The “Beautiful Death” in the Smith Family

Despite thoughtful attempts by Douglas Davies to situate death at the center of the Mormon “culture of salvation,” the exploration of death in early Mormonism has been somewhat limited to date, particularly as it relates to the Smith family and the earliest years of Mormonism. Against this relative silence stands the testimony of the Smiths themselves, who were deeply concerned with questions of mortality. Joseph Smith was unequivocal on this point during his 1843 funeral sermon for James Adams: “All men know that all men must die. What is the object of our coming into existence then dying and falling away to be here no more? This is a subject we ought to study more than any other, which we ought to study day and night. If we have any claim on our Heavenly Father for any thing it is for knowledge on this important subject.”

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