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Select Quotations from The Discourses of Wilford Woodruff

The following quotes come from the book The Discourses of Wilford Woodruff, which were citations from the fourth president of the church and edited by G. Homer Durham, originally printed by Bookcraft, Inc. in 1946.  This is the second collector’s edition published in 1995 and was given by the First Presidency in 1997 to other general authorities and employees. To visit the site with all of the books and quotes from these, go here.


“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 program. 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. God bless you” (Wilford Woodruff, The Discourses of Wilford Woodruff, pp. 212-213. See also Teachings of Presidents of the Church: Wilford Woodruff, p. 199 and Doctrine and Covenants Official Declaration—1).

Celestial Kingdom

“It is impossible, however, for the Saints of God to inherit a celestial kingdom without their being tried as to whether they will abide in the covenants of the Lord or not. Any man who undertakes to serve God has to round up his shoulders and meet it, and any man who will not trust in God and abide in his cause even unto death is not worthy of a place in the celestial kingdom” (Wilford Woodruff, The Discourses of Wilford Woodruff, p. 263).

“We are now upon our second estate, and our eternal destiny depends upon the few years we spend in the flesh. We are placed here that it may be seen which law we will keep. Our Heavenly Father has placed before us the laws celestial, telestial, and terrestrial. If any man will obey the celestial law, he will be preserved by that law; all the glory, power and exaltation, belonging to that law, will be given to him” (Wilford Woodruff, The Discourses of Wilford Woodruff, pp. 268-269. See also Journal of Discourses 22:209, January 9, 1881).

Eternal Progression

“GOD IS INCREASING IN KNOWLEDGE. If there was a point where man in his progression could not proceed any further, the very idea would throw a gloom over every intelligent and reflecting mind. God Himself is increasing and progressing in knowledge, power, and dominion, and will do so, worlds without end. It is just so with us. We are in a probation, which is a school of experience.–JD 6:120, December 6, 1857” (Wilford Woodruff, The Discourses of Wilford Woodruff, p. 3).

Joseph Smith

“When Joseph Smith’s body was laid in the grave, his spirit, like unto the Son of God, went into the spirit world with the keys of this dispensation to unlock the prison doors. There were fifty thousand millions’ of spirits that never saw the face of a prophet, or heard a gospel sermon in their lives, until Joseph Smith preached to them the message of salvation” (Wilford Woodruff, The Discourses of Wilford Woodruff, p. 36).

“I believe that God Almighty reserved a certain class of men to carry on his word. They have been born into the world in this generation. I believe this was the case with Joseph Smith. I believe he was ordained to this work before he tabernacled in the flesh. He was a literal descendant of Joseph who was sold into Egypt, and the Lord called him and ordained him. He gave unto him the keys of the kingdom. He received the record of the stick of Joseph from the hands of Ephraim, to stand with the Bible, the stick of Judah, in the last days as a power to gather the twelve tribes of Israel, before the coming of Shiloh, their king. —JD 22:206, January 9, 1881” (Wilford Woodruff, The Discourses of Wilford Woodruff, p. 43-44).

“GREATNESS OF JOSEPH SMITH. I look upon Joseph Smith as the greatest prophet that ever breathed the breath of life, excepting Jesus Christ. Father Adam, as I have said, stands at the head; but Jospeh Smith was reserved to lay the foundation of this great kingdom and dispensation of salvation to the whole human family in these last days, to build up Zion, to establish God’s kingdom, and to prepare it for the coming of the Son of Man. He held these keys . . . .  After him, as has been said, came Brother Brigham.–DW 38:389, March 3, 1889” (Wilford Woodruff, The Discourses of Wilford Woodruff, p. 67. Ellipsis in original).

“Read the life of Brigham Young and you can hardly find a revelation that he had wherein he said, ‘Thus saith the Lord;’ but the Holy Ghost was with him; he taught by inspiration and by revelation. But with one exception he did not give those revelations in the form that Jesus did; for they were not written and given as revelations and commandments to the church in the words and name of the Savior. Joseph said, “Thus saith the Lord’ almost every day of his life in laying the foundation of this work. But those who followed him have not deemed it always necessary to say ‘Thus saith the Lord’; yet they have led the people by the power of the Holy Ghost” (Wilford Woodruff, The Discourses of Wilford Woodruff, p. 213).

Nephites, Three

“After the death and resurrection of the Savior, when he ministered to his disciples the last time on earth, he informed them that he had other sheep not of this fold whom he was going to visit and minister unto. The Book of Mormon is a record of the descendants of the house of Israel who dwelt on this continent anciently…. In that record we find that Christ, after his death and resurrection, visited that branch of the house of Israel which dwelt on this continent. On the occasion of that visit we are informed that Jesus chose twelve apostles and gave to them the same power, keys, gifts, and graces that he had given to his apostles on the eastern continent, and they went forth and magnified their callings. All of this quorum of the Twelve Apostles had the promise of departing and being with Christ when they were seventy-two years old, except three of them. To these three Jesus gave a promise similar to that which he gave to John the Revelator namely, that they should tarry in the flesh until he came” (Wilford Woodruff, The Discourses of Wilford Woodruff, pp. 94-95. Ellipsis in original).

“The first quorum of apostles were all put to death, except John, and we are informed that he still remains on the earth, though his body has doubtless undergone some change. Three of the
Nephites, chosen here by the Lord Jesus as his apostles, had the same promise-that they should not taste death until Christ came, and they still remain on the earth in the flesh” (Wilford Woodruff, The Discourses of Wilford Woodruff, p. 95).


“All men are saved by and through the blood of Jesus Christ, through obedience to the gospel.–JD 23:130, May 14, 1882” (Wilford Woodruff, The Discourses of Wilford Woodruff, p. 23).

“HOW TO OBTAIN FULL SALVATION. If I ever obtain a full salvation, it will be by my keeping the laws of God.–JD 19:362, June 30, 1878” (Wilford Woodruff, The Discourses of Wilford Woodruff, p. 23).

Plural Marriage

“The question is this: Which is the wisest course for the Latter-day Saints to pursue–to continue to attempt to practice plural marriage, with the laws of the nation against it and the opposition of sixty millions of people, and at the cost of the confiscation and loss of all the temples, and the stopping of all the ordinances therein, both for the living and the dead, and the imprisonment of the First Presidency and Twelve and the heads of families in the Church, and the confiscation of personal property of the people (all of which of themselves would stop the practice); or, after doing and suffering what we have through our adherence to this principle to cease the practice and submit to the law, and through doing so leave the prophets, apostles and fathers at home, so that they can instruct the people and attend to the duties of the Church, and also leave the temples in the hands of the Saints, so that they can attend to the ordinances of the gospel, both for the living and the dead? The Lord showed me by vision and revelation exactly what would take place if we did not stop this practice. IF we had not stopped it, you would have had no use for Brother Merrill, for Brother Edelfsen, for Brother Roskelley, for Brother Leishman, or for any of the men in this temple at Logan; for all ordinances would be stopped throughout the land of Zion. Confusion would reign throughout Israel, and many men would be made prisoners. This trouble would have come upon the whole Church, and we should have been compelled to stop the practic. Now, the question is, whether it should be stopped in this manner, or in the way the Lord has manifested to us, and leave our prophets and apostles and fathers free men, and the temples in the hands of the people, so that the dead may be redeemed? A large number have already been delivered fro the prison house in the spirit world by this people, and shall the work go on or stop? This is the question I lay before the Latter-day Saints. You have to judge for yourselves. I want you to you that that is exactly the condition we as a people would have been in had we not taken the course we have” (Wilford Woodruff, The Discourses of Wilford Woodruff, p. 215).

“Yes, I saw by vision and revelation this Temple in the hands of the wicked. I saw our city in the hands of the wicked. I saw every temple in these valleys in the hands of the wicked. I saw great destruction among the people. All these things would have come to pass, as God Almighty lives, had not that Manifesto been given. Therefore, the Son of God felt disposed to have that thing presented to the Church and to the world for purposes in his own mind. The Lord had decreed the establishment of Zion. He had decreed the finishing of this temple. He had decreed that the salvation of the living and the dead should be given in these valleys of the mountains. And Almighty God decreed that the Devil should not thwart it. If you can understand that, that is a key to it” (Wilford Woodruff, The Discourses of Wilford Woodruff, p. 218).


“HOW TO OBTAIN FULL SALVATION. If I ever obtain a full salvation it will be by my keeping the laws of God” (Wilford Woodruff, The Discourses of Wilford Woodruff, p. 23. See also Teachings of Presidents of the Church: Wilford Woodruff, p. 71).


“Of course, we are required to practice what we preach. I believe in that doctrine. Now, I know for myself, that the Presidency of this Church pay their tithing. As chairman of the auditing committee, I know what their tithing is. The Twelve Apostles pay their tithing. Bishop Hunter and his counselors pay their tithing, as well as a great many others in the Church and kingdom. I would not preach tithing if I did not pay it. I consider it my duty to pay my tithing. I consider it a law of God to me, and I am no poorer for obeying it. I wish my brethren and sisters to take this principle to heart. As the President has said, the Lord does not care anything about our cattle, our gold and our silver. The law of tithing is a law of God to us. Obedience is better than sacrifice.–JD 22:208-209, January 9, 1881” (Wilford Woodruff, The Discourses of Wilford Woodruff, pp. 179-180).


“TRUTH IS WHAT WE ARE AFTER. Truth is what we are after, and we are not afraid of the doctrines of any man; we are willing to stand by the revelations of God.–JD 17:194, October 7 1874” (Wilford Woodruff, The Discourses of Wilford Woodruff, p. 63).

“I am willing to exchange all the errors and false notions I have for one truth, and should consider that I had made a good bargain. We are not afraid of light and truth. Our religion embraces every truth in heaven, earth or hell; it embraces all truth, the whole gospel and plan of salvation, and the fulfilment of the whole volume of revelation that God has ever given” (Wilford Woodruff, The Discourses of Wilford Woodruff, p. 17).

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