The Essential Joseph Smith
Foreword by Marvin S. Hill
“When I Consider the Surrounding Circumstances,” A Sermon Delivered on 21 January 1844
(from Scott G. Kenney, ed., Wilford Woodruff’s Journal, 9 vols.
[Midvale, Utah: Signature Books, 1983-85], 2:341-43)
[p.211]When I consider the surrounding circumstances in which I am placed in this day, standing in the open air with week lungs & sumwhat 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.
Their are many people assembled here to day & throughout this city, & from various parts of the world who say that they have recieved 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 [Reynolds] 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).
But what is the object of this important mission or how is it to be fulfilled? The keys are to be deliverd[,] 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 exhalted to thrones of glory with us, & herein is the [p.212]Chain that binds the hearts of the fathers to the Children & the Children to the Fathers which fulfills the mission of Elijah & 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.
And the Saints have none to[o] 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 & 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.
And 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 their is so many fools in the world for the devil to operate upon it gives him the advantage often times.
The question is frequently asked can we not be saved without going through with all thes ordinances &c. I would answer No not the fulness 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 exhalted to the highest mansion has to abide a celestial law & the whole law to[o].
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 corndoger 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 recieve the things of God, but we freequently see some of them after suffering all they have for the work of God will fly to peaces 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 & recieve their exhaltation I am unable to say but many are called & few are Chosen.