Latter-Day Saint Families—Preaching the Gospel—Building Up the Kingdom

Remarks by President Brigham Young, delivered in the Tabernacle, Salt Lake City, January 2, 1870.

After contemplating what you have been hearing, I want to say, for the consolation of these my sisters before me, I give you my word for it, if your children were counted and their number compared with that of the children born in the healthy city of Boston, that you do not lose three where they lose five; and I think the ratio would not vary much from three to six. I want to say this for the consolation of those sisters who live in Utah and bear children.

As for what has been said here of our children and their state of health and general appearance, and how they present themselves to strangers and to friends, I am perfectly willing to compare ours with any in the world; and if the result is not favorable to us, I would be willing to part with them; but if the contrary be the case, let us have theirs.

This revelation about our children came through Anna Dickinson. When she came here I was not at home. She stayed here one day and one night; I understood she was riding a good part of the night with a stranger, for the benefit of her health I suppose. These great statements about the children of Utah have come through the great wisdom and experience of Anna Dickinson. How much does she know about family affairs here? She stayed here at the Townsend House, I suppose, nearly twelve hours. Did sister Townsend make the statement which Anna Dickinson gives to the world? Anna may say so, but I do not believe it. I will give you one specimen of her knowledge with regard to the ladies of this city. In one of her statements she says that Brigham Young will look after the young ladies, and on becoming acquainted with them will find some of them are his own daughters. Her researches in this community were immense. But let me tell you she is hired by some lackeys to lecture against “Mormonism” and the “Mormons.” I say go ahead, lecture away until you get into—; and then continue your lectures, and afterwards hire men to lecture. They may hire lecturers to say this, that and the other about this people; I do not know that it makes the least difference to you and me. It matters not to us what the press says, or what that judge or this officer, or what Congress says. We are here in these mountains; the Lord has called and led us here and sustained us and given us strength.

I know more about the rising generation than most of the people who live in this city. I travel a great deal, and as I go into a small town and see the children strung out a quarter of a mile, I often say: “Have you borrowed these children? Where did you borrow them from?” I am answered: “I guess we own them here.” I go to the next settlement and see another group, stretching perhaps half a mile in length, ready to receive us with their banners and flags and their merry greetings. I go to another and see them by hundreds and thousands. Go through this Territory and what do you see? That which you cannot find elsewhere on the face of the earth with regard to children; not only in numbers, but in intelligence, strength, power of mind and general scholastic ability. Suppose someone says it is not so; does that make any difference to us? No; not the least.

I have never feared but one thing in regard to the Latter-day Saints in the persecutions they have received or that are in prospect: and that is, that we shall come short of doing our duty. It is only when we live short of our privileges, when we neglect to serve our God and to do as we should do, and as the Lord our God requires of us, that I have any apprehensions for this people, and I have certainly seen just about as much with regard to persecutions as any other man that lives in this Church. Still, I never had but this one fear: Are the people doing their duty? Are they neglecting their privileges or are they living so as to have the Spirit of the Lord constantly in their hearts? If we are right before the Lord, it is no matter how we appear before the wicked. We are just as obnoxious now as we can be. Why are we so? Is it because we have drunkenness in our midst? No. Is it because we have houses of ill fame? No. Is it because we are a gambling people? No. Do we horserace, bet, drink, quarrel and go to law with one another from Monday morning to Saturday night? No; nothing of this kind is claimed against us. Then what is the matter with the Latter-day Saints? Our enemies cry out, “Polygamy.” It is a false idea. Very many of them believe in polygamy down yonder East; I won’t even except the leaders of our country, only they believe it on the sly, while we have our wives and acknowledge them. Anything that is unlawful is swallowed by them. Anything that is in opposition to the law of God goes down with them. Anything that tramples under foot the ordinances of God is all right with them.

But we love our God, we honor His laws, we obey His precepts, and we honor our father Abraham and perform his works. We should live to the best of our ability in accordance with the revelations God has given to us.

But why need the wisdom of the nation trouble itself about the “Mormons?” The whole cry, according to the newspapers, is about this people. Religious teachers, scribblers, public speakers and everybody join in this murmur against the Latter-day Saints. Let us keep the law of God and the laws of our country and preserve ourselves in these mountains without much quarreling and contention, and where is the great fault that can be found with the Latter-day Saints? We observe the law of God and it makes us one. It is the Priesthood they are opposed to. The wickedness of the whole world is opposed to the Priesthood of the Son of God. It was opposed to Jesus when he was here on the earth in the flesh. It appears that the whole world of mankind was opposed to the Gospel in the days of Noah. Who believed the sayings of Noah? His family. Who else. Nobody. What was the result? Why, Noah kept crying to the people for a hundred years that the Lord certainly would avenge Himself upon the nations unless they repented. Who believed the Gospel in the days of Enoch? A few, who gathered together and built a city to the Lord. Who believes in the Gospel now? Just a few. This Gospel is the Gospel of order and rule; it is the law of God brought forth to the children of men, by which they can save themselves by hearkening to its counsels. Who love it? The righteous. Who hate it? The wicked.

We have been hearing about the Latter-day Saints preaching. I think if our Elders were to go without purse or scrip and had nothing to fall back upon, and could not write here for means, but were obliged to take their valise in their hands and preach the Gospel as we used to do, they would be much more successful than they are and would find many more who would be willing to listen to their testimonies. I used to travel without purse or scrip, and many times I have walked till my feet were sore and the blood would run in my shoes and out of them, and fill my appointments—go into houses, ask for something to eat, sing and talk to them, and when they would commence questioning, answer them. Converse with them until they have given you what you want, bless them, and, if they wish, pray with them, and then leave, unless they wish you to stay longer. If you have an appointment, and are obliged to go here and there on your mission, go like Saints—humble before the Lord, full of faith and the power of God, and you will find the honest in heart, for the Lord is going to save a great many.

It is near twenty-five years since we left the confines of the United States. Go back there and you will find hundreds, and perhaps thousands, who are ready to receive the Gospel. Only carry it to them as they are prepared to receive it. But while we go and ride in our silver carriages, many never inquire into our principles; they are looking for something else. The meek and lowly Jesus sent his disciples without purse or scrip; and when the honest in heart see our Elders go in the same manner that Jesus’ disciples did, with the doctrine that he delivered to his disciples, and preach without purse or scrip, our Elders will find plenty of honest-hearted persons who will receive their testimony. But when the Elders go into the great cities, hire large halls and hire carriages to ride to their pulpit in, the people say it is a speculation, and such Elders do not have much of the Spirit of the Lord to preach to the people.

Our Elders who are in the States will do us good; there is no question about it. But they will do themselves and the people good if they will go without purse or scrip. If they travel without purse or scrip, when they land in the midst of a community, or wherever they want to preach, and go into the peoples’ houses and talk with them, pray with them and sing with them, teaching them the way of life and salvation, they will find there are plenty who are willing to receive them. Many of the Latter-day Saints go and say, “I am a ‘Mormon’ Elder, will you take me in and give me shelter and feed me?” “No,” says the owner of the house, “get out of my house, I do not want any ‘Mormons’ here.” If you go and say, “I am a servant of God and want to tarry over night,” and sing and pray, you will find many honest in heart ready and willing to receive you.

But here is the place to sanctify the people. They come here as ig norant as babes; they do not know their first lesson. They believed the sound of the Gospel. They have been baptized for the remission of sins and have had hands laid upon them for the gift of the Holy Ghost. But what do they know about the kingdom of God? They are mere babes; they know nothing, and they come up here to be instructed and to be taught how to live and walk before the Lord and each other. When they come here they need this teaching, and we are here to teach them; and the people are improving.

Let any of you sisters get out into the world, where you used to live, and what you used to see there will have quite another aspect to you. It will appear quite different to your minds and feelings. Learn how they feel towards His people; learn what is the state of the world; and then look back upon the people of God in these mountains, and you will see them lifted up and perceive that they are pure in heart in comparison with the world, and are striving with all their might and main to build up the kingdom of God on the earth. You who are here do not understand it and cannot see it, because all things are proved by their opposites. Were it not for darkness, could you give any description of light? Ask the individual who never saw light, and see if he can give you any description of it. He cannot do so from actual knowledge.

Those who come here find a pretty good people, but in their estimation we should be just as holy as angels. We are pretty good, and we are trying to be better; trying to devote ourselves more and more to the building up of the kingdom of God; trying to overcome our passions, subdue our tempers within us; trying to sanctify ourselves, our children, our friends and families, and seeking to become Saints in deed. The people are pretty good, and if they were gathered together so that we could see the difference between those who have been here for years and those who have just come, you would understand the comparison brother Kimball used to make of the clay that is thrown into the mill and has been grinding for years and prepared to make vessels of honor of; but in comes a batch of new clay, and you must grind again; and when it is taken out of the mill it is cut to pieces to see if there is anything in it that should not be. The impurities that are in the clay may destroy the vessel. You will therefore gather all out that should not be in it and throw it away. So it is with the Saints. Some keep leaving and this renders the clay purer and purer.

We talk a good deal about building up the kingdom of God upon the earth, according to the knowledge and understanding we have in regard to the kingdom of God; it requires several things to constitute a kingdom. If there is a kingdom, there needs a king, ruler or dictator; someone to govern and control the kingdom. What else does it signify? It says, in language that cannot be misunderstood, you must have subjects; if there is a kingdom there must be a king and subjects; and there must be territory for the subjects to live upon. Well, now, if we are in a kingdom, do you think we are in a kingdom without law? No; the strictest law ever given to mankind is the law of God. If we transgress the law of God, we cannot be sent to the penitentiary, to stay a few years in there; it is before the Lord, and He will judge according to our works, and judge righteous judgment. We cannot pay a fine of one dollar, five or five hundred and then be forgiven; if persons neglect to obey the law of God and to walk humbly before Him, darkness will come into their minds and they will be left to believe that which is false and erroneous; their minds will become dim, their eyes will be beclouded and they will be unable to see things as they are. Why? Because they know not the laws of God. There are a thousand ways by which persons can lose the Spirit of God. They neglect their duties, fall away into temptation and are overcome by Satan, the wicked one.

Among the sayings of Jesus there is a parable about a man who went out to sow. He had good seed to sow in the field. Some of it, however, fell upon stony ground and some among thorns. That which was sown on stony ground came up very quickly, but it was so tender that the rays of the sun were too powerful for it and it dwindled away and died. It was so with this people; they are not prepared for all that comes to them. In some instances the word of God seems to be like seed cast upon stony ground. Some of the seed was sown among thorns; but the cares of the world choked it; and same was sown upon good ground where it took root firmly and brought forth fruit, yielding “some thirty, some sixty, and some a hundred fold.” These are the ideas which Jesus brought forth to show the people wherein they might fail, and the danger of receiving the word unless they did so into good and honest hearts. Look upon the inhabitants of the earth. Whenever any of you go and preach the Gospel to them, they must acknowledge that every iota of it is true. Truth, reason, judgment, teach them so. The revelations the Lord has given teach it. Do they believe it? Some will say they believe it. They receive the truth, but do they receive the love of the truth? If persons receive the love of the truth and are faithful to the laws God gives to them, they will make themselves the elect through their faithfulness; and they will be the elect of God.

It was observed here this morning, in relation to the building up of the kingdom of God, that many think they have the privilege of doing just as they please. We have only the privilege to do right. There is not an iota in the revelations, from Adam down to the present day, but what requires strict obedience. They who cannot abide a celestial law—the law that God has revealed for the sanctification of His people to prepare them to enter into the presence of the Father and the Son, should try and abide a lesser law, but they must expect a lower glory, a secondary glory. If they cannot abide the celestial law, and can abide a lesser law, then they will receive the blessings of that law, and whatever law they abide they will receive the blessings thereof. The Lord has been pleased to reveal unto the people His law by which they can be sanctified and return into His presence. Latter-day Saints observe this law. What shall we say to them? Teach them the law of God. How easy it is? Is it easy to be understood! Yes, very easy; it can be summed up in these words: Do right, love God and keep His commandments. Take the moral code that the Lord has revealed and let it be strictly followed out; and what man or woman would ever infringe upon the rights of his or her neighbor? They would never do it; they would do good to their neighbor all the day long. If we would observe the moral law which God has given us, we would be honest with our neighbors and ourselves; and every man and woman belonging to the kingdom of God would speak truly and honestly. Would they be honest with regard to their dealings? Yes. If we give our word, it should be just as good as a bond that can be ensured and be made strong and powerful by securities. Our word should be just as good as all the words that can be spoken, or all the names that can be written. If we write what we say, we will keep that word. Will we oppress the widow and the fatherless? No. The hireling in his wages? No; we will give them all that they can do or earn and then a little more; and if anyone comes to us that is poor, in distress and in want, turn him not away empty handed. “Give to him that asketh, and from him that would borrow turn thou not away.”

This people do this pretty well. There is not much complaint on this score. I do not think there is a house in these mountains where a Latter-day Saint lives, that a person can go to and ask for a meal of victuals, where he would not get it if the people living in the house had it in their possession. I do not think he or she could ask to stay overnight and be refused the privilege. That is saying a good deal for a community. Would we be honest in returning that which we have found to the owner? We would. Would we ever take that which is not our own? We would not. Would we be honest in our labor? We would. Would we be honest in our merchandising? We would. Would we be honest in every respect? We would. Would we take usury? I hope to see the day when there will be no such thing as one man taking usury from another. But it is not so now; people do not come to this; we do not expect them to do so while they follow the spirit of the world. But these are things they have to learn when they gather together. Will there be any extortion, any selling our goods for a hundred to five hundred percent in advance of cost? No. The time will come when this cooperative system which we have now partially adopted in merchandising will be carried out by the whole people, and it will be said, “Here are the Saints.” The time will come when we can give all into the storehouse of the Lord and have our inheritances given out by those who will be appointed; and when we have had sufficient for the support of our families, the surplus will be given into the storehouse of the Lord. Will there be any rich or poor then? No. How was it in the time of Enoch? Had they some rich and some poor? Did some ride in their silver carriages, as I do? No. If I had my way, we would foot or ride together, and we shall see the day when we shall do it. Do you think we will relinquish our claims pertaining to oneness in action? No. I do not calculate, as far as I am concerned, to yield one particle. I have asked the Latter-day Saints to go to and become one in all things; the Lord requires this, but until they do, I do not expect to yield, not the least. Let us hold on to all that we can. The enemy of all righteousness is determined to own and possess this world and govern and control it as far as he possibly can; and he will do it until Jesus and his Saints drive him out.

Whatever the Latter-day Saints have gained has been obtained by sheer wrestling and unconquerable resolution. We would never have been permitted to own a foot of land on this earth if the devil had had his own way. But we have the land and can build our temples and endowment houses and then sanctify our inheritances, sanctify ourselves, our families, and sanctify the Lord our God in our hearts, that we may be prepared to build up His kingdom.

I wonder what the Latter-day Saints would say, today, in this matter. Do you think we had better hold on to the ground we have already gained from the enemy? We have gained a little in this cooperative system. We feel for each other and try to assist each other. But let me tell you what I am going to do. I do not expect to merchandise with our enemies to any great extent, but to cut it off just as fast as we can. I expect us to raise our own silk here. I would have had plenty for hundreds of silk dresses this year if I could have been blessed with some person who would have taken care of my silkworms and done justly by me. Raise your own silk, I will raise mine. Raise your own wool, work it and then wear it, and stop going anywhere to purchase goods. Let us sustain ourselves, for by and by Babylon will fall. What will be the result? The merchants will stand and look at one another worse than they do in this city. No man will buy their merchandise; and they will look here and there for a customer; but there will be no one to buy their merchandise, and the cry will be, “Babylon is fallen, is fallen!” Is this day coming? Yes; just as sure as we are now living. We are hastening it with all possible speed, as fast as time and circumstances will admit, when it will be said, “Babylon is fallen, is fallen!”

Are you going to prepare for it? We say we are the people of God and are building up the kingdom of God. We say we are gathered out of the nations to establish Zion. Let us prove it by our works, and we will then manufacture that which we wear. Do we make clothing enough for me and you to wear? Yes; plenty.

Let us live so that we can say we are the Saints of God; and when the finger of scorn is pointed at us and we are held in derision and the nations talk about us, let us show an example before them that is worthy of imitation, that they cannot but blush before all sensible and intelligent persons when they say, “There is a people that sin; there is a people that are corrupt;” and with shamefacedness they will look upon each other and condemn themselves. Let them howl and bark against us as much as they please, but let us live so that they will have no reason to say a word. Some people say, “Why don’t you contradict this and that? I have been proclaiming the Gospel almost forty years, and a few have come forth and received and obeyed it. What do you think the leading men among our Christian neighbors said about us? They lied about us until we thought they ought to be satisfied and we were tired of hearing them and we found it was no use contradicting them. Yet these professed to be good, pious Methodists and Baptists. There is a world of liars. It is said that a lie will pass out of the key-hole and travel a thousand miles before truth can get out of doors. The whole tribe of scribblers and everybody else, almost, are ready to contradict every truth and make a lie of it; ready to ridicule every just and holy truth; and the individuals that say children born in polygamy are feeble, have no knowledge of the human race or else they belie themselves. Let them study physiology and human nature. Let them study their own bodies. What do you see among them? You see children that are born into the world sickly, weak and unable to walk for years; they are poor, emaciated little things, almost without flesh on their bones. It is from such that the cry comes about the “Mormon” children. Why, one of our children at three months old has much more flesh on its bones than theirs have at ten; and, on an average, they have more marrow in their bones and energy in them than theirs do. They do not know anything about human nature or the organization of human beings, nor of the beasts. To make any such declarations proves they are ignorant, or they belie themselves. These are harsh expressions; I need not have used such harsh words; I might have said they tell that which is not true, they slightly diverge from the truth. How soft it would be! But I say they will be destroyed; and all the nations that follow their corrupt practices will go down to hell; and we will go onward and upward. All we have to do is to perform our duty and keep the law of God, and our course is onward and upward. God overrules the acts of the wicked and the righteous.

I recollect when the army of ’57 was coming here, a young man named Thomas Williams wrote to his father, saying, “God favors great guns and great armies!” What did those great guns and great armies do? They took two “Mormon” elders into their camp—brother McDonald, at Provo, and brother Kearns, who now lives at Gunnison. What a howl they raised! The whole camp howled to think they had two “Mormon” elders. But there was too much faith; the Saints were praying for those elders and they came out unscathed, unhurt and all right. What power there was! What a magnanimous camp it was! “The flower of the army,” sent to destroy the “Mormons!” When they blow out the sun and stop the moon from shining and the earth from revolving on its axis, they may talk about “wiping out” the “Mormons” or the Gospel, but not until then. This is the way I feel. I am as unconcerned and just as happy as a man can be. It is no matter if the whole world is against us, God is for us. Could not they kill you? Yes, if it be the Lord’s will. If it be the will of the Lord for the people to live, they will live. If it had been the will of the Lord that Joseph and Hyrum should have lived, they would have lived. It was necessary for Joseph to seal his testimony with his blood. Had he been destined to live he would have lived. The Lord suffered his death to bring justice on the nation. The debt is contracted and they have it to pay. The nations of the earth are in the Lord’s hands; and if we serve Him we shall reap the reward of so doing. If we neglect to obey His laws and ordinances, we shall have to suffer the consequences.

Well, brethren and sisters, try and be Saints. I will try; I have tried many years to live according to the law which the Lord reveals unto me. I know just as well what to teach this people and just what to say to them and what to do in order to bring them into the celestial kingdom, as I know the road to my office. It is just as plain and easy. The Lord is in our midst. He teaches the people continually. I have never yet preached a sermon and sent it out to the children of men, that they may not call Scripture. Let me have the privilege of correcting a sermon, and it is as good Scripture as they deserve. The people have the oracles of God continually. In the days of Joseph, revelation was given and written, and the people were driven from city to city and place to place, until we were led into these mountains. Let this go to the people with “Thus saith the Lord,” and if they do not obey it, you will see the chastening hand of the Lord upon them. But if they are plead with, and led along like children, we may come to understand the will of the Lord and He may preserve us as we desire.

Let us, then, you and me and all who profess to be Latter-day Saints, try to be Saints indeed. God bless you, Amen.

The Gospel

Discourse by Elder Lorenzo Snow, delivered in the Tabernacle, Salt Lake City, Sunday, Jan. 23, 1870.

In addressing an assembly of Saints, I expect the benefit of their prayers, without the ceremony of asking, being assured that they are aware as well as I am that our teachings and administrations in the Gospel of life are blessed to us according to our faith and prayers, and the diligence we give and the attention we bestow.

I propose to make some general observations upon the Gospel and its administrations, and in relation to its effects when received, and the important blessings derived by this community through its divine power and virtue. This Gospel, which God has commanded us to offer to the world, is an order or system of things simple, plain, and may be easily understood. In regard to its principles, the nature of its requirements, and the precise kind and character of its blessings and promises, no one, however ignorant or unlearned, needs be left in the dark any great length of time; but may discover its golden truths, and the emblazoned mark of divinity in its arrangements as distinctly, as speedily as Naaman, the Captain of the Assyrian hosts, found divine virtue and the hand of Divinity in the order prescribed to him by Elijah, through which his leprosy was removed. In his case, the order of obtaining miraculous blessings—viz.: to immerse seven times in Jordan, as prescribed by Elijah—was so simple, so plain, and in regard to the knowledge of its divine efficacy, so easy of ascertainment, that the great Captain, at first, was exceedingly wrathy at the idea that God should propose to work upon him through such easy means and simple forms; but the order, through which he could be healed of his leprosy was prescribed of God through the Prophet, and finally the Assyrian officer, through the plain, commonsense reasoning of his servant, concluded to waive his objections, and comply with the requirements, and having done so, he received the promised blessing. The first principles of the Gospel which we offer, and which put men in possession of the revelations of God and of a knowledge of this work, are precisely as simple, plain, and as easy of understanding, as the order before alluded to, through which the Heavens were opened in Naaman’s behalf.

The Gospel was brought to our respective habitations far remote from these mountain vales. It found us citizens of many nations, speaking our respective languages, each possessing his peculiar notions and prejudices, with His associations, and a strong attachment to kindred, friends and country. However unpleasant, unkind, unjust and inconsistent it might appear at first; yet we clearly foresaw that, in receiving this Gospel, we should be compelled to break up those associations, and sever those attachments, leaving the lands of our nativity, and going forth with our wives and children to a distant land, of which we had but little knowledge. But a similar requisition was made upon the House of Israel, in the land of Egypt; also upon Noah and his family, and upon Abraham and the family of Lot, in the City of Sodom; and upon the families of Lehi and Ishmael, as mentioned in the Book of Mormon. But in the provisions of the Gospel which was offered to us, there were fairness and safety; it proposed to give us, through obedience to its requirements, a perfect knowledge of its Divine authenticity, so that in leaving our kindred, breaking up our social relations, and going forth from our native land, we should first become perfectly assured that it was no human contrivance, something gotten up to effect some political purpose, or satisfy some worldly ambition, to achieve some private end through human cunning and craftiness. The Gospel was plain and simple in its requirements; and there could be no mistaking the precise nature and character of its blessings and promises, nor the manner and time in which they were to be reached. The first feature in this system, which struck us with surprise, and arrested our attention, was its perfect similarity, in all its parts, with the Gospel as recorded in the New Testament. It required repentance, and a forsaking of sins, immersion in water for the remission of sins, with a promise that, through the laying on of hands by those having authority, people should receive the Holy Ghost, by which should come a knowledge of the truth of the doctrine. Another remarkable feature which called forth our most serious consideration, was the solemn testimony of the Elders, that they possessed the right to administer these sacred ordinances, by virtue of the holy priesthood committed to Joseph Smith, through the ministration of the Apostles, Peter, James and John. And furthermore, that the solemn and most important facts should be revealed to every man upon his faithful obedience to the Gospel requirements. In these propositions, though at first seemingly strange, we saw everything was plain, fair and honorable. In doing what they required, we should only do, in fact, what as true-hearted believers in the ancient Gospel, we ought to do, and if we failed to receive the promised blessings, and thereby proved the Elders’ testimony false, our religious condition would nevertheless be then as good as any other Christian’s, and a little better, perhaps, because we should have approached a little nearer to the doctrines of the Scripture, inasmuch as their true forms and ceremonies were concerned. Of course, in this case, having proved to our satisfaction that there was no Holy Ghost, no supernatural manifestations, no knowledge, no revelations accompanying the Elders’ administrations of the Gospel, no human persuasion, no cunning sophistry could have induced us to leave our homes and friends to embark in a scheme which our common sense taught us would eventuate in bitter disappointment and inevitable ruin; but like other Christians, continued in the enjoyment of friends and home, groping our way through religious darkness, expecting nothing, hoping nothing, and receiving nothing. But the fact that I am now speaking to assembled thousands of intelligent and enlightened people, who received this Gospel with the aforementioned fond considerations and lively expectations, gathered here by their own free will and choice, out of almost every nation, demonstrates most clearly, most forcibly, and most solemnly, that this scheme of life, this Gospel as proclaimed by Joseph Smith, has been shown to us by the revelations of the Almighty, that it is undeniably His will, His word and His message; not only this, but we find within ourselves a fixed purpose, an unalterable resolution to do, if need be, what many of us have already done—show the sincerity of our convictions of these solemn truths, through sacrificing all we possess, not even holding our lives as dear to us as this religion. There was yet another prominent feature embraced in this order of things—viz., where it found people in poverty, misery, and in a condition but little above starvation, it spoke in positive terms of future relief and effectual deliverance. It did not simply say, “Be ye warmed and be ye clothed,” but it declared plainly, and in distinct terms, that the Lord had seen their bondage and oppression, and heard their cries of sorrow and misery, and had now sent them His Gospel for their deliverance, and would lead them into circumstance of independence, where they could supply their own wants and necessities. Here, again, was something fair and consistent and worthy of all praise and admiration, and characteristic of our Great Parent, which we discover in all of His dispensations, when they are in actual working order, as they were in the case of Noah; and in calling Israel and making them an independent people; likewise as in calling Lehi to establish a people upon this continent, as well as in many other instances.

A religion or system is of little account where it possesses no virtue nor power to better a man’s condition, spiritually, intellectually, morally and physically. Enoch’s order of the Gospel did for his people all this, and it has done the same in every instance, when preached in its purity and obeyed in sincerity. Many of the thousands of persons in these beautiful valleys who formerly were compelled to subsist with their wives and children in a half-starved condition, not owning an habitation, nor a foot of land, nor a horse, cow, pig, nor chickens, in fact nothing they could call their own, subject at any moment, through the whim of their employer, to be turned into the streets, miserable beggars, now own cabinet shops, factories, mills, flocks and herds, beautiful gardens and orchards, productive farms, wagons and carriages, dwelling in their own houses in comfortable and easy circumstances. No one has any apprehension of starvation within the jurisdiction of the Latter-day Saints. The Gospel proposed these blessings at its announcement, and they have been most miraculously accomplished. No other religious system could have achieved such things, nor dared any other Christian denomination venture to send out its missionaries without purse or scrip and without a college education to state to the people that they had authority from God to administer the sacred ordinances of the Gospel, through which should be revealed tangible evidence and knowledge of its divinity, and of their being authorized to administer it and take the people from a state of poverty, and lead them thousands of miles and despite every obstacle establish them as a comparatively independent people in the midst of a wild desert country. Had they found the people poor, friendless and without the means of living, and in servitude not much better than the Egyptian bondage, as we found many of them, they could have imparted no cheering news of an approaching salvation from the God of Heaven; but could only have instructed them to be contented and reconciled with their unhappy lot, and in no case must look for any new revelation or any miraculous interposition.

What philanthropists have wished to accomplish and have often attempted, the Lord is now doing upon a magnificent scale in this great American desert. Flourishing settlements, towns and cities are rapidly being built, extending over a distance of 500 miles in length, hundreds of miles in width, through the untiring energy and perseverance of a people formerly totally ignorant of such labors. In these cities people live in harmony and peace, and robberies, grog shops, gambling hells, houses of ill fame and prostitutes are not known in any of our numerous towns and cities, except in some instances where Christians, so-called, possess a footing and an influence; everywhere else this community flourishes without these demoralizing institutions. No one, however prejudiced he may be, can scarcely avoid acknowledging the palpable fact that this scheme of things has conferred marvelous blessings upon thousands and tens of thousands in the way of putting them in possession of the means of sustaining themselves, after having delivered them from oppression and tyranny, little better than African slavery; and no doubt our legislators at Washington, one and all, would give us credit for our indefatigable and successful labors in establishing an extensive and flourishing colony upon a portion of our government’s domain formerly inhabited only by savages and wild beasts, provided we would allow this work was of man and not of God—that it had been accomplished through the artifice and wisdom of man, and not by the power, wisdom and revelations of God.

Joseph Smith, whom God chose to establish this work, was poor and uneducated, and belonged to no popular denomination of Christians. He was a mere boy, honest, full of integrity, unacquainted with the trickery, cunning and sophistry employed by the politicians and the religious hypocrite to accomplish their ends. Like Moses he felt incompetent and unqualified for the task, to stand forth as a religious reformer, in a position the most unpopular, to battle against opinions and creeds which have stood for ages, having had the sanction of men, the most profound in theological obedience; but God had called him to deliver the poor and honest-hearted of all nations from their spiritual and temporal thralldom. And God promised him that whosoever should receive and obey his message, and whosoever would receive baptism for remission of sins, with honesty of purpose, should receive divine manifestations, should receive the Holy Ghost, should receive the same Gospel and blessings as were promised and obtained through the Gospel, as preached by the ancient Apostles, and this message, this promise, was to be in force wherever and to whomsoever it should be carried by the Elders, God’s authorized messengers. So said Joseph Smith, the uneducated, the unsophisticated, the plain, simple, honest boy. It is through the virtue and force of this boy’s statement that I speak this afternoon to assembled thousands. In the integrity of my heart, with honesty of purpose to know the truth, I received this message; I obeyed this form of Gospel, and I received, in the most tangible and satisfactory manner, a divine manifestation, the promised blessing, a knowledge of this work. Am I the only witness? How is it with the experience of the thousands whom I now address? Are you also witnesses? If you are not, I ask you in the name of common sense, why are you here? Why did you leave your homes and countries, giving your sanction to the truth of a system which promised you divine manifestations, but which you failed in experiencing? Being honest ourselves, if we cannot bear a solemn testimony of having received divine manifestations of the great fact that God Himself has founded this system of things, then it becomes a serious fact that we are witnesses, and in truth the only proper witnesses, that this whole plan and pretension of Joseph Smith is a sheer falsehood, a miserable fabrication. It will be recollected that this Gospel message proposed to give us divine manifestations through doing certain specified acts; we have performed those acts precisely in the manner indicated. No one else but we ourselves has attempted to conform to this arrangement, consequently, no other people are prepared to be witnesses either for or against this system.

The Gospel, as recorded in the New Testament, in its promises and provisions, was precisely similar. It required certain specified acts to be done, with promises that divine manifestations should follow their performance. Jesus said: “He that will do the will of God, shall know of the doctrine.” Peter said, on Pentecost day, “Repent and be baptized for the remission of sins, and you shall receive the gift of the Holy Ghost.” Again, Jesus said: “These signs shall follow them that believe,” etc. A multitude of testimonies could be adduced from the New Testament, showing that divine manifestations and perfect knowledge were promised to and were actually received in a specified and tangible form by those who then obeyed the Gospel. Those who obeyed its requirements were the only competent witnesses for or against its divine authenticity. After honestly complying with its requisitions—viz., repenting of and forsaking their sins, being immersed in water for the remission of sins, and receiving the ordinance of the laying on of hands, then had they failed to receive the Holy Ghost, with its gifts and promised knowledge and attendant signs, they would have seen that the entire apostolic scheme of salvation rested on a baseless fabric.

When this Gospel, or order of things which we have received, was presented to us, we carefully compared it with the Gospel recorded in the Scriptures, and found it alike precisely in every particular, as regarded its forms, ordinances and the authority to administer them, its promise of the Holy Ghost and of the signs that should follow, together with a promise of a knowledge of its divinity. In many instances it was brought to us by men with whose character we were perfectly familiar, and for whose honesty and integrity we could vouch, who would solemnly state, in private and in public, that through an obedience to its requirements, they had obtained, in a tangible form, a perfect knowledge of its Heaven-born principles. This was my experience, and after having complied with its demands, and thereupon received a knowledge of its genuineness, and having obtained authority to preach and administer its ordinances, I commenced forthwith to proclaim it to the world; and no doubt there are persons in this audience, out of different nations, to whom I have administered this Gospel that can witness to its virtue and efficacy. Thirty-five years I have been employed in forwarding the interests of this order of things, and you are the proper judges whether it be of God or of man. We have the same Gospel the primitive churches had, and the same knowledge and evidence they had of its divine authenticity, and just as honest and brave men to preach it as they had, men that have proved their integrity through sacrifice as great as the Elders of the primitive churches ever made. The testimony of our Elders is as valid and worthy of credit as the testimony of their Elders. Our Apostles who are living, are as honest as the Apostles of the New Testament, and their testimony is as worthy of credit, so far as they live and speak according to the Scriptural law and testimony. If this order of things which we have obeyed is not the Gospel—if these evidences, these manifestations, this knowledge, this Holy Ghost, these deliverances from misery, bondage, and starvation, and being placed in happy and comfortable circumstances, living together in peace and harmony, building beautiful towns and cities, free from demoralizing institutions, be not the legitimate fruits of the working of a pure and holy system, established by God through Joseph Smith, we shall be compelled to question the genuineness of the Gospel in the former-day Saints, as recorded of the New Testament.

By some it has been argued that Joseph Smith and his prominent Elders were the most corrupt, wicked and infamous of impostors, but his followers, the Latter-day Saints in general, though deceived, were very good people and perfectly honest in their religious opinions.

From what I have already said in regard to the operations and effects of this scheme, it is easy to be seen that, if it be an imposition, it is not confined exclusively to the leaders of this people, but this whole community are actively and knowingly engaged in this stupendous work of deception and hypocrisy; and by the way, as I before hinted, if this could be proved to be the case, we should be compelled to the belief that the former-day Saints also had been engaged in the same disgraceful business. More than one hundred thousand people now dwell in these valleys, many of them having come from distant climes and nations; in this great fact they willingly and knowingly exhibit to the world a clear and powerful testimony, more expressive and forcible than any language could command, that they did undeniably and most positively receive, through the ordinances of this Gospel, administered unto them by our Elders, a knowledge of this work, through the divine manifestations of the Almighty.

But it may be objected that, whereas this community were found by our missionaries in great poverty and distress, therefore they obeyed the Gospel and emigrated here to better their circumstances financially, without any regard to its truth or falsity, as a divine system. This might be true in some instances, but impossible as regards its application to this people as a community. Such persons who received this work, not with religious motives, not with honest convictions of its divine requirements, but solely for the loaves and fishes, cannot possibly abide the test to which every man’s faith, sooner or later, must be brought, but will have their dishonesty and hypocrisy exposed, and will apostatize. Hundreds of my brethren, Elders of this Church, full of godly zeal, animated with the purest motives, having obtained a knowledge of the will of God, have left their wives and children, everything that the heart holds most dear, and gone forth to the nations, without compensation, and called on all to repent and turn their hearts to the Lord, obey the Gospel, and they should receive the Holy Ghost, which should “lead them into all truth, and show them things to come,” and it should be their guide and monitor, a principle of revelation, remaining with them through life, provided they preserved their honesty and integrity, and were faithful in keeping the commandments of God, devoting their time, their means, their talents, their all, to the building up of the Kingdom of God. These duties were required, these blessings promised in the preaching of the Gospel by our missionaries and the prominent Elders of this Church. To obtain light, a knowledge of the will of God, to get the true religion as now revealed through the Gospel, divine manifestations regarding the truth of the doctrine, as taught by Joseph Smith, was the first and all-absorbing proposition presented to the people.

Now, whether these Elders and missionaries were miserable impostors, promulgating base falsehoods or not, is, of course, a question of grave consideration; and it is a matter of far greater importance, and of more curious inquiry, whether this people, as a community, having failed to receive those divine manifestations, kept silent as to that important and vital fact, and came here to practice hypocrisy in religion, and thus fasten, irresistibly, on our children and future generations, a system of falsehoods for a divine religion. Joseph Smith affirmed that Peter, James and John visited him and gave him authority to administer the holy ordinances of the Gospel, through which every honest-hearted man was promised the Holy Ghost, and a perfect knowledge of the doctrine. Our Elders simply affirm having received a divine knowledge of the fact that this Gospel was a heaven-born institution, and through its virtue and divine force every honest-hearted man might obtain this same knowledge. I had been a member of this Church but a few days when I obtained, through a divine manifestation, a clear, explicit, and tangible knowledge of the truth of this work. Thousands and tens of thousands of Latter-day Saints, men and women, in private life, could testify to the same experience, and though I may know many things in regard to this doctrine which in their limited experience, they may not understand, yet in this one fact they are equal with me in knowledge, equal with the messengers who administered to them this Gospel.

I wish now to examine another prominent feature connected with this Gospel religion. An important item which was put forward prominently wherever this Gospel was announced, was that its followers should have abundance of persecutions, and would probably, in the progress of their new life, be compelled to make the most serious sacrifices of wife, children, houses and lands, spoiling of goods, and even life itself, perhaps. No persons are properly prepared to enter upon this new life until they have formed within themselves this resolution. The Savior, the Apostles, Joseph Smith and our Elders, when offering the people this great system of salvation, told them clearly and distinctly it required sacrifices of the most serious and trying nature—that it would bring persecutions, change our best friends into bitter and relentless enemies, and that instances would arise when people, in their confused notions of right and wrong, would even conceive they were doing God service in taking our lives. These were dull and forbidding prospects to a rational person, in being proselytized to a system whose truths he could not know, but only guess at, by what he was told, or read somewhere. Every man and every woman, before receiving a system of such sacrifices, would require a positive assurance, that a submission to its requirements would bring indisputable knowledge of its real divinity, so that, after having obtained a divine witness of its genuineness, they could willingly, cheerfully, understandingly, and with a resolution inspired by divinity, move onward over the pathway of persecution and sacrifice, traversed in all ages by the martyred Saints and Prophets.

On this point permit me again to quote what Jesus promised, viz.: “Blessed art thou, Simon Barjonah, flesh and blood hath not revealed it unto thee, but my Father in Heaven, and upon this rock will I build my church, and the gates of hell shall not prevail against it.” Peter had obtained a revelation which Jesus called a rock, which every man might receive individually to himself and build upon with perfect assurance and safety, upon which he could found all his hopes and prospects of salvation. Peter, at Pentecost, promised the Holy Ghost to all who would be baptized, or in other words, obey the Gospel. The Holy Ghost would impart the knowledge which would constitute the rock of revelation upon which the Savior said his people should be established. This people have their hopes and prospects of peace and happiness in this life and in the life to come, resting and grounded upon this rock of revelation, and we are the only religious community which dares profess to occupy such a Scriptural position, and our claims upon the Savior’s promise, that hell shall not prevail against a people so established, give us peace, tranquility, unshaken confidence, and a pleasing and happy assurance of security in the midst of all kinds of display of threatened ruin and overthrow.

It is the people, the masses—not exclusively their leaders—who have this knowledge and boldly testify of its possession. The astronomer may know of many laws and phenomena connected with the sun and its movements through ethereal space; but as regards the simple fact that it exists and shines upon the earth, millions know it as well as himself. President Brigham Young, or even Joseph Smith, so far as respects the simple fact that this Gospel, which we preach, as a divine institution, never professed to have a knowledge more perfect, more convincing, more satisfactory, than tens of thousands in these valleys, who never arose to address a public audience. This system of things in its nature, in the character of its origin, the manner of its operations, and in the purposes for which it was designed, coupled with the fact that men of honest hearts can and will apprehend and appreciate divine truth, is such that it cannot be destroyed. A person honest, full of integrity and love for the interest and happiness of his species, having explored this long untrodden path and made this grand and glorious discovery, will not and cannot keep silence, but despite threatened opposition, however fierce and terrific, will boldly declare the solemn fact, spreading and multiplying the divine intelligence, and if so required, will seal this testimony with his own life’s blood.

Should the prominent men of this Church, together with tens of thousands of its Elders, be swept away by our enemies, the Gospel would still survive, and with unabated force and vigor, still continue its irrepressible operations. So long as one solitary Elder, however unlearned, obscure or possessing an honest heart, remain alive upon the earth, these holy and sacred truths will be avowed and vindicated, order and proper authority continue their peaceful and happy reign, and Elders with hearts overflowing with love and heaven-born zeal, go forth to the nations, churches spring up in every land and clime, Saints increase and multiply and gather together; the Kingdom of God continue to be established, and the suggestive and inspired sayings of the Prophet Daniel be literally and emphatically accomplished.

The Right and Authority of President Brigham Young

Discourse by Elder George Q. Cannon, delivered in the Tabernacle, Salt Lake City, December 5, 1869.

I desire to read, this afternoon, a portion of two revelations, which were given to the Prophet, Joseph Smith, in February, 1831. The first is paragraph 4 of section XIII:

“Again I say unto you, that it shall not be given to anyone to go forth to preach my gospel, or to build up my church, except he be ordained by some one who has authority, and it is known to the church that he has authority, and has been regularly ordained by the heads of the church.”

Also paragraphs 1 and 2 of section XIV:

“O hearken, ye elders of my church, and give an ear to the words which I shall speak unto you. For behold, verily, verily, I say unto you, that ye have received a commandment for a law unto my church, through him whom I have appointed unto you, to receive commandments and revelations from my hand. And this ye shall know assuredly that there is none other appointed unto you to receive commandments and revelations until he be taken, if he abide in me.

“But verily, verily, I say unto you, that none else shall be appointed unto this gift except it be through him; 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 ye receive not the teachings of any that shall come before you as revelations or commandments; And this I give unto you that yon may not be deceived, that you may know they are not of me. For verily I say unto you, that he that is ordained of me shall come in at the gate and be ordained as I have told you before, to teach those revelations which you have received and shall receive through him whom I have appointed.”

It is a good thing for us, as a people, to let our minds dwell upon the principles which God our Heavenly Father has given unto us by revelation in this, as well as in preceding ages. The Lord, in His goodness and mercy unto His children, has not left them in ignorance concerning the plan of salvation, nor the manner in which He intends His Church to be built up. He has revealed unto us many principles for our guidance, and they are essentially necessary to enable us to grow and increase in the things of His kingdom; for in these days, as well as in preceding days, as the apostle has said, there are many spirits gone forth into the world and there are many influences brought to bear upon the minds of the children of men. There are many creeds, doctrines, and views propagated industriously by those who entertain them, and unless we cling to the truth and pursue the path which our Heavenly Father desires His children to walk in, with all our claims, and the promises which have been made unto us, we are as liable to go astray as any other people. If we treat these things as matters of no importance, and are careless and negligent in relation to that which we believe, and to those whom we follow, we are sure to err.

There are some principles which have become firmly rooted in the minds of the Latter-day Saints. It is a difficult thing to cause them to doubt in relation to faith in the Lord Jesus Christ, repentance of sin, baptism for the remission of sins and the laying on of hands for the gift of the Holy Ghost. These principles seem to be clearly understood, and in them the people are apparently fully indoctrinated; and though men may deny the faith, in one sense, and turn away from the path of righteousness, and dissolve their connection with the Church, yet they will cling, in most instances, to what we term the first principles of the Gospel of Christ; and it is a very rare thing to see those who have been members of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints turning away and joining what we call sectarian churches. If they leave this Church, it is an exceedingly difficult thing for them to connect themselves with other denominations, because the Scriptures are so familiar to them, the principles contained therein are so plain to their understanding that, unless there is some speculation, some mercenary or other end to be gained by their alliance with people of other creeds, they are very apt to stand aloof; that is, where they have a thorough understanding of the principles of the Gospel.

But there are other principles more advanced with which the people are not so familiar, and of this the adversary seeks to take advantage; and when men deny the faith, they are apt to deny these principles; and when they get into the dark, there is probably no point upon which they differ more frequently than that which relates to the authority that is exercised in presiding. This is a point that the adversary always aims at. I suppose it was so in ancient days. We read of false prophets then, and also of men turning away; and there is no doubt but what the rock upon which they split was the question of the right and authority of those presiding over them.

It seems as though the adversary, in the day in which we live, seeks, by every means in his power, to undermine the influence and the authority of the man whom God has called to preside over His people. If you will observe, you may perceive in what direction the shafts of the adversary are aimed. In the days of Joseph, he was the man against whom all the enemies of truth hurled their malicious shots; his life was sought, his character assailed, and his influence was decried. He was the target at which every arrow of calumny and hatred was aimed, and the man to whom all eyes were directed. He was held up before men as an object worthy only of their hatred and derision, to be scoffed at, despised and killed.

Did anybody hear then of others who are now prominent? Yes. President Young’s name was talked about, but not as at present; but Joseph’s name occupied every tongue. His deeds, or rather his misdeeds, as his enemies were pleased to call them, occupied every one’s attention. His actions were scrutinized and misrepresented, and everything pertaining to him was made the subject of comment and reproach. It was the case from the hour that he received the plates of the Book of Mormon, until the day of his death. All those who were members of the Church during his lifetime can bear testimony to this. Other elders were comparatively lost sight of; they were merely looked upon as satellites. He was the great object of suspicion. His name was the watchword of the foes of the Kingdom of God; and mobs banded themselves together in unholy compacts, in order that they might bring to pass his overthrow and shed his blood, imagining that, if they could only kill him, this work, which men call “Mormonism,” would crumble to pieces, because there would not be cohesiveness enough in the system to hold it together after the mastermind had disappeared. But no sooner did he pass away than all this hatred, all the derision, animosity, calumny and slander, which had been directed to Joseph, was transferred to Brigham Young, and he was made the object of vituperation, and the target at which every wicked man should shoot. His deeds and character were paraded abroad, and everything pertaining to him was canvassed and held up, in many instances, to public scorn and ridicule. Such has continued to be the case from the days of the Prophet Joseph up to the present time.

There were others during Joseph’s day, who professed to have the authority which he possessed, or, as they said, which he had once possessed. At one time, in the early days of the Church, there was a number of elders among whom were some of the Twelve Apostles and one or two of the First Presidency, who banded themselves together and declared that Joseph was a fallen prophet, that he had taught correct doctrines, that he had been the instrument in the hands of God, of revealing the truth and of bringing forth the Book of Mormon, restoring the holy Priesthood and of organizing the Church; but that he had fallen. The doctrines which he had first taught were correct, they said, and the position which he first assumed was acceptable in the sight of God; but through some cause, he had strayed from the path and had become a fallen prophet. Said they, “We now have the right and the authority which he once had. We have the right to organize the Saints, to build up the Church and carry out the work of which Joseph was the founder, but which, through transgression, he has forfeited the right to lead.”

There was one peculiarity, however, connected with these pretenders, which distinguished their course from that pursued by Joseph. Instead of being the subject of all the evil remarks, all the calumny, all the hatred, slander, bloodthirstiness and denunciations applied to the Prophet Joseph, singular to state, when you take into consideration the pretensions of those men, the wicked hailed them as brethren, consorted with them, became very brotherly, very fraternal, and looked upon them as very good, clever fellows. But the hatred towards Joseph did not diminish, in fact their conduct only tended to increase it and to make his life and his every deed more odious in their estimation, and in the estimation of those to whom they published his deeds. This was also a peculiarity which attended all who aimed to lead the Church without having the authority so to do.

At Joseph’s death a crop of these pretenders sprang up. There was Sidney Rigdon, who contended that he had the right to lead the people. The Church was fourteen years of age, he said, and it had the right to choose a guardian, to lead the people, and conduct its affairs as its President, and he would be that guardian. James J. Strang also aimed at the same object. He had angels, he said, to visit him; I do not know but he told the names of the angels; but, if my memory serves me right, he affirmed that Joseph appeared to him, blessed him and bestowed upon him the keys and the authority. He also showed a letter bearing the postmark of Nauvoo, which he pretended had been written by Joseph, giving him (Strang) the authority to preside over the Church, in the event of anything happening to him. Others stood up in a similar manner: John E. Page, Lyman Wight, William Smith, and afterwards, Charles Thompson.

All these men arose, claiming that it was their right and privilege, by ordination or by special appointment, to take charge of the Church. But the Church then, as on many occasions previously and since that time, was able, through the light which its members possessed, to discriminate between the voice of the true and false shepherd. Still this peculiarity—being hailed as brethren by the wicked, characterized them in Nauvoo, as their predecessors in New York, Kirtland and Missouri. Instead of being hated and calumniated, and men seeking their lives and persecuting them, they were hailed with seeming pleasure and satisfaction. Men bade them “God speed” and urged them forward to claim the rights they called their own. But against Brigham Young, our President, the old feeling of animosity, that had been entertained against Joseph, existed with as great bitterness and intensity in the minds of the enemies of the Kingdom of God as it had existed during the lifetime of Joseph against him.

President Young, according to the statements of the wicked, reenacted all the evil deeds, as they were termed, that had been attributed to Joseph, and for which they killed him. Brigham became the inheritor of all that animosity and hatred that had been manifested towards Joseph during his lifetime; and when Joseph slept in a bloody grave, the enemies of the Church turned their attention to Brigham Young, his legal successor.

If the Saints had wanted evidence in relation to who was the right man and who had the authority, the very fact that the world hated, reviled and persecuted Brigham should have been sufficient evidence that he was taking the path which Joseph had trod, and that his course was pleasing in the sight of Heaven, and consequently hateful in the sight of hell.

There are rules, my brethren, which were given in the early days of the Church, respecting the Presidency of the Church. In the revelation which I have just read in your hearing, the Lord plainly sets forth to the Church what course He would have it take in relation to the keys that had been bestowed by Peter, James and John upon Joseph; and that we may not be deceived He gives this rule:

“But verily, verily, I say unto you, that none else shall be appointed unto this gift except it be through him, 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 ye receive not the teachings of any that shall come before you as revelations or commandments; and this I give unto you that you may not be deceived, that you may know they are not of me. For verily I say unto you, that he that is ordained of me shall come in at the gate and be ordained as I have told you before, to teach those revelations which you have received, and shall receive through him whom I have appointed.”

The Lord here made express provisions as to who should hold the keys of the kingdom, and how those keys should be held, and the manner in which the authority should be exercised. Men have pretended that angels have visited them, and that, in consequence they must have authority. This was the pretence made by James J. Strang. But he did not understand that the oracles had been given through Joseph, according to the revelation given in March, 1833, to the Church. Others had also had the keys given unto them to enable them to exercise the power and authority which Joseph held. Now we may come to this conclusion; that God, having once bestowed the keys of the holy Priesthood on man here on the earth for the upbuilding of His Church, will never take them from the man or men who hold them and authorize others to bestow them. If you will read the history of the Church from the beginning, you will find that Joseph was visited by various angelic beings, but not one of them professed to give him the keys until John the Baptist came to him. Moroni, who held the keys of the record of the stick of Ephraim, visited Joseph; he had doubtless, also, visits from Nephi and it may be from Alma and others, but though they came and had authority, holding the authority of the Priesthood, we have no account of their ordaining him, neither did Joseph ever profess, because of the ministration of these angels, to have authority to administer in any of the ordinances of the Kingdom of God. He never baptized anybody, nor attempted to lay on hands for the reception of the Holy Ghost; and, in fact, he never attempted, that we have any account of, to exercise any of the functions of the holy Priesthood. He was a prophet, it is true, but a man may be a prophet and yet not have authority to administer in the Priesthood. The prophetic gift, to some extent, is distinct from the Priesthood. Joseph had received the prophetic gift and he exercised it and he acted as such prior to his ordination. But when the time came for him to be baptized, then a man who held the keys of that Priesthood came to him and laid his hands upon Joseph’s head, and upon Oliver Cowdery, and set them apart, and gave them authority to officiate in the Aaronic Priesthood, which Priesthood held the keys of baptism and so forth.

John had the right to baptize when he was upon the earth; he held the keys of that Priesthood. He baptized Jesus by virtue of the Priesthood which he held; and those keys had not been taken from him. At the time when Joseph Smith was ordained, there was no man on the face of the earth that held the keys of the Priesthood and the authority to ordain him. If there had been a man in the Greek, Roman, Presbyterian, Methodist, Baptist, Episcopal or any other church extant upon the face of the earth, who had the keys of the Priesthood, Joseph Smith would not have been ordained by an angel, because the keys would have been here and been bestowed by the man who held them. But you might have searched from pole to pole and traversed the wide expanse of the earth from continent to continent, and visited all the nations of the earth and enquired of them if there was a man in their midst who had the keys of the holy Priesthood and who claimed the authority which was exercised in olden times by Peter, James and John, and the rest of the servants of God; but you would have heard no response in the affirmative. None would have stood up and said, “I have this authority.” Throughout Christendom, throughout the entire Mahomedan and Pagan world, you could not have found a man who professed to have this authority. No; it had been driven from the midst of mankind by the violence of wicked men, who shed the blood of those who held those keys and that authority; and it had gone back to God who gave it, and dwelt there; for the men who held it dwelt in the presence of the Almighty.

Hence, when Joseph Smith desired baptism, though angels had visited him and had ministered unto him, though he had heard the voice of God and Jesus Christ, though he had been called to be a prophet, he had not the right and the authority to go forth and administer the ordinances of baptism, neither had any living soul, to do it legitimately. It was necessary that he should be ordained; it was necessary that those keys should be restored; and hence how proper it was that John, who held the keys and had been beheaded by a wicked king, should come and restore them? Joseph Smith and Oliver Cowdery testified that John came and laid his hands upon their heads and bestowed upon them the power and authority to administer in the holy ordinances of the Gospel.

When they were baptized, and had received the authority to administer in that ordinance they did not attempt to lay on hands for the reception of the Holy Ghost; that was a separate and distinct power from the Aaronic Priesthood. John says, in the 3rd chapter of Matthew, 11th verse, “I indeed baptize you with water unto repentance: but he that cometh after me is mightier than I, whose shoes I am not worthy to bear: he shall baptize you with the Holy Ghost, and with fire.”

John did not profess to have the authority to lay on hands for the reception of the Holy Ghost. We read in no part of the Scriptures of his exercising any such authority. He had the authority to baptize, the power which pertained unto his Priesthood, being a descendant of Aaron, and baptism was one of the ordinances which pertained to the Aaronic Priesthood; but he had not the right to lay on hands for the reception of the Holy Ghost. It was necessary that that authority should be conferred; but who held that power in ancient days? Why, Peter, James and John, who had been ordained by Jesus to the Melchizedek Priesthood, or the Priesthood after the order of Melchizedek, and having exercised that authority while on the earth in the flesh, they came bearing the keys of that Melchizedek Priesthood, and laid their hands upon Joseph Smith and ordained him to the power which he subsequently held, as the President or head of this great and last dispensation of the fullness of times. By virtue of those keys he was empowered to lay hands on those who were baptized in the name of Jesus, by legal authority, and to confirm upon their heads—upon the heads of the honest in heart—the blessings of the Gospel, and by virtue of these keys they had the right to build up the Church of God in all its ancient purity and glory, and to preach the Gospel in its fullness, with its gifts and blessings, and to send men abroad as ministers of life and salvation to the nations of the world, the same as Peter and those associated with him. Said Jesus, “Thou art Peter, and upon this rock I will build my Church; and the gates of hell shall not prevail against it. And I will give unto thee the keys of the Kingdom of Heaven, and whatsoever thou shalt bind on earth shall be bound in Heaven; and whatsoever thou shalt loose on earth shall be loosed in Heaven.” Peter therefore held those keys. What wonderful consistency on the part of the Lord, that He should descend from Heaven and confer those keys on men here on the earth!

There are men who say that Joseph was an unlearned impostor; but how strange it is that, if an impostor, he should take the exact course, established in the economy of Heaven for the salvation of mankind; and that he should claim the authority, through the administration—first of John the Baptist, and then of Peter, James and John, the apostles.

The keys of this Priesthood were bestowed never more to be taken from the earth; hence, in the revelation I have read, provision was made by the Lord that Joseph, in case he should fall, should ordain another in his stead, and he should have authority only to lay hands on and set apart someone to act in his place, in case he should prove unworthy. Thus, even from the beginning, the Lord seems to have held constantly before him the possibility of his falling away. He was a young man, and like every man, he was apt to get lifted up in the pride of his heart; therefore, God reminded him that he only held the keys as long as he should be faithful to the truth. But in a subsequent revelation, the Lord informed him that he should hold the keys in this life and in the life to come, and they should never be taken from him.

By virtue of the ordination he received, Joseph had the right and the authority to confer this Priesthood upon others. He called twelve Apostles, and they were ordained under his authority by the direction of the Lord, and those twelve were endowed with the keys. Previous to his death, the Prophet Joseph manifested great anxiety to see the temple completed, as most of you who were with the Church during his day, well know. “Hurry up the work, brethren,” he used to say, “let us finish the temple; the Lord has a great endowment in store for you, and I am anxious that the brethren should have their endowments and receive the fullness of the Priesthood.” He urged the Saints forward continually, preaching unto them the importance of completing that building, so that therein the ordinances of life and salvation might be administered to the whole people, but especially to the quorums of the holy Priesthood; “then,” said he, “the Kingdom will be established, and I do not care what shall become of me.”

These were his expressions oft repeated in the congregations of the Saints, telling the brethren and sisters of the Church, and the world that he rolled the Kingdom on to the Twelve, and they would have to round up their shoulders and bear it off, as he was going to rest for awhile, and many other expressions of a like nature, the full meaning of which the Saints did not realize at the time.

Prior to the completion of the Temple, he took the Twelve and certain other men, who were chosen, and bestowed upon them a holy anointing, similar to that which was received on the day of Pentecost by the Twelve, who had been told to tarry at Jerusalem. This endowment was bestowed upon the chosen few whom Joseph anointed and ordained, giving unto them the keys of the holy Priesthood, the power and authority which he himself held, to build up the Kingdom of God in all the earth and accomplish the great purposes of our Heavenly Father; and it was by virtue of this authority, on the death of Joseph, that President Young, as President of the quorum of the Twelve, presided over the Church.

The enemies of the work of God had done their worst in murdering the Prophet in cold blood, and they supposed that in killing him and taking him away their actions would prove a death knell to what they called “Mormonism;” but they little knew or understood that God had left the same power on the earth which Joseph wielded with such potent effect. The reins had been transferred to others, who were prepared to wield that power, and to step forward and take the responsibility upon them of carrying forward the work of God. Hence, there was no diminution of hatred, slander and persecution on the part of mobs and those who wished to shed the blood of the Saints.

After the death of Joseph, while the Twelve were in the East, there was seemingly a slight relaxation of bitterness towards the Saints, on the part of the enemies of truth; but it was only for a few days. When the Twelve returned, and it was found that the same power which Joseph had held still existed, persecutions on the part of mobs recommenced with renewed vigor and bitterness, and they swore out several charges against the brethren of the Twelve. So warm did this persecution become, that the houses of President Young and his brethren had to be guarded, and each had to take care of himself, as his blood, and particularly President Young’s, was sought with just as great eagerness and bloodthirstiness as Joseph’s had previously been. This ought to have been an evidence as to who held the authority.

When the Saints were driven from Nauvoo and were told that it was the will of God that we should forsake the land of our inheritance and take our journey across the Mississippi and through the then Territory of Iowa into the far distant West, every Latter-day Saint in the land, who had the Spirit of God, knew the voice of the true shepherd, and those who were in the East made preparations, some to go round by sea and some to go by land, and join the camp of Israel on its westward march. The land to which we were hastening was new and unknown to us. The masses of the people did not know whether it would be in the wilds of the desert, on the tops of the mountains or in some place that would be delightful for man’s habitation. These were subjects that did not concern the people who were thus called to forsake their homes. The Saints sold what they could, which, however, was very little indeed, for their enemies took possession of their property, and they started westward, following the man whom God had chosen, and whom they recognized as God’s anointed.

There were those who went back to Pittsburgh with Sidney Rigdon, and to Voree, Wisconsin, with Strang; and also those who tarried in Nauvoo with Wm. Smith and John E. Page. There were others who followed Thompson and other pretenders; but the main body of the Saints were not to be deceived by these pretended shepherds. They knew the voice of him whom God had chosen, and followed him, confident that they would be led aright and brought to a place of safety; and though they were in deep poverty, and it seemed as though the prince of the power of the air had exerted all his malignity to make their travel difficult, the land being deluged with water; yet they did not faint by the wayside, for God was with them, His angels were round about them, and His Spirit was poured out upon them, and they had a testimony which gave them the conviction that they were in the right path; and when history records that wonderful deliverance and march, it will be a matter of the utmost surprise and wonder to posterity that it was ever accomplished, and that the people of the world, in seeing it, were not smitten with a conviction of the truth of the work, and of the divine authority of the Priesthood which led the people in a pathway of safety, through the wilderness, at that time. The songs of Zion ascended from the camps of Israel and peace brooded over the people. Barefooted, and in many instances hungry, they traveled on with their faces westward, their faith failing not; for, as I have said, the angels of God were round about them and His spirit was upon them; and at no period of their history was the power of God more exhibited than during that trying time when God led His servant to this then wild and forbidding region.

Since we have been here, He has blessed us as a people. He has spread us abroad, and caused us to extend North and South, and His peace and blessing have attended the labors and the administration of the elders in our midst. The keys of the Priesthood have been fully honored, not by man alone, but they have been honored by God; and the exercise of that authority which God bestowed on Joseph Smith by the ministration of holy angels, has been a blessing to many thousands in this land. We have had peace, we have had good government, and the songs and prayers of the Saints have ascended up from their habitations unto the Most High God, and Heaven has been moved in our behalf, to bless and preserve us and give us victory and deliverance in every time of trouble; and when we have been threatened with any difficulty or calamity, God has always overruled and controlled it, for our good and for the salvation of His people. Is it any wonder, then, that Latter-day Saints should have confidence in the man whom God has chosen? Many men wonder and say, “You Latter-day Saints are bowed down in tyranny and are groaning under despotism. Why are you not free to exercise your liberty? Why don’t you do as you please? Why do you always do as your prophet and leader tells you?” Because we have proved during twenty-five long years, that God has blessed him in everything he has told us to do, and we have been blessed of God in carrying out his counsels. When we have prayed to the Almighty to give us wisdom and humility to obey the counsels of His servant, He has given unto us His Holy Spirit and witnessed unto our hearts that this course was pleasing and acceptable in His sight. Rebel against him and his authority! As well might we rebel against Jehovah Himself, or against Jesus! Not that President Young is to be worshipped, not that Joseph Smith was to be worshipped, not that Peter or Moses was to be worshipped. There is a difference between obedience and idolatry, or worship. There is a difference between submission to the will of God—at least, I can perceive a difference—and obeying God’s counsels through a man, and idolizing the man himself, and we have perceived this difference.

God chooses men as guardians and shepherds over His people. We are all of one great family; we are all the children of God, and are all alike before Him. “Yes,” says one, “we are all alike, and therefore there is no distinction between us.” But let me suppose a case. Suppose a man who has a large family of sons and daughters, were to be called on a mission to go abroad to preach the Gospel of Christ, and had to be absent for years; the members of the family during his absence would be left to themselves. But suppose he had a choice son whom he loved, and who had been implicitly obedient to him all the days of his life, and whose course had taught him to respect his judgment, his honesty, his truthfulness and the integrity and justice of his character, and that in the most trying circumstances he had never failed to honor himself, God, his family, and to honor his father. Now, as he is going away to a far distant land, he takes this son aside and says to him, “I will place you in charge of my family, and leave you to watch over their interests in my absence, that while I am gone they may have someone to look up to who can act the part of a father to them.” And then turning to the family he says, “My sons and daughters, I have chosen this son, your elder brother, to act in my place while I am absent. I wish you to obey him and respect and honor him as you would your father, and to submit yourselves to his dictation in all things.” The family consent. They say, “We will do as you desire, father. We will honor your judgment and choice by honoring and obeying our brother whom you have chosen to watch over us during your absence.”

It might be argued that those children, by complying with the wish of their father in this matter, would sacrifice their agency. Do they not exercise that volition just as much by obeying that son as they would by each one taking his or her own course, and saying, “I will judge for myself, as to the correctness of what you say and will differ from you whenever I please.” Let me ask you as parents and as children, brethren and sisters, do you not think you could exercise your agency just as much by obeying the son as by disobeying him? I cannot conceive how it can be otherwise. I cannot see why I, for instance, should not exercise my agency just as much by obeying him as by disobeying him. This is precisely my position today.

Brigham Young, our President, has been chosen by God as His representative here on the earth, among His sons and daughters. He has been selected for this special calling. The Father is not present in person; Jesus is not present in person; but God is here through the Holy Ghost and the holy Priesthood, through the power which He has bestowed, and in the same position precisely as the son in the figure which I have used does the President of the Church act for us, his brethren and sisters. We are all alike before God; He loves us all alike; we are all the creatures of His care; but there must be rule, there must be government; there must be order, or this would not be the kingdom of God. The Lord chose President Young to rule and dictate in the affairs of His Church when His servant Joseph was taken from the earth.

Look at the singular combination of circumstances which caused Brigham Young to be President of the Twelve. Reflect on the remarkable combination of events which made him the leader of Israel, showing plainly, in my mind, that long before he was born, yes, probably before the earth was organized, Joseph Smith and Brigham Young were chosen, the same as Jeremiah was. The Lord said to Jeremiah: “Before I formed thee in the belly, I knew thee; and before thou camest forth out of the womb I sanctified thee, and I ordained thee a prophet unto the nations.” This is my opinion about the leaders of Israel in the latter days. I believe they were chosen to act in this capacity; and God, knowing their integrity, and afterwards proving them to the uttermost in the flesh, has greatly blessed them. See the blessings that have followed the administrations of these men in our midst. Who would exchange the peace, the joy, and the knowledge we have concerning the Gospel of the Lord Jesus Christ for the meager and vague ideas of God and His kingdom that prevailed before the people became acquainted with it? God has given unto us those precious blessings. He has gathered us together from the nations of the earth; He has multiplied upon us abundantly, joys more precious than gold or silver, namely, the riches of eternity; He has given unto us wisdom and knowledge and peace; He has proved to us most effectively that there are riches more precious and far more estimable in the sight of God and good and virtuous men than the perishable things of this world. He has built up a kingdom in which these things will be held at their true value, for He will cleanse from the midst of His people those who idolize riches.

Let me assure you, brethren and sisters, if there is anything in our hearts that interferes with our complete love of God and our reverence for Him and His work, we shall have to banish it, or sooner or later we shall lose our standing in the Church of God; for He wants a people who will render implicit obedience to His laws and the requirements of His Gospel, and who will love Him better than any earthly thing, and place a higher value on the gifts of the Spirit than on worldly possessions or even life itself.

The Lord has proved to us, in the midst of the many trials and difficulties with which we have had to contend during our brief existence as a Church, when surrounded by mobs, when our lives were in danger and the lives of our leaders were threatened, when the persecutors of the Saints were howling like a pack of ravening wolves for the blood of this people, that there is something far more precious and estimable than mere eating and drinking and the pleasures and enjoyments of life; although these things are very good and necessary in their place. He has given us His Gospel and this Gospel is being carried to all the nations of the earth, and a kingdom is being established.

Jesus said that this Gospel should be preached as a witness to all nations, and then should the end come. What Gospel? Why, the same Gospel Jesus had and to which he referred; the same Gospel that his apostles had: a Gospel of power, a Gospel of blessings, whose Priesthood had power and authority from God. It is the same Gospel that is now being taught, and which has to be preached as a witness to all nations, and then shall the end come. God is sending forth His messengers to accomplish this object. Our Elders have gone to the Eastern States by hundreds to lift up their warning voices to the people concerning the things which God is doing and is about to do in the midst of the inhabitants of the earth. For this purpose they go to Europe, to the West, to the Islands of the Pacific, to Asia and Africa, and they will yet traverse every country on the face of the whole earth. The millions of Asia will yet hear the glad tidings of salvation from the Elders of Israel. The yoke of bondage is being broken and the nations are being freed from the grasp of despotism and tyranny. Japan now opens her ports; China begins to extend her invitation to western civilization, and the time is near at hand when the sound of this Gospel, proclaimed by the Elders of Israel, will reecho from one end of the earth to the other, for it must be preached as a witness unto all nations.

We may engage in this work with all our hearts in view of the glorious reward that is promised unto the faithful; or we may fight against it and use our every power to consummate its overthrow; it makes no difference. The word of the Lord Almighty has gone forth to the people of this generation, and it will not remain unfulfilled. It matters not, therefore, who band together and plot in secret, who unite and say we will spoil the plan and destroy the influence of the work of God. The Lord will expose their secret plots and schemes, and He will stand by His servant whom He has chosen, so long as He lives, as He did by His servant Joseph. He told him that he would save him though he should be slain.

The Lord permitted the enemies of the Kingdom of God to take away the life of His servant Joseph, as He did of His servants in ancient days. The blood of the testator was shed, and now the testament is in full force. Joseph had lifted up his voice in solemn warning to the inhabitants of the earth, and declared that God had spoken in these latter days. But his blood and that of other holy men and Saints was shed by wicked men, and their blood, mingled with that of the martyred Saints of past ages, cries unto the Lord for vengeance. The very earth itself groans under the weight of wickedness and corruption that abound on its surface, and the Lord has declared that it shall be delivered. But before the great day of vengeance shall come, when wickedness shall be utterly swept from off the face of the earth, it is necessary that the Elders should proclaim the Gospel to every nation, kindred and tongue on the face of the earth, that the honest in heart may be gathered out and that a people may be found who shall be prepared to meet the Lord at His coming.

For this preparation we should give our whole time and labor to the purifying of our hearts and households. We should labor to purify our cities and settlements, labor to promulgate the principles of righteousness and to establish truth on the earth and seek to bring to pass the Zion of God in its fulness and perfection.

These are the labors which devolve upon us. Think not, my brethren and sisters, because God has chosen earthly vessels to hold this power and authority, that therefore you can treat lightly the holy Priesthood. I have noticed from my boyhood, and it has been a constant lesson to me, that those who speak against the authorities and lift their hands against the holy Priesthood of this Church invariably deny the faith. I have never seen it otherwise. You may trace the history of this people from the beginning and you will find that every man who has indulged in this spirit has always come out and denied the faith. Such men, when Joseph lived, said that he had fallen. Since his death they excuse their conduct by saying that Brigham has gone astray.

But when the Lord spoke to Joseph about falling, he said he would have authority to appoint another in his stead, and that no one would have the right to act except he was ordained by authority, or came in through the gate. You may know by the revelation I have read that no man can get the authority elsewhere. It must come through the holy Priesthood. Men may say they have heard the voice of Jesus, or heard this, that or the other; but you will find that the power of God will attend the keys, and His blessing will follow the administration of His servants who hold the authority.

Paul said, “Do ye not know that the Saints shall judge the world?” On one occasion Jesus said, “Ye who have followed me in the regeneration, when the Son of Man shall sit on the throne of his glory, ye also shall sit upon twelve thrones, judging the twelve tribes of Israel.”

In a revelation given through Joseph Smith, the Lord says:

“And again, verily, verily, I say unto you, and it hath gone forth in a firm decree, by the will of the Father, that mine apostles, the twelve, which were with me in my ministry at Jerusalem, shall stand at my right hand at the day of my coming in a pillar of fire, being clothed with robes of righteousness, with crowns upon their heads, in glory even as I am, to judge the whole house of Israel.”

This is the authority which Jesus said they should wield. The same authority has been renewed in these days. Says one, “I do not like this sort of thing; it is priestly rule and dominion, and I object to it. I am too much of a democrat in my feelings to submit to it.” Yet a man can be a democrat and a lover of freedom and liberty and enjoy them to the fullest, and honor the Priesthood. There is a difference between priestcraft and Priesthood. Priestcraft builds up itself, it is not authorized of God. Priestcraft oppresses the people; but the Priesthood of God emancipates men and women and makes them free. Jesus says his yoke is easy and his burden light.

We talk of power, and object to the undue exercise of authority. But think of the power given in ancient days, and which has been restored in these days, that man exercises when he goes forth into the water and bap tizes a person! Do you ever think of the greatness of the power thus exercised? And further, when the candidate for baptism emerges from the water and has hands laid upon him for the reception of the Holy Ghost, do you think of the power that God has entrusted unto men on earth when they exercise that holy ordinance? Do you think of the power exercised in remitting the sins of men and women through baptism, the ordinance which God has set in His Church for the remission of sins, and conferring upon them the Holy Ghost? If God sends such mighty power, shall we question the bestowal of a higher power when God shall choose to give it? Shall we murmur and contend against it? God forbid, and forbid that we should ever turn aside and fight against Him or His cause in any manner.

My brethren and sisters, my prayers are that God will bless us as a people and sanctify us to walk in all humility and meekness before Him, honoring His laws; for when we honor His laws we honor the laws of righteousness and the laws of the land in equity and truth. We will honor men in their place; we will honor the Government and everything that is just and honorable and true. That God may sustain us and help us to sustain the Priesthood, and to follow its requirements, that eventually we may be saved in His kingdom, is my prayer in the name of Jesus, Amen.

Building Up Zion—Temperance in Eating and Drinking

Discourse by President Brigham Young, delivered in the Tabernacle, Salt Lake City, November 14, 1869.

If the brethren and sisters will give their attention, I will try to talk a few minutes. I preach a great deal to the people; but the exertion of addressing such large congregations as assemble here in the city bears a little too much on my stomach and lungs, especially when laboring under a severe cold as I am at present.

A few of us have recently been on a visit South. We visited twenty settlements, and, in eleven days, held twenty-seven meetings; and universally there was a good turnout, the largest meetinghouses being always filled to overflowing. It is a tolerably easy matter to speak to the people in a small house, much more so than to address a congregation like this.

We found the people very much engaged in their religion, and striving, apparently, to put in practice the faith that they profess. Still, it is a difficult matter to establish the principles of the kingdom of God in the hearts of the people. This is for the want of understanding. Our traditions are strong upon us. We have been taught that, if we will believe in the Lord Jesus Christ, repent of our sins and exercise faith in his name, all will be well with us and we shall be brought into the presence of our Father and God. This was our former tradition. But there are Latter-day Saints who have almost come to the conclusion that if they believe in the Lord Jesus Christ, repent of their sins, and are baptized for the remission of them and have hands laid upon them for the reception of the Holy Ghost, and partake of the Sacrament or Lord’s Supper, they have accomplished just about all that is required of them in order to establish the kingdom of God on the earth. Herein lies the difficulty which the servants of God have to encounter. The people come short of understanding precisely the order of the establishment of the kingdom of heaven; consequently it is a labor that needs a great deal of attention, and one that requires the influence of the Priesthood over the minds of the people to get them to draw nigh unto God and His cause.

As we have just heard remarked, in relation to the love of the world, a great many Latter-day Saints, after receiving the Gospel, seem to run well for a time and then turn again to the love of the world in its awful, fallen state, lusting after the things that are perishable. Still, if they could but understand true doctrine and correct principles, they would find that there is nothing pertaining to the elements of this earth, but what, in and of itself, is good and of God. Some may exclaim, “Sin excepted.” To this I would say that God permits sin, or it could not be here. All the creations are His work and they are for His glory and for the benefit of the children of men; and all things are put into the possession of man for his comfort, im provement and consolation, and for his health, wealth, beauty and excellency.

We should also understand what to do with the things which God has placed in our possession. We should also desire to understand and should seek to know the object for which the earth was framed; and then we wish to comprehend His object and design in placing His children on it. We should also desire to understand how our Heavenly Father wishes us to act now we are here; how we should devote our time and talents, our daily labor and whatever means He puts into our hands, for the building up of His kingdom on the earth. We want to get the Saints to think of these things. If we could only get to the affections of the people and could plant within them the principles of the kingdom of heaven, it would be an easy matter to bring their hands to join in the establishment of the Zion of God upon the earth. But, herein lies our labor. The weakness and shortsightedness of man are such, and he is so prone to wander and give himself up to the groveling things of the world, having had so little knowledge with regard to God and godliness for hundreds of years, that it is literally a breaking up of the fallow ground of his heart to prepare him to see the holy city that the Lord will establish.

The Latter-day Saints gather together for the express purpose, they say, to establish Zion. Where is Zion? On the American continent. Where is the gathering place? For the present, in the mountains. What are you going there for? To help to build up Zion.

We find a great many trying to be Saints and endeavoring to understand how they may be of the most benefit in building up the kingdom of God on the earth. My brother Joseph says it is an easy matter to be a Saint. So I say. And taking another view of it, again, it is a hard matter. This is true. It is not an easy thing to serve God and mammon. If the Saints comprehend what they have to do in order to establish Zion, and go to work with ready hands and willing hearts to accomplish the labor, they will find it a comparatively easy matter; but unless there is a unity of action on the part of those who are engaged in the work it is not very easily performed. When there is a great work to be accomplished, and there are but few hands to perform it, the burden weighs very heavily on those who are engaged in it. If we have a farm of six hundred acres to fence, and there is only one man engaged in getting the poles and lumber from the canyon, we find it a slow and tardy work; but if we have a hundred men engaged it is much easier and pleasanter; if a thousand, still more so. So it is in regard to establishing the kingdom of God in the hearts of the children of men. It is not a very hard matter to prevail on a person to put his treasure where his heart is. Our difficulty is in not understanding the principles of the kingdom of heaven sufficiently to enter into it with our whole hearts.

Many of our brethren who have come here when in their own land worked underground, and probably seldom saw the light of day, but spent year after year of their lives digging out coal. If you chanced to ask them, “Are you ever going to America?” the answer would invariably be, “Yes, I am going to Zion.” If you asked the wife and children would they like to go to Zion, the reply would be, “Yes, with all our hearts. We would do anything to get there; if necessary we would be the slaves of those of our brethren who have gone there if we could only go.” Yet these same persons when they reach here are not satisfied. If you ask them if this is Zion, they will say, “I do not see much that looks like Zion.” When they received the work perhaps their minds were open to see Zion in its beauty and glory; but when they come here and call this Zion they feel disappointed. They have not the least idea in relation to establishing this kingdom. They thought they were going to a Zion whose towers would reach the clouds, with streets paved with gold and the Tree of Life growing on every block. They say, “I do not like this place; I am not exactly suited with it.” What do you want? “I do not know exactly what I want; I want something else; I do not like this place.” The disposition of some of these murmurers reminds me of the children of some families I have seen while traveling in the world. It is something like this: “Darling, will you have a piece of bread and butter?” “No, ma’am, I don’t want it.” “But, my dear, shall I put some honey upon it?” “No, I don’t like it.” “Well, then, will you have a little mince pie, love?” “No, I can’t eat it.” This is about how the matter stands.

The Saints are full to overflowing with the words of eternal life, yet they do not know what to do with them; and when we come to preach, it seems as though the people were surfeited with much doctrine, persuasion and counsel, and they do not like it very well. This was evident by the many vacant seats this morning. There ought to be ten thousand persons at these meetings, both in the morning and afternoon. But how many do you see? The tabernacle not half filled. Why not come to meeting and fill all the seats. I do not like to see this lack of interest in attending meetings. Those professing to be Latter-day Saints have the words of life and do not know it; the brethren read from the Book of Life and they do not know it, and the words of God are given them in great abundance and they trifle with them. Is this the fact? It is. If the people would live their religion, there would be no apostasy and we would hear no complaining or faultfinding. If the people were hungry for the words of eternal life, and their whole souls even centered on the building up of the kingdom of God, every heart and hand would be ready and willing and the work would move forward mightily and we would advance as we should do.

It is frequently remarked that there is too much of a sameness in this community. True, we do not have the variety they do in the world, drinking, carousing, quarreling, litigation, etc. But if you want a change of this kind, you can get up a dog fight. I think that would be about the extent of the quarreling you want to see. It would be as much as I would desire to witness. I have seen enough of the world, without even desiring to behold another drunken man. I never wish to see another lawsuit. I feel perfectly satisfied without it.

If the people would like something by way of a change, I will propose something to them, as I did to sister Horne, the President of the Female Relief Society in the 14th Ward, who was at Gunnison, about one hundred and thirty miles south of this place, when we were there. I invited her, when she returned, to call the sisters of the Relief Society together, and ask them to begin a reform in eating and housekeeping. I told her I wished to get up a society whose members would agree to have a light, nice breakfast in the morning, for themselves and children, without cooking something less than forty different kinds of food, making slaves of themselves and requiring three or four hired girls to wash dishes. Prepare your breakfast something like they do in England, bread and butter, a little cheese, a few eggs, food that is light and nutritious, and which does not require so much labor in cooking; and instead of tea, if you cannot drink cold water, make a bowl of water gruel or meal porridge and you will save dirtying three or four dishes, knives and forks, or spoons, to each individual that sits at the table.

This would be something to change your feelings and the fashions of society. Will you do it? If you want something new, try this; and when dinner time comes, don’t pile the table full of roast meat, boiled meat and baked meat, fat mutton, beef and pork; and in addition to this two or three kinds of pies and cakes; neither urge the children, the father and everyone at the table to eat and gorge themselves till they are so full that when night comes they will want a doctor. This will do for a change.

When we go on a trip to the settlements and stop at the brethren’s houses, it is, “Brother Brigham, let us manifest our feelings towards you and your company. I tell them to do so, but give me a piece of johnnycake; I would rather have it than their pies and tarts and sweetmeats. Let me have something that will sustain nature and leave my stomach and whole system clear to receive the Spirit of the Lord and be free from headache and pains of every kind. If I can experience this, it will suit me. What do you say to it, sisters? Do you want a revolution? They want one in France; but you need not go to France to have a revolution of this kind. Yet in that country there are about twenty-four millions who never eat any flesh meat at all.

The Americans, as a nation, are killing themselves with their vices and high living. As much as a man ought to eat in half an hour they swallow in three minutes, gulping down their food like the canine quadruped under the table, which, when a chunk of meat is thrown down to it, swallows it before you can say “twice.” If you want a reform, carry out the advice I have just given you. Dispense with your multitudinous dishes, and, depend upon it, you will do much towards preserving your families from sickness, disease and death.

If this method were adopted in this community, I will venture to say that it would add ten years to the lives of our children. That is worth a great deal.

If you want a little of something more—if you want another revolution, let us go to and say we will wear nothing but what we make; and that which we do not make we will not have.

If the people are inclined to complain about cooperation, let them do so. I have a constitutional right to eat sweetmeats if I choose, so long as I raise them and they belong to no one else; or a piece of johnnycake or wheat bread. This is my legal right and yours also. I have a right to wear a hat that my wife or daughters or my sister has made, and I need not be called in question for doing so. I have a legal and constitutional right, and so have my sisters, to set their table out in a morning with a little plain food on it if they choose so to do. Let the people eat as I used to eat when I was a child. If meat were cooked at all, it was on one plate; and if I had any it was off that plate. I can go to thousands of houses that are making the knives and forks and clothing for you and me that will not have a knife on their table at meal time. Have you ever seen any such thing? Yes, plenty of you have!

I have frequently related a circumstance that transpired while I was in England. After I recovered from the sickness which distressed me during the voyage across the ocean, my appetite became unusually good. I was invited to what is known in that country as a tea party. Fourteen of us sat down at the table, which was about two and a half feet across; but not a knife, fork, plate or spoon could be seen, with the exception of the plate in the middle of the table, with some beautiful ham upon it, swimming in the gravy. I said to myself, “I would like a piece of that ham if I had any way to eat it; but I have no plate nor knife and fork.” By and by a native elder set down his cup on one knee, his bread and butter on the other; and putting his hand in his pocket, pulled out his knife, opened it, and reaching over his bread and butter, took a piece of ham and slipped it onto his bread. I said to myself, “I can do that as well as you;” but I took out my knife before I put down my cup, reached over to the plate and took a fine piece of ham; although I was afraid I would get a little gravy on my clothes in doing so. If I had had a plate it would certainly have been much better; but I got along very well without even greasing my clothes. “Now,” said I, “that is worth money to me; I have learned something.” In about five minutes after the tea table was deserted by the guests, everything was cleared away and the sister was ready to visit with us. It did not take her two hours to fuss around to wash plates and see that the servants did not break them, fixing furniture and so forth as we do here.

If you want a revolution go to work to improve yourselves and give your minds something to act upon instead of looking at the faults of others. We are a poor, feeble set and have hardly eyes to see; and many of those who have eyes see not, but are constantly watching the weaknesses and follies of each other. Endeavor with all your mind and strength to improve yourselves and ask your sisters and brethren to improve their lives. I am preaching to you practical religion. Learn to take proper care of your children. If any of them are sick, the cry now, instead of “Go and fetch the Elders to lay hands on my child!” is, “Run for a doctor.” Why do you not live so as to rebuke disease? It is your privilege to do so without sending for the Elders. You should go to work to study and see what you can do for the recovery of your children. If a child is taken sick with fever give it something to stay that fever or relieve the stomach and bowels, so that mortification may not set in. Treat the child with prudence and care, with faith and patience, and be careful in not overcharging it with medicine. If you take too much medicine into the system, it is worse than too much food. But you will always find that an ounce of preventive is worth a pound of cure. Study and learn something for yourselves. It is the privilege of a mother to have faith and to administer to her child; this she can do herself, as well as sending for the Elders to have the benefit of their faith.

We have come here to build up Zion. How shall we do it? I could tell you how if I had time. I have told you a great many times. There is one thing I will say in regard to it. We have got to be united in our efforts. We should go to work with a united faith like the heart of one man; and whatever we do should be performed in the name of the Lord, and we will then be blessed and prospered in all we do. We have a work on hand whose magnitude can hardly be told. We have now to go to and save ourselves according to the plan provided for our salvation, the Savior having done for us all that he can, except to impart unto us grace to aid us in our lives, and to save our families, friends, ancestors, and the nations that have lived before us and those that may come after us, that all may be brought unto God and be saved, except the sons of perdition. This is the labor we have before us.

Brother Joseph was speaking about prayer. I will say a word with regard to prayer. It matters not whether you or I feel like praying, when the time comes to pray, pray. If we do not feel like it, we should pray till we do. And if there is a heavy storm coming on and our hay is likely to be wet, let it come. You will find that those who wait till the Spirit bids them pray will never pray much on this earth; for they always find a little something else to do, and become like some who wait for the Spirit to bid them pray, consequently they never pray. Such people would come to meeting and look at each other and then, when they had stayed as long as they felt inclined, address their brethren with—“Good bye, I am going home,” and then leave. But when the time comes to have prayers, let them be made, and there will be no danger.

Let us be humble, fervent, submissive, yielding ourselves to the will of the Lord, and there is no danger but that we shall have His Spirit to guide us. If we will open our lips and call upon our Heavenly Father, in the name of Jesus, we will have the spirit of prayer. I have proved this to be the best way. If we do everything in the season thereof, attending to our prayers and daily labors in their proper order and all at the right time, all will go well.

In regard to the things of this world, we should learn what they are for, and then use them wisely. To be proud and lifted up is the height of folly. It is beneath the intelligence and understanding of the man of God ever to be filled with foolish and vain desires. If we wish to exult, let us exult in our God; if we desire to be proud, let our pride be in our Heavenly Father; if we desire happiness, let us be humble and faithful in obeying the commandments of the Almighty and He will dispense every blessing to us. This is my constant prayer. I desire to live so that His Spirit may be with me continually; and I ask you to do so in the name of Jesus, and he will bless you. Amen.

Acting in the Name of the Lord

Remarks by Elder Lorenzo Snow, delivered in the New Tabernacle, Salt Lake City, Oct. 9, 1869.

I am very much pleased in having an opportunity to make a few remarks to this Conference. The subjects that have been presented to our consideration are fraught with many very interesting reflections. Every privilege that is afforded us of meeting together in the capacity of a Conference, and taking a retrospective view of the past, gives us a chance to behold the great and marvelous success that has hitherto attended our labors, as the servants of God, in this great and glorious work of the redemption of Israel and the gathering of the Latter-day Saints from the four quarters of the world, to establish the kingdom of God on the earth in the last days.

There are many peculiarities that distinguish the order of things pertaining to the work of God in which we are engaged, from the different systems of religion that are to be met with in Christendom and throughout the various parts of the world. What we do we perform in the name of the Lord God of Israel, and are willing to acknowledge the hand of the Almighty in everything we do. When Moses stood forth as the deliverer of the children of Israel from their Egyptian bondage, he did not present himself in the manner of a common deliverer, but he went in the name of the Lord God of Israel, having been commanded to accomplish their redemption by the power and authority which he received from God. And from the moment that he appeared before them in this capacity, until he had accomplished his work, he acted in and through the name of the Lord, and not by his own wisdom or ingenuity, nor because he possessed superior intelligence to the rest of mankind. The Lord appeared to him in the burning bush, and commanded him to go forth and accomplish a certain work, which concerned the peace, happiness and salvation of a great people; and its success and prosperity depended upon the carrying out of the order of things revealed to him by the God of heaven. His success and prosperity were made perfectly sure from the fact that the work to which he was assigned was not a thing of his own invention, but it emanated from Jehovah.

A great deal of speculation might have been entertained by some in reference to his mode of procedure. There might have been some things in the working of the system he introduced that were very disagreeable to certain parties whom they concerned—to the government of Egypt and King Pharaoh, for instance; but that was a matter of very small consideration with him and with the people whom he had occasion to deliver from bondage.

It is so in reference to ourselves. The great work now being accomplished—the gathering of the people from the nations of the earth, had not its origin in the mind of any man or any set of men, but it emanated from the Lord Almighty. Joseph Smith received a revelation and commandment from the Lord, to go forth and preach the Gospel of salvation to the nations of the earth, with power and authority to baptize those who would repent of their sins and be immersed in water for the remission of them; he was also commanded to preach the gathering to them, that a people might be drawn together who would be willing to hearken to the voice of the Lord and keep His laws, that a righteous seed might thereby be preserved when the great day of His wrath should come. This Gospel was preached, and thousands of Saints have been gathered from almost all parts of the globe, who are now scattered throughout the length and breadth of this Territory, making farms, building houses, planting orchards and reclaiming the soil; creating villages, towns and cities where nothing but wild beasts and savages used to roam, and causing the desert to blossom as the rose. Yet all this has not been accomplished by human wisdom, although the enemies of the Saints would try to make the world believe so; it has been done by the wisdom and power of Almighty God, whose outstretched arm has been over His Saints, preserving them from evil of every kind.

Jesus, while traveling here on earth, fulfilling his mission, told the people he did not perform the miracles he wrought in their midst by his own power, nor by his own wisdom; but he was there in order to accomplish the will of his Father. He came not to seek the glory of men, and the honor of men; but to seek the honor and glory of his Father that sent him. Said he, “I am come in my Father’s name, and ye receive me not, if another shall come in his own name, him ye will receive.”

Now, the peculiarity of his mission, and that which distinguished it from other missions, was this: he came not to seek the glory and honor of men, but to seek the honor and glory of his Father, and to accomplish the work of his Father who sent him. Herein lay the secret of his prosperity; and herein lies the secret of the prosperity of every individual who works upon the same principle.

There are many things that are admirable in what is called by our neighbors “Mormonism.” Great men admire the effects that are produced by its operations, or the work of preaching the Gospel, gathering the people from the nations of the earth and settling them in this Territory, in establishing towns, villages and settlements, in gathering the poor from their indigent circumstances, from their conditions of poverty and distress, and placing them in a position where they can sustain themselves and have an opportunity of educating their children and gathering around them the necessaries, comforts and conveniences of life.

People admire the prosperity of the Latter-day Saints, they admire the wisdom that is manifest in the perfect organization observable in their cities, towns and settlements, and the unity existing amongst them. They are struck with the peace and good order that reign in our midst, which are not found, to the same extent, in any of the cities of the United States or Europe. One hundred and fifty thousand people, who have been gathered from the poorest classes of persons and brought from the various nations and established in prosperous and happy circumstances, are admired by everyone. But all this is being done in the name of the Lord, and professedly through the commandments of the Almighty; and herein lies the difficulty. Our acknowledgement of the hand of God in what we do is something they do not approve of. If we gathered the people from the various nations, built cities, towns and villages in our own name, and in our own strength and wisdom, and gave ourselves the honor and glory, we should be a very admirable people indeed, and everybody would admire the “Mormons,” and would be pleased with our operations; and as far as the influence of politicians and members of Congress is concerned, it would be employed in obtaining our admission into the Union as a State.

It may be considered by some as unfortunate that we have a principle in the operations of “Mormonism” so disagreeable and annoying; but we cannot help it. This work is not one of our own getting up, and we have not the responsibility of its success resting upon us. Jesus says himself that he would have been received by the people if he had sought the honor of men. If he had not come in the name of his Father, but simply in his own, the people would have received him, honored him and made him King of the Jews; and all would have been agreeable, pleased and satisfied.

It was said by the Prophet that Israel should be scattered, that they should be sifted among the nations, and in the latter days they should be gathered out, two from a city and one from a family, and there should be a time when the people would be gathered from the nations when it should be said to them, “Come out of her, my people, that ye be not partakers of her sins, and that ye receive not of her plagues.”

Joseph Smith received a commandment of the Almighty similar to that which Moses received to deliver the children of Israel from Egyptian bondage. The command to the Prophet Joseph was to go forth and declare the Gospel to the children of men, to gather them from the nations of the earth and place them in a land of peace and plenty, where they could plant and reap the fruit thereof. In many instances the people who received this Gospel were in a far worse condition than the children of Israel, when found by Moses in their bondage.

There are hundreds of Elders here who have traveled through England, Scotland, Wales, Germany, Switzerland, Norway and elsewhere, who know very well that the people were found in most of those lands in circumstances of slavery—bondage far worse than the “blacks” in the South previous to their liberation. There was nothing before the people but the prospect of starvation; and they were subject to the will and caprice of their masters, and dependent upon them for their labor and daily bread; and when work was dull, they had before them nothing but the prospect of being turned from their employment and to have their only source of obtaining food for themselves and families entirely cut off. They did not own a foot of land, a plough, an ox, a wagon, a cow, a mule, a horse, in fact, nothing they saw around them could they call their own. They were, in short, entirely dependent upon the will and disposition of their employers for what they wanted, and had to look to them for their only means of gaining a living. Thousands upon thousands of these people are now located in various parts of this Territory, in a far more prosperous and independent condition than that in which they lived while abroad among the nations. Many of them are comparatively rich in this world’s goods. The command of the Almighty to this people is to come out of Babylon to a land where his Saints may gather around them such things as are necessary to the well-being of his children. This is a greater work than that performed by Moses, of redeeming the children of Israel from Egyptian bondage; yet it is done on the same principle. The voice of God to Moses was to deliver His people from their bondage and he would be with him and assist him. The command is now for the people to be delivered from their bondage, poverty and distress, and come to these valleys of the mountains, where they can sustain themselves.

There are many philanthropists who admire the works that have been accomplished in this respect. They say, “The ‘Mormons’ have done a great deal more than any religious society ever did or even expected to do. They have increased the population of the nation and have extended their cities to the east, to the west, to the north and to the south.” But it has been done by the command of the Almighty, and that is where the trouble lies. As for polygamy, our enemies would not be so wrath about our practicing it, so long as we did not do so in the name of the Lord. But as these things are done in His name, they are obnoxious in the eyes of the world. The same state of feeling existed in the days of Moses, the same in the days when Jesus appeared among the Jews. Had Moses presented himself in the same way as Washington or William Tell, the deliverer of the people of Switzerland from the yoke of bondage under which they labored, or as Wallace, the hero of Scotland—had he, I say, appeared in his own name, and presented himself before the people as a person of superior powers and ability, and [not] claimed power greater than that he possessed as a man, all would have been well. But when he went before them in the name of the Lord Almighty, he experienced some difficulty in performing the work which had been assigned him.

We know well we differ very much in our religious concerns from the various denominations existing in the world. An Elder goes in the name of the Lord; he crosses the ocean, calls into an individual’s house and says, “I am a missionary; I have come from America to preach the Gospel.” It is not a very unusual thing for persons to cross the ocean, as missionaries and go to Europe. This is all very natural; but when an Elder goes and says he comes in the name of the Lord to deliver them from their circumstances of poverty and distress, and to call upon them to repent of their sins and be immersed in water for the remission of them, promising them the Gift of the Holy Ghost, he creates a distinction between his mission and that of the various systems introduced by the different sects of the day. Says he, “I come to tell you that the time for the fulfillment of the predictions of the Prophets has arrived. The Lord wants His people gathered from Babylon unto the place where there shall be deliverance.” There is deliverance. There is something that can be realized and experienced, that can be seen and felt and known. There is the promise that, if any man will do the will of God, he shall know for himself that the doctrine we teach is true. There is no chance of imposition. There is an opportunity to know whether the message of this Elder is true or false.

If a sectarian minister had gone to the children of Israel and discovered them in the same condition in which Moses found them, his message would have been entirely different from that of Moses, as would also his conversation and address. Moses said to them, “In the name of the Almighty, having received authority from God, I come to deliver you from bondage and to give you a national existence; to take you to a land that the Lord God has commanded you to go to, and which He has promised you shall receive.” Had a sectarian minister gone under similar circumstances, his ideas and manner would have been entirely different. Says he, “I have come to beseech you who are now subject to your masters’ will and have to recline upon straw, to be patient and long-suffering. Servants, be obedient to your masters and wait upon the providence of the Lord. Bear up, and be kind,” and so on. Anything in regard to delivering them from their bondage under which they are suffering? No, nothing of the kind.

It is the same when a sectarian minister goes to England. He knocks at a man’s door and says, “I am a missionary from America.” Well, the man on whom he calls is in distress. Says he, “I am sorry I cannot take you in; but I am in distress. It is mealtime, but my family has nothing to eat. I am out of employment and have nothing to live upon. I wish I could relieve your wants, but I have nothing with which to assist you.” Oh, says the minister, you must wait upon Providence, you must have a great deal of patience and long-suffering. I am come to preach to you the Gospel, and you must pray and keep praying until you think you have got a pardon of your sins; but still remain where you are. No redemption!

Well, now, that is different from the “Mormon” Elder’s manner. He presents himself in something like this way: “I have come in the name of the Almighty, in obedience to a call from God, to deliver you from your present circumstances. Repent of your sins and be baptized, and the Holy Ghost shall rest upon you, and you shall know that I have the authority to administer the ordinances of the Gospel by the power of the Almighty and the revelations of God. Gather out from this nation, for it is ripening in iniquity, there is no salvation here. Flee to a place of safety.” And as the messenger who went to Sodom said to the family whom he found there, so says the Elder of Israel, telling them, as Moses did the children of Israel, to go to the land that the Lord God has appointed for the gathering of His people.

There is a great difference between the operations of the Latter-day Saints and these of the Christian world. With us there is no deception; nor indeed is there any chance for any. People gather here in thousands on the principle that the Lord God has revealed, and they have an opportunity of knowing that the Almighty has spoken from the heavens. They are not left to the mere statement of anyone.

Jesus says that if any man will do the will of God, he shall know His doctrine. If he will repent of his sins and be immersed in water, by the laying on of the hands of these having authority, the gift of the Holy Ghost shall be given to him and he shall receive knowledge from God in regard to the divine authenticity of these ordinances. People are not left in the dark, they have a chance to know for themselves. They get this intelligence and know what they are doing.

Will we do these things in the name of the Lord God that sent us? This work is the Almighty’s, and it is His business to sustain and support it. If, in keeping the laws of God we do things that are not quite so pleasant to the people around us or the Government under which we dwell, we cannot help it. We cannot act save we do so in the name of the Lord. When Nebuchadnezzar established a certain edict, and that edict was contrary to the revelations of the Almighty, it was disagreeable to many persons whom it concerned. There were three men, Shadrach, Meshach and Abednego, who received a command from the Almighty that they should not worship any other God than the Lord God of Israel, that they should worship no images. But King Nebuchadnezzar set up an image and commanded that every nation, kindred and tongue, over whom he reigned, should bow down and worship it, when they heard the sound of the cornet, flute, harp, sackbut, psaltery, dulcimer, and all kinds of music.

It so happened that the King’s edict concerned, among others, the three men who had received the revelation from the Lord that they should not worship any image. They were in a rather awkward fix. Either they must set aside the command of Jehovah to worship no God but Him, or, on the other hand, disobey the mandate of the King. They knew if they refused to comply with the wishes of so mighty a man as Nebuchadnezzar, their lives would not be of much value, unless they were preserved by the hand of the God of Israel. But they feared not the King and trusted in the arm of Jehovah to shield them from evil. Accordingly, when the signal was given for the people to fall down and worship the image, these three men refused to do so; and being observed, they were taken before the King, who was greatly enraged at the idea that there could be found anyone in all his dominions so fearless as to refuse to comply with his wishes. When they appeared before him he looked at them in a fierce and savage manner and said, “Is it true, O Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego, do not ye serve my gods, nor worship the golden image which I have set up? Now if ye be ready that at what time ye hear the sound of the cornet, flute, harp, sackbut, psaltery and dulcimer, and all kinds of music, ye fall down and worship the image which I have made, well; but if ye worship not, ye shall be cast the same hour into the midst of a burning fiery furnace; and who is that God that shall deliver you out of my hands?”

I often admire the answer of those men, placed as they were in such a perplexing position. A person might be brought before the Emperor of France or Russia and get along very well; but it was something awful to come in collision with a man like Nebuchadnezzar, whose will was as the word of the Almighty, and had never been disobeyed. When the King had done speaking, they answered, “O Nebuchadnezzar, we are not careful to answer thee in this matter. If it be so, our God whom we serve is able to deliver us from the burning fiery furnace, and He will deliver us out of thine hand, O King. But if not, be it known unto thee, O King, that we will not serve thy gods, nor worship the golden image which thou hast set up.” Upon hearing this, the King was extremely angry, and caused the furnace to be heated seven times hotter than usual, at the same time commanding the most mighty men of his army to bind them and thrust them into the furnace. After awhile, however, he discovered he had made a grand mistake. He had been deceived, and hastily calling his counselors together, he demanded of them whether only three men were cast into the furnace. They answered, yes. “Well,” said he, “I see four there; and one of them is like the Son of God.” He then sent forth another edict, that all those who refused to worship the God of Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego, should be cut in pieces and their houses should be made into dunghills.

Now, Nebuchadnezzar was honest, but through ignorance he was led to act in this way.

It would he very agreeable and pleasant when we carry the words of life and salvation to the various nations, if every part and operation of the work of God should be in perfect harmony with the feelings of the people to whom it is preached; if it is not so, we cannot help it. We know this, that the Almighty has given us power and authority to go forth and gather the people from the nations of the earth and establish them in the land of Zion. But strip from this operation the supernatural part, and the people of the world, members of Congress included, would be pleased; and the Vice-President would be proud of us. They would say we were very patriotic. But they do not like our doing these things in the name of the Lord our God. They are afraid that in getting power and influence, and uniting our interests as one great people, we will do something by and by.

Let us continue, brethren and sisters, to work in the name of the Lord our God; gathering wisdom and intelligence day by day, that every circumstance which transpires may minister to our good and increase our faith and intelligence. If we continue to work righteousness, being faithful to each other and to God, no power will be able to overthrow us, and as brother Hyde remarked, for every stumbling block that our enemies place in our way, to hinder and prevent the work of God from moving forward, two will be placed in the paths of those who put one in ours. If we are faithful and keep the commandments of God, His works will continue to prosper until the prophecies are fulfilled, and we become a great, a glorious and a mighty people. God bless you. Amen.

Celestial Marriage—Bishops and Deacons Should Be Married—Divorce

Remarks by President George A. Smith, delivered in the New Tabernacle, Salt Lake City, October 8, 1869.

It is a difficult undertaking to address this immense audience. If a man commences speaking loud, in a short time his voice gives out; whereas, if he commence rather low, he may raise his voice by degrees, and be able to sustain himself in speaking some length of time. But with children crying, a few persons whispering, and some shuffling their feet, it is indeed a difficult task to make an audience of ten thousand persons hear. I have listened with pleasure to the instructions of our brethren from the commencement of our Conference to the present time. I have rejoiced in their testimonies. I have felt that the elders are improving in wisdom, in knowledge, in power, and in understanding; and I rejoice in the privilege, which we have at the present day, of sending out to our own country a few hundred of the elders who have had experience—who have lived in Israel long enough to know, to feel, and to realize the importance of the work in which they are engaged—to understand its principles and comprehend the way of life. They can bear testimony to a generation that has nearly grown from childhood since the death of the Prophet, Joseph Smith.

The Lord said in relation to those who have driven the Saints that He would visit “judgment, wrath, and indignation, wailing and anguish, and gnashing of teeth upon their heads unto the third and fourth generation, so long as they repent not and hate me, saith the Lord your God.”

I am a native of Potsdam, St. Lawrence County, New York—a town somewhat famous for its literary institutions, its learning and the religion and morality of its inhabitants. I left there in my youth, with my father’s family, because we had received the Gospel of Jesus Christ, as revealed through Joseph Smith; and followed with the Saints through their drivings and trials unto the present day.

I have never seen the occasion, nor let the opportunity slip, from the time when I first came to a knowledge of the truth of the work of the Lord in the last days, that I understood it was in my power to do good for the advancement of this work but what I have used my utmost endeavors to accomplish that good. I have never failed to bear a faithful testimony to the work of God, or to carry out to all intents and purposes, the wishes and designs of the Prophet, Joseph Smith. I was his kinsman; was familiar with him, though several years his junior; knew his views, his sentiments, his ways, his designs, and many of the thoughts of his heart, and I do know that the servants of God, the Twelve Apostles, upon whom he laid the authority to bear off the Kingdom of God, and fulfil the work which he had commenced, have done according to his designs, in every particular, up to the present time and are continuing to do so. And I know, furthermore, that he rejoiced in the fact that the law of redemption and Celestial Marriage was revealed unto the Church in such a manner that it would be out of the power of earth and hell to destroy it; and that he rejoiced in the fact that the servants of God were ready prepared, having the keys to bear off the work he had commenced. Previous to my leaving Potsdam, there was but one man that I ever heard of in that town who did not believe the Bible. He proclaimed himself an atheist, and he drowned himself.

The Latter-day Saints believe the Bible. An agent of the American Bible Society called on me the other day and wanted to know if we would aid the Society in circulating the Bible in our Territory? I replied yes, by all means, for it was the book from which we were enabled to set forth our doctrines, and especially the doctrine of plural marriage.

There is an opinion in the breasts of many persons, who suppose that they believe the Bible, that Christ, when he came, did away with plural marriage, and that he inaugurated what is termed monogamy; and there are certain arguments and quotations used to maintain this view of the subject, one of which is found in Paul’s first epistle to Timothy (3 chap. 2 v.), where Paul says: “A bishop should be blameless, the husband of one wife.” The friends of monogamy render it in this way: “A bishop should be blameless, the husband of but one wife.” That would imply that anyone but a bishop might have more. But they will say, “We mean a bishop should be blameless, the husband of one wife only.” Well, that would also admit of the construction that other people might have more than one. I understand it to mean that a bishop must be a married man.

A short time ago, the Minister from the King of Greece to the United States called on President Young. I inquired of him in relation to the religion of his country, and asked him if the clergy were allowed to marry. It is generally understood that the Roman Catholic clergy are not allowed to marry. How is it with the Greek clergy? “Well,” said he, “all the clergy marry, except the bishop.” I replied, “You render the saying of Paul differently from what we do. We interpret it to mean—a bishop should be blameless, the husband of one wife at least;” and “we construe it,” said he, “directly the opposite.”

Now this passage does not prove that a man should have but one wife. It only proves that a bishop should be a married man. The same remark is made of deacons, that they also should have wives. Another passage is brought up where the Savior speaks of divorce. He tells us that it is very wrong to divorce, and that Moses permitted it because of the hardness of their (the children of Israel’s) hearts. A man should leave his father and his mother and cleave unto his wife, and they twain should be one flesh. That is the principal argument raised that a man should have but one wife.

In the New Testament in various places, certain eminent men are referred to as patterns of faith, purity, righteousness and piety. For instance, if you read the epistle of Paul to the Hebrews, the 11th chapter, you find therein selected those persons “who through faith subdued kingdoms, wrought righteousness, obtained promises, stopped the mouths of lions, quenched the violence of fire, escaped the edge of the sword, out of weakness were made strong, waxed valiant in fight, turning to flight the armies of the aliens;” and it is said by faith Jacob blessed the two sons of Joseph, and that he conferred upon them a blessing to the uttermost bounds of the everlasting hills. Who was Joseph? Why, Joseph was the son of Rachel. And who was Rachel? Rachel was the second wife of Jacob, a polygamist. Jacob had four wives, and after he had taken the second (Rachel), she, being barren, gave a third wife unto her husband that she might bear children unto him for her; and instead of being displeased with her for giving her husband another wife, God heard her prayer, blessed her, worked a miracle in her favor by opening her womb, and she bore a son, and called his name Joseph, rejoicing in God, whom she testified would give her another son. The question now arises, were not Rachel and Jacob one flesh? Yes. Leah and Jacob were also one flesh. Jacob is selected by the Apostle Paul as a pattern of faith for Christians to follow; he blessed his twelve sons, whom he had by four wives. The law of God, as it existed in those days, and as laid down in this book (the Bible) makes a child born of adultery or of fornication a bastard; and the same is prohibited from entering into the congregation of the Lord unto the tenth generation.

Now, instead of God’s blessing Rachel and Jacob and their offspring, as we are told He did, we might have expected something entirely different, had it not been that God was pleased with and approbated and sustained a plurality of wives.

While we are considering this subject, we will inquire, did the Savior in any place that we can read of, in the course of his mission on the earth, denounce a plurality of wives? He lived in a nation of Jews; the law of Moses was in force, plurality of wives was the custom, and thousands upon thousands of people, from the highest to the lowest in the land, were polygamists. The Savior denounced adultery; he denounced fornication; he denounced lust; also divorce; but is there a single sentence asserting that plurality of wives is wrong? If so, where is it? Who can find it? Why did he not say it was wrong? “Think not,” said he, “that I am come to destroy the law or the Prophets. I am not come to destroy, but to fulfil. Not one jot or one tittle shall pass from the law and the Prophets; but all shall be fulfilled.” Of what does the Savior speak when he refers to “the law?” Why, of the Ten Commandments, and other rules of life commanded by God and adopted by the ancients, and which Brother Pratt referred to yesterday, showing you from the sacred book that God legislated and made laws for the protection of a plurality of wives (Exod. 21:10), and that He commanded men to take a plurality under some circumstances. Brother Pratt further showed that the Lord made arrangements to protect to all intents and purposes the interests of the first wife; and to shield and protect the children of a wife from disinheritance who might be unfortunate enough not to have the affections of her husband (Deut. 21:15). These things were plainly written in the law—that law of which the Savior says, “Not one jot or one tittle shall pass away.” Continuing our inquiry, we pass on to the epistles of John the Evangelist, which we find in the Book of Revelation, written to the seven churches of Asia. In them we find the Evangelist denounces adultery, fornication, and all manner of iniquities and abominations of which these churches were guilty. Anything against a plurality of wives? No, not a syllable. Yet those churches were in a country in which plurality was the custom. Hundreds of Saints had more wives than one; and if it had been wrong, what would have been the result? Why, John would have denounced the practice, the same as the children of Israel were denounced for marrying heathen wives, had it not been that the law of plurality was the commandment of God.

Again, on this point, we can refer to the Prophets of the Old Testament—Isaiah, Jeremiah, Ezekiel, and others. When God called those men He warned them that if they did not deliver the message to the people which He gave them concerning their sins and iniquities that His vengeance should rest upon their heads. These are His words to Ezekiel, “Son of man, I have made thee a watchman unto the house of Israel, therefore hear the word at my mouth and give them warning from me. When I say unto the wicked, thou shalt surely die, and thou givest him not warning nor speakest to warn the wicked from his wicked way to save his life, the same wicked man shall die in his iniquity but his blood will I require at thine hand; yet if thou warn the wicked and he turn not from his wickedness nor from his wicked way, he shall die in his iniquity, but thou hast delivered thy soul.” (Ezek. 3:17,18, 19.) How do we find these Prophets of the Lord fulfilling the commandments of the Almighty? We find them pouring out denunciations upon the heads of the people—against adultery, fornication, and every species of wickedness. All this, too, in a country in which, from the King down to the lowest orders of the people, a plurality of wives was practiced. Do they say anything against plurality of wives? Not one word. It was only in cases where men and women took improper licence with each other, in violation of the holy law of marriage, that they were guilty of sin.

If plurality of wives had been a violation of the seventh commandment those prophets would have denounced it, otherwise their silence on the matter would have been dangerous to themselves, inasmuch as the blood of the people would have been required at their hands. The opposers of Celestial Marriage sometimes quote a passage in the seventh chapter of Romans, second and third verses, to show that a plurality of wives is wrong; but when we come to read the passage it shows that a plurality of husbands is wrong. You can read that passage for yourselves. In the forcible parable used by the Savior in relation to the rich man and Lazarus, we find recorded that the poor man Lazarus was carried to Abraham’s bosom—Abraham the father of the faithful. The rich man calls unto Father Abraham to send Lazarus, who is afar off. Who was Abraham? He was a man who had a plurality of wives. And yet all good Christians, even pious church deacons, expect when they die to go to Abraham’s bosom. I am sorry to say, however, that thousands of them will be disappointed, from the fact that they cannot and will not go where anyone has a plurality of wives; and I am convinced that Abraham will not turn out his own wives to receive such unbelievers in God’s law. One peculiarity of this parable is the answer of Abraham to the application of the rich man, to send Lazarus to his five brothers “lest they come into this place of torment,” which was—“they have Moses and the prophets, let them hear them; and if they hear not Moses and the prophets neither would they be persuaded though one rose from the dead.” Moses’ law provided for a plurality of wives, and the prophets observed that law, and Isaiah predicts its observance even down to the latter days. Isaiah, in his 4th chap. and 1st and 2nd verses, says, “Seven women shall take hold of one man, saying, we will eat our own bread and wear our own apparel, only let us be called by thy name to take away our reproach. In that day shall the branch of the Lord be beau tiful and glorious and the fruit of the earth shall be excellent.”

A reference to the Scriptures shows that the reproach of women was to be barren, Gen. 30 chap. and 23 v.; Luke 1st chap. and 25 v.

We will now refer to John the Baptist. He came as a forerunner of Christ. He was a lineal descendant of the house of Levi. His father was a priest. John the Baptist was a child born by miracle, God having revealed to his father that Elizabeth who had been many years barren should bear a son. John feared not the world, but went forth preaching in the wilderness of Judea, declaiming against wickedness and corruption in the boldest terms. He preached against extortion; against the cruelty exercised by soldiers and tax gatherers. He even was so bold as to rebuke the king on his throne, to his face, for adultery. Did he say anything against a plurality of wives? No; it cannot be found. Yet thousands were believers in and practiced this order of marriage, under the law of Moses that God had revealed.

In bringing this subject before you, we cannot help saying that God knew what was best for His people. Hence He commanded them as He would have them act. The law regulating marriage previous to Moses, recognized a plurality of wives. Abraham and Jacob and others had a plurality. These are the men who are referred to in Scripture as patterns of piety and purity. David had many wives. The Scripture says that David did that which was right in the eyes of the Lord and turned not aside from anything that he commanded him all the days of his life, save in the matter of Uriah the Hittite, 1 Kings. 15th chap. 5 v. “I have found David the son of Jesse, a man after mine own heart which shall fulfil all my will. Of this man’s seed hath God, according to His promise raised unto Israel a Saviour, Jesus.” Acts 13th chap. 22nd and 23rd verses. Did David sin in taking so many wives? No. In what, then, did his sin consist? It was because he took the wife of Uriah, the Hittite—that is, violated the law of God in taking her. The Lord had given him the wives of Saul and would have given him many more; but he had no right to take one who belonged to another. When he did so the curse of adultery fell upon his head, and his wives were taken from him and given to another. We will now inquire in relation to the Savior himself. From whom did he descend? From the house of David a polygamist; and if you will trace the names of the families through which he descended you will find that numbers of them had a plurality of wives. How appropriate it would have been for Jesus, descending as he did from a race of polygamists, to have denounced this institution of plural marriage and shown its sinfulness, had it been a sin! Can we suppose, for one moment, if Patriarchal marriage were wrong, that He would, under the circumstances, have been silent concerning it or failed to denounce it in the most positive manner? Then if plural marriage be adultery and the offspring spurious, Christ Jesus is not the Christ; and we must look for another.

All good Christians are flattering themselves with the hope that they will finally enter the gates of the New Jerusalem. I presume this is the hope of all denominations—Catho lics, Protestants, Greeks and all who believe in the Bible. Suppose they go there, what will they find? They will find at the twelve gates twelve angels, and “names written thereon, which are the names of the twelve tribes of the children of Israel.” The names of the twelve sons of Jacob, the polygamist. Can a monogamist enter there? “And the walls of the city had twelve foundations, and in them the names of the twelve apostles of the Lamb;” and at the gates the names of the twelve tribes of Israel—from the twelve sons of the four wives of Jacob. Those who denounce Patriarchal Marriage will have to stay without and never walk the golden streets. And any man or woman that lifts his or her voice to proclaim against a plurality of wives, under the Government of God, will have to seek an inheritance outside of that city. For “there shall in no wise enter into it, anything that defileth, neither whatsoever worketh abomination or maketh a lie, for without are sorcerers, whoremongers, and whosoever loveth and maketh a lie.” Is not the man that denounces Celestial Marriage a liar? Does he not work abomination? “I Jesus have sent mine Angel to testify unto you these things in the churches. I am the root and the offspring of (the polygamist) David, the bright and the morning star.”

May God enable us to keep His law, for “blessed are they that do His commandments, that they may have right to the tree of life and may enter in through the gate into the city.” Amen.

The Right to Lead the Church, Etc.

Remarks by Elder Orson Hyde, delivered in the New Tabernacle, Salt Lake City, October 6, 1869.

Being requested to make a few remarks to the Saints at the present time, I have risen with cheerfulness to add my testimony to what has been said, and to speak a few words more in relation to the Church and kingdom of God, and the Gospel of Jesus Christ His Son. I rejoice in the opportunity of meeting with the Saints and seeing their friendly faces, which beam as though their hearts felt glad to associate together—to commune one with another, and to hear what the Lord may say through His servants who may be called upon to address you. Brethren and sisters, the feelings of my heart are—The Lord bless you, and pour His Spirit upon you and upon all His Saints everywhere.

I have listened with interest to the remarks that have been made. I rejoice in anything that goes to advance the cause of Zion; and I know of no one thing more potent to that effect than our living by every word that proceedeth out of the mouth of God. And I apprehend that, if the Saints will listen to the words of counsel and unto the commandments of God, no very serious inroads will ever be made upon us, either by contestants for the supremacy in this kingdom, or by Congress itself. These are my feelings.

I became connected with the Church of God on the 31st day of October 1831. I do not know how many there are now living that can date their connection with the Church to an earlier period than this. There is one, and perhaps there are two, that I know of, I know of no more; still, I cannot say in relation to this. Now, if I had only improved upon the time that has been allotted to me, and gained the experience I might have gained, perhaps I would have been further in advance than I am at the present time. But I am not discouraged; I have no feelings to linger or flag, but feel to persevere and to do all I can for the building up of the Zion of our God.

I apprehend, brethren and sisters, that there are faithful witnesses in this Church who have lived with the Prophet—who have traveled with him, who have eaten with him, who have slept with him, who have preached and prayed with him, and have been as familiar with him as a child ever was with his father. There are, I say, witnesses that lived co-temporary with him, who will continue to live and be able to bear a faithful testimony to the truth, until the kingdom can take care of itself, or God will take care of it. I tell you that light will come upon you pretty soon—the glorious light of heaven. Be patient, enduring—the sun will rise and darkness will flee away. By and by, true to the word of promise, the sun does rise, and darkness flees away; and the sun ascends to the meridian, and his rays illuminate the whole face of nature. You can then see, you can then appreciate the word of promise. Would it be any satisfaction to you if I were to continue and tell you that the sun does shine? It shines in the face of you all. You have no need of my testimony, you have no need of my assurance. It displays its light to all the world, and you behold it, and no one could convince you that the sun does not shine.

So let me say here, that there are faithful witnesses, who will testify to the truth, that lived contemporary with Joseph, the martyred prophet; and they will continue to live and testify till this kingdom can take care of itself. What do you mean by the kingdom taking care of itself? I mean that the veil which is now cast over the world will be rent asunder, and every eye will see and every heart feel. Then the kingdom can take care of itself, and have no need of witnesses to prove that the sun shines. Well, then, if the veil of the covering which has caused so great darkness is rent in twain, and the whole people, as it were, see as they are seen and know as they are known, have they any particular use for the testimony of a feeble mortal, that the power of God, in streams of light from on high, is being poured down upon the children of God on earth? Why it is a character of evidence beyond the feeble voice of mortals.

I apprehend that, so long as these witnesses remain, it will be a pretty hard matter for Congress or for apostates to make many inroads upon the truth, while the servants of the Most High, inspired by the Spirit of God, stand like a flaming sword to guard the way of the Tree of Life.

I will tell you, brethren and sisters, the Apostleship is of some importance to the Saints of God; but I will say, furthermore, that it is very satisfactory to me when I call to mind the remarks of the Prophet Joseph Smith. I will give you my testimony. In one particular place, in the presence of about sixty men, he said, “My work is about done; I am going to step aside awhile. I am going to rest from my labors; for I have borne the burden and heat of the day, and now I am going to step aside and rest a little. And I roll the burden off my shoulders on the shoulders of the Twelve Apostles. Now,” said he, “round up your shoulders and bear off this kingdom.” Has he ever said this to anyone else? I do not know; I do not care. It is enough for me to know that he said it to the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles. And since that time we have endeavored to do our duty and perform the work that was given us to do.

We did not consider, at the time he bore this testimony, that he was going to die or be taken from us; but we considered that as he had been borne down with excessive labors, by day and night, he was going to retire to rest and regain his health, and we should act under his direction and bear the responsibility of the work. But when the fatal news came to us, in the Eastern States, that he, with his brother Hyrum, had been massacred in Carthage jail, I will tell you it brought his words home to our minds, and we could then realize that he had spoken in sober earnest; and the twelve men upon whom he had conferred this power, then stepped forth and took their position. When the Twelve, united heart and soul, stepped forth, everything yielded before them.

Well, now, I will give it as the feelings of my heart—and if I am wrong, I can be corrected right here—that no one need be curious or anxious as to who is going to lead and guide this people. I will tell you that as long as God has a Church on the earth, He will govern it. Now I will tell you a little of my feelings in relation to it. I know that when President Young returned with the Twelve to Nauvoo, he gathered them around him, and said he, “I want you to disperse among the congregation and feel the pulse of the people, while I go upon the stand and speak.”

We went among the congregation and President Young went on the stand. Well, he spoke, and his words went through me like electricity. “Am I mistaken?” said I, “or is it really the voice of Joseph Smith?” This is my testimony; it was not only the voice of Joseph, but there were the features, the gestures and even the stature of Joseph before us in the person of Brigham. And though it may be said that President Young is a complete mimic, and can mimic anybody, I would like to see the man who can mimic another in stature who was about four or five inches higher than himself. Everyone in the congregation—everyone who was inspired by the Spirit of the Lord—felt it. They knew it. They realized it.

I sat myself down in the midst of the congregation, with my two wives, whom Joseph had given and sealed to me. When President Young began to speak, one of them said, “It is the voice of Joseph! It is Joseph Smith!” The exclamation of the other was, “I do not see him, where is he?” Well, the thought occurred to my mind respecting the Scripture which President Young has just quoted—“My sheep know my voice and follow me.” Where is the one that recognized the voice of Joseph in President Young? Where is she? She is in the line of her duty. But where is the other? Gone where I wish she were not. The sheep of the good shepherd will follow the voice they know, but they will not follow the voice of a stranger.

Now this was a manifestation of the power of the Almighty—it was the power of God resting on an individual in the eyes of all the people, not only in feature and voice, but actually in stature. This is my testimony. I might go on and add many more testimonies. I recollect reading that when our Savior was baptized by John in the Jordan, the Spirit of the Lord descended and rested upon him in the form of a dove, and a voice from heaven was heard, saying, “This is my beloved Son, in whom I am well pleased. Hear ye him.”

Well, now, it did not depend upon argument, it did not depend upon reason. The voice of the Almighty—the form of a dove descending and resting upon him, were sufficient evidence to prove he was the Son of God. Argument was out of the question. Did it require argument to prove that brother Brigham Young held the position of Joseph, the martyred Prophet? Did it require proof that Joseph was there in the person of Brigham, speaking with an angel’s voice? It required no argument; with those who feared God and loved truth, it required none.

Well, now, we have the consolation to know that, whatever changes may take place in the government of the Church and kingdom of God, we shall not be left in the dark nor will our destiny be suspended on the frailty of argument; but I believe that whatever changes take place will be brought about by a power that every child of God will recognize.

These are the feelings of my heart; and consequently I dismiss every anxiety in relation to it. It is for me to live my religion and honor my God, and to let Him steady His own ark. Let me do my duty and all will work for the best. This is how I feel, brethren. When I began to speak, I had quite an argument fixed up in my mind, but I cannot touch it now, and it is useless to try. I will say, however, that it is all summed up in the excellent quotation made by our President—“My sheep know my voice and will follow me; but a stranger they will not follow, for they know not the voice of strangers.”

We must learn, brethren and sisters, to be wise. We must learn to let the world alone. The Lord has brought us out from the nations. Said He, “Come out of her, my people, that ye be not partakers of her sins and receive not of her plagues.” Now, why should we ever have any lingering desire for any connection with the world again? Will we invite them here and scatter our means among them, and put a weapon in their hands to destroy us?

An illustrious visitor, the one only second in office in the United States, expressed a desire that we should see the necessity of inviting men of capital to our midst, to aid in developing the resources of the country, thereby making our Territory a great commercial center. The Lord knows His own business best, and He will conduct it in a manner and way that will please Him. I apprehend He will take care of His people. And if we will do His will and keep His commandments, He will provide for us; and we may yet learn, in the midst of all our reasoning and argument, that God has never yet desired us to live after the manner of the world. It is for us to keep His commandments and He will provide for His children. He will provide for His servants. Brethren and sisters, you will see the servants of God will have joy at heart; but the enemies of righteousness will have sorrow.

It is well for us to adhere to the principle of cooperation and everything else that is calculated to advance our interests as a people. It is well for us to adhere to the teachings that we receive, and let our enemies and outsiders alone. Is there anything wrong in our concentrating our time and means in a certain channel? Can we not trade where and with whom we will? Are we doing anyone any injustice in this? No. Have we the Constitutional right to invest our capital wherever we like? Yes, we have the Constitutional right. Is it my Constitutional right to get all the power and influence that I can? Yes, it is. Is there anything unlawful in it? Nothing at all. I will venture to say that the Hon. Vice President would not object, today, to have influence over all the citizens of the United States. He would not object to it at all; neither would any other politician.

We say there is nothing unlawful in Brigham Young getting all the influence that he can; but they want him out of the way. They are not willing—they cannot be willing, to see a man who has earned the position he occupies, use his influence for the welfare, elevation and advancement of the people. They want to occupy it themselves, and they are jealous.

I do not feel to detain you a great while, brethren and sisters, but there are two or three things in my mind that I wish to make known. Congress, it is said, is going to give the people “their rights!” I wonder why they never thought of giving us our rights? That is another thing; it is a horse of another color. But our rights are safe. Our rights are in the hands of God; and we will trust in Him for them; and when He does give them to us, He will give them on a large scale.

Brother George A. Smith was computing the interest and indebtedness of Missouri to us; but I tell you when the Lord pays us up, it will be a “big” reward. Be patient, live your religion, and when the Almighty does reward, it will be on a large scale.

And now let me give you my feelings in relation to the interference of the Government of the United States. What do they want to interfere with us for? Whom have we injured? Have we injured anyone? Have we done wrong to anyone, Jew or Gentile? Have we done wrong to the Indians? Have we done wrong in cultivating the soil, and in making this barren and waste desert fertile? What wrong have we done, that it is necessary for Congress to interfere? They say, “We are afraid you intend to do wrong.” Well, then you punish us in advance for the wrong we have not done. They say, “You are guilty of practicing polygamy.” Well, now, this is only one feather in the bird; only one single feather. I will tell you, everything is wrong about us in their estimation. It is wrong of us to get such an influence on the earth, both at home and abroad. And the reason why so much is said about polygamy, is because it is the only handle that they think they can get hold of; but they will discover that even this is so doubtful, in the eye of Constitutional law, that it can give them no assurance of success against us; and they will find it the very principle that will break in pieces the power that would set it aside.

I would not say that I am speaking now as a representative of the minds of the Latter-day Saints as a body; I wish merely to express my own sentiments and feelings, and if I say anything that is wrong, let me be corrected for it right here. I will tell you that, just in proportion as any power, whether the United States or any other nation, seeks to hinder or oppose the progress of the Latter-day Saints, or lay any stumbling block in their way, the Lord will lay two stumbling blocks in their way, to their laying one in ours.

We have something more potent than our own arm to defend us—we have the arm of Jehovah pledged for our protection. He will make bare His arm in the eyes of the nations, and they will feel it. It is getting too late in the day. The battle is too far advanced.

Then let us, as Latter-day Saints, be filled with reverence for the kingdom of God—for His laws and institutions; remembering our prayers, being faithful, doing our duty in all things, and the Lord will bear off His kingdom. God bless you. Amen.

The Order of Enoch—Socialistic Experiments—The Social Problem

Discourse by Elder George Q. Cannon, delivered in the New Tabernacle, Salt Lake City, April 6, 1869.

I look upon this Conference as one of the most important, in many respects, that we have ever had the privilege of participating in, for, to my view, there are more interesting and important events connected with the work of God at the present time than have ever been developed before in our history. We are undergoing a great change, a great revolution is in progress in our midst—a revolution foreshadowed by the predictions of both the ancient and modern prophets, but which we, as yet, have scarcely been prepared for.

Nearly 37 years ago the Prophet Joseph, or rather the Lord, through him, gave revelations upon the Order of Enoch. Those revelations were taught to the people in plainness so far as they went. They were simple and easily understood; but they embodied within themselves what might have been termed new principles, and indicated a new course of action and a new organization of society. I say new, because they were new so far as this generation is concerned. The principles taught by those revelations were as old as eternity; and the Order sought to be introduced by their means was called the “Order of Enoch,” in consequence of its having been revealed to and practiced by Enoch; and through its practice he and his people were prepared for translation and, as we read in the Scriptures, were taken from the earth.

The Lord inspired the Prophet Joseph Smith to once more communicate these principles unto the children of men; but, as I have remarked, the people were not prepared to carry them out. They, to some extent, could see and understand their beauty and consistency, but in the practical part they were deficient. As a people the Latter-day Saints are like their fellows in many respects. We are very progressive in theory, but our theories are far ahead of our practice. The teachings of the elders are of that character that years of practice on the part of the people is required before they come up to them in their everyday life. It is so with mankind generally. They can comprehend the theory and realize the importance of practically observing certain prin ciples long before they are sufficiently advanced to carry them out in everyday life. But we may say, without boasting, that as a people we excel the world in carrying out in our lives the principles that we teach.

Those principles to which I have been referring were received and admired by the people, but it required faith, knowledge and experience to enable them to carry them out. For years they have remained in the Book of Doctrine and Covenants to be read by the curious or by those who had a desire to search after the principles of life and salvation; but, not being a part of our practice in our lives, they have been practically a dead letter.

I speak, now, generally; of course, there have been exceptions in regard to this, as there have been with regard to the “Word of Wisdom.” There have been men and women who have endeavored to carry out the latter strictly and truthfully so far as their knowledge extended. And so with the principles contained in the revelations touching the “Order of Enoch”—there have, doubtless, been men in the Church who have lived in accordance with them so far as it was practicable under the circumstances; but the entire people have not carried them out. But though thirty-six or thirty-seven years have elapsed since these principles were first revealed, they have never been lost sight of by the President and those associated with him. It has been their aim from the day they were given until today, the 6th of April, 1869, to bring the Latter-day Saints to such a, condition of union, faith and knowledge that they would receive these principles and carry them out in their lives.

The labors of the elders to accomplish this have been incessant; they have ever felt to impress them upon the minds of the Saints, but more particularly within the last four or five years. It is essentially necessary that we should receive them now, for upon the reception and proper carrying out of this Order hinges the prosperity, development and triumph of the kingdom of God on the earth; and unless we as a people arrive at such a standard of faith and perfection as to practically carry them out, we are assured, on the best of authority, that we cannot be permitted to go back and build up the Center Stake and fully accomplish the redemption of Zion. The consequences involved in not being able to accomplish that are familiar to the minds of those who are members of the Church of Jesus Christ, especially if they are old members. One of the greatest calamities that could be thought of by us as a congregation, or a Church, today, would be to learn from the Lord through His servants that we should not be permitted to go back to build up the Center Stake of Zion. The edict pronounced by the prophet Moses when he told Israel that not one who had arrived at the age of twenty-one years should ever enter the “Promised Land,” had not a greater effect upon Israel than the prohibition I have just referred to would have upon the Latter-day Saints. We can realize then, the importance of adopting and carrying out the principles that will prepare us for that great work.

It is not to be expected that we shall attain to perfection in the carrying out of such principles at once. That is not the way we have progressed in the past; our progress has been gradual. It has been from principle to principle, from knowledge to knowledge, one step after another until we have reached the point for which we have aimed. And so it will be with the principles pertaining to the “Order of Enoch”—we shall take step after step, progressing from one point to another until we have reached the point that God, our Heavenly Father, has designed us to attain to.

When we look abroad among the nations of the earth we see a great many evils in existence—evils that have existed for many centuries; in fact, they have existed from the earliest ages of which we have any account until the present time, in every nation and among all people. Our own nation is a case in point. When the foundations of the Government were laid, and liberty proclaimed throughout the length and breadth of the land, it was anticipated that this nation would grow to a pitch of glory and attain to a greatness and power that no other nation on the face of the earth had ever attained. Everything was favorable to this: a free Government had been established; a continent of almost illimitable extent spread itself before the people, and all that was necessary to develop its boundless resources was population, and industry on the part of that population. But little over ninety years have elapsed since the foundations of our Government were laid, and in that time we have grown to be a great people; but that which has been enacted in other nations has been reenacted here. The evils that have flourished so long in what is called the Old World have been transplanted to this land. If Western men travel through the Eastern States they are struck with the great distinction of classes that exist there. There is an aristocracy of wealth fast growing up there; and at the same time there is another class in degradation and poverty, utterly unable to obtain the blessings and comforts of life. This is owing to various causes, the chief of which is the incorrect organization of society. It is so in Europe and in Asia, and, in fact, wherever wealth abounds.

Many men have risen from time to time, who have seen and deplored these evils, and they have sought with all the wisdom and knowledge they possessed to correct them. Doubtless many of the Latter-day Saints recollect an instance of this kind at Nauvoo. After the Saints evacuated that place, a community of Socialists, called Icarians, whose leader was Mr. Cabet, came to Nauvoo and settled there. There were the houses, gardens, farms and orchards of the Latter-day Saints; the country was a healthy one when compared with what it was when first settled by the Saints. Many philanthropic men in France were interested in this experiment, and were anxious to have it succeed. They forwarded their means with considerable liberality to sustain the settlement; but, despite their efforts and exertions, it fell to pieces. Yet the object they had in view was a good one, and the means they used were effective, so far as they went. But there was a lack of cohesive power in the system; there was a lack of union, and a lack of wisdom in the management of the affair. They sought to ameliorate the condition of mankind and to diffuse the blessings of life equally among the people, so that hunger, poverty and wretchedness and the dreadful consequences which follow in their train might be removed from the midst of mankind and a better order of things established. But with all the advantages of which I have spoken, their attempt was a signal failure: the society was broken up and today has no existence.

This is a case in point with which many of you are familiar. Similar experiments, having the same ends in view, have been tried at other places at various times, but like results have attended them.

It has been seen by thinking men that there is something radically wrong in the organization of society in this respect, but they have not known how to remedy the evils. It is so in the religious world. Religionists have to mourn and deplore the divisions that exist among the so-called followers of Christ; and reformers have risen one after another endeavoring to bring about greater union and to develop a greater amount of love, but with what success let the history of the various sects of Christendom answer. They are split up into innumerable parties, and the effort of every reformer has only resulted in the increase of religious sects. He has been unable, and his inability has been confessed by himself, to unite the Christian world and bring about that oneness which characterized the followers of Christ in the early days of Christianity. It required the Lord our God to stretch forth His arm to bring this to pass. It required the revelation of the Gospel in its purity from the heavens; it required the restoration of the holy Priesthood to the earth in the plentitude of its power to bring it about; and as soon as the Priesthood was restored, as soon as the Gospel was given again in purity to man, and the Church of Christ was again organized, then the object for which these reformers labored in vain began to be accomplished—oneness began to prevail, union began to manifest itself, love was diffused, the Holy Ghost was bestowed, its gifts were enjoyed, and men and women from various nations and from the midst of various churches were gathered together in one as we are here today. It required the wisdom, power and Spirit of the Almighty to restore this condition of things for which many men had so long labored in vain.

And so it is in relation to the social organization of society. It requires the wisdom of Almighty God to correct the evils under which mankind groan. Men may labor and devise schemes, expend means and do all that is possible for human beings, not directed by the Spirit and power of God, to do, and after they have done it all they are compelled to confess that they are weak and fallible, and incapable of accomplishing that which they have aimed at. But with God to aid them, with His wisdom to guide and His Spirit to direct, and His blessings to smile upon them they can accomplish all that is necessary to redeem and save the human family, both in a physical and spiritual point of view. God has chosen His people, the Latter-day Saints, to solve these knotty problems that have troubled the brains and affected the children of men for so many centuries.

The Lord has said that, “if ye are not equal in earthly things, ye cannot be in obtaining heavenly things.” He has revealed a plan by which this equality can be brought about. Yet, He does not design to make us of equal height; He does not design that we should all have the same colored hair or eyes, or that we should dress exactly alike. This is not the meaning of the word “equality,” as it is used in the revelation; but it means to have an equal claim on the blessings of our Heavenly Father—on the properties of the Lord’s treasury, and the influences and gifts of His Holy Spirit. This is the equality meant in the revelations, and until we attain to this equality we cannot be equal in spiritual things, and the blessings of God cannot be bestowed upon us until we attain to this as they otherwise would. As a people we are expecting the day to come when Jesus will descend in the clouds of Heaven; but before this day comes we must be prepared to receive him. The organization of society that exists in the heavens must exist on the earth; the same condition of society, so far as it is applicable to mortal beings, must exist here. And for this purpose God has revealed this Order; for this purpose He is bringing us into our present condition.

A great many of the Latter-day Saints scarcely understand the persistency with which the Presidency of the Church has labored to bring about the oneness of the people in temporal things; and this cooperative movement is an important step in this direction and is designed to prepare them for the ushering in of this Order to which I have been alluding. It has already produced greater union, and it will produce still greater union than anything that has been witnessed among us; and if we carry it out in the spirit in which it has been taught to us it will produce immense results. The Lord will bless us; He will increase our means and pour into the laps of this people everything necessary for their greatness in the earth. For be it known unto you and to all people than God designs to make of the Latter-day Saints the head; He intends to place in their hands and keeping the wealth of the world. But before blessings of this description can be poured upon us we must be prepared to receive and use them aright. Suppose these things were to be poured upon us in our present condition, what would be the result? Everyone can answer this question for himself. Each one knows his or her own heart, and the feelings by which it is animated. We know that if the whole people were to be made rich it would be an exceedingly difficult matter to control them; even with the little means we have today it is one of the most difficult things to control the people in regard to the disposition and correct use of that means.

In a revelation given on this subject in the year 1834, the Lord says—

“I, the Lord, stretched out the heavens, and built the earth, my very handiwork; and all things therein are mine. And it is my purpose to provide for my saints, for all things are mine. But it must needs be done in mine own way; and behold this is the way that I, the Lord, have decreed to provide for my saints, that the poor shall be exalted, in that the rich are made low. For the earth is full, and there is enough and to spare; yea, I prepared all things, and have given unto the children of men to be agents unto themselves. Therefore, if any man shall take of the abundance which I have made, and impart not his portion, according to the law of my gospel, unto the poor and the needy, he shall, with the wicked, lift up his eyes in hell, being in torment.”

In another revelation on the same subject given in 1832, the Lord says—

“For Zion must increase in beauty, and holiness; her borders must be enlarged; her stakes must be strengthened; yea, verily I say unto you, Zion must arise and put on her beautiful garments. Therefore, I give unto you this commandment, that ye bind yourselves by this covenant, and it shall be done according to the laws of the Lord. Behold, here is wisdom also in me for your good. And you are to be equal, or in other words, you are to have equal claims on the properties, for the benefit of managing the concerns of your stewardships, every man according to his wants and his needs, inasmuch as his wants are just—And all this for the benefit of the church of the living God, that every man may improve upon his talent, that every man may gain other talents, yea, even an hundred fold, to be cast into the Lord’s storehouse, to become the common property of the whole church—Every man seeking the interest of his neighbor, and doing all things with an eye single to the glory of God.

“This order I have appointed to be an everlasting order unto you, and unto your successors, inasmuch as you sin not. And the soul that sins against this covenant, and hardeneth his heart against it, shall be dealt with according to the laws of my church, and shall be delivered over to the buffetings of Satan until the day of redemption.”

While I am reading I will read another extract, that you may get the idea more fully in your mind. After speaking of the treasury that shall be appointed, in which shall be preserved the sacred things in the treasury for sacred and holy purposes, which shall be called the treasury of the Lord, the Lord continues—

“And again, there shall be another treasury prepared, and a treasurer appointed to keep the treasury, and a seal shall be placed upon it; And all moneys that you receive in your stewardships, by improving upon the properties which I have appointed unto you, in houses, or in lands, or in cattle, or in all things save it be the holy and sacred writings, which I have reserved unto myself for holy and sacred purposes, shall be cast into the treasury as fast as you receive the moneys, by hundreds, or by fifties, or by twenties, or by tens, or by fives. Or in other words, if any man among you obtain five dollars let him cast them into the treasury; or if he obtain ten, or twenty, or fifty or an hundred, let him do likewise; And let not any among you say that it is his own; for it shall not be called his, nor any part of it. And there shall not any part of it be used, or taken out of the treasury, only by the voice and common consent of the order. And this shall be the voice and common consent of the order—that any man among you say unto the treasurer: I have need of this to help me in my stewardship—If it be five dollars, or if it be ten dollars, or twenty, or fifty, or an hundred, the treasurer shall give unto him the sum which he requires, to help him in his stewardship—Until he be found a transgressor, and it is manifest before the council of the order plainly that he is an unfaithful and an unwise steward. But so long as he is in full fellowship, and is faithful and wise in his stewardship, this shall be his token unto the treasurer that the treasurer shall not withhold.”

From these extracts which I have read in your hearing you can form an idea of the Order which God, our Heavenly Father, intends to establish among us as soon as we are willing to enter upon it. It is not the design of God that we should fall a prey to the evils that have existed and that have worked out such misery and ruin among other people. It is God’s design to save and redeem us from the evils that others have endured. It has been frequently remarked to me by men out of our faith, when conversing upon our principles and the success which has attended their proclamation: “Mr. Cannon, as long as the Latter-day Saints are poor you will do very well; as long as you are persecuted you will stand; but you will be like other people when wealth increases in your midst—when you grow up into classes and some are wealthy and some are poor, and your Church becomes popular, you will be very likely to fall into the same evils and errors that have characterized other churches.” If God did not preside over this Church, such expectations and predictions would doubtless be fulfilled. But God presides; it is His Church, and He has provided remedies for every one of these evils, by which the Church can be preserved, and by which wealth can be increased in the midst of the Latter-day Saints and yet not work out the injurious results that we see elsewhere where it abounds. God has provided a way to prevent this, and that way is to be found in the revelations that were given unto us upwards of thirty-six years ago, and we can read and understand them.

“Well,” says one, “if such an Order as this you speak of be established, will not the careless and indolent enjoy a share in the blessings of those who are industrious? And will it not weaken the hands of the energetic?” Not in the least. The man who is energetic and faithful will receive the reward of his faithfulness. If he has a large surplus of means he has more to put into the Treasury to help to forward that kingdom he loves, and he is credited with it. In the day of the Lord Jesus we are told He will say to him, “Thou hast been faithful over a few things, I will make thee ruler over many,” and such individuals will receive a reward in proportion to their faithfulness. But if they hide up their talent in a napkin and bury it in the ground, that which was given to them will be taken from them. They who use their talents righteously and faithfully will have them increased, but the unfaithful will be deprived of that which he seems to have.

This Order will not have the effect that some anticipate, but it will be a blessing to all who are engaged in it. There will not be any temptation to seek for wealth for the sake of aggrandizing one’s self or to place one’s heart upon riches, as there is now. This temptation will be removed. I shall be able to love my neighbor. Why? Because if I make off him in a trade I know that whatever I make goes into the treasury and becomes the property of the whole Church, therefore what inducement would there be to soil my soul and bring a blot on my character by taking advantage of my neighbor when it is not going to specially benefit me?

I look upon this principle as one of the greatest principles to save people from avaricious and sordid feelings that God has ever revealed. It will have a tendency to check dishonesty and remove want. It will have a tendency to stop stealing and to cure the evils under which mankind have groaned from the beginning until now. In the Gospel of Jesus Christ there is a remedy for every evil that exists among men. Here is the “social problem,” that troubles the minds of all nations today. The cities of Christendom are crowded with prostitutes; their young men are destroyed in the dawn of their days by the terrible crime of prostitution. How shall these fearful evils be cured? Has there been sufficient wisdom found among men to do it? No; they have confessed their utter inability to cope with it. It is overwhelming them and sweeping them off like a flood throughout the length and breadth of the land, until physicians say that half the diseases that prevail among mankind in Christendom are directly traceable to this devouring evil. What is to correct it? I answer, the Lord, through His people—the Latter-day Saints—is revealing the remedy. You travel throughout the Territory of Utah, from Bear Lake in the north to St. George in the south, and what do you see? You see a people free from secret diseases, you see a people free from the dreadful curse of prostitution. Our young men and maidens grow up in all the vigor of health and there is nothing to sap that vigor and lead them to a premature grave. Then what is to correct these evils in the world? The plan which God has revealed. It will bring about a pure condition of things. If it were universally adopted the “social evil” would be removed, and prostitution would soon cease to exist on the face of the earth.

Will this plan—this glorious Order which God has revealed—correct the other evils with which the world is afflicted? Yes, when that Order is universally established there will no longer be any temptation to steal, defraud one’s neighbor or to commit any wrongs of this kind, for it is said, and truly, that the love of money is the root of all evil. The Order of which I speak will correct these evils because there will be a treasury in the midst of the people, from which those who are worthy can get that which they need to sustain them in their stewardship, and into which all who have a surplus will pour their wealth until it will become the common property of the church; and the church under this organization which God has revealed will become a great and mighty power in the midst of the earth.

We have great power now, though not numerically strong; we are not a very great people so far as numbers are concerned, but we are strong because we are united. The more wealth we have the greater is our power, because the President of this Church can control this people, therefore the people have power, and when our wealth shall be controlled by the President of this Church, we shall have greater power in the earth than we have today. But will that power be used for hurtful purposes? No; it will be used for beneficial ends, for the amelioration of the condition of the human family, for the practical inauguration of these great and glorious principles which God has revealed; and it is to bring you to this condition that the elders are laboring as they are; it is to bring you to this oneness that they labor as they do continually—that they travel and preach to and exhort the Saints all the day long to listen to the counsels of God.

Although it has been deferred a good while it will yet be accomplished and fulfilled and the people brought to a condition that is desired.

Much more might be said on this subject; but I am intruding on your time. May God bless you, my brethren and sisters, and prepare us, as a people, to receive the revelations of His will, which are true and perfect and intended to elevate and exalt us, and to bring us back into His presence, there to be crowned with glory and immortality: which I pray may be the case with us all in the name of Jesus Christ. Amen.