[Wilford Woodruff to Samuel Roskelley]
... Now concerning endowments in all its phases: my own views are these * that we ought to follow out, as far as we can, the pattern laid down by our leaders. I consider that if there ever was any man who thoroughly understood the principle of the Endowments it was Brigham Young. He had been with Joseph Smith from the beginning of the Endowments to the end; and he understood it if any man did. And before his death he required me to write in a book every Ordinance in the Church and Kingdom of God, from the first to the last; beginning with Baptism to the last Ordinance performed through every department of the Endowments. I was several weeks doing this writing, and President Young corrected it all until he got through. Then he said to me, "Now, there you have a pattern of all the Ordinances and Endowments for every Temple we shall build, until the coming of the Son of Man." Now if I ever have anything to do, or to say, in any Temple on the earth, concerning Endowments, I would say: follow the pattern that President Young has set us; and [do] not deviate from it one iota. ...
You say, "we are told here so and so concerning sealings and adoptions." Who is it that has told you these things and given these instructions? I don't think it can be President Taylor, for neither he nor I have ever received such teachings from either Joseph Smith or Brigham Young. But I have been taught quite the reverse by President Young. He told me to have single women of my father's and mother's households sealed to me. I asked him "how many?" He said if there was not over nine hundred and ninety-nine to take them. I had some three hundred sealed to me by his instructions. I don't know whether I shall have to build them each a palace in the Celestial Kingdom of God or not. If I do, I shall have time to do it. I did as I was told.
So in relation to Adoptions, most, if not all, of the Presidency and Twelve, have had men adopted to them, and all these Sealings and Adoptions are for the Salvation of the living and the dead. I have never asked any man to be adopted into my family that I can recollect of; but I have had a number of families of friends adopted into my family, as have other men, without any regard as to whether it will, in the future, cost me one dollar or a million. What we have done in this matter has been for the salvation of man. It may possibly be a correct doctrine that a man's kingdom will consist of only the fruit of his own loins. Yet J[e]sus Christ died to save the whole world, and if we, as Apostles and Elders, do nothing for the human family only for the fruit of our own loins, we shall not do much towards magnifying the Holy Priesthood God has given us for saving the souls of man either the living or the dead. ...
Now concerning what Joseph Smith the Prophet said about children: In the first place he said children would rise from the grave, as they were laid down, and their parents would receive as they laid them away. This, I believe. He conveyed an idea in the first place, that they would not grow, but after more mature reflection, he conveyed the idea that they eventually would grow to the full stature of man. It was a good deal upon the same principle that it was when he got the first revelation on baptism for the dead. He did not at first get the whole of it, but he went into the Mississippi River with myself and a number of others, and we baptized for the dead, without regard to males acting for males only, and females acting for females only, also without any Recorder. But the Lord revealed more to him, and gave him to understand that there should be a Recorder who should strictly record all the baptisms and Ordinances and that man should act for man, and woman for woman. So with regard to his views on the Resurrection * they enlarged before he got through, and he said children would grow to full stature. ... There has got to be a welding link of some kind before we get through with this work that will adopt man to man, and weld all dispensations from Father Adam down to the last Saint. ... Still the Sealings and Adoptions are true principles, or our Prophets have been badly deceived.
[Wilford Woodruff to Samuel Roskelley, June 8, 1887, in Anderson, Devery; The Development of LDS Temple Worship, 1846-2000: A Documentary History, http://amzn.to/TempleWorship]
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