It is clear that each of the Prophets of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints had an understanding of the importance of the principle of baptism for the dead and of Temple work. This series presents some of the statements each of this dispensations Prophets have made concerning baptisms for the dead, Temple work, genealogy and family history.
Here are some of the statements of Brigham Young on these subjects:
This doctrine of baptism for the dead is a great doctrine, one of the most glorious doctrines that was ever revealed to the human family; and there are light, power, glory, honor and immortality in it. Brigham Young, Journal of Discourses 16:167In defending the doctrine of baptisms for the dead, Brigham Young made the following statement at
a Special Conference held in the Tabernacle, Great Salt Lake City, August 29, 1852, reported by G. D. Watt on pages 277-283 of the 6th volume of the Journal of Discourses;
When brother Joseph revealed the great mystery of being baptized for the dead, did not a great many of the Elders of Israel think then—"'Mormonism' cannot endure; it will be overcome." Every item of doctrine brother Joseph has brought forth had to meet with opposition from the world. We all know that it comes in contact with sectarian influence and every other influence that is not direct from God.
When the Elders went forth, the priests supposed they could easily put them down; but when they undertook to substantiate the doctrine of baptism for the dead, were the priests successful in confuting their arguments? No. The doctrine has ridden triumphantly over all sectarianism (what I mean by sectarianism is false religion); and it is so far from being put to silence by all the rest of the world, that it is as popular, wherever you go, as any doctrine taught; it is as readily and as quickly believed.In another discourse by President Brigham Young, Delivered in the Tabernacle, Great Salt Lake City, August 8, 1852, transcribed by G. D. Watt on pages 80-96 of volume 3, he states:
What shall we say of the people who live in the 19th century? When any of the Latter-day Elders or Apostles die, and leave this world, suffice it to say, that their spirits go to that prison, and preach the Gospel to those who have died without hearing it; and every spirit shall be judged precisely as though he lived in the flesh, when the fulness of the Gospel was upon the earth. This leads to the subject of the saving and redeeming powers possessed by the righteous; but we shall not have time this morning to treat upon it, suffice it to say, that saviors are coming up, in the last days, upon mount Zion.
This I say of every son and daughter of Adam, Prophets, Priests, and those that slew the Prophets, all go to prison; the Elders of this Church go there, and there continue their labors; and by and by you will see Zion redeemed, and saviors will come up upon mount Zion. The faithful Elders will come, and go forward in the ordinances of God, that our ancestors, and all who have died previous to the restoration of the Gospel in these last days, may be redeemed.Brigham Young spoke again on the subject as delivered in the Tabernacle, Great Salt Lake City, August 15, 1852, transcribed by G. D. Watt on pages 283-298 of volume 6 of the Journal of Discourses:
Gentlemen, don't be startled; for if we don't go back there, our sons and daughters will; and a great Temple will be built upon the consecrated spot, and a great many more besides that. The land of Joseph is the land of Zion; and it takes North and South America to make the land of Joseph. Suppose we are ready to go into the Temples of God to officiate for our fathers and our grandfathers—for our ancestors back for hundreds of years, who are all looking to see what their children are doing upon the earth. The Lord says, I have sent the keys of Elijah the Prophet—I have imparted that doctrine to turn the hearts of the fathers to the children, and the hearts children to the fathers. Now, all you children, are you looking to the salvation of your fathers? Are you seeking diligently to redeem them that have died without the Gospel, inasmuch as they sought the Lord Almighty to obtain promises for you?—for our fathers did obtain promises that their seed should not be forgotten. O ye children of the fathers, look at these things. You are to enter into the Temples of the Lord and officiate for your forefathers.
Remarks by President Brigham Young, made in the Bowery, Great Salt Lake City, October 21, 1860, reported by G. D. Watt on pages 222-226 of the 8th volume of the Journal of Discourses.
Our bodies are now mortal. In the resurrection there will be a reunion of the spirits and bodies, and they will walk, talk, eat, drink, and enjoy. Those who have passed these ordeals are society for angels—for the Gods, and are the ones who will come into the Temple of the Lord that is to be built in the latter days, when saviors shall come up upon Mount Zion, and will say, "Here, my children, I want this and this done. Here are the names of such and such ones, of our fathers, and mothers—our ancestors; we will bring them up. Go forth, you who have not passed the ordeals of death and the resurrection—you who live in the flesh, and attend to the ordinances for those who have died without the law." Those who are resurrected will thus dictate in the Temple. When the Saints pass through death, they cannot officiate in this sinful world, but they will dictate those who are here. "Go, now, and be baptized for the honorable—for those who would have received the law of God and the true religion, if they had lived; be baptized for the heathen—for all who were honest; officiate for them, and save them, and bring them up. Be baptized for them, anointed for them, washed and sealed for them, and fulfil all the ordinances which cannot be dispensed with." They will all be performed for the living and the dead upon Mount Zion.To report and discuss all of the statements recorded from Brigham Young about the work of the salvation of the dead would take an entire book, but here is another statement taken from a
Discourse by President Brigham Young, delivered in the Tabernacle, Salt Lake City, November 14, 1869, transcribed by John Grimshaw on pages 150-156 of the 13th volume of the Journal of Discourses
We have come here to build up Zion. How shall we do it? I could tell you how if I had time. I have told you a great many times. There is one thing I will say in regard to it. We have got to be united in our efforts. We should go to work with a united faith like the heart of one man; and whatever we do should be performed in the name of the Lord, and we will then be blessed and prospered in all we do. We have a work on hand whose magnitude can hardly be told. We have now to go to and save ourselves according to the plan provided for our salvation, the Savior having done for us all that he can, except to impart unto us grace to aid us in our lives, and to save our families, friends, ancestors, and the nations that have lived before us and those that may come after us, that all may be brought unto God and be saved, except the sons of perdition. This is the labor we have before us.Summarizing the importance of the work of seeking our our dead is recorded in Discourses of Brigham Young [Deseret Book, 1971], pp. 406–408:
We have a work to do just as important in its sphere as the Savior’s work was in its sphere. Our fathers cannot be made perfect without us; we cannot be made perfect without them. They have done their work and now sleep. We are now called upon to do ours; which is to be the greatest work man ever performed on the earth. …Our responsibility to our ancestors cannot be said any more plainly than that.
There must be this chain in the holy Priesthood; it must be welded together from the latest generation that lives on the earth back to Father Adam, to bring back all that can be saved and placed where they can receive salvation and glory in some kingdom. This Priesthood has to do it; this Priesthood is for this purpose. …
The ordinance of sealing must be performed here man to man, and woman to man, and children to parents, etc., until the chain of generation is made perfect in the sealing ordinances back to Father Adam. …
Now, all you children, are you looking to the salvation of your fathers? Are you seeking diligently to redeem those that have died without the Gospel, inasmuch as they sought the Lord Almighty to obtain promises for you? For our fathers did obtain promises that their seed should not be forgotten. O ye children of the fathers, look at these things. You are to enter into the temples of the Lord and officiate for your forefathers.