This articles covers the history and significance of the Kirtland Temple. It covers the miracles, sacrifice and visions connected with this temple of the Restoration.
Building and Dedication of the Kirtland Temple
As told by Truman O. Angell
Among the multiplicity of buildings under my charge, I had the supervision of finishing the second, or middle wall of the temple, including the stands, etc.
About this time Frederick G. Williams, one of President Smith’s counselors, came into the temple when the following dialogue took place in my presence:
Carpenter Rolph said, “Doctor, what do you think of the House?” He answered, “It looks to me like the pattern precisely.” He then related the following:
“Joseph received the word of the Lord for him to take his two counselors, [Frederick G.] Williams and [Sidney] Rigdon, and come before the Lord and He would show them the plan or model of the house to be built. We went upon our knees, called on the Lord, and the building [Kirtland Temple] appeared within viewing distance. I being the first to discover it. Then all of us viewed it together. After we had taken a good look at the exterior, the building seemed to come right over us, and the makeup of this hall seemed to coincide with what I there saw to a minutia.”
Joseph was accordingly enabled to dictate to the mechanics and his counselors stood as witnesses, and this was strictly necessary in order to satisfy the spirit of unbelief in consequence of the weakness or childishness of the brethren of those days. The following are a few items which transpired about this time. One I will note:
Joseph came into the hall. The leading mechanic, John Carl, by profession a carriage builder, wanted to seat the house contrary to what Joseph had proposed. Joseph answered him that he had seen the inside of every building that had been built unto the Lord upon this earth and he hated to have to say so. Under such childlike feeling, they prepared to dedicate the lower hall. The hall was filled at an early hour in the afternoon, I being present among the rest. The dedicatory prayer was offered, Sidney Rigdon being mouth.
When about midway during the prayer, there was a glorious sensation passed through the house [Kirtland Temple]; and we, having our heads bowed in prayer, felt a sensation very elevating to the soul. At the close of the prayer, F. [Frederick] G. Williams being in the upper east stand—Joseph being in the speaking stand next below—rose and testified that midway during the prayer an holy angel came and seated himself in the stand. When the afternoon meeting assembled, Joseph, feeling very much elated, arose the first thing and said the personage who had appeared in the morning was the Angel Peter come to accept the dedication.1
- Kirtland, Ohio
- March 27, 1836 – Dedication
Temple Design Revealed by God, Early Construction
As told by Lucy Mack Smith
“The ensuing summer after Joseph’s return from Missouri, the brethren called a council to discuss the subject of building another meetinghouse, as the first was now rather small to afford room for the increased congregation.
In this council Joseph requested each of the brethren to rise and give his views, and when they were through, he would give his opinion concerning the matter. They all spoke. Some thought that it would be better to build a frame house. Others said that a frame house was too costly, and the majority concluded upon putting up a log house and made their calculations about what they could do towards building it. Joseph rose and reminded them that they were not making a house for themselves or any other man, but a house for God. “And shall we, brethren, build a house for our God of logs? No, I have a better plan than that. I have the plan of the house of the Lord, given by himself. You will see by this the difference between our calculations and his idea of things.”
He then gave them the full plan of the house of the Lord at Kirtland, with which the brethren were highly delighted, particularly Hyrum, who was twice as much animated as if it were designed for himself, and declared that he would strike the first blow towards building the house.
Before the meeting closed, they resolved upon laying the cornerstone one week from the succeeding Wednesday. “Now, brethren,” said Joseph, “let us go select a place for the building.” They all went out, and when they came to a certain field of wheat, which my sons had sown the fall before, they chose a spot in the northwest corner. Hyrum ran to the house and caught the scythe and was about returning to the place without giving any explanation, but I stopped him and asked him where he was going with the scythe. He said, “We are preparing to build a house for the Lord, and I am determined to be the first at the work.”
In a few minutes, the fence was removed, the young wheat cut, and the ground in order for the foundation of the wall, and Hyrum commenced digging away the earth where the stones were to be laid. This was Saturday night. Early Monday morning, the brethren were out with their teams, laboring with great ambition at digging a trench for the wall, quarrying stone and hauling it to the place where they were to be used. Although there were but thirty families in Kirtland at that time (as many of the brethren had gone to Jackson County), the work never stopped nor stood still for the want of means or laborers. But they suffered much pain, fatigue, and uneasiness, for as soon as the work was commenced, our enemies began to swear that we should not finish it. Still, the brethren were faithful to their charge, and they took turns keeping guard upon the walls every night. My sons also took their turns, standing upon the walls as often as three nights in the week.”2
Building of the Kirtland Temple
As told by President George A. Smith
Among the first principles that were revealed to the children of men in the last days was the gathering; the first revelations that were given to the Church were to command them to gather, and send Elders to seek out a place for the gathering of the Saints. What is the gathering for? Why was it that the Savior wished the children of Israel to gather together? It was that they might become united and provide a place wherein He could reveal unto them keys which have been hid from before the foundation of the world; that He could unfold unto them the laws of exaltation, and make them a kingdom of Priests—even the whole people, and exalt them to thrones and dominions in the celestial world.
For this purpose, in 1833, the Saints commenced to build a Temple in Kirtland, the cost of which was not less than one hundred thousand dollars. A mere handful of Saints commenced that work, but they were full of faith and energy, and willing, as they supposed, to sacrifice everything for the building up of Zion. In a few weeks some of them apostatized; the trials were too great, the troubles were too severe. I know persons who apostatized because they supposed they had reasons; for instance, a certain family, after having traveled a long journey, arrived in Kirtland, and the Prophet asked them to stop with him until they could find a place. Sister Emma, in the meantime, asked the old lady if she would have a cup of tea to refresh her after the fatigues of the journey, or a cup of coffee. This whole family apostatized because they were invited to take a cup of tea or coffee, after the Word of Wisdom was given.
Another family, about the same time, apostatized because Joseph Smith came down out of the translating room, where he had been translating by the gift and power of God, and commenced playing with his little children. Some such trials as these, you know, had to be encountered. I recollect a gentleman who came from Canada, and who always had been a Methodist, and had always been in the habit of praying to a God who had no ears and as a matter of course had to shout and halloo pretty hard to make Him hear. Father Johnson asked him to pray in their family worship in the evening, and he got on such a high key, and hallooed so loud that he alarmed the whole village. Among others, Joseph came running out, saying, “What is the matter? I thought by the noise that the heavens and the earth were coming together,” and said to the man, “that he ought not to give way to such an enthusiastic spirit, and bray so much like a jackass.” Because Joseph said that, the poor man put back to Canada, and apostatized; he thought he would not pray to a God who did not want to be screamed at with all one’s might.
We progressed in this way while we were building the Kirtland Temple. The Saints had a great many traditions which they had borrowed from their fathers, and laid the foundations, and built that Temple with great toil and suffering, compared with what we have now to endure. They got that building so far finished as to be dedicated; this was what the Lord wanted. He wished them to provide a place wherein He could reveal to the children of men those principles that will exalt them to eternal glory, and make them Saviors on Mount Zion. Four hundred and sixteen Elders, Priests, Teachers, and Deacons met in the Kirtland Temple on the evening of its dedication. I can see faces here that were in that assembly. The Lord poured His Spirit upon us and gave us some little idea of the law of anointing, and conferred upon us some blessings. He taught us how to shout Hosanna, gave Joseph the keys of the gathering together of Israel, and revealed to us, what, why the fact of it was, He dare not trust us with the first key of the Priesthood. He told us to wash ourselves, and that almost made the women mad, and they said, as they were not admitted into the Temple while this washing was being performed, that some mischief was going on, and some of them were right huffy about it.
We were instructed to wash each other’s feet, as an evidence that we had borne testimony of the truth of the Gospel to the world. We were taught to anoint each other’s head with oil in the name of the Lord, as an ordinance of anointing. All these things were to be done in their time, place, and season. All this was plain and simple, yet some apostatized because there was not more of it, and others because there was too much.
On the evening after the dedication of the Temple, hundreds of the brethren received the ministering of angels, saw the light and personages of angels, and bore testimony of it. They spake in new tongues, and had a greater manifestation of the power of God than that described by Luke on the day of Pentecost. Yet a great portion of the persons who saw these manifestations, in a few years, and some of them in a few weeks, apostatized. If the Lord had on that occasion revealed one single sentiment more, or gone one step further to reveal more fully the law of redemption, I believe He would have upset the whole of us. The fact was, He dare not, on that very account, reveal to us a single principle further than He had done for He had tried, over and over again, to do it. He tried at Jerusalem; He tried away back before the flood; He tried in the days of Moses; and He had tried, from time to time, to find a people to whom He could reveal the law of salvation, and He never could fully accomplish it; and He was determined this time to be so careful, and advance the idea so slowly, to communicate them to the children of men with such great caution that, at all hazards, a few of them might be able to understand and obey. For, says the Lord, My ways are not as your ways, nor My thoughts as your thoughts; for as the heavens are higher than the earth, so are My ways than your ways, and My thoughts than your thoughts.
Now if the Lord had considered it wisdom, on the day of the Kirtland endowment and great solemn assembly, to come forward and reveal to the children of men the facts that are laid down plainly in the Bible, and had told them that, without the law of sealing, no man could be exalted to a throne in the celestial kingdom, that is, without he had a woman by his side; and that no woman could be exalted to the celestial world without she was exalted with a man at her head; that the man is not without the woman, nor the woman without the man in the Lord; had He revealed this simple sentiment, up would have jumped some man, saying, “What! Got to have a woman sealed to me in order to be saved, in order to be exalted to thrones, dominions, and eternal increase?” “Yes.” “I do not believe a word of it, I cannot stand that, for I never intended to get married, I do not believe in any of this nonsense.” At the same time, perhaps somebody else might have had faith to receive it. Again up jumps somebody else, “Brother Joseph, I have had two wives in my lifetime, cannot I have them both in eternity?” “No.” If he had said yes, perhaps we should all have apostatized at once.
Now I will illustrate this still further. The Lord did actually reveal one principle to us there, and that one principle was apparently so simple, and so foolish in their eyes, that a great many apostatized over it, because it was so contrary to their notions and views. It was this, after the people had fasted all day, they sent out and got wine and bread, and blessed them, and distributed them to the multitude, that is, to the whole assembly of the brethren, and they ate and drank, and prophesied, and bore testimony, and continued so to do until some of the High Council of Missouri stepped into the stand, and, as righteous Noah did when he awoke from his wine, commenced to curse their enemies. You never felt such a shock go through any house or company in the world as went through that. There was almost rebellion because men would get up and curse their enemies; although they could remember well that it is written that Noah cursed his own grandson, and that God recognized that curse to such an extent that, at this day, millions of his posterity are consigned to perpetual servitude.
Many men are foolish enough to think that they can thwart the power of God, and can liberate the sons of Ham from that curse before its time has expired. Some of the brethren thought that it was best to apostatize, because the spirit of cursing was with men who had been driven from Missouri by mob violence. Yet every word that they prophesied has been fulfilled. They prophesied that the bones of many of those murderers should bleach on the prairie, and that birds should pick out their eyes, and beasts devour their flesh. Men who have traversed the plains of Mexico, California, Nebraska, and Kansas, have often seen the fulfillment of that prophecy in the most marvelous manner. We have seen their names upon trees, on the heads of old trunks, and bits of boards; the names of men that I knew, and I knew just as well, in the Kirtland Temple, what would be their fate, as I know now. But that tried us, some of us were awfully tried about it. The Lord dared not then reveal anything more; He had given us all we could swallow; and persecution raged around us to such an extent that we were obliged to forsake our beautiful Temple, and flee into the state of Missouri.3
Sacrifices & Faithfulness of Saints During Construction
As told by President Heber C. Kimball
At this time the brethren were laboring night and day building the house of the Lord. Our women were engaged in spinning and knitting in order to clothe those who were laboring at the building, and the Lord only knows the scenes of poverty, tribulation, and distress which we passed through in order to accomplish this thing. My wife toiled all summer in lending her aid towards this accomplishment. She had a hundred pounds of wool, which, with the assistance of a girl, she spun in order to furnish clothing for those engaged in the building of the Temple, and although she had the privilege of keeping half the quantity of wool for herself, as a recompense for her labor, she did not reserve even so much as would make her a pair of stockings, but gave it for those who were laboring at the house of the Lord. She spun and wove and got the cloth dressed, and cut and made up into garments, and gave them to those men who labored on the Temple; almost all the sisters in Kirtland labored in knitting, sewing, spinning, etc., for the purpose of forwarding the work of the Lord, while we went up to Missouri to endeavor to reinstate our brethren on their lands, from which they had been driven. Elder Rigdon when addressing the brethren upon the importance of building this house, spake to this effect, that we should use every effort to accomplish this building by the time appointed, and if we did, the Lord would accept it at our hands, and on it depends the salvation of the church and also of the world. Looking at the sufferings and poverty of the church, he frequently used to go upon the walls of the building both by night and day and frequently wetting the walls with his tears, crying aloud to the Almighty to send means whereby we might accomplish the building. After we returned from our journey to the west, the whole church united in this undertaking and every man lent a helping hand. Those who had no teams went to work in the stone quarry and prepared the stones for drawing to the house, President Joseph Smith, Jr., being our foreman in the quarry, and the Presidency, High Priests, and Elders all alike assisting. Those who had teams assisted in drawing the stone to the house. These all laboring one day in the week, brought as many stones to the house as supplied the masons through the whole week. We continued in this manner until the walls of the house were reared. The committee who were appointed by revelation to superintend the building of the house, were Hyrum Smith, Reynolds Cahoon, and Jared Carter. These men used every exertion in their power to forward the work.4
Divine Gifts, Miracles and Visions Experienced
As told by Sister Eliza R. Snow
My brother (President Lorenzo Snow) spent most of the winter of 1837-1838 in Kirtland, where he witnessed many marvelous manifestations of the power of God; also exhibitions of the power and opposition of the adversary. During the time he became intimately acquainted with Joseph Smith, the Prophet, and with his father, the Patriarch—with the Twelve Apostles and other leading men in the Church. In his journal he speaks of the fast meetings, prayer and testimony meetings in the Temple, as follows:
There we had the gift of prophecy—the gift of tongues—the interpretation of tongues—visions and marvelous dreams were related—the singing of heavenly choirs was heard, and wonderful manifestations of the healing power, through the administration of the Elders, were witnessed. The sick were healed—the deaf made to hear, the blind to see, and the lame to walk, in very many instances. It was plainly manifest that a sacred and divine influence—a spiritual atmosphere pervaded that holy edifice. Yes, indeed, for the Son of God, in His glory, had honored it with His royal presence. His voice, like the sound of many waters, was heard saying:
“I am the first and the last, I am he who liveth, I am he that was slain, I am your advocate with the Father.”
No language can describe my feelings when, for the first time, I stood up in one of those pulpits to address an audience—a pulpit on the breastwork of which, only a short time before, this holy Personage stood—His hair as white as pure snow, His eyes as a flame of fire—where also Moses, Elias and Elijah came and committed the keys of their dispensations to Joseph Smith.
Public meetings were regularly held in the Temple, after its dedication, on Sundays; and on the first Thursday in each month a fast meeting, commencing at or before 10 a.m. and closing at 4 p.m. On the aforementioned days, Father Smith (the Prophet’s father) was in the habit of entering the Temple very early in the morning, and there offering up his prayers to God, in that holy place, before the rising of the sun, after having told the Saints, publicly, that they were welcome to come as early as they pleased. The result was that many assembled before the hour of 10 a.m. and did not leave till after 4 p.m.
At one of these meetings, an insane woman came into the quarter of the house where I had convened; she came before the opening services, and her tongue ran incessantly, making so much confusion as to render it improper, if not impossible, for the presiding Elder to commence religious services. The more she was coaxed and supplicated to be silent the more impetuous she became. At length, Elder John P. Greene, who was appointed to preside in that department, requested the congregation to kneel down and all simultaneously pray to God, vocally, that the evil spirit which was actuating that woman might be found. The request was immediately complied with, and when we arose from our kneeling position Brother Greene, addressing the unfortunate woman (who was then silent), said: “Sister, you may now speak, for thou wilt not speak unless thou shalt speak by the Spirit of God.” She instantly arose to her feet, and, in a sputtering, stammering manner, tried to speak, but could not, and flew out of the Temple like a dart, and we saw no more of her that day.
I will relate one more remarkable circumstance which transpired in that interesting season—a circumstance which was not confined to either section of the Temple, but was witnessed by the many who were congregated on that day; and certainly all now living who were present on that occasion will remember. It is a testimony of answer to prayer that never can be forgotten. Father Smith presided over the meeting in the northwest section of the Temple, and after the meeting was opened by singing, he was mouth in prayer, and in course of supplication he very earnestly prayed that the Spirit of God might be poured out as on the day of Pentecost—that it might come “as a rushing mighty wind.” Some time after in the midst of the exercises of the forenoon, it did come; and whether Father Smith had forgotten what he had prayer for or whether, in the fervency of his heart, when praying he did not realize what he prayed for, I never ascertained, but when the sound came and filled the house, with an expression of great astonishment he raised his eyes, exclaiming, “What! Is the house on fire?” But presently he comprehended the cause of his alarm, and was filled with unspeakable joy.5
Visions manifested to Joseph Smith and Oliver Cowdery, in the Kirtland Temple, April 3, 1836. The Prophet prefaces his record of the manifestations with these words:
In the afternoon, I assisted the other presidents in distributing the Lord’s Supper to the Church, receiving it from the Twelve, whose privilege it was to officiate at the sacred desk this day. After having performed this service to my brethren, I retired to the pulpit, the veils being dropped, and bowed myself with Oliver Cowdery, in solemn and silent prayer. After rising from prayer, the following vision was opened to both of us. 6
1 The veil was taken from our minds, and the eyes of our understanding were opened.
2 We saw the Lord standing upon the breastwork of the pulpit, before us; and under his feet was a paved work of pure gold, in color like amber.
3 His eyes were as a flame of fire; the hair of his head was white like the pure snow; his countenance shone above the brightness of the sun; and his voice was as the sound of the rushing of great waters, even the voice of Jehovah, saying:
4 I am the first and the last; I am he who liveth, I am he who was slain; I am your advocate with the Father.
5 Behold, your sins are forgiven you; you are clean before me; therefore, lift up your heads and rejoice.
6 Let the hearts of your brethren rejoice, and let the hearts of all my people rejoice, who have, with their might, built this house to my name.
7 For behold, I have accepted this house, and my name shall be here; and I will manifest myself to my people in mercy in this house.
8 Yea, I will appear unto my servants, and speak unto them with mine own voice, if my people will keep my commandments, and do not pollute this holy house.
9 Yea the hearts of thousands and tens of thousands shall greatly rejoice in consequence of the blessings which shall be poured out, and the endowment with which my servants have been endowed in this house.
10 And the fame of this house shall spread to foreign lands; and this is the beginning of the blessing which shall be poured out upon the heads of my people. Even so. Amen.
11 After this vision closed, the heavens were again opened unto us; and Moses appeared before us, and committed unto us the keys of the gathering of Israel from the four parts of the earth, and the leading of the ten tribes from the land of the north.
12 After this, Elias appeared, and committed the dispensation of the gospel of Abraham, saying that in us and our seed all generations after us should be blessed.
13 After this vision had closed, another great and glorious vision burst upon us; for Elijah the prophet, who was taken to heaven without tasting death, stood before us, and said:
14 Behold, the time has fully come, which was spoken of by the mouth of Malachi—testifying that he [Elijah] should be sent, before the great and dreadful day of the Lord come—
15 To turn the hearts of the fathers to the children, and the children to the fathers, lest the whole earth be smitten with a curse—
16 Therefore, the keys of this dispensation are committed into your hands; and by this ye may know that the great and dreadful day of the Lord is near, even at the doors.
January 21, 1836: The Presidency then took the seat in their turn, according to their age, beginning at the oldest, and received their anointing and blessing under the hands of Father Smith. And in my turn, my father anointed my head, and sealed upon me the blessings of Moses, to lead Israel in the latter days, even as Moses led him in days of old; also the blessings of Abraham, Isaac and Jacob. All of the Presidency laid their hands upon me, and pronounced upon my head many prophecies and blessings, many of which I shall not notice at this time.
The heavens were opened before 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 were 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 Fathers Adam and Abraham, and my father and 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 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; also all that shall die henceforth without a knowledge of it, who would have received it with all their hearts, shall be heirs of that kingdom, for I, the Lord, will judge all men according to their works, according to the desires of their hearts.”
And I also beheld that all children who die before they arrive at the years of accountability, are saved in the celestial kingdom of heaven. I saw the Twelve Apostles of the Lamb, who are now upon the earth, who hold the keys of this last ministry, in foreign lands, standing together in a circle, much fatigued, with their clothes tattered and feet swollen, with their eyes cast downward, and Jesus standing in their midst, and they did not behold Him. The Savior looked upon them and wept.
Also, I saw Elder Brigham Young standing in a strange land, in the far south and west, in a desert place, upon a rock in the midst of about a dozen men of color, who appeared hostile. He was preaching to them in their own tongue, and the angel of God standing above his head, with a drawn sword in his hand, protecting him, but he did not see it. And I finally saw the Twelve in the celestial kingdom of God. I also beheld the redemption of Zion, and many things which the tongue of man cannot describe in full.
Many of my brethren who received the ordinance with me saw glorious visions also. Angels ministered unto them as well as to myself, and the power of the Highest rested upon us, the house was filled with the glory of God, and we shouted Hosanna to God and the Lamb. My scribe also received his anointing with us, and saw, in a vision, the armies of heaven protecting the Saints in their return to Zion, and many things which I saw.
The Bishop of Kirtland with his Counselors, and the Bishop of Zion with his Counselors, were present with us, and received their anointings under the hands of Father Smith, and this was confirmed by the Presidency, and the glories of heaven were unfolded to them.
We then invited the High Councilors of Kirtland and Zion into our room, and President Hyrum Smith anointed the head of the President of the Councilors in Kirtland, and President David Whitmer, the head of the President of the Councilors of Zion. The President of each quorum then anointed the heads of his colleagues each in his turn, beginning at the oldest, The visions of heaven were opened to them also. Some of them saw the face of the Savior, and others were ministered unto by holy angels, and the spirit of prophecy and revelation was poured out in mighty power; and loud Hosannas, and glory to God in the highest, saluted the heavens, for we all communed with the heavenly hosts. And I saw in my vision all of the Presidency in the celestial kingdom of God and many others that were present. Our meeting was opened by singing, and prayer was offered by the head of each quorum; and closed by singing, and invoking the benediction of heaven, with uplifted hands. Retired between one and two o’clock in the morning.7
President Rigdon arose to conclude the services of the evening by invoking the blessing of heaven upon the Lord’s anointed, which he did in an eloquent manner; the congregation shouted a long Hosanna; the gift of tongues fell upon us in mighty power, angels mingled their voices with ours while their presence was in our midst, and unceasing praises swelled our bosoms for the space of half-an-hour.
I then observed to the brethren, that it was time to retire. We accordingly closed our interview and returned home at about two o’clock in the morning, and the Spirit and visions of God attended me through the night.8
March 27, 1836: Brother George A. Smith arose and began to prophesy, when a noise was heard like the sound of a rushing mighty wind, which filled the Temple, and all the congregation simultaneously arose, being moved upon by an invisible power; many began to speak in tongues and prophesy; others saw glorious visions; and I beheld the Temple was filled with angels, which fact I declared to the congregation. The people of the neighborhood came running together (hearing an unusual sound within and seeing a bright light like a pillar of fire resting upon the Temple), and were astonished at what was taking place. This continued until the meeting closed at eleven P. M.9
Physical and Historical Description
“The Church, through our beloved Prophet Joseph, was commanded to build a temple to the Most High, in Kirtland, Ohio. Joseph not only received revelation and commandment to build a temple, but he received a pattern also. . . .
“Without revelation, Joseph could not know what was wanted, any more than any other man, and, without commandment, the Church were too few in number, too weak in faith, and too poor in purse, to attempt such a mighty enterprise. But by means of all these stimulants, a mere handful of men, living on air, and a little hominy and milk, and often salt or no salt, when milk could not be had; the great Prophet Joseph, in the stone quarry, quarrying rock with his own hands; and the few then in the Church, following his example of obedience and diligence wherever most needed; with laborers on the walls, holding the sword in one hand to protect themselves from the mob, while they placed the stone and moved the trowel with the other, the Kirtland temple—the second house of the Lord, that we have any published record of on the earth, was so far completed as to be dedicated. And those first Elders who helped to build it [Kirtland Temple], received a portion of their first endowments, or we might say more clearly, some of the first, or introductory, or initiatory ordinances, preparatory to an endowment. The preparatory ordinances there administered, though accompanied the ministration of angels, and the presence of the Lord Jesus, were but a faint similitude of the ordinances of the House of the Lord in their fullness.”10
Edward W. Tullidge
The cornerstones of the Kirtland Temple were laid on July 23, 1833. “It was commenced in June, 1833, under the immediate direction of the Almighty, through His servant, Joseph Smith, whom He called in his boyhood, like Samuel of old, to introduce the fulness of the everlasting gospel.
At that time the Saints were few in number, and most of them very poor; and had it not been for the assurance that God had spoken, and had commanded that a house should be built to His name, of which He not only revealed the form but also designated the dimensions, an attempt towards building that Temple under the then existing circumstances, would have been by all concerned, pronounced preposterous.
Its dimensions are eighty by fifty-nine feet; the walls fifty feethigh, and the tower one hundred and ten feet. The two main halls are fifty-five by sixty-five feet in the inner court. The building has four vestries in front, and five rooms in the attic, which were devoted to literature and for meetings of the various quorums of the Priesthood.
There was a peculiarity in the arrangement of the inner court which made it more than ordinarily impressive—so much so that a sense of sacred awe seemed to rest upon all who entered. Not only the Saints, but strangers also, manifested a high degree of reverential feeling. Four pulpits stood, one above another, in the center of the building, from north to south, both on the east and west ends. In front of each of these two rows of pulpits was a sacrament table, for the administration of that sacred ordinance. In each corner of the court was an elevated pew for the singers—the choir being distributed into four compartments. In addition to the pulpit curtains were others, intersecting at right angles, which divided the main ground-floor hall into four equal sections, giving to each one half of one set of pulpits.
From the day the ground was broken for laying the foundation of the Temple, until its dedication on the 27th of March, 1836, the work was vigorously prosecuted.
With very little capital except brain, bone, and sinew, combined with unwavering trust in God, men, women, and even children, worked with their might. While the brethren labored in their departments, the sisters were actively engaged in boarding and clothing workmen not otherwise provided for—all living as abstemiously as possible, so that every cent might be appropriated to the grand object, while their energies were stimulated by the prospect of participating in the blessings of a house built by the direction of the Most High, and accepted by Him.11
Given by revelation to Joseph, the Seer, and repeated in the Kirtland Temple at the time of its dedication, March th, 8.
Thanks be to Thy name, O Lord God of Israel, who keepest covenant and showest mercy unto Thy servants who walk up-rightly before Thee, with all their hearts;
Thou who hast commanded Thy servants to build a house to Thy name in this place. (Kirtland.)
JOSEPH SMITH, THE PROPHET
And now Thou beholdest, O Lord, that Thy servants have done according to Thy commandment.
And now we ask Thee, Holy Father, in the name of Jesus Christ, the Son of Thy bosom, in whose name alone, salvation can be administered to the children of men, we ask Thee, O Lord, to accept of this house, the workmanship of the hands of us, Thy servants, which Thous didst command us to build;
For Thou knowest that we have done this work through great tribulation; and out of our poverty we have given of our substance, to build a house to Thy name, that the Son of man might have a place to manifest Himself to His people.
And as Thou hast said in a revelation, given to us, calling us Thy friends, saying, “Call your solemn assembly, as I have commanded you;
And as all have not faith, seek ye diligently, and teach one another words of wisdom; yea, seek ye out of the best books, words of wisdom, seek learning even by study, and also by faith.
Organize yourselves; prepare every needful thing, and establish a house, even a house of prayer, a house of fasting, a house of faith, a house of learning, a house of glory, a house of order, a house of God.
That your incomings may be in the name of the Lord, that your outgoings may be in the name of the Lord, that all your salutations may be in the name of the Lord, with uplifted hands unto the Most High.
And now, Holy Father, we ask Thee to assist us, Thy people, with Thy grace, in calling our solemn assembly, that it may be done to Thy honor, and to Thy divine acceptance.
And in a manner that we may be found worthy, in Thy sight, to secure a fulfillment of the promises which Thou hast made unto us, Thy people, in the revelations given unto us;
That Thy glory may rest down upon Thy people, and upon this Thy house, which we now dedicate to Thee, that it may be sanctified and consecrated to be holy, and that Thy holy presence may be continually in this house.
And that all the people who shall enter upon the threshold of the Lord’s house, may feel Thy power, and feel constrained to acknowledge that thou hast sanctified it, and that it is Thy house, a place of Thy holiness.
And do Thou grant, Holy Father, that all those who shall worship in this house, may be taught words of wisdom out of the best books, and that they may seek learning even by study, and also by faith, as Thou hast said;
And that they may grow up in Thee, and receive a fulness of the Holy Ghost and be organized according to Thy laws, and be prepared to obtain every needful thing;
And that this house may be a house of prayer, a house of fasting, a house of faith, a house of glory and of God, even thy house;
That all the incomings of Thy people, into this house, may be in the name of the Lord;
That all the outgoings from this house may be in the name of the Lord;
And that all their salutations may be in the name of the Lord, with holy hands, uplifted to the Most High;
And that no unclean thing shall be permitted to come into Thy house to pollute it;
And when Thy people transgress, any of them, they may speedily repent, and return unto Thee, and find favor in Thy sight, and be restored to the blessings which Thou hast ordained to be poured out upon those who shall reverence Thee in Thy house.
And we ask Thee, Holy Father, that Thy servants may go forth from this house, armed with Thy power, and that Thy name may be upon them, and Thy glory be round about them, and Thine angels have charge over them;
And from this place they may bear exceedingly great and glorious tidings, in truth, unto the end of the earth, that they may know that this is Thy work, and that Thou hast put forth Thy hand, to fulfill that which Thou hast spoken by the mouths of the prophets, concerning the last days.
We ask Thee, Holy Father, to establish the people that shall worship, and honorably hold a name and standing in this thy house, to all generations and for eternity;
That no weapon formed against them shall prosper; that he who diggeth a pit for them shall fall into the same himself;
That no combination of wickedness shall have power to rise up and prevail over Thy people upon whom Thy name shall be put in this house;
And if any people shall rise against this people, that Thine anger be kindled against them,
And if they shall smite this people, Thou wilt smite them, Thou will fight for Thy people as Thou didst in the day of battle, that they may be delivered from the hands of all their enemies.
We ask Thee, Holy Father, to confound, and astonish, and bring to shame and confusion, all those who have spread lying reports abroad, over the world against Thy servant or servants, if they will not repent, when the everlasting gospel shall be proclaimed in their ears,
And that all their works may be brought to naught, and be swept away by the hail, and by the judgments which Thou wilt send upon them in Thine anger, and there may be an end to lyings and slanders against Thy people;
For Thou knowest, O Lord, that Thy servants have been innocent before Thee in bearing record of Thy name, for which they have suffered these things;
Therefore we plead before Thee a full and complete deliverance from under this yoke;
Break it off, O Lord, break if off from the necks of Thy servants, by Thy power, that we may rise up in the midst of this generation and do Thy work.
O Jehovah, have mercy upon this people, and as all men sin, forgive the transgressions of Thy people, and let them be blotted out forever.
Let the anointing of Thy ministers be sealed upon them with power from on high;
Let it be fulfilled upon them, as upon those on the day of Pentecost, let the gift of tongues be poured out upon Thy people, even cloven tongues as of fire, and the interpretation thereof,
And let Thy house be filled, as with a rushing mighty wind, with Thy glory.
Put upon Thy servants the testimony of the covenant, that when they go out and proclaim Thy word, they may seal up the law, and prepare the hearts of Thy saints for all those judgments Thou art about to send, in Thy wrath, upon the inhabitants of the earth, because of their transgressions, that Thy people may not faint in the day of trouble.
And whatsoever city Thy servants shall enter, and the people of that city receive their testimony, let Thy peace and Thy salvation be upon that city, that they may gather out of that city the righteous, that they may come forth to Zion, or to her Stakes, the places of Thine appointment, with songs of everlasting joy;
And until this be accomplished, let not Thy judgments fall upon that city.
And whatsoever city Thy servants shall enter, and the people of that city receive not the testimony of Thy servants, and Thy servants warn them to save themselves from this untoward generation, let it be upon that city according to that which thou hast spoken by the mouths of Thy Prophets;
But deliver Thou, O Jehovah, we beseech Thee, Thy servants from their hands, and cleanse them from their blood.
O Lord, we delight not in the destruction of our fellow men. Their souls are precious before Thee;
But Thy word must be fulfilled; help Thy servants to say, with Thy grace assisting them, Thy will be done, O Lord, and not ours.
We know that Thou hast spoken by the mouth of Thy prophets terrible things concerning the wicked, in the last days—that thou wilt pour out Thy judgments without measure;
Therefore, O Lord, deliver Thy people from the calamity of the wicked; enable Thy servants to seal up the law, and bind up the testimony, that they may be prepared against the day of burning.
We ask Thee, Holy Father, to remember those who have been driven (by the inhabitants of Jackson County, Missouri) from the lands of their inheritance, and break off, O Lord, this yoke of affliction that has been put upon them.
Thou knowest, O Lord, that they have been greatly oppressed and afflicted by wicked men, and our hearts flow out with sorrow, because of their grievous burdens.
O Lord, how long wilt thou suffer this people to bear this affliction, and the cries of their innocent ones to ascend up in Thine ears, and their blood come up in testimony before Thee, and not make a display of Thy testimony in their behalf?
Have mercy, O Lord, upon that wicked mob, who have driven Thy people, that they may cease to spoil; that they may repent of their sins, if repentance is to be found;
But if they will not, make bare Thine arm, O Lord, and redeem that which Thou didst appoint a Zion unto Thy people!
And if it cannot be otherwise, that the cause of Thy people may not fail before Thee, may Thine anger be kindled, and Thine indignation fall upon them, that they may be wasted away, both root and branch, from under heaven;
But inasmuch as they will repent, Thou art gracious and merciful, and wilt turn away Thy wrath, when Thou lookest upon the face of Thine anointed.
Have mercy, O Lord, upon all the nations of the earth, have mercy upon the rulers of our land, may those principles which were so honorably and nobly defended, viz., the Constitution of our land, by our fathers, be established for ever;
Remember the kings, the princes, the nobles, and the great ones of the earth, and all people, and the churches, all the poor, the needy, and afflicted ones of the earth.
That their hearts may be softened, when Thy servants shall go out from Thy house, O Jehovah, to bear testimony of Thy name, that their prejudices may give way before the truth, and Thy people may obtain favor in the sight of all.
That all the ends of the earth may know that we Thy servants have heard Thy voice, and that Thou hast sent us,
That from among all these, Thy servants the sons of Jacob may gather out the righteous to build a holy city to Thy name, as Thou hast commanded them.
We ask Thee to appoint unto Zion other Stakes, besides this one which Thou hast appointed, that the gathering of Thy people may roll on in great power and majesty, that Thy work may be cut short in righteousness.
Now these words, O Lord, we have spoken before Thee, concerning the revelations and commandments which Thou hast given unto us, who are identified with the Gentiles;
But Thou knowest that Thou hast a great love for the children of Jacob, who have been scattered upon the mountains, for a long time, in a cloudy and dark day;
We therefore ask Thee to have mercy upon the children of Jacob, that Jerusalem, from this hour, may begin to be redeemed,
And the yoke of bondage may begin to be broken off from the house of David.
And the children of Judah may begin to return to the lands which Thou didst give to Abraham, their father;
And cause that the remnants of Jacob, who have been cursed and smitten, because of their transgression, be converted from their wild and savage condition, to the fulness of the everlasting gospel,
That they may lay down their weapons of bloodshed, and cease their rebellions;
And may all the scattered remnants of Israel, who have been driven to the ends of the earth come to a knowledge of the truth, believe in the Messiah, and be redeemed from oppression, and rejoice before Thee.
O Lord, remember Thy servant, Joseph Smith, Junior, and all his afflictions and persecutions, how he has covenanted with Jehovah, and vowed to Thee, O mighty God of Jacob, and the commandments which Thou hast given unto him, and that he hath sincerely striven to do Thy will.
Have mercy, O Lord, upon his wife and children, that they may be exalted in Thy presence, and preserved by Thy fostering hand:
Have mercy upon all their immediate connections, that their prejudices may be broken up, and swept away as with a flood, that they may be converted and redeemed with Israel, and know that Thou art God.
Remember, O Lord, the presidents, even all the presidents of Thy Church, that Thy right hand may exalt them, with all their families, and their immediate connections, that their names may be perpetuated, and had in everlasting remembrance, from generation to generation.
Remember all Thy Church, O Lord, with all their families, and all their immediate connections, with all their sick and afflicted ones, with all the poor and meek of the earth, that the kingdom which Thou hast set up without hands, may become a great mountain, and fill the whole earth;
That Thy Church may come forth out of the wilderness of darkness, and shine forth fair as the moon, clear as the sun, and terrible as an army with banners,
And be adorned as a bride for that day when Thou shalt unveil the heavens, and cause the mountains to flow down at Thy presence, and the valleys to be exalted, the rough places made smooth; that Thy glory may fill the earth,
That when the trumpet shall sound for the dead we shall be caught up in the cloud to meet Thee, that we may ever be with the Lord,
That our garments may be pure, that we may be clothed upon with robes of righteousness, with palms in our hands, and crowns of glory upon our heads, and reap eternal joy for all our sufferings.
O Lord God Almighty, hear us in these our petitions, and answer us from heaven, Thy holy habitation, where thou sittest enthroned, with glory, honor, power, majesty, might, dominion, truth, justice, judgment, mercy, and an infinity of fullness, from everlasting to everlasting.
O hear, O hear, O hear us, O Lord, and answer these petitions, and accept the dedication of this house unto Thee, the work of our hands, which we have built unto Thy name!
And also this Church, to put upon it Thy name; and help us by the power of Thy Spirit, that we may mingle our voices with those bright, shining seraphs around Thy throne, with acclamations of praise, singing, Hosanna to God and the Lamb;
And let these Thine anointed ones be clothed with salvation, and Thy saints shout aloud for joy. Amen, and Amen.
Heber C. Kimball stated—
“This building the Saints commenced in 1833, in poverty, and without means to do it. In 1834 they completed the walls, and in 1835-36 they nearly finished it. The cost was between sixty and seventy thousand dollars. A committee was appointed to gather donations; they traveled among the churches and collected a considerable amount, but not sufficient, so that in the end they found themselves between thirteen and fourteen thousand dollars in debt. This house was 80*60 feet, and 57 feet high to the eaves. It was divided into two stories, each 22 feet high, and arched overhead. Ten feet were cut off from the front by a partition, and used as an entry or outer court, which also contained the stairs. This left the main room 55*65 feet in the clear, both below and above. In each of these rooms were built two pulpits, one in each end. Each pulpit consisted of four different apartments; the fourth standing on a platform raised a suitable height above the floor; the third stood directly behind and elevated a little above the fourth; the second in rear of and elevated above the third; and in like manner the first above the second. Each of these apartments was just large enough and rightly calculated to seat three persons, and the breastwork in front of each of these three last mentioned was constituted of three semi-circulars, joining each other, and finished in good style. The fourth or lower one, was straight in front, and had an elegant table leaf attached to it, that could be raised at pleasure for the convenience of administering the sacrament, etc. These pulpits were alike in each end of the house. One was for the use of the Melchizedek or High Priesthood and the other for the Aaronic or Lesser Priesthood. The first or highest apartment was occupied by the First President over the whole Church; the second apartment by the Melchizedek High Priesthood; the third by the President of the High Priests’ quorum; and the fourth by the President of the Elders and his two counselors. The highest apartment of the other pulpit was occupied by the Bishop of the Church and his two counselors; the next by the President of the Priests and his two counselors; the third by the President of the Teachers and his two counselors; and the fourth by the President of the Deacons and his two counselors.
“Each of these apartments had curtains hanging from the ceilings overhead down to the top of the pulpit, which could be rolled up or dropped down at pleasure, and when dropped down would completely exclude those within the department from the sight of all others. The room itself was finished with slips and seats so calculated that by slipping the seats a little the congregation could change their faces toward either pulpit they chose; for in some cases the High Priesthood would administer, and in other cases, the Lesser Priesthood would administer. The room was also divided into four compartments by means of curtains or veils hanging from the ceiling overhead down to the floor, which could be rolled up at pleasure, so that the house could be used all in one or divided into four rooms and used for different purposes. Thus the house was constructed to suit and accommodate the different quorums of the Priesthood and worship peculiar to the Church. The first story or lower room was dedicated for divine worship alone. The second story was finished similar in form to the first, but was designed wholly for instructing the Priesthood, and was supplied with tables and seats instead of slips. In the attic five rooms were finished for the convenience of schools and for different quorums of the Church to meet in. There was no baptismal font in this temple, the ordinance of baptism for the dead not having been revealed. At the time of dedication the first story was finished, also the attic, but the second story was in an unfinished condition.
“At the dedication an address was delivered by Elder Rigdon from Matthew 8th chapter, 18 to 20 verses, more particularly the 20th. He spoke two hours and a half. The tenor of his discourse went to show the toils, sufferings, privations, and hardships the brethren and sisters had to endure while building this house, and compared it with the sufferings of the Saints in the days of the Savior. After the address the voice of the assembly was taken in reference to receiving and upholding the several presidents of the different quorums in their standing. The vote was unanimous in the affirmative in every instance. A hymn was sung, and then we had an interesting address from President Joseph Smith, and closed with a dedication prayer written by the Prophet.
“During the ceremonies of the dedication, an angel appeared and sat near President Joseph Smith, Sr., and Frederick G. Williams so that they had a fair view of his person. He was a very tall personage, black eyes, white hair, and stoop-shouldered; his garment was whole, extending to near his ankles; on his feet he had sandals. He was sent as a messenger to accept of the dedication. During the whole of the dedication each quorum was placed in its respective station. Everything was conducted in the best of order, and profound silence maintained.
“We had been commanded to prepare ourselves for a solemn assembly. At length the time arrived for this assembly to meet; previous to which the Prophet Joseph exhorted the Elders to solemnize their minds, by casting away every evil from them, in thought, word and deed, and to let their hearts become sanctified, because they need not expect a blessing from God without being duly prepared for it, for the Holy Ghost would not dwell in unholy temples. This meeting took place soon after the house of the Lord had been dedicated.
“When the Prophet Joseph had finished the endowments of the First Presidency, the Twelve and the Presiding Bishops, the First Presidency proceeded to lay hands upon each one of them to seal and confirm the anointing; and at the close of each blessing the whole of the quorums responded to it with a loud shout of Hosanna! Hosanna! Etc.
“While these things were being attended to, the beloved disciple, John, was seen in our midst by the Prophet Joseph, Oliver Cowdery and others. After this all the quorums arose in order, together with the three Presidencies; and the Twelve then presented themselves separately and individually before the First Presidency, with hands uplifted towards heaven, and asked God whatever they felt to desire; and after each individual petition the whole of the quorums answered aloud, Amen! Hosanna! Hosanna! Hosanna! To God and the Lamb forever and ever, amen, and amen!
“The 6th day of April being the day appointed for fasting and prayer, all the Elders, Priests, Teachers and Deacons, numbering about four hundred, met together in the House of the Lord to attend to further ordinances; none being permitted to enter but official members who had previously received their washings and anointings. Water being provided, the First Presidency, after girding themselves with towels, proceeded to wash the feet of the Twelve. After they got through, the Twelve girded themselves and washed the feet of the Seventies. They then took their seats, each quorum seating themselves in their respective places and continued in fasting and prayer, prophesying and exhortation until evening. A sufficient quantity of bread having been provided to feed this whole assembly, it was broken by the First Presidency of the Church and the Twelve, after which the congregation knelt while a benediction was pronounced upon it by the First Presidency; and afterwards the Twelve took it and administered to the congregation. Then wine, also being provided, was blessed by the First Presidency and in like manner served to the congregation by the Twelve. This order of things is similar to that which was attended to by the Savior amongst His disciples, previous to His ascension. The meeting continued on through the night; the spirit of prophecy was poured out upon the assembly, and cloven tongues of fire sat upon them, for they were seen by many of the congregation. Also angels administered to many, for they were also seen by many.
“This continued for several days and was attended by a marvelous spirit of prophecy. Every man’s mouth was full of prophesying, and for a number of days or weeks our time was spent in visiting from house to house, administering bread and wine and pronouncing blessings upon each other to that degree that from the external appearances one would have supposed that the last days had truly come, in which the Spirit of the Lord was poured out upon all flesh, as far as the Church was concerned, for the sons and daughters of Zion were full of prophesying. In this prophesying great blessings were pronounced upon the faithful, and also great cursings upon the ungodly, or upon those who had smitten us. During this time many great and marvelous visions were seen, one of which I will mention which Joseph the Prophet had concerning the Twelve. His anxiety was and had been very great for their welfare, when the following vision was manifested to him, as near as I can recollect:
He saw the Twelve going forth and they appeared to be in a far distant land. After some time they unexpectedly met together, apparently in great tribulation, their clothes all ragged, and their knees and feet sore. They formed into a circle and all stood with their eyes fixed upon the ground. The Savior appeared and stood in their midst and wept over them, and wanted to show himself to them, but they did not discover him. He (Joseph) saw until they had accomplished their work and arrived at the gate of the celestial city; there Father Adam stood and opened the gate to them, and as they entered he embraced them one by one and kissed them. He then led them to the throne of God, and then the Savior embraced each one of them and kissed them, and crowned each one of them in the presence of God. He saw that they all had beautiful heads of hair and all looked alike. The impression this vision left on Brother Joseph’s mind was of so acute a nature that he never could refrain from weeping while rehearsing it. 12
- (Truman O. Angell, “Autobiography,” in Kate B. Carter, comp., Our Pioneer Heritage, 20 vols. (Salt Lake City, Utah: Daughters of the Utah Pioneers, 1958-77), 10:198-99. See also Lyndon W. Cook, The Revelations of the Prophet Joseph Smith (Salt Lake City, Utah: Deseret Book, 1981), 198.)
- Lucy Mack Smith, The History of Joseph Smith by His Mother, Revised and Enhanced, ed. Scot Facer Proctor and Maurine Jensen Procter (1996), 321–322.
- George A. Smith, Journal of Discourses, vol. 2 (Liverpool, 1855), 214-216.
- Times and Seasons, vol. 6, 367-368.
- Eliza R. Snow Smith, Biography and Family Record of Lorenzo Snow, 11-14.
- History of the Church, 2:435
- History of Church, vol. 2, 380-382.
- History of Church, vol. 2, 383.
- History of Church, vol. 2, 428.
- Brigham Young, Journal of Discourses, 2:31.
- Edward W. Tullidge, Life of Joseph, the Prophet, 187-189.
- Life of Heber C. Kimball, by Orson F. Whitney, pp. 100-6.