A Young Folks' History of the Church by Nephi Anderson - HTML preview
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God's goodness, mercy, and watch-care reach to all his children, whether they be white or black, bond or free; whether they live now or lived thousands of years ago; yes, whether they are alive or dead. Death is but a change from one sphere of action to another, and as God is everywhere, it is not alone in this life that his loving care is manifested. The gospel also is everlasting. It did not begin with this world, neither will it end with this life, but its purifying, uplifting power is felt throughout all time and place.
Salvation is to get from under the powers of sin and death, and live forever in the hereafter, growing in wisdom and in power, and becoming more and more like unto our Great Father, God. This salvation is obtained by obeying the principles of the gospel and performing the ordinances required therein. You all know what the first of these principles and ordinances are. One of the ordinances is that a person must be baptized by water for the remission of sin. "He that believeth and is baptized shall be saved," said the Savior. This must of course be performed here on earth, and by a servant of God having authority to do so.
Now, by thinking about it a moment, you will know that there are a great many of the human race who have not been baptized with this kind of baptism. Millions there are and have been who never heard of the gospel or of Jesus Christ. Many others there are and have been who have had a kind of baptism but not performed by one with authority. What will then become of all these people?
Many religions of the day teach that there is no chance for people after they leave this life; if they are not saved when they die, they never can be afterwards. Can you not see what a cruel thought that is? Think of the millions who have not had a chance! Surely God would not punish people for not doing something they had no chance to do Now all this was made plain to the Prophet Joseph Smith. The Lord told him that all those who died without repentance and baptism would have a chance in the next world. Christ, while his body lay three days in the tomb, went and preached to the spirits in prison. Likewise, many of the servants of God have, and are now preaching the gospel to the children of God in the spirit world. They can there believe and repent, but can not be baptized. That must be done for them by someone on the earth. This ordinance can be performed in any place that God directs, but he has commanded that holy buildings be erected wherein baptisms for the dead can be performed. This, then, is one use of our temples. Marriages, sealings and other holy ordinances are also performed in these buildings.
The first temple site was dedicated in Jackson county, Missouri, August 3, 1831, but, as you have been told, no work was done to erect a building. The Kirtland temple you also have been told about. After the Saints left Kirtland the building was neglected. Then it came into the possession of the Reorganization or "Reorganites," as they are sometimes called, a religious body founded, and built up for the most part by apostates from the Church. The Kirtland temple is still standing.
Ground was dedicated for a temple at Far West July 3, 1837, but owing to the Saints being driven away, no work other than digging the foundation was done.The next effort was at Nauvoo. This temple was begun April 6, 1841, and dedicated April 30th and May 1, 1846. You will remember how the Saints toiled to complete this building. It was a large, beautiful structure, one of the finest in the west, and cost about one million dollars. About two years after the Saints had left Nauvoo, the temple was destroyed by fire.
The Salt Lake temple was begun in 1853, but while it was being built three others were completed. The first of these is the St. George temple. It was begun the 9th of November, 1871, and dedicated April 6, 1877. The Logan temple was begun May 18, 1877, and completed May 17, 1884. The corner stones of the temple at Manti were laid April 14, 1879, and the building was dedicated May 21, 1888. All these temples are beautiful buildings, and many are the blessings the Saints have received in them.
Those of you who have not seen the Salt Lake temple may get a good idea of its beauty by the picture. It is built of hewn blocks of gray granite, a hard, beautiful stone. It was forty years in building. The last top stone on the towers, called the capstone, was laid April 6, 1892. There were at least forty thousand people on the temple grounds on this occasion. A platform had been erected on the south side of the temple, whereon the authorities of the Church were seated. There were services of singing, prayer, and speaking, and then President Woodruff touched a button which sent an electric current up a wire to the top of the tower. The electricity set free the capstone which settled into its place. President Lorenzo Snow led the vast audience in giving the grand Hosanna shout.
President Woodruff was anxious to live to see the completion of the temple. It was therefore voted by the large audience present that the inside of the building be finished in one year.
To accomplish this, means were donated liberally by the Saints, and the work went on rapidly. On the 6th of April, 1893, the temple was completed, and on the morning of that day the first meeting was held in the building. President Woodruff offered the dedicatory prayer. In the afternoon another meeting was held, and this continued day after day until thirty-one meetings had been held. Seventy thousand of the Saints witnessed the dedication exercises, besides thirteen thousand Sunday School children, for whom special services were held.
Some of you who read this book may have been in one of our temples. Did you not notice what a calm, sweet feeling came over you while there? Surely, the Spirit of God is in these sacred buildings, and those who labor therein for the living and the dead enjoy its blessed influence. Let every one of you so live that your life may be pure and clean, so that some day you may be worthy of entering the House of God and partaking of the blessings in store for you.
Topics.—1. Salvation for the dead. 2. The temples. 3. Salt Lake temple.
Questions and Review.—1. What is salvation? 2. Is salvation limited to this life? 3. How is salvation obtained? 4. Name some of the first principles of the gospel. 5. Name some of its first ordinances. 6. What have some preachers of religion taught regarding salvation? 7. What did the Lord reveal to Joseph Smith on this subject? 8. Where did Jesus go while his body lay in the sepulchre? (I Peter 3:18, 20.) 9. What are some of the uses of temples? 10. How many temples have been built by the Church? 11. Locate each. 12. Tell something about the Nauvoo temple. 13. Describe the Salt Lake temple. 14. When was it dedicated? 15. What great blessings are to be had in a temple?