The Essential Joseph Smith
Foreword by Marvin S. Hill
“How Oft Would I Have Gathered You Together,” A Sermon Delivered on 11 June 1843
(from Scott G. Kenney, ed., Wilford Woodruff’s Journal, 9 vols.
[Midvale, Utah: Signature Books, 1983-85], 2:240-42)
[p.183]A large assembly of Saints met at the Temple & were addressed by president Joseph Smith. He took for the foundation of his discourse the words of Jesus to the Jews how oft would I have gathered you together as a hen gathereth her chickens under wings But ye would not &c.
He then asked what was the object of Gathering the Jews together or the people of God in any age of the world. The main object was to build unto the Lord an house whereby he Could reveal unto his people the ordinances of his house and glories of his kingdom & teach the people the ways of salvation. For their are certain ordinances & principles that when they are taught and practized, must be done in a place or house built for that purpose. This was purposed in the mind of God before the world was & it was for this purpose that God designed to gather together the Jews oft but they would not. It is for the same purpose that God gathers together the people in the last days to build unto the Lord an house to prepare them for the ordinances & endowments washings & anointings &c.
One of the ordinances of the house of the Lord is Baptism for the dead. God decreed before the foundation of the world that that ordinance should be administered in a house prepared for that purpose. If a man gets the fulness of God he has to get [it] in the same way that Jesus Christ obtained it & that was by keeping all the ordinances of the house of the Lord.
Men will say I will never forsake you, but will stand by you at all times. But the moment you teach them some of the mysteries of God that are retained in the heavens and are to be revealed to the children of men when they are prepared, They will be the first to stone you & put you to death. It was the same principle that crusified the Lord Jesus Christ.
I will say something about the spirits in prision. Their has been [p.184]much said about the sayings of Jesus on the cross to the thief saying this day thou shalt be with me in paradise. The commentators or translators make it out to say Paradise. But what is Paradise? It is a modern word. It does not answer at all to the original that Jesus made use of. Their is nothing in the original in any language that signifies Paradise. But it was this day I will be with thee in the world of spirits & will teach thee or answer thy inquiries. The thief on the Cross was to be with Jesus Christ in the world of spirits. He did not say Paradise or heaven.
The doctrin of Baptism for the dead is clearly shown in the new testament. And if the doctrin is not good then throw away the new testament. But if it is the word of God then let the doctrin be acknowledged & it was one reason why Jesus said how oft would I have gathered you (the Jews) together that they might attend to the ordinance of the baptism for the dead as well as the other ordinances, the Priesthood Revelations &c. This was the case on the day of Pentecost. These Blessings were poured out upon the deciples on that occasion.
Their has been Also much said about the word Hell & the sectarian world have preached much about it. But what is hell? It is annother modern term. It is taken from hades the greek or shaole, the (hebrew) & the true signification is a world of spirits.
Hades shaole paradise, spirits in prision is all one. It is a world of spirits. The righteous & the wicked all go to the same world of spirits. But says one I believe in one hell & one heaven. All are equally miserable or equally happy. But St Paul informs us of three glories & three heavens. He knew a man caught up to the third heavens, & Jesus said their were many mansions in my Fathers kingdom.
Any man may believe Jesus Christ is good & be happy in it & yet not obey his commands & at last be cut down by his righteous commandments. A man of God should be endowed with all wisdom knowledge & understanding in order to teach & lead people. The blind may lead the blind & both fall into the death together.
Their is much said concerning God the Godhead &c. The scripture says their is Gods many & Lords many. The teachers of the day say that the father is God the Son is God & the Holy Ghost is God & that they are all in one body & one God. Jesus says or prays that those that the father had given him out of the world might be made one in us as we are one. But if they were to be stuffed into one person they would make a great God.
[p.185]If I were to testify that the world was wrong on this point it would be true. Peter says that Jesus Christ sat on the right hand of God. Any person that has seen the heavens opened knows that their is three personages in the heavens holding the keys of power. As the father hath power in himself so the Son hath power in himself. Then the father has some day laid down his body & taken it again. So he has a bo[d]y of his own. So has his Son a body of his own. So each one will be in their own body.
Many of the sects cry out O I have the testimony of Jesus. I have the spirit of God. But away with Jo Smith. He says he is a Prophet But their is to be no Prophets nor revelations in the last days; But stop sir the Revelator says that the testimony of Jesus is the spirit of Prophecy. So by your own mouth you are condemned.
But to the text. Why gather the people together in this place? For the same purpose that Jesus wanted to gather the Jews. To receive the ordinances, the blessings & the glories that God has in store for his Saints. And I would now ask this assembly and all the Saints if they will now build this house & receive the ordinances & Blessings which God has in store for you, or will you not build unto the Lord this house & let him pass by & bestow these blessings upon another? I pause for a reply.