William Smith's 1845 Spiritual Wives Sermon.

(Note: William Smith was the brother of Joseph Smith and one of the twelve Apostles
                            at the time of Joseph's death.)

                                                            City of Joseph
                                                            Aug. 17th 1845.

The people assembled on the meeting ground as usual, at an 
early hour. There were present of the Quorum of the Twelve John 
Taylor & Wm. Smith.

A Synopsis of the first Chap. of the Gospel by St William 

Verse 1st I don't know that I have any particular desire to intrude my remarks 
mooning upon this congregation.

2. But being requested to occupy a few moments, of time, I cheerfully 
embrace the opportunity and shall speak according to the best of 
my abilities.

3. I had thought of reading as few verses from the Prophecies 
of Isaiah, perhaps a whole chap. the 60th chap.

4. There are many things that I esteem as matters of interest to 
this church, in relation to doctrine, and also in regard to the building 
up of Zion.

5. I think I could well occupy my time this morning, and perhaps
judiciously enough, in making some remarks upon not only our 
experience, but what We call practical religion.

6. We all have our notion of things, and especially upon the subject 
of religion, if We could all of us see through the same pair of eyes 
or had the same kind of spectacles, perhaps we might all see alike.

7. I have thought sometimes that I would very much like to please 
my Brethren & Sisters, in regard to my common practice in 
matters of Faith, and in matters of Religion. 

8. Sometimes I have set out to take a certain course, and the very first 
thing I would know I would run against a snag, or come in contact 
with some body's prejudices. I have thought Well I have not made 
out to please this time I will try it again, then directly as with the 
ship upon the sea. I would begin to shift the sail a little to the breeze 
so as not to run afoul of snags or rocks &c. but still I found I was in 
the same difficulty

9th But I think I shall take a different course. I have often heard it 
that if a man tried to please every body, he could not please anybody:
I have concluded for my part, that while I live, in Nauvoo & practice 
Mormon religion, the best course, I could take, would be an independent 
course, that course which will be the most congenial, and the most 
suitable to my own circumstances and feelings, and leave the rest of 
the matter with the people, and with my God, not trying to please 
anybody, only myself.

10. At the same time it is very congenial, to our natures and dispositions 
to please our Brethren and Sisters, but when we have sought to please 
and tried hard, and found out we cannot do it, there is no use for a 
man then to seek to please anybody else, in regard to what course he 
might take, but to please himself.

11. Now I am one of these kind of men myself that likes always to 
be free, and open, and above board in my acts, and course, 
and in regard to my conduct, principles, faith or belief in matters 
of Religion.

12. I don't know, whether I shall read the chapter or not, after all, but 
if I get round to it perhaps I shall.

13. This is a good enough text anyhow, and my text is both in my head 
and in my Heart, and in my countenance, and in my principles, it 
is on Earth, it is in Heaven, and in Hell, it is just such a kind of 
animal as myself.

14. Thank God, I have got body, parts, and passions too, I do not 
find fault with God, for making me as I am, had he created me 
without passions, I should not have been anybody.

15. Because men have passions nowadays, they are counted to be great 
sinners, abominable characters. Great God why not find [fault] 
with the personage that made us, the Gof of nature made us just 
exactly as we are; you might just as well think of pulling down 
the Everlasting Hills, as to change God in jis course, or the work 
of nature here with regard to the peculiar end, for which he created us.

16th If We have fulfilled the Law, and kept the commandments, 
we have obeyed God, and saved our own souls, and have not found fault 
with God either. Then why are we counted as Sinners? 
I consider that the streets of Nauvoo, here as well as the Temple, 
are all devoted to the divine service of God, as well as our meeting 
ground, here spread out before us, and God has a purpose in all 
these things; and has appointed unto us, these rights, and privileges 
as well as the social enjoyments peculiar to the religion of Jesus Christ.

17. Cut asunder that tie of affection, with which we are bound, and 
where is your peace" your home? and where your domestic enjoyments? 

18. A man must not smile nowadays, nor look upon a woman with 
any degree of complacency, but the finger of scorn is pointed out 
at him; and his name cast as evil. O shame! Blush when 
you see the sun.

19. When God has created us for each other's society; and happiness 
here, why be ashamed of this blessing? Why not be ashamed of 
the sun that gives us light? all things were created for the glory 
of God, and his saints, and woman, to be the glory of the man 
and to be a helpmate to him; Now to be ashamed of her in the 
street, or before the Sanctuary of the Lord, I think as well might 
midnight be ashamed of noon; or evening blush to own a star. 
It is religion to reverence God, and respect his works, and if we [answer]
the end for which we were created. It is enough. Woman is one 
of the loveliest of God's works, and is designed to be a sharer of all 
our toils, and a partaker of all our Blessings. 

Then she has something to do, as well as the man. To love is right. 
To smile is religion, and reciprocal affection is a principal that is 
Eternal. Love dwells in the bosom of God, and is planted in our heart 
it is the joy of our home, and country, and the solace of all our toils.

20. I have a kind of an idea myself; I always have an idea, of my own 
in regard to what religion is, and what kind of a God we have in the 
Heavens, and if a man does right and wrongs no man, he is justified 
this I believe is good doctrine.

21st But says one man, How do you know you have done right? or How do you 
know when a Brother has done right? In the first place you must inquire 
into the circumstances, before you can enter into judgment upon his head.

22. Supposing that I put on my long face some Sunday morning, and 
start up to meeting, on the way call on a widow woman, supposing 
I find (and notwithstanding it is Sunday morning) she has no wood 
to burn: Well now says I, Bro. William, lay aside your religion and 
chop some wood, at the door of that poor widow woman. My friend 
pass by, who always thought a great deal of me till now, and exclaims, 
Here is Bro. William breaking the Sabbath day.

23. Who placed you as a judge over me, with regard to that matter 
Had you gone to work and inquired into the circumstances, 
you would have learned I had done a deed of charity; a benevolent 
act, and I did not commit half so much sin as you did by 
spreading your condemnation among my friends; by representing 
the deed I had done as a crime.

24. I will use an illustration, brought forth by our Savior 
when he was condemned by the Pharisees "for plucking corn 
on the Sabbath day." He told them the Sabbath was made 
for man, not man for the Sabbath.

25. Under the Jewish Law, they were very strict it is true, and 
men did not dare to be more liberal, than what people dare 
to be nowadays, or what they dare to be under the blew laws 
of Connecticut, where they cut a man off from the church 
for kissing his wife on the Sabbath day. I am sure Brethren, 
had I lived there, and that was considered a crime, I should 
have been cut off every day, or under the Jewish Law, where 
they stoned people to death, for picking up a few sticks on the 
Sabbath day.

[26.] Under the blue Laws of Connecticut, it was considered a break 
of the Sabbath for a beer barrel to work on that day, it was 
thought best also to excommunicate the cats, for they would 
catch mice on the Sabbath day. Nine tenths of the 
traditions of the nineteenth century are not the Laws and Commandments 
of God

27. There is another thing I would notice, while on this part of my subject, 
I have made certain promises, and bonds, by which to be governed, and 
they are these.

   First, to consider God.

   Secondly. His Laws.

   Thirdly, The principle of practical obedience to God's Laws.

   Fourthly, Not to consider the traditions of the World as the Laws of God.

   Fifthly. Not to care anything about the traditions of the world at all.

28. Then what has a Christian to consider?

   1st They must verily believe in God.

   2nd Believe his Laws, to be more powerful, and glorious, than the Laws of 
   men, and the traditions of the world.

29. It might be the case in some instances, that the Laws of men might 
correspond to those of God, but it is not so common.

30. The Gentiles have wandered from their original faith. Command 
after Command have been passed over, they have been wandering 
in the wilderness: they have changed the ordinances; transgressed 
the Laws, and broken the Everlasting Covenant.

31. Then upon this subject you discover, our faith differs, in matters of religion, 
from the present Gentile World; as you will see from the former 
position, and the remarks. I now intend to bring forth upon the subject.

32. Our friends that are governed by their sectarian religion suppose 
that the chief end of man  is to keep all you have got, and get all you can.

   1st Man mind thyself.

   2nd Then the Laws of man.

   3rd Then God.

   4th Then God's Laws.

God and his laws are left out, as the last consideration when it 
should come in our faith, and when it comes first in our 
faith, it comes in contact to our former prejudices.

33. Then to return to the subject alluded to, with regard to the 
Savior plucking corn on the Sabbath day: but what the reprimand 
he gave the Pharisees on this subject. Says he, know ye not I am 
the Lord of the Sabbath. As long as I own this man's farm, this man's 
corn field, his flocks, and his herds, &c shall I go hungry? No. 
The Sabbath was made for man, not man for the Sabbath.

34. There is no need of people praying, and putting on a face as long as my 
arm, because it is Sabbath, to have their religion locked up all week, 
and then put it on to wear on Sabbath.

35. My religion is an every day one, I am the same on Sabbath as on the week 
days, but not so with many, they will find fault with Bro. William 
for cutting wood, on the Sabbath day for a poor widow woman, he 
cannot ride in a carriage with a Lady but they will say "there, there ge goes 
don't you see him that's just what I thought about Bro. William; I always 
thought he loved the women." So did Jesus; O dear me I think such 
people must be sick. God pity them for I do from the bottom of my soul 
and their ignorance too, Shame on such saints.

36. I am one of these sort of independent soldiers of the cross, that will 
do all things in daylight. The Lord has made these streets for me, and for 
carriages and wagons too, and the Scriptures say that no good thing will 
he withhold, from them that walk uprightly. He'll give grace, and glory, 
to that man or person that walks uprightly: and no good thing will 
he withhold from them, and no man will pretend to say that the women 
are not classed among the good things.

37. The Apostle Paul says, a person might take a little wine for his stomach's 
sake, and for his other infirmities; but there need not anybody 
go to drinking to get drunk, because he said so, he don't say a man 
committed sin if he took for his stomach's sake.

38. Paul says again all things are lawful, but all things are not expeditious. 
Again Paul says, he would not eat flesh, if it would offend his 
Brother, and if he did eat meat, I suppose he would rather eat it behind 
the door, than cause his brother to stumble. I suppose Paul ate meat 
just as much as I would.

39. If I went to taking a little wine for my stomachache, I should 
hate some one to cry his eyes out, or judge me as an abominable  
character. Why? Because you must recollect before you do it, to 
judge me according to circumstances. You must know the circumstances 
under which I cut wood: for if I cut wood on the Sabbath 
day, I do good because it is for the benefit of a poor widow woman 
for I respect my friends, if I sit down, and chatt behind 
the door with a brother or a sister, I am not ashamed of them in 
the public street.

40. Jesus Christ ate with publicans and sinners, he sat down 
and talked with the woman at the well and they would 
lay hold of his garments in the street.

41. That is the kind of a spirit I possess, it is the kind of religion 
I feel in my soul: if a sister gives me her hand upon 
the Spiritual Wife system, to share with me the fate & 
destinies of time and eternity, I will not be ashamed of 
her before the public. That [which] I do in the secret chamber 
I would do in the broad daylight. And now what of the spiritual 
wife doctrine, so often talked about. Suppose I preach 
you a little of it. Now don't get scared brethren, and leave 
the Congregation before I get through, it is such an awful 
doctrine I know and I am just the man to get into this business, 
and get out of it too, for I am not the author of God's 
works, nor am I to blame, for what he has revealed: So a great 
fuss is made about Spiritual Wives. I would like to know how you  
can be anything else but spiritual, if you are the children of 
God, for except ye have the spirit of Christ ye are none of his: 

42. And I would like to ask in the first place, if it is not virtuous 
for a man to keep the commandments of God. 
In the second place, I would ask, if we are seeking for 
the honors of God, or of the World.

43. I would like to ask again, if we keep the commandments of God, 
and obey the laws of Christ's Church, and live a distinguished 
and peculiar people, if it will be said for us "Ye are the 
rejected of the Earth" The Savior says, "Ye are not 
of the World" but I have chosen you out of the World" 
So we are chosen out of Babylon, you are chosen from the traditions 
and corruptions of this world, to be God's people, to be governed 
by his Laws, upheld and preserved by his government.

Verse 44. There I said spiritual, well some people say, or have got a strange 
idea about the name. Suppose we say spiritual husbands, 
I would just as son say Spiritual Husbands, as Spiritual 
Wife, and Spiritual Wife, as Spiritual Husband;
To the carnal all things are carnal, and to the spiritual all 
things are spiritual, to be carnally minded is Death, 
but to be spiritual minded is life everlasting.  

45. Supposing I was to talk about Old Jacob. I read the Bible 
sometimes, because if the people saw I did not, they would say I am not religious.

46. Now as to Jacob and his Four Wives, you may call them spiritual 
wives, carnal wives, Devilish wives, or what you please 
the Bible says that he had four wives.  But the principal 
under which he acted, is what I am at, and as I am a Yankee 
I have a right to guess, The truth is Jacob was a Prophet of 
God and the father of the twelve Patriarchs, and these 12, 
Patriarchs, were born of Four Women, that Jacob had as his 
wives. I don't know anything about it, only what the Bible 
says. You will recollect that the Twelve Patriarchs, were the 
fathers of Twelve Tribes of the house of Israel, and these were 
God's peculiar people, and they sprang from Jacob's four wives. 
Jesus Christ himself sprang from the tribe of Judah, and yet 
the household of Judah, sprang from Judah, who was one of 
the four women Jacob had to be his wife. Jesus Christ sprang 
from the tribe of Judah, and from David. David was a great 
Prophet (Query) Did Jesus Christ spring from illegitimate seed? 
I guess  he did not. Were the 12 Tribes of the house of Israel 
bastards and not sons? I guess they were not.

47. Again if the Twelve Tribes, were God's peculiar people were they all 
legitimate, or lawful seed, and if they were all lawful seed, and 
and sprang from Four Women, how was it they could all be lawful seed? You may 

48. I have got almost through with my guessing upon this subject, and have not 
said anything either, but I guess, when all my guessings come to an end 
upon this subject, I shall guess Jacob was a friend of God, and did 
not go to Hell, and that Jesus Christ was not a bastard, and if 
you can make anything else of it you have a right to do it. Here let me 
remark, that whatever may be the Law, or justification under which 
Jacob, or these ancient Patriarchs lived in their day, I am not saying 
that they are applicable to this congregation, at this present time 
or in every case, and indeed, I know they are not, so much then on this 
part of my subject, and whatever tends to exalt the human family 
or the saints is of God, and who will dare to deny it.

As I said before God looks upon things different than man upon the 
earth. Jesus says, We must not judge according to the appearances of things.

49. It looks rather bad, for Jesus Christ to be eating corn on the Sabbath 
day; some of our pious looking folks, here, would have him up pretty 
quick, but he told them he had a right to eat it, he referred to the Shew 
Bread which was eaten contrary to the Law of Moses, and still 
was not counted transgression; I eat of the Shew Bread and 
too was not counted a transgressor. I rode in my 
wagon with some of the sisters; and if I did wrong I will 
get some of the sisters to baptize me.

50. But you see as in the case of the cutting of the wood, if we 
judge from outward appearances, we would not judge a righteous 
judgement. The Savior says, Judge a righteous judgment. 
I want the Brethren, and sisters, to judge a righteous 
judgment upon me at all times, for I practice a religion 
and I believe in it. I do it because it is true. My religion, 
to love, and not hate. Paul says, By this shall ye know 
that they are the children of God, because ye love the brethren 
and I would make an addition to Paul's words, and say 
"the Sisters too" then you may know you have passed from [------] unto life

Verse 51. Love is an immutable principal, grounded upon the God of the universe 
it grows up with you from a child, it is bred in the bones, it is there 
(placing his hand upon his breast) I am not going to fight with God 
because the Mississippi runs down stream, or that he had made 
man as he is.

52. I will thank God for his favors. I will thank God for the 
productions of the earth. I will thank God for the water that 
falls, and I will thank God for Woman, who was made to be 
a helpmate to man, a comfort, an administering angel, through 
this world of sorrow and love.

53. Then I think my friends I have almost said enough upon 
this subject, there are other matters attached to the religion 
of Jesus Christ, the Apostle says, that all we have 
should be sanctified by prayer and thanksgiving, then of 
course the corn of the field, our wives, and our children, and 
all that we possess. This is the Gospel according to St. William, 
the first chap. and to be continued, the ancient apostles 
preached their gospels, and I preach mine.

54. The scriptures command me to love all men, and women too; 
the Savior loved all men, and some women too: I do not 
suppose he lived upon the earth more than 30 years, and 
not marry. I don't know but he had as many wives as 
old Jacob had.

55. I have been noticing some things that are in the Bible 
that were practised by the ancients, but if I am seen 
riding in my carriage with a female, those very characters 
that are up to the knees, yea up to here (putting his hand 
to the top of his head) point their finger and say 
"there goes Bro. William and one of his women." I pray 
to God to curse such hypocrites, to damn such hypocrites.

56. For I don't preach the doctrine. I will not honor myself 
withal: I am God's freeman, and I will not be 
ashamed of my friends or proved friends, before the public
I will not be ashamed, to be seen with you in the street. I do not 
preach another gospel different to this in my example; I am 
the same today, yesterday, and forever.

Verse 57. I will conclude my remarks, by saying, if we all do right 
and love our neighbor as ourselves, and do just as we would 
have others do to us, love mercy, stop lieing about your neighbors. 
I say shame on the man, or the woman that blames 
his neighbor, for that they themselves believe. Be honorable, 
and noble upon these subjects. I tell you if we are faithful 
we shall all have spiritual fathers, spiritual mothers, 
spiritual husbands, and spiritual wives, and spiritual 
children, let every man do the will of the Lord and he 
will be a spiritual man.

58. And that is the gospel according to St. William 
in the name of Jesus Christ Amen.

John Taylor:

In regard to these things Bro. William has been talking about he says, 
they are in the Bible, he has mentioned some things in that Bible, 
but I have nothing to do with the Gospel according to William 
and if he has a mind to ride, three or four Ladies, in his carriage 
I have nothing to do with it, and shall not find fault with him 
either. I have some things to say with regard to those feelings 
being applicable to this case. I want to make a few remarks upon 
this matter, lest the minds of some might be led astray with 
regard to it; these things contained in the Scripture are true, 
it is true that things were countenanced in former times by 
the Lord, it is true that individuals had wives as he has 
stated, these things are all true, & I have no doubt that 
those that practised these things did it rationally and according 
to the principles of righteousness, and in the fear of God, which 
should be expected at any rate.

We have no doubt that Jacob was a good man, as well as Abraham, 
and /isaac, and I have no doubt David was a good man till he 
transgressed; but because David took him wives, or because Solomon 
took him seven hundred wives, or because Jacob took four 
wives, can we draw an inference from that, that every man in 
this congregation, shall take him many wives. You had 
better try it.


I wish to say that if Bro. Taylor intends to take up my subject 
in this manner, I wish to have the privilege to answer him as he 
proceeds, for I do not intend to be put down, and brow-beaten, 
every time I speak on this stand.


It is not my intention to put Bro. William down, or cast any 
reflections upon Bro. William's sermon, but I am here to day 
to speak & offer a word of caution, in relation to a book, or 
certain book published by a man of the name of Jacobs

   About this I left the meeting to get water 
   for John Taylor, we shall therefore, be indebted to him for 
   the rest of what he said... G[eorge]. D. Watt