LDS Temple Ordinances

Letter dated 8 June 1887, written by Wilford Woodruff to Samuel Roskelley, Recorder of the Logan Temple, Logan, Utah.

St. George, Utah,
8th June, 1887,

Samuel Roskelley,

Dear Brother;

Your letter of the 1st reached me last night, I arrived here last night to have an interview with S. Snow, as he will be here to attend Conference.

I have read your letter carefully. Now concerning endowments in all its phases: my own views are these--that we ought to follow out, as far as we can, the pattern laid down by our leaders. I consider that if there ever was any man who thoroughly understood the principle of the Endowments it was Brigham Young. He had been with Joseph Smith from the beginning of the Endowments to the end; and he understood it if any man did. And before his death he required me to write in a book every Ordinance in the Church and Kingdom of God, from the first to the last; beginning with Baptism to the last Ordinance performed through every department of the Endowments. I was several weeks doing this writing, and President Young corrected it all until he got through. Then he said to me, "Now, there you have a pattern of all the Ordinances and Endowments for every Temple, we shall build, until the coming of the Son of Man." Now if I ever have anything to do, or to say, in any Temple on the earth, concerning Endowments, I would say: follow the pattern that President Young has set us; and not deviate from it one iota. And if we do that, we may have a hundred Temples at work, and all the work and ceremonies will be alike in every Temple. While on the other hand, if every man who is called to preside over a Temple has his own way, and introduces his own form and ceremonies, our Temple work would be as diverse as the sectarian world and God would not approbate it.

Brother Roskelley, I have given Endowments in Salt Lake City for twenty years, and I received my Endowments under the hands of the Prophet Joseph Smith. I directed the fixing up of the Temple in St. George for giving Endowments under the direction of President Young; and since the rules are written for our guidance in all future time, I feel very strenuous that in our giving Endowments we should all work alike, and not deviate from the written word.

You say, "we are told here so and so concerning sealings and adoptions". Who is it that has told you these things and given these instructions? I don't think it can be President Taylor, for neither he nor I have ever received such teachings from either Joseph Smith or Brigham Young. But I have been taught right the reverse by President Young. He told me to have single women of my father's and mother's households sealed to me. I asked him "how many?" He said if there was not over nine hundred and ninety-nine to take them. I had some three hundred sealed to me by his instructions. I don't know whether I shall have to build them each a palace in the Celestial Kingdom of God or not. If I do, I shall have time to do it. I did as I was told. So in relation to Adoptions, most, if not all, of the Presidency and Twelve, have had men adopted to them, and all these Sealings and Adoptions are for the Salvation of the living and the dead. I have never asked any man to be adopted into my family that I can recollect of; but I have had a number of families of friends adopted into my family, as have other men, without any regard as to whether it will, in the future, cost me one dollar or a million. What we have done in this matter has been for the salvation of man. It may possibly be a correct doctrine that a man's kingdom will consist of only the fruit of his own loins. Yet Jusus [Jesus] Christ died to save the whole world, and if we, as Apostles and Elders, do nothing for the human family only for the fruit of our own loins, we shall not do much towards magnifying the Holy Priesthood God has given us for saving the souls of man--either the living or the dead.

Brother Roskelley, we must not get our minds too puckered up in these principles[.] We are ordained and appointed Saviors upon Mount Zion, and we must not be afraid to administer the Ordinances of Life and Salvation to our fellow man--living or dead, for fear it will cost us a dollar.

I have adopted this rule in Sealings and Adoptions: to take such as the Lord has given me, and leave the result in His hands.

I think there is a Book in Logan Temple containing all the Ordinances as directed by President Young. I should recommend following that strictly, that our work in both Temples may be alike.

Now concerning what Joseph Smith the Prophet said about children: In the first place he said children would rise from the grave, as they were laid down, and their parents would receive as they laid them away. This, I believe. He conveyed an idea in the first place, that they would not grow, but after more mature reflection, he conveyed the idea that they eventually would grow to the full stature of man. It was a good deal upon the same principle that it was when he got the first revelation on baptism for the dead. He did not at first get the whole of it, but he went into the Mississippi River with myself and a number of others, and we baptized for the dead, without regard to males acting for males only, and females acting for females only, also without any Recorder. But the Lord revealed more to him, and gave him to understand that there should be a Recorder who should strictly record all the baptisms and Ordinances and that man should act for man, and woman for woman. So with regard to his views on the Resurrection--they enlarged before he got through, and he said children would grow to full stature. That I believe.

Now anything I have said in this letter in giving my views in relation to what you have asked, need not be treated as a private matter, as you suggest. You may make whatever use of them you please.

There has got to be a welding link of some kind before we get through with this work that will adopt man to man, and weld all dispensations from Father Adam down to the last Saint. But in all this matter, I do not go around electioneering to get men adopted to me. I don't want any of this work done for me, only what the Lord wants. Paul talked a good deal about Adoptions, but we did not understand much about it, until the Lord revealed it to Joseph Smith, and we may not, perhaps, understand it now as fully as we should. Still the Sealings and Adoptions are true principles, or our Prophets have been badly deceived.

I remain your Brother in the Gospel of Christ

(signed) Wilford Woodruff.

(Typed copy of original from Family Record Book, Samuel Roskelley Temple Book, Special Collections and Archives, Utah State University, Logan, Utah.)

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