God is at the Helm—Organization According to the Revelations—Historic Statements—Societies Connected With the Church—Temple Building

Discourse by President John Taylor, delivered in the Provo Meetinghouse, Sunday Morning, Oct. 14, 1877.

It is the first time that I have been permitted to meet with you since the death of our beloved President and Prophet. We all feel sad and sorrowful on account of our bereavement. He had been our guide, director, Prophet, Seer and Revelator for the last thirty-three years, and his departure caused feelings of gloom and sorrow throughout all the Territory. We all felt to appreciate our President and mourn his loss, and we still have some feelings of sorrow lingering about us; yet, at the same time, we cannot ignore the fact that there are certain duties and responsibilities resting upon us that call into operation our best energies, thoughts, reflections and actions. And while we mourn his loss we are impressed with the responsibilities that rest upon us as individuals, in connection with the work of God, and are led to reflect upon the changing vicissitudes of human life and the various events that have transpired among us.

There is a satisfaction in the reflection that God is at the helm and guides, controls and dictates according to his own plans and designs, and that the Priesthood is not confined to this earth alone, but that, after having performed our various duties here and passed away, we shall be called upon to operate for the same grand purpose in another sphere. The Priesthood we have received on the earth is everlasting, it administers in time and eternity, and to that Priesthood are we indebted for the revelations of God’s will to man; for with the introduction of the Priesthood to men on the earth came the development of the principles of truth and, by that means, light, knowledge and intelligence were communicated to this people. We cannot do anything of ourselves, unless aided by the spirit of the Lord. We are in communion with not only the Prophets and Apostles who lived anciently, but with brother Joseph, brother Brigham, brother Heber C. Kimball, brother Geo. A. Smith and others who held the holy Priesthood and have passed away, and are operating with them in behalf of fallen humanity, in behalf of the people who live now on the earth and the myriads of dead who have left us. We are engaged in a work that nothing but the combined action of the Priesthood on the earth and in the heavens can bring about. It is not in the power alone of any one man, whether it be brother Brigham, brother Joseph or any that exist, to accomplish the redemption of the human family, unless aided by the Almighty. We are not only working in our own interests, but in the interests of mankind, and we should seek that light, intelligence and knowledge necessary in the carrying out of the designs of Jehovah, and associate ourselves with that grand combination and union between heaven and earth for the accomplishment of His purposes.

We have lately been organizing ourselves according to the revelations of the Almighty. Our organization is not entirely perfect, but we shall continue to approach nearer to that condition until every man is placed in his right position and we are properly organized, whereby all matters connected with the work of God can be placed in their proper working order, all of which will be accomplished if we follow the directions of our late venerated President. By continuing in this good work we shall go on from intelligence to intelligence, and from knowledge to knowledge, until we shall see as we are seen and know as we are known. These organizations of Stakes and Wards are not made for the purpose of putting men in positions, neither are positions in the Priesthood given to men to enable them to strut about and lord it over their fellows, but in all their administrations, men should have the fear of God, understand His mind and realize their responsibility to Him for their acts and doings. Men holding the Priesthood should not be governed by personal ambition, but feel full of the love of God, the Holy Ghost, light, revelation, mercy, kindness and long-suffering toward all with whom they are associated. These are the kind of feelings that ought to be expressed and manifested by all those holding the Priesthood. We are not to act as lords over God’s heritage, but ought to act in the fear of the Almighty, aided by the Holy Spirit, in seeking to carry out the various duties devolving upon us, for little or insignificant as these things appear to us, they are of the greatest importance. God understands better the wants of the people than we do, for he has had experience that we have not yet acquired. In all his operations He is governed by love, and he desires to see those who hold his authority here on the earth exercise it for the welfare of the human family, and to act as he would, with the same parental solicitude. For this purpose He has delegated his authority to man, as described in the Scriptures, “first, Apostles, secondarily Prophets,” etc., that the Saints might be perfected, “until we all come to the unity of the faith.” This was said in former times for the organization of the former-day Saints, and is applicable to the case of the Latter-day Saints. Through these ordinances come the blessings of the Gospel, and without them the power of God cannot be made manifest to man in the flesh. Now there is more in this than is apparent to the superficial observer.

We have and have had various organizations of the holy Priesthood. We have had a First Presidency, and sometimes we have not. It was sometime before a First Presidency was organized in the early days of the Church, and then it was quite a number of years before the Twelve Apostles and the several quorums now in existence were organized. The Lord has been developing us in these matters, and there is a beauty and a harmony in the organization of the Church that cannot be found in any other community in the world. Before the Prophet Joseph departed, he said, on one occasion, turning to the Twelve, “I roll the burden of this kingdom on to you,” and, on another occasion, he said their place was next to that of the First Presidency, and he wished them to take their place that he might attend to other duties, such as translating, etc. At the time he was taken away he was in the bloom of life and the vigor of health, and although his departure was sudden and unexpected our organization rendered it no difficult matter to decide who should assume the leadership of the Church. There was no difficulty in the matter; it was understood that the duty rested on the Twelve. Why? The revelation stated that the Twelve were to hold the keys of the kingdom in connection with the First Presidency, which were handed down under various circumstances. You will find in the history of the Prophet Joseph Smith, that this matter is made perfectly plain. He said there was no authority or power of presidency over the Twelve except the First Presidency, and where he was not there was no presidency over the Twelve. Hence President Brigham Young said, when the Prophet Joseph was taken away, “Thank God the keys of the kingdom are not taken from us,” and being head of the Twelve, he assumed his position and so acted on the authority he held and according to the rules laid down. Thus there was no scattering, confusion or difficulty that might otherwise have existed if the organization of the Church had not been perfect. When President Young was taken away the same condition of things were presented again, the circumstances being similar. There is no contention, strife or difficulty, because we all understand the principles that God has ordained for the government of his people. The Twelve have not assumed the Presidency of the Church to suit themselves, but as a duty which they could not ignore. Men of the world cried out, “The Mormons are all scattered now,” but they don’t know anything about the character and mission of this Church. I don’t think we have been much scattered. Our last General Conference in Salt Lake City proved how much scattered we were. Our voting on that occasion showed a cementing—a uniting together of the people, that could not be equaled by any other people on the earth. It may be asked why we voted at Conference in the manner we did. Because it was the way that God ordained. Under the inspiration of the Almighty, Joseph Smith organized this state of things at a General Assembly held in Kirtland, when the people were called upon to vote, and they did so in the same manner that we did at our last General Conference. You will recollect that about the 19th of January, 1841, a revelation was given defining the various positions of men called to act in the Priesthood. First, the Lord gave to the Church Hyrum Smith to be Patriarch, then Joseph Smith, Jun, to be Prophet, Seer and Revelator to the people, and Sidney Rigdon and William Law for his Counselors, Brigham Young as President of the Twelve, which Twelve he called by name—then the High Priests, Seventies and Elders—then again the Bishops and lesser Priesthood. Now, says he, at the next General Conference present this organization to the Conference for its acceptance or rejection. At the next Conference the various quorums were presented in that form and the people voted as quorums and with uplifted hands. Some of these men that the Lord had named, however, were rejected: One man named Hicks, and another Bishop Ripley. John E. Page, one of the quorum of the Twelve, was also rejected, but after a hearing was afterwards restored. The Prophet Joseph told the people to vote in that manner, as the majority of the several quorums would form a quorum or authority that would be decisive. This manner of voting was observed at Far West also; and even after Joseph’s death this same rule was observed, though not with the same unanimity as at our General Conference. There is no logrolling—no seeking for office, but our idea is that the voice of God should dictate and then the voice of the people. He respects our rights, as he did the rights of the people thousands of years ago, when the congregations of ancient Israel stood up and said Amen to the voice of God through his Prophets. There is no compulsion—no forcing the human mind—no driving; but everyone should have a full, frank, free and unfettered opportunity of expressing his wish for or against, but we always ought to consent to that which is right. I never saw more unanimity on the part of the people than was displayed at the General Conference two weeks ago; there could not possibly be more. The Twelve stand as they did after the Prophet Joseph was taken away. I and others of the Twelve, now living, were with them. Now a second time it devolves upon the Twelve to take the presidency of the Church. Will there be anything else? I cannot say; there may be, when the Lord deems it necessary. We should feel as Jesus did when he exclaimed, “Lord, not my will, but thine be done.” It devolves upon the Twelve to attend to the duties the Lord has placed upon them, but they need the faith and confidence of the Saints and the sustenance of the Almighty, for they will not be able to do anything of themselves.

I would like to have been at the High Priests’ meeting held here last evening, but could not attend in consequence of ill-health. There is a quorum of High Priests in this Stake, and it is proper that they should fully understand the duties of their office and calling, which the Book of Doctrine and Covenants plainly states. It is an ordinance, as therein shown, that has been instituted for the purpose of qualifying men for Presidents of the different Stakes scattered abroad. Many circumstances have occurred since the commencement of our recent organizations which show how little prepared the High Priests were to take upon themselves the duties of their office, in presiding over Stakes, Wards, etc. We have had to take hundreds from the Quorums of Seventies and Elders and ordain them High Priests and make Bishops, Bishops’ Counselors, Presidents of Stakes and High Councilors of them. Now it seems to me that if the High Priests had understood and performed their duties, we should not have been in the position we were and compelled to go outside of these quorums to find men suitable for presiding. I draw their attention to this matter; and you Presidents of High Priests should instruct your quorums on the principles of Presidency, that when called upon they can be used in positions of that character. Let us not be negligent in time to come. I say, get your people together, instruct them in the duties of their calling, have them seek after light, knowledge and intelligence as to the requirements of their exalted positions, that when we want qualified and capable men we may know where to find them. Now, then, is it wrong to take others? If one, who by the Priesthood he holds has a priority of claim in a case of this kind, is otherwise unqualified, we must select the wisest and the best, whether he be a Seventy or an Elder, to fill such position and to administer correctly in the things of God.

Now let us go on to the Seventies. There are large numbers of them, and there has been a great desire to push men into quorums, without regard sometimes to their worth and fitness. Now what is their duty? Why, to go abroad and preach the Gospel to all nations. How many do this? Very few. Well, say some, we go when called upon. That is all true; the Seventies have, as a rule, been on hand to go forth and preach; but I am speaking more particularly, of the nature of the Priesthood they hold and the duties which devolve upon them. They should be always ready, a kind of minutemen, under the immediate direction of the Twelve, to go forth as the messengers of life and salvation to all nations on the earth. Are you Seventies preparing yourselves for this? Are you prepared to stand forth as men of God, clothed upon by the power of the Holy Ghost, to go into the world to warn the people, calling them to repentance? A great deal has been accomplished for the salvation of the human family, but we are only starting in. We have sent a few here and there, and although we think we have done a great work, there is but a small handful of people to show for it. There will be great and wonderful changes on the earth; war, bloodshed and desolation will stalk through the land, and we have got to pursue our work and seek after the light of revelation to guide us. We talk about and wonder who the biggest man is—the Seventy or the High Priest? Let us seek to know who of us is living nearer to God and acting in such a manner as to call down upon us the power of God, and angels will administer to us. We cannot tell which member of the body is most useful to us, which we can best afford to spare—the leg or the arm, the eye or the nose. All are necessary to render the body perfect.

Moses appeared to the Prophet Joseph to confer upon him the keys for the gathering together of the dispensations and the house of Israel from all portions of the earth. We have got to preach to the Lamanites, to the house of Judah and by and by the ten tribes. We must be prepared for these things and realize the importance of this duty and the responsibilities resting upon us as God’s holy Priesthood. Now, Elders, you ought to be diligent in observing the laws and keeping the commandments of God. These are the leading features of the Melchizedek Priesthood, including the Patriarchs. In England we ordained a few Patriarchs, and I remember that the people on occasions used to get together and have a feast, and then the Patriarch would bless them. This is the way some of the ancient Patriarchs did. The people ought to be liberal with them, but men holding the Priesthood should be governed by higher and more exalted feelings than that of using their callings for the purpose of merchandising. The Elders should stand in their positions as men of God. We are really today a kingdom of Priests, and ought to wield a powerful influence for good in the earth. We should get our spirits right and act in righteousness.

The Presidents of Stakes have important positions; they preside over all the interests of the Church where they are placed, and they should feel like acting for God, and they and their counsel should have continually with them the light of revelation, be full of the Holy Ghost, and quick to discern. There is no officer in the Church, who acts with a single eye to the glory of God but what will have wisdom given him according to his capacity. The President of the Stake presides over the High Council, a set of men appointed and ordained to adjudicate all matters in dispute that may come before them, and they should act in all meekness, humility and wisdom, seeking intelligence from the Foundation of Light, so that they can act in righteousness and give righteous judgment. Then the Bishop is a common judge in Israel, acting in the interests of the people; his duty is to put down evil and root out iniquity. What is the duty of the Priests? Only to hold office? No; it is to visit the members of the various Wards, and to see that there are no hard feelings, troubles or difficulty among the people, to anticipate the occurrence of anything of that sort, put things right and see that the ordinances of the Church are carried out. Then the Teachers, who are helps to the Priests, whose duty it is to go among the people and talk to them on their duties—not like so many parrots, but full of the spirit of God. And where there may be difficulties to settle, and it is not within the power of the Teachers to satisfactorily adjust them, report them to the Bishop, who sits as a common judge in Israel, and to adjudicate all such matters. If thy brother offend thee, go and say to him, “Brother, you have done so and so,” and if he will not listen to you nor ask forgiveness for the offense he has given you, take another man with you—one whom you think has influence with him, and one whom you think he will listen to—and let him talk, and if the offending person will not listen to him, report him, to be dealt with according to the order of the Church, and if he continues obdurate and stubborn, then he does not belong to us. Let us always feel like operating together for the good of each other and for the kingdom we are identified with.

We have other societies—the Young Men’s and Young Ladies’ Mutual Improvement Associations and the Female Relief Societies. A great deal of credit is due to our sisters. God has provided them as helpmates to their husbands, and it is the duty of the latter to cherish and protect those whom God has given unto them, and show them how to make themselves happy—teach them—our wives and daughters—the pure principles of the Gospel, that the daughters of Zion may be lovely and shine as the light and glory of the age in which we live. Sisters, put away from you the vanities and frivolities of the world, administer to the poor and the afflicted. The sisters know how to sympathize with and administer to those who are poor, afflicted and downcast; and let the brethren help them in their kindly ministrations. The young men should be encouraged in the work they are engaged in, and their Mutual Improvement Associations ought to be nourished and their interests promoted. The Lord has encouraged these things from the commencement. The first sister’s relief society instituted in the Church was presided over by sister Emma Smith; sister Whitney was her Counselor, and sister Eliza Snow was the Secretary.

The spirit of Temple building seems to have taken possession of the people. One Temple has already been built, and it is designed to build three more. We are prompted by holy influences to embark in this labor. The Lord said he would send his servant Elijah to turn the hearts of the fathers to the children, and the hearts of the children to their fathers, and this matter of Temple building is in fulfillment of his word. We are seeking not only to administer for the living, but for the dead. There are many queries come up in relation to the manner in which the various works we are now engaged in shall be accomplished. Shall we pay our Tithing? Yes. Shall we sustain the building of Temples? Yes. And anything outside of this? Yes, we should do the best we can to build up the kingdom of our God. A case came up recently in Cache Valley, where a leading man wanted to know if he could not have the Tithing for putting up the Temple in that Stake. Now, if this privilege is given to them in Cache County, they will want it in Sanpete, and if they have the privilege there, they will want it in other places where Temples are being erected, and what next? What are we going to do to meet all the expenses, and they are various, which occur in the carrying on of the work? By and by the Tithing may be sufficient to meet all requirements. We do not wish to oppress and crush the poor and faithful of God’s people—we would rather say, “Break every yoke, and let the oppressed go free!” There is nothing contributed for the work of God but what should be accounted for. We intend to tell you all what becomes of your Tithes and offerings. Through these ordinances come the blessings of God. Brotherly love should prevail among all the people of God, and we should be more united in our temporal and spiritual matters, and thereby claim the promised blessings.

May God bless you and lead you in the paths of right. Amen.

Conferences—Organization of the Stakes of Zion—Qualifications for a Bishop—The People in Three Grand Divisions

Discourse by Elder Erastus Snow, delivered at the Quarterly Conference of the Utah Stake of Zion, in the Provo Meetinghouse, Saturday, Oct. 13, 1877.

The Lord in his revelation to the Prophet Joseph, forty-seven years ago, required the Elders to meet together in Conference once in three months, or from time to time as appointed, for the purpose of transacting necessary business connected with the work, and for giving and receiving instructions in relation to the duties of the Priesthood. This commandment has been published in the book of Doctrine and Covenants, and is a standing revelation which has not been generally observed. We have had General Conferences of all the people—Priesthood and laymen—twice a year since our settlement in these valleys, which only a small portion of the people and a few of the general authorities of the Church have been able to attend. We have had occasional Conferences in some places in the Territory, and in various places abroad. It is time now that Stakes of Zion are organized, to hold our Conferences with more regularity and in their order, for the Saints to come together to be instructed, that reports may be heard from the various Wards, and the Elders enter into counsel and learn their duties. The last summer’s labors of our late President, Brigham Young, and of the Twelve Apostles, were mainly devoted to this work—organizing the Stakes and the Priesthood therein, and arranging a system of reports with a view of holding the people to closer responsibilities, to awaken them to a better understanding and appreciation of their obligations. At the same time this rendering an account of stewardship in the various districts, Wards and Stakes of Zion, is calculated to encourage those who are doing right, and reprove such, if there be any, as do evil. You may be sure that if these arrangements are carried out, and good counsel is given to the people, they cannot fail to produce good results. Those who love the truth and hate iniquity, and who keep their covenants with God unbroken, are not afraid of their works being made manifest before the people. If they live in the faithful discharge of their duties, they have nothing to fear from this system of rendering reports of their stewardship. Presidents of Stakes, Bishops, Counselors, Priests, Teachers, Deacons, and Presidents of Quorums, who are doing well and performing their duties, need not shrink from giving reports of their actions, lives, and general conduct. It is pleasing to me, and to every right-minded man and woman, to hear these reports. They are not uninteresting nor dry to those who have the welfare of Israel at heart, and are watchful of the progress made among us. We have been instructed by the revelations of God to keep records of our organizations and councils, of everything brought before the Priesthood in their respective Quorums, of the attendance of members, who are speakers, what they say, and all things pertaining to the business and general welfare of the Quorums. Our various organizations should keep clerks, whose duty it should be to record the acts of its members, whether or not those members are living up to their requirements, and whether, instead of attending their meetings, they are engaged in fishing, hunting, freighting, gold seeking, or anything else that is contrary to what is expected from them as laborers in the Church and kingdom of God. It is the duty of the Teachers to report to their Bishops the relative standing of those under their supervision—whether their houses are houses of order—whether the wife is good to the husband, and the husband is good to his wife—whether the children are obedient to their parents, and whether the parents are training their children in the way they should walk—if there is strife where there should be peace, if there are jealousy and discord where love and unity should exist—whether the mother poisons the mind of her daughter instead of teaching her correct principles; in short—whether the house is what it should be—a house of God.

A Bishop should necessarily be a man of sound judgment, full of the Holy Ghost and capable of adjusting matters in a manner that will work the least injury possible and for the accomplishment of the greatest good. There are matters of a delicate nature which sometimes arise in families, and which should be properly understood by the Bishop and his Counsel before heralding them abroad. It might not be necessary to publish them among the people to the detriment and injury of the parties interested, but be considered in a proper spirit and not reported in a general sense, to the ward. At the same time, nothing that may have a bearing on the union and fellowship of the Saints, should escape the notice of the teachers; and no Bishop should ever betray the confidence and trust imposed in him through a knowledge of these tender and delicate matters, but manifest that fatherly love, tenderness and anxiety that parents feel for their offspring.

Sunday School Teachers also ought not to exercise any undue severity and harshness toward those under their care, but should be actuated by feelings of tenderness and love. Every presiding officer of a quorum should do likewise, and every mother in her house should govern her children in gentleness, and filial love and kindness should be a part of their nature.

The Holy Spirit will impress us with these matters, and on the other hand, the powers of evil will endeavor to influence us to act contrary to those impressions, to give way to anger, jealousy and envy. This is warfare—it is with ourselves, whether we conquer or yield to our evil passions. In our family circles, in our daily associations with our wives, and children, friends and neighbors, we should be actuated and governed by feelings of tenderness and love. We should strive to become perfect in every great and good work and be examples worthy of imitation in our home and before our neighbors. We can never be truly great until we become truly good.

If we would have a good people to associate and labor with, or to preside over; if our Wards, towns, divisions, subdivisions and families must be in order, we must not neglect any duty or leave any place uncared for. We cannot so neglect our responsibilities without feeling the effects afterwards. If a wound afflicts the body a scar is left as the effect of that wound. If we allow evil to dwell in the midst of the community it will manifest itself in the fruits thereof in afteryears. In the words of the Apostle Paul, “Whatsoever a man soweth, that shall he also reap.” No farmer expects to raise wheat when he sows oats, nor can a man gather figs from thorn trees that he may plant; neither can we expect to enjoy the fruits of love unless we have sown the seeds of love in our hearts and in the hearts of others. Every careful and reflecting mind will appreciate the Apostle Paul’s words.

Have we not seen children flee from their parents? And why? Because they have not sown in the hearts of their children the seeds of love, respect and goodwill, but have themselves given way to evil passions, and, by such a course have driven away their offspring. On the other hand, you may see men and women who, by their kindness, gentleness and love, have drawn towards them not only their offspring but the offspring of others. Like cleaves to like. Those, therefore, who lead the Saints must be men who have within them these same feelings. Can the wicked lead them? No! Jesus says, “My sheep know my voice and a stranger they will not follow.”

The object of our Conferences, Priesthood meetings and reports, is, not only to ascertain how we stand according to statistics, but that we may be able to learn what our individual condition is as members of the Church, to see ourselves in a glass, as it were, and find out wherein we need improving; and that men who have the charge and general oversight of the people may see at a glance the condition of the people in the different Wards. They may by this means form correct ideas of the feelings, faith and works of the Saints, how far the laws of God are observed, and whether the members are keeping their covenants, attending to home duties, paying their tithes and are engaged in all the laudable works required at their hands, so that if the Lord commands any service at our hands, there will be a unity of purpose and a concert of action, on the part of the people, in carrying it out.

The people in this Territory are classed into three grand divisions for the purpose of Temple building. There are a certain number of stakes grouped together to build a Temple in Manti, another to build a Temple in Logan, and others of the more central stakes to build one in Salt Lake City. The presiding officers of these Stakes and the various quorums will vie with each other in the accomplishment of this work, that the people may officiate in the ordinances of the house of God for themselves and their dead.

These things being necessary for working out the Lord’s purposes, and for the general welfare of Israel, have another good effect in the experience they give to us. They are valuable in the training of the people and give an increase of power that will prove of benefit to the Saints in years to come. That experience and increase of power we shall find necessary in our future warfare against evil. There is and always will be, until the Savior ap pears again, a great battle fought between the Priesthood and the powers of darkness. The wicked do not comprehend this. They witness various manifestations of unseen powers operating in the human family, but whether they are good and truthful or vile and deceptive they are unable to comprehend satisfactorily, because they have not applied to the fountain of light, truth and knowledge. The Saints, on the other hand, can comprehend these manifestations and judge this wicked world by the light of the Holy Ghost. We shall see the manifestations of the powers of darkness in an increased degree in the future, deceiving the children of men. So far as this generation is concerned it has been since the Prophet Joseph came forth and declared his belief in revelations, visions and angels that the powers of darkness have operated by external and supernatural manifestations, and as the power of God increased with the people and extended throughout the earth and was felt by other nations besides this, the Evil One manifested his power among men to a greater extent. When the Prophet Joseph appeared, announcing his belief in these things, there was a general unbelief among religious sects in regard to them. Professed Christians disclaimed any belief in manifestations from heaven, had no faith in visions or angels, and considered the claims of any man to be absurd who professed to have communication with the unseen world. Those who had faith in visions and dreams where looked upon as superstitious beings. Joseph’s professions were viewed as inconsistent with the spirit and enlightenment of the age. But how great is the change! We find men and women seeking communication with the unseen world, with spirits of departed friends, and receiving spiritual man ifestations in various forms. In the days of the Prophet Joseph there were only a few who entertained any faith in such manifestations, but now they are numbered by millions. What has all this effected? Has it produced any more unity in the world than existed before? Is there an increase of happiness or aught that is praiseworthy? The effect it has produced is evident, to the reflecting mind. Infidelity has increased as the powers of darkness have spread their influence over the minds of men.

I do not expect many of the Latter-day Saints to be able to fully contemplate the subject, not having mingled with the world since these great changes have occurred, but there are some who possess a general knowledge of such things by seeing, hearing and reading. The testimony of the Elders is that the world is almost universally infidel—priests and people. Religion is used as a cloak with the great majority of professing Christians. There appears to prevail an almost general disbelief in Jesus and his Apostles. The Bible is counted unworthy of credence or attention, and religion is deemed a farce. This general tendency to infidelity is also the result of men’s efforts to put down Mormonism. The world rejected the power of God made manifest by the visitation of holy angels, but when the devil manifested his power through the visitation of evil spirits, assuming all sorts of fantastic shapes, the people eagerly ran after them and became blind, bewildered and stupefied. Such persons would rather “believe a lie and be damned;” they willingly follow after the “strong delusions” that the Apostle Paul referred to. These powers of darkness will continue to come upon them and spread over the earth, as we advance in truth and righteousness.

We that have this warfare to meet, should keep ourselves prepared for any and every attack of the evil one. It becomes us to draw ourselves together in the bonds of unity, to cling to each other, our covenants and our God. We are called upon not only to uphold and sustain the Priesthood over us but each other. If we do this, and perform the duties we owe one another, we shall perform the duties we owe to the Priesthood and to God. God bless you. Amen.

The Work Progressing—Prophecy Fulfilled—We Shall All Obey the Law of Death

Synopsis of a Discourse by Elder Wilford Woodruff, delivered in the Provo Meetinghouse, Oct. 13, 1877.

It was with pleasure I listened this morning to the remarks of brother Snow, and wish that all the people in this Stake had heard them. We have had a great deal of preaching, and need a great deal, and I don’t know that a people ever lived who had more.

We are in the valleys of the mountains for a special purpose—to establish righteousness and live in accordance with the principles of truth. There never was a generation of people who had so much to perform as the Latter-day Saints have. This work is progressing, and it will continue to advance. I have seen the time when you could get the whole Church into this room—when there were a few High Priests, no Apostles or Seventies, and only a few Elders. I am as thoroughly satisfied now as I ever was in my life, that this is the kingdom of God. I am as firm a believer in God, in the revelations of God, in the Books of Mormon and Doctrine and Covenants, as I ever was. I have read the prophecies of Isaiah, Jeremiah, Ezekiel, and other inspired writers, and have seen some of them fulfilled, and expect to see others have their literal fulfillment. God worked with the children of men through revelation, and he will continue to do so in this generation. With him there is no change; his ways are one eternal round.

The Lord has directed and guided this work from the beginning. The prophecies relating to the present dispensation—to Zion being established in the tops of the mountains—to the building of cities and Temples —are being fulfilled. We have nothing to do but build up the kingdom of God, and the more light and understanding we get, the less our hearts will cling to outside things. While we are engaged in this work, we can realize that holy angels are watching us. The Lord told us, forty-seven years ago, what would take place, and we are now fulfilling that which he spoke of. Brothers Joseph and Brigham are gone into the spirit world, but there are a few of us left to continue the work laid out by the Almighty. We have preached to the world, organized the Priesthood and the Saints, and angels have borne record of this, and it is recorded in heaven—our toil, our preaching, and our testimony. We have filled these once desert places with Saints of the living God, and many thousands are here who never saw the world. We have to build Temples—one is almost completed and is dedicated; we have laid the foundations of others, and the work, like a panorama, is before us. This labor is not to be performed by other hands. God looks to us to build these Temples, and to bring about the redemption of the earth. He holds us responsible for this work; we have to preach to the house of Israel—to the Lamanites—to gather together the honest in heart from all parts of the earth. We are chosen to perform this great and important work—we, a small handful of people compared with the millions of human beings on the earth. The Lord does not expect any other people but the Latter-day Saints to do this work; there is nobody else preparing.

One after another of our brethren have left us and gone to labor on the other side of the veil. President Brigham Young, brother George A. Smith, and others before them, have all gone, and the few that are left of the Twelve will also go by and by; but while here, it is our duty to labor on the foundation they have laid. President Young labored hard and faithful during the last few years of his life in organizing and building up Zion. We have to continue the work they were engaged in, and when our time comes to take our departure for that life behind the veil, none of us will regret having devoted our time, talents, and labor for the accomplishment of this great object. The riches of the world will appear as the dust under our feet compared with the eternal reward before us.

This kingdom will never be given into the hands of another people. We may pass away, but our sons and daughters will have the labor on their shoulders of building up the kingdom.

Many of you may have read, years before it was fulfilled, the revelation and prophecy of the Prophet Joseph in regard to the trouble, anarchy, and war that should befall this nation. Wise men said its fulfillment was a matter of impossibility—that the government was too sound and too well established for such a calamity to occur, but the fulfillment came. When the Lord undertakes to perform a work, he is certain to carry it out. It would not take the Lord twenty-four hours to cause war, anarchy, confusion, and judgments to come upon the nation. He is withholding these calamities until his purposes are accomplished.

The set time has come, and the world is preparing itself for these things. The Church and kingdom of God must adorn itself, and prepare for the coming of the Great Bridegroom. Every key relating to this dispensation was given to the Prophet Joseph, and they remain with the Priesthood today. We have no right to walk in the dark. The burden is now resting upon us, and, holding the Priesthood, our aim should be the building up of the kingdom of God. We hold the Priesthood for that purpose, and we have no business to use it for anything else but to officiate in the ordinances of the house of God.

Sooner or later we shall have to obey the law of death. As it is written, “In Adam all died, so in Christ shall all be made alive.” We shall have to pass through the ordeal—there is no escape from it. We have, consequently, no time to throw away. It may be asked, “How much longer will it be before the winding up scene takes place?” It is not for me to say. How much longer have the Elders to suffer violence at the hands of the wicked? It appears to me that the world is about ripe for the judgments of the Lord, and that the testimony will soon be sealed. He is already working with the Lamanites, and he will accomplish a great deal in a little time.

Some people entertain the idea that because wheat is plentiful and selling at exceedingly low figures, the probability of a famine is more remote than ever; but the Lord makes no mistakes about what is going to transpire. He has decreed the visitation of judgments, and they are certain to take place. President Young has for years repeatedly impressed upon the brethren the necessity of preparing for a period of famine by storing their wheat, and, before his death, was impressed to speak to the sisters and urge them to look after that matter. Let us be united in our labors, and in all the branches of industry that males or females may be engaged in. The raising of silk may be rendered an important item in the industry of this Territory. It is a business that our wives and children can engage in, and there is nothing to hinder the people from becoming rich from this branch of industry alone. There is an improvement in the United Order, or Cooperation. The Saints are preparing themselves for that event when Jesus shall come as a thief in the night. For our own sakes let us do the best we possibly can. We must observe and keep the laws of God, in order to inherit the rewards promised. Let us not set our hearts on the riches and vanities of this earth. It is very convenient, it is true, to have the comforts of life around us, but we shall be better without them, if by hoarding up the riches of the world we forget the things of God.

I pray God to bless you and our sons and daughters, that their minds may be led and prepared for the work they will be called upon to perform.