Sermon given by Joseph Smith, Jr., May 14, 1843, Yelrome, Hancock County, Illinois
(Based on the Wilford Woodruff Journal account in The Words of Joseph Smith, pp. 200-202.)
The meeting was opened by singing, and prayer by Wilford Woodruff. Then Joseph the Seer arose and said,
"It is not wisdom that we should have all knowledge at once presented before us, but that we should have a little; then we can comprehend it." He then read the second epistle of Peter, 1st chapter, 16th to last verse, and dwelt upon the 19th verse with some remarks.
"Add to your faith knowledge, &c. The principle of knowledge is the principle of salvation. The principle of knowledge can be comprehended, for any one that cannot get knowledge to be saved will be damned. The principle of salvation is given to us through the knowledge of Jesus Christ. Salvation is nothing more or less than to triumph over all our enemies and put them under our feet, and when we have power to put all enemies under our feet in this world and a knowledge to triumph over all evil spirits in the world to come, then we are saved; as in the case of Jesus: he was to reign until he had put all enemies under his feet, and the last enemy was death.
"Perhaps there are principles here that few men have thought of. No person can have this salvation except through a tabernacle. Now, in this world, mankind are naturally selfish, ambitious, and striving to excel one above another; yet some are willing to build up others as well as themselves. So it is in the other world; there is a variety of spirits; some who seek to excel. And this was the case with the devil. When he fell, he sought for things which were unlawful; hence, he was cast down. And it is said he drew away many with him. The greatness of his punishment is that he shall not have a tabernacle. This is his punishment. So the devil, thinking to thwart the decree of God by going up and down in the earth seeking whom he may, destroys any person he can find that will yield to him. He will bind him and take possession of the body and reign there, glorying in it mightily; not thinking that he had gotten a stolen tabernacle. And by and by, some one of authority will come along and cast him out and restore the tabernacle to its rightful owner. But the devil steals a tabernacle because he has not one of his own. But if he steals one, he is liable to be turned out of doors.
"Now there is some grand secret there, and keys to unlock the subject. Notwithstanding the apostle exhorts them to add to their faith virtue, knowledge, temperance, &c., yet he exhorts them to make their calling and election sure. And though they had heard the audible voice from heaven bearing testimony that Jesus was the Son of God, yet he says we have a more sure word of prophecy, whereunto ye do well that ye take heed, as unto a light shining in a dark place. Now wherein could they have a more sure word of prophecy than to hear the voice of God saying this is my beloved Son, &c. Now for the secret and grand key: though they might hear the voice of God and know that Jesus was the Son of God; this would be no evidence that their election and calling was made sure, that they had part with Christ, and they were a joint heir with him. They then would want that more sure word of prophecy that they were sealed in the heavens and had the promise of eternal life in the kingdom of God. Then having this promise sealed unto them, it was an anchor to the soul, sure and steadfast. Though the thunders might roll and lightnings flash and earthquakes bellow and war gather thick around, yet this hope and knowledge would support the soul in every hour of trial, trouble, and tribulation.
"Then, knowledge through our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ is the grand key that unlocks the glories and mysteries of the kingdom of heaven. Compare this principle once with Christendom at the present day, and where are they, with all their boasted religion and piety and sacredness? While at the same time, they are crying out against prophets, apostles, angels, revelation, prophesyings, and visions, &c. Why, they are just ripening for the damnation of hell, they will be damned for they reject the more glorious principle of the gospel of Jesus Christ, and treat with disdain and trample under foot the main key that unlocks the heavens and puts in our possession the glories of the celestial world. Yes, I say such will be damned with all their professed godliness.
"Then I would exhort you to go on and continue to call upon God until you make your calling and election sure for yourselves by obtaining this more sure word of prophecy and wait patiently for the promise until you obtain it."
Many other useful remarks were made on the occasion by Joseph the Seer.