BAPTISM FOR THE DEAD,
An Epistle of the Twelve Apostles to the Saints of the last days.
The building of the Temple of the Lord in the city of Nauvoo, is occupying the first place in the exertions and prayers of many of the Saints at the present time, knowing as they do, that if this building is not completed speedily, ‘we shall be rejected as a Church with our dead;’ for the Lord our God hath spoken it.
But while many are thus engaged in laboring and watching and praying for this all important object, there are many, very many more, who do not thus come up to their privilege and their duty in this thing, and in many instances we are confident that their neglect arises from a want of proper understanding of the principles upon which this building is founded, and by which it must be completed.
The children of Israel were commanded to build a house in the land of promise; and so are the Saints of the last days, as you will see in the Revelation given to Joseph the Seer January 19, 1841, wherein those ordinances may be revealed which have been hid for ages, even their anointings and washings, and baptisms for the dead; wherein they may meet in solemn assemblies for their memorials, sacrifices, and oracles in their most holy places; and wherein they may receive conversations, and statutes, and judgments, for the beginning of the revelations and foundations of Zion, and the glory, and honor, and adornment of all her municipals, through the medium which God hath ordained.
In the same revelation, the command is, to ‘all the Saints from afar,’ as well as those already gathered to this place; to arise with one consent and build the Temple; to prepare a place where the Most High may manifest himself to his people. No one is excepted who hath ought in his possession, for what have ye, that ye have not received? And I will require mine own with usury, saith the Lord; so that those who live thousands of miles from this place, come under the same law, and are entitled to the same blessings and privileges as those who have already gathered.
But some may say, how can this be, I am not there, therefore I cannot meet in the Temple, cannot be baptized in the font? The command of heaven is to you, to all, gather; and when you arrive here, if it is found that you have previously sent up of your gold or your silver, or your substance, the tithings and consecrations which are required of you for this building, you will find your names, tithings and consecrations written in the Book of the Law of the Lord, to be kept in the Temple, as a witness in your favor, showing that you are a proprietor in that building, and are entitled to your share of the privileges thereunto belonging.
One of those privileges which is particularly attracting the notice of the Saints at the present moment, is, baptism for the dead, &c., in the font, which is so far completed as to be dedicated, and several have already attended to this ordinance by which the sick have been made whole, and the prisoner set free; but while we have been called to administer this ordinance, we have been led to inquire into the propriety of baptizing those who have not been obedient, and assisted to build the place for baptism; and it seems to us unreasonable to expect that the great Jehovah will approbate such an administration; for if the Church must be brought under condemnation, and rejected with her dead, if she fail to build the house and its appurtenances, why should not individuals of the Church, who thus neglect, come under the same condemnation? For if they are to be rejected, they may as well be rejected without baptism, as with, for their baptism can be of no avail before God, and the time to baptize them may be appropriated to building the walls of the house, and this is according to the understanding which we have received from him who is our spokesman.
Let it not be supposed that the sick and the destitute are to be denied the blessings of the Lord’s House: God forbid; his eye is ever over them for good. He that hath not, and cannot obtain, but saith in his heart, if I had, I would give freely, is accepted as freely as he that gives of his abundance. The Temple is to be built by tithing and consecration, and every one is at liberty to consecrate all they find in their hearts so to do; but the tithings required, is one tenth of all any possessed at the commencement of the building, and one tenth part of all his increase from that time till the completion of the same, whether it be money or whatever he may be blessed with.
Many in this place are laboring every tenth day for the house, and this is the tithing of their income, for they have nothing else; others would labor the same but they are sick, therefore excusable; when they get well, let them begin; while there are others who appear to think their own business of more importance than the Lord’s. To such we would ask, who gave you your time, health, strength, and put you into business? And will you not begin quickly to return with usury that which you have received? Our God will not wait always.
We would remind some two or three hundred elders, who offered to go out on missions, some six months, others one year, and some two years, and had their missions assigned them at the General Conference to labor on the Temple that most of their names are still with us, and we wish them to call and take their names away, and give them up to the building committee.
Brethren, you have as great an interest at stake in this thing as we have, but as our Master, even the Master-builder of the Temple, whose throne is on high, has seen fit to constitute us stewards in some parts of his household: we feel it important for us to see to it that our Master is not defrauded, and especially by those who have pledged their word, their time, their talents, to his services; and we hope this gentle hint will suffice, that we may not be compelled to publish the names of those referred to.
Probably some may think they could have gone on a mission, but cannot labor, as they have no means of boarding themselves, but let such remember that several score of brethren and sisters in this city, offered to the General Conference, to board one or more laborers on the Temple till the same should be completed, and but few of these, as yet, have had the opportunity of boarding. To all such we would say, you are not forgotten, we have your names also, and we expect soon to send some one to your table, therefore put your houses in order and never be ready to refuse the first offer of a guest.
Large stores of provisions will be required to complete the work, and now is the time for securing it, while meat is plenty and can be had for one half the value that it can at other seasons of the year, and the weather is cool and suitable for packing. Let the brethren for two hundred miles around drive their fat cattle and hogs to this place, where they may be preserved, and there will be a supply till another favorable season rolls round, or ‘till the end of the labor.
Now is the time to secure food. Now is the time that the Trustee is ready to receive your droves. Not the maimed, the lean, the halt, and the blind, and such that you cannot use; it is for the Lord, and he wants no such offering; but if you want his blessing give him the best, give him as good as he has given you. Beds and bedding, socks, mittens, shoes, clothing of every description, and store goods are needed for the comfort of the laborers this winter; journeymen stone cutters, quarrymen, teams and teamsters for drawing stone, and all kinds of provision for men and beast, are needed in abundance.
There are individuals who have given nothing as yet, either as tithings or consecration, thinking that they shall be able to do a great deal some time hence, if they continue their present income to their own use; but this is a mistaken idea. Suppose that all should act upon this principle, no one would do aught at present, consequently the building must cease, and this generation remain without a house, and the Church be rejected; then suppose the next generation labor upon the same principle, and the same in all succeeding generations, the Son of God would never have a place on earth to lay his head.
Let every individual remember that their tithings and consecrations are required from what they have, and not what they expect to have some time hence, and are wanted for immediate use. All money and other property designed for tithings and consecrations to the building of the Temple, must hereafter be presented to the Trustee in Trust, President Joseph Smith, and entered at the Recorder’s Office in the book before referred to; and all receipts now holden by individuals, which they have received of the building committee for property delivered to them, must also be forwarded to the Recorder’s Office for entry, to secure the appropriation of said property according to the original design.
The elders every where will instruct the brethren both in public and in private, in the principles and doctrine set forth in this Epistle, so that every individual of the Church may have a perfect understanding of his duty and privilege.
HEBER C. KIMBALL,
GEO. A. SMITH,
“Nauvoo, Illinois, December 13, 1841.”
[Transcribed by Shannon Devenport, Christina Durham, and Mauri Pratt; May 2012]
The Twelve Apostles, “Baptism for the Dead,” an epistle, unknown newspaper, unknown date.