Value of Liberty—Persecution Expected—Morse and Others Were at First Despised—God Overrules for Good—Faith and Works—Repentance and Baptism—Revelation—Witness of the Spirit—Mission of Joseph Smith—the Wheat Will Remain—No Malice to Men, But Hatred of Their Wicked Acts—Plural Marriage

Remarks by Apostle J. H. Smith, delivered in the Tabernacle, Salt Lake City, Sunday, July 27th, 1885.

If there is any one thing in this world above another that I prize it is my liberty—liberty to speak, liberty to act, liberty to move among my fellows, discharging the duties and obligations of life without regard to the frowns or favors of anybody in the world. I rejoice in the fact that, so far as I am individually concerned, my faith in God and in His promise to us, His people, was never better than it is today. And although the dark cloud may hang over us, and the storm of opposition beat against us, I am as confident as I am that I stand before you that God will vindicate the righteousness of His Saints and bring them off conquerors in the end. So far as I am concerned I see but little cause for mourning. It is true that some of our brethren are serving out terms of imprisonment, but it is also true that they are thus afflicted not for wrongdoing but for conscience sake; and they do not mourn, so why should we. If they or we should put on the garb of mourning, it would not be because of any inflictions we may have to endure in consequence of our religious convictions, for such things we may expect, and have expected; our cause of mourning would be and is in man’s inhumanity to man, in the tearing away of the barriers of civil and religious liberty, the results of which none may be able to divine.

I have preached in many lands and to many peoples that the little stone cut out of the mountain without hands would cause a commotion in the earth, exciting the jealousy of the people, not only of our own land, but eventually of all lands; but that while this would be the case, we would be able at all times to give tangible reasons for the peculiar position we occupy, and for the hope and faith we have in the God of heaven, who has called us to it.

I did not design at all to refer to the persecutions of the Saints; they are no cause of surprise or wonderment to me; I have expected such things, having been taught in my youth that such a condition of things would come. But while we may expect to be persecuted and hated of all men, we have consolation in the promise of the Lord that He would from time to time soften the hearts of our enemies, and that nothing should intervene to destroy this work, or to frustrate the purposes that it is designed to accomplish.

The doctrines which we believe in and practice should not, in my opinion, create the feelings against us which now exist. When it is borne in mind that we believe in faith as the primary and fundamental principle of the Gospel: that we believe in working out our salvation with fear and trembling before the Lord, through keeping His commandments and observing the laws and ordinances which He has made known to us for our guidance, and which when carried out, produce the fruits of righteousness, it does seem singularly strange that men professing Christianity should be found among our most bitter opponents.

Brother Moyle, who has just addressed you, referred to some of the famous characters of earth, among them our own Morse, and his struggles to make men believe in the inspiration with which he was possessed. Although he has since demonstrated to the whole world that he was most wonderfully wrought upon in producing marvelous results from the workings of electricity, yet when he appealed for assistance he was regarded as and even called mad. He, however, was not daunted, but persevered in his work, a work that has since brought blessings and benefit to mankind generally. The experience of Morse has been the common lot of men who have been the means of introducing new truths into the world; and who is able to say, that history will not yet record the fact that the sons and daughters of our most bitter opponents have recognized the Latter-day Saints as benefactors to the human family.

The principle of faith has been the great motive power by which all reformers have been actuated; it was faith that impelled us to gather to this land, and it is faith, in connection with the knowledge we now possess, that inspires us to steadfastly and firmly move on in our work of redeeming the land and building up towns and cities, and bringing order out of chaos. Thus, so far as the principle of faith is concerned, we do not differ from Christians generally, except in being more practical, believing, as we do, that faith without works is dead. There are no doubt many people who are as practical in their views as the Latter-day Saints, and cling to their views as tenaciously as we, and perhaps, so far as that goes are similarly treated, but their faith is centered in other matters than religion or spiritual things, as was the case with Morse.

We turn to the principle of repentance, that principle that prompts men to cease doing wrong and to mend their ways. In this we are in harmony with active Christians generally, although we may not place this principle in the same relative position in the category of tenets, as others do. We also accept and regard as essential, the ordinance of baptism, and could furnish ample testimony to show that this, as well as the other ordinances, principles and laws of the Gospel, as believed in and practiced by us are Scriptural; that it is ordained of the Lord; that He has declared that except a man is born of the water and of the Spirit, he cannot enter into the kingdom of heaven.

One of the most striking points of difference between the religion of the Latter-day Saints and that of other people is our belief in revelation. We not only believe that the Lord did in ancient days reveal Himself to man, but we accept the doctrine of revelation as necessary for the guidance of the Church today; that the same Lord who so signally blessed and sustained His people anciently can bestow similar blessings in our day; and our faith is just as firmly fixed in the goodness and power of the Almighty to move in our behalf as in that of any other people. If it were not for the fact that our heavenly Father has spoken and revealed to us certain fundamental truths, and that He does, through His servant, to the Church as a body, and through His spirit to the people individually, we would be as others are—without any living distinctive faith. To do away with revelation would be to refuse to recognize the Author of our faith as our guide and teacher. Who can find out the things of God except he is taught either of the Almighty Himself, or those who are taught of Him? It is a matter of utter impossibility for man through his own wisdom to either find out God, or to act in the things of God, without first having been taught and authorized so to do.

Thus might we compare these principles and reason upon them. We have done this abroad whenever opportunity has been afforded. But when we have declared the fact that present revelation was and is essential for the guidance of man, and that the Church of Christ never did or could exist without it, and that the Lord had again revealed Himself to man, our hearers would generally either turn aside or perhaps show some sign of pity for “the poor deluded Mormons,” for this is the light in which we are held for believing in such things. It is a singular thing to me that men and women can take their Bible and sit down with the Elders of our Church and compare the doctrines of the scriptures with those taught by our Elders, and fail to sense their truth. It does seem singular to me—and yet I should not regard it as strange for this reason: whenever there has been a Gospel dispensation a man having the Holy Spirit could bear witness of the correctness of these things. When that spirit of testimony rests down upon a man it begets conviction in his heart, whether he is willing to acknowledge it or not. Nicodemus could find his way by night to Jesus, and acknowledge that there was a power with him that other men were not possessed of. Others received the witness of the Spirit, and were able to abide by its dictates, renounce their former ways, and take up the cross unpopular though it was. Others again treated the whole thing with ridicule, not being able to see anything in it. Such doubtless would be the case were the same persons to teach the same things now.

To me it has always appeared singular that there should be any reflecting honest-hearted person unable to believe in the mission of Joseph Smith. We may take such men as Luther, Calvin and Wesley, and others equally learned, who are recognized by all Christians as beacon lights, and yet notwithstanding their education and ability to act in the roles they so nobly played, not one of them nor any other orthodox Christian has been able to evolve a perfect system of Church government. Their productions are as a rope of sand, void of strength or spiritual force. The spiritual desires of men are not gratified to satiety, their souls are not fed; it is the letter without the spirit, the body without the soul. I do not say this by way of disparagement to the names of these illustrious heroes; they did their work and did it nobly, but it was not for them to reveal to man a perfect system of church government. In later times, however, we find a boy without experience or education, presenting to the world a system of government pronounced by statesmen of eminence to be superior to anything known among men. Our organization is admitted to be without a parallel; and this through a mere boy. But the fact is, he was not the author, neither did he ever claim its authorship; he was merely the honored instrument under God to reveal it to and institute it among men. And although the press and the pulpit unite in denouncing him as a crazy fanatic and a vile impostor, his work challenges the admiration of the best thinkers of the age. The principles that he unfolded are in harmony with the scriptures and with reason; they are in harmony with true science and with the laws of the universe; and he has presented them clearly and distinctly so that none need misunderstand them. It is most singular that the intelligence of the 19th century can look upon this boy and mark him as being so infamous a being as they say he was, when the fruits of his labors are before the world and none can gainsay them. This is the work of the Divine Master, and Joseph Smith was His servant. The Lord God stands at the helm. We need not feel concerned about what is termed “Mormonism;” He decreed it, and He is carrying it out. It is true, it may take us through persecution and tribulation, but it is true all the same; this I know as well as I know that I live. Having received the witness of the Holy Spirit, neither you nor I need entertain any doubts or fears as to the result. And I bear witness before you and before my Father in heaven, whom I expect to meet at the latter day, that we possess the fullness of the new and everlasting Gospel, and that God revealed it unto us; and I further testify that it will remain firm as the rock of ages, that its course will continue onward and upward, gathering strength as it goes, until it shall at last fill the whole earth, as Daniel foresaw that it would.

It seems that the people of the Lord in every age have had to pass through certain ordeals in order to accomplish certain results; they would become careless and negligent of duty and worldly-minded and, in many instances, forgetful of their sacred covenants; and we, it would seem, need to pass through the same purifying process as they before us. And, in order to develop a better state of things for Zion, some will pass through the prison house, and others may suffer death, as some have already; but whatever the infliction, the wheat will yet remain and the chaff will be blown away.

One may ask. Have you any feelings of hatred in your heart toward those who delight in persecuting and oppressing you? If they were hungry, and it was in my power, I would feed them; I desire not to bear malice or hatred towards any of the children of my heavenly Father. We must fight the battles of truth, with a desire for the ascendancy of truth, and not personal gratification, remembering that those who oppose us are of the same family, hereafter to be rewarded for the good or evil which they may do while in the flesh. I hate the misdeeds of men, especially when they are aimed at the liberty of their fellows; but I hate none of the sons and daughters of God. I would bless them and do anything in my power for their good; but I would not yield my soul into their keeping, or turn traitor to the principles of my faith for the satisfaction of any living being.

I have been reared among the Latter-day Saints. My father and mother were as old in citizenship of the United States and as honorable in their ancestry as any that call be found in the land. I love my religion, I love my country, and I have no other desire than to honor my God, and do good to my fellow man.

There is no necessity for us to be concerned or worried in the least. It is true we may have difficulties to meet; but with patient forbearance, pursuing an earnest determined course, time will prove to the truly loyal citizens of this great nation, that we are the friends of liberty; that to be free, free from the power of wicked men, and free from the power of the destroyer of men’s souls is the aim and object of our lives. There is no necessity for overt acts of any kind, or indulging the spirit of revenge; our course is one of peace and good will to man, blessing all with whom we come in contact. And as long as we observe strictly the principles of our religion, the way will open up before us, for God is our Father and friend. He has been our guide in the past; and He in His own way has cast down every man, from the commencement of this work until the present time, who has raised his hand against us, and their lives have ended in disgrace or been clouded by some misdeed.

While in distant lands I have had joy in gazing upon the stars and stripes as they have floated on the breeze from the mast heads of American vessels, or wherever my eye has happened to see the flag of our country. I have honored and revered my parents who, in harmony with their convictions, taught me to obey the laws of the land; and I trust ever to be found true to my country, and true to my religion and my God. The laws of Heaven, as revealed through the Prophet Joseph Smith, are grounded in my heart, and I can acknowledge the power of no man, however great, to stand between me and my God.

Referring for one moment to the question of plural marriage, I will here say that it is my candid opinion, freely expressed, that if fifty million of the people of the United States believed in patriarchal marriage and only twenty in monogamic marriage, that the judges placed in power by the majority would decide in favor of the plural form of marriage, being religion. That prejudice and political influence affect to a great extent the judgment of men in deciding such questions, no person can deny. Amen.

Divine Mission of Joseph Smith—Prediction and Promise Fulfilled—Many Others Will Yet Be Verified—The World’s Hatred of the Saints—Indisputable Evidence of the Divine Origin of the Church—No Power Can Destroy It—Missionaries Should Go to the Fields to Which They Are Called—The Effects of Obedience and Its Opposite

Remarks by President Joseph F. Smith, delivered at the General Conference, on Sunday Morning, April 6th, 1884.

As the time remaining is so short, I think I could not do better than devote it to continuing the subject dwelt upon by Brother Cannon.

The Doctrine and Covenants, as well as the Book of Mormon, contains indisputable evidence of the divine calling and mission of Joseph Smith. For instance, I will refer the congregation to the revelation given Dec. 25th, 1832, in relation to the great war of the Rebellion, with which all are more or less familiar. A portion of that revelation has been literally fulfilled, even to the very place indicated in the prediction where the war should commence: which, as was therein stated, was to terminate in the death and misery of many souls. Again, in the revelation given in March, 1831, to Parley P. Pratt and Lemon Copley, the following remarkable prediction is found:

“But before the great day of the Lord shall come, Jacob shall flourish in the wilderness, and the Lamanites shall blossom as the rose. Zion shall flourish upon the hills and rejoice upon the mountains, and shall be assembled together unto the place which I have appointed.”

Who, let me ask, unless he was inspired of the Lord, speaking by the gift and power of God, at that remote period of the Church’s history, when our numbers were few, when we had no influence, name or standing in the world—who, I would ask, under the circumstances in which we were placed when this prediction was made, could have uttered such words unless God inspired him? Zion is, indeed, flourishing on the hills, and is rejoicing on the mountains, and we who compose it are gathering and assembling together unto the place appointed. I now ask this congregation if they cannot see that this prediction (which was made many years before the idea prevailed at all among this people that we should ever migrate and gather out to these mountain valleys), has been and is being literally fulfilled? If there were no other prophecy uttered by Joseph Smith, fulfillment of which could be pointed to, this alone would be sufficient to entitle him to the claim of being a true Prophet.

Again, in the revelation given Feb. 24th, 1834, this remarkable promise and prophecy is found:

“But verily I say unto you, I have decreed a decree which my people shall realize, inasmuch as they hearken from this very hour unto the counsel which I, the Lord their God, shall give unto them. Behold they shall, for I have decreed it, begin to prevail against mine enemies from this very hour. And by hearkening to observe all the words which I, the Lord their God, shall speak unto them, they shall never cease to prevail until the kingdoms of the world are subdued under my feet, and the earth is given unto the saints, to possess it forever and ever.”

Is there a person within the sound of my voice, or anywhere else upon the face of the wide earth, who can say that this promise has failed, that this prediction is not founded in truth, that so far it has not been fulfilled? I stand before this vast congregation, and am at the defiance of any human being to say, that this was not pronounced by the spirit of truth, by the inspiration of the Almighty, for it has been fulfilled, and is being fulfilled, and that, too, in the face of opposition of the most deadly character: and what remains will be fulfilled literally and completely. And it is the fear in the heart of Satan that this will be the case, that causes him to stir up his emissaries to oppose the Kingdom of God and seek, if possible, to destroy this great and glorious work. For it is a living fact, a fact that fills the hearts of the righteous and Godfearing with unspeakable joy and the hearts of the wicked and ungodly with consternation and jealous fear, that this work of God, this work of re demption and salvation in which we are engaged, is moving forward and is destined to continue in its onward march until the kingdoms of the world shall be subdued and brought under the law of Almighty God. And that this will come to pass, I can assure you, the enemy of all righteousness comprehends as well as we do. Yes, he knows that this will eventually be the case, better than many who profess to have received the Holy Spirit in their hearts; and, therefore, he is diligently seeking to stir up the hearts of the wicked to fight against the Saints of God, until they are discomfited, and Zion is free.

These predictions concerning the triumph of the cause of God over wickedness, and the triumph of the Saints of God over the wicked who contend against them, were uttered by Joseph Smith in his youth, in the early rise of the Church when, to all human appearance, their fulfillment was absolutely impossible. At that time there were but few who could believe, that dared to believe the truth of these predictions. The few, comparatively, that did believe when they heard, were those whose minds had been enlightened by the Holy Spirit of promise and who, therefore, were prepared to receive them. As these predictions have been fulfilled, so those not yet fulfilled will come to pass in the due time of the Lord; and as this latter-day work has so far grown and assumed force and power in the earth, so it will continue to do, and there is no power beneath the Celestial Kingdom that can prevent its growth, or the consummation of all that has been predicted concerning it.

I do not wonder that the enemies of righteousness are stirred up about this matter. I am not surprised that the wicked rage and the heathen imagine a vain thing. I am not astonished when certain men get mad, or that their souls are vexed within them, that their minds are perplexed, and that they feel wrought up with anger against a people who have never injured them or theirs. One thing I am surprised about in relation to this matter is, that the Latter-day Saints themselves should not be as strongly aroused in the interest of the Kingdom of God, as the enemies of truth are against it. When I contemplate the situation as it is presented to my mind, I am astonished that so many of the Latter-day Saints should be so indifferent and neglectful of duty that they cannot, apparently, appreciate the importance of living their religion. I am surprised that there should be any necessity for reformation among the Latter-day Saints, that is, if I should be surprised at all; though surprised is not the appropriate word to use, the word grieved, perhaps, might be used with greater propriety in this sense. If I would allow myself to indulge in a feeling of sorrow, I might indeed feel grieved that any of us should find ourselves in a condition to require reform in our lives. It certainly cannot be in consequence of the lack of evidences of the divinity of the work in which we are engaged, as there are so many such evidences transpiring every day in our experience; in fact the whole spectacle of this latter-day work is overwhelming in undeniable proof to the people of God, at least, that it is His work; while the whole world, on the contrary, are arrayed against it, because they cannot see the light. You who have obeyed the requirements of the everlasting Gospel, and have been chosen out of the world, having received the gift of the Holy Ghost, through the laying on of hands, it is your privilege to receive the witness of the Spirit for yourselves; it is your privilege to discern the mind and will of the Father respecting your own welfare, and respecting the final triumph of the work of God. Why, then, should we be told that “Mormonism” is true? Why should we need any further proof that Joseph Smith was a true Prophet, or that his predictions are being fulfilled? Why should it be necessary to prove that the word of God has come to the world through him, and that that word is indisputable, that the world cannot gainsay it? The doctrines and revelations believed in by the Latter-day Saints have now been before the world for 54 years, and during that time what the world has been pleased to call “Mormonism” has been to them an unsolved problem. The sound of the Book of Mormon has rung in the ears of the civilized world since the year 1830, when it was published, and the report of it had gone forth and was being agitated some time before that; and during the 54 years that that book has been made public to the world, there has been no stone unturned by the most learned men of the age to disprove it, and make it appear a delusion and imposition. In this, however, they have signally failed, not being able to produce a single argument that cannot be successfully met by even the boys of this community. This may seem a broad assertion, but it is nevertheless true. Our Elders have been sent out as missionaries to the different nations now for the last 50 years, during which time they have testified to the truth of the Book of Mormon, and have invited investigation of its pages. And although many in their day and time have arisen either to ridicule or disprove the truths it contains, their efforts have been futile, resulting only in their own dismay. It cannot be disproved, for it is true. There is not a word or doctrine, of admonition, of instruction within its lids, but what agrees in sentiment and veracity with those of Christ and His Apostles, as contained in the Bible. Neither is there a word of counsel, of admonition or reproof within its lids, but what is calculated to make a bad man a good man, and a good man a better man, if he will hearken to it. It bears the mark of inspiration from beginning to end, and carries conviction to every honest-hearted soul. And because the Book of Mormon is a true and authentic record of a people who once lived and flourished on this American continent—and because God Himself has undertaken, through us, His weak and erring children, to establish His rule and government on the earth in answer to the prayers of His Saints, ancient and modern, and according to the counsels of His own will—because it is verily so, devils rage and the willfully wicked are angered and seek the life and liberties of the Saints, and the destruction of the work of the Lord; but in the name of Israel’s God, they never will be able to accomplish their purposes against us. As I have often said, so I repeat, the best time the world ever saw, or ever will see, to destroy “Mormonism,” was on the 6th day of April, 1830. But they did not do it then, and so they let the opportunity slip: and have ever since been blindly struggling in the hope of doing something towards it. But the more they struggle, the wider of the mark their efforts will be. This is my testimony. If I had the power, and was called upon to do it, I would go to the ends of the earth and would lift up my voice in testimony of this fact to every nation, tongue and people, for I know that it is true.

Before I close I want to say a word to our young men who are called as missionaries. When a man is called to go on a mission, and a field of labor is assigned him, he should, I think, say in his heart, not my will be done, but thine, O Lord. We find it a little difficult sometimes to get the right men to go to certain distant lands to preach the Gospel. It is sometimes thought, especially among our young Elders, that Great Britain is the finest field of labor in the world; and, consequently, they want to go there. They do not like to go to the Southern States; they do not much fancy the Northern States; they do not care to go to New Zealand, or to the Sandwich Islands. When we call men to go to Great Britain, it is gratifying for them to respond cheerfully to the call; and when we call others to go to the Northern States, to New Zealand, or to the Sandwich Islands, we do not want any to come and say, they want their field of labor changed to England. We expect every man to be on hand to go wherever he may be called, and then he may expect the blessing of the Lord to attend him in his labors. I have been thankful only once since I went to the Sandwich Islands on my first mission, and that has been ever since.

Soon after I was sent, there was a very bright, intelligent man called to go to the Islands, and it was one of the causes of his apostasy. “What,” said he, “send me, a linguist, a man well read, an educated man, and an Englishman at that, to preach to heathens?” He felt that he was not looked upon with that consideration and respect that his scholarly attainments commanded; he felt that he was slighted; and apostatized, and returned to his native land, where he wrote a book against us, and has since died. When Brother George Q. Cannon was called to go to the Islands, he had no such feelings. He learned the language, and translated the Book of Mormon into the Hawaiian language. He performed a glorious mission, and is now one of the First Presidency of the Church. And singular as it may appear, out of the number of Elders that have been on missions to the Sandwich Islands, I can count more Apostles, more Presidents of Stakes, Bishops, and leading men, than can be found in the same number that have gone to any other country. Why is this? Perhaps it is because they manifested their willingness to descend below all things, that they might rise above all things. If a man in this Church would be exalted, let him humble himself; and he that would exalt himself, God will abase.

God bless Israel, and pour out His Spirit upon the household of faith, and strengthen us to do the labors required of us, in the name of Jesus. Amen.

Hatred Towards Saints—Its Cause—Hope of the Saints—Constitutional Rights—Loyal Intentions

Discourse by Apostle Moses Thatcher, delivered at the General Conference, Friday Afternoon, April 4th, 1884.

I rejoice in the remarks that were made this morning by the brethren, and feel that they were prompted by the Holy Ghost. It was truly remarked by our aged and venerated President, that unless sustained by the Lord, we cannot, as a people, accomplish His work; and it certainly must be apparent to every thoughtful mind, that man in and of himself is very weak, that he is unable, alone and unaided, to accomplish that which will result in his own salvation. It is not difficult to understand or to comprehend the power of God, as it is manifested in the affairs of nations; but we cannot always see how He manages and controls individuals. And yet no human being without His permission breathes the breath of life, for He is the giver of life; and when we, as a community or as individuals, sense this, manifesting by our works a goodly degree of faith and humility before God, then we are in the light. But people, on the other hand, who undertake to exhibit their own wisdom, or to depend upon the knowledge of man will, if they continue in that spirit, be led into darkness, and their life will result in failure.

During the past few months, I have thought much upon a particu lar subject, which has weighed heavily upon my mind by reason of the enmity, the malice and hatred which I have seen manifested towards the Latter-day Saints. And I have been led to believe that they are hated more for their virtues than for their supposed vices. In connection with this subject, I have been led to believe that many among this people are apt to have compassion for the guilty. And I must confess myself that I have never heard judgment passed on any man by the authorities of the Church without more or less pity in my heart for that man. We are generally apt to be too lenient to the falsifier, who becomes the accuser of his brethren. We are too apt to look with pity upon one who may have fallen from the path of chastity, and forsaken the ways of the Lord. There is something in the human heart that is drawn out in sympathy and compassion for the erring. I will not attempt this afternoon to show whether this is a correct or an incorrect sentiment; whether it is a failing or a virtue; but I have noticed on the other hand, when hatred prompts action, there is but little if any mercy shown. The shafts intended for the innocent are often dipped in doubly distilled poison, before they are sped from the bow of envy by the hand of malice. It was so in the days of the Savior. Thrice tried and thrice condemned, followed to the cross with but little human sympathy, he endured the agonies of a cruel, lingering death. How much sympathy do you suppose Cain had when he slew his brother Abel? Did Cain hate Abel because he was innocent, or because he was guilty? His hand would have paused; he would have reflected had Abel been as guilty before God as he was. But because he was pure, and because God recognized his purity by accepting his offering, there arose in Cain’s heart envy, malice and hatred, that could only be appeased with blood. It has been so in every age of the world. You may trace human persecution; you may trace the history of those who invented the rack, the thumbscrew and the wheel, and you will find they have always been moved by one spirit, that same spirit which raised the rebellion in heaven, and that sought the glory and power of God the Father, and that found its culmination in sending to perdition Lucifer and those that were cast out with him. And Milton, interpreting the spirit that prompted Lucifer in the course he pursues, makes him say, “It is better to reign in hell than serve in heaven.” And wherever we find that spirit, we find a spirit of envy, a spirit of malice, a spirit that desires to destroy that which is more excellent and worthy than itself. In this way, after a just comparison between our persecutors and ourselves, we can account for the persecution to which we have been made subject.

Let the youth of Zion contemplate the character of the Prophet Joseph Smith, and see how evidences of prejudice, hatred and malice were heaped upon him until those that were prompted by it, succeeded at last in slaying him. They perpetrated this deed without mercy, without pity, innocent and guiltless as he was.

How is it today? Converse with certain people in Salt Lake City, those who have made it their business to hate, to lie about, and to do all in their power to persecute and despoil the Latter-day Saints, and you will find lurking in their breasts exactly the same spirit manifested by the wicked towards the Saints of God in all ages of the world; divest them of their malice and hatred and there would be little left.

We hear a great deal about the immorality of this people; but allow me to say, if we permitted ourselves to be led into wickedness; if we would adopt the ways of the Christian age; if we would cast our children into reservoirs and ash pits, on vacant lots and dung heaps, or throw them on to the railroad track; if we would transmit to our sons and daughters disease, and encourage them in ways that lead to death, hell and the grave; we should then have assimilated, as some of our would-be Christianizers have expressed it, with “American institutions;” in other words, then we should be hail fellows well met with the office seekers, with adventurers, with libertines and other destroyers of other people’s peace and happiness. It is because we cannot do this; because we refuse to “assimilate;” because we prefer to row against the current of corruption; because the fruits of our labors, political, financial and social are good, and bespeak a higher and better civilization, that we are hated and ostracized, and not because of any immorality that may exist in our midst. We are sensible of the fact that we are not of the world; that if we were, the world would love us as its own. We are sensible of the fact that we have come out from the world, and that, too, for a wise purpose in the wisdom of God. In these mountains we expect to establish the foundation of a civilization that will yet be the admiration of the world. We expect to bequeath to our children the blessings of physical and mental strength such as will enable them to stand the test that will be required of them; and the very principle and tenet of our religion, against which the Christian feeling of the age appears to be so much shocked, will be the chief cornerstone in the hands of the builder of rearing the structure that will be different from anything else in the world. Because we practice celestial or plural marriage, we are branded as lawbreakers; we are told that we seek to violate constitutional law, and the enactments of the Congress of the United States. Upon this point I desire to make a few remarks.

I was born in this country. I can trace my lineage to the revolutionary fathers. I love the institutions of my country; I love and venerate the Constitution. But I am not so ignorant, I am not so blind that I cannot see that anything which you or I may do may be made contrary to law, and may be called unconstitutional; but I hold that the Constitution was made broad enough, high enough and deep enough to enable us to practice our religion and be free before God and man. I hold that if Congress has a right to enact a law in relation to marriage, it might just as consistently make a law affecting baptism, or prescribing the manner, if at all, the sacrament of the Lord’s supper should be administered. “What will you do about it?” says one. I do not pretend to know what others will do, neither do I pretend to give advice in the premises; but I do say this: that no nation or government has ever been able to crush the religious sentiment of any people unless it crushed the whole people. The nearest approach to success in this direction that I can find in history, was that of Charles IX, advised by his wicked mother, when he slew the Huguenots in the streets of Paris. But even this kind of treatment did not succeed, and never can succeed. For a persecuted religion will be an investigated religion; and in my opinion it is truth that receives the thrust of the enemy far more frequently than evil.

I wish to bear my testimony in relation to the Latter-day Saints and their position. We will abide in these mountains, and we will plead with our government; we will continue to petition Congress and submit our memorials to the President of the United States; and we will continue to love our country, defend its interests, and be free men in these mountains. If we were aught else, if we could be bound hand and foot as abject slaves, we should be unworthy to be citizens of so great a Republic as is ours. It cannot be done, and for this reason: We have come from the nations of the civilized world of our own free will and choice, expecting to enjoy and to bequeath to our children the freedom guaranteed by the laws and institutions of our country; we came as intelligent, independent men and women, and a people who are intelligent and independent cannot be made slaves. The result will doubtless be this: We shall be crowded upon from time to time—but no more, I apprehend, than God in His wisdom will permit—and the very acts of persecu tion and unfairness that will be directed against us, will bring out and develop the elements of excellency that will make our young men statesmen, and that will make them lovers and defenders of right and liberty, until, in the due time of the Lord, there will grow up in these mountains a race of people that will not only defend the Constitution, but defend the flag of the nation, and at the same time be willing to extend the principles of freedom to all who desire to receive them. It is a great mistake to imagine that the “Mormons” are opposed to the government. They are not opposed to the government; there is not a feeling of secession about them, and they do not propose to be forced on the other side of the fence by any alliance formed either in Utah or outside of Utah. We expect to stand upon the platform laid broad and deep by the fathers. We expect to defend our rights as American citizens, and to do less than this would be unworthy a free people.

Before closing I wish to bear my testimony in regard to the people in the world. I am perfectly satisfied there are thousands of good and honest men and women in our nation who, if they knew our true status, and understood the facts as they are, would defend our rights to the uttermost of their power. But they have been hedged about; and reports misrepresenting and belying our true character have been so widely circulated, that they have been led to believe them; but as we are becoming better known we may expect to find men and women with a high degree of moral courage, here and there, defending us, and speaking favorably of us. There is no such feeling exhibited in our nation towards us today as two years ago; and even that, hostile as it was, did good. The evil that the ministers and priests and politicians together, sought to bring upon us was, through the wisdom of God, overruled for our good. And so it will continue to be, whatever the enemies of truth do for the purpose of crushing it, will eventually be found to be the very means used to establish it. We have confidence in the wisdom and power of God, and are abundantly able to wait and labor, to work on in the path marked out for us to walk in, fully believing that in His own due time He will accomplish His “marvelous work and a wonder,” and bring about those happy results foreshadowed in the promises made to His people, both ancient and modern. Amen.

Delusive Spirits—Proper Channel for Revelations to Come Through—The Calling of Joseph Smith—Indication of An Impostor—Private Antipathy to Be Curbed and the Priesthood to Be Sustained—Only One Man Appointed to Hold the Keys of the Kingdom at a Time—Men not to Judge Those Who Preside Over Them—How to Secure Justice

Discourse by President Joseph F. Smith, delivered at Ogden, Sunday Morning, June 21st, 1883.

There has, perhaps, never been a period in the history of the Church when the delusive spirits that are abroad in the world, deceiving the children of men, were more active than they are and have been for the last few years. I have never in my recollection heard of so many pretended prophets and revelations, special messages, missions and manifestations to various individuals, as have come to my notice within the last few months or perhaps years. Some claim that they are in constant communication with angels, others that they have received a direct command from God to accomplish a certain mission, others claim to be Christ, and therefore assume the right to dictate and direct the labors of the Presidency and Twelve, and undertake to correct and set them right and to show them wherein they lack inspiration, etc., and wherein it is necessary that a strong arm should be raised up in order to steady the ark of Zion. There has been a great deal of this kind of spirit manifested of late among men who are and have been in the Church for years; and not only such, but by men who never have been members and who have no knowledge of the character of this latter-day work. Messages from the spirit world, communications from the departed through mediums, people that permit themselves to be used for this purpose by lying and delusive spirits.

It has sometimes been sorrowful to see respected members of the Church, men who should know better, allow themselves to become the tools of seductive spirits. Such men seem, for the time at least, to lose sight of the fact that the Lord has established on earth the Priesthood in its fullness; and that by direct revelation and commandment from heaven; that He has instituted an order or government that is beyond the capacity, and that is superior to the wisdom and learning and understanding of man, so far, indeed, that it seems impossible for the human mind, unaided by the Spirit of God, to comprehend the beauties, powers, and character of the Holy Priesthood. It seems difficult for men to comprehend the workings of the Priesthood; its legitimate authority, its scope and power; and yet by the light of the spirit it is easily comprehended, but not understanding it men are easily deceived by seductive spirits that are abroad in the world. They are led to believe that something is wrong, and the next thing that transpires, they find themselves believing that they are chosen specially to set things right. It is very unfortunate for a man to be taken in this snare; for be it understood by the Latter-day Saints that as long as the servants of God are living pure lives, are honoring the Priesthood conferred upon them, and endeavoring to the best of their knowledge to magnify their offices and callings, to which they have been duly chosen by the voice of the people and the Priesthood, and sanctioned by the approval of God, so long as the Lord has any communication to make to the children of men, or any instructions to impart to His Church, He will make such communication through the legally appointed channel of the Priesthood. He will never go outside of it, as long, at least, as the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints exists in its present form on the earth.

The Church of God has been organized, the kingdom of God has been established, and the Gospel has been restored to the earth for the last time; and this work which has fairly began will never cease, but will continue to spread abroad and increase in the earth, and gather to its fold the righteous, the honest, the pure, the meek and the poor of the earth, until “the kingdom” shall be exalted to power and glory in the midst of the world; and it will reign triumphant when Babylon will be broken to pieces, and will fall to rise no more. These are the promises that have been made to us. This fact is indicated by the revelations of God to man through ancient and modern prophets, and through angels that have visited the earth in this dispensation of the fullness of times.

It is not my business nor that of any other individual to rise up as a revelator, as a prophet, as a seer, as an inspired man, to give revelation for the guidance of the Church, or to assume to dictate to the presiding authorities of the Church in any part of the world, much less in the midst of Zion, where the organizations of the Priesthood are about perfect, where everything is complete even to the organization of a branch. It is the right of individuals to be inspired and to receive manifestations of the Holy Spirit for their personal guidance, to strengthen their faith, and to encourage them in works of righteousness, in being faithful and observing and keeping the commandments which God has given unto them; it is the privilege of every man and woman to receive revelation to this end, but not further. The moment an individual rises up assuming the right to control and to dictate or to sit in judgment on his brethren, especially upon those who preside, he should be promptly checked, or discord, division and confusion would be the result. Every man and woman in this Church should know better than to yield to such a spirit; the moment that such a feeling presents itself to them they should rebuke it, as it is in direct antagonism to the order of the Priesthood, and to the spirit and genius of this work. We can accept nothing as authoritative but that which comes directly through the appointed channel, the constituted organizations of the Priesthood, which is the channel that God has appointed through which to make known His mind and will to the world. It was necessary prior to the organization of this Church, that God should select from the inhabitants of the earth some person through whom to reveal His will to mankind; and it pleased Him to select for this purpose the youthful and untutored boy Joseph Smith, as David of old was His choice, but as there was no Priesthood on the earth when Joseph was called, legally constituted by the authority of heaven to officiate in the name of the Lord, it was necessary therefore that someone should be selected as the first Elder for the beginning of this work, for there has to be a beginning, and he was the one foreordained for the position which he occupied and filled. After calling and setting him apart for the work of introducing and establishing this Gospel of the kingdom, the Lord of course recognized him as His mouthpiece, as His authorized agent, if you please, and it would be absolutely inconsistent, unreasonable and absurd to suppose that after God had called one man and appointed him to this work, that He should pass him by and go to somebody else to accomplish the same purpose. No sensible person would accept for one moment such a proposition. To seriously contemplate any such idea would be charging the Almighty with inconsistency, and with being the author of confusion, discord and schism. The kingdom of God never could be established on earth in any such way.

Through Joseph then, the Lord revealed Himself to the world and through him He chose the first Elders of the Church—men who were honest in their hearts; men whom He knew would receive the word and labor in connection with Joseph in this great and important undertaking; and all that have been ordained to the Priesthood, and all that have been appointed to any position whatever in this Church, have received their authority and commission through this channel, appointed of God, with Joseph at the head. This is the order, and it could not be otherwise. God will not raise up another prophet, and another people to do the work that we have been appointed to do. He will never ignore those who have stood firm and true from the commencement, as it were, of this work, and who are still firm and faithful, inasmuch as they continue faithful to their trust. There is no question in my mind of their ever proving themselves unfaithful, as a body; for if any of them were to become unworthy in His sight, He would remove them out of their place and call others from the ranks to fill their positions. And thus His Priesthood will ever be found to be composed of the right men for the place, of men whose backs will be fitted for the burden, men through whom He can work and regulate the affairs of His Church according to the counsels of His own will. And the moment that individuals look to any other source, that moment they throw themselves open to the seductive influences of Satan, and render themselves liable to become servants of the devil; they lose sight of the true order through which the blessings of the Priesthood are to be enjoyed; they step outside of the pale of the kingdom of God, and are on dangerous ground. Whenever you see a man rise up claiming to have received direct revelation from the Lord to the Church, independent of the order and channel of the Priesthood, you may set him down as an impostor. God has not called you to go out to the world to be taught, or to receive revelations through apostates or strangers; but He has called and ordained you and sent you forth to teach and lead people in the paths of righteousness and salvation.

It is the duty, therefore, of every Latter-day Saint to seek for the spirit of truth, and to desire with full purposes of heart, and seek diligently for the gifts of wisdom and understanding that will lead and guide into all truth, that will enable us to comprehend the purposes of God, and this most perfect, most harmonious organization which God has instituted by His own wisdom in these last days for the gathering of Israel, and for the communication of all His purposes as made known through His servants the Prophets. Men may become dissatisfied one with another, they may become dissatisfied towards the Presidency, the Quorum of the Twelve, or others, and may say in their hearts, “I do not like such an one; I do not believe he is as good as he should be, he has too many faults and weaknesses and, therefore, I cannot and will not acknowledge his authority, as I have not faith in the man.” Doubtless there are those, too many perhaps, who feel that way, but the trouble is, and that is the worst of it, just because they have become dissatisfied with the individual and harbored feelings of bitterness in their hearts against their brethren, they lose sight of the designs of the Almighty; they turn against the authority of the Holy Priesthood; and through their blindness, allow themselves to be led astray, and at last turn away from the Church.

Now, how should it be? I will tell you. In the first place every person should know that the Gospel is true, as this is everyone’s privilege who is baptized and receives the Holy Ghost. A man may be grieved in his feelings because of some difficulty between him and President Taylor, or Cannon or myself; he may have feelings in his heart which lead him to think that he could not sustain us in his faith and prayers; but if this should be the case, what is the course for him to pursue? He should say in his heart, “God has established His kingdom, and His Priesthood is upon the earth; and notwithstanding my dislike for certain men, I know that the Gospel is true, and that God is with His people; and that if I will do my duty and keep His commandments, the clouds will roll by and the mists will disappear, the spirit of the Lord will come more fully to my relief, and by and by I will be able to see—if I am in error, wherein I erred, and then I will repent of it, for I know that every wrong thing will yet be made right.” I think all men should feel that way. A man may not have confidence in his Bishop, or in one or both of his Counselors; circumstances might be such that according to his judgment the Bishop or his Counselors might be in the wrong, and his confidence in them, whether right or wrong, would therefore be destroyed; but because he may feel so, would it be right or consistent in him as an Elder in Israel, to set himself up as the judge of the Bishop or his Counselors and the whole Church? If one were to get in a position of this kind he would be like some others I have heard of, John and David Whitmer, for instance, two of the witnesses to the Book of Mormon, and Wm. E. McClellan, and William Smith, two of the Twelve Apostles, some of whom are still living, and many others, both living and dead. Do you think you could convince those of this class that they had apostatized from the Church? No; these men are firmly convinced in their own minds that they never apostatized. They stoutly and indignantly deny that they ever apostatized or turned away from the Church, but say that Joseph Smith and the Twelve Apostles apostatized, and all the Church had apostatized and become very wicked, and that God has cut the Church off, but that Brother David Whitmer and Brother Wm. E. McClellan, William Smith, and others are the only members of the Church in good standing, and they are all at variance with each other. If I were to raise my hand against my Bishop, against the Twelve or the First Presidency, because I did not like them, that moment I should place myself in the position that these men now occupy, and that scores of others who have passed away have occupied, and say: “The Church has apostatized, Joseph Smith and Brigham Young, and John Taylor, have apostatized, but I am firm in the faith; all the people have gone astray because they will not acknowledge me.” There is where the man is who rebels against the authority of the Priesthood, and at the same time endeavors to hold on to the faith. Never is there but one appointed at a time to hold the keys of the kingdom of God pertaining to the earth. While Christ remained on the earth He held them; but when He departed He committed them to Peter, he being the President or Chief of the Apostles; and it was his right to direct and to receive revelation for the Church, and to give counsel to all the breth ren. After Satan and wicked men had prevailed against the Church, crucified the Savior and killed the Apostles, the keys of the kingdom were taken from the earth. John the Revelator describes it most clearly. And from that time until Joseph Smith was called by the voice of the Almighty, and ordained to hold those keys, no man held them upon the earth that we know of. It is true the Lord did appoint other Twelve upon this continent, and His Church flourished and prospered in this land for many years, but the Lord declared that Peter, James and John, and the Twelve that walked with Him at Jerusalem, held the Presidency over them. God may reveal himself to different nations, and establish among them the same Gospel and ordinances as He did anciently, if necessity require, but if these nations should be joined together there would be one head, and all the rest would be subordinate. So that from the time that the keys of this Priesthood were taken from the earth until they were received by Joseph Smith, no man ever possessed that Priesthood, nor the keys thereof, with authority to build up the Zion of God, and prepare a church or people for the second coming of Christ, “as a bride is adorned for the bridegroom;” unless it may have been among the lost tribes, yet of this we have no knowledge, but if so they would receive those keys necessary to administer in the ordinances of the Gospel for their salvation. We know not of their existence or the condition in which they are placed. The Gospel that is given to them is suited to their needs and condition, and is for their salvation, not ours, and yet it will be the same Gospel. And God will not call one from them to give to us the Priesthood, or to give to us keys and blessings, or to point out the organization of the kingdom of God, because He has established that Priesthood here, and we have it. If He has any communication to make to us He will send His messengers to us. And in this way He will deliver His law and give His mind and will to the people. He will do it through the ordained channels of the Priesthood which He acknowledges and which He has established in the earth. He will go nowhere else to do it, neither will He send us to them unless they should be without the Priesthood and it becomes necessary to take the blessings of the Gospel to them, and I presume that will be the case.

When Joseph received the keys of the Priesthood he alone on the earth held them; that is, he was the first, he stood at the head. It was promised that he should not lose them or be removed out of his place, so long as he was faithful. And when he died, President Young was chosen by the voice of the people, and sanctioned by the voice of God. He held the Priesthood which was after the order of the Son of God, with the keys which pertain to the presidency of that Priesthood upon earth. He received it from the hands of Joseph, directly from him or by his authority; and he held it until his death. When he died that mantle fell upon John Taylor, and while he lives he will hold that authority inasmuch as he is faithful. So it was with President Brigham Young, he held it on condition of his faithfulness. If any man in that position should become unfaithful, God would remove him out of his place. I testify in the name of Israel’s God that He will not suffer the head of the Church, him whom He has chosen to stand at the head, to transgress His laws and apostatize; the moment he should take a course that would in time lead to it, God would take him away. Why? Because to suffer a wicked man to occupy that position, would be to allow, as it were, the fountain to become corrupted, which is something He will never permit. And why will he not suffer it? Because it is not the work of Joseph Smith; it is not the work of Brigham Young or of John Taylor. It is not the work of man but of God Almighty; and it is His business to see that the men who occupy this position are men after His own heart, men that will receive instructions from Him, and that will carry out the same according to the counsels of His will. You may depend that he will see to it, and risk nothing upon this head. Hence you will have no reason to find fault or to rise up in judgment upon President Taylor or upon President Young, or upon the Prophet Joseph Smith, or upon the Twelve Apostles. We have no right to rise up in judgment upon the President of the Stake, or upon our Bishop, or upon the Priesthood in any shape or form, unless we can do so agreeably to the laws of the Church. If they decide against us inasmuch as God has conferred the keys of this Priesthood upon them, and the kingdom is here, and its authority is here, and the Priesthood is here, and the organization of the kingdom of God is here—and inasmuch as the decision is reached and rendered agreeably to the laws and commandments of God, then it would be our bounden duty to humbly submit, and bow to it and acknowledge it. You or I might think it hard, and possibly feel that it was unjust, but as it would be impossible to make it otherwise, we must submit. “What,” says one, “submit to an unjust decision? No, sir!” Who says it is unjust? You or I say it is; but twelve High Councilors and the Presidency of the Stake say it is just, and in holding to our idea of the unjustness of the decision, we put our judgment against that of fifteen disinterested men. Who then is to decide on the justice of the case? They, not me; and it is my business to acknowledge it and yield to it. There is, however, a supervisory authority in the First Presidency; and they may exercise in some degree the pardoning power, for unto them is given power under the laws of God to forgive. “Whosesoever sins ye remit, they are remitted unto them, and whosesoever sins ye retain, they are retained.” President Taylor holds the keys of that authority in this Church. You may appeal then to the Presidency of the Church, and they may inquire into the justice or injustice of the decision and see if the case is entitled to a rehearing. But if the decision of the High Council should be confirmed, then you have no other appeal on earth. And yet God has given to us the broadest latitude peacefully to defend our individual rights, agreeably to just and righteous laws. He permits us first to be tried by the Bishop and his Counselors; and even before that we have the opportunity to settle our difficulties amicably without going to a trial; or if we cannot settle them amicably among ourselves we are permitted to call in our Teacher to assist us if possible to be reconciled to one another; and if that cannot be done we can then bring the matter before the Bishop to be formally tried. If we have reason to believe the decision to be unjust, we have the right then to appeal our case to the High Council, and then, if the First Presidency so decide, there may be a rehearing. So that the Lord has given unto us every possible chance to vindicate our rights, defend our causes, and maintain our standing in the Church. No man is asked to bow to unrighteousness; but to say that the decision rendered by the Bishop’s Court or High Council is an unjust decision is to say one of two things, namely, that these men, from three to fifteen of them, every one of whom should possess the spirit of the Gospel, and the inspiration of the Almighty, and is quite as likely to understand such circumstances as the litigants are all in error and lack judgment, or that they are willfully wicked and unjust, while one individual, and he a party to strife, alone is right.

The moment a man says he will not submit to legally constituted authority of the Church, whether it be the Teachers, the Bishopric, the High Council, his Quorum or the First Presidency, and in his heart confirms it and carries it out, that moment he cuts himself off from the privileges and blessings of the Priesthood and Church, and severs himself from the people of God, for he ignores the authority that He has instituted in His Church. These are the men that generally get crochets in their heads, that get inspiration (from beneath) and that are often so desirous to guide the Church, and to sit in judgment upon the Priesthood. The only safe way for us to do, as individuals, is to live so humbly, so righteously and so faithfully before God, that we may possess His Spirit to that extent that we will be able to judge righteously, and discern between truth and error, between right and wrong; and then we will know when a decision is rendered against us that in 99 cases out of a hundred we are in error, and that the decision is right; and although we may at the time not be fully able to see and feel its justness, yet will be constrained to say that inasmuch as there are sixteen chances against one for me to be wrong, “I will gracefully and humbly submit.” The pith of the matter is, the Lord has established His Church, organized His Priesthood, and conferred au thority upon certain individuals, councils and quorums, and it is the duty of the people of God to live so that they shall know that these are acceptable unto Him. If we begin to cut off this one and that one, and set their authority aside, we may just as well at once set God himself aside, and say he has no right to dictate. Amen.

Duties of the Latter-Day Saints—How Children Should Be Trained—An Academy for Sanpete—The Kind of Teachers to Select—Education Advocated—Intemperance Condemned—Sin to Be Exposed—Unworthy Men not to Be Sustained in Office—Example of a Darkened Mind—Providence Over the Saints

Discourse by President John Taylor, delivered at Manti, Saturday Morning, May 19, 1883.

The Gospel, it has been said, is the power of God unto salvation; its object is to elevate humanity. There are evils of various kinds existing in the world; and we ourselves are not free from evil in some of its forms, which should not be the case. We are here, as a people, gathered out from the various nations, not to imitate the world, unless it be in that which is good—for there are many good things among the people of the world, which we may imitate with profit—but that we may put ourselves in possession of every truth, of every virtue, of every principle of intelligence known among men, together with those that God has revealed for our special guidance, and apply them to our everyday life, and thus educate ourselves and our children in everything that tends to exalt man. We, therefore, must avoid the evils of the world, which some of our so-called Christian brethren are striving to introduce into our midst; we must shun those corrupting influences as we would a viper, and we must further use our influence against evil in every form, and in favor of the good. It becomes the Latter-day Saints to cherish in their hearts the spirit of Zion; to live pure lives, that Zion may indeed be Zion to them. We are told that God is love, and that they that dwell in God dwell in love. Love is one of his attributes; another is justice, another is truth; another is integrity, another is knowledge. And we are likewise told that “the glory of God is intelligence.” We should seek to know more about ourselves and our bodies, about what is most conducive to health and how to preserve health and how to avoid disease; and to know what to eat and what to drink, and what to abstain from taking into our systems. We should become acquainted with the physiology of the human system, and live in accordance with the laws that govern our bodies, that our days may be long in the land which the Lord our God has given us. And in order to fully comprehend ourselves we must study from the best books, and also by faith. And then let education be fostered and encouraged in our midst. Train your children to be intelligent and industrious. First teach them the value of healthful bodies, and how to preserve them in soundness and vigor; teach them to entertain the highest regard for virtue and chastity, and likewise encourage them to develop the intellectual faculties with which they are endowed. They should also be taught regarding the earth on which they live, its properties, and the laws that govern it; and they ought to be instructed concerning God, who made the earth, and His designs and purposes in its creation, and the placing of man upon it. They should know how to cultivate the soil in the best possible manner; they should know how to raise the best kind of fruits adapted to the soil and climate; they should be induced to raise the best kinds of stock, and to care for them properly when they come into their possession. And whatever labor they pursue they should be taught to do so intelligently; and every incentive, at the command of parents to induce children to labor intelligently and understandingly, should be held out to them. Again, the subject of architecture should receive attention from you; and your children should be encouraged to improve in the building of houses, and not be satisfied to merely copy after what their fathers did in the days of their poverty. The building rock at your command is of the very best, and it is easily procured; what remains for you to do is to put the material together in such a shape as shall reflect your best judgment and intelligence consistent with due regard to health and convenience. The building of the Temple here will no doubt have a tendency to awaken the desire on your part to improve in this direction. I have noticed that the building of our Temples affords a great many young men the opportunity of learning trades which perhaps, otherwise would not be the case; and by the time such a building is erected they become competent tradesmen, prepared to work in the various branches of mechanism that they learn on these buildings. Improvement in all things relating to our spiritual and temporal welfare should be our aim in life, and we should encourage in our children this desire to improve, and not feel all the time, “come day, go day, God send Sunday.” It is highly necessary that we should learn to read and write and speak our own language correctly; and where people are deficient themselves in education they should strive all the more to see that the deficiency be not perpetuated in their offspring. We ought to take more pains than we do in the training and education of our youth. All that we can possibly do by way of placing them in a position to become the equals, at least, of their race, we ought to take pleasure in doing; for in elevating them we bring honor to our own name, and glory to God the Father. To do this requires labor and means, and it also requires perseverance and determination on the part of all concerned. A short time ago a number of our young men left Salt Lake City to go on missions to the United States and to Europe. They were mostly young men that had been trained and educated in the University of Deseret, the Brigham Young Academy of Provo, and the B. Y. College of Logan, and the High School at Ogden. They were fine looking young men, and quite intelligent, and a credit to any community or people. Sometimes the Lord chooses such men as Brother Woodruff and myself to do His bidding, as He in former times called fishermen and others, and inspired them with intelligence sufficient, at least, to cope with and confound the wise. I think there is a Scripture that says that He chooses the weak things of the world to bring to naught the things that are, that no flesh might glory in His presence. That is true, and is well enough in its place; but we cannot expect the Lord to do this always, it is for us to do our part, that is to cultivate our intellectual faculties and to prepare ourselves to be used by Him, having at all times an eye single to His honor and glory. He has shown us how to build Temples, but He does not build them; that is our part of the work. I do not think that Peter or Paul knew much about Temple building, but they knew something pertaining to the ordinances of the Temple, but more especially of the Gospel, for God taught it to them. But we are told to seek for intelligence by study and through faith, and to acquaint ourselves with the laws and governmental affairs of nations, that all may know how to take part in the affairs of the world. God has said that through His people He will teach nations, and “the Gentiles shall come to thy light and kings to the brightness of thy rising.” (Isaiah lx. 3.) He will pour out upon His people knowledge and inspire them with wisdom, so that they will be able to teach all classes and conditions of men. That time is yet to come, but we must prepare ourselves to act in that position, and the way to do it is to commence with our children. I was pleased to hear that President Canute Peterson and other leading men of Ephraim had secured a building, which is at present in an unfinished condition, with the intention of converting it into an academy. You need such an institution, and by right you ought to have one in all your larger towns; and your school teachers should be the best you can get. They should be men of faith in God; men who believe in and have a knowledge of the Gospel; men capable of imparting true and correct ideas with regard to God and His works, and the laws that govern them, as well as being able to impart a regular scholastic education. I would advise Brother Peterson and those associated with him in this enterprise, to carry on to completion the work they have begun; and I would say to you here in Manti, bestir yourselves in the same direction. Whatever you do, be choice in your selection of teachers. We do not want infidels to mold the minds of our children. They are a precious charge bestowed upon us by the Lord, and we cannot be too careful in rearing and training them. I would rather have my children taught the simple rudiments of a common education by men of God, and have them under their influence, than have them taught in the most abstruse sciences by men who have not the fear of God in their hearts. As God is the fountain of all light, all truth and all intelligence, and He has organized matter and made what we term the laws of nature, and in the study of His laws is discovered the highest and most intellectual development—as “the glory of God is intelligence,” the more we appreciate and comprehend those principles the nearer we approach to the intelligence developed by the allwise Creator; the acme of scientific development in the world is predicated upon a knowledge of the laws of nature in its multifarious forms. We need to pay more attention to educational matters, and do all we can to procure the services of competent teachers. Some people say, we cannot afford to pay them. You cannot afford not to pay them; you cannot afford not to employ them. We want our children to grow up intelligent, and to walk abreast with the peoples of any nation. God expects us to do it; and therefore I call attention to this matter. I have heard intelligent practical men say, it is quite as cheap to keep a good horse as a poor one, or to raise good stock as inferior animals. And is it not quite as cheap to raise good intelligent children as to rear children in ignorance.

There is another thing I wish to speak of. Sometimes we bear too much and too long with the workers of iniquity. For instance, I heard of a certain Bishop whose First Counselor was in the habit of drinking, and his second Counselor also drank occasionally. The Bishop in excusing the weakness of his Counselor would say that he had a great many good traits, that he was a good meaning and kind hearted man, and that he wanted to save him if he could; and the man was permitted to indulge his appetite. Time passed on and the man apostatized, which he was sure to do if he kept on long enough. In sending in his resignation, he said he had had enough of “Mormonism,” which I have no doubt was really the case; I have no doubt either but that long before that “Mormonism” had had enough of him. The Bishop had tried to save the man, but what of the people? How about the Teachers? Could they, or could the Bishop himself preach against a practice that the Counselors were guilty of? If he or they were to do so, it would not amount to much while the evil was being winked at in high places. By means such as this, evil and a loose morality may be introduced into a settlement because of a laxity by men in authority, in the performance of their duty. When I heard of this I inquired why the President of the Stake did not see that the Bishop did his duty inasmuch as the Bishop omitted to act in the matter. What right have these men in authority to overlook such things? I tell you, they have no right at all. And what is the result? It began gradually to be a question with a great many of the people in that neighborhood whether this really was the work of God or not; the spirit of doubt and carelessness found place among them, and this because the presiding authority declined to purge out iniquity from their midst. Then if a man repents, some say they do not know whether it is best to expose such things or not. Yes, drag them into daylight all the time, and let every man be known for what he is; for no presiding officer can afford to take the responsibility upon himself of tolerating the defalcations of those who are violating their covenants and trampling under foot the laws of God. In saying this I would not ignore another principle that is mentioned in the law of the Lord:

“And if he or she do any manner of iniquity, he or she shall be delivered up unto the law, even that of God. And if thy brother or sister offend thee, thou shalt take him or her between him or her and thee alone; and if he or she confess thou shalt be reconciled. And if he or she confess not thou shall deliver him or her up unto the church, not to the members, but to the elders. And it shall be done in a meeting, and that not before the world. And if thy brother or sister offend many, he or she shall be chastened before many. And if anyone offend openly, he or she shall be rebuked openly, that he or she may be ashamed. And if he or she confess not, he or she shall be delivered up unto the law of God. If any shall offend in secret, he or she shall be rebuked in secret, that he or she may have opportunity to confess in secret to him or her whom he or she has offended, and to God, that the Church may not speak reproachfully of him or her.”

Further, I wish to say something in regard to adultery. We are told in the Book of Doctrine and Covenants, (sec. xiii, ver. 24, 25, 26.)

“Thou shalt not commit adultery; and he that committeth adultery, and repenteth not, shall be cast out. But he that has committed adultery and repents with all his heart, and forsaketh it, and doeth it no more, thou shalt forgive; But if he doeth it again, he shall not be forgiven, but shall be cast out.”

This was in the early ages of the Church, in February, 1831. But who is here referred to? Is it a man who has entered into the new and everlasting covenant, and has been sealed by the Holy Spirit of promise, and by that covenant has been united to his wife for time and all eternity, and his wife to him? No, it refers to those who have not entered into this covenant, who have not taken upon themselves obligations of that nature in a Temple or Endowment House; to the latter class who shall be found guilty of this sin, the word of the Lord comes unqualifiedly, they shall be destroyed. The Lord does expect us to be a pure people, a virtuous people, a people whose bodies and spirits are pure before Him. If wrong doing be practiced in our midst, the Lord expects His Priesthood to ferret it out, or He will hold them responsible. We cannot commit sin with impunity. We cannot violate the laws of God and enjoy His Spirit; nor can we permit the laws of God to be trampled upon and still receive His approbation.

Quite recently a certain Bishop wrote me, stating that one of his Counselors dabbled in astrology; that he had been known to consult it in reference to the sick. He wanted to know what I thought of it. I told him to drop that Counselor, that he was not fit to be a Bishop’s Counselor, nor to hold the holy Priesthood. We must not permit such practices to exist among us; and if that Bishop declines to do his duty, I shall be in favor of removing him, for not carrying out the law of God. Again, we hear of fraudulent acts sometimes, and we permit them to be passed over. What are laws for? What are Bishops’ Courts and High Councils for? That when men transgress the laws of God, they shall be tried according to the laws of the Church, and if found guilty, and are worthy of such action, they shall be cast out; that the pure and the righteous may be sustained, and the wicked and corrupt, the ungodly and impure, be dealt with according to the laws of God. This is necessary in order to maintain purity throughout the Church, and to cast off iniquity therefrom. For the Spirit of God will not dwell in unholy temples. You fathers, look after your sons; you mothers, look after your daughters; see that they grow up in purity and righteousness.

There was a very painful circumstance occurred in my office a day or two ago. A certain man had apostatized—indeed, he had been an apostate a number of years; he had two wives, both of whom applied to me to be divorced from their husband. I asked them why they desired to be divorced, and they answered that their husband had apostatized from the Church, and to all appearance would remain in that condition. The husband expressed his sorrow at having to part with his wives, and said he could not help his faith. I told him I did not wish to interfere with his faith, nor the religious views of any man; but that I would much rather see him a believer than a disbeliever. But I explained to him the position that his wives occupied. Said I, when you married them you were a member of the Church, in full fellowship; you believed in God and the order of His holy house. Yes, he said, that is so. I then said, Let me tell you another thing, I have heard Joseph Smith say, and I presume you have—he was an old member of the Church—that in this world we may pass along comparatively unknown, but when we appear behind the veil, we shall have to pass by the angels and the Gods, and this can only be done by the righteous and the pure. He stated that he had heard the same thing. I said further, you are the head of this family, and as such you ought to take the lead; but can you lead your wives past the angels and the Gods? No, (I said) you cannot do it, for unless you change your course you will not be there; you have trifled with the things of God, until, as you now see, a serious crisis is commencing to overtake you. The result was, he and they parted by signing the divorce. He said in a feeling way, “I cannot forget my wives, they are dear to me;” and again excused himself on the ground that he could not help his faith. But he might have helped it if he had kept the commandments; but having trifled with the things of God, the Holy Spirit gradually withdrew, at last leaving him to himself. I really felt sorry for the man, and he too felt the position keenly. In parting with him I took him by the hand and said to him, You have put yourself in this position, and I cannot help it. No, he said, you have treated me right. But (I continued) if the time ever comes that I can be of use to you in leading you back in the paths of life, I shall be happy to serve you. He thanked me, and left.

I mention this that you husbands, may be impressed with a sense of the responsibility that rests upon you, and that you may be careful of your acts and walk in life. God expects you to be true to your vows, to be true to yourselves, and to be true to your wives and children. If you become covenant breakers, you will be dealt with according to the laws of God. And the men presiding over you have no other alternative than to bring the covenant breaker to judgment; if they fail to do their duty we shall be under the necessity of looking after them, for righteousness and purity must be maintained in our midst.

I am pleased to say that I perceive an increasing desire on the part of the people to recognize and stand by the right; and I attribute our late deliverance from the hands of our enemies to this fact. When there was one of the greatest furors ever gotten up against us, He turned their wrath, and the remainder He restrained. A certain gentleman well acquainted with railroad matters, referring to our political situation at that time, summed it up like this: That we, numbering only a hundred and fifty thousand in the Territory, were confronted by fifty millions of people; that the conflict appeared to him like two trains, a large one and a small one, traveling in opposite directions on the same track and about to come in collision; and as a matter of course the small train would be demolished. It was very natural, of course, that he as well as the world generally, should regard it in that way. But I told him that I thought that God could and would take care of His people. Happening to have some communication with this same gentleman some time afterwards, I told him that the large train had been shunted off on to a side track, and the Democrats had provided them the switch, while the small train was still moving on its course uninjured. And if we will continue to do right, keeping ourselves pure and unspotted from the world, and the officers of the Church will see that purity is preserved in the Church, and evil of every kind rooted out, God will direct our course and deliver us from the evil that wicked men design to bring upon us, and no power will be able to move us out of our place. Amen.

Importance of the Work of God—“The Kingdom of God or Nothing”—Apparent Insignificance of the Church at First—Its Growth—Ancient Men of God—Personal Reminiscence—What is Required of the Saints—How Joseph Smith’s Prayers Were Answered

Discourse by Apostle Wilford Woodruff, delivered at Nephi, Saturday Afternoon, January 27, 1883.

We meet with the Saints of the several Stakes at the Stake Quarterly Conferences for the purpose of giving instruction which all need in order to qualify themselves to magnify their calling as Saints of God, engaged in establishing and building up the Church and kingdom of God. And I will here say, as I have often said, that all men, and all women, regardless of the position they occupy, or the office they hold, are dependent upon the Lord for His Spirit to assist them in their labors.

I made a covenant with the Lord, years ago, that whatever He would impress me to say, I would preach to the people. If we are not able to speak to your edification, it is not because there are not truth and knowledge, principles and laws sufficient within the pale of this Church, and connected with the work in which we are engaged. I look upon the cause of God and the mission that He has given each of us connected with it, as requiring the whole attention, the might, mind and strength of each one of us, in order to magnify our calling and accomplish the work committed to our hands.

The Lord raised up Joseph Smith specially to do the work that he performed. He was ordained and appointed before he was born to come upon the stage of action in this age of God’s mercy to man, through the loins of ancient Joseph who was a descendant of Abraham, Isaac and Jacob, to lay the foundation of this great and glorious dispensation—a dispensation that will be marked and distinguished in the annals of human history for its grand and mighty, and also its serious and awful events. The day has already dawned when the light of heaven is to fill the earth; the day in which the Lord has said that nothing should be kept hidden, whether it be things pertaining to one God, or many Gods, or to thrones, principalities or powers; the day in which everything that has been kept from the knowledge of man ever since the foundation of the earth, must be revealed; and it is a day in which the ancient prophets looked forward to with a great deal of interest and anxiety. It is a day in which the Gospel is to be preached to every nation, tongue and people for a witness of what shall follow; a day in which the Israel of God who receive it in their dispersed and scattered condition are to gather together to the place appointed of God, the place where they will perform the “marvelous work and wonder” spoken of by the ancients who, in vision, saw our day; and where they will begin to inherit the promises made to the fathers respecting their children. The work that is to be so marvelous in the eyes of men has already commenced, and is assuming shape and proportions; but they cannot see it. It will consist in preaching the Gospel to all the world, gathering the Saints from the midst of all those nations who reject it; building up the Zion of God; establishing permanently in the earth His kingdom; preparing for the work of the gathering of the Jews and the events that will follow their settlement in their own lands, and in preparing for ourselves holy places in which to stand when the judgments of God shall overtake the nations. This is truly a good work; and it is a marvel (when we look at it with our natural eyes) how this people are sustained in their faith and hope of accomplishing it, besides having to provide for the wants of themselves and families, which is of itself as much as most men can accomplish. We cannot do the work which God through us intends to have done, unless we place ourselves under His care and direction, and take the sentiment, “The Kingdom of God, or nothing,” for our motto, as well as the end and aim of our life. This we must do to be truly the servants of God. We cannot serve God and mammon. We cannot build up the Kingdom of God and withhold our hearts from Him. We must either come under the dominion of God, and be led and directed by Him, or under the dominion of Satan, and be ruled over by him. It is for us, through our faith and works, our desires and course of life, to choose which we will take, as we must take the one side or the other.

Nobody in this world has cause to rejoice as we have. None have the encouraging future before them that we have; for Zion is not to be moved out of her place, neither is “the kingdom” to be given to another people. God rules and reigns, and we are His people, and He is our God.

This work, this marvelous work and a wonder, the work that will eventually fill the whole world—and neither man nor the devil can prevent it—commenced, as all the works of our God begin, in a small way. It was likened by the Savior to the mustard seed, the smallest of all seeds, put in the soil, which grew until the fowls of the air could lodge in the branches thereof. This certainly is the characteristic of this Church and Kingdom, commencing as it did on the 6th day of April, 1830, with only six members. But the Lord told Joseph in one of the revelations that he was laying the foundation of a great work, how great he knew not. Joseph was young at that time, and could not comprehend fully the nature of the work which he had been called and appointed to commence in the earth.

When Joseph presented to the Christian world the principles that God had communicated to him, he at once aroused their prejudices; he had to struggle against traditions which they had inherited from their fathers who knew not God nor His ways, traditions which had come down to them through the ages, which were antagonistic to the saving truths of heaven. And hence his life was one continual struggle, meeting with opposition on every hand, especially from the priests of the day; but he lived through it and rejoiced greatly in his labors until he finished his testimony in the flesh, after laboring some fourteen years to that end. He had to wade through deep waters; but he never was discouraged or disheartened, notwithstanding he had to contend against foes without and foes within. He never lost sight of the majesty of his calling, nor the divinity of this work; but spake and acted in the midst of the people under all circumstances the man that he was—the Prophet of God, the Seer and Revelator of the last dispensation. He left us under painful circumstances, sealing his testimony with his blood; but his works follow him. The Gospel of the Kingdom which he preached, flourished under the wise administration of God’s servants who followed him. The Lord blessed and sustained His Apostles, and led them to this land, where the standard of Zion has been planted, which begins already to attract the notice of the nations afar off. And here in this land, notwithstanding the difficulties we have had to wrestle with, incident to settling a new country a thousand miles from civilization, having also to protect ourselves against the raids of the wild and untutored Indians, the Lord has prospered us, and blessed us on every hand; and we are today a blessed people. Yet the Christian world is opposed to us, and the Christians generally hate us. The Savior himself had the same spirit and feeling to contend against. There was no man more unpopular than He; no man more persecuted than He. And why? Because He preached false doctrine? No. The real reason was, as He himself declared, because they loved darkness better than light, because their deeds were evil. There are but the two powers, that of God and that of the devil. There is but the one true and living God, and He is our Eternal Father, the creator of this earth: and He will give it to His children to inherit.

We are nearing the end of the 6th thousand years. We have the history, or a partial history, of the dealings of God with the nations from the day of Father Adam down as contained in the Bible and the Book of Mormon, from which we may learn many valuable lessons. God has raised up at different ages certain men to do a certain work, as He raised up father Abraham. He was a noble spirit, we are told, before he left the realms of glory to come and tabernacle in the flesh. He had the spirit of the Gods with him when he was born; and he was faithful to God, and He had confidence in him; and whatever God required at his hands, he performed. So with Enoch. He stood at the head of the dispensation in which he lived. He, in the course of time, some 350 years, built and perfected the city called Zion. He, however, met with all kinds of opposition from the people among whom he labored; but the power of God was manifested to such an extent that his enemies stood and trembled through fear; and through that power he was enabled to perform the mighty work which he and his people did; it was not because the devil and his party were any more kindly disposed towards the Saints of God, but because they could not help themselves; and in the wisdom of God Enoch and his people and their city were taken away from the earth.

The devil in different ages has made war against the Saints and overcome them; and he has tried his best to destroy this Church and Kingdom. As I have said, Joseph and the first Elders met with the fiercest kind of opposition; but, with some exceptions, we have stood it all, and are the better today for having passed through the fire. When we went upon our first foreign mission, Joseph said to us, “No matter what may come upon you, round up your shoulders and bear it, and always sustain and defend the interests of the Church and Kingdom of God.” When we took our departure his demeanor in parting was something that I had never noticed or experienced before. After crossing the Mississippi River I crawled to the side of a house and lay down upon a side of sole leather, while suffering from the chills and fever. While resting there the Prophet Joseph came along and saw me. He gave me some parting advice in answer to some remarks made, and then told me to get up and go on, and all would be well with me. That is the way I parted with him upon that occasion. From that day to this I have noticed the steady growth and increase of this people. We have nothing else to do but to build up the Kingdom of God. If we do this He will keep us and provide for us. We want to labor as a body of Priesthood, to enter into the holy of holies; we want to come before God, and pray until we get the spirit of this work, until we comprehend our calling before God.

There has never been such a dispensation upon the earth as the present one. In other dispensations men had to lay down their lives, and others to hide up in dens and caves of the earth, and wander in sheepskins and goatskins, for the word of God. We have had a taste of the same treatment in our day. And we have also seen days of poverty. When for instance, we left to go on our first English mission, two dollars would have bought everything I left to feed and clothe my wife and children. I hardly had a day’s provisions in my house. It was a good deal so with my brethren; but we did not stay to nurse our wives. Those were the days of our poverty; and we never knew what it was to be comfortably well off until we came to these valleys of the mountains. We had a great many trials in those days or what we called trials. I want to get this principle into your minds, that God Almighty is guiding the course of this Church and Kingdom, and not we; and He has organized it for this day and generation and it never will be rooted out of the earth again. The Prophet Joseph knew what he was doing; in fact, he knew much more than he dared to tell on account of the prejudice, traditions and unbelief of the people. I used to have peculiar feelings about his death and the way in which his life was taken. I felt that if, with the consent and good feelings of the brethren that waited on him after he crossed the river to leave Nauvoo, Joseph could have had his desire, he would have pioneered the way to the Rocky Mountains. But since then I have been fully reconciled to the fact that it was according to the program, that it was required of him, as the head of this dispensation, that he should seal his testimony with his blood, and go hence to the spirit world, holding the keys of this dispensation, to open up the mission that is now being performed by way of preaching the Gospel to the “spirits in prison.” But those who shed his blood, and the people and nation who sanctioned it in their hearts, have that to meet, and they can no more escape the penalty thereof than they can escape the death of the body. My views and feelings in regard to the Twelve and leading men of this Church have been this, that when they leave this stage of action they will be permitted to lie down in peace surrounded by their families and friends; and also, that God will never require them to stain their hands with the blood of their fellow men, in order to protect themselves from violence; but, that the Lord will fight our battles, and frustrate the measures that would lead to such an issue. And the wisdom of this is manifested in the fact that part of our duty is to build Temples, and officiate in the same; and this we could not do so acceptably to God if our hands were stained with the blood of our fellow men, even in our own defense. Hence I believe that God will cause the wicked to slay the wicked; and that He will cut off our enemies by judgment from time to time, as it shall be deemed prudent by Him. All is peace in Zion, and I thank God for it. I am reminded of a saying made by Brother Cannon upon entering the well furnished parlor of one of President Merrill’s houses, of Richmond, in Cache County. “What,” he said, “all this and heaven too?” Yes, God intends to give to His Saints the good things of the earth, as well as the blessings of heaven, as they shall become able to use them properly.

The Lord intends to build up His Zion through us His weak and feeble creatures. He intends to make Zion strong and powerful in the earth. He will bless us with means and He will put it into our hearts to build Temples to His name, in which His Saints may perform the work that is required at their hands in redeeming their dead.

Brethren and sisters, you should live by faith, realizing every day that all power rests with God, and that it is through Him that we are able to live in peace and enjoy plenty; that it is through Him the wrath of our enemies is turned aside from time to time, and that it will be through Him that the remainder of their wrath will be restrained. You should enter your secret closets, and call upon the name of the Lord. Many of you have learned how to pray; then fail not to let your prayers ascend up into the ears of the God of Sabaoth; and He will hear you. I think sometimes that we do not fully comprehend the power that we have with God in knowing how to approach Him acceptably. All that these men holding the Priesthood, and all that our sisters need do, is to live near to God, and call upon Him, pouring out their soul’s desires in behalf of Israel, and their power will be felt, and their confidence in God will be strengthened. But the blessings of heaven can only be obtained and controlled upon the principles of righteousness. I have heard the Prophet Joseph pray when the power of God rested down upon him, and all who heard him felt it; and I have seen his prayers answered in a marvelous manner almost immediately. Governor Reynolds on one occasion employed men to try and kidnap Joseph, and they almost accomplished their designs, but Joseph had some Gentile friends as well as his brethren, through whom he was rescued, and was taken to Nauvoo and released under a writ of habeas corpus. But the Governor continued to harass him with writs, and was determined to destroy Joseph. Joseph and the Twelve went before God in prayer, Joseph kneeling before the Lord, offered up prayer, and asked God to deliver him from the power of that man. Among other things he told the Lord that he was innocent before Him, and that his heart was heavy under the persecutions he endured. In about forty-eight hours from that time word reached Joseph that Reynolds had blown his brains out. Before perpetrating the deed he left a note on his desk stating, that as his services were not appreciated by the people of the State, he took that course to end his days.

There is another instance that occurs to my mind. A certain man took a stand against Joseph, and endeavored to bring persecution on him. He went to his God and laid the matter before Him, asking to be delivered out of the hands and power of that wicked man. Joseph was a Prophet, a Seer, a Revelator. He was acquainted with God; he knew the voice of the Spirit when it spoke to him. After offering up his prayer, the whispering of the still small voice came to him saying, “Wait with patience.” The next day that man was taken sick with cholera, and died in a few hours. See how quickly the Lord answered his prayer offered up while a prisoner in Liberty Jail. At that time, Presidents Young, Taylor and several of the Twelve were on their way through Clay County to lay the cornerstones of the Temple, in fulfillment of the revelation given in the Doctrine and Covenants, section 118. Joseph had no sooner called upon God than he was liberated; and his prayer answered to the very letter. The voice of the Spirit again spoke to him, speaking peace to his soul, and telling him that his troubles should be of short duration. It was but a few days when he had the pleasure of shaking hands with his brethren, and enjoying the society of his family and friends. Joseph lived to accomplish the work that was required of him notwithstanding the persistent and determined opposition that he had to contend against. And after his death the work still went on, God and His angels all the while guiding and sustaining by His Spirit the Prophet Brigham. And He will continue to sustain His servants, and through them and His people Israel He will bring to pass the greatest and grandest work that the world has ever known. It is for us to wake up to a sense of our duty, and call upon the Lord in humility, and live near to Him; and our eyes will be opened, as in the case of the young man, the servant of the ancient Prophet Elisha, and we will see that there are more for us than against us; and that the element of opposition tends only to hasten the fulfillment of the purposes of God. Put your trust in God and rely on His promises, living up to the light and knowledge you possess; and all will be well with you whether living or dying. God bless you, Amen.

The Church Based Upon the Principle of Perfect Freedom—When a President Resigns, His Counselors Go Out of Office—High Priests to Preside—Presidents Choose Their Own Counselors—All Authorities Sustained By Vote of the Saints—Position of Presidents Cannon and Smith If President Taylor Should Resign—Saints Not to Interfere With the Religion of Others

Remarks by President John Taylor, delivered at Ogden, Sunday, January 21st, 1883.

We convene in Conference in the various Stakes that everything pertaining to the interests of the Stakes may be considered in those conferences, and that all matters may be properly represented, and all the Saints have the privilege of voting for or against those officers who are presented to the Conference for their acceptance. It is also usual to vote for the officers of Wards in the Wards over which they preside, such as Bishops and their Counselors, with all the Lesser Priesthood, so that there may be perfect unanimity in all our acts. Because the Church of God is based upon the principle of perfect freedom of action. And while, as was said this morning, we have a Priesthood and an organization, and proper authority in the Church and Kingdom of God, it is proper that all of these authorities should be presented from time to time before the people, that all the people everywhere, not only in a Stake, but in all the Stakes, as well as at the General Conference, may have the opportunity if they know of anything wrong, anything immoral or unrighteous associated with the acts of any of the leading authorities of the Church, of speaking of it, that everything and everybody may be properly presented and that the conduct of all men may be intelligently scrutinized; for, if we cannot bear the scrutiny of our brethren upon earth, how shall we be able to meet the scrutiny and investigations of our heavenly Father when we shall stand before Him. And if there is anything immoral or unrighteous, of any kind, it is proper and expedient that it be righted; and this applies quite as much to the Presidency, the Twelve and the leading authorities as to any other individual in the Church; in order that everything may be presented in its proper form, and everybody have a full opportunity of offering their ideas and views in regard to these matters.

Now I want to say a little on some of the votes that have been taken this afternoon, in order that we may comprehend the situation. You have had a new name presented before you for the President of your Stake. Brother Peery, who was your former President resigned his office, which he had a perfect right to do; and we have nothing to say about it. It was according to his own feelings freely expressed to me and to others. It was necessary that his place should be filled. We selected Bishop L. W. Shurtliff, for whom you have just voted; and that is all right, and having done so you ought now to sustain him. In regard to the Counselors of the President, when he resigned and his place was filled, they also ceased to act as Counselors; they were dropped as authorities of the Stake with the President of the Stake, not because of any act of theirs. These brethren are good men. Here is Brother Herrick, for instance, he has maintained a good reputation, and a good position in the Church; but he was Counselor to a man who resigned his office; and as I have said, when the President resigned to whom they were Counselors they also ceased to act as such. The question arises, who shall be the Counselors to the new President? That rests with the new President and those that put him in office; and it seems that he has retained one of the old Counselors, Brother Middleton, and has chosen a new one; and that is right. Is there any disposition to hurt Brother Herrick? Not in the least. I speak of these things for your information, in order that all may comprehend the true position. For instance, supposing that I, as President of the Church, were to resign, or anything should occur to me, what would be the result? My Counselors would drop into their former place in the Quorum of the Twelve; and whoever succeeded me would have the selection of his own Counselors with the approval of the General Conference. He might and he might not retain as his Counselors those whom I have chosen. It is proper that we should understand these things in order that the right kind of feeling may exist, and no improper reflection be cast upon any person.

The High Priests occupy a position in their Priesthood whereby they are enabled to perform the various duties that they may be called upon to fill. You will find in reading the Doctrine and Covenants the following statement regarding the quorum of High Priests: “Which ordinance is instituted for the purpose of qualifying those who shall be appointed standing presidents or servants over different stakes scattered abroad.” That is, it is the duty of High Priests to preside; the principle of Presidency is connected with them. You have a High Priests’ Quorum over which Brother Farr presides; what is the duty of that quorum? To meet together to instruct one another in regard to the principles of the government of the Church and kingdom of God; that its members may understand the various organizations of the Church, the laws and the principles of government thereof, and the various duties they may be called upon to fill; it may be to occupy the position of a President of a Stake; it may be a Counselor to the President; it may be a High Councilor; it may be a Bishop or his Counselor. There are divers positions that High Priests are called to occupy, as deaths and other changes often transpire, and new Stakes and Wards are being organized. But the changes do not affect the status of the individual at all, as in the case of Brother Herrick, referred to. Here is Brother Shurtliff called from acting as Bishop to be the President of a Stake; have we a right to do that? Yes. Who is the Bishop? A High Priest. His place being vacated, that position needs supplying, and who shall supply it? These things are left for the counsel and the deliberation of the proper authorities to operate in for the welfare of the Church as far as they know how, and according to the best judgment they possess; and then they should be presented to the people for them to vote upon. But in dropping a President it drops his Counselors. They were selected to be his Counselors, not somebody else’s; and when someone else takes his place, then he should have his own Counselors. These are the views entertained on this subject, and they are correct and very proper. The order of the Church is for us to fulfill and magnify the calling to which we are called, and do it with an eye single to the glory of God, each man fulfilling the various duties and responsibilities of his office. I referred this morning to the feelings that prompted the acts of the Savior while upon the earth. He came not to do His own will, but the will of His Father who sent Him. It was a hard thing for Him to do. Did you ever think of it? When He found the accumulated weight of the sins of the world rolling upon His head, his feelings were so intense that He sweat great drops of blood. Could I tell it, or could you? No. Suffice it to say that He bore the sins of the world, and, when laboring under the pressure of those intense agonies, He exclaimed, “Father, if it be possible, let this cup pass.” But it was not possible. It was the decree of God; the fiat of the great Jehovah, and he had it to do. And on the cross He was heard to exclaim, “It is finished.” And he gave up the ghost; and went to move in another sphere, having atoned for the sins of the world and fulfilled His mission given Him in the flesh.

We also have been called and set apart to perform a certain mission; and the Holy Priesthood has been conferred upon us that we may be enabled to perform the various duties devolving upon us. And many of our duties are not of the most pleasing nature, and yet we cannot shrink from them any more than Jesus could; we have them to do. It is not a very pleasing thing for our Elders to go forth to the nations of the earth to preach the Gospel without purse or scrip, and then to be opposed, persecuted, maligned and abused, and even outraged in many instances. Yet it is a duty placed upon us by the Almighty, and we have to perform that duty as Jesus performed His, and our Elders go forth weeping, bearing precious seeds, the words of life and salvation, carrying in some instances their lives in their hands. This is required of us. Why? Because all men are the offspring of God, in whom He is equally interested.

Then we as Saints of God have duties to perform. We have to build up His Church according to the plan which He has appointed, and according to the order that He has revealed. Those of you who heard Brother Lyman yesterday, heard him describe the manner of entering into the Church of God, also the powers and privileges associated therewith. Those who heard Brother Joseph F., this morning, heard him speak about the organization of the Church, and the various orders and principles, powers and authorities associated therewith. These are so many principles introduced by the Lord. None of us, as was remarked, introduced any of them; none of us know them, neither do the world know them today. God introduced and put in order those principles that have been communicated to us in regard to the Gospel and in regard to the organization of the Church, and the various offices thereof, and everything pertaining thereto. And this Church and kingdom has been placed in communion with the kingdom in the heavens, with the Church triumphant, as it is sometimes called. And the Church is a living principle, a living power, a living communion; and as in former times God placed in the Church Apostles and Prophets, Pastors and Teachers for the perfecting of the Saints, for the work of the ministry, and for the edifying of the body of Christ, until we all come in the unity of the faith, and a knowledge of the Son of God; so it is in these latter days. He has revealed His will, His law, His power and His Priesthood; and He has been pleased to receive us as members and officers of His Church. And it is for us to magnify our calling and honor our God in any and every position that we may be called upon to fill. Paul said on a certain occasion, that a dispensation of the Gospel had been committed to him, and it was woe unto him if he preached it not. So we may say, that a dispensation of the Gospel has been committed to us; and woe be unto us if we preach it not; woe be unto us if we fulfill not the duties and obligations that are devolving upon us. I would say that this Priesthood is not for the honor of man, not for his exaltation alone; but it is imparted to man in order that he may be made the medium of salvation to others. It is true it is honorable to be a servant of God; it is true it is honorable to hold any office in the Church and kingdom of God; it is true there is not a more honorable position that a man can hold than to be found in the family of faith and the household of God, to belong to the Church and kingdom of God—there is nothing more honorable than that. Talking of the Elder, why he is a herald of salvation; he is a legate of the skies; he is commissioned of the great Jehovah to bear a message to the nations of the earth, and God has promised to sustain him. He has always sustained His faithful Elders, and He always will. And what of the Elder? He is commanded to call upon men to believe in Jesus Christ, to repent of their sins, and to be baptized for the remission of sins, promising them the gift of the Holy Ghost; and all who obey the requirements receive this divine gift. Is that true? Do you Elders not know that to be true? Does not this congregation know that it is true? And when you obeyed the Gospel, when you had hands laid upon your heads for the reception of the Holy Ghost, did you not receive it? If you were honest, you did; if you were true and sincere you did, and you are my witnesses as to the truth of these things of which I speak. What does it prove? It proves that God is with the Elders of Israel; it proves that God lives. Is not that a great witness to the Latter-day Saints, and is it not a witness to the world? Who dare come before the world with such a statement? Nobody but those that have the authority, as the Lord sanctions and acknowledges none excepting those that are authorized of Him.

Is there any greater position that man can occupy upon the earth than to be engaged as a herald of salvation, commissioned of the great Jehovah to proclaim the words of life to a fallen world, and to call upon them to repent and be baptized in the name of Jesus for the remission of sins, promising them if they do it that they shall receive the Holy Ghost? This is the position occupied by our Elders, as well as that occupied by Seventies and High Priests. They go forth in the name of the Lord; and people believe their testimony and gather here. And why? Because they would not allow you to worship God in the world whence you came, and they will scarcely do it here.

We talk a great deal about the religious liberty that is guaranteed unto us in this land of the free, home of the brave and asylum for the oppressed; yet men are contriving all the time to deprive us of the rights of conscience, and of religious liberty. And what of it? Would we treat them as they treat us? No, no, no; a thousand times no. Why not? Says Jesus, “The servant is not greater than his lord. If they have persecuted me, they will also persecute you; if they have kept my saying, they will keep yours also.” On the same occasion He said to His disciples, after commanding them to love one another, “If the world hate you, ye know that it hated me before it hated you. If ye were of the world, the world would love its own: but because ye are not of the world, but I have chosen you out of the world, therefore the world hateth you.” There was then, and there is today, and there always has been, a spirit of antagonism between the powers of light and the powers of darkness. There has been a conflict in the world ever since the creation of man to the present time. And that spirit of antagonism to the truth that existed in former ages exists in this age, and we have reason to know it. Is it because we are wicked that we are opposed? We are not as good as we might be by a great deal, it is true; we ought to be better than a great many people, and we are; and our lives and conduct prove it, notwithstanding there are a great many evils among us that we ought to repent of and put away. Yet, do we injure anybody? I do not know that we do. Do we wish to deprive anybody of his rights? Not that I know of. We are accused a good deal of this and everything else, in fact. Do we wish to interfere with anybody’s religion? I hope you do not do it here. You have Methodists and Presbyterians and Catholics, as well as other different sects; would you want to interfere with them? I do not think for a moment, that you would. We may think that their ideas are foolish in many respects, but then they have a perfect right to entertain them, and there are none, I think, that recognize that right sooner than we as Latter-day Saints. We believe in freedom of conscience; we believe that all men should be guaranteed the right to worship God according to the dictates of their conscience. Some may want to worship a God without body, parts or passions; a God that sits on the top of a topless throne; although to me the idea of worshiping such a God would be most ridiculous, if other people desire to do it, all right, and they should be protected in that right. But while we accord to all men the right to think, and the right to worship as they please, we claim the same right for ourselves. And then we do not want to have a set of men placed over us in a governmental capacity who do not recognize the rights of humanity; men who want to control the human mind. We want to maintain correct principles; and we want to sustain all men that do maintain them. We have a right to do that. Some, however, think that we have not that right even; and they are frequently trying to introduce principles that are at variance with our constitutional rights. But it is our duty to maintain our rights; it is our duty to stand up for those principles which guarantee freedom to man, and we intend to do it, God being our helper; and not permit the wicked and ungodly, the corrupt and depraved to deprive us of our rights. But I shall be talking about politics if I keep on much longer; what I have said, however, is correct, and it affects us as American citizens. We possess just as many rights as any other American citizens; and if there is anything contrary to this, it is contrary to the genius of the institutions of our country. We are all free and equal, at least, we are supposed to be; but we are not. We may as well laugh as cry about these things though, as it makes but little difference. We are engaged in doing the work of God; and we are seeking to do the will of God; and He has established a Church, which we, in the name of Israel’s God, will help to sustain. And we should not be concerned about the consequences of our acts. The Lord has all men in His keeping, and He has us in His keeping; and we cannot do anything only as He permits us. How could you Elders, who have been out preaching and baptizing, and confirming members into the Church, have imparted to them the gift of the Holy Ghost through the laying on of hands, excepting God were with you. And if God were not with Israel today, Israel could not be sustained. But God is on the side of Israel; and He will sustain His people if they will observe His laws and keep His commandments. And no man can successfully fight against Jehovah, for He will say to any that oppose Zion, as He did to the waves of the mighty ocean, “Hitherto shalt thou come and no further, and here shalt thy proud waves be stayed.” We are in the hands of God; and the nation is also in the hands of God; and we can do nothing unless He permits us; neither can this or any other nation. He controls them according to the counsel of his own will; and He manipulates, manages and directs the affairs of the children of men. He has appointed us to do a work. It is not our work; but we are willing to do it with His help. Will He be thwarted in His designs? I tell you, No. The kingdom of God will roll forth, and no man can stay it. And woe to that man who lifts up his hand against it; for the Lord is managing this work, not us, and it is His business to take care of His Saints. Therefore, we feel easy, comfortable, joyous and happy. And I feel all the day long like singing hallelujah, hallelujah, hallelujah, the Lord God Omnipotent reigneth; and He will reign until all His enemies are put under His feet. And Zion will progress and triumph, and the work of God will go forth, and the kingdom of God will be established, and the Zion of God built up, and all things spoken of by the holy Prophets will be fulfilled; and the kingdom of God will progress until the kingdoms of this world become the kingdom of our God and His Christ; and He will reign forever and ever, and unrighteousness and wickedness, corruption and evil will be trampled under His feet. God bless you, and lead you in the paths of life, in the name of Jesus. Amen.

Revealed Religion and Man-Made Methods of Worship—Only One True and Acceptable Way to Worship God—Ancient and Modern Revelations Corroborate Each Other—God’s Spirit the Light and Life of the Whole World—Men Generally Choose Darkness Rather Than Light—The Coming Forth of the Light in the Latter Days—Joseph Smith and His Doctrines—The Speaker’s Personal Experience—The Operations of the Spirit—The Way to Obtain Knowledge From God—The Necessity of Priesthood and Church Government—The Head of the Church God’s Mouthpiece to the Church—The Perfection, Beauty, and Harmony of the Lord’s Work

Discourse by Elder Chas. W. Penrose, delivered in the Assembly Hall, Sunday, Jan. 14th, 1883.

I feel thankful, my brethren and sisters, that I have the privilege, with you, of assembling in this place to worship God; and I feel very thankful that we are able to meet and worship God in the way that He has appointed; and that the religion that we have embraced is no cunningly devised fable of man, but is the very truth of the eternal God, and has been sent down from heaven in these latter times for our benefit, for our guidance, and for our salvation, if we will hearken to and obey it.

The God whom we worship is not a God of our own invention, but a God who has revealed Himself to us, to a certain degree, and who has pointed out to us the way in which we should walk. There is a prevalent idea in the world that all the God there is, is such as men have framed and fashioned in their own minds. It is true that the people of the earth in different ages have imagined a great many things in regard to Deity. They have set up Gods of their own, worshipping them according to their own notions. But this is not the case with the people called Latter-day Saints. They have not framed and fashioned a being to fall down before and worship; but they have received communication from a Divine Being with instructions how they should act, and those instructions form their religion. The leaders of this Church have not invented the system; but every principle connected therewith has been revealed from on high.

The God whom the “Christians” worship is a being of their own creation—if, indeed, there can be such a being as they describe him to be; they have formed certain notions concerning deity, and then they have formulated those notions into articles of faith or religion. So with the heathen nations, so-called. They have formed idols of wood and stone; others have chosen the heavenly bodies, such as the sun, which represent to them certain qualities which they think deity should possess. Not that the heathen nations really and truly worship the wood or the stone, as such; but the images which they set up, or the objects which they adore merely draw their attention to something behind and above and greater than those objects. So with the Roman Catholic. When he bows down before the image of the Virgin Mary, or before the image of the Savior upon the cross, he does not profess to worship the picture or the image; these are merely methods to lead the mind to something beyond what the natural eye sees. But then, these various deities which people worship are, after all, the emanation of their own minds; they are gods of their own invention. Herein lies the great difference between the sects of Christendom and of heathendom, and the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. The people of this peculiar Church worship a Being who has to some extent manifested himself to them, and who has told them what they know concerning Him. And the revelations He has made to us of Himself, and of the Gospel of salvation that we have received have been given in this our day and time through men whom He Himself has chosen for this purpose. So with regard to the different ordinances and doctrines of the Church to which we belong; and so with our mode of worship, and everything belonging to our religion. It has all been revealed to us, and we accept it as having come from a higher source.

Our religion consists of that which God reveals to us, not of that which we make ourselves and then offer to Him. Some people seem to have the idea that God ought to receive their worship, no matter in what way it is made; that He ought to accept the ordinances which they administer or receive, no matter what they may be; that all the worship which they offer ought to be accepted by Deity, no matter in what shape or form it may be devised. This is because the inhabitants of the earth do not understand the true and living God and His ways. The Lord will not accept that which He Himself has not appointed; He will not acknowledge that which He Himself has not revealed. The inhabitants of the earth are, of course, at liberty to devise modes of worship, and they may frame their own religious tenets and doctrines, but these are not acceptable to the Lord, neither is it reasonable that He should be expected to accept them. When God manifests Himself to the inhabitants of the earth and reveals to them truth, and makes known to them ordinances, then the people are under obligations to receive that which God has manifested; but God Almighty is not under obligation to accept that which man has invented. It is true that the doctrines which God has revealed in these latter days are not new; that they are not revealed for the first time, because we are living in the latter days. In previous ages of the world God manifested himself and revealed to the inhabitants of the earth His ways and called upon them to walk in his path; and, therefore, a great many things which God has revealed to us may be found in the ancient Scriptures. Holy men of old, called in the same way as men are in these days, have left on record some things which God manifested to them; and they are written in the Bible and the Book of Mormon, and in records that have been lost, but which will be brought forth in this great and last dispensation of God’s mercy to man. So we may take up the book called the Bible, and read a great many principles which have been made manifest to us in our day; but we do not take them from the Bible or any of these records. We receive them because God has revealed them to us; and when we open the Bible or any of the books written by inspiration, and find written therein many things which correspond to that which He has revealed to us, they serve to corroborate the living word of God, which has come down to us out of heaven.

The different sects in Christendom profess to take the Bible, the Old and New Testament, as their guide to salvation; and they say, whatsoever is not found therein and cannot be proved thereby is not to be received as an article of faith. That, in general terms, is one of the principles which runs through the various “Christian” sects. They found their faith, or profess to, upon the Bible. While we do not take that position, while our faith is not founded upon the Bible or on any written book, when we compare the Bible with what we do believe what God has revealed to us, we find it corresponds; we find that God is the same yesterday, today and forever. This Book says that, and that his works are one eternal round. Truth is not new; it may be revealed anew, and it may be new to the people to whom it is revealed. But there is only one plan of salvation, one true and everlasting Gospel. That Gospel God revealed in the beginning; that Gospel God has revealed at different times; and in these latter days he has revealed the same old Gospel again in great plainness, and prepared the way so that all people who desire the truth may come to the knowledge of it, without being left to depend upon books that were written hundreds of years ago, He having poured out upon man again the same spirit to guide and direct them and to enable them to understand God and His purposes, that men had who wrote the things contained in the Bible or in any other inspired book left on record. And herein is another great difference between the religion of the Latter-day Saints and all other religions in the world. We have a living faith, a living God, and the living word of God to guide and direct us every day of our lives. When we read the letter of the word of the Lord, given ages ago, and that has been handed down from generation to generation, we have the satisfaction of knowing that the things which God has revealed to us were revealed to the ancients, and that by receiving these things they came to know God, whom to know is life eternal; and we are thereby encouraged to imitate their examples, and also to avoid the errors which they fell into.

Now although we do not base our faith upon the Bible or any other written work, yet at the same time there are no people upon the face of the earth who believe so much in the sacred scriptures left on record and handed down to us, as do the Latter-day Saints. Though we are not dependent upon books for our religion—for our religion would exist if there were no books in existence, at the same time we manifest by our works that we have more faith in the Bible than the people who profess to base their faith upon it. At the beginning of our religion, if I may use that term—but really there is no beginning, for it is true, and truth is eternal without beginning and without end; every principle of truth always had an existence, and when, therefore, I say beginning of our religion, I mean the beginning of the revelation to the people in the day in which we live—when our religion was first revealed the world was in ignorance concerning God and his ways. It is true there was a glimmering of light concerning him which was obtained through reading the Bible, and other works containing the writings of men who in former times were to some extent inspired. For the inspiration of God in olden times was not confined to the men who wrote the Jewish Scriptures. The Jewish prophets revealed the word of God; the holy men of God who moved among the people in that nation were inspired from on high; but God has permitted His Spirit, which is the light of truth, and which manifests truth, to be poured out upon all the inhabitants of the earth to some extent; for in that they live and move and have their being, and all people of any age, race or country who seek unto God with an honest heart in fervent prayer, desiring truth and to be taught of God, will be enlightened by Him. There have been inspired bards and sages and poets, who have uttered words of truth, words of inspiration concerning things of which they had been enlightened of God. And many things that such men wrote have been recorded and handed down, and scraps of them may be found among all nations and peoples. As the Apostle Paul says, “God hath made of one blood all nations of men for to dwell on all the face of the earth, and hath determined the times before appointed, and the bounds of their habitation; that they should seek the Lord, if haply they might feel after him, and find him, though he be not far from every one of us. For in him we live, and move and have our being; as certain also of your own poets have said, For we are also his offspring.” His Spirit has enlightened mankind in all ages to a certain extent; for the spirit of the Lord, which gives light to the human understanding is the spirit by which we live; it is the spirit of light; it is the spirit of life. And as the light that proceeds forth from that glorious luminary, the sun, gives light to the earth, and also light to vegetation, and to man and beast, so the spirit of Him who created us has been poured out upon all people, and upon all animated things; indeed, we are told in the revelations of God, that the light which lights our eyes is through Him that enlighteneth our understandings, and is the same light that proceeds from the bosom of God, and fills the immensity of space; that it is the same light that lightens every man that cometh into the world—the Jew, the Gentile, the bond and the free. We are told, that “there is a spirit in man and the inspiration of the Almighty giveth them understanding.” This is that spirit. It is the light of Christ; it is the light of God. It is the life of our bodies, and it is also the light of our minds. This spirit is not confined to one race of people, or to one country, or to one age or generation, but it is universal; it is of Him in whom we live and move and have our being. It is the true light that lighteth every man that cometh into the world. And if all men would be guided by that natural light, that natural inspiration which gives them understanding, and by which they exist, they would be guided directly to Him who is the fountain of all light; they would then be in a condition to be communicated with by Him who is their Maker and Creator. But the inhabitants of the earth have been from the beginning prone to walk in the ways of darkness rather than in the light, because, as Jesus explained it, “their deeds are evil.” This is the reason why there is so much ignorance in the world concerning God and His ways.

When the Lord, at different times, has raised up men who sought Him, who learned of Him, and who put themselves in such a condition that He could communicate with them, and through them to the rest of mankind, generally speaking, those men have been despised and rejected by the multitude. The great masses of the people have gone downward in error and darkness; it has been hard for them to walk in that straight and narrow path which leads upward to light, to intelligence, to purity, to the presence of Him who is the author of truth; and, therefore, the vast majority of the servants of God, who have been called to be special witnesses of the Almighty to a fallen world, have met with cruel and inhuman treatment from those to whom they were sent. They have generally been persecuted; they have been put to death in many instances in the most ignominious manner; they have been beheaded; they have been torn asunder; they have been cast into furnaces and into dens of wild beasts, and in order to escape maltreatment they have roamed hills and mountains, concealing themselves in dens and caves of the earth; men bearing a heavenly mes sage, a message fraught with peace and good will to all men, a message too, involving their eternal welfare and happiness. This is the reason why there has been so much ignorance in the world concerning God; and it is in consequence of their disobedience, in consequence of their wickedness, in consequence of their love for darkness rather than light, in consequence of their choosing the things that come from beneath in preference to things that come from above. For there are two opposing spirits or influences upon the earth, just as there are light and darkness. They cannot dwell together; they always were and always will be at war one with another, but one flees away at the approach of the other, as when the light of the morning beams forth over the hilltops, darkness flees away.

The inhabitants of the earth have been willing to be led by the influence of darkness; for there is a spirit of darkness upon the earth as well as the spirit of light, which leads to death as surely and certainly as the spirit of light leads to life. In the beginning God gave to man his agency, leaving him to choose either light or darkness, truth or error, as he might please. When men choose to receive the light of truth, the spirit of truth prompts them to do good, but it does not force them to do so; it is gentle and kind, and will enlighten and bless if people are willing to receive and act upon its promptings; but if men choose to walk in their own ways, they are at liberty to do so without let or hindrance, so far as the spirit of light forcing itself upon them to compel them to walk in the way of the Lord, is concerned. The inhabitants of the earth generally have chosen to walk in the paths which lead to death; they have chosen that which is evil and loved it, rather than that which is good; therefore, they have not been led upward to the Source of Light, or been able to communicate with Him.

When our Heavenly Father commenced this work with which you and I are identified, the world was in darkness and without knowledge concerning God. There was a little glimmering of light among them concerning some things pertaining to God which men had read about in the Bible; and there were some individuals in other generations who, searching after truth, obtained some comprehension of the principles of truth, but they knew not God nor the ways of God. There was no definite knowledge in this age concerning Deity until God manifested himself to the Prophet Joseph Smith in His own person and by His Son. Joseph saw the Lord, and heard the heavenly voice saying, “This is my Beloved Son, hear ye Him:” and he was instructed by the ministration of personages direct from the presence of Deity, in regard to the things of God. So that when he came to lay the foundation of this work, he did not attempt to lay it according to his own notions and ideas, or according to that which he had read in books or that which he had pondered over or that which he or other men had invented; but he made known to others what God had revealed to him. And when he bore testimony that God lived, that Jesus who died on Calvary was the Son of God, he testified of that which he knew because these Divine beings had manifested themselves to him.

Joseph Smith was given to understand of the existence of a certain record written by men who, in former times, in like manner had received the word of God upon this continent. The place of its existence was also shown to him, and he was inspired of God to translate that record into the English language. Now, Joseph Smith in performing that great work received, continually, evidence of the divine origin of what he wrote or caused others to write. It was not the emanation of his own brain, or something that he had concocted, but was the work of the Lord as written by the servants of God in ancient times, revealed to him by the power of the Lord God that he might translate it into our language. So in regard to the revelations given to this Church, and concerning every doctrine and principle pertaining to our faith. They did not spring from his thoughts, they were not the product of his mind; but they were revealed to him by the ministration of holy angels, and by the inspiration of that Spirit which gives light to the understanding. For he received blessings to a greater degree than are poured out commonly upon the children of men, as was the case with other men anciently who were called to perform a special work; his mind was enlightened far beyond the condition of his fellow men, for God bestowed upon him at the proper time the gift of the Holy Ghost, by which he, as well as men anciently, understood and spoke and wrote the mind and will of God. And Joseph Smith learned how to obtain that glorious and heavenly gift not only for himself but for others, and he was enabled to instruct the inhabitants of the earth how they could obtain it, how they could come to a knowledge of the truth for themselves, and commune with God for themselves; how they could obtain a knowledge of His existence through this heavenly gift, so that they might be guided in his ways and know that they were walking in his paths. Joseph could not find this out in and of himself; it was revealed to him from on high; and so with every doctrine and principle, every ordinance and commandment that is in the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints.

Now although this religion is divine, coming from God direct, it is not a mysterious religion as some suppose. It is very plain, very simple and very easy to be understood. All the people upon the face of the earth may comprehend it; it may be brought down to the understanding of the weakest of all races; all may learn and comprehend those simple principles by which they may come to a knowledge of God and be taught of him, and by which they may take that course which is right in his sight.

The first principle of true religion is faith. Jesus Christ says, “Except a man be born again he cannot see the kingdom of God.” This is verily so. All people must be “born again” to be able to see the kingdom of God, or to be able to comprehend the ways of the Lord. Is this a mystery? No, it is plain and easily understood when we get the spirit and light of God upon it. Jesus said also, “Except a man be born of the water and of the spirit, he cannot enter into the kingdom of God.” A change must take place in the human heart. Men must first be born of the word of God, which lives and abides forever. As the Apostle Peter says, “being born again, not of corruptible seed, but of incorruptible, by the word of God, which liveth and abideth forever.” The Apostle James says, “Of his own will begat He us with the word of truth.” And again we read, “Faith cometh by hearing the word of God.” God’s way is this: He calls men who are fitted for His work, and inspires them, and endows them with authority to represent Him, and sends them forth to preach the word of God. When they bear their testimony to people who are honest in their hearts, who desire the truth and who wish to know of God, the Holy Spirit that is in the servants of God, the Spirit accompanying the word spoken by authority, enters the hearts of such people, and they are born of the word of God, so that they can see and comprehend the truth. A change is wrought upon them by the power and influence of divine truth, by which they are able to see the truth as the speaker sees it; the word spoken by the gift and power of God carries conviction to the heart, and they at once begin to recognize the authority of Him who imparts the words of life to them. They are born of the word and are able to see and understand to a certain degree, their faith and their ideas having been quickened by the power of God. The light and influence of the Holy Ghost radiating and proceeding from the inspired speaker, accompanies his word. As his testimony is borne under the influence of the Holy Ghost and by authority from on high, conviction seizes hold of the people, and if they are honest in their hearts and desires, it bears record in their souls, “Light cleaveth unto light and intelligence.” We know this by experience. When the servants of God first bore testimony to us, a different impression was produced upon us to any that we had experienced when listening to the preachers of the different sects; it was the effect of truth preached by the power of the living God; it bore testimony to our spirits, and we felt that it was true. We could not explain why; we could not, perhaps, comprehend the change, but we knew that something had come to us different from anything we had ever before received; we felt that it was true; the spirit of God bore record in our souls that it was true; we were born of the word, and we could see that this was the work of God, and therefore could yield willing obedience to the ordinance of baptism for remission of sins by one having authority from God. After we had been baptized we were anxious to have hands laid upon our heads that we might receive the gift of the Holy Ghost. In using that term, the “gift of the Holy Ghost,” we do not mean some particular gift of the Spirit, but the gift of the Spirit itself—the Holy Ghost given unto us as a gift from God. We will find that term, “gift of the Holy Ghost,” used in the old Scriptures, and in the latter-day Scriptures. It is the Holy Ghost itself given unto us as a gift from the Almighty. “Then laid they their hands upon them and they received the Holy Ghost.” The promise is to those who will repent and be baptized for the remission of sins; they shall receive “the gift of the Holy Ghost.” What is it? It is a greater and higher endowment of the same spirit which enlightens every man that comes into the world; a greater power given unto us as an abiding witness, to be a light to our feet and a lamp to our path; as a restraint against sin, to guide us into all truth, to open up the vision of the mind, to bring things past to our remembrance, and to make manifest things to come. It is the spirit of truth that reveals the things of the Father and the Son, proceeding from the presence of the Almighty and the very glory in which He is enrobed, which makes him like unto a consuming fire. If we receive that heavenly gift all are brought into communion with Him; we can understand something concerning Him, that we may pattern after Him until we become like Him; for if we are continually guided by that spirit, eventually we will come back to His presence and be able to enjoy the fullness of His glory. And while we remain in the flesh He will not be a stranger to us; we will not walk in the dark like the majority of mankind, but we will be the children of the light, comprehending the truth as it is in Him, and seeing the path in which we should walk.

We, then, heard the word and believed it; faith sprang up in our hearts, and we went forth in faith and were baptized; and when the servants of God who had received their missions from the Almighty, who had been ordained under the hands of Joseph Smith or others whom he had ordained, laid their hands upon our heads we received the gift of the Holy Ghost. What was the nature of the influence that was brought to bear upon us? Some physical exhibition of power? No. Could anybody perceive that there was a change in us? No, I think not. I know how I felt, I can bear testimony in regard to my own experience, and I think that my experience in this respect is that of others.

When I heard the word I believed it, and rejoiced in it, and I prayed to God fervently—I was but a boy at the time—in the name of His Son Jesus, that He would manifest to me whether this was true or not, that I might not be deceived by any cunningly devised fable; that I might not be led astray; that no impostor might have any power over me; but that I might be guided in the steps I was about to take, by the light of God. I prayed earnestly and fervently to my Heavenly Father in the name of Jesus, time and time again. Being fully convinced in my heart that this work was true, I applied for baptism; and when I was baptized I received the assurance that my sins were remitted, that I was washed and made spiritually clean and that I came from the water spotless. I could say with the ancient Apostle, “Old things have passed away, behold all things have become new.” I was a new creature; I was born again. A change had been wrought upon me; and my desires were to serve God with all my heart, with all my soul, and with all my strength. And when hands were laid upon me by the servants of God, and I received the gift of the Holy Ghost, I felt no physical manifestation. I must say, I felt a little disappointed at first, for I had expected some such manifestation, but I did not receive any at that time. What did I experience? I found that my mind was opened, that I had greater light; that something had come upon me by which I could see clearly the things of God; and when I read the scriptures new light dawned upon them. I was brought up to believe in the Bible. I had read it when a child, and committed a great deal of it to memory; and when I received this gift from the Almighty through the laying on of hands, it brought those things that were past to my remembrance; they stood up clearly and in bold relief before me, and I could comprehend something concerning God. I could feel that I was in communion with Him. When I prayed I could realize that my words were heard, that God hearkened and answered. When I prayed for knowledge and understanding concerning the things of God, they were manifested to me. It brought to me that which is called in the Scriptures, “the peace of God that passeth all understanding.” The joy, the peace, the satisfaction that it brought to me could not be described in words. I knew that my Redeemer lived; I knew that I was born again; I knew the Holy Spirit was working in my heart. Truths were manifested to me that I had never heard of or read of, but which I afterwards heard preached by the servants of the Lord; all this was testimony to me that I had received the truth. I make mention of this because I know this to be the experience of others. When I saw the gifts and blessings of the Gospel manifested, it was a renewed testimony to me. When I saw the sick healed, heard people speak in tongues, and then heard others give the interpretation, and afterwards saw the same fulfilled, many times in a wonderful and marvelous manner, all these things were additional testimonies of the divinity of this work. When I was only a boy I was called to leave my home and friends—none of whom had received the Gospel—to go out into the world among strangers, turning my back upon home, and leaving everything to go and preach the Gospel without purse or scrip, I received further evidence of the truth of this work, for a great many things were made manifest to me during my missionary experience. When I baptized people and laid my hands upon them, confirming them members of this Church, they bore testimony that the Holy Ghost came upon them, which bore record to them that God lived, and that this was His work. And when I laid my hands upon the sick they were healed. All these things were additional testimonies to me, and to those who received the word through me.

I refer to this also because this is the experience of so many of the Elders of this Church; and you have the testimony in your hearts that what I say is true. Wherever the servants of God have gone bearing this message, and the people have received it and obeyed the requirements of the Gospel, they have received the Holy Ghost as a gift from on high; and if they have been led by its light it has increased in them day by day, and they are still going on, their light growing brighter and brighter unto the perfect day. They know that God lives; they know that His existence is not a myth; they know that He is a veritable Being, that He is their Father and their God, ever ready to hear the cry of His children when they are willing to hearken to His counsels; and they know that they are framed and fashioned after His likeness, and that all the functions and attributes of Deity are duplicated in them, that through years of faithfulness and progress in the scale of being and enlightenment, they may develop into the full majesty of His perfections and become like Him.

The Holy Ghost, this greater endowment of that spirit which naturally enlighteneth every man that comes into the world, is conferred upon us through a simple process, the way that God has ordained; and it can come in no other way. If there should be any in this congregation this afternoon who desire to know God, or if they desire to know themselves, they must take this one course—they can do as they please about it, either to receive or reject it, but if they want the blessing of it, they must seek for it in His way. They cannot get it through man-made systems; God has His own way. He acknowledges not, neither does he recognize the ways of men; but if people will hearken to Him and walk in his ways he will be nigh unto them, and will bear testimony to them in language that they, by the power and gift of His spirit can understand. But they must believe; they must also repent; and that repentance that is necessary does not consist in weeping and mourning over sin, but in turning away from it. No man can make God his friend by continuing in sin, neither can any woman. In order to come near unto God and to be taught of Him, they must be humble and childlike, they must be willing to receive instruction, being determined in their hearts to turn away from wrongdoing of every kind, and to cleave unto that which is right. This is a lesson for Latter-day Saints as well as latter-day sinners. If we want to learn more of the things and ways of God, if we want to draw near to Him, we must be humble and childlike, tractable in our nature, making ourselves acquainted with that which God has revealed, and walking in the way which he has pointed out. If the inhabitants of the earth will walk according to the light that God has given to them, whether by the spirit that came to them naturally in their birth, or by that higher endowment called the gift of the Holy Ghost, they will receive a still greater degree of power and light, and their pathway will become brighter and brighter even to the perfect day. If there be any darkness in them, it is because they walk in the ways of darkness, because they do the deeds of evil. No man can come unto God unless he has put away his sins and his follies and is willing to be taught of God. If he thinks that God will come to his terms and accept his whims and notions, he will make a failure of it. If he is willing to hearken, is childlike, willing to be taught, saying in his soul, “O God, manifest thy ways to me, and with thy help I will walk therein,” the Lord will hear and answer him and he will learn of God, and the more he walks in the ways of the Lord the closer he will get to God. But only by faith, repentance, baptism, and by the laying on of hands of those whom God has authorized, can the inhabitants of the earth receive the gift of the Holy Ghost by which they may fully learn and comprehend divine things.

People marvel at the condition of the Latter-day Saints, at their tractability, at the mode of their worship, at the manner in which they sustain the authorities of the Church; and they conclude that we are a people led by the craftiness of men, that we are under men who are desirous to exert authority and power, and be looked up to as superior to their fellows. They reason in that way because they do not understand us; because they do not comprehend our ways, nor the way of the Lord. The reason why the Latter-day Saints are as united as they are, as tractable, as willing to be obedient, is because they have learned for themselves the truth of the Gospel they have espoused. They know there is a God; they know that he lives; they know Jesus is the Son of God; they know by experience that if they hearken to the voice of the Lord—the word of the Lord given to them through His servants—that they are happy, that they have that peace of which I have spoken; and on the contrary, if they disobey the counsels of heaven, they have not that peace, they are not satisfied with themselves, and they are in the dark. The reason why the Latter-day Saints are so tractable, so united, and so devoted to the Gospel of this Church is because they know something about it for themselves; they know it is true, for God has borne witness to them, they have been brought into communion with him, and this is the secret of it.

Now, my brethren and sisters, you know that what I am talking about is true; you know it in your own experience. The Holy Ghost has borne record to you that what I am telling you is not fiction, but is a living fact. And we need not take up the Bible to read the books contained therein to find out the truth of our religion; we know it is true without that. Yet, when we read the contents of this book we find that it corresponds with that which God has revealed to us. We do not depend upon the man who baptized us, or him who laid his hands upon us to impart the Holy Ghost, for a knowledge of this work, we depend upon the inspiration of the Lord—the only source of knowledge of divine things. Every man and every woman in this Church, and every boy and girl who has received the Gospel in sincerity and has verily been born again, has obtained a testimony concerning this work and knows of its divinity for himself or herself. But God has set in the Church for our guidance and direction, Apostles and Prophets, Evangelists, Pastors, Teachers and Bishops, and other authorities, that the Church with all its branches may be taught in the ways of the Lord, that there may be order in the Church, and that all things may be governed according to the will of God. And we know that when we hearken to the voice of those men we are blessed of God, and when they speak to us under the inspiration of the Holy Spirit, the same Spirit in our hearts bears witness to us that what they say is true. Some one may inquire, if all the people have the Holy Ghost, if all the people are brought to the condition that they may learn of God for themselves and be gradually led into the presence of the Father, what need of Apostles, what need of Prophets, etc.? There is great need of them. They are absolutely necessary to the government of the Church and kingdom of God. Without them there could be no proper church government, and, indeed, without them we could not receive the blessings that come from the ordinances. God’s plan is to call certain men and endow them with authority, and place upon them the authority to act for Him. This is called the Holy Priesthood, and in that right and authority they preach and administer the ordinances of His Church. It is through the authority of this Holy Priesthood that people are inducted into the Church—through that channel they receive the gift of the Holy Ghost, without which it could not be conferred. The Holy Spirit is poured out universally, as I have before remarked, so that all people receive it; but the gift of the Holy Ghost is a higher endowment by which man may be brought into communion with the Lord after having received the ordinances, which must be administered by men holding the Holy Priesthood, and authorized to officiate therein. That is God’s way. When people receive this divine blessing they become members of His Church, an organization ordained for the benefit and blessing of God’s people; an organization which in all respects is after the ancient pattern. In becoming members of the Church we subscribe to the rules thereof. No undue influence is used to induce people to join our Church, or to retain their membership after they have joined it; if they do not wish to subscribe to the rules of the Church, they are at liberty to sever their connection with it; but if they do retain their standing in it, they are expected to subscribe to its rules. At the head of this Church are three men who are united in all things as to its government, representing the Holy Trinity who also are one; not one in personality, but one in spirit, one in faith, one in action, one in desire, one in object. We have a President and two Counselors, who stand at the head of the Church. The President stands at the head of that quorum. God calls him to be His mouthpiece to the whole body. If the Lord has any revelations for the Church, as an organized body, He communicates them through the head. In the rise of this Church He warned and forewarned the Latter-day Saints as an organized community, not to receive revelations through anyone save the head of the Church. The Lord said, “And this ye shall know assuredly—that there is none other appointed unto you to receive the commandments and revelations until he be taken, if he abide in me * * * for if it be taken from him he shall not have power except to appoint another in his stead. And this shall be a law unto you, that you receive not the teachings of any that shall come before you as revelations or commandments; And this I give you that you may not be deceived, that you may know they are not of me.” This is the order. While, therefore, every man and woman can receive the Holy Ghost and know that God lives, can ask and receive, seek and find, knock and have the door opened to him; while everyone can have divine light and comprehend the truth for himself, while it is the privilege of every man to so live that his soul shall be full of the light of heaven, by which he may comprehend the purposes of God as they shall affect men and nations, yet, as a member of the Church he must hearken to the voice of Him who stands at the head, for that is the order. “My house is a house of order, saith the Lord, and not a house of confusion.” If He has anything for the Church, as an organized body, He will speak through the head; and if we are enlightened by the Holy Spirit we will see the safety of it, we will see that without this order we would be liable to be led astray. God will not speak to His Church, through the foot, but through the head. And if the body is of the same spirit as the head, it will respond, just as the members of the human body, if in a healthy condition, respond to the will of the head, in anything that the individual attempts to do. The man standing at the head holds the keys of revelation to the Church; but each individual may receive revelation for himself, if he has the gift of the Holy Ghost. And the Spirit by which God reveals through the head, is the same spirit by which He reveals to the individual for his own benefit. The Church of Christ is a united body; it is not divided against itself, because it is true, and truth is indivisible, it is eternal and cannot be destroyed, neither does it bear testimony against itself. Herein is the unity of the Saints. When the President of the Church speaks, the whole body responds, and when he brings forth anything for our guidance, we say in our hearts, under the same influence by which he is inspired, that is the word of God, and we rejoice in it and hearken to it. Thereby are the faith and obedience of the Latter-day Saints made manifest. And they do this not to man, but to God. Through the head of the Church the voice of God comes to the people, and when they obey it, it is not to man they bow, for the Latter-day Saints are not man-worshippers. They have come out from the midst of priestcraft, they have thrown off the yoke of bondage, and put on the liberty of the everlasting Gospel; and when they yield to the authority of the Holy Priesthood, they bow to God Almighty, their Father, who is represented in His servants upon earth, and not to man. “Cursed is he that putteth his trust in man, or maketh flesh his arm.” We worship God our heavenly Father, in the name of Jesus Christ, under the influence of the Holy Spirit, and that which we obey we receive as coming from him and not from man. That is the order, if we have eyes to see, and hearts to comprehend it. And it is the same with all the different authorities of the Church, each one in his place and calling; one not interfering with another, every part and portion of the holy Priesthood being adapted to every other part, as each part of the human system is adapted and essential to the well-being of the other parts. The head cannot say to the feet, I have no need of thee; neither can the foot say to the head, I have no need of thee, but each part has need of the other. And there is unison in it; there is beauty in it. No one officer or member of the priesthood can encroach upon the privileges of another; but each one has his duties defined, and all are necessary for the order and government of the Church, for the preaching of the Gospel, for the gathering of the Saints, for the instruction of the people that all might be led in the path of life, until they come to the fullness of the knowledge of the Son of God, and be like a perfect man in Christ Jesus. Apostles are necessary in their place; Seventies in theirs; High Priests in theirs; Elders, Priests, Teachers and Deacons in theirs; Bishops and Presidents of Stakes, etc., in theirs, all having been appointed and ordained of God. This organization is unique in its character; there is nothing like it among the institutions of men, there is nothing like it in the world. There is nothing of an earthly character to be compared with it. It is beautiful, it is glorious, it is harmonious, it is perfect, because it is the work of God. And if we would carry it out fully and perfectly, what a splendid organization we would have! What a mighty people we would be! A people whose God is the Lord, all moving along in perfect harmony, each one accomplishing his part in this great and mighty work. But we are like the rest of mankind to some extent—we are prone to do evil, we are prone to follow our own ways, to take our own course, to be stiffnecked and willful.

Now, my brethren and sisters, we have come out from the world, we have come measurably to a knowledge of the truth, to a knowledge of God; we know that He lives, and we know that by taking the course pointed out to us by the servants of God who have been appointed to lead us, in due time we shall return to our Father and God, and we shall see him as he is, and be like him, and inherit the fullness of his glory.

That we may be able to take this course is my prayer, in the name of Jesus. Amen.

Tithes and Offerings—Consecrations and Stewardships—The Law of the Lord to the Latter-day Saints—The Meaning of “Surplus Property”—Tithes and Offerings in Ancient Times—The Year of Jubilee or Release—The Importance of Paying Tithing—God the Giver of Every Good Gift—Tithes and Offerings His Due

Discourse by Elder F. D. Richards, delivered at Logan, on Saturday Afternoon, Nov. 6, 1882.

My dear brethren and sisters and friends, I am much edified by the remarks which have been made here today. I believe that your president is looking after his work throughout this Stake over which he presides, and I hope you will take into careful consideration the subjects he has presented to you, as they are matters of practical importance. We feel that we are numbered with God’s people, and that it is very well with us in a general way, but there is a time coming when we shall each and every one of us be brought to a solemn, serious and faithful understanding of our true relationship to God and to each other, as well as to the work in which we are now called to labor. We all have our free agency to do good or evil. Every faithful Saint will have a desire to find the blessing that legitimately belongs to each particular ordinance and labor in the Church, for there is a blessing belonging to each office and calling, to each labor and duty, and to each particular ministration and work required of us.

The Elders who spoke this morning made allusions to the subject of tithing, which particularly pleased me; some may think this a hackneyed subject and wish we would talk about something else, believing that they know all that has been spoken or written about it; but I think there are a few things pertaining to this matter which we may not have considered. If there is any brother here who feels that today his tithing is onerous or that this tithing is a tax upon him, and that he has got so much he cannot afford to pay tithing on it, or that he has so little that he cannot spare a tenth of it, such a brother does not realize and sense the blessing that flows from paying an honest tithing, for if he did he would deem it just as necessary to obey that law of God to us, in order to obtain the special blessing thereof, as he would of going to his meals in order to derive the temporal blessing of health and strength from partaking of food. If we could take home to our hearts and understandings the sayings of Bishop Hunter here last Conference, namely, “pay your tithing and be blessed,” the subject of tithing would appear of greater moment to us. I recollect, not long ago, being told that a certain person worth his thousands of dollars paid one dollar and fifty cents; perhaps in order to be able to say at the end of the year that he paid tithing. Now, this kind of compromise with one’s conscience is not the thing for Saints—hypocrites may indulge in it.

Will you engage with me a few minutes, and consider the subject of tithing as the Lord has given it to us, and see if we can get to understand it, see if, peradventure, there is something in it worthy to be sought after. Does he give us a requirement that is not fraught with blessing and consolation to us. Not at all. Every requirement lived up to brings consolation and blessing. If I can have the liberty of the spirit to dwell on this subject, I would like us to look at it, and see if there is not something in it which we have not found out and which is both desirable and profitable.

I will read from the Doctrine and Covenants a short but very comprehensive Revelation upon this subject; but before doing so let me say that wherever tithing is spoken about, the word offerings is frequently connected with it. For instance, the Lord by His prophet Malachi, charged Israel with having robbed him of His tithes and offerings. These are words which although not strictly synonymous, are so nearly alike that they are frequently used together, and sometimes one for the other. But as used in the ancient scriptures tithes are not offerings, and offerings are not tithes. It should be kept in mind that this Church was organized more than eight years before the Lord gave to his people in this great and last dispensation a law on the subject of tithing. Let this be borne in mind as we proceed. The beginning of this work was founded in offerings and in consecrations, by the people giving themselves and all they possessed to the work of God when they embraced it. In the building of the Temple at Kirtland, the law of tithing was not known, but every man went to work on that House after the manner of bees returning to their hive, and each bringing in the necessary material to enable them to carry on the work.

When the first Bishop, Edward Partridge, was appointed to the high position of Bishop of the Church in Zion, his duty, as given by revelation, was not to deal with tithing. Indeed tithing was not even mentioned in the whole revelation, but he was required to receive the consecrations of the Saints, and to set off to them their inheritances. No revelation had yet been given upon the subject of tithing. When the Saints had gone up from Kirtland to Jackson County in Missouri, and had been driven to Clay County, and from Clay to Caldwell County, and when Brothers Joseph and Hyrum, David and Oliver, and the leading authorities of the priesthood at that time were congregated in Far West, the then gathering place of Israel, and where a Temple was appointed to be built, it was on the 8th of July, 1838, that the Lord gave for the first time to this people, through the Prophet Joseph Smith the law on the subject of tithing, and we should understand this in order to approach the subject in a correct and proper manner.

Up to this time you will recollect that the Saints had gone to Missouri to receive inheritances according to the order of stewardships, consecrating all they had to the Bishop in Zion; and in turn he delivered to every man his stewardship and gave to him a written deed and covenant, in the name of the Lord, and in the authority of his holy ministerial calling which could not be broken; and as you well know who are familiar with the history, the Saints were during the following winter of 1838-9, driven out from Missouri altogether.

We will now look at this short revelation given through Joseph, the Prophet, at Far West, Missouri, July 8th, 1838, in answer to a question, “O Lord, show unto thy servants how much thou requirest of the properties of the people for a tithing.”

1. “Verily, thus saith the Lord, I require all their surplus property to be put into the hands of the Bishop of my Church of Zion,

2. “For the building of mine house, and for the laying of the foundation of Zion and for the priesthood, and for the debts of the Presidency of my Church.

3. “And this shall be the beginning of the tithing of my people.

4. “And after that, those who have thus been tithed shall pay one-tenth of all their interest annually; and this shall be a standing law unto them forever, for my holy priesthood, saith the Lord.

5. “Verily I say unto you, it shall come to pass, that all those who gather unto the land of Zion shall be tithed of their surplus properties, and shall observe this law, or they shall not be found worthy to abide among you.

6. “And I say unto you, if my people observe not this law, to keep it holy, and by this law sanctify the land of Zion unto me, that my statutes and my judgments may be kept thereon, that it may be most holy, behold, verily I say unto you, it shall not be a land of Zion unto you.

7. “And this shall be an ensam ple unto all the stakes of Zion. Even so. Amen.”

Before going further I want to stop and consider the question asked by some, what He means where the Lord requires the surplus property of His people as the beginning of their tithing. Let us consider for a moment this word “surplus.” What does it mean when applied to a man and his property? Surplus cannot mean that which is indispensably necessary for any given purpose, but what remains after supplying what is needed for that purpose. Is not the first and most necessary use of a man’s property that he feed, clothe and provide a home for himself and family? This appears to be the great leading objects for which we labor to acquire means, and as, until the time that this revelation was given, all public works and raising of all public funds had been by consecration, was not “surplus property,” that which was over and above a comfortable and necessary subsistence? In the light of what had transpired and of subsequent events, what else could it mean? Can we take any other view of it when we consider the circumstances under which it was given in Far West in July, 1838?

I have been unable in studying this subject to find any other definition of the term surplus, as used in this revelation, than the one I have just given. I find that it was so understood and recorded by the Bishops and people in those days, as well as by the Prophet Joseph himself, who was unquestionably the ablest and best exponent of this revelation.

Immediately following the persecutions of the Saints in the expulsion from the State of Missouri, the Prophet Joseph, in 1839, found the sickly town of Commerce so nearly depopulated, by disease, that its remaining inhabitants were glad to sell out to him their sickly place, which afterwards became the delightful Nauvoo—for God blessed it and made the place healthy as well as beautiful. Soon a site was selected on which to build a Temple, as says the Lord, “which my people are always commanded to build unto my name.” The cornerstones were laid and the gathered saints were diligently at work on the building.

How did they build it? Here for the first time in this dispensation the principle of tithing was practiced by the Saints in the labor of building a Temple. Few, if any, in those days, who came to Nauvoo, had any surplus, and many had not a comfortable subsistence, consequently the tithing of the people on that Temple was mostly in labor as I well recollect—for I worked in the quarry every tenth day when I was not absent on missionary service. I remember very well that every man who was dependent on his daily labor went in good faith and performed the work assigned him, and it was considered and credited to him as his tithing. When brethren who had property gathered there they were tithed of their surplus property, and then after that of their increase of the residue from that time on. So abundant was the spirit of consecration among the Saints in those days, they voted rather than have the Temple fail of completion by the appointed time, they would appropriate their homes and the lots on which they stood for its accomplishment. After paying such surplus as the beginning of their tithing, “those who have thus been tithed shall pay one-tenth of all their interest annually; and this shall be a standing law unto them forever, for my holy Priesthood, saith the Lord.” Again, “Verily I say unto you, it shall come to pass, that all those who gather to the land of Zion shall be tithed of their surplus property, and shall observe this law, or they shall not be found worthy to abide among you.” This is a command; it does not say it may or may not be, but they shall not be worthy to abide among you. “And I say unto you, if my people observe not this law, to keep it holy, and by this law sanctify the land of Zion unto me, that my statutes and my judgments may be kept therein, that it may be most holy, behold, verily, I say unto you, it shall not be a land of Zion unto you.” This language is plain and free from ambiguity. “And this shall be an ensample unto all the stakes of Zion.

I call your attention to this that we may look at it and come to know what it really means to pay tithing. For I do believe that the majority of the brethren want to understand what is the mind of the Lord on this subject, because our blessings all depend upon our understanding what is his mind and will and then carrying it out to the best of our ability. Some who pay their tithing think they ought not to be called upon for any offerings to the Temple or poor, and say, “If I have to make donations I cannot pay tithing;” and they act accordingly.

I might go on to speak about a great variety of views which are taken of this subject, but suppose we take a look at what the Lord said and did about these things anciently. First, a word concerning offerings. People carry something to the poor because they feel it to be a requirement; but do they do it in the way that they may receive the blessings of the Lord that per tain to the giving of those offerings? There is a great deal more belonging to this than I shall attempt to explain now. The first manifestation of God’s favor and of his disfavor to man over the matter of offerings was towards two of the sons of Adam—Abel and Cain; Abel brought the firstlings of his flock and of the fat thereof, such an offering was acceptable to the Lord, and because of this the favor and blessing of God was upon him. Cain, his own brother, child of the same parents, brought his offering to the Lord, but his offering the Lord could not accept, it was displeasing in his sight. The Bible does not give us the particular reasons for the acceptance of Abel’s and the rejection of Cain’s offering; but the Talmud, an ancient Jewish record, informs us that “while Abel selected the finest and best-conditioned animals of his flock, Cain offered fruit of an inferior quality, the poorest which the earth afforded. Therefore, Cain’s offering was unheeded, while the fire of acceptance fell from heaven, consuming the gracious gift which his brother had presented to his Maker.”

Cain’s offering did not represent that gratitude and acknowledgement which was witnessed in his brother Abel’s. And while God could pour out his blessing and spirit upon Abel, accepting of his offering, He could not do so to Cain. We may take this down to the times of Israel in the land of Canaan. The Lord, when he gave them the law of tithing, gave also the particular item of offerings. They had to bring peace offerings and different kinds of offerings before the Lord, that by complying with these the favor of God might rest upon them. But to give a more striking and significant instance, let me refer you to the case of Solomon, who, wanting a certain peculiar blessing from the Lord, offered a sacrifice unto the Lord of 3,000 bullocks, and said he, “O, Lord, if thou wilt accept of my offering, I desire not the riches nor the wealth, nor the honor of the world, but I desire wisdom, that I may be able to lead the people in the right way of the Lord.” What effect did this offering produce? The Lord granted the desire of his heart. Here was a standard given. Solomon did not want a blessing worth a certain amount, he wanted one that should reach his people through him; the blessing that he might be enabled to rule over them in wisdom. He sought such a blessing, and not the blessing of earthly goods; and God granted it to him, and he made the wisest of men and the best ruler that ever led that people; although his heart was led astray, after idols, as the Lord told him it would be if he took wives from other nations which were idolatrous. When we make offerings unto God, they should be of the best and the choicest that we have, and when this is the case we can with more freedom and faith ask our Father for some of the best of His blessings. But if we give the poorest of our property as some do, will it be acceptable to the Lord, and shall we obtain the blessing we desire?

If you were going to make an offering to the nobles of the earth, you would never think of presenting anything but the best and choicest of the kind of gift you were going to make. I do not want to speak lengthily upon this matter of offerings, but to merely remind you that when we make offerings we should do so in sincerity, imparting the best we have, as did Abel, and never presenting anything that our better nature would intimate to us would not be acceptable to God or His servants, that we may not share the lot of Cain.

Let us now return more particularly to the subject of tithing. The Lord gave to His people anciently the law of tithing. It is recorded in the 14th chapter of Genesis, that Abraham, when he went out with 318 trained men, in the power of God, slew certain wicked kings, thereby winning the admiration of God’s High Priest Melchizedek, who we are told, went out to meet him when he was returning home, and blessed him. Abraham turned over one-tenth of the spoils that he had taken to this man of God; he did not even take them home, so regardful was he to conform to this law, which he respected and honored, and the observance of which brought such great blessings upon his own head and upon the heads of his generations after him, who also observed this law. Paul, hundreds of years afterwards, quoted it as an example for those of his day.

The Bible informs us that Jacob, while serving for his wives, recognized this law, and said to the Lord: “Of all that thou shalt give me I will surely give the tenth unto thee.” The Lord blessed him with the desires of his heart and prospered him exceedingly. He paid his tithing.

So also the Prophet Joseph and other leading Elders of the Church in our own day have covenanted with the Lord and paid their tithing with most careful consideration. When Israel was being brought up from the land of Egypt, and the Lord established his law among them to make them his people, he gave them the following commandment in regard to tithing. Leviticus 27, 30, 34: “All the tithe of the land, or of the fruit of the tree is the Lord’s; it is holy unto the Lord. And if a man will at all redeem aught of his tithes, he shall add thereto the fifth part thereof. And concerning the tithe of the herd, or of the flock, even of whatever passeth under the rod, the tenth shall be holy unto the Lord.” “Whatsoever passeth under the rod.” Do you know what that means? I will relate the history as it has come down to us. When they came to pay their tithing the Lord told them it should not be the poorest, neither would he ask the best; therefore they put their flock or herd in a pen having an outlet just large enough for one to pass out at a time, and as the animals passed in single-file, the owner stood by with a rod in his hand that had been dipped in some sort of coloring material, counting them as they came out, and touching every tenth animal with his colored rod. He would not go in among them and pick them lest his judgment might not be right, but the flock passed out according to their own inclination, and as they passed, the owner stood with the coloring rod and marked on the back of every tenth animal, and after all had passed out to an adjoining fold, those that were marked were then picked out from the flock. “He shall not search whether it be good or bad, neither shall he change it; and if he change it at all, then both it and the change thereof shall be holy; it shall not be redeemed.” They were to take it as it came, not to pick the good nor the bad; this was the requirement, that they should give to the Lord tithes of all: Leviticus, 27, 30 and 33. There is another feature in this which is worthy of notice, while all Israel paid these offerings and tithes of their seed and grain, flocks and herds, to the ones appointed to receive it—to the Levites; that tribe of Israel was forbidden to have any other property, but they had to live on the tithing thus presented. Still they were required to pay a tithe of what they received the same as the rest of the people. The Scriptures say about this in the 18th chapter of Numbers: “And the Lord spake unto Moses, saying, Thus speak unto the Levites, and say unto them, When ye take of the children of Israel the tithes which I have given you from them for your inheritance, then ye shall offer up an heave offering of it for the Lord, even a tenth part of the tithe. And this your heave offering shall be reckoned unto you, as though it were the corn of the threshing floor, and as the fullness of the winepress.” Thus we see that the Levites had to pay tithing of all they received.

Again, the Lord called upon Israel to hold at certain seasons what they called feasts. He told them that they should bring their supplies, provisions, etc., at the times of these feasts, and that on the first day they should not do any manner of work, but should come together on the day of the feast of Pentecost and the passover, and should remember how the Lord passed by them in the land of Egypt; and the first day and the last day of the feast they were required to keep without working. And the people were commanded to eat before the Lord with clean hearts and with rejoicings, and were particularly requested to invite the Levite who was without part or inheritance among them. The Lord pointed out things definitely for His people, and as long as they obeyed strictly the requirements made of them they flourished and prospered in the land. And it was wonderful how that little land of Canaan was made to support the millions of Israel, with all their flocks and herds. It was truly a land flowing with milk and honey. And it was because of the blessing of God that was upon it.

The Lord our God wants us to sanctify this land unto him by paying our tithing and offerings, that He may bless it unto us and make it a blessed land upon the face of the earth, not only to us but to our generations after us. He has gone so far as to say that kings should not rule over it, and that if the people who live upon it should become wicked, when the cup of their iniquity became full they should be cut off. These are great promises made unto us if we carry out the requirements of the Gospel. And yet, how little do we know of the great blessings that follow obedience to the law of tithing? Some seem to forget that if they do not pay tithing, they are not even entitled to a recommend from their Bishop to partake of the general blessings of the Lord’s house. They do not seem to realize this. The day is coming when you will want to go into the Temple of the Lord which is now being erected in your city, and receive your ordinances there, the records will be searched to see if you have paid your tithing. And then you will have occasion for sorrow and regret if you have not been faithful to this requirement in times of prosperity, and while you could have paid as well as not.

There are some features of this subject which seem like a crowning climax of the text. After the Lord revealed to Israel the law of tithing, and after telling them how to keep the feast of the Passover etc., he tells them another peculiar thing, to which I wish to call your attention, as it is connected with the subject—in Deuteronomy, xxvi, 12, 13.

“When thou hast made an end of tithing all the tithes of thine increase the third year, which is the year of tithing, and hast given it unto the Levite, the stranger, the fatherless, and the widow, that they may eat within thy gates, and be filled;

“Then thou shalt say before the Lord thy God, I have brought away the hallowed things out of mine house, and also have given them unto the Levite, and unto the stranger, and to the fatherless, and to the widow, according to all thy commandments which thou hast commanded me: I have not transgressed thy commandments, neither have I forgotten them: I have not eaten thereof in my mourning, neither have I taken away ought thereof for any unclean use, nor given ought thereof for the dead: but I have hearkened to the voice of the Lord my God, and have done according to all that thou hast commanded me.”

Here is a curious saying: When thou hast made an end of this tithing, and eaten within thy gates, then thou shalt say before the Lord: “I have brought away the hallowed things out of mine house, and also have I given them unto the Levite, and unto the stranger, to the fatherless, and to the widow, according to all thy commandments which thou hast commanded me: I have not transgressed thy commandments, neither have I forgotten them.” Now, supposing there was an ordinance of that kind instituted among us that at the close of each annual settlement, it was required of each man to say, I have paid my tithing, the tenth of all the Lord has given unto me; I have delivered it to my Bishop or to the storehouse of the Lord, as the Lord has required. And then to say, I have done all things according to the commandments of the Lord my God, and have not failed in any of these things. How many of us could lift up our hands and say that we have done all that God has required? There was the point—God brought it home to the people, and when a man could say this his neighbors knew he was living the law of God. This was something that created confidence and fellowship between man and man. When they could thus testify that they had done all that was required of them, they could also, with good grace and faith, ask the blessings of God upon them and their land as written in the 15th verse of the chapter just quoted: “Look down from thy holy habitation, from heaven, and bless thy people Israel, and the land which thou hast given us, as thou swarest unto our fathers, a land that floweth with milk and honey.” As the Lord has in like manner said unto us.

“And I say unto you, if my people observe not this law, to keep it holy, and by this law sanctify the land of Zion unto me, that my statutes and my judgments may be kept thereon, that it may be most holy, behold, verily I say unto you, it shall not be a land of Zion unto you.”

There is one other thing in connection with this wherein the Lord gave to the people a requirement which it would seem was intended to reach home to their hearts and to prevent greed and covetousness. Every seventh year was a year of jubilee or release when the poor, the unfortunate, the bondmen and the debtor were set free.

If a man borrowed of his neighbor during the early part of the six years, he had more time which gave a better prospect of being able to pay before the seventh year arrived. If another wished to borrow during the sixth year, not having so much time to earn or make the pay, persons having money to lend would naturally feel that it was doubtful if they would get their money back.

Upon this peculiar feature of financial policy the Lord says, “If there be among you a poor man or one of thy brethren within any of thy gates in thy land which the Lord thy God giveth thee, thou shalt not harden thine heart, nor shut thine hand from thy poor brother: But thou shalt open thine hand wide unto him, and shalt surely lend unto him sufficient for his need, in that which he wanteth. Beware that there be not a thought in thy wicked heart, saying, The seventh year, the year of release is at hand; and thine eye be evil against thy poor brother, and thou givest him nought; and he cry unto the Lord against thee, and it be sin unto thee. Thou shalt surely give him, and thine heart shall not be grieved when thou givest unto him: because that for this thing the Lord thy God shall bless thee in all thy works, and in all that thou puttest thine hand unto.”—Deut. xv., 7-11.

How wonderfully the Lord in all his teachings seeks and works to do away with covetousness, that sin which is idolatry, from the midst of his people. If thy brother come to thee on the sixth year thou shalt not close thine hand against him, but thou shalt open wide thine hand unto him. Thou shalt not let thy wicked heart say, that the seventh year, the year of release is at hand and I perhaps will lose it all.

Brethren, since so exalted sentiments of charitable benevolence were given to the ancients, under the law, shall we to whom the fullness of the Gospel has come, let these precepts pass by unheeded without treasuring them up in good and honest hearts?

I have but just begun to open the door, just commenced to enter into some details that environ this great and vastly important subject. I have only aimed at the importance and general bearing of this law upon the Saints, as touching all that the Lord gives unto us, not dealing in the least with the administration of His law.

Let us consider—who is it that causes the grain to increase when we put it into the earth? Who makes our flocks and herds to increase? Who gives us the vitalizing air we breathe—the liberty we enjoy with all the hopes and promises of eternal life and glory through obedience to the Everlasting Gospel? God the giver of every good gift.

From the foregoing we learn that the law of tithing is a strict commandment, a law which if obeyed faithfully by God’s people will bring blessing, plenty and sanctification of the land occupied by them unto God and His purposes, but if disobeyed the disobedient “shall not be found worthy to abide among the Saints, and this land shall not be a land of Zion unto them.”

That the difference between tithing and offering is that tithing is designated, meaning one-tenth, neither more nor less; while offerings are also required, the amount is left optional with the giver—the measure he metes will be measured to him again.

That the tithing of all that the Lord gives unto us belongs unto Him, and it is our first duty to the Church to pay it, and after that the sacred precepts, teach offerings and a generous benevolence to the poor and needy, whether in gifts or loans—discouraging greed or covetousness of this world’s goods, which is idolatry.

I earnestly pray that the Spirit of God may enable us to master this and all other principles of the Gospel, until we shall possess the riches of eternal life, the greatest gift of God to man. Amen.

The Lord Interested in the Salvation of the Whole Human Family—His Plans, Purposes and Dealings All to that End—Necessity of Charity, Love, Union, Etc., in the Church of Christ—The Logan Temple and a Prophetic Glimpse at Its Future

Discourse by Apostle Lorenzo Snow, delivered at Logan, on Saturday Afternoon, Nov. 4, 1882.

The speaker commenced by reading the 19th, 20th and 21st verses of the 17th chapter of the Gospel according to St. John, and then said:

It is a question in my mind when reflecting upon the subject herein contained whether we take into proper consideration the great purposes that God has in view with regard to the human family, and the manner in which he proceeds to accomplish them. When the Lord calls an individual or a class of individuals out from the world, it is not always with an object to benefit that particular individual or individuals. The Lord has not in view merely the salvation of a few people called Latter-day Saints, who have been or who may be gathered into these valleys, but the salvation of all men, the living and the dead. When the Lord called Abraham he made him certain promises concerning the glory that should come upon him and his posterity, and in these promises we find this remarkable saying: that in him and in his seed all the nations of the earth should be blessed. Paul in offering an explanation to this, says, in speaking of seed, it did not have reference “to seeds as of many, but one which was Christ Jesus;” that is, in Abraham and in Christ Jesus, his seed, all the families of the earth should be blessed; showing that in calling Abraham and in making this promise, the design of the Lord was to bless not only him and his posterity, but all the families of the earth.

In the dealings of God with man, we find that he often called upon the heathen nations with a view to the accomplishment of certain purposes. The Ninevites, for instance, received a communication from the Lord through the Prophet Jonah, telling them that in forty days their city should be destroyed. This people was worthy to receive warning by a revelation from God, as they manifested afterward in their repentance. And Jonah fled from the presence of the Lord, for he knew that the Almighty had respect for not only one nation and people, but for all nations and peoples that feared Him, and lived according to the light which they possessed; and he believed that the Lord would forgive that people; and therefore that he, as a Prophet, would fail in his prediction, and would suffer in his char acter as a Prophet. However, we find that Jonah turned up at last in Nineveh, a wiser, if not a better man. And he went to work in earnest, performing the mission to which he had been called, and delivered the message to the people. The king heard of it, and he had that faith in and that knowledge of the character of the Almighty that he believed and humbled himself, and used his influence with his nobles and people that they should do likewise, that the wrath of God might be turned and he had his people preserved. So he came down off his throne and called upon his nobles to put on sackcloth, and commanded that the beasts of the field should be covered with sackcloth, and the people repented and humbled themselves before God in the hope that he would turn away his wrath from them. And they so fully complied with the requirements that his judgment was reversed, and the great city preserved.

And when the Lord called upon the Prophet Jeremiah, he told him that his purposes were not confined to the people of Israel, but that he was interested in the welfare and salvation of all nations. On a certain occasion he was commanded to make yokes and to place them upon his neck; and when the messengers from the various nations should come to visit Israel, he was to send those yokes to their masters, their kings, and tell them what his mind and will were concerning them. The yokes were sent to six different nations, with a message requiring of those several kings certain duties. Those nations did not profess to believe in God; they worshipped idols, but God had respect to them notwithstanding. And it would not be a matter of astonishment to know that those people stood upon a far higher plane of morality and faith in God than the people of our boasted nineteenth century. Now, the Lord told them that it was his intention to make a certain person king over all the nations including theirs, and he required them to submit to this change in their governmental affairs, as he had appointed Nebuchadnezzar to hold dominion over all nations and peoples, and over the beasts of the field. “All these things are mine (says the Lord) and have I not the right to do with them as I please? Now you nations, if you do not wish to be uprooted, listen to the voice of my servant Jeremiah, and bow your necks to the yoke of Nebuchadnezzar.” Even His own people Israel whom He had called and proposed to lift up in the eyes of the nations, Jeremiah was commanded to tell them to submit to Nebuchadnezzar, and thus permit themselves to go into captivity; which if they did not they should be overthrown, and Jerusalem destroyed. But they would not listen. They worshipped false gods, and they obeyed not the voice of the Almighty; but were guilty of all kinds of abominations, and were so full of wickedness that the anger of the Lord was kindled against them; and he permitted him, whom he called his servant, Nebuchadnezzar, to destroy their Temple, break down their altars, and scatter them throughout his kingdom. On a certain occasion the Lord inspired King Nebuchadnezzar to issue an edict in which His people Israel were much interested, as they were in captivity. Nebuchadnezzar had discovered the true and living God, and he felt to honor Him; and in order to fully satisfy his feelings in this respect he passed an edict to the effect that whosoever would not respect the God of Shadrach, Meshach and Abednego should be cut to pieces and a dunghill be made of their houses. In this way the people in Jerusalem and in the country round about while in captivity were compelled to have regard to the true God, according to the edict of the heathen king. This is the way God worked in those days.

Finally when Jesus came, he came as a sacrifice not simply in the interest of Israel, or the posterity of Abraham, Isaac and Jacob, but in the interest of the whole human family, that in Him all men might be blessed, that in Him all men might be saved; and His mission was to make provision by which the whole human family might receive the benefits of the everlasting Gospel, not, as I say, Israel alone, but the whole human race; and not alone those dwelling upon the earth, but those also in the spirit world. The Apostles at first did not comprehend the universality of the purpose of the Lord, and it took the Lord some time to convince them. There was Peter, he had the idea that the Gospel was to be confined to the Jews; and in order to show him to the contrary the Lord sent a special manifestation, in the form of a sheet let down from heaven containing all manner of beasts, and then commanded him to arise, slay and eat. But Peter demurred, giving as a reason, that nothing unclean had entered his mouth. But he was told that what the Lord had made clean no man should call unclean. And after he had received this heavenly vision, he was waited on by messengers sent by a distinguished personage. It appears that the Lord had found a Gentile who honored Him, who gave much alms to the poor, and who prayed honestly and fervently unto Him. When Peter was conducted by the messenger to the place he learned that it was Cornelius, a Gentile, who had sent for him; who had assembled with his friends to hear what the Lord had to communicate. When Peter discovered himself in the company of Gentiles he considered it highly improper for one who was a Jew to be seen associating with that class of people. And then Cornelius explained how that an angel had appeared to him instructing him to send to Joppa to the house of one Simon, a tanner, etc. On hearing this Peter commenced preaching to him and his Gentile friends. And while he was speaking the Holy Ghost fell upon them, and they spake in tongues and prophesied. His eyes were now opened, and his views became changed from those narrow conceptions that he had entertained in regard to the dispensation of the blessings of the Lord being confined to a few. But when he saw that the Holy Ghost was upon them as it had fallen upon his own people, he asked, Who can forbid water that they should not be baptized? And he commanded that they be baptized. Peter learned that the Gospel of the kingdom was to go to all nations, that all might receive the benefits of the same, according to the promise made to Abraham, that in him and in Christ, his seed, all the nations of the earth should be blessed.

It was equally difficult to convince the other Apostles in regard to this matter, for when they found what Peter had done they chided him for so doing; so he explained to them how this departure occurred; how that the Lord had convinced him as to the propriety of allowing the Gentiles to be baptized.

I have thought sometimes that we take too narrow a view of the character and purposes of God. When the Lord introduces a dispensation to His servants, as a general thing it becomes necessary for them to operate in the interests of many. There is one thing, however, that should not escape our notice. From the verses which I have read the importance and the necessity of the Apostles being united, was shown, in order that the purposes of the Lord might be effective in the world. For unless the Apostles and those that believed on them were united, the world could not believe in the mission and purposes of the Savior. Therefore Jesus prayed to the Father that all those whom the Father had given Him might be one as He and the Father were one, that the world might believe that the Father had sent Him. In fact this is what the Lord designed to effect through Israel in bringing them out from Egyptian bondage; He wished to make of them a united people, a peculiar nation, a nation of people whom God could honor and respect in order that the world might believe, and that they might receive the blessings which He wished to bestow upon them, inasmuch as the human race are all the offspring of God; and if Israel had carried out His requirements, the world, no doubt would have been greatly benefited thereby, and the purposes of God more fully effected. The Lord wished to show His character, and the character of the heavens, and wished to extend his love and blessings through Israel to the whole human family; but Israel was disobedient and would not hearken to His voice. And as to the Apostles, so far as their fulfilling the wishes of the Savior concerning their being one, we are told by the revelations of the Lord through the Prophet Joseph, that his disciples in days of old had feelings one against another, and forgave not one another in their hearts, and for this reason they were chastened, yes, they were sorely chastened. The Apostles were persecuted, and with one exception perhaps, were finally martyred. And the churches they established never came to that union which the Savior prayed for, and consequently they failed to stand the tide of opposition. The Latter-day Saints are trying to do the work that Israel failed to do; and that the former Saints did not accomplish, and we can only do it by becoming one even as the Father and the Son are one, and this in order that the world may believe that we are sent of God. We have got to be perfect, and come to the measure of the stature of Christ Jesus, in order that the world may know that Jesus has sent and commissioned His Apostles, and restored the holy Priesthood. If we have division in our midst; if we be divided either spiritually or temporally, we never can be the people that God designs us to become, nor can we ever become instruments in His hands of making the world believe that the holy Priesthood has been restored, and that we have the everlasting Gospel. In order for us to effect the purposes of God, we shall have to do as Jesus did—conform our individual will to the will of God, not only in one thing, but in all things, and to live so that the will of God shall be in us. We have the same Priesthood that Jesus had, and we have got to do as He did, to make sacrifice of our own desires and feelings as He did, perhaps not to die martyrs as He did, but we have got to make sacrifices in order to carry out the purposes of God, or we shall not be worthy of this holy Priesthood, and be saviors of the world. God intends to make us saviors not only of many that now dwell on the earth, but of many in the spirit world. He will not only place us in a position to save ourselves, but He will make us competent to assist in the redemption of many of the offspring of the Almighty. And that we may assist in the salvation of other people we are building the Temple on yonder plateau; and all Latter-day Saints in this Temple district are called upon to aid in accomplishing this work.

I have come now to what I wish to say about the business of this Temple, in reference to which I desire to speak a few minutes. I suspect that many of the Saints are anticipating the completion of this Temple next spring. As to when it will be finished I am not able to say; I think, however, it will depend upon the efforts we make to that end.

The speaker then went on to speak of the work that was necessary to be done, and proposed a way to accomplish the same; and then said:

I would not be afraid to prophesy, if I were in the habit of prophesying, that the people of this Temple dis trict will be found ready and willing to do all that may be required by way of completing this building. And I have not the least doubt in the world—I believe it full, that angels will minister to the people, and the power of the Almighty will be made manifest to a greater extent than at any other time, or in any other house, since the days of Jesus. You know how it was in that Kirtland Temple, Jesus the Son of God, appeared in His glory standing upon the breastwork of the pulpit, His eyes like a flaming fire, and His hair as white as the driven snow, while His countenance shown like the sun in his brightness. And those who saw Him testify to this fact, and they describe His voice as the sound of rushing waters, as He said: I am He that was slain; I am He that lives; I am your advocate with the Father. Your sins are forgiven you. And He then blessed those who had assisted in building the Temple to His name, and He accepted it at their hands. And this people will be entitled to those blessings that Jesus in His glory pronounced upon those who aided in building the Kirtland Temple, inasmuch as they contribute in the future as liberally as they have in the past.