Prophecies Relating to Our Day—Apostasy Foretold—God’s Work Reestablished—Restoration of the Gospel—Modern Revelation Opposed By Preachers—Unwarranted in Declaring that the Canon of Scripture is Full—Man By Searching Cannot Find Out God—But One True Gospel—Effect of the Gospel in the Days of the Apostles—How the Gospel Was Restored—How It is Being Preached—A Gathering Dispensation—Opposition to the Work of God—Destiny Before the Saints

Discourse by Elder Chas. W. Penrose, delivered in the Tabernacle, Salt Lake City, May 18th, 1883.

We are living in the latter days, at a time which all the prophets of God, who lived upon the earth in former times looked forward to with anticipation. The servants of God whose writings have been handed down to us in the book called the Bible, were all blessed in their day and generation with some foresight in regard to the last great dispensation of God’s mercy to man. The Spirit of God opened up to them views concerning the great latter-day work, which God should perform, in which He would consummate His purposes, in which He would perfect His work, in regard to the people of this earth. And they were strengthened in the performance of the duties devolving upon them by glimpses of the latter-day glory. They were called to pass through very trying circumstances. As the Apostle Paul says: “They were stoned, they were sawn asunder, were tempted, were slain with the sword: they wandered about in sheepskins and goatskins; being destitute, afflicted, tormented; they wandered in deserts, and in mountains, and in dens and caves of the earth.” Generally speaking, the prophets of God were rejected by the majority of the children of men. By the spirit of prophecy which rested upon them, they could perceive how small would be the impressions which they would be able to make upon the people who lived in their day, and they saw also that although they might be able to accomplish some good in the name of the Lord, yet the adversary would come in like a flood, so to speak, and overwhelm the influences which they were able to bring to bear. They saw that the work which they were engaged in could not continue, but for a little while. But they looked down to the last days when the kingdom of God should be established on the earth, when it should not be prevailed against nor be overcome, but should remain and continue to grow and increase and spread forth, until its influence should extend to the uttermost parts of the earth, until all things should be subdued unto the Lord, until the wicked should be destroyed, until misrule and tyranny and oppression and falsehood and false doctrine and the powers of evil should be banished from the earth, and the light of God should stream forth to lighten every land, and the kingdoms of this world would become the kingdoms of our God and His Christ, and He should rule from pole to pole and from shore to shore. In this they rejoiced exceedingly, and they were encouraged to perform the work entrusted to them, by the foresight that God gave to them of the great latter-day work. The Apostle Paul referred to this dispensation in these words: “Having made known to us the mystery of his will, according to his good pleasure, which he hath purposed in himself: That in the dispensation of the fulness of times he might gather together in one all things in Christ, both which are in heaven, and which are on earth.” By this we see that the Apostle Paul—and he was imbued with the same spirit and understanding as his brethren of the Apostleship—looked forward to another dispensation than that in which they labored, which is generally called the Christian dispensation, because it was introduced by Jesus who was the Christ. Paul called the dispensation that was to come after His day, “the dispensation of the fulness of times,” and declared in that dispen sation God would gather together in one all things in Christ; not only the things in the earth, but also the things in the heavens—they should all be gathered together in one.

Now, the Apostle Paul, and others in his time—like those ancient prophets to whom I have referred—had the understanding that the work in which he was engaged, although it would accomplish that whereunto it was sent, would only make its impression for a time and for a season; that the time would come when darkness would come in again; when false doctrine would prevail; when the servants of God would be taken from the earth and false prophets and false teachers would arise who would, (to use the Apostle Peter’s own words) “bring in damnable heresies;” who would turn away the hearts of the people from the truth. The Apostles saw that the time would come when the people would be “heady and high-minded, lovers of pleasure more than lovers of God, having a form of godliness but denying the power thereof;” when false teachers would arise and “make merchandise of the souls of men, even denying the Lord that bought them, and bring upon themselves swift destruction,” “and many,” we are told, “shall follow their pernicious ways; by reason of whom the way of truth shall be evil spoken of.” John, the beloved disciple, wrote a glorious vision that God gave to him when he was upon the Isle of Patmos, being banished there for the word of God and the testimony of Jesus, and in that vision the Lord showed to him that a spurious church should arise which would have influence over all the earth. It was pictured to him in the form of a woman sitting upon a scarlet colored beast, full of names of blasphemy, and upon her forehead a name written, “Mystery, Babylon the Great, the mother of Harlots.” And he saw that she held in her hand a golden cup full of abominations and filthiness of her fornication, and he beheld that all nations were made drunk with the wine that was in that golden cup. It was not merely to be partaken of by a few, but by all nations. He also saw that the time should come—foreseen by Isaiah the prophet—“When darkness shall cover the earth and gross darkness the people.” When Jesus was upon the earth He told His disciples that the time would come when false Christs and false prophets would arise, and when because of the iniquity that should abound, the love of many would wax cold. And we find by searching both the Old and New Testaments that the prophets of God who lived in former times and had dispensations committed unto them, saw that the time would come when the work which they performed would seem to be lost from the earth; apostasy would ensue; people would go after other Gods; they would transgress the laws, change the ordinances, and break the everlasting covenant. But the ancient prophets had a glimpse of what God would do in the latter days. They saw the time when He would establish His work in the earth no more to be thrown down forever; when He would establish His kingdom not to be left to another people, not to be overcome, not to be trampled under foot, but to arise and shine and the light thereof go forth to all the world, that kings might come to its light and the Gentiles to the brightness of its rising.

Now, my brethren and sisters, we are blessed with the privilege of living upon the earth in the latter days, in the time to which all the prophets looked forward with pleasure, with rejoicing and with thanksgiving; the time just preceding the coming of the Son of man, not as the babe of Bethlehem, not to be born in a stable and cradled in a manger, not to be “despised and rejected of men, a man of sorrows and acquainted with grief,” not to be lifted up on the cross and His life’s blood poured out because of the wickedness of men, but as King of Kings and Lord of Lords; to come vested with all power on the earth and in the heavens; to “sit upon the throne of His father David,” and to “reign from the rivers even unto the ends of the earth;” to subdue all things unto himself; to abolish wickedness, to banish evil, to bind Satan and his hosts, and to fill the earth with light and glory and the power of God; that the lion and the lamb may dwell together; that enmity may depart between man and man, and between man and beast; that nation may not lift up sword against nation, and that people may study the art of war no more; but that peace may be ushered in, and that the power of God and the Spirit of God may be poured out upon all flesh, and all nations be influenced thereby. We are living upon the earth in the time preceding these great events—in the latter days, in the last dispensation.

The question may arise, is this great dispensation which the prophets foresaw, and which Paul spoke of, already ushered in? Has the dispensation of the fullness of times been introduced for the benefit of the children of men? Or are we still under the old dispensation opened up by the Savior and carried on for a time by the Apostles? That is a serious question, though if left to the Latter-day Saints to answer, one that would be settled in a very short time; for go where you might in this Territory, and ask the Latter-day Saints concerning it, and they would answer, “I know the dispensation of the fullness of times is ushered in; I do not merely believe it, but I know it as well as I know that I live.” And if you were to ask them how they know it, they would answer, “By the revelations of the Holy Ghost.” They would tell you they know that God has again spoken from the heavens, that angels have descended from the courts of glory and communicated with man, and that through the direct agency of divine and holy beings, this great and last dispensation of God’s mercy to man has been opened up. They would tell you further, that they know it will remain and prevail; that all that has been designed must be accomplished under its auspices; and the work which has been begun must continue and grow—because it is the work of God—even until the whole earth is subdued unto Him, and all things are prepared for the coming of Him whose right it is to reign; and that no man or nation or government or influence or society, or all combined, can have the slightest influence or power to stop its onward spread.

It would be interesting perhaps to consider how the dispensation of the fullness of times was to be opened up. We read that the works of God are one eternal round, “He is the same yesterday, today, and forever;” without variableness or any change whatever. As He acted in ancient times, then, so may we expect Him to act in latter times. That if He has a work to perform amongst men, He will commence and carry it out in the same way that He did formerly. Whenever darkness has covered the face of the earth, and the people have gone astray, we find, by reading the Bible, that God spoke from the heavens, that He sent heavenly messengers to some man or men whom He, not the people, chose, to whom He communicated His mind and will, and whom He authorized to preach to the rest. They went with “the burden of the word of the Lord,” they did not go forth preaching for doctrine the commandments of men. They did not aim to please the eyes or the ears of the people. They did not as a general thing possess much learning; in fact, they were to some extent ignorant, that is, they were not versed in the learning of the world. “Not many wise men after the flesh, not many mighty, not many noble, are called: But God hath chosen the foolish things of the earth to confound the things which are mighty.” But have we any intimation in the Scriptures that God would act like that in the last days? If we had not, we might reason from what He has done to what He will do. But we have any amount of testimony in the Scriptures, written in both Testaments, as to what He will do in the last days. In the first place we read that, “God will do nothing except he reveals his secret to his servants the prophets.” And we are told in the revelation from which I quoted concerning the general apostasy, when all nations shall become drunken from drinking the contents of that golden cup in the hands of the mother of abominations, an angel should come and bring to the earth again the everlasting Gospel. You will find what I refer to in the 14th Chapter of Revelation, and the 6th and 7th verses. John says. “And I saw another angel fly in the midst of heaven, having the ever lasting gospel to preach unto them that dwell on the earth, and to every nation, and kindred, and tongue and people, Saying with a loud voice, Fear God, and give glory to him; for the hour of his judgment is come: and worship him that made heaven, and earth, and the sea, and the fountains of waters.” And after this he declares that there followed another angel, saying, “Babylon is fallen, is fallen, that great city, because she made all nations drink of the wine of the wrath of her fornication.”

Some one may enquire, Did the things that John saw in the vision signify events that had taken place already, or were they to take place in the future? That can be easily settled by reading the 1st verse of the 4th chapter of that book, which reads as follows: “After this I looked, and, behold, a door was opened in heaven: and the first voice which I heard was as it were of a trumpet talking with me; which said, Come up hither, and I will shew thee things which must be hereafter.” And in the 14th Chapter he says that he saw another angel flying in the midst of heaven “having the everlasting gospel to preach unto them that dwell on the earth, and to every nation, and kindred, and tongue, and people.” So this Gospel that John saw the angel bringing to earth was for the benefit of generations to come, for the Christians as well as those who are termed the heathen. We who are styled “Christians” are in the habit of calling all other nations heathen; I am inclined to believe that there are a great many people who are “Christian” heathen.

This revelation that was given to John will seem very strange to a great many people, who are under the impression that the everlasting Gospel has been upon the earth ever since it was taught by Jesus Christ and His Apostles. But if that were so, what need would there be for the Lord to send an angel with it. As I before explained, John saw the time when the whole earth would be under the influence of that wicked power which he saw sitting on a scarlet colored beast, and out of the cup which she held in her hand, all nations were to drink—not merely the heathen nations, but all the nations of the earth without exception. I am well aware that this will not sit very comfortably on the bosoms of some of our Christian friends. But what we are after, or should be after, is truth; and we should be desirous to obtain the truth notwithstanding that it may come in contact with our preconceived notions. John saw that the whole earth would go astray; and all the Apostles spoke more or less of the time when people would depart from the Church, when they would “not endure sound doctrine; but after their own lusts they would heap to themselves teachers, having itching ears;” and says the Apostle, “they shall turn away their ears from the truth, and shall be turned unto fables;” their teachers shall “preach for doctrines the commandments of men;” and the Apostle might have added, that if they did not preach to suit the people, they would discharge them and hire others. The time was to come when “darkness would cover the earth, and gross darkness the people,” but preceding the destruction of Babylon the great archangel was to come to earth with the everlasting gospel to preach to all nations; and the burden of his message was to call upon the people with a loud voice, saying, “Fear God, and give glory to him; for the hour of his judgment is come: and worship him that made heaven, and earth, and the sea, and the fountains of waters,” signifying that the people had gone astray and were worshiping some other god or gods.

It is the general view that after the days of Jesus and the Apostles there were to be no more angels to visit the earth. This has been taught to the people diligently. What for? Because the men who teach this doctrine do not receive any visitations from heaven themselves. They have no communication with the powers on high. The heavens to them are indeed as brass. They pray, but they do not expect to receive any answer to their prayers, except in some mystical fashion which neither they nor anybody else can understand. They do not expect to receive answers to their prayers as the prophets of old did. And they have taught the people for hundreds of years that there is to be no more communications from heaven. And why? Because they pretend to greater light; because they claim to live in an age of gospel blaze, and Christianity, as they term it, has attained such a high standard of excellence that they need no divine revelation. And yet when you investigate their condition, you will find they do not comprehend the Gospel; they differ amongst themselves, they contend with each other even on fundamental principles. They have no positive knowledge in regard to the things of God. Some of the clergy teach what they believe, and others teach what they do not believe, being infidel at heart. It is true there have been sincere men who have labored for the benefit of humanity, and who have done a great deal of good; and they will be re warded by the Almighty for all the good they have accomplished. But wherein they have presumed to minister in the name of the Lord when He never authorized them to act for Him, they have run before they were sent, and will have to answer to Him for their presumption. Wherein men have administered in the name of the Father, and the Son, and the Holy Ghost, and at the same time acknowledge that they have had no communication with those higher powers, declaring that the Holy Trinity has ceased to speak to men, they show by their own words and make actual confession that they have no authority. They could not possibly have any, because there has been no communication from those individuals who alone had the right to give it, and wherein they have presumed to act in the name of the Father, and the Son, and the Holy Ghost without authority, they must give an account when they appear before the bar of God. But the ministers who have preached religion for hundreds of years have no definite knowledge in regard to these matters and have to tell what they think and what their opinions are, and they disagree with each other in regard to their opinions. Yet they tell the people there is no need now for any revelation from on high; that there is no need for angels to come to the earth and make plain the way of life and salvation, because, forsooth, they know so much. The canon of Scripture they say is full; and God ceased to speak after He gave that revelation to John on the Isle of Patmos.

“Well,” someone perhaps will say, “does not the book itself say so?” No, it does not, but these ministers have taught that it does. In the last chapter of the Book of Revelation are we not told that, “if any man shall add unto these things, God shall add unto him the plagues that are written in this book?” Yes; but we are also told that, “if any man shall take away the words of the book of this prophecy, God shall take away his part out of the book of life, and out of the holy city, and from the things which are written in this book.” The angel merely told John what God told His servants in former times, that when He gave a revelation, man should not add to it. He told the same thing to Moses—“Ye shall not add unto the word which I command you, neither shall ye diminish ought from it.” That is quite right. But man is prone to do that which is forbidden. When God reveals anything, someone is sure to add to or take away from it, and try to “improve” it or make it void. Hence the angel told John that no man was to take away from the words of the book of this prophecy. What book? The book that John was writing—the Book of Revelation. It does not refer at all to the Bible. There was no such book as the Bible then. Those books that are now compiled in the Bible—and a great many more that are not there—were scattered abroad, and hundreds of years after that, they were hunted up and examined; those that we now have were selected from a great mass of manuscripts and compiled; others were thrown away as non-canonical. The canon of Scripture was not made up by John, but was made up in the way I have described; and there is no intimation anywhere from God to man that He would give no more revelations; but the whole Bible from beginning to end proves the contrary. We are told to fear God and work righteousness, and call upon His Holy name and He will be nigh to answer, “Ask and ye shall receive, seek and ye shall find, knock and the door shall be opened unto you; for everyone that seeketh findeth,” etc. That is the word of the Lord. It does not say that God would not give any more revelation; but it does say that man shall not add to that which God does give. In that very revelation we are told that an angel came to John and gave him a little book and told him to eat it. He ate the book as he was told. Then the angel said to him in explanation: “Thou must prophesy again before many people, and nations, and tongues, and kings.” If John was to prophesy to nations, and people, and before kings, would not that be the word of the Lord? Yes, just as much as that which he wrote in the book. So it does not follow that there was not to be any more revelation. The injunction is that man shall not add to or take from any revelation that God gives, and that has been a standing rule in all generations.

But if this passage in the last chapter of the Book of Revelation could be so construed as to make it appear that there was to be no more revelation, such a construction would conflict with what we find in the 14th chapter of Revelation to the effect that an angel was to come “having the everlasting gospel to preach unto them that dwell on the earth, and to every nation and kindred, and tongue, and people.” And if we turn back to the writings of the old prophets we find that they looked forward to the time in which you and I live; to the time when this work should be consummated; to the time when no one should need to say, “Know ye the Lord: for they shall all know Him even from the least unto the greatest of them.” Why? Because “they shall all be taught of God.” They looked forward to the time when “the Spirit of God shall be poured out upon all flesh;” so that all mankind shall feel the influence and be brought into union and harmony and communion with the Great God, the author of their being. That spirit will measurably rest down upon the brute creation. “The lion and the lamb will dwell together, and the little child shall play on the hole of the asp, and the weaned child shall put his hand on the cockatrice den.” The earth itself shall feel the influence of that divine spirit, and cease to bring forth thorns and briars, and in the place thereof “shall spring up the fig and the myrtle tree;” and “the earth shall be full of the knowledge of God, as the waters cover the sea.”

How can man know God without revelation from God? “Man by searching cannot find out God.” Wise men have been seeking to find out the secret of Deity for hundreds of years, and the more they study, the more they ponder, the less they know about Him. God is not to be found out in that way. Man cannot find out God, but God can manifest Himself to man. The only way that the Lord can be made manifest to man is by revelation. Jesus Christ thanked His Father, when he was praying, that God had “kept those things hid from the wise and prudent and revealed them unto babes.” “Even so, Father:” said He, “for thus it seemed good in thy sight. And no man knoweth the Son, but the Father, neither knoweth any man the Father, save the Son, and he to whomsoever the Son will reveal Him.” That is the only way.

Now, according to the Scripture I have quoted to you, an angel was to come to the earth and bring back the Gospel!—the Gospel that had been lost, the everlasting Gospel, the Gospel preached by Jesus and His disciples, the Gospel preached of old; for we read that it was preached to Abraham, and that it was preached to the Jews before the law of carnal commandments was given, and then God gave them a lesser law because they would not receive the greater. When Jesus appeared He merely came to bring to the earth that which was lost. He came to restore the Gospel that was preached in the beginning to the patriarchs, that was believed in by Abraham, and by receiving which he was able to commune with the Father, who called him His friend, and who said: “Shall I hide from Abraham that thing which I do; seeing that Abraham shall surely become a great and mighty nation, and all the nations of the earth shall be blessed in him? For I know him, that he will command his children and his household after him, and they shall keep the way of the Lord.” So we read in the 18th chapter of Genesis. The same Gospel that Abraham received; the Gospel preached to the people before Abraham’s day; the Gospel preached to the Jews before the law of carnal commandments was given; the Gospel Jesus and His disciples preached, and of which John the Baptist came as the forerunner, baptizing people for the remission of their sins in the river Jordan—that same Gospel has been restored in the day in which we live. There is but one everlasting Gospel. There are a great many so called gospels that men have made, but they are not the true, everlasting Gospel; for as the Apostle Paul says: “though we, or an angel from heaven, preach any other gospel unto you than that which we have preached unto you, let him be accursed.” There is but one straight path to the celestial city. There is but one gate into the kingdom of God, and “he that tries to climb up some other way will be accounted a thief and a robber.” So said Jesus. This everlasting Gospel then was to be brought to the earth by an angel, and was to be preached to every nation, kindred, tongue, and people.

Now, when Jesus, the Son of God, was upon the earth, after His resurrection from the dead He appeared to His eleven Apostles—for one had apostatized, having sold his Master for a few pieces of silver—and gave them a commission. He said: “Go ye into all the world and preach the gospel to every creature. He that believeth and is baptized shall be saved; but he that believeth not shall be damned. And these signs shall follow them that believe; In my name shall they cast out devils; they shall speak with new tongues; They shall take up serpents; and if they drink any deadly thing, it shall not hurt them: they shall lay hands on the sick, and they shall recover.” And the disciples went forth according to His word and preached, and God confirmed the word with signs following. Wherever they went they preached this one Gospel, and God blessed those that received their testimony. The Holy Ghost accompanied their preaching, and bore witness to the hearts of the people, and all who obeyed the Gospel were made of one heart and one mind—Greeks, Romans, Jews and Gentiles, bond and free, Pharisees, Sadducees, Essenes, Herodians, etc., people from all the various sects, and some that did not belong to any sect, infidels also, when they ac cepted the testimony of the Apostles and were baptized, and had hands laid upon them, received the Holy Ghost, and were made of one heart and one mind; they had one Lord, one faith, one baptism, one hope of their calling. And we read in the New Testament that when they met in their assemblies one would speak in tongues, another would interpret, another would prophesy, etc. The Lord poured out His Spirit upon the people and gave them visible manifestations of His power, in addition to the inspiration of the Holy Ghost which made them all see and comprehend alike, and which bore witness to the divine mission of Christ and to the mission of the Apostles whom He had sent forth. These signs were seen in their midst, which comforted and made them strong. But after a time the people began to go astray. Wicked men took the Apostles and put them to death. Some were cast unto wild beasts; some were thrown into caldrons of boiling oil; some were crucified; others were tormented in various ways, persecuted and afflicted and slain. Then others began to depart from the faith, bringing in damnable heresies. Others began to preach for hire and divine for money, making merchandise of the souls of men. And thus the apostasy went on until darkness covered the minds of the people, and paganism was introduced into the Christian church. And the time came when that wicked power spoken of in the Revelation overcame the saints. The Spirit of God left the polluted church. The body became dead. Just as when the spirit of man leaves his body, the carcass begins to crumble; every particle seems desirous to get away from every other particle. So it was after the time that the Apostles fell. The Holy Ghost left the church. The spirit of revelation departed from the body and dissolution set in. Darkness ensued. Apostasy prevailed. In one of the homilies of the Church of England it is declared that: “Clergy and laity, men, women and children, of all ages, sects and degrees of whole Christendom (a most horrible and dreadful thing to think) have at once been buried in the most abominable idolatry, and that for the space of 800 years or more.” This was because there had been no Holy Ghost in the church, no revelation from heaven, no real communion with the powers on high. Instead of true worship there was idolatry. People had gone into darkness, and it had covered the earth—all nations and sects and parties, “clergy and laity, men, women and children of whole Christendom.” From that time to the present, sect has multiplied upon sect, and creed upon creed, but there has been no uniting power. The Holy Ghost not being in the church, the body has been segregated, every part separating from other parts, like the toes which Daniel saw composed part of iron and part of clay, the one refusing to mingle with the other.

In this generation came forth a young man bearing the testimony that the Lord had sent an angel from heaven to reveal the everlasting Gospel; and he bore testimony that the angel had appeared to him, and conversed with him in a heavenly vision. And he testified further that a servant of God who had once lived upon the earth, who was no less a personage than John the Baptist, had come to him and ordained him and Oliver Cowdery to the lesser Priesthood; that he had come as a forerunner of Christ, that the way might be prepared for His second advent. He still further testified that Peter, James and John appeared to him and ordained him to the same Priesthood which they themselves held, namely, the higher or Melchizedek Priesthood, committing unto him the Keys of the Apostleship and of the dispensation of the fullness of times, the dispensation when all things are to be gathered together in one, including the gathering of Israel, and the bringing back of the lost ten tribes, and the gathering of the elect of God from the four quarters of the earth, that they may be assembled in holy places so that they may not be moved when the judgments of the latter days are poured out, and that they may be prepared for the building up of the latter-day kingdom. It was very easy for the young man to say this, but what evidence is there to substantiate the truth of his assertion? The evidence is here. This young man claimed to hold this divine authority to preach the same Gospel that Jesus preached, promising the same testimony, the same signs and the same power that attended the ministrations of the servants of God in olden times. Now, an impostor could bear testimony that he received this communication, but an impostor could not draw down the Holy Ghost upon the people; an impostor could not open the heavens; an impostor could not cause these blessings and signs to come, convincing believers of the divinity of the work which he represented.

The facts are these: People began to believe in his testimony because they found that he taught the same doctrines as those contained in the Scriptures; some went forth and were baptized. And upon all that yielded obedience to the require ments of the Gospel he laid his hands, and the Holy Ghost descended upon them. Some received visions; some received the gift of healing, and others the gift of prophesying, etc.—the same powers which were enjoyed by the primitive Church were enjoyed by the Church established by the inspiration of God, through Joseph Smith, the Prophet and Seer of the 19th Century. He, under the divine command, ordained men to go forth and preach this Gospel. Some went to England, some to Scotland, some to Wales, others to France, to Germany and Scandinavia, and to different parts of Europe, while others preached extensively through this nation; and wherever they went and the people believed their testimony and were baptized for the remission of their sins, and submitted to the laying on of hands for the reception of the Holy Ghost, they all bore testimony that God Almighty had revealed to them by the gift and power of the Holy Ghost, that He had in very deed sent his angel from heaven and opened up the dispensation of the fullness of times.

Here we have a people dwelling in these mountain valleys who have been gathered from the different nations under this influence. Our Elders go out, not to entice the people to leave their homes; they do not go as “emigration agents,” as some people allege they do, but they go to preach the everlasting Gospel, and they do it as did the ancient servants of God; they are not paid for preaching, but they pay their own way, as a general thing, to their fields of labor, and then travel “without purse or scrip.” I have traveled extensively myself, as have many of the men within my hearing, without purse or scrip preaching the Gospel of Christ; and wherever the people received my testimony I baptized them and laid hands upon them, and they testified that the Holy Ghost came upon them, the gifts of that spirit were bestowed, and the sick were healed, in many instances instantaneously, by the power of God. I speak of this, not as a personal matter, but because this is the universal testimony of my brethren, wherever they have been sent among all nations.

This is not the work of man; it is the work of God, and it is God that bears witness to it. This is why this people are here. They have not come for gold or silver; they have not come simply to better their temporal circumstances; but they have gathered here “as the elect of God,” the voice of God having gone forth in connection with this Gospel. “Come out of her, my people, that ye be not partakers of her sins, and that ye receive not of her plagues; for her sins have reached unto heaven, and God hath remembered her iniquities.” And the time is nigh at hand when the other angel will proclaim, “Babylon the great is fallen, is fallen.” This is the time that Jesus said His angels should go forth to gather His elect from the four winds, previous to His coming. And said He, “then shall this gospel of the kingdom be preached in all the world for a witness unto all nations, and then shall the end come.” The testimony of our Elders who go forth is that this is “the gospel of the kingdom,” and this is “the dispensation of the fullness of times;” and that the period has come for the establishment of the latter-day kingdom; when the people of God shall be gathered from the four winds previous to the destruction of the wicked, the breaking up of the kingdoms of this world, as Daniel saw them in his vision, that they may pass away and be found no more, and that “the kingdoms of this world may become the kingdom of our God and his Christ.”

The people who dwell in these mountain valleys labor to build up homes, to redeem the land and make it a desirable place to live in; but they are here chiefly, and as their primary object, to serve God and learn of Him. They are here in fulfillment of predictions made by Micah, Isaiah and Daniel. Isaiah declared, “It shall come to pass in the last days that the mountain of the Lord’s house shall be established in the top of the mountains, and shall be exalted above the hills; and all nations shall flow unto it. And many people shall go and say, Come ye, and let us go up to the mountain of the Lord, to the house of the God of Jacob; and he will teach us of his ways, and we will walk in his paths,” etc. The prophecies of these ancient men of God are being fulfilled literally; and this people called Latter-day Saints have come here to learn of the ways of the Lord. They learned something of his ways in the lands where they were born, and the word tasted sweet to their souls; communion was opened up between them and the heavens, and they received a testimony for themselves. They did not have to depend upon the testimony of Joseph Smith, or of Brigham Young, or of John Taylor, or of the Apostles whom God has called in our day, but they obtained one for themselves. They were all baptized with one spirit into one body, and all received of the same influence; all obtained a similar testimony; and the gifts and graces of the everlasting Gospel are enjoyed by them, according to their several faiths and desires for God and the truth. This, therefore, is the beginning of the great latter-day work, the restoration of the Gospel, the opening up of the dispensation of the fulness of times. The work now is to gather the Saints of God. First of all the Gospel is to be preached to the Gentiles and then to the Jews. “The fulness of the Gentiles” has not yet “Come in,” but the time is close at hand when it will come in. After that the Lord will say, “Turn ye to the Jews also.” The servants of God are going out among the Gentile nations preaching the Gospel of the kingdom, and bearing testimony that it is His cause; not preaching what they think, or giving expression to any opinions they may have formed, but from knowledge of the will of God through the testimony of Jesus, which is the spirit of prophecy which they obtained by bowing in obedience to the ordinances of the Gospel. They know what they preach. They do not go out with the “enticing words of man’s wisdom,” but to preach the everlasting Gospel as God has revealed it, as He has manifested it from on high. They are not sent to preach to please the popular ear, but to deliver in plainness, as the Spirit shall give them utterance, the message of salvation, whether the people believe it or not. And our missionaries find that the same spirit exists today that the servants of God had to meet and contend with anciently. The wicked oppose the message of truth they bear; and the most vehement opponents to it are those who profess the most piety. They have it in their hearts to destroy or bring trouble upon this people. Why? They do not know why themselves. It is because they shut their own hearts to the truth like the Pharisees of old, who made long prayers that they might be heard and seen of men, and not entering the kingdom themselves, they will not suffer those who would, to enter therein. They have the same spirit in their hearts that slew the prophets and put Christ to death. When our Elders go out, instead of meeting them with argument, these men stir up the people to oppose them by force. They have stirred up Congress to pass inimical laws to oppress the “Mormons,” to deprive them of the commonest rights of citizens, to take their leaders and put them to death. This is the spirit that has been arrayed against this Church from the beginning. Joseph Smith and Hyrum his brother, were slain in Carthage jail. What for? For the word of God and the testimony of Jesus; because they taught the truth as it came from God and claimed to have divine authority, to have received power from on high. They could not oppose the testimony of these men by truth, nor by Scripture, nor by argument, neither could they overcome them by law. But as the mob said that put these servants of God to death: “The law cannot touch them, but powder and ball shall.” This is the spirit by which the prophets of old were put to death. This is the spirit by which Christ was crucified on the cross. This is the spirit by which Peter was crucified head downward. This is the spirit by which others were thrown unto wild beasts and some were cast into caldrons of boiling oil. And this is the spirit that is exhibited in the latter times by some who claim to be ministers of the Gospel.

The work of gathering has commenced, then. That is part of the work of the dispensation of the fullness of times, the gathering of the people of God in one. The Saints of God will be gathered. The wicked may do what they please. They may pass laws; fulminate decrees; send circular letters to the governments abroad to prevent “Mormon” emigration; but as God lives and rules and reigns on high, this is His work and He will bring it about in His own way and time and there is no power on the earth that can thwart His purposes. His people will come from the east and gather from the west. The Lord will say to the north, “Give up; and to the south, Keep not back: bring my sons from afar, and my daughters from the ends of the earth.” And they will gather to Zion as the prophet foretold, and build up temples to the living God, that His ordinances may be performed therein, and that they may learn of His ways and walk in His paths. Then the Gospel, as I before remarked, will be preached to the Jews. The way is now being prepared for this. The work is moving on for the gathering of the Jews to their own land that they may build it up as it was in former times; that the temple may be rebuilt and the mosque of the Muslim which now stands in its place may be moved out of the way; that Jerusalem may be rebuilt upon its original site; that the way may be prepared for the coming of the Messiah, who shall be seen in the midst of those whose ancestors nailed him to the cross, and who, when they see the marks in His hands, shall say in answer to their inquiries, “These are the wounds with which I was wounded in the house of my friends.”

This is only a small part of the latter-day work that is to be performed. We are just in the beginning of it. The Gospel has to be preached. The Saints must be gathered. The ten tribes must be brought from the north. The Gospel must be preached to the Lamanites, those red men of the forest, who are a branch of the house of Israel, whose forefathers came from old Palestine to this continent. The Lord is working among them by visions and dreams and by the manifestations of His divine power. What else? Why we are building temples in this land. We have built one in St. George, and have others in course of construction in this city, in Logan, and in Manti. Some people say: “What are you spending so much money for in building temples? Why don’t you put it to better use?” People who talk thus do not understand our position. This is part of the work we have to perform. We have temples to build, that the Lord may reveal many more things to His people concerning this latter-day work, and we are building them according to the pattern He has revealed, that we may attend to ordinances that He has made manifest; ordinances for the living and also for the dead; that we may be baptized for our dead, so that the spirits who have been preached to in prison may be brought forth, and that ordinances they cannot perform for themselves in the spirit world may be performed for them here in the houses we are building. There are many more things connected with this great dispensation that I have no time to refer to—and would not if I had time—because they belong only to the people of God, to those who have entered into the everlasting covenant, to those who have received the Holy Ghost, and who understand the things of God; for “no man knoweth the things of God, but by the Spirit of God.” But this work will go on; the Saints will be gathered, and temples will be built, and Israel will be redeemed, and the kingdoms of this world will become more and more divided; and the sects and parties of Christendom will become more and more contentions even than they are today. Infidelity will increase, for the Spirit of God is being withdrawn from them, because they receive not the truth when it is presented to them. And nation will rise against nation, and kingdom against kingdom, and people against people. War will be poured out eventually upon all nations; the only place where there will be peace and safety will be in the Zion of God. The judgments we read of in the revelations will all be poured out just as the Prophets have predicted and just as John the beloved has declared. All the woes that John saw are bound to be poured out upon the inhabitants of the earth; every word will be fulfilled, not one jot or tittle will pass away without its fulfillment.

We are here in these mountains that we may escape these troubles; that we may not partake of the sins of Babylon, that we may not share in her plagues. God has called us out from the world that we may be different from the world; that the object we live for may be different from the object which men have in view in the world; that we may not live for worldly gain, but live for God, for humanity, for the spirit of the Gospel; live to gather Israel, live to build temples, live that we may attend to the ordinances pertaining to our own salvation and exaltation, and those that pertain to the salvation of our dead. That the word of God may be fulfilled; that His kingdom may be established upon the earth no more to be thrown down forever. That the light of God may go forth from Zion and His name be honored in all the earth, and that He may reign from pole to pole and from shore to shore forever and ever. Amen.

The Gospel Like Leaven—Labor Required of the Elders—Promises to Abraham—Honorable Men in the American Nation Formerly and Now—Liberty in Religion and the Elective Franchise Claimed As Rights—The Saints Cannot Afford to Do Wrong—Relationship to God—Exhortation

Discourse by President John Taylor, delivered in the Tabernacle, Salt Lake City, Sunday Afternoon, (Annual Conference) April 8th, 1883.

We have had a very interesting Conference, and a great many very excellent principles have been presented to the people. As I told the Priesthood last evening we are occupying a very peculiar position in the earth, a position that has not been of our own seeking. God has set His hand to accomplish His purposes upon the earth, and for this purpose He has revealed Himself from the heavens, as we have heard since this Conference commenced. In pursuance of this He has mani fested Himself and His Son Jesus Christ, and has restored the Holy Priesthood by and through the medium of a Priesthood, or various parts of a Priesthood that existed in former ages—those holding that everlasting Priesthood, which administers in time and in eternity, have been commissioned from the heavens to come to the earth to bring to pass the very things of which they themselves had prophesied. Although we are, comparatively speaking, a small people, few in number, yet as it was in the days of Jesus so it is today. The Gospel is like a little leaven put into a certain portion of meal, and it is working and operating, and the ultimate result will be that the whole lump will be leavened. Not that everybody that is in the world will obey the Gospel; but the Lord will have His own way in manipulating His affairs, and great tribulation will overtake the inhabitants of the earth. As you have heard, many of the wicked will slay the wicked; but after these things have taken place the good, the honorable, the virtuous, the pure, those that are desirous to serve God will all have their position, and that thing will be fulfilled which was spoken of by Jesus—“Blessed are the meek: for they shall inherit the earth.” The time will yet come when the Saints of the Most High will take the kingdom and hold dominion under the whole heavens. These are principles that are familiar to us all. In the meantime, however, many important events have to take place, and a great labor has to be performed, and will be performed by the agencies which have been introduced by the Lord, and which will be hereafter introduced by Him for the accomplishment of His purposes, and the bringing to pass of His righteous will. For this purpose the Holy Priesthood has been restored; for this purpose the message of life and salvation has been proclaimed to the nations of the earth; for this purpose after the reception of the Gospel, the people have been gathered together in order that the Lord might have a people who would be under the influence of His Holy Spirit. We have all been baptized by one baptism, and have all partaken of the same Spirit, and wherever these ordinances have been administered according to the order of God, and have been received by the faithful among the nations of the earth, these effects have always followed. I have been among the nations myself, and I have baptized people and confirmed them at least in three different languages, and the same spirit rested upon all of those different peoples, and so it is throughout all nations. The Lord has said he would gather together His elect from the four quarters of the earth. And how does He do it? By operating upon the minds of those who obey the Gospel. Jesus said in His day and it is true today—“My sheep hear my voice and know it, and follow me and a stranger they will not follow because they know not the voice of a stranger.” It is under the influence of this Spirit that we have been gathered together. We used to sing:

Whither shall we follow, follow, follow; Whither shall we follow, follow thee? All the way to Zion, all the way to Zion, All the way to Zion, We will follow thee.

What made you gather here? The impulse of the Spirit of the living God, and you could not keep away. We have representatives here from very many nations today. Here are Elders who have preached the Gospel in many nations. A few years ago we had some twenty-five nationalities represented at one of our public demonstrations. And thus our work is to go on and spread and increase. The Apostles, the Seventies, the Elders, and men who have received the light of truth, will spread forth that light to others of the family of God throughout the world. This is a labor resting upon the Elders of Israel, and until it is accomplished we shall not have fulfilled our mission here upon the earth. Then, again, we have other works to perform associated with the Church, with the Kingdom, and with the Zion of God. I think sometimes that we as a people are a good deal sectarian in our feelings, and it is necessary for us occasionally to look at the pit from whence we were dug, and the rock from whence we were hewn. We are all too ready to cry out, as the sectarians do in their different orders,

“The temple of the Lord, the temple of the Lord, The temple of the Lord are we.” And we are apt to forget sometimes the mission that God has placed upon us, which is a mission of mercy, a mission of light, a mission of intelligence, a mission that is calculated to elevate the world of mankind, even all those who will receive and obey it. It is not intended for us alone; it is intended for all men. Who are the world, and who are we? We say we are the children of God our Heavenly Father. That is true; we are the children of God our Heavenly Father. And is God our Father? The Scriptures say so. But what of the rest of the world—say of this nation, and all other nations—what of them? Whose children are they? They are also the children of our Heavenly Father, and He is interested in their welfare as He is in ours; and as a kind and beneficent father towards His children, He has been seeking from generation to generation to promote the welfare, the happiness, and the exaltation of the human family. And let me say here, that He is the fountain of life, the fountain of light, and the fountain of intelligence, as we used to say in the Church of England when I was a little boy, and I suppose they say so now; “it is He that hath made us, and not we ourselves; we are His people and the sheep of His pasture,” He provides for us. We sometimes talk about the hand of God being over us. Of course it is, and will be over us forever, if we will only serve Him, for He is always true. But His hand is over the nations of the earth also. He is interested in the welfare of this nation and all other nations and all other peoples as well as in our welfare. What was the greatest blessing conferred upon Abraham? One was that his seed should be numerous as the stars of heaven, and as the sand upon the seashore. I do not know that he would have got along very well in this land nowadays; they would have been after him for polygamy. People do not believe so much in these things now as they did formerly. Nevertheless, the Lord told him to take another wife; but, then, perhaps the Lord made a mistake, He had not studied modern Christianity; He was, to use the language of the advanced Christian, behind the times. But whatever may be thought or said about it, according to the record that has come down to us, He used to talk to people in that day.

But let me refer you to another blessing connected with Abraham, namely, that in him and his seed should all the nations of the earth be blessed. Or, in other words, that God would honor him by making of him and his seed agents through whom He would communicate truth, intelligence and salvation to the world. It is said “the glory of God is intelligence,” and He is desirous to impart this intelligence to the human family, that through it they may be exalted to the Godhead. Abraham’s posterity were to stand as messengers of God, as legates of the skies, commissioned of the great Jehovah to proclaim His word to fallen man, even to His children; for God has made, we are told, of one blood all the families of the earth, and has given unto them a portion of His Spirit, if haply they would feel after Him, although He is not far from any one of us. For in Him we live, and move, and have our being. And under the influence of His Spirit man has accomplished very much good; and today there are hosts of honorable, upright men who in their hearts fear God, but they have not yet found the right way. But in the providences of His mercy He has gathered a people from the nations that they may be taught and instructed in regard to the laws of life and salvation. And this has been brought about in fulfillment of ancient prophecy. Jeremiah, for instance, in referring to it said, that he would take them one of a city and two of a family, and bring them to Zion. And what was He to do with them when He should get them there? He would give them pastors after His own heart who should feed them with knowledge and understanding. And the same great event is referred to by other Prophets.

I was very much pleased with the remarks made by Brother Erastus Snow, with regard to our own nation, in which he said that it had been by and through the power of Almighty God, and in accordance with the words of the Lord as contained in the Book of Mormon, that the people were, in the first place, impelled to come here, and after coming here, to contend for human freedom upon this land; and it was by and through the power of God, that the fathers of this country framed the Declaration of Independence, and also that great palladium of human rights, the Constitution of the United States. There is nothing of the bigoted, narrow, contracted feeling about that instrument; it is broad and comprehensive. And they had a bell in Philadelphia, which I, and perhaps many of you have seen, upon which was written, “Proclaim liberty throughout the land, and to all the inhabitants thereof;” but I was sorry to see that the bell was cracked. I suppose it got cracked after the grand effort that was made to proclaim liberty throughout the land; and I have thought since that it has not been soldered up yet. But with all the weaknesses and imperfections associated with men, the government of this nation has been a great bulwark for human freedom, and I felt proud at the time when Mr. Edmunds, with his colleagues, introduced his bill, known as the Edmunds’ bill, that there was such a number of gentlemen who had the manhood and the moral courage to oppose it in the bold and manly way in which they did, showing plainly that they cherished in their bosoms the principles contained in the Constitution. I respect such men, and they command the respect and esteem of all honorable, right-thinking people. They could afford to render themselves unpopular in the eyes of religious bigots and fanatical politicians, but they could not afford to be amongst those that are ready to tear down the bulwarks of human freedom, and trail in the dust the flag of our country. They did not believe in our religion. Of course, that is a matter of their own, it is none of our business, neither is our religion any of their business, which they understand and appreciate. There are two things that I have felt very decided upon ever since I could comprehend anything; one was that I would worship God as I pleased without anybody’s dictation; and that I would dictate to no man his faith, neither should any man dictate to me my faith; and the other was that I would vote as I pleased. And I entertain the same sentiments today. When the Commissioners, operating under the Edmunds’ law, made their extraordinary rulings and authorized the administering of the test oath, declaring who should vote and who should not, I could not help remarking that people were acting very foolishly, that they did not know what they were doing; but whether they knew it or not their attempts to wrest from this people their rights and liberties, were no more or less than indirect attempts to tear down the bulwarks of American liberty. But in this inexcusable attack upon human rights and the principles of liberty we can take no part. What then will we do? They have no right, it is true, to interfere with us in the way they have done; they have no right, it is true, to prohibit us from voting without a hearing and without a trial; they have no right, it is true, to present to us a test oath, it being illegal and contrary to our rights as American citizens. But we will submit gracefully for the time being, withdraw from the polls, rather than act in the capacity of obstructionists; and when the time comes we will test these proceedings according to the laws of the land, and the principles of liberty guaranteed by the Constitution of the United States, which we recognize and respect. Have we yielded up our franchises? No, we have not. Will we ever do it? No, never; no, never. Have we in the least backed down from the principles by which we have been guided from the beginning? No; we still mean to live by them and to maintain them, and to contend for our rights, not by dynamite or nitroglycerine, but to do so legally and constitutionally, not only in defense of our own rights, but the rights and liberties of our children and those of every free man throughout the land. This is the course we purpose taking.

As I before stated we have been called from the nations of the earth by Him who is our Father, we being His children. And He has told us to ask, and we shall receive. He has told us to seek and we shall find; to knock and it shall be opened to us. Very well. What shall we do? We will use the best means we can to defend our rights; and after we have done this we will then go to our Heavenly Father and ask Him to help us. Will He do it? Yes. Has He done it? Yes, and we acknowledge His hand in regard to these things. He has heard our prayers without noise, without tumult. He has told us thus far that if we will continue to obey Him and to observe His laws, He will deliver us and direct us even to the end. And we need have no fears whatever about the result. He has promised us that inasmuch as we do His will and keep His commandments, He will fight our battles. And I feel confident and perfectly easy, and I felt just as easy during the furor and commotion that raged through the land a few months ago as I do today; knowing, as I do, that if we will perform our part, the Lord will not fail to do His. Because others act foolishly we cannot afford to imitate them. We profess to be the Zion of God, the pure in heart. We profess to be men and women of integrity, of truth and virtue, and to have faith in God. This must not only be our profession, but our practice; we must carry out and fulfill the word and will and law of God. Jesus taught His disciples how to pray. Said He: “Our Father who art in heaven.” That is, your Father and my Father, the God and Father of the spirits of all flesh. “Our Father who art in heaven, hallowed be thy name,” O, God, we reverence thee; we observe thy law, and we wish to keep thy commandments, and purge ourselves from all evil, that we may be acceptable to thee. “Hallowed be thy name. Thy kingdom come.” We reverence thee, O, God, and attribute to thee all that we have in this world, and all that we expect to have in the eternities to come. “Hallowed be thy name. Thy kingdom come.” Thy what? Thy kingdom come. That is the rule of God, the government of God, the dominion of God, the time when men will not be ashamed to acknowledge God as their Father, their friend and benefactor. “Thy kingdom come.” When all will submit to thy rule, to thy law, to thy jurisdiction, to thy dominion; that thy will may be done on earth as it is done in heaven. How was it done in heaven? God spake, chaos heard, and this world rolled into existence; and so did other worlds under the same divine impulse and power. And all those systems that revolve around us were made and are upheld by the mighty power of God, who governs in the heavens above, and upon the earth beneath, and among the worlds. Whether men acknowledge that or not, the time will come on this earth when every knee shall bow to Him, and every tongue shall confess that Jesus is the Christ, to the glory of God the Father. That time will come. It is not here now; but as I have said He has introduced this Gospel as the entering wedge, as the little leaven by which he can operate, that He may have a people under the influence of the Holy Ghost, a people that can hold communion with him, like so many thousand strings penetrating the eternal worlds and drawing down blessings from the Almighty, drawing fire, and life, and intelligence from Him; for we ourselves are sparks struck from the blaze of His eternal fire, emanating from God our Father, and we wish to operate with Him and for Him and under His guidance, for the accomplishment of His purposes here upon the earth. This is what we are here for. Now I come to another point. We pray “Thy will be done on earth, as it is done in heaven.” How is it done there? As I said, God spake, chaos heard, and the world rolled into existence, and it is supported by the mighty power of God, and who can stay His hand. Do you think that if all the Legislatures, all the Congresses, all the Parliaments, and all the Reichstags, all the Chambers of Deputies and Senates of the earth were to get together and pass a decree that the sun should rise five or ten minutes, or half an hour later or earlier than it does—do you think it would have any effect upon it! I do not think it would—I think it would still go on in its usual course, and they would feel that they were dependent upon God. Do the world know that in Him we live and move and have our being? Does this congregation know that there is not one of them could leave this house unless God permitted it and sustained them in so doing? Do the nations of the earth comprehend that they are in His hands, and that he puts down one nation and raises up another according to the counsels of His will, and none can say, “Why doest thou thus.” What have we to do? To begin with, we should deal justly and honorably with all men, and should seek to protect all men in their rights so far as we have the power to do so, and then to maintain our own on the same principle. And what then? Fear God and observe His laws, and we ought every one of us to place ourselves in communication with the Lord, and He has tried to make us understand this, but it seems very difficult for us to do so. It was in former times, and it is now. He says, “Ask and ye shall receive.” Is it not a very simple thing? “Seek and ye shall find.” Is it not very easy. “Knock and it shall be opened unto you.” But says He, you do not understand it aright. Now, let me mention a thing to you. If a child ask of you bread, would you give it a stone—you fathers and you mothers? I think not. If the child asked a fish would you give it a scorpion?” Why, no. The mother would say, “Sammy, or Mary,” as the case might be, “you want some bread—well I will give you some with butter and molasses.” The mother would try to meet the wishes of the children, and sometimes give them a little candy to boot. Now, then, says the Lord, “If ye then, being evil, know how to give good gifts unto your children: how much more shall your Father which is in heaven give His Holy Spirit to them that ask him.” It is very plain when you get at it, and it is very simple, and people wonder sometimes, they think it an astonishing thing that God should hear people’s prayers. Why, bless your souls, that is the strongest fort we have, and when we get into any difficulty in the nation or anywhere else, we humble ourselves before the Lord—and we all need to do this, for we all have our weaknesses and imperfections; and it is necessary that He should be very merciful to us. And He is, and knows how to bear with us. We need also to know how to bear with one another, and to place ourselves in communion with God, and in doing this to purge ourselves from everything that is wrong and evil. And I tell you—you Elders of Israel, you brethren and you sisters, that if you will begin to do the will of God on the earth as it is done in heaven, the power and blessing of God will rest upon you and upon this people, and no power will be able to injure you from this time forth. God expects us to do His will, to carry out his purposes, and if His will is ever done on the earth as it is done in heaven, where in creation will it start, if it does not start here? Let every man put himself right, and every woman and every family do the same, and all the Priesthood in all its various departments and ramifications, and let every one walk up to the line and perform his duty, and in the name of Israel’s God, Zion shall arise and shine, and the glory of God shall rest upon her. Our progress is onward and upward, until the kingdoms of this world become the kingdoms of our God and His Christ, and loud anthems be sounded from among the nations—glory and honor and power and might and majesty and dominion be ascribed unto Him that sitteth upon the throne and unto the Lamb forever and forever. Amen.

The Past and Future of the American Continent—The Law of the Lord and the Law of the Land—The Efforts of Our Enemies Turned to Our Advantage—Light and Liberty of the Latter-Day Saints—The Work of the Lord Among the Nations—Judicial Folly and Injustice—Faith Inseparable from Works—Parable of the Talents Exemplified

Discourse by Apostle Erastus Snow, delivered in the Tabernacle, Salt Lake City, Friday Afternoon (Annual Conference), April 6, 1883.

If the Lord gives me strength to make myself heard, I shall feel it a pleasure to occupy a little time this afternoon, accorded to me by my brethren.

I feel to express unto my heavenly Father, and to my brethren and the people, my gratitude for their prayers and faith for the blessings of God to me in permitting me to appear before you on this occasion, and to feel the degree of health and strength which is vouchsafed to me, thus enabling me to continue my efforts and labors with my brethren and the people of God. For some two or three months my health has not been of such a nature that I could labor with the satisfaction which has attended me heretofore; and I fully realize what Elder Woodruff said this morning concerning the aged Elders of Israel passing away, and that the responsibility and labor of bearing off this kingdom will soon rest upon the generation which is growing up in our midst, upon which will devolve the work of carrying the Gospel to those who have not heard it among the nations of the earth, and gathering Israel and establishing Zion and building up and maintaining the Kingdom of our God upon the earth, which must be done through faith, by righteousness, and by defending and maintaining the rights of man and the liberty and freedom which God has ordained for the welfare of all flesh, for the protection and blessing of the human family, and which it has been His purpose to establish and maintain upon this American continent. Latter-day Saints, especially those who have grown up with this people, as I have done from my childhood, and witnessed the manifestations of the overruling providence of God in guiding the destinies of this people, inspiring His servants who have led and directed the movements of this great people, and in defending them and fighting their battles by the sword of His Spirit, and the invisible powers that have labored with us and for us—I say to those who are able to see and comprehend these things, it is clear and plain that God has had His eye upon this American continent as the place where He first commenced His great work on the earth, where the greatest manifestations of His power were exhibited in the days of the fathers before the flood, when the fathers were gathered in the valley of Adam-ondi-Ahman and received their last instructions and blessings from Father Adam, the Patriarch of this earth, and where Enoch gathered his people and established Zion, and where Noah preached righteousness to the people and prepared the ark of safety, and where He has determined ultimately to establish His Zion and gather together His people, establish, maintain and defend His government and the Priesthood which he has revealed for the salvation of the human family, where He will bring again Zion that He has taken away, even the Zion of Enoch; for when He shall bring again Zion, says the Prophet, the Lord will appear in His glory. And He has long been laboring in His own marvelous manner among the nations of the earth, turning and overturning, to bring to pass His purposes and to gather together His elect; and He has moved upon the oppressed of many lands and climes—those who sought for enlarged freedom and liberty and whose minds reached out for more light and more truth, and whose understandings were expanded—to gather upon this American continent, and implanted in the hearts of our fathers a love of freedom and liberty and equal rights. He led them through schools of oppression. They passed through many difficulties, and endured the rule of tyrants. They bore oppression and suffered until they learned how to appreciate freedom and liberty, and how to detest misrule, tyranny and oppression; they struggled to burst the shackles that bound the human soul; they struggled for freedom of thought, of speech, of action; they struggled unitedly to burst the bonds, to break the yoke, from off their necks; they vied with each other in this labor of love from north to south, from east to west, in all the colonies which were early planted upon this continent. The Lord guided their labors to a successful issue, resulting in freedom from the tyranny of the effete governments of the old world; He directed the combined efforts and labors of those men in consolidating the result of their labors and framing the system of government under which we are now permitted to live.

[At this point part of the congregation moved from the body of the Tabernacle to the gallery causing a stay in the proceedings. Quietness having been obtained the speaker continued.]

I was saying that God our heavenly Father had moved upon the nations and sent out from the nations of the old world streams of emigration to the new world, who were panting for freedom and liberty, and who struggled to burst the bands with which they were bound, and the yoke from off their necks, and were striving to learn how to be free. And in penetrating the new world and its wilds, and in grappling with and overcoming the difficulties attending the forming of new settlements and planting colonies in the new world, they learned the value of freedom, and therefore studied to preserve it; and they labored to establish a form of government under which it might be maintained. In all these works and labors we discern an overruling providence, and manifestations of the mercy and loving kindness of God to His people, and the revelations of His Spirit imparted, to a greater or less degree, unto the wise and patriotic fathers of our country, who were thus enabled to unite upon the best form of government existing among men, or which, perhaps, ever has existed, unless it has been those which God himself directly revealed through the Patriarchs and Prophets of older times. But so far as any political organizations of government upon this earth, the Republican or Democratic form of government established in these United States—(the foundations of which were laid by our fathers over a hundred years ago), is the best calculated to promote the objects sought, and to maintain the rights of man, and the guarantees of religious and political freedom, of any form of government known to mankind. But that it or any other form, in this imperfect and sinful world, is altogether perfect is not to be expected, and therefore cannot endure forever. But we regard the present form of government of this nation as embodying the greatest amount of virtue and principles best calculated to maintain and preserve the rights of man.

In the early history of this Church a revelation was given through the Prophet Joseph in which the people are commanded to observe the Constitutional laws of the land, and to uphold by their votes and sustain upright and honorable men to administer them; which also stated that He had inspired the fathers to establish this form of government for the good and benefit of man. I will read a few paragraphs found on the 342nd page of the Doctrine and Covenants, new edition:

“And now, verily I say unto you concerning the laws of the land, it is my will that my people should observe to do all things whatsoever I command them.

“And that the law of the land which is constitutional, supporting that principle of freedom in maintaining rights and privileges, belongs to all mankind, and is justifiable before me.

“Therefore, I, the Lord, justify you, and your brethren of my church, in befriending that law which is the constitutional law of the land;

“And as pertaining to the law of man, whatsoever is more or less than this, cometh of evil.

“I, the Lord God, make you free, therefore ye are free indeed; and the law also maketh you free.

“Nevertheless, when the wicked rule the people mourn.

“Wherefore, honest men and wise men should be sought for dili gently, and good men and wise men ye should observe to uphold; otherwise whatsoever is less than these cometh of evil.”

I deem it of much importance that these principles should be well understood and thoroughly impressed upon the minds of the Latter-day Saints throughout the world, and especially those dwelling upon this American continent and within the pale of this government, that they may implant in the hearts of our children a love of freedom and human rights, and a desire to preserve them, and to aid in maintaining and defending them in all lawful and proper ways; and to study the constitutional laws of the land, and make others acquainted with them; knowing the principles contained therein, and of learning how to apply them to ourselves, to our children, and to our fellow men who are willing to be governed thereby; study them that we may also learn how to use them in suppressing tyranny, misrule and other evils that affect mankind; for God has ordained this form of government in this age of the world, and has chosen His own instruments to further His great purposes on the earth—the organization of his Church, the proclamation of the everlasting Gospel, the establishment of His Zion, and bringing to pass His wonderful works which He predicted by the mouths of the ancient Prophets. And this political system and order of government is a power in His hands established, preserved and defended thus far by Him, which He will continue to use as long as the people are worthy of it, as long as they will maintain their integrity, uprightness and virtue; and at no time will the Latter-day Saints, as a people, ever stand approved before God in violating those principles or slackening their efforts to maintain and defend them. They are closely allied to the teachings of the ancient Prophets and Apostles, to the doctrines, practices and teachings of the Savior and His disciples, and they are the best means and aids of extending and promoting those principles on the earth. Whatever some may have thought of the maladministration in our government and of the efforts of individuals and sometimes of large factions, to abridge the rights of the people, and of their blind zeal and efforts to reach the Latter-day Saints, and to stamp out the religion we profess—whatever may have been thought of the efforts of such individuals, cliques, or factions, and of their warfare against us; and who in that warfare trample under foot constitutional provisions of our Government—undermine the foundations upon which it rests—we must never in our feelings charge any of these things to this system of government, or to the principles enunciated is the Constitution, which we are commanded to observe and keep. We must charge it always where it belongs—to the bigotry, the ignorance, the selfishness, ambition and blind zeal of ignorant and corrupt politicians, their aiders and abettors, and all this should only serve to make us try more earnestly, anxiously and faithfully to combat such efforts upon constitutional grounds, calling upon God to help us therein.

We were told this morning by Brother Woodruff—quoting the word of the Lord given through the Prophet Joseph Smith concerning the promises He has made to His people—that inasmuch as we will be true to ourselves, true to God, true to our covenants and to our holy religion, that He will fight our battles, defend and maintain our cause, make it triumph and flourish, so that the wicked shall have no power to prevail against us. These promises have often been repeated to us, and last October we had a renewal of this assurance and this promise in the word of the Lord given unto us through His servant President John Taylor, and at a time and period, too, when many in our midst were weakening and their knees were beginning to tremble a little, and there were others who were inclined to falter and doubt, and fear was upon some. Our enemies—especially the bigot, the hypocrite, the demagogue, the political quacks of the country—rejoiced, thinking that they were succeeding in their efforts to weave webs around us, to forge fetters for our feet and yokes to place upon our necks, and to lash us into obedience to them. But the great majority of the Latter-day Saints were calm in their feelings as a summer’s morning, trusting as they have ever done in the promises of God, inspired with faith and hope in his overruling providence; and while we were doing what we might do properly under the Constitution and institutions of our country for the maintenance of our freedom and liberty, leaving the rest with God, exercising faith in His promises, continuing to pray for His blessing to attend our efforts and to hedge up the ways of our enemies; yet we have waited calmly for the result of the promises of God, and the answer to our prayers and the fulfillment of those things that have been spoken to us; and how signally have we seen them fulfilled. We have seen the very means which the enemies of this people have devised, and intended for their enslavement become before us as chaff, as thorns crackling under the pot, as a broken yoke to be used to kindle the fires of freedom and liberty. In former times the efforts that have been made in Congress and out of Congress to press the representatives of the people to hostile and unconstitutional legislation as a means to help religious bigots to suppress the doctrines of Christ, the ordinances of life and salvation, the rule and reign of righteousness among the people of God—I say, in their efforts to reach our religious principles and faith, and the exercise of those principles under that faith, and to crush it out from the earth—in their efforts to do so, they have moved upon statesmen to violate the Constitution of our country and the principles of human freedom on which our government has been founded in order to accomplish this purpose. But all those who have thus stultified themselves before the world, and before the heavens, and have done violence to their oath of office and to the Constitution, to the rights of man, and to the principles of freedom and liberty, have weakened, have gone down, the scepter of their power has fallen from their grasp, they have been dishonored before the heavens and before their people as a rule, and sooner or later we will witness others going down into the pit of forgetfulness as their predecessors have done. For the Lord has decreed it. And today the young men of Israel who are assembling in their Improvement Associations in all the Stakes of Zion, in all the Wards and settlements of the people throughout the land, and in their quorum meetings, and in their political assemblies, are all learning and cultivating these principles of liberty in their minds, introducing and extending them among the rising generation, the sons of Zion, and not only the sons, but the daughters that are coupled with the sons, the wives that are coupled with the husbands, in this labor of love, the struggle for the maintenance of freedom and liberty. It is a source of satisfaction to me that the Lord has moved upon His servants and the Legislature of our Territory to be among the first to lead the van of human progress in the extension of the elective franchise to women as well as men, and to recognize the freedom and liberty which belongs to the fairer sex as well as the sterner; for the Gospel teaches that all things are to be done among us by common consent, and the Prophet Joseph commanded and introduced in our midst the custom we are following today, that of presenting to all the congregations of Israel, at our General Conferences, and our local or Stake Conferences, the General Authorities of the Church, to be justified or condemned by the voice of the people, to be upheld and sustained by the confidence, faith and prayers of the people; or otherwise to be reproved by the votes of the people for their misdeeds or maladministration. These are things continually before the people, as well as the revelations which God has given unto us, and which are written and taught in our Sabbath schools and public gatherings, and to all who come within the scope of these instructions, viz., a love of freedom and liberty.

The leaders of this people are charged with being blind, leaders of the blind; and the people are charged with being blind, led by the blind. I deny the charge and brand it false. We know and understand perfectly that our leaders are neither blind nor are the people blind. On the contrary, we have received the light, the light of truth, the light of God. We have come to the understanding that every soul of man, both male and female, high and low, is the offspring of God, that their spirits are immortal, eternal, intelligent beings, and that their entity depends upon their agency and independent action, which is neither trammeled by God himself nor allowed to be restrained by any of His creatures with His sanction and approval; that the whole theory of God’s rule and government in heaven and on earth is founded upon this principle of agency—self, independent action. And it is upon the free and independent exercise of this agency that the decree of God is founded, that all men shall be judged according to the deeds done in the body, none having it in his power to say that he was not at liberty to exercise this agency untrammeled.

So far as relates to the administration of government and the exercise of political power, or the exercise of any manner of influence—political, religious or social—every man and every woman will be held accountable to God for the manner in which they exercise it. Kings and emperors, presidents and statesmen, judges and all officers of the law, will be held responsible for the administration of the power reposed in them. And if, while acting officially, they disregard their oath of office and violate the principles that should govern them, they become guilty of maladministration, and will be held accountable unto God, and should be strictly accountable to the people who place them in power. But every individual, in an individual capacity, will be held answerable to God for all his acts of whatsoever character, and so far as, in the exercise of that agency, men trespass upon the rights of their fel low men they must be held answerable to their fellow men for such trespass and wrong. And for this purpose human government is instituted, approved by the people, to hold each other responsible unto each other or unto the community, for the abuse of their freedom and liberty, and for this purpose laws are enacted and judges provided to judge according to the law, and to administer the law when it becomes necessary to punish transgressors. And God has commanded us in the revelation which He gave to us, that in case Church members violate a law of the land, they shall be delivered up to be dealt with according to the law of the land; that if they shall murder, rob or steal, or commit perjury or any other crime of which the law of the land takes cognizance, they shall be delivered up to be dealt with for their offense. But that for all manner of iniquity they shall be delivered up to the law of God to be dealt with according to the law of God; and those laws which are given unto you, as the laws of God, for your government in the Church must be treated as such. And it becomes our duty as good Saints, as those that are bound together by the ties and in the fellowship of the Gospel, as those that have covenanted to serve God and to keep his commandments, to work righteously and to deal justly one with another, that if we violate the principles of the Gospel and the laws which God has given unto us, that we shall be delivered up to the judges in Israel, and the Teachers shall labor with such, and their labors of love shall be directed earnestly to the reformation and repentance of all persons that have done wrong and done violence to the feelings, faith and fellowship of their brethren and sisters. And for every manner of sin shall they be held accountable unto the Councils of the Church, to the Bishops who are common judges in Israel; and to the High Councils. And though we may succeed in winning them to repentance, and they turn away from evil and will do so no more, and succeed in eliciting the sympathy and forgiveness of their brethren, still, if they have violated a law of the land, they must be made subject to that law, and to endure the penalty. And if they pay the penalty with patience, which is but the legitimate fruits and testimony of genuine repentance, satisfying all that they appreciate their wrong and determine to do so no more, when the penalty is paid, they may with renewed determination begin to serve their God, and prove to their brethren that their repentance was genuine and sincere. And although we are required to forgive all men, God says that He reserves to Himself the right to forgive whomsoever He will, because he searches all hearts and knows, as we cannot know, how far their repentance is genuine, and how far they ought to be forgiven. It is important that we as Latter-day Saints, understand what God requires of us towards each other in the Church of Christ, and also what He requires of us towards the State. For the constitutional laws of the land are for the protection of the rights of all flesh; the liberties of Saints as well as those of sinners. And if sinners can afford to dishonor the law, surely Saints cannot, neither can they justify others in so doing; neither can Saints afford to override the laws of God, or to wink at others who may do so.

God will not hold us faultless if we do. He requires us as Elders, as Apostles, as Presidents, as Bishops, as Seventies, as parents, to teach (wherever it is our prerogative and duty), correct principles, and observe them ourselves and seek to enforce them upon others. And it is not alone the duty of High Councils and Presidents of Stakes, and of Bishops and their Counselors to labor to correct the errors of the people, but it is the duty of every Elder, High Priest and Seventy—and especially the Priests, Teachers and Deacons that are appointed and called to be standing ministers in the Church, to visit the house of each member and become familiar with every family, and every individual member of the family, and their daily walk and life and conversation; and ascertain whether they are living as Saints should live; whether the heads of families preside in righteousness in their houses; whether their houses are set in order; whether they have an altar erected whereon are offered up their daily, morning and evening devotions; whether every member is taught to reverence and respect that altar; whether each individual prays in secret as well as responds to the calls made upon him to pray in the family circle and in public; whether each one that has enrolled himself in a quorum attends his quorum meetings and is obedient to the President of his quorum, his counsels and instructions; and if they are enrolled in the Mutual Improvement Associations, whether they sustain that institution and the leaders thereof, and are performing well their part; whether the parents are faithful in sending their children to Sunday school and to other institutions of learning; whether they teach their children to remember the Sabbath day to keep it holy, etc. These are duties and obligations that we cannot ignore, that God will not justify us in neglecting, and those who are called to bear a part of the holy Priesthood cannot be justified if they neglect all these duties, or any portion of them; for the Lord has said, “blessed are they who hear my sayings and shall keep them all, for the same shall be great in the kingdom of heaven; but if anyone shall fail or neglect to observe and keep the least of these my sayings and teach others to do so, the same shall be least in the kingdom of heaven.” For the Lord is not to be mocked; and though we may excuse ourselves in many ways for carelessness and neglect, and we may supplicate for forgiveness, as we are in duty bound to do for all our transgressions and shortcomings, yet we cannot in any wise plead justification, or suppose that God will justify us, for He has said He cannot look upon sin with the least degree of allowance, and yet He showeth mercy and kindness unto thousands of those who repent and seek to turn away from their follies.

Over fifty years have passed away since the light of the glorious Gospel in its fullness began to dawn upon us, and still we are measurably walking in darkness. Yet the Lord has said that we are the only people and the only church—speaking as a whole—upon the face of the earth with which He is well pleased. As a whole we are the best people He can find. He has sent out His word throughout the earth. He has sent His servants abroad carrying, as it were, a torch in their hand—the light of the Gospel, inviting all to come to it, that as many as love the light may see it and follow it as one would follow a light in a dark place, or until the dawn of day. The Holy Spirit has been upon His servants and in the gathering together of this people. It is the Holy Ghost that has moved upon the people in the islands of the sea, in all the different nations of Europe, in the various parts of America, and in all lands where the light of the Gospel has been carried and the testimony of Jesus has been sounded. It is the testimony of the Spirit from on high bearing witness to and moving upon the hearts of the people that has drawn them into the light of truth and that has gathered them together with the Church of Jesus Christ. It was not worldly prospects held out before them that induced them to gather. I speak now of the people as a whole and not individually; for there may be individuals who have been influenced by worldly considerations, by personal, selfish motives. But all such, sooner or later, get their eyes open and see their folly and sin and wickedness, and repent, or they are purged out from among the Latter-day Saints. They apostatize, they turn away from us; they go back into Babylon, and they strike hands with our enemies and fight against God, and go down into perdition; for none can remain and continue to stand among the Saints of God, and hold fast to the principles of the Gospel, and enter into life only on the pure principles of virtue, integrity and righteousness, as we heard this morning, and as we are told by the Lord in certain revelations to the Church, namely, that the powers of the Priesthood are inseparably connected with the powers of heaven, and the powers of heaven can in no wise be used except on the principles of righteousness. And no man or woman can continue long in sin in the midst of the Saints, where the Gospel is preached in power, and where those who minister, do so in the power of their Priesthood and by the Holy Ghost, without being purged out from their midst. For that spirit will reveal and make manifest what sort they are. If the law of the Lord is properly administered among them and they are found violating it they will be judged according to the law of the Lord, and be separated from the Saints. And although we do not look for entire separation of the sheep from the goats, of the tares from the wheat, until the Great Judge Himself shall come to complete the separation, it is nevertheless expected that all men who act as judges in Israel should be helps in separating the sheep from the goats, the tares from the wheat, as fast as they are made manifest, and the tares may be plucked up without destroying the wheat; and it becomes our duty to do it. But He enjoins us to be wise lest we in our zeal and anxiety destroy or pluck up some of the wheat that may be growing under the shade of the tare, whose roots may be intermingled with it. We must therefore be prudent. It is better in some instances to allow the tare to remain until its character be more fully developed and made manifest, until it can be plucked up without endangering the wheat.

I testify unto all Israel, and unto all the world, that God has called us, and required us to observe and practice these things; and that it is not the work of man, and that the institutions of this Church are not the institutions of man. And when we speak of the institutions of our common country, we say in the main, though God has used man in instituting this form of government, and in establishing its institutions and maintaining freedom upon this land, they are nevertheless the institutions of heaven; and God has revealed unto us that He did estab lish them by the hands of wise men, whom He raised up for that special purpose, and redeemed the land by the shedding of blood. It is therefore part of His great work, as much so as the part of revealing the keys of the Priesthood to Joseph, and the ordinances thereof, for the salvation of His people. For the political organization upon the land was designed by heaven to be a protection to the righteous. “But,” says one, “is it not designed to protect the wicked?” No, not in wicked acts, but in their freedom and liberty, to think and to speak and to act, and to choose for themselves; for in those rights all must be protected. God has always protected them, both in heaven and on earth. And he designed that all men should protect one another, and if necessary be united for the protection and welfare of all flesh. Not that the laws of the land or the laws of God will protect the wicked in doing wickedly, but on the contrary, will condemn and judge them. They are left to choose for themselves their course of life in exercising their agency in all things pertaining to themselves and the service of their God, and to use freedom and liberty in doing good, that which is right; but there is no such thing as liberty to do wrong and be justified in that wrong, neither on earth nor in heaven, neither by the laws of God, nor the just laws of man.

Now, the Supreme Court of the United States, in its great zeal to establish and maintain monogamy upon this American continent, and to strike a blow at the patriarchal order of marriage, believed in by the Latter-day Saints, in its decision in the Reynolds’ case announced the doctrine that religion consists in thought and matters of faith and concerning matters of faith, and not actions, and the government is restrained by the terms of the Constitution from any efforts to curtail this freedom and liberty. Wonderful doctrine! A wonderful strain of judicial thought to announce to the world, this wonderful doctrine that the government should not attempt to restrain the exercise of thought, or the exercise of faith! I would like somebody, that knows how to defend this doctrine, to tell me how any one man, or any set of men on the earth could go to work and catch a thought and chain it up and imprison it, or stop its flight, or root it out of the heart, or restrain it, or do away with it. Let them go to and try to chain the lightning, stop the sun from shining, stop the rains from descending and the mist from arising from the ocean, and when they have done this, they may talk about restraining men’s faith, and exercising control over the thoughts and faith of the people. The fathers who framed our Constitution were not such dunces, I am happy to say, as Attorney General Devens, who put that nonsensical language and doctrine into the mouths of the chief justices of the Supreme Court of the United States—the fathers who framed our Constitution, I say, were not such dunces, they did not attempt to place constitutional restrictions upon the lawmaking power, to restrain them from interference with faith and thought and the exercise of religious opinion; but they did attempt, and they did it in plain language, to restrain the lawmaking power from any effort at making law for the establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof. And the exercise of religion implies something more than mere faith and thought. I may think about being baptized for the remission of my sins, I may believe it is right I should do it, I may be convinced that God has required it of me, and I may think I ought to do it, and think I will; but all this faith and all this thought don’t amount to as much as you can put in your eye, until I arise and go forth to be baptized, and when I do this, then I exercise the faith which is in me, and it produces the works. This principle may be equally true of everything else pertaining to the exercise of religion. I may believe it is right for me to be enrolled with a religious community that meets to worship, and I may believe it is right and a religious duty to meet with them from time to time to celebrate the supper of the Lord and partake of bread and wine, and when I partake of the bread and of the wine in commemoration of the sacrifice of the Lord Jesus, it is but the exercise of that faith which is in me. I may believe that God meant what he said when He gave that general commandments to His children to multiply and replenish the earth, and I may think about it; but it is my duty, if I want to raise potatoes, to plant the seed; if I desire to raise fruit I must go to and plant the fruit trees; if I desire to cultivate the earth I must use the proper means necessary to cultivate and improve it before I can gather the fruits of it. And then to do the other thing, to form a union as God has enjoined in the holy bond of matrimony, we must enter into that bond for the purpose of multiplying our species and thus bring forth the fruits of our bodies. I may believe this doctrine, as contained in the revelations of God; but what will this amount to unless I exercise myself in it. I shall remain a bachelor, worse than a hermit—a parasite in the commonwealth—unless I rise up and put my faith in practice and exercise myself in my religious belief.

I say also, when the time comes that God sees in the midst of His people an increase of the female element, and the wicked ready to devour that element and appropriate it not in the way to “multiply and replenish the earth,” but for the gratification of fleshly lust, and will actually take and employ hellish means to prevent the increase of their species, and show that they are not only beneath the brute, but beneath the vegetable creation, by refusing to bear fruit, thereby placing themselves in the category of the trees that are dried up, fit only to be cast into the fire, he can take measures to counteract this evil. And I say before God, angels and men, that every man and woman who joins in unholy wedlock for the gratification of fleshly lust, and studiously plan to frustrate the command of God in the multiplication of their species, show that they are unworthy—what shall I say?—unworthy to be classed among the honorable of the earth. And we have reason to believe that many have done, and are today, in the great cities of Babylon, taking steps to destroy their own offspring, committing infanticide and feticide, all of whom, and their aiders and abettors, are but ripening for the damnation of hell. And when God sees this damnable doctrine taught, and taught by such men as Mr. Henry Ward Beecher and other modern divines falsely so-called, who teach the world that it is a positive evil to multiply and increase so greatly in the land—when such doctrine is taught by leading lights, and so readily accepted by the masses, the Lord says, the time has come for Him to take measures to counteract this great evil, by introducing laws in the midst of those who fear Him and work righteousness and live according to the principles of life; men who are upright, honest and faithful, men who are willing to assume the responsibility; to take the daughters of Eve to wife and multiply and replenish the earth, for those men are unworthy of them. It is as Jesus said concerning the man who hid it in a napkin; he laid it carefully away, and by and by brought it out, saying, here it is as I received it, not having increased at all; in other words, we are just where we were when we started. Another one says I received two talents; and have increased to four, another says I received five talents, and now have ten: the master says to the one who hid his talent, who perhaps laid it carefully away and kept it nice, watching over it with the greatest care; or in other words, to him who did not multiply and increase, but on the contrary took pains to avoid doing so, “Take from him that which he seems to have and give to him that has ten; for he that has and improves upon that which he receives, shall receive more abundantly.”

May God bless and keep us in the way in which He can sustain and defend us, and lead us onward, as He has done hitherto, is my prayer, in the name of Jesus. Amen.

A Few Questions Every Latter-day Saint Can Answer for Himself—The Fruits of the Spirit—The Proper Use of Riches—No Comparison Between Earthly Wealth and Eternal Riches—Principle Must not be Sacrificed for Riches—Consecration—Satan Rebuked—We Ought to Cultivate the Fruits of the Spirit—The Work of God Onward and Upward—The Fate of Those Who Sacrifice Principle at the Shrine of Greed—Conclusion

Remarks by Elder Moses Thatcher, delivered at the General Conference, Saturday Morning, April 6th, 1833.

The thought frequently arises in my mind, are we as a people honest and sincere in the professions we make? Do we prove by our dealings, our acts and conversations, that we sincerely believe in all of the principles of the Gospel which we have been willing to preach to others; or do we sometimes in our weakness, preach one thing and practice another? Do we manifest more of the fruits of the flesh than of the spirit? Do we manifest greater love for the things of this world, and the honors of men, than we do for eternal riches and the honor of God? These are questions every Latter-day Saint ought to be able to answer for himself.

We are bidden of Paul to stand fast in the liberty wherewith Christ hath made us free, and to be not entangled again with the yoke of bondage. The purpose that the Lord had in view in gathering us to this land, is at least partly reflected in this language of Paul, namely: that we may sanctify the body by developing the fruits of the spirit. Honesty and sincerity are fruits of the spirit; to be true to God and each other are manifestly fruits of the spirit; purity of thought and action is fruit of the spirit. Injustice, unrighteousness, dishonesty, intemperance, impurity, insincerity and hypocrisy are fruits of the flesh. All these are sometimes manifested in man’s undue love for the things of the world, and in his contempt for the things of God. Those who live for eternal riches are thoughtful, devoting time and reflection and study to the word of God; they are the people who desire the Lord to search and prove them, and know their hearts, and see if there be any wickedness in them. You see true religion manifested in such people by their attention to the sick, by their administering to the orphan and widow; you see them friends to God’s poor. You see them opposed to oppression of every form, opposed to the encroachments of those who would do the people harm. You see them urging the people to works of righteousness not only by precept but by example also. You see them, as Elders of the Church, willing to go to the ends of the earth to preach the Gospel abroad, or to devote their time and talent to the education of the youth at home. They are earnest, and sincere; they live in the light of the Spirit, doubting not the principles of eternal truth. They are not filled with doubt and apprehension, but are full of faith and good works. They desire to see the people advance and prosper, securing temporal wealth while seeking earnestly to obtain the greater riches, the riches of eternity. They are they who appreciate the authority and power of the Priesthood, the efficacy of prayer, through which the sick are healed. To be worthy instruments in the hands of God, to administer in His name is more gratifying to them than are the riches of the world.

During the short time I may speak I desire to direct my remarks especially to the young upon this point, for here as elsewhere we are subject to laws producing constant changes. Today, the Latter-day Saints are far more prosperous in the things of this world than they were a few years ago; and it is right and proper they should be. The Lord desires to bestow these things upon His people. There is no harm in the possession of properly acquired riches; there is no harm in wealth. God created the riches of the earth; He created the ability of the mind, the intellect and faculties of the man which enables him to accumulate wealth. But the love of riches is dangerous. Excessive love for the things of time has led men in all ages to forget their God, and indulge themselves in things wherein there is no profit. This is what we, as individuals, and as a whole people should avoid. Exces sive love of riches, an unnatural desire to accumulate wealth at the sacrifice of principle—and at the expense of God’s honest and deserving poor—produces a gulf of separation over which preaching can never throw a bridge. We should realize that God being the Father of us all, loves the humble and deserving poor as much as He loves the rich who are alike worthy. We should realize that all are friends and brethren equally, if equally worthy, able to approach the throne of God.

I have heard expressions from some young people recently to the effect that, “The theory of the Gospel is all right, and while it is beautiful, we cannot deny the fact that even in Israel there is great power in wealth.” Of course there is. There always has been and probably always will be, because the possession of wealth produces power. We see this manifested everywhere, in the history of every nation; but when we contrast the power of earthly wealth with that of eternal riches, there can be no comparison, the one being transitory, the other eternal; the one is measured by time, the other by eternity. A man may be true and honest before the Lord, and yet be rich in the things of this world. God has had servants in time past who were wealthy, and yet devoted as any could be. Abraham, Job and David for instance. It is true the subsequent fall of the latter might be traceable, to an extent, to indulgences and luxuries resulting from his use of wealth. But I contend the riches of the earth belong to the Lord, and He can bestow them upon whom He pleases, and it will be His good pleasure to bestow them upon His people when they are in a proper state to receive and use them to His honor and glory. But it is a mistake for our young people to imagine that it is better to lay aside the work of God, to refuse to go on missions, labor in the ministry at home, or act as teachers in the Sunday Schools—it is a great mistake, and I will tell you why. Riches, unless they have been acquired under the approbation of God, will not produce happiness. The possession of riches may give influence, power, fame, adulation, even among us, but unless those who possess it are men of God, unless they are men of faith, believing in the atoning blood of Jesus, unless they believe in the Priesthood of God, and its right to direct in matters both spiritual and temporal, they are not happy, they do not possess the riches that will guide them safely through the veil into the presence of God. They may believe all the ordinances that faithful men believe; they may have their wives sealed to them over the holy altar of God; may have their children married according to the new and everlasting covenant; come to conference meeting; pay their tithing; and finally consecrate all their goods; but if their hearts are not converted, if they are not free with the freedom wherewith Christ once made them free, if they have gone back into the bondage of the world, they have lost their golden opportunity. As they die without faith, so will they rise without faith. If they have been infidel to principle, slow to hear, if their hearts have been hardened, and they have fought secretly or openly against the principles of the Almighty, when they wake up behind the veil they will find that in their love for the things of this world they have lost that which it may take ages to regain.

I bear my testimony that these things are true. And while there are wealthy men in this Church whom I respect and who I believe to be good men, yet it is a dangerous thing for our young people to conceive the idea that they must sacrifice principle at the shrine of policy, and be hypocrites in order to advance their interests and wield the influence and power of wealth in the midst of this people—such an idea is dangerous, and it is a thing that we, as Elders in Israel, should guard against. Give me the influence, give me the faith and prayers of a man who is willing to go to the ends of the earth for Christ’s sake, and has healing virtues in him, power to comfort, bless and heal the sick, bind up the brokenhearted and lead to eternal life, rather than the influence of any man without these, though he may be as rich as Jay Gould. It is proper and right to use the wealth of this world in beautifying Zion, for the benefit of those worthy who need it—for the widow and the orphan, and for the benefit of honest industries and righteous poor who need assistance. A man should be as willing to financier for the good of the whole people as for himself in the same capacity. The same energy should be displayed in the one case as in the other. We should learn to do for the people of God that which we are anxious to do for ourselves. We should learn that the Spirit and power of God will lead unto all righteousness, but that a man cannot be dishonest and enjoy that Spirit; that he cannot monopolize the natural avenues of wealth, depriving the poor of their rights, and enjoy the spirit that comes from heaven. Greed often pushes men beyond legitimate acquisition into respectable robbery. If there are such in our midst, when trials come, when dark days approach, there will be shaking in the marrow of their bones; and faith will decrease as wealth wrongfully acquired increases; and as such come to their end darkness will be before their eyes, they will fear the things that are beyond the veil; their faith will waver; they will not know whether the atoning blood of Jesus Christ will reach beyond the grave or not, but if it should they will not know whether they will be able to stand in the presence of God, without a blush. I bear you my testimony that men who devote themselves to the riches of this world at the sacrifice of principle, will rise in the resurrection poor, miserably poor! They will be in greater poverty than the poorest in all the House of Israel.

We had better think of the revelations of Jesus Christ. We have talked a little about cooperation in the past. We have sometimes alluded to consecration. I heard a story in regard to a brother in Farmington, a few years ago. The question of gathering the poor Saints from England came up in an evening meeting. The brother had two cows, and he donated one for the purpose mentioned. In going home a spirit of darkness said unto him: “You have been very foolish. You have given away one of the two cows you possessed, while Brother so-and-so, a much wealthier man than you, has only given five dollars. Now, you have done a wrong thing, a foolish thing.” And thus was this brother tempted until he turned around and said, as though addressing himself to Satan: “If you don’t cease tempting me, I will go back to the Bishop, and give him the other one.” [Laughter.] Now, that is just as I feel. If at any time the Lord has blessed me with means, and I am tempted not to do as I should, because of the actions of others. I hope I shall always when tempted, feel to draw near unto the Lord, and ask His assistance. I would rather give all I have—and it is not much—and be like an Indian, clothed in a blanket, and be acceptable to the Lord, than be clothed in velvet and surrounded with riches, feeling that my prayers were never heard by the Almighty.

There is no reason why we may not have all the fruits of the Spirit in our midst. There is no reason why we may not have the gifts and blessings of the Gospel. A circumstance somewhat marvelous came recently under my personal observation. A little boy was thrown from a horse violently, his head striking the hard ground with great force, causing severe concussion of the brain. The doctor was called, the Elders also. The eyes of the poor little fellow were fixed and stony; all were greatly alarmed for the case was a serious one, the physician saying that blood was evidently clotting on the brain; the right side was paralyzed; the wrist almost pulseless. He went into convulsions while the Elders were administering to him, and many present believed that he was dying, but the grasp of death was broken by the power of faith. Unbelief was rebuked, and health and reason were speedily restored. Next morning the boy was running about the rooms with no soreness about his head whatever! I say the gift of healing by the power of God exists in the Church, and it might be far more prevalent if we would live for it.

I bear my testimony, in conclusion, that this is the work of God. I know that its destiny is onward and upward; whatever lies may be concocted, whatever powers may combine to retard its progress, God will eventually make it the head and not the foot. There are boys growing up in these mountains who will so learn to love liberty, and will so desire to see all humanity free, that they will maintain the principles of our national constitution and all just principles, and will invite the oppressed of every land and clime to enjoy liberties which God will maintain in His Kingdom—the liberty wherewith Christ will make them free.

On the other hand I bear my testimony that men who, in the Church or out of it, sacrifice principle at the shrine of greed, who take away the earnings of the honest poor, who monopolize the avenues of trade to the oppression of God’s honest people, will wake up beyond the veil disappointed, unhappy, grieved and damned. They will be damned in that God will so quicken their minds, that they will see the past, and understand the future. They will fully comprehend that in the brief space, perhaps, of a few years, they sacrificed opportunities, and gave away chances whereby they might have become kings unto the Most High God, and saviors on Mount Zion; that they gave all these blessings for the love of self, the honor of men, worldly riches; and the testimony of widows and orphans will come up against them before the eyes of the Lord, and they will see it and comprehend it, and in the conception of their great loss, they will feel that they have been damned.

I pray that we may be faithful and true to our religion, and that we may have the guidance and inspiration of the Most High. I pity a man that has no inspiration. I pity any set of men who seek in their ignorance and blindness to retard the progress of God’s Kingdom.

There is a day of deep trial for those who love the things of this world more than they love the things of God. If we have such among us, I earnestly hope and pray that the Spirit of God may rest upon them, that they may see the error of their way, repent, turn unto the Lord, and be saved. Amen.

The Church of Christ—Churches of Men—Conflicting Ideas—True Sources of Learning—Oneness Explained—Only One True Religion—“Probation After Death”—Ideas of Hell Changing—Different Degrees of Glory—Work for the Dead—Completeness and Simplicity of the Gospel

Discourse by Elder Chas. W. Penrose, delivered in the Assembly Hall, Salt Lake City, Sunday Afternoon, March 4th, 1883.

Having been called upon this afternoon, to speak to this congregation, I earnestly desire that I may be so influenced by the spirit of truth that I may be able to bring forth such things as will be profitable for us to reflect upon. I feel that we are greatly blessed in being privileged to meet in this house, dedicated to the worship and service of our Heavenly Father, where we can attend to those things which are required of us, in peace and in unity of spirit, and receive instructions as the Holy Spirit may prompt.

We meet in the name of the Lord. All that we do should be done in the name of Jesus Christ, for so we have been commanded. The Church to which we belong is the Church of Jesus Christ. It is composed of people called Latter-day Saints, but it is Christ’s Church. He has set it up, He has organized it, and all the principles and doctrines which have been made known to us have been revealed through Him. It is His work and He will watch over it and direct it and consummate it. And He has commanded us that we shall do all things in connection with our faith in His holy name, and in that way only will it be acceptable to our Heavenly Father; for all the blessings that come from our Father to us His children, will come to us through Jesus Christ. His is the only name given under heaven whereby man can be saved. The Gospel of Jesus Christ must be preached to every creature. For it would not be just for our Heavenly Father to condemn any of his creatures who did not believe in Jesus Christ, without giving them an opportunity of understanding who He is and what His commandments are. All people, then, must hear the Gospel and have an opportunity of receiving it or rejecting it. Jesus Christ sent out His Apostles, after His resurrection, to preach the Gospel to all the world in that day and generation, and they went forward and fulfilled the commandment which he gave to them. Since that time a great many false doctrines have been introduced into the world, and a great many churches have been established, according to the notions and ideas of men not authorized by the Lord Jesus, not accepted of Him, not recognized by Him in any way. They are the churches of men, and the doctrines preached therein, in a great many respects are the doctrines and commandments of men. They are not of God. They are not recognized by Him. They are not acceptable to Him. And so with many ordinances which have been introduced since that day. Some men have introduced them in the name of Jesus Christ, but they were not authorized by the Lord to do so, and therefore He will not accept them, and they are of no benefit to the children of men so far as their salvation is concerned. But in the day and age in which we live the Lord Jesus has manifested Himself again, and has reorganized the Church which He set up in ancient days, in the same form and shape, with the same officers, with the same ordinances, with the same commandments, and with the same spirit, power, gifts and blessings. And in this Church, if we live under the inspiration of the spirit and attend to the duties and obey the commandments which He reveals, in the way He has pointed out, we will be accepted of Him, and that which His servants perform on the earth in His name in the way He has appointed, will be the same as though it was performed by Himself in person, and will be accepted of the Father, just the same as though performed by the Lord Jesus Christ, and what they seal on the earth will be sealed in the heavens, and what they loose on the earth will be loosed in the heavens, according to His word. We have this great blessing and privilege, then, in belonging to this Church, that we become the people of the Lord Jesus, the Saints of the Lord, members of the Church of Christ, not members of any church made by a man, or a set of men, but the true Church of the living God, established by Himself through the Lord Jesus Christ. And if we offer up our sacraments before Him in the way He has appointed, they will be accepted by Him, and we will receive the benefits that result from properly attending to these things.

At the present time there are a great many different sects professing to be the churches of Christ. A great variety of doctrines are taught therein. Generally speaking these doctrines are supposed to be taken from the book called the Bible. Ministers usually read a portion of scripture either from the Old Testament or from the New Testament, and preach discourses therefrom. But although these different religions and these different discourses are supposed to be taken from the one book, yet they are very conflicting. The notions and ideas of one sect in regard to the things contained in the book, differ from those that are entertained by another sect, also professing to be the church of Christ. And even in each of these various sects the people do not all believe alike. They do not understand alike the doctrines that pertain to their particular sect. For instance, the people in what is called the Methodist church do not all believe alike. The people of the Baptist church do not all believe alike. There is not only a difference existing between the Baptist and the Methodist, but the Methodists differ among themselves, and Baptists differ among themselves; and so with the rest of all the different sects in Christendom. The reason of this is because they have no real and definite standard. They take the Bible or rather profess to take the Bible as their standard; but their ideas concerning the Scriptures differ. They do not all understand the Bible alike. If they all understood the Bible alike there would be a unity of faith; but their ideas differ in regard to the meaning of the things contained in the Bible. At the present time there is a great controversy going on in the Christian world in regard to the manner in which this book should be read, and in regard to its authority. Some claim that every word in the book is inspired; that the word contained in the Bible must be relied upon implicitly as the very word of God. Others dispute this, deny the plenary inspiration of the Scriptures, and some of them think the book should be regarded in the same light as secular history. And so the notions and ideas concerning the Bible are quite varied. Outside of the Bible they have no standard. We may perhaps except the church called the Roman Catholic Church. That church has a standard in the person of the supreme head of the church—the Pope, the traditions, and the decisions of the councils of the church. But neither the Roman Catholic Church, nor the Episcopal Church, which has come out from it, nor any of the sects which have come out from the Episcopal Church, have any inspired standard among them save and except the things that were written of old contained in the Bible, which they do not comprehend alike. In the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints we have something besides the written word. We have the living oracles of God, men that have been called and enabled and set apart to minister in Christ’s stead, men in whom the Lord has placed His spirit, and not only His spirit, but His authority that they may act in His name; and they have access unto Him. It is their privilege not only to expound the things that were written of old which have been preserved and placed on record, and which are contained in the books of the Bible, but also to receive intelligence from the same source from which these things that are inspired that are in the Book were given. The same fountain from which the Prophets of old partook is open to us, and the servants of God in the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints can learn the mind and will of God respecting us as it exists in His own bosom, because the fountain of revelation is not dried up. Access is open unto our Heavenly Father as it was in times of old; and if Peter could learn the word of the Lord and teach it to the former-day Church, so the servants of God holding a similar position today can call upon the Lord and receive His word and declare it to the Latter-day Church. If the Prophets of God of old wrote and spoke as they were moved upon by the Holy Ghost, there are Prophets of God living upon the earth today who can speak and write as they are moved upon by the same power. And the word of God that comes down from heaven in our day is just as authoritative as the word of God that came in times of old and that is written in the old books, and it is of much more importance to the people called Latter-day Saints, because it comes direct to them from our living head. It does not come in any ambiguous phraseology; it does not come in a shape that would leave it open to controversy; but it comes to us clear, plain and straightforward, so that all may understand. We have the benefit of the living oracles; not only the words of the oracles that are dead, but the words of those that are living.

And we find when we come to investigate the things that God makes manifest in our own day through the living oracles, that in spirit and in doctrine they correspond with the things that God revealed in days of old. We, then, have “a more sure word of prophecy” than the things that were written aforetime. The Apostle Peter spoke of this in his day. He said that holy men of God wrote and spoke as they were moved upon by the Holy Ghost, and that no prophecy of the Scripture is of any private interpretation. He said, further, “We have also a more sure word of prophecy; whereunto ye do well that ye take heed, as unto a light that shineth in a dark place, until the day dawn, and the day star arise in your hearts.” They had the living oracles. The people who lived in Peter’s day had not only the words of Isaiah, Jeremiah, Ezekiel and the other prophets, and the Book of the Laws, as written by Moses, the inspired prophet of God, who looked upon God and talked with Him face to face—they not only had these things written in the ancient records, but they had living oracles, men in their midst who were authorized to speak in the name of the Lord and declare to the people the living word of God for their present benefit. And as it was with the people in that day, so it is in this Church that Jesus Christ our Savior has reestablished on the earth. We have the living oracles, those who are called and ordained to stand between us and the Lord. And in addition to all this we have the great privilege of the Holy Ghost universally diffused throughout the body of the Church for the benefit of every member thereof; for every man and for every woman, for every individual who has been baptized into it and has received its ordinances. Every person in the Church may receive of this spirit which is the light of God, which is the spirit of inspiration, which bears record of the things of God, and makes plain to all who have it the things that God reveals through the living oracles. If a servant of God speaks or writes under the inspiration of the Holy Ghost, the same spirit by which He writes or speaks is in the members of the church, and it is their privilege to see as He sees, to comprehend as He comprehends, that we may all see “eye to eye” and understand the things of God alike.

Some people have an idea that it is impossible to bring a great number of individuals to understand religion exactly alike. People sometimes point to the difference that there is in human character. It is true that our characters vary, as do our countenances. The faces that are before me today are all different, although we are all of the same race. We are all different in our appearance. Even brothers and sisters of the same family differ in their appearance in some respects. So it is with all things that God has made. It is not only so in regard to the human family, but it is so with the brute creation. No two blades of grass are exactly alike. No two leaves upon the trees in the forest are exactly alike. No two worlds that God Almighty has made that glitter in the firmament on high at night are exactly alike. There are some peculiarities about each of them, distinct and different from others. This is all true. But is it impossible to bring people who are thus organized, people of different characters and different minds, to see and comprehend exactly alike? No, there is no difficulty about it when the thing is properly understood. Take any of what are called the exact sciences, and people can be brought to understand them just exactly in the same way. Take a sum in arithmetic, for instance. When a dozen people understand the rules in the same way they will work out the sum in the same way, no matter where they were born, or what language they speak. When they understand the principle and rule that governs the workings of the sum they all work it out in the same way, and what a dozen or a hundred can do a million can do. It makes no difference about the number. If all understand the principle alike they will work it out alike, and the result will be exactly the same. Why cannot this be done in those things called religion? It is true that religious principles are not governed altogether by the same rules and laws as those which govern secular things. But yet if people are in possession of the same spirit, and the truth is made clear before their understandings, they can all be brought to see exactly alike, and we have proven this in our own experience. For instance, when the Gospel of Jesus Christ came to us, it found us when we were scattered abroad in different nations. We have people here from England, Scotland, Wales, Ireland, and from different parts of the European continent; from Sweden, Norway, Germany, Italy, and from the various cantons of Switzerland; a great many from the various States of America, from the islands of the sea, from the East Indies, from Africa—people from all quarters of the globe. Now, when the Gospel came to us, it, found us in a scattered condition. We lived in different countries, we spoke different languages; we had different ideas in regard to God and His ways. But we were taught that we must believe in the true and the living God; that we had all sprung from Him; that He was our Father, and that we were made in His image; that the idea prevalent in the world that the Deity is a being without body, parts or passions, an incomprehensible nonentity, was altogether wrong. We were told that we had sprung from God, and being His offspring we were like Him, and that, therefore, in some respects He is like us; that He is a personage, and as every seed begets its own kind, and we are the offspring of God, we could form some conception of what He is like, and we put away our old ideas. We came to a unity of the faith concerning God, that He is an individual; that although He is a spirit, yet He dwells in a tangible tabernacle. Man is a spirit as well as God, because we have sprung from Him. The spiritual part of our being is the offspring of God, which spiritual part dwells in our natural part that has come from the dust. In this way we could form some idea concerning the Deity, and we all formed the same idea; we all came to the unity of the faith in this respect. We were also taught that it was needful for us to believe in the Lord Jesus Christ, and when we had full faith in the Lord Jesus Christ to obey His commandments, that we were to repent of our sins. Now there were different ideas in the world as to what constituted repentance; but we were taught that in order to repent acceptably before God, we must come to the determination in our minds to leave off sinning, to cease doing that which is wrong, and to get to understand and to do what is right. Then we were taught that in order to receive remission of sins we must be baptized. Now there were different notions in regard to baptism in the world. Some people believed that the marking of the sign of the cross with a little water on the forehead by a priest was baptism. Others believed that sprinkling water upon the face was baptism. Others that it was needful to immerse the whole body in water to constitute baptism, and still others that a person ought to be immersed three times. But we were taught that baptism was at once a burial and a birth; that in order to be properly baptized the person who administers the ordinance should have authority from God, because he uses the name of the Father, Son and Holy Ghost, and he has no right to use the names of the holy trinity without being expressly authorized of God to do so. We learned that in the first place, then, an individual who administers the ordinances must have authority to administer, and he must administer in the way that the Lord has appointed—not the way that man may think is right, but the way the Lord has ordained, or else it would not be acceptable to God. And we were taught that the individual to be baptized must believe and repent, for without faith and repentance baptism would be of no avail. So the individual who was baptized must be a repentant believer, and the individual who administered the ordinance must be an ordained servant of God having legitimate authority from on high—not that which he had taken upon himself, not that which he may have felt called upon to do in his own heart; but he must be a bona fide representative of Deity, a man called and ordained and set apart by authority from God to administer in His name, or it would not be valid. And then the individual who baptizes must go down into the water with the person to be baptized—the candidate must be buried in the water in the likeness of Christ’s death and burial, and then be raised out of the water in the likeness of His resurrection—and the object of this was for the remission of sins.

This was very different from the doctrines which prevailed in the world. But when this was taught to us in plainness, and we were bap tized in this way, we received a testimony in our hearts that we were made clean, that our sins were remitted, that they had been washed away—not by the water but through our obedience to the ordinance which God had established and the blood of Jesus Christ, which was shed for the remission of our sins. We had the conviction sealed upon our hearts that we had received this blessing. As the result thereof we were thus brought to the unity of the faith. Then when the servants of God laid their hands upon us, according to the pattern revealed from heaven, and conferred upon us the Holy Ghost, the Comforter, we received the same spirit from on high, the same Holy Ghost. The people who received this ordinance in Scandinavia had the same spirit come down upon them as the people who received it in England or in Scotland, and the people on this Western Hemisphere on which we live have received the same spirit as the people received on the Eastern Hemisphere. In every part of the globe, wherever this ordinance was administered the same spirit rested down on the people and bore the same testimony to them. Now, although there are a variety of operations of this spirit, yet the spirit is the same and the light that it brings is the same. People do not all receive that light to the same degree, but the light is the same, just as the light of the sun is the same to all. Some people can see a great deal further than others with their natural eyes. Their eyesight is better, but the light by which both see is the same. So it is with regard to the gift of the Holy Ghost. All people do not receive it in the same degree, because they are not all gifted with the same capacity, and all have not the same desires; but the difference is not in the spirit, it is in the individual. Some people are very earnest after the things of God, and he who seeks finds, and the more he seeks in the right direction the more he finds. He that is dilatory in searching after the things of God, obtains but little; he that is diligent obtains much. All may receive it, but they must obtain it in the way that God has appointed, all receiving their measure according to their diligence and desire; but the spirit is the same. And this spirit has operated upon our hearts in such a way as to make us—a people of diverse feelings and opinions—of one heart and one mind in regard to this matter. And wherever this Gospel has been preached and people have received it, they have been brought to a “unity of the faith.” They no longer have many faiths and many baptisms, but one faith, one baptism and one God, having commenced to walk in the same straight and narrow way that leads to life and which is the only way of salvation. And all people who desire to enjoy the fullness of His glory must walk that straight and narrow way; “for wide is the road, and broad is the gate that leads unto death, and many there be,” we are told, “that go in thereat.” There is only one way of life, only one plan of salvation, because there is but one God to serve. If there were many Gods to worship, there might be many different ways to salvation; but as to us there is only one God, there can be but one Gospel, one Church, one gate leading to the celestial city.

I have shown that it is possible for a great many people of different ideas and notions to be brought to understand things alike. And if this can be done in regard to one or four things (I have named four) or principles, it can be done in a million or any number of principles. And we are told in the Scriptures that the time is to come when all shall see eye to eye; because all shall know God from the least unto the greatest. There is, too, a time to come when the Holy Spirit will be poured out upon all flesh, “when the sons and the daughters will prophesy, the old men dream dreams, and the young men see visions,” etc.; and when the earth and all that live upon it shall be redeemed and sanctified; the earth will then be as it was when it rolled out of the hands of the Creator, and the people will understand God and His ways; they will understand them alike. There will not be a thousand different religions; but there will be one only, one God the Father of all, and one Holy Spirit burning in the hearts of His children.

At the present time there is a diversity of opinions and notions and ideas concerning God and His ways; but I have stated that this one way in which the Saints have begun to walk, is the only true way. That may sound very exclusive; it may seem also to some a little inconsistent. That is because they may not understand the matter in all its bearings. I say, there can be but one true religion, simply because there is only one true God. True religion is that religion which comes from God; and that religion which is man-made cannot be the religion of God; it is therefore not binding; nothing religious is binding upon mankind but that which is revealed from God. That which comes from God through His servants and is declared to the people is binding; he that receives it will be saved; and he that rejects it will be condemned. This must be so because it comes by authority, from Deity himself. It is His word; it is His will; and he who rejects it, rejects it against his own salvation; and none can be saved who do not obey.

Some may ask. “Do you mean to say that all the people that have lived upon the earth since the days when Jesus and the Apostles preached, who did not hear and who did not obey the Gospel, are all damned and lost forever?” I answer, No. We merely hold to the proposition that there is but the one true way. I will refer you to the language of the Savior himself upon this point spoken to Nicodemus, one of the rulers of the Jews, who sought an interview with Jesus by night: “Verily, verily, I say unto thee, Except a man be born of water and of the Spirit, he cannot enter into the kingdom of God.” There is a very plain declaration, and a very conclusive one. There are millions of people who have lived upon the earth who have not been “born of water and of the Spirit.” Take, for instance, the millions of Jews alone who lived before the introduction of the Gospel by Christ, and after it was preached to their ancestors. For, let me tell you, the Gospel was preached before Christ preached it. When Jesus came, he did not introduce anything new, he came to restore something that had been lost. The Gospel was known by our first parents when they came out of the Garden of Eden. It was known to Abraham. It was preached to Israel before the law was added. It is stated by Paul to the Hebrews. “All our fathers were under the cloud, and they all passed through the sea; And they were baptized unto Moses in the cloud and in the sea; And did partake of the spiritual Rock that fol lowed them, which Rock was Christ.” They were baptized the same as we have been, but they did not receive the faith of the Gospel fully in their hearts; they did not profit by the word preached, therefore, God added the law as a schoolmaster, to bring them to the right way. He added the law of carnal commandments because they would not receive the fullness of the greater law in faith. When Jesus came, He restored the Gospel; but there had been millions and millions of people among the Jewish nation alone, from the days of Moses to those of Jesus, who had not been “born of water and of the Spirit.” They termed nations outside the Jewish nation the heathen, and none of them for hundreds of years had obeyed the Gospel—had received ordinances by which they could be born of water and of the Spirit. So in regard to the people from the days since the ancient Apostles were put to death, who had authority from God, who were sent forth to minister in His name, to preach the Gospel to all people, and baptize them in the name of the Father and of the Son, and of the Holy Ghost; and to teach them all things whatsoever he had commanded them. From their day to the time in which we live, thousands and millions of people have passed away without receiving or obeying the Gospel of the Son of God. According to the doctrines of men, because they did not hear it, they will be condemned forever. The heathen nations for ages past have not even heard the doctrines of men professing to be Christian. They worship idols; they worship beasts; they worship the heavenly bodies, etc. Many millions of them are outside the pale of Christendom. What is to become of them? “Verily, verily, I say unto you, except ye are born of water and of the Spirit, ye cannot enter into the kingdom of God.” So says the Savior; and there is no other name given under heaven whereby man can be saved than the name of Christ Jesus; and yet there are millions and millions of people who have passed away from the earth never having heard the name of Jesus Christ. A great many millions more have died without a knowledge of the true Gospel. And what is to become of them all? According to the doctrines of modern Christendom, they are all destroyed, they are all damned. That is a horrible thing to think of.

There is considerable controversy going on in the Christian world today, not only in reference to the plenary inspiration of the Bible, but in regard to probation. There is a discussion in progress now in regard to what is called “probation after death.” The question is whether there is a probation after people leave this world, or is it confined to the sphere in which we now move. Some of the ministers are beginning to think that there must be a chance for souls after they leave the earth to learn the way of life and salvation, but the great majority of modern divines, representing popular religious opinions, believe that this is the only state of probation; that when death overtakes a man, that is the end of his opportunities for salvation. According to that rule all those millions of people who have died without hearing the name of Jesus Christ have gone to hell.

There are different ideas about hell nowadays. A few years ago there was only the one idea, which was that hell is a great, bottomless pit full of flaming fire and brimstone, into which the wicked are cast never to return, whilst the devils are continually stirring up the flames for the everlasting torment of the doomed. And this scene used to be described by popular divines in the most hideous and shocking manner. People have recently modified their ideas concerning future punishment, and the change is greatly due to the teachings of the Elders of this Church, and the doctrines which have been set forth and published as revealed through the Prophet Joseph Smith. The controversy that is now being conducted by leading theological minds upon the subject of probations, has been brought about through the effects upon the public mind of the preaching of the Elders of the doctrine revealed in the very beginning of the Church. You will find in the Doctrine and Covenants that God revealed to Joseph Smith as early as March 1830, that “eternal punishment is God’s punishment.” Because God is an eternal being. His laws are eternal, and there are penalties attached to all of them. But it does not follow that because a person may be banished into the eternal punishment it is intended that he shall stay there eternally. He may go into eternal punishment, he may go to the place prepared for the rebellious and the sinner and stay there but for a certain period. Some may stay longer than others. In the language of the Scriptures, some are beaten with many stripes, and others are beaten with but few stripes; but all stay until they have paid “the uttermost farthing;” all are punished according to the gravity of their guilt. It will be “more tolerable” in the day of judgment for people who did not hear the word of God in the flesh, and who were wicked, than for the wicked who did hear the word of God and rejected it. But the time will come when all men will be judged, and the Apostle Paul says they will be judged by the Gospel; all will appear before the judgment seat to be judged according to their works, receiving according to their merits or demerits, gauged by their light and their opportunities.

Now, the Lord made this very plain in the revelation he gave to Joseph Smith. The term eternal damnation God said had been used to work upon the hearts of the children of men altogether for His glory. That is, in the low condition of humanity in which most people are placed there must be a threat of punishment and a promise of reward to influence people to do that which is right. They ought to do what is right simply because it is right; to love truth for its own sake. But humanity is in a low, degraded condition, and a promise of reward has to be held out to induce people to do right, and threats of punishment to restrain them from doing wrong. That is not the higher plane on which men are yet to stand. If people are trained aright they will love that which is true and dislike that which is untrue; they will love that which is virtuous, pure and Godlike, and dislike everything contrary thereto. They will do good, but not for reward; they will turn from evil, but not from fear of punishment. They will love truth and work righteousness for their own sake. But in the degraded condition of humanity this eternal punishment that has been preached has been allowed to go forth to work upon the hearts of the children of men altogether for the glory of God, that evil might be curbed, that transgression and sin might be restrained, that people might be checked from going headlong to destruction through fear of the consequences.

On the 16th of February, 1832, the Lord made this matter plainer. He gave to Joseph Smith and Sidney Rigdon, one of the most glorious visions that human beings ever gazed upon. It is the most complete and delightful that I have ever read. There is nothing in the book called the Bible that can compare with it. It is full of light; it is full of truth; it is full of glory; it is full of beauty. It portrays the future of all the inhabitants of the earth, dividing them into three grand classes or divisions—celestial, terrestrial, and telestial, or as compared to the glory of the sun, the glory of the moon, and the glory of the stars. It shows who will be redeemed, and what redemption they will enjoy; and describes the position the inhabitants of the earth will occupy when they enter into their future state. In that glorious vision we are told that there is only a certain class who shall not be redeemed in the due time of the Lord. I will read a few verses:

“Thus saith the Lord concerning all those who know my power, and have been made partakers thereof, and suffered themselves through the power of the devil to be overcome, and to deny the truth and defy my power—

“They are they who are the sons of perdition, of whom I say that it had been better for them never to have been born;

“For they are vessels of wrath, doomed to suffer the wrath of God, with the devil and his angels in eternity;

“Concerning whom I have said there is no forgiveness in this world nor in the world to come—

“Having denied the Holy Spirit after having received it, and having denied the Only Begotten Son of the Father, having crucified him unto themselves, and put him to an open shame.

“These are they who shall go away into the lake of fire and brimstone, with the devil and his angels—

“And the only ones on whom the second death shall have any power;

“Yea, verily, the only ones who shall not be redeemed in the due time of the Lord, after the sufferings of his wrath.

“For all the rest shall be brought forth by the resurrection of the dead, through the triumph and the glory of the Lamb, who was slain, who was in the bosom of the Father before the worlds were made.

“And this is the gospel, the glad tidings, which the voice out of the heavens bore record unto us—

“That he came into the world, even Jesus, to be crucified for the world, and to bear the sins of the world, and to sanctify the world, and to cleanse it from all unrighteousness;

“That through him all might be saved whom the Father had put into his power and made by him;

“Who glorifies the Father, and saves all the works of his hands, except those sons of perdition, who deny the Son after the Father has revealed him.”

I do not intend to read from this vision the condition of the people who will be redeemed in the different degrees of glory; you can do that for yourselves. I merely refer to it that the point may be made clear, that there are only a certain few who will not be redeemed in the due time of the Lord, through the merits of the atonement wrought out by Jesus Christ. The sons of perdition are to go away into this everlasting punishment and abide there. And as we are told in another part of the revelation, the height and the depth, and extent of their misery no man knoweth. It is not revealed except to a few, and then the vision is closed up, as the things they behold are unlawful to be uttered.

The “sons of perdition” are those who have received the Gospel, those to whom the Father has revealed the Son; those who know something concerning the plan of salvation; those who have had keys placed in their hands by which they could unlock the mysteries of eternity; those who received power to ascend to the highest pinnacle of the celestial glory; those who received power sufficient to overcome all things, and who, instead of using it for their own salvation, and in the interest of the salvation of others, prostituted that power and turned away from that which they knew to be true, denying the Son of God and putting Him to an open shame. All such live in the spirit of error, and they love it and roll it under the tongue as a sweet morsel; they are governed by Satan, becoming servants to him whom they list to obey, they become the sons of perdition, doomed to suffer the wrath of God reserved for the devil and his angels. And for them, having sinned against the Holy Ghost, there is no forgiveness either in this world or the world to come. But all the rest Christ will save, through the plan of human redemption prepared in the beginning before the world was.

Now the question may be asked, how can these things be? If no man can enter into the Kingdom of God except he be born of the water and of the Spirit, and only a few are to receive this eternal condemnation, how can the rest obtain this great salvation, how can they escape eternal punishment? The Lord has provided a plan for them, and it is very simple when properly under stood. I noticed in reading the reports of recent discussions on probation after death that it was admitted by the learned men engaged in it that they did not know anything definite about it. The notions and ideas of even the most advanced divines are but theories and speculations. But here we have the revelations of God concerning these things, that we may not be in the dark; so that we can all come together and see eye to eye and understand alike. For it is true, and truth can be made plain to all that desire its light. But when people do not want to see the truth, they can shut their eyes and exclude it from their spiritual vision, as people sometimes shut out from their eyes the light of the sun, from their “best rooms,” which, by the way, are their worst rooms, for the very reason that the blessed sunlight does not enter there—so people can close the windows of the soul and shut out the rays of the sun of righteousness; but he who desires to behold the truth may see it and comprehend it. As we now see each other by the light of the sun, so people of different minds and different races may turn their eyes towards the truth, and by the light of the Holy Ghost, they will see it exactly alike. They will no longer be divided on principles of doctrine.

But how can salvation come to those who never heard the name of Jesus Christ, who never heard the Gospel while living; who never had the opportunity of being born of the water and the Spirit, of being baptized by one with authority, for the remission of their sins, and having hands laid upon their heads for the reception of the Holy Ghost—how can they hear, how can they understand, how can they obey? People have fallen into the common mis take that it is impossible to learn the will of God when they leave this world. I do not know where the idea sprang from. I think it came from some of the monkish cells of the old Romish Church, descending down through the various sects that have come out from that Church. Why should not a person when out of the body be able to understand as when in the body? If we believed like some of the people of India, that when the spirit leaves the body it goes back to Brahma, or emerges into the generally diffused spirit of the universe, then we might conclude that they would not understand anything when they leave the body. If the spirit becomes a nonentity when it is disembodied we might have reason for entertaining such a notion. But we understand that the spirit is the real man, and that the body is but the outside covering; that when the change we call death comes, the body returns to the earth as it was, but the spirit returns to God who gave it. That the spirit is the actual person, that which thinks and reasons, the body being but the medium conveying impressions to the real man operating inside of it. That when the spirit is liberated, although not subject to the same laws as when in the tabernacle, yet it is the same person, a son or daughter of God; a being capable of thinking; of receiving inspiration; of accepting or rejecting that which is presented; and therefore is a subject of salvation. If not, why not? What is the reason? I think we will find when we shuffle off this mortal coil, when we get rid of the trammels of the mortal body, and enter into the spirit state, we shall be if anything more intelligent than when in the body. We shall not be bound by the same laws that now bind our mortal flesh, and we will be able to comprehend a great many things which were very hard for us to get a little inkling of while in the mortal tabernacle. “Well,” somebody may say, “that is very reasonable; but how does it coincide with the Christian religion, with the doctrines laid down in the Scriptures?” Let us see. Jesus Christ, we read, was put to death by wicked men. They took His body down from the cross and laid it in a new tomb hewn out of the rock. But where was Jesus? That was not Jesus in the tomb. It was his mortal body that was laid away. Where was Jesus? People generally suppose that He went to heaven. Stop a moment. After Jesus Christ was raised from the dead a woman whose name was Mary, was weeping at the sepulchre, when Jesus appeared before her. Mary stepped forward apparently to embrace Him, whereupon He said to her: “Touch me not; for I am not yet ascended to my Father: but go to my brethren, and say unto them, I ascend unto my Father, and your Father; and to my God, and your God.” Three days had elapsed between the time when the body was taken down from the cross—the time when he said, “Father, into thy hands I commend my spirit,” and the time of His resurrection. Where had He been in the interval? Peter tells us in his first epistle, 3rd chapter, from the 18th to the 20th verses: “For Christ also hath once suffered for sins, the just for the unjust, that he might bring us to God, being put to death in the flesh, but quickened by the Spirit: By which also he went and preached unto the spirits in prison; Which sometime were disobedient, when once the longsuffering of God waited in the days of Noah.” It appears that after being put to death He went somewhere. Where? “By which also he went and preached unto the spirits in prison.” What spirits? “Which sometime were disobedient, when once the longsuffering of God waited in the days of Noah, while the ark was preparing.” Now, that makes the matter very clear to a person that wants to understand. But you take a learned divine whose mind has become befogged by the traditions of men and he does not want anything to do with that scripture, or if he does he will try to explain it away. How do the clergy explain it? They say the spirit of Jesus in Noah preached to the people before the flood. Now, compare that idea with the text I have quoted. It was not Noah who was put to death. But it was He that was put to death in the flesh, and quickened by the spirit that went and preached to the spirits in prison. Again, in the 4th chapter of the first Epistle of Peter, and the 6th verse, we read this: “For this cause was the gospel preached also to them that are dead, that they might be judged according to men in the flesh, and live according to God in the spirit.” Here were people that were preached to who were not men in the flesh. Who were they? They were spirits in prison, and they were in prison because of their disobedience in the days of Noah. They had been there about 2,000 years, and Jesus went and preached to them. What did he preach? He preached the Gospel. What did he preach to them for? That they might be further condemned and taunted with their miserable fate? Oh no. He went there that He might preach to them the Gospel, “so that they might be judged according to men in the flesh, but live according to God in the spirit.” This is what the an cient prophet predicted concerning Jesus. We read that he went into the synagogue on the Sabbath day and stood up for to read. He took the book of the Prophet Isaiah, and what he read was this: “The Spirit of the Lord God is upon me, because he hath anointed me to preach good tidings unto the meek; he hath sent me to bind up the brokenhearted, to proclaim liberty to the captives, and the opening of the prison to them that are bound.” That was Christ’s mission—not only to preach to men in the flesh, but to preach to men in the spirit. Isaiah says in c. xlix, 9 v., “That thou mayest say to the prisoners, Go forth; to them that are in darkness, Shew yourselves;” and in c. xlii, 7 v., “to bring out the prisoners from the prison, and them that sit in darkness out of the prison house.”

Jesus left His body sleeping in the tomb and went to the spirit world, and the repentant thief who died by His side went there also. Some people think that because the thief said, “Lord, remember me when thou comest into thy kingdom,” and Jesus replied, “To day shalt thou be with me in paradise,” that he (the thief) went direct to heaven and in the presence of God. Now, if he did, Jesus Christ broke His own word; for he said, “Except a man be born of water and of the Spirit, he cannot enter into the kingdom of God.” Where did the thief go? Wherever Jesus went, the thief went, and he had the privilege of hearing Jesus preach the Gospel, so that he might have the chance of being judged according to men in the flesh, but living according to God in the spirit. And how could he do that? By receiving the same Gospel that men had in the flesh. Jesus, then, left his body in the tomb and went to the spirit world. Those everlasting gates had to be lifted up. “Lift up your heads, O ye gates; and be ye lifted up, ye everlasting doors; and the King of glory shall come in.” He went and preached deliverance to the captives, and opened the prison doors to them that were bound. He went to proclaim the acceptable day of the Lord. He came back to His sleeping body, and having the keys of hell He also grasped the keys of death, and His body was quickened. He stood upon His feet and ministered to His disciples. He could then go to His Father and report the accomplishment of His mission. He could say: “I have done the work thou gavest me to do; I have preached the Gospel to the meek; I have bound up the brokenhearted; I have preached deliverance to the captives; I have opened the prison doors of them that were bound; I have led captivity captive; I have shed my blood as an atonement for the sins of the world; now, Father, accept of me and my labors.” Then He could come to the earth and say: “All power is given unto me both in the heavens and on the earth.” He had fulfilled His mission, and had received immortal keys and honors and powers as a reward of the fulfillment thereof. He shall occupy the highest place among all the sons of God, because He is the firstborn, and has performed the work of the firstborn in the plan of human redemption. He will be exalted above every creature, because He was the most obedient of every creature. He will be the greatest, because He was the humblest. He will be the richest, because He was the best. He is the sinless Christ, and therefore He wears the eternal crown.

There is another question that arises here. If men can hear the Gospel in the spirit world, can they obey it fully in the spirit world? Let us look at that a little. Here are the Gospel ordinances. Are ordinances of any effect? Yes, they are. “Except a man be born of water and of the Spirit, he cannot enter into the kingdom of God.” Just the same as if an alien does not obey the naturalization laws, he cannot become a citizen of the United States. God’s house is a house of order. He has a way of His own, and he that will not accept that way cannot obtain the blessing. Then can those spirits who hear the Gospel in the spirit world obey the Gospel fully? Can they believe? Yes. Can they repent? Why not? It is the soul of man, or the spirit of man in the body, not the body, that believes. It is the spirit of man in the body that repents. What is it that obeys the ordinances? Why, the spirit. But these ordinances belong to this sphere in which we live, they belong to the earth, they belong to the flesh. Water is an earthly element composed of two gases. It belongs to this earth. What there is in the spirit world, we know little about. But here is the water in which repentant believers must be baptized. Can they be baptized in the spirit world? It appears not. What is to be done, then. The Apostle Paul asks this question in the fifteenth chapter of the first epistle of the Corinthians: “Else what shall they do which are baptized for the dead, if the dead rise not at all? why are they then baptized for the dead?” It seems that the people to whom that was written were familiar with the ordinance called baptism for the dead, and they were baptized for their dead. Paul was arguing upon the literal resurrection of the body, and says, What shall they do if the dead rise not; why are they then baptized for the dead? Our learned divines may presume from that that the doctrine is not laid down sufficiently clear to endorse it; but to us there is no doubt concerning it, the Lord having revealed the principle to the Prophet Joseph Smith. He also explained the manner in which the ordinances should be administered, like everything else He has revealed, in great plainness. And that is why we are building Temples. People who visit our city frequently say, “What a fine meetinghouse you are building.” No, that is not a meetinghouse; this Assembly Hall and the adjacent Tabernacle are meetinghouses. That is a Temple, a building in which we expect to perform ordinances for the living and the dead; wherein we may be baptized for our dead, that they may receive the benefit of that ordinance, provided they believe and repent and do the spiritual part, while we do the material part, that they may receive the blessings of obedience to the Gospel, and live according to God in the spirit. Some will say, “I cannot see why a thing done by one person should stand for another.” How do you understand the doctrine that Jesus Christ has done something for all of us? We read that “without the shedding of blood there is no remission of sins.” Not my blood or your blood is to be shed for the remission of our sins; but He who was without sin allowed His blood to be shed as a sacrifice for our sins. Now the whole question hinges on that. If you reject the doctrine of proxy in baptism, you must reject the doctrine of proxy in the atonement.

Now, there is no dubiety in the minds of the Latter-day Saints on this subject. We have learned these things from God, and we understand them alike. Why? Because we desire the truth; we do not care about the nonsense of men, we want divine truth which comes from God. And when it comes we are anxious to receive it; we seek for it; we ask for it; and He enlightens us by His Spirit, and when the Good Shepherd speaks, we know His voice; and it is that voice that has made plain to us the doctrine that we who have obeyed the Gospel in the flesh may be baptized for our ancestors in the spirit world.

If you will look at this in the spirit that accompanies its unfoldment, your hearts will be filled with joy at the mercy and goodness of God. If there are men or women here who have not believed this, and they will ponder upon it, and seek to God for light upon it, they will have their eyes opened to see that it is one of the most glorious principles. It opens the way for the redemption of our fathers who lived and died without hearing the sound of the Gospel. It opens up the way for the redemption of the heathen nations who never heard the name of Jesus Christ. It opens up the way for the hosts of Israel, with their posterity, who ages ago fell away from the truth and went into darkness; for those whose hearts have been heavy, and whose eyes have been blinded—for it is written “blindness in part has happened unto Israel, until the fulness of the Gentiles be come in. And so all Israel shall be saved: as it is written, There shall come out of Sion the Deliverer, and shall turn ungodliness from Jacob: For this is my covenant unto them, when I shall take away their sins.” Those that will live upon the earth of their lineage who shall obey the Gospel, in the latter times will perform the outward ordinances for and in behalf of their dead ancestors. This glorious doctrine lifts up the dark curtain of sectarianism and lets in the light of heaven, and makes plain the justice of God, and the mercy of God. The mercy of our God extends to all of his children, not only to one little branch through the loins of Abraham. All shall hear, all shall have opportunity of knowing the ways of life and truth, and the opportunity of rejoicing therein; and this is the means that God will adopt to accomplish this great and stupendous result! Every heart shall be gladdened with the tidings of salvation. The living and the dead shall be visited and even those who have been thrust down to hell, who have been beaten with many stripes, and have suffered their portion in the eternal punishment, will have the arm of sweet mercy extended to them when stern justice is satisfied; and in due time every knee shall bow, and every tongue confess that Jesus is the Christ to the glory of God the Father. And the time will come when death and hell shall be destroyed, and there will be no more death, neither sorrow nor pain, but every creature, in heaven above and the earth beneath shall be heard to sing, “Blessing, and honor, praise and power, be unto God and the Lamb forever, who has redeemed us by His blood out of every nation and tribe and tongue and people!”

The Gospel is plain and simple and easily understood and appreciated by the honest seeker after truth. The reason that people generally do not receive it when it is preached to them by the servants of God—it is a hard saying, but true nevertheless—is because their deeds are evil; because they love the things of the world more than the things of God, and the love of the Father is not in them. And because they reject the truth when presented to them, and delight in the spirit of the world, they oppose the truth; and if not openly, in their hearts they sanction acts of persecution and hatred against the Saints of God. Some of them are corrupt in their practices, and such persons are ever ready to assail and traduce the character of our leading men, men whom we know to be pure in their lives, and to be righteous before God; it is the very worst of men who take this course, and thus the Evil One, the destroyer of the souls of men worketh in them and through them. And when they have opposed this work all that they possibly can, they will find that it flourishes and grows and spreads forth, while they will go to the place prepared for them, where they will remain until they shall have paid the uttermost farthing for their willful wickedness. All men who fight against the Holy Priesthood of God, will have to meet that some day. Their acts are not hidden from the eyes of Him who does not slumber. Their evil deeds and wicked sayings will be revealed openly. The time will come when the first angel of God will sound the trump declaring the secret acts of men during the first thousand years; and the second angel will sound his trump and reveal the secret acts of men and the thoughts and intents of their hearts during the second thousand years, and so on down to the last thousand years, even until it shall be declared that time shall be no longer, and the secret acts of all men in all the ages shall be brought to light. My brethren and sisters, let that be a caution to you and to me. When we went down into the waters of baptism and were immersed by the servants of God having authority to administer that ordinance for the remission of sins, though our sins were as scarlet they were washed whiter than snow; and we came forth from the water clean and pure, cleansed by the blood of Christ from all sin. But since that time the acts we have performed will have their effect upon us for good or for evil, and we shall be accountable for them when we stand before the bar of God. They will be seen and known of all; they are written in the books out of which we are to be judged, and every man’s acts are stamped upon his own being, in characters that will speak for themselves, in the day when we shall see as we are seen and know as we are known.

Then let us try and do right for the sake of the right, live in the light of the spirit, see eye to eye, and prove ourselves worthy of the great salvation; and may God help us so to do, in the name of Jesus Christ. Amen.