Rebaptism, Oct 4, 1840 (Sunday Morning)

-- Oct 4, 1840 (Sunday Morning)
[Joseph Smith Sermon] (Source: Times and Seasons -1840-: 186 -Words of Joseph Smith, 38) President Joseph Smith jr. then arose and delivered a discourse on the subject of baptism for the dead, which was listened to with considerable interest, by the vast multitude assembled. (1)

-- Oct 19, 1840
[Joseph Smith] Joseph and Hyrum write to the Saints in Kirtland, encouraging them to be unified in the gospel. Joseph writes to the Twelve in Great Britain about several spiritual and temporal concerns, especially referring to the doctrine of baptism for the dead. (2)

-- Jan 19, 1841
[D and C] Doctrine and Covenants 124: Revelation given to Joseph Smith the Prophet, at Nauvoo, Illinois, January 19, 1841. HC 4: 274-286. Because of increasing persecutions and illegal procedures against them by public officers, the saints had been compelled to leave Missouri. The exterminating order issued by Lilburn W. Boggs, Governor of Missouri, dated October 27, 1838, had left them no alternative. See HC 3: 175. In 1841, when this revelation was given, the city of Nauvoo, occupying the site of the former village of Commerce, Illinois, had been built up by the saints, and here the headquarters of the Church had been established.

.... 22-28, The saints are commanded to build both a house for the entertainment of strangers and a temple in Nauvoo; 29-36, Baptisms for the dead are to be performed in temples; 37-44, The Lord's people always build temples for the performance of holy ordinances; 45-55, The saints are excused from building the temple in Jackson County because of the oppression of their enemies ... (3)

Historical Note: After the Prophet was freed from his Missouri imprisonment (16 April 1839), immediate plans were made to locate the Saints at another gathering place. Upon viewing properties in Lee County, Iowa, and Hancock County, Illinois, Church land agents purchased thousands of acres of unimproved land in these two counties, and soon Nauvoo (Commerce) became the headquarters of the Church.

With the land problem temporarily solved, Joseph Smith turned his attention to balancing accounts for wrongs suffered in Missouri. With others, the Prophet traveled to Washington, D.C., November 1839-March 1840, where he held audience with President Martin Van Buren, presented Congress with claims against the State of Missouri, and lobbied for redress of Missouri grievances. After achieving little or no success in the East, Joseph Smith returned to Nauvoo, where he began to build up and strengthen the Church. Section 124, the first known revelation since July 1838, was received about four weeks after the governor of Illinois had signed charters for the city of Nauvoo, the University of Nauvoo, the Nauvoo House Association, the Nauvoo Agricultural and Mechanical Association, and the Nauvoo Legion. The revelation had monumental importance to the Prophet and his associates because its fulfillment engaged nearly every waking moment of the Prophet's time until his death. Followi
ng is a discussion of the major topics contained in this "famous revelation.". ....

The construction of the Nauvoo Temple. Prior to the reception of section 124, plans for the erection of a temple in Nauvoo had been disclosed by the Prophet. The official public announcement came at a general conference of the Church on 3 October 1840 in Nauvoo. At the meeting a temple committee, consisting of Reynolds Cahoon, Alpheus Cutler, and Elias Higbee, was appointed to supervise the construction of the sacred edifice. All three of this committee had worked on the Kirtland Temple. Cahoon, a veteran at this sort of work, had served as a member of the Kirtland Temple committee, and Cutler had had important responsibilities as master mason of the uncompleted temple at Far West, Missouri. Land for the temple, acquired from Daniel H. Wells, was located on the east bench of the new city, overlooking the Mississippi River. Grandest of all Nauvoo construction projects, the building of the temple would dominate the activities of the Mormon city for nearly five years. At the 3
October meeting the Prophet asked that work on the temple begin within ten days and that every tenth day be given to labor on the building. The construction plans of architect William Weeks won acceptance by Joseph Smith, and although the former would be recognized as the chief architect of the temple, his work was always subject to the latter's approval.

Excavation of the foundation began immediately, and on 12 October 1840 a quarry was opened on the outskirts of the city. Albert P. Rockwood, assisted by Charles Drury, supervised the stone-cutting from beginning to end. Work at the quarry often continued during the winter months. The walls of the temple consisted of solid blocks of cut limestone--from four to six feet thick. The stones were roughly cut at the quarry, then dressed and polished at the temple site. Mostly uniform in size and shape, some of the stones were said to have weighed as much as two tons. William W. Player, a convert from England, had come to Nauvoo specifically to direct the stone setting. He began work on 8 June 1842 and continued as principal stone-setter until the last stone was set, on 24 May 1845. The stones were moved into place by means of specially made cranes. As many as three cranes were in use by 1844. One man, Moses Horn, was killed while blasting at the quarry on 14 March 1845.

The foundation of the temple was laid out by the temple committee in early February 1840, and digging of the basement began on 18 February. To better organize the donated labor, the city was divided into wards on 22 February 1841, and each ward was assigned a particular day for working on the building.

By 8 March 1841 workers began laying the foundation stones, and by 5 April 1841 the walls were five feet high and ready for the placing of the cornerstones. April 6, 1841, was a day of much festivity in Nauvoo. Anticipating the anniversary of the organization of the Church, the Prophet had given instructions to have all things in readiness for the laying of the cornerstones. Great ceremony attended the placing of the four stones. The Nauvoo Legion paraded, bands played, a prayer of dedication was offered, and Sidney Rigdon delivered an able address to an estimated congregation of 10,000. The following day Joseph called for contributions of labor, money, and materials for the temple, and on 9 April he informed the elders that labor on the temple was as acceptable as preaching. The same day eight agents were appointed to collect funds for the building of the edifice.

Following the April conference, work on the temple progressed rapidly as the Saints began to give more liberally of their time and means. Although labor had been essentially donated up to that time, the increase in contributions allowed the temple committee to hire a number of skilled craftsmen on a permanent basis.

By July 1841 plans were under way to erect a pinewood baptistry in the basement of the temple. Plans drafted by Weeks for the font were approved, and work began on 8 August 1841. The font was constructed promptly and was dedicated on 8 November 1841 by Joseph Smith. The baptistry was approximately sixteen feet long, twelve feet wide, and seven feet high from the foundation, and the basin was four feet deep. Twelve life-sized wooden oxen, carved by Elijah Fordham, supported the font. Water for the baptistry was drawn from a thirty-foot well in the east end of the basement. In 1845 the wooden font was replaced with one of stone.

As has been mentioned elsewhere, timber for the temple interior was acquired from the forests of Wisconsin. Alpheus Cutler, Peter Haws, and others left Nauvoo to cut timber in the "pineries" on 25 September 1841. In late April of the following year, another company left to join the original group; a third party, consisting of some fifty men with keel boats and provisions, departed Nauvoo on 6 July 1842.

The first lumber reached the Mormon city on 4 August 1842, consisting of 100,000 board feet of sawed lumber, and 192,000 square feet of rough timber. Alpheus Cutler returned to Nauvoo on 13 August 1842 with a second raft containing 90,000 board feet and 288,000 square feet of timber. George Miller, Nauvoo House Association member, led another group to the Wisconsin pineries in late 1842. Their work yielded at least three loads of lumber in 1843 consisting of some 650,000 board feet of lumber and seventy thousand shingles. Two additional rafts, laden with 155,684 board feet of lumber, arrived in Nauvoo in July 1844. One man, named Cunningham, was drowned while rafting logs in the summer of 1843.

The Nauvoo Temple, not unlike the Kirtland Temple, was of a high rectangular shape with double rows of windows and with a tower rising from the main body. The dimensions were imposing: 188 feet long by 88 feet wide, and from the basement to the tower the height was about 159 feet. The building was divided into four levels--a basement, two almost identical stories, and an attic.

The basement was divided off into thirteen rooms--six along either side, and one large room (100 feet by 50 feet) running through the center. The baptismal font was in the center of the main room, and at the east end was the well.

The first story, entered by the main entrance on the west, was not completed, but the plan was to divide it into fifteen rooms--a large central auditorium (100 feet by 50 feet) with smaller rooms along each side. The ceiling was of an arched design, plastered and painted. Tiered pulpits, for the Melchizedek and Aaronic priesthoods, were located at either end of the hall. The second level, nearly identical in size, was intended to be a duplicate of the first.

Rising above the temple's massive limestone walls was the attic. The western section, called the "half-story," was more than eighty feet long and forty feet wide. Accessed by either of two large, circular staircases, the half-story was divided into a number of rooms. Passing the outer and inner courts, one could gain access to the Council Chamber, a long hall running the remaining length of the attic to the east. This hall was partitioned off for temple ordinance work. Along each side of the Council Chamber were six small rooms assigned to individuals or priesthood quorums.

On 13 December 1841 Willard Richards was appointed recorder of temple donations. His office was located in the "counting room" of the Prophet's red-brick store. Before this, Elias Higbee had occupied nearly all his time issuing receipts for donations. But earlier that year, when Joseph became sole Trustee-in-Trust for the Church, it was decided that all donations should come through his office.

Donors and amounts were logged into a special record book called the "Book of the Law of the Lord." The Saints were to contribute one tenth of all they possessed at the commencement of the temple construction, and one tenth of all increase from that time until its completion. On 10 February 1842 William Clayton was called to assist Richards, and on 3 September 1842, after the latter's departure to the eastern states, the Prophet appointed Clayton official Temple Recorder. James Whitehead became Clayton's assistant on 11 June 1842. In the fall of 1842 it was agreed that the recorder's office should be moved to better accommodate the interests of the committee and the recorders. Accordingly, the temple committee directed the construction of a small brick recorder's office near the temple, and on 2 November 1842 Clayton moved his records and other materials into the new building. A new tithing office was opened in December 1844 at Parley P. Pratt's new store one block north of
the temple. ...

The Priesthood ordinances of the temple. (See verses 28, 40-42, 55, 95, and 97). Whereas the term endowment has come to be known as the embodiment of certain priesthood ordinances performed in the temple, Kirtland usage of the term connoted, not the ordinances themselves, but rather the outpouring of the spirit upon those who had participated in the ordinances. .... Related ordinances administered by the Prophet before the completion of the temple included eternal marriages, baptisms for the dead, and conferring the fulness of the priesthood. Approximately one hundred fifty people were eternally sealed to their companions under the direction of Joseph Smith beginning 5 April 1841. Baptisms for the dead commenced about 15 August 1840. Initially these ordinances were performed in the Mississippi River and local streams, but with few exceptions proxy baptisms were performed only in the temple baptistry after 21 November 1841. Some of these early baptisms were not properly reco
rded, but extant records indicate that at least 15,626 proxy baptisms were performed in Nauvoo (either in the baptistry or in rivers or streams). ...

Publication Note. Section 124 was first published in the Times and Seasons (1 June 1841) and was included as section 103 in the 1844 edition of the Doctrine and Covenants. (4)

1 - The Woodland Institute,
2 - Conkling, Christopher J., Joseph Smith Chronology
3 - Doctrine and Covenants,
4 - Cook, Lyndon, Revelations of the Prophet Joseph Smith: A Historical and Biographical Commentary of the Doctrine and Covenants,

LDS History Chronology: Unconventional Baptism

Mormon History Timeline: Forms of Rebaptism in LDS History