Saturday, April 15, 2023

Resurrection Teachings Part 5: The Testimony of Nineteenth and Twentieth Century Latter-day Saint Church Leaders

On February 19, 1854, Brigham Young spoke to a congregation of Latter-day Saints in which he addressed this subject.

“Not more than a week since, I was told the baby resurrection doctrine was spreading among the people. It is something I do not understand. The spirit of Joseph Smith is in the bodies of their children; and some have the spirit of Hyrum; and I do not know but some would go so far as to say that the spirit of old Mother Smith had actually come into the bodies of some child before she was dead. The returning again of the spirits of the dead into the bodies of our babies is the theory of the baby resurrection.”

Brigham Young, 19 February 1854, Ms d 1234, Box 48, Folder 11, Church History Library.

The false doctrine of “Baby Resurrection” as described by Brigham Young, does not refer to the true and comforting doctrine that little children who die before the age of accountability will, through the mercy and Redemption of Jesus Christ will one day be resurrected with a perfected immortal body and be blessed with eternal life (Mosiah 3:16, 18; 15:25; Moroni 8:22; Doctrine and Covenants 29:46-48; 137:10). Rather, it has reference to the false idea more commonly known today as multiple mortal probations.

We remember that that 1835 the Prophet Joseph Smith had characterized the resurrection teachings of Robert Matthias as false. Matthias had taught that the spirits of prophets, saints, or apostles, including Adam, Abraham, John the Baptist, Jesus, and the Apostle Matthias, had risen and were “resurrected” as new babies were born into mortality and the spirits of the dead inhabited the bodies of these children (See Part 5 of this series).

 In spite of Joseph Smith’s condemnation of this teaching, and the clear testimony of the Scriptures in the Bible, the Book of Mormon, and the Doctrine and Covenants that we retain out personal identity after death and in the resurrection, the false teaching of multiple probations was perpetuated after death of the Prophet Joseph Smith by some who were or had been members of the Church.

On November 21, 1847, Wilford Woodruff recorded that Elder Orson Pratt refuted this doctrine in a sermon given on that day.

“O Pratt addressed the congregation upon the subject of the resurrection which was interesting to us all. Some had been teaching the doctrine that the resurrection was by birth or through the womb but Br Pratt showed the folly of such a doctrine, & Proved by many revelations that the dead were raised by the power of God & the blowing of the Trump of Michael the Ark Angel who was Father Adam & that the graves of the Saints would be opened & their Bodies would come forth out of their graves according to the visions of Ezekiel & many of the prophets. He showed that However miraculous it might appear unto us it was just as easy for God to perform this work as it was to turn water into wine or make Bread without flour to feed a multitude. W. Woodruff followed Br Pratt & bore testimony to what had been said & spoke in the spirit of the Lord.”

Wilford Woodruff Journal, 21 November, 1847, emphasis added. 

President Brigham Young in his teachings repeatedly emphasized the correct doctrine of resurrection that we, like our Savior Jesus Christ, will retain our personal identity as the following statements show.

February 19, 1854

"It appears inconsistent to me, to believe that Jesus Christ is a perfect example of the resurrection, and then straightway declare that no person can be resurrected as he was. I understand that every person that receives a resurrection will receive it as the Savior did, though their bodies should sleep in the dust for thousands of years, or only for a few days. A time will come when the people will be resurrected as quick as lightening. These times and seasons, and the method by which this will be brought about by the Almighty is known to himself. We have nothing to do with that. It will be enough for us to obtain our resurrection; and we shall get the resurrection we live for. If we prepared our bodies for an inheritance in a celestial kingdom, they will be quickened by a celestial glory, and of it receive a fulness."

Brigham Young, 19 February 1854, Ms d 1234, Box 48, Folder 11, Church History Library, emphasis added.

In his  report of President Young’s sermon Wilford Woodruff wrote: “He said that we should have the same bonefide identical body that our spirit occupied while in this life. Our graves would literally be opened and our bodies come forth.”

Brigham Young, in Wilford Woodruff Journal, 19 February, 1854, emphasis added. 

February 18, 1857

“To Bro Hyde he said, I wish you to quit your preaching of sundry erroneous doctrines viz. Baby resurrection with all its fooleries also. Resurrection of other materials than those composing the elements of this body which will be raised also, Fatalism, that if a man is a drunkard or a thief, or a liar, &c he will remain so.”

 Brigham Young, President’s Office Journal, 18 February, 1857, Church History Library.

 February 24, 1857

“In conversation with Bro Hyde Prest Young asked bro Hyde whether in the morning of the resurrection he would ask for the body of Boggs, of a dog or the restitution of his own body, a course of reasoning in which Prest Young showed him the danger of holding these ideas even if he do not teach them. Would like them to preach these doctrines before the conference of Elders, and let him [Young] reply and correct them. Then showed in much plainness the doctrine of the resurrection of the elements of this body to unite with the spirit, that has honored and exalted it, as every element pertaining to the earth, however diffused in gas, smoke, vapor etc. belongs to this earth & not to the moon, sun, etc. and will remain associated with this planet. So with the elements of a human body are associated with the spirit, and ever will belong to one another.” 

Brigham Young President’s Office Journal, February 24, 1857, Church History Library.

March 25, 1860

“The very particles that compose our bodies will be brought forth in the morning of the resurrection, and our spirits will then have tabernacles to be clothed with, as they have now, only they will be immortal tabernacles—spiritual tabernacles …. After the spirit leaves the body, it remains without a tabernacle in the spirit world until the Lord, by his law that he has ordained, brings to pass the resurrection of the dead. When the angel who holds the keys of the resurrection shall sound his trumpet, then the peculiar fundamental particles that organized our bodies here, if we do honor to them, though they be deposited in the depths of the sea, and though one particle is in the north, another in the south, another in the east, and another in the west, will be brought together again in the twinkling of an eye, and our spirits will take possession of them. We shall then be prepared to dwell with the Father and the Son, and we never can be prepared to dwell with them until then.” 

Brigham Young, 25 March, 1860, JD 828.

February 23, 1862

“In the afternoon Brother George Teasdale spoke well. Was followed by Brother Kimball who spoke of the body & spirit of man but did not explain the subject to the satisfaction of President Young. He then followed Brother Kimball and explained the matter to the people and said the body or tabernacle was all & everything to us. Without the tabernacle we could not get exaltation. We should have in the morning of the resurrection the same body we have now. The baby resurrection as taught by OH was a false doctrine & and no truth in it.”

Wilford Woodruff Journal, 23 February, 1862.

“But there is constant warfare between them [our mortal bodies and our spirits], still they must remain together, be saved and exalted together, or neither of them will be saved and exalted with the salvation and the exaltation which the Gospel offers. Our bodies are all important to us, though they may be old and withered, emaciated with toil, pain, and sickness, and our limbs bent with rheumatism, all uniting to hasten dissolution, for death is sown in our mortal bodies. The food and drink we partake of are contaminated with the seeds of death, yet we partake of them to extend our lives until our allotted work is finished, when our tabernacles, in a state of ripeness, are sown in the earth to produce immortal fruit.”

Brigham Young, 23 February, 1862, JD 9:288, emphasis added.

June 23, 1867

“We have another one in the Quorum of the Twelve who believes that infants actually have the spirits of some who have formerly lived on the earth, and that this is their resurrection, which is a doctrine so absurd and foolish that I cannot find language to express my sentiments in relation to it.”

Brigham Young, 23 June, 1867, JD 12:66.

September 4, 1867

“The Twelve held a Council in the Evening in relation to false doctrines. O Hyde had formerly preached an incorrect doctrine on the resurrection called the Baby resurrection. Elder Hyde renounced the doctrine and made it all right with the Quorum.”

Wilford Woodruff Journal, 4 September, 1867, Kenney, 6:361-362. I have standardized the punctuation and spelling. 

September 10, 1867

“The Twelve held a meeting in the evening at 6 oclock. O. Hyde spoke his feelings and said President Young told me in 1850 that my views on the baby resurrection was not true, that I might believe what I pleased if I would not preach false doctrine. But I am ready to follow in the beaten track. Brother Young said no man could know much about the resurrection until he passed through the resurrection and had the keys of it. For that reason I have been silent upon the subject and I have not heard any of the Twelve preach upon it that I recollect. O have not contemplated for years the resurrection in any other light than you do. The subject died within me years ago.”

Wilford Woodruff Journal, 10 September, 1867, in Kenney, 6:363-364. I have standardized the punctuation and spelling. 

October 7, 1867 

Elder Orson Hyde preached about the resurrection in part to correct his earlier erroneous teachings. 

“You fathers and mothers who have lost your little ones be comforted with the thought that the time is drawing near any how when your children will be restored to you; and when they come forth it will be to a life that will never end, for their bodies will be animated by spirit instead of blood, the same bodies that are sown in corruption will be raised in incorruption. They are sown natural bodies but will be raised spiritual bodies. Jesus himself is the promulgator of this truth. After he rose from the dead, when in conversation with Thomas said he “Thomas, you have been rather unbelieving with regard to my being the same individual character, now reach hither thy finger and thrust them into the wound I received in my side and look at my hands through which the nails were driven and be not faithless but believing. Again we are told that when the Savior shall come or about that time, the sea shall give up its dead, and that in the resurrection the dead shall come forth, bone shall come to its bone and they shall be covered with flesh and the Lord Almighty shall breathe upon them and they shall live. These sayings contained in the Scriptures are confirmation of the doctrine taught be Jesus, which I have advanced—that our resurrected bodies will be identical with those we now possess.

“Some may say ”were these always your views brother Hyde?” I cannot say that they always were, yet there was but a short period of my life when my views were different. Lilabout twenty years ago I did indulge somewhat in the speculative notions of a vain philosophy that no more accorded with the truth of Heaven than this tabernacle resembles a Methodist meeting house. Well brethren and sisters I do not suppose you are all acquainted with the peculiarities of my teachings twenty years ago, and I shall not tell them now. If any of you have heard me say anything in former days contrary to the principles of truth as revealed by the Lord through his servants forgive me.”

Orson Hyde, 7 October, 1867, Historian’s Office Reports of Speeches 1845-1885, Church History Library. 

October 6, 1867

“I just as much expect my body these eyes this head cheeks mouth and every part of my system the body and lower limbs to receive in the resurrection which is as much as I expect to enjoy another minute without any doubt without any hesitation in my faith or a quiver in my feelings pertaining to this matter that is my faith I shall possess this body precisely as I now possess  but it will be raised immortal incorruptible eternal a spiritual body … My belief is precisely as Brother Hyde has said. Jesus is the Firstborn from the dead he is the first fruits from the earth and as he was raised immortal incorruptible not subject to pain and death any more so will be the body of every [person?] that has ever lived <on earth> ever will live on it he is our patron in all things now this is my belief with regard to the resurrection I have the sayings of the ancient prophets of Jesus I have the sayings of the Apostles and the Prophet Joseph Smith Junior I have the revelations of the Spirit of God and the Holy Ghost testifies to me that this is true.”

Brigham Young, October 6, 1867, Papers of George D. Watt MS 4534 box 4, folder 12, Church History Library.

“Every component part of the creature comes forth in the resurrection. The parts that form the organization of man endure for ever unless he forfeits his right to them; and he shall possess them when he is resurrected.”

Brigham Young, Deseret News Weekly 6 October 1867.

September 5, 1875 

At the funeral of Elder George A Smith, President Young testified of the truth of the resurrection.

"But suffice it for me to say at this time, that the very body that lies there in that coffin is the body that will be raised at the first resurrection, and will come forth; yes, brother George A. Smith; and we will see him in the flesh just as we have seen him while associating with him here; only he will be made pure, holy and immortal. And if we are made pure we shall associate together. The very flesh and the very bones, and the component parts that comprise the body of brother George A. Smith, now lying before us, will come forth in the resurrection, which this book (the Bible) teaches, this book (the Book of Mormon) teaches, and this book (the Book of Doctrine and Covenants) teaches, from beginning to end, wherever they speak on the subject of the resurrection."

Brigham Young, Deseret News Weekly, 5 September, 1875.

October 8, 1875

President Young again emphasized that in the resurrection the very body associated with the individual while in mortality would be resurrected with the same body, all that been associated with that individual, but perfected in immortal form. He stated:

“I declare to the Latter-day Saints, and to all living upon the earth who have intelligence to understand, that the particles which comprise the component parts of our bodies will never enter into other bodies to form the elements of their bodies; but these very identical particles that now compose our bodies will be resurrected and come together by the power of the trump of God and will be re-united to form the body–excepting the blood, which will not be necessary to our existence in an immortal state–and then be prepared to receive the spirit, preparatory to their exaltation. Query: Would not the particles that compose the body of our Savior, according to their intelligence, oppose the idea of becoming a part of any other body but His? Again: Would not the Saints, who are faithful in magnifying the Priesthood of the Son of God, object to the particles which now compose their bodies, and which they have sanctified through obedience to that Priesthood, entering into and forming parts of other bodies than their own–bodies which their spirits had not possessed and of which they knew nothing in this life?

“Although some may think that the substances of which our bodies are composed are borrowed for our use during this mortal existence, it is not so, neither will they be thrown off at death, never to be restored; and though in the resurrection the bodies of the righteous will be raised immortal and free from all corruption, they will be none the less tangible or perceptible to the touch of those who are permitted to handle them. The question may be asked: Will the bodies of those who do not observe the laws of God, and which are not sanctified by obedience to them, come forth in the resurrection? Undoubtedly they will; but not at the same time nor to the same glory that they do who observe the laws of God . . . .

“And by the exercise of his power the original elements which have formed the bodies of men will be brought forth in the resurrection–bone to bone, sinew to sinew, flesh to flesh, not one hair shall be lost–and all this in obedience to law, that the substances which have formed the tabernacles of men, or of beasts, or of fowls, or of fish, shall not be intermingled or lost; but shall be all restored to their own places, though they may have been swallowed up in the depths of the sea, or have been scattered to the four winds of heaven.”

The Resurrection: A Discourse By Brigham Young, President of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, Delivered in the New Tabernacle, Salt Lake City, at the General Conference, October 8th, 1875.Salt Lake City: Deseret News Steam Printing Establishment, 1875, 4-5.

Following the death of Brigham Young in 1877, other Church leaders have continued to warn against the false teaching of multiple probations and teach to true doctrine of the Gospel that we retain our personal identity after death and following resurrection.

“It is true, all of us are clothed with mortality, but our spirits existed long before they took upon them this tabernacle that we now inhabit. When this body dies, the spirit does not die. The spirit is an immortal being, and when separated from the body takes its flight to the place prepared for it, and there awaits the resurrection of the body, when the spirit will return again and re-occupy this tabernacle which it occupied in this world ….

“The testimony of the Latter-day Saints is in addition to and consonant with that of the disciples of Jesus Christ who lived at Jerusalem, those who lived on this continent, the Prophet Joseph, Oliver, Sidney, and others, of our crucified and risen Redeemer, because they received it not of them, but by the same Spirit by which they received it. No man ever received this testimony unless the Spirit of God revealed it unto him.

“We will see Brother Urie again. Sister Urie will meet him on the other side of the grave. The spirit and the body will be reunited. We shall see each other in the flesh, in the same tabernacles that we have here while in mortality. Our tabernacles will be brought forth as they are laid down, although there will be a restoration effected; every organ, every limb that has been maimed, every deformity caused by accident or in any other way, will be restored and put right. Every limb and joint shall be restored to its proper frame. We will know each other and enjoy each other's society throughout the endless ages of eternity, if we keep the law of God. It is for us to remain true and faithful and keep our covenants, and to train our children up in the paths of holiness, virtue and truth, in the principles of the gospel, that we may with them be prepared to enjoy the perfect and eternal day.”

Joseph F. Smith, Sermon delivered at the funeral services of James Urie, Sixteenth ward, Salt Lake City, February 3, 1883. JD, Vol. 24, pp. 75-82.

“There is another thing I wish to refer to here. I have heard that in Zion there are some men who entertain the idea that they inherit the body and spirit of Moses, or Abraham, or David, or Noah, or somebody other than themselves. I hope none of you here indulge in anything of this kind, because it is the most foolish, nonsensical and false doctrine. You gaze upon a man who professes to have inherited the body or spirit of Moses, or any of those I have named, and I think you will conclude that his appearance does not indicate that such is the case; at any rate, it certainly has no improved him. Brother Woodruff, Brother Cannon, Brother Smith, Brother Lorenzo Snow, or any of the brethren, will never inherit anyone’s body or spirit but their own, in time or in eternity, unless the devil gets into them. It is Satan who inspires men to believe such absurd things. He delights in having any of the brethren entertain false ideas, no matter what they are. I tell you that whoever sees me in time or eternity will see Wilford Woodruff, not Noah, nor Abraham, nor Enoch. Every man has his own identity, and he will never lose that identity. Therefore, when you hear such doctrine as that advanced, do not believe it. There are a good many things Satan would like us to believe, but we must guard against these.”

Wilford Woodruff, Address given in Manti, Utah, May 19, 1889, Collected Discourses 1:262-263.

“Now I do not think there are any misgivings in the hearts of Latter-day Saints this morning in regard to what President Woodruff has said to use concerning the doctrine which he has taken to puncture; that is, that the spirit of any man now in this probation had been on the earth in a former age, in another body. That doctrine ought to have laid still a score of years ago. But when a false doctrine is put forth, some unwary person takes hold of it, and then some aspiring individual, later on in life, adopts it as his view. It may be that is savors a little of the mysterious, and some people delight in getting hold of something of that kind, that they may talk of it in private, if not in public, and arouse the curiosity of others. Thus it spreads. Each one says to himself, “I wonder if this is not something that will turn out to be sound doctrine. It may be put forth a little early; but after a while I think it will be found to be sound doctrine.” This is how they delude themselves. There is so much truth that is plain and simple and easy to be understood by the children and by the Saints, however weak and feeble they may be, that it is a foolish thing for men to indulge in speculative theories. Brethren and sisters, life is too short for this. There is enough of truth to occupy the attention and intelligence of the brightest and the most competent among the Latter-day Saints.

“We should become thoroughly acquainted with the doctrines of daily life, of honesty, of integrity, of virtue; labor with all earnestness and faithfulness to build up the Kingdom of God and vie with each other in seeking to accomplish the purposes of the Lord; not to waste our time in speculation, in unsound and questionable doctrine, or in any foolish and unprofitable contention or argument. Let us entertain correct doctrine—doctrine that will recommend itself to the hearts of the Latter-day Saints, and which we have proved to be right and acceptable to the Lord.”

Francis M. Lyman, Manti, Utah, May 19, 1889, Collected Discourses 1:266.

“I, myself, sat for over two hours once in a meeting-house in St. Louis, listening to a prominent Elder of this Church, who called the people together to preach unto them the doctrine that was called “baby resurrection’ he preached to two or three thousand people, and there was not a word of truth in the doctrine. I thought he ought to know better. In the afternoon I was called on to speak. After meeting there were a great many people gathered round me and asked what I thought of the man’s sermon. I replied, it is all nonsense. Well, that is just how I felt. It is no benefit in this world for men to preach such false doctrine. And now, every little while, I hear of some one of the Elders, who wishes to be considered smart, trying to teach something he knows nothing about.

“The Elders have a world of truth to preach about. There is enough revealed to fill the whole earth as long as you live. Preach the truth as you understand it. Do not speculate on things you know nothing about, for it will benefit no one. If you listen to false doctrine you will be led away by false spirits. Remember and observe this, and you will be all right. Keep in the paths of truth, and all will be well with you.”

Wilford Woodruff, Address given in Salt Lake City, Utah, 6 April, 1890, in Collected Discourses, 2:60-61.

“We hear occasionally of some of the members of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints who are of the opinion that mankind have more probations than one on the earth, and that some men who have lived in this dispensation have figured prominently in other dispensations, and borne names in those dispensations which are well known to us now. The idea entertained by such people is that a man who, for instance, lived in the days of Abraham, or of Moses, or of the prophets who succeeded him, might figure at those times, live and be an active and notable man, and then die, his body be consigned to the tomb, and his spirit be born as a baby at some subsequent time in another body. This is the reincarnation believed in by the Hindoos and the Theosophists : only among the Hindoos it is believed that human spirits take the form of animals and re-appear from time to time upon the earth. Hence the Hindoos are very particular in their treatment of animals; for perchance, according to their view, an animal form might contain the spirit of a very dear relative or friend.

“That a belief in reincarnation should prevail among the Latter-day Saints seems strange; for there is nothing in the gospel, as taught in the Bible, in the Book of Mormon, in the Book of Doctrine and Covenants, or in the teachings of inspired men, that furnishes the least foundation for such a conception. It is true that pre-existence is taught; but the pre-existence in which we believe is confined to our first estate. We are taught that our present life is our second estate, and this is a probation given unto us in which to gain experience and to be tried and purified, to prepare us for our next estate. The teachings of men who have had a deep understanding concerning the purpose of our Great Creator in placing us here in this condition of existence, show that this is the grand opportunity which is given to man—an opportunity which he must not fail to avail himself of, as it is the only opportunity that he will have on the earth, his earthly existence is confined to one appearance in the flesh.

“When a child comes forth it possesses a tabernacle. That tabernacle is the house of its spirit, intimately associated with the spirit; separated, it is true, for a time by death, but designed to be re-united in the great hereafter. The Savior says that His disciples looked upon the long absence of their spirits from their bodies to be a bondage. (See Section 45, Doctrine and Covenants). We are taught that all holy beings look forward with joyful anticipation to the time when their bodies and spirits will be re-united in the resurrection. They do not look forward to reincarnation, or to another birth as a baby, but to the union of their spirits and their bodies— the bodies that they possessed and in which they had passed through all the trials and temptations and vicissitudes incident to a mortal career.

“This is the doctrine taught in the gospel; and the doctrine of reincarnation is utterly foreign to every principle which God has revealed in the last days to His Church. . . .

“The Latter-day Saints should be warned on these points, and not be carried about by `every wind of doctrine, by the sleight of men, and cunning craftiness, whereby they lie in wait to deceive,’ but cling to the simple and plain truth, as God has revealed it and as He teaches it unto those who will receive it; not seeking to dive into mysteries and to adopt strange and startling ideas, but confining themselves to that which God has written cultivating within themselves continually His Holy Spirit, that through it they may be led into all truth.”

[George Q. Cannon] “The Doctrine of Reincarnation,” Juvenile Instructor 28/21 (November 1, 1893): 675-676; reprinted in Cannon, Gospel Truth, 23-24.

“Every once in a while we hear of men and women in the Territory who claim to be the spirits of some ancient worthies, or to be indeed the Savior come again to earth. They teach their false doctrines, and, surprising to state, there are even some members of the Church who accept their teachings. The result is that no small number of the people are being led away by these deceptions, and are losing the Spirit of the Lord, which is capable of discerning spirits and detecting the evil influences which are abroad in the earth.”

[George Q. Cannon, “Beware of Delusions,” The Contributor 15/6 (April 1894): 391.

“Satan uses every possible device by which to deceive the people, and will sometimes mix one falsehood or error with a great amount of truth in order to mislead . . . . Satan has power to tell some truths, but he never tells them with a view to benefiting those with whom he communicates. His object is to bring about their destruction, as this is his mission upon the earth. Even though he may announce some truths in his messages, there is also deception close at hand tending to bring about the ruin of the party who partakes of the spirit.”

[George Q. Cannon], “Beware of Delusions,” The Contributor 15/6 (April 1894): 391.

“What a glorious thing it is to know and be true to that which has been revealed in these latter times through the instrumentality of the Prophet Joseph Smith. It was revealed anciently by the Savior himself, and he exemplified that glorious principle of which I wish to say a few words, and which has been renewed and emphasized more especially in these latter days through Joseph Smith--I refer to our identity, our indestructible, immortal identity. As in Christ we have the example, he was born of woman, he lived, he died, and he lived again in his own person and being, bearing even the marks of the wounds in his flesh, after his resurrection from the dead so also a testimony has been given to you, in later days, through the Prophet Joseph Smith, and others who have been blessed with knowledge, that the same individual Being still lives and will always live. Jesus is possessed of immortality, and eternal life; and in evidence of his existence and his immortality, and in evidence of the great and glorious truths of the gospel which he taught, the death which he died, and the resurrection that he wrought from the dead, he has revealed himself and borne his own record and testimony to those who have lived and still live in this day and age. What a glorious thought it is, to me at least, and it must be to all who have conceived of the truth or received it in their hearts, that those from whom we have to part here, we will meet again and see as they are. We will meet the same identical being that we associated with here in the flesh not some other soul, some other being, or the same being in some other form, but the same identity and the same form and likeness, the same person we knew and were associated with in our mortal existence, even to the wounds in the flesh. Not that a person will always be marred by scars, wounds, deformities, defects or infirmities, for these will be removed in their course, in their proper time, according to the merciful providence of God. Deformity will be removed; defects will be eliminated, and men and women shall attain to the perfection of their spirits, to the perfection that God designed in the beginning. It is his purpose that men and women, his children, born to become heirs of God, and joint heirs with Jesus Christ, shall be made perfect, physically as well as spiritually, through obedience to the law by which he has provided the means that perfection shall come to all his children. Therefore, I look for the time when our dear Brother William C. Staines, whom we all knew so well, and with whom we were familiar for years I was familiar with him, all my life, just as I was familiar with Aunt Rachel here all my life, and do not remember the time when I did not know her I look for the time, I say, when Brother Staines will be restored. He will not remain the crippled and deformed William C. Staines that we knew, but he will be restored to his perfect frame every limb, every joint, every part of his physical being will be restored to its perfect frame. This is the law and the word of God to us, as it is contained in the revelations that have come to us, through the Prophet Joseph Smith. The point in my mind which I desire to speak of particularly is this: When we shall have the privilege to meet our mother, our aunt, our sister, this noble woman whose mortal remains lie here now, but whose immortal spirit has ascended to God from whence it came, when that spirit shall return to take up this tabernacle again, she will be Aunt Rachel in her perfection. She will not always remain just as she will appear when she is restored again to life, but she will go on to perfection. Under that law of restoration that God has provided, she will regain her perfection, the perfection of her youth, the perfection of her glory and of her being, until her resurrected body shall assume the exact stature of the spirit that possessed it here in its perfection, and thus we shall see the glorified, redeemed, exalted, perfected Aunt Rachel, mother, sister, saint and daughter of the living God, her identity being unchanged, as a child may grow to manhood or womanhood and still be the same being.

“I want to say to my friends, my brethren and sisters, and to the kindred, that the Lord Almighty has revealed these truths to us in these days. We not only have it in the written word, we have it in the testimony of the spirit of God in the heart of every soul who has drunk from the fountain of truth and light, and that witness bears record of these words to us. What else would satisfy us? What else would satisfy the desire of the immortal soul? Would we be satisfied to be imperfect? Would we be satisfied to be decrepit? Would we be satisfied to remain forever and ever in the form of infirmity incident to age? No! Would we be satisfied to see the children we bury in their infancy remain as children only, throughout the countless ages of eternity? No! Neither would the spirits that did possess the tabernacles of our children be satisfied to remain in that condition. But we know our children will not be compelled to remain as a child in stature always, for it was revealed from God, the fountain of truth, through Joseph Smith the prophet, in this dispensation, that in the resurrection of the dead the child that was buried in its infancy will come up in the form of the child that it was when it was laid clown; then it will begin to develop. From the day of the resurrection, the body will develop until it reaches the full measure of the stature of its spirit, whether it be male or female. If the spirit possessed the intelligence of God and the aspirations of mortal souls, it could not be satisfied with anything less than this, You will remember we are told that the spirit of Jesus Christ visited one of the ancient prophets and revealed himself to him, and lie declared his identity, that he was the same Son of God that was to come in the meridian of time. He said he would appear in the flesh just as he appeared to that prophet. He was not an infant; he was a grown, developed spirit; possessing the form of man and the form of God, the same form as when he came and took upon him a tabernacle and developed it to the full stature of his spirit. These are truths that have been revealed to us. What for? To give us intelligent hope; to give us intelligent aspiration; to lead us to think, to hope, to labor and accomplish what God has aimed and does aim and design that we should accomplish, not only in this life, but in the life to come.

“I rejoice exceedingly that I know and have known nearly all my life such a noble woman. I do not remember the first time that I saw Aunt Rachel, I can't recall it; it seems to me I always knew her, just as I knew my mother in my childhood and all the way through life; and I rejoice exceedingly in this testimony of the Spirit of the Lord that has come to us through revelation in the latter days. Through this testimony I am confident that I shall see Aunt Rachel, by and by; and when I go -and I expect to go, perhaps, long before she shall recover this tabernacle I expect to meet her there. I expect to meet the same individual that I knew here. I expect to be able to recognize her, just as I could recognize her tomorrow, if she were living. I believe I will know just exactly who she is and what she is, and I will remember all I knew about her; and enjoy her association in the spirit as I did in the flesh; because her identity is fixed and indestructible, just as fixed and indestructible as the identity of God the Father and Jesus Christ the Son. They cannot be any other than themselves. They cannot be changed; they are from everlasting to everlasting, eternally the same; so it will be with us. We will progress and develop and grow in wisdom and understanding, but our identity can never change ….

“Who is she? This is her casket. This is her mortal tenement; this is but the clay that enveloped the immortal, living Aunt Rachel, the living spirit. The spirit has fled. Her spirit, the immortal part, has departed from this tabernacle; hence, this tabernacle lies here lifeless and ready to return to mother earth from whence it came, but to be restored again, every element to be recalled and re-formed in its perfect frame, when Aunt Rachel will come and take possession of it and inherit it forever, just as Christ came and took up his body that was not suffered to see corruption, and inherited it in its immortal state, never to be separated again; so it will be with her.”

Joseph F. Smith, Speech at the funeral services of Rachel Grant, mother of President Heber J. Grant Improvement Era, 12 (June, 1909): 591, emphasis added.

“God is the God of the living, and not of the dead. He is the God of Abraham, Isaac and Jacob, and of the ancient prophets. They live! They live not only in the words they spoke, the predictions they made, and in the promises handed down from generation to generation to the children of men; they live not only in the record they made, in the doctrines that they taught, and in the hope that they held out for redemption, atonement and salvation, but they live in spirit, in entity, as they lived here. They are prophets, as they were prophets here, the chosen of God; patriarchs, as they were here; possessing the same identity, the same entity; and by and by, if not already, they will possess the same bodies they possessed while journeying in mortality. Those bodies will become purified, cleansed, and made perfect; and the spirit and the body will be reunited, never more to be separated, never again to taste of death. This is the law and the promise of God, and the words spoken to his ancient prophets, come down to us through the generations that have followed.” 

Joseph F. Smith, Improvement Era, 21 (February 1918): 357, emphasis added.

“Resurrection is requisite for eternal perfection. Thanks to the atonement of Jesus Christ, our bodies, corruptible in mortality, will become incorruptible. Our physical frames, now subject to disease, death, and decay, will acquire immortal glory. Presently sustained by the blood of life and ever aging, our bodies will be sustained by spirit and become changeless and beyond the bounds of death.”

Russell M. Nelson, “Perfection Pending” Ensign (November 1995): 86-88.

“Many living witnesses can testify to the literal fulfillment of these scriptural assurances of the resurrection. Many, including some in my own extended family, have seen a departed loved one in vision or personal appearance and have witnessed their restoration in “proper and perfect frame” in the prime of life. Whether these were manifestations of persons already resurrected or of righteous spirits awaiting an assured resurrection, the reality and nature of the resurrection of mortals is evident. What a comfort to know that all who have been disadvantaged in life from birth defects, from mortal injuries, from disease, or from the natural deterioration of old age will be resurrected in “proper and perfect frame.”

Dallin H. Oaks, “The Resurrection,” Ensign (May 2000): 14-16.