Discourse, 20 March 1842, as Reported by Wilford Woodruff
JS, Discourse, [, Hancock Co., IL, 20 Mar. 1842]. Featured version copied [ca. 20 Mar. 1842] in Wilford Woodruff, Journal, vol. 4, 1 Jan. 1841–31 Dec. 1842, pp. –; handwriting of ; Wilford Woodruff, Journals and Papers, 1828–1898, CHL. For more complete source information, see the source note for Discourse, 7 Nov. 1841, as Reported by Wilford Woodruff.
On Sunday, 20 March 1842, JS preached a discourse in , Illinois, on infant mortality and before what described as a “vast assembly” who met “at an early hour.” JS had intended to speak exclusively on baptism when he learned that Marian Lyon, the two-year-old daughter of and , had died the previous day. Woodruff wrote that the body of Marian Lyon was “presented in the assembly.” This was not the first occasion on which JS had cause to reflect on the death of a child. Infant mortality rates were high throughout the nineteenth century, and JS and his wife had lost six children, including a stillborn child the month before this discourse.
wrote that JS began, as he often did, by reading a chapter from the Bible. On this occasion he read Revelation 14. The chapter recounts John the Revelator’s vision of the Lamb on Mount Sion and the 144,000 who were “redeemed from among men, being the firstfruits unto God and to the Lamb.” Woodruff then recorded what he called “a brief synopsis of some of the items presented.” JS presented infant mortality as a warning to his audience not to delay repentance. He also spoke on baptism and other ordinances as “signs” that were necessary to receive God’s blessings. JS concluded by discussing resurrection, including that of little children.
wrote that JS’s remarks on death and resurrection “were in the highest degree interesting” and that his instruction on baptism “was truly glorious to the believer in Jesus Christ.” In the afternoon, JS baptized sixty to eighty individuals in the before the congregation adjourned to a grove, where JS and bestowed the upon many of those he had baptized.
may have inscribed his “brief synopsis” using notes taken during the discourse. Woodruff’s occasional use of quotation marks indicates his attempt to capture some of JS’s actual words. Woodruff’s journal report was used as the primary text for the sermon when it was printed in the 15 April 1842 issue of the Times and Seasons. Asterisks in Woodruff’s journal mark a passage that was not included in the published account, indicating a textual relationship between the versions. In addition, the Times and Seasons article includes a notation ascribing the report to Woodruff. Significant differences between the featured text and the Times and Seasons version are noted.
Woodruff, Wilford. Journals, 1833–1898. Wilford Woodruff, Journals and Papers, 1828–1898. CHL. MS 1352.
Easton, Susan Ward, comp. “Inscriptions Found on Tombstones and Monuments in Early Latter-day Saint Burial Grounds: Nauvoo, Illinois (Joseph Smith Homestead, Pioneer Saints Cemetery on Parley Street); Mt. Pisgah, Iowa; West Bank of the Niobrara River, Nebraska; Winter Quarters, Nebraska.” Unpublished paper. [Provo, UT], [ca. 1980]. Copy at FHL.
The Speaker read the 14 ch Revelations. And sayes “we have again the warning voice sounded in our midst which shows the uncertainty of human life. And in my leasure moments I have meditated upon the subject, & asked the question Why is it that, infant innocent children are taken away from us, esspecially those that seem to be most intelligent beings” Answer “This world is a vary wicked world & it is a proverb that the world grow weaker & wiser, but if it is the case the world grows more wicke[d] & corrupt. In the early ages of the world A richeoos [righteous] man & a man of God & intell[i]gence had a better chance to do good to be received & believed than at the present day, but in this these days such a man is much opposed & persecuted by most of the inhabitants of the earth & he has much sorrow to pass through, hence the Lord takes many away even in infancy that they may escape the envy of man, the sorrows & evils of this present world & they were two pure & to[o] lov[e]ly to live on Earth, Therefore if rightly considerd we have, instead of mo[u]rning we have reason to rejoice, as they are deliverd from evil & we shall soon have them again, What chanc[e] is their for infidelity when we are parting with our friends almost daily none at all The infidel will grasp at evry straw for help untill death stares him in the face & then his infidelity [p. ]