Question: Did Wilford Woodruff prophesy that New York would be destroyed by earthquake, Boston by flood, and Albany by fire?


Question: Did Wilford Woodruff prophesy that New York would be destroyed by earthquake, Boston by flood, and Albany by fire?

Woodruff did make such a prophecy, and Young confirmed it, however, that Woodruff nowhere makes a prophecy that this will happen within the mortal lives of those attending

Woodruff did make such a prophecy, and Young confirmed it.

The critics' account typically ignores, however, that Woodruff nowhere makes a prophecy that this will happen within the mortal lives of those attending. This prophecy can easily be fulfilled during the Millennial years of the Lord.

It is natural to read the prophecy as referring to mortal life, but prophets are clear that many prophecies will only be fulfilled following the resurrection during Christ's Millennial reign.

Here is Elder Woodruff's account from his journal:

Aug 22 [1863] Sunday Morning We Met in a large Bowery. E T Benson Presidet, & Peter Maugn Bishop. There wer present of the Authorities Brigham Young H. C. Kimball Willard Richards, D. H. Wells, J Taylor W Woodruff G A. Smith Lorenzo Snow F D Richards C. C. Rich and Presidt Joseph Young and A large Congregation of Elders & saints and After prayer Presidet Young Called upon W Woodruff to speak. As I arose to speak I was Clothed upon with the spirit of God And my Mind was turned towards the young people who had met us the Evening before and the following is a synopsis of Some of the remarks which I made:

As I am Called upon this morning to Address this Assembly My mind leads me to speak to the young people who are before me this Morning. I wish to say to you my young friends, last Evening as we Came into this Town we met. You paraded in the street to pay proper respect to President Young and his party. You met to greet Prophets & Apostles and inspired Men. This is a privilege which no other Generation of young people have Ever Enjoyed for Eighteen hundred years untill Joseph Smith the prophet was raised up to lay the foundation of the Church & kingdom of God on the Earth, A privilege for which I would have felt amply repaid if I had to travel A thousand miles in the days of my boyhood to have witnessed.

Now my young friends I wish you to remember these scenes which you are witnessing during the visit of President Young & his brethren. You my young friends treasure up the teachings & sayings of these Prophets And Apostles as precious treasures, while they are living Men and dont wait untill they are dead. A few days and Presidet Young and his brethren these prophets and Apostles and Brother Benson & Maugn will be in the spirit world. You should never forget this visitation. You are to Become Men & women, Fathers & Mothers.

Yea the day will come after your Father & these Prophets And Apostles are dead and gone into the spirit world you will have the privilege of going into the Tower of a glorious Temple built until the Name of the Most High God /East of us upon the Logan Bench/ and while you stand in the Tower of that Temple and your Eyes survey this glorious valley filled with Cities & village occupied [with?] tens of thousand of the Latter day saints, you will then Call to mind This visitation of Presidet Young & his Company. You will say that was in the day when Presidets B[enson?] & Maugn presided over us. That was the day when Presidet Young & the Apostles were with us. That was before New York was destroyed by an Earthquake. It was before Boston was swept into the sea by the sea heaving itself beyond its bounds. It was before Albany was destroyed By fire. Yea at that time you will remember the scenes of this day. Treasure them up & forget them Not.

[p.248] President Young followed and said what Br Woodruff had said was revelation and would be fulfilled. [1]

Woodruff makes the following claims:

  1. A temple will be built in Logan with a tower
  2. The youth will be able to look over many habitations of the Saints
  3. They will remember President Young's visit
  4. This will happen after "Father & these Prophets And Apostles are dead and gone"
  5. This will happen after New York is destroyed by earthquake, Boston destroyed by flood, and Albany by fire.

Items 1-4 are not at all problematic. The criticism usually arises regarding the 5th--all of the youth there present are now deceased, and the cities listed have yet to be destroyed.

This prophecy can easily be fulfilled during the Millennial years of the Lord

This ignores, however, that Woodruff nowhere makes a prophecy that this will happen within the mortal lives of those attending. This prophecy can easily be fulfilled during the Millennial years of the Lord, during which temples will continue to exist and be used, and during which the earth will still be inhabited by the righteous.

It is natural to read the prophecy as referring to mortal life, and many members believed that the Millennium was imminent.

But prophets are clear that many prophecies and promises will only be fulfilled following the resurrection during Christ's Millennial reign, as the article below discusses.


Notes

  1. Wilford Woodruff, Wilford Woodruff’s Journal, 9 vols., ed., Scott G. Kenny (Salt Lake City: Signature Books, 1985), 8:246-248 (journal entry dated 22 August 1863). ISBN 0941214133.