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Words of Comfort: Funeral Sermons of the Prophet Joseph Smith
TitleWords of Comfort: Funeral Sermons of the Prophet Joseph Smith
Publication TypeBook Chapter
Year of Publication2000
AuthorsCannon, Donald Q.
EditorRicks, Stephen D., Donald W. Parry, and Andrew H. Hedges
Book TitleThe Disciple as Witness: Essays on Latter-day Saint History and Doctrine in Honor of Richard Lloyd Anderson
Chapter4
Pagination87-104
PublisherFoundation for Ancient Research and Mormon Studies
CityProvo, UT
KeywordsAffliction; Joseph Smith; King Follett Discourse; Sermon

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Words of Comfort: Funeral Sermons of the Prophet Joseph Smith

Donald Q. Cannon

Joseph Smith taught some of the most profound doctrines of the restoration in funeral sermons. While some eulogistic elements were present in these sermons, the major emphasis was on doctrinal exposition. Some of these sermons were delivered early in his career, but the majority given were in the latter part of his ministry. The compassion and tenderness of the Prophet Joseph Smith is also evident in these funeral addresses.

During his lifetime Joseph Smith probably attended dozens of funerals, but available historical evidence records that Joseph Smith preached only eleven funeral sermons. A written text is available for eight of those sermons. In addition, he also made retrospective comments about four individuals who had died. A complete chronological list of his sermons and comments is found in the appendix.1

Eight of Joseph Smith’s eleven funeral sermons were preached in Nauvoo. In the early period of his ministry Joseph Smith preferred to have others give the sermons, whether general or funeral. Thus Sidney Rigdon and Oliver Cowdery delivered more sermons than Joseph Smith. The first public discourse of the church was given by Oliver Cowdery, but as Joseph Smith gained experience he began to deliver sermons more frequently. The number and frequency of his sermons increased in the Nauvoo era, and certainly his best-known funeral sermons were presented during the final year of his life.

Perhaps some of the content of his funeral sermons grew out of his life experience. Death was a frequent visitor at the Smith home, both during his childhood and his adult years. One thinks, for example, of the death of his brother Alvin while they were living in Palmyra. The untimely loss of Alvin, coupled with the pessimistic funeral sermon preached by the local clergyman, had a strong impact on Joseph and his family.2 This bitter experience was followed by the loss of several of his own children.3 During their married years Joseph and Emma experienced the deaths of six of their eleven children. The tragic loss of so many of his own children had a powerful influence upon the Prophet, which misfortune caused him to pay particular attention to the loss of children in death. These experiences with death and tragedy shaped Joseph Smith’s personality in a very meaningful way. Through these life experiences he developed a sense of compassion, one of his dominant character traits.

Occasionally Joseph Smith made retrospective comments about people who had died; for instance, he received a revelation in 1836 regarding his brother Alvin. This revelation was later canonized and included in the Doctrine and Covenants. Relevant passages from section 137 follow:

The heavens were opened upon us, and I beheld the celestial kingdom of God, and the glory thereof, whether in the body or out I cannot tell.

I saw the transcendent beauty of the gate through which the heirs of that kingdom will enter, which was like unto circling flames of fire;

Also the blazing throne of God, whereon was seated the Father and the Son.

I saw the beautiful streets of that kingdom, which had the appearance of being paved with gold.

I saw Father Adam and Abraham; and my father and my mother; my brother Alvin, that has long since slept;

And marveled how it was that he had obtained an inheritance in that kingdom, seeing that he had departed this life before the Lord had set his hand to gather Israel the second time, and had not been baptized for the remission of his sins.

Thus came the voice of the Lord unto me, saying: All who have died without a knowledge of this gospel, who would have received it if they had been permitted to tarry, shall be heirs of the celestial kingdom of God. (D&C 137:1—7)

In August 1842 Joseph Smith described his brother Alvin and paid him this tribute, now recorded in the History of the Church.

Alvin, my oldest brother—I remember well the pangs of sorrow that swelled my youthful bosom and almost burst my tender heart when he died. He was the oldest and the noblest of my father’s family. He was one of the noblest of the sons of men. Shall his name not be recorded in this book [the Book of the Law of the Lord]?4 Yes, Alvin, let it be had here and be handed down upon these sacred pages for ever and ever. In him there was no guile. He lived without spot from the time he was a child. From the time of his birth he never knew mirth. He was candid and sober and never would play; and minded his father and mother in toiling all day. He was one of the soberest of men, and when he died the angel of the Lord visited him in his last moments.5

In addition to retrospective comments, Joseph Smith also preached sermons at the time of death in a regular funeral service. Perhaps the earliest formal funeral sermon Joseph gave was in 1831 in Missouri. Soon after arriving in Missouri, Polly Knight, wife of Joseph Knight, died. Although she had been ill, she greatly desired to travel with the Saints to Missouri and be buried there. No text or record of the sermon is extant, but Joseph Smith preached her funeral sermon designating Polly Knight as “a worthy member.”6

The loss of fourteen members of the Zion’s Camp expedition in a cholera epidemic was especially painful for Joseph Smith. Later in the year he reported having a vision regarding the state of the victims of the cholera epidemic in Missouri. Concerning that vision the Prophet related: “I have seen those men who died of the cholera in our camp; and the Lord knows, if we get a mansion as bright as theirs, I ask no more.”7

During the next year, on 18 November 1835, Joseph Smith preached a funeral sermon in honor of Nathan Harris, the father of Preserved and Martin Harris. The Prophet taught on the subject of resurrection and reported that the audience was very attentive.8

In 1838, when David W. Patten died at the Battle of Crooked River, Joseph Smith did not preach a formal sermon but called at the Patten home and made an observation about the fallen hero. Pointing to the lifeless body, Joseph Smith said: “There lies a man that has done just as he said he would—he has laid down his life for his friends.”9 During the same year the Prophet also preached a funeral sermon for James Marsh. George A. Robinson reported that the members of the audience were greatly edified on the occasion. 10

As previously mentioned, most of the funeral sermons given by Joseph Smith were presented in Nauvoo. Not only do most of the sermons occur during this period, but it is also the time for which the best documentation exists in the form of texts or diary entries that contain some of the sermons that Joseph Smith delivered in Nauvoo.

The earliest known funeral sermon given by the Prophet in the Nauvoo era was given in honor of Seymour Brunson. On 10 August 1840 Brunson, a member of the Nauvoo High Council, died, and Joseph Smith spoke at his funeral five days later. On that occasion the Prophet spoke for the first time on the subject of baptism for the dead. Although no contemporary record of the sermon exists, Heber C. Kimball and Simon Baker did prepare reminiscent accounts. Baker’s brief record of the sermon follows:

I was present at a discourse that the prophet Joseph delivered on baptism for the dead 15 August 1840. He read the greater part of the 15th chapter of Corinthians and remarked that the Gospel of Jesus Christ brought glad tidings of great joy, and then remarked that he saw a widow in that congregation that had a son who died without being baptized, and this widow in reading the sayings of Jesus “except a man be born of water and of the spirit he cannot enter the kingdom of heaven,” and that not one jot nor tittle of the Savior’s words should pass away, but all should be fulfilled. He then said that this widow should have glad tidings in that thing. He also said the apostle was talking to a people who understood baptism for the dead, for it was practiced among them. He went on to say that people could now act for their friends who had departed this life, and that the plan of salvation was calculated to save all who were willing to obey the requirements of the law of God. He went on and made a very beautiful discourse.11

Later that year Joseph Smith referred to the Brunson funeral sermon in this way:

I first mentioned the doctrine [of baptism for the dead] in public when preaching the funeral sermon of Brother Seymour Brunson; and have since then given general instructions in the Church on the subject. The Saints have the privilege of being baptized for those of their relatives who are dead, whom they believe would have embraced the Gospel, if they had been privileged with hearing it, and who have received the Gospel in the spirt [sic], through the instrumentality of those who have been commissioned to preach to them while in prison.12

Indeed, the doctrine of baptism for the dead would speak comfort to the hearts and minds of many Saints who wondered about the fate of loved ones who had left mortality. This wonderful doctrine of the restoration explains that the gospel can be preached to those who departed this life without opportunity to hear the gospel. Further, it provides for vicarious ordinances, such as baptism, to be performed by caring descendants.

On 14 September 1840 Joseph Smith Sr. died. The funeral sermon was preached by Robert B. Thompson. The Prophet did not preach, but he prepared a eulogy, which was later published in the History of the Church.13

During July 1841 Joseph Smith joined Sidney Rigdon in preaching a “general funeral sermon” to the Saints in Nauvoo. No text or notes remain but Joseph commented: “I followed him, illustrating the subject of the resurrection by some familiar figures.”14 Their dual sermon was designed to comfort and instruct the Saints, especially those who had lost relatives through death.

In March of 1842 the Prophet delivered a powerful sermon on the subject of death and the resurrection. This address was a Sunday sermon, but it was partly a funeral discourse because Wilford Woodruff recorded that the body of a recently deceased child was in the congregation. Although Elder Woodruff did not identify the child, it was probably the child of Windsor Lyon, likely his daughter Marian.15 Joseph’s concern and compassion is evident as he addressed the question of why infant children are taken from friends and family. This was a question he would take up on several other occasions—a subject that obviously concerned him. In this sermon he answered the question by explaining:

The Lord takes many away, even in infancy, that they may escape the envy of man, and the sorrows and evils of this present world; they were too pure, too lovely, to live on earth; therefore, if rightly considered, instead of mourning we have reason to rejoice as they are delivered from evil, and we shall soon have them again.16

On 7 April 1842 Ephraim Marks, son of President William Marks, died. Two days later Joseph preached a funeral sermon in honor of the young man. Among other sentiments, the Prophet said:

I never felt more solemn; it calls to mind the death of my oldest brother, Alvin, who died in New York, and my youngest brother, Don Carlos Smith, who died in Nauvoo. It has been hard for me to live on earth and see these young men upon whom we have leaned for support and comfort taken from us in the midst of their youth. Yes, it has been hard to be reconciled to these things. . . .

When we lose a near and dear friend, upon whom we have set our hearts, it should be a caution unto us not to set our affections too firmly upon others, knowing that they may in like manner be taken from us. Our affections should be placed upon God and His work, more intensely than upon our fellow beings.17

About one year later, on 16 April 1843, Joseph Smith preached a funeral sermon in honor of Lorenzo Barnes, who had died in England while serving as a missionary. Joseph Smith said he would have felt better about the death of Elder Barnes if his body could have been brought back to Nauvoo. As it was, Lorenzo Barnes was buried in England. Joseph went on to teach that it is a great blessing to be buried among family and friends. He then expressed his earnest desire to be buried near his father, Joseph Smith Sr. He looked forward to being resurrected and taking his father by the hand on resurrection morning.18

On 13 August 1843 Joseph Smith stood before the Saints and preached a funeral sermon in memory of Judge Higbee. Elias Higbee had served as a lawyer and judge in Missouri and Illinois and was revered by the Saints. As the Prophet remarked: “We are called this morning to mourn the death of a just and good man—a great and mighty man.”19 Joseph went on to say that it would be tragic to lose a friend in death if we had no hope of ever seeing him again. Further, he said how serious it would be if we had no hope of the resurrection. However, in an expression of comfort, he stressed that we do have hope of resurrection and of seeing our dear friends again.20

Sometimes the Prophet used funeral sermons as a vehicle for teaching unique doctrines of the restoration. Such was clearly the case with the funeral sermon for Judge Higbee. He taught, for example, the doctrine of election. As Willard Richards reported Joseph Smith’s remarks:

When a seal is put upon the father and mother, it secures their posterity, so that they cannot be lost, but will be saved by virtue of the covenant of their father and mother. . . .

The speaker continued to teach the doctrine of election and the sealing powers and principles, and spoke of the doctrine of election with the seed of Abraham, and the sealing of blessings upon his posterity, and the sealing of the fathers and children, according to the declarations of the prophets. He then spoke of Judge Higbee in the world of spirits, and the blessings which he would obtain.21

At 2:00 on the afternoon of Monday, 9 October 1843, Joseph Smith spoke on the demise of James Adams. Like Judge Higbee, James Adams was a prominent and respected member of Nauvoo society. He was a probate court judge in Springfield, Illinois, who ran unsuccessfully for governor in 1834 and was also personally acquainted with Abraham Lincoln.

Joseph Smith’s opening statement had a dramatic flair: “All men know that they must die. And it is important that we should understand the reasons and causes of our exposure to the vicissitudes of life and of death, and the designs and purposes of God in our coming into the world, our sufferings here, and our departure hence.” 22

After emphasizing how little we know about the premortal world and life after death, the Prophet set about the task of providing answers. Thus he said: “Reading the experience of others, or the revelation given to them, can never give us a comprehensive view of our condition and true relation to God. Knowledge of these things can only be obtained by experience through the ordinances of God set forth for that purpose. Could you gaze into heaven five minutes, you would know more than you would by reading all that ever was written on the subject.”23

Elaborating on the heavenly nature of things, he explained:

The organization of the spiritual and heavenly worlds, and of spiritual and heavenly beings, was agreeable to the most perfect order and harmony: their limits and bounds were fixed irrevocably, and voluntarily subscribed to in their heavenly estate by themselves, and were by our first parents subscribed to upon the earth. Hence the importance of embracing and subscribing to principles of eternal truth by all men upon the earth that expect eternal life.24

Concerning the incompatibility of truth and error he proclaimed: “Concerning Brother James Adams, it should appear strange that so good and so great a man was hated. The deceased ought never to have had an enemy. But so it was. Wherever light shone, it stirred up darkness. Truth and error, good and evil cannot be reconciled.”25

All of Joseph’s Nauvoo funeral sermons were delivered outdoors, which was customary there. The Saints held their conference sessions outdoors. In fact, they did not build any meetinghouses in Nauvoo. Virtually all of their large public meetings were held outdoors in places called “groves.” They held meetings in three different groves located on the edge of the bluff or in natural amphitheaters to the east, west, and south of the Nauvoo Temple.26

On the afternoon of Sunday, 7 April 1844, Joseph Smith delivered what has been called his greatest sermon,27 the King Follett Discourse.28 The Prophet Joseph Smith spoke in honor of King Follett, a member of the church who had died in an accident during the previous month. This sermon has been published more frequently than any other of Joseph Smith’s speeches. As Joseph Smith spoke, three men made official notes, and one recorded the sermon on his own. The official recorders were Thomas Bullock, William Clayton, and Willard Richards. Wilford Woodruff made unofficial notes. Their original handwritten notes, held in the LDS Church Archives, are the source of the printed versions of the sermon.29

In his discourse, which lasted over two hours, the Prophet spoke concerning some 158 doctrinal subjects, including the character of God, the origin and destiny of man, the unpardonable sin, the resurrection, and Joseph Smith’s love for all men.30 This sermon contained many unique Latter-day Saint doctrines. Several of the 158 topics he discussed are teachings that clearly distinguish Latter-day Saint doctrine from doctrines espoused by others. Some of these unique doctrines relate to God. In the King Follett Discourse, Joseph Smith stressed the importance of knowing God and having a correct understanding of him:

There are but very few beings in this world who understand rightly the character of God. If men do not comprehend the character of God, they do not comprehend their own character. They cannot comprehend anything that is past or that which is to come; they do not know—they do not understand their own relationship to God. The world knows and comprehends but little more than the brute beast. If a man knows nothing more than to eat, drink, sleep, arise, and not any more, and does not comprehend what any of the designs of Jehovah are, what better is he than the beast, for it comprehends the same things—it eats, drinks, sleeps, comprehends the present and knows nothing more about God or His existence. This is as much as we know, unless we are able to comprehend by the inspiration of Almighty God. And how are we to do it by any other way?

I want to go back, then, to the beginning that you may understand and so get you to lift your minds into a more lofty sphere and exalted standing than what the human mind generally understands. I want to ask this congregation—every man, woman, and child—to answer this question in their own heart: What kind of a being is God? Ask yourselves! I again repeat the question: What kind of a being is God? Does any man or woman know? Turn your thoughts in your hearts, and say, Have any of you seen Him? or communed with Him? Here is a question that will, peradventure, from this time henceforth occupy your attention while you live.31

Closely related to the admonition to learn about God is the challenge to become as God is. This task is expressed in the well-known saying: “As man now is, God once was; as God now is, man may be.” It was Lorenzo Snow who coined this phrase, but he had learned the doctrine from Joseph Smith Sr. and the Prophet.32

Concerning the nature of God and mankind’s potential, Joseph Smith taught:

What kind of a being was God in the beginning, before the world was? I will go back to the beginning to show you. I will tell you, so open your ears and eyes, all ye ends of the earth, and hear, for I am going to prove it to you with the Bible. I am going to tell you the designs of God for the human race, the relation the human family sustains with God, and why He interferes with the affairs of man. First, God Himself who sits enthroned in yonder heavens is a Man like unto one of yourselves—that is the great secret! If the veil were rent today and the great God that holds this world in its sphere and the planets in their orbit and who upholds all things by His power—if you were to see Him today, you would see Him in all the person, image, fashion, and very form of a man, like yourselves.

. . . Contemplate the saying that they will be heirs of God and joint-heirs with Jesus Christ. What is it? To inherit and enjoy the same glory, powers, and exaltation until you ascend a throne of eternal power and arrive at the station of a God, the same as those who have gone before. What did Jesus Christ do? “Why I do the same things that I saw my Father do when worlds came rolling into existence.” Saw the Father do what? “I saw the Father work out His kingdom with fear and trembling and I am doing the same, too. When I get my kingdom, I will give it to the Father and it will add to and exalt His glory. He will take a higher exaltation and I will take His place and am also exalted, so that He obtains kingdom rolling upon kingdom.”33

As the congregation listened they might have asked the question, how does one become a God? Joseph Smith put it very succinctly: “When you climb a ladder, you must begin at the bottom rung.”34

The King Follett Discourse contained much about knowledge. Joseph Smith put it this way: “knowledge saves a man.”35 His succinct statement has been elaborated upon by subsequent church leaders. According to their statements, spiritual knowledge is of paramount importance. This key concept received full attention in Joseph Smith’s funeral sermons.

In the course of this long sermon Joseph Smith taught about the importance of tolerance. At one point he declared: “Meddle not with any man for his religion.”36 Stressing the role of government in matters relating to tolerance, he affirmed: “All laws and government ought to tolerate and permit every man to enjoy his religion, whether right or wrong.”37

In the wide range of topics covered in his discourse, the Prophet also taught about hell. Focusing on a unique Latter-day Saint concept of hell he said:

A sinner has his own mind and his own mind damns him. He is damned by mortification and is his own condemner and tormenter. Hence the saying: They shall go into the lake that burns with fire and brimstone. I have no fear of hell fire, that doesn’t exist, but the torment and disappointment of the mind of man is as exquisite as a lake burning with fire and brimstone—so is the torment of man.38

Still another distinctive teaching of Mormonism set forth in the King Follett Discourse is the concept of intelligence. An appropriate excerpt from the sermon reads: “The mind of man—the intelligent part—is as immortal as, and is coequal with, God Himself.”39

The intelligent part of man—or intelligence—is eternal, without beginning or end. Intelligence was not created. The relationship between intelligence and creation is crucial. According to Joseph Smith, creation out of nothing—creation ex nihilo—does not exist. Thus Latter-day Saints are able to clearly and logically explain creation as a process of organization of already existing matter.

Concerning the plan of salvation, Joseph Smith taught that it had its foundation in a heavenly council: “In the beginning, the head of the Gods called a council of the Gods; and they came together and concocted [prepared] a plan to create the world and people it.”40

The King Follett Discourse stands as a witness of the divine calling of Joseph Smith. Certainly it is the longest and most quoted funeral sermon of Joseph Smith. It does not stand alone, however. In the early years of his ministry and especially during the Nauvoo era, Joseph Smith provided words of comfort and consolation as he taught doctrinal truths to the Saints at the death of loved ones. The ideas in these sermons fit together like the pieces of a jigsaw puzzle. They are a reflection of his life and calling. These funeral sermons, taken together, testify of the divine calling of Joseph Smith. They provide a sure witness of his role as prophet of the restoration.

Appendix of Funeral Sermons and Comments by Joseph Smith Jr.

 

Sermon

Location

Date of Delivery

1.

Polly Knight

Kaw Township, Missouri

7 August 1831

2.

Nathan Harris

Kirtland, Ohio

18 November 1835

3.

James Marsh

Far West, Missouri

9 May 1838

4.

Seymour Brunson

Nauvoo, Illinois

15 August 1840

5.

General Funeral Sermon

Nauvoo, Illinois

25 July 1841

6.

Marian Windsor

Nauvoo, Illinois

20 March 1842

7.

Ephraim Marks

Nauvoo, Illinois

7 April 1842

8.

Lorenzo Barnes

Nauvoo, Illinois

16 April 1843

9.

Elias Higbee

Nauvoo, Illinois

13 August 1843

10.

James Adams

Nauvoo, Illinois

9 October 1843

11.

King Follett

Nauvoo, Illinois

7 April 1844

 

Comments

Location

Date of Death

1.

Alvin Smith

Palmyra, New York

November 1823 1

2.

Zion’s Camp Victims

Clay County, Missouri

June 1834 2

3.

David W. Patten

Far West, Missouri

25 October 1838 3

4.

Joseph Smith Sr.

Nauvoo, Illinois

14 September 1840 4

 


  1. Retrospective comments by the Prophet—21 January 1836 and 22 August 1842
  2. Retrospective comments by the Prophet—fall 1838
  3. Remarks given by the Prophet at the home of D. W. Patten
  4. Comments and eulogy written by the Prophet

Notes

  1. The figure of eleven funerals and four retrospective comments was derived from a search of the History of the Church; the major biographies of Joseph Smith; J. Christopher Conkling, A Joseph Smith Chronology (Salt Lake City: Deseret Book, 1979); and references from Larry E. Dahl and Donald Q. Cannon, eds., The Teachings of Joseph Smith (Salt Lake City: Bookcraft, 1997).
  2. See Donna Hill, Joseph Smith: The First Mormon (Garden City, N.Y.: Doubleday, 1977), 60 n. 17.
  3. LaMar C. Berrett, “Joseph, a Family Man,” in The Prophet Joseph: Essays on the Life and Mission of Joseph Smith, ed. Larry C. Porter and Susan Easton Black (Salt Lake City: Deseret Book, 1988), 45.
  4. See History of the Church, 5:124—25.
  5. Ibid., 126—27.
  6. William G. Hartley, “They Are My Friends”: A History of the Joseph Knight Family, 1825—1850 (Provo, Utah: Grandin Book, 1986), 80.
  7. Joseph Young, “History of the Organization of the Seventies,” LDS Church Archives, Salt Lake City, Utah, 1; published in History of the Church, 2:181n. For a general study of Zion’s Camp and the cholera experience, see Roger D. Launius, Zion’s Camp (Independence, Mo.: Herald Publishing House, 1984).
  8. See The Personal Writings of Joseph Smith, ed. Dean C. Jessee (Salt Lake City: Deseret Book, 1984), 89—90.
  9. History of the Church, 3:175.
  10. See The Papers of Joseph Smith, ed. Dean C. Jessee (Salt Lake City: Deseret Book, 1992), 2:240.
  11. The Words of Joseph Smith, ed. Andrew F. Ehat and Lyndon W. Cook (Provo, Utah: BYU Religious Studies Center, 1980), 49.
  12. History of the Church, 4:231.
  13. See ibid., 189—97.
  14. Ibid., 389.
  15. See ibid., 553; Wilford Woodruff’s Journal, 1833—1898 Typescript, ed. Scott G. Kenney (Midvale, Utah: Signature Books, 1983), 2:159.
  16. History of the Church, 4:553.
  17. Ibid., 587.
  18. See Wilford Woodruff’s Journal, 2:226—27.
  19. History of the Church, 5:529.
  20. Ibid., 529—30.
  21. Ibid., 530—31.
  22. Ibid., 6:50.
  23. Ibid.
  24. Ibid., 6:51.
  25. Ibid.
  26. See David E. and Della S. Miller, Nauvoo: The City of Joseph (Salt Lake City: Peregrine Smith, 1974), 70—71; James L. Kimball Jr., “Nauvoo Life, Worship,” Church News, section of the Deseret News, 1 May 1976, 16; and interview with T. Edgar Lyon, 5 December 1975.
  27. Many students of Joseph Smith agree that the King Follett Discourse was his greatest sermon. See, for example, Preston Nibley, Joseph Smith the Prophet (Salt Lake City: Deseret News Press, 1944), 503; Joseph Fielding McConkie, “A Historical Examination of the Views of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints and the Reorganized Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints on Four Distinctive Aspects of the Doctrine of Deity Taught by the Prophet Joseph Smith” (master’s thesis, Brigham Young University, 1968), 135; John J. Stewart, Joseph Smith, the Mormon Prophet (Salt Lake City: Mercury, 1966), 207—8; George Q. Cannon, Life of Joseph Smith, the Prophet (1888; reprint, Salt Lake City: Deseret Book, 1972), 479; Jay R. Lowe, “A Study of the General Conferences of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, 1830—1901” (Ph.D. diss., Brigham Young University, 1972), 212. For a general study of the development of the King Follett Discourse, see Donald Q. Cannon, “The King Follett Discourse: Joseph Smith’s Greatest Sermon in Historical Perspective,” BYU Studies 18/2 (1978): 179—92.
  28. Some discrepancy exists in the early records on the spelling of the name Follett. Wilford Woodruff, Willard Richards, and William Clayton spelled it Follet, and Thomas Bullock spelled it Follit. Almost all the published accounts of the King Follett Discourse use the current spelling—Follett—which is the correct spelling, according to the Genealogical Department and members of the Follett family.
  29. See Cannon, “Greatest Sermon,” 182—83, especially nn. 18—21.
  30. See Donald Q. Cannon and Larry E. Dahl, The Prophet Joseph Smith’s King Follett Discourse: A Six Column Comparison of Original Notes and Amalgamations (Provo, Utah: BYU Religious Studies Center, 1983). The number 158 comes from the author’s count from the detailed index added to the original publication in 1998.
  31. Cannon and Dahl, King Follett Discourse, 19—21. This quotation and several other following quotations are from the Larson version of the King Follett Discourse found in  BYU Studies 18/2 (1978): 193—208.
  32. The Teachings of Lorenzo Snow, comp. Clyde J. Williams (Salt Lake City: Bookcraft, 1984), 1—2.
  33. Cannon and Dahl, King Follett Discourse, 27, 33.
  34. Ibid., 35.
  35. Ibid., 61.
  36. Ibid., 25.
  37. Ibid.
  38. Ibid., 63.
  39. Ibid., 49.
  40. Ibid., 43, parenthetical clarifications added by author.

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