Discourse by Elder John Taylor, delivered in the Tabernacle, Salt Lake City, Sunday, March 17, 1872.
In rising to address the congregation this afternoon, I do so, as I always do, with very great pleasure. It always affords me gratification to contemplate the things pertaining to the Church and kingdom of God, and to the interests of humanity on the earth. I love to speak of these things, I am always pleased to hear of them, and I am as willing to listen to the truth when emanating from some person else as I am to communicate it to others, as it may be made manifest to me. I feel as our Elders generally do—that we are seeking to communicate—not our own special ideas, or any peculiar theory that we may have entertained; but, under the guidance of the Almighty, that we may instruct and teach as we may be led and guided by the Spirit of the living God. I feel, as it is expressed in the Scriptures, “That it is not in man to direct his steps,” and it is not especially in man to teach things pertaining to eternity, or to the everlasting welfare of the human family, unless he be under the guidance and direction of the Almighty, and feels that he is simply an instrument in His hands to unfold and develop certain principles that are made manifest unto him. I feel always willing to hear, to teach, to receive instruction, or to communicate unto others those principles that are calculated to promote their happiness and well-being in time and in eternity. These things lie at the foundation of the happiness of the human family; they emanate from God, our Father, in whom, we are told, “we live and move and have our being,” and upon whom we are dependent for all the blessings we enjoy, whether they pertain to this world or the world to come. Ignorant of all true principles without inspiration from him, we feel at all times that it is necessary for us to be under his guidance and direction, and to seek for the aid of his Holy Spirit, that we may be led and taught, instructed and directed in all of our acts and associations in life, that we may be prepared for any events that may transpire, associated with the affairs of this world or relative to the world to come. We look upon ourselves as eternal beings, and that God is our Father. We are told in the sacred record of truth that he is the God and Father of the spirits of all flesh—of all flesh that has lived, that now lives or that will live; and it is proper that we should have just conceptions of our relationship to him, to each other, to the world wherein we live, to those who have existed before us, or to those who shall come after us, that as wise, intelligent beings, under the inspiration of the Almighty, we may be able to conduct our steps so that our pathway in life may be such as to secure the approval of a good conscience and of God, angels and good men; and that whilst we live upon the earth we may fulfil in an honorable manner the measure of our creation, and, obeying our Creator, feel that he is indeed what the Scriptures represent him to be, and what we believe him to be—“the God and Father of the spirits of all flesh.”
There is a feeling generally extant in the world that God is a great and august personage who is elevated so high above the world, and is so far separated from humanity that it is impossible to approach him, and although the Christian religion, under whatever form it may be practiced, teaches mankind to pray unto God in the name of the Lord Jesus Christ, yet it is very few who suppose that their prayers amount to anything, that God will listen to their supplications, or that they will prove of any special benefit. A feeling of this kind tends more or less to unbelief instead of faith in God, and hence we find very few men in our day who act as men of God did in former days, that is, seek unto him for guidance and direction in the affairs of life. If we examine what is termed the sacred history of the Bible, we shall find that in the various ages of the world, until soon after Christianity was introduced, there was a feeling among men to call upon God and to have their prayers answered—a feeling that if they would approach the Most High and call upon his name in faith, he would answer their supplications and give unto them wisdom, intelligence and revelation for the guidance of their feet in the pathway of life; and it was not based as it is now, generally, upon some old theories, or upon communications made unto others; but if we trace the records of Scripture through, we shall find that men generally sought for themselves guidance and direction and revelation adapted to the peculiar circumstances in which they were placed.
If we go back to the time when Adam first made his appearance on the earth, the Lord God we are told communicated with him, gave him certain commandments, told him what he should do and what he should not do; and when he transgressed the law, we are told that he heard the footsteps of the Lord in the garden, and he heard his voice speaking unto him, and when, at the dictum of the Almighty, he was expelled from the paradise in which he lived, an angel was placed there as a guardian to prevent his return.
From the accounts that we have in our possession of events that took place soon after that time, we learn that the Lord communicated his will unto others, and there was a man called Enoch, a very remarkable personage, whose history is very brief indeed, considering the important events that transpired during his day. We are told that he walked with God, had communication with him, and that “He was not, for God took him.” Our recent revelations give us information pertaining to this same man—that he gathered together a people, that he taught them the principles of the Gospel, that he gathered together all who would listen to the principles of truth previous to the flood, and that he and his city were translated, or as the account of the Bible says—“He was not, for God took him.”
By and by another event transpired. The people became excessively wicked and corrupt, so much so, that, as the Scriptures informs us, “Their thoughts were only evil, and that continually;” and in consequence of this the Lord decreed that he would destroy the people from the face of the earth. But before he did it he gave revelation unto Noah, telling him that the destruction of all flesh upon the earth had been decreed by the Almighty in consequence of the wickedness of the people; and Noah had special revelation given to him adapted to the circumstances which surrounded him, and the age in which he lived. He was not told to build a city, to preach the Gospel and gather the people as Enoch had done; but he was told that the wickedness of all flesh had come up before the Almighty and that he had determined to destroy them with a flood; and Noah, believing in God and in the revelation which he gave unto him, according to the testimony of the Scriptures, built an ark, and gathered into that ark himself and wife, his sons and their wives, and two—male and fe– male—of the various kinds of beasts, birds and creeping things that dwelt on the face of the earth. History records the coming of the flood, the destruction of the world by it, and the preservation in the ark of those who had listened to the word of God and to whom he communicated his will.
Subsequent to this time a variety of singular circumstances transpired and there existed many prominent characters both good and bad, worshipers of God and worshipers of idols. We find that after the re-peopling of the earth after the flood men set to work to build a tower, and the Lord confused their languages and scattered them from hence, throughout all the earth. About this time a singular kind of personage appeared on the stage of action, named Abraham. He had been taught by his father to worship idols; but the Lord had manifested himself to him on certain occasions and instructed him in the true religion. He did not teach him as he taught Enoch, or as he had taught Noah; the circumstances of Abraham were different from those of Enoch and Noah, and if Abraham had the history of their times, as he unquestionably had, for Abraham was contemporary with Noah and Noah with Adam, and must have been acquainted with the events which had transpired, from the days of Adam at least from information given by Adam to Noah and by Noah to himself, he would know that the revelations they received were not applicable to his case, but he needed revelation from God for his own guidance and direction, that he might be led aright, and that he might be able to instruct his children after him in the path they should tread, in the principles, doctrines and ordinances that should be according to the mind and will of God.
There is something humorous in a history that we have in relation to this personage. The priests of those days offered sacrifices to their gods, and, like the priests of these days, they were generally opposed to new revelation from God. Abraham’s father had instructed him in the doctrines of these idols, and had sought to induce him to have faith in them and in their power, authority, and dominion, telling him what great personages they were. But Abraham, inspired by the Lord, went on a certain occasion into the temple of these gods and smote them right and left, upsetting and breaking them in pieces. His father came in and asked what he had been doing, what great sin this was that he had committed, why he was so sacrilegious in his feelings and so wicked as to seek to destroy these gods? Said he, “Father, I did not do anything to them, they quarreled among themselves and went to work fighting and knocked one another down, broke one another’s heads and knocked off one another’s arms and legs.” “Oh,” said his father, “my son do not tell me anything of that kind, for they are made of wood and they could not move or stir from their place nor knock one another down; it has been some other agency that has done it.” “Why, father,” said he, “would you worship a being that could not stir or move, that had hands and could not handle, that had legs and could not walk, a mouth that could not speak, and a head and it was of no use? Would you worship a being like that?” But nevertheless our history informs us that the priests were angry and stirred up his father against him. But the Lord inspired Abraham to leave there. The Bible tells us the Lord said to him: “Get thee up from thy father’s house, from the land wherein thou wast born, and go up to a land I will show unto thee, and which I will afterwards give unto thee for an inheritance.” And we are told that “he went up, not knowing whither he went.”
There is something very peculiar about this little history, so far as we have it in the Bible. I think I see this man of God rising up, after he had incurred the displeasure of the priests and his father, and had slain these gods, making preparations to leave his native country. I fancy I see some of his neighbors coming to him, and saying: “Abraham, where are you going?” “Oh,” says he, “I do not know.” “You don’t know.” “No.” “Well, who told you to go?” “The Lord.” “And you do not know where you are going?” “Oh, no,” says he, “I am going to a land that he will show me, and that he has promised to give me and my seed after me for an inheritance; and I believe in God, and therefore I am starting.” There was something very peculiar about it, almost as bad as us when we started to come off from Nauvoo: we hardly knew where we were going, but we could not have rest, peace or safety among the Christians, consequently we left them and started off to the Rocky Mountains, under the direction of God, hardly knowing whither we went, just as Abraham did, and I do not think we were any bigger fools than he, for he went just about as we did, not knowing whither he went.
Afterwards the Lord gave him a son, for when He was an old man, and his wife Sarah was seventy years old, they were childless, and at this advanced age the Lord gave them a son. There had been no event of that kind ever transpired before in the history of the Bible, and if it were the Bible they had to look at, it would have been of no use to them, for they could not get any instruc– tions there how they were to act; but he feared God and put his trust in him, and the Lord gave him revelation. The angel of the Lord, we are told, visited Abraham and his wife, and told her she should have a son. Sarah was a good deal amused at it, and laughed over the matter, for she was about seventy years old and thought it rather strange that she should have a son at that age, and she laughed at the idea, as many of our old sisters would unquestionably do now if they were told such a thing. It seems all very natural when you look at it just about as it is. And when the angel asked her why she laughed, she lied and said: “I did not laugh,” she did not want to have it known that she laughed at what the Lord said. “Nay, but,” said he, “thou didst laugh.” And as the time came round, lo and behold she had a son and called his name Isaac. And after this the Lord seemed determined to try Abraham and see whether or not he would be faithful to him and obey him in all things. He had obeyed him in breaking up those Gods, and in leaving his father’s house and going up to a land that he had shown unto him, and the Lord was determined to try him to the uttermost, and see whether he would obey him yet further. “Now,” said he, “Abraham, take thy son, thine only son Isaac, and go to a place that I will indicate, and offer him up as a burnt offering before me.” That was a curiosity, it had something odd and strange about it. It was not really what you would call philosophical; it was not in accordance with any principles that we could understand anything about, in our day; and it would have been difficult for Abraham to have reasoned it out why he should be called to offer up his son as a sacrifice. Nothing of the kind had ever transpired before as a precedent; no such thing written in the Bible that had taken place among men before. In offering up his only son there was something very peculiar, not especially as a sacrifice, but it came in contact with every parental feeling which he must necessarily have felt for his only child. This, in and of itself, rendered it one of the most severe and painful trials that could be placed upon man; but there was something else connected with this which was explained by the Prophet Joseph Smith, who, when speaking of these things, said God was determined in these days to have a tried people as He had in former times, and that he would feel after their heartstrings and try them in every way possible for them to be tried; and if he could have invented anything that would have been more keen, acute, and trying than that which he required of Abraham he would have done it. But that, no doubt, was one of the greatest trials that could have been inflicted on any human being. Notice the old gentleman tottering along with his son, brooding over the promises of God and the peculiar demand now made upon him. Says he: “Isaac, let us go up into the mountain here, and offer a sacrifice to the Lord.” And he took him along; they ascend the mountain, they gather together some rocks and together build an altar; they gather the fuel and place it on that altar; and when everything is prepared Isaac says: “Father, here is the altar and here is the wood, but where is the sacrifice.” What would the feelings of a father be under such circumstances? Says he, with a heart gushing with sorrowful emotions, “My son, God will prepare himself a sacrifice,” and finally the old man gave his son to understand that he was the sacrifice, and he bound him and placed him on the wood upon the altar, and lifted the knife to strike the fatal blow, and while his arm was outstretched the Lord spake, saying: “Abraham, lay not thine hand upon the lad, for the Lord shall provide thee a sacrifice,” and he looked round and found a ram in a thicket, and he placed it on the altar and offered a burnt offering before the Lord. The Lord then took him aside and said: “Lift up thine eyes eastward, westward, northward and southward, for to thee and to thy seed after thee will I give this land; and thy seed shall be as numerous as the stars in the heavens, and like the sand on the sea shore so shall they be innumerable; and in blessing I will bless thee, and in multiplying I will multiply thee, and in thee and in thy seed shall all the families of the earth be blessed.” The Lord proved him and found him faithful in all things. That was a severe test to human nature; but there were other ideas crowding on his mind that were ten thousand times more formidable than these paternal feelings which gushed and welled up in his bosom when told to offer up his son as a sacrifice. What was it? Why the Lord had told him that he would make of him a nation and a multitude of nations, and that he should be the father of many nations, and yet he told him to go and offer up his only son. And he was an old man and his wife an old woman; and it was not only the idea of taking the life of his son that was crowding upon his mind, but the cutting him off in regard to posterity and the promises that God had made to him in regard to the magnitude of the peoples that should arise from him, or from his loins, and leaving him, as it were, a dry root, helpless, hopeless, tottering on the grave without any heir. Paul very justly remarks that in the midst of all these things, “he staggered not through unbelief, but was strong in faith giving glory to God; believing that he from whom he had received him, as it were from the dead, would be able, if he had even slaughtered his son, to raise him from the dead.” He was strong in faith, says Paul, “giving glory to God.” He had had the visions of his mind unfolded in regard to the future; he had looked through the dark vista of future ages. Inspired by the spirit of revelation he contemplated the purposes of God as they rolled forth in all their majesty and glory and power, and considered that He was to be one of the great actors in this great world drama that should be exhibited in the after ages or time, and in the eternities that were to come. Jesus said of him, “Abraham saw my day and was glad.” But he saw in this, apparently, all his hopes blasted; but notwithstanding he had faith and confidence in God, and he stood there like the beaten anvil to the stroke, or the sturdy oak defying all storms and blasts and influences. He was strong in faith, giving glory to God. Nothing but the spirit of revelation could have given him this confidence, and it was that which sustained him under these peculiar circumstances.
He then told him that, by and by, his seed should go down into bondage in Egypt, and should remain there four hundred years, and that then they would be delivered. He also made promises concerning his posterity, telling him they should inherit that land; and yet, singular to say, notwithstanding these revelations and promises from the Lord, several thousand years after, when Stephen was referring to these promises, he said, “he gave him none inheritance in it, no not so much as to set his foot;” but he told him that he would “give it to him, and to his seed after him, for an everlasting inheri– tance.” And as we have to do with a truthful God, and with eternal things, we expect that these promises will be literally fulfilled, and that God will accomplish all things that he spoke to him pertaining to his seed. But there was one peculiarity about this that I wish to notice in connection with others—that when God gave revelations to the human family in the different ages of the world it was particularly adapted to the circumstances in which they were placed. They were not dependent, as Christians are now, simply on the Bible or upon some old revelation, from which they could learn many great things, but they could not learn what was necessary, what plan it was proper for them to adopt under the peculiar circumstances in which they were placed.
We find, in continuing the history of these things, that after the children of Israel had been in Egypt for a length of time, God sent them a deliverer—he raised up Moses and inspired him with the principle of revelation, told him he had a work for him to do, that he was to deliver Israel from the bondage that had been placed upon them by the Egyptian kings. Moses shrank from the responsibility, and told the Lord that he was a “man of stammering tongue and of slow speech,” and that he was not competent to perform a work of such magnitude. The Lord told him never to mind, it would be all right, that he would provide a spokesman for him in Aaron his brother, and Aaron should be a mouthpiece to the people, and Moses should be as a god to Aaron and dictate him in the course that He should take. And this very Moses gives us an account of all the histories that we have in relation to the dealings of God with the human family from Adam’s day until the time in which he lived. There was something peculiar about the mission that he had. He was sent on several occasions to present himself before the Egyptian king with a message from the Lord that he should let his people Israel go, and in these various messages you will find, just as I stated before, the revelations that he had were adapted to the particular circumstances he was placed in. He was not told to build a city as Enoch had been, and to gather a people together to be translated; he was not told to build an ark, as Noah did; he was not told to leave his father’s house and go to a strange land, as Abraham was; he was placed in other circumstances—he was going to be the deliverer of Israel from Egyptian bondage, and to lead them to that land which God had promised Abraham, and consequently he had to have direct communication with the Lord—revelation to guide him in the course that he should pursue in the work that he had to perform. The result was that after many revelations he took Israel out of Egypt, he brought them into the wilderness, he passed them through the Red Sea, and he went upon the mountain, conversed with God and received from him tables of stone written by his own hand for the guidance of the people, and was under the direction of the Almighty in all his moves. He built an ark, not according to his own judgment or wisdom, not according to anything that he read of in the Bible, nor according to any previous revelation or communication; but the Lord told him to see “that he made all things according to the pattern that he had shown him in the mount,” and he did so. And the people traveled on through that wilderness, and were there for forty years, a pillar of fire leading them by night and a cloud by day; and when that pillar of fire or cloud rested they rested, when it lifted up they moved, and followed its guidance. And Aaron went and ministered in the Tabernacle and approached before the Holy of Holies, and all these sayings, doings and events that then transpired were under the immediate revelation, dictation and guidance of the Almighty. The Lord at that time desired to make of Israel a great nation, a kingdom of priests. They had the Gospel preached unto them in the wilderness, so Paul tells us, but they were rebellious, wayward and stiffnecked. It was the design of the Almighty to lead them into the presence of God, that they might see him as Moses did, and as the seventy Elders of Israel did, that they might converse with him and obtain intelligence from him, and be under his special guidance and direction; but they could not endure the Gospel, and therefore we are told “the law was added because of transgression.” What was it added to? Why, to the Gospel. What was the Gospel? A principle of revelation; it always was. It was the same Gospel that Jesus had that was revealed to them. The Scriptures tell us that it “brings life and immortality to light;” and whenever in any age of the world men had a knowledge of life and immortality, of the purposes of God and his future designs, and of the future estate of mankind, it came through the Gospel, for it is the Gospel that brings life and immortality to light; and wherever the Gospel exists, there exists a knowledge of life and immortality; and wherever a knowledge of life and immortality does not exist the Gospel does not exist. The children of Israel, then, were placed under the law—a schoolmaster, we are told, “a yoke that neither they nor their fathers were able to bear.” This Peter tells us.
Then there were other Prophets after Moses who appeared on the stage, such as Job, Elijah, Elisha, Isaiah, Jeremiah and many others, who had communication with God and received a knowledge of his will and purposes, and prophesied under the inspiration of the Almighty and testified of events that should afterwards transpire. To these men we are indebted for the Bible, that is, for the Old and New Testaments; to them and their revelations, to the communications that they had, the ministering of angels and the opening visions, and the unfolding of the purposes of God, and the various histories and dealings of God with the people; to them are we indebted for the Bible that we Christians of the present day talk so much about. To these men who made this Bible we are indebted for any knowledge that they had about God; and that Gospel, we are told, brings life and immortality to light.
We are now sometimes told by people here, at this present day, that we have the Bible to go by. Indeed? We have the Bible, have we? Yes. Who made that Bible? Did the Christians? No, they did not. The early Christians had something to do with making the New Testament Scriptures, but not the Old Testament; and then, as I have told you heretofore, these men always had revelation given them adapted to the peculiar circumstances in which they were placed. But you read the Bible through, and you will find that the Scriptures that are given to us are simply an account of revelations, communications, prophecies and the ministering of angels, and the power of God made manifest to the ancient people of God who had the Gospel. What! Do you mean to say, then, that all these men had the Gospel? I most assuredly do, for without that they could not have had a knowledge of life and immortality. Did Abraham have it? Yes, if Paul told the truth, he did. What does he mean when he says, “God, foreseeing that he would justify the heathen through faith, preached before the Gospel unto Abraham?” What does he mean when he tells us about Moses and the children of Israel? Says he: “We have the Gospel preached unto us as well as they; but the word preached unto them did not profit them, not being mixed with faith in those who heard it; wherefore the law was added because of transgression.” What was it added to? Why, to the Gospel, for they had the Gospel before, and the law was added not as a peculiar kind of a blessing that some people speak of, but as a peculiar kind of a curse—the law of carnal commandments—“a yoke that we nor our fathers were able to bear.” And when Jesus came, what did he bring? Why, the Gospel, and with that Gospel light and revelation and communication with God, and ministering of angels and the gifts of tongues and healing and prophecy, and the power of God made manifest among the people as it was in former times. Life and immortality were again brought to light, the heavens were again unveiled, angels ministered to man, and they had a knowledge of things to come. The law was added because of transgression, and when the Gospel came, it came not to do away with the law or the Prophets, but to fulfil them. It was not a law of carnal commandments and ordinances, but “the law of the spirit of life in Christ Jesus, which makes us free from the law of sin and death;” the law of the Gospel whereby men were adopted into the family of God, and became “heirs of God and joint heirs with Jesus Christ,” that “if we suffer with him,” as he once said, “we shall also reign with him, that both may be glorified together.” It was a thing that adopted them into the family of God, and made them heirs of God and joint heirs with Christ his Son, and one of the principles of eternal life, and like all other revelations, was adapted peculiarly to the position that they then occupied. It was called the Gospel, and there was a Priesthood connected with it, and what was that called? Why, the Melchizedek Priesthood. What did the Melchizedek Priesthood do? It held the keys of the mysteries of the revelations of God. And who was Christ? He was a Priest forever after the order of Melchizedek. And what did he introduce? The Gospel. And who was Melchizedek? A man that blessed Abraham we are told, and to whom Abraham paid tithes of all that he possessed; and Paul tells us that, “Verily the less is blessed of the greater,” and this Melchizedek was greater than Abraham was, although Abraham was the father of the faithful. What kind of a thing did Jesus introduce when he came? He introduced the Gospel; he had the Priesthood after the order of Melchizedek. What did Melchizedek have? Why, the Priesthood after the order of the Son of God, if you please. If Christ’s Priesthood was after his order, the Melchizedek Priesthood must be after the order of the Son of God. And if Christ introduced the Gospel, Melchizedek had the Gospel, and Melchizedek blessed Abraham, and he had the Gospel preached to him, so says the Bible that the Christians profess to believe in.
Well, then, if this has been the way of God’s dealing with the human family in all ages, it would seem that he would continue to deal with men on the same principle now.
John the Revelator speaks of a time when “an angel should fly in the midst of heaven, having the everlasting Gospel to preach to those who dwell on the face of the earth, and to every nation, kindred, tongue and people, crying with a loud voice, Fear God and give glory to him, for the hour of his judgment is come.” Who was it that saw this? Why John, on the Isle of Patmos. But didn’t he have the Gospel? Yes. But he saw that a certain power would arise that would make war against the Saints and overcome them, that they should be given into the hands of this power to a certain time. Then he tells us afterwards that, after all these events should have transpired, and all the apostasy and the rising of “Mystery, Babylon,” the “Mother of Harlots,” and the abominations that should exist on the face of the earth, says he, “I saw another angel flying in the midst of heaven having the everlasting Gospel to preach to them that dwell on the face of the earth.” What do you mean by the everlasting Gospel? Why, the same Gospel that Jesus taught, the same Gospel that Abraham, Moses, Enoch and Adam had—that everlasting, eternal, unchangeable principle that brings men into relationship with their God, unveils the heavens and the purposes of God to the human family, and leads them in the paths of life. “I saw another angel flying through the midst of heaven having the everlasting gospel to preach unto those who dwell on earth, to every nation, kindred, tongue and people, crying with a loud voice, Fear God, and give glory to him; for the hour of his judgment is come: and worship him that made the heaven, the earth, the seas, and the fountains of waters.” This was the declaration of John.
Now, then, an event like this was to transpire; the everlasting Gospel was again to be introduced to man upon the earth. Joseph Smith came forward telling us that an angel had administered to him, and had revealed unto him the principles of the Gospel as they existed in former days, and that God was going to set his hand to work in these last days to accomplish his purposes and build up his kingdom, to introduce correct principles, to overturn error, evil, and corruption, and to establish his Church and kingdom upon the earth. I have heard him talk about these things myself. I have heard him tell over and over again, to myself and others, the circumstances pertaining to these visions and the various ministrations of angels, and the development of the purposes of God towards the human family. And what does he do? Bring us something different? Yes, in many respects, but not different in regard to our connection with God. Different as regards the age in which we live and the circumstances with which he was surrounded, but not different as it regards bringing men to a knowledge of God. He taught precisely the same principles and doctrine and ordinances that were taught by Jesus and his disciples in their day. He organized Apostles; he had Prophets in his Church. He told them that inasmuch as they would do right and keep his commandments, they should have the gift of the Holy Ghost. He led them forth and baptized them, just as John and the disciples of Jesus did. He baptized them in the name of Jesus for the remission of their sins, and told them they should receive the Holy Ghost. He organized his Church precisely upon those principles; but it was a different dispensation—“the dispensation of the fulness of times, when God would gather together all things in one,” prophesied of by Paul; when his people should be gathered, as the Scriptures say, from the east, the west, the north and the south; when he would take “one of a city and two of a family and bring them to Zion and give them pastors after his own heart, that could feed them with knowledge and understanding.” It was a dispensation to prepare the people for the events that should transpire on the face of the earth, that they might no longer be led astray by the cunning craftiness of men whereby they lie in wait to deceive, but be led by the spirit of revelation and brought into communication with God. Hence the people that I see before me today—the major part of this congregation and the people that inhabit this Territory, have been brought together under these auspices, by the preaching of the everlasting Gospel, by being baptized in the name of Jesus for the remission of sins, having hands laid on them for the reception of the Holy Ghost; and they have received of that Spirit, and they know for themselves of the truth that they have received, and consequently they cannot be twisted about by every wind of doctrine. They know and appreciate the truths they have received, and they have faith in God, for the Gospel they have obeyed leads them to a knowledge of God, whom to know is life everlasting.
Now this is the position; it is just the same as they had in former days. The Gospel that they had in any age of the world was to lead men to God; the Gospel that we have, and that we have taught to you, is to lead you to God, to righteousness, to virtue, purity, integrity, to honor, to revelation, to a knowledge of the ways of God, and of his purposes pertaining to you and your families, to your progenitors and your posterity; pertaining to this world and that which is to come. It is a revelation adapted peculiarly to the position that we occupy in these last days. How very remarkable many Scriptures are on these points, “I will take one of a city and two of a family.” And what will you do with them? “I will bring them to Zion.” And what will you do with them there? “I will give them pastors after my own heart that shall feed them with knowledge and understanding.” Not with theories, ideas and uncertainties; not with the dogmas of men, but with the knowledge of God, with revelation, with an understanding of the principles of eternal truth. And this is why we are assembled here as we are on the present occasion. What shall we do then? We will live our religion and keep the commandments of God. Cultivate the spirit of revelation that you have then, as the Scriptures said formerly, “As many as are led by the Spirit of God are the sons of God.” Another passage, in speaking of certain individuals, tells them that they have received an unction from the Holy One, and they know all things, being instructed and taught by the Spirit of eternal truth. This is what the Bible speaks of in former times. “And ye need not,” says he, “that any man should teach you, save the Anointing that is within you, which is true and no lie.” Let men feel the anointing of the Spirit of the Lord and that Spirit will lead them into all truth, will bring things past to their remembrance and it will show them things to come, as it did in former times.
I remember Joseph Smith speaking to me upwards of thirty years ago. Says he: “Brother Taylor, you have received the Holy Ghost. Now follow its teachings and instructions. Sometimes it may lead you in a manner that may be contrary al– most to your judgment; never mind, follow its teachings, and if you do so, by and by it will become in you a principle of revelation, so that you will know all things as they transpire.”
How does that agree with the other—“You have received an unction from the Holy One and know all things, and need not that any man should teach you, save the Anointing which is within you, which is true and no lie?”
We have been taught and instructed in many principles that the world know nothing about, and that we know nothing about, and that Brother Young knew nothing about, nor Brother Joseph, nor the Twelve, that nobody knew anything about until God communicated it; and you, under the influence of that Spirit, know of a truth and rejoice in the truth, and the truth has made you free; and when you hear men talking about how bad they feel for you because of your fanaticism, what do you feel like? Say you; “Poor things, you do not know what you are doing.” Preserve your pity for yourselves and your children; keep your high, exalted notions, if you have any, for we are satisfied with ourselves and our principles. We know in whom we have believed, and no power can overturn us. We have been baptized into one baptism, we have partaken of the same spirit; we are all built up together in the faith of the everlasting Gospel, and our progress is onward, onward, onward, until the kingdoms of this world shall become the kingdoms of our God and his Christ, and he will reign with universal empire, until error and folly, and vanity and corruption, and wickedness of every kind will fail and dissolve before the rays of eternal truth which God has revealed, and in which he will continue to reveal, until the Kingdom of God shall prevail and extend throughout the wide world. We are happy we live, and we rejoice in the blessings that we have received, and we pray our Heavenly Father to keep us faithful.
I will tell you the only thing I am afraid of about the Saints is that they will forget their God and that they will not live their religion; then again I have not that fear, because I know the generality of them will. I know this kingdom will not be given into the hands of another people. I know that it will continue to progress and continue to increase in spite of all the powers of the adversary, in spite of every influence that exists now, or that ever will exist on the face of this wide earth. God is our God, and he will bring off Israel triumphant.
May God help us to be faithful and to keep his commandments, in the name of Jesus, Amen.