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.
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.
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.