Joseph Smith

    Prophet of God

    The Saints' Devotion to the Temple

    The House of the Lord


    Joseph Smith presided over the laying of the cornerstones 1 of the Nauvoo Temple in a grand ceremony on April 6, 1841, the eleventh anniversary of the founding of the Church. "The more than 10,000 residents, visiting dignitaries and Church leaders, moving in harmony, in friendship, in dignity" created an imposing spectacle. 2 Joseph Smith laid the southeast cornerstone, "in honor of the Great God" and pledged speedy construction, "that the Saints 3 may have a place to worship God, and the Son of Man 4 have where to lay His head."

    Men contributed one day in ten to construction. The Prophet Joseph organized the Female Relief Society 5 of Nauvoo to assist with clothing for temple laborers and care for needy families.

    Brigham Young laid the capstone of the temple May 24, 1845; the Prophet Joseph had been dead nearly a year. During the months of December 1845 and the early months of 1846, the Saints received their blessings and endowments 6 prior to vacating the city of Nauvoo and heading west. They left the temple with a cryptic invitation painted on the east end: "THE LORD HAS BEHELD OUR SACRIFICE, COME AFTER US." 7


    Joseph Smith Quotes 

    [In] "the dispensation of the fullness of times, when God will gather together all things that are in heaven, and all things that are upon the earth, even in one," . . . the Saints of God will be gathered in one from every nation, and kindred, and people, and tongue, . . . and all things whether in heaven or on earth will be in one, even in Christ. The heavenly Priesthood will unite with the earthly, to bring about those great purposes; and whilst we are thus united in the one common cause, to roll forth the kingdom of God, the heavenly Priesthood are not idle spectators, the Spirit of God will be showered down from above, and it will dwell in our midst. The blessings of the Most High will rest upon our tabernacles. (History of the Church, 4:610; punctuation modernized.)

    Believing the time has now come, when it is necessary to erect a house of prayer, a house of order, a house for the worship of our God, where the ordinances can be attended to agreeably to His divine will. . . . it behooves the Saints to weigh the importance of these things, in their minds, [and] . . . resolve to do all they can, and feel themselves as much interested as though the whole labor depended on themselves alone. By so doing they will emulate the glorious deeds of the fathers, and secure the blessings of heaven upon themselves and their posterity to the latest generation. To those who feel thus interested, and can assist in this great work, we say, let them . . . assist in the rolling on of the Kingdom, . . . and rise higher and higher in the scale of intelligence until they can "comprehend with all Saints what is the breadth and length, and depth and height; and to know the love of Christ which passeth knowledge." (History of the Church, 4:186.)


    Sarah DeArmon Pea Rich, Early Member of the Church 

    If it had not been for the faith and knowledge that was bestowed upon us in that temple [Nauvoo] by the influence and help of the spirit of the Lord, our journey would have been like one taking a leap in the dark, to start out on such a journey in the winter as it was, and in our state of poverty, it would seem like walking into the jaws of death. But we had faith in our Heavenly Father, and we put our trust in Him, feeling that we were His chosen people and had embraced His gospel; and instead of sorrow we felt to rejoice that the day of our deliverance had come. (Sarah Rich Autobiography, Church Archives, The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, Salt Lake City, Utah.)

    Erastus Snow, Apostle, 1849–1888 

    The Spirit, Power, and Wisdom of God reigned continually in the Temple and all felt satisfied that during the two months we occupied it in the endowments of the Saints, we were amply paid for all our labors in building it. (Erastus Snow, Journals, Church Archives, The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, Salt Lake City, Utah.)

    Brigham Young, 2nd President of the Church, 1847–1877 

    We knelt around the altar, and dedicated the building to the Most High. We asked His blessing upon our intended move to the west; also we asked Him to enable us some day to finish the Temple, and dedicate it to Him, and we would leave it in His hands to do as He pleased; and to preserve the building as a monument to Joseph Smith. We asked the Lord to accept the labors of His servants in this land. (History of the Church, 7:580.)


    What was the purpose of the Nauvoo Temple?

    Joseph Smith explained that the purpose of the temple was to provide those ordinances necessary for a person to "come up and abide in the presence" of God in the eternal worlds. Among those ordinances were baptism, endowments, and sealings of families "for time and all eternity." These same ordinances were performed by proxy on behalf of relatives and friends who had passed on, in the belief that they lived on in a world of spirits and were capable of accepting or rejecting the gospel of Jesus Christ (History of the Church, 5:1–2).


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    [1] The main stone forming the corner of the foundation of a building. Jesus Christ is called the chief cornerstone (see Ephesians 2:20; The Guide to the Scriptures, "Cornerstone," 54).

    [2] Times and Seasons, Apr. 15, 1841, 377.

    [3] A faithful member of the Church of Jesus Christ (The Guide to the Scriptures, "Saint," 215–16).

    [4] A title that Jesus Christ used when speaking of Himself (see Luke 9:22; Luke 21:36). It meant the Son of the Man of Holiness. Man of Holiness is one of the names of God the Father. When Jesus called Himself the Son of Man, it was an open declaration of His divine relationship with the Father. This title is found frequently in the Gospels. Latter-day revelation confirms the special meaning and sacredness of this name of the Savior (D&C 45:39; 49:6, 22; 58:65; Moses 6:57; The Guide to the Scriptures, "Son of Man," 232).

    [5] An organization founded by the Prophet Joseph Smith on March 17, 1842, to provide relief for the poor and needy and to save souls (True to the Faith, "Relief Society," 130).

    [6] In a general sense, a gift of power from God. Worthy members of the Church can receive a gift of power through ordinances in the temple that gives them the instruction and covenants of the Holy Priesthood that they need in order to attain exaltation. The endowment includes instruction about the plan of salvation (The Guide to the Scriptures, "Endowment," 73–74).

    [7] William I. Appleby, Autobiography and Journal, Church Archives, The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, Salt Lake City, Utah.