Genealogy from the perspective of a member of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints (Mormon, LDS)

Saturday, February 1, 2014

The Prophets Speak on Searching Out Our Dead -- John Taylor

At the time of Brigham Young's death on 29 August 1877, John Taylor was 68 years old. During the following three years, President Taylor led the Church as President of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles. Subsequently, at a general conference held on 10 October 1880, he was sustained as prophet, seer, and revelator, and President of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, a position he occupied until his death on 25 July 1887. See Taylor, John. Teachings of Presidents of the Church: John Taylor. Salt Lake City, Utah: Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, 2001.

Each of the latter-day prophets has taught us concerning our relationship with our departed ancestors and our duty to them. John Taylor was no exception. Here are some selections from his teachings:
This is what we are after, and what the ancient Saints were after. This is what Adam, Noah, Enoch, Abraham and the prophets were after, that they might fulfill their destiny on the earth, and, as one of the old prophets said, “stand in their lot in the end of days,” [see Daniel 12:13] when the books should be opened, when the great white throne should appear and he who sits upon it, before whose face the heavens and the earth fled away; that we and they, and they and we might be prepared, having fulfilled the measure of our creation on the earth, to associate with the intelligences that exist in the eternal worlds; be admitted again to the presence of our Father, whence we came, and participate in those eternal realities which mankind, without revelation, know nothing about. We are here for that purpose; . . . we are building temples for that pur- pose; we are receiving endowments for that purpose; we are making covenants for that purpose; we are administering for the living and the dead for that purpose, and all our objects, and all our aims, like the object and aim of inspired men in former days, are altogether with reference to eternal realities as well as to time. . . .

This is what we are after, and we shall accomplish it, and no man can stop it, no organization, no power, no authority, for God is at the helm, and his kingdom is onward, onward, onward, and it will continue, and grow and increase until the kingdoms of this world shall become the kingdoms of our God and his Christ. Deseret News (Weekly), 8 May 1872, 186; paragraphing altered.
We are presently being blessed with the dedication of the Gilbert, Arizona Temple, just south of where I live in Mesa. This new Temple will be 142nd Temple built. President Taylor, just as with all of the other prophets had the vision of Temples all over the world. To quote President Taylor, concerning the building of Temples:
This is what God expects of us. And then to build temples, and what then? Administer in them. Send the gospel to the nations of the earth. And then gather the people in. What then? Build more temples. What then? Have men administer in them. See Taylor, John, and G. Homer Durham. The Gospel Kingdom; Selections from the Writings and Discourses of John Taylor. [Salt Lake City]: Bookcraft Co, 1943.
Many of the discourses of the early prophets were recorded in the local newspaper in Salt Lake City, Utah, the Deseret News. This newspaper is still in existence but its archives are a rich source of messages from the leaders of the Church. Here is another quote recorded in the Deseret News from President Taylor:
The only question with us is whether we will cooperate with God, or whether we will individually work out our own salvation or not; whether we will individually fulfil the various responsibilities that devolve upon us or not; whether we will attend to the ordinances that God has introduced or not; for ourselves to begin with, for our families, for the living and for the dead. Whether we will cooperate in building temples and administer- ing in them; whether we will unite with the Almighty, under the direction of his holy priesthood, in bringing to pass things that have been spoken of by the holy prophets since the world was; whether we will contend earnestly for the faith once delivered to the Saints. These things rest with us to a certain extent. See Deseret News (Weekly), 8 May 1872, 186; paragraphing altered. 
Quoting further:
It is reserved for us to do a work for those who have passed away who have not obeyed or had the Gospel in their lifetime. We are here to do a work connected with the redemption of the dead. When the Temple was commanded to be built in Nauvoo, after the Temple had been built in Kirtland, and after so many keys had been turned, and after so many manifestations, visions and ministrations had been had, yet it was said then that there was not a place upon the earth in which to perform the ordinance of baptism for the dead, and Joseph was commanded to build a house for that purpose. See Deseret News: Semi-Weekly, 10 June 1884.
President Taylor taught that we are here to cooperate with God in the salvation of the living and also in the redemption of the dead. Taylor, John, and G. Homer Durham. The Gospel Kingdom; Selections from the Writings and Discourses of John Taylor. [Salt Lake City]: Bookcraft Co, 1943, p. 286. The entire quote is as follows:
We are here to cooperate with God in the salvation of the living, in the redemption of the dead, in the blessings of our ancestors, in the pouring out of blessings upon our children; we are here for the purpose of redeeming and regenerating the earth on which we live, and God has placed his authority and his counsels here upon the earth for that purpose, that men may learn to do the will of God on the earth as it is done in heaven. This is the object of our existence; and it is for us to comprehend the position. See quote above from The Gospel Kingdom.
If we ever doubt the importance of seeking out our ancestors and performing essential ordinances for them in the Tempe, we need only to study and remember the words of President John Taylor on this specific subject:

The work we are engaged in is greater than we can generally conceive of. Our actions and operations now are connected with the past, with the present and with the future. Napoleon, on a certain occasion, told his army when in Egypt, that there were forty generations looking down upon them. But the heavenly hosts are looking down upon us. The Priesthood which has administered in the various generations and under the various dispensations, from the commencement of the world, have their eyes upon us; our brethren, with whom we have been associated here upon the earth and who are now behind the veil, have their eyes upon us. The myriads of dead that have slept in the silent tomb without a knowledge of the gospel have their eyes upon us, and they are expecting us to fulfil the duties and responsibilities that devolve upon us to attend to, in which they are interested.

All the holy priesthood—the ancient patriarchs, prophets and apostles and men of God who have lived in the different gener- ations are looking upon us and expecting us to fulfill the great and important requirements of Jehovah in regard to the welfare and the redemption of the world: the salvation of the living and dead. God, our Heavenly Father, and his son Jesus Christ, our Redeemer, are also looking down upon us, and expect us to be faithful to our covenants. See Deseret News (Weekly), 7 May 1879, 211; paragraphing altered. 

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