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Prosperity of the Saints—Danger to Be Avoided—How Blessings Are to Be Obtained—Free Agency—Triumph of the Work of God Testified of—“Mormonism” not Easily Destroyed—Prophecies to Be Fulfilled—Self-Denial Required of the Saints

Discourse by President Joseph F. Smith, delivered at the General Conference, Salt Lake City, Sunday, a.m., April 8th, 1883.

There never perhaps was a time since the Church was organized when the people of God were more prosperous or so numerous as they are today, notwithstanding all the efforts that our enemies have directed against us. But while we have triumphed over opposition and all the forces of the wicked that have been exerted against us by newspaper and pulpit and the power of Congress, it is meet that we should acknowledge the hand of God in all our victories. It has certainly not been by the wisdom, power or intelligence of man, that we have been delivered until now, but by the favor and blessing of God in our behalf. And we are today a living monument of God’s special mercy, favor and protection. He has not only blessed us with the privilege of becoming acquainted with His laws, and with the plan of salvation, but He has gathered us to a goodly land; and notwithstanding its former sterility, barrenness and forbidding aspect, He has modified the elements, blessed the earth, and has made these valleys desirable as a home for the Saints. And He has blessed us with an abundance of earthly things besides bestowing upon us the richest of all blessings that man can enjoy in this life—the Holy Spirit and a knowledge of the new and everlasting covenant.

We should have the utmost confidence in the power and wisdom of the Almighty to consummate the work which He has begun, from our experience and knowledge of the past. This is no day for trembling or fear; it is not a day for doubt or misgiving; God has demonstrated His power and superior wisdom in so many ways and at so many times, during the history of this people, in delivering them from the grasp of their enemies, that for us now to doubt Him, whatever the position in which we might be placed, would be an indignity to our Great Preserver, an insult to God. It seems to me impossible for any Latter-day Saint, in the face of all the Lord has done for this people, to doubt for a moment His ability or intention to frustrate the designs of wicked, ambitious men, and to continue His work in the future to ultimate victory and triumph over every obstacle or opposing foe.

The only real danger that I foresee in the path of the Latter-day Saints is in the results which natu rally follow the possession of wealth—pride and vanity, self-indulgence and forgetfulness of God, and a disregard of the sacred obligations and duties that we owe to Him and to one another; and this because of the abundance of earthly blessings which He in His goodness has bestowed upon us. It is said that in adversity we are inclined to feel after the Lord, but that in prosperity we remember Him not. It appears to me that in this lies the greatest danger that threatens us today. This does not apply to the whole people perhaps, for we are not all rich in this world’s goods, but to individuals, and they are not a few, but many, who are being blessed—if it proves a blessing—with an accumulation of wealth, and I am sorry to say that many seem to be indulging in speculation to that extent that their whole souls appear to be wrapt up in the love of the world. It is very evident that some of us are yet “of the world,” for like them, “the more we get of it the more we want;” and it does seem impossible to satisfy the cravings of such minds for the perishable things of time. As individuals gather around them riches and become engrossed with the care that naturally attaches to them, they are prone to forget the “pit from which they were dug,” or the “stone from which they were hewed”—to forget God upon whom they are quite as dependent when possessed of wealth as when in the most abject poverty. For wealth does not make men independent of God, neither does it relieve them from the obligations that they owe to each other. The rich are as dependent upon God for the light of His Spirit to guide them, and for the blessings and ordinances of the holy Priesthood as are the poorest of the poor. The Lord, in this regard, is “no respecter of persons.” The station or worldly condition of man is not regarded by the Almighty. It is man’s righteousness and humility; it is the willing mind and the obedient heart that is acceptable to Him, and unless we are righteous and humble, willing and obedient, He will withdraw His Spirit from us, and we will be left to ourselves, as others have been before us, “to reap what we sow.” If the time should ever come (which I do not anticipate), when the majority of this people will be swallowed up in the cares of the world, I know of no remedy to check the evil and thus prevent the destruction of the Church more effectually than to be subjected to the power and persecutions of our enemies, to be driven and smitten perhaps until we shall be humbled and brought to a sense of our obligations to the Lord Almighty, and learn wisdom by the things we have to suffer.

There are blessings which pertain to the Gospel of Jesus Christ and to the world to come, which cannot be secured by personal influence nor be bought with money, and which no man by his own intelligence or wisdom can obtain except through compliance with certain ordinances, laws and commandments which have been given. And it is well, in my judgment, for the Latter-day Saints to continue to bear in mind that the inestimable blessings of the Gospel have been bestowed upon them through their faith, that a remission of sins has been obtained by baptism and repentance, and that it is only through continuing faithful that they can retain the gifts and blessings which pertain to eternal life. There are many blessings, however, which are common to the human family, which all enjoy, without regard to their moral status or religious convictions. God has given to all men an agency, and has granted to us the privilege to serve Him or serve Him not, to do that which is right or that which is wrong, and this privilege is given to all men irrespective of creed, color or condition. The wealthy have this agency, the poor have this agency, and no man is deprived by any power of God from exercising it in the fullest and in the freest manner. This agency has been given to all. This is a blessing that God has bestowed upon the world of mankind, upon all His children alike. But He will hold us strictly to an account for the use that we make of this agency, and as it was said of Cain, so it will be said of us: “If thou doest well, shalt thou not be accepted? and if thou doest not well, sin lieth at the door.” There are, however, certain blessings which God bestows upon the children of men only upon the condition of the rightful exercise of this agency. For instance, no man can obtain a remission of his sins but by repentance and baptism by one having authority. If we would be free from sin, from its effects, from its power, we must obey this law which God has revealed, or we never can obtain a remission of sins. Therefore, while God has bestowed upon all men, irrespective of condition, this agency to choose good or evil, He has not and will not bestow upon the children of men a remission of sins but by their obedience to law. Therefore the whole world lies in sin and is under condemnation, inasmuch as light has come into the world and men will not avail themselves of that light to put themselves in a proper position before the Lord. And this condemnation rests with tenfold force upon all those that have yielded obedience to this law, and have once received a remission of their sins, but have returned unto sin, and have forgotten or disregarded the covenants they made in the waters of baptism. All men are blessed with the strength of their body, with the use of their mind, and with the right to exercise the faculties with which they are endowed in a way that seemeth good in their sight, without regard to religion. But God has not and will not suffer the gift of the Holy Ghost to be bestowed upon any man or woman, except through compliance with the laws of God. Therefore, no man can obtain a remission of sins; no man can obtain the gift of the Holy Ghost; no man can obtain the revelations of God; no man can obtain the Priesthood, and the rights, powers and privileges thereof; no man can become an heir of God and a joint heir with Jesus Christ, except through compliance with the requirements of heaven. These are universal blessings, they are great and inestimable privileges which pertain to the Gospel and to the plan of life and salvation, which are open and free to all on certain conditions, but which no creature beneath the heavens can enjoy, but through walking in the channel that God has marked out by which they can obtain them. And these privileges and blessings when obtained may be forfeited, and perhaps lost for all eternity, unless we continue steadfast in the course that is marked out for us to pursue. It is well, in my judgment, that the Latter-day Saints do not lose sight of the great privilege that has been bestowed upon them. No man can become a citizen of the Kingdom of God but by entering in at the door: there are thousands and tens of thousands, aye millions of people who will never become citizens of the Kingdom of God in this world, because they fail to exercise the agency and the power that has been given to them in the right direction. Nevertheless, they enjoy many of the blessings that are bestowed upon the world in common. The sun shines upon the evil and the good; but the Holy Ghost descends only upon the righteous and upon those that are forgiven of their sins. The rain descends upon the evil and upon the good; but the rights of the Priesthood are conferred, and the doctrine of the Priesthood distills as the dews of heaven upon the souls of those only that receive it in God’s own appointed way. The favor of heaven, the acknowledgment of the Almighty of His children upon the earth as His sons and His daughters can only be secured through obedience to the laws which He has revealed. Riches or the wealth of the world cannot purchase these things. Simon Magus desired to purchase the power to cast out devils with money, but Peter said unto him, “Thy money perish with thee.” These blessings, powers and privileges are not to be purchased but by the atonement of Christ; they are not to be obtained by personal influence, wealth, position or power, or in any other way but the direct way in which God has decreed that they should be obtained. Now, so long as the Latter-day Saints are content to obey the commandments of God, to appreciate the privileges and blessings which they enjoy in the Church, and will use their time, their talents, their substance, in honor to the name of God, to build up Zion, and to establish truth and righteousness in the earth, so long our heavenly Father is bound by His oath and covenant to protect them from every opposing foe, and to help them to overcome every obstacle that can possibly be arrayed against them or thrown in their pathway; but the moment a community begin to be wrapt up in themselves, become selfish, become engrossed in the temporalities of life, and put their faith in riches, that moment the power of God begins to withdraw from them, and if they repent not the Holy Spirit will depart from them entirely, and they will be left to themselves. That which was given them will be taken away, they will lose that which they had, for they will not be worthy of it. God is just as well as merciful, and we need not expect favors at the hand of the Almighty except as we merit them, at least in the honest desires of our hearts, and the desire and intent will not always avail unless our acts correspond. For we are engaged in a literal work, a reality; and we must practice as well as profess. We must be what God requires us to be, or else we are not His people nor the Zion which He designs to gather together and to build up in the latter days upon the earth.

I am aware that this is the last day of Conference, that there are many to speak and much to be done, therefore brevity is desirable. I find, too, that it is difficult for me to speak loud enough to be heard by this vast assembly.

I rejoice in the work of God. I have never seen a moment since I became acquainted with the principles of the Gospel when I had the least doubt in my mind of their truthfulness. I have never feared, and do not know what the feeling of fear is as to the result of this work. I know that God is able to bear it off, and that He will do it. I fear often for mankind and for myself, knowing my own weaknesses, better, perhaps, than any living being except God. I often have fears and trembling for myself when I am made to feel my own weakness and see myself as I am seen by the Lord. But as to the work of God, it cannot fail, for God has decreed its consummation; and whilst man may oppose it and his efforts fail, the work of God will never fail. Now mark it! As I have often said, the most favorable opportunity that the adversary of men’s souls ever saw to destroy this work was on or before the 6th day of April, 1830; but failing to accomplish it then, notwithstanding the efforts that were put forth in this direction, failure to do so in the future must only be the more apparent. There is more to grapple with now than then. “The kingdom” has taken deeper and stronger root in the earth, and its branches have expanded and spread out into many lands. There are more people to kill off now than ever before, and we are rapidly increasing. There is no use of thinking this work will be destroyed by martyring a few of the people, although they might be our leaders. “Mormonism” is a living principle in the hearts of all true Saints, every soul of whom must be destroyed before it can be wiped out. It has been, through the overruling providences of the Almighty, allowed to grow until it has attained strength and power in the earth: and thanks be unto God, the Ruler and Maker of heaven and earth, I feel it in my very bones, that the Kingdom of God is beyond the reach and power of the devil or his agents. And in this condition it will remain, ever advancing, inasmuch as the Saints keep the law of God. If we should become corrupt and wicked, He has said that we shall be removed out of our place, and every individual who will not keep His commandments will fail. For no man can stand in this Church but upon the foundation of righteousness and truth; and whenever we undertake to build upon the foundation of error and falsehood, selfishness and sin, that moment our foundation will crumble beneath our feet; the sands will be washed away, and we will fall. But so long as this people continue faithful, God will be their friend, and He, be it remembered, is the Almighty, and this is His work. The stone representing this latter-day work, has been cut out of the mountain without hands, and will roll forth according to the decree, and no power will be able to stop its onward march. I do not feel to boast, only in the strength of our God; and I do feel from the inmost recesses of my heart to praise His holy name, and to thank Him that I have been permitted to see the Kingdom where it is today. And those who come after will live to see the consummation of the prophecies that have been uttered concerning it by ancient and modern Prophets verified and not one word will fall to the ground unfulfilled. Not one jot or tittle will pass from the law or the Prophets; but all will be fulfilled, and I am as sure of it as I am that I live. What would you or I take in exchange for this knowledge, this witness of the Spirit? Nothing could be offered that would be an equivalent; it is worth everything else in the world. It is a stay, an anchor to the soul, a comfort and a joy to the heart forever. It is with me, as it is with every man and woman that has received the knowledge of God, through the operations of the Holy Spirit, and that is true to the same—the kingdom of God or nothing; I have no more interest in the kingdom of God than any individual member of the Church. In other words, there is not a man in the kingdom of God that is capable of attaining to the glory of the celestial kingdom but has as great interest in the welfare of this work, in the consummation of the purposes of the Almighty, as I have myself, or as Brother Taylor, Brother Cannon, Brother Woodruff, or any of the members of the Quorum of the Twelve. We are all interested. Every man should feel that it is his work, his kingdom, his church, and that the principles of the Gospel are his principles, for he has embraced them and espoused them, or at least unless we have embraced the Gospel and received the principles thereof in our hearts that they have become a part of us, that we might become identified with the designs and purposes of the Almighty in the earth, we are not converted, nor are we worthy to be saved in the kingdom of God. It is written—and it is as true as that the sun shines—that except a man is willing to sacrifice every earthly tie or consideration for the Gospel’s sake, he is not worthy of the kingdom, nor of Christ. This is according to the declaration of Jesus while He was upon the earth. It is the testimony of Joseph Smith, and that of all the holy Prophets since the world began, who have said anything upon this subject, that any man who is not willing to sacrifice everything else for the Gospel’s sake is not worthy of it, and the day will come when he will come short; so that the sooner we are converted to the truth, the better for us and our posterity. They will receive inheritances, and the blessings of God will follow upon them through us, just as they follow upon the seed of Abraham, because of the blessings and promises bestowed upon their father Abraham. The promises were made to Abraham, and the blessing followed upon the heads of his children, and will continue unto the last generation, because the promise was made to Abraham who was worthy of it, and he will claim the promise for his posterity. So it will be with you and me. The blessings of Abraham, Isaac and Jacob have been conferred upon us, and they will be inherited by our posterity if we prove worthy of the privilege, and live for it.

May God bless and help us to learn the truth and abide in it forever, is my prayer, in the name of Jesus, Amen.




A Comparison—Wrath of Man Made to Praise God—Fall of Senator Edmunds—Fate of Those Who Oppose God’s Work—Persecution for Religion Unavailing—Case of the Huguenots—Intemperance—Startling Statistics—Drink, the Cause of Other Evils—Appeal to the Saints

Discourse by Elder Moses Thatcher, delivered in the Large Tabernacle, Salt Lake City, Saturday Afternoon, at the Annual Conference, April 7th, 1883.

I feel very grateful indeed for the happy and peaceful circumstances with which we are surrounded this day, and I cannot help realizing how different they are to those which surrounded us a year ago. The pressure from the outside world at that time was very great, and the power of him who has been an oppressor from the beginning was exercised throughout this nation for the hurt of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. But when perils have threatened we have learned to appeal to the invisible forces of heaven against the visible forces of earth, and in no age of the world with which I am acquainted has the right ever failed to succeed if those who maintained it were directed, sustained and upheld by the power of God our eternal Father. When men make it their special mission to contend against this great work, they do not realize that God is a power, they cannot comprehend that exercise of faith that turns aside the shafts of our enemies and delivers us from the snares which shrewd politicians and wicked and ungodly priests lay to entrap the people. How well I recollect a conversation I had about a year ago, with a very thoughtful man, a man connected with the Church, but who at times is given to view things from the natural standpoint. It was shortly after the arrival of the Commissioners who came to Utah to administer the provisions of the Edmunds’ law. This brother was not ignorant of the exertions which has been made throughout the Union to secure the enactment of that and other proscriptive measures, nor was he ignorant of the intent of leading politicians in the Republican party to forge chains with which to bind us, while depriving us of our liberties. He understood full well the means which had been used; he was not ignorant of the tearful waves of prejudice which had swept every State in the Union. Realizing what the intentions of the wicked were, and understanding the mighty power of a mighty nation, he felt exercised and desired to know if something could not be done to compromise the question; in other words; if it was not possible to submit to the President and Cabinet certain propositions by which the people might be enabled to maintain their rights and liberties. I have not forgotten what my reflections were while listening to his remarks, and I remember the reply which I was led to make. It was this: We had been gathered from the nations of the earth. We came to these mountains to serve God without respect to the thoughts or suffrages of other people. We came here to maintain liberty of conscience and freedom of worship, the provisions of the Constitution of our common country, and not to compromise them upon any terms whatever; that I knew of no earthly wisdom upon which we could safely rely in maintaining those rights; that if the religious, political and social affairs of the people were given over to the management of a hundred of the wisest uninspired men to be found in Zion, they would utterly fail to accomplish the purposes of God, though they might in their efforts to please man, sacrifice liberty and the freedom of conscience, violate the sacred provisions of the Constitution, and make those whom they sought to serve pliant slaves, unworthy of the blessings which of right belong to a free people; that the adoption of such a policy would, within six months, place us in such a condition of confusion and misery that God alone could relieve our distress; that if, on the other hand, we would exercise faith in Him, live our religion, be prayerful and humble, He would bring us off, as He has done many times before, victorious. Can we not see how the Lord has stayed the passions of men and made their wrath to praise Him? Let us reflect upon the difference between the power exercised by the great leading light of the Republican party during the passage of the Edmunds’ bill in the Senate of the United States a little over a year ago, and the exercise of the influence of the same man a year later. Senator Edmunds, when he first called up his bill was, in the Senate, almost supreme. By the power of his intellect and the fierce invective of his tongue, he ruled, as it were, absolute master, and his bill, unconstitutional and unjust, passed the Senate with but little opposition. Few statesmen cared then to measure arms with him, but mark the results when God did so a year later.

Had the faith of this people changed? Did we believe more in the laws of God in March, 1882, than we did in March 1883? Certainly not. Why then was Senator Edmunds unable to carry out his views and measures regarding this people in the latter as he had succeeded in doing in the former year? Because God is a force in the world and its affairs, whether men acknowledge it or not. His power always has been, and always will be greater than man’s power.

Men may think what they please and sneer at what they may be pleased to call fanaticism, but this I know, shame and confusion was the part of Senator Edmunds when, after six hours vain endeavor to force the passage of another infamous measure against us, he stood up in the Senate and confessed that he could see by the ruling of the presiding officer, and by the votes of his opponents, that it was impossible to carry the measure which he had in hand, and therefore moved for an adjournment. Was his defeat, chagrin and shame accomplished by the wisdom of man? We think not. We at least are willing, as we always have been, to acknowledge the hand of God in these things. God not only holds the destinies of nations in His hands, but He holds also the destiny of individual man. He can humble those who measure arms with Him, as He has done many times in the past. We fear not the power, nor do we gloat over the fall of man, public or private, but we have learned by experience that when they rise up and contend against this people and the principles of liberty and right, God marks them, and their course thenceforth is not upward but downward. In March, 1882, when in Washington, D.C., in company with other brethren, visiting Brother George Q. Cannon, then our honored delegate, I remember the sentiments expressed by some members of the Republican party. They would come privately and say: “We view this bill—referring to the Edmunds’ bill—as infamous in its measures; we can see that it is unconstitutional, that it seeks to rob a whole people of their political rights. But our profession is that of politics; we have no other business, and numerous petitions are coming here daily from our constituents, praying us, commanding us, to pass some law for the suppression of “Mormonism.” Now what shall we do? If we comply not with their demands our constituents will, at future elections, reject us at the polls.” Was not a similar argument used by the Jews, when they said, “If we let him thus alone, all men will believe in him, and the Romans shall come and take away our place and nation?” Fearing that, they crucified him, and what was the result? The very thing they sought to save was that which was speedily lost. When weighed in the balance they were found corrupt, cruel, vindictive, murderous; unable to maintain principle, defend justice, or do what they knew to be right. A disposition to oppress swayed their hearts and tyranny marked their actions to such an extent, that God rejected them as a people, scattered to the four winds and made of them, in the midst of nations, a hiss and a byword.

In this connection let anyone who feels disposed, take the pains and trouble to look over the Congressional Record and see how those who were willing to sacrifice principle at the shrine of everything that was wrong, willing to sacrifice the liberties of a people poor and oppressed, examine and see how many of that character have been returned. Have not more than fifty percent of them been rejected at the polls? Ask the democrats how this has come about, and why it has come about, and they cannot tell you. Ask the Republicans and they cannot tell you. But ask God, who holds the destinies of nations and peoples in His hand, and He can tell you. On the other hand examine the record of those who fearlessly stood up in defense of Constitutional liberty, maintained inviolate their oath of office, sustained the right, and were true to themselves. They too felt the pressure of priestly inflamed public sentiment, but bowed not to its tyrannical demands. They too realized the dangers and perils that might beset their efforts for future recognition at the polls, but having moral courage they planted themselves on principle, not prejudice, and their constituents, in a great measure, have endorsed their policy and sustained their heroic conduct. If I have been correctly informed, a much greater percentage of those who sustained right on the “Mormon” question in the 47th, have been returned to the 48th Congress, than of those who pursued the opposite policy. We should entertain no fear of men or nations, for they cannot prevent the Almighty from accomplishing His purposes, or bringing to pass His decrees. History, so far as I have been able to trace, no where records success gained by hatred and persecution over men pledged to principle, justice and truth.

Mens’ convictions, religious beliefs and just religious practices cannot be persecuted out of them. The nearest approach to success in this direction was, perhaps, the massacre of St. Bartholomew in France, wherein seventy thousand defenseless Huguenots perished miserably, victims of the malice and cruelty of Roman Catholicism.

That shocking butchery of men, women and children was acquiesced in by Charles IX, then King of France, and when his ally Philip III, of Spain heard of it he laughed, the only time he was known to laugh in his life. The Pope of Rome illuminated the eternal city, caused medals to be struck off, mass to be performed, and named Charles “the defender of the faith,” in commemoration of those horrid deeds of blood and misery.

Notwithstanding the Pontifical approval bestowed upon the king for that seventy thousandfold murder, he was till his death daily and nightly haunted by the thought of his victims until his misery and remorse caused, it is said, drops of blood to ooze through the pores of his skin. Through these cruelties the Huguenots received a fearful shock, but the consciousness of men continued to assert independence and the right to worship God untrammeled continued to grow. The freedom we now enjoy is but the fruit of the struggle for right, which persecution ultimately solidified, united and made strong in the broad, deep foundations of the freest nation on earth; thereby preparing the way for the mission of Joseph the Prophet. Much improvement had been made, but in relig ious matters Joseph found the people insincere, and the practices of the Christian world inconsistent and unsound. Guided by the light of heaven he struck a death blow at the idolatrous worship of a bodiless, passionless God, which the teachings of false priests had erected in the imagination of the people. In doing so he disturbed a sea of malice which since has known no rest. But though that angry sea may roll fierce billows of persecution, skepticism, infidelity and priestly hypocrisy must yield, for Joseph Smith, the Prophet of the Almighty came as a forerunner and teacher of true faith in God that cannot be conquered; it will prevail. God’s kingdom will rise and shine. They say we are endeavoring to establish a theocratic government. What is theocracy? The kingdom and government of God. Who will contend against it—will the Latter-day Saints? No. It is our duty to contend for it, and to assist to build it up. It is a government of purity. It is a government of the people, and for the people; it maintains liberty and right, and is always opposed to oppression and misrule. I would like to dwell upon the subject, but time will not permit, as I desire to touch upon another at present, of deep interest to us.

We have been called out from the nations of the earth to serve the Lord. “Come out of her, my people, that ye be not partakers of her sins, and that ye receive not of her plagues.” In this connection I desire to touch upon a few practices existing among us that are not pleasing in the sight of God. Intemperance is one of them; the use of alcohol, the use of intoxicating drinks that fevers the blood and maddens the brain, incites to sin, debases man, destroys his better judgment, drives the Spirit of God from his heart, and renders the daughters of Zion unsafe in his company. What is the condition of the Christian nations in this respect today? Two hundred thousand men and women crowd the poorhouses, prisons and asylums of Great Britain alone. Seventy-five percent of them the wretched victims of alcoholism. Can we think a business legitimate and honorable that deprives a hundred and fifty thousand men and women of comfortable homes, drives them wild, and sends them as driveling idiots and paupers to the asylums and jails of a Christian nation, which derives a revenue from the liquor traffic of $150,000,000 per annum, and finds even that enormous sum inadequate to meet the expenses entailed by reason of its use? We cannot consistently so consider it.

Aside from the debauchery, misery, ruin and death caused by the use of intoxicants, the waste in Great Britain is simply startling. Seventy-five million bushels of grain—equal at our present rate of production to what Utah would yield in forty years—is annually consumed in the manufacture of liquors there. The inhabitants of Britain expend yearly for intoxicating drinks over $640,000,000. During the past seven years they have expended for the same purpose more than sufficient to cancel their national debt, or build a new house for every family in the kingdom, and schoolhouses in which to educate all their children.

Had the money expended there for liquor during the past half century been invested in five percent interest bearing securities, it would now be equal to the entire capitalized wealth of the nation, including her cities, railroads, ships, factories, mines, farms, fields and gardens. And yet in view of these figures, taken from parliamentary returns, we hear of the cry of want and complaints of oppression. Do the people not oppress themselves in the use—excessive use of things that weaken and corrupt their bodies and darken their minds?

Is the condition of our own nation in this regard much better? But little if any. In 1882, according to official reports, the people of the United States paid nearly twice as much for liquor as they did for bread. More than the entire value of the products of all our woolen, cotton, boot and shoe factories. An amount equal to seventy percent of the wages earned in all the manufacturing institutions of the country, during the same period. Three hundred millions of dollars, more than was paid for Governmental, state, territorial, county, city and school taxes combined. Enough to school the children of a nation numbering 300,000,000, or six times as numerous as ours for the same year.

The nation consumes in liquor the value of all the public and private libraries of the country every sixty days, and spends annually nine times as much for drink as for printing and publishing.

Now what can we say for the people of Utah? In the main they are temperate, but there is room for much improvement. Here, I have no means for acquiring exact knowledge from statistics, but I venture the assertion that more money is spent even in Utah for alcohol than is expended for the education of our children, or the support of the Territorial government. Do we not expend more means in the purchase of stimulants than we pay to sustain the Church and Kingdom of God on earth? And in doing so are we not, though perhaps thoughtlessly, undermining the virtue of our boys, and the chastity of our girls? Do not inebriates and harlots usually go hand in hand, and saloons and houses of ill repute grow up side by side?

Had we the means of ascertaining the facts I am satisfied we should find that nine out of every ten cases of the lapse of virtue among us, could be traced to the use and influence of liquor of some kind. I am led to this conclusion by positive knowledge in a few sad cases that have come under my personal observation. Again, the love of liquor is transmissible. No man, therefore, can be a true servant of God while entailing misfortune and misery—perhaps decrepitude and idiocy upon his posterity. If any among us cannot control their appetite for drink, at least let them not transmit their thirst as a heritage to their children, who should be begotten in purity and brought forth untrammeled by unnatural and debasing appetites that tend to the lust of the flesh. A man addicted to intemperance cannot subject himself to the will of God, nor can he govern his passions to the sanctification of his body, failing in which he cannot reasonably expect to govern others in righteousness for their salvation. How then, are such worthy to stand at the head of families in Zion? To me few sights are more painful than to see a sorrow stricken wife bending over the wash tub and working like a slave to support herself and children; and perhaps her drunken husband, who warms his miserable, useless body on the sunny side of walls frequented by others of his kind. If we could gaze through the sorrowful eyes down into the pain-stricken hearts of such wives—and there are some even in Zion of that kind—we should hardly find a blessing there for those who lift the tempting cup to the lips of their fallen husbands. It is true the liquor traffic, among Christians, is regulated by law and disposed of generally under license, but that does not make it an honorable business, nor does it in any way, so far as I can see, restrict the evils that follow its use. To regulate and license the manufacture and indiscriminate sale of whiskey may, in some places, be a necessary and unavoidable evil, but such laws as moral and reformatory agencies have certainly proven failures. The poor, half-starved children, depraved men, and ruined women that nightly visit the gin palaces of London, Liverpool, New York, Chicago, and other great cities, speak unmistakably of failure. The crowded prisons, poorhouses, insane asylums, testify of failure. The gambler who resorts to forgery as a means with which to retrieve his fortune, the sot that wallows in the gutter and blasphemes the name of God, the raving maniac whose reason drink has dethroned, the murderer who took the life of his brother while intoxicated and dies with a curse upon his lips as he falls through the trap of the gallows, all testify of the woe, utter failure and irreparable ruin wrought by the use of alcohol, made easy of access by the regulations of law.

Let me, in the name of the Lord, urge the Saints to abstain from its use. It weakens the body and impairs the mind. When the highest order of physical excellence is required, science interdicts its use. Men trained for great bodily effort and long endurance are forced to be temperate or be defeated. Those who compete for collegiate or literary honors understand the value of tem perance. In view of these facts, the Elder, High Priest or Seventy who is addicted to the use of liquor, is unfit to perform the labors which God requires of him. Is it possible that we as Elders of Israel, at home and abroad, cannot see the results of these things? Do we not know that like begets like? Do we not know that men whose blood is fevered and whose judgment is blinded are not fit to multiply and replenish, not fit to be in that holy law of matrimony ordained and made sacred by the Almighty? Let the world talk about and deride the institution of celestial marriage. What concerns us more in Utah is the fact that there are not men enough who understand the laws of life, and who stand pure and holy, upon the higher basis of that sacred law, to become the husbands of all the pure and today marriageable women in Zion. God foresaw what the nations would do. We were told yesterday by Elder Erastus Snow that men of great influence in the world were preaching the doctrine of human limitation, which leads to murder. And yet these very men will preach morality to you and me. While killing their own offspring, and urging others to do it, they tell us we shall not obey the laws of God pertaining to increase. I say we will. And upon natural principles, upon scientific principles. The boys and girls who live according to the law of the Lord will become the head and not the foot. They will have stronger bodies, stronger minds, and by the force of the “survival of the fittest,” will, eventually, under the direction of divine revelation, govern the affairs of the world. It has been so predicted; God has decreed it, who will prevent it? Let us therefore unite in turning our faces against the evil practices so prevalent in the world. Let us begin to understand and live according to the laws of nature, realizing that violations thereof bring penalties which sometimes are transmitted to the third or fourth generation. In the transmission of life God has devolved upon His creations the highest and most delicate functions, and which, if abused, entail misery and often premature death. God has His glory in the perpetuation of life. With wonder and admiration, we behold life everywhere. We see it struggling in the vegetable kingdom and breathing in the animal creations. Cut down and trample under foot the noxious weed, and yet by the law that governs its increase it struggles upwards, and unless utterly destroyed matures seed for new life, and thereby perpetuates itself. All nature responds to the eternal law of increase. Man, being prompted by him who rebelled in heaven, alone seeks to defeat life, and bring confusion and death. While he and his emissaries strive through the commission of horrid crimes, even murder, to limit human increase, let us as Saints sanctify body and soul being pure in heart and mind, a fit lineage through which noble spirits may possess tabernacles unto the glory of God the Father of spirits. Let fathers and mothers in Zion beget children, as Samuel the ancient prophet was begotten, and I tell you there is no power on earth or in hell that can stop the progress of this people. We will increase and spread abroad until Zion shall arise and shine, and the Kingdom of God shall have supremacy and sway forever. Amen.




Peculiarities of Public Preaching Among the Saints—A Comprehensive Religion—Equality of Man—Saints the Champions of Right—A Providence Over the Saints—Leaven of Truth at Work—Truth Taught By Joseph Smith Now Being Verified—Ignorant Politicians—Effect of Judge Black’s Argument—Effectual Prayer

Discourse by President Geo. Q. Cannon, delivered in the Assembly Hall, Salt Lake City, Sunday Afternoon, March 18th, 1883.

I am glad to have the opportunity once more of meeting with my brethren and sisters in this place. And while I speak to you this afternoon I trust I shall have the assistance of the Spirit of God. I have had excellent health since I have been gone. But this morning, from the effect of a cold which I have taken, when I arose I felt worse than I have done since I left home, and as though I could scarcely come to meeting. The ride in the air, however, has helped me, and I feel better than I did.

There is a natural curiosity on the part of the Latter-day Saints to know everything connected with our political affairs as well as everything connected with our religious operations throughout the earth. Everything of this character is so intimately blended in the work in which we are engaged, that it is an exceedingly difficult thing to draw the line of distinction between the temporal and the spiritual, between that which pertains to the body and that which pertains to the spirit, or which pertains to the dissemination of the Gospel and the welfare of the people in political matters. It has been a cause of frequent comment in newspaper articles and in works that have been published concerning us and our organization, that we are a peculiar people in this respect, and that this intimate blending of the practical and the theoretical, of the temporal and the spiritual, in our meetings and in the addresses of our Elders, is a marked peculiarity. The reason of this is very apparent to those who are familiar with the character of our work and with our belief concerning these matters. We attach an importance to the physical organization which God has given unto us, greater, I believe, than any other religious people that I have ever met with. In like manner our religion extends its ramifications into every department of our lives, leaving nothing untouched, nothing connected with our earthly existence uninfluenced by its power and its teaching. I am thankful that this is the case, because it gives religion full scope, it gives it an opportunity to exercise its proper influence upon the man and to make him more perfect and more godlike. Our God is not a religious God alone. The God we worship does not confine himself to religious matters, so-called, in contradistinction from those that are secular. He is not a God that concerns himself alone with the spirit of man, but He is a God of science, He is a God of mechanism, He is a God of creative power, a God of government, a God who attends to all the departments of human life and progress, as we see them exemplified here upon the earth. The first acts that are recorded of Him in the record that has come to us were creative acts, acts of organization, labors that might in one respect be termed temporal labors. Among the first communications He had with man He taught him how to live practically, to make himself clothing, and to perform other necessary labors connected with his comfort and his happiness upon the earth. And where they have been willing to be taught He has taught men government, the principles of government, from the beginning. He has established the best forms of government where men have listened to His teachings—governments best adapted for the persons for whom they were intended and for the objects that were to be accomplished; and He knew in the days of Moses, as He did in the days of Enoch, the principles of government that were best calculated for the happiness of those peoples. So far as they listened to Him, so far as they were governed in righteousness and in truth, each received the laws and the necessary instructions that were best suited to their condition and circumstances, for the progress that they had made and the progress that it was anticipated they would make. And He knew all that was necessary to be known, without the benefit of the experience that each nation has received from their labors and from their progress under the forms of government that they have had. Our government today is considered the ripened fruit of the ages of experience that men have gained upon the earth. Yet there is not a principle connected with it that was not known to God, that was not taught by the Almighty in the earliest days, and that has not been put into operation under His instruction at one time or another among men. And these principles are embodied in what we call the Gospel. It has been truthfully and very forcibly said many times in our hearing that there was no principle connected with man’s existence upon the earth that is not a part and parcel of that Gospel which God has revealed unto us and commanded us to obey; that that which the world call “Mormonism” embraces within its scope every good thing upon the face of the earth, leaving nothing outside. Every true principle of science, everything connected with the cultivation of the earth, with the government of cities and of nations, with the management of all the multiplied affairs of men in their great and varied diversity—that everything of this character comes within the scope of the Gospel which God has revealed, in the system of salvation that He has commanded us to receive.

There is one great principle connected with the Gospel of Jesus Christ as it has been taught among all the people who have ever received it, as we find from their teachings in the records that have come down to us, the same principle that lies at the foundation of our form of government, and makes it the most valuable feature connected with it, and that is, the equality of man before God. No man can be a true follower of Jesus Christ; no man ever could be—anterior even to His com ing—a true follower of God, without embodying in His faith and practice and in every feeling of his heart this principle to which I have referred, the equality of man. There could be no class distinctions wherever this Gospel was received and put into practical operation. Every man who received it became the equal of his fellow man; he would be recognized, a proper place be assigned unto him, and he would have his proper influence in the society of which he was a member. It is this principle of the Gospel that will make us, also, a thoroughly free people, a thoroughly great people, a people who shall have place in the earth, and have influence in the affairs of the children of men.

There have been fears indulged in many times, and expressions have been given to those fears, that the growth of the Latter-day Saints was a menace to surrounding peoples and to the government under which we live. There can be no menace in the growth of such principles as are taught and as are recognized and enforced among such a people as we are. It would be impossible for tyranny to flourish for any length of time in our midst. Oppression of every form would sooner or later have to disappear, or else there would have to be apostasy from the true principles of the Gospel on the part of the people. Oppression, tyranny, misrule, cannot co-exist with the principles of the everlasting Gospel as they are taught in our midst and received by us. There must be the greatest possible liberty of thought, of expression and of action in our midst—that is the greatest possible consistent with good order, and the preservation of the rights of others. Liberty cannot be permitted to degenerate into license, but the utmost liberty can be enjoyed so long as it does not overstep that boundary. It becomes, therefore, a natural duty devolving upon us, with our views concerning these eternal principles that have come down from God, that were taught by God in the early ages unto man, that have been reinforced from time to time by Him through the silent, unseen agency of His power in various ages—I say it becomes our natural duty to see that these principles are carried out and maintained in the earth. We become their natural champions. Besides advocating and maintaining them, it becomes our province to struggle for their supremacy.

As I have said these principles were taught in the very beginning. If we had the records we would find that they were taught to our father Adam, because they are consistent with man’s agency. God gave unto man when He placed him upon the earth, the fullest agency—the power to do that which was right in his own sight without let or hindrance. He taught those principles to Enoch, and He taught them from time to time to all the men of note who would be taught by him. Abraham became in his turn the great expositor of those truths; and you will find by tracing the lives of these men in the record that has come down to us, that in every instance they were men who were champions of the right, who stood out boldly and fearlessly in the midst of their fellow men, contending for those God-given principles which they believed to be the inalienable right of every human being. You will find that the opponents of truth, or, to speak more plainly, according to our phraseology and our methods of expressing ideas, the followers of Satan—you will find that whenever there was persecution upon the earth, they were its authors. Whenever men were trampled upon and their rights were denied them, when men fell victims to violence and the maladministration of the laws, it was those who were led by Satan’s influence and yielded to his power, who were the instruments in committing those evils. Hence you find that good men never persecuted bad men; never destroyed wicked men when they had power. They were not oppressors, they were not tyrants, they were not persecutors, they did not infringe upon the rights of their fellow men, upon the liberty of conscience, nor upon its proper exercise, nor upon the exercise of man’s agency; they never sought to restrain it. If wicked men were disposed to do wickedly, so long as they did not transcend certain well-defined bounds that found their expression in law, you will find no account of good men interfering with bad men. You will not find them, as I say, taking upon themselves the role of oppressors, nor saying that men shall not do that which their conscience and that which they in their agency think it is their right to do. God does not do it. Jesus did not do it, and no servant of God ever did it that had a true conception of his calling. God has given to every man his agency, and he respects that agency. He might grieve over its exercise, angels may weep, and the heavens themselves may weep over the wrong exercise by man of the agency that God has given unto him, but he nevertheless has it to its fullest extent; but the devil and those under his influence would, if possible, destroy man’s agency and prevent him from exercising it to suit himself.

I am thankful that we are surrounded by such delightful circum stances today. We have escaped another peril, and we still are a free people. Is there anyone in this congregation who professes to be a Latter-day Saint who is not filled with profound thankfulness to God for that which He has done for us? Is there any man or woman, or child of age sufficient to comprehend these things, who has not come this day to this house of worship with a feeling of profound thankfulness to our God for His mercy and His loving kindness, as manifested unto us His people? Though I have been taught and always have believed that not one word of His promises would fail, still I say that I am almost amazed myself when I see how wonderfully God hath wrought, when I look at our circumstances, when I see the liberty that we enjoy, knowing as I do the plans and the concerted efforts which have been made to deprive us of our liberty, and to bring us into a bondage that would be intolerable to us. A paean of rejoicing went up from all quarters of the land about a year ago, that is, on the 22nd of March. Every man who desired to see the overthrow of the Latter-day Saints, to see their system obliterated, rejoiced from one end of this land to the other—there were among them preachers, politicians and journalists, and the rabble everywhere, who rejoiced that a deadly blow had been struck at the Latter-day Saints. Men, while they admitted that the Constitution had been violated, justified the act in consideration of the great good that they supposed would be accomplished. Yet we today have all the happiness, the peace, the enjoyment, and the quiet that we could reasonably desire. If it were not for God’s power; if it were not for His overshadowing protection; if it were not for the promises that He has made unto us, how long could we endure? How long could we maintain ourselves in our present position?

But God made promises unto His people; and those promises have been abundantly fulfilled thus far, and they will be fulfilled to the very letter. And this Church and this people, and this organization will continue to grow and spread, and gather influence and power in the earth, until every word that has been spoken under the inspiration of the Holy Ghost will be fulfilled, and not a single word fall. It cannot fail, for God has spoken it. Already the influence of this work is being felt to an extent that none without the eye of omniscience can comprehend. We can see little glimpses of it here and there where our eyes are open to perceive; but the full extent of the influence that is being wrought in the earth through this work that God has established, is impossible for man to comprehend. I do not believe that any power short of omniscience itself can comprehend it. The principles of this Gospel which God revealed through the Prophet Joseph, have been like a little leaven, and they have been gradually leavening the whole lump. The effects have gone forth, and the influence is being felt in every direction throughout the world. Though we are but a small people, but a handful, so to speak, and in some respects quite insignificant, yet an influence has gone forth from this people, from the teachings of the Elders of this Church that is being felt everywhere. It has invaded every domain of thought, and gradually made itself felt—the leaven of truth has; and men begin to acknowledge principles as a part of their faith which but a short time ago they denied and scouted at. In this way the work of God is being carried on far beyond that which we can see with our natural eyes. The work of the preparation of the earth, and of its inhabitants, is pressing forward with a rapidity that we who are taking part in it do not realize. We look at ourselves too much, we think that God’s operations and labors are confined to us who comprise this Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. In doing so we make a great blunder. He is operating among the nations of the earth. His spirit has gone forth; and it is accomplishing that which He said should be accomplished. And this great work of the last days will be cut short in righteousness. It is not the conversion of men and women and their baptism into the Church that is alone to be accomplished. The work of God is not to be measured by the number of souls that are brought into the Church. The progress of events connected with this last dispensation cannot be thus gauged; and when we think so we make a great mistake. Look abroad in other realms. Look at the religious world, and see how fast the principles that we believe in are being received. It may be said that they are not received properly. True, but notwithstanding truth is progressing; and the mind of man is being emancipated from many errors.

Repentance after the grave is now taught—you have heard of it, and read about it in the newspapers. Prominent preachers talk about it and receive it; and actually preach as scriptural doctrine, that it is possible for spirits to receive the Gospel in the spirit world.

Another step has been made in advance, through the preaching of the Elders of this Church, or rather by means of the revelations of God through the Prophet Joseph Smith, in scientific truth which is astonishing; I refer to the doctrine of the eternal duration of matter. When first this was made known it was ridiculed everywhere by religious people, who viewed it as a principle, the teachings of which detracted from the dignity and glory of God. The popular idea was that this earth was created out of nothing. This was the almost universal belief among Christians. Joseph Smith said it was not true. He advocated the doctrine that matter always had an existence, that it was eternal as God Himself was eternal; that it was indestructible; that it never had a beginning, and therefore could have no end. God revealed this truth to him. Now who is there that does not believe it?

So with regard to the periods occupied in the creation of the earth. Joseph taught that a day with God was not the twenty-four hours of our day; but that the six days of the creation were six periods of the Lord’s time. This he taught half a century ago; it is now generally received as a great truth connected with the creation of the world. Geologists have declared it, and religious people are adopting it; and so the world is progressing.

Again: It is not an uncommon thing at all now to hear of faith being exercised, of healings being produced through the prayer of faith. The daily papers frequently publish accounts of people being healed in this way. The adversary is trying, of course, to take advantage of it to rob God of the glory. He is determined that God shall not have any credit for these things. But it matters not how much he may struggle, mankind are receiving these truths, and progress is being made and error is being overcome.

So it is with regard to religious liberty. We are contending today for liberty on the old platform. God, as I have said, gave it in the beginning, and we stand on that platform, and are contending for those rights, and we will achieve the victory too. Mark it! Just as sure as God lives we will achieve the victory, and this Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints will be recognized as occupying the foremost rank in this work. The principles of liberty, the rights of man will be established, and will be guaranteed to every man as in olden times; but there will be a struggle first.

The effect that the defense of our system, this last winter, had upon one of the great political parties of the United States was most remarkable. I was amused at it, and it afforded me a great deal of interesting reflection. There are a great many members of this Church who do not seem to have a thorough comprehension of their own doctrines, who nevertheless call themselves Latter-day Saints; and they are Latter-day Saints so far as their profession goes. But if asked about the principles of their belief some of them are ignorant of the extent of their application. It is in politics as in religion. There are a great many men who make a profession of politics, professing to understand, to act upon, and to stand upon certain political principles, which are embodied in their platforms, of which, however, they are really ignorant. You may have thought it very strange that any members of the democratic party, for instance, which professes to be the champion of home rule, as well as other great fundamental principles, should be found so oblivious to their own principles as to take any part whatever in attacks upon us for the purpose of depriving us of our rights as citizens. But so it has been. If it had not been for the recreancy of some Democrats the Act of March 22, 1882, known as the Edmunds’ law, would never have become one of the statutes of the United States. Mr. Edmunds succeeded in cajoling some of the Democrats. An astute man is Senator Edmunds. In their action towards us these Democrats seemed to be blind to the fact that they were apostatizing from their own principles; and that in doing so they were striking a deadly blow at the platform on which the party stood. We had been reasoning against this action; but our voices were unheard; we were considered heterodox upon religious matters, and it was supposed that we were heterodox upon political matters: therefore all that we said upon this subject fell heedlessly upon their ears. But we succeeded in getting an apostle of democracy to aid us, one of the old leaders of democracy—Judge Jeremiah S. Black. He began to preach the true doctrines of democracy to his Democratic brethren; and to their amazement, some found that they had, in voting for this law, been trampling upon their own principles. And he proved it to them so thoroughly, that some of them became ashamed of it; and they said, “We have gone far enough.” He explained the principles of the Constitution and the rights that men had under that instrument when properly administered. Good doctrine for every politician, and every class, not for democrats so-called alone, but for republicans also. There is something in such doctrine that strikes a chord in every freeman’s breast. It calls forth a response from every lover of liberty by whatever name he may be called. He says, when he hears the rights of man explained by an authority that is entitled to respect: “There is something in that which I cannot but accept.” Such men hesitate before flying in the face of principles expounded in this way, to commit acts, the effects of which are to deprive people of liberty. The effect of Judge Black’s argument upon some of the Democrats was to stiffen their backbone so much that they could not consent this time to have other measures enacted as were proposed.

I was very much struck by a statement made to me by President Taylor since my return, showing that faith when connected with works accomplishes wonderful results. Brother Caine and myself, with some other Utah friends, were in the Senate chamber on the 23rd of February last, watching Senator Edmunds’ attempt to get through his special legislation of which you have read. It seemed as though nothing could prevent it. Senators with whom we had conversed said that they saw no possible chance of stopping it; that its passage seemed inevitable. But a Cabinet minister gave a dinner party that evening, and one by one those who were invited stole from the Senate Chamber while the bill was under discussion to the dinner party; and the first that was known when a vote was called was that a quorum was not present. In the absence of a quorum, you know, a legislative body is powerless to act. For four hours Senator Edmunds did all in his power to get action on his bill; but every attempt was resisted by the Democrats upon the ground that there was no quorum, and they ac cordingly filibusted until Edmunds, disgusted and tired, called for an adjournment.

President Taylor told me upon my return that, on the 22nd of February, feeling exercised in his mind about our political affairs, and that it was a time of peril, he called a few of the brethren together and they met at the Endowment House according to the holy order, and besought God, in the name of Jesus, to baffle the plans of our enemies and frustrate them in their designs, and put them to confusion and shame. In watching Senator Edmunds that evening, I thought that if ever there was a man confused, chagrined and confounded at the futility of his own attempts, it was he. And there is no doubt in my mind that the prayers of President Taylor and the brethren ascended favorably unto the ears of the God of Sabaoth, and were heard and answered. The dreadful wrong was defeated and failed, and it may be said, it met with its death blow; for every attempt afterwards made to bring it up, was unsuccessful. In this way God has wrought out deliverance for Zion.

I mention this because there are a great many people who think that prayer is not effective. It is effective in not only producing desired results, but in increasing faith in the hearts of those who exercise it in that manner. If you pray to God—as I have no doubt you did, that He would baffle the attempts of our enemies to injure us—you have had the satisfaction of knowing that He heard your prayers, and that your prayers were answered; and you can go before Him now with increased confidence and ask again, because you see the fulfillment of your prayers, and you share in the gratification and joy and thanksgiv ing which answers to prayer always bring to those who offer them in faith.

I have talked longer than I expected. I rejoice with you, my brethren and sisters, today; and I bear my testimony, as I have so often done in your hearing, that God lives; that He is the same God today that He was in days of old, and that if we will continue faithful to Him, He will lead us back to His presence, there to reign with Him eternally in the heavens, which may God grant, in the name of Jesus. Amen.




Why the Saints Meet Together—Their Pretensions—What Their Profession Implies—No Right to Sit in Judgment on the World—All Children of a Common Father—Many Good Men Inspired By the Spirit of God Who Did not Possess the Gift of the Holy Ghost—How Joseph Smith Obtained Knowledge—The Gospel—What the Savior Required—Operations of the Holy Ghost—What is Required of the Saints—Their Feelings—Duty of Missionaries—National Feelings Buried in Embracing the Gospel—Relationship to God—Destiny of the Faithful—What Have Religionists of the World to Offer?—Character of the Would-Be Reformers—Rights to Be Contended For—Corrupt Practices Condemned

Discourse by President John Taylor, delivered in the Assembly Hall, Salt Lake City, Sunday, Feb. 11th, 1883.

We meet together from time to time, to speak and to hear, to meditate and reflect, to sing and to pray, to attend to our Sacraments, and to seek to obtain a knowledge of the duties and responsibilities which devolve upon us to attend to. And then we are desirous to worship the Lord our God and conform to his laws; to seek an acquaintance with him and with his purposes, and to understand the position we occupy in relation to our Heavenly Father and the world in which we live. These are some of the ideas and thoughts that flow more or less through the minds of the Latter-day Saints; and we are desirous generally to know the mind and will of God, and then to do it; at least, these are the pretensions of the Latter-day Saints. We do not always come up to that standard, however; but the great majority of the people, I am happy to say, are seeking to conform to the mind, and will, and word, and law of God.

It has given me great pleasure lately, in traveling among the Saints to witness a spirit and feeling of this kind, which has been abundantly developed in the different parts of the Territory that we have had the pleasure of visiting. And it is a matter of considerable importance to us, as a people, that we comprehend the position that we occupy in the world, and the various duties and responsibilities that devolve upon us. There are various theories, notions and ideas abroad in the world pertaining to the future. We, ourselves, have been gathered from the nations of the earth under the influence of the new and everlasting Gospel, and under the guidance and dictation of God, our heavenly Father; and we call this Zion, and we call ourselves the people of Zion, or in other words, the Saints of the Most High God. We really make very great pretensions. To be a Saint signifies to be holy, to be pure, to be upright, to be virtuous. The German language is very significant on this point, and they calling us according to our name, denominate us as der Heiligen der Letzten Tage, or as the holy of the last days. This is the profession which we assume. We say that we have come here to learn the laws of God, and to be taught in His ways, and that in us is fulfilled many of the ancient prophecies pertaining to these matters, one of which is: “I will take them one of a city and two of a family, and bring them to Zion; and I will give them pastors after mine own heart, that shall feed them with knowledge and understanding.” There is something very peculiar in the position that we occupy, and in the manner in which we have been brought together, which is not generally understood by the world of mankind.

We profess again to be the Church of God, and to be the kingdom of God; in fact we have any amount of profession; but the question with me sometimes is, how near we live up to our professions, and adhere to the principles that we profess to believe in and to be governed by. For we are told in the Scriptures, that it is “not every one that saith unto me Lord, Lord, shall enter into the kingdom of heaven; but he that doeth the will of my Father which is in heaven.” And again Jesus said, “Many will say to me in that day (that is speaking of the day of judgment), Lord, Lord, have we not prophesied in thy name? And in thy name have cast out devils, and in thy name done many wonderful works?” But He says, He will say unto them, “I never knew you, depart from me, ye that work iniquity.” Again we are told that he that doeth righteousness is righteous. And further, as a test that is given for the guidance and direction of His people, a strict command is given unto them pertaining to their entertaining an undue attachment to the world. John says: “Love not the world, neither the things that are in the world. If any man love the world, the love of the Father is not in him.” No matter what their professions may be, no matter what their position may be; it applies to all. “Love not the world nor the things that are in the world.” We are indeed called here to this land of Zion to perform a peculiar work, which the Lord has placed upon us, associated with what is termed the dispensation of the fullness of times, wherein God will gather together, it is said, all things in one, whether they be things in the heavens or things on the earth. It is a dispensation in which is embraced everything that is connected with any and every other dispensation that has ever existed since the world rolled into existence, or the morning stars sang together for joy; and embraces all these dispensations; it is proper that we should strive to comprehend the various duties and responsibilities devolving upon us. We differ from the world in many respects; and I will try to point out some of these things wherein this difference exists.

We are apt sometimes to be too censorious of the world. We think that they act very wickedly and badly, and that is true; but then, at the present at least, we are not their judges; it is not any part of our duty to sit in judgment upon them. Who are we? The children of our Heavenly Father. Who the world, as we sometimes denominate those that are not of our Church? The children of our Heavenly Father. For God has “made of one blood all nations of men for to dwell on all the face of the earth,” we are told, “and hath determined the times before appointed and the bounds of their habitation; that they should seek the Lord, if haply they might feel after him, and find Him, though he be not far from every one of us.”

Now outside the Gospel, outside of revelation, outside of any special communication from the Lord, all men, more or less, everywhere have certain claims upon their Heavenly Father, who is said to be the God and Father of the spirits of all flesh. Then we are told, when Jesus spake to his disciples, they asked him how they were to pray. He said, Say, Our Father who art in heaven, hallowed be Thy name. Who? Our Father—the God and the Father of the spirits of all flesh. When you approach Him, say, our Father who art in heaven. Then, they belong to our Father, as well as we. In regard to the operation of the Spirit upon man, let me draw your attention to a fact that is generally understood by all reflecting men, and that is, no matter how wicked a man may be, how far he may have departed from the right, such a man will generally admire and respect a good man, an honorable man, and a virtuous man; and such a man will frequently say; “I wish I could do as that man does, but I cannot: I wish I could pursue a correct course, but I am overcome of evil.” They cannot help but respect the good and the honorable, although they may not be governed by principles of honor and virtue themselves. This same spirit which is given to every man outside of the Gospel has been manifested in the different ages of the world. When I say outside of it, the Latter-day Saints will understand me. When I speak of the Gospel I speak of the Gospel revealed by our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ, and which has existed at times through the different ages, and which, wherever it did exist brought men into close communion with the Lord; hence the Gospel is called the everlasting Gospel. The Scriptures unequivocally state that our Savior “brought life and immortality to light through the Gospel,” and wherever a knowledge of life and immortality existed it was through the Gospel; and whenever and wherever there was no knowledge of life and immortality there was no Gospel. But outside of that there have been many good influences abroad in the world. Many men in the different ages, who, in the midst of wickedness and corruption, have tried to stop the current of evil, have placed themselves in the catalogue of reformers. Some of those have been what are called heathen, others what are termed Christian, and others have been scientific and philanthropic—lovers and benefactors of the human race. The many reformers that existed in former ages have been men many of whom have been sincerely desirous to do the will of God, and to carry out His purposes, so far as they knew them. And then there are thousands and tens of thousands of honorable men living today in this nation, and other nations, who are honest and upright and virtuous, and who esteem correct principles and seek to be governed by them, so far as they know them.

But there is a very great difference between this spirit and feeling that leads men to do right, which is emphatically denominated a portion of the Spirit of God, which is given to every man to profit withal, and what is termed in the Scriptures the gift of the Holy Ghost. Men may be desirous to do right; they may be good, honorable and conscientious; and then when we come to the judgment pertaining to these things we are told that all men will be judged according to the deeds done in the body, and according to the light and intelligence which they possessed.

I will take, for instance, the position of the reformers, going no further back than Luther and Melancthon; and then you may come to Calvin, Knox, Whitfield, Wesley, Fletcher, and many others; men who have been desirous in their day to benefit their fellow men; who have proclaimed against vice, and advocated the practice of virtue, uprightness and the fear of God. But we all, who have contemplated these subjects, know that those men never did restore the Gospel as it was taught by our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ; neither did they see or comprehend alike in biblical matters; they groped, as it were, in the dark, with a portion of the Spirit of God. They sought to benefit their fellow man; but not having that union with God that the Gospel imparts, they were unable to arrive at just conclusions pertaining to those matters. Hence one introduced and taught one principle, and another introduced and taught another; and they were split up and divided, and the spirit of antagonism was found at times among them; and with all their desires to do good, they did not, and could not restore the Gospel of the Son of God, and none among them were able to say, Thus saith the Lord. And that is the condition of the religious world today; it is Babylon or confusion; confusion in ideas, confusion in regard to doctrine, confusion in regard to ordi nances, etc. And what shall we say of such men? Shall we say that they were wicked? No. It is lawful to do good always, and anyone who seeks to promote the welfare of the human family is a benefactor of mankind, and ought to be sustained. But now comes another principle which is different to that. We find in reading the Scriptures, that at the time Jesus made His appearance upon the earth, there was a variety of sects and religious parties; there were the Sadducees, the Pharisees, the Esselves, and others. But these people were told that there was but one Lord, not many; one faith, not many; one baptism, not many; and one God who is above all and through all and in you all.

Now that was one thing that troubled Joseph Smith in his youthful days, and a recital of his experience in these matters I have had myself from his own lips. There was, in his young days, a religious revival in the region where he dwelt. The people that took part in it were no doubt sincere. I look at such things differently from a great many men. We cannot reasonably suppose that all men are hypocrites about such matters. Finally they, to use their own term, “converted” some, and then there began to be a scramble as to which church the converts should belong. This perplexed Joseph Smith. And having one day while reading in the Bible, come across that passage in the epistle of James, where it says, “If any of you lack wisdom let him ask of God that giveth to all men liberally and upbraideth not and it shall be given him,” he went and asked God concerning the matter. And the Lord revealed Himself to him, and among other things that He told him at the time was that none of the sects were right, that all had gone out of the way, and commanded him not to join any of them.

I need not now enter into the details of his history, as these things are well known; but I will proceed. The Gospel that was restored to him was the same Gospel that Jesus introduced and taught; the same Gospel that was taught in part by Abraham, and by Moses—for we read that the children of Israel had the Gospel preached to them in the wilderness, “but the word preached did not profit them, not being mixed with faith in those that heard it.” Therefore the law was added because of transgression. Added to what? To the Gospel. What difference is there between the Gospel and the beliefs of other sects and creeds? The Gospel always did and always will “bring life and immortality to light.” That is the difference. While others are groping in the dark, though their intentions in many instances are to do good and work righteousness, so far as they know, yet they cannot come to a knowledge of God, nor become acquainted with eternal things without the Gospel; without the gift of the Holy Ghost, the spirit of revelation which proceeds from God. And who are to have this? All who obey. “But I thought,” say some, “that that was confined to some one or two, or to half a dozen or a dozen, as the case may be, and that the whole people had nothing to do with it.” This is a very great mistake, and I will now show you the difference between that and the things as they exist in the world; between the position that we occupy and the position that the world occupy.

The world, as I have told you, unaided by the gift of the Holy Ghost, unaided by the Gospel and the light of revelation, are left to grope a good deal in the dark. But not so with the Saints of God; no matter in what age of the world they may have lived, they have been placed under other circumstances; they have had the light of truth to guide them, and revelation direct from the Lord. And here is the difference between one and the other. When Nicodemus came to Jesus he went to him by night; he was much like some men are in this our day, with respect to their private feelings for the “Mormons;” they respect the “Mormons,” they cannot help doing so, but they do not want it known; for the Latter-day Saints, like the former-day Saints, are not popular; in fact, we are considered by many as they were, to be of disreputable character, a people with whom it would not be considered proper to associate. This was the character that the Savior bore among the self-righteous but hypocritical religionists of His day. Yet we call Him the Son of God. And we find Nicodemus, a prominent man, a man of discernment and ability, creeping around the back door, not wishing it to be known that he had called upon the “Mormons”—oh, no!—Jesus of Nazareth; yet he wished to find out something respecting Him, for he believed that no man could do the things that He did except God were with him. Jesus in explaining the Gospel to him, told him that he, in order to understand His teachings and His works, would have to be born again. Nicodemus could not appreciate this saying, he knew not what the Savior meant, thinking the saying referred to a man’s natural birth. The Savior then told him, that unless a man was born of the water and of the Spirit, he could not enter the kingdom of God; that he could not comprehend it; that he could not even see it; that he could not understand the relationship that existed between God and man without the gift of the Holy Ghost. The question would naturally arise, how could man become possessed of this heavenly gift? There was a young man, for instance, a high-minded, honorable young man, who went to Jesus, and addressing Him, said, Good Master, what good thing can I do to inherit eternal life? Jesus said, Thou knowest the commandments, “Do not kill, Do not steal, Do not commit adultery, Do not bear false witness, Defraud not, Honor thy father and mother, and love God with all thy heart, and thy neighbor as thyself.” And the young man said that these things he had done from his youth up. Jesus then told him to go and sell all that he had and give to the poor, and to come and follow Him; promising him that he should have treasures in heaven, or in other words he should have eternal life, and should drink of the streams whereof make glad the city of our God. But the young man went away sorrowful, for he had much possessions.

In regard to the Holy Ghost of which we have spoken, we are told that the disciples were instructed to tarry in Jerusalem until they were endowed with power from on high. They did so, and when they were assembled together in one place with one accord, making prayer and supplication unto the Lord, the spirit of God descended upon them as a mighty rushing wind and rested upon them. And they began to speak in tongues as the Spirit of God gave them utterance. There were people there from different nations, and they heard them speak in their own tongues the wonderful works of God. Some who were present said they were drunk. “These men are drunk with new wine,” said they. “Why, no,” said Peter, “it is only the third hour of the day”—that is about nine o’clock in the morning. People do not generally get drunk as early as that. What did this all mean? Peter said unto them: “This is that which was spoken of by the Prophet Joel, and it shall come to pass in the last days, saith God, I will pour out my Spirit upon all flesh and your sons and your daughters shall prophesy; and your young men shall see visions, and your old men shall dream dreams; and on my servants and on my handmaidens I will pour out in those days of my spirit; and they shall prophesy.” In other words, it shall bring them into relationship with God; it shall open the visions of their minds; it shall inspire them with the spirit of revelation; they shall have a hope that enters within the veil, whither Christ our forerunner hath gone: and being led and directed under the inspiration of God, they shall have one Lord, one faith, and one baptism, and be guided in the ways of all truth. Well, when the people asked what they were to do to be saved, they were not told as the Pharisees would tell them, or as the Essenes, or as the Sadducees, or any of the other parties; but they were told to repent and be baptized every one of them in the name of Jesus Christ, for the remission of sins, and they were promised that they should receive the Holy Ghost. In other words, they would be born of water and of the Spirit, and be made new creatures in Christ Jesus. What, then, would the Holy Ghost do for them, and wherein was the difference and the distinction between that and the other spirit—that is, the spirit which the people of the world had; for they had a conscience accusing or excusing them, and many of them felt a desire to do right. But the gift of the Holy Ghost was to place them in a position whereby they could know and comprehend for themselves. What was the command of Jesus to His disciples? “Go ye into all the world and preach the Gospel to every creature. He that believeth and is baptized shall be saved, and he that believeth not shall be damned. And these signs shall follow those that believe.” What signs? Why, the sick were to be healed, the lame were to be made to walk, the blind to see, and the deaf to hear, and the poor were to have the Gospel preached to them. Now, what did Jesus tell His disciples the Holy Ghost should do when it came? He promised—“It shall lead you into all truth.” What shall it do? Lead you into all truth—not into a diversity of sentiments, not into differences of doctrine, not into a variety of ordinances, but you shall see alike, comprehend alike and understand alike. “It shall lead you into all truth.” What else shall it do? It shall bring things past to your remembrance, so that you will be able to comprehend the things of God as they have existed in the different ages on the earth and with the Gods in the eternal worlds, and you shall see eye to eye. And the Scriptures say that when the Lord shall bring again Zion her watchmen shall see eye to eye. They shall see alike, they shall comprehend alike, they shall be under the same influence. What else shall it do? It shall show you of things to come. You shall be enabled to look through the dark vista of the un born future, to draw aside the veil of the invisible world, and comprehend the things of God; to know your destiny and the destiny of the human family, and the events that will transpire in coming ages and times. That is what the Holy Ghost will do, and therein is the difference between that Spirit and the little portion of that spirit which is given to every man to profit withal. In other words, men are inducted into the family of God and the household of faith, and they become heirs of God and joint heirs with Jesus Christ. Did the disciples promise these things in their day? Yes, they did. Did the people who obeyed the Gospel receive them? Yes, they did, and so evident was it in many instances that Simon Magus, who, when he saw that the disciples by laying on of hands conferred the gift of the Holy Ghost, and the people spake with tongues and prophesied under its influence, offered the Apostles money, with the expectation that they would confer it upon him for his money, so that he might possess this great power. But he was answered immediately: “Thy money perish with thee, because thou hast thought that the gift of God may be purchased with money.” These men in that day possessed a hope that bloomed with immortality and eternal life—a hope which it was said entered within the veil whither Christ our forerunner hath gone. And then there were a great many of the same class of people to whom Paul alludes when he says: “They were stoned, they were sawn asunder, were tempted, afflicted, tormented,” &c. And, says Paul, “For they that say such things declare plainly that they seek a country. Wherefore God is not ashamed to be called their God: for he hath prepared for them a city.” They have obtained a hope that others have not. They have received intelligence which others do not possess. Now, what is the promise that is made to the world today when the Elders of the Latter-day Saints preach the Gospel to them? What have I proclaimed to them? What have hundreds of Elders that are here today proclaimed to them? They have told them to repent of their sins and be baptized in the name of Jesus, for the remission of sins, and they should receive the Holy Ghost. What Holy Ghost? The same as men had in former times, possessing the same certainty, the same intelligence, the same knowledge and faith, and the same relationship to God. And we in our day are taught as they were in their day to add to our faith virtue, to virtue brotherly kindness, to brotherly kindness charity, etc., that if these things dwell in us and abound we shall neither be barren nor unfruitful in the knowledge of the Lord Jesus Christ—not in the “guess so,” not in the opinions, not in the notions, not in the ideas, not in the theories of man, but in the knowledge of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ. This is the position which the Saints in these times are called to occupy; this is the thing that has been promised to the Latter-day Saints; this is the principle which they themselves have received, and you Latter-day Saints are witnesses of these things of which I speak. I speak of things that I know; I testify of things that I have seen and that you comprehend, and it is by that very principle that you have been gathered together here into these valleys of the mountains. Here is the difference between uncertainty and doubt, and truth, certainty and intelligence. The Spirit of God bears witness with our spirits—if we are living our religion and keeping the commandments of God—that we are the children of God, as it did to the former-day Saints, and there is no guessing and no uncertainty about the matter. We know in whom we have believed; and if the Latter-day Saints have not this Spirit it is because they are not living their religion and keeping the commandments of God. Very well, this being the difference, what next? Why we are told in this day to proclaim the Gospel to the world as they did in former days. What has been told to the Elders of Israel in these days? “Go ye into all the world and preach the Gospel to every creature.” Just the same as it was in former days. And have we done it, and are we doing it? Yes. I myself have traveled hundreds of thousands of miles to proclaim this Gospel, without purse or scrip, trusting in the God of Israel; and I would rather go forth trusting in God for my subsistence, backed up by the Lord God of Hosts and by the Spirit of God, and under the promise of God, than under the promise of any earthly potentate that could be found in any part of the world. Why? Because God is always true to His word and sustains those who put their trust in Him. And hence we say it is a certainty. What is the feeling today amongst our Elders? Why here are hundreds of them going on missions, and they keep going. And what is their feeling? I receive numerous letters something like the following: “I have been called to go upon a mission. I esteem it an honor to be engaged in the service of God, and to be a messenger of salvation to my fellow men, and I will try to be ready at the time appointed and fulfill the duties required of me.” These and similar letters keep flowing in; and the Elders go forth in the name of Israel’s God bearing precious seeds, the seeds of eternal life, as messengers to the nations of the earth, the legates of the skies, commissioned by the Great Jehovah to proclaim the words of life to the world, and they return again rejoicing, bringing their sheaves with them. This is one work we have to do. Sometimes I think that some of our Elders scarcely understand this matter as fully as they might, and I will here make a remark in relation to it. They say that people pay very little attention to them in some parts; in others a great many are baptized, etc. Now, the Elders are not responsible for the actions of other men. It is their business to go and preach the Gospel and to use all diligence and faithfulness and be earnest and emphatic, and to seek for the guidance and direction of the Lord in the proclamation of his word; but they have nothing to do with the people receiving or rejecting their message. If they receive it, it is for their benefit; if they reject it, it is to their condemnation. But the Elder is not responsible, whether they receive it or not. If he fulfills his duties he does just as much in that respect as if thousands were to receive it. But, thousands are receiving it, and we are doing our work and performing our duties, and sending forth the Gospel. And then when we have done that, what else? Why, that is all we can do. Preach these things to the world; deliver the testimony that God has given to us. And what then? Are we to persecute them because they do not believe as we do? I think not. Shall we try to crowd them, and tell them they have not right government and right laws, and that they are wrong in every particular in regard to these matters? I do not know that that is any part of our business. Our business is to preach the Gospel, and if they do not receive it, leave them, that is all. In some particular cases, when the disciples in former days went and preached the Gospel, and the people would not receive it—Jesus told them to go and wash their feet as a testimony before Him in regard to that matter, and he would deal with such people Himself. We have to leave those things in the hands of God, for the nations as well as ourselves are all in the hands of God. It is true that it is said of the Twelve Apostles that hereafter they shall sit upon twelve thrones judging the twelve tribes of Israel, but it is also true that John the Revelator says, “I saw a great white throne, and him that sat on it, from whose face the earth and the heaven fled away; and there was found no place for them. And I saw the dead, small and great, stand before God; and the books were opened: and another book was opened, which is the book of life: and the dead were judged out of those things which were written in the books, according to their works.” It is said again that the Saints shall judge the world, but that is not yet; our business now is simply to preach the Gospel and deliver our testimony, to gather together the elect from among the nations, and having faithfully performed our duty to leave the events pertaining to others in the hands of God.

We have gathered to these valleys of the mountains. What duties now devolve upon us? To build up a Zion unto our God. And who is




Why the Saints Meet Together—Their Pretensions—What Their Profession Implies—No Right to Sit in Judgment on the World—All Children of a Common Father—Many Good Men Inspired By the Spirit of God Who Did not Possess the Gift of the Holy Ghost—How Joseph Smith Obtained Knowledge—The Gospel—What the Savior Required—Operations of the Holy Ghost—What is Required of the Saints—Their Feelings—Duty of Missionaries—National Feelings Buried in Embracing the Gospel—Relationship to God—Destiny of the Faithful—What Have Religionists of the World to Offer?—Character of the Would-Be Reformers—Rights to Be Contended For—Corrupt Practices Condemned

Discourse by President John Taylor, delivered in the Assembly Hall, Salt Lake City, Sunday, Feb. 11, 1883

(Continued From Volume XXIII, Page 376, Journal of Discourses.) to assist us? The Lord, and if He does not I am sure we cannot do it, and if He does not show us how we cannot do it. Well, some people come and try to convert us. Very well, let them convert away. If they have anything to convert you to, I say for God’s sake take it, if they have something that is more intelligent than that which has been communicated to you. We are desirous to obtain all truth from whatever quarter it comes, and every good thing that can be made manifest, and if anybody has got any truths that we have not we are prepared to embrace them, but we have no truths to barter away for the fictions, ideas, theories and opinions of men. It is written: “They shall be all taught of God.” Have those men received anything from God to communicate? If they have let them state it, and if they have not let them hold their peace. “They shall be all taught of God.” He will be their instructor, their judge, their guide, their director and their lawgiver, and he will give them the light and intelligence which they require. We are operating with and in possession of principles that are great, grand, glorious and intelligent, that have existed in ages past, that exist today, and that will exist forever and ever, worlds without end, Amen. We are building up the Zion of God, and He is to be our instructor. We are building up the kingdom of God, and He is to be our guide. We are building up the Church of God, and unless we are under the guidance and influence of the Spirit of God, we neither belong to the Church of God, the Zion of God, nor the king dom of God. And hence it is necessary that we should comprehend the position we occupy.

We have been in the world and we have preached the Gospel to the world and are doing it, and that is part of our duty, and we are fulfilling it as fast as the Lord opens the way. We have done a great deal. I think that at an assembly some little time ago there were twenty-five nationalities represented. Is there any difference of sentiment among these diverse people? No. In speaking with a gentleman recently on some of the difficulties between the English and the Irish people, I told him that it was lamentable that such a feeling should exist. Well, said he, they are two different races and they cannot affiliate, one being Celtic and the other Anglo-Saxon, and their sympathies and feelings are dissimilar. Their ideas and feelings differ; their education and their instincts differ. That is very true so far as it goes. But what of us? We are gathered here under the inspiration of the Holy Ghost, and that as I before said, produces a unity of feeling and spirit, a oneness and sympathy that does not exist in the world and Jesus has said, By this shall all men know that ye are my disciples if ye love one another. We have people among us from all parts of the United States, from Ireland, Scotland and Wales, from England, France and Germany, from Denmark, Norway and Sweden; also from Iceland, Australia, New Zealand, from the islands of the sea, and in fact, from nearly every civilized country. And how is it brethren? Are we Scandinavians; are we English; are we Scotch, Swiss or Dutch, as the case may be? No; the Spirit of God, which we obtained through obedience to the requirements of the Gospel; having been born again, of the water and of the Spirit, has made us of one heart, one faith, one baptism; we have no national or class divisions of that kind among us.

What, then, are we aiming at? We are aiming to introduce among us the principle of virtue, integrity, honesty, and a knowledge of God and of His laws. This is what we are seeking to do. And do we injure any man or set of men in so doing? I think not. I will say to the credit of our merchants, that they are spoken of as honorable men, as men who pay their debts better than the majority of mankind. Such is the report I hear from gentlemen with whom I communicate. This is pleasing to hear. It is pleasing to see the principle of honor introduced in our trading; and we ought to be honorable one with another and with all men, treating all with the respect they deserve and merit at our hands. But because we do this are we to submit to every kind of indignity; are we to submit to be outraged, to be traduced; are we to permit, in a social capacity, evils and crimes to be introduced in our midst, and never lift up our voice against them? Are we to permit our sons and daughters to affiliate and associate with corrupt men and women? No. But if our youth choose to pursue a course of that kind, all well? No, I will not say it is well; it would be better if they did better. We are here to introduce correct principles; and we profess to be moving on a more elevated plane; we profess to be under the influence of the inspiration of the Almighty; and God cannot look upon sin with the least degree of allowance.

Let me read that prayer a little more: “Our Father who art in heaven.” What, is He indeed my Father? Yes. Is He our Father? Yes. “Our Father who art in heaven, Hallowed be thy name.” We are children of God; that is the relationship that we sustain to Him. Being born of the Spirit, we become the sons of God. The what? The sons of God. And what else? The heirs of God, and joint heirs with Jesus Christ our Lord. Is this the position we occupy? So say the Scriptures. And what is the difference between those who have been born of the water and the Spirit, and those who know not the Gospel, and who possess none of the gifts thereof? Let us stop and inquire. You have sons, have you not? Yes. What will the boys be when they are grown up. They will be men, will they not? They are now the sons of men. If a man be inducted into the family of God, and becomes a son of God, what will he become when he gets his growth? You can figure that out yourselves. It is said, “Now are we the sons of God, and it doth not yet appear what we shall be: but we know that, when he shall appear, we shall be like him; for we shall see him as he is.” What shall we be? Heirs of God. What else? Joint heirs with Jesus Christ. What, joint heirs with Jesus Christ our Lord? Yes. What do a man’s heirs possess when he leaves this world? They inherit the possessions of the deceased father or benefactor. We say that God is the God of the universe, the Maker of heaven and earth, the Sustainer of all things visible and invisible. And are we to be joint heirs with Him? So the Bible states. Well may the Lord say in one of the revelations given through the Prophet Joseph Smith, “He that hath eternal life is rich.” Jesus said to the Samaritan woman when asking her to give him a drink of water, “If thou knewest the gift of God, and who it is that saith to thee, Give me to drink; thou wouldst have asked of him, and he would have given thee living water.” “Whosoever drinketh of the water that I shall give him shall never thirst; but the water that I shall give him shall be in him a well of water springing up into everlasting life.” Again, Jesus said to His disciples: “In my Father’s house are many mansions: if it were not so, I would have told you. I go to prepare a place for you.” Where? In heaven, of which we have very little knowledge, and about which we comprehend very little. “And if I go and prepare a place for you, I will come again, and receive you unto myself; that where I am, there ye may be also.” What was there in His Father’s house? Many mansions. What! Mansions in heaven? Yes? What else? He declares He was going to prepare a place for them—mansions, that where he was there they might be also. It is very plain, if we could only open our eyes and understand it as it is. There is a great difference between this principle and the ideas that men entertain regarding earthly things. The first is in accord with the eternal duration and exaltation of man, and is in consonance with his highest and most exalted aspirations; the other is momentary, transient, fleeting and evanescent. Men are grasping and grabbing at the world, and at the riches of the world. I might mention the names of prominent men of this nation—no matter, I do not like to deal in personalities—men who gather together their millions. By and by they drop down into a little place just about two feet by six, and that is all there is of it. And what of their riches? Anything pertaining to the future? No. Such men are foolish, if they could comprehend it; but they cannot. They, however, think that we are big fools. There was a prominent man whose name I have forgotten, but I remember some lines that he wrote. When I am gone, he said, men will erect a splendid monument to my memory, upon which they will write: “Here lies the great!” If I could rise and speak, I would say, “False marble, where? Nothing but poor and sordid dust lies here.” Has any man ever taken anything out of the world? No. Naked they come into the world, and naked they return; they leave all their wealth behind them. Then if, as intelligent beings, made in the image of God, we disregard the teachings of our heavenly Father, and are led by influences that are wrong, improper, impure and incorrect, and suffer ourselves to make shipwreck of our faith and our good consciences, shall we not be the veriest fools when we stand before the Judge of all the earth? But if we can succeed in securing eternal life and exaltations, thrones and principalities, powers and dominions, which we sometimes talk about and which are as true as anything can be—if we can succeed in doing this, we shall be amply repaid for all the inconveniences that we may have to put up with, and all the trouble that we may have to endure.

Now we will return to the old prayer again. “Our Father who art in heaven, Hallowed be thy name. Thy kingdom come.” What kingdom? The kingdom of God. What does that imply? Government, rule, authority, dominion. “Thy kingdom come.” What, that God shall dictate affairs upon the earth? Yes. That His word, His will, His law shall go forth? Yes. One of the ancient Prophets in speaking of these things said, “The law shall go forth from Zion, and the word of the Lord from Jerusalem.” You will find those things written in your Bible, and can look for them at your leisure. Now if we are to expect a thing of this kind to take place, when the knowledge of God shall cover the earth as the waters cover the sea, and when the will of God is to be done on earth as it is done in heaven, ought we not to try as citizens of the kingdom of God to introduce it and be governed by and to be under its influence? I think we ought. Are we then to yield ourselves to the false traditions, ideas, notions and opinions of men? I think not. We want to strive in all the relations of life, in our family relations, in our individual relations, in our marital relations, and in our associations with men, to conduct ourselves in that way that God would have us do if He were here Himself to speak on that subject; and to seek to place ourselves in conformity with His law, His word and His will.

Now, people take a great deal of pains to try to interfere with us in our marital relations. What have they got to give us in exchange outside of these things? O you Gentiles, present us something superior to that which God has revealed, and we will embrace it. But you cannot do it. We are at the defiance of the world to bring forth any better, purer or more exalting principles. What would they give us in return for that of which they seek to despoil us? Would they introduce all the institutions of a pseudo-Christianity, with its prostitution, the houses of assignation, its social evil, its feticide and infanticide and the political and social hypocrisy and depravity, and its debauching, demoralizing, and corrupting influence, and call this a fair return for virtue, purity, honor, truth and integrity? Would they induct us into some of the principles advocated by some of their leading ministers of using the sword, the bayonet, and the cannon to extirpate what they term heresy, set man against his fellow man and deluge the nation in blood? What do they tell us? They set themselves up as our exemplars, and among other things say, we must marry as they do. And how is that? Let me ask some of you venerable, whiteheaded men that were married in various places, what kind of a covenant did you make? You were asked if you would take the woman to be your lawful wedded wife, for how long? Until death did you part. What a miserable thing. And this is what they have to offer. A woman takes a man as long as he lives, and then when he dies all is gone into oblivion; no eternal unity, no claim pertaining to heaven or the future; no sons, no daughters, no wife, no husband. That is nihilism, I think. This is the condition they would put you in today, if you would listen to them. But we are told that we should remember the rock from whence we are hewn, and the pit from whence we were dug. God has shown us principles that are ten thousand times more exalting and ennobling than anything they have to offer. No; you may continue in such operations; that is your business. You may revel in the idea of living with your wives in time, and then dropping into the grave without hope of any further union. But let me have my wives and children, and my associations in the eternal world. Let me have a religion that will live in time, and exist whilst eternal ages roll along. That is the kind of religion I want, and if you like the other, all right, take it. But give me, if you please, the liberty to pursue happiness in my own way; if not I shall try to take it. I want none of those evanescent principles that vanish when time ceases. I profess to be an immortal being, as we all are. A spark of Deity, struck from the fire of His eternal blaze, dwells in us, a portion of that intelligence that dwells with the Gods; which, if we will follow out through the influence of the Holy Ghost, of which I have spoken, will bring us back again into the presence of God; and with us our wives, our children, and our associations. Godliness, indeed, as stated by the Apostle Paul, “is profitable unto all things, having the promise of the life that now is and of that which is to come,” and despite the ideas, the opposition and the contumely of ignorant and unenlightened men, we will rule and reign and triumph, not only in time but throughout the countless ages of eternity. That is the kind of religion that I want. I would not give a straw for the other; if other people like it, all well and good. I do not want to interrupt them. But they want to interrupt us; and they do it, many of them, though we treat them never so kindly. They seem to have a perfect mania on these points; they run wild about our private affairs.

Now, there are certain inalienable rights that some men in this nation consider belong to all men, one of which is the right to live. The government of the United States did not give men life; they received it from another and higher source. God himself is the author of life and existence, more so than we ourselves sometimes think. There is not one of you could leave this place today unless God permitted it, and not only permitted it, but sustained you and empowered you to do so. We live in Him, we move in Him, and from Him we have our being.

Do you believe that these men are sincere when they allege that we are so very wicked and that they desire to improve our morals? It would be something like their marriage—it ends in death, and sometimes even before that. What has been the proceeding here? Who are the authors and abettors of the iniquities that prevail in our midst? Wicked and unscrupulous men, the professed advocates of reform and a hypocritical civilization, such as ministers, politicians and others. Who are the introducers and originators of our gambling hells, or bagnios, and of the open and flagrant acts of debauchery and corruption that prevail in our cities where Gentiles reside? Who are the protectors of drunkenness and other vices? Our professed Christian reformers. These are their institutions; and their emissaries have been trying to introduce the murder of the innocents in the shape of feticide and infanticide. Can we believe in the sincerity and truthfulness of such hypocritical, corrupt and degraded men? They tell us it is contrary to law for a man to be married as we are, especially if he has more wives than one. They talk about polygamy; but that is not the thing which they are aiming at. I will mention these things some other time.

There are one or two statements that I wish to make before I close. Have they manifested a desire to rid us of lasciviousness? Where are the bagnios? Who are they kept for? For our good neighbors who love virtue so much. Again when thous ands of men withdrew from the polls that they might not be considered obstructionists, what did they crowd upon us? You have heard a statement about Mayor Little and his son. Talk about purity! Was there any purity about that! The young man was obliged to object to his father, who was an honorable man, registering, because he had what? Broken any law? I do not think he had ever broken a polygamic law, but he had two wives some time ago when there was no law against it. Some of these things we mean to contest yet. We have not laid aside our franchise. If any think so they make a great mistake. There is not one man or woman in twenty who have refrained from exercising their franchise at the polls who, if the law of the United States was carried out and constitutional principles sustained, could be interfered with according to the most rigid interpretation of the so-called polygamic laws, and we shall contest these rights. We are not going to give up everything. In the interests of peace some of us hold our franchise in abeyance at the present time; but as I stated at Conference when I spoke of these things—we mean to contend for our rights legally and constitutionally, inch by inch to the last end, and to maintain the principle of human rights in the interest of ourselves, in the interest of our children, in the interest of the honorable men of this nation, and in the interest of the freedom of man throughout the world. So do not think we are giving up everything: we have not given up one solitary iota. Yet we thought it better to withdraw until we had a fair opportunity to contest all these things peaceably, and quietly, and to contend for our rights legally and constitutionally as American citizens and as men. Can we think that men are very sincere who purse the course that has been adopted toward us? And what on the back of the refusal to let Brother Little register? It is purity they are after; is it? Here comes along the keeper of a bagnio and its inmates? Can they be registered? Yes! Because, according to a ruling, not a law, but a perversion of law, an oath is prescribed to American citizens, wherein, loathsome, damning vices are protected. And they can register while the honorable and virtuous are rejected. And our good, Christian folks try to crowd these things down our throats. Well, we can bide our time.

I will refer to another affair that took place. Another man, when he came to be registered, after looking at the oath said: “I don’t think I can take it, because I have got a wife and keep a mistress.” But he was requested to read the oath. After having done so, he said: “I see the crime is here in it being in the marriage relation, and though I have a mistress as well as a wife, the mistress is not in the marriage relation, and I can take it.” This man was said to be candid. Of course he was, and people say that he was honorable to tell his feelings. Yes, he was honorable, if it can be honorable for a man to pledge himself before the altar to be true to his wife and to the covenants he had made before God and witnesses—and then break those covenants; if that is honor, he may be called an honorable man, but we do not call it very honorable amongst us. This shows that lascivious cohabitation can be tolerated and protected by men who would seek to be our teachers and our reformers. Such men and women under the old Mosaic law would have been stoned to death. I say, my soul, enter thou not into their secrets, and, mine honor, be thou not with them united.

Furthermore, there is a little thing which I wish to refer to that has lately come to my knowledge; I have a knowledge of a great many things—for men come to me with all kinds of affairs. It is a circumstance that is to be deplored. A married man considered here an honorable man, an upright man, a man that has taken an active part in some of the schools, who has given considerable to the building of churches and it has been thought that he was really seeking to do good amongst us—has lately sought to abduct an honorable young lady, or tried to persuade her to leave her home clandestinely with him and go to a distant land. How can we trust these people? These are facts; I have the letters; I know what I am talking about, and yet these are who are supposed to be Christian reformers, identified with churches, schools, and other places of improvement, who do not shrink to associate themselves with those infamies. A very low state of morality exists among them, as we know. How is it with us? Do we have men that sometimes do wrong? Yes. Do we sanction the wrong? Can an adulterer have a place amongst us? I tell you, No, he cannot, and any Bishop who would permit anything of that sort ought himself to be removed. We are in favor of chastity, purity and virtue, not nominally but really, and we should make a distinction between one thing and the other and maintain virtue and correct principles in spite of the hypocrisy and corruptions that exists, for it is among us and around us. And it is for us to look after our wives, our sons and daughters, and preserve our chastity, our honor and our virtue in all these matters. Let us seek the blessing of God, and He will help us and direct us. But because some of these men do wrong, and act iniquitously, shall we condemn the whole? By no means. There are thousands and hundreds of thousands of honorable, upright men and women in this and other nations, who outside of religion, would scorn to be associated with such infamies. Treat all men aright; but be careful of that loose system of morals that exists in the world; be careful how you associate with such people or permit them in your habitations. Look well to yourselves and to your families, to your sons and to your daughters; and let us seek to do right and cultivate the principles of truth and God will sustain us, and Zion will go onward, and our enemies will be confounded, from time to time, and salvation will flow to Israel if Israel will be true to himself, and we will try and carry out the things that God has ordained, and accomplish the work that He has given us to do. For if ever the will of God is done on earth as it is done in heaven, it ought to commence in the land of Zion. May God help us to do it in the name of Jesus. Amen.




Consolation Which the Bereaved Have—Other Calamities Worse Than Death—Effects of Sin—What is to Be Gained By Faithfulness—How All Will Be Judged—The Resurrection—Proofs of Christ’s Resurrection—The Speaker’s Testimony

Discourse by President Joseph F. Smith, delivered at the Funeral Services of the late James Urie, in the Sixteenth Ward, Salt Lake City, February 2nd, 1883.

It is a very difficult matter to say anything at a time of sorrow and bereavement like the present that will give immediate relief to the sorrowing hearts of those who mourn. Such griefs can only be fully relieved by the lapse of time and the influence of the good spirit upon the hearts of those that mourn, by which they can obtain comfort and satisfaction in their hopes of the future. For the loss of a father or mother in the family there is no adequate reparation; no remedy in this world which will supply such a loss, and about the only consolation we have is in the hope that we may so live that we may be permitted to meet again with our beloved, faithful and true friends who go before, or who come after us, and enjoy their society once more in another sphere or state, which will be immortal. If we can only be satisfied in our minds by the witness of the good spirit, to know that the course we pursue in this life is such as will secure to us this privilege, then, in this reflection there is a degree of comfort and satisfaction, if not of joy, notwithstanding our separation, in time, from those that we have loved and cherished, for although they are gone from us, we know we shall meet them again in a better and more enduring sphere. I remember my feelings when first called upon to part with one of my children—my firstborn. It seemed to me to be an irreparable loss—a calamity, and if I had not restrained my feelings I should have felt that it was cruel for the Lord to suffer one so bright, so pure and innocent to be taken away by the hand of death, after remaining with us just long enough to become the joy of our hearts and the light of our home. Indeed it was a severe trial of our feelings to part with one who seemed so indispensable to our happiness, and for a time it seemed that the substance of our joy and hope had fled forever; but I have learned that there are a great many things which are far worse than death. With my present feelings and views and the understanding that I have of life and death I would far rather follow every child I have to the grave in their innocence and purity, than to see them grow up to man and womanhood and degrade themselves by the pernicious practices of the world, forget the Gospel, forget God and the plan of life and salva tion, and turn away from the only hope of eternal reward and exaltation in the world to come.

Far better, in my judgment, follow them to their graves before they have commenced such fearful acts, or fall into such fearful errors. I would rather a thousand times die while I have the faith of the Gospel in my heart and the hope of eternal life within me, with the prospect of becoming worthy of inheriting a crown of eternal life which is the greatest gift of God unto man, than to live in possession of all the world affords and lose that gift.

It would be far better for me and my whole family to die in the faith than to live and deny it and bring shame, disgrace and ruin upon us forever.

The Gospel has been revealed to us in this dispensation. The revelation of the Gospel is a reality; there is no fiction about it. It is a savor of life unto life or of death unto death. The plan of salvation has been revealed for the redemption of the world. Shall we deny it after we have become acquainted with its glorious truths?

No person can turn away from the truth into darkness and error and into “by and forbidden paths,” and continue in that course without forfeiting all claim to the blessings and privileges of the first resurrection.

If the truth had not been revealed to the world and mankind had been left in ignorance in relation to these principles, it would have been a very different thing; there would have been some excuse for them; but the fact that light has come into the world, that the truth has been revealed and the way of salvation marked out and made plain and simple for all to walk in it, makes it absolutely necessary for all to come to the knowledge of the truth, to walk circumspectly, and to keep the commandments which the Lord has given. It would be immeasurably better for us to lay down our bodies now, in the faith of the Gospel, than to live to ripe old age and turn away from it, thereby forfeiting our claim upon eternal life.

If we live and turn away from the truth we will be separated throughout the countless ages of eternity from the society of those we love. We will have no claim upon them, and they will have no claim upon us. There will be an impassable gulf between us over which we cannot pass, one to the other. If we die in the faith, having lived righteous lives, we are Christ’s, we have the assurance of eternal reward, being in possession of the principles of eternal truth and shall be clothed with glory, immortality and eternal lives. While we sojourn in the flesh we pass a great portion of our life in sorrow; death separates us for a short time, some of us pass behind the veil, but the time will come when we will meet with those who have gone, and enjoy each others’ society forever. The separation is but for a moment as it were. No power can separate us then. God having joined us together we have a claim upon each other—an undeniable claim—inasmuch as we have been united by the power of the priesthood in the Gospel of Christ. Therefore it is better to be separated in this life for a little season, although we have to pass through deprivation, sorrow, trouble, toil, widowhood, orphanage, and many other vicissitudes, than to be separated for all eternity. By complying with the principles of the Gospel we become heirs of God and joint heirs with Jesus Christ. The anticipation of these great privileges brings happiness to us now, and strengthens our hopes of exaltation and eternal reward in the kingdom of God hereafter. No other power but that of God, through the knowledge of truth, can give such enjoyment, peace of mind, consolation and happiness to the sorrowing hearts of mortals. The Gospel has been revealed for the salvation and exaltation of the children of men, and if they would only receive it, it would bring, finally, unalloyed and perfect happiness to all, even a “fullness of joy.”

Let us look into the future. We should not brood over the hardships which we have passed through. This is a world of sorrow, of care, of probation; a world of disappointment, anxiety and toil. We find it as it is, and many of us help to make it no better. When God organized the world, he pronounced it good, but men have transgressed the laws and departed from the paths of life. Mankind do not live by principles of justice, truth, righteousness and equality. They are violators of the law, and will come under its condemnation. I am sorry to say that mankind bring evil and therefore suffering upon themselves. Men rise up and oppress their neighbors. Many take delight in oppressing their fellow creatures, and they do it because they have not the Spirit of God or the love of the Gospel in their hearts. They hate justice and righteousness and are strangers to mercy, because they know not God nor His law, nor comprehend the results of their own acts. Whereas, if they were imbued with the good spirit, they would comfort and elevate those by whom they are surrounded. Were men to use properly the blessings which God has given them for the good of all mankind, we could soon see the effects in the amelioration of the world; but many are so fallen and degraded that they care nothing for themselves nor for anybody else.

Many are lovers of pleasure and lust more than lovers of God. They delight in the lusts of the flesh, the gratification of their appetites, having virulent desires, living in corruption, debauchery, revelry and all manner of wickedness. Many people do not know how to be happy, not knowing how to use the blessings that God has given unto them. If they had all the world, they would use it for the gratification of their own base passions and desires, to their own destruction. But if they possessed the right spirit, they would seek to promote the peace and happiness of mankind and extend the influence of the Gospel of light and truth to all the world. They would love purity, virtue, honesty, sobriety and righteousness. We should use the blessings that we receive to the glory of the Lord. We should comfort the mourner and provide for those who are in need. If we were to use the blessings that God has given unto us to His honor and glory, all would be happy; but we do not all see nor do alike. Inasmuch as we do not use our gifts or talents that are given unto us of God for the elevation of mankind, we know too well the sad results. They are misery and ruin for time, and perhaps for all eternity.

Every man will have to render an account of his stewardship, and every one of us will be held responsible for his own works, whether good or evil. We will be judged for the deeds done in the flesh; if they have been evil we will have to pay the penalty and satisfy justice and the demands of a broken law. Those that have sinned against the Holy Ghost will have no redemption. All will be saved with this exception, and come out of the “prison” and be exalted and receive a reward and an inheritance in the mansions prepared for them in the house of God. God does not judge men as we do, nor look upon them in the same light that we do. He knows our imperfections—all the causes, the “whys and wherefores” are made manifest unto Him. He judges us by our acts and the intents of our hearts. His judgments will be true, just and righteous; ours are obscured by the imperfections of man. We are required to obey the laws of God revealed unto us in the Gospel. It is for Sister Urie and her little ones to comply with these laws throughout their lives. It is for the widow and the fatherless to live to the principles of the Gospel, be faithful and keep the covenants they have made. If they do this, they will be exalted in His kingdom, and they will receive all that their hearts can rightfully desire. They will receive the reward, if they are faithful, and will lose nothing. God will not suffer the righteous to be deprived of the blessings they justly merit; they will gain their exaltation. No eye hath seen, no ear heard, neither can the heart of man conceive of the glory and exaltation that is laid up in store for the faithful.

This is my testimony in relation to this matter. I have known Brother Urie for quite a number of years; he was a man who had a good heart; he was a friend to mankind, so far as it lay in his power to be, which he has proved by many acts of kindness to his fellow man. He has acted sometimes unwisely towards himself and family. I am sorry to say this, but we cannot ignore the fact, it is too well known. I do not believe that he has injured any individual but himself and family. They will forgive him, we will forgive him, and I trust God will forgive him for this folly. I do not believe that he would have harmed a hair of any man upon earth, or raised a finger to injure anyone. He has befriended the cause of Zion and the Elders of Israel. He will receive his reward if he has been true to his covenants with God. I do not believe for a moment that he forsook them or ever denied the faith. He will answer for the wrong which he has committed against himself and family. God will not forsake him, inasmuch as he forsook Him not and was true to Him, and he will be preserved, but he will have to suffer the consequence of his folly and pay the debt. This I will say, if I had the power, as a savior upon Mount Zion, I would forgive him, and nothing would give me more joy and pleasure than to administer reclamation, salvation and exaltation to Brother Urie.

Let us obey our religion. Keep the commands of God, and bring up our children in the way of life and salvation, teach them the principles of the Gospel, to be virtuous, honest and pure, that they may lead pure and holy lives and cleave to the faith, that they may all come off victorious and receive the crown and the blessing of endless lives. Bishop Kesler was saying that we are mortal beings. It is true all of us are clothed with mortality, but our spirits existed long before they took upon them this tabernacle that we now inhabit. When this body dies, the spirit does not die. The spirit is an immortal being, and when separated from the body takes its flight to the place prepared for it, and there awaits the resurrection of the body, when the spirit will return again and re-occupy this tabernacle which it occupied in this world.

This great and glorious principle of the resurrection is no longer a theory as some think, but it is an accomplished fact which has been demonstrated beyond all successful contradiction, doubt or controversy. Job, who lived before the resurrection of Christ, possessing the spirit of prophecy, looked forward to the time of the resurrection. He comprehended the fact. He understood the principle and knew the power and design of God to bring it to pass, and predicted its accomplishment. He declares—“I know that my Redeemer liveth and that He shall stand at the latter day upon the earth;” he further says, “and though after my skin, worms destroy this body, yet in my flesh shall I see God.” He looked forward to something not yet done, something which had never been done in this world before his day. It was not accomplished till long after his time. Having received the spirit of the Gospel and of revelation, he was enabled to look down into unborn time and see his body which had moldered and crumbled into dust raised from the dead. What he saw by the eye of faith has become actual history unto us, and we possess not only the history of the fact but a knowledge by the testimony of the Holy Ghost of its truth. We are not therefore situated as Job was, we live in the “latter times” which are pregnant with grand and glorious events, among the greatest of which is this glorious principle of the resurrection of the dead, which is no longer a mere prediction, a cherished hope, or a prophetic promise, but a reality; for long before our day it has actually been accomplished. Christ Himself burst the barriers of the tomb, conquered death and the grave and came forth “the firstfruits of them that slept.” But says one, how can we know that Jesus was put to death or resurrected? We have plenty of evidence to show that Jesus was crucified and resurrected. We have the testimony of His disciples and they produce irrefutable evidence that they did see Him crucified, and witnessed the wounds of the nails and spear which He received on the cross. They also testify that His body was laid away in a sepulchre wherein no man had lain and they rolled a great stone to the door and departed.

Now the chief priests and Pharisees were not satisfied with the crucifixion and burial of our Lord and Savior, they remembered that while living He had said that after three days He would rise again, so they established a strong guard to protect the sepulchre and set a seal upon the stone lest His disciples should come by night and steal the body away and say unto the people, “He is risen from the dead,” and thus perpetrate a fraud upon the world.

Lo and behold! By this act those unbelieving guards became actual witnesses to the fact that a heavenly personage came and rolled away the stone and that Jesus came forth. The disciples witness and testify to the resurrection, and their testimony cannot be impeached. It therefore stands good, and is true and faithful.

But is this the only evidence we have to depend on? Have we nothing but the testimony of the ancient disciples to rest our hopes upon? Thank God we have more. And the additional evidence which we possess enables us to become witnesses to the truth of the testimony of the ancient disciples. We go to the Book of Mormon; it testifies of the death and resurrection of Jesus Christ in plain and unmistakable terms; we may go to the book of Doctrine and Covenants containing the revelations of this dispensation, and we shall find clear and well-defined evidence there. We have the testimony of the Prophet Joseph Smith, the testimony of Oliver Cowdery, and the testimony of Sidney Rigdon, that they saw the Lord Jesus—the same that was crucified in Jerusalem—and that He revealed Himself unto them. Joseph and Sidney testify to it, as follows—

“We, Joseph Smith, Jun., and Sidney Rigdon, being in the Spirit on the sixteenth of February, in the year of our Lord, one thousand eight hundred and thirty-two—By the power of the Spirit our eyes were opened and our understandings were enlightened, so as to understand the things of God—Even those things which were from the beginning before the world was, which were ordained of the Father, through his Only Begotten Son, who was in the bosom of the Father, even from the beginning; Of whom we bear record; and the record which we bear is the fullness of the gospel of Jesus Christ, who is the Son, whom we saw and with whom we conversed in the heavenly vision.” (Doc. and Cov., sec. 76, verses 11-14.) They were called to be special witnesses of Jesus Christ and His death and resurrection.

We have also the testimony of the ancient disciples who lived on this continent of the crucifixion and resurrection. You will find their testimony recorded in the Book of Mormon. The disciples who lived upon this continent knew what transpired at Jerusalem; the Lord shewed them these things. After His resurrection He manifested Himself to His disciples on this continent, and showed them the wounds He had received on Calvary. They were convinced that Jesus was the Christ and the Redeemer of the world. They beheld Him in the flesh and they bear witness of it, and their testimony is true. We have the testimony of many witnesses. We have the testimony of eleven special witnesses to the divine authenticity of the Book of Mormon, which book testifies of Christ’s resurrection, containing as it does the records of the ancient prophets and disciples of Christ on this continent, thus confirming their testimonies.

Is it all the evidence we have? No. Joseph Smith boldly declared to the world that if mankind would sincerely repent of their sins and be baptized by authority they should not only receive a remission of their sins, but, by the laying on of hands, they should receive the Holy Ghost, and should know of the doctrine for themselves. Thus all who obey the law and abide in the truth become witnesses of this and other equally great and precious truths. Today there are thousands of Latter-day Saints living in Utah and throughout the world who have attained to the possession of these things, both men and women. If we witness by our acts, and from our hearts our determination to carry out the mind and will of the Lord we shall have this double assurance of a glorious resurrection, and be able to say as the Prophet Job said—his was a glorious declaration—“For I know that my redeemer liveth, and that he shall (again) stand at the latter day upon the earth: And though after my skin worms destroy this body, yet in my flesh shall I see God: Whom I shall see for myself, and mine eyes shall behold, and not another; though my reins be consumed within me.” Thousands have received this testimony and can witness unto God and testify from their hearts that they know these things.

I bear my testimony, and surely it is of as much force and effect, if it be true, as the testimony of Job, the testimonies of the disciples at Jerusalem, the disciples on this continent, of Joseph Smith, or any other man that told the truth. All are of equal force and binding on the world. If no man had ever testified to these things upon the face of the globe, I want to say as a servant of God, independent of the testimonies of all men and of every book that has been written, that I have received the witness of the Spirit in my own heart, and I testify before God, angels and men, without fear of the consequences that I know that my Redeemer lives, and I shall see him face to face, and stand with Him in my resurrected body upon this earth, if I am faithful; for God has revealed this unto me. I have received the witness, and I bear my testimony, and my testimony is true. The testimony of the Latter-day Saints is in addition to and consonant with that of the disciples of Jesus Christ who lived at Jerusalem, those who lived on this continent, the Prophet Joseph, Oliver, Sidney and others, of our crucified and risen Redeemer, because they received it not of them, but by the same spirit by which they received it. No man ever received this testimony unless the Spirit of God revealed it unto him.

We will see Brother Urie again. Sister Urie will meet him on the other side of the grave. The spirit and body will be reunited. We shall see each other in the flesh, in the same tabernacles that we have here while in mortality. Our tabernacles will be brought forth as they are laid down, although there will be a restoration effected; every organ, every limb that has been maimed, every deformity caused by accident or in any other way, will be restored and put right. Every limb and joint shall be restored to its proper frame. We will know each other and enjoy each other’s society throughout the endless ages of eternity, if we keep the law of God. It is for us to remain true and faithful and keep our covenants, and to train our children up in the paths of holiness, virtue and truth, in the principles of the Gospel, that we may with them be prepared to enjoy the perfect and eternal day.

May God bless you, and my earnest prayer is that the Lord will bless Sister Urie and her dear little ones in this bereavement; that He will preserve their lives, establish them firmly in the faith of the Gospel and in the love of the truth, that they may be worthy to come forth in the morning of the first resurrection, crowned with glory and eternal lives. I pronounce this blessing upon them, inasmuch as they live faithful, in the name of Jesus. Amen.




Funeral Discourse

Discourse by President Joseph F. Smith, delivered in the 14th Ward Assembly Rooms, at the Funeral Services of Sister Elizabeth H. Cannon, on Sunday, Jan. 29, 1882.

Being requested I arise to make a few remarks.

Occasions of this kind afford us opportunity, not so much for mourning the loss of our departed friends as to reflect upon our present condition and our future prospects and hopes. For, as has been remarked, “It is better to go to the house of mourning, than to go to the house of feasting: for that is the end of all men; and the living will lay it to his heart.”

Here we have occasion to reflect upon our own lives and the future that awaits us.

For there is one event which inevitably awaits every living soul, and it is only a question of a very little while when every one present, as well as elsewhere, will be placed in a position similar to that in which our beloved sister is placed, whose body now lies here in the cold embrace of death. We are born to die, it is the inevitable end of all flesh, it being a fixed, unalterable decree of the Almighty concerning the human family. We may therefore, as well now as at any other time, reflect upon what the result of our lives may be after we shall pass away from this stage of existence. If we do well, says the Lord, we are accepted unto Him; but if we do ill, sin lies at our door. It is a truth that should arrest the attention of every one, that we shall be required to render an account for the deeds we do in the body. And for my part I feel that we have no cause to shed a tear for the condition of Sister Cannon. For years she has been afflicted, and has been quite feeble at times. Now she has passed beyond suffering and debility; nothing but the lifeless, inanimate part of Sister Cannon remains, the life—the intelligent and the immortal part has gone to God from whence it came. Not but what she might be present if she desires to be here, and her desire be consistent with the will and pleasure of our heavenly Father; for those who live here in the flesh have a claim upon this earth, and upon the bodies they have occupied while they sojourned here. This earth is their home, and will forever so remain—that is, they will possess an inheritance here, inasmuch as they overcome and become the Saints of the Most High God. For it is written, that unto the Saints of the Most High, the earth and the fulness thereof shall be given, and they shall possess it forever and ever. But notwithstanding the immortal part of this our deceased sister has returned to God, from whence it came, she possesses the privilege, or may possess the privilege, as I have said, if she so desire, and if it be in accordance with the will and pleasure of the Almighty, to be present on the occasion to witness the ceremonies in which we are now engaged. We are told by the Prophet Joseph Smith, that, “there are no angels who minister to this earth but those who do belong or have belonged to it.” Hence, when messengers are sent to minister to the inhabitants of this earth, they are not strangers, but from the ranks of our kindred, friends, and fellow beings and fellow servants. The ancient Prophets who died were those who came to visit their fellow creatures upon the earth. They came to Abraham, to Isaac, and to Jacob; it was such beings—holy beings if you please—that waited upon the Savior and administered to Him on the Mount. The angel that visited John when an exile, and unfolded to his vision future events in the history of man upon the earth, was one who had been here, who had toiled and suffered in common with the people of God; for you remember that John, after his eyes had beheld the glories of the great future, was about to fall down and worship him, but was peremptorily forbidden to do so. “See thou do it not: for I am thy fellowservant, and of thy brethren the prophets, and of them which kept the sayings of this book: worship God.” Jesus has visited the people of this earth from time to time. He visited and shewed himself in his spiritual body, to the brother of Jared, touching certain stones with His finger, that the brother of Jared had fashioned out of the rock, making them to give light to him and his people in the barges in which they crossed the waters of the great deep to come to this land. He visited others at various times before and after He tabernacled in the flesh. It was He who created this earth, it therefore is His inheritance, and He had a perfect right to come and minister to the inhabitants of this earth. He came in the meridian of time and tabernacled in the flesh, some 33 years among men, introducing and teaching the fullness of the Gospel, and calling upon all men to follow in His footsteps; to do the same thing that He himself did, that they might be worthy to inherit with Him the same glory. After He suffered the death of the body, He appeared, not only to His disciples and others on the eastern continent, but to the inhabitants of this continent, and he ministered unto them as He did to the people in the land of Palestine. In like manner our fathers and mothers, brothers, sisters and friends who have passed away from this earth, having been faithful, and worthy to enjoy these rights and privileges, may have a mission given them to visit their relatives and friends upon the earth again, bringing from the divine Presence messages of love, of warning, of reproof and instruction to those whom they had learned to love in the flesh. And so it is with Sister Cannon. She can return and visit her friends, provided it be in accordance with the wisdom of the Almighty. There are laws to which they who are in the Paradise of God must be subject, as well as laws to which we are subject. It is our duty to make ourselves acquainted with those laws, that we may know how to live in harmony with His will while we dwell in the flesh, that we may be entitled to come forth in the morning of the first resurrection, clothed with glory, immortality and eternal lives, and be permitted to sit down at the right hand of God, in the kingdom of heaven. And except we become acquainted with those laws, and live in harmony with them, we need not expect to enjoy these privileges: Joseph Smith, Hyrum Smith, Brigham Young, Heber C. Kimball, Jedediah M. Grant, David Patten, Joseph Smith, sen., and all those noble men who took an active part in the establishment of this work, and who died true and faithful to their trust, have the right and privilege and possess the keys and power to minister to the people of God in the flesh who live now, as much so and on the same principle that the ancient servants of God had the right to return to the earth and minister to the Saints of God in their day.

These are correct principles. There is no question about that in my mind. It is according to the Scriptures; it is according to the revelation of God to the Prophet Joseph Smith; and it is a subject upon which we may dwell with pleasure and perhaps profit to ourselves providing we have the Spirit of God to direct us.

But the thing for us to do is to live according to the light and intelligence that God has revealed to us in this dispensation, that we may be in harmony with the heavenly powers and with heavenly beings, and especially with our Lord Jesus Christ, who stands at our head, who is our lawgiver, our exemplar, and the way of life and salvation to all the world, through whom we may enter into the celestial kingdom of God, and without whom we can never enter that state of glory worlds without end. He is the way, the light and life of the world; and whosoever will obey the commandments He has given, and do the works which he has done, and commanded us to do, shall not walk in the darkness, but shall have in them the light of life.

The circumstances under which Sister Cannon has been taken away from us, are in some degree melancholy. I regret that circumstances are such that Brother Cannon could not be here upon this occasion. But he is absent not upon his private business, but in the name and interest of the whole people of this Territory; and in the protection of our righteous citizens who are jeopardized by the craftiness of designing and corrupt men. If he were to leave his post, trickery would be resorted to by the worst enemies of the people to deprive us of our political and religious rights; therefore he is firm at his post of duty. Is there anything of a private character that would keep him away from home on an occasion like this? There is not; nothing but the highest sense of duty could do it, and that too in the interest of the people of God, in defending their rights, and in laboring for their interests, as he has done from his youth to the present moment. His whole time, his ability and the wisdom that God has given him, and all that he possesses has been upon the altar of sacrifice since his early boyhood in behalf of this people; and now, under this sad and sorrowful affliction he remains, and that too, in compliance with the desire of her whose remains are about to be laid away, true to his post of honor and duty. Who can describe his feelings? But let us forbear, it would not be profitable to us; but in this, as well as every circumstance of life, we will join with him in acknowledging the hand of God. It, however, grieves me to think that he cannot be here; as it does his children and family who now surround the earthly remains of her whose spirit has gone home—a respected, a beloved, a true and noble woman.

This, however, cannot now be helped and therefore it is all right. There is another view to take of this. What is life or death in com parison with the duty that we owe to God and each other? Should we shrink from duty, should we leave our post in time of danger because of the natural sympathies and affections which bind us to each other? No. It would be unjust, it would be condescending in us to even think of doing so. It is more noble to make the sacrifice of society, kindred and friends, than to leave our post of duty, and thus endanger the rights and liberties of the whole community. If Brother Cannon were here he could only mourn with us, and then again return to his post of duty. And what more could he do than he has done? Every attention has been paid, and every effort has been put forth to do all that could be done for Sister Cannon. But our prayers did not prevail; she was “appointed unto death.” God has taken her. She sleeps, but is not dead. She does not sleep the sleep of death, but of the righteous and the faithful; yes, one who has proved faithful to the latest breath, Sister Cannon is an example for her children and family, an example of patience, of faithful endurance, and of integrity that is unquestionable. This is a great deal to say of one of our fellow creatures, but none too much to be said of her. My sympathy is drawn out to those who remain. May God bless and comfort them; and may they abide in the truth and follow the example of their noble mother and companion in life, remaining faithful to the end of their days, in the name of Jesus. Amen.




Funeral Discourse

Discourse by President John Taylor, delivered in the 14th Ward Assembly Rooms, at the Funeral Services of Sister Elizabeth H. Cannon, on Sunday, Jan. 29, 1882.

In speaking a few words pertaining to the dead, I, as my brethren have expressed themselves, feel to reconcile my feelings to the purposes of the Almighty, whether respecting the dead or the living.

This morning, however, I have experienced sorrowful feelings not on account of Sister Cannon; she is all right. Her body lies here in the cold embrace of death, but her spirit is peaceful and happy. She has fought the good fight, she has finished her course, she has accomplished the object of her creation, and she has gone to where sighing, sorrow and trouble cannot reach her; therefore, I cannot mourn on her account. It is all right and all well with her. Yet there are sympathies, feelings and associations connected with humanity that it is difficult at times to dispense with. I have been acquainted with Sister Cannon from her youth, since she was quite a little girl, and have watched her through all her life, comparatively. I have seen her in life, and—I was going to say, in death; nearly so, for I was with her on several successive days before she died.

As has been said, we desired that her life might be prolonged, at least until her husband should return; but it seems that God has ordered it otherwise, for some wise purpose which to us is not always manifest.

This reminds me of a circumstance which occurred in my life, being situated at the time pretty much as Brother Cannon is now.

When I was in Paris, France, about thirty years ago, I had a dream that troubled me very much, in which I saw my first wife—as the deceased here is his first wife—lying sick at the point of death. And it so affected me that I awoke, being troubled in my feelings. I fell asleep again, and again the same scene presented itself to me when I again awoke and experienced the same feelings of sorrow, and after some time slept again, and it was repeated a third time. I knew then that my wife was very sick, lying at the point of death.

I got up and fervently prayed the Lord to spare her life until, at least, I should have another opportunity of meeting her in the flesh. He heard my prayer. I took a note of the circumstance at the time, and learned afterwards that such had been the case exactly as it had been shown to me. On the following morning I remember meeting a gentleman who was a Protestant minister, and he observed that my countenance looked sorrowful, and he enquired the cause. I told him that my wife was lying at the point of death, and he asked me if I had received a letter? I told him no; but related to him how it had been shown to me. But, I said, I got up and prayed the Lord to spare her life, and I feel consoled in knowing that she will be healed. When Sister Cannon was sick we prayed for her, exercising all the faith we possessed on her behalf; but God has seen fit to take her to Himself. Bro. Cannon, of course, would feel as I did, desirous to have another opportunity of seeing his wife in the flesh, and, if possible, to be at her side when she should pass hence, and had he been engaged in private instead of public business, he would most assuredly have been. But it was not to be. She has gone during his absence from home, and it is all right. So it would have been if my wife had gone under the same circumstances, I would have had the same feelings.

We are here for a short time only. Our spirits dwelt with our Father before we came to the earth. In coming here we took upon ourselves bodies according to the decree of the Almighty, and if our bodies are required, it would not be for me or for you to say when or how these things shall be. It is the Lord who directs in all these matters, both in regard to us individually and also in regard to the whole human family.

The present is only one stage of our existence. We existed before we came here; we exist here for a time, and when we depart from this mortal life we shall have a spiritual existence, an existence without the body, and then again with the body. And it is for those who manage and manipulate these matters to do as seemeth good in their sight, and it is for us to yield a willing and an obedient submission to the will of our heavenly Father, feeling always that whatever he does is perfect and right.

Every day such occurrences happen; the human family live, as did our fathers before us, for a short time, and then we, like them, pass away; and then again others are constantly coming to take the places of those who depart. And so it will continue until other dispensations shall be introduced, which will place things in another position.

There are one or two things which I wish to mention; they may seem small matters to some. I see in a telegram from Brother Cannon that he mentions certain things in regard to this funeral of his wife, one of which is, that he did not wish any show of mourning in connection with it. We know his feelings in this respect; they are the same as ours. It is customary for people to put on black apparel and to assume a melancholy appearance. That may be all very well, by way of paying respect to our dead friends; but the question is, whether this is the most appropriate way. Brother Cannon desired—I have talked with him also on the same subject—that the coffin in which the remains of his deceased wife should be laid, should be made of common mountain wood, and that everything about it be neat and plain, and that his family should not put on mourning apparel. His brother Angus has been desirous to carry out his instructions touching this matter, doing away entirely with those ostentatious appearances and all unnecessary parade of mourning so common nowadays on such occasions.

It is proper to sorrow; it is proper to show respect for the departed. It is proper that our sympathies should be drawn out; it is proper that we should assemble together to attend to appropriate funeral services, as we are now doing, that we may reflect upon our lives and upon the uncertainty thereof, and upon death and the results that may follow after; and that we consider the Gospel of the Son of God, and reflect upon our position, etc. But I have thought and indeed President Young thought, and so did Brother George A. Smith and others with whom I have conversed upon this subject, that we pay too much attention to these outward forms. We, above all other people upon the face of the earth, ought to be free from outward show, and from the appearance of sorrow, and mourning, having had planted within us the germs of immortality and eternal life; inasmuch as when we get through with the affairs of this world, we not only expect, but we know that we will inherit eternal lives in the celestial kingdom of God. And knowing this, it would not be for us to mourn as people without any hope.

When I see excessive sorrow on occasions of this kind among people professing to be Saints, I think they do not comprehend the position. It is proper to mourn; it is proper to sympathize, but I do not sympathize with Sister Cannon; I sympathize with her children; especially these little ones whom she has left; I sympathize with her friends who mourn her loss; I sympathize with Brother Cannon who is absent at Washington, under the peculiar circumstances in which he is placed; but while we do this it is not proper for people who, perhaps are struggling hard to obtain a subsistence to make a parade, to lay out a large amount of means to carry out the fashion that exists in the world. We want to feel that we are the sons and daughters of God; we want, when our friends leave us to show proper respect to them, which ought to be paid to all honorable men and women, and when we have done that we have performed our duty to them and our duty before God; it does not seem proper to place families or people in circumstances, through false ideas that would embarrass them and place them in an unpleasant position by trying to do that which they are really not able to do.

If we have secured the favor of God, if we are Saints of the Most High, if we have the Holy Ghost dwelling in us, if we are walking in the path of righteousness, if God is our God, and we are His children, if we are carrying out all those duties and responsibilities devolving upon us that His children should attend to, here upon the earth, we should feel satisfied if we are laid away without much ostentation and show; and in thus attending to the obsequies of those who pass away, we fulfil the duties which God has placed upon us. And He will take care of them afterwards.

If it were not for the atonement of Jesus Christ, the sacrifice he made, all the human family would have to lie in the grave throughout eternity without any hope. But God having provided, through the atonement of the Lord Jesus Christ, the medium whereby we can be restored to the bosom and presence of the Father, to participate with Him among the Gods in the eternal worlds—he having provided for that has also provided for the resurrection. He proclaimed Himself the resurrection and the life. Said he, “I am the resurrection and the life: he that believeth in me, though he were dead, yet shall he live.” By and by the tombs will be opened and the dead will hear the voice of the Son of God, and they shall come forth, they who have done good to the resurrection of the just, and they who have done evil to the resurrection of the unjust.

There is one thing that gives me great satisfaction, that Sister Elizabeth, as she had been true in life to the principles which God had revealed pertaining to celestial marriage, was also true to them in death. Being the first wife, while in the heyday of life and youth having her husband to herself, in obedience to the law of God she sacrificed her own feelings at the shrine of duty, and in compliance with the laws of celestial marriage was willing that others should also share the affections of her husband. And during her last sickness, well understanding the animus that existed in the world and in Congress, in regard to this principle, when the grim messenger was staring her in the face and the clammy drops of the sweat of death were oozing from her brow, well knowing that her husband would stand true to his principles as she had to hers, she indited a telegram, telling him that if it was the will of God that she should be raised up, He could do it as well during His absence as if he were at home at her bedside; and in the conflict between affection and duty, while the springs of life were fast ebbing out, feeling the importance of his position, she indited the following immortal words, “REMAIN AT YOUR POST.” She has written during her last earthly moments, words of evidence to all the world, that she at any rate was a believer in those eternal principles that God has revealed for the salvation of His people, and for their purification and exaltation. I feel proud of that. And I believe there are thousands of our sisters would do the same. If we have a religion that will stand by us after life, if we have a religion that will exalt us among the Gods in the eternal worlds, the world may howl, and the corrupt may expend their energies, but God will take care of his Saints; and it will be all well with us in time and eternity.

I pray God to bless these children who mourn the loss of their mother, that they may be preserved in the truth and led in the paths of life. I pray God to bless the wives of Brother Cannon who are also here, together with all of his family and all that pertains to him. I pray God to lead them all in the paths of life; and that we may all be true to our God, and at last obtain a seat in the celestial kingdom of God, in the name of Jesus, Amen.




Funeral Discourse

Discourse by President Wilford Woodruff, delivered in the 14th Ward Assembly Rooms, at the Funeral Services of Sister Elizabeth H. Cannon, on Sunday, Jan. 29, 1882.

We are again called to pay our last respects to the dead. Upon this occasion it is one of the daughters of the Lord, a mother of Zion, who has filled the measure of her creation. Sister Cannon was a noble woman, a noble mother in Israel who has raised a noble posterity; and she has now gone to rest after spending her life in upholding the principles of truth and making them honorable in the earth.

There are some things connected with this funeral that may be considered unpleasant, I refer to the absence of the husband of the deceased at Washington, where he is laboring for the interest and welfare of the people of this Territory, he, under the circumstances, not feeling to leave his post, but to leave the remains of his companion in the hands of his friends and to the mercy of God. And also in the absence of her two oldest sons, one of whom is in England, the other in Germany, preaching the Gospel to the inhabitants of those respective countries, neither of whom, therefore, the sons nor the husband, can be present to pay their last respects to their noble mother and companion.

On such occasions when mourning the loss of our departed friends, I cannot help but think that in every death there is a birth: the spirit leaves the body dead to us, and passes to the other side of the veil alive to that great and noble company that are also working for the accomplishment of the purposes of God, in the redemption and salvation of a fallen world. And the spirit of this our deceased Sister, has gone to mingle with her little ones who have gone before her, and with her father and mother and her other family relations, and with her many friends who, like her, have wrestled with life and the struggles and troubles thereof, have overcome and gone home. All is well with Sister Cannon. She is satisfied with her condition today. I feel with regard to her as I have always felt with regard to faithful Latter-day Saints, when they have finished their work and gone behind the veil that there are none of them that would return to their earthly bodies if they had the opportunity.

In making remarks at funerals, which I have often been called upon to do, I have taken the liberty of speaking plainly my feelings with regard to the dead. And I will say here, when I see a man or a woman, a true and faithful Latter-day Saint pass away, I do not feel in my heart to mourn. Why should we mourn for the woman whose remains lie before us? She has been true and faithful to the sacred and holy covenants that she entered into with God her heavenly Father; she has received those ordinances in the house of God that will prepare her to go into the presence of the best men and women that have lived upon the earth; she has left a noble posterity to bear her name and to bear record of and to emulate her example; she is freed from pain and suffering and the anxieties of life, and is now beyond the power of the enemy of all righteousness; she has opened her eyes in the spirit world, among her relatives and friends and her own little ones, whose death caused her grief and pain; she has gone to enjoy the society of those who have washed their robes and made them white in the blood of the Lamb, and to inherit the blessings and glory of eternal life. No, I cannot feel to mourn for her. It is hard, of course, to part with our friends; but after all it is with regard to them, as one of old said. It is better to go to the house of mourning than the house of feasting. It is natural for us to give expression to our feelings in tears in laying away the bodies of our beloved friends, and there is a degree to which we may go which is proper and right; but there are extremes which are often indulged in, which is neither proper nor right for Latter-day Saints to copy after. Here, however, as I have said, we have nothing to mourn about as far as Sister Cannon is concerned.

When I say that I have never felt to mourn for any faithful man or woman who has died in this Church, I must make one exception; I did feel to mourn, and so did all Israel, the death of our martyred Prophet and Patriarch, Joseph and Hyrum Smith. But we did not mourn on account of them personally, for they had passed through all that any martyr ever did or could, but we felt to mourn their loss to the Church as our leaders, to whom we had learned to look for counsel and advice in every hour of trouble and trial, although there is something very dreadful in the thought of assassinating men, whether they be Prophets or Apostles, or whether they be emperors or presidents. With that exception I have not felt to mourn for any faithful person who has gathered up his feet and gone to sleep with the fathers. I have felt rather, that they have gained a victory which but few of the human family have gained in their day and generation. For you will find, my brethren and sisters, there are but a very few comparatively, either male or female, who have had independence of mind enough, as well as honesty of heart sufficient to receive the Gospel of Christ. It takes independence of mind, honesty of heart, faith in God, and firmness of character to live the life of a Latter-day Saint, in the face of a frowning world, and in the midst of trials and troubles and persecution.

The spirit of Sister Cannon has left us; her body is here awaiting the purifying changes it must undergo in mother earth. But whether her spirit is present witnessing these funeral services, or whether she, on opening her eyes in the spirit world, would say, “I leave my body for my friends to bury, I must enter upon my mission,” that is something we are not able to speak definitely about. God not having revealed it unto us. But this we do know, she is all right, because she was thoroughly prepared for the change that awaited her; and she has gone to do all that she can for those of her kindred and friends that are to follow. And what more can you say? We are left, and we are doing for Sister Cannon what our friends, sooner or later, will be doing for us. It will not be very long before Brother Cannon and also the children and friends of the deceased who remain will join her in the spirit world, if it is not until the coming of Christ. This admonition comes home forcibly to the living, “Be ye also ready.” And it applies to us all. And it is for us as parents and Elders of Israel to labor in the cause of God, while we are permitted to tarry; living up to the light and knowledge that we have been blessed with. For there is a time appointed unto all men; and He takes away many according to the counsels of His own will. He takes whom He will take, and spares whom he will spare for a wise purpose in Himself. These things are according to the purposes and ordinances of God to man. Some labor this side of the veil, others on the other side of the veil. If we tarry here we expect to labor in the cause of salvation, and if we go hence we expect to continue our work until the coming of the Son of Man. The only difference is, while we are here we are subject to pain and sorrow, while they on the other side are free from affliction of every kind.

I pray God to comfort the heart of Brother Cannon, in this his sad bereavement, and to sustain him by the power of His Spirit; and I pray that his wives and children may be blessed and preserved in the truth, that at last he and they, together with this his companion, whose voice is now hushed in death, may come forth in the morning of the first resurrection, and stand in their family organization clothed with glory, immortality and eternal lives, to join with the redeemed and sanctified in exclaiming:

“O death, where is thy sting? O grave, where is thy victory?”




Law of Celestial Marriage—The Resurrection and Judgment—Extent of the Mission of the Savior

Discourse by Elder Joseph F. Smith, delivered at the Funeral Services Over the Remains of Elder William Clayton, Held in the 17th Ward Meetinghouse, Salt Lake City, Dec. 7th, 1879.

By request of President John Taylor, I arise to make a few remarks. I deeply and sincerely sympathize with the family, the wives and children of the deceased, Bro. William Clayton, who remain to mourn the loss of the society of their husband and father for a little season. And yet, when we consider all the circumstances, we may conclude that we have not very great cause to mourn. For when a man has lived to a good old age, worn out as it were through toil, passes away, we can realize at least that he has accomplished his mission, that he has performed his work on this earth, and is ready to return to the father from whence he came; behind the veil.

Brother Clayton had reached a ripe age, after laboring unceasingly among his brethren from his first connection with the Church.

He has had a long and varied experience among this people. He was a friend and companion of the Prophet Joseph Smith, and it was to his pen to a very great extent that we are indebted for the history of the Church—that is, the history of the Prophet Joseph more particularly, during his acquaintance with him and the time he acted for him as his private secretary, in the days of Nauvoo. We have the journals which he kept during that time, in the Historian’s Office, from which—in connection with those of Elders Willard Richards and Wilford Woodruff and the Times and Seasons, a publication of the Church at that time—we have obtained the history of the Church during that period. It was his pen that wrote for the first time the revelation in relation to the eternity of the marriage covenant and of a plurality of wives. Although that revelation had been given to the Prophet Joseph many years before, it was not written until the 12th of July, 1843, at which time Elder William Clayton, acting as a scribe for the Prophet, wrote it from his dictation.

I am happy to say that he has left on record a statement in the shape of an affidavit, prepared by himself, in relation to this important subject, for it is a subject that is of the most vital importance, not only to the Latter-day Saints, but to the whole world; for without the knowledge contained in that revelation, we never could consummate the object of our mission to this earth, we never could fulfill the purposes of God in this estate.

I have this paper in my possession, and have had for a number of months past. In fact, it was written at my request, and then given into my care, and I have preserved it with a view, when thought proper, to have it published. And as it is a sermon of itself, it would perhaps be more interesting than anything I could say on the present occasion, and therefore, with President Taylor’s permission, I will read it to the congregation.

[The affidavit was then read by Elder Smith.]

He then continued:

As I before said, I felt to read this document because of the instruction it would afford, and for the further object of showing that although “he is dead, he yet speaketh.” For this testimony of Brother Clayton will stand forever, though his body molders into dust. And I am, and so was the deceased when living, at the defiance of the world to dispute those statements. They are made from personal knowledge derived from personal associations with the Prophet Joseph Smith himself, not with a view to gain notoriety, but rather to leave behind him his testimony with regard to this important principle. He has done so. And as he has here stated, as having come from the mouth of the Prophet, this doctrine of eternal union of husband and wife, and of plural marriage, is one of the most important doctrines ever revealed to man in any age of the world. Without it man would come to a full stop, without it we never could be exalted to associate with and become gods, neither could we attain to the power of eternal increase, or the blessings pronounced upon Abraham, Isaac and Jacob, the fathers of the faithful.

There are but a few witnesses now living in relation to the coming forth of this revelation; there never were many that were intimately acquainted with the prophet and his teaching upon this subject. I look around me and see a number of persons in this assembly whose hair has grown grey in the service of God, and who had an intimate acquaintance with our martyred prophet; but few, if any of them, were so closely identified with him in this matter as Brother Clayton.

There are, however, enough witnesses to these principles to establish them upon the earth in such a manner that they never can be forgotten or stamped out. For they will live; they are destined to live, and also to grow and spread abroad upon the face of the earth, to be received and accepted and adopted by all the virtuous, by all the pure in heart, by all who love the truth, and seek to serve Him and keep His commandments; they are bound to prevail, because they are true principles.

Now we are called upon to pay our last respects to Brother Clayton. His spirit has taken its flight; it has gone to the Father from whence it came, as is taught in the Book of Mormon. When the spirit leaves the body, it returns, says the prophet, immediately to God, to be assigned to its place, either to associate with the good and the noble ones who have lived in the Paradise of God, or to be confined in the “prison” house to await the resurrection of the body from the grave. Therefore we know that Brother Clayton has gone to God, gone to receive the partial judgment of the Almighty, which pertains to the period intervening between the death of the body and the resurrection of the body, or the separation of the spirit from the body, and their uniting together again. This judgment is passed upon the spirit alone. But there will come a time which will be after the resurrection, when the body and spirit shall be reunited, when the final judgment will be passed on every man. This is in accordance with the vision of the Apostle John the Revelator.

“And I saw the dead, small and great, stand before God; and the books were opened: and another book was opened, which is the book of life: and the dead were judged out of those things which were written in the books, according to their works.

“And the sea gave up the dead which were in it; and death and hell were cast into the lake of fire. This is the second death.

“And whosoever was not found written in the book of life was cast into the lake of fire.”

That is the final judgment, which we will all receive after we have performed this our earthly mission.

The Savior did not finish his work when he expired on the cross, when he cried out, “It is finished.” He, in using those words, had no reference to his great mission to the earth, but merely to the agonies which he suffered. The Christian world I know say he alluded to the great work of redemption. This, however, is a great mistake, and is indicative of the extent of their knowledge of the plan of life and salvation. I say he referred merely to the agonies of death, and the sufferings He felt for the wickedness of men who would go so far as to crucify their Redeemer. It was this feeling, and this alone, that prompted him to cry out in the agony of His soul, “It is finished,” and then He expired.

But his work was not completed; it was in fact only begun. If he had stopped here instead of his being the Savior of the world, he, as well as all mankind, would have perished irredeemably, never to have come forth out of the grave; for it was designed from the beginning that he should be the firstfruits of them that slept; it was part of the great plan that he should burst the bands of death and gain the victory over the grave. If therefore his mission had ceased when he gave up the ghost, the world would have slumbered in the dust in interminable death, never to have risen to live again. It was but a small part of the mission of the Savior that was performed when he suffered death; it was indeed the lesser part; the greater had yet to be done. It was in his resurrection from the tomb, in his coming forth from death unto life, in uniting again the spirit and the body that we might become a living soul; and when this was done, then he was prepared to return to the Father. And all this was in strict accordance with the great plan of salvation. For even Christ himself, though without sin, was required to observe the outward ordinance of baptism, in order to fulfill all righteousness. So after his resurrection from the dead he could return to the Father, there to receive the welcome plaudit, “Well done, you have done your work, you have accomplished your mission; you have wrought out salvation for all the children of Adam; you have redeemed all men from the grave; and through their obedience to the ordinances of the Gospel which you have established, they can also be redeemed from the spiritual death, again to be brought back into our presence, to partake of glory, exaltation and eternal life with us.” And so it will be when we come forth out of the grave, when the trump shall sound, and these our bodies shall rise and our spirits shall enter into them again, and they shall become a living soul no more to be dissolved or separated, but to become inseparable, immortal, eternal.

Then we shall stand before the bar of God to be judged. So says the Bible, so says the Book of Mormon, and so say the revelations which have come direct to us through the Prophet Joseph Smith. And then those that have not been subject and obedient to the celestial law will not be quickened by the celestial glory. And those that have not been subject and obedient to the terrestrial law will not be quickened by the terrestrial glory. And those that have not been subject and obedient to the telestial law, will not be quickened by a telestial glory; but they will have a kingdom without glory. While the sons of perdition, men who had once been in possession of the light and truth, but who turned away from it and deny the Lord, putting him to an open shame, as did the Jews when they crucified him and said, “Let his blood be upon us and upon our children;” men who consent, against light and knowledge, to the shedding of innocent blood, it will be said unto them, “Depart ye cursed, I never knew you; depart into the second death, even banishment from the presence of God forever and ever, where the worm dieth not and the fire is not quenched, from whence there is no redemption, neither in time nor in eternity.” Herein is the difference between the second and the first death, herein man became spiritually dead; for from the first death he may be redeemed by the blood of Christ through obedience to the laws and ordinances of the Gospel, but from the second there is no redemption at all.

We read in the Book of Doctrine and Covenants, that the devil tempted Adam and he partook of the forbidden fruit, and transgressed the commandment, wherein he became subject to the will of the devil because he yielded unto temptation, and because of this transgression he became spiritually dead, which is the first death “even that same death which is the last death, which is spiritual, which shall be pronounced upon the wicked when I shall say: Depart ye cursed!”—Book of Doc. and Cov., p. 147.

But who will receive such punishment? Only those that deserve it, those that commit the unpardonable sin.

Then there is the banishment of the transgressor (not the sons of perdition), into the prison house, a place of punishment, with no exaltation, no increase, no dominion, no power, whose inhabitants after their redemption may become servants of them that have obeyed the laws of God and kept the faith. That will be the punishment of such as reject the truth, but sin not unto death.

But as touching the terrestrial kingdom, as the stars differ from each other in luster, so those who enter into the telestial kingdom differ in glory.

“Well, now, how is it with Brother Clayton? He was not without faults in the flesh?” But what were they? Were they such as partook of a deadly character? Did he ever deny the Lord? Did he ever deny the Prophet Joseph, or did he deny the truth or prove unfaithful to his covenants or to his brethren? No, never. I can in all truthfulness before God and man bear that testimony of our departed brother, for I have known him from my youth. Yet, he was not without his failings? But then, they were of that nature that injured nobody perhaps except himself and his own family. But notwithstanding his unflinching integrity, and his long life of fidelity and usefulness, let me say to you, that for his faults, however trivial, or important, he must answer. But he will be able to pay his debt and to answer for his failings, and he will come forth and all that has been pronounced upon his head by Joseph Smith and by the Apostles, will be confirmed upon him through all eternity; and there is no power on the earth or in hell that can deprive him of them. For as it is said—and, indeed, I need not refer you to the revelation on celestial marriage; but will quote from the words of Christ, as given in the New Testament. “Wherefore I say unto you, All manner of sin and blasphemy shall be forgiven unto men: but the blasphemy against the Holy Ghost shall not be forgiven unto men, * * * neither in this world, neither in the world to come.” Our departed friend and brother whose remains are now before us, has not sinned unto death. I would not have it understood for a moment, that I or any of the Elders attend funerals to smother over the weaknesses of the departed dead, trying to make it appear that they were without faults, and therefore will not have to answer for any. We know that every man will be judged according to the deeds done in the body; and whether our sin be against our own peace and happiness alone or whether it affects that of others, as the Lord lives we will have to make satisfaction or atonement; God requires it, and it is according to his providences, and we cannot escape it. We must comply with the provisions of the law, which Brother Clayton in my belief, is abundantly able to do. And when this shall have been done, he will come forth to receive his crown, his glory, dominion and kingdom, and the blessings of Abraham, Isaac and Jacob which have been pronounced upon his head.

Then let me say to the family of our deceased brother, Follow in the footsteps of your husband and father, excepting wherein he may have manifested the weaknesses of the flesh; imitate his staunch integrity to the cause of Zion, and his fidelity to his brethren; be true as he was true, be firm as he was firm, never flinching, never swerving from the truth as God has revealed it to us; and I will promise you, in the name of the Lord, that you will rise, to meet your husband and father, in the morning of the first resurrection, clothed with glory, immortality and eternal lives. Which may God grant in the name of Jesus. Amen.