The Grand Destiny of Man by Lorenzo Snow

Only five feet six inches tall, and weighing barely 130 pounds at the time he became President of the Church, Lorenzo Snow was the last of the General Authorities to have been personally acquainted with the Prophet Joseph Smith. In a November 1900 discourse delivered in the Salt Lake Tabernacle, President Snow told the Saints that he had often visited the Prophet Joseph and his family, dined at his table, had private interviews with him, and knew that he was an honorable, moral man who was greatly respected. He feelingly declared that “the Lord has shown me most clearly and completely that he was a Prophet of God.” 1

One of Lorenzo Snow’s great contributions was his elucidation of the doctrine that man might one day become like God. As President of the Church he gave a discourse entitled “The Grand Destiny of Man.” He related how as a young man he had been inspired by one of the Prophet Joseph Smith’s sermons about the manifestations of God and Jesus Christ to him. Two and one-half years later, after a patriarchal blessing meeting, Joseph Smith, Sr., had promised Lorenzo that he could become as great as God himself. Two and one-half years after that, while Lorenzo listened to an explanation of the scriptures, the Lord inspired him to compose this couplet: “As man now is, God once was; As God now is, man may be.” President Snow stated, “Nothing was ever revealed more distinctly than that was to me.” 3 Shortly before Joseph Smith’s death, Lorenzo heard him teach the same doctrine. Thereafter Elder Snow made this doctrine one of the subjects of his own discourses.

3. “The Grand Destiny of Man,” Millennial Star, 22 Aug. 1901, p. 547; see also “The Grand Destiny of Man,” 15 Aug. 1901, pp. 541–42; LeRoi C. Snow, “Devotion to a Divine Inspiration,” Improvement Era, June 1919, p. 656.

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Dedication of the Salt Lake Temple

On 6 April 1893, dedicatory ceremonies commenced. President Woodruff saw in the events of the day the fulfillment of a prophetic dream. He told the Saints that many years before in a nocturnal visitation Brigham Young had given him the keys of the temple and had told him to dedicate it to the Lord. In his opening remarks President Woodruff prophesied that from that time the power of Satan would be broken and his power over the Saints diminished, and there would be an increased interest in the gospel message. 17

Workmen had labored day and night for weeks to prepare the edifice in time. It had been decided that dedicatory sessions would be held twice daily until every worthy member of the Church who wished to could attend. Andrew Jenson, who attended all the sessions as a recommend examiner, wrote that on the first day of the dedication “the prince of the air, as if displeased with what was going on, opened a terrible wind storm, accompanied with hail and sleet; and while the glorious services were going on inside the building, the elements outside roared with such violence and force that the like was not remembered by the oldest inhabitants of Utah. Several buildings were blown down in the vicinity of the city and much damage done throughout the valley.” 18 In spite of the stormy weather, a spirit of love and harmony was felt at the first dedicatory session and at subsequent sessions held for twenty-two days and attended by more than seventy-five thousand people. Even Sunday School children were invited to a special session.

The prophet noted in his journal, “The spirit and power of God rested upon us. The spirit of prophecy and revelation was upon us and the hearts of the people were melted and many things were unfolded to us.” 19 Some saw angels, while others viewed past Presidents of the Church and deceased Apostles. 20

20. See John Nicholson, “Temple Manifestations,” The Contributor, Dec. 1894, pp. 116–18.

Safety in the President of the Church

President Wilford Woodruff then closed the conference bearing testimony of the revelation that had come to him: “I want to say to all Israel that the step which I have taken in issuing this manifesto has not been done without earnest prayer before the Lord. I am about to go into the spirit world, like other men of my age. I expect to meet the face of my heavenly Father—the Father of my spirit; I expect to meet the face of Joseph Smith, of Brigham Young, of John Taylor, and of the apostles, and for me to have taken a stand in anything which is not pleasing in the sight of God, or before the heavens, I would rather have gone out and been shot. My life is no better than other men’s. I am not ignorant of the feelings that have been engendered through the course I have pursued. But I have done my duty, and the nation of which we form a part must be responsible for that which has been done in relation to this principle.” 12 As President Woodruff closed his remarks, he made the following promise: “I say to Israel, the Lord will never permit me or any other man who stands as president of this Church to lead you astray. It is not in the programme. It is not in the mind of God. If I were to attempt that the Lord would remove me out of my place, and so He will any other man who attempts to lead the children of men astray from the oracles of God and from their duty.” 13

13. Millennial Star, 24 Nov. 1890, p. 741.

First Korean Member of the Church

Kim Ho Jik (16 April 1905 – 31 August 1959) was the first Korean convert to The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints (LDS Church) and was a key figure in opening South Korea to missionary work of the LDS Church. Kim was also vice-minister of education in the administration of South Korean president Syngman Rhee.

Born 16 April 1905 in the province of Pyongan-Pukdo (now part of North Korea), Kim Ho Jik moved south as a teenager to attend school in Suwon, a farm town south of Seoul. He graduated from Suwon Advanced Agricultural and Forestry School in 1924, then earned a bachelor’s degree in biology from Tohoku University in Japan, graduating in 1930.

Syngman Rhee, president of South Korea, wanted to send him to America to learn more efficient ways of feeding their country’s malnourished population. 2 So Kim Ho Jik made plans to enroll at Cornell University in New York, which had one of the world’s top graduate study programs in nutrition.

A yearning for education was not the only passion that filled his heart as he journeyed to the United States in 1949. Since his youth he had been interested in religion and had investigated several churches.  He studied in a Buddhist monastery. In 1925, he joined a Protestant church and became an elder in that organization.

The sudden death of his third son in 1935 had deepened Kim Ho Jik’s longing for spiritual satisfaction.

Long before he came to America, he believed in the Spirit of God and sought its guidance.

Kim Ho Jik hoped the Spirit would help him find the “true church” in America. 5 While he completed a doctoral degree at Cornell, he attended meetings of various churches in and around Ithaca, New York. But the answer he was seeking lay at his very doorstep.

The Korean educator shared an office with Oliver Wayman, a doctoral candidate in physiology. Like his office companion, Oliver Wayman was older than most of the other graduate students. He also happened to be a Latter-day Saint.

The two men became good friends. Their wide-ranging discussions, however, did not include religion—until one day shortly before Brother Wayman was to leave Cornell, when his Korean friend asked if he had any literature about his church.

“I have never seen you smoke or drink,” Kim Ho Jik told Brother Wayman. “I have never heard you use vulgar language or profane the name of God. You work harder and longer hours than any of the others, but I have never seen you here on Sunday. You are different in so many ways. I wonder if you would tell me why you live as you do?” 6

Brother Wayman gave him a copy of The Articles of Faith by Elder James E. Talmage. Kim Ho Jik read the book within a week. “He told me it was the best book on the gospel he had ever read and that he believed it thoroughly,” 7 Brother Wayman recalls. Given a copy of the Book of Mormon, the Korean read it quickly and reported to his American friend that he believed it to be the word of God. It was, he said, more complete and easier to understand than the Bible. 8

On Brother Wayman’s last day at Cornell, he was making the rounds to say good-bye to friends when Kim Ho Jik approached him. Brother Wayman felt impelled to ask the Korean why he had decided to leave his homeland and family to study in the United States. The Korean scholar responded that he needed the new knowledge in nutrition available at Cornell for the benefit of his people. 10

Then, Brother Wayman recalls:

“I bore my testimony … and told him that it was my opinion that the Lord had moved upon him to come to America … in order that he might receive the gospel and take it back to his people in preparation for a great missionary work to be done there. … I informed him … that if he refused to do the work the Lord had for him, … another would be raised up in his place.” 11

Brother Wayman never saw Kim Ho Jik again, but he left New York “sure that the Spirit which touched me when I bore my testimony to him touched him at the same time. ” 12

When the missionary discussions were completed, Brother Kim was not only ready to join the Church, but he wanted to be baptized at the same site as were Joseph Smith and Oliver Cowdery. On 29 July 1951, in the Susquehanna River near the marker commemorating the first baptisms in the restored Church, Seneca Branch President Joseph A. Dye baptized the first Korean Latter-day Saint. As he arose from the water, Brother Kim said he heard a voice saying, “Feed my sheep, feed my sheep.” He later recorded the event in the flyleaf of his scriptures, writing below the date of his baptism: “Words given—Feed my sheep.” 15

Membership History in Korea
Year     Membership
1954     64
1964     1,800
1975     9,000
1983     28,795
1990     59,000
1999     71,166
2008     81,251

Kim returned to Korea in 1952. He was appointed vice minister of education by South Korean president Syngman Rhee. Other positions Kim held after his return to Korea were a professorship at Hongik College, dean of animal husbandry at Konguk University, and the vice chairmanship of the Seoul City Board of Education. Kim also served as president of the National Fisheries College at Pusan. Kim was also a member of the Korean National Academy of Arts and Sciences.[2]

Kim’s children, Kim Tai Whan and Kim Young Sook, were among the first four people baptized into the LDS Church in Korea on August 3, 1952.[4] Kim baptized his other two children, Kim Chun Sook and Kim Shin Hwan on January 3, 1953.[5]

On August 2, 1955, Kim was set apart as the president of the Korean District of the LDS Church by apostle Joseph Fielding Smith. Among those influenced by Kim’s leadership of the church was Han In Sang, who became a general authority of the church.[6] Kim held the position of District President when he died.

In about 1970, Kim’s widow, Pil Kun Park, joined the LDS Church.[5]

Heber J. Grant Called by Revelation

Following a pattern set by the Prophet Joseph Smith, President Taylor often wrote and published the inspiration given to him. One such revelation was dictated on 13 October 1882, just a few days after general conference. For two years the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles had only ten members, and the vacancies had weighed heavily on the prophet’s mind. The revelation called George Teasdale and Heber J. Grant to the apostleship and physician Seymour B. Young to the First Council of the Seventy. It also called for increasing missionary work among various Indian tribes and for an increase in righteousness among priesthood bearers and all the Saints. 22

An experience of Elder Heber J. Grant a few months later gives some background to this revelation. Heber reported that for the first few months of his apostleship he felt that he was not qualified to be a special witness of the Savior. While traveling on the Navajo reservation in northern Arizona in February 1883, helping establish the Church among the Indians, Elder Grant told his companions he wanted some time by himself and took a different route to their destination. He later recounted what happened as he rode:

“I seemed to see, and I seemed to hear, what to me is one of the most real things in all my life, I seemed to see a Council in heaven. I seemed to hear the words that were spoken. . . . The First Presidency and the Council of the Twelve Apostles had not been able to agree on two men to fill the vacancies in the Quorum of the Twelve. . . . In this Council the Savior was present, my father [Jedediah M. Grant] was there, and the Prophet Joseph Smith was there. They discussed the question that a mistake had been made in not filling those two vacancies and that in all probability it would be another six months before the Quorum would be completed, and they discussed as to whom they wanted to occupy those positions, and decided that the way to remedy the mistake that had been made in not filling these vacancies was to send a revelation. It was given to me that the Prophet Joseph Smith and my father mentioned me and requested that I be called to that position. I sat there and wept for joy. . . .

“. . . From that day I have never been bothered, night or day, with the idea that I was not worthy to stand as an Apostle.” 23 In Conference Report, Apr. 1941, pp. 4–5.

Brigham Young Speaks of Temple Work for the Dead

The St. George Utah Temple holds a special place in Church history because it was here on 11 January 1877 that the first endowments for the dead were performed. Prior to this time, endowments for the living had been performed in the Endowment House in Salt Lake City, but President Young had explained that work for the dead required a temple. Therefore, in his advanced age and failing health he was most anxious for the Saints to complete the St. George Utah Temple.

Brigham Young personally directed the work for his own kindred dead and the development of a “perfect form of the endowments,” which was taught to the temple workers. By the end of March 1877, 3,208 endowments for the dead had been given.

In a dramatic address given in the temple, President Young exclaimed, “What do you suppose the fathers would say if they could speak from the dead? Would they not say, ‘We have lain here thousands of years, here in this prison house, waiting for this dispensation to come? Here we are, bound and fettered, in the association of those who are filthy?’ What would they whisper in our ears? Why, if they had the power the very thunders of heaven would be in our ears.” 18 In Journal of Discourses, 18:304.

Signers of the Declaration of Independence Appear to Wilford Woodruff

President Young called Wilford Woodruff of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles to be the temple president in St. George and directed him to begin in earnest the ordinance work for the dead. It was in this temple that the first endowments for the dead were performed. Furthermore, that same year President Young dedicated sites for two more temples to be built in Utah—Logan and Manti.

Elder Woodruff went immediately to his task. “His whole soul was wrapped up in the temple work for both the living and the dead.” 19 He conducted several people through the ordinances for deceased persons, many of whom were his own relatives. In Salt Lake City, in September 1877, when he reported on his labors, Elder Woodruff said, “For the last eighteen hundred years, the people that have lived and passed away never heard the voice of an inspired man, never heard a Gospel sermon, until they entered the spirit-world. Somebody has got to redeem them, by performing such ordinances for them in the flesh as they cannot attend to themselves in the spirit.” He declared, “The Lord has stirred up our minds, and many things have been revealed to us concerning the dead. . . . The dead will be after you, they will seek after you as they have after us in St. George. They called upon us, knowing that we held the keys and power to redeem them.”

Wilford Woodruff then announced that the signers of the Declaration of Independence had appeared to him for two days and nights, inquiring why no ordinance work had been done for them, even though they had established the United States government and remained true to God. Elder Woodruff immediately was baptized by J. D. T. McAllister for these men and for fifty other prominent individuals, including John Wesley and Christopher Columbus. He then baptized Brother McAllister “for every President of the United States, except three [Martin Van Buren, James Buchanan, and Ulysses S. Grant]; and when their cause is just, somebody will do the work for them.” 20 Under the administration of President Heber J. Grant the work for these three men was finally done.

20. In Journal of Discourses, 19:228–29; see also Conference Report, Apr. 1898, pp. 89–90.

When I [Ezra Taft Benson]became President of the Twelve and Spencer W. Kimball became President of the Church, we met, just the two of us, every week after our Thursday meetings in the temple, just to be sure that things were properly coordinated between the Twelve and the First Presidency. After one of those first meetings, we talked about the many sacred documents in some of the older temples. St. George was mentioned in particular because St. George is our oldest temple in Utah. I had a stake conference down there about that time, and it was agreed that I would go into the archives — the walk-in vault — of that great temple and review the sacred documents that were there. We were planning for the remodeling and renovating of the St. George Temple and thought that the records might possibly be moved to Salt Lake for safekeeping. And there in the St. George Temple I saw what I had always hoped and prayed that someday I would see. Ever since I returned as a humble missionary and first learned that the Founding Fathers had appeared in that temple, I wanted to see the record. And I saw the record. They did appear to Wilford Woodruff twice and asked why the work hadn’t been done for them. They had founded this country and the Constitution of this land, and they had been true to those principles. Later the work was done for them.

In the archives of the temple, I saw in a book, in bold handwriting, the names of the Founding Fathers and others, including Columbus and other great Americans, for whom the work had been done in the house of the Lord. This is all one great program on both sides of the veil. We are fortunate to be engaged in it on this side of the veil. I think the Lord expects us to take an active part in preserving the Constitution and our freedom.

The Founding Fathers of this nation, those great men, appeared within those sacred walls of the St. George Temple and had their vicarious work done for them. President Wilford Woodruff spoke of it in these words: “Before I left St. George, the spirits of the dead gathered around me, wanting to know why we did not redeem them. Said they, `You have had the use of the Endowment House for a number of years, and yet nothing has ever been done for us. We laid the foundation of the government you now enjoy, and we never apostatized from it, but we remained true to it and were faithful to God.'”

After he became President of the Church, President Wilford Woodruff declared that “those men who laid the foundation of this American government were the best spirits the God of heaven could find on the face of the earth. They were choice spirits [and] were inspired of the Lord.”

The temple work for the fifty-six signers of the Declaration of Independence and other Founding Fathers has been done. All these appeared to Wilford Woodruff when he was president of the St. George Temple. President George Washington was ordained a high priest at that time. You will also be interested to know that, according to Wilford Woodruff’s journal, John Wesley, Benjamin Franklin, and Christopher Columbus were also ordained high priests at that time. When one casts doubt about the character of these noble sons of God, I believe he or she will have to answer to the God of heaven for it. Yes, with Lincoln I say: “To add brightness to the sun or glory to the name of Washington is . . . impossible. Let none attempt it. In solemn awe pronounce the name and in its deathless splendor, leave it shining on.”

Source: Benson, Ezra Taft, Teachings of Ezra Taft Benson. Salt Lake City: Bookcraft, 1988. 602 – 604.

WILFORD WOODRUFF’S LABORS FOR THE DEAD IN THE ST. GEORGE TEMPLE

We have labored in the St. George Temple since January, and we have done all we could there; and the Lord has stirred up our minds, and many things have been revealed to us concerning the dead. President Young has said to us, and it is verily so, if the dead could they would speak in language loud as ten thousand thunders, calling upon the servants of God to rise up and build Temples, magnify their calling and redeem their dead. This doubtless sounds strange to those present who believe not the faith and doctrine of the Latter-day Saints; but when we get to the spirit-world we will find out that all that God has revealed is true. We will find, too, that everything there is reality, and that God has a body, parts and passions, and the erroneous idea that exist now with regard to him will have passed away. I feel to say little else to the Latter-day Saints wherever and whenever I have the opportunity of speaking to them, that to call upon them to build these Temples now under way, to hurry them up to completion. The dead will be after you, they will seek after you as they have after us in St. George. They called upon us, knowing that we held the keys and power to redeem them.

I will here say, before closing, that two weeks before I left St. George, the spirits of the dead gathered around me, wanting to know why we did not redeem them. Said they,

“You have had the use of the Endowment House for a number of years, and yet nothing has ever been done for us. We laid the foundation of the government you now enjoy, and we never apostatized from it, but we remained true to it and were faithful to God.”

These were the signers of the Declaration of Independence, and they waited on me for two days and two nights. I thought it very singular, that notwithstanding so much work had been done, and yet nothing had been done for them. The thought never entered my heart, from the fact, I suppose, that heretofore our minds were reaching after our more immediate friends and relatives. I straightway went into the baptismal font and called upon brother McCallister to baptize me for the signers of the Declaration of Independence, and fifty other eminent men, making one hundred in all, including John Wesley, Columbus, and others; I then baptized him for every President of the United States, except three; and when their cause is just, somebody will do the work for them.

(Journal of Discourses, Vol.19, pp. 229-31; September 16, 1877)

I am going to bear my testimony to this assembly, if I never do it again in my life, that those men who laid the foundation of this American government and signed the Declaration of Independence were the best spirits the God of Heaven could find on the face of the earth. They were choice spirits, not wicked men. General Washington and all the men that labored for the purpose were inspired of the Lord.

Another thing I am going to say here, because I have a right to say it. Every one of those men that signed the Declaration of Independence with General Washington, called upon me as an Apostle of the Lord Jesus Christ, in the Temple at St. George, two consecutive nights, and demanded at my hands that I should go forth and attend to the ordinances of the House of God for them. Men are here, I believe, that know of this, Brother J. D. T. McAllister, David H. Cannon and James S. Bleak. Brother McAllister baptized me for all those men, and then I told these brethren that it was their duty to go into the temple and labor until they had got endowments for all of them. They did it. Would those spirits have called upon me as an elder of Israel, to perform that work, if they had not been noble spirits before God? They would not. I bear this testimony because it is true. The Spirit of God bore record to myself and the brethren while we were laboring in that way.