us since he left us. This idea manifested itself to me, that such men advance in the spirit world. And I believe myself that these men who have died and gone into the spirit world had this mission left with them; that is, a certain portion of them, to watch over the Latter-day Saints.—JD 21:317-318, October 10, 1880.
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HEBER J. GRANT
President Heber J. Grant, Conference Report, April 1941, First Day—Morning Meeting
“‘I want to be all alone. Go ahead and follow the crowd.’ I first asked him if I allowed the animal I was riding to walk if I would reach the road on the other side of the gulley before the horsemen and the wagons, and he said, ‘Yes.’
“As I was riding along to meet them on the other side I seemed to see, and I seemed to hear, what to me is one of the most real things in all my life, I seemed to see a Council in Heaven. I seemed to hear the words that were spoken. I listened to the discussion with a great deal of interest. The First Presidency and the Council of the Twelve Apostles had not been able to agree on two men to fill the vacancies in the Quorum of the Twelve. There had been a vacancy of one for two years, and a vacancy of two for one year, and the Conference had adjourned without the vacancies being filled. In this Council the Savior was present, my father was there, and the Prophet Joseph Smith was there. They discussed the question that a mistake had been made in not filling those two vacancies and that in all probability it would be another six months before the Quorum would be completed, and they discussed as to whom they wanted to occupy those positions, and decided that the way to remedy the mistake that had been made in notfilling these vacancies was to send a revelation. It was given to me that the Prophet Joseph Smith and my father mentioned me and requested that I be called to that position. I sat there and wept for joy. It was given to me that I had done nothing to entitle me to that exalted position, except that I had lived a clean, sweet life. It was given to me that because of my father having practically sacrificed his life in what was known as the great Reformation, so to speak, of the people in early days, having been practically a martyr, that the Prophet Joseph and my father desired me to have that position, and it was because of their faithful labors that I was called, and not because of anything I had done of myself or any great thing that I had accomplished. It was also given to me that that was all these men, the Prophet and my father, could do for me; from that day it depended upon me and upon me alone as to whether I made a success of my life or a failure.
RESPONSIBILITY TO MAKE GOOD
There is a law, irrevocably decreed in Heaven before the foundations of this world, upon which all blessings are predicated, and when we obtain any blessing from God, it is by obedience to that law upon which it is predicated.
“It was given to me, as I say, that it now depended upon me.
“No man could have been more unhappy than I was from October 1882, until February, 1883, but from that day I have never been bothered, night or day, with the idea that I was not worthy to stand as an Apostle, and I have not been worried since the last words uttered by Joseph F. Smith to me: “The Lord bless you, my boy, the Lord bless you; you have got a great responsibility. Always remember this is the Lord’s work and not man’s. The Lord is greater than any man. He knows whom He wants to lead His Church, and never makes any mistake. The Lord bless you.’
“I have been happy during the twenty-two years that it has fallen my lot to stand at the head of this Church. I have felt the inspiration of the Living God directing me in my labors. From the day that I chose a comparative stranger to be one of the Apostles, instead of my lifelong and dearest living friend, I have known as I know that I live, that I am entitled to the light and the inspiration and the guidance of God in directing His work here upon this earth; and I know, as I know that I live, that it is God’s work, and that Jesus Christ is the Son of the Living God, the Redeemer of the world and that He came to this earth with a divine mission to die upon the cross as the Redeemer of mankind, atoning for the sins of the world.
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The Editor’s Page, Improvement Era, 1940, Vol. Xliii. June, 1940. No. 6.
The EDITOR’S PAGE
In the Hour of Parting
By PRESIDENT HEBER J. GRANT
I REGRET ofttimes, in the times of distress and trouble that come to those whom we admire and love, that we are not able to lift from their shoulders the sorrow into which they are plunged, when they are called upon to part with those they cherish.
But we realize that our Father in heaven can bind up broken hearts and that He can dispel sorrow and that He can point forward with joy and satisfaction to those blessings that are to come through obedience to the Gospel of the Lord Jesus Christ, for we do understand and we do have conviction that it is the will of our Father in heaven that we shall live on and that we have not finished our existence when these bodies of mortality are laid away in the grave.
It is a very great blessing that in the providences of the Lord and in the revelations that have been given by our Father in heaven, we have the assurance that the spirit and the body, in due time, will be reunited, notwithstanding the unbelief that there is in the world today—and there certainly is great skepticism and unbelief in relation to this matter. But notwithstanding this, we have assurance through the revelations that have been given by the Lord our God, that that is the purpose of God, that the body and the spirit shall be eternally united and that there will come a time, through the blessing and mercy of God, when we will no more have sorrow but when we shall have conquered all of these things that are of a trying and distressing character, and shall stand up in the presence of the living God, filled with joy and peace and satisfaction.
I was thoroughly convinced in my own mind and in my own heart, when my first wife left me by death, that it was the will of the Lord that she should be called away. I bowed in humility at her death. The Lord saw fit upon that occasion to give to one of my little children a testimony that the death of her mother was the will of the Lord.
About one hour before my wife died, I called my children into her room and told them that their mother was dying and for them to bid her goodbye. One of the little girls, about twelve years of age, said to me: “Papa, I do not want my Mamma to die. I have been with you in the hospital in San Francisco for six months; time and time again when Mamma was in distress you have administered to her and she has been relieved of her pain and quietly gone to sleep. I want you to lay hands upon my Mamma and heal her.”
I told my little girl that we all had to die sometime and that I felt assured in my heart that her mother’s time had arrived; and she and the rest of the children left the room.
I then knelt down by the bed of my wife (who by this time had lost consciousness) and I told the Lord I acknowledged His hand in life, in death, in joy, in sorrow, in prosperity or adversity; I thanked Him for the knowledge I had that my wife belonged to me for all eternity, that the Gospel of Jesus Christ had been restored, that I knew that by the power and authority of the Priesthood here on the earth that I could and would have my wife forever if I were only faithful as she had been; but I told the Lord that I lacked the strength to have my wife die and to have it affect the faith of my little children in the ordinances of the Gospel of Jesus Christ; and I supplicated the Lord with all the strength that I possessed, that He would give to that little girl of mine a knowledge that it was His mind and His will that her Mamma should die.
Within an hour my wife passed away, and I called the children back into the room. My little boy about five and a half or six years of age was weeping bitterly, and the little girl twelve years of age took him in her arms and said: “Do not weep, do not cry, Heber; since we went out of this room the voice of the Lord from heaven has said to me, ‘In the death of your Mamma the will of the Lord shall be done.'”
Tell me, my friends, that I do not know that God hears and answers prayers! Tell me that I do not know that in the hour of adversity the Latter-day Saints are comforted and blessed and consoled as no other people are!
I have been blessed with only two sons. One of them died at five years of age and the other at seven. My last son died of a hip disease. I had built great hopes that he would live to spread the Gospel at home and abroad and be an honor to me. About an hour before he died I had a dream that his mother, who was dead, came for him, and that she brought with her a messenger, and she told this messenger to take the boy while I was asleep; and in the dream I thought I awoke and I seized my son and fought for him and finally succeeded in getting him away from the messenger who had come to take him, and in so doing I dreamed that I stumbled and fell upon him.
I dreamed that I fell upon his sore hip, and the terrible cries and anguish
I dreamed that I fell upon his sore hip, and the terrible cries and anguish of the child drove me nearly wild. I could not stand it, and I jumped up and ran out of the house so as not to hear his distress. I dreamed that after running out of the house I met Brother Joseph E. Taylor and told him of these things.
He said: ‘Well, Heber, do you know what I would do if my wife came for one of her children—I would not struggle for that child; I would not oppose her taking that child away. If a mother who had been faithful had passed beyond the veil, she would know of the suffering and the anguish her child may have to suffer. She should know whether that child might go through life as a cripple and whether it would be better or wiser for that child to be relieved from the torture of life. And when you stop to think, Brother Grant, that the mother of that boy went down into the shadow of death to give him life, she is the one who ought to have the right to take him or leave him.’
I said, ‘I believe you are right, Brother Taylor, and if she comes again, she shall have the boy without any protest on my part.’
After coming to that conclusion, I was waked by my brother, B. F. Grant, who was staying that night with us. He came into the room and told me that the child was dying. I went in the front room and sat down. There was a vacant chair between me and my wife who is now living, and I felt the presence of that boy’s deceased mother sitting in that chair. I did not tell anybody what I felt, but I turned to my wife and said, ‘Do you feel anything strange?’
“‘Yes, I feel assured that Heber’s mother is sitting between us, waiting to take him away.’
Now, I am naturally, I believe, a sympathetic man. I was raised as an only child with all the affection that a mother could lavish upon a boy. I believe that I am naturally affectionate and sympathetic and that I shed tears for my friends—tears of joy for their success and tears of sorrow for their misfortunes. But I sat by the deathbed of my little boy and saw him die, without shedding a tear. My living wife, my brother, and I upon that occasion experienced a sweet, peaceful, and heavenly influence in my home, as great as I have ever experienced in my life. And no person can tell me that every other Latter-day Saint that has a knowledge of the gospel in his heart and soul, can really mourn for his loved ones; only in the loss of their society here in this life.
“I never think of my wives and my dear mother, my two boys, my daughter, my departed friends, and my beloved associates as being in the graveyard. I think only of the joy they have in meeting with father and mother and loved ones who have been true and faithful to the gospel of the Lord Jesus Christ. My mind reaches out to the wonderful joy and satisfaction and happiness that they are having, and it robs the grave of its sting.”
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DAVID O. McKAY
Improvement Era, Feb. 1965, vol 68, p. 107
At the dedication of the Oakland Temple, President McKay said:
“I welcome, also, an unseen, but I believe a real, audience, among whom are former Presidents and Apostles of the Church, headed by the Prophet Joseph, to whom was revealed the essential ordinance of baptism for those who have died without having heard the gospel, President Young, President Taylor, President Woodruff, President Snow, President Joseph F. Smith, President Grant, and President George Albert Smith. With those distinguished leaders, we welcome our departed loved ones whom we cannot see, but whose presence we keenly feel.”
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