Nauvoo, Illinois
Site of Edward Hunter Home
Section 128
September 1842
"Now the great and grand secret of the whole matter, and the summum bonum of the whole subject that is lying before us, consists in obtaining the powers of the Holy Priesthood. For him to whom these keys are given there is no difficulty in obtaining a knowledge of facts in relation to the salvation of the children of men, both as well for the dead as for the living.
"Herein is glory and honor, and immortality and eternal life - The ordinance of baptism by water, to be immersed therein in order to answer to the likeness of the dead, that one principle might accord with the other; to be immersed in the water and come forth out of the water is in the likeness of the resurrection of the dead in coming forth out of their graves; hence, this ordinance was instituted to form a relationship with the ordinance of baptism for the dead, being in likeness of the dead."
In September 1842 Joseph was hiding from Missouri mobbers in the home of Edward Hunter, which was located just west of the Nauvoo Temple. In the upstairs room he completed writing an epistle to the Saints regarding baptism for the dead. At that time, the temple had been under construction for nearly a year and a half.
"Malachi says, last chapter, verses 5th and 6th, 'Behold, I will send you Elijah the prophet before the coming of the great and dreadful day of the Lord: And he shall turn the heart of the fathers to the children, and the heart of the children to their fathers, lest I come and smite the earth with a curse.'
"I might have rendered a plainer translation to this, but it is sufficiently plain to suit my purpose as it stands. It is sufficient to know, in this case, that the earth will be smitten with a curse unless there is a welding link of some kind or other between the fathers and the children, upon some subject or other--and behold what is that subject? It is the baptism for the dead. For we without them cannot be made perfect; neither can they without us be made perfect. Neither can they nor we be made perfect without those who have died in the gospel also; for it is necessary in the ushering in of the dispensation of the fulness of times, which dispensation is now beginning to usher in, that a whole and complete and perfect union, and welding together of dispensations, and keys, and powers, and glories should take place, and be revealed from the days of Adam even to the present time. And not only this, but those things which never have been revealed from the foundation of the world, but have been kept hid from the wise and prudent, shall be revealed unto babes and sucklings in this, the dispensation of the fulness of times."
Doctrine and Covenants 128:11-12, 17-18
Though the Hunter home is no longer standing, Church leaders used it as a place of safety from time to time. A tennis court now marks the location of the home.
Key Events
Even after he left the State, enemies from Missouri continued hunting for the Prophet, seeking his destruction. In September 1842, Joseph hid from these enemies in the home of Edward Hunter.
Edward Hunter became a Bishop in Nauvoo in 1844, immigrated to Salt Lake City with the Saints, and eventually succeeded Newel K. Whitney as Bishop of the Church. During Bishop Hunter's term as presiding Bishop, the number of wards in the Church grew from 40 to 300.
Words of Joseph Smith
"I presume the doctrine of 'baptism for the dead' has ere this reached your ears, and may have raised some inquiries in your minds respecting the same. I cannot in this letter give you all the information you may desire on the subject; but aside from knowledge independent of the Bible, I would say that it was certainly practiced by the ancient churches; and St. Paul endeavors to prove the doctrine of the resurrection from the same, and says, 'Else what shall they do which are baptized for the dead, if the dead rise not at all? Why are they then baptized for the dead?' I first mentioned the doctrine in public when preaching the funeral sermon of Brother Seymour Brunson; and have since then given general instructions in the Church on the subject. The Saints have the privilege of being baptized for those of their relatives who are dead, whom they believe would have embraced the Gospel, if they had been privileged with hearing it, and who have received the Gospel in the spirit, through the instrumentality of those who have been commissioned to preach to them while in prison . . . you will undoubtedly see its consistency and reasonableness; and it presents the Gospel of Christ in probably a more enlarged scale than some have imagined it." (History of the Church 4:231)
Copyright 2005 Steve Mortensen. All rights reserved.